2011-05-15: War Plans And Hugs


Heather_icon.jpg Rashmi_icon.jpg

Summary: Heather and Rashmi discuss approaches to battle and feelings.

Date: May 15, 2011

Log Title: War Plans and Hugs

Rating: PG.

Xavier Mansion - Living Room

Cream colored couches and chairs are placed among end tables and a coffee table. A large entertainment center covers one of the blue walls. The windows are set back a bit creating comfortable window seats for those who want to read.

Heather has recently set up office in the living room, setting up a few papers and journals on the coffee table in order to study them and write into them. She is presently wearing her squad uniform, full with jacket, goggles and empty utility belt. She is sitting on one of the chairs, which she's pushed into position to make the set up more like a board room situation than a casual meeting with a friend. Her tape recorder is on a string around her neck, ready for use as she waits.

It's late. Crushingly late. But her phone so rarely goes off at this time of night, it's almost always cause to wake up as hard as possible and answer. Finding the message from Heather, that she needed to talk, took any other reasonable option away, and Rashmi did what she'd always promised herself she'd never taken advantage of; SHIELD's motor pool and a driver to go with it. Thus it is that she pushes open the door to the living room, overnight bag still slung over one shoulder and rubbing the last of the sleep from her eyes. The moment the setup registers, the redhead halts dead in her tracks, sleepiness giving way to confusion, then to rapidly growing worry. "…Heather?" she says slowly, unslinging the bag and taking the nearest of the seats set up. "…What's going on?"

"I am preparing for the end of this world," plays Heather on her tape recorder, gesturing to the seat that Rashmi is already moving to sit in. "Which is not to say I'm preparing for the end of your world. Which is, perhaps, the relevance of you being here." She picks up some of her papers, stacks them, puts them aside, and then places blank papers in front of Rashmi. "In case you need anything to write down. Also, you always seem like you're good at talking about feelings. And I have feelings to talk about."

Rashmi opens her mouth, closes it again, and repeats, brow furrowing. After a few false starts, most of which seems to be parsing errors as she picks through Heather's words and filters them through her understanding of the timebender's perspective, she sits back. "…Okay… You're worried. *Really* worried," she says, gesturing toward the journals, "which means this is way more important to you than your message made it sound." The blank papers are gathered up, her PDA pulled from her ubiquitous bookbag and flipped over, to use as a writing surface. "Which means I *need* to take everything you say seriously, and promise that I'll help as best I can."

"It's very important, yes, and I'm glad you came." She looks at her watch and notes, "I would hope it is one o'clock in the afternoon for your sake, but the windows indicate otherwise, so I do appreciate it. I know how people like sleep." She rubs her eyes lightly and she explains, "My parents have escaped from their maximum security metahuman holding facility. Which is to say, I cannot account for their location anymore."
There's a moment of silence; brief for the redhead, markedly longer for Heather, and then Rashmi clears her throat. "…But you can anticipate where they're *going* to be. Which is why you're worried."

"Yes. I was raised as a resource for them to eventually manipulate for gain. For them to ignore that kind of investment, and potential gain given that they know my capacity, well, that seems a little bit silly," plays Heather, nodding quickly at Rashmi. "And I'm worried. I have been crying, raging and trying to hold back my terror. Even in that demonic world, I remained unafraid. Because it was very mellow compared to what they have put me through. I hate them and want them to die. Die painfully. But, maybe these aren't emotions I should be sharing at this moment. What is important is what we shall do about this." As this last message plays, Heather starts writing in one of the journals quickly.

Rashmi sets her papers aside, the furrow in her brow deepening. Getting up from her chair, she moves to Heather's side, placing her arms around the other girl's shoulders, squeezing gently. The tape recorder is held up to her mouth, and set to Record. "…It's okay, Heather," she says, eyes locked on Heather's face. "I *do* understand why you feel that way. Maybe while I'm here, I'll send you a recording of my side of what happened in Nigeria, so you know *why* I understand." She pauses for a moment, clears her throat, and continues. "We're your friends, though. And no matter *what* happens… well… we'll make sure you survive the end of your world." Her arm tightens briefly, around Heather's shoulders. "…This usually helps people who're feeling like you, by the way… I don't know how many real hugs you've gotten, but this is one."

Heather nods her head relatively slowly after she reviews her tape, and then plays, "I have been hugged before. Connor has hugged me. I wish I was better at hugs, but I'm worried that I will hurt someone." She smiles slightly at Rashmi, one of those rare moments of visible emotion, "But thank you, I appreciate the hug, I am glad that you are understanding…" She adjusts her goggles slightly, lifts them, and quickly rubs under them, before adjusting again. "I just want you to be warned about these people… they are vicious."

