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TheAbsurdist

Yo! What's the Problem!?

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Claremont Quad-ish, 3:20PM, April 22nd.

 

This was not planned, but with graduation coming for her she felt a need of closure.  Some people she wasn't really possessed of an impetus to correct, insert obvious examples here, obviously.  So as she left her class of the day, and seeing Monica on the quad she decided it might as well be now.  So she pushed open the door, shoulders her backpack, and leaped out.

She hated her powers, the implications of them.  What she did, could do, if control slipped.  But as they were an option, she took them.  They were there, so close to the surface, so easy after all.  She soared in a grace leap, as if she could do any other at this point due to muscle memory.  She landed on the air, and kept up the jogged, going to circumvent the other teen's path, before she descended enough to drop down in a sudden rush of air, in a crouch.


Brushing back that asymmetrical swoop of her hair,, she rose to standing in front of her, and offered a slightly uneasy smile, "So... can we talk?"

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The first day after some time off was always somewhat special. Monica had enjoyed the time at home, but truth be told by the end of it she was very much looking forward to FC again. Her sister was fun to be around, but also somewhat exhausting, especially when she wanted to hear more and more about what Monica was doing at Claremont. Which got complicated fast. Especially with her being very excitable, and the whole secrecy thing that was still an issue sometimes.

 

The first day of school had also meant quite a lot of homework, too, because that was something that you couldn't stop teachers from doing any time they saw that students were not busy for some time. So that had taken up more of her time than she'd wanted too.

 

But it was over for now, the school day was done and Monica didn't really have any plans whatsoever when it came to the rest of the day. She was playing with the idea of heading out into FC proper later today, as she was approached by Corinne in her typical flashy fashion.

 

Monica didn't know exactly what was going on right now, she hadn't really seen Corinne with this kind of expression before. Probably something serious, then. That lack of knowing what was going on did reflect in her voice, as she replied.

 

"Sure… What's the matter?"

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She wasn't imposing, at least not in the normal way. Sure the height, and the perfect that just dripped off her was intimidating, but in the way that she might reflect against the other people's self-image.  And for the blithe way she navigated around those people.

Corinne shoulders her backpack carefully, as she looked at  Monica.  "So... did I piss in your Wheaties?"  She might nominally beat around the bush regarding this, but she didn't understand some people's reactions to her, Monica's was one.  Other people's make sense.  "I don't remember doing anything, unless I did it as... her, but I remember most of that..."  She trailed off, her eyes seeking out Monica's with an earnestness.

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"Hm?" At first Monica didn't really know what exactly was going on, but then she realized just what Corinne meant, and responded in full. Well, she tried to at least, actually doing it was another thing.

 

 

"Oh. No, no, it's not something you did. It's nothing really…"

 

 

Yeah, no, that one wasn't satisfactory. That wasn't a response at all, really. She took a deep breath and tried again, even though she still hadn't entirely figured out what she wanted to say. Or really, what caused these feelings in full.

 

 

"It's … well, I don't really know. Have you looked at a mirror? And at me? It's … I don't know, jealousy maybe? You can pull all of that stuff off … uh, weird phrasing, but …  well, yeah. That. It's stupid, I know…."

 

 

Actually being confronted with this was something Monica hadn't planned for at all. She'd spoken about the entire thing with her therapist a few times, sure, but she'd never really talked about her feelings towards Corinne in particular.

 

 

Right now she wished she had. Or maybe actually thought about this in full. Not just put it onto the pile of things to resolve eventually. Because right now she just made herself look horrible in so many ways.

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"Envy," she said softly, her hands sliding down off of her hips, and flopping her arms against her sides, but only for a moment.  Corinne looked away and she lifted a hand to brush back her hair from her face and over her ear.

"That... didn't come out right, sorry was correcting..."  She stumbled a bit herself, and if one was a student of her father, one might conclude that the stumble was planned.  A hitch to show her not being quite so perfect.  But that might be too deep of a reading into the behavior of a newly turned eighteen year old young woman, still coping with her having powers.  She inhaled deeply, and let it out in a long, slow sigh, as she turned her head to survey something.  

 

Anything else.

 

Then she drew in a deep breath and pulled up the big girl pants as she turned back to her, her brows knitted together and she looked at her with a quizzical expression.  "What's wrong with you, though?"

