2010-01-03: The More Things Change

Starring:

Jade_V4icon.pngLena_V4icon.pngTiago_V4icon.png

Date: January 3rd, 2010

Summary:

Jade reunites with Lena and Tiago but the joy is short-lived.


"The More Things Change"

A Motel Room

It's awkward going, driving down the street in a hot pink vehicle that shouldn't be much wider than a person's shoulders, but was able to take up an entire lane. How exactly one managed to navigate traffic on a moped with a surfboard tied to the seat and a large duffelbag slung across the shoulders is a feat for another tale, though. The bag itself was filled near to bursting, and the girl who carried had been quite upset to leave so many of her newly-acquired possessions behind yet again. But then, she was rather used to leaving things behind by now.

The noise of a tiny, high-pitched engine could be heard as Jade parks the economy-sized scooter, pushing down the kickstand next to a nondescript black truck she'd never seen before. Sliding off of the seat, killing the engine, the dark-haired teenager drops the bag from her shoulders onto the concrete of the parking lot, reaching up to unstrap her matching helmet, which she balances on the seat. Pulling her coat around her shoulders, she hops up from the lot to the walkway full of rooms.

Digging into her jacket pocket, Jade pulls out her cellular phone, thumbing through her messages, finding the one with the requisite address on it and counting down to the correct door. Deep breath, deep breath, then she lifts her hand to knock, though it's soft, made softer by the thick wool mittens she wore.

"Hello? It- It's Jade. Don't, y'know, shoot."

Less than twenty-four hours after their rescue, and in the intervening time, Lena has hardly stirred. Their room is a basic one: two queen beds, a dresser, a TV, a tiny bathroom. The curtains are drawn tightly over the windows, the door is locked and chained (courtesy of Tiago, and thank goodness he was conscious enough last night to handle that detail). Lena…well, she fell into one of the beds, fully clothed, and has been sleeping since.

The combination of the sound of the shower, and a knock at the door, is what finally pulls the brunette from her darkly dreaming slumber. Pulls might be too gentle a word, though. The rap of knuckles against the door, even muffled, cause her to sit bolt upright in the bed and look wildly around, eyes huge and heart racing. It's another minute before she can gather herself enough to creep out from beneath the covers and slink to the door, peering through the peephole at the girl on the other side. Yes, Jade called out. But voices can be faked.

Having confirmed their visitor's identity, Lena fumbles through the locks and pulls the door open just wide enough for one eighteen year old to slip through. If she breathes in and holds that lungful while easing past. "Jade…jesus, quick, cmon…"

And if Lena's at the door, guessing the identity of the showerer should not be too difficult. There is no singing, like Tiago is known for doing. There is no sound other than the running water - and after a while, that sound is cut off as well. Eventually, the man pads out of the shower, ignoring the moisture accrued on the floor in favor of giving himself a steady rub down and, unceremoniously, heading out of the small bathroom into the bedroom.

The first thing he notices while rubbing his hair dry in his state of complete nudity is the fact that the bed has been disturbed. The second is that Lena is not sleeping, but rather standing, in front of the door. "Oy," he comments, without care for his current state of undress. "You're up an'…is it someone? Who is it, Lena?" He cannot help the slight fear found in his voice.

The tiny bit of light in front of the peephole goes dark, causing the teen waiting outside to suck in her breath and hold it, not quite sure just who was on the other side. Then the sound of mechanical locks unlatching comes and the door is yanked open wide enough for her head, and maybe a little more, to fit through, if a large man was pushing her maybe. There's a brief moment of staring as Jade spies the older teen and… sort of stands there, despite the orders to hurry the hell up.

First the hands start to flutter, then the quavery voice begins, high-pitched and whiney. "Oh my /god/, it's really you! I thought maybe- but it might be- or it could be- but it's yewwwwwwwwww!" As if she couldn't decide what to do with herself, or how to keep her composure, the normally-sassy eighteen-year-old gives two small hops, her face scrunching up even as her eyes start to water and her voice breaks down into high-pitched, screechy murmurs. She batters her way past the door, banging her hip painfully against the handle to bury Lena in a hug of teenaged proportions.

Shoulders shaking a few times, Jade squeezes the older girl with a strength she must have hidden somewhere for special occasions, before turning, letting go of her, and taking a step towards Tiago. But even through her tear-filled vision, she could see something was not quite right here. A quick glance down, then back up, confirms her suspicions as she wrings her hands in front of her, shifting from foot to foot. Throughout her blubbering sobs, one sentence stands out clearly.

"WHY ARE YOU /NAKED/?"

"It's Jade," Lena mumbles, glancing over her shoulder at Tiago. She doesn't really have a chance to get a good look at him though because suddenly the other girl begins to emit a sound she usually associates with tortured engines in need of serious work. Startled, her head swings around and her eyes get that much wider as Jade enacts her reunion dance before shouldering through and assaulting the brunette with a hug.

