2010-08-21: Where's Your Support




Annie, Jock, Generic, and Possibly Homeless

Date: August 21st, 2010


Some people are having trouble finding their support group, but other ones who make it talk about where they're not getting it. Things go moderately better than before. Carl has a best friend.

"Where's Your Support"

Manhattan Youth Center

This week shows a marked change for the attending members of the Superpowers Support Group. Rather than be forced to follow glittery signs to the back of the building like lab rats, they can follow the directions sent them from their contact section on the sign-up forms to the notice declaring that the SSG is officially stationed upstairs — in it's own meeting room. This means that there are not only windows cheerily letting in sun and air from the outside, but a matching set of chairs, and a white-board that takes up the entirety of the back wall.

It's at this board that Annie stands as the clock rolls onto meeting time. In large, swirling and definitively girlish lettering, she is working — on tip-toe to make the letters tall enough — on writing out a cheerful welcome. There's likely to be plenty of exclamation points.

In a corner sits Possibly Homeless, nuzzling his usual paperbag against his mess of a beard and looking all the world like he'd rather they were still in the dungeon where he was used to sleeping.

It's been a long week for Carl, though not quite so bad as earlier in the year. Poking his nose into the business of the Evolved doesn't exactly pay the bills - and something has to, he doesn't even want to know where Possibly Homeless picked up that pork-and-beans smell - and the day job has hit something of a busy season. He's still not terribly late, but more of the others than usual have made it to the meeting ahead of him.

Cam comes to the room, arriving shortly after Carl, looking around with a bit of a grin at their new location. "Cool," he says as he steps in, "this is definitely a step up." He steps in and moves to take a seat then.
Jock has filtered in since then, talking the latest such and such sports team with the very generic looking man from the earliest meetings. The dark-skinned teenager only stops talking long enough to notice no out-stretched table of goodies underneath his gesturing hands. "Hey… where'd our bake-sale go?"

Spinning about from the board, just having put the last touches on a smiley face inside the 'to' of 'Welcome To SSG!!!!', Annie shows a slight frown at the question. "Maybe she's late," she declares after a moment, swerving around a chair to claim her usual at the head of the group — as much as a circle has a 'head'. "I asked our friend Hallis to bring us some more of those wonderful cupcakes from last time. I'm sure she'll be along shortly. Until then! Today, I'm proud to announce that we have our first agenda. It's been highlighted!" She begins to tug out several photo-copied sheets from her binder, handing them to each person. The typical fare: greeting, introductions, topic of the day…

The instant that Carl walks in the door, though, is when Possibly Homeless bounces unusually spryly to his feet, arrowing in on the other man with a dogged diligence. "You look like somebody whose life is under a bus, man." And he offers out the paper-bag of questionable origins, and contents.

"No thanks, I already had a coffee on the way over," Carl lies just as promptly, hoping that Homeless will wander off in search of more likely targets. He's got other things to pay attention to, himself. Like Jock over there— what's his agenda? He keeps showing up, but he doesn't seem to take any of it seriously. Maybe he's planning to make a move on one of the girls.

Cam grins to Annie and says, "Glad we got enough people signed up." He looks to Carl and the homeless guy curiously, but he doesn't say anything, instead looking at the sheet he was given to look at the agenda. He then glances back up to Annie again, "Maybe she got her life back."

"Well, it would've been nice for her to tell us," Annie mentions, squaring her shoulders defensively and holding back what could be a larger sulk; some illusionary BFFness with Hallis apparently now fueling her sense of betrayal. "But whatever. You guys are here with me," and she beams more mightily at them for it. "First thing on the list," with a stabbing finger at it, "Introductions— okay, well. We've all been here before, so I think, unless anyone has anything to add, we can move right along. Topic of the day! I think this will help us with our little, ahem, rambling problem." She gives a cheery enough grin and playful gesture, but a certain hardness lends itself to giving away her irritation over former matters.

"Was it decaf?" Possibly Homeless is skeptically eyeing Carl — and following him to his seat, mind — while the Jock settles down on the other side, scowling at the piece of paper he's been handed.

"Seriously? This looks just like school. I don't want to be at school when I'm not at school."

"Idon'tcare!" An outburst followed by Annie thumping herself liberally on the chest and clearing her throat daintily. "What I mean is— Topic of the day! I've chosen today's since it's our first time trying this. Mine's family— no, no. Not family. I mean, maybe family — but, really," her hands frantically tuck at her hair and then settle forcefully on her lap, "Who is it around you who's not been giving you the support you needed, leading to finding this group? Everyone feels alone sometimes, but often it's because the people in their life who are supposed to be there have found other things."

