2007-09-09: Freaks And Geeks


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Summary: Elena successfully wrangles new acquaintance, Ian Jackson, to be her lab partner for Organic Chemistry. She manages to learn a bit about his ability, as well as his fondness for comic book movie adaptations.

Date It Happened: September 9th, 2007

Freaks And Geeks

New York University Campus, Greenwich Village

"Earlier in stereochemistry, we discussed cis/trans notation where cis- means same side and trans- means opposite side. Alkenes can present a unique problem, however in that the cis/trans notation sometimes breaks down. The first thing to keep in mind is that alkenes are planar and there's no rotation of the bonds, as we'll discuss later. So when a substituent is on one side of the double-bond, it stays on that side…."

Professor Watley stands in front of the large lecture hall, that's got about enough students to fill only about 1/8ths of the actual space. It was almost cruel to have the lecture part of Organic Chemistry 235 at eight o'clock in the morning - probably why it looks so empty. Some of the students probably failed to get up early, especially not after such a glorious weekend. So as the professor turns to scrawl the notation on the board, one of the students in front actually starts listing backwards. Slowly….slooooooooooooowly. Finally, the student's head tips back against his will, mouth open and a "Zrnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnk" escaping his nasal passages.

Elena isn't doing well herself. She's got a LARGE cup from Flava Java on her little armchair thing, her book cradled on her lap and her notebook taking up one half of it. Her hand picks up and takes a desperate sip of the strong, gazillion-shot of pure espresso lifeline, trying to shake herself awake. It's not going very well. Eyes blink blearily in front of her.

This. Was torture.

Ian is right up in the front. Might be because he's a touch nearsighted, might be because he's relying on the threat of embarassing himself in front of the prof like that poor kid just did to keep himself awake. He doesn't look sleepy, though. The dark eyes are actually keen, for all that he's got an iPod earbud in one ear. The other is dangling loose, and 'Clubbed to Death' by Rob Dougan can be heard playing faintly. He's just to the right of Elena, left hand idly fooling with the gold gypsy ring in his left ear, lips thinned out in a rather critical expression.

"The above example is pretty straight-forward. On the left, we have two methyl groups on the same side, so it's cis-but-2-ene. And on the right, we have them on opposite sides, so we have trans-but-2-ene. So in this situation, the cis/trans notation works and, in fact, these are the correct names…" Dr. Watley continues right in the front, tapping at the diagram on occasion and peering at the class through his lenses. His eyebrow ticks a little, and he tosses the chalk towards the sleeping student, who jolts away with a cry and falls off his chair.

That, at least, helps the others to sit up straighter.

"Speaking of names," Dr. Watley continues. "I hope you're all getting very acquainted with your classmates these year because it's about time you guys figured out who your permanent lab partners for the semester." There is a collective groan from class. "Come now. Some of you might find that you might actually like each other."

"What is this, the seventh grade?" hisses a student to another somewhere behind them.

Elena rolls her eyes skyward at the words behind her. Another sip of the cup is taken. She reaches over to scrawl a small note at the side of her notebook, and surreptitiously nudges Ian with her elbow.

Hey, Static Shock. Wanna be lab partners?

Ian arches a finely drawn black brow at that, surreptitiously flicking the ipod off and tugging the the 'phone from his ear. "Works for me," he says, out of the corner of his mouth, before settling back in his chair with a creak. "I swear I'm a good student. I won't drag you down." He smells faintly of some clean cologne or aftershave.

"Awesome," Elena murmurs, flashing him a cheeky little thumbs up and giving him a smile.

The class goes on for the full hour. Students are getting antsy. The student in front fell asleep again, and overall the semester is kicking off with the same ol', requisite boring class. The young Gomez lady pays attention though, dutifully taking her notes and taking down the next assignment. And when it's finally time for class to end, some students can't wait to get out of there. Some practically fly for the door. The weather is beautiful outside, some of them probably want to go Quad surfing.

Elena stretches, setting her empty coffee cup under her seat before she does. The text plops out of her lap, the book upending into the floor. She reaches to pick it up, and blinks when a folded slip of paper drifts to slide under Ian's. What the heck? What was that? "Sorry," she says, standing up to try and get it. "So when's your study group thing meeting so I can put it in my planner?" she asks.

