2009-12-16: Uneducated Plans



Date: December 16th, 2009


Jade moves her things into her new room, Tiago gets verbally and physically abused, and Lena thinks about a brighter future.

"Uneducated Plans"


All this moving around probably wasn't good for a teenager's back, but it was good exercise, and she was certainly used to it by now, if a bit unhappy at not having a permanent address anymore. But, in the end, everything Jade owned could be carried on her back, and was currently tightly packed into her beige-colored duffel bag slung over one shoulder. To balance out the load, under her other arm, was a surfboard, almost twice as tall as she herself was, causing her to take the steps leading up into the townhouse veeeeeeery carefully, for fear of slipping on the ice in her boots.

It takes a bit of juggling, and fancy maneuvering, but she finally manages the front door, which swings open with a loud *BANG* against the doorstop. Since her key worked in the front door, she guessed she had the right address and wouldn't be shot as an intruder, though she was certainly wrapped in enough warming layers to be confused for the Abominable Snowman.

"Honey, I'm hoooooooooome. …Anyone here? Better have some pants on, I swear to God."

She has to half-turn to the side, squeezing through the entrance, though the underfins on her board get caught on the door, leaving tiny scratches on the edge of the wood. The plexiglass, she notes with much relief as she dumps her duffel on the floor, was just fine, however, rubbing her mittened hand across the watersport equipment's smooth surface. "Didn't hurt you, baby, did it?"

Impatience coupled with the exagerations and ridiculousness that have become Tiago and Lena's lives prompted the pair to move into the new townhouse a day before they even mentioned it to Jade. That's what ends up happening when you're faced with the police, homelessness, and death all in the course of thirty-six hours. As a result, Tiago is rather used to utter silence in the building, so any unnatural sound - such as the audial abomination that is Jade's voice - is an excuse to check the place out. It is wary, the way Tiago makes his way down the staircase into the main lobby.

Carrying a loaded pistol, that just happens to be aiming right for Jade's heart. "Oh! Jade," he slurs, relief written across his features as he lowers the firearm and flips on the safety so that he can tuck the weapon into the waistband on his jeans. "Ya found the place alrigh', good…is that all your shit? Here, lemme help you." He offers, moving in an attempt to collect the duffel bag from her.

Let's just ignore the fact that he could have blown her brains out right then and there, why don't we?

Just as she sets her board against the wall for convenient temporary storage in order to free up precious handspace, Jade turns and finds a Brazilian aiming a pistol at her. She stops in her tracks, frozen in time, her eyes going wider with every moment the gun stays trained on her, her mouth falling open slightly. Breifly, a few key moments of her life flashes before her eyes, most of them unpleasant. Then the firearm is turned away, which brings a flood of relief swarming through her veins, followed closely by it's uglier cousin: anger.

As the gun is tucked into the male's pants, her eyes narrow, a hand goes on her hips, and she waits as he approaches. He's allowed to take the duffel bag with no protest, but the beatings begin immediately, the tool used being Jade's purse. To say nothing of the makeup, cellphone, and other feminine products, it carries an unloaded handgun, all of which is used to bludgeon Tiago about his upper arm, chest, and neck region two, three, then a fourth and final time.


Just for good measure, she lashes out with her now-duffel-less hand, balling it up and sending it careening for his pectorals. It didn't have a lot of strength behind it, but she did have rather bony knuckles. "Ow." She shakes her hand, rubbing at her wrist. "Who the hell did you THINK it was gonna be?"

And this is what he gets. And this is what he gets for being careful, and caring enough to offer and carry her things for her. He gets a bludgeoning.

The sooner Tiago realizes that being a good person sucks, the happier he will be.

"Ack! What the fuck - you're a fuckin' psycho!" The man protests, dropping her belongings unceremoniously onto the floor in favor of throwing up his arms to protect his fragile head. Eventually, by the time he tries backing out of her line of fire, he has already been tenderized, meat-style. With the formation of new bruises comes a sullen, boyish glare. "What the fuck! I wasn't pointin' at you, you stupid bitch, I was pointin' at whoever came in - I didn't /KNOW/ it was you, okay, it coulda been the fuckin' government! I was bein' fuckin' /careful/, okay!" Beat. "You can go 'head an' pick your shit up, there aint no way in hell Ima help you out after /that/. Geez!"

"You almost shot me, you jerk! What, was the fact that I had a key and loudly announced my arrival not enough for you!? Do you know how many gun accidents happen in this country every single day?" Truth be told, she didn't either, but she wasn't going to admit that. "A damned lot! This isn't the 'hood, this is a nice house, and you're not going to walk around swinging your 'piece' at anyone that walks through the door! GOD!"

She looks from the Brazilian to her bag, then to the stairs, and finally back, pointing at carrying case. "You already offered, and it's the least you could do after scaring me like that. I swear, if you keep this up, I'm going to cut the brakelines on your bike, so I suggest you stop acting hard, or start wearing a helmet when you ride." Tossing her hair over her shoulders, Jade picks up her surfing instrument with both hands, tromping towards the stairs heavily with her boots, as if expecting the male to acquiesce to her wishes and demand and fetch her belongings.

"This place is so huge! And the cops don't know about it? Who's paying for this thing? I've been in truck stops smaller than this! What do you think the electric overhead for this is? I don't have to pay rent, do I? Because if I make any less money, I'll beliving off bologna and microwave burritos."

