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Talking Tomorrow


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Leon followed Pan, the silence heavy. How was the other boy going to start. Was it going to be ‘I should call the police.’ or ‘What were you thinking?’. Maybe the oldie but goodie ‘If you ever do that again...’

 

3 hours ago, RocketLord said:

"Why exactly are you here?" 


Leon regarded Pan, his eyes flickered up to the tree. It wasn’t one he’d expected, but is wasn’t completely unfamiliar. He looked back at the boy.

 

3 hours ago, RocketLord said:

"What are you trying to do? Be the one that everyone will hate or watch? Do you steal and cheat because you can? Take from whoever you want, just because it is fun?"

 
“For fun?” He said seemingly thoughtfully. “I guess it can be at the right times.” He answered honestly. “Because I can? Sometimes.” Leon continued, answering Pan’s questions in reverse.

”Watched? Hated?” He glanced back towards the school proper. “Don’t we all want to be watched? To be acknowledged?” He looked back at Pan, almost daring him to dispute him. “And being hated only matters if you care what the other person thinks.” He added, trying to sound dismissive, but something of the fire behind his eyes changed and he looked away again.

Something about Leon shifted, like he was drawing in on himself. Tensing up like someone expecting a fight while covering a wound already inflicted. “You want to know why I’m here? Short answer: family” Pan might be able to hear the mixed emotions that stung the last word.

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"No, being hated counts a lot more than you would think. Especially in a place like this."

 

Pan's feet were still slightly above the ground, just an inch or so. He was difficult to read, even as he wore his emotions on his sleeve. He seemed almost conflicted about what to do.

 

"And how does family mean you should take things just because you can?"

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Leon regarded Pan and shook his head. “You don’t get it.” He walks past Pan and leans against the tree. “Do you have any family?” Leon asks in return. “What would you do for them? Would you lie for them? Would you fight for them? Would you steal for them? Would you do anything you could for them knowing they would do the same for you?”

He pauses a moment before speaking again. “Guess when you do something long enough it just becomes habit, or instinct.”

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"Then you turn away from that instinct when it is no longer needed. I know what it is like to miss things, to steal to survive. That is different." Pan made little effort to mask his lack of response to Leon's question.

 

"What does stealing a book help? What does stealing from someone that you hired for a job?"

 

He sighed, and shook his head.

 

"You have the beginnings of greatness, but we can find a better use for your instincts. You're just a thief, but I do believe that we can turn you into a proper trickster."

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Leaning back, Leon laced his fingers behind his head and looks up at the branch’s. He smirked a little. He’d heard plenty of people dodge questions.

“The book?” He shrugged as he smirked. “That was just exercise, stretching my fingers.”

Rolling his head a little to look at Pan he gives the boy a wry smile. He searched Pan’s eyed, looking for the con. Or was he really one of those goodie-to-shoes that thought they could get criminals to turn over a new leaf.

There was a lot in those eyes, tricks and secrets. But as he searched, Leon couldn’t see him lying right now. He looked away again. Honesty made him uncomfortable with anyone other then those two. He idly wonders how much they would laugh at the thought of any of them actually going straight. He’s sure he would had if Robert or Elizabeth come home saying stuff like that.

“So, what? Am I your senior project or something?” Leon asks, trying to sound bored. How to Train Your Criminal?”

Something else trailed across his thoughts. Lying in the hospital. He’d felt something when the officer watching his room had told him the detective he’d tried to save was fine. He felt it again at the Prom aftermath and a little after their trip to the boardwalk.

Leon shoved those thoughts aside as he noticed the twinges of ghost pains in his... were his arm should be. Pushing away from the tree he rubbed absently at his left arm and regarded Pan. 

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"Yes, yes, I am sure you are very good, very grand. The greatest thief ever, and so on."

 

Pan rolled his eyes at the mention of the exercise and Leon's little joke.

 

"No, you are something much more interesting than that." He moved closer, right in front of Leon, obviously invading his personal space. He almost seemed to grow, towering over Leon now. "You can be better. What do you expect will happen if you continue as you have now? Expelled from this school, at best. Hunted by your former peers. Left in a gutter. Is that the future to you want?" Everything around them seemed to shift and turn, showing the scene just as Pan described it, with Paper fleeing from his life, men and women in capes pursuing close behind.

 

"Is that the story you want? Or do you want to be something better?"

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Leon didn’t back away when Pan invaded his personal space. He met the other boy’s eyes, having to look up a little. They were the same height, but Pan was doing his ‘floor is lava’ bit and floating a bit off the ground. Even without that he seemed to get ‘bigger’.

