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8 Simple Rules...for Working with Jack (IC)

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The Brownstone. Saturday, April 10th 1:15pm

 

Lynn paced back in forth in the living room, gnawing on a thumbnail. She really hoped her teammate wouldn't think ill of her for doing this, but you never knew with Jack's sometimes; the man was driven and extremely protective of his family, but she sincerely felt his sister 'Jill' might help her in dealing with her brother's many moods. Vince, bless his electronic heart, agreed to contact Jill through whatever mysterious channels he had to arrange for this meeting, and now that is was actually going to happen, the tiny shapeshifter was starting to regret it.

 

"It'll be fine; if he asks, just tell him the truth, and he'll totally get it...right?"

 

The faeling was barefoot in pair of navy blue sweats and a Fraggle Rock t-shirt, and had put on a fresh pot of coffee on in anticipation of the teenager's arrival.

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A rapping on the door preceded the arrival of a slim teenage girl with a toothy grin. Having seen Jack without his bandanna mask and wig, Lynn could recognize the family resemblance. The West End native she knew as Jill shared her brother's angular features and dusty brown hair, though rather than cropping it short, she wore hers in a loose ponytail that reached down past her shoulder blades. A fitted vest over a drab green dress shirt with the unbuttoned sleeves rolled up to the elbows revealed a lithe build emphasized by skinny, faded blue jeans.

"So, uh, hey!" Jill greeted with a brief wave before returning her hands to her pockets. "The TV told me to swing over, and you know kids these days. Slaves to the media." Her drawl held a little more dry sarcasm than the one Jack employed, but she was clearly struggling to downplay her uncertain excitement.

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"So, uh, hey!" Jill greeted with a brief wave before returning her hands to her pockets. "The TV told me to swing over, and you know kids these days. Slaves to the media."

All her reservations went out the window when Lynn saw Jill smiling at the front door. "Omigod, look at you, you're so cute!" The shapeshifter gave her a warm sisterly hug, and then motioned for her to enter.

"Come in, come in, get in off the street! You want some coffee, I just made a pot. I also got donuts this morning, they should still be fresh, or I could make you something. You wanna sandwich?"

Having people over always brought out the Jewish mother in Grim, for better or for worse. The tiny shapeshifter headed for the smaller kitchen, the true heart of the Brownstone which almost always smelled of gourmet coffee. Grim pulled out the aforementioned box of donuts and grabbed a gooey Boston creme. "So, you're still in school, right? You keeping your grades up and all that good stuff?" She took a big bite and chewed it with great relish.

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The grin froze uncomfortably on Jill's face as Lynn hugged her, the teens body going momentarily rigid at the unexpected contact before uncertainly patting the diminutive heroine on the back. Hesitantly following her hostess into the brownstone, the high school student pulled a bit of a face at the flurry of offers of food and concern, one eye squinting slightly as the opposite eyebrow arched upward. "If you're trying to get me calm before telling me my brother's in a coma or something, this really isn't doing it."

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"If you're trying to get me calm before telling me my brother's in a coma or something, this really isn't doing it."

Grim's eyes went wide and her jaw went slack (eww, donut grossness!) when she realized what Jack's sister was suggesting, which made perfect sense; why wouldn't she think that's why she was called over to the team HQ? She made a move to give her another hug, but caught herself before she went right back into smother mode. Setting her Boston creme down on a napkin, the wee brunette waved her hands in alarm.

"No no no, Jack's fine! He's crashed up in his room after a night of patroling! God, no!"

She covered her eyes with her hand and sighed deeply.

"Look, I'm sorry, I didn't mean...I do want to talk to you about Jack, but nothing like that. Y'see..." She met Jill's gaze, and there was definitly concern in her eyes. "Things have been kinda rough lately, between me and Jack; we argue a lot, we seem to bring out the worst in each other all the frickin' time, and when it gets really bad, we just avoid each other for like three days."

Grim hops up on a stool and rests her chin in her hands.

"I think a lot of it might be, y'know, family stuff; a team like this, you start to develop a kinda family vibe, and sometimes I get the feeling that's what's goin' on here. I was the baby in my family, which means I can be a total brat from time to time, and Jack is an older brother, so..."

She shrugs and leans back on her stool.

