2010-02-06: In the Lobby, an Encounter


Mike_icon.jpg Rashmi_icon.jpg James_icon.jpg

Summary: Mike, still playing with his image inducer, finds Rashmi in the lobby, and can offer no solution to her dilemma. James appears and behaves churlishly, for reasons he won't explain.

Date: February 6, 2010

Log Title In the Lobby, an Encounter

Rating: PG

Xavier Mansion - Ramsey Dormitories Lobby

The lobby of Ramsey Dormitories has two elevators at one end of the wall along with the entrance to a cafeteria. On the wall are three pictures that say 'In memory of'. One is of Douglas Ramsey, another of John Proudstar and the last one is of Jean Grey. There are several couches and tables down here for students to relax. Large windows in the front and sides allow for a lot of light in the room.

Just walking in from the cold outdoors, stamping the snow off his feet, one might spot a dark-haired, dark-skinned, kinda-good- looking guy wearing a hawaiian shirt (in this weather?) and black leather-looking shorts with red hot-rod flames coming up from the edges. He glances around the lobby and grins an engaging grin, though certainly not as horrifyingly full of dimples as one a certain blond radiation hazard uses as a secondary attack.

Late afternoon, and Rashmi is curled up on the edge of one of the couches, one of her ubiquitous fantasy novels held close to her face. As the door opens and closes, she peeks up, eyebrows drawing together. "…Um, hi…? Are you new here?"

The guy walks over to Rashmi with a bemused expression, and says in a voice that ALMOST sounds familiar but that she has assuredly never heard outside the back of her own head, and with a bit more distortion to the sound, an electronic twang rather like that used by Cher to hide her failing voice, or "Owl City" as an effect on that song Firefly that Mike was playing the other day on his radio - cranked to 11. "Iii don'tt thiink szo. I've beeen here ffor aa few weeksz now."

Rashmi's head rears back, eyes puzzled… But when the penny drops, she lowers her book, mouth falling open. Her eyes are red and puffy, and it looks as though she's done a great deal of crying in the exceedingly recent future, but there's no mistaking the pleased wonder in her voice. "…Mike…? That's you, right…? Oh my God, what happened to you?"

Mike grins again. "Iimajj induucer. Doctorr MccCooy got myy voicsse workingg yeszterday, aand pprogrammed my iinduuzer at tht szzame time." He seems inordinately pleased, enough that he might not notice right away that she's been crying. But then perhaps he will.

Rashmi leans against the couch's arm, tucking a strand of hair from her face. Despite her puffy eyes and reddened nose, her smile is a bright thing, sunny and pleased. "That's *wonderful,* Mike! Oh, I'm so happy for you! You, um… may, um… Want to tune it a little, though… But you're talking!"

Mike semi-crouches to be eye-level with Rashmi. "Iitz runninng offf my owwn powwer, batterry juzzt givesz amplificaazion. So it'zz moosztly praactisze to deeal wihhth thaat."
He looks over, and his expression (simulated but annoyingly accurate) goes concerned. "hWhy werre you cryyinng?"

Rashmi's smile fades at this question, braid tugged over her shoulder to fiddle with, as she looks away. "…Jono came to talk to me a little while ago… Lucas planned to leave. I… don't know if he did… but… he'd never said anything to me."

Mike makes that "oh, for the love of ___" face, that he makes all the time but nobody could see before. "Hookay. Whyy? Orr isz he juszt runningg awayy?"

Rashmi shakes her head. "…I don't know, Mike. I didn't even know he *wanted* to, until just a half hour ago. I haven't seen him since James was in Medical…"

Mike shrugs, "Rrasshmii," and he has trouble with that word too, because of all the hard sounds close together, "Youu KNOWW he'zz impulszive annd he getzz theze sztupidd iddeasz. SSzo far, annyway. Whyy nott juszt ASZK him??"
Mike thinks (and you can orb him if he's being an idiot) but doesn't say it.

Rashmi shrugs. "I have. I've asked him, and I've been quiet, and I've been there, and defended him, and given him space when I thought he needed it… But, you know…? He's never wanted it. That's always the first thing he says, 'why the hell did you do that?' Well…" Another shrug, and her eyes close. "…It tells me a lot more, that he just wanted to up and leave… Don't you think?"

