2010-05-15: Pennyroyal Tea


Lucas_icon.jpg Mike_icon.jpg

Summary: Lucas is playing music. Mike stops to listen. Lucas asks how Mike can believe in God. Theology ensues.

Date: May 15, 2010

Pennyroyal Tea

Rating: PG

Xavier Mansion - Music Room

The music room has four levels of tiers that each sit one row in a semi circle. On the floor in the semi circle is grand piano. There is a large closet on either side of the room, one filled with string instruments and the other filled with various wind and brass instruments. There are a few guitars in the back of the room next to a large variety of percussion instruments. All the instruments here are for the students to use provided they take care of them and clean any necessary parts after they use it. The room is sound proof, so once the door is closed, the music being played will not interrupt the other classrooms.

Lucas is sitting on a stool at the front of the room. He has an accoustic guitar on, and is playing it plugged into an amplifier, run through a rather aggressive distortion pedal. His strumming is hard and unweilding, playing an old Nirvana song, All Apologies. His eyes are closed, and he's singing, though it's not on a microphone. His perfect pitch voice is strong and loud enough, however, that it carries over the guitar as he sings.

Saturday afternoon the Excelsiors have their usual meeting. Saturday evening, Mike Drakos is looking for a quiet place to think about the lesson du jour. Hank McCoy is a very strange teacher. Paradoxically, Mike finds the music room to be less 'noisy' than other parts of the place, and there's less chance here that the crazy guy in red and black will just wander in. Please.
He stops at the door, listening to the song. Yeah, that's an oldie. Who would think Lucas would be the kind to … well, wait. It does attract the girls. And it's a definite ice-breaker.
The robot kid moves as quietly as is reasonable for a guy with rubber feet into the room, and sits down, opening a book.

Lucas finishes the chorus, and as he begins to make the transition back into the verse, he notices Mike and it brings his playing to a stop. He furrows his brow, probably debating a shitty comment, and then just looks at the strings, begining to pluck them and retune. Not looking back up at the robot, he asks, "Lost?" There's no attitude to the question.

"Hm? No, I was enjoying the music. You have a good voice and I like that song. If you want I'll go elsewhere though. I'm just unwinding after the danger room."
Mike doesn't actually look back up directly after the first glance, flipping quietly to another page.

Lucas studies the robot a minute. "Somehow, Ah doubt you even heard of Nirvana, man." He shakes his head, "Y'all don't have to patronize me." He looks back at the strings, and tunes the next one. Watching his fingers work, he adds, "Ya don't have to go none, neither."

Mike makes a rather fake-sounding 'snort' sound. "They did a really good version of 'In the Pines' and Weird Al's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' got more coverage on MTv but I liked 'Come As You Are' better. They still get airplay on every alternative station in the northwest. My mom lives in Olympia."
He looks at the next page of the book, shakes his head, and flips ahead two chapters.

Lucas looks up, clearly a little surprised. "They let you listen to that? Ah mean, ain't you all religious an' shit?"

"Yeah, why should that stop me from listening to music. My folks are both priests, and they listen to it. My Papa started being a mechanic when I was five, and the guys who worked for him listened to all kinds of stuff. Except show tunes."
Mike takes out a pencil and starts writing notes in the book. It has the usual dustjacket of a book from the library. Rashmi would be scandalized. He looks up as he writes, and says in a slightly auto-tune flavored tone,
"Although, I don't really like 'Polly' that much. It's stalker-kidnapper-tastic."

Lucas nods, and he smiles. "Pennyroyal Tea's my favorite. It's his soul talking, the real torment what made him shoot hisself." He shrugs, adding, "If'n that's what y'all believe." He finishes tuning, looking back at Mike. "That musta been hard. Bein' a preacher's kid."

Mike looks up and shrugs, "Nah, I like my folks. They were more worried that I never rebelled like they thought I should, until I got to be 13 and then they were sorry they worried. Anyway I was always a bit weird even before I messed up and got stuck in the heavy metal life."
He looks at the next page of the book. A faint sound comes off him, the song in question playing the acoustic version from Unplugged.
"I don't know if I believe the suicide story. Has some serious gaps. Don't believe the Courtney Conspiracy story either."

Lucas nods, "Well, either way, he was a genius and it's prolly better he's done gone." He shrugs, "You play anything? Or are you just listening?"

The robot kid does more horrible vandalism to the book, making an annotation and correction to a diagram. It's either math, or a shop manual.
"I used to sing. Puberty destroyed my voice, and idiocy removed it completely, but Magneto and Hank gave me this new one and now I can sing like every quick and dirty pop star, if I want to."
Mike says this with the auto-tune effect turned way up.
"So Very Fake. So I don't. Never did have time to learn to play an instrument. I can mix stuff though. Not really well, I mean, I'm better than I used to be."

