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Like Acids and Bases. (IC)


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Elias had slide out of the class when it ended. He didn't mind chemistry, and though he had little formal education and he found himself having to pay more attention then others. Of course paying attention wasn't a problem for him, not really. 'Creepy Elias' could be more accurately stated to really be paying attention, so much so that it was the primary fuel for his almost non-sequiturs that he seemed to spout off at random. Mostly people ignored him and hoped he went away, though as time went on he learned to curb his tongue. Which was good. Mostly. He moved to the cafeteria to eat, and to read more on chemistry. His hoodie pulled over his head, and he remained there reading and eating some soup.

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Darren poked a finger at what remained of his lunch – about half a club sandwich on focaccia courtesy of the hotel restaurant and some saran wrap. With his other hand, he was busy swiping out his fourth tweet of the day, one he kept writing and deleting. The words weren't quite right; he wasn't feeling particularly witty or irreverent at the moment. His phone shook in his hand, two short buzzes for a text message, but he absently locked it and slid it away into his pocket. In a fit of well-rehearsed ennui, Darren sighed and lay his head on the cleanest part of the cafeteria table he could find.

Darren had been at Claremont a year, and though he knew a lot of the other students, he hadn't really gotten to know any of them. While eating alone was fine once in awhile, the routine had begun to test his patience. He looked through the now sideways lunchroom, considered attempting to ingratiate himself into one of the numerous cliques or friend circles, then thought better of it. With another sigh, Darren sat up, took his sandwich in one hand, and walked across the cafeteria with his bag over his shoulder, right over to where a boy in a hoodie was eating soup and reading about chemistry. Alone.

“Hey, mind if I sit here?†The question was a mere formality, of course, since Darren was already collapsing into a seat across from his target. “Do you really, like, study at lunch? Don't get enough of that during class?â€

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Elias was known, a lot of his backstory wasn't. Just telepath who had gotten into a lot of trouble. What was glossed over what how driven he was, though most assumed he was a moody, angsty kid. Well Kat did, and at this point he was not going to try and convince the nascent glory of how he was as a person. Lifting his face, he regarded the other boy, and perfunctory question that meant nothing. "Hm."

And then he looked back down at the book and turned the page. "Are you going to wait for an answer for those questions?" His voice was restrained, surprisingly deep and monotone, with an undefinable accent. If Elias was expressing himself in sarcasm he might just be fifth degree Snark-ka blackbelt, because there was no trace of irony in her words.

What some of his classmates and tutors were learning was just how hard Elias worked himself. Wake up and then early morning workout before sparring with Mali. Or sometimes Kristin. Classes, studying, and then the studying he did in off-hours and the work with Eve, and plus the time he spent in costume.

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Darren's lips twitched, full of restraint, but a smile broke out over his face anyway. Of all the surprises to come with transferring to super school, the most shocking had been the amount of sass he got from the other students. He supposed it made sense; when everyone was special, no one was, so the threshold for putting up with him was generally lower. And if he'd realized he was going to sit across from Elias something or other, broody telepath...well, Darren thought maybe he wouldn't have bothered. Maybe he thought it a little louder than he needed to.

“I can wait, like, if you want me to. Or if you don't want me to. I'm pretty much a paragon of patience when I feel like it.†He tore a corner off his dwindling sandwich, rendering him quiet for a few moments. Darren straightened up and then leaned forward enough to look over into Elias' textbook. He registered it as chemistry, came up with a few colorful thoughts about how he hated it, and wondered if Elias was listening. Darren leaned back. “I don't think we've, like, ever been introduced. I'm Darren. Darren Stelzer. I'd like to eat lunch here with you, if that's alright with you, Your Snarkiness.â€

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"Snarkiness?" A touch of surprise in his voice, his brows knitting together, and it was clear he was not overly familiar with the word. He had this huge gap of pop culture, sure he could understand the mechanisms of it, but the actual content was something of a blind spot for him.

"I know who you are. You are not terribly subtle." Though one could assume his tone was adversarial or stand offish, he just tended to speed in a very matter of fact, if occasionally disjointed manner. "I am Elias, that telepath."