Well, it was worth a shot, at least. Carl leans back in his seat, not actively trying to brush Homeless off, but not answering his question either, or even looking at him: out of sight, out of mind.

"Me?" he offers, turning his attention back to Annie instead. "People just moved away, mostly. Not their fault things fell apart." Well, it's some people's fault, but he's not about to tell anyone here the full story.
Cam looks over to Carl, and nods a little. Then, assuming it's his turn next, speaks up, "I used to have a family. Well, two families. My real parents are in jail, my dad for stealing millions of dollars over the course of most of his life, and my mom for shooting a cop that was getting too close. The next family, my foster family, they were more a real family than my own, they died last year. Only my brother from that family's left, and he's missing."

While she nods sympathetically to Carl, it's to Cam's story that Annie's mouth really opens, "Oh my God," and her hand rushes up to, too late, stop this small exclamation. "I mean, I'm sorry Cam, that's terrible." At the mention of fostering, Jock has also given an uncomfortable turn; he crosses his arms defensively over his chest but doesn't speak up.

The very generic looking man happens to sit forward, resting his arms on his elbows and taking several minutes past Annie's gushing at Cam to get up his nerve to talk. "I— I, ummm. I've had people leave… leave, too…" His gaze flashes briefly to Carl in sought companionship, "… but it was, you know… it was my fault. Everybody thought I was…." his voice lowers to something inaudibly soft until, several words past, he clear his throat and raises his volume — to Carl, "Do you still — do you talk to them?"
"Doesn't anybody want to hear about me?" from Possibly Homeless, ignored.

There's an awful lot to that story that Mr. Generic hasn't revealed. Not that Carl blames him - there are plenty of reasons someone might want to hold back, at least at first. "Some of them. Do they— know that you want to hear from them?"

An older woman sitting behind Possibly Homeless does lean forward and say something to him in response, but it's in rapid-fire Polish, leaving some of the others to furrow their brows in non-comprehension.
Cam nods a little to Annie and says, "I do have friends, so I'm not all alone." He doesn't say any more than that about himself, but he looks to the homeless man, "I do." He shows none of the pre-judging he did last week with 'Birds' Nest', either having learned his lesson of the man's appearance not triggering the same kind of reaction.

Twisting in his seat, Possibly Homeless squints quite skeptically at the Polish speaker, and he hugs his paper-bag in close defense against his chest. But despite a facial reaction devoid of confusion, he seems to have no response, only shifting forward again to grin at Cam. "What a nice young man. I appreciate you not makin' fairytales to get me out of the room."
Off of a curious squint about that, Annie shuffles in her seat but maintains a soft smile for Cam. "It is good, to have friends you can count on. And us here, of course."

Generic takes another very long moment to answer, making it seem constantly as though he won't. "… They must, I mean. I didn't want them to go…" His shoulders roll uncomfortably the longer he thinks about it, hands squeezing into fists multiple times as he forces them to relax each time. "I just wanted somebody to talk to … everybody here is always talking…"

Always some surprising depths to be explored. Maybe Homeless really does have more of a story than just needing some crash space… but as long as his idea of hello involves sharing his booze, Carl is just as happy to let someone else figure out the rest. "Did they— did they hurt you?" he asks of Generic, vaguely expecting the opposite, but not expecting him to admit it if asked directly.

Cam shrugs a little to Homeless and says, "Last week was just… bad for me. I learned. Besides, you don't act crazy or anything." He looks back to Generic then, curious at the way he's acting, but Carl seems to be doing a good job asking questions there."

There's no knock at the door, it just bursts open and there is Lizzie holding that giant tupperware container and looking a lot like Annie did after she got out of the garbage— just less stinky. "Thanks for calling and telling me that we changed places!!" She marches to a bare table, officially designating it for refreshments as she places the big plastic box on top and opens the lid.

She takes two cupcakes out, one in each hand, and finds an empty chair for herself as close to Annie as possible. She's dressed as she always is, in her own form of homeless garb. Faded old jeans with threadbare patches, a t-shirt, andher gray designer hoodie. "I waited and waited and waited in the other room. I had to threaten all the nailbiters with death by file if they didn't leave my room!" One of the cupcakes is balanced carefully on her knee as she reaches into the pocket of her hoodie and pulls out something flat but puffy, white on the bottom and golden on top. She silently passes it across to Annie and then reclaims her cupcake.

