2012-02-08: What Are Friends For


Jill_icon.jpg Nicholas_icon.jpg

Summary: All apologies.

Date: February 8, 2012

Log Title: What Are Friends For

Rating: PG

Xavier Mansion - Library

Like most Libraries, this one has that respected quite hush about it. A desk to check out books sits next to the door, next to the desk sits a statue of an Orangutan with a sign saying Return your books or else. Row upon row of books goes up and down the room. In the middle of all the shelves are two computers for looking up titles and a group of tables for students to sit and study. Along the back wall are windows with padded window seating for students to read in quiet.

Having skipped all his classes yesterday, Nicholas is skipping lunch to catch up on his class work. Alone at one of the tables, he has his laptop open in front of him and a stack of textbooks next to him. He looks to be hard at work as his gaze is focused on the screen as he clicks away with his mouse, though anyone who passes behind him can see that he's just playing Angry Birds.

After yesterday's disappearing act, the first place she expected to find Nicholas was the stable. And while skipping lunch is generally not a big deal for Jill's fuel-efficient biology, getting… ugh… horse 'stuff' in all the treads on her Converse All-Stars is. Flip-flop-flip-flop. The onomatopoeic sound of her shower sandals make stealth nearly impossible while her regular shoes are still drying out from their hosing off. With her presence thusly announced, she just waits on the other side of the table for the moody mutant boy to notice her, hands behind her back. Patiently.

If it was yesterday, Jill would have found him there in a heartbeat but right now, Nick is trying to get three stars on a particular level of Angry Birds. He eventually looks up and Nick's eyes lock on Jill's and he doesn't say anything for a while. A mix of anger, frustration and confusion show on his face before he opens his mouth, and then closes it, stopping whatever he was about to say. "Wha-ey." Is eventually what comes out of his mouth.

Jill will take acknowledgement as a positive sign. To do otherwise would be defeatist. "Hey," she replies, equally laconic. "So… umm, you missed class yesterday. And practice." Her words are slow and measured, carefully considering them before speaking. She's done enough damage with hasty words and actions already. Blue hands wring behind her back but she keeps up the appearance of not being nervous as best she can, which is not very.

Nicholas nods slowly. "Yes I did." He doesn't make any excuses for it. "I spent the day in the stables, Orion's good company." There is a bit of cold tone to his voice but he's trying to be civil. Nicholas takes a deep breath and shuts his laptop. "I'm working on making up the stuff I missed, teachers weren't happy but I didn't want to see anyone."

With growing uneasiness and a slight wobble to her bottom lip, Jill can't keep up the frosty exchange for much longer. Unfolding her hands from behind her back, she laces her fingers together in front of her instead. "Listen…" she begins but her words lag behind her brain. She wets her lips and her eyes flick to the side, to the ceiling, to her toes. Anywhere but directly at Nick. "About… umm… you know…"

"About what?" Nicholas says to Jill. "The whole thing between Ahmed and me, yeah well, next time you force me to confront him at least don't act like I'm a complete tool." He says sounding frustrated as he starts to look through his text books to give himself something to focus on.

Unfolding her hands, Jill gestures with an open hand like she's offering something but quickly lets it fall to her side again. "I'm sorry. I know. I just thought…" She trails off and scratches the side of her nose. "Or maybe I didn't think. I just wanted you guys to talk and it didn't go at all like I thought it would and then you both got all mad and I was sorry but kinda angry and I felt like an idiot for makin' you do it in the first place and…" The torrent of explanation trickles away to nothing. She stands there looking miserable.

Nicholas keeps looking at his text books and sighs. "Look I thought it'd go differently too but Ahmed…." He just shakes his head. "Well don't feel like an idiot for making me do it, it's when you decided to pretty much turn your back on me and Shane making it seem like I was being an asshole for no reason. You heard Ahmed too, he keeps himself in check around me. So what's his excuse going to be when he can't anymore? That I deserved it?" He sighs finally looking up at Jill. "You're one of the few people here who is my friend Jill, I know I'm a shitty friend to you but your friendship does mean something to me."

"Well, no… I don't think it was for *no* reason…" Hopefully it will fly under the radar that she's not actually denying he acted like an asshole. She fidgets. "Just that I think… hear me out," she urges, holding her hands up placatingly. "That I think maybe… there may have possibly been, on both sides of the issue here so I'm not laying blame on anyone in particular, mind you… but, kinda maybe… a little overreaction?"

"So you think I'm being stupid for being afraid of Ahmed?" Nicholas concludes as he just looks up at Jill waiting for further explanation.

"I didn't say you were stupid," Jill defends herself immediately. "And, for the record, I'm not just talkin' about you. I meant me. And Ahmed too, for pickin' a fight in the first place." She nods to herself as the pieces fall into place a little better. "It's just, I mean, you were fine with him before that, when you already *knew* he could turn into a giant predator with teeth like *this*." Her thumb and forefinger hover a few inches apart, exaggerating just a bit. "That wasn't scary?"

"I never knew he could turn into that were, cat, beast thing until he went all crazy on Quenton." Nick says defensively. "I mean an actual snow leopard is one thing but this was all, he just wouldn't back down. I had to use my powers to separate him, and it was like Ahmed wanted Quenton to fight him. I'd never seen that side of him before and what scares me is no matter how much I don't want to admit it but I'm just like Quenton except…I'm more of an ass because my powers don't make me one."

