2010-01-08: Making The Scene


Ben_icon.jpg JeanPaul_icon.jpg

Summary: A chance meeting, a careful investigation and a impromptu coffee break.

Date: January 08, 2010

Log Title Making The Scene

Rating: PG

NYC - Times Square

In the center of Manhattan is Times Square. Many stores, theatres, and restaurants are brightly lit in the area. The big screens at the center of Times Square constantly flashes the latest commercials, and the latest stock prices revolve around the buildings. It's one of the busier areas of New York City, especially during New Years, where the infamous ball is dropped here. If you're lucky you might even see the Naked Cowboy.

Friday. And Ben actually has the night off, as well as the next day. He really should go up north, but he's just not into it. He's having all of that trouble with his mind. Remembering things that he shouldn't be remembering. He's just walking casually, carrying his backpack. He never removes it it seems. He's stopped wearing the makeup on his face and let the tattoo show.

Jean-Paul is walking through Times Square with several bags from various high-end clothing stores in hand. Canada is his homeland but nowhere, nowhere is more vibrant and exciting than Manhattan. Or has better shopping. His expression is mildly pleased and his clothing is restrained and expensive. Years of habit, though. When you've been on the front lines of combat situations as much as he has, you're never completely oblivious to your surroundings. Something nags him about the figure he's walking towards. The frame, the profile. Something he's seen …somewhere. Elegant eyebrows arch up as he sees the tattoo and he stops, letting out a mild, suprised oath in French.

Ben doesn't hear the oath, but looks in Jean-Paul's direction. He doesn't say anything, but offers a smile. He's dressed in a decent jacket and black jeans with fashionable wear on the legs. The eye glows slightly for a brief second as something strange happens within his mind before he looks back to the window. It was almost as if there was a bit of recognition that completely went away. He runs a hand through his hair as he ponders. "Maybe that scarf would work." He mutters.

Jean-Paul blinks, obviously surprised not to be recognized. Still, he doesn't know what's going on, so caution is the order of the day. No harm in indulging his curiosity, though. He returns the smile with a faint one of his own and a nod, eyebrows arching again at that flash of light. So, not a poseur stealing someone's look, then. He also looks in the window and says, his Quebecois accent rather subdued after all these years, "Well, it would look good with your coloring."

Looking up, Ben ponders. "You look familiar." He says simply with a half grin before he looks at the jacket again. "People always say that the strawberry hair works well with a green shade. "You really look familiar…" He says. A sudden shutdown of his emotions. He blinks back to himself. "I know. I saw your picture up at Kenta's school somewhere." He says with a firm nod. There may only be an image or two, but Northstar is pictured.

Jean-Paul chuckles, "It goes well with anything but pink or purple, in my experience. Happily, those are not colors much in vogue with most men." He turns back to look at the familiar man full on. "And I've seen your pictures. Though I was reviewing personal records for …the school." He's perplexed but still playing along. "Jean-Paul." He holds out his hand. "And you might be….?" There is a hint of irony on that.

"Oh, Ben. Ben Starr." He says with a smile. He accepts the hand. He seems to firmly accept that as his name. "Wait… you have access to those? Kenta was meaning to…" He starts before suddenly stopping. "I'm sorry. You shouldn't hear my confusion." His grip is firm. He shakes his head to stop it so that he doesn't start babbling again. Not quite like his personal record would state. The one in there is quiet.

Jean-Paul blinks. "Ben. Starr. D'accord, Ben it is. And yes, I'm a teacher at the school." Amnesia. Along with strict diets to look good in spandex, archenemies and the occasional mistaken brawl with another hero, it's one of the idiosyncratic job hazards of being a supehero. He smiles faintly and says, "Don't worry about the confusion, Ben. We belong to a very special club. A close one. There are no problems that are not shared problems unless you will it so."

"That part I already figured if you work up there. After all, Kenta's there. I stayed a couple of nights. I do know the particulars. Well, some of them." Ben says with a nod. He tilts his head. "So, you probably think I'm some guy from up there. That's what they all think. At least, from one of the sister groups. But… I don't have those memories. I have a whole head of memories. From something else."