Around him, in the corners of his vision, scenes played out. It caught him off guard for a moment before he realized is was one of his schoolmate’s illusions. It had shaken him, but not for the reason Pan would have thought. He had come to terms with being a criminal long ago. It was seeing himself running alone that had disturbed him. Of course, Pan had no way of knowing about his brother and sister. Leon didn’t talk about them, and he had certainly never named them.

Still, anger seeped into Leon’s tone. “You think I haven’t had dreams like before? Please, those aren’t even the ones woke me up. There are worse things then being chased. Hrmph, there worse things even then being caught.” A good portion of the anger seeps out of his voice. “I’ve been abandoned by the people that should have cared about me the most. It was on the streets found my real family.”

Leon took a deep breath and finally stepped back to lean against the tree again. He looked down at the ground debating with himself. Finally he looked up at Pan again, his mouth set in a hard line. “You wanna know why I’m here? I’m here for them.” He snapped a finger at the older boy before he could interrupt. “Not because of them, for them.” Leon shoved his hand back in his jacket. “I tried to fly solo. Didn’t let them watch my back. I got myself caught.” He closed his eyes. “I made a deal to protect them. I’m here, so they could be free.”

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Pan laughed lightly. The scenes around them shifted, showing instead iterations of an older Paper. Not one being chased by a host of heroes, one investigating in an alley, one that fought villains, ones that did all manner of good, all around them.

 

"You made a deal? Then live up to your end of it."

 

He paused briefly.

 

"You are not the only one that have seen both sides, have lost and found. Not the only one that had to steal to survive. But taking something you do not need just because you can? How does that fit with your story?"

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“Haven’t you ever felt so riled up you punched a wall? Did it help anything? No, probably not. But you did it to anyway.”

Leon opened his eyes as Pan’s illusions changed. He sighed and walked around the trunk of the tree. 

“Look, I’m trying. Okay?”

He said, sounding a little defeated. Paper fluttered out from his jacket. It swirled around and came together as Leon started to sit, forming an old style chain and board looking swing under him. 

”Do you have any idea how easy it would be for me to slip away? To runaway again? Back to them.”

Leon looked out at the horizon.

”We’d have to run, but they’d do that for me. Cause they know I’d do it for them. But I don’t want them to have to. So I’m here, trying to be good. But it ain’t easy.”

He was quiet for a moment with a thoughtful look.

”People our age shouldn’t know what real sacrifice is yet.”

It didn’t sound like it was addressed towards Pan, more like a casual reminder to the universe at large of a fact it had forgotten. 

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Pan sat down as well, crossing his legs under himself as he sat on the air, just a little bit of golden dust falling from him towards the ground below him.

 

"No, perhaps they should not. But that is how life is, is it not? Not always what we want it to be."

 

The illusions around them disappeared while Pan moved his hands together, starting to play with golden dust as he spoke, creating intricate designs as he did. 

 

"Claremont is not a prison. It is easy enough to slip out if you know how, but since you are in a position where you have decided that you should not make your great escape, let us talk about how you can have a better time, yes?"

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On 1/22/2021 at 6:19 AM, RocketLord said:

"No, perhaps they should not. But that is how life is, is it not? Not always what we want it to be."

 

"Hmmph."

Leon harrumphed and glanced over at Pan again.

 

On 1/22/2021 at 6:19 AM, RocketLord said:

"Claremont is not a prison. It is easy enough to slip out if you know how, but since you are in a position where you have decided that you should not make your great escape, let us talk about how you can have a better time, yes?"

 

"I don't know." He smirked. "I've seen your idea of 'fun'. I don't know if I can trust you to tell me how to have a better time."

Leon looked back out at the scenery and grinned mischievously. "I don't know if you can keep up with me." He chuckled. "What with you graduating and all. Going off to be a respectable adult. And... gasp... growing up."

He rocks lightly on the paper swing.

"You know, if you tell anyone about this conversation, I'm gonna deny it. So, If you got anything you wanna talk about, anything you wanna get off your chest..." Leon trailed off, still looking off.

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Pan smiled.

 

"Growing up? Me? Exactly who do you think you are talking to?"

 

He played around with the dust some more, while he shook his head.

 

"Like I would let that stop me, if a friend needed my help, anyway."

 

He thought for a moment.

 

"Just one question: What will you do?"

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Leon gave a sharp laugh. “Geez, ask me something a little easier, like ‘what’s the meaning of life?’.”

