William’s smile faded, his hand drawn back and jammed into a pocket. His expression became serious, as was befitting of his supposed position. As Jazz stepped forward and showed them the footage of the incident, their words made his mask hard to keep up. He knew them, even if he didn’t know the specifics. They were always right, always proper, perfect model citizens. At least in public. If they weren’t outside, William would bet his life on this conversation going differently. As it stood, he immediately began to make plans for a return visit. Packing a bag meant that half of Laine’s shit wouldn’t be given to her, and if someone managed to get it to her and put the fear of God into these assholes, well, that was two birds with one stone.
“Of course ma’am.” William spoke up. He just needed a little more confirmation, just to ensure they were 100% terrible people. “Would you mind if one of us came in too, maybe help Lai- Elaine here pack up some of her stuff? It’d be a shame to leave behind anything precious.” His expression was honest, his tone even, but internally, William dared them to push back.
Nightingale couldn't get angry at the parents. Not that they didn't deserve it - but it was the sort of thing she'd seen far too many times before. There was a sort of honesty in death. A curtain around the room that left things feeling far more raw, far more private. Families that acted picture-perfect in public always showed their true faces when things went to hell. It left a copper tang in her mouth, a hollow ache in her gut, but she was too tired of two-faced people to be angry. The parents were shitbags, the girl was a mon- meta - and now that they knew it, they wanted her to leave.
Maybe she wasn't dead, but in that moment, she was surely dead to them.
She might be better off away from their influence - or might not be. The foster system was hit or miss, and cycles of abuse were far too common. The girl was already hurt by it, too. Maybe - even the way she acted. Nightingale had seen that before. She'd thought it was trauma over her powers manifesting, but there could absolutely be something more, there, and even if there wasn't, even if it was just a developmental disorder, or behavioral, it would've just been fuel for the fire. Nightingale glanced at the girl. The old man with the sword was talking to her. Damage control was happening there, at least. He seemed level-headed, not likely to make the situation any worse.
But for the armored woman -
She didn't reach out to touch her, this time, instead keeping her hands folded in her pockets. Nightingale was upset, not inconsiderate, and knowing now Jasmine could sense things through touch, she very much didn't want her to - sense how she felt, or thought, or - however it worked.
"Can we talk? In private?"
She moved to the side of the house. Once there, she pulled down her scarf from her mouth, eyes narrowed and cold. She didn't have anger for abusers - they knew what they were. She wasn't going to let herself grow frustrated thinking about assholes who wouldn't change. But people who tried to help and hurt - she could spare a bit of ire. Just a bit.
"There was no need to out her. No need to tell them that she caused this. This day was already hell for her. You come here saying you can help. Saying you want to make things better, that she can have faith in you, then you turn around and tell other people something she's ashamed of, afraid of, in the same damn breath. I still don't know you people. I still don't trust you. We now have a child who has been thrown out of her home, lost, alone, abandoned, and the last thing we need is her would-be saviors telling other people things she might not want them to hear. She might be better off away from a place like that, sure. But did it have to happen like that?"
Yesterday, upon the stair, I met a man who wasn't there! He wasn't there again today, Oh how I wish he'd go away!
Charles kept his expression neutral. "We'll take care of you," he told Elaine. He stood up, armor straps creaking and watched as Jasmine was guided to the other side of the house and William offered to go in and help pack. He swept his trench coat out behind him to clear it of his boots and dusted his hands off.
"Good idea," he said, but he knew with near certainty they'd never let him into the house. There was much he wanted to say, much he wanted to do. Different versions of himself would have done one or the other. Instead he just looked at Elaine's supposed guardian in the doorway with the kind of expression that said "I'm not angry, I'm just disappointed" in the way of a parent. Disgusted but not surprised Charles considered saying lots of things, but he let them all die on the vine. Instead he turned his back with one swift and smooth turn of the heel, flaring out the bottom of the trench coat. He offered his hand to Elaine.