He's enough of a gentleman to hand it back unread, unopened, extended between the first two fingers of his right hand. "No worries," he says, before stretching elaborately - his spine pops, as he arches back. "I'm thinking tomorrow night, seven thirty, dorm common room - I'm in Exeter, and that's fairly central to the campus," he explains. He hides a yawn behind his hand. "Man, that guy is a sure cure for insomnia, ain't he?"

She grins at him gratefully when he hands her the paper, Elena unfolding it curiously to take a look at it. Doesn't seem anything bad though, because what's on it causes her to smile. Slipping the note back into her book, she removes her jPhone from her back pocket, shouldering her bag. "Tomorrow night works. I'll bring pizza from Lombardi's or something. Nerds need sustenance." She glances to the professor shuffling out of the room. "Yeah, no kidding. Doesn't help that his class is at eight o'clock in the morning." The room's clearing out rapidly, so she shrugs, and remains where she is. She can't help but be curious anyway. "Hey, I have a question. Before I ask it though, I just want to let you know that I come in peace."

Ian leans down to repack binder and text book into a batttered black messenger bag. She gets a sharp, unreadable look, though he remains half-crouched, regarding her from the floor. His tone remains utterly offhand. "Yeah? Well, the answer is…..no, I'm not entirely queer. The earring doesn't mean anything." He's teasing, by the flicker in his gaze - she gets a wink in fact. Obviously, not the question she meant.

"Not what I meant, player," Elena says with a quick grin. She crouches in front of him, as if moving to pick something up off the floor so she can look up and make sure they were the only ones in the classroom. She looks at him, her expression turning a little more serious. "Seriously. I don't wanna sound like a meddler or anything, but that day on the steps when my cellphone was getting wonky….was it you? I mean, are you actually a static mutant?" The last sounds like a joke, but her expression is perfectly calm and serious.

His face goes smooth, impassive, expressive as an ivory mask. His answer is to gently shove aside his bag with a foot, letting it skid across the floor and come to rest a yard or two away. ANd then he holds up a hand, as if to catch something falling from above - lightly cupped. There's a snap, a spark….first one, then more, until his entire hand is crackling with electricity, the muscles twitching involuntary.

She isn't expecting this, so when a spark happens, Elena can't help but instinctively drop backwards, eyes blinking at the sparks dancing around his fingertips. "…." It reminded her of Elle's power. "….wow," she murmurs, but she does look around suddenly, and lifts a hand to try and cover his own to block the view of the sparks in case SOMEONE peeked in. Strangely enough, when normal people would jerk backwards at the shock, she doesn't. She doesn't even seem to feel it. "How long?" she asks, standing up slowly.

He shuts it down, quickly, curling his fingers in a loose fist. "You're not shocked," he notes, voice perfectly even, not answering the question, as yet. "Why is that?"

"High threshold for pain," Elena says simply, but the look she gives him is significant. "I'm gonna go head out." Because a class might invade in the next hour. "Wanna come with? My next class is in the liberal arts building." She gestures for the door, and then, she starts heading there, sliding her hands into her pockets. "So…how long have you known you were…?" She wiggles her fingers a little bit to the side as they walk.

"A few years," he says, calmly, settling comfortably in step with her, raising his chin. His messanger bag is slung comfortably over his shoulder.

"Do you know much about it?" Elena asks, glancing over at him. "I mean….your thing." She adjusts her bag as they venture out of the room and down the science building. "Have you read anything or…? Sorry for asking so many questions by the way, it's not like I'm just curious either, I know a bit about it."

"I've read a little. Most of what I've encountered is hogwash. A good run of the X-Men is more entertaining and more informative," Ian says, with a faint sneer. "So, taking pain is your stupid people trick?"

"It's handy, considering I'm a wuss." No need to scare him about the other things - at least not yet. Elena looks over at him and grins. "I actually got electrocuted once, a while back? It was an accident." Well, Elle accidentally got the wrong idea, right? It counts. "Only thing that made it not hurt was that." She furrows her brows. "Anyways if you haven't read anything helpful, mebbe I can help with that. There's a book called Activating Evolution, by Dr. Chandra Suresh. Dunno if the name would be familiar to you. He was a geneticist based in India."

