2011-09-28: Is This War?


Theo_icon.jpg Rashmi_icon.jpg

Summary: Rashmi tries to comfort Theo, but he doesn't seem to be very receiving.

Date: Wednesday, September 28, 2011. 9:23pm.

Log Title: Is This War?

Rating: PG

Westchester - Titicus Reservoir

Surrounded by trees and plenty of green, Titicus Reservoir is a peaceful spot. There is a fence surround the water to keep people out of the watershed. Sorry but there is no swimming in the drinking water. Before the fence is a small park with picnic tables, grills, and a large grassy area for recreational activity. The park is well maintained by the state of New York so it seems clean almost all the time.

Late evening. Most people have gone home for the day, in fact, it could be that the park is closed, but that doesn't stop Theo from sitting by the waterfront. His car is parked in the parking lot. His phone, Proto, and laptop are all in the care still. He sits in the grass, staring out at the water as he did earlier before he was interrupted in his silence. His green hoody with his old high school mascot, the Bluejays, covers his top half to keep him warm in the cool air, and a pair of standard blue jeans on his legs.

For the last two hours, Rashmi has been combing the Reservoir, hoping to find some sign of Theo. She'd dropped by the school to calm down after hearing news of Dingo's latest exploits, and heard that the boy had been seen at the Reservoir earlier in the day, but hadn't returned to the school. So, she took it upon herself to hike, at night, from the school to the artificial lake, and ferret him out without, hopefully, disturbing him worse than he'd already been. Finally, she pauses at the treeline, sighs to herself, and lifts her voice. "Theo? Are you here?"

When Rashmi's voice is heard, Theo lowers his head, and lets out a deep sigh. He then leans back and lays down on the ground. His hands go onto the sides of his forehead, and doesn't say anything. Maybe if he's really quiet, Rashmi won't notice him and will go away. Unfortunately, he's not hidden, he's out on the open grass, so only the dim light of the area offers him any hope of that, but with his car in the parking lot, he knows it's not likely to work.

"Theo… please just tell me you're here, okay?" Rashmi's voice floats over from the treeline, without a trace of anger or asperity; only honest, sincere worry. "Nobody's seen you at the school, but they know your car's here and I'm worried and just… *say* something? Please? I know you don't like me right now… but that's not even relevant. I'm *worried* about you." Footsteps rustle the cool, dew-laden grass, as Rashmi strikes off on a blind path toward the reservoir; one that won't even put her anywhere close to Theo's hiding place.

The pleading voice of a lady has always been a weak point for the otherwise callous Virginian. "What do you want?" he asks bluntly, not sitting back up. "I came out here so I couldn't make any more enemies, why can't anybody leave me alone?" Theo seems to almost have a growl in his tone, and he remains laying on his back, not wanting to exert the effort to sit back up.

"I *want* to make sure you're okay," Rashmi says, zeroing in on Theo's voice, walking slowly closer. "*I* came out here because there're still people who care about you, and they *can't* leave you all the way alone if they do, y'know? Besides," she says, grass rustling again, as she settles herself down a fair distance away. "If your problem is making enemies, who better to look for you? We both know it's not that easy with me."

"Yeah, since you can't make an enemy out of someone who already is one," Theo retorts bitterly. He props himself up on his elbows as Rashmi gets closer and looks over his shoulder at her. Once she's spotted in the failing light, he changes his position to face her, sitting up and crossing his legs.

Rashmi sits cross klegged on the ground, forearms resting on her knees, facing Theo. "That's sort of part of what I meant," she says, loosing a soft sigh. "…But whether I am or not is really up to you, y'know… *I* don't think you're my enemy." Her head tilts to one side, eyebrows twitching slightly closer together. "…But it's not just me, is it? … …What's been happening, Theo? You haven't needed to come out here in…. well… ever, really…"

"I just don't want to be around people," the reason is simple. "There is nothing good happening for me right now. If I had a choice, I'd leave and go home, pack up tonight and be gone before morning. But that's right, there's people who want to kill me back at home, too. Almost forgot." He shakes his head, and laughs to keep from crying.

