|Summary||When younger and whinier, Talya seeks out her father to try to find some direction in her life.|
That Jason is posing as someone not-himself is not and is never surprising. He rarely goes out in public in his own skin. Today, he is cloaked as a woman, raven-haired and raven-eyed, her clothing a soft felty green that hangs around her just-barely. Dully, she's at a cafe, seated cross-legged at a table on an outdoor patio in, where is it again? Oh, Lubbock, Texas, what? She's having barbeque. Barbeque wings, in fact.
Talya is more or less herself, to save energy for when she needs it. She wears big sunglasses and a straw hat, worthy of the sun. She wobbles the line of looking like a celebrity drawing attention even as she tries to shed it, and falls the correct side mostly because her shoulders are down and slumped, discouraging attention. She stands like she's consulting something on her Eyes, behind the glasses, and surveys the street for any likely candidates, out and about. And casting--a lure, to those within sight, of a particular perfume her mother was wont to wear, out on the town.
Jason-as-woman is enraptured with her wings. The sauce is just that right mix of spice and honey, and if she is indeed way too into her lunch to glance up, look around, sniff out the source of a casting, she's left a hint: the sauce isn't touching her fingers. Not smearing her mouth.
Talya does not seem shocked by anyone's lack of obvious reaction. Grimly disappointed, maybe, but not giving up yet. She starts up with purposeful steps, away from Jason, around a corner and out of sight of the street. When she returns it's behind a firm illusion of nothing there so she can examine each person in sight with tight attention. That will find the sauce, there's no doubt of that, but Talya has a few shoppers leaving a grocery store to clear first.
Jason is a patient man. At least, he's patient today. He has three more wings to get through. After that point, though--
Talya reaches him on number two. Her rising excitement can't be seen, but Jason develops himself an equally patient ghost, hovering standing by his table. Where will he go next? Will he get there before Talya's energy to hold her appearance of nothingness runs out?
Jason finishes the last of the wings. He licks suspiciously clean fingers, dabs suspiciously clean lips, and rises to his feet. With quick, delicate motions, she checks the tuck of her wrap. Ready to go? Totally ready. She steps around the table and outward, away from Talya. Surely unconsciously.
Talya flicks a glance, checking the wind, though Jason is hardly a /dog/ to worry about her scent. She can only hold back her sight and sound, though, as she slips along behind him. Her gaze ranges out ahead, checking for his car or other transportation.
Hard to get around Lubbock without a car. Jason seems to be heading toward a non-descript gray sedan across the street. She walks with a faint, dreamy sway.
The longer Jason fails to display suspicion, the more suspicious Talya herself gets, but it may be that she talks herself out of it with the eagerness of youth. When he unlocks the car, she's certainly happy enough to get into the backseat herself. What, was that the sound of the door, the sight of the door open light on the dash? Of course not. Nothing like that to see.
Jason remains suspiciously unsuspicious, turning the keys in the ignition, humming ragtime and pulling away from the curb. Could be she's too preoccupied to notice dash lights. Comes clear soon enough she's heading toward the highway -- and east.
Talya slides down to crouch in the footwell and releases her illusion with a bit of a jerk, on a held breath. Can't keep this up forever, after all. She sacrifices seeing where they're going to hiding the old fashioned way. And breathing light and slow.
As Talya releases her illusion, Jason lets his melt away, woman shape fading to reveal a middle-aged man, salt-and-pepper dark-curled hair, freckles coating his skin an almost unbroken reddish brown. He's skinny enough to border on skeletal, his joints excessively pronounced. He keeps humming.
Talya is trying to keep an angle where he can't see her, so she can't see him, or else she would be worried indeed by that timing. Instead, she crouches as long as she possibly can stand (not that long) before she dares a peek up to find his real state. Good thing she wasn't following some other random illusionist.
Jason doesn't turn around, doesn't even glance up at the rearview. He's turning onto the highway. Nothing between here and Dallas, Talya. Gonna be a long ride. His fingers spider over the radio, spinning the dial until it turns from static to shaky blues.
She should have used the bathroom before they left. Talya's crouch is by no means comfortable, and she flicks on an illusion to hide the sight and sound of her trying to find a more comfortable one. She ends up curled up, knees to her chest, and rather grumpily listens to the music.
If this is a contest of wills, of who'll speak up first, who'll acknowledge the other with a hullo, Jason seems absolutely set on not saying /anything/. He's humming along to the radio. Incidentally, he's awful at it. (Five hours. It's just going to take five hours. Count them.)
Talya is but young, when it comes to willpower. "God, Dad, you can't carry a tune in a bucket," she finally says, removing an illusion to reveal herself sitting nonchalantly (and legs-crossedly--seriously, bathroom) on the backseat, even buckled up.
Jason finally, finally, glances up and over at the rearview mirror, a quick flash of diluted blue eyes. "When you have an audience of just yourself, you don't need to carry a tune. Hello there, Talya."
Talya looks to the side, an anger with an intensity commensurate to her life situation flaring up in her body language, though not her voie. "When did you know?"
Jason's shrug is almost as small, and subdued, as his yawn. He changes the subject. Like he owned it. Any subject ever given. "So are you looking for a ride to New Orleans? That's where I'm headed."