"I dunno, I thought maybe you could help me understand your brother better, gimme a little insight; I'm not expecting miracles or anything, I just want our team to be, y'know, an actual team."

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Jill blinked as Lynn rapidly spoke, a wince slowly spreading across the girl's face. "Oh, dios, you slept with him, didn't you?" she groaned, running a hand down her face. "I knew he was going to pull something like this, that... ugh." The teen paced back and forth across the kitchen, ponytail bouncing up and down as she gestured emphatically. "Honestly I figured the Russian chica was more his type, but seriously, there's a reason I never have any of my girlfriends over to our house."

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Jill blinked as Lynn rapidly spoke, a wince slowly spreading across the girl's face. "Oh, dios, you slept with him, didn't you?" she groaned, running a hand down her face. "I knew he was going to pull something like this, that... ugh." The teen paced back and forth across the kitchen, ponytail bouncing up and down as she gestured emphatically. "Honestly I figured the Russian chica was more his type, but seriously, there's a reason I never have any of my girlfriends over to our house."

Somehow Grim did not see this coming, though again in retrospect it made perfect sense from Jill's perspective; she just sat there on her stool, lip curled and one eyebrow raised as the thought of her and Jack bumpin' uglies spooled through her brain. It was kinda horrifying, actually; true, when the team all first met, she'd noted the man's obvious hotness, but over time he'd really become more of an older brother to her, so the whole thing had a kind of creepy Greg and Marsha feel to it.

At last she found the words to voice her feelings. "Eww, no way! God, no no no!" She covered her ears and shut her eyes tightly. "Make the bad thoughts go away, Mommy!"

She hopped off the stool and started marching around in random circles, arms wrapped tightly around her chest, narrowly avoiding Jill's own movements. Then she stopped, took a deep breath, and held her hands up in a warding gesture.

"Look, things between me and Colt are great; there's nothing funny going on, and this team is not a crazy bed-hopping T&A flick from the 80s. And you're right, that hot Ruskie girl was much more his type, but sadly she bailed on us, so all my matchmaking plans went right out the window. No, things are all good-"

For a few seconds, she just lay there panting, a huge grin on her face, and then out of nowhere, she kissed Atlas; her lips, hot from exertion, were like a match thrown on kindling, and she kissed him hard.

Unbidden, the memory of that kiss hit her out of the blue, and her cheeks and the tips of her ears went bright pink; when she spoke again, she sounded slightly out of breath.

"Sorry! Things are fine on that front here in the Brownstone; me and Jack...nothing." :oops:

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Covering he mouth with her hands and bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet for a moment, Jill resisted the urge to clap. "You and the cowboy? Migod, that's so freaking cute! Jack doesn't tell me anything, its like- " Stopping mid sentence, the teen rearranged her ponytail absently as she furrowed her brow and reviewed the conversation. "Wait, so what's even the problem, then? You're just, what, arguing? That's it?" It seemed a little odd that Lynn would risk Jack's overprotective wrath by contacting her over such a minor issue.

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"You and the cowboy? Migod, that's so freaking cute! Jack doesn't tell me anything, its like- "

Grim went pink again, rubbing the back of her neck self-consciously; wow, Jack really did comparmentalize his life, didn't he? Maybe it was just easier to tell Jill nothing then to try and figure out what information was or was not safe.

"Wait, so what's even the problem, then? You're just, what, arguing? That's it?"

And now she felt like a complete idiot; was she overreacting to this whole thing? Well she'd already dragged the poor girl all the way over here, so she might as well trudge onward. The shapeshifter took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

"It's not just that we're arguing, Jill, it's the...venomous tone of it that has me concerned. Look, I know your brother would never hurt me for real, but if you saw the look in his eyes, the coldness of it..."

She hopped back up on her stool, shaking her head. "Maybe your right, maybe I am blowing this way out of proportion. I mean, people are gonna disagree from time to time, I know that, but it seems like it's all the time lately, and the intensity of it is just, well, it's frickin' scary. And it never used to be scary." :(

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Both of Jill's eyebrows went up at that. "'Cold'? Hurr..." The teenager winced as she resumed pacing. "Yeah, no, that's actually kinda messed up." Planting her palms over her eyes and craning her neck upward, she let out an irritated groan. "Ugh, I was afraid something like this was going to happen." Turning to Lynn, she raised a finger determinedly. "I am going to give that moron such a freaking talking to, I swear, not that he ever actually listens."

