2012-06-03: Psych 101


Rashmi_icon.jpg Tabitha_icon.jpg

Summary: Tabitha catches up with Rashmi for the first time since the fateful Romania adventure.

Date: June 3, 2012

Log Title: Psych 101

Rating: PG

Barnes Academy - HoloQuad

Stepping into the HoloQuad one would almost forget that they were in an underwater school. The sky changes to reflect the time of day, sunny with clouds during the day to night time reflecting what the Northern Hemisphere would look like without light pollution. Sunsets and Sunrises are even reflected in the room. It's impossible to tell there is a ceiling up there. Plant life, benches, fountains and pathways make the room look like a luxurious park and unlike the sky, the rest of the room is real. Sometimes a breeze passes buy and the room is always a comfortable temperature giving the students a way to feel like they're outside enjoying the fresh air.

The middle of the afternoon on Sunday finds the Barnes Academy Holoquad to be… almost deserted. Most students and staff are either locked in their rooms studying, or out in New York enjoying the day out. Not so for Tabitha Jones; the rat girl appears to be way too busy, sitting on a bench with an open backpack spilling books out beside her, and a laptop perched on her knees. She's busy tapping away at the keyboard, eyes quite focused on what she's up to. Physics homework, if the open textbook atop her pack is any indication.

Hair still slightly damp from her shower, and with a gym bag sling over her shoulder to keep the bookbag at her hip company, Rashmi slowly makes her way through the holoquad, staring at a PDA in her hand. Now and again, her thumb presses against the right edge, changing pages, as she reads whatever is on the screen. For all that the week-long break was badly needed, the redhead still looks… distracted, is probably the best word, what thoughts aren't on her PDA, involved in introspection.

It's the sound of footsteps through the Holoquad that tips Tabitha off. Her ears twitch, and she subconsciously tracks that sound while she works; this continues for at least a minute, before at last the distraction grows great enough to disrupt her thought. She sets the laptop aside, and sighs softly, pinching at the bridge of her muzzle. Slowly, she pulls herself up from the bench, and lifts her arms up above her in a long stretch with an audible yawn. While she's up, she glances over her shoulder to see just who is there. "…RASHMI!" Infused with sudden energy, she vaults over the bench and jogs up the path.

Rashmi's head snaps up at the shouted call, orienting on Tabitha with puzzled worry at first… which soon gives way to a bright, beaming smile as the younger mutant closes. "*Hi,* Tabitha! God, it's been so long, how're you doing?" The PDA, unobtrusively turned off and stowed in her bookbag, as she turns to face her friend completely.

The PDA is stowed just in time, as the rat girl practically siezes Rashmi in her arms and gives her a tight squeeze. "I knew you were back because Kalindi said you were okay, but I was so worried about all of you," she declares as she backs off once more. "I've been okay, but I'm much better know that my friends are all back. Same old New York, supervillains everywhere, y'know." She shrugs emphatically. "But what about you? I heard you fought Dracula. Like, the Dracula. Sounds like you've had a hell of a time. How are you doing?"

"Wh-OOF," Rashmi manages as the arms encircle her and squeeze, but the greeting returned, albeit much less enthusiastically, and with good humor. "Well, *I* didn't fight him… That was pretty much all Kalindi and Hosea, honestly. …I just sort of got to say 'I told you so,' which… honestly that's really enough, and *way* more excitement than I really want anyway."

The rat girl grins, and shakes her head slowly. "Maybe, but I know you always downplay your own contributions," the rat girl replies. "But it doesn't matter. I'm not really bothered about who fought Dracula or anything, just… I'm just really glad you're all back. I may have said that once or twice already." She clasps her hands behind her back, and lets her smile slowly fade while her brow furrows. "So, you are definitely okay, right?"