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"Hm."

 

Monica didn't have much of a reaction towards that correction. Semantics weren't her strength, and her intent had gotten across either way.

 

At least this made it fairly obvious that the awkwardness was not one-sided, at all. Was that a good thing? Probably not. But it was better than it being one-sided, if nothing else. Maybe she could diffuse the situation a bit by adding some humour. Her therapist had suggested it, and Monica did feel like it maybe wasn't the worst thing.

 

And with that kind of question, that really was the best answer Monica could give. What could she really answer to something like that? She knew what people thought was wrong about her, and she had her own list, but … that really wasn't what Corinne was asking for, here. Or at least, that was the feeling Monica got.

 

"In what sense? Because it might just be easier to tell you what isn't, truth be told." Her tone didn't really reveal anything about whether or not this was a serious statement or not. Because well, she was still speaking the truth.

 

"Hey, uh, I was about to head into town to buy some books the library didn't have. There's a pretty good café right next to the shop, wanna walk there and talk instead of just standing around here?"

 

…maybe it'd work.

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She lifted a hand and pressed it to her forehead, raking back her hair with long fingers, and she closed her eyes.  "No, no I... I meant, what do you see is wrong with you?  Like...  Not that there is anything wrong, what do you think is-"  Corinne drew a sharp breath and nodded in assent to what Monica offered.  "I'll drive."

It would be the nadir of self-awareness for her to think she wasn't a drama queen.  She was.  Despite her numerous attempts to dial it back, but then she was a performer, so she was acclimated to being all out there and also extra.  Which meant she was a bit like a drunken uncle, who was fine and dandy as long as things were fine and dandy. It was why she was here, worry at the snarl of Monica being weird about her.

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Monica, somewhat instinctively, looked away from Corinne's face. She tried to piece together a more genuine answer that didn't sound as pre-planned, but was totally alright with her dropping the subject for now. Just for a moment, but good enough, because those few seconds probably were enough.

 

"Awesome, thanks." She was actually excited about this, as much as she liked walking this sped the entire thing up a fair bit. More time for coffee, then. "After you, then."

 

As the two of them got into Corinne's car, Monica finally got herself to overcome that mental blockade, something that sounded right.


"To actually answer that thing from before, well, my body. Sure, it got a bit better since I've started therapy, but it's not what it should be. It's an attempt, as much as I want it to be real, well…" her voice changed slightly, it sounded deeper for just a moment "… even when I say things I have to fake it." She took a short breather to readjust herself, then continued on "Who I am, and that's something I knew long before The Spirit decided to reinforce it, and who I … am right now, just isn't the same. I can do my best do deal with it, but my best is baggy clothing and slowly ####ing up my vocal chords while I wait for hormones to do something. Meanwhile there's Davyd who can just be whoever he wants, and feel comfortable no matter what because hey, he can just change whenever."

 

She took a deep breath, then added one final thing. "Sorry."

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Corinne was one of the few students with a car.  She was from LA, after all, so she was car cultured.  It also meant it was a hybrid.  Was that really relevant?  No, but she really didn't want to push too hard at the walk up to.  But it was big enough to fit both of some of the tallest girls in the class.  

Then they were driving towards the coffee place, and she glanced to Monica out of the corner of her eye as she expounded.  Though, once she was at a red light there came a double take.  "... Wait. I.  Oh."  It was an inelegant as she could be, as Monica disgorged the information, and it sat for her to figure it out.  Saying things without saying things.  She pursed her lips, and nodded at her words, the driving helped push her focus onto something else, and not inject herself immediately into the spot light. 

She parked the car, and let it hang for a moment before she looked at Monica.  "This is gonna sound insensitive, but I am not precisely a therapist, but... why do you I bother you, then?  Comparing yourself against me?"

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With all that out, Monica was just awaiting a response. She didn't really know what to expect, but from the few things she knew about Corinne, she wasn't too concerned. Which meant she was still concerned, obviously, because judging by her first reactions, there was some information disparity here.

 

Then, the response. Oh yeah. That was one aspect that she'd somewhat forgotten about in her previous … whatever one wanted to call it. And, in hindsight, probably what Corinne was really interested in hearing.

