2009-12-09: Cupid Works Overtime

Starring:

Tiago_V4icon.pngJade_V4icon.pngLena_V4icon.png

Date: December 9th, 2009

Summary:

Jade plays make-up matchmaker when she finds her two closest friends are on the rocks by threatening them with beatings unless they agree to talk it out. Rated M for Lena and Tiago's foul mouths!


"Cupid Works Overtime"

Sydney's Apartment

It has not been a good week for Tiago. Not at all. It's like his life has been shrouded with pain, and doom, and gloom, and all that nonsense, and he can't find that ever elusive light at the end of the tunnel. And when he /does/ catch the light, it turns out to be a train rocketing towards him at impossibly fatal speeds, just looking to mow him down once again.

It is this sentiment that surrounds the lad wherever he goes these days. This sense of loss, and hopelessness and despair. He has decided against leaving the apartment today, for he knows Lena is going to avoid it like the plague, and so the lad can be found plopped onto the couch of the living room, staring blankly at the television screen as he numbs his pain by killing pixelated soldiers on screen, his fingers moving at rapid speeds. He's in his pajamas still, despite the fact that it's almost 5 in the afternoon - wearing a rumpled, slightly dirty white t-shirt and smooth basketball shorts that reach just beyond his knees. His face is dotted with thick, rough stubble, his hair is a mess and really, when his appearance is coupled with the empty cans of beer on the floor and the open, empty pizza box beside him - the man just looks like he gave up. After all who needs grooming, right? Who needs cleanliness when they're alone - his heart is bleeding black tears and all that rot.

*Click-click CLACK*

The sound of a key entering the lock, and subsequently turning the heavy deadbolt, precedes the door opening by a few seconds, allowing time for certain mammals to do such polite things as remove their hands from scratching inside their pants and such. There's a heavy *creeeeeeeeak* as the door begins to protestingly slide open, then a *BOOM* as it's roughly shoved aside and impacts the door stop. Who could be coming inside in such a manner? A certain dark-haired teenager, of course.

It doesn't take her long, holding a paper bag in both arms, clutched against her torso, to maneuver around and kick the door shut with a similar slamming noise, then to catch sight of the dishelved man on the couch playing his videogames once again, and looking rather… grody. Jade balances the grocery bag on the back of the couch and leans over slightly, frowning at the screen as she quirks her lips. "Well this looks… healthy." She reaches down, gripping a small tuft of hair that was sticking out at an odd angle, giving it a sharp tug.

"Hey, Cave Man Og, it's waaaaaay past noon. Time to, I don't know, get dressed, maybe brush your teeth? Where's everyone else?"

"Fuck you!" Tiago protests, his anger drowned out in sorrow as he tucks his head out of Jade's grasp instinctively, turtling a little as his shoulders rise up in the process. "Fuck you, jus'…jus' leave me alone, okay? I don' need you yellin' an' hittin' and makin' fun of me right now. /Please/, Jade." He doesn't have the energy for it. He doesn't have the self esteem for it. He doesn't have the fortitude to rebuff her insults, and knows they will be internalized, and will make him feel even worse. The mere fact that he recognizes these cardinal truths lend credit to the notion that, perhaps, the lad is growing up!

With one of those soul-bearing sighs of the teenage emo variety, he slumps into the couch once more, pushing the empty pizza box onto the floor and repositioning himself, lying down on the furniture, so that he can look even more pathetic as he barrels through the war game he's playing.

"You sound cheery today. What happened? Did you lose all your continues and have to start all over? Poor baby."

Not making fun of people is a skill Jade had apparently never picked up in her time on this earth, though she does manage to refrain from physical abuse as she picks up the bag and maneuvers it towards the kitchen. She'd disappear from view for several long moments, though likely the only way Tiago would notice is a transparent reflection of her on the lit television screen is suddenly absent, and her presence is only still noted in the noise she makes, thick, brown paper rustling as it's set on the counter. And then she's back, and just as determined to be a pest as ever.

"Oh, c'mon! You've gone from sitting to lying now? What are you, doing your day in reverse? Isn't that just like a guy, sit around and mope instead of doing anything constructive." Leaning down, the dark-haired teenager grabs at his ear and gives a sharp tug. "Sit up, pause the damned game, and tell me what's going on, already. Don't tell me we have to move somewhere farther away than Jersey!"

So much for refraining from physically abusing him. Tiago is not in a talkative kind of mood right now. And so, unlike with Dex and Sydney, it doesn't all just explode out of him out of necessity. Instead, he decides to ignore her altogether and proceed as though she hadn't arrived.

But then she goes all mom on him, and all hell breaks loose.

"Ow ow ow, lemme go you bitch!" Tiago groans as he is literally pulled into a sitting position by the ear, and as soon as he can, he breaks free of her vice grip, moving to cup that ear protectively while glowering at the young brunette. "Why you always gotta do that - you always gotta fuck up everythin'! I wasn't even doin' nothin' ta you, so why you gotta be a bitch ta me all the time!" With this accusation in place he, reluctantly, presses pause, though he still refuses to allow anything to escape him.