Generic and Annie are both poised with their mouths open to speak when the door opens, freezing them in this spot. Though it's Generic who eventually motivates his jaw shut by the time the cupcakes are set down. "Hallis!" Is finally Annie's exclamation of greeting — about the time when she's done staring dumbfounded at the brilliantly brilliant sticker she's been handed, "We thought you got your life back…" the dull way she stares at the starlet's wardrobe suggests exactly how much that question has been answered now. "Umm. B-But, I, like, definitely called you at the number you left. You answered. Umm. But anyway, we're glad you're here. We're on the topic of the day — umm. What is this for?" Not that she doesn't love it — in fact, Annie's fierce loving grip on the unicorn suggests that should someone try to come too near right now she'd BITE THEM, but it IS a tad suspicious. Presents. From Hallis.

The outburst, meanwhile, means that Generic's jaw has henceforth welded shut and he seeks to sink into his chair, completely willing to let everyone else be noisy again.

"You hear that?" Possibly Homeless has exactly no problem still piping up, however, and he does so by attempting to nudge Carl in the side proudly, "I don't act crazy. You gonna write that one down, too?"

Carl does, in fact, pantomime the motions of scribbling down a note. But he doesn't sit still for it - no, he's up on his feet again, heading over to grab one of the cupcakes before any of the hygiene cases can get ahead of him. The week he's had, he could use a little sugar pick-me-up. As for Generic clamming up again… eh, it's a start at least, and they can always come back to him later.

Cam, too, gets up to get one of the cupcakes, before returning to his seat. He blinks at Possibly Homeless' reaction and shrugs, "Well, you don't. No more than the rest of us, anyway." He glancews back up to Annie and Lizzie, and says, "Maybe you put down your old number by mistake when you filled out the form, and Annie got your double?"

"Huh… maybe.. I was pretty sure I put my own number and my old address…" As a side to Annie she leans a little and utters, "No offense, I was hoping to give her the junk mail." Sitting back up with a shrug, Lizzie takes a lick of the icing on the top of one of her cupcakes and smacks her lips as she swallows the lemony goodness.

"The uhh… sticker is to say sorry for touching your binder." It may be lame as far as apologies go, but Lizzie's always thought it's nicer to give something personal. As Annie holds onto the sticker, the golden sheen over the top of it slowly fades in a mottled pattern until the shimmering pink underneath it is the only thing that's left.

When Hallis makes the reminder about the number versus the address, something definitely guilty flashes across Annie's face but she clears her throat fast enough and gives a little wave of her hand that pauses at the comment. "Huh? What junk mail? Ohh, well, sure, apology accepted. That is the polite way to do things…" Judging by her instant possessiveness of that sticker, Annie also prefers things personal. As the colors change, she grins goofily, turning it about in the light different ways as though to try and make the gold come back. But it's the many — and by many, everyone has now snuck out of their chairs to the table — claimings of the cupcakes that distracts her finally and she gives a second little throat-clearing as her chair scoots backwards once, twice. "Umm. Why doesn't someone… fill Hallis in on thetopicoftheday?" Run run run to get a delicious treat!

"No more than him?" Possibly Homeless offers, giving Carl's chair a firm pat, "My buddy, my best friend, here? How about it? How much do you actually know about this guy right here?"

Okay, seriously, Possibly Homeless, what is your problem? This is New York City, you can't possibly be this hard up for a drinking buddy. Carl plays dumb, though, the cupcake (and the shiny shiny sticker) providing convenient distractions. If someone else follows up on the questioning, that's one thing, but he's not in a hurry to start volunteering things.

Cam shrugs to Possibly Homeless and says, "Yeah, guess I don't know him at all." And then, since nobody else did, he looks to Lizzie to do as Annie asks, "The topic today is talking about family, friends, and why they're not supporting us that we wanted to come here."

An expression of pure pity forms over Lizzie's features as she looks between all of the people in the room. "Ooooohhhhhh you guuuuuyyyyyys," it's obvious she's trying to make an attempt at being supportive. That tone of voice is the same one mothers use when placating a crying child because it woke up in the dark all alone. Her lips downturn and her eyebrows tweak up at the inner edges and she puts both of her cupcakes on an empty chair nearby and extends her arms. Her fingers flick in toward herself a few times, "I think you all need hugs. Everyone should turn to their neighbor and give them a nice hug because you're all so sad." She didn't even question if anyone was actually in that predicament. As for herself? Well.