 

"I … don't know, really? I guess? You manage to carry yourself so well, with a great body and all that confidence, and … well, I don't have any of that? I think that's it? It's not rational, I know…"

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"I... get it."  She looked ahead, her eyes searching for a moment, before she opened her door, and slid out, as she nodded towards the shop.  Closing it, Corinne sighed a little bit to herself, and then screwed on her performer face as she made her way towards the front door, and she held it for Monica, waiting for her to approach.

"I have a goal."  She said it simply, plainly as she looked at Monica in her eyes.  "And I've been a performer most of my life, poise, and confidence came because I had to have it.  Outside of dance or gymnastics..." she pause, nostrils flaring as she did a long deep breath, "I am out of my depth.  But I learned to smile and look like I knew what I was doing awhile ago."

Following after the almost as tall Monica, she moved with her, and ordered herself a drink, an iced coffee.  

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Monica carefully got out of the car, took a moment to flatten out her oversize hoodie, and then followed Corinne towards the shop. She didn't say anything for now, especially as it seemed as Corinne wasn't finished yet.

 

She listened to Corinne explain her situation.

 

"Yeah, I feel like that all the time, especially here at Claremont. At least the whole out of my depth part, I haven't really managed the other half yet." She began to walk towards the counter, eyeing up the menu. "Don't get me wrong, I love all the opportunities we get here. I'm just … not used to it all. At all." She, too, went for an iced coffee.

 

"Never thought I'd be able to follow my goal before all of .. well, this .. happened. That's actually why I need to pick up some books later on."

 

"Of course, medicine's gonna involve the whole confidence thing too…"

 

She took the coffee and then looked into the room, nudging her head towards one of the empty tables. And then, as a final addition to what she was saying, rambling maybe (she wasn't sure anymore), she included one more thing.

 

"Still kinda wish it had been less all at once though, going from nobody to national tv talking about me, and all that."

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Corinne smiled crookedly, and she shrugged.  "I am, like, six foot three. I've been taller than most boys since like 4th grade.  I am taller than most guys in dance.  I got mostly male dances until recently, and have gotten very good at drawing mustaches.  Not... the same, I know, but, I am not without body image issues."

 

She eased into the table, and slouches a bit in her seat, slurping at her drink, and drumming her free hand's fingers against the table in a noticeable pattern.  "I don't want them.  I don't want what comes with them.  Whether I can control them or not, I am at fault.  And no one can teach me how to control.  It's just 'Practice, practice, practice!' 'Cept... I know how to practice, but I need to know what to practice."  She frowned deeply, "And people treat me like I'm a bitch, or I'm crazy.  But I am in over my head, and being here hasn't changed that.  Last year I had to help save the world...  Seventeen!  Do these people know what post traumatic stress is, or do you all run on that?"

Her confusion, her fear written large on her features as she looked back at Monica.

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Monica gave Corinne a slight appreciative smirk at her comments about height. It was something she could sympathize with. Different, sure, but Corinne was trying, and that meant something. She didn't want to interrupt her though, as she seemed to be about to pick up some speed.

 

Monica nodded as she held onto her cup, seemingly unbothered by the heat that managed to radiate off of the drink itself. Immediately, she had to think back to that day she met the different versions of herself. Monica had enough time to string together some thoughts, so when Corinne was done she could answer almost immediately.

 

"I've come to terms with the fact I have mine for now … I suppose. That's all thanks to Beth – the previous Liberty – though. She taught me how to control them, no idea where I'd be without them."

 

A short pause, although Monica clearly had more to say.

 

"Well, I do. That day with all of our alternate selves? Yeah, my experience wasn't pretty. Turns out …I … they … knew almost nothing about our powers. "

 

"Anyways, I'm getting off track, sorry. I … honestly have no idea what Claremont and Summers in particular want of us. I have all of these expectations heaped on me – from the public as a whole, Beth, Summers and all the other staff, even some of the other students – and I feel like Summers is deliberately pushing me … somewhere I'm not sure I want to go. "

 

"Two years ago I was just trying to make it through school without any attention and helping my sister. Last year, yeah, I was also fighting the literal end of the world, and I was stabilizing people who got nearly killed right in front of my eyes. As in, I saw the blast miss me and hit them instead. And I'm pretty sure that Summers wants to keep that pace up for the next two years. So who knows what I'll have to deal with this year…"

 

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Corinne frowned, she was expressive, though she was apt to possess a 'resting b#### face.  "Kid soldiers.  I mean, yeah, greater good, but... that's it.  I mean, we're told to set ourselves apart because..."  She lifted a hand and gestured vaguely in the air at the world around them, her eyes widen as she just sort of implied their world.  "That, that isn't a tenable pace.  Especially when they can't teach us how to do things, how to control... it.  No one can.  Not my parents, or my biological father.  It's just become numb to this new world that got opened up to you, accept it, and keep practicing because somehow you can figure it out for yourself..."