Tiago expression sobers considerably. "I didn't almost shoot you. I wouldn't almost shoot you - I'd never shoot you." Tiago protests vehemately, almost desperately, his green eyes flickering around the foreign place carefully, as if expecting to find a spy cam of some sort. "I wasn't actin' hard none, either! You jus' - god, shut up for once, okay? Shit happened. I gotta be more careful, is all. I don' fuckin' know this place, this buildin', this anythin', so I gotta…I gotta…" He visibly deflates then, seeming to have given up on trying to defend himself in front of the rough teenager. After all, there is no way to win.

He can, however, refuse to lose so complete - and that's what he does by bypassing her bag, leaving it on the floor there. "You aint asked nicely, an' you hit me afterwards. Like hell Ima be your pack mule." He insists stubbornly. "No rent, I dun think…the buildin's under the name of that dude, Eric. He's like, fuckin' loaded, so it's okay. He got it for us, for all our shit an' interactions an' all. For the team."

Pausing halfway up the stairs, Jade turns back around at the mention of 'Eric', a small frown on her face, which turns to a narrow-eyed scowl as she spies her untouched bag on the floor. "You deserved being hit! We're even. Now will you," Her voice turns sickly sweet, her smile entirely too charming to be sincere, almost evil. "Please get my bag?"

"So who's this 'Eric' guy?" She has to raise her voice to shouting-level in order to still be heard as her boots tromp back up the stairs, the rear end of her board banging periodicly on the steps as she lugs it up the incline. She disappears around the corner, but her voice can still be heard coming down from on high. "I mean, I've never even met this guy, and I barely know Syd, but they keep puttin' me up in places. They gotta want SOMETHING! You don't think they want to start some kind of drug empire using Lena, do you? Nice place or not, I'll will kick the ever-loving-"

Her voice cuts out as finds the unoccupied room upstairs, deciding it must be hers.

Tiago stares at the duffel bag, and for a brief moment he entertains the thought of disobeying Jade. Just for the hell of it. And then he recalls what it feels like to be pistol-whipped with a purse, and so he sighs and trudges over to pick the object up and haul up the stairs. "Y'better thank me properly for this. Like…make me a sandwich or some shit…but Eric, y'saw him like, once. He's this like, millionaire dude who can afford anythin', an' he feels bad for bein' so rich so he tries ta put his money in like, good causes, yeah? He's got powers too - so…tha's why he's doin' this for us. That, an' he's part of Gene's team, which we are. Kind of." He doesn't know how 'part' of it they are anymore.

"They wouldn't do that. They wont let us sell Lena's shit - want us ta go legit, I guess. Which is fuckin' ridiculous, I can't even make th'money I need ta get everyone presents an' shit…" Cue a sullen grump right here as he makes it onto the second floor, carrying to overloaded duffel bag into Jade's room. "An' I think the catch is that we gotta listen ta 'em. You're here…as a favor ta us, I guess. 'Cause you're not /really/ involved, but we wanna keep you safe, so…tada? So - how d'you like it? S'it a good 'mount of room?"

Walking into the room, Jade sets her lone piece of sporting equipment against the closet door, then twirls, yes twirls, around to double-take at her room. She covers her mouth with a hand, and looks for all the world that for just a moment, she might cry. After spotting Tiago in her doorway, however, the glistening expression is mostly wiped away, leaving behind it a giddily excited grin as she walks around the empty space, envisioning what furniture she wanted to obtain, and where she would put it.

"Oh my god… This is… Is almost as big as my whole last apartment!" After she's done gawking, she begins unwinding her scarf from around her neck, pulling off the wool-knit cap that was covering her head all the way down to, and including her ears. These are tossed onto her duffel as it's set down, as is the heavy coat she shrugs out of, revealing a pink-and-black striped sweater that matched her pink-and-black stockings, yanking off her mittens next. It was an almost obscenely adolescent outfit.

"Oh god, I love it. Wait, what were you saying? Wait, I have to feed you now? When did you turn into my wife? Fine, whatever, let's go down to the kitchen. My room is a now officially a no-guy zone. What's so bad about going legit, anyway? Isn't this like your chance at a better life? Don't screw it up, hotshot." Brushing by the Brazilian, Jade all but skips out of the room and to the top of the stairs, her hard-soled footwear beating on the stairs as she tromps down them.

For all of Tiago's uncomfortable sullenness, even he cannot resist the absolute joy pouring out of the girl. Leaning against the doorway of the room, he crosses his arms over his chest idly, watching her struggle against the impulse to jump around happily. The moment she recalls Tiago presence, he rewards her with a snicker and a shake of his head. "Mhmm? Nah - you'd be the wife - you'd be feedin' me, like wives do. Duh." He clarifies with his own brand of benevolent sexism, idly trailing after the woman.

"An' honestly? If you think goin' legit is a good thing for me, then you aint as street smart as I thought you were. You're pretty blind, actually." He offers, simply, with his hands in his pockets. "Me an' Lena, we had a good thing goin', sellin' her stuff. No one was hurt or nothin', an' we made good money. I don' got papers here, Jade. I can /never/ be legit - the best I can do is work at a fuckin' K-Mart or fast food place or somethin' an' make next ta nothin' an' end up a deadbeat. Y'can't make money unless ya go ta school, y'cant go ta school unless you got money an' papers."

"Blind? Better than stupid, I guess." *THUMP THUMP THUMP* Halfway down the stairs, Jade decides walking down them was either not fun enough, or took too long, or maybe it was too noisy. Whatever the cause, she leans against the rail, then hoists her rear up on it, holding out her hands and sliding down the rest of the way. Luckily for her, she retains the presence of mind to slip off before colliding with the big, round stop at the end, though she makes a rather unglorified, stumbling landing, having to perch a hand against the wall to avoid tumbling to the floor.