Talya scoots forward to clamp a hand on the shoulder of the seat. "And you get to go wherever you want, don't you? Whenever you want?" If she sounds petulant, maybe forgive her after being so cramped.
"Privileges of being king, Talya. Oh, I'm half-retired now. But still." Jason's smile is a bored quirk. "Finding the mutant establishment a little dull, are you?"
Talya crosses her arms. "Yeah? When do I get my fucking princess circlet?" She's glaring deeply out the window now. She throttles back on the anger suddenly. "I fucking /found/ you, though."
"I don't make those kind of princesses, Talya." Jason almost speaks formally with her, but his eyes keep wandering to his leftside mirror. "The New Orleans court doesn't care much for hierarchy or primogeniture or precedent or me anymore." He taps his fingers a couple times on the wheel. "You found me. Good job. That's not easy to do."
Talya looks a little proud and then tries to hide it. She does stop looking quite so tightly out the window. "When you have a child, you can't just acknowledge them when /you/ choose," she says piously.
Jason laughs /way/ too easily, considering the conversation. "Sure I can!" he says. "Sorry, kid, I'm sure you're a great talent, but my world doesn't revolve around you. How's your mom?"
"Well shot of you." Back to petulance, briefly. "A better parent than you'll ever be." Those tossed out, honesty can creep in. "In Rus a lot, with all the registration." Any abandonment in her tone would be the imagination.
"Rus." Jason laughs again. "She wants to hide from this mad old world, that's her perogative. So. Putting aside what a terrible dad I am, what do you want?"
"A fucking pit stop," Talya attempts to joke. The question has caught her off-guard. Could be she didn't think this through. "A direction."
"Should be one in a few miles," Jason eases. And eases back into the subject. "The best directions come from years of wandering lost, I think. What do you like? Tailing old men? Rus? What?"
"You ever been in Rus?" Talya asks, more avoidance than properly steering the conversation. "I knew you haven't been in New Rus. I'm not yearning for /that/, longterm." A beat, then-- "Everyone's just so /false/." After you're false to them first, Talya.
"Of course. Nice enough place. If I had a Rus when I was young, it probably would've killed me." Jason chuckles, and turns the volume down on the radio a bit. "Everyone lies, kid. To themselves, to each other. That's because everyone's scared. Once someone stops being scared of /you/, that's when you start to see who they really are."
"Why'd I get /your/ fucking powers?" Talya demands in a burst. Scraping down to truth. "Instead of Mom's? Or Mom's not in...fucking neutered form. Everyone loves a teleporter. They're useful. They're not /scared/ of them."
Jason sighs. He shakes his head. It's a shake dismissive. "Really? You don't think Illyana's teleportation was a little bit scary? Razor-sharp portals, and then you go jogging through a fairy tale world with a taste for blood. Illusions are much safer."
Talya snaps her teeth on the air. "I was fighting those fairy tales when I could barely walk," she claims. She avoids his gaze in the mirror, though. "People are more afraid of what they think they maybe can't see, that you might be hiding from them, than what they can."
Jason is indeed glancing again in the rear view. "I don't think you should be concerned about what others think of you."
"And make a bid for queen?" Talya returns. That's certainly /a/ direction, if she lacks one.
"If that's what you want. You can be queen," Jason's smile is brief and distant, "wherever you want. Queen of Lubbock, New York, Seattle. Pick out a realm. Pick it out like you'd pick out shoes, books, whatever you're into."
"I /have/ a realm." For a moment, she's somewhat smirky about it all. Take that, Dad. "Maybe I want to be the best illusionist in the world. How can I be that if I can't fool you?"
"Rus doesn't count. And the rest? Practice. The young fox always thinks she can catch the old fox in her first try! Hah!" A brown rest stop sign and Jason pulls off. Squat building's not much to look at, but probably has toilets.
Talya jumps out quickly, but does pause a second to scrub a hand through her hair. Fox is no less apt for being rather unimaginative. First she will pee, and then she will return to her father more slowly, though not behind an illusion.
Jason hangs out in the car with his scruddy radio and his resumed humming. May have a bladder of iron.
Talya comes around to his side and opens his door for him. She stands wide and waits. Come out. She dares you.
Jason glances out the door at Talya. He raises his eyebrows, but is game enough to, in the end, step out.
Talya tries out an attack hug, arms locked around him. It might be she's been curious about what would happen if she did this for a long time. It's clear she's not expecting rainbows, instead, she expects what you might from petting the belly fur of a cat. Maybe good, maybe maiming.
Jason has -- uh, actually given out his share of maimings. But age has mellowed him, at least around incidental kin. He doesn't seem sure about what to /do/ with her, granted. He pats her back uncertainly.
Incidental? How many kids does he have? She laughs at the pat, sound felt more than heard. "You're the only father I fucking have. Damned if I don't get some use out of you." Maybe she relaxes into it a tiny bit. It can become less attacky. Then she'll head for the passenger seat. "New Orleans, huh? If I go back for my stuff and meet you there, you gonna try to shake me?"Um. Well, one, two, or eight, they're all incidental! Jason's pat ends as soon as it begins, but he lets his hand hover. "You're welcome in New Orleans if you can handle it," he says, before sliding back into the driver's seat. Long long road, still. They'll do it in stages.