She stared down at her coffee, her lips pressed shut then, a tight line of worry and frustration and all of it.  And she was a scared child in that moment she couldn't hide it, and she hated all the talk of bravery, and what was tantamount to bull####.  Even if they didn't see it.  Corinne blinked, and lifted a hand to absent dab at her eyes with her ring and middle finger.

"I can be confident with my body because I dance, and have danced for, like, a dozen years.  I've had to do it in front of strangers, in skin tight clothes, and not covering.  If I were to focus on what others thought... well, I'd probably faceplant more."  Her lips tugged into a wry smile.

 

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Monica didn't really know how to respond to what Corinne was talking about at this point. For all their situations were alike, there were also some serious differences. Like the fact that Monica had somebody that could teach her directly, and a fair few resources on what her powers historically were able to do.

 

So, she just continued on her drink. She could tell how Corinne was feeling about this just based off of her expressions, but this wasn't a situation where there was much she could do. And using her powers for this would've just been a kick in the face, that much Monica knew. Fortunately for her, Corinne seemed to not dwell on the subject for too long. At least on the surface.

 

"It's all training, I guess. Just something I can't really speed up. Sure, there's people trying to help but … I don't know. I guess I can just accept it and keep practicing to not focus on others…"

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She smirked a bit and then leaned back in her chair, her head turning as she looked out the window.  "'Cept I am wrong and weak for not 'getting it', and...  Nevermind, just nevermind."  She slurped up at her coffee through the straw as her eyes searched out the window looking for something.  "I'll take body image issues for one thousand, Alex."  She laughed a little, but mostly she drew in a sharp breath as she worked to move past the whole thing.

This wasn't about it, afterall.

"So, y'see, I am far from perfect.  I just don't... stress on the mirror and what it shows, too much." 

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So far the conversation had been going well, but right now Monica felt like, for the first time, she wasn't being taken entirely serious. Which, granted, was probably the natural state of things whenever she talked with just about anybody. Still, it did affect her mood. She tried to just drink and then put on a small smile again, but it only worked so-so. Corinne did seem to realize that, though, at least from what Monica assumed.

 

"Different bars to clear, here. If you're not perfect, experts might notice it, and it affects your score. If I'm not perfect people just treat me as if I'm not valid."

 

"Okay, some do that regardless. It's hard not to stress about this when it's about who I am and whether or not people treat me like an actual person instead of some … weird joke thing. And don't even get me started on the people who try to document everything I do in public…"

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The crooked smile was self-deprecating a bit, "I f***ing glow Monica.  Half of our class think I am insane, the other half think I am just a b****.  Now..."  She raised a hand carefully, to sort of gently bat away the other's response, "... I don't have the same expectations on me, I, I get that.  I can't know what that's like, because I am worried what's with me will swallow me up, because I don't know how to control it, and when I tell people that, they tell me 'I'll figure it out,' or some other platitude, or a sneer because I am weak."

And she reached out to her slowly, making sure that Monica could pull away, and she rather gently brushed back the other girl's hair, and she whispered softer to her, as her eyes sparkled with a slight bit of manic glee.  "And I can always turn them into stone if they piss you off."

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If Monica didn't really know what to say before, then right now, she was a complete and utter lack for words. The conversation was complicated, sure, but it was something that Monica at least had opinions on already. Things she could work with when they came up. This, right now, wasn't that.

 

The soft whisper, the touch, Monica could feel her brain working as hard as it could to figure out how to feel about it, which just made her more confused for the moment. It was nice … and was it something else? Was Monica completely misreading this situation, or was this what she was thinking it was? Some response …. Just to avoid an awkward silence.

 

She had a visible smile as she responded after a short moment, in a clearly joyous and somewhat joking tone.