Mike shrugs. "aIi don'tt knoww whattoo thinkk, Raszzhmii. Heesz nnot iin my classsesz. I onnnly eevver ssee him arouunnd you."
And Mike got a good solid metaphorical head-to-the-boot earlier today that said he needs to stop thinking he knows anything about the Troubled Kids here. And that he needs to think about his own stupid issues.
"Doo you sztill care aboutt himm?"

Rashmi wrinkles her nose. "Of course I do. I still care about *Dallas,* for His sake, and you know what a complete toad he's been lately." Shaking her head, she tucks a lock of hair behind her ear. "…But I can't keep throwing myself against a brick wall, you know? It hurts… Maybe it hurts *too* much."

Mike hasn't seen Dallas hanging around, not even in the gym, lately. His Gossip Sense is tingling! Which is why he squashes it down and doesn't say anything.
"Wehll, praay aboutt it annd ssee whaat comesz? You guyyz arre ollder thann mme, aand, I ddonn't eexxzaccktly gett to hhave thoosze hhormonnal thinngz any moor. Ii thinnk itt wouuld be kinnda thheoretticcc. cal with mee."
His expression is as concerned as he knows how to make it, but that's mostly because the machine is doing the work of extrapolating his emotional intensity from his voice stresses.

Rashmi nods slowly. "I am, Mike… I am. Just… This is kind of a first for me too, y'know? I've… never had a boyfriend, before, so, I'm not… really clear on what I ought to be doing…"

Mike blushes noticeably. AWW. He says, "Wwelll Ii cann't give you goood aadvisze onn the toppiic."
Of course she's free to misinterpret the blushing and the embarrassed sounding voice. But which supposition would be misinterpretation?
"Szeriouuzly, aall you caan do iisz assk himm iif you tthinnk iit woulld hellp."

Rashmi thinks back to what Jono had tried to tell her to cheer her up, causing her lips to turn up at the corners. "Well… I'll take it with a grain of salt, then… But I trust you to say what's right, you know?"

Mike flinches audibly. P-kroink!CRASH! Shattered glass noise. SOMEONE still has his radio sampler.
"Juzzt thinkk abaaout what hyou wantt to hhear firszt, OKaay?" Still concerned face but not quite the same one. Oh, this image-inducer is GOOD.

Rashmi shakes her head slowly. "So far when I've listened to what I want to hear, Mike…. it hasn't ended well."

Patiently, Mike answers, "Aand if you thiink abouut it aheadd ofv tiime, youu miightt bbe aable too tell whhen youu arre llistenning forr oonly whhat you wannt aand nott for whhat is reall."
Now that's profound. Yet useless. Profoundly useless! Two great fails in one truthy bar!
"Aannd, thattt was juszzt stupiid. JUzzt lizzssen foor whhat he'zz reallyy ssaying, okkay? Not whaat you waant, not whaat hee'sz tryinng to hhiide."

Rashmi sighs quietly, nodding her head. "All right… I'll try." Leaning back against the couch, she tilts her head up, lips pursing. "I just… feel like I'm throwing it all into this big hole, you know…? I mean.. I know what he's dealing with, and I know how that screws you up… But… It's just so *frustrating!* Why couldn't he *tell* me if he were leaving?! Doesn't it matter enough to *tell* me?"

Mike scratches his head a little … the sound isn't quite right. "OOHkayy, agaiann. I caan'tt tell youu aand," and his voice starts to fade in volume, "oonnly hee knoowz darnit. Gottaaa re-ccharge."
He shrugs apologetically, turning OFF his voice synth battery. He can still whisper, but just not as loud.

Rashmi nods, drawing in a deep breath. "I'll ask him, then… When I've settled down, I guess. I'll try not to smack him, either… you know… if only because that'd make everyone *but* me happy."


James wonders in from the boy's wing wearing a scowl on his face. His stride is determined, the 7' tall hyena looking as if he's on the hunt for something. He stops, looks over at Rashmi and freezes. He says one worrd, looking intently at his teammate, a singular "You." His voice is still raw, clipped. The combination not a good one.

Rashmi's head snaps up, puffy eyes blinking in utter confusion. "…..James?" she asks, after a moment, puzzlement clear on her face. "…What's the matter?"