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"I am going to give that moron such a freaking talking to, I swear, not that he ever actually listens."

At first Grim held up her hands, shaking her head. "No, no, no, don't tell him I spoke with you, I don't think-" But then she stopped herself and put her hands on her hips. "You know what, you're right, talk to him about it; he might give me crap about it later, but I still think this is the right thing to do. He always gives me and Colt hell when we try to talk him about stuff, making fun of us for talking about our 'feelings'-"

She does the air quotes, and now it looks like it's turned into a full-blown rant, complete with sharp, angry hand gestures. :shock:

"And I'm sick and tired of his superior 'I'm more dedicated to protecting this community than thou' attitude; y'know, I may not have grown up here, or bleed West End pride when I'm cut, but I'm out there busting my ass, too, Jackie Boy! Just because I don't eat, sleep and crap 'street justice' like some people doesn't mean I don't care! And waiting a few minutes until you have a plan is not sitting on our hands, Jack!"

Suddenly the tiny shapeshifter stopped dead, like she'd been hit in the face with a plank; her face was bright red and she was visibly shaking.

"Omigod, I'm sorry, Jill, that all just came out! Seriously, your brother's awesome like 99% of the time!" :oops:

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Throughout Lynn's tirade, an amused smirk blossomed on Jill's lips. "Daaaaamn," she drawled, "Small but feisty. For the record, Jack can be arrogant, sanctimonious and judgmental." The teen crossed her arms, her eyes reflecting a shadow of the chill the shapeshifter had mentioned earlier. "Also for the record? I'm the only one who gets to talk about mi hermano that way. ¿Comprende?"

With a sigh, Jill looked to the heavens as she searched for the right words. "Let me try to give you some context, alright? Let's say you've just had a full day of smashing in drug dealers' heads or whatever. What do you do to unwind when you get back here?"

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"Also for the record? I'm the only one who gets to talk about mi hermano that way. ¿Comprende?"]

Lynn held up her hands, shook her head and made a 'zip your lips' gesture. "Hey, won't happen again, I promise; guess that was building up for a while, but at least I finally got it out of my system, right?"

"Let me try to give you some context, alright? Let's say you've just had a full day of smashing in drug dealers' heads or whatever. What do you do to unwind when you get back here?"

The petite brunette frowned; she wasn't quite sure where Jill was going with this, but assumed it would be educational. She scrunched up her face and scratched her chin as she visualized her typical evening.

"Uh, well, probably take a quick shower, fix myself something to eat, maybe watch a Disney movie on Blu-Ray...check my email...ravage Colt, if he's around, then sleep the sleep of the just, I guess."

She shrugged and raised her eyebrows, intrigued to hear Jack's sister's response.

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Jill looked like she wanted to comment on Lynn's recreational activities with Colt, but restrained herself to nodding. "Sure. You know what my brother does?" The teenager took a seat at the counter facing the shapeshifter. "He starts thinking." She spread her hands. "I'm guessing you've noticed he doesn't like to stand still for long, right? When he's doing his thing with the stabbity stab stab, he can just react. Give him five minutes of downtime, though..."

Her expression falling, Jill sighed. "He starts thinking about the dealer he didn't get that night, the gun he didn't keep of the streets, the clerk that's maybe gonna get held up, try to be a hero, get his head blown off. And because he fails at logic forever, Jack thinks that'd somehow be his fault. 'Cause he could have stayed out there one more hour, y'know? Made just a little more of a difference."

Jill looked at her feet, swinging them back and forth absently. "Used to be he had other stuff, too. Working all those jobs to pay the bill, save for my tuition. Still always moving, but it kept him balanced. Now, he gets paid to do... this." She gestured around the brownstone's interior. "He almost never even stops by at home, anymore. Not unless we need him to fix something or whatever." Sniffing, she rubbed the back of her forearm across her eyes, taking a deep breath as she refused to let her eyes water. "Aw, hell..."