Lucas nods a little. "Always wanted to go to Seattle." He lifts the guitar off his neck, sitting it gently leaning against the wall. "Couldn't really afford it." He leans his elbows on his knees, looking at Mike. "Honestly, Ah only been outta Tennessee the first time right before Ah came here."

"Really? I've been everywhere. We lived in Knoxville for six months … my mom's job moved her around a lot, Papa was doing the race car circuits, it was crazy. What's it like to live in the same place for more than a year?"
Mike's not bitter, but that came out a little dry sounding, might be self-directed sarcasm. He puts the book away. "So, yeah, Seattle is kinda crazy. Way too big for a small town. I saw some guy driving down the freeway one day with his feet out the window, 65 miles an hour, in rush-hour traffic. Kinda glad Papa decided to stick with the Detroit garage."

Lucas shakes his head, "It's suffocatin'." He shrugs, "Ah mean, my Paw was… um…" He furrows his brow a little, and then says, "He worked at the post office. Maw was a secretary at an insurance company…" He sighs, "You didn't miss much, gettin to see everythin'."

"Huh. I dunno. I didn't really have any friends, except the guys who worked for my Dad. Not until high school. Also my mutant thing kicked in when I was 13, my folks freaked, wouldn't let me do anything that might involve me showing it off. Which I entirely would have done."
Mike laughs, almost hardly seeming like he's faking the laugh. Practice makes perfect? Anyway. He thinks for a moment. "So being locked into who other people think you are, no way to try out being someone else? That has got to suck. That was the one thing I liked about going to different schools."

Lucas nods, "It was okay. Ah LIKED who Ah was." He looks over at his guitar for a moment, as if there's a second half to that sentence he's not saying. "So… What's the story with your robo bod? Y'all have implied you weren't born that way."

Mike stops… How is it Lucas hasn't heard this whole moronic tale of his?
"Yeah, I was kinda stupid. And my power is stupid complicated sometimes."
He thinks back. Never did the dog and pony show for Lucas.
"OK, the quick version. Leaving out the soap opera part. Last year, just before Thanksgiving. My dad was testing what my power could do. I was merged with a sports car. The headlight blew, I got out of it, and the stupid power panicked and thought I had a missing eye so it replaced it with a machine eye. Vice principal already hated me and had a bunch of stupid rules. I had an eyepatch, he wanted to see the doctor's note, yanked the patch off, freaked out. I," and Mike air-quotes, "borrowed his beloved truck and was gonna leave it double-parked in another town. I had turned it into a stingray. Thought I could make a train crossing before the train, I was wrong. Totalled. My Papa found the wreck a few days later, talked me into waking up and coming out of it. And this is what came out, more or less."

Lucas nods, "Suck. You miss it? Bein' human' an' shit?" He tilts his head a bit, listening closely.

"Yeah. I do. I like being a mech-type too, it's a kick and a half, but this body has some lame features. Never let an eleven-year-old design your body."
He taps the collar and his robot-self is replaced by the image-inducer impression of what he should look like.
"For instance," Mike says making a scrunched-up face, "having the ability to make faces? Necessary part of self-expresion. And having a voice is a big deal too."

Lucas sizes up the new look, and asks, "Is that you? Or is that just a picture of someone you're using as you?"

"Strangely enough it's me. With a little interpolation from a picture of that guy who played Shark Boy. We're some sort of distant cousins, or something. He's a lot better looking, of course. Hank and Forge tried to use my last-years school yearbook photo, made my nose and ears look really huge, I had to fix that."
Mike looks over at Lucas, "So, I guess I'm interrupting your practice, huh? You play any other instruments? You're pretty good."

Lucas shakes his head, "Honestly, Ah ain't THAT great on the guitar. Ah play just a tiny bit of piano, but that's it." He shrugs, "An' you ain't interuptin' none. Ah was really kindly done." He sighs, "Ah went to an art and science magnet school back in Chatt. Mostly for singin', but you don't do one without playin' somethin', ya know?" He leans his chin on his hand, thinking a moment. Then, kind of out of nowhere, he says, "Ah'm sorry Ah was such a dick before."

Mike blinks at that, induced image registering some surprise. "You were? Honestly, I'd forgotten, but it's no problem. You've had a pretty nasty time. Makes mine seem pretty pleasant really. Except that week in the medbay."

Lucas furrows his brow a bit, shaking his head. "So… how can you still honestly believe in God, what with all this shit?"

"Urk! Big question," Mike says, a number of different expressions washing over his face as the inducer tries to keep up. "OK, it's not easy to answer. It's more a thing about who God is, y'know? If God is real then whether or not I believe it won't matter."
His expression settles on "serious" and he looks across at the window. "The things that made me believe in God are still true. I don't know what God knows. I can't say why things are the way they are, but there's some hints. People can make choices. We have that freedom, because we can't know everything so we're not forced to do the one best thing. Our choices affect other people, and it goes back for as long as people have had that power to choose."
Mike shifts in his seat, looking back at Lucas. "Rashmi and I have different starting places. I believe that people are broken, but God wants to heal us all. She thinks we can become like God, by inspiration, and that people have that innate goodness. So we're both right and both wrong, because God isn't limited, can't be limited by that kind of thing. So, what do you think people are like, and what do you think God would be like?"