 

"You said that with a bit too much excitement, should I be concerned?"

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"Probably not.  I mean... ya'll're adorable, but I swear no one at school gets social interaction.  And... not just, like, Leroy."  She laughed a little bit, and pulled her hand back, feeling she needs to explain herself, but the words were tricky.  "I am touchy, like, it's physical reinforcement of what is being said.  Like most of the girls know I am not... shy, just, when you have to change around people, or practice in form fitting clothes, and just touch people, well it's not as big of a thing."  She shrugged a bit, and looked down, her expression bemused.

"But, we still get moments. I guess.  I still flirt, just... God, this sounds worse now..."  She really, genuinely, wasn't meaning to do that, but she also didn't seem to care that she was doing it with Monica, she didn't jerk away,.  More the act than the person.  

 

She leaned forward and put her face in her hands as she propped her elbows, groaning into her hands.

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So was that a no? Or a yes? It sounded like Corinne was aware of what it looked – and felt – like and tried to get away from that. But at the same time, she didn't make any effort to. Was it like she was saying, just something she grew up with that separated her from … probably just about everybody else? Because compared to how Monica grew up Corinne's view on this sounded a fair bit different. Or was this one of those "yes, I don't care but I'm showing interest so initiate something" things that Monica had heard about enough?

 

Not like she had any experience with any of this stuff herself. Which didn't help at all right now. At this point the only thing she knew for certain was that she was about to stumble through this in a series of increasingly awkward statements.

 

Monica didn't know how to react, and it showed. The few movements she made were rather mechanical, not something she just did off-handedly, and that also reflected when she spoke. She leaned in a bit, before replying.

 

"…well, then, uh, go on. Or don't, I guess, your choice, really."

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Corinne kept her hands against her face as she felt this rocket off into a situation she wasn't ready for.  Then pressing her lips together, she screwed together something.  Deep breath, and perform.

 

"So, it goes like this.  I flirt, a lot of times just incidentally.  I touch, a lot, because that's my normal social behavior. Given mine, and just all of our, circumstances, I am not seeking something serious.  I did not set out to end up... with anything other than figure out if I had done something wrong that I didn't realize I had done.  And I don't mind hanging out in a more than hanging out way to see if we click, but there were no ulterior motives."  Corinne became frank and earnest, placing her cards on the table, as the thought of being in a relationship with Monica didn't bother her, other than knowing it likely wouldn't work out, but if anything she had demonstrated that any bitching or dragging of heels ended when stuff had to move decisively.

 

"I mean, if I didn't stick my foot in my mouth, or piss you off."

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Monica nodded along as she tried to process everything, as this conversation had gone somewhere she didn't quite expect. Or had she, unconsciously, maybe expected this, and thus pushed towards it? She began to reconsider what she'd done and said so far. She had invited Corinne here, after all.

 

"No, no, you didn't." she seemed a bit absent, lost in thought. "Sorry, just trying to get my head wrapped around all of this." She rubbed her temple. "I think I just realized some more stuff about myself, or maybe I know now even less…"

 

Monica's mind was racing, especially when it came to answering the elephant in the room. Had she pushed Corinne into this? Because the more Monica thought about it, the more everything she herself had done so far painted a picture. And when she actively considered that, she did like the offer that was on the table right now.

 

So long as she just did her best to ignore all the doubts she had about herself. But that applied to just about every decision she made.

 

She did her best to hide the fact she was somewhat flustered right now, now that she had figured out her emotions. "We … we can totally try, yes.  No big promises, just see what happens, how things do or don't work out. No big expectations." Once she was done with that, a smile formed on her face.

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"It's okay.  Generally it's just hanging out till your stockholm syndrome on them, or their scent," her tone was lighter than one might imagine with such a comment, like it was a cheeky aside.

Then a sip of coffee, more a slurp, before she continued, "I didn't think that was the case, or that's what you were driving at.  This..."  She gestured towards the coffeeshop around them, "Is a little better than the prying eyes of the school, I get it.  Statistically... yanno, less mind readers."  She grinned a little bit, then her features, and her tone softened in a way that was hard to describe, "Monica, it's okay.  It's okay.  Breathe.  The world isn't pulling back, and you aren't seeing the summation and end of all threads you cast out there yet."

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