The younger teen may or may not notice the way Lena stiffens at that contact, initially. Or the way she concerns herself with kicking the door shut with a slam before likewise wrapping her arms around Jade and returning the hug. Breathing is tough, given that Jade is strong and Lena is weak, but the emotion for both is similar. It isn't just because of the clinch that "Leelee" is choked up when she's given the chance to speak again.

"God, you're okay…you're okay, Jade, it's okay." Pat pat. Still being bundled up in hoodie and long pants means that Lena doesn't break the hug until it's broken for her. Then she too turns to see Tiago, in all of his nude glory. Oh. She's just going to…knuckle at her eyes now, to clear the sleep from them. "'Cause…he's not dressed?"

That sound has been known to summon smaller animals to attack. Little known fact, it also completely paralyzes wild Tiago's everywhere. He's left standing there, given a front row seat to the touching reunion while…they're given a front row seat to everything else that is Chi. He only recalls his distinct lack of clothing when Jade screeches it out, and even then he merely tosses a mild glance down to himself before moving to, calmly, wrap the towel around his waist.

Prison has done nothing for his sense of propriety, but it has shifted his priorities a bit. "Sorry 'bout that. Was in the shower." He explains, before turning on his heel to try and find discard clothing he can toss on before greeting the faux-asian. The mere fact that Tiago does not crack a joke about Jade enjoying his nudity speaks volumes of how different he is. And once he has the clothing in hand and has almost completely retreated into the bathroom, he stops to give the dark-haired eighteen year old one final glance, his lips curving into a weary smile. "I'm glad you're alrigh', Mulan. I really, really am." And the door is closed. No more freebies for you!

(For now.)

"Yeah… But… Does he /ever/ get dressed?"

Even through her tears, brought about by the intense relief of seeing both of the hoodlums alive and with all of their limbs still attached, even through her wailing screeches, Jade finds the time for a smart comment to be slipped in. But the male is slipping into his private retreat before she can assault him with a hug, nudity or not, leaving her to twist her fingers together and turn back to face Lena. Still with that restless shifting, the dark-haired teen tries to first fan the tears out of her eyes with her hands, then resorts to scrubbing at her face with her palms.

"I'm sorry… I'm sorry, I-I shouldn't be crying-ing, but I ca-can't stop. I th-thought maybe it w-was gonna b-be the cops w-waiting here-ere."

With a quick sidestep, she moves next to the bed and attempts to sit down, but apparently wasn't looking where she was aiming for, misses, and winds up with her rear on the floor to finish up her obnoxiously sniveling scene. It's a long moment before she collects herself enough to stop hiccuping and peer through bleary-vision towards the recent escapee, dropping her hand into her lap.

"I… M'stuff's outside. I got your, um, your guitar."

Before, Lena might've tossed her own wisecracks into the mix but much like Tiago, she too is changed. Or not entirely awake. And half-starved. And still exhausted. All of this adds together to a very, very quiet brunette. Others are talking (or bawling, in some cases) and she remains by the door, shifting from one socked foot to the other. Her hands tuck protectively under her armpits while she peers at Jade, regarding the fresh onslaught of tears and the subsequent stammering with a dazed sort of concern.

It's only when Jade's butt slides right off the edge of the bed and onto the floor that it occurs to her that she should do something. Say something. Maybe both.

Lena pads forward and carefully eases herself to her knees beside the younger girl, pulling the sleeves of her hoodie down to cover both hands before attempting to curl her arms around Jade's shoulders. "We can get it in a minute. Crying is okay, Jade." She glances up at Tiago, her own eyes dry but uncertain. "It…it's us though. Gene got us out. You're…you're okay, right? You got out in time?"

Tiago does not disappear for long, so Jade will not be kept from her favorite person ever, fear not! By the time the bathroom door has swung open, Tiago is tugging on a nondescript grey t-shirt, allowing it to fall over his shoulders to join the knee-length basketball shorts in clothing him all appropriate like. Quickly, his eyes scan the room before he spots both girls…on the floor. With the slightest quirk of an eyebrow, the man ambles over towards them, only to find himself out of sorts when he spies the very fresh, very powerful stream of tears coming from Jade. "I - err…" It's hard dealing with women when they cry. And it's not like Tiago doesn't have experience at it, being Lena's significant other, but…it's still awkward. "Are you okay, Jade? D'you want me ta get you a cup of water?"

Isn't he just sweet? Gingerly, he attempts to kneel down towards His Girls, holding his hands out to the pair of them with the clear intention of using his leverage to pull them up. "C'mon…let's sit up on the bed, yeah? We're alrigh', it's all okay."

"Um… Um… what?"