Ian shakes his head. "Can't say it is," he admits, without any particular sign of shame. "Interesting. Is it actual toughness, in terms of the damage you can soak? Or…."

"No, sadly," Elena says. "I can still get damaged normally. I just can't feel it. It helps when you need to get away after getting hurt. She glances over at Ian. "I'd loan you a copy of mine, but I don't have it with me. I know a bookstore that sells it though. Enlightenment Books, in East Village. The owner's name is Cass Aldric. She's a good friend of mine."

"And your boy? He's like me?" Ian says, slanting a sidelong look at her, and thrusting his own hands into the pockets of his fatigues.

"I have a lot of boys," Elena jests with a grin over at Ian. "Just not the way it sounds." Most of her friends are guys, really. She tends to meet them more than she does girls, and her interests tend to align with theirs better. "But if you mean Peter." Who's really the only one he's met. "You can say he's a static mutant too." Electrokinesis was one of his abilities after all. "He was actually the one who clued me into you. I wouldn't have been able to guess if it wasn't for him. You hide it really well."

He doesn't bridle at the compliment. "I have to," he says, utterly matter of fact about it. "At the least, I destroy property, my own and other people's. At the worst, I kill the weak. That's not the kind of life I want to live, you know? A walking defibrillator."

"You can control it, right?" Elena asks. That was actually a very important question. They manage to leave the science building, and they walk down the stairs and down to the quad. She shields her eyes a little bit. The sun was high and bright today. Digging into her messenger bag, she slips on a pair of sunglasses. "I figured you can because you can hide it."

"Yes," he continues, squinting a little bit, as he pulls out that absurd old pocketwatch and checks the time. "I've learned to. It's entirely under my control," HE seems quite confident about it. "Nobody's died, yet."

"That's pretty old school for a skater boy," Elena tells him, glancing down at the pocket watch and grinning. "But that explains a lot of things. So I can assume my laptop's safe when I take it to Exeter for a study session, yeah? Otherwise I'm totally denying you pizza." She hooks her thumbs in her belthoops as she goes. "Anyway yeah, if you want to learn more about it…" And he should, though he seems blase about the ability now. She can't quite accept that though, he just told her he didn't want to live like a walking defibrillator. "You should check out the book. It's actually written by a dude with a degree. Between you and me, it's pretty credible. From a scientific perspective."

Ian tucks it away, having clicked it closed. "Well, it winds. I can't kill it when I have a temper tantrum, right? Purely mechanical. Well, I pretty much rock the faux Amish lifestyle as much as I can, but I can't get away with that in college. Not in New York. No, your gear's cool," he says, grinning a little sheepishly. "Scout's honor." He lifts a hand in the appropriate gesture. "So, what's this book about?"

"Evolution. Like God decided the human race has been in limbo long enough that it needs to be jumpstarted. I'm paraphrasing though, there's no talk of religion there…just pure science." Elena glances over at him. "It reads like a thesis on advanced genetics. Highly advanced genetics. But you and I are sciencey types, so at the very least some of the jargon is familiar." She adjusts her shades. "Basically how, over time, certain individuals with the right genetic strains can develop….things like you have. Not just sparks either. Grow back a limb. Read other people's minds. It sounds more sci-fi than science, but….I think in your case, you could believe it."

"We're mutants. It's not really evolution being sped up, other than a bunch of weird alleles being activated, so far asI can tell," Ian muses, ruffling his hair. Not that it's capable of much - it's damn near a military buzzcut. "Blame it on sunspots, or some new chemical in the water….."

"I'm not so sure about that," Elena says, glancing over at Ian. "It's spreading. I don't think it's anything in New York's atmosphere either. You're not the only one I've talked to." She digs her hands deeper into her pockets and she exhales a breath. "I'm glad you're careful though," she says quietly. "This sort of thing…if it gets out. It could be dangerous." She's trying to warn him, without going into details. She nudges her elbow against his. "Not like I have to tell you that. Pretty damned sure you're smarter than the above-average bear."

"How many do you know?" he says, finally turning to look at her. "You don't need to name names. And ….I'm here. I pass. I'm not in some government lab, drugged out of my skull. I've seen 'Akira', I know how this works," he notes, though his voice is almost amused.