She waits for the male to catch up before elaborating on her return insult. "You only have to live in this country for so long before you can apply for citizenship. Being a drug dealer can't be your lifelong ambition, Cheech. C'mon, what's so bad about minimum wage, anyway? You guys could always come to Europe with me someday. Maybe I'll move to southern France and open up a surf shop. How great would that be?"

Girlish fantasies firmly entrenched behind her eyes, the dark-haired teenager flicks on the lights in the kitchen, giving an appreciative 'oooooo' at the sleek blend of modern and old-fashioned, before clicking her heels in the direction of the fridge and pulling the door open. "You know, you won't have to worry about the cops here so much if you're in another country! To say nothing of a whole 'nother continent."

"Oh yeah, an' what job /should/ be my life ambition?" Tiago returns with, arching his brows slyly. "Listen, I don' care 'bout money, that much. An' I don't give two shits 'bout jobs, period. Goin' legit aint goin' ta better myself, 'cause I don't think that's what makes someone a better person, followin' bullshit rules that make it so rich people get richer and poor folks cant do shit." He falls silent, walking down the stairs in a surprisingly dignified way, as if trying to impress upon the immature girl the depths of his secular-ness. "I gotta mad simple life ambition. I do. I jus' wanna have a nice house somewhere, an' have money ta get my kids shit they want. Shit I aint never had when I was a kid - shit I have ta fight for even taday. That's all, really. That's all I need ta be the happiest man alive."

With the honest statement in play, Tiago proceeds to shove his hands into his pockets and trail after Jade, eventually smiling proudly when she goes to the fridge. Ha! She /is/ making him a sandwich! Victory! "I know, man. An' I told Lena that too, bu'…she don' wanna leave, I guess. She'd rather gimme heart attacks all the time, an' make it so we're always 'fraid of gettin' caught an' all…But I guess if this is happenin' here, who's ta say it's not happenin' anywhere else? If it's this bad in 'the land of the Free', it'd be fuckin' horrible elsewhere, yeah?"

"Ew. You mean you're going to procreate." Turning from her position at the fridge, Jade looks the Brazilian up and down as if the mere thought had her on the verge of either laughing hystericaly or losing her appetite. With a hefty sigh, as if a great travesty she were powerless to stop were happening right before her eyes, she pulls out a pack of lean-cut turkey and a jar of mayonaisse, not even bothering to ask if that was what he wanted. After depositing these on the counter, she proceeds to raiding the cupboards, digging around until she found a saucer to set next to them, before turning towards the pantry.

"You know, America has the richest, most powerful government in the world. France does not. I hear their Navy even only has one aircraft carrier, and it's a dinosaur left over from the second World War! They don't exactly sound like they have cutting-edge swat teams sent to track down people with super-powers and throw them into glass cages for study, or dissection, or whatever. I mean, I get wanting to stay in America, it's home and all."

With a butterknife, she begins digging into the mayo, scraping up an unhealthy amount. "But they have the FBI and all kinds of stuff here. So if you wanna make your illegitimate fortune, it'd probably be easier somewhere like Russia. And when you end up getting shot by some mobster, I'm going to beat the hell out of. Weren't we just talking a couple weeks ago about how we wanted Lena to feel more like a hero, and less like a bandit in a criminal gang? What's going to happen to her when your ill-conceived get-rich-quick schemes get one or both of you hurt?"

Tiago blinks a couple of times, confusion writing itself on his features before the understanding comes. And with that, so does the frown. Sullenly, he perches himself beside the counter, staring down at the dark-haired girl. "Wha's that s'posed ta mean? Ima make a damn good dad some day. The best ever - jus' so I can shove it in my da's face, an show 'im that I didn't need him none ta be a better man." Beat. "I mean, that aint goin' ta happen for a /while/ or nothin' but…Ima be a great dad. Jus' you wait an' see. D'you wanna have kids?"

As she continues to harp upon the badness of his prefered lifestyle, he merely rolls his eyes liberally and lets out a dramatic sigh. "Yeah, alrigh'. So it's a stupid idea, yadda yadda. Whatever. It's worked for me twenty-two years now, so Ima stick with it. Everythin' was perfect, easy, before all this government shit went down."

"Worked? 'Worked'? Wow, I know we're living in a nice place now, but, uh, I wouldn't call getting random people," She points at herself with the messy knife. "In the clubs high 'working'. Nor would I call something 'working' when it lands you on the government's ten most-wanted list. Seriously, you guys are on the run because of what used to pay the bills. I'd call that something less than optimal. Or did you mean the stealing?"

Closing up the jar, she slaps two pieces of turkey on the sandwich, then begins replacing the leftovers into the refridgerator, before spinning around to pluck up the saucer, which she holds out and wiggles enticingly, as if it were some masterpiece she were waiting on approval for. "Because, you know, someone once took my wallet while I was hitching through Louisiana, and I had to spend the next two nights at rest areas, sleeping with strange-looking hobos instead of motels. What if we'd never met? You'd just rob me? Yeah, great dad you'll be, setting that kind of example. But back to your original question…"

Her shoulders bounce. "I don't think I'll ever have kids, no. Take this, would you? I'm not going to hold it forever."

"Firs' of all? 'Workin' didn't get us in trouble with the government. It didn' even really get us in trouble wi' the law, 'cause they cant recognize Lena's spit as a drug, so it aint illegal if it comes from her." Tiago returns with a frown, sniffing at Jade. He just /barely/ holds back the urge to stick his tongue out at the younger woman. "An' yeah. Ima be a great fuckin' example. Ima teach 'em what's really important, like love an' how ta take care of themselves, an'…an' how /wrong/ this government is, an' how wrong it is ta discriminate an' shit. An' yeah, so what if I rob from people? At least I'm straight up 'bout it - not like those fucker bankers or the guys that run huge companies or whatnot. They steal from people every fuckin' day, an' no one says nothin'." Beat. "I do what I need ta ta survive. I aint goin' ta be taken advantage of, an' in this world, it means I gotta take advantage of other people, so that's how it is. You can lift your snooty nose up at me, but whatever. I don' care." Ecept he does, or he wouldn't give the topic so much thought and attention.