There's a moment of noncomprehension in Jade's mind at the question, knotting her fists into the thick material of Lena's hoodie, clinging like a strong gale might suck one of them away in a bad rendition of Twister. After a moment, she sniffs heavily, and picks up her head enough to prop her chin on the other girl's shoulders, frowning at the door as she uses the sleeve of her coat to wipe at her eyes and suddenly-leaky nose.

"No one ever came to bother me. Not at work or anything. No one ever came to the house or asked anyone about me, or anyone else. I think it was just you two they must have wanted. Oh god, I thought I'd never see you again when Gene told me… Told me… He got you out?"

Leaning back, the younger girl slowly, tentatively releases her deathgrip on the elder's clothes, scrubbing the heels of her sleeves down her face a single time to wipe away the last vestiges of liquid evidence, leaving blood-shot eyes and red, sniffly nose behind, just in time for Tiago to offer her a hand up, which, after staring at it for a moment, she takes. It's against her better judgement, but her arms wind around the Brazilian male's waist for a brief moment, before letting go. He'd missed his chance at the big emotional clinging. Lamely pointing at the door, she shakes her head.

"No. No. Can we just get my things? It's still New York. A guitar, a duffle bag, and a moped with the keys still in it are going to get stolen."

Clinging is alright; Lena's braced for it, and she's hardly in any mood to quibble about her friend getting the hoodie goopy. A little snot is a small price to pay, to see that Jade is safe and sound. So she's content to remain silent, stick-skinny arms locked around the teen until the other girl makes it clear she's ready to move. Then the arms fall away and Lena climbs stiffly back to her feet, aided by propping a hand against the bed rather than taking Tiago's hand up. He's being hugged, after all, and Jade hugging Tiago is a moment she'll just let the man savor.

"I didn't think we'd see anyone again either," she agrees quietly, with another of those awkward and oddly distracted moments of foot-shuffling. Lena's looking at the bed, the floor, the wall, anywhere but at the front door. Because going out there means…going out there. In the open. "Um. I…I guess we can…bring the stuff in. Chi?"

This…is new. When Tiago is awarded with the hug, he stares at Jade as though she has grown a second head. And a third, a fourth, and a fifth to boot. In the end, he finds himself awkwardly patting her back, mostly because she doesn't stay long enough for him to really get his arms around her. "Uh - wha'? Oh. Oh, yeah, sure. I'll go grab it." Tiago excuses himself from the pair, stepping away from them and their emotional world to return to an aspect of life he's more familiar with - hard labor. A hoodie of his own is shrugged on, and his feet are shoved into sneakers before he sets for the door, tossing Lena a meaningful glance in the process. "You girls stay here. I'll get it all. Lena…try to catch her up on things, alrigh'?" And, he's off to do mule-work. As always.

"Well, we have to bring it in. Your checks are still in the guitar, and that surfboard cost eight-hundred bucks. And god only knows how much that scooter cost. H-Hey…" An awkward silence falls as she calls after the departing Brazilian, a perfect moment for an endearing sentiment. Instead, he gets, "Don't scratch my board."

"We don't, y'know," Gaze passing uncertainly between almost-out-the-door-Tiago and Lena for a moment, Jade's face scrunches up in worry for yet another topic that she had yet to breach. "Don't really have to leave the townhouse forever, right? We can go back after things have cooled down some?" Even in times of crisis, there's always time to worry about her abandoned matching drapes and bedcover scheme. With nothing else to do with her hands, other than fidget, she sets them to work unwinding her scarf, draping it over the foot of the bed, then begins unzipping and shrugging out of her jacket. She could only stay in three or four layers of warmth for so long indoors before starting to sweat.

"I mean… What about all the stuff we were gonna do?"

Cue another awkward silence. Lena just stares at Jade, as if she weren't really seeing the girl at all. Or as if she were speaking a foreign language. Stuff? It's a blank moment, and ends only when the brunette gives herself a little shake before retreating to the bed she'd laid comatose in for so many hours. Curling into a small, defensive ball against the headboard, arms tucked neatly around knees, the young woman casts her eyes down and avoids looking at Jade.

"It's…no. We can't." Tiago told Lena to catch Jade up on things but she hardly knows where to start. The crushing weight of guilt makes it difficult to speak. Tiago got the easy job."They…it was…"

Breathe, Lena. She does. "They beat us. And put us in chairs. To watch. They…they used electricity on us. Said it…said it causes brain damage. Maybe heart attacks. And they did it till we gave names. Not your name but…they know the townhouse, Jade. And they…they think we're all terrorists. Us and anyone we know. Anyone who's friends with us."

Pfft. Easy job…except he's lugging the cutesy scooter up onto the bed of the truck, then tasked with the careful job of balancing things upon things in his arms and back as he heads back inside. Not to mention facing the weird looks from strangers for carrying a guitar and a surfboard with him. In the process of, finally, intering the room once again, Tiago lets out a howl as he stubs his toe.