Rashmi lifts a shoulder, shaking her head. "I'll be okay. Still a little off-balance, honestly… It was the nothing that got to all of us, I think. We were gone all that time, and we maybe actually talk to anyone but each other a few times, or when asking Igor for little things. …Also it was impossible to tell the time, and it was always night, so… yeah. It's not nearly as bad as the Nigeria thing was, all told… but at least then I had a *fight,* y'know?" Glancing up, she puts on another small smile. "…But anyway, I'll be okay, I think. I'm really more worried about the others."

Tabitha bobs her head once. "Well, having nothing to do can be worse than having a fight sometimes," she replies. "I don't think you have to worry about Kalindi, though. She was pretty ecstatic when she got back home — apparently she's inherited the tower. But she didn't talk about it much when she got home, we just sort of… spent some time together." The rat girl smiles once more, and gets this really… satisfied look on her face. This lasts for a moment until she realizes that she is, in fact, still in a conversation. "Actually, I'm betting it must've been good for the other girls to have you around… I mean, it wasn't good you were kidnapped or anything, but you had experience, right? And you know how to keep calm and stuff."

"Um… Probably?" A puzzled look passes over Rashmi's face. "I don't really know, Tabitha… I *hope* I helped, but, I was in it just as far as they were, and it was even worse for some. So… yeah, I hope I helped." The corner of her mouth crooks upward, her head tilting to one side. "Um… d'you mind if we talk about something else? I just… sort of want to put the whole mess at arm's length until I've gotten my head straight, y'know…?"

Tabitha pauses, and then nods her head quickly, "Oh, yeah, certainly. Sorry, I don't mean to be all tossing it back in your face, just, I… y'know. Just so excited to see you again," she trails off. The insides of her ears turn a dark red as she blushes, and she hides it by brushing her fingers through her hair. "So, uhm. What else is new?"

Rashmi chuckles softly, reaching up to pat Tabitha's arm. "Hey it's okay, I understand. Just… yeah. Um… well it looks like I'm probably going to need to put off graduation for another semester, um… My friend Connor's going to be starting here probably after summer… And… hm. …Our cats are okay?" Shrugging, she spreads her hands. "Not *terribly* much, aside from a project I need to finish simmering… but I shouldn't talk about it more than that, so."

"Simmering? Well, I won't pry, but I hope it works out like you want it to." The rat girl hooks her thumbs into her pockets, and humms softly. "I've never met Connor, you've just mentioned him a couple times. Well… actually, I'm told that I did, but it was busy living in Mindbender's dream world at the time, so I wouldn't recognize him now anyway, so I might as well've not met him." She pauses, purses her lips. "You know, it *is* kinda funny when you think about it, how people like us can discuss this kinda stuff like it's totally normal."

"Oh well it's not *normal,*" Rashmi says with a quiet chuckle. "Not in the slightest. But it's what we have to deal with, and after awhile it just becomes a frame of reference, y'know? If it wasn't kidnappings and supervillains, it'd be 'that time my dog got sick,' or 'the day I broke my leg' or something."

Tabitha chuckles softly. "Yes, well, I suppose hardship is relative, right? Our 'I got mind-controlled by a supervillain' is someone else's 'I got pulled over for speeding'." She scratches the back of her head, letting that thought hover in the air. "…Actually, that's still kinda weird, now that I think about it. I wish I had something profound to say on the matter, but I don't."

Rashmi shrugs, smiling a bit. "Not everything needs to be a source of Deep Wisdom, honestly, it's okay. So aside from lots and lots of worrying, what've you been up to all this time?"

Tabitha hunhs? "Me? Well, I got shot by Taskmaster, and that wasn't much fun. Uhh… I met a crazy lady who wants to kill my girlfriend, and I helped her fake her own death to save a bunch of school children, after getting into a fight with Envy." She pauses, and ahems softly. "As for more 'normal' stuff, I bought a really beat up old Pontiac GTO that I plan on teaching myself how to fix up real good… and I took up geocaching. Mostly because I was going stir-crazy worrying about everyone and I needed something to do that wasn't… well, worrying."