"It would hurt less if you'd sit up quicker, don't be such a baby! Why not always do that? Lord knows you won't tell me anything unless I beat it out of you. Oh no," She makes her way to the side of the couch, pausing, placing a hand on the arm of the furniture to toe off her sneakers, abandoning them on the floor. She carefully maneuvers around the empty trash, to the front of the couch, patting her chest. "You gotta be tough. Gotta be a man, can't talk about 'pussy shit' like feelings."

She makes a show of grimacing and brushing off one of the cushions before she deigns to put the rear of her lightly-stained, travel-worn jeans on it. Drawing her legs up under her, she leans an arm over the back rest, sitting sideways, looking at the Brazilian expectantly.

"You're acting more like a four-year-old than usual. I mean, I'm used to picking up your crap around here, but all this," she gestures expansively at the cans, and the pizza box so recently displaced to the floor. "Is just going overboard. Look, it's me. …What's up?"

Tiago continues to glare in the woman's direction, frowning petulantly and sinking into his seat instinctively, he draws away from her slightly, before grabbing the throw pillow beside him and placing it on his lap just for protection. After all, he knows first hand how physical Jade can be, and he needs to protect his funbags SOMEhow. "It…aint tha'…well…yeah it is, but not really. I'm jus'…I'm sick o' thinkin' about it. I'm sick of feelin' like shit all day."

Eventually, recognizing that Jade will not relent until she gets the full story, he tilts his head to the side and looks directly ahead at the frozen screen, shoulders deflating slightly as he mentally prepares himself. "I…I dunno what's goin' on. It's all gone ta shit. Or, it was always shit an' I jus' tricked myself inta thinkin' it wasn't. People do that, yeah? Like, they want somethin'…they love someone so much, that they start thinkin' shit that aint true?" Beat. "I guess me an Lena broke up. I dunno for sure. I dunno anythin' 'nemore."

"Sooooooo moping's gonna help you feel better?"

With a patience that was just as likely born of a desire to get the Brazilian to do something he didn't want as to help him, Jade tucks her hands into her lap, shoving them between her thighs and settles in for a long wait. Thankfully, it didn't take too long before the male began to relent to her will. "Broke up?" Out of everything, those two words rang the loudest in her hears, rebounding through her head, bouncing around behind her eyes, than apparently bouncing right back out again, as a smirk and a small scoff escapes what was a carefully neutral expression. "You mean you guys had a fight? Everyone has those. Geez, I thought it was something serious. Okay, so you had a fight. But if both your things are still here, that means no one's walked away. Of course," she points accusingly at the trash on the floor. "You keep this self-indulgent crap up, and you will be broke up."

With a small contemplative sound deep in her chest, she draws her knees up, propping her palms on them, her chin on top of her knuckles. "So what are you gonna do? And it sure as hell better be 'win her back'."

Tiago isn't going to bring the possibility of moving out that he's been considering in his fit of self-pity. Last time she even insinuated it, she ended up hitting him. Besides, he's not even sure if he's going to, and having that rumour floating around would merely complicate things. Instead, he remains sober, stoic even throughout Jade's scoffing at their issues, watching her through morose green eyes.

"Why? Why should I?" He presents, surprisingly cool and emotionless in tone. "All I've been /doin'/ since I met 'er is fight for her. I had ta 'win' her the firs' time, I had ta /convince/ 'er ta go out with me. Okay, I can deal with that. I had ta /convince/ her ta stay wi' me, and tha' leavin' me aint good for me or her. Okay… an' now? I gotta convince her, again, ta get back tagether wi' me? It don't make sense, Jade. It don't fuckin' make sense that I gotta spend every day convincin' her and showin' her that this is right. When do I get a fuckin' break?" Beat. "Nah…maybe it's all been a dream I had in my head or somethin'. She didn't even wanna get tagether the firs' time, and kept tryin' ta find reasons ta break it off, so I should leave it at that, yeah? Should jus' let it die out like that…"

Oh, it's coming. You can see it in Jade's expression, almost with every word that passes through the Brazilian's mouth, the narrowing of the eyes, the pursing of the lips, the darkening expression. The desire to hit. Instead, as if she needed the patience of a saint, closing her eyes and inhaling deeply. Her eyes pop back open as she exhales.

"Just stop that garbage right now, okay? If you really, really felt that way, you'd be gone by now. Your in love with her, any idiot can see that. Isn't that enough for you? Do you need a break from fighting for your love? If that kind of happiness was easy to come by, shit, I'd've found it years ago! The divorce rate wouldn't be over fifty percent. If it makes you feel better to rant n' rave about it, go ahead, but you and I both know you're going to try at least one more time. Or I'm going to beat you in the head with your little buddy the Xbox controller until you agree."

"You can't guys can't break up, I'm not gonna let you. Not yet." Releasing her knees, she leans back against the arm of the sofa, reaching behind her neck to sweep her hair back over her shoulders, gathering the thick locks out of the way. "But it'd be a lot easier to give you some advice if I knew what you guys were going at it about. Why don't you tell me that while you help me pick up the mess you made."