Jean-Paul shrugs and says, "You are who you think you are. If you need to be this Ben Starr for now or forever, then that's who you are. Until you want to be something different." It's a philosophy of identity and will that has been shaped by life and death in the strange circumstances of the trade. He clasps his hands behind his back and says, "So, who are you, Mr. Starr? Who do you remember being?"

"I remember being a Gymnast. In Vermont. With other gymnasts. We competed in high school and in the beginnings of college until I moved here." Ben says simply. "And now, I work at a Starbucks and sling coffee while I take classes. It's not exciting, butit's work."

Jean-Paul nods. "Do you enjoy your life? As a barista and a student of …art? Music?" He seems to be considering Ben as though weighing something, perhaps his ethical obligations to another member of the X-family, if a bit of a distant one to him.

"Physical studies. Primarily Nutritional studies. Just how to keep people properly fit and keep them going well." Ben nods succinctly. "I do enjoy it. I just hate when I can't figure things out. I've got memories that don't sync with other people's memories." He explains. "And yourself, Mr. Jean-Paul?" He is obviously not recognizing the heroic side.

Jean-Paul smiles a bit broader, somewhat amused at not being recognized, even under the circumstances. "I have no idea why I'm paying my publicist. I'm Jean-Paul Beaubier. And amongst other things, I'm a teacher and an author. And yes, I do tend to enjoy most everything I do. Or I don't do it. It's a simplistic philosophy but I…" He plants a hand on his chest rather theatrically, "…am a simple man at heart."

"Most of us are, despite what gets done to us and changes our hearts and minds, Mr. Northstar." Yep, Ben says that. Out loud. With a chuckle. He doesn't seem to realize anything that he may have said anything. "Teacher and author. Sounds interesting and maybe even fun. In the right times."

Jean-Paul arches an eyebrow at both the statement and the use of his codename. He nods, "Things happen to us and minds change, my friend, but not hearts. A hero is always a hero. A warrior is always a warrior." And an X-Man is always an X-Man, though he doesn't push it quite that far. "It's diverting. Mind you, I find children a bit distasteful as a class, but I suppose I was one once so I must make allowances. And our crop at the Institute are rather exceptional. All …gymnasts… in potential, you might say. And being an author is mostly talking about one's self in my case. Which, you may have noted, is something I'm not shy about doing."

"Obviously. Not that it's a bad thing. Some people are allowed to talk about themselves. If they're an author, a teacher, and more, then they're accomplished. Why not? I'm just a barista with a good sense of balance." Ben laughs softly, offering an actual smile. "What brings you this way?"

Jean-Paul hefts the bags. "Indulging my third or fourth favorite sin." He looks around, "One assumes that as a professional in the field, you might know where one can get a decent espresso without being mobbed by tourists?" He asks with a practiced and light tone, still smiling faintly and not quite innocently. Apparently the expression and tone is habitual.

"Well, there's my OWN starbucks. It's the best run one in the area." Ben chuckles, shrugging a little. "But then, there is no such thing as a slow or unpopular starbucks." He ponders briefly. "Though, the Sweet Cafe has their own coffees out there. It's quite good. And they have other types of things that are tasty as well. If you like sweet things." He says with a grin.

Jean-Paul chuckles. "Sweet, yes. Cloying, no. I shall leave myself entirely in your hands. And you can tell me about how Mr. Ben Starr spends his days. And why he's not using our facilities to keep his skills up and that sort of thing. You do know you'd be welcome?" The last is delivered with an off-hand tone and pointedly casual expression.

"It's just in Central Park. And… why not? I have the evening off." Ben laughs. For once, a charming introduction and discussion that doesn't concern forcing Ben to try to remember things that aren't in his mind. Where's a telepath when one's needed? "I don't go up there because someone follows me around like a sick puppy. And I don't remember it right. Nothing is what I remember."