Rashmi blinks a bit, brow furrowing. "….*Fake* her own death, you said? …Um. …Does Jeremy know about that?" A moment's silence, then she rewinds the conversation a bit, and tilts her head. "…What's geocaching, anyway?"

Tabitha hunhs? "Why would it matter to Jeremy? …I dunno, I probably shouldn't have mentioned it, but really my interest was in saving the kids, not in helping her out. …You can probably find out who I'm on about if you google it." She shrugs, and then pulls out her phone. "Geocaching," she explains, with a much happier note entering her voice, "Is this… thing, I found out about. There's these little boxes all over the place, right? And they're marked with GPS coordinates, and people use their phones and stuff to find them. And when you do you take something from it, and leave something else behind for the next person to find."

"Because if you're talking about who I think you are, she apparently kind of meant a lot to Jeremy," Rashmi answers. "He was pretty crushed when he'd heard she was dead, y'know? I hope *someone* tells him it was fake, he could use something to be happy about." Shaking her head, she peers at the cellphone, worry turning to puzzlement then into a bright grin. "Oh! That's pretty neat, actually! …Like, *seriously* neat, come to think of it. How do you know where the boxes are in the first place?"

There's a program, you download it onto your phone or whatever," Tabitha replies. "It tells you where they are. …Or more precisely, it gives you coordinates and then gives you a clue to help you find it. Some people are really cryptic, and I haven't found all of the ones I've gone looking for. I've had to give up a few times — you're not allowed to look when other people are around, you can't have non-geocachers find the stash. Otherwise they tend to just jack everything that's in it." She pauses, and scratches the back of her head. "I'll let Jeremy know it was fake, I didn't realize he meant something to her. I tried to talk to him, but I'm… apparently better at punching things than at talking nicely to people. I probably should'a been a boy. Hah."

Rashmi furrows her brow. "…Why would you say that, Tabitha? …I'm sorry I just don't really understand what you mean, is all… What makes you bad at talking to people?"

The rat girl blushes softly. "I dunno, I tried really hard to help him feel better when he was in a funk, and I really felt bad for him, but in the end I just made him feel more upset than he was when I started. And I felt really bad for him after that, too." She scratches the back of her head, and generally looks pretty awkward. "I seem to be really good at shoving my foot in my mouth with all the best intentions."

Rashmi nods slowly, moving to a nearby couch to sit, pursing her lips in thought. "…Any idea why, out of curiosity? I mean, what did you tell him?"

Tabitha stands where she is, before finally moving to join Rashmi on the couch, plopping down hard enough to make the springs squeak. "Well I thought he was starting to sound suicidal, and that was alarming, so I told him to stop thinking that way. I tried to tell him that he was a good person, and… I dunno what I said wrong."

Rashmi ponders a moment, drawing in a deep breath. "Okay… I can understand where you're coming from, but… First thing? *Never* tell anyone to stop thinking a certain way. Especially in Jeremy's case… he's had it *really* hard, and he honestly needs to re-learn how to stand on his own, y'know? You can't have all the answers, and most of the time if you try, you probably end up making someone upset, or feel stupid, like 'why didn't I think of that?' That's the best-case; worst-case, you'll end up coming off like you know them better than they do, and they should shut up and do it your way." Pausing, she looks up, shrugging a bit a smiling. "It's really *not* easy to learn this stuff, honestly; you have to screw it up anyway to realize what not to do, and listen for what might work. But the most important thing is, they have to come at the answer on their own. If you're there to help, you're just there to point out the road and let them decide to take it."

Tabitha sighs heavily, and slumps her shoulders. "I was just tryin' to help," she mumbles. "I dunno, I probably should've just suggested he should talk to a councillor or something… except if anyone ever told me that I'd probably react pretty much like he did to me, so I dunno." She sighs heavily, and plays with the edge of one of the many patches sewn into her jeans. "I'll keep that in mind though, next time I end up talking to someone who's hurting. …I really *was* just trying to help. The crazy-lady i told you about thinks I'm just selfish as hell, but I'm not, but maybe I try too hard? I don't know."