"These people will never hurt you again," he said with finality. His tone carried every ounce of restraint it took to hold back his deep, unbridled desire to slap Elaine's guardian so hard with the back of his hand her teeth would come out. There were other lessons to be learned here though and the people in the house didn't deserve to be taught. They weren't monsters, that was true, he'd met monsters. Monsters took more effort. These people didn't deserve his attention, his restraint, or his interaction. They deserved to sit in their house, pretend the world wasn't what it was, and die alone.
Laine considered the street ahead while Jazz was arguing with her aunt. Laine would never have argued with her aunt, good girls weren't supposed to do that. Jazz did not seem to know very much about when she was supposed to say things and when she was not supposed to say things. Laine wondered if no one had ever taught her.
The street was the same street it always was. William offered to help pack her things as Nightingale took Jasmine aside for a moment. It was a kind offer, Laine thought, but she didn't have any things. She knew that much. The things she used were not hers - her aunt and uncle had bought them, and were kind enough to let her use them, but they were not hers. She didn't quite know how to say this, because it seemed like one of the things that would get her in trouble. She was not sure how much more trouble she could get in, but she did not think she wanted to find out right now.
"No." Her voice was quiet, but it still surprised her a little. It was not that she had not been thinking the word, just that she had not expected to say it. Sometimes things were best left not said. This might have been one of them, but since she had already said it, it was too late to not say it. Laine shook her head a little bit at William anyway, and tried to think of what she should say.
"I just need my school things." The school things did not belong to her either, but they belonged to the school, and so they were supposed to stay with her. Laine was supposed to be responsible for her school things. That was right. "I am responsible for my school things. They belong with me."
Of course they did. That was why she had them, in her bag beside her, where they had certainly always been this entire time. Except, how...?
But her aunt did not seem to notice, so maybe that was right and they really had always been there. Laine reached over and picked up her school bag, putting the strap over her shoulder. Mr. Lemagne was still beside her, but he stood up as well. His armor was noisy. Sometimes Laine didn't like noise, but it wasn't a very loud noise, and it didn't seem to be a bad noise, either.
His voice was not like that. It was tense and angry. Laine knew about those sorts of voices, even if this time it wasn't directed at her. She didn't know how to feel about that, so maybe it was better not to try to have feelings at all.
"They never hurt me." That was true. Wasn't it? Yes, she supposed so. Maybe everything had stopped so that it wouldn't happen, but it was still true. She considered the street, both ways, neither any more meaningful than the other. School did not start until the next morning, so she was not supposed to go there yet.
It was meant as a sort of ice breaker. While now wasn't a time for jokes Jasmine also wasn't going to say she was without fault. And as she responded more in full she'd keep her volume very clear. Not loud per say but like a teacher presenting almost, because she intended to be heard."Any of you have right to be mad at me for my approach especially Laine. But there also is no gold standard for this, these gifts haven't been around for all that long and public for even less. Most of us also don't have a what would you call it, "awakening" as public. They were going to find out, maybe I screwed up and maybe it could have gone worse." She wasn't sure if she should apologize she kind of thought that Laine's call.
Jazz also felt that it was just easier to say it was a bad move now that it happened. It could of gone a number of ways and there wasn't much way of knowing in advance. Maybe that was something to work on she thought, though walking around trying to touch everything wasn't exactly subtle either.
"We shouldn't be ashamed of what we have. Or feel like it all has to be bottled up so that we can conform." Her voice would go softer from then. Not everyone needed to hear of her history either, but sense Nightingale pulled her aside Jasmine thought she should provide some context. "I spent my whole life questioning what I know and what came from this ability. Trying to get by and be normal rather then being me. I don't want that for any of us. That doesn't excuse telling them, but what would have happened if we weren't here when they found out?"
Nightingale shifted uncomfortably, fiddling with the scarf around her neck. Jasmine was right - it was bound to happen sooner or later. If the girl wasn't comfortable telling them when they were here, people who had been through this and could protect her, it could've come out later when she was alone. Still -
"It was her place to tell," she said firmly. Not angrily - just - firmly. "You're right - it was good for us to be here, in case anything went wrong - but it was still her place to tell. We should've talked with her about it beforehand. Asked her how she wanted to handle this."