"I don't know about you guys," Lizzie begins, her entire countenance turning into a mimic of Annie's upbeat and cheer. "But I think it's great that you have somewhere to go so you're not so lonely." Again, nothing about herself.

"Awesome." Possibly Homeless is grinning, though it's always hard to quite tell under the roughness of his massive beard. He throws up his hands and then lets them fall on his thighs, dirt clapping down on dirt. "You guys are, like, special in every way. I'll take a hug. Come on!" And he twists in his chair to look oh-so-expectantly at Carl but — pre-assuming the rejection from that side — he willing sidles a couple of seats over to lurch into Lizzie's open arms instead. "Hugsies!"

"What? Hugs?" Annie's scurry over is slowed as she nears the chair, attempting to look more poised and less hurried while still falling into her chair with half a cupcake looming near her mouth. (This may be her second.) At the nearing of Homeless, though, she sort of eases to the other side with her eyebrows up and decides to wrap a happy arm around Cam, instead, giving him a secure pat on the shoulder. "But let's not forget what this place is about. It's about Superpowers support. Which, I bet, is a lot of the reason we'd get turned away from other places. So let's hear it — who here has been called 'craaaaaazy' or something equally hurtful?" And she's the first to offer her hand in the air. Jock just snorts. Generic timidly juts his hand up only as high as his own shoulder.

Alas, there's no clean getaway in Carl's immediate future. Possibly Homeless may have found another target (for now), but the woman behind him scoots forward in his place.

The brief embrace is interrupted when Annie pipes up again, and Carl looks around again, sizing up the others— aha, there's Generic again. "That was what happened to your friends, wasn't it?" he offers. "They… well, whatever happened, they didn't understand you, did they."

Cam is lucky enough that Annie's the one that comes over to him, rather than some of the more unpleasant options in the room, so he doesn't object like he might otherwise. To Annie's question, though, he answers, "Oh yeah. Well, not crazy exactly. One foster family I had when I was thirteen, I didn't mention them before because I was only with them a couple weeks, thought I was posessed by a demon and tried to exorcise me. Oh, and I've been called a terrorist a few times."

Lizzie's body instinctively becomes rigid and the hug POssibly Homeless guy receives is rather brief. Even though she was the first to encourage it, she didn't expect this guy to cross the room to snag her. "There, there, now don't you feel better?" And she releases him only a few seconds in. She's back in her seat, sitting straight up and posture perfect, already raising her hand. The young blonde's fingers waggle in the air, "Oh oh! I called someone crazy once! Well more than one person and probably more than once."

There's a few other… hug-like gestures here and there, but mostly it dies down before it started. Annie, for her part, sort of automatically twitches away from Cam at the mention of terrorism, but her head tips otherwise curiously. "Does this make you feel upset, Cam? Were they unfounded, or do you get that things were happening no one else could possibly understand coming from the other side and it's completely, like, ridiculously unfair to judge them the way they were judging you? Hm?" It takes a second, but she does begin to look a bit unfortunate about having spit that all out.

Meanwhile, Generic gives a kind of defeated shrug as to Carl's probing. "Nobody understands," he spits out immediately before giving a kind of sheepish look at the rest of the group.

Thank you, Generic, you've done a lovely job of opening up to the group. Annie, on the other hand… there was always the thought in the back of Carl's mind that she must've had some personal interest in the subject. If things had gone a little differently, would his old employers have hauled her in for a long government-sponsored vacation?

Cam shrugs a little to Annie, "The ones who thought I was posessed, it mainly scared me more than anything. Must have scared them pretty bad too, I guess. The ones that called me a terrorist, though, yeah, I blame them. For a while, everyone with a power that didn't work for the government was considered a terrorist, just because of what we might do, and so a corrupt military guy could sell us as weapons on the black market. You remember Senator Wynne's big anti-terrorist campaign last year? That was against us, not real terrorists. And, that sounds kind of nuts saying it now, but it's true. So yeah, I blame them."

The hand is slowly lowered as Cam tells his story and Lizzie actually edges her chair back a few inches. As she around to all of the people in the room, she swallows audibly and sort of just shrinks into her chair. "Hey, you don't think they're going to do it again, do you? I mean…" Her eyebrows are tweaked up at the inner edges again, this time in worry. "I don't want to get a tube stuck up my nose." Unconsciously, she reaches up and rubs the tip of her nose, her eyes crossing as she stares down at it.