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Darren rolled his eyes, which he did with such idle precision that hardly a thought went before it. He popped the last chunk of his sandwich into his mouth and chewed it while he contemplated what, exactly, to do with Elias. His foot started to tap quietly under the table and continued long after he'd swallowed, ready to speak again. "Snarkiness. It's, like, not a real word, more like slang or whatever. But, it's like being sassy. Or sarcastic. Characters in, like, teen comedies are really snarky, and usually kind of overwritten." Darren laughed a little, quietly, then propped his head in one hand and took to drumming the edge of the able with the other.

"Well, Elias, nice to meet you. I'm glad you know who I am, saves me some trouble." He hummed low and flipped his drumming hand to lay open on the table. White light glowed around his fingertips, which started to work as if conducting a marionette. "This is the part where, like, I'm supposed to politely ask you to not read my mind or anything, but it's not like I can really stop you. I'd prefer you keep whatever you hear to yourself, though, if that's not too much to ask." Darren's fingers closed into a fist, then opened, revealing a two-inch tall crystalline lotus floating on his palm. "You know, like, confidentiality, that's what friends do."

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Only one brow quirked as that was said. "You are not supposed to ask me that. You were supposed to assume that I wont. By asking it you have already expressed distrust. Are friends supposed to do that?" There was no anger in his tone, at this point there was no reason to feel angst over this issue, rather he just felt a little tired over all of this. What with Kat's continued and childish sniping, but Elias learned, he was less overt to his avoidance. He made it look natural. It was easy for him to accomplish. And he leaned back then, reaching up and pushed back his hood.

"Shall I make this more awkward, in the interest of fairness?" Shaking his head slowly and snorting a little bit, and then just sort of then slowly settled back down in his seat. "I don't really have the energy to really take offense or want to argue further. I am not good with words, and I have no desire to wallow in self-pitying, so you don't have to sit hear and try to add me to your quota for friends. Knowing me isn't an edge or helpful. Go to that table over there." His attention turned to one over to the side, as he inclined his head towards it.

"They're better suited, genial, attractive, popular. They are more social leverage than I can be. I don't need someone who sees me as some broody, angsty person. Unlike you, I never went to real school, and no wants to talk to the telepath who shouted to a whole dorm. If you are not comfortable being around me, please go. I can feel it. You don't have to prove anything to anyone over this. You aren't the first person to back off, and.... just yeah." The prepared portion faded, but he had a lot of practice on this speech. He said it a lot. More than he wanted. But that was how things worked.

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Darren closed his eyes for a moment and smiled thinly. "Hard to argue with that. But it's not like I don't trust you, specifically, I just don't really trust anyone. And I try not to make too many assumptions, like, sometimes it's just better to be upfront." He opened his eyes and set the diamond lotus down on the table like it was nothing more than a poker chip. With his thumb and forefinger, he gave it a little spin. Darren looked over his shoulder towards the other table, watched them for a few seconds, and turned his attention back to Elias. He gave the telepath a shrug.

"I'm not interested in social leverage. I don't really care about genial or popular or attractive, though I think you might be selling yourself short on that one." He chuckled, light and bubbling. "And, like, maybe I misjudged you. I'm a big person, I can admit mistakes. So, you're not broody, you're just...aloof. I'm aloof. Like cats." Darren regretted the simile. "It's just, like, I think you're interesting, even if I'm a little uncomfortable right now. And trying to use that against me is so totally cheating and you know it. If you want me to back off, I will, but I don't really want to."

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"You assumed I am interesting. Everyone in this school is interesting to some degree or another. All snowflakes end up as the dirty slush on the side of the road." He smirked, just a little and shrugged then. Reaching up he pulled the earbud out, and then put his hand in the pocket of his hoodie to turn that player off. "Good news, it's egalitarian slush."

A shrug then as he looked at his book and his food, and then back to him. "Cats are a bad analogy, they pee on stuff to mark it as theirs. I have some manners." A faint smile on his face and he shrugged again. "I got it though."

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"That could be a plus, don't have to worry about explaining what I mean." Darren grinned, teeth shining perfectly white. He beamed to see that Elias was now fully paying attention, then tried to bury the thought with a shake of his head. Instead, he concentrated on figuring out what to say next. "So, do you like it? Chemistry, I mean." He pointed a finger down at the textbook. "I hated it, personally. Math is hard enough with just numbers, really doesn't need all those extra letters getting away. And, like, valet...valence electrons and diagrams and Akaline earth metals, ugh."