But no swears follow. Instead, he hobbles inside with a grim frown, touches the board and guitar down by the door, closes and locks it, before shedding the backpack and kicking off his shoes. Only THEN does he allow himself to curse like a sailor's debached uncle, clinging at his toe as he throws himself onto one of the beds dramatically.

"So that's what waterboarding means…"

The comment trails off as Jade watches the usually-lively Lena curl into the fetal position up near the head of the bed. After depositing her jacket on the other bed, she slips closer and takes a seat, the mattress bouncing slightly under her weight, near the older girl's feet. She props her hands on top of the evolved teen's knees, leaning her cheek against them so that she could better stare at the wall, which was much easier than looking at Lena's rattled, defeated expression.

"I'm so sorry. I would have done something, anything, but… I didn't know what to do. Where you were. I didn't even know they'd got you until a week after it happened. I was so mad. I just thought you guys… left." Thankfully, the depressing scene is interrupted by the sound of someone's foot impacting solidly on the doorframe, causing Jade's head to jerk up and around to frown at him. "No wonder you look like crap. You were locked up for weeks with that." She flings a hand in Tiago's direction.

"But can't we just leave? The country? The continent? Hell, the hemisphere? We have almost forty-thousand dollars between us, we could make it to anywhere in the world! …Right?"

Tiago's arrival is a welcome diversion from confessing the horrid truth but even the man's howls of pain hardly stir Lena from her apathy. She looks up, she winces in a mild display of sympathetic pain and then she returns to staring at her toes while he collapses. At least, she stares until Jade introduces her body into line of sight. Then Lena looks up at the ceiling, catching her lower lip between her teeth and slipping her hands out of the way, sliding them beneath her butt to avoid unintentionally doping the other girl.

"You couldn't have done anything even if you knew. It took…I think…Gene lost his biggest fighting robot thing, getting us out. And it was only 'cause they were moving us out of city…they were going to…to just execute us, I think. I don't know why they…" Why they didn't. But better to think about that in relative privacy, where she can enjoy a breakdown in peace. Lena gulps another breath, cutting a brief and troubled look at Tiago.

"Don't make fun of him, Jade. Just…not right now, okay?"

Jade's meanness is the least of his worries, realistically. Where as before, her comments might have sent him off into a little snit Tiago is sober as the dull pain throbbing in the digit disappears, slowly. And, eventually, he finds himself straightening up, sitting upon the edge of the bed as he turns to peer at the two women. Lena in particular, for her more than peculiar behavior. "…I guess." He's speaking to Jade, however, and slowly his eyes follow suit, settling upon the youngest of them all. "I'm not sure if I want to leave, though. Not until they're done with. But you could go to Europe, like you've always wanted. Surf in France and all. Maybe even take…" Her with you.

"Execute you?" The younger girl's startled blink turns her head towards the other female, her eyes wide and surprised. "Why would they? You didn't do anything wrong. They can't just kill people without cause, without justification. What evidence did they have of terrorism? Oh god, were you were framed? Did someone set you up to take their fall?"

Hopping up off the bed, the dark-haired drifter shoves her hands into her back pockets, jamming them there in favor of allowing them to fidget nervously. She lets her feet do that, instead, pacing between the pair of beds, occasionally gesticulating as she talks.

"I'm not going without you guys! What are we now, crime fighters? I thought you wanted to just get by, to make a living? Where'd that go? Don't tell me you're going to try and stop them. It's the government. They spend hundreds of billions of dollars on defense ever year, we couldn't even hire a single trained mercenary between us! Why can't we all go? Why the hell can't we all surf in France?" Her frustrations spent, for the moment, she sinks onto the foot of Tiago's bed, placing her hands between her thighs. "What if they get you again?"

With her legs freed of the burden of Jade's weight, slight as it was, Lena is free to hug her knees to her chest again, face partially hidden behind them. She watches Tiago with eyes that hold a look of uncertain pain. It's a safe bet that the teen knows full well how he might have finished that sentence. But it's Jade's remarks that Lena answers. "They had reasons but I think it was just because people…people like me…they could do something bad. We're…we're dangerous. Unpredictable. They think they're making people safe."

She pauses a beat, gaze shifting down again. Her shoulders hunch. "Tiago wants to fight them." Tiago, not Chi. "He…he wants to make them stop. They got money but…"

Her fingers flex against her legs. The rest really doesn't need to be explain. The government has funding, but the army her partner in crime envisions has power. Wild, unpredictable and incredibly dangerous power. "If they get us again, I guess they'll make sure we can't get away again," she finishes, turning her cheek against her knees.