"I don't doubt it," Rashmi says gently, squeezing once more before releasing, and fetching her stack of paper to spread on her lap, choosing the floor next to Heather's chair over her own. "…So. We should probably list everything you know of their capacities and MO. I'll hand our analysis to Ms. Frost and SHIELD, so when they *do* come here, we'll know what to expect." She pauses for a moment, pen tapping on the paper. "…I have to be honest, though… probably they won't be beaten until people are already taken. …Possibly including you. But every last scrap of information we have… well, it'll make it that much easier to be sure we can beat them."

"Oh, no, that I will be taken is a foregone conclusion. An inevitability written into the very fabric of time. They will end my world, but it is yet to be determined if it will be brought back, as my precautions taken now diverge from the precautions I otherwise would have taken," plays Heather, looking down towards Rashmi. She shifts slightly so that she is better able to face Rashmi and look over the edge by kneeling in the chair. "My mother, Upgrade, is a power booster. As far as I'm aware, she raises and realizes the powers of anyone that she touches. She is also a psychopath. My father is an illusionist and a master of strategy. With my mother's help, he can create complete and seamless illusory worlds. They can be subtle or overwhelming, and appeal to all senses. He even knows how to play to my synesthesia."

Rashmi's pen scratches over the paper, the information written down in the crabbed, tightly-spaced writing of the truly bookish. "…Okay, so… I'm *guessing* that while it'd help to keep from physical contact with your mother… your father's practiced in making that pretty much inevitable? Does he need line-of-sight? …Can he alter perceptions of people he doesn't know are there, or are the illusions broadcast? Does your mother have to *keep* touching a person to boost them?"

"The boost lasts for a matter of time. I'm not sure how long. When she touched me, my perceptions of time became seriously distorted. Within each of your seconds, I existed for an hour by my estimation, and it was a couple of months from my view… My father, his illusions were always omnipresent to me. I do not believe he requires line of sight, though, as my world was always illusions, regardless of whether he was home," plays Heather, picking up her own journal and seemingly checking her notes.

"…But you couldn't say whether or not he had to be aware of someone to mess with their heads," Rashmi muses, scribbling the information down, adding [*Not blanket broadcast(?)] to the end of the list. "…I'll have to think some more about what'd be helpful to know." She subsides for a moment, as a thought strikes her. "…Heather," she says at last, "were you ever able to control *how* distorted time got, when she touched you?"

Heather shakes her head, "No, I was frozen into a virtual timestop… I was not able to control any distortions, she touched me as I manifested, and I believe that might have corrupted the way my powers developped. Perhaps for better or perhaps for worse…" She looks at her journal for a moment and closes it, "I wish I had more control over it, though."

Rashmi nods, blowing out a breath. "Well… it was worth asking, anyway. And frankly? It's just as possible it only stunted your perceptions of your powers. I'm honestly not going to stop believing it's possible for you to find control until God Himself comes down, flashes His ID, and says 'Trust me, it's not going to happen.'" This last, said with a small, wry smile. "Heather… I know this has to be the worst kind of hell for you… because for every hour I worry about it, you have five or so. …All I can really tell you is, you have friends. We *do* care about you. And we will fight to our last breath to *make sure* you come out of this okay."

"That would be a jackassish move on God's part to go through all that trouble and not give me a hand on the control issue," replies Heather, quirking her brow slightly as that bit plays. "I hope that someday I will achieve some level of control, and I will test my limits in order to reduce the unknowns." She leans forward and props her elbows on the arm of the chair and replies, "I know, and I appreciate your friendship very much. I have informed Robyn. I would like to also tell Connor and Chloe, but I wanted to tell you. Out of all my friends, you're the one with social skills."
Rashmi chuckles, reaching up to rest a hand on Heather's arm. "And I'm happy to put them to good use to help out my friend," she replies. "I don't know how much else I could be of help… But I can be here for you, whenever you need, as long as you need it. And I can get all the relevant information to the people who can make the most use of it."

Heather nods quickly and reaches to grab another one of the journals, "You will also have access to these, whether or not I am present. They are always in my room, open for reading. I can mark the ones with any relevant information, but I do not want to be too obvious about it. They may be able to access my sensory perceptions, given that they can account for my unusual senses, so I want to avoid any images that are too useful. My father is much more experienced at social gaming than I am." She tilts her head slightly and then very lightly touches Rashmi's hand in return. "Again, I appreciate it… I know I am not a terribly good friend in a traditional sense, so I appreciate that you are even here very much."

Rashmi shakes her head. "It doesn't matter *what* sense you're a friend in, Heather. That you are is enough." The redhead's face splits, in a bright smile. "Besides, that's what being a friend *is,* someone who sees all the good and bad about a person… and cares for them anyway."