He dragged his fingers back through his hair and scratched his neck. "This is like a bad first date, not supposed to lead with telling someone about stuff you don't like." Darren snapped his fingers. "Music! What were you listening to? What are Elias' jams?"

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"I don't hate it. It is useful, and like I said, I never had formal schooling so I need to catch up. There are concepts I haven't learned that you take for granted." A roll of his shoulders, and he glanced at his surroundings. He seemed to do that a lot. Checking his six. He was not that concerned about being obvious about it. Sure he could feel his surroundings through the web, but he liked to match that up with a visual cue as well.

"Just stuff I found. I look for band logos and stuff on people's things and then I look them up later. Right now I am listening to, Bad Religion." Looking back to Darren's face, because he knew that tended to display a level of earnestness that didn't happen when he was just speaking. "This is not a date. I have intimacy issues, and that is me shortening the story so it isn't awkward."

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"Hmmmm, you're probably right. About taking stuff for granted. I might do it more than normal, it wouldn't surprise me." Darren's eyes flicked around, following Elias' gaze as it shifted. They were sitting in a cafeteria; Darren doubted there was anything going on more dangerous than a clumsy freshman or two. Rather than comment, he pulled out his phone and gave his unread texts some quick reads. At the mention of Bad Religion, Darren scrunched his face up and picked up the crystal flower between his fingers, then hid it in his palm. His hand glowed with soft white light. "Bad Religion, Bad Religion...they're this one, right?"

He opened his hand and revealed the reshaped crystal, now a cross set inside no-entry circle and slash, the Crossbuster. Darren turned his hand over and set the logo down with a thunk. He rolled his eyes at Elias, but smiled. "I know it's not, don't worry. And..." He chewed his lip. He wanted to lie to Elias, he really did, but couldn't see the point in trying to deceive a telepath. "Well, suffice to say I don't really do intimate either. My reason is, like, kind of petty, I guess. Or so I've been told."

Darren lay his head on the table and stared into his phone, scrolled up and down through his inbox. "I did alright in chem, so, like, if you need help with it, let me know. Or help with anything else, whatever."

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"Everyone does." It was something he was noticing more and more. He nodded then as he changed the flower into the Crossbuster. "Yeah. Never really listened to music before. Just scattershot really."

"You know I am not subtle with my mind reading, but I don't have to be with teenagers, people's reactions aren't exactly subtle." Said with a small smile, and he rarely let emotion show too strongly, for a good reason, as he was trying to learn to prevent that from leaking out when he expressed it. "And my reasons aren't profound. Or special." Telepathy did do one thing well, it made him self-aware.

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"Not subtle, huh?" Darren sat up and gave Elias a sidelong glance. He held up his hands to his forehead and wriggled his fingers. "Do you shoot out, like, brightly colored brain waves? Maybe some forehead lightning?" His hands curled into mock guns, coupled with some whispered pew pew sounds. He clapped his hands together. "Or do you mean it's not subtle on the other person's end, like, I'd be able to feel your mind eyes trying to invade my privacy? Something mundane, maybe, just being really direct about? That'd be kinda lame, but whatever."

"Doesn't really matter what the reason is, I guess. As long as you're willing to work past it." Darren sputtered. "That sounds cheesy, sorry. And maybe a little patronizing, I sound like my shrink."

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"You would feel me trying to get into your mind. And so would everyone in the this room. Everyone in this school. And probably everyone in this city if I try hard enough." While they could certainly resist his entrance into their thoughts, the fact was his range was not something most people pondered overmuch on. Like other telepaths. It was just something people didn't want to consider. It made things... interesting.

"That is assuming I am able to keep control over myself. I would probably react to the panic at that point then, as they could feel me enter their thoughts. I'd probably start acting like Lenny from Of Mice and Men and try to stop the noise." He had been frank with a couple people about how hard it was to resist certain impulses, and he said all of this so dispassionately. "Of course I say this and I either get pity, or people assuming I am moping. These are simple facts. I just have to get better at it. The downside is that a mistake I make and suddenly I know what everyone is thinking, and unfortunately my memory might be flawless so forgetting what I find, and all the context and emotions of those thoughts is... a part of me? I think the language is a little imperfect at times."