The guy semi-kneeling next to Rashmi is wearing a dark red hawaiian shirt and black leather cargo shorts with red hot-rod flames; other than that he appears to be just another winner of the Mutant Ace Card, too good-looking, too healthy. Except perhaps that he's wearing a metal collar painted metalflake white, with red pinstriping in an odd pattern. The collared guy looks over at James and his eyes widen in utter disbelief. When he speaks his voice is louder than a whisper but not much, and has an odd electronic-processed overtone. "Rrazshmi? Uhhh, hwwho isz thatt?"

James' big, black alien eyes never leave his teammates, "Who's psychic? Need to know." The question is short and to the point, voice very much like a beastly version of Rorschach. And he only ever sounds like that when something is bad. His head turns with his ears, eyes only following after Mike finishes, "James. You?" He crosses his arms, toe claws digging into the floor for purchase.

Rashmi's eyebrows draw together, the redhead slowly uncurling from her place at the end of one of the couches. "…He's Mike, James," she says slowly, rising. "James, calm down please… Tell me what's happening, okay?"

Mike taps the red and white collar and his human seeming ceases. He's revealed to be a machine. Chrome and white paint and glass eyes that light up like blue-beam headlights and … a truly atrocious orange and white bodysuit in colors that have to be the new Squad colors. Excelsior. Shredded paper. Yes, that'd be them.
"MMiike ddDrakossz," is the robot's quiet answer. He stands, and steps to the side so Rashmi can move if she wants to.

The hyena, wearing black BDUs and a matching shirt looks over at the machine and sizes him up, only for James it's not a challenge. He knows machines. He knows them better than he's told anyone at the school. HIs own personal little secret. And for the moment his mind has a mental orgasm as he looks Mike over. But, unless you can read all that in an twitch…it just looks like he's being an asshole. His head snaps towards his team mats, "Can't" is the only word out of his mouth, before he shakes his head, "Promised." He stands a little straighter, jutting his lower jaw out a little.

From the way the muscles in her jaw twitch, this was *precisely* the wrong thing to say to Rashmi, today. "…You'll probably want Addison or Jono," she says, her voice low and annoyed. "They'll be able to help Lucas…" Dropping back onto the couch, she picks her book back up, glaring at the pages. "…And if he ever feels like actually talking to me, he knows where to find me."

Mike looks down at Rashmi and then back up at James, "iisz thiiz abouut Lucaasz? Orr ssommethinng ellezze?"
Not that it's necessarily his business, but he'd like to know if he should seek shelter if it continues.

James looks between Mike and the back of Rashmi's head. He shakes his had again and looks at Mike, "Can't say." He melts a little and runs his clawed finger over the spot between his eyes. "Please." He sighs, and comes up behind the woman and drops to his knees, making his head level with her shoulder. He rests his muzzle on it and repeats, "Pleeeeeeeze." The casual observer might notice that all those recent scars on his face are almost gone. He tries again, "I need you."

Rashmi's eyes squeeze shut. "Addison or Jono, James," she says, attempting gentleness and patience, and managing to strike something of a middle ground. "I can't do anything like that. Robyn can only take over minds. Nathaniel's been blocked. I *honestly* don't know anyone else, James…"

Mike tilts his head and his eyes go on high-beam for a second as he stares at the hyena doing a big-eyed puppy and … he breaks into laughter, which REALLY sounds awful, "Kakakskk bbbrweawwr" and it's louder than before. As Rashmi reacts badly, Mike flinches, and taps the collar (which looks slightly different now that it's not being disguised as his 'civilian' attire) and pops out the voice-box, a device about the size of a pocket watch. He checks something on a display, shrugs, and puts it pack into the collar, locking it against his metal skin. "Zzsorry about thahht," he says in a slightly louder voice. Battery at 35% so when in doubt, shout.

There's a low growl from the hyena, lips puling back as his hackles go up—sadly it's right next to his teammate's face. He glares at Mike and stands, "Not about you or Lucas. It's about the team." He begins to cough a little, obviously straining to keep up with the conversation, "Junior leaders don't shut out friends. We…" He breathes in one long, solid breath through his nose, "Never mind. Need to stop meeting like this." He looks back towards the way he came, "Bad smells in here. Blood. Going for a walk."