Reluctantly he picks up the saucer from her, eyeing the food as if checking for poison. "…Thanks, Jade." He offers with a grumble, before taking a bite out of the contraption. "Mhmm. Why not?"

"Yeah, yeah, whatever. Is it good?" Raising her eyebrows, as if it were somehow possible she could have messed up 'cooking' a turkey and mayo sandwich, Jade's hands find her hips as she waits impatiently for the verdict. The question, though, takes her back, leaning away slightly on her heels as she moves her arms, folding them under her chest and hunching her shoulders. "Uh, I don't know, so many reasons, I guess."

"Like, I'm only eighteen for starters. I'd have to meet a guy and get married, and that probably won't happen with how much I move around. Much more likely someone'll knock me up and I'll never see them again. Besides, I'm a bum, in case you haven't noticed. The longest I've ever had a job is six months, and I keep moving all the time. How is that any way to raise a child?"

Lifting her hands up and out to the sides, she makes a helpless gesture as she sidles around the Brazilian. "At least I'm realistic about it. Sooner or later, you're going to have to get a legitimate job of some kind. That or make enough money to retire forever. You can't raise your children by day, then go out 'scoring' by night. If you'd just pick up a book or newspaper every now and then," She turns out the lights as she abandons the kitchen. "You'd become so much smarter, Cheech. Or, in your case, so much less dumb."

Turkey sammiches are for those without the spending money for McDonald's. The front door rattles open after a key jiggles in the lock, admitting Lena, a gust of icy wind and a big ol' bag of Mickey-D's. Her cheeks and the tip of her nose are a rosy red but she is otherwise toasty warm courtesy of many layers of clothing and that god awful jacket she's so fond of. The jacket that is unceremoniously shucked out of and left beside the door, along with her boots. "Hey, anyone home?"

Before a reply can come, she pads in stockinged feet towards the kitchen, bearing her fast food prize along in one hand. Her cellphone is slipped into the thigh pocket of her tac pants as she goes, freeing a hand to unwind a tatty knitted scarf from around her neck. "Anyone? Chi? Ja—oh, hey guys." That's right, she's now in the kitchen. You may celebrate. "Anyone want some fries?"

Because Super Sizing your order is always the way to go.

"It's okay," Tiago returns. For he knows that that's the best he'll ever get from her, an in turn must ration his praises of her (limited) skills. He's munching away quite happily however, a sign that he either enjoys it or is too damn hungry to even care what it tastes like at this point. Possibly a combination of the two. "An' I aint meant now. I meant…sometime. In the future. Like the far future or somethin' - I mean I'm realistic too, yeah? I cant have no kids like now but…someday…" He trails off, listening to her bashing of him, and sullenly the man furrows his brows, fixating on the sandwich before him. "…Fuck you. I'm smart…"

That is the sad, almost pathetic note that Lena walks in on. For boy, does Jade have a gift for crushing his self esteem. On the other hand, she sure has a gift for making him forget how screwed up everything is too. "Lena! Yeah - I want fries, righ' here. I need somethin' ta wash down this…this." And he gives Jade's sandwich an experimental wave, smiling warmly at the figure of his girlfriend.

"Hey." Lena gets a half-heartedly cheery response as Jade frowns at the discarded coat near the door, though it brightens considerably at the mention of possibly obtaining free fries. "Yeah, save me some, don't let him just scarf down all the good ones. While I just…" Clomping towards the door, she bends down, picking the jacket up from their position with the boots, and placing it over a coathook. "Look, Lee," She gestures grandly at the hanging jacket. "Coathangers! We don't live in a cave, you know."

Afterwards, she bends down to straighten the pair of boots at the door, lining them up nicely along the wall. Her Mom-duty done, for now, she wraps her arms around her trunk and slowly meanders back towards the kitchen area, looking at the furnishings within the townhouse, even the wallpaper receiving undue admiration. "We were just talking about you, you know. Cheech said you're gonna have to start popping out kids, and you better get used to being a home-maker, because he's the man, and he's gotta show the world what a guy's guy he is. I'd give him some sensitivity classes. With my fist. Fry me." A hand is held out expectantly, though the sleeves of her sweater are long enough that only half her palm shows.

Life is good when it's so simple and easy to make people happy. Lena pauses to fetch a few small salad plates from the cupboard before portioning out the gargantuan carton of fries into thirds. "What's the matter, Chi?" she asks quietly while Jade has stepped out of the room to go tidy up after her. "Did you…um, tell her about…?"

But the question must needs be left dangling upon the other girl's re-arrival. The second plate is offered along with a brief grin. "Who're you, Martha Stewart? Relax, Jade, I was gonna hang it up…after…" Wait. Her gaze shuttles between Jade and Tiago, narrowed with a sudden awful speculation. Either Jade is teasing (again) or Tiago has recovered from his depression and…and…

"Pft, yeah right." Plainly Lena has decided to go with option number one. This is Jade, after all. She dumps out the remainder of the junk food onto her plate, scootching the fries over so there's room for a double quarter pounder as well, pretending a casual demeanor that goes no deeper than the surface. "Chi knows I don't want kids. Like…ever. You know how fucked up it would be, me having a baby? You're gonna have to try harder than that, Jade."