"Yeah, I am." Tiago has absolutely no difficulty admitting this about himself, his love for the punky brunette. But his voice is hollow, as is the expression he wears - he is still avoiding looking at Jade. Still avoiding facing her judgmental gaze. "But she aint in love with me. Or she is, but not as much as I am wi' her. D'you know how much that fuckin' /sucks/, Jade? Ta…ta need an' want someone so much it fuckin' hurts, ta dedicate your fuckin' life ta someone an' then find out she aint doin' the same? I'm…fuck, I'll say it. I'm fuckin' pathetic 'bout her. All pussy-whipped an' shit, an' I wouldn't think twice 'bout ditchin' anyone else who does the same fuckin' shit she does ta me, but…An' yeah. I /do/ need a break, when the one I'm fightin' is /her/! How can I deal wi' shit like that? How come she can't pull up the slack, jus' a li'l, and for /once/ do half the shit I do ta keep us tagether?"

But then, Jade is looking for specifics, and he wraps a hand around his other fist, looking darkly uncomfortable as he considers the details of his current heartache. Then, dimly, he begins. "…She's been all distant an' shit for a while. I didn't know what was goin' on. An' then she told me she was lyin' ta me about all this bullshit, 'bout seein' people she wasn't s'posed ta see, and doin' things she weren't supposed ta be doin'. She /lied/ ta me. She aint supposed ta lie ta me, we're not s'posed ta lie ta each other, period. An' then she left me, for like, a whole fuckin' day and shit, an' I got real sick…withdrawal, yeah? So then, okay, I tell'er it's okay, she apologizes, an' she cuts me off. O' everythin', I can't even hold 'er fuckin' hand anymore. That's /all/ we had goin', 'cause she wasn't talkin' ta me 'bout shit no more, jus' lyin' all the time. An' then yesterday, when I ask 'er what's goin' on, if we're still roomin' tagether…she don' know. So I told her we're not."

"Sucks? Hell yeah, it sucks. I've thought I was in love plenty of times. But then, I was a kid, so you know how that goes." Unfurling her legs, she dark-haired teenager slides off of the couch and squats down, beginning to collect cans and discarded napkins in her hand, making a face with a curled lip to indicate just how 'great' she thought touching such things was. "Ew, did you SPIT in this one? Ugh."

The cans, the napkins, the discarded pizza crumbs, they all go piled into the open box, which was doubling as a trash bag of some kind apparently. "So… she lied to you. But she told you about it. She lied, but then she came clean, without you having to find out from anyone else. Doesn't that count for anything? If she admitted her mistake, then the ball's in your court, Cheech." Once the vast majority of the mini-mess is contained within the confines of the skinny box, she closes the lid on the top of the small pile, crushing cans and assorted other paper products. "If she really didn't care about you, like at all, then she'd have just kept on lying to you. Forever. She's mixed up in some really heavy things, like Top Secret Agent things, and she probably won't ever be able to tell you everything."

Once the box is mostly-closed, or at least as much as it was going to be, Jade puts it on the coffee table, then props her elbows on it to keep it closed, kneeling on the floor. "It's like… if she worked for the NSA or something. There'd be things about her job she couldn't tell you because it was 'classified'. It's kind of the same thing here, except if she says the wrong thing to the wrong person, a lot of people could get hurt. You, me, Syd… She has a lot on her mind, right? We all have. Do you know how much I wanted to call the cops on you guys when ya'll came clean to me?"

Her fingers drum across the top of the cardboard box. "I kind of think of Lena like a sister, and that kind of makes you my big brother-in-law. So you can't break up with her. You can't leave her. I don't think I can stand the custody battle over who gets me if you guys did." The protest of groaning metal sounds as Jade leans more heavily on the box. "She's different in a way we'll never be, so she's a special case. You can't treat this like a normal relationship, because it's not. I mean, you touch her too much and you become addicted, right? That's something you'll never overcome, not ever, unless you somehow become immune. That must be tearing her up inside, knowing she does that to you every time you touch. That's probably why she's been so distant, always making you chase her. She probably thinks she couldn't ever be with anyone without destroying them."

Tiago grows angry as Jade continues on and frustration mounts on his shoulders as, once again, someone takes the girl's side over his. Will he never find someone to understand? Is he doomed to, perpetually, travel this hole alone? His fists clench up to tight, uncomfortable balls, blanching his knuckles considerably with the force of it, and there is just the slightest tremble of his shoulders as he closes his eyes. "Stop. Stop, okay, you're jus' makin' everythin' she did okay, an' it's not. She didn' have ta lie ta me abou' none of that shit, she did 'cause she jus' didn' wanna tell me. And that's not how it /works/. Six fuckin' months, an' no matter how bad shit got, we were always honest wi' each other. Or…well, I /thought/ we were. I was. Always. So she aint got no excuse. Sayin' she /had/ ta lie is bullshit, she aint /never/ had ta see Peter. She ain't /never/ had ta hide anythin' she could do, 'cause I was /always/ the one fuckin' supportin' and encouraging her. And, fuckin' goddamn it, I aint /wrong/ about this, so fuck you for actin' like she's all righ' an' I'm all wrong, 'cause I'm not."