Jill exhales in a not-quite sigh. "I don't think you are," she offers as small consolation. Leaning forward, she grips the back of a chair. "I've heard all about his… rage thing, but I'm not convinced that's the whole reason he's such a jerk all the time. I think he likes it, makin' people mad." She clicks her tongue and inhales slowly through her nose. "I know I'm causin' a lot more problems than I'm solvin' by butting into other people's affairs, so you can just tell me to back off or whatever, but… y'know… Ahmed's a human being just like the rest of us. People get mad sometimes. Hell, *I* get mad sometimes…" Her hands tighten on the back of the chair. "And we could all do some pretty nasty stuff if we wanted to. So if you're afraid of him, maybe you should be afraid of me too."

Nicholas shrugs a shoulder. "Hey, you give a damn." He's quite for a bit and looks down at his closed laptop, tapping on it with his thumb. "It's just…I know I'm a jerk at times Jill." Nick begins softly. "And I know people have the right to get angry but I'm just worried that I'll say the wrong thing and next thing I know, I'm getting thrown through our bedroom window with Ahmed wanting to break me." He looks up at Jill and frowns. "Jill, answer me honestly. Outside of the Danger Room have you ever used your powers to hurt someone on purpose?"

The blue girl squirms. "Well, I guess… if you count, umm…" Her shoulders sag when her point is completely undermined. "No, I haven't. Not on purpose, but this one time I lost a bit of me in the girls' showers and somebody slipped on it and twisted their ankle. … And I felt pretty bad about it." She's silent a moment before spreading her hands helplessly. "Look. I'm sorry, I know I shouldn't keep pushing it… so I won't. I promise."

There's a faint smile from Nick at Jill. "See, that's why I'm not afraid of you Jill, because you feel bad over an accident. You've got a good heart, you're a better friend to me than I deserve." He says before taking a deep breath. "I never have either, but Ahmed…I just really don't want to be next Jill. I don't want to be that guy that Ahmed snaps at next and then every one say 'well he deserved it'. I just…I can't control my temper like I used to."

Squeezing her shoulders in as tight as they'll go, Jill bites her lower lip but looks a little pleased at the heartfelt compliment. "Thank you." She leans back from the chair and holds up both her index fingers, like holding up just one to make this point wouldn't be serious enough. "Okay, last time, I swear. My advice, take it or leave it, it's your choice and I won't be bothered either way. Just, y'know…" She fingers a strand of gooey blue hair out of her eyes. "Talk it over with him instead of sleeping on couches and stuff? Stay calm and just say what you're feelin', alright?"

Nicholas nods slowly not saying much, his gaze focusing on the top of the table. "Yeah. Okay." He doesn't say when he'll be talking to Ahmed though. "I actually found a camping cot and set up a place to sleep in the stable. It's nice and quite out there, away from everything." He says finally looking back up at her. "Why do you even bother trying with me when I do nothing but seem to make you feel uncomfortable."

"You could use my bed? I got another place to sleep, y'know, the fish tank, buuut… that might be weird, bein' on the girls' floor and everything," Jill offers, oblivious to the vast number of other more obvious reasons that it might be weird. She slips a foot out of her sandals and squeezes at the carpet with her toes. "Well, 'cause…" A pause during which she doesn't look at Nick. "'Cause I don't like to see you unhappy. Or anybody, really. There's a lot of it goin' around in here and, well, I know I can't make everything better for every single person. But I feel like I gotta try."

Nicholas waves a hand and shakes his head. "Taylor already offered me the spare bed in her room but it'd be weird sleeping on the girls floor. Also then everyone would think I'm a pervert." Which is something he doesn't want. Then Jill's other words surprise him and he looks up at her. "Jill….I don't want you to be friends with me because I'm unhappy. I pretty much lost everything so it's hard to not be anything but miserable…" He says not able to look at her.

"No," Jill says, the sound coming out amidst a soft laugh. "That's not why I'm your friend. It's why I keep sticking my nose in your business…" A shrug. "And screwing it up a lot as a result," she admits ruefully, but moves on smoothly before self-reproach can color the exchange. "You've got a lot of bad shit goin' on and I know jokes and magic tricks and cookies aren't gonna make it all better. Maybe I push it a little too much, but y'know, when you're ready… I'm here. I want you to be happy *because* I'm your friend. Everybody deserves that, don't they?"

Nicholas stands up and walks over to Jill, giving her a hug. "Thank you." He whispers to Jill before breaking the hug. "I don't care if you keep screwing up and I don't mind the jokes and the cookies and stuff it helps to feel…okay." He says figuring that's a good way to do it.

The blue girl gives Nick a few soft pats on the back before the hug is disengaged. "Thanks." She chucks his shoulder gently with the side of her fist. "Y'know, cupcakes and card tricks, sure, but maybe a little less on tryin' to force everybody to make nice-nice all the time? People can deal. You'll deal." She clears her throat and frowns theatrically. "But the sleepin' in the barn thing, that's-" She stops herself, even though she was saying it with a joking tone. "That's… probably gonna get cold. Take some blankets or something, okay?"

"Oh it does get cold, which is why I tend to bring lots of blankets and bury myself in them." Nicholas says. "I'm from North Dakota, we're used to cold." He says giving a small smile. "And it's a stable not a barn." He says teasing. "And there needs to be some warmth for the horses, you don't want them getting too cold." He says as he starts to pack up his book. "Anyway I should get a quick lunch before going to my next class. You hungry?"

Jill rolls her eyes. "Stable, barn, whatever." In truth she could probably keep well enough until *tomorrow* at lunch with no problems, but instead says, "Sure, dyin' for it," and sticks her hands into the back pockets of her jeans. She'll let Nick lead the way and only offer directions if he goes *too* far off course.

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