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"He starts thinking about the dealer he didn't get that night, the gun he didn't keep of the streets, the clerk that's maybe gonna get held up, try to be a hero, get his head blown off. And because he fails at logic forever, Jack thinks that'd somehow be his fault. 'Cause he could have stayed out there one more hour, y'know? Made just a little more of a difference."

As Grim listened to Jill describe her brother's mental processes, she felt sadder and sadder, but also a slight twinge of guilt; Jack's dedication to defending the West End was unrivaled because the dude never, ever let himself off the hook. The other guy was never too fast, it was always Jack who was too slow.

I'll never be as dedicated as Jack...but do I really want to be? Do the Interceptors have room for two martyrs? No, that's not fair, even though the point is still kinda valid.

"He almost never even stops by at home, anymore. Not unless we need him to fix something or whatever." Sniffing, she rubbed the back of her forearm across her eyes, taking a deep breath as she refused to let her eyes water. "Aw, hell..."

The changeling flicked her wrist and produced a clean white handkerchief, which she offered to the younger girl. "Here, take this, go for it. Everyone can use a good cry, even tough girls like you." And now she was glad her own family had no idea what she was doing; even though she knew Jill was proud of her brother, it didn't make it any easier on her knowing why he spent all his time away from home. Watching the teenager struggle with her emotions, Lynn couldn't help herself.

"Look, can I...can I hug you now? I really want to, but not if you don't want me to."

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Jill snorted in spite of herself as Lynn produced the cloth out of thin air. "Hee, magic handkerchief," she grinned past bleary eyes, the teen accepted it and wiped her face before taking a deep breath. "I'm alright, sorry," she insisted, holding up a hand to ward off Lynn's hug with a shaky smirk while her other hand closed tightly around the handkerchief. "I'm just worried. That idiot doesn't pay attention when he gets a set of cracked ribs and a concussion. Mental health? Fuggedaboutit." She shook her head sadly.

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"I'm alright, sorry,"

Grim smiled, nodded and took a step back. "Fair enough; I am lowering my arms slowly." Her hugging reflex abated (for now!), she hopped back up on her stool.

"I'm just worried. That idiot doesn't pay attention when he gets a set of cracked ribs and a concussion. Mental health? Fuggedaboutit."

The tiny shapeshifter sighed as she nonchallantly produced three bowling pins and proceded to juggle them as she spoke.

"Well, Jack's a big boy, all evidence to the contrary; if you, me and Colt keep at 'im, while still giving him some breathing room, he should be alright."

She stopped to catch two of the pins and balance the third on the tip of her nose, where it wobbled precariously before she let it drop, only to lean back and catch it with her bare feet.

"Yep, it's a metaphor." ;)

With a kick, all three pins went back up in the air as she continued. "The important thing is we're all on the same team, and by that I mean 'Team Keep Jack Alive, Sane and Happy', if such a thing is possible. And if it's not-"

She shrugged, and the bowling pins vanished into thin air.

"At least we can try for two out of three, right?"

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Jill smirked as she looked away and griped the forearm of the hand holding the handkerchief. "Heh, I'll take what I can get at this point," she agreed, ignoring Lynn's antics for the most part. The coltish teenager blew out a long breath. "It's just so frustrating. He never had this kind of temper before - ah..." With a self conscious glance at her host, Jill quickly recovered. "Well, point being, something very bad happened. I started studying medicine, and Jack, well... he put everything he wanted to do on hold to take care of the family." She shrugged. "Responsibility, yeah? Deeply genetic. Aaaaand then he got his powers, and you can pretty much connect the dots."

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"It's just so frustrating. He never had this kind of temper before - ah..."

Grim cocked an eyebrow at Jill's near-slip (if that's what it really was), but diplomatically chose not to dig.

"Responsibility, yeah? Deeply genetic. Aaaaand then he got his powers, and you can pretty much connect the dots."

The shapeshifter nodded and rested her chin on her steepled fingers; after a few seconds of quiet contemplation, she finally spoke.

"Look, I'd be lyin' right now if I didn't admit to being crazy with curiosity about what happened in Jack's life to, y'know, drive him to do this thing we do."

She sprouted a pair of cat ears, which she pointed at with a smirk.

"Kinda goes with the whole theme, right?"

The ears melted away and she shrugged.