Tiago peers over to Lena even as he reaches over to steal a fry before the partitioning has been done, and he pops it into his mouth, chewing merrily before sobering at her question. A solemn shaking of his head indicate that he has let no such information pass by him - but further than that he does not get. He's too busy staring daggers at Jade. "Shut up! We weren't talkin' 'bout that none, we was jus' talkin' 'bout how…"

Well. Now that Lena has let her open scorn for children be known, this is going to make this portion exceedingly awkward. Green eyes fly back to the brunette, before flicking between her and Jade and finally settling upon his sandwich. He takes a bite - used to buy some extra time, before throwing his off-hand comment out there. "I want kids someday…maybe." He comments ever so casually, before digging into his plate of fries. With his mouth full, he can't make the situation even worse.

With a hefty sigh, Jade takes her prize of fries in hand and pops half of one into her mouth, biting it off as the greasy salt flavor explodes in her mouth. "You know, one of these days I'm going to tell you guys something that's true, and you're not going to believe me. And you'll aaaaaaall suffer for it. What kind of a world do we live in nowadays that someone's improbably claims can't be taken at face value? It's a shame what things have come to."

There's a snicker soon after, which causes her to choke slightly as she worked on her second fry. After a moment, she manages to down the piece of food without it clogging up her windpipe, and she waves a hand in the air. "And here he was trying to convince me that you two had your stuff together. Why do you want kids, Cheech? Aren't I enough? And you can't even handle that much. Besides," Another fry disappears into her mouth. "Three losers bound together by circumstance and illegal situations? We'd all make horrible parents. I think with our powers combined, we'd screw up a kid three times as much, anyway."

A soggy fry is shaken, wiggling at the Brazilian, "Where'd you find this guy? Outside of Babies R' Us? He is such the girl in this relationship."

Awkward indeed! Lena fixes a lingering look upon Tiago, shifting uncomfortably before she decides to handle the topic in much the same way he has. That is to say, by stuffing her face with food. So a quartet of fries are grabbed and popped into her mouth. They require much chewing. Perhaps by the time she finishes, the topic will have moved on?

No such luck.

"Mmph…whatever, Jade. You ever heard of the boy who cried wolf? That's so you except with boobs," she remarks once her mouth is empty, flourishing another longer fry at Jade as if it were a pointer. Indicating the pertinent objects. This whole kid thing? Yes, she's ignoring them, as if they were speaking in another language. "He found me, actually…and you know, guys, we're kinda overlooking the really important thing here."

There is a lengthy and important pause, after which Lena, intones, "What're you getting me for Christmas?"

Tiago is a tough guy. He can take a lot of abuse, both physical and verbal, thanks to his upbringing. He can manage to do things many people cannot. But, everyone comes with a breaking point.

And Jade has just crashed through his.

The possibility of the baby issue dying out with grace is destroyed, thanks to a certain loudmouth teenager, who proceeds to mock and trivialize his most intimate and personal desires. Blow after blow, he withstands, stony faced. But when she proceeds to emasculate him once again - he's had it. All of a sudden, he launches himself off of the counter, his lips pulled back into a dark sneer. "You know what, fuck you. Shut the fuck up about me, you dun' even know me, so don' go fuckin' flappin' your big-ass mouth 'bout me an' what kinda parent I'd be, okay?" And he stalks out, incensed.

Only to return a couple of seconds later to grab the sandwich and fries. "I'm takin' the goddamn food an' IMA EAT IN THE BEDROOM. SUCK ON THAT, MARTHA STEWART." And leave.

The dark-haired teenager's eyes are drawn down to her chest, eyeing her pink-striped sweater for a moment as each of her 'objects' are pointed out, before looking back up with a quirked brow. But the change in topic is allowed to happen gracefully, though noting the uncomfortable looks on both of the older couple's faces, Jade was sure to return to it sometime in the future. Her sadistic nature demanded it.

Before she can even begin to reply to the Christmas question, though, Tiago's fuse finally hits the powder keg, and Jade's prodding sends him over the edge. She leans away from him, with a surprised look on her face that seemed more amused than alarmed. She opens her mouth once more, only to have him RETURN, and once again storm off like the giant child he resembled. The stunning silence in the wake of his yelling settles like an uncomfortable blanket, before it's broken once again by the loudest mouth in the room.

"I ever tell you what a prize you landed with that one?" Grinning down into her plate with self-satisfaction of a torture-session gone right, she continues. "Aaaaaaanyway, I'm not telling you what I'm getting you for Christmas! I don't even know, yet. I haven't really celebrated a lot of Christmases. I got a couple of ideas, though. Can I get away with one gift for two people, or is that a faux pas?"

Like Jade, Lena watches Tiago's departure in silence but her internal reactions are somewhat different. For one, there is unadulterated concern writ plain on her face when he leaves, returns and then stalks by again. But she keeps her head down and resumes stuffing fries into her mouth, judging that maybe the young man needs some time on his own. Later, she'll go up and try to wheedle him out of that foul mood.

"I know it's like your hobby and all but you could maybe go easy on him," she says once the danger of Tiago overhearing has passed. Another fry is wagged at Jade. "He's having a hard time right now." But she can't say why! Or, rather, she can; it just won't be the truth. "Apparently his mom's writing him that his asshole of a dad has come home and started his old bullshit, and he can't help her any since we're up here. And I kinda cut him off till I get this drug stuff stopped, you know?"

She's just sayin'. Not passing judgement or anything. "Huh? Oh!" That's right, the Christmas question. Please pardon Lena for being a little distracted. "Yeah, sure. Just nothing kinky, okay? Don't rub it in."