"Yeah, okay, /this/ is bullshit too. I /know/ she's fuckin' specialer than me, okay? I /know/ she is, an' I know it's fuckin' hard. Why d'you think I've worked so fuckin' hard ta get her help? Ta do shit for her, make her life fuckin' easier. But why's it always abou' /her/. Think how she's feelin' I think how she's fuckin' feelin' every day of my mother-fuckin' life! Bu' she don't do the same ta me. No one see's how much /I'm/ fuckin' hurtin', no one cares 'bout how much her fuckin' abandonin' me kills me, every time. How she keeps fuckin' rejectin' me, an' us - 'cause I'm not fuckin' important 'cause I'm not /special/."

"'Specialer'? You can't just make up words." Jade leans back, crossing her arms under her chest, causing the box lid, no longer held down by her weight, to pop open like it was spring-loaded. "Shut it off, already! God, you know, you're so quick to think the world's against you. The size of your damned ego… It's like the Titanic. Geez!"

"If it was Lena I was talking to, I'd be telling her to get he hell over herself and her own pity-party and realize what a great thing she's got. But she's not here, and I can't talk to her right now, so that'll have to wait. You can't just sit her and whine like a petulant little… boy and expect things to get better! You must have missed the message I was trying to break to you gently, so I'll spell it out for you: Don't. Give. Up. God, clean yourself up and give it another go. You say you love her, you'll do anything for her, give up everything? Then forgive her and give her another chance."

Bending down, she closes the lid again, squishing the cans within, before picking it up and hugging it to her chest to keep it shut. "I'm younger than either of you, but I swear to god, I'm more grown up than both of you. She made some mistakes, and she'll have to fix those, sure. But this grudge you're so determined to hold, it isn't gonna solve anything, except to drive you apart. She isn't right, but neither are you. I'll talk to her, okay? I'll tell her she's a diphead and what she did was wrong, and all that jazz. But straight up, I'll tell you right now, you're going to have be a man and compromise, or you're going to lose her forever."

Tiago, stiff in his seat, fidgets uncomfortably casting his gaze angrily to the floor and even lifting an arm up to rub the bottom of his nose clean. It does wonders for taking him back a couple of years, making him look very much like the lost, confused little boy that he really is. "I forgave her, okay? Miss you know all about it," Oh yeah. He's bitter, and hurt, and he doesn't know how he's going to deal with the situation exactly. "I forgave her an' all. Bu' if she wants space? Fuck, I'm so tired of fightin' it, I'll give it ta her. I /can't/ fight all the time, Jade. I can't - I don' got the energy ta fuckin' do it no more. An' if that makes me a bad person…I jus'…I need her ta need me, for once. I need her ta come ta me, an' ta show me /why/ I try so hard always for her. That…that I haven't been just fuckin' foolin' myself this whole time, and that there is somethin' real here, not jus' me makin' her put up wi' me…"

"You know, the moment you quit fighting, that's the moment you say you're not good enough to be with her. Who the hell are you, anyway?" Jade's scowl at the male on the couch is potently disapproving. "Because the Cheech I know wouldn't let anything stand between him and something he wanted. I'm not gonna stand here and tell you 'everything will be all right'. Life's hard at the bottom, and that's where we are. I know that you and Lena need each other like peanut butter needs jelly. Other things might taste okay with them, but it just doesn't taste as good."
She stops, scratching at the side of her cheek, glancing off to the side. "God, I should really stop trying to invent new analogy's. That might have been my worst one, yet. You've given her her space, you've been apart for a day or so, you've had your break that included making a mess of the living room. Oh, and YOUR WELCOME for picking it up for you. But now it's time to stick your nose back on the grindstone. Give it another day, lemme talk to her. She'll come around. She needs you, she really does. She probably just lost sight of that with all the other things pulling at her. She'll come around if I have to beat it into her with a tire iron."

Turning abruptly to the side, Jade marches off with her trash towards the kitchen.

LATER THAT DAY…

It's the noise of a vacuum-cleaner that heralds the cleaning activity within the living room, being done by a certain teenaged brunette. Having unearthed the mechanical cleaning device some time after the Brazilian had evacuated the area, Jade had since decided to put it to good use, and was currently nosing about the couch cushions, shoving the little hose attachment into the cracks and crannies to get all the crumbs left over from the male's bad eating habits.

And, of course, she was pocketing any change she came across.

After having kicked all of the soft, plushy seats off of the sofa itself in order to vacuum beneath them, she was currently in the process of returning them to their rightful position, stretching a leg out awkwardly to the side to press the off button with her toe. Couch reassembled, vacuum off, Jade reaches up to her hair, pulling out the pair of clips that kept her hair up and out of the way in a messy ponytail, allowing it to fall back freely.

With a cross between a sigh and a huff, she frowns down the hallway, before clambering over the back of the couch and edging down it. "Lena? Lena, you in there? I'm coming in, so don't be doing anything… weird." First, she'd try the knob, and, if that was locked, preventing her from opening the door, she'd bang on it relentlessly.

It isn't locked, probably because Lena figures that the emo punk songs currently spilling from her guitar are deterrent enough for most people. She's on the bed with her back against the headboard, one foot tucked beneath her and the other leg stretched out to support the instrument. Truth be told, the brunette isn't bad if she could just develop better taste in music.