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“The whole city? You must do some crazy brain curls.†Darren snickered, both amused and relieved. If he was supposed to know when Elias was poking through his head, then he didn't have to worry quite so much about any single stray thought causing problems. Elias' incidental cheating was better than having to play with his hand always revealed, as it were. “And you're a, what is it called, an empath, too? I had no idea.â€

“I don't think you're moping, that'd be, like, presumptive, and if you don't want pity then I won't give you any. I can still offer sympathy, though, right? Like, my powers have been pretty easy to get under control, except for the first few weeks where it was full-on Midas touch, that was awful. But...†Darren perked up and straightened, then swept the whole room to make sure his sister wasn't in earshot, “My sister, she was, like, dangerous for months. She put her thumb through her phone's screen and ripped the door off her car, stuff like that. Powers are weird, but, I mean, we're at super school, right? You'll get it down, no worries.â€

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"Yeah, both. Generally it comes in pairs, I just... I can influence other people's emotions, I have a bit more control. Unless I am upset. Eventually I will learn to whisper with my thoughts, then you can be worrying. But again, I don't for get it, and it is hard to sort out someone else's thoughts to mind. And if I try hard and plunge into someone's psyche then... people said it weird. I sync up with the person, our breathing comes into align and all that." And then he shrugged and nodded at Darren words.

"Most everyone has it rough with their powers," And then he was omitting a bit, but then there were things that were hard to broach and Elias tried to diminish their power. But that was tricky.

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"Telepathy, empathy, suggestion, mind-meld, quite a blue ribbon psychic, huh? That's really cool, actually." Darren smirked, then leaned back away from the table and arched his back in a stretch, hands together and out over his head. When he came forward again, he dropped his hands in front of him and spread them apart. A chain of paper men linked from the fingertips of one hand to the other, albeit paper men made out of canary yellow diamond that twinkled under the fluorescent lights of the cafeteria. Darren jostled his hands in the air and the little people bounced, dancing. "Like I said, mine haven't been too bad, though I do sometimes still, like, diamondize stuff when I'm not paying attention. I'm getting pretty good at parlor tricks though. Powers like yours, there's a lot more to go wrong."

He shrugged, turning his palms to the ceiling; the crystal men hung in the air as if on wires. "Not gonna pry. No need to get too heavy on our first friend not-date. And, like, it's so not my business."

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"Even some telekinesis, though I use that for other stuff mostly... that ones hard to explain, it's another sense. Like how I know that there are three people directly behind me at the table, two seated one is standing now, and turning bus his tray, ya?" It wasn't a question, it was a quirk of his speech, but he was essentially narrating it as it happened. "Or that at the table to my left two people are tapping their feet. Both right." That was also true if he looked. "As dangerous as yours. People breathe in air, you could crystalize that, couldn't you? Or the moisture in it, or whatever..." A shrug as he said that.

"I can change people too, people just have more... fear about it I guess. I was... taught to not 'play' in people's minds, ya?" Another shrug, and he finished his soup. "Also I was raised by on the run by my mother, so... ya, people... it's new. Haven't really been around too many people since Macau."

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Darren tipped forward and brushed the crystal cut-outs to the side, though they continued to sag in the air. He looked around Elias' head as the other boy spoke to see that, indeed, there were three people sitting over there. Or, rather, that two were sitting and one was getting up. He turned his head ninety degrees to check on the other table, flicked his eyes down to see the tapping feet. Darren pursed his lips and hummed a low approval. "So, like...let's see, telekinesis that lets you feel things happening around you? It's not really the right root, though, it'd be more like, hm, telehaptics. That's gotta get annoying."