When it strikes her a moment later that her last remark is innuendo-laden…she giggles. And takes a bite from her obscenely large burger.

"The hell you think I'm going to get you!? Something from Spanker's Palace? Leenie, you got some weird ideas of what Christmas is all about."

Munching on a french fry with a lack of enthusiasm, Jade apparently loses her appetite and chucks it back down onto the small plate, setting it back on the counter and pushing it away from her. "Awwwwww." The small sound of dismay is accompanied by a tiny toe-scuffle that was more of a small foot-stomp. "Now I feel bad. Ugh, I guess I have to make it up to him now. Whatever happened to the good ol' days when he'd go cry in a corner and I wouldn't feel bad about it? Huh. So this is what guilt feels like."

Abandoning her plate on the counter, she moves out of kitchen, pulling the hem of her brightly-decorated sweater down as she sashays over to the couch, hopping over the armrest to flop onto her back on the cushions, her hair spreading out behind her, boots hanging off of the edge. "Wonder if we have cable TV already… Hey, whaddaya know about this 'Eric' guy? I think I saw him once, but he's putting us all up, and I've, like, never even spoken to him. Chi said he has powers?"

"What? Christmas is supposed to be about getting stuff you'll use, right?" The other girl shouldn't even have to look at Lena's face to know that she's grinning, the sound of it is right there in her voice. It does fade a little when Jade is stricken with what appears to be honest to goodness guilt, though. Real guilt. Enough of it that she pauses, burger halfway to her mouth, in order to aim quirky eyebrows at the young woman. "Oh my god." Pause. "Did you grow a heart or something? Jesus, Jade…you maybe wanna get that looked at. If you start feeling like hugging folks, you say something and I'll call an ambulance, okay?"

Oh, she just kills herself sometimes.

The burger is finished off quickly, wolfed down in the manner of someone who is 1) starving and 2) unconcerned about their metabolism. Then she too appears in the living room, launching herself onto the love seat. "Nah, probably won't get set up till Syd gets back…wherever the hell she is. Someone better call me soon, I'm starting to get pissed…I left a message with Gene," she says, folding her arm behind her head. "Eric's got powers, yeah. And a thing for Syd, maybe. They fucked, but it was kind of accidental."

"Accidental horizontal boogie? Ew, I know entirely too much about that. Let's just hope they used protection." After a moment, the younger teen half-sits up from the lying position she was in, as with her feet above her head, the blood was beginning to rush to her head, propping herself up on her elbows to better frown at the other girl. "We got the house, what the hell else do they need to call you about? How long you think they're gonna let us stay here? I'm hoping it's at least until the streets thaw. I'm getting a just a tad too used to having heat that works to give it up. I think I'm getting spoiled."

Pulling herself up via the back of the seat, she begins needlessly dusting off the bottoms of her boots, as she'd already wiped them at the door like a good girl, before pulling them under her to sit on her hip, her other hand mussing with her hair to get it under control.

"C'mon, though, spill. What can Eric do? Can he walk through walls? X-ray vision? Mad hypnotic gaze? A siren's call that makes women throw their underwear at him? Don't leave me hangin'! Exactly how many other super-powered weir- uhhhhhhhh, people do you know?"

"I haven't heard from Syd since the night her ex went after her and I knocked him out," Lena explains, a ghost of that earlier look of worry reappearing on her face. She frowns up at the ceiling. "She's not answering her phone, Gene hasn't called me back, Eric hasn't called. And I called the hospitals, all I could think of, they all said they didn't have anyone by that name there. It's…I dunno. I'm trying not to think they all got snatched but it's fucking hard, you know? I figure if I haven't heard anything by Friday, maybe we'll…figure something else out."

The matter of all of the mutants in her life summons a brief glance from Lena, focusing more clearly now on the other good. Still, that trouble lingers. "Mmm…I dunno if I should be telling you what everyone can do. I mean, no offense, Jade. It's just…" This is where it begins to get tricky, when the need to lie (even for Jade's own good) makes it complicated to avoid certain topics.

So Lena compromises. "Well. I know maybe three folks who can move stuff with their minds. Someone who can make shadows do what they want, and that includes walking through them to get places. Someone who can feel what you're feeling and change it…the first time I found out there were other freaks around, it was these two guys. One could shoot fire out of his hands, and the other one was like super strong and tough."

"Fire. Out of his hands. Like the Human Torch?" Someone had seen Fantastic Four perhaps one too many times.

"Why can't you tell me who can do what? C'mooooooon, it's me. I already know all about you, so what harm could there be in me knowing a bit more. Are they, you know…" She makes a vague plucking gesture with her hands. "Is it safe to touch any of them? Will I get, like, burned if I try to handshake your friends? I need to know these things! I don't want to walk out of the bathroom in a towel one day and be incinerated because some guy's fire-power is connected to his hormones."

With a hefty sigh, seeing the reluctance of her chatting partner on this particular topic, Jade's brain jumps tracks onto a different set of rails, her train of thought railroading itself back to the earlier conversation. "Fine, fine. Don't tell me. Jerk. So you can't get ahold of anybody. Doesn't this mean that there's no one paying the bills here? If I have to be homeless again, I'm going to get so pissed. So what can I do? I could… Um…" What had started as a motion of Jade ticking off ideas on her fingertips, turns into a fingernail cleaning exercise as she fails to come up with any appreciable help she could possibly be. "This sucks. I should learn how to be a better criminal."