"But...I have to respect both Jack's wishes and your's; you guys are in this together, which is awesome, and I'd never want to jeopardize that bond or mess with his crimefightin' mojo. Keeping his two lives seperate is what let's him do this, so I'd have to be a frickin' idiot to mess with a teammate's head like that."

She looked around the kitchen nervously.

"I just hope he understands why I did this, calling you over here today..."

After a few moments, she turned back to Jill and rocked back on her heels.

"So, you wanna hang out for a bit? I got nothin' going on 'til I patrol tonight, so you're welcome to stay, but I don't want you to get in trouble with your bro or anything."

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Jill blinked and absently reached for her hair, fiddling with the end of the ponytail. "Uh, yeah, sure, I mean... I don't have any plan or anything." The self-assured girl reacted to the invitation with surprising hesitancy. Some of her confidence returned as she planted a hand on her hip. "Hey, mi hermano ain't the boss of me, amirite?"

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"Hey, mi hermano ain't the boss of me, amirite?"

Grim smiled broadly at this statement.

"No, he his not."

She folded her arms and chewed her lower lip. "Well, we've got a giant plasma screen with like a billion cable channels in the den, plus Blu-Ray. In the game room downstairs, we've got pinball, air hockey, pool and ping-pong, but those might not be fair since I'm a pixie freak of nature with the reflexes of a chimp on speed. Or..."

She looks over her shoulder, towards the stairs leading upstairs, and an evil grin spreads across her face.

"I could show you our top secret training room..." :twisted:

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Jill gave Lynn a flat look, craning her neck backward to regard the diminutive shapeshifter down the length of her nose. "Uh, ohmigod, yes?" she replied emphatically. Much of the teenager's good cheer was restored; her naturally dry demeanor was simply overcome by her excitement at being in a superhero team's headquarters, getting a guided tour. He bounced up and down slightly on the ball of her feet, displaying a tendency to stay in motion at all times which apparently ran in the family.

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"Uh, ohmigod, yes?"

Lynn chuckled evilly as she steepled her fingers. "Exxxxcellent! Follow me, young Skywalker!" She led Ellie into the living room, where she did something behind a pillar with her hand, causing the floor to open into a spiral staircase going down. The hum of hidden machinery thrummed up from the Underground. The shapeshifter smiles like a kid on Christmas day...or possibly Hanukkah.

"You are so gonna dig this."

She suddenly shrinks down into her pixie form and zips around the teenager's head a few times, her gossamer wings buzzing past Ellie's ears. "C'mon, Wendy, it'll be fun!" she squeaks as she zooms down the stairwell.

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Jill grinned in spite of herself as she followed the flitting pixie down the stairwell. "Probably would have gone with the white rabbit ref, but you're the shapeshifter." Her ponytail bounced from shoulder to shoulder as she shook her head an descended the steps. "The things I say in a day..."

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"Probably would have gone with the white rabbit ref, but you're the shapeshifter."

By the time Jill reached the bottom of the stairs, Grim was already full-sized and indeed sporting a large pair of bunny ears, a bright red waistcoat and riding boots.

"Oh man, you are so right! I totally missed an opportunity to be more topical! I have a tendency to mash-up my material. Oh well, no big."

She gestures around the room, a sleek, high-tech hexagon with doorways leading off in all directions.

"So this is it, the nexus, the hub, whatever you wanna call it. We use all these monitors to spy on people; needless to say, Jack spends a lot of time in here, y'know, keeping the ladies safe..."

She shakes her head and silently mouths 'No', then points down the various hallways.

"Uh, lessee, living quarters are down there, but we don't use 'em too much. Jack might crash down here after a strenuous stabby-fight session, have himself a nap or something. The gym and infirmary are down there, very cool, very high-tech and shiny. Down thataway is the combat simulator, which is really cool, but might be outta your league. I guess you could watch me fight stuff, if you're like really bored..."

As she talked, the ridiculous rabbit outfit drifted away in tatters of mist, revealing Grim's fighting outfit underneath, minus her usual domino.

"Wrapping it up, you've got the generator, holding cells and the garage down those hallways over there."

The shapeshifter holds up her hands.

"So, that's it! Whaddya think, are we cool or lame-o?"

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