"To be honest, I don't really know what goes on. Like, when I do this kind of stuff-" He sat back and waved his fingers, jazz hands surrounded in dull white light. Crystals started to wink into existence in the air around him, basic geometric shapes: cubes, spheres, cones. A prism floated too close to his face and he slapped it away with the back of his hand, sending it spinning to the other end of the table. "I seriously don't know if I'm crystalizing the air or, like, replicating billions of years of deep-earth compression using crazy psienergy instead of carbon. I definitely couldn't fill someone's lungs with crystal, though that'd be kinda cool. I did accidentally diamondize my steering wheel once, that was a scary few seconds."

Darren put his hands down and relaxed; the lights disappeared from his fingers and his not-glass menagerie fell into dust that faded away before even hitting the table. "You're doing pretty well right now if people are new to you. I'm sure there's kids in here, like, who get anxiety or something with a thousand times more experience. The not playing in people's minds thing is a good rule. In general, anyway, I try not to get into absolutes."

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"Sounds better than I what I used." He played with the spoon, and he smirked just a little bit. "Can feel with it, can't really do things with it yet, though Kristin is trying to help, just like I am trying to teach her to feel with hers." He shrugged a little bit.

"Well, even if it almost killed you, you can say that your powers are visually appealing, ya?" It was his way of complimenting Darren, such as it was. Though Elias clammed up on the issue of playing with people's minds. He had that conversation prior, and Subito gave him a funny look. For a awhile.

"From what I gather, telepaths tend to have... our understandings are different. They have me meeting with a former student as a mentor or something, and already am on disciplinary thing due to an incident. Psychic Ethics or something." Another shrug, and a shaking of his head. "So, Darren, what do you want? I am not easy to get along with, and that has nothing to do with powers. You picked me at random, and you are almost flirting with me..."

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"Visually appealing?" Darren laughed, a real laugh that had his eyes scrunched shut and a hand across his stomach. After a moment, he pulled himself back, though a few more low giggles escaped him. "You could say that, I guess. I can do some pretty things with them, but, like, it's hard to get people to take me seriously. Not very intimidating or whatever." He rolled his hands in the air and shrugged. Darren propped his chin up in a palm and smiled.

"Ah, yes, incidents and disciplinary action. Always a lot of fun, though I don't really know how Claremont does that stuff. I've been trying to behave since I transferred." He raised an eyebrow at Elias' trailing off. "Elias, this isn't flirting, this is me being friendly. Granted, maybe my friendliness looks like other people's flirting, but it's not like I'm trying to seduce you in the cafeteria. I can try to tone it down if you'd like, but I'm try not to make promises either."

Darren worried his lip. "As for what I want, that's maybe sort of complicated, but I'm going to explain it and hope it doesn't blow up too badly." He drew in a deep breath that swelled up in his chest, then exhaled. "I don't really, like, have anyone here, besides the sister, I mean. So when I saw someone sitting here alone, I thought, like, that I could use them for some company. And to be honest, I'm not exactly the easiest person to get along with either, so maybe there's some subconscious ego resonance going on here, I don't know." Darren stopped and looked down at the table; a hint of color spread over his cheeks and he huffed. "I feel like I'm eight years old right now, but I'd just like to be friends. With you, obviously. Maybe this was a bad idea."

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"You're flippant." He said it without judgement, just in his normal, neutral monotone. It was hard to tell what Elias thought of Darren, he didn't seem offended or mad, but he did ask a question. "You don't want to be seen as gravely serious, and mopey, do you? Want to be seen as serious, be serious. But then, you're a teenager. You're not expected to be a better person than the next one, ya." And he shrugs a little bit and looks down for a minute, scratching a forefinger across the formica tabletop.

"You're less socially maladjusted than I am. I can read people, but I am not perfect, I am trying to fill in what flirting is with what I see here." And then it became clear, Elias wasn't here to be seen by other people. He was here to see other people, to watch them, to learn. "I know how hard it is to get friends, only one really puts up with me. Everyone else kind of rolls my eyes when I start ignoring social rules. So... you not punching me in the face when we first met, that's a step up."

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"I'm not-" The blush that had been breaking over Darren's face receded and vanished. He crossed his arms and puffed up a little. "I'm not flippant, okay? I just, like, I don't have the benefit of being able to act serious all the time. I'm not allowed to mope, not out here where people can see it, anyway." He deflated. "I have an image to protect. But I'm not flippant. Not really." Darren sighed, quiet, and went back to normal breathing.

"I