It should also be noted that she isn't looking nearly as dire as Tiago was, but that might also be expected. She is the heartless soul-crusher in the relationship, after all.

"Yeah, Jade, what's up?" The last chord is disrupted with a dischordant twang when Lena looks up, fixing a solemn but curious look on the other girl. "You wanna vacuum in here too? 'Cause I seriously didn't know you did like…real chores. You're blowing my mind, here."

"Hmph." The sound is a non-plussed one from the teen. "Hey, my place might have been cluttered, but it was clean, remember? If I let that South American animal's castoffs had free reign, Syd would toss us all out on our asses for bringing rats and roaches into the house. If I gotta sleep here, I'm sure as hell gonna make sure it's not filthy."

But no, she doesn't run back to fetch the vacuum, instead, walking into the room, before turning and shoving the door shut with her foot, as if too lazy to bother using her hands. With her fingers jammed into her back pockets, she slowly meanders her way towards the bed, to eventually perch a hip on the edge of it. "I didn't know you played guitar. You're not very good at it. You should take some lessons or hang it up on the wall as a decoration. Seriously."

As she starts getting side-tracked from her intentions of girl-talk, she shakes her head, pulling one leg up onto the bed, resting her hands on her shin as she frowns. "What'd you do to Cheech? He's really bad off, Lee. I've never seen him like this. You messed him up pretty bad."

"You're just jealous," Lena counters, strumming out another full, rich chord (completely without twang!) to prove Jade wrong. But the smirk twisting her lips fade as the real reason the girl's come in is laid out. She grimaces and looks down, going through the oh so fake motions of tightening up a few of the strings just avoid making eye-contact. "Didn't grovel enough, I guess? He dumped me last night after I apologized again and tried to give him a hug. Something about how we maybe needed space. Which is bullshit, 'cause I said I'd give him space if he needed it but I didn't want to." Pause. "Oh yeah, and I said no more sex or touching without being covered up till Gene gets me the pills that turn this drug shit off. 'Cause I almost killed him."

It's agonizing, admitting that, but she does a decent job of masking the hurt. What emerges instead is a fed up grumble that ruffles the ends of her poorly cut hair.

"Yeah, he's a class-A asshole, all guys are. But you love him, so you have to work it out."

Jade's fingers twitch along the length of her leg, as if she was restless, needing to do something with her hands, but not quite sure what, exactly, the hell to do. "But can you blame him? Really? You did lie to him about some pretty important stuff there. That's the thing with lying, you can't just say you're sorry and make it go away. You can't fix it, because trust isn't something that can be given out that freely. Especially not with a couple of paranoid nutjobs like you two, what with super-secrets and all. You messed up, and then he probably flipped out and over-reacted, and then he messed up. So now you're both in a funk, and you're both as stubborn and bull-headed as a boar in heat."

Gesturing vaguely in the air, Jade looks off to the side for a moment, as if searching for the words she wanted to say, before finally plopping her hand back down onto her leg. "He can deal without sex for a while, it'd probably do his horn-dog bones some good. He just wants to know that you need him. I think you this could probably all be solved if you just told him that. You know, be the bigger man. I mean, you're already the man in this relationship, just tell him you're sorry, you need him, and that you don't want him to leave. Ten bucks says he comes around real damned quick after that. Then you guys don't have to spend all that money in court deciding who gets custody of me afterwards. Everyone wins."

Did…did Jade just say 'boar in heat'?

Lena looks up again, eyebrows going all quirky and lifted as she studies the other girl. Her jaw works almost as if she were grinding her teeth together but eventually a short smile is forced to her lips. Making them look pinched but hey, better than nothing! "You know, for a little kid you're pretty fucking smart and all, but…I did, Jade. I went to him last night and I said exactly that. I did lie, and I was a shit, and I said sorry and that I knew he might not want me back but I still needed him if he wanted to try. It was after I said that that he said we needed space. So I dunno what the hell's wrong with him except he's not getting his way 'cause I won't give up the ass any. And he's keeping score in his big stupid head, how he's done so much more than me somehow."

She sighs and shifts the guitar off of her lap, letting it lay where Tiago normally would. Her own fingers require flexing, so she laces them together and stretches her hands out to make the knuckles pop. "You didn't see how he looked, when he was coming off the shit I gave him. His heart could've stopped, I looked it up. And then when where would I be? I mean, I'd have you and all, and you're pretty awesome but…" No accent, ass isn't quite as nice. Yeah, she doesn't feel like trading.

"'Little kid'? I'm older than both of you put together, and you know it." Rolling her eyes up towards the ceiling, Jade leans back on her arm, planting a palm against the cushiony mattress as she tugs at a few locks of her hair with the other. After a moment, she glances suspiciously at the bed, but considering her and the Brazilian were on the outs, she was willing to bet there was no chance of her getting anything 'icky' on her. "Yeah, yeah, I know you did. Just do it again, okay? Just one more time, because he was too busy being hurt to listen. He's had time to stew, and he's past shouty, and he's all deep into mopey. He'll listen this time. You know how guys are, the blood doesn't exactly flow to their heads. But you guys need each other. With everything's that's happened all around you two, you survived because you had each other, and you can't just let that go without trying one more time."