"I can't go with you, Jade." Tiago speaks, his volume surprisingly soft for the resolution and authority it holds. "I can't leave this land - this terra like this. I was given a second chance for a purpose. This is the only way I can make amends for my sins - by making it better. Fixing it." It's vague, it's dramatic, but that's just the mindset Tiago has adopted. This insane notion of cosmic accountability and duty over the weeks. "Honestly, I'd like it better if you guys did go somewhere else, ta some other country. Then I wouldn't have ta worry about whether you're safe or not." This, perhaps, is not what certain people in the room would like to hear - but it's the honest truth.

Clearing his throat, he rubs at the base of his neck gingerly. "Let's not worry 'bout that now, yeah? It's someday in the future, an' the future don't exist. We're all here now, an' we're all safe and good. This is a good thing. A happy thing. We should be celebratin', not moarnin'." He climbs onto his feet, glancing around the room for a moment before moving to grasp at Lena's beloved guitar. And as he approaches the two women once again, that same wan smile can be found upon his face, the smile of someone burdened but trying to make the best of it. "Play us a song, baby."

"You almost sound like you believe them. Even after what they did to you." Jade's sobered expression is turned on the older of the two teenagers, frowning as she eyes the demeanor, the subdued expression. "We just have to make sure they never get you guys again. And if we leave, we can do that. If we stay in the city, it's like painting a giant target on ourselves. They know we're here, they're going to look for us here."

"Are we supposed to just vanish so you can play Matt Damon in your own personal Bourne Identity, and then you can come find us at some exotic scooter rental store when all your tough man-work is done?" The girl's arms cross at the show of bravado provided by the male, narrowing her eyes in his direction. "If you're so dead-set on getting yourself killed, then you're just going to have to get us killed with you."

Reaching up behind her neck, she flicks her hair behind her shoulders as she sighs, looking at the window, which had the blinds and curtains drawn, thereby forbidding her a view of the outside world. "Shouldn't we make a plan? Or tell me yours? We have a plan, right? Please tell me we do. They don't know who I am, yet, so I can still go places without worrying about… Y'know. Maybe we should cash your checks first, before they freeze every transaction that comes up in your names."

"I…" But before she can refuse the request, Tiago is there holding her guitar out to her and Lena has no choice but to take it. To do otherwise means leaving him there hanging, looking awkward. So she shifts to sit crosslegged, settling the instrument in her lap and bowing her head over the strings. Music is not immediately forthcoming. Time must be spent fiddling with the tuning pegs.

She's dawdling, but it looks like productive dawdling, at least. And it gives the brunette something to do with her hands.

"We are dangerous, Jade. The first mutant we met in New York killed two guys. Two guys who weren't doing anything. My first boyfriend jumped off a bridge 'cause I cut off his dope supply by dumping him. I can't turn off what I do and…and maybe she was a bitch, but the doctor who had us, she wanted to know what I'd do if I accidentally touched a kid. Or…or a pregnant lady." Lena pauses in the low, even-toned explanation to draw another breath and to flick a subdued frown at Tiago. "Starting a war though…and it would be war, Chi. They'd fucking unload on us. But…"

She grimaces, forced to confess, "But I dunno what else to do. We have to talk to Gene. And Peter. The money though…yeah. Yeah, we could use that. I'm…I'm sorry, Jade. About this. About all of this. You could…you could still go to school, you know. You don't have to hide."

"I'm dangerous too. I've killed and hurt more then you have, Lena, and you don't see them roundin' up all the foreigners out there, torturin' them. You don't see 'em grabbin' everyday people and threatenin' ta kill their family. 'Cause there's /always/ goin' ta be bad apples, there are always goin' ta be dangerous people. But…you can't kill every German jus' 'cause they're dangerous. They're wrong. They're fuckin' wrong for doin' that shit." This is the most impassioned he has become all day, his face contorting into an expression of dark malice and bitter vehemence. "An' you don't know if you can't shut it off yet. You didn't know you could torture people with it till it happened, so you don't know if you can't turn it off."

As for Jade, he closes his eyes tightly. "I don't want to talk about this now, guys. I don't. An' I don't want any of you two dyin' with me…if anything happened ta…" His voice cracks, the first sign of weakness made clear. "Ahem. It's goin' ta be war. Yeah. But it don't gotta be a long war. People are goin' ta have ta suffer for it…but there's always a price ya gotta pay. Look at all them wars…World War 2. Civil War. Revolutionary War. They were all for important shit, an' they paid the price so we could be good taday. This…this is our war. So that our future will be better."

"Who cares! You made some mistakes, but- but you've never hurt anyone intentionally!" She conveniently forgets the drug-dealing, and the stealing. And the clubs.