"No," Rashmi whispers, just audible enough to be heard, "that's something you can't forget, ever… Oh, Theo…" She starts to get up, but pauses, eyes on the young teen. "…Can I come closer? You look like you really, *really* need a friend… and… well… like I said. Whether I'm your enemy or not's up to you."
"How can you even say that?" Theo asks accusingly. "You imposed your values on my situation, when I don't view things like you." He doesn't answer her question about moving closer, giving neither approval nor rejection. "You may have stolen my chance to see them pay, because they don't have a public defender, which is well within your "justice" demands, they have a well-paid expensive defense attorney who makes a living defending people who you'd think could never manage to get off with the crimes they commit. Do I need a friend? Yeah, I need a friend. I need someone who is going to stand by me when things suck, like absolutely everything in my life does right now. But there aren't any of those around."

"Maybe not," Rashmi answers, clearing her throat, "but I'd like to think I'm the next best thing, at least." Regardless of the hurtfulness of his words, she resumes her approach, settling down next to Theo. "Thing is? Real justice shouldn't be a demand, Theo… And you and I have had more than enough experience this last year with shady back room deals and people getting away with *nothing* they should have been able to on a trail of slime and money, to *really* think what I did helps that along. I *know* you're angry, and I *understand* why you are. But just… look at it like a computer game for a second and tell me I'm wrong."

Theo's deadpan response. "A computer game?" After a moment of unimpressed silence the technopath laughs, "Yeah, like Grand Theft Auto, now they can get away with it too, even though they don't have money, and keep beating and murdering mutants. You're really helping your argument." His tone grows more sober. "That guy in Africa? He didn't get caught because of justice. He got caught because Hosea and Connor organized a break-in and killed the guys that served him, and they should've killed him, too. Ironic that the peons are expendable and we can kill them, but the guy who is really responsible? Yeah, we'll give him a trial, because that's justice. This isn't a computer game, Rashmi, this is real life. Real life isn't just."

The reference to Nigeria shocks Rashmi into silence for a moment, eyes narrowing. "You really don't know *what* happened there, do you…" Letting out a breath, she closes her eyes for a moment, organizing her thoughts; an exercise which takes considerably more time than most would need. "Theo… Nigeria was a *war zone.* Not like here… not where the problem is a couple assholes holding a gun to your head and that's *really* out of line and they need to get punished. Those were *soldiers* there, people who are trained from the time they are children to murder people for fun and make women into sex slaves and kill everything that isn't on their side. Connor and Hosea were *fighting for their lives,* Theo, and they were fighting for *mine.* And Nero didn't die because Travis and I wanted him to *pay.* That is a whole other order of messed up that doesn't even *apply* here. This is *American* law, Theo, not a war."

Theo's response is short, but pointed, contained in a single statement as he looks Rashmi back in the eyes. "Are you sure about that?" he asks. His past experience with mutant hate and abuse would state otherwise.

Rashmi looks back, her gaze steady, but the pain of calamities past and present haunt her dark eyes. "Yes," is all she says in response, that one word carrying with it a depth of certainty that would be impossible, had she not lived through the things she's lived through.

"I'm not." Theo places his hands on his knees. "Rashmi, I am not trying to belittle what happened to you in Africa. I'm not trying to pretend that America is worse than Nigeria…not yet." He looks down at the ground as he measures his next statement. "These two, they represent something more than just a single hate crime to me, and it's not only because they tried to kill me. This is the type of people who killed my family. They are the reason I can't go home. They are the reason that Xavier's has to stay a secret from the rest of the world. They are the reasons for the sentinels. They are the reason for people like Magneto, and the Mutant Liberation Front, and the Friends of Humanity. They are the enemy." A much greater weight than one he used to refer to Rashmi's infraction in his mind.

"Then tell me this," Rashmi whispers, reaching out and squeezing Theo's shoulder gently. "If they get assigned a literally *incorruptible lawyer,* no matter who they hate or not, and that lawyer fights *completely fair* in a court of law… What are the chances the system is going to work like it's supposed to?"

"I don't know," Theo says with a wag of his head. "I don't know." He doesn't respond to the squeezing of his shoulder, but puts his head in his hands. "I don't like chances. I don't like things that are 'up for grabs' or unpredictable. I want something I know I can count on. The American justice system has a speckled record at best."

"Only because it doesn't always work like it's supposed to," Rashmi murmurs, letting go of Theo's shoulder to wrap her arm around him. "Besides. *Ms. Walter's job is only to create reasonable doubt. *Your* job is to give everything to the police you possibly can to *erase* that doubt. And I *can* help you there… y'know, prepare you for what it's gonna be like on the stand. It won't be a conflict, you'll be getting the same thing from the DA, most likely. I know you don't like chances… but seriously. Winning this fight would do more than a dozen MLFs ever could. Count on that."

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