Lucas rolls his eyes, standing, and moving to the amp to begin powering it down. He talks as he switches the dials off. "Ah think the world is broken, and folk are only as fucked up as what they've brushed up against. They deal with it or they don't. If'n they don't," he shrugs again, "The world destroys them. Ah know." He swallows, and walks back over to the chair, sitting down once again. "There's no god. There's just… shit."

"I've heard that said before. You know better than most that hell exists. What keeps it from being in control of everything? Why do you think there's no God?"
OK, that's probably an unfair approach and Mike might feel guilty about it later.

Lucas shakes his head, "Was it hell? Or is that just the label we put on it to make it understandable? Ah mean, think about it. Is Angel really an Angel? Ole Man Xavier can fuckin' use Cerebus to be omniscient an' shit. Does that make him god?" He shrugs, "If there was a God, he'd step in and make it so all this shit didn't happen, so it weren't so fuckin' bad. He wouldn't make fucked up shit screw good people. You'd have a body, Ah'd have hands, an' my Maw would be well."

"I saw what was looking through your eyes, Lucas. That's how I know what it was and where it was from."
Mike shakes his head, and answers the unspoken question, why doesn't God show that famous mercy, why doesn't he intervene. Eventually.
"Xavier with his machine can't be omniscient. Not even close. Not even Addison with the firebird nesting in his soul and Xavier's machine is really omniscient. Angel happens to look like one of the traditional images of angels. And God doesn't always take us out of bad situations. You're right, the world destroys… I sometimes think it's a testing ground and it tests us to destruction. But I'm still alive, and this is my body for now. You've got hands, even though you need gloves to touch things. You don't have hooks, or stumps. And your mother… I know it hurts as much as anything can. But if God is real then the matter of her life and death is between her and God. If God is real then God will make it clear to you in time, what your hands are about and why."

Lucas just shakes his head. "That's shit Christians tell themselves to make it okay that there's no sign of God." He snarls a little, sighing. "Sorry. Ah can only pray so long an' be fucked over so many times without a God doin' anythin' about it to believe he's out there."

Mike sighs too. His voice isn't resentful or argumentative when he answers, more contemplative, perhaps.
"What makes you think there's no sign of God? There's no sign of what you want God to be? Maybe so. That's true for a lot of people. One of the things us Christians tell ourselves is something we were told by the guy who started our religion. We're all of us expected to be God's hands. We're all of us expected to be HIS body on earth since we nailed him to a cross and left him hanging there to die. That's one of the things we tell ourselves too. It's our responsibility. It's all part of the test. I'm telling you what I heard God tell me when I ranted about this. I'll know in time why I am like this. I won't know why your mother has cancer, and I won't know why she hasn't been healed, or if she will be. She's going to die eventually. That's true for everyone."

Lucas shakes his head once more. "Sorry. Ah don't believe god would let all this happen if he was real, an' if'n he was anythin' like what the Bible said he was." He sniffs, shrugging. "'Sides, Thou Shalt Not Kill doesn't really sit all that well with me no mores, neither."

"The Bible says a lot of different things about God, Lucas," is Mike's reply. "And for what it's worth, it's 'thou shalt not murder' … but that's kinda quibbling. You asked me how I can believe, but you dismissed it as just something I tell myself so I can keep believing. It sounds like you're trying to defend your disbelief. Did you believe in God before all this?"

Lucas shrugs at the correction, "Even worse." He sighs, and he nods, "Ah did, yeah." He leans his elbows on his knees once more, looking off at the door to the room. "Was a long time ago."

The problem with a machine for a brain? You remember stuff pretty well.
"You're still thinking that you murdered people, huh?"
Mike's expression is all neutral again, but at least it's a human face, not a mona-lisa-bot mask. He shakes his head. "Nothing you did while you were being driven around by that thing, was really you. I had that discussion with Mikhail for days. I freaked him out by turning my bike into a scary monster, even, but he didn't get the analogy right away. Did you deliberately choose to kill anyone, before or after that, and then do it? Don't tell me the answer. It's only murder if you choose it and you can do anything about it."
He looks at the door too. What is it about that door?

Lucas stands up, walking the few steps to Mike. "You don't understand." He shakes his head, "Ah should get to bed." He turns, heading up the aisle towards the door.

"I'm not sure what I don't understand. But it's OK. Thanks for talking with me. Or letting me talk at you. And for the music earlier."
Mike reaches over and offers a fist to bump. "Sleep well when you get there. I'm probably gonna crash here for my 2.5 hours backup soon. Might not make it across the distance."

Lucas looks at the fist, lets it hang a little longer than is really comfortable, and then bumps it. In the moment they touch, Mike can feel the heat from under the glove. Then he heads out.

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