The talk of normalcy stung a little. Trying to get by - trying to hide. She supposed there was a bit of truth in it, but still - with something that wasn't innately obvious, that didn't present itself on the surface, who wouldn't want to pretend to be normal? Sure, the girl's story was already out, but maybe they could've - talked to the news, and the police, or something. Anything, to give her a chance to continue with a normal life. The abusive household could've been handled in turn, and from there -
What, from there?
Nightingale glanced over her shoulder towards Elaine and Charles, face softening, shoulders slouching. A lot of could'ves and maybes. That wasn't the sort of talk you wanted to ride a future on, especially the future so up in the air.
"But - I suppose I'm wrong to be hopeful. Her chance at a normal life was lost the moment she showed up on the news, whether she wanted it or not."
Nightingale pulled away from Jasmine, returning to the front yard, pulling her scarf back over her face and slipping her hands in the pockets of her jacket.
"How old are you, Elaine?"
Yesterday, upon the stair, I met a man who wasn't there! He wasn't there again today, Oh how I wish he'd go away!
William couldn’t help but be a little surprised at Charles’s tone. The man clearly had practice controlling himself, but his voice was laced with venom. William had only internally poked at the assholes standing on the porch, but Charles did it so subtly, yet still got the point across. He turned his attention to Laine as Charles did, and as she spoke his heart cracked. The quiet voice so carefully saying that all she needed were her school things spoke volumes. Either she didn’t want to bring anything, didn’t have anything to bring, or didn’t believe she had anything of her own. William felt his glasses start to dissipate as his concentration wavered, so he took them off, tucking them in his pocket before they dissipated entirely.
Where would she go? He didn’t know any of these other people, and wasn’t sure how comfortable she’d be living with someone she knew wasn’t a cop. Shit, what would an actual cop do right now? ‘We’ll figure that out at the station?’ No, that sounds awful. ‘We have a spare bedroom back home, I can call the missus, have her get it ready?’ That sounds even worse. Plus, Laine wouldn’t know he was lying, and for some reason he felt bad lying to this girl. He never felt bad lying to anyone.
Fortunately, his thoughts were interrupted by Nightingale asking Laine about her age. Good question, he hadn’t thought to ask about that. Shit, he needed to say something.
“We have a handful of places that you can go, don’t worry. We’ll find the best place for you, I promise.” William tried to make his tone warm and sincere, but tones with this new voice were hard, so he wasn’t sure it came out quite right. Still, points for trying, yeah?
Charles repressed the urge to point out that they had, in fact, hurt her, even if it was the obvious kind of hurt. It was time she stop looking to the past. You confront the past, you deal with it in the moment, and then you move on. Lingering on what had been, or what could have been, was the first step on the road to depression and anxiety. Instead of offering another grim expression or continuing to treat her like the child she'd been moments before, he decided to move forward. He offered her a smile instead, a genuine one.
"I don't know yet, but we'll figure something out. At the very least I can contact a few people in the Church who owe me a favor. I think they still have an old safe house around here." As to why the Church needed a safe house anywhere, well, he'd leave that for another day. He turned his attention towards the others now, watching their reactions and their conversations. Two of the girls were off talking about the situation and William looked like he was struggling with everything that had just happened. It wasn't easy to confront situations like this.
"William, what do you think about us all writing down places we know she can stay and then all of us can sit down somewhere and come up with something, with Laine's input?" He thought it was a good idea they get out of here at the very least, before everything got more complicated with police arrival, which was immanent. "Sounds like you have a few places, I know of one, and the girls probably have something they can offer as well." Oh for the days where you could send an unmarried minor off to a convent for a few weeks to settle things down before bringing her out into the world again.
That's where political correctness got you. Yeah well, it also got us not cutting people's heads off in the street or watching Henry the Eighth divorce yet another wife because she didn't give him the right gender child...which...I should probably not throw too many stones about. Not that he'd divorced wives, or created a religion over it, but he wasn't exactly innocent of the whole 'I need a male heir' thing. He was digressing, internally at that.
He tried to catch the attention of the other two, gesturing them to leave the house behind.
It took only a moment for Laine to reaffirm that she liked Ms. Nightingale, after the woman returned from speaking privately with Jazz. Ms. Nightingale asked questions, but they were questions with proper answers, answers that Laine knew how to be correct about.