Braving her own paranoia at contact with the more thuggish girl, Jade leans forward just enough to put her hand on Lena's knee, or whatever part of her leg is safely covered by cloth. "Guys always think they're right, they never are, but just this once, lose the battle. Just let him think he's right, put aside your pride and tell him what he needs to hear. He'll listen this time, I swear." She frowns. "Or I will beat the ever-loving crap out of him until he does."

"Pft, as if. You're what…fifteen? Maybe sixteen? I turn twenty in a few weeks, you're like a baby compared to me." It does help, having the teasing to fall back on, the crooked smiles and the affectionate harrassment. A little levity never killed anyone, even if they have to return to the serious stuff right after. "He got mopey at you, didn't he? Shit, Jade…I'm sorry. Damnit. I can't wait till we move, then everyone won't have to be up in everyone else's business."

Lena glances at the knee-touch (and yes, she's safely wearing jeans) then leans back on her bare hands to get them out of the way. No sense in causing an accident when the other girl is genuinely trying to help.

"I'll try again, I was gonna anyway. I told him I was gonna give him the space he needs, figured I'd wait till he calmed down a little. But…" She grimaces again. "You know it's just gonna happen again, the next time he thinks he gets to add more points to his score, or whatever it is he's keeping in his head. I did fuck up big this time, and I'll take the hits for that. But what happens when I tell him we still can't touch, huh?"

"Eighteen."

The correction is automatic, the younger girl's eyes narrowing momentarily, as if she were thinking of strangling the elder. "Oh shut up, I'm always going to be up in your business. Always. I'm nosy, persistent, and conceited enough to think that everyone should listen to me. There's no keeping me out of your affairs."

It's all said matter-of-factly, as if Jade were telling Lena that she'd always know when it was going to rain. Her hand withdraws as she hears, mostly, what she wanted to, leaning around the other girl to grab at a pillow to flump back on, lying on her side, propping herself up on her elbow. "You mean when you guys fight again? It's gonna happen. He's going to say something stupid, or do something stupid, or you'll make a mistake, and it'll be back to drama. Who cares about down the road? You guys'll weather it. Maybe next time I'll just pass notes between you two like you're both in grade school, and casually swing a baseball bat around in case one of you wants to be particularly hard to deal with. As for the touching…"

She hunches her shoulders about her ears in a shrug. "That wasn't what he seemed very upset about. Make it clear that it's only a temporary thing and I'm sure he'll come around. I told him how hard it must be for you, to do that to him every time you touch, and… I think it'll sink in eventually. But right now, he just needs his male ego stroked, needs to know you need him, that you appreciate him, rely on him… I can teach you how to cry on demand, if you want. Garaunteed to get guys every time, or your money back."

Jade's going to get a second pillow, because Lena grabs it and whips it at the girl's head with a laugh. "You're such a fucking brat. Good thing for you I like that. It's not that, jesus…people fight. I'm just sick of the yelling and shit, you know? Like, I know I suck at being a girlfriend. But he needs to fucking grow up too…I told him and I meant it that you don't need your fists to beat someone up, like my last boyfriend did." Pause. "Okay, maybe I shouldn't have said it when I did but it's true. I think one of the things that pisses him off so much is I've been talking to Gene…just friends, you know? But he and I disagree and it doesn't turn into screaming at each other."

Sadly, she is now pillow-less, which means that flopping back onto the bed is far more uncomfortable. Lena solves the problem by folding her hands behind her head. "I guess. Forget the crying though, that shit's dangerous with me. If I need him cried at, I'll just call you in to do it. Since you're so nosy anyway, you can be right up in that."

"Hey, I'll turn on the waterworks if it gets Mommy and Daddy to stop fighting." Drumming her fingers along her temple, she quirks her lips to one side, and then the other. "Anyway, I already told him to stop sulking like a little boy and to be a man. Who knows, maybe that'll sink in, too. You know how is as well as I. Jealous, possessive, never far from his emotions. I think he's just, you know, lost a lot, and he's afraid someone's going to take you away, too. It doesn't matter who the hell you talk to, just be honest with him about it. He never even mentioned a 'Gene'. That was that guy that was here a couple weeks ago, right? On the couch? Anyway, he was more worried about some guy named 'Peter'. I guess you said you wouldn't see him anymore, and you did? Something like that. I think if you just tell him where you've been and who've you talked to, it'll be okay. I mean, he'll never stop worrying about you, and you're just gonna have to put up with his pestering you like an over-protective father on prom night. It's all-or-nothing with that guy."

"…Sooooooooo? Is Gene cute?"

Lena groans and puts her hands over her face at the mention of Peter. Sure, it's only the ceiling looking back at her, but it's got an accusatory look to it that she doesn't like. "Did he listen, at least? Probably not, I guess, if you had to come talk to me instead of him…shit. Peter is…he's a freak like me, except he can do everything. Like, if he meets someone, right? He can do what they do. The first time I did tell Chi about him, he flipped the fuck out at me, and nothing had even happened. So when I saw Peter again and he practically begged me to go rescue his girlfriend or whatever…"

Grumbling, she pushes herself up to a seated position and rubs at her eyes. "I shouldn't have done that by myself, I know I shouldn't, but I knew he was going to go nuclear, you know? I haven't heard from Pete since anyway." And for that, Lena sounds distinctly grateful.