Rashmi sighs heavily. "James… Stop for a second, okay? Just… listen." Setting the book aside, she motions over to the couch. "Please? This is… sort of important, okay?"

Mike _is_ 15, despite his size, which means he's, well, sometimes laughing at inappropriate things. But he suspects he has hurt James' feelings maybe, if that laughing-noise did that to him. But.. the juxtaposition! The big eyes! The fierce! Priceless! Thankfully without the image inducer on, he can stand motionless, pretend he doesn't have inappropriate emotions, and just be automatic Mike, and he's already apologized, once, more than that would be desperate and weird.
He wonders, though, about the smell of blood … cannot smell anything himself, normally, so… why is there blood?

James stops on his way towards the door, "I'll stand. You talk." He looks over at Mike with as much disdain as he can muster. With narrow eyes and pinned ears, he says, "You need an off button."

Rashmi glances at Mike, shrugging apologetically. "Mike's fine, James. He's my friend too, and I trust him. Look… I wouldn't have thought it was Lucas, except you come out needing help but can't say what about. You promised. That's not a hard road to walk to the answer, James… And, honestly? It's starting to upset me. A *lot.* Because I have done every. Single. Little thing I know how to do," she says, rising from the couch in a very clear indication of a heartbroken girl on a good, long tear, "and what happens? 'Have some flowers, Rash,' and then *disappear for days and decide to run away.* So, yes. I'm mad. I'm *furious.* And if it's a psychic you want, I just told you the only two I know."

Despite Rashmi's defense, Mike snaps back, actual emotion making his voice louder and carrying into it more than he'd expected. And because he's suddenly exceedingly tired of being treated like JUST an appliance, "And you needd a flea colllar. Jerk."
Now that's a mature way to be. Way to go Mike. How to win friends and influence people. Not. He turns toward the elevator.

James reels a little at Rashmi's verbal acknowledgment of recent events. He looks down at the floor for a moment, averting his eyes. He sighs, "You're right." He walks over and attempts to put his arms around her. "It's been a dark and confusing. You burn so bright, I can't feel lost." He sighs, "I thought I could change things the other night. All I changed was the weather. I'm…think furred. I forgot how cold it was for everyone else."

Rashmi sighs, leaning into the hyena's hug. "Mike," she calls. "Please, come back. You'd be surprised how well James actually knows how you feel… when he's not distracted." Shaking her head, she looks up, into James' eyes. "You fought, James. You did more than any of the rest of could have asked… And you *did* accomplish something… Just… nothing can fix everything, you know…?"

Mike stops, closing his eyes. (You can tell because the headlights lighting the way before him are momentarily hidden.) He turns back, and, with a seamlessly smooth mechanical stride he walks back over so Rashmi can be peacemaker.
"Szorry James. I sshouldn'tt have zsaid that, nnor laugghhed." He stands at the perfect 'not in, not out' distance from the other two. Too far to be in normal 'personal space' but close enough to be included in conversation. Finding that spot, a skill that was remarkably useful before he was ever a machine.

James surrounds the smaller teammate's body with his arms and rests his jaw on her head, "I'm trying anyways. 'No' never works with me." He stares straight at the wall, just enjoying the closeness for a second or two. He's actually surprisingly warm. And, thanks to the weather change, really 'is' thick furred. "Trying my best to keep us functioning, will keep trying too. My nature." He looks over at Mike, "It's cool. Bad timing. You should get it adjusted." Maybe that's a joke? He didn't sound pissed.

Rashmi scrubs at her face, pressing the heel of her hand over her eye. "Mike's really a good guy, James. He just… hates being treated like a machine, y'know? Sort of like what you told me, about you. And—look. I care about Lucas, James… I care a lot. But I'm just… tired of hurting because of it. Tired of looking to find him, looking to help him, and getting… nothing. Except 'you shoulda let it happen.'"

And Mike actually caught that joke. "I muzzt be sliipping," Mike agrees, "buut mmor likely the wronng kiind of ooil. SShould sswitch to 10w/20."
He IS joking in return, right?