"…..Akira?" Okay so Elena hasn't actually managed to delve into the realm of Anime save for the Pokestuff that Luis obsesses about on occasion. But yes, she hasn't seen the Japanese classic. When he asks her how many, she gives him an almost exasperated look. "Do you really want to know?" She glances down at her fingers, and counts. ……she's still counting after a couple of minutes. "About…twenty?"

He tries for a pokerface. He really does. But that, that shocks him. "You're not kidding," he says, tone faintly awed. "How in the hell? Is that another trick? You can sense us?" And then he snorts. "Akira. Old anime. You gotta watch it. From what you're saying, it's more prophetic than I realized."

"Hah. I wish. It'd be interesting to know just how quickly this…phenomenon is spreading," Elena tells Ian, making a slow, rambling walk across the quad. She's taking her sweet getting to her next class. "…so…you…honestly didn't know there were others like you?" she wonders, inclining her head a little bit. But at what Akira is, she grins. "Duly noted. Maybe if I watch it I'll be able to figure out just what the future's got in store."

Ian's face goes quiet, again. "I knew. I knew there were others," he says, calmly. "Just…not so many. I can't exactly take out a personal ad, you know? I tried, once. I ended up phrasing it so obliquely all the replies I got were for people who really liked sex with electrified toys. I didn't even know that was a real kink!" he says, eyes rounding in remembered shock. "I mean….Jesus. What'm I gonna do - come out of the freak closet to the campus at large?"

"Apparently New York's a melting pot full of them. I'm starting to think what Tommy Lee Jones said in the first Men in Black movie is true. Maybe we ought to start reading the tabloids and look for weird crap that goes on in the city all the time. Maybe it's not all bullshit." She flashes a quick smile at him, but at the words, she gapes at him, pulling down her sunglasses so she could look at him over the rims and stare. "You…you what?" It would be hilarious if it wasn't for the fact that he looked so mortified. But coming out of the freak closet? She shakes her head vehemently. "No, don't do that. I mean even if there's more out there we could even anticipate ourselves? I don't think it's a good idea. I don't think this city's ready."

"I didn't know you could bring a human being to orgasm purely by electrical stimulation of given nerves," Ian says, tone still awed. Having learned this, however, he has since put it into practice. And we shall not go further down that primrose path. "I mean, I'm from LA. I thought I'd heard it all, you know? No, I won't. My family's ordinary. They know about me, I mean. But I wouldn't do that. I like being free, being normal, not walking around with some government tracker crammed up my…..Anyhow. Yeah. I feel like we should start a social club. It'll be like the Justice League, or the X-Men. Only with more booze and less maturity and spandex." He's clearly just running on at the mouth, now.

"…..really?" Elena says, blinking at Ian. "….what do you mean? Which ne— I mean, -what-?" Nevermind! She doesn't want to know! She glances down at her hand. She wonders if she could do it by using the right neurotransmitters. That's going to take some studying though, and it's not like she has to worry about that until she got married. So she slides her hand back into her pocket. "Yeah? They keeping your dark secret okay? And yeah, I hear you. And maybe we should, I know enough people who are." She winks at him. "Now including my Organic Chem lab partner. But I like the idea of more booze and less spandex." Since she can't really get drunk but she's actually starting to like the stuff. "Speaking of I actually knew this guy once who ran around the city in a costume beating up muggers."

It's not exactly worry. More like the best science project ever. Until you go numb. "I….uh….I'm sorry. I totally turned on the TMI light there, didn't I?" he says, looking really quite abashed, and reddening behind his tan. "My family….yeah. Mom's just a lawyer." And then what she's saying sinks in. "Wait, you know an actual would be superhero? That's fucking awesome? Did he have a cool name? I mean, everyone tries for something neat, but face it, there are some bullshit superhero names out there. I can't wait to see the Watchmen movie…." His face goes dreamy at the idea. Apparently he didn't take his ritalin this morning.