Jean-Paul nods and says, "A good-looking young man dedicated who is a former gymnast and dedicated to fitness? I can't /possibly/ imagine why anyone would follow you around like puppy." There is a hint of a laugh in his voice at that. "And lead on. As for the Institute, it doesn't even look like /I/ remembered it. Believe me, that place has seen more explosions than a munitions factory attended only by blind pyromaniacs. It is, ah, part of the whole experience." His expression turns thoughtful. "Actually, if I recall correctly, a few friends and I once flattened the north wing of the old building." He chuckles faintly at that. "Ah, happy memories. Alas, some pugnacious little rodents refuse to stay flattened, even for a little while." He clears his throat. "But enough of that. Let's sit and talk and give me a chance to impress you further with my native charm and sophistication."

There's even a hint of a blush from Ben's face at the mention from Jean-Paul about good-looking. "Well, I don't know him. At all. I see Sam and I see someone I used to know. I see pictures of Tabitha, and I see someone I used to know. I don't know him." He coughs, nodding. "Central Park. So, a bit of a walk, unless you'd rather take a cab?" He asks, tilting his head. Then with the continued flirtatiousness, Ben simply smiles. He just can't resist it.

Jean-Paul gives a gallic shrug, broad and theatrical. "I have nothing but time. And I enjoy a leisurely stroll." Even Jean-Paul can't stop from smirking at /that/ enormous whopper. He starts off in the appropriate direction, hopefully and says, "Well, these things take time. And that's even /if/ they return at all. Sometimes people have to reconstruct their own lives using only the memories of others. If they wish to do so at all. If your friend is truly a friend, even if you don't know him as such, he'll give you the time to get comfortable and regain what you've lost. Or decide not to do so."

"I wish I could explain that to him." Ben says with a chuckle after he pauses for a moment. "Wait… time. Stroll. Leisurely. There's… there's a lie in there somewhere." He walks along at a better pace than most people, easily sliding between anyone coming his direction without even a brush. "I… I want to know the truth. that's the big thing. But Kenta says he believes we'll need a telepath for that. That it's something more than what we realize."

Jean-Paul smirks and looks sideways at Ben. "Ah, I'm rather known for being a bit on the quick side, professionally." And that absolutely reeks of false modesty so blatant that it becomes a form of bragging. He watches Ben slide through the crowd, noting that whatever the state of his conscious mind, the instincts and reflexes are there. "Well, we don't exactly lack for telepaths in our little club. And a shocking number of them are redheads. I've always wondered if there were some connection other than the obvious familial one. Like green eyes being a recessive gene or the link between shoe size and … one's ability to climb well with one's toes." He walks on a little more before adding, "So, a telepath could set your mind straight tout de suite, non? So why have you not availed yourself of one?"

"Well, I wouldn't know any. And… I just haven't had time to look for one. And Kenta said he'd help." Ben blinks at the mention of shoes and chuckles. "Well, normally if one has large shoes, they have large feet and/or toes. Thus better climbing skill?" He asks, grinning. "But then, I can climb fairly well. And I only have four toes." He says with a chuckle. Of course, it'll take a little time to get over there, but he's enjoying the company.

Jean-Paul shrugs and says, "I suspect I can help there. There is a long-haired young man (red-headed, of course) skulking about the school looking like he either needs to be put to work or fed. Both, now that I think about it. He should at least be able to start shining a light in the dark corners." He blinks at the mention of four toes, having scanned the files but not looked quite /that/ closely. "And I bow to your theory on climbing. It makes perfect sense." They've covered half a block or so by this time and Jean-Paul finds himself a bit fidgety. How do people /do/ this? It's like living trapped in amber. He stops and looks back at Ben, sizing him up and then asking, "Ah, do you have any objection to a more … expedited method of travel? Or suffer a fear of heights?"

Ben holds up a hand. Three fingers and a thumb. "It all matches." He says with a nod. He's in a good mood, so with a laugh, he does a flip, leaping up to hang onto one of the light poles from fairly high with a grin. "No fear of heights whatsoever. And a sense of balance like nobody's business." And other things, but he's not discussing all of that right here.

