2010-01-31: Seeking Balance


Ben_icon.jpg Julio_icon.jpg JeanPaul_icon.jpg

Summary: Memories are discussed, both new and old and both Ben and Julio contemplate their future with the X-Men.

Date: January 31, 2010.

Log Title Seeking Balance

Rating: PG.

Xavier Mansion - Atrium

The Atrium is large room with four corridors leading off in diagonal directions to the classrooms and dorms. A large window looks over the front courtyard. The Atrium has also been turned into a social area for students and teachers, with chairs, tables and a television set. Since its a main area of passing, it is encouraged that people keep things to a respectful volume.

Night has fallen and the atrium, apparently the defacto staff lounge, is empty for once. Jean-Paul is dressed causally but well in gray slacks, a midnight blue pullover sweater that hugs his frame and argyle socks with no shoes. Really letting his hair down. He's speaking into the phone, "Non, non. I swear. The little monster ripped into my arm and then /exploded/ like, like a goo-bomb. One Jean-Paul to another, I /swear/ I'd never do that to your work. So …" He pauses and laughs? "C'est vrai? The new line? Wellll, I suppose it isn't against superhero ethics to mention who designs my costume if I happen to make the news. Ah, perhaps two this time?" He laughs again, "Yes, yes, I am horrible. Dr. Doom with a better haircut and no mommy fetish. But you will? Bon. Ciao." He's still grinning faintly as he terminates the call. "Ah, it's good to be me."

Hearing the voice outside, Ben comes out of the room that's been loaned to him for the time being. He offers a half-smile to Jean-Paul. "I thought I heard your self-proclaimed dulcet tones out here." He teases, before stepping fully outside and walking up to the man. "Who was it this time? GQ? Advocate?" He asks, figuring it sounded like a magazine discussion. At least, the way they sound one-sided from TV shows. He hasn't been back to the city since he escaped.

Jean-Paul laughs and stands going to give Ben a gallic hug and peck to the cheek. Why, yes, he does take advantage of that 'French' culture thing when it suits him. "Jean-Paul Gaultier. He designs some of my costumes. James, well, exploded on one last night. Ruined it, utterly. So he's shipping me a couple of replacements that tie into his spring line." He steps back and gives Ben a critical look. "How are you, mon ami. You look good but then, you would."

Julio has been staying at the school for awhile as well, mostly helping guard the place. There'd been an injury that sidelined him down into the med-bay for awhie but he's finally out. Dressed casually but looking a bit scruffy, he's coming into the room on his way to the room he'd been loaned. He stops at the sound of two voices he recognizes and looks around. The seismic mutant isn't all that sure what to say at first, looking from Ben to J-P and back again. "Hey," he eventually gets.

"Ooooh. Gaultier. Designer. Flambouyant but popular." Ben says with a nod. "Popular in the gossip circuits on TV." He is remembering. "Yeah… famous designed costumes. You have fun with that. I don't think I could even afford the ones made by that guy down in Hell's Kitchen." He shakes his head. As Julio enters and speaks, he offers a nod. "Hi, Julio." Yep. He said the name.

Jean-Paul gives Julio a friendly nod and half-wave. He gestures towards the table where he was setting and says, "Sit, sit! Should I get a bottle of wine?" And he looks back to Ben and says, "One of the amazing things about being a celebrity is that people /want/ to give you things even when you can already afford them. They just expect you to mention where you got them. And since I am the 'out' superhero, everybody asks about my clothes. Can you imagine them asking the same question of Cyclops? Non. He would answer 'From hangers, excuse me, miss. There is a cat I must blast out of a tree.' It would be absurd. But me? Fair game."

Julio seems honestly surprised Ben uses his name. "'Star…uh, Ben," he corrects himself quickly, reaching back to pull out the hair tie the medical staff insisted he wear while down there. He returns Jean-Paul's wave and moves to sit down somewhere. "Good way to advertise," he remarks. "Get the fans clamoring for what the guy they like is wearing," he says, finding the conversation odd but far more welcome than the one's he's had for the past week and a half. He laughs a litte at J-P's joke but doesn't comment.

"That, and I have no fashion sense whatsoever. I even look at some of those old costumes and shiver. God, I had no personality then." Ben says, shaking his head softly. "I don't know how people put up with me." He runs a hand through his hair and sits where Jean-Paul motions. "Yeah, but with red over your eyes, someone else would have to do your shopping anyway. I do wonder… does his closet have all of his clothes labelled by color?"

Jean-Paul clears his throat and says, "Mon ami, it wasn't the costumes. It was the mullet and ponytail. You looked like a lesbian with an identity crisis." He reaches out and pats Ben on the shoulder at that, as though in sympathy with his recovery. He nods at Julio's statment. "C'est vrai. It's a good thing." And then Ben's final question sinks in. "Hm. I had not considered. I wonder if we could sneak in and replace his whites with pinks. Perhaps with little pink on pink hearts that would be hard to detect through the visor. It might be worth having to dodge optic blasts for a month."