She bursts out laughing, Elena knuckling his shoulder lightly. "Don't sweat it. That's not the worst I've heard, believe me. Most of my friends are guys. 've always been one of the guys." Until recently. "And there was one time where I walked in on my best friend's fiance totally ass-naked in her living room when I was staying over for the night. Seriously there's no going back from that." She grins ruefully at Ian. "And his…uh…superhero name was actually pretty simple. But yeah, he walked around, beating up muggers because he can. Had a costume and everything. He retired though. He had to move elsewhere. To California, actually." She looks over at Ian. "….I'm so nervous about that movie," she confesses with a laugh. "I mean, it's only the greatest comic book known to man, right? Granted I only read it because it was the only graphic novel listed in the Times's 100 Best English Language Novels list back in 2005, so I got curious but considering how huge it is for freaks and geeks…if they screwed up, Hollywood'll have a riot in its hands."

"Well, what was it?" Ian demands, rather impatiently, as the flush fades. "Yeah. It looks awesome thus far. And the funny thing is….I don't really go for superhero comics, usually. My favorite is Hellboy, and that's really pulp and horror, you know? Alan Moore….he's a crazy wizard. I've got a lot of his stuff. I hope they do a better job of adapting this one than they have his earlier works. Because when you look at what else of his that's been filmed…." He blows out a breath in disgust, and shakes his head.

"Omega. You know? Like the greek letter?" Elena describes, gesturing with her fingers. She can't help but grin ruefully over at Ian, though there's a bit of sadness in her face. She absently kicks a can to the side. "Well Alan Moore was generally an outside-the-box sort of writer anyway, right?" she says, looking over at Ian since he seems to know more about him than she does. She wasn't like Jaden, or Eric, or Gene, but she tries to keep up with 'the culture', so to speak. "Aha. You mean League of Extraordinary Gentlemen?" she laughs. "The film that made Sean Connery throw up his hands and said 'screw this, I'm retiring'?" She might not know much about comic books, but she does know her movies.

"Lemme see. That was definitely the worst. They also did From Hell, V for Vendetta, and Constantine. V wasn't bad, really," Ian says, nodding. "How'd you find so many of us?" he asks, switching the subject back. "If you didn't place a personal ad. Is there a secret handshake I don't know?"

"What. I loved Constantine!" Elena says with a laugh. "And From Hell wasn't bad either, even if it was a little gory. League was a little ridiculous but the visuals were pretty cool." She doesn't seem picky with her entertainment, she's not a purist like Jaden or Gene. "Granted Keanu Reeves isn't the best actor in the world but I liked the…you know. Plot elements." She was religious too, so, it was an interesting take between Heaven and Hell to her. But when he circles the topic back to them, she looks over at him. "I…well…." She looks sheepish. "No I didn't place a personal ad. But….seriously? I just met them all by accident. Like you. When we met at the steps. That's how I met most of them. I don't know. I'm chatty. I'm friendly, I keep in touch…things just come out when you hang out with people for a while, you know?" She rubs the back of her neck. "Maybe I'm a freak magnet."

"I've been hanging out with people, but apparently I didn't go to Sky High like you," he teases, deadpan. "And Constantine was….okay. It was a horrible adaptation of its source, though. Like, imagine this. You make a Spiderman movie. Only, Spiderman is a forty year old Jamaican immigrant who lives in London. It might be a good movie. It might be a fun movie. But it's not really SPIDERMAN, you know?"

She bursts out laughing at the analogy. "That would be hilarious though!" she exclaims. "He'd run around costume with a really noticeable accent, and he'd totally be outed instantly under normal circumstances, but he won't, because Marvel New York is just that oblivious." She gives him a look. "And I did not go to Sky High," Elena points a finger at him. "And yeah I getcha, I guess it helps that I don't know the source. Man, you sound really serious when it comes to your graphic literature though. The only reason why I know even half this stuff is because of my little brother." Seeing the liberal arts building ahead, she looks over at him and smiles. "Yeah, my stop. I'll see you soon, okay?"

"I'm a huge nerd," Ian says, bluntly. "This goth thing?" He gestures to his ensemble of combat boots, black shirt, black fatigues. "Drag. Entirely drag. I mean, yeah, I do like Skinny Puppy and smoking cloves. But really, protective coloration."

"Could be worse," Elena says agreeably. "Though the goth thing is cutting it close." She grins at him wickedly, and runs off before he attempts to pelt her with something. "See you later, Ian!" And with that, she's up the steps and entering the liberal arts building.

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