Rashmi smiles gently, resting a hand on Tabitha's shoulder. "Honestly… you don't have to beat yourself up, y'know? Jeremy's sort of okay, and the last time we talked he wasn't upset at you enough to tell me about it. Really what it comes down to is… when people need to tell someone about what's bothering them… the absolute best thing you can do is listen. Just… listen. Care about what they're saying. Ask for more details, but try not to *pry.* If someone thinks you know what to do when they can't, they'll ask, and *then* it's okay to give them ideas."

Tabitha bobs her head, and manages to smile once more. "Okay, I'll keep that in mind. …it's not that I don't listen to people, but… maybe I do start telling them what I think they should do too quickly." She trails off, and perks an eyebrow upwards. "Great demonstration, by the way," she adds, quirking her lips further up at the corners. "You more or less just *did* what you were advising me to do. Subtle."

Rashmi bobs her head, grinning widely. "I try," she says, chuckling quietly. "But I also sort of can't help it; debate club, mock-trial, law school, political science, pretty much what I'm going to school to do is learn how to talk to a whole bunch of people, and know what I'm saying. It's a little less passive—okay no a *lot* less passive than, say, being a counselor, but, the same basic rules apply."

"See, that's why you're amazing at it," Tabitha replies. "I'm filling up my spares with various forms of combat and infiltration training. …Which actually wasn't my idea, but I liked it enough to go with it, anyway." She pauses, and rubs her chin lightly. "Is there a debate club here at Barnes? …Maybe I'll take a poli-sci class for extra credit over the summer, too."

Rashmi shakes her head. "I doubt it? Mostly because this isn't really an actual *college,* y'know? I think the only reason I'm getting away with most of a regular law school curriculum is because… well for one, I still take the minor combat and intelligence training anyway, and for two, I'm pretty sure they either hope I change my mind, or intend to find some use for me as an asset afterwards. As for poli-sci… probably might not help you quite all that much. Psychology and public speaking might, though."

Tabitha hmmms, "Pity about no debate club, but I suppose I've never been looking for one before, so I won't miss it." She shrugs lightly. "Honestly Rashmi, I think you're an 'asset' to your friends, and that's what counts, and you'll always be that wether you're an 'asset' to SHIELD or not." She leans back, and clasps her hands behind her head. "In what sense do you mean that psych and public speaking might help me more, though?"

Rashmi waves a hand. "Tabitha, this is an international intelligence organization. 'Asset' in intelligence speak means 'anyone who could help us out if we need them to.' What my friends think or not, is sort of beside the point, as it's the international intelligence organization that is footing the bill for pretty much my entire education, even if they're saving on room and board for me, now. So, to them, I am a 'potential asset,' and I'm fine with that. Why would those classes help? Well in short, one is the study of how people think, in general, and one is the study of how to *talk* to people, in general."

"I know that," Tabitha replies, and scowls briefly, "I wasn't suggesting otherwise, just… focusing on what I thought was more important. I'm not clueless." She grins once more, showing her teeth. "Anyway, I more meant I was wondering if you were thinking they'd be useful to me in trying to be a good conversational partner, and not stuff my foot in my mouth, or useful to me if I wind up doing full time… uhm… field work when I graduate. …I think they pretty much expect me to do that anyway, it was the premise Tony Stark used to get me accepted in the first place." She perks an eyebrow, and tilts her gaze towards Rashmi once more. "If you're doing trial mock-ups, could I come watch one, sometime?"

Rashmi waves a hand. "I haven't done that since high school, it's sort of the same as debate club, here. But yeah, if you're going to be a field agent? Definitely take some psychology. Depending on what you end up doing, knowing how to get into someone else's head and guess how they're thinking'll probably help you out a lot, y'know?"