"I am seventeen." It was a good answer, a truthful one. Laine did not have to figure out how much she should know about being seventeen or how she felt about being seventeen or what she thought seventeen year olds were supposed to do. Seventeen was a number. It was just math, taking years and subtracting and finding a correct answer. It was all very tidy. "My birthday is May second, so I will be eighteen then."
There did not seem to be a tidy answer to the question of where she was supposed to go next. William promised to find her the best place. That was a promise that she had heard before. She had been four then. Her head turned, looking back over her shoulder to the home that was not hers. Once, it had been the best place. That was what they had promised. Laine did not think she wanted to find out what the next best place was.
Mr. Lemagne suggested something about the church, but Laine was quick to return her attention to him and shake her head. "No, thank you. I am not very good with churches." Churches had always been a problem. They did not have good answers to all the questions Laine asked, and the questions that they asked her weren't questions at all. It was all very uncomfortable. It was better when the questions were definitive, like how old are you?
Laine was beginning to realize that if there was a good answer to these questions, the people with her did not have it. They would like to have it, because they were good people, but sometimes questions did not have answers, or sometimes it was important to find the answer yourself. This seemed like that sort of situation. Laine considered this for a moment, then nodded just a little to herself, and put her backpack on over her shoulders.
"I think I will figure it out. Thank you."
She did not know if they were going to like that answer or not. It wasn't a good girl sort of answer. Good girls did not figure things out, good girls did what they were told. Maybe it would be okay, though. Laine would just have to tell herself what to do. Maybe that was okay, too.
The house three doors down on the right had a very noisy dog, so Laine turned left and started walking, because it would be quieter. The quiet was nice. She liked the quiet.
Jasmine was willing to accept she might have fumbled in how she tried to help here. Maybe even the reasonings were excuses in the end but she knew her stance on things. And Laine making her own decisions seemed like the right outcome of things. "I might make a detour. I don't want to walk around in this all night just yet." The Weapon Master was a hero and Jasmine wanted that to become a staple of the city. She wanted to be a symbol of hope and that these changes were nothing to be ashamed of. That said the idea of halting crime and rushing onto the scene was right now still new ground. It was to most likely vigilante work. While there was a desire to make the Weapon Master a foundation for justice, Jasmine was just a odd lady who might end up behind bars.
She had a hypothesis that teaching and excavating were jobs that wouldnt yet take well to her current nightly activities. " I can offer my room till you work out what you want if you need." The offer came to her mind without hesitation because to her it was right. She felt she could help so she extended the offer. A moment later though she figured being told no wouldn't hurt her feelings. She was more teacher than explorer of the world, more wondering how she was going to pay off college loans then wondering if she could pay for a perfectly crafted sword. Sure she had a place but when she really thought on it, she remembered her bed was nice and sleeping on her couch absolutely sucked.
Besides the offer though she would keep quiet however for now. Try and let Lain just enjoy the quiet. She didn't have an ability to read people like objects but she got the impression some quiet might be needed. For the moment Jazz was attentive to her suroundings, trying to remember who she might know near by. She landed on a student of her's a few blocks down. They went to a concert once, after the student graduated. That was a year ago and they didn't talk much. Explaining why she was showing up in red blue and gold asking to borrow clothes would prove amazingly uncomfortable.
But again however the night ended, she wanted that moment to be as Jasmine. Maybe they would all think her weird, at some point maybe they would turndown the offer of her phone number even. Didn't change the fact before the night was through she'd attempt to offer it. Maybe she could help them, maybe they would meet again confronting something weird. Some of this might have also just been her own silent plea to feel like her hero idea could work and to not feel so alone. For all the weirdness of the night this had felt more comfortable to her, when most days she was second guessing. Apart of her feeling more potentially Wikipedia in a bodysuit then a person in her usual day to day affairs.
paperwork: It says "meatball" on my end?
Sept 13, 2022 6:37:36 GMT
paperwork: Willow, of course I know how website blocks work. The website puts up its arms into a blocking position, which stops you from getting close to it. To break through the block, you have to exhaust its stamina bar, ideally by punching it. It's easy.
Sept 13, 2022 6:38:43 GMT