Jean-Paul watches Ben move with some appreciation, both professional and aesthetic. His smile turns a little wicked, "One hopes that the rest of the equipment is at least standard." He looks from side to side, noting the people gaping at Ben and says, "Well, since we are giving them a show…." His feet leave the ground and he travels up to hover in mid-air, eye to eye with Ben from a few feet away. 'Float' suggests being subject to bobbles or vagaries of the air currents. Jean-Paul simply decides that gravity doesn't apply to him and slides upward as smoothly as an elevator and steady as a rock. He says, "I can take us over the crowds and traffic but you'll have to hold on." And that wicked grin again, "I /do/ hope you're comfortable with that."

"You'd be surprised how hard I can hold onto something when my life depends on it." Ben laughs, jumping towards the other person with a grin. The pack jangles with metal briefly as he does so. For him, it's all done more gracefully than would be natural for the standard people. "Mr. Beaubier, if I didn't know better, I'd say you were flirting. But then, I don't know either way, since we've only just met." He can't help it. He's actually enjoying himself.

Jean-Paul plucks Ben out of the air, thanks to his enhanced reflexes, he's able to do with ease that matches the young man's grace and he pulls Ben a little closer, grinning at him from a few inches away. "I'm not particularly reserved, Mr. Starr. And /you/ are not particularly complaining." He looks back down at the crowd, some watching with wonder, most in confusion and a few with either delight, envy, fear or distaste. With a born showman's instinct, he spins the two of them around once and laughs towards the throng, "Face it, whatever we're selling, you'd buy. Lots." And then they are up and over the streets, cold wind in their faces and the noise of the city fading as they describe a perfect arc over midtown towards the greenery of the park. "Beats a cab, non?"

Ben can't help his laughter. "Why would I complain. You're not pressuring me. You're pleasant in an odd sort of way. You're interesting. And you don't seem to mind the oddities that are a part of my daily life." He grins, maneuvering himself into an easier position. Ben… is amazingly light for a man his size. "I could have jumped over roofs, but… yes. This is a little bit more fun. Better than what I do." He chuckles, hair whipping around as much as it can from within it's tail.

Jean-Paul says, "Odd? I'm hurt." He doesn't /sound/ particularly hurt. "I'm obviously attempting to charm you in the classic and time-honored mode of Wilde or Coward archetype. Americans. No love for the classics." He is flying low over the trees now and smiles as Ben adjusts his weight and balance and he adjusts his own at the unexpectedly light burden. "You've done this before. On some level. And I'm not pressuring you because you don't /need/ me to pressure you. You're handling your own life at your own pace and not doing anything wrong or dangerous, that I can see. So I'd rather be your friend than another person telling you how to run your life."

"Oh, I didn't say I had no love for the classics… I don't REMEMBER the classics." Ben says, actually laughing and enjoying himself. "Finally, someone who understands that I'll figure it out or I won't. Yes, I want to. But… I do not want to be gathered, coerced, and forced into doing it in their time." He relaxes somewhat as he just waits for the ride to end.

Jean-Paul sets them down gently at the edge of the park, pausing just a second before stepping back and straightening his coat a bit. "There. The only way to travel. And that's a shame. But at least you have a sense of having read them. That's more than most." He looks around, silently noting that New Yorkers are terribly jaded about flying men landing in the park. "And exactly. I detest being treated as though I'm less than brilliant and able to manage my own affairs. I can't imagine anyone worth knowing who doesn't feel the same way."

"And having watched them. I seem to remember a lot from television. I don't know why. I don't watch that much, but when I watch, I can't stand to keep it on just one channel." Ben says awkwardly. The clinking happens again from his backpack as he's settled. "I come here a lot. Just to practice. To work on maneuvers. And… things." He coughs. "Well, I can understand why you wouldn't want to be thought of as less than brilliant. I don't want to be thought of as anything less than an uhm… Hm. I can't think of anything."

Jean-Paul gives Ben a reproachful look at 'watched' but doesn't say anything. He nods at that, though, knowing at least a bit of his former life and the background thereof. His eyebrows lift at the clinking and he says, "Ah, may I ask what you're carrying? And this is a good place to get some space. Mental and physical." At the last bit he smiles faintly and suggests, "Sovereign? In charge of your own life? Competent? Or perhaps just as a placeholder for the person you used to be when you rather like the person you are now?"