"You want a Gene hook-up?" The thought summons a faint smile. "I could probably pull that off. He is kinda cute if you like geeks. Blushes easy too…but he did say he's not gonna fuck anyone till he gets married, and that'll only be after he saves the world. Or whatever." Pause. "You know, Jade…I'm starting to think maybe all us mutant sorts are…seriously fucked in the head or something."

"Really? I only got a look at him for a few seconds, then everything got all crazy because you got touch-happy or something. Honestly, you should invest in some paint-on latex or something. But he seemed a little weird. Though I guess…. Well, maybe… No, no, what the hell'm'I talking about this for? My love-life's not on trial here!"

Jade levels a stone-sober look at the older girl. "Lee, I coulda told you how screwed up in the head you were a looooooong time ago. Just from your bad taste in music." The last part is added with a sickeningly sweet, smug smile that somehow conveyed more malice than it did anything endearing. "So this Pete, he's like Superman? Is he like, the spirit of the land, or the amalgamation of every mutant out there ever or something? Like Captain Planet? That's pretty crazy. He sounds like a real dangerous guy, but… Lena, you saved someone. And you didn't even have to be paid to do it! Cheech is just worried you're going to run off with the other mutants and leave him behind. Just let him know that you'll always need him by your side."

"But, for what it's worth, I'm totally super proud of you. …Is Peter cute?"

If Lena had another pillow, she'd totally throw it at Jade. Lacking ammunition, she has to settle for lashing out with one foot (safely covered in a sock), aiming to bap the other girl in the hip or leg or some other HUGE convenient target. "Ass," she says, almost fondly. "Gene said he's gonna make me some kinda suit that might help with that but it sounds like it'll be a pain to wear all the time…so I just gotta be more careful." And she's trying. Really, she is.

"He's…I dunno what he is. I guess he's cute if you like them sweet and scruffy. Always going on about saving people, so he doesn't seem dangerous but I guess the government tricked him into working for them for a little." The brunette grows far more serious, wincing a little at some memory. "He's kinda the reason you had to move too, remember? The guy I ran into…they dropped a helicopter on his head, and he couldn't remember anything, so they told him he was an agent and he believed them for awhile, but now he's running too. Fucked up, huh?"

The matter of saving someone gets her shaking her head again. "Shit, Jade, you don't even know…the only reason I did it was 'cause I hurt this guy a few days before. Some…wife-beater or something. I gave him a bad trip on purpose, he was pretty messed up. Don't start with the hero stuff, okay?"

"Who doesn't like scruffy? Wait, WHAT!" Apparently something had caught the younger teen's attention, as she sits bolt upright suddenly and open-mouth gapes at Lena. She'd probably realize her expression was comical if she wasn't making it in such earnest at the moment. "That… That… dickhead! He lost his memory, so I had to move out of my house! Superman or not, I'll kick his ass lead pipe. Ugh. …A helicopter? Really? Just what kind of crap have you gotten into, girl?"

After a few moments of kicking her legs back and forth, dangling them off the edge of the bed, she settles back onto her elbows, staring at the wall in displeasure, as if it had done something wrong. "Yeah, yeah, you can try to hide it. But there's nothing wrong with being a good person, Lena. If you weren't, you'd have just left as soon as my place wasn't safe anymore, you wouldn't have brought me along. That meant a lot, so shut up and don't ruin it. Tch! I can't believe I had to give up my craphole-tastic apartment because some doof named Peter forgot who he was!"

"Hey," There's a speculative gaze cast at her fugitive-mate, "You know I broke down and bought a gun? I've been hiding it in my purse. God, it's been making me so nauseous, it feels good to just come out and say it."

"I know, I kinda dragged us all into the deep water, didn't I?" Don't hit her, she isn't about to start the emo stuff again, really! Lena gets her hand up pre-emptively just in case though. "Trust me though, if I hear from Peter again, I'll let him know you're looking for him…but maybe I won't. You'd just end up hitting yourself in the head probably and then I'd be all guilty and shit."

Leaning back again, she too studies a bare expanse of wall. "Did Chi tell you we're moving though? Syd found some big-ass place for us all to go to, in the city. Four bathrooms, I guess? Dunno how many bedrooms, but at least that many…her rich boyfriend's springing for…it…"

Wait, what?

"You bought a gun?" Sure, Lena suggested it but she didn't think the little spitfire would go through with it! She gapes at the younger girl. "Do you even know how to use it, Jade? Maybe…uh. Maybe you should give it to me, would that make you feel better? Or Chi, he'd probably like having another toy."

"It was all YOUR idea! And it's not a toy! They kill people. But yeah, I bought it off of Randy. I thought I'd have to beg and plead, but nope." She snaps her fingers, "I must be more convincing than I thought, because he went right for it. How hard can it be to use anyway, right? Point and click. I don't even have any bullets for it right now. It's just, you know, to scare people with. Just in case. I mean, I haven't even so much as seen anything suspicious, and if I do," A small shrug. "Then I'll buy some bullets."