Unpressed for his sort of backwards sentiment about a group formed /to/ understand, Generic shrinks once more into his huddle, his hands working nervously against his pants again in those fists he tries fitfully to contain. The majority of the rest of the group seem to be wholly committed to hearing what it is Cam has to say; it makes nervous Jock, who glances around as though expecting an entire film crew, or battalion, to leap out. "What the hell are you talking about?" He glares at Cam, but his anxiety is obvious, pushing him to be more aggressive through it, "Government, pssh."

"Hey," snaps Annie, though her scolding is half distracted by her own concerned eyebrows as she eyes Cam, "That's not supportive." Back to Cam, "You mean… you're saying that was all going on? Like— before this? But how did… umm. Actually. Maybe we should stay away from the heavy conspiracies. We can all write our senators a very concerned letter later — I have a variety of colored pens — but to remain as peaceful as possible, let's stick to the simple subjects, shall we?"

If Possibly Homeless has been unusually quiet before this, scratching at the sideburns of his beard and tapping his paper-bag with soft crunch, crunches, he now ruins this spell by piping up, "They're the government. Of course they'll make the same mistakes again. Some things are just better left in the hands of the people."

Yeah, the Company tried that, Carl thinks, and look how well that turned out. He's well aware that his old turf is being discussed, and doesn't quite manage to conceal a look of distinctly self-centered concern… good thing there are plenty of other, more obviously distracting people around. "I don't think there's any such thing as a simple subject when it comes to this stuff," he says to Annie. "Wish there were, you know?"

Cam shrugs a little to Lizzie, "I hope not. It got sorted out after some of us saved the President's life, so hopefully it stays cool at least until the next President comes along." He looks up to Annie and says, "Yeah, it really happened." He then nods in agreement with Carl, "Yeah, don't think anything's simple. I mean, the only book about the whole subject I found was written by a geneticist, and it's super complicated. A cool read, though, even if it took me like two years to figure most of it out."

The young blonde just sort of shrinks into her chair and purses her lips into a tiny pout. "I hate reading big books, there's never enough pictures and the words are so long and boring." That's her two cents on that whole subject. "I mean, there'd be more books written about it if it were halfway interesting, don't you think? I mean… Look at how many gossip magazines there are. It's because all of that is interesting."

"Gossip magazines are for girls." says Jock; "I find them in the garbage all the time!" contributes Possibly Homeless, "It's good for people to return things to their natural habitat…"; "I find gossip distasteful, really," mentions Annie, aimlessly warning, since she really was allowing the idle topic by adding to it. But she also gives Carl a sideways look, "I just mean, to the scope of which this group can properly address. I personally haven't said the President's l-life— wow really?! — or been taken by the government, but I can speak to the kind of loneliness this paranoia can lead to! What would — pretend there were no consequences and no government conspiracies — nothing. What would you want to say the most, if you knew your family would hear you?"

Now there's a question that Carl really can't answer directly. First, if there were no government conspiracies, then he probably never would've known about any of this, and would be manning electronics somewhere halfway around the world instead. Second, he doesn't have anything to say to his family - not about himself, at least.

But if he comes at the question a little sidelong, he may still have something to offer. "I'd tell them… keep their eyes open. There are good and bad people with these powers, just like there are good and bad people anywhere else."

Cam clarifies quickly, "I wasn't part of saving the President myself. But, my brother was." Then he quiets as the subject goes on. When it comes his turn to answer Annie's question, he says, "Depends which family. The one in jail, I wouldn't want them to know about my powers, they'd just try to turn it against people. The foster family I mentioned? They already know, they had powers too. So, if I couldf talk to them, I'd just.. say I miss them. That I wish they were back here."

Fidgeting, Lizzie slowly starts to get up out of her chair and frowns as she looks around. "I- I have to go." All the talk about family has seriously put her on edge and it shows. "I'll pick up the tupperware container some other time… Finish the cupcakes." With that, she scoots out the door as quickly as she possibly can. The two cupcakes that she'd claimed still sit on the empty chair beside where she'd been sitting. One of them is half eaten, the other is untouched.

No surprises; Generic declines to answer, and Jock only mutters something vaguely offensive about the gathering. Possibly Homeless hiccups, "Amen."

As for Annie, she gives a two-palmed smoothing to her skirt and then a soft nod, frown-lines thoughtfully wrinkling her young face after Lizzie's exit. "That's good you guys, thank you. I think for next time, everyone should try to think of a topic they'd like to bring up. We'll put them in a hat or something, to be completely fair." Meanwhile, her eyes are darting rather distractedly towards those cupcakes and her fingers begin to curl together much like they did when she had a death-grip on that unicorn sticker.

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