While Rashmi explains, he thinks about the situation. He's willing to see over time whether Rashmi's actually right about this one. Lucas, something of a disappointment, but then she also supported Mike, and that can only mean she's not completely hopeless in who she champions. And to that end, Mike asks, "Wwould you prefferr I lleft you aloone to tallk?" Which he should have asked before instead of standing there like a 3P0, underfoot and semi-useless. He looks at James' mouth and the healing scars. That looks like the same poison-burning Mikhail had on his back. Had to hurt.

James shakes his head, looking at Mike, "Just passing through. Ruining quiet moments is my mutant power. You'll see." He pats Rashmi on the back, gently, claws taping lightly, "I wish things were different. As they used to be." He sorta slips back, hands sliding away, "I should go."

Rashmi tugs her hair over her shoulder. "I wish they were too, James… Lord, how I wish…" Looking from Mike to James as they each offer to leave, she crooks an eyebrow. "…Well I'd like *someone* to stick around at least," she says, trying her hand at something approaching a joke. "You two gonna have to fight for it, or something?"

Mike nods to the hyena. "Grreatt powwerr, that. Come by the gaaarage, szometime. I'll szhow you mmmy biike." He's aware that he's been given special dispensation to have his bike on the campus, instead of having to keep it a quarter-mile away in someone's parking lot. But not just HOW special that dispensation was, and frankly he'd rather keep it in his ROOM if he could.
But then, it's also something he kind of needs to have close by. Unless the teachers want to donate their vehicles to the cause. To answer Rashmi's question… "Iii have too recharrze mmy vooize box, annd ruun baackup ooon my bbrrain," the latter bit with an odd half-joking tone. It's funny because it's true.

The hyena considers staying, but shakes his heads. He looks over at his teammate, "No, I need to find a way to deal with something that's going on." He gives Rashmi a rather long look, "And I need to find some flowers." He peers over at Mike, "Maybe a re- introduction later?"

Rashmi draws in a deep breath, turning to pick up her book. "Okay… Good night, Mike… James, if I *can* help… just… let me know, okay? I mean it."

Mike inclines his head in agreement, "SSzure. Annd Ii'd szay uuse the onnez inn fronnt ofv the ffountainn buuut the sznow killed theem."
THe ones that didn't get trampled by snow-fort-makers. What a tragedy that was. He'd offer to help with the mysterious "something" but… brain backup can only be put off for so long before his brain shuts itself down anyway.
"Gnn'ite Jamesz, Razhmii."
He heads for the elevator, again.

James opens the door to the outside, or almost. It's freezing outside…so he won't blast you all with the cold air, "Night Mike." He looks over at Rashmi, "I just…might be biting off more than I can chew for once."

Rashmi raises a hand in farewell to Mike. Once the robotic youth is on the elevator, she turns to James, eyes intent, sincere, and deeply hurt. "…James… Can you… just… tell me one thing?"

James comes away from the door and sits his rear-end on the back of the couch, his tail hanging somewhat over on cushions, "Anything for you." He tilts his head and looks down at you with those big black eyes.

Rashmi's eyes fall to the carpet, braid wrung at in her hands. "….Why couldn't he tell me, James? …That's what really hurts, you know… That he was just going to leave without saying a word to me… I didn't even *know* until Jono told me… like… just a few hours ago."

Now it's James turn to look concerned, "Leaving? Where's he going?" He puts his hand on your shoulder and leans down a little, "I didn't hear anything about this."

Rashmi shrugs. "I don't know… Jono just called me out, told me he was planning on running away. I guess he changed his mind, or something."

James inhales and sighs, "I didn't know. He's…got a lot going on in his head. I'm concerned actually. Very concerned." He flexes his jaw, "I think him leaving is a bad idea, a very bad idea."

"I do too," Rashmi says. "…But I guess he's not interested in what we think, you know?" Shaking her head, she curls back up against the arm. "…I always believed in him… that he could be such a *good* person, if he tried… But I guess for him, I'm just wasting my breath. 'Just words.' Nothing he wants out of me… but I don't *know* what he wants, so…"

James scoots closer and puts the other arm around you and pulls you tight against him, "I have ideas. God help us if I'm right." He's quiet for a moment, "I'm not feeling right. Since this all happened. Maybe I need scanned rather thoroughly to see what's going on in my head. If someone picks up a stray thought from a conversation it won't be my fault."