He paused, giving a look of mock thoughtfulness. 

“I have a criminal record, questionable ethics and the ability to talk to and control paper.” Leon smirked. “There’s alway corporate America, or politics.” He laughed and hopped off the swing. “Maybe Hollywood or Vegas, can see my name up in lights.”

 

Leon gave a shrug. “Honestly, I have no idea. Guess I’ll play it by ear.”  He glanced back at Pan. “But, I promise I’ll try to play nice with others. Speaking of which...” Leon pulled a deck of cards from inside his jacket and gave Pan a grin as he shuffled them. “I’m trying to get a ‘friendly’ game together.”

The cards moved quickly and easily from hand to hand as he redirected.

”How about you? What’cha gonna do after leaving here? You and Tinkerbot gonna head back to Neverland?” Leon teased the older boy. 

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"Card tricks are easy."

 

Pan moved the cards between his hands, they were a blur, showing one card, moving his hands, then it was another, while he kept talking.

 

"I do not ask you to play nice. A little trick or prank is good, but there is no need to antagonize those that would be your friends. The people here are good. Let them in."

 

The cards kept dancing in his hands, he smiled and shook his head.

 

"The future is easy: Adventure." He paused for maybe a quarter of a second. "And please do not call her that."

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“That is how I play nice.”

Leon laughs and looks over at Pan.

 

On 1/27/2021 at 5:41 AM, RocketLord said:

He paused for maybe a quarter of a second. "And please do not call her that."

 

He tries, but fails to get a read on the young man. With a noncommittal shrug he looks away again.

”Bet she’d think it was funny. But, whatever.”

 

“Can I ask you another question?” Leon asks after a moment. “Why be a hero? It won’t pay the bills. No really thanks you, but one slip up and every jumps on you.”

He frowns, obviously some confusion in his face as he looks at the sky.

”What drives people to do it. What makes a you do it?”

 

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"Maybe Eira would. But I do not." Pan's tone was hard for a second, then softened into a laugh.

 

"What makes me do it? Adventure, of course. If I just sat around and stared or went to one of those jobs to earn money I would be ever so bored. If I can help someone else, then that just makes it even more interesting."

 

He paused.

 

"I have seen what happens when I do not act when I should. I would rather the world around me is better due to my choices."

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On 2/2/2021 at 3:40 AM, RocketLord said:

If I just sat around and stared or went to one of those jobs to earn money I would be ever so bored.


Leon couldn’t help but laugh in agreement. He glanced sideways at Pan as the other seems to take a moment to think.

 

On 2/2/2021 at 3:40 AM, RocketLord said:

"I have seen what happens when I do not act when I should. I would rather the world around me is better due to my choices."


“hmm...” Leon thought for a moment. “Ever regretted helping someone?”

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"Well, there is this certain someone that likes paper that can be quite a pain..." Pan trailed off with a grin and a shine in his eye. 

 

"But yes. Not everyone deserves the help that we can provide. Some will use it, some will abuse it. Some will try to trick you, to twist the good you try to do. That does not mean you should stop trying."

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Leon gave Pan a quick smirk, then makes a fist with his left hand.
"But the one's that do deserve it. I like to think I'm not a bad guy... Well, within reason."

He chuckles, then frowns.

"What if next the cost is too high? What if next time I hesitate? What if I'm just not 'hero' material in the long run?"

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Pan smiled. Different from his just a bit too wide smile. One born from experience, from failure, triumph, and everything in between. It was simple words, a simple response, not one that he seemed to give a lot of thought.

 

"That one is simple," he finally said. "Then you do better next time. If you do not dare, then who does?"

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Leon nodded thoughtfully, then smirked. When he spoke, he sounded like he was quoting something.

Sometimes a hero has to fall.He paused, then continued.It might not be what he wanted, but it’s what he earned. And people need to have the things they’ve earned for them to matter.”

Leon sighed and tried to reclaim an air of jovial confidence as he waved his right hand dismissively. Smiling and shoving his left hand in his jacket he turned to face Pan.

”There’s context in the book. You should get back to your friends instead of wasting time with me.”

 

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Pan chuckled and shook his head. "Yes, yes. There are many interesting things in books." He had a knowing smirk on his lips.

 

"Remember what I said. You can be a trickster, you can have fun, but it does not need to make you an enemy. Open up, just a little bit. It will be a better life."

 

Then, he was off. Back to his friends. He could probably catch up with Micah and Judy before long.

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