Tabitha nods quickly, "Yeah, and in field work, something that 'helps you a lot' is probably the kind of thing that makes you come home on your feet instead of in a box or something. If at all." She ohs softly, and jumps up to crossthe short distance to the bench where she left her stuff. "Almost forgot… been carrying this around for weeks, then when I finally saw you I was just so excited." She fishes about in the front pouch of her backpack, and comes out with a small box, the type you'd typically stick a ring into. "I uhh… don't worry, it's not a ring, and I'm not proposing. I actually found this a couple days before your, uhm, 'holiday', and I just never got a chance to give it to you. Happy… birthday or… Christmas or something."

Rashmi's eyebrow rises. "My birthday's not until September," she points out with a quiet laugh, "and okay, thank you for clearing up that you're not proposing. That… would be *really* awkward, considering." Still, she does take the box when offered, and opens it, amused curiosity on her face.

Inside the box is a little, two inch tall statue of a wizard, with a little certificate that says 'Gandalf' across the top. "I seem to remember you saying you like Lord of the Rings," the rat girl explains. "Well… happy third of June, then."

"Aww!" Grinning, Rashmi leans over to hug Tabitha's shoulders, squeezing briefly. "Well *thank* you, this is really nice1 Where'd you find it?"

"Pawn shop!" Tabitha reaches over to immitate the gesture, giving Rashmi a light pat on the shoulder in the process. "I was actually shopping for… something else. I just happened to see it on my way out, and this little voice in my head said 'I bet Rashmi would like that'." She shrugs her shoulders lightly. "I had to listen."

Rashmi chuckles quietly, giving the figurine another cheerful inspection, before closing the case. "Well that was *really* nice of you, thanks… I hope it didn't put you out too much, though? I could pay you back for it, if you liked…"

Tabitha snorts loudly. "If I asked you to pay me back for it, it wouldn't be much of a present," she replies. "Seeing the look on your face when you opened up the box was payment enough, Rashmi. Seriously, you lit up like Christmas, it was great."

Rashmi grins, tucking the box into a pocket at the front of her bag. "Well I'm going to ask anyway, because I'd rather you could afford whatever it is you were *really* going in there for. Bu-u-ut, if you don't want it, that's fine. It 8really* was sweet of you though, thank you *so* much."

Tabitha shakes her head, "If I'd gone elsewhere and found what I wanted and bought it, and then gone back later to get that for you and it'd been gone, I would've felt like a twerp," she replies. "It's worth infinitely more to me to put a smile on a friend's face. I'm just glad you like it." She flicks her ears, and glances up at the ceiling of the holoquad. "Actually, I need to get a present for Kalindi too — I just really don't know what to get her!"

"I wish I could help you," Rashmi says with a shrug, "but about all I can suggest would either be ridiculously hard to track down, ridiculously hard to afford, or both. I know she wants to learn more magic, but, I couldn't begin to tell you how to go about doing that."

"Me neither," Tabitha admits. "I don't really know much about magic. …I might just fall back on the old stand by of flowers and chocolates. I mean you really can't go too far wrong with that." She picks at one of her fingernails absent-mindedly. "I should get back to my homework in a minute… exams are coming up right away and I need to do well, I really want to finish this year as an honors student. But…" She pauses, and gets a sly grin on her face. "I can send you the info about geocaching, if you like?" Her eyes narrow as she leans over conspiratorially. "Does searching for hidden treasure appeal to you?"

"It does," Rashmi says with an answering grin, "the only problem is, I almost *never* have the time. …Still, yeah, send me the info. It'll be fun, and maybe we can convince Connor to do it the old-fashioned way. But," she says, rising to her feet and leaning down to give Tabitha's shoulders one last hug, "I'll leave you to your homework, and really thanks again for the Gandalf figurine. It's *adorable.*" Straightening, she lifts a hand, making her way to the exit. "Take care!"

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