"And we can't just start a war and claim it's for the future. It'll just escalate everything. Everything. They won't want to kidnap people like Lena anymore, if you prove them right, if you prove that you're dangerous, they'll just kill you. They won't bother taking you god-knows-where to do it, Cheech, they'll kill people in the streets. Anyone with abilities would become a target. Even with superpowers, how do you protect yourself from a sniper three blocks away that you're not even aware of? You know they have more than just your names, that they have others. What about all the other people that are going to get hurt? Innocent people. People in the wrong place at the wrong time when assault rifles start firing and mutant killers start chucking fireballs."

"God, when did you suddenly decide to play God with everyone else's lives!?" Raking her fingers back through her hair, Jade musses up her hair slightly, pushing her bangs up and back. "And neither of you are getting rid of me, either. Look at all that happened since I met you, Leen. I lived in the nicest house I've ever been in for a month, I have more money than I've ever had, I found out the truth about the world… I wasn't even going to go to school before I ran into you guys, so it's not like I'm losing out on something."

Lena does not so conveniently forget, but neither does she speak up to correct Jade. She's content to allow the girl her tirade. It's nice, actually, to not have to speak for a little while. And honestly, nothing that Jade is saying so far as the war is concerned can be argued with…at least in Lena's opinion.

She waits until Jade pauses for a breath before giving her a small, lopsided smile. It's the closest to an old Lena expression that she's managed in close to two and a half weeks. "I never said anything about getting rid of you, li'l bit." Her thumb brushes the strings and they hum, a chord without a melody. "Just saying, you could still go to school. Get your GED. Be the chick who goes out for groceries since we can't really go walking through stores right now, you know? Put the money, maybe another apartment in your name…"

As for Tiago, Lena waits for that to run its course too before she cuts a look at him. The smile fades; what's left is solemn, even somber. "They're wrong, how they're doing it. But they aren't wrong for being scared, Chi. I'm scared of me. And I can't even do anything that'd…do serious damage." Except for torturing people. Oh, and leading them to leap off of bridges.

"When God got me free again. I should have died, Jade." Tiago is emotionless as he intones this, staring directly ahead of himself, green eyes seeing something out of this world. "They should have executed me. I was /ready/ to die, Jade. I said all my prayers, an' apologized an' everything. I /can't/ fuckin' waste this chance at livin' again - I can't jus' act like nothing's wrong, when there are other people out there, /ever day/, bein' tortured an' killed for jus' bein' born some way." Beat. "There are ways. Y'cut enemy supplies an' electricity, you break in an' get the higher ups out of commission, an' it'll be done. The president, maybe some senators, an' the head of the AP. You make a fuckin' stand, all those with powers, that the government can never pull concentration camp shit again, or the people will revolt. That's how it's gotta be, man. It's jus' how it's gotta be."

When Lena continues to try and impress on him the danger of evolveds, Tiago looks unimpressed. Glancing in her direction, his eyes travel down her form in a calculating manner. "You're scared of you, that's for sure. But I'm not. An' the moment you stop bein' 'fraid of yourself…that's the moment you'll grow inta a woman. An' that's when you'll learn how ta stop the drugs."

"Well… yeah. I mean, I guess. If they don't have my name and we're not leaving, anyway." Looking thoughtful, Jade's fingers drum along her fingers at the older teen's reassurances that her life could, fortunately, possibly still be salvaged. "The GED and all the other educational stuff, that'll have to be in my real name. But not the apartment, not the bank account. Do you, um, you guys know how to forge documents? We could set up a dummy account, and a dummy place, one that isn't listed under anyone we know. Then, even if they get my name, they can't drain all our money and crash our new place, it could be more permanent. …And don't call me li'l bit."

The last bit is added as she curls her lip across the small space between beds at Lena, adding in a small 'tch' for effect. The mock-levity lasts only until she can round on Tiago with a look that says she was highly questioning his sanity at the moment.

"Are you retarded? The President? You want to assassinate the goddamned president! Are you high right now? How do you know he's even involved! You have no idea how a war is even fought, and who's going to follow you? You're not pulling Leen into this suicide march on the capital! And she's more of a woman than you'll ever be!" Somehow, that statement made perfect sense when she was thinking it. "You're talking about becoming the very damned terrorist they thought you were! You've let them change you, you're letting them win. You're becoming the exact thing they accused you of, and you can't even see it! Al Qaeda has money, they have guns, they have plans and people with brains in charge, and they still haven't managed to get near the President, or bring the all-mighty US down."

Shaking her head adamantly, she makes a stop motion with her hand. "No. No. If you believe in God, that's great, but He didn't spare you so you could kill other people. I'm an atheist, and even I know Jesus didn't fight when they nailed him to a cross. Don't waste His gift by getting yourself, and everyone you care about, murdered."

Is he trying to pick a fight with her? Lena's eyebrows travel up towards her hairline at both the look and the deliberate phrasing used by Tiago. Her fingers go still on the strings, stopping the muted hum of not-quite-music. For just an instant, when her face twists in a grimace, it seems she's on the verge of responding sharply as might have been expected before. But that moment passes and the brunette is left shaking her shaggy head at the man.

