|Location||Open Hands - Mutant Town|
|Participants||Rohan, Christian, Orianne|
|Summary||Rohan objects to unseasonal decor.|
| Open Hands consists of two adjacent row houses purchased at auction from the city. Repaired but hardly refurbished, their continued existence is a constant uphill battle. Their insides have been converted to suit every purpose, not the least of which being beds and living spaces for mutants in need.
The main building boasts a wide array of pre-owned books, video games, and a donated ping-pong table. Daily activities include yoga, career coaching, group therapy and crisis counseling as well as many other wholesome distractions.
Non-prescription drug use and the consumption of alcohol on-grounds is strictly prohibited. Meal times and curfews are more loosely enforced by fellow residents and volunteers, as well as the community chore list.A Christmas tree now stands in the corner of the room, complete with ornaments and twinkling lights. It fragrantly scents the room with pine. The decorations hang with lopsided care as if a quiet arguement emerged about where they look best. Likely, this will not be a battle that ends soon. A scattering of candy canes in different flavors also hang of its thick boughs.
| It is a spring night. The weather is warm and overcast.|
The Christmas tree is up. The Christmas tree has been up for a long while, mostly because the pace of life at Open Hands has been such that no one's gotten organized enough to take it down. At the moment, however, Rohan is in the middle of the room, arms folded, staring at said tree as if he has never seen it before (he has. He helped decorate it. And has passed it every day for the last six months.). "That is," he declares, "the oddest May Pole I've ever seen."
Christian shoves inside with an audible sigh of woe. It's past curfew but the night classes he's been taking to pass his GED make him exempt. His pale eyes bulge, shifting once across the room. He turns his chin upward, letting the door slap shut behind him. He SIGHS for a second time Turning his chin upward with a pathetic pout he tosses his backpack onto the couch, slip-sliding his cheap canvas sneakers across the floor until he too flops head-first into its cushiony folds. Whatever he says next is too muffled to hear.
There are certain constants in the world: the earth orbits the sun, British humor is dry, and Orianne finishes her shift at Oddball by bringing a few drinks over to Open Hands for the staff. Tonight is no different; Orianne arrives with her usual lightly-caffeinated cargo just in time to hear Rohan's comment. "Maybe you're just not familiar with American customs," she remarks to Rohan, as she pauses long enough to hand him a paper cup. She continues on to the couch, pausing to regard the face-down Christian for a long moment in thought, before gently placing a paper cup on the back of his head. (She doesn't /actually/ let go of the top, however.)
Rohan snorts. "More like I don't think everyone should get out of taking it down just because it's not as fun as putting it up," he says, accepting said cup, "and have been too busy to wrestle everyone into doing so. Tomorrow. Definitely tomorrow. This is ridiculous." He raises the cup. "Thanks." He glances at the face-down Christian, but makes no move to interfere. He leaves that to Orianne.
Christian's ears prick up as the cup is pressed against the back of his head. He remains face-planted into the sofa, ass up. "I like it," his voice takes on an optimistic tilt, even if he's still shamelessly trying to inspire sympathy, "It's like Christmas every day!" Slow-blinking over at Rohan, he juts out his bottom lip even further. Don't ruin Christmas, Rohan. ... He pats around blindly at the cup and Ori's wrist. His hand and fingers remain limp as he pretends not to find it just to get in a few more pats.
Orianne kneels down beside Christian, cup still balanced on the back of his head (and safely supported). "I think Christmas has to stop eventually," she points out with a smile. "Otherwise, you don't have /next/ Christmas to look forward to." Not turning around, she calls out to Roham, "You know, I bet you could get the tree down /really/ quickly if you offered gift cards to Oddball, or something similar. First one to get the tree down gets a week of free drinks."
"Exactly," says Rohan, voice of wisdom. "In order to truly experience Christmas, you must first experience not Christmas." He takes a sip from his cup. "But that does that teach everyone?" he asks Orianne. "Don't do things, and you'll be rewarded with free coffee?"
"But you already bring us free drinks... I love Christmas. And now that it's warm out, I really like it..." One cheek smooshed well up into his eye by the couch, Christian smiles dumbly over to Orianne. He continues to pat around, making it to her elbow before he ventures back in the direction of the actual cup. GASPING, he finally takes hold of the cup so that he can scramble to his knees. "Can we have a SEC-OND Christmas?!" (RE)
"Christmas..." Orianne leans in towards Christian, offering her next words in a conspiratorial sotto voce. "...comes /every year/. You can have Christmas again /every December/." To Rohan, she adds, "Whatever lesson you were hoping to teach by outwaiting them, I think you've lost. It's /May/. In another month or so, we're closer to /next/ Christmas than last one!"