Rashmi falls silent for a while, frowning. "…I don't know who'd be awake, now… Tomorrow. Tomorrow we'll ask Jono. Maybe he can get ahold of Addison."

James shudders, his clipped finally having gone away with most of his agitation, "I hate the idea of them mucking around in my melon." He frowns, a lot, "I hate being responsible. When can I go back to being difficult again?"

Rashmi chuckles, leaning back against the hyena. "When you figure out how to reverse growing up, James…"

James smiles and wraps his arms so his hands rest loosely on your stomach, head above yours, "I've only ben here a month. I still have time." He considers that for a moment, a single month and all of this, "This places changes you, doesn't it? I mean, I heard some people joking about it, and I kidded with Zack, but it's true."

Rashmi shrugs faintly. "I don't know… maybe?" There's a moment of silence, before she shakes her head. "…No. I don't think it changes you. I mean… a school can't put anything in there that isn't you, you know…?"

James laughs, actually laughs, "I think you're right. Professor McCoy didn't give me a uniform and tell me to go but things. I did all that on my own." He reaches up and adjusts his goggles before replacing his hand, "We'll get through this. I know we have what it takes."

Rashmi nods quietly. "You did, didn't you? See…? We'll be all right… eventually. Just… I don't know. I want Lucas to get better, too… I want him to save himself. Even if he's not my byofriend… I can still want that for him."

The hyena inhales through his nose and exhales heavily, "That's exactly what I wanted to hear you say—now, I can go back to being the difficult one since you're obviously the responsible one." He smiles. he shrugs, "He'll be fine. He has us. Beauty and the beast. What more could there be?" He hmms, "But if anyone calls you beast, let me know and I'll take care of it, okay?"

Rashmi rolls her eyes, shaking her head and chuckling as she turns, throwing her arms around the hyena's waist and squeezing briefly. "I'll keep that in mind," she says dryly. "Just… do yourself a favor, okay? It's okay to have problems, if we get on your nerves. We're friends. We can hear what each other says without taking it too personally… well. We're supposed to anyway."

James sighs and nods as he rests his hands round oyu for a quick squeeze, "Okay. I'll try. But, I'll need slapped now and again." He tilts his head, "I am sorry I upset you earlier. I…need to work the whole 'other people have feelings too."

Rashmi shrugs. "It's all right. Honestly, it's not… *really* you that's upsetting me. It's Lucas. And how we're all trusting him to know what he needs, and he's using that to shove us all away."

James grins, "Maybe it's time for an super-power intervention." He looks over at the clock, "I should get to bed. More detention in the morning. Lots more. Enough that I have it on the weekends." He sticks his tongue out. He looks down and gently rakes his claws over your back, "You gonna be okay? I mean, like, really?"

Rashmi closes her eyes for a moment, shaking her head before she releases the hug, stepping back. "…No… Not really. But… I'm better, now. A little. The rest?" One shoulder lifts, falls. "Just time."

James nods sagely—which means if he's making sense he must be tired, "Okay…I just, you know, I'm trying. To…help?" He has trouble with the words, and shows off a lot of teeth in the process. "If nothing else, I'll tell him I had my paws all over you. Maybe that'll make him snap out of it. His eyes narrow, ears sideways, "You know, it might…" He puts his hands up quickly, "I'm kidding, kidding…!"

Rashmi doesn't even rise to the bait this time, merely pats James' shoulder on the way to the Girl's Dorms. "Ve-e-ery funny, James… But, you know what? You *did* help. And… Thank you."

"You're not doing bad yourself, junior leader," he grins over his shoulder at you and stands up with a stretch. Instead of heading for the door, he heads back towards the boy's section, "Good night. If I don't see you tomorrow, I'll see you in class on Monday. I'll see if I can get with Addison, or something in the meantime. Just, you know, for my own good."

Rashmi looks over her shoulder, smiling. "You have a good night, too. Or, try to, at least. And if you'd like someone to come with you when you see Addison…?"

"I'd like that," James admits, "He scares me." He grins and flips a switch so the room switches to minimal lighting, "And thanks."

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