"Anyway, back to your question, yeah, he told me. Popping up from her half-sitting-half-lying position, the dark-haired teen scoots to the edge of the bed, running her hand back through her hair, clearing her bangs away from her face. "I hit him, then he told me you guys were bringing me along, so I stopped hitting him. It's gonna be one helluva a commute from there to the pawn shop every day, but thousands of New Yorkers do it every day, right? Speaking of… can you loan me like twenty bucks? I'mma need some bus fare to start out with."

Lena makes a face, rolling off of the bed and standing up to rummage through the top drawer of the dresser. "Jesus, Jade…there's more to guns than just that. Did he show you how to use it at all? You know where the safety is, how to check to see if there's bullets in the chamber?" There are some few advantages to having had a gang leader boyfriend. Small, but pertinent. "Hold onto it if you want to but at least get Chi to take you out and practice with it some, for when you do get bullets."

Yeah, she has no doubt that the need for it will be a sure thing. Eventually. One day.

After a minute, she pulls a brown leather wallet out of the drawer and tosses it at the other girl. It's a man's wallet, with about forty dollars in it and some ID for one "Roger Christenson". "You're gonna want to dump the cards but there's some money. Speaking of Randy, how's he doing? Seen anything weird around the shop lately, other than the fundies?"

"There is?" Judging by her expression, not to mention that telling statement, Jade's experience with guns is limited to the movies she's seen them in. And, given her predilicition for the Romantic Comedy genre, that probably wasn't very many. "Okay, okay, don't get your thong in a bunch, I'll ask him to show me how to point and click some time. He'll probably have me shooting sideways while shouting 'tough' obsceneties, though."

A squeak of surprise prevents her from elaborating further on her suspicions of Tiago's thuggish brand of shooting, fumbling the wallet around in her arms for a few moments, before it eventually slips between her fingers and lands with a *plop* on the floor. "What the heck's with you two and thinking I can can catch things? I've never caught anything either of you have thrown at me. Ever!" After picking up the material, slithering off of the bed to squat down, she stands up, looking at the identification card and eliciting a long, tortured groan.

"Lena, you didn't! Ugh, and I thought you were doing so well, too…" Regardless, the money comes out, and so does the ID. The bills go into her hip pocket while she flaps the plastic back and forth. "I'll, uh, just cut this up for you. And he's doing okay, he was kind of cheesed that I disappeared for a while, though. He didn't fire me, but… Geez, he didn't seem very worried! He could've at least PRETENDED to be concerned!"

Lena collapses back onto the bed with a snort, stretching out on her stomach to watch the show. That is, to watch Jade play butter fingers with the 'present' of the wallet. "Shows what you know, I don't even wear thongs…heh. You answered your own question, you know? It's just fun seeing you jump around like a monkey."

The groan draws a blink, and lifted brows. "What? I needed cash, and the dude acted like I was a hooker. He was a sleaze…kinda like Randy, jesus. What's his problem? You disappeared! So what if you were with us and totally safe. I knew he was an ass. Any guy who's straight and can do hair, you gotta watch them, Jade. There's something wrong with them."

"Oh, well, he's not that bad. Really, he's a good guy, and he gave me a-…"

Stopping in mid sentence, Jade seems to pause awkwardly in the air for a while, before finally her face collapses into a scowl. She points at herself energetically with the piece of plastic with the strange man's picture on it. "No, you know what? You're right. He can fuck me, but he can't be concerned about me? What the hell is up with that! He gave me a job, and he was totally understanding about everything, but seriously! Sometimes I even wonder if I'm anything more than just the help to him. Urgh!"

With her final, exhaling growl, she stomps her foot, as if to transmit her rage through the ground, or, more likely, through the ceiling of whoever lived beneath them. Brushing it off with a snort, she reaches behind her, twisting the door knob. "Yeah, so… Guys are such jerks. Anyway, I've got my stuff out of my old place. I know a guy who let me use up part of one of his rooms, since I didn't have much. Just let me know before we head south so I can get my stuff, okay? Wait, is it north or south? Jersey's south. I think. Right? Whatever, don't forget what we talked about!"

Wait…what? "You like him!"

Yeah, if Jade was in a hurry to leave before, she's going to be in an absolute panic to do so when she catches sight of Lena's grin. Also, the eager gossipy way she bounces up on her knees and hops on the bed. "You fucking like Poodlehead! Oh my god, Jade! Don't worry, I won't tell anyone!"

"I- I- I DO NOT!"

Full of denial to the end, Jade backs out of the door, away from the grinning older teen, matching her smile with an expression that promised to deliver a word of pain if a breath of it was whispered elsewhere. She even goes so far as to look down the hall, making sure no one could hear Lena's ecstatic revelations with the door open, then places a finger vertically against her lips in the classic sign of 'shh', then slams the door shut.

Once she's safely out of the room, and down the hall to avoid any residual laughter that might follow her, she scowls down at the picture of Roger, as if he were somehow to blame. "I'm just gonna hope you totally deserved to be robbed." And now it was time to find some scissors to be rid of this evidence.

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