Lena swivels around on the couch, putting her sock-covered feet up on the wall and letting her head dangle over the edge. Now she is looking at Jade upside down. It's a goofy way to lay down, goofy enough to hopefully soften the impact of what she's about to say. "It's not that, Jade. It's just if someone the government does know you're connected to all this, and you get grabbed, you won't be able to give them names and what that person can do. If they like…are using torture."

There is a chance that this was not one of those times when honesty between friends is a good thing. Lena recognizes it, and shows it by sighing and folding her arms defensively over her belly. You know, in case Jade decides to lob something at her.

"I was thinking about that, actually. Pretty sure Eric is taking care of the bills here, or we wouldn't have power," she goes on, in the most practical of tones. "You ever thought about going back to school? I bet we could get him to spring for that. You could go become a nurse or a paramedic, in case we get banged up. Or learn about computers. Or…I dunno. Is there anything you ever wanted to do?"

"Great! I get to be tortured. Being hooked up with you guys is becoming a real pain in the ass, you know that?" Twisting around to pick up one of the unused couch cusions, Jade raises it overhead and launches it at the other woman with both hands. "I better get a freaking moped for Christmas! Because I am tired of getting my ass groped taking the bus to work every day!"

Her indignation spent along with her ammunition, she settles back to contemplate the idea of going to school, slouching back into her seat, putting both feet up on the table, one after the other, each of her heels causing a resounding *BANG*. "I'd have to get my GED, first. A nurse? What do you take me for? That's a lot of school. And I'd have to, you know, stay in one place. I don't think I've stayed still for an entire year since I was fourteen. But sure, there's stuff I wanna do."

She pauses, craning her neck to look over her shoulder. Once she's sure the coast is clear, Jade continues. "I told your boytoy and he made fun of me, but I always wanted to go to Europe. Like Italy and France. And I loved that summer in Florida where I got a job as a surfing instructor for this hotel. It was, like, oh my gawd." At the memory, the teen giggles, covering her mouth with both hands. "Maybe I could do something like that, you know, if I get to France, and it's everything I imagine it to be. I should at least get my GED while saving up for my passport and plane ticket, but c'mon! I can't just go around asking men I don't know to pay for that stuff. I don't even know how much it costs."

There is a muffled oop as cushion connects with brunette, causing her to curl up like a big ol' pillbug around the projectile. She'd totally fire it back at the other girl upon uncurling but…well, Jade has a point. "I know, I know…it's beyond suckage. I'm sorry we dragged you into this, Jade, for real." Now it's Lena's turn to sound as if she's feeling genuine guilt.

"We could get you into a GED class, anyway. You can even do those online I think, right? Or through the mail and shit? It wouldn't cost much, and you'd have your high school…hell, I should do that." Mark this moment. It is the first occasion ever in which Lena actually looks towards the future. Her future, specifically. And she sounds damned thoughtful about it too. "Maybe even Chi too. And Eric's good for it. He's got this weird thing about being guilty 'cause he's rich." How bizarre is that?

"Way beyond. It's so far beyond, suckage can't even be seen. But it kind of landed us in a sweet house, so there's at least a silver lining. I'm sure I can look in the newspaper and find a moped on the cheap after Christmas. Maybe Randy'll uncork his anus and give me a bonus!"

Looking cheered by the thought of getting a raise, even if it was only a potential one-time increase in a holiday paycheck, Jade almost misses the comment. Almost. "You wanna do it, too!? YOU!? We could do it together! We could totally be study-buddies. Maybe, you know, it'd be good for us. Something to focus on that isn't… Wait. You'd have to put your real names on it." Snapping her fingers, Jade leans forward in her seat, though the position is awkward with her feet still cocked up on the table. "Don't they have, like, computer wizards who could track you online? But we could still do it at some local school! I mean, they already know you're in the city, and by the time we're all entered into the school system or whatever, it'll be mission accomplished and we just wouldn't go back. Would that even work? God, being a spy must be really hard work. …Why guilty?"

Oho, that's right! Randy! Lena sits up and swings her legs around, all prepared to leap into teasing the girl about the shop owner. Her efforts to do so were cut short last time, after all. But then Jade goes all 'wooooo!' at the GED idea and that grin fizzles into nonexistence. "Whoa, wait, slow down," she remarks, looking alarmed. The hand is put up. THE HAND. Respect it. "It was just an idea, I mean…shit, I only lasted a couple of years in high school, it'd probably take more than a few night courses and…and…" Wait, wasn't it her idea?

"Chi and I know some folks who could get us papers and all. But…but it's like a big decision to make. We should totally think it over first," she says after a brief pause, nodding sagely. Big decisions should take time to make. Lena knows she's right about that. "And I dunno…maybe he feels bad 'cause he has so much and he's hanging out with people like us, who don't?"

"No, no! No! We shouldn't think about it!" Jade pulls her feet up off the table and launches herself sideways, landing energeticly on the corner of the couch that brought her closest to Lena, reaching out with her hands as if seizing an opportunity. "It's not that major of a step here. Don't we just have to pass an equivalency test or something? I dropped out as a Freshman, so that's totally not an excuse. Some people never made it past the sixth grade and became millionaires. We could do this, and it could take our minds off of all the crap things that are happening!"

Settling back down to human levels of activity, the dark-haired teen drops her hands back into her lap, resting them on her knees, which weave in and out, in and out, like a child squirming her legs out of a desire to not sit still. "You can do a lot with a GED. Even become a doctor, though it's probably a huge pain. I could, y'know, do something that wasn't the bare minimum wage required by law."

Apparently there was no telling her no, as she sits up straight, looking off to the side, already formulating plots to bombard both of the pair with pamphlets and such. "Huh. That's crazy. If I had money, I'd just live in Maui. Forever. The most ridiculous waves in the world are found there. Did he inherit it or something? Because if he earned it and still feels guilty, that'd be kind of weird."