"Swords." Ben says with a chuckle. He's not got any need to lie about it. After all… "I found them when I was younger." He grins walking towards the sweet cafe. He doesn't move too far away, though. "They let me channel my… other uhm… gymnastic traits?" He tilts his head, trying to figure out if that got through. But… JP is quite intelligent and should understnad it. "No, I'm not a placeholder. I'm me. I like who I am. I want to know who I was, but I don't want to lose who I was."

Jean-Paul nods and says, "At the risk of being one of those people pressuring you, that's a very good sign. It means that you're looking for what you had, on some level. And yes, I've read the files." He smiles faintly at that last and says, "And that I understand perfectly. Sometimes it seems like our whole lives are a quest for identity or a defense thereof. Personally, I think you seem to be doing just fine. But I can also understand your friends being worried about you. Perhaps you should all give each other a little more patience."

"Thank you." Ben says simply, leaving it at that. There's not much more he can say in response. Instead, he points to the Sweet Cafe down the way. "Are you staying up there right now? I mean… at the school?" He asks, tilting his head to the side. "The… the systems recognize me." He says with a shrug. "I snuck in and someone asked me how I got past security."

Jean-Paul grins, starts towards the cafe and says, "Oh please. Xavier's 'security' is a running joke. Do you know that Juggernaut once sneaked onto the grounds? Juggernaut! If you look under 'not stealthy' in the dictionary, a picture of Marko will stare back at you. But that aside, of course you're in the system. You are a part of the family." He pauses and says, "And honestly, I'm not sure whether I'll be staying at the school or not. Commuting is obviously not a problem for me. On the other hand, if there is trouble, it's good to be there."

"Ah. I like where I am out here. Away from the crazy." Ben says. "Well, most of the crazy. There's plenty happening in the starbucks itself." He grins, reaching a hand up in a stretch. He ponders. "I don't know who that is." He says, shrugging softly. "I hope I'm not too boring." He chuckles. "They have some really nice desserts here. And, fortunately, I have a metabolism that can handle anything." He looks a little embarassed.

Jean-Paul snorts. "Big, stupid, yells a lot. Nigh unstoppable. Also related to Xavier himself, apparently. One wonders which is the black sheep of the family. And it may be a mutant thing. Or just that most of us burn off calories defeating people like Juggernaut." A pause, "And you are not boring. Not everyone must run around assaulting people with bad fashion sense and poor life choices."

"I know. Some of these things are eye assaulting." Ben admits before stopping himself. "That sounds bad. And a little snarky." He chuckles, with a bit of a hair flip. "Though my fashion tends to fall under just jackets and jeans." He admits, slightly deflating because he doesn't know what to talk about with that. He's not really gotten into any superhuman problems.

Jean-Paul glances sideways at Ben. "What is the expression? Welcome to the dark side? Snarky is where I live." He doesn't sound the least bit ashamed of it, either. "And I like a little more upscale casual myself, but I suspect that's because I was unable to have such things earlier in life. So now I indulge myself."

"I just need things that I can move in. I don't… i don't like feeling confined by my clothing." Ben says with a nod, running a hand through his hair. He opens the door to the small restaurant with a grin. "After you?"

Jean-Paul gives Ben a nod with the air of a courtly bow, saying in passing, "Thank you. Well, obviously the solution is to move someplace where nobody minds you running around naked." It's said so casually that it just has to be a conversational bomb dropped on purpose, even if that wicked smirk didn't give him away. He looks around the shop, apparently approving.

"But there are very few places that will accept that, other than nudist colonies. And streaking across college campuses." Ben offers with another laugh. "Or did you have a suggestion?" He winks. Moving to a table, he pulls a chair out for Jean-Paul before seating himself. "At least there's someone with some normal thought processes up there."

Jean-Paul says dryly in answer to the wink, "And nudist colonies are bad things? Or uncharted desert islands or something. You'd be surprised how much beautiful land isn't occupied that you see when you fly." He smiles at having his chair pulled out and seats himself, arranging the shopping bags a he says, "And I think that may be the first time someone has called me normal without laughing." He adds, "As I said, I'll put myself in your hands, you know what's good here."

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