"No," says Rohan. He seems a little frazzled. Probably far too much paperwork again. "We get one Christmas. However, instead you can have Memorial Day and Fourth of July and whatever other American holidays there are." He scrubs his jaw with one hand. "We can have...BBQs. Or something. Pool parties. No, that requires a pool."
Christian huffs, tilting his head hard. "You know what I meant," he whines, smacking his free hand against the throw-pillow in indignation. "I'm not American," he adds in a similar tone before the promise of a pool makes him forget about the prospect of a Christmas in May altogether. His lips part in a curvaceous, crooked smile, "I'll fill it with water for us!" And crocodiles. And piranhas. And hippos. And unsuspecting airboats.
"We could totally /make/ a pool," Anne points out, right around the time Christian does. "I can make a talking bulldozer to dig the hole! And then Christian can fill it." What could /possibly/ go wrong? "And then we could have a BBQ alongside the pool." Possibly grilling the crocodiles that they have to fish out of said pool.
Rohan looks to Christian. He looks to Orianne. He looks to Christian again. "Perhaps we better to go to an existing pool," he suggests. "Or to the beach." He then sighs. This job, turning him into a responsible adult. How cruel.
Mouth falling agape, Christian's shoulders give a great heavy heave. "This is the worst Christmas ever." His peppery eyebrows tilt for optimum guilt-mongering. "What's that play? With the man and Little Tim? Who am I thinking of?" He asks, turning to Orianne for assistance. She knows so much. She's great.
"A Christmas Carol," Orianne helpfully supplies, before taking a sip of her own whipped-cream-and-caffeine concoction. "With the ghosts, and the evil rich guy." She considers Rohan for a long moment, tapping her chin in thought. "I don't think he's rich enough, though. I think he's more like the Grinch..." She offers Rohan a bright smile. "After all, the Grinch is the one who took down the Christmas trees through Whoville..."
"On Christmas Eve," says Rohan with a sigh. "Not in _May_. All Christmas trees must come down sometime, after all." He eyes them both. "Also, I would prefer not to run up any repair bills for holes in the ground we can't pay, or have anyone eaten by crocodiles. That would be unpleasant."
It's true that in the past few months, the Bronx Zoo has experienced an inexplicable population increase in its Nile Crocodile habitat, coincidentally around the same time Samad organized a carwash fundraiser. "I think," Christian clutches his cup to the center of his chest as if struck by an arrow, "Your heart was born two sizes too small."
Orianne laughs into her chai in answer, which necessitates wiping her face off a bit a moment later. "Maybe we can teach the crocodiles to eat the Christmas tree?" she notes. "Then we get a pool, /and/ get rid of the tree, /and/ the crocodiles get something to do."
"This may come as a surprise," says Rohan, "but I don't think crocodiles eat Christmas trees. I mean, it's mostly plastic." He rakes a hand through his hair, and eyes them both suspiciously. "I'd rather you not speculate on the size of my heart. Or any other parts of my anatomy."
"You can't teach them to do things," Christian murmurs knowingly. His eyes drift down to the liquid that pools in the lid of his cup. He's tried. Shifting on the couch, he slides his legs out from under him to come to a true sitting position and with little to no affection, drags his bookbag to meet him. "I'm not good at anatomy stuff," he admits in the same under-the-breath tone. Evidently, you can't teach Christian things either.
"You're good at plenty of other things." Now that the couch is somewhat clearer, Orianne falls into a seat beside Christian with a dramatic 'flomp'. (This is /absolutely/ going to help his studying.) Her drink is only saved from spilling because a second Orianne appears -- just for a moment -- and holds the cup for her; as soon as the chai is handed back, Orianne-2 blinks back out of existence. "Okay. Let's humor Rohan. I bet we can find something to put up in place of the Christmas tree. We could make up our /own/ holidays!" This is... probably not how it works, Anne.
"That's not..." Rohan sighs. He looks to the ceiling. And these are the _easy_ kids. "You can put up something as long as it's educational," he says finally. Firmly. "What are you having trouble with?" he asks Christian.
"Like a chart?" Christian asks ...dumbly. His toothy smile grows. Whether or not that has anything to do with present company... well... yes. Yes, it does. "Oh," he pants, swiveling his chin in an lopsided, circular nod, "Almost... almost everything. Did you know that the Earth /isn't/ only 6,000 years old?" For emphasis, he holds out his hand flatly in the air. Hold on to your butts, guys. This may come as a shock.
"I'd heard something about that," Orianne remarks, watching Christian with a fond expression. She glances over at Rohan. "I'm not sure if the news made it over to the UK yet, though."
"Oh, we've heard of that one," says Rohan dryly. "We've even heard of the dinosaurs. Imagine that." He adds to Christian, "If it'll be of help, we can go over what you need to learn and work up a tutoring schedule. Science's not my field, but I'm moderately educated, believe it or not." He glances over to Orianne. "Or Orianne could help, which you'd probably prefer."