"Jade's right, Chi," she says quietly, tucking her chin down again to study the guitar. A month ago she could have played without looking but now it takes that look. At least she hasn't lost the callouses needed to hold each chord true. "What you're talking about can't be done. We take it that far, people will know. And if people know, there's gonna be even more being afraid. It'll be aimed at us. I don't want to wear a number, okay? Not ever again."

There's a slight pause as she gets her fingers positioned properly on the frets. Then the probably familiar chords of 'Hallelujah' ripple through the room. "Gene probably could get us new papers. New names. We go to ground. We hide. Jade and me, we could be sisters. If you want."

"What they /don't/ have are people who can walk through fuckin' walls. They don't have people who can teleport. They don't have people who can move shit with their mind and stop bullets mid-air, an' fuckin' make the earth quake." Tiago is deadly quiet at this point, allowing the gravity of the situation to settle. "There's no way for them to win. Not on America soil, unless they wanna nuke themselves in a suicide move. An' you're a fuckin' moron if you think that's true. Jesus, I'm a high school drop out an' even /I/ know the fuckin' difference. Terrorist use /terror/ ta get what they want. They attack civilians an' shit, like Nine-Eleven. So I guess you gotta think that the revolutionaries that made this country were terrorists too, yeah? That we were terrorists for tryin' ta save the fuckin' jews?" There is much hostility ingrained in this man, apparently. "I don't even know where you get off. I really don'. Fightin' back, that means the government wins? So what does doin' absolutely nothin' do, huh? What does movin' to a different country while shit like this happens every day, /right/ now, mean?"

Take a deep breath. There. Calm yourself. One of these days, he must remember to thank Gene for the yoga. "The people should not be afraid of the government, the government should be scared of the people. We have the power. We've always had the power. An' ta not do anything…ta not do anythin' is jus' as bad as killin' an' torturin' all those people yourself."

The younger teen hops across the intervening space between beds, abandoning Tiago's bed in order to land on Lena's, frowning unhappily at the male so that he can look at two disatisfied women instead of one or the other. "She's talking sense! We could be sisters, and you could be my brother-in-law. They're looking for two people, right? Not a married couple with their layabout little sister. We dye Leen's hair, you grow a beard, or a goatee… They'll never know."

But as Tiago insists his course is right, it's all she can do not to throw something right at his head. At least her boots are the lace-up type today, and would require some work before removing for such an endeavor. "NO! No, no, no. How do you know they don't have those people? How do you know they don't have any mutants among them? They could hire anyone they want with their money! They can win, because they know who we are. They outnumber us, they have more firepower than us, what are you going to do, teleport into the capital and sink the White House into the earth? Do you know what that would do to your cause?"

"Those wars were won because they had the people on their side." Leaning forward, Jade holds out her hands emphatically. "You have no one! No one. And if you start causing earthquakes and teleportation assassins, the government will use the media against you, the people will turn against you. Everyone, the whole world will learn about mutants, and they'll all hate them. You won't solve anything, you'll make it worse. You'll get people killed. You'll make it impossible for Lena to live without thinking that a convenience store clerk might shoot her because now everyone, not just the government, but everyone is terrified of what they can do. You haven't thought anything through! You haven't thought about the kind of future you're going to make. You're not going to be a national hero, Chi."

"You're going to become the fucking villain."

"The only people scared of the government are people like us, Chi. If we use what we can do on the government, everyone else is going to be scared of us. And they still outnumber us too. The folks who don't know, the normal ones," Lena counters without even looking up, her voice flat, her manner still disinterested. Jade earns a glance but it's passing at best. Her brows knit together, briefly, then smooth out again as she goes back to focusing on pulling notes from the guitar. "Yeah. They're called terrorists because they cause terror. What we do…what we do causes terror. Normal people, the every day people, they can't fight fireballs. We'd be hiding from a whole country instead of just one part of it, you know? I'm not saying they shouldn't be stopped. Just…just not with guns blazing."

Tiago snorts with disgust at both of them. And it is impossible to hide the disdain that flashes aggressively in his eyes as he stares at first one, then the other. "How?" He drawls, dead in tone. "By askin' pretty please? Y'know, it's funny how Gene's doin' the same fuckin' thing I'm wantin' ta do, except no one's callin' him a fuckin' villian. How do you think he's going to stop them, geniuses? He's goin' ta take the people in charge out of commission. I'm disappointed in the both of you." And with this said, he stomps off, shoving his feet into his discarded shoes with the intention of leaving. With his jacket and keys in hand - he is out of there.