"Oh, is that it? I was never entirely sure what a friend was. I defined it as someone that you have general positive feelings for based on interactions, and who makes certain social concessions for your benefit, in the same way you do for them," plays Heather, blinking a few times very rapidly. "It was kind of an unwieldly working definition…"

Rashmi's shoulders shake in silent mirth. "…It kind of is, isn't it? But, personally, I sort of prefer my definition because it assumes the best out of the other person, and *that's* always more useful than people realize. I mean, if you wanted to think of it in game terms? …It'd be like….hm. ….Like someone sits down expecting to play chess, and a few moves in they find out they've been playing parcheesi instead. Then you learn a lot about them by whether or not they accept the real game, and how."

A bit quietly, Heather plays, "I hope that I would notice I was playing parcheesi on the first move." She tilts her head slightly back and forth a few times as she looks down towards Rashmi, "I admit I have some difficulty hoping for the best out of people. Having had thirty solid years of experience of them letting me down has coloured my view. From my friends, however, I do hope that they have my best interests in mind, as I have theirs. That's one of those social concessions…"

Rashmi nods slowly. "That's… actually pretty common for most people, though of course not to your degree in slow-world time. The more you get hurt, the more you expect to be hurt, and you armor yourself up accordingly. It's… kind of heartbreaking, really, but I'd have to be ignorant not to accept how much general trust in the world a perspective like mine needs." One shoulder lifts, falls, in a casual shrug. "So… all I can really do is try my best to help people see there's another side to life, if you try for it, y'know?"

"I do know what you mean. I know that some will say that I conceptualize the world in terms of gaming to too high of a degree, that it is unhealthy, but it is hard for me to experience the world in any other way. I try to step out of my perspective sometimes but it is unnatural, like drinking through your nose, which can be done but is terribly unpleasant," explains Heather, raising her hand to draw it through her hair. "But your perspective offers you a kind of perpetual victory. In a way, maybe it's similar, as I try to view defeat as a terms for later victory, and in social relations, someone mistreating you may be the terms for a later reform…"

Rashmi's lips curl upward. "Pretty much, yeah… I mean it's not easy sometimes, and there's always a very clear-cut case of failure, which… Well when it happens, sometimes it hits *really* hard… But… It does help that my, um… victory conditions, I guess… are a *lot* broader than most. But, that's just how I've learned to see the world." Tilting her head, she furrows her brow at Heather. "…Well. I wouldn't call your perspective *unhealthy,* really. Difficult, sure, especially when it comes to dealing with other people… Probably something you'll find yourself shifting, as time goes on… but *I'd* probably be inclined to call it a coping mechanism, myself. Making the world make sense in a way that lets you deal with it *at all,* right?"

"I don't like the words 'coping mechanism'. We talk about these things in therapy. There's lots of therapy words I've grown to dislike," plays Heather, frowning slightly, "But I would say that given my experiences of the world, it would be impossible for me to interact at all without this point of view, so yes, it's as you say. I can certainly drink through my nose forever, but it would give me a tasteless, impossible perception of drink and damage my sinuses."

Rashmi inclines her head, conceding the point. "I can understand… I'd also call it a security blanket, but, that's got it's own contextual baggage. Either way, the mechanism is pretty much the same. You'll act the way you do, until you don't need to anymore. And the only way you'll understand you don't, is if you have alternative examples to strive for. Beyond that?" Rashmi shrugs. "Honestly, what's it matter? You are who you are, no less a person than anyone else."

"You're right. I do try to cooperate in therapy, despite my rejection of all these labels… And I hope that I become capable of enjoyment of the world. I do not think I will ever be able to stop seeing the abstractions, but it is perhaps possible to see something else at the same time? In any case, I wish my parents would see me as a person instead of as a game token for their use. But I think I am terribly alike to them, and them to me," plays Heather, rubbing at her eyes again, "You may use my bed tonight if you would like. I think I will nap on the couch and be done with it, but I have clearly interrupted your regular sleep cycle."

Rashmi shakes her head, gathering her feet under her and standing. "I've got a room I stay in while I'm here," she says, holding out a hand. "And I don't care if my sleep cycle was interrupted. You needed help. That's what matters." The smile stays, her voice quieting. "You know… here's an exercise is that kind of dual thinking…. try to wrap your head around this; maybe you *are* like your parents, and them like you… But that's only because that's all you knew, for a long time. It doesn't have to be that way forever."

Heather nods at Rashmi, "Perhaps not and I will give it some thought, but I think that we are also opposite sides of a reversi disk. Perhaps we have the same manifest form, but our meaning is different… What I have learned and gained from them remains valuable, perhaps in a way they never intended…" She removes her goggles and puts them aside, "Thank you again, Rashmi. You're a good friend." She stands briefly, shuffles over to the couch, and lays down on it.

Rashmi nods quietly, taking up her bag and turning to walk to the door as Heather finds her way to the couch. Pausing, she looks back over her shoulder, and smiles. "And y'know what?" she says, softly, to herself, "I'd call that a big win." And with that, she turns off the room lights, tottering down the hall to find her own bed.

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