It's habit that has Lena recoiling from Jade's grabby hands, even though her own are safely covered in the gloves she wears all the friggin' time now. At least she's never cold. But eventually the girl's sheer enthusiasm wins a small smile, and that small smile becomes a larger smile, and…well…it's all downhill from there.

"Okay, okay…so say we sign up for this, and like…get our GED. What then? We're not millionaires, so we can't go to wherever the hell that is that you just said. We do have to get jobs, and that means figuring out whatever it is we wanna learn how to do."

She pauses here, for dramatic effect. The silence drags out for the minimum requirement of three seconds before the thought is completed.

"No way in hell I can be a doctor. And I can't be a Disney princess. So…what?"

"We're doing it. You said it first, no backsies outsies." Oh yes, she just took us all back to Junior High with that one. "I don't know, be a High School- Maui's in Hawaii, by the way -Janitor or something. Who cares! It's a step towards something better, isn't it? And even if it's not, we'll still have done it, and we won't be the most undereducated morons in the country anymore. I mean, there's rednecks in Kentucky that've gotten farther in school than we have, and we're not exactly chaw-spittin' retards."

Jade waves away the notion of being a princess, trying to pretend she didn't have stickers of Ariel and Belle on the inside of her diary, with a guffaw. "So we'll never be doctors or lawyers or whatever! Who says we have to go to college? We can get trade licenses. Cheech thinks he knows about autos, right? After his GED, he could get a mechanic's license. You could be a… a… Do you even have hobbies?"

The skeptical look the teen gives the older girl speaks volumes on her suspicions that she didn't. "Something liiiiiiiiiiike a verterinary technician. You know, a dog nurse. I mean, if toyboy has his way, you're gonna be pinching wallets for life, and I haven't been able to beat him out of that line of thought yet."

Junior High makes sense, considering the educational levels they've discussed having. Which is why Lena feels no qualms at all about sticking her tongue out at the other brunette. "Jesus, bossy much? Fuck…" Pause. "Okay. Okay, so we do it. But…yeah. I don't…I mean…" Hobbies? Yes. She's trying to not confess to having none. Even though that information is plainly visible in the way the teenager is grimacing.

It takes a moment of deep, contemplative, almost painful thought before she's able to supply a possibility. "I can't work with animals either, I get them high too. But…I like to read. Maybe I could be a librarian? Wait…no. I'd still have to wear gloves and then they'd think I'm weird." Lena suddenly stands from the couch and begins pacing, which has been her recent fall-back habit when she's agitated about something. Damnit! She's going to think of a possible career if it kills her! "Fuck…okay, gimme a minute. Let's think about you first, okay? You said you used to teach, right? Maybe you could get into coaching or something. You'd be a fucking awesome gym teacher."

"Surfing! That's not exactly the height of educating young minds there." Jade is shaking her head vehemently already, denying the thought of being an educator of young minds. "Being a gym teacher still requires a four-year degree, and I'm not made for watching a bunch of little brats run laps and do push-ups. Besides, I'd fail all the nerds for being weak little cry-babies. And where am I gonna find the time to go to school full time for four years? Your friend might be rich and all, but… Hey, don't you shove this back on me, we're talkinga bout YOU here!"

Watching the other girl walk back and forth as if she had suddenly developed a bad case of the antsy pants causes her own legs to itch for some action. She compromises by rising off of the base cushion and perching on the air of the sofa, so at least the height difference wasn't so dramatic anymore. "I mean, I'm sure I didn't hear you right when you said 'librarian'." But judging by the slow, sly, spreading grin that was etching it's way onto her mug, she knew exactly what had been said.

"You think any libraries are hiring? That's more of a secretary job, anyway, isn't it? You know, if you had your High School equivalency, you could get a Small Business License and get your rich friend to become your silent partner in a book store. Then give him a percentage until you're all paid off and square."

"Okay, I take it back! You should become like…a bodyguard or something. You like beating up on people enough," Lena observes, quirking her eyebrows at Jade as if challenging her to argue. She folds her arms, too. So there. "And fuck you, there's nothing wrong with reading! What, you think I'd suck as a librarian? I'd be fucking awesome!" Really, if they didn't have a relationship of such fun antagonism, a girl could get her feelings hurt.

But that second idea…that one has merit. "Huh. I bet I could do that…or…" Here a huge, teasing grin splits her face. "A massage parlor! Except my happy endings would be a lot less messy."

"MASSAGE PARLOUR!?" Cackling madly, Jade clamps a hand over her mouth to try and stifle the sound from echoing, which mostly fails. "People would walk out all tweaked up and get run over by cars right in front of your shop! Hey, Cheech could set up shop as a physical therapist right next door, and I'll open up a personal injury law firm across the street. We'll all make a killing, right?"

Once she settles down from the idea of high-off-their-ass massages, Jade stands up and stretches, putting away the knowledge that Lena was a closet-case bookworm for later use. "You know, I still think you guys should save up and come to Europe with me, even if it's just to visit. But, ah, I'm meeting a couple of girls, and this totally cute guy later, so I have to go, like, get ready. Maybe you should see if Cheech cooled off some? And tell him his ass is taking that test." Turning on her heel, she pirouttes towards the stairs. "I'll let you know it goes!"

And with the *CLOMPCLOMPCLOMP* of her bootheels on the stairs, Jade reaches the top landing and turns out of sight, off to unpack her duffel and pick the, like, just so totally perfect outfit to wear from her limited wardrobe.

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