"Yeah, look at the others. Look at Gene and the others. They've got power, they've got abilities, but even they haven't figured out how to beat them, yet, how to stop them. And they're still not willing to resort to blatant murder to get it done!" Jade's still railing as the Brazilian picks himself up and makes ready to depart. "This isn't the Revolutionary War, this isn't hundreds of thousands of people being oppressed, it's like a few dozen. The public isn't going to take your side. Expose them, embarass them, bring to light what they're doing with evidence, and without violence, that's how you could win. Force the public to acknowledge what their own government is doing!"

"You don't want justice for all, you want revenge." Her tone calms down considerably, as she turns towards the other female in the room, plucking at her pants leg plaintively. "Leen, stop him. Tell him he's wrong. We can't let this happen. We can't just sit by and let this happen."

Lena swells with a heartfelt sigh, the exhalation large enough to send her leaning against the wall again, her hands quiescent on the instrument in her lap. That look of pain is back in her eyes as they fasten on her partner. "Maybe more like hundreds, but…Gene's not doing the same thing, Chi. He isn't. And he got us out. If you want to fight these guys, really stop them, you should talk to him. Please? I can't…I'm not gonna hurt anyone."

She pushes the guitar off of her legs, shoving it aside on the bed, and pulls herself slowly to the edge to sit beside Jade. Her shoulder rests lightly against the other girl's but she continues to look at Tiago, her face drawn and pale. "Wait, talk to Gene. Rest. We just…we just got out. We need to rest. If you go out there someone could see you."

Tiago is too heated, too bothered to stay in the apartment. He can feel it creeping in on him - the claustrophobic feeling of the walls drawing in on him, pushing all of the oxygen out of his lungs. The despair that follows, as well as the paranoia, only serve to escalate the situation, and with slow, furious shakes of his head, he swings the door open and steps out, slamming it behind him.

Time for some road therapy, since the truck is the only one out there for him. The only thing in the world that can console him.

"Oh yeah, the cops. They probably gave out your pictures at every NYPD precint and called you escaped felons."

But it's to no avail, as the male takes off, leaving the two women alone in the room. After a moment, the younger of the pair snorts with irritation. "Better not get my scooter impounded." After a moment, as her temper flare begins to cool down and the real, level-headed world returns again, she recognizes that there's something touching her arm. She lifts it up and over, snaking it around the other girl's shoulders, reasonably sure that her power couldn't reach through a hoodie, a sweater, and a long-sleeved shirt to cause those loopy feelings again.

"Sorry. I guess I shouldn't have said anything, huh? We were supposed to be like we were before. You think he's serious? He's not serious, is he? He can't be. He can't want to ruin everything we had going for us. Life was looking up so much. We had money, a place to stay… We can get it again. I'm going to call Gene and ask about those documents for all of us. Then we could at least have some more options."

"Is there anything you guys need?" She gives a mild squeeze. "Anything I can do? Something from the store?"

The slamming of the door earns a flinch from Lena, a rather severe one that comes close to being a cringe. Then she's bending, elbows to knees and hands covering her face. "God," she breathes against her palms. If there were a time for tears, now would be it. Somehow Lena resists the urge, though.

"No…no. It isn't you, Jade. It's…what happened in there, it was…I don't even know." Or she doesn't want to say, not when the other girl is doing her utmost to provide comfort and support. The tousle-headed teen gives one single sniff, breathes in deep and tilts her head to look at Jade. Her hands fold, supporting her cheek. "It's different now. He means it. And I don't know…I don't even know what to do." It has, after all, only been about three hours in elapsed conscious time since she was sprung from the back of that van.

"Yeah…I guess…maybe some food. Gene got us some clothes, and we got some drive-thru shit last night." Pause. "I'm sorry for this, Jade. Your room…your stuff. I'm so sorry."

"So you need a hot meal that takes longer than three minutes to cook. Got it."

Retracting her arm, feeling as if she's just been through an eighteen-hour day all compressed in about sixty minutes, Jade stands up, placing her hands on the small of her back and stretching. She pauses to look down at the other teen as she apologizes, a small frown on her face. Through effort of sheer will, she forces it into one of the world's smallest reassuring smiles.

"Don't worry so much about it. I didn't lose anything that I didn't gain from sticking with you guys in the first place. I mean… Yeah, I had to leave some of the stuff I bought behind, gonna miss that stuffed panther, but if I didn't know you, I wouldn't have a scooter, I'd still be hitching. So we're squarsies, okay?" Reaching over, she grabs her coat off of the other bed, shrugging into it. "I saw a Domino's on my way over here. I'll pick up a couple of pizzas."

Opening the door, seeing the empty parking spaces in front of their rooms, Jade pauses, scowling. "He really took my damned scooter! Okayyyyyy… There's a Denny's down the road. Hope you like eggs and waffles. I'll knock on the window instead of the door so you know it's me." And then she's outside, in the cold, hearing the door click shut behind her.

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