"Your costumes weren't that bad," Julio speaks up. "No worse than the ones the rest of us used to jump around in," he adds, remembering some of the older costumes. The fact that he still has his…or at least what's left of most of them….packed away makes him shake his head. "You may have had moments but we all did," he says. "You weren't that bad," he says. Jean-Paul's planning of a prank gets a laugh out of Julio and he shakes his head.

Ben's eyes narrow at the thought. "Which room is his, and we strike when he least expects it. After all of this crap is over." He says, thoughtfully. "Oh please. Julio, one word. MOHAWK." He shivers. "Wait, I never had a mullet! All of my hair was long. That's just a ponytail. Julio had the mullet." He says, defending himself. "And here I thought you were my friend!" He acts mock-offended.

Jean-Paul laughs at the pair of them and then pats Ben's shoulder again. "It is because I am your friend that I can tell you these things. Besides, it's my job to stop my teammates from repeating tragic mistakes. You two and your costumes. Emma Frost being deployed next to Iceman in the group photos, Sasquatch and chewing bubble gum in bed…. Not everyone is born with my wisdom and personal style, after all. One must elevate those around him." He plants a hand on his chest rather theatrically at that last line.

Julio cringes. "Man…why'd ya bring that one up?" he asks with a laugh. "That mohawk was one of the worst things I ever decided on," he says. "Hey, it wasn't a mullet," he protests. "Our whole team had costume problems."

"Oh crap. Memory. One word said twice. BOOM BOOM." Ben says, shivering to himself. "Pink may be the new pink. But that was horrible." He puts his head in his hands. "Jean-Paul, don't ever let me look like that. If I look even halfway indecent, I want you to slap me. I can take it." He says with a firm nod.

Jean-Paul grins and says, "I won't let that happen. And I remember her. She was …unfortunate. Still, our loss is a trailer park's gain, I'm sure." He looks back at Julio and adds, "And I've seen worse. The mohawk was bad but you never saw Puck when he decided that a speedo gave him more freedom of movement than a uniform." He shudders a bit. "I still blame Doctor McCoy for making that popular."

Julio shudders. "YEah…that pink tube Tabby called a costume," he shakes his head. "Can't believe I let her dress me sometimes," he runs a hand through his hair. The latin man watches J-P and Ben intereact a little jealously but doesn't speak up about it. "Hey, nothing wrong with a speedo on the right guy."

"She gave you shoulderpads bigger than your head." Ben adds on before shaking his head softly. "Gods, I've got so much tension in my shoulders right now. I really should borrow your shower again sometime, Jean-Paul. That showerhead is amazing." He says with a nod, rubbing the back of his neck. "And I suppose, now that I've regained things in my mind… I should probably look into getting outfitted again."

Jean-Paul gives Julio a horrified look. "Puck! He's three feet tall. Hairy. Bald. Ninety. It … would not be a good look for him." He grins over at Ben and says, "You should see the room now. I had a designer in and spent most of my disposable income for this quarter. C'est la vie. One must be comfortable. But yea, replacing those prison shower fixtures of Xavier's with something more modern and sybaritic was a good plan." He arches an eyebrow. "Need a massage?" He tries to keep any hint of a pass out of it but … well, it's always going to sound a little that way.

Julio shakes his head. "Not on Puck," he says. "But I'm sure you can suggest someone else to wear one," he says. "Don't remind me. I still remember the shoulder aches," he says, rolling a shoulder. He pauses a moment at the news of a borrowed shower and looks questioningly at J-P. He tenses slightly at the pass and rather quickly looks away.

"I'm not getting into that conversation." Ben says simply. "I don't know people well enough, and my memory is still a bit patchy." He says with a nod as he grins to Jean-paul. "Well, at the moment, I have NO income, since my starbucks is closed. So… I'm going to just have to do without in my room… or my apartment until I get back."

Jean-Paul takes that nod for permission, perhaps missing Julio's tension and stands behind Ben, resting his hands lightly on the man's shoulders before starting an entirely competent massage. He's no stranger to tense muscles. Or the relaxing thereof. His snort is entirely derogatory. "Foolish boy. You have as much income as any of us living here. Whatever you need, you'll have. One of the joys of credit cards is that you don't have to pay them off right away. And I have far too many of them. Not to mention that Xavier's endowment on the school allows for things like salaries and expenses. You'll be fine. Take a room here, make it yours and relax. You don't have to come back to the team. Just use this as, ah, a staging base, until you are ready to go back to your life." He doesn't protest that this /is/ Ben's life. That's for him to decide.