Christian turns to watch Orianne as she talks. He nods and smiles expressively, laughing when it seems like she made a joke even though he doesn't really understand it. He trusts that it was funny. "Huh?" Somewhere, a record scratches. 'Dreamweaver' stops playing. It's Rohan's fault. "What?"
"I'm... not so sure I'm a good tutor," Anne admits, with a glance over to Rohan. "But I mean, I'm willing to try helping as a study partner?"
"Studying," says Rohan patiently. "Tutoring." He looks away for a moment. "It's been a long time since I've been a student. But it helps a lot to figure out what you don't know and take time to work on it. I know--it's not a lot of fun."
"Oh." What? Did Christian think they were back to talking about the Christmas Pool? "Well, I..." His mouth twists out of its smile and he drags his bookbag protectively close to his leg. "...was actually thinking of just paying somebody to go as me to take it? With my XFS money. So, I might not even need a tutor." A flush starts to creep up his neck from beneath the buttoned collar of his shirt. He shrugs a shoulder. "That's what Tati said she was gonna do."
Orianne pauses. "Christian!" She doesn't sound as if she's sure whether to be impressed by this problem-solving skillset -- after all, mimicry and masquerade /is/ sort of her thing -- or if she should be horrified that he's considering skipping out on it. Rohan might have stronger opinions on the matter.
"Christian!" Rohan is a step behind Orianne but more clearly horrified. He also looks like he's getting a headache. He takes a very deep breath, glancing to the ceiling again. A pause, as if he's counting, very slowly, to ten in his head. "You don't want to do that," he says, and his voice is very calm and level.
"Why?" All tabula rasa, Christian bats his long white lashes just the once. "I'm not going to pass. And I'm never even going to use it. I don't even know why I'm getting it except everyone says I should have it."
"Because it's good to know things," Orianne points out. "Because I know math, it's easier to work at Oddball Coffee. Because I know about dinosaurs, I can..." A small velociraptor appears, a'la the classic old-timey film Jurassic Park. "...make dinosaurs!" Here Orianne pauses, giving her dinosaur puppet a skeptical look. "And know when they're wrong!"
The velociraptor obligingly sprouts feathers, and then looks at Christian before letting out an inquisitive chirp-roar. (A chirawr?)
"Because," says Rohan, and there is another long pause. Perhaps he's counting silently again. "It's not all about the what than the how. Some of it you won't need again. Some of it you will. Some of it you will need and be very surprised when you do. But, also, education teaches you how to think. Teaches how to question evidence and look at things other ways, and all this you need to navigate the world. Paying someone to take your exams for you is like skipping all your gun certification, and paying someone to take that exam--you might have a piece of paper saying you can do this, but if you never actually learnt, what good is it in a fire fight?"
Christian is far past the point of being surprised by dinosaurs or dragonettes or whatever else appears while in Orianne's presence. He eyes the dinosaur with an empty skepticism before turning that same look on its maker, and Rohan in turn. "Wait. ... Am I allowed to get a gun certification?"
"I was," Orianne points out. Her stinger is, as always, somewhere on her; after being mugged once, she's not inclined to go wholly unarmed. "I bet if you pass your tests, you will be too."
"After your GED," says Rohan firmly. He's beginning to get a dad voice. Dear lord, what is this place doing to the leather jacketed motorbike riding ex-mercenary?
"I just... don't think that I'm learning anything that will prepare me for Real Problems," Christian ventures, growing guiltily. "I'm sorry... if I disappointed you," he shifts his eyes between them both. "I just don't know if this is... important?" He did after all survive Snowpocalypse World without it. ...and a few others. "Anyway, I'm still thinking about it. I'm uh... gonna go shower. I guess." This wasn't the reaction he was looking for, evidently. He lifts off the couch, clearing his throat with a nervous little trill. "I... bet studying would be easier in a pool..."
"If you're willing to keep working on it," Orianne says, "I'll help you study." But then she stifles a yawn, and moves to stand as well. "But I better get home, before my roommates start to wonder why I'm not back yet.'
"We'll discuss the pool if you're willing to study," says Rohan. "And if it'd help if I took a look at things and broke them down for you, I'll do that." He glances out the window. "Tomorrow. I've been buried in grant applications again, and I think it's time for a late drink with a gorgeous girl.""We can study in my room alone," Christian offers a little too quickly to Orianne. Blink-blink! "Or with people, even." His eyebrows lift into his snowy hairline. "Or in any room." He sucks in air until his lungs can't support any more. He just holds it there for a long time with that same expression frozen on his face. "Goodnight." Shoulders lifted high up and bunched inward, he very, very robotically turns all the way around and walks straight upstairs without looking back.