Julio sets his jaw. He doesn't know what conversation Ben doesn't want to get into but doesn't bother asking. "Yeah. What Jean-Paul said," he says, still not looking over.
"I'm still not sure what I'm going to do when all of this is over. I enjoyed my life as a Barrista and student. But… I miss some of the things I had up here." Ben says with a nod as he thinks, giving a quick pleased groan at the massage. "My life is not what it was. But… I need to find a way to meld things into a perfect whole."

Jean-Paul gives Julio a bit of a concerned look at that posture and the way he's sitting. He arches an eyebrow as though making a mental note to pursue it later. He keeps working, fingers and palms loosening the muscles of Ben's shoulders, neck and spine as best he can. "Mon ami, you will never achieve a perfect whole. Even those of us without memory problems can't do that. Especially when you spend part of your time in a costume. What you /can/ try for is a balance that makes you happy. It might be all one side or another or a mix. That's up to you. But, you must not expect perfection. Outside of diamonds, symphonies and myself, it simply doesn't occur in nature."

Julio tenses up even more at the groan. "If ya need any help, he begin, taking a breath. "I'm here for ya man. Just say the word…"

"I'll manage. And perfection isn't necessarily the same for everyone. I have to find MY perfection in myself, my life, and everything else." Ben explains, nodding. "Thank goodness I retained my skills and practice while I was out of it. Otherwise, I'd be so disgusted with myself now." He says with a bit of a grin.

Jean-Paul blinks and then the metaphorical light bulb goes off over his head. He gives Ben's shoulders a final sliding pat that is just short of a caress and returns to his own chair. "Oui. And you're in good shape. Enough to wow the crowds the day we met, non?" He grins at that memory. "I think that photo is on the Internet, by the way. Of us over the crowd." He shakes his head and says, "Well, when and if you decide that the hero needs to be a part of who you are, we're here as a support network. Or you can be the lone man of mystery, hiding in the shadows and pouncing like Ms. Frost on a sale at the lingerie aisle of Sacs."

Julio looks over at Jean-Paul with a questioning look. "What photo?" he asks, curious despite the fact that he probably doesn't want to know. "Like I just said, I'm here to support ya, Ben…"

"The day that Jean-Paul and I met, we both were in a mood… showing off in front of people. Him with… well… himself." Ben explains. "And me, I was leaping from light pole to light pole. So, there are probably internet rumors about him and some Starbucks guy." He rolls his eyes with a grin as he looks up at Jean-Paul with a smile. "This was before he and Dante freed my mind."

Jean-Paul shakes his head, "Dante freed your mind. I was just a tourist." He grins at Ben. "Still, that /was/ a good show. One thing about New Yorkers, they love style." He's still smiling at the memory when he turns to Julio. "And how about you? Have you decided if you're going to sign up with the latest team?"

Julio looks away again. "Oh…" he trais off, expression forced to neutral. His grip on the arm rest farthest from the others is tight though. "Yeah," he says. "I got nowhere else to go and I figure I should ear my keep around here and help out.."

«"Julio? You look tired."» Ben says, in spanish. After all, that's how it appears to HIM when Julio's so neutral. They've not really seen each other in years. He nods to Jean-Paul after letting a yawn slip. "Yeah. That they do. And they love good coffee."

Jean-Paul doesn't speak Spanish but he can tell there is some kind of byplay going on there. "Speaking of which, I think I'll run down and get some. Either of you want a cup?" Delicate to a fault, when it suits him. He stands and arches an eyebrow inquiringly.

Julio jumps slightly. «"Yeah…I'm a little tired,"» he replies automatically in spanish. He's not about to fall over but he could use a little rest. He just doesn't want it. He gives Jean-Paul a quizzical look andd nods. "Yeah…thanks…"

Ben shakes his head lightly. "No, thank you. I think I'm actually about to sleep. I've got to get up early for my morning workouts before the children invate the gym." He explains.

Jean-Paul laughs and notes, "Make it very early, then. The little urchins are roaming through the hall like goblins with bad haircuts at all hours." He rests a hand on Ben's shoulder for a moment, obviously considering leaning down and hugging him but a glance at Julio quells that reflex. "In any case, rest well." He grins at Julio, "Let me do the ordering. Their decaf mocha latte is wonderful for evening relaxation." Apparently he meant 'run into town' but then again, for Northstar, it's the same thing as the kitchen. With a sudden rush of cool air and a loud *WHOOSH!*, he's gone.

"…I don't think all the students have bad haircuts," Julio says after a moment. "No one's walking around with mullets or mohawks," he tries to be funny, turning a small smile towards Ben. "Have a good night, mi amigo."

Waving a hand, Ben smiles softly and moves to the room that's been claimed as his for now. He's just tired, and still sorting. But he seems much more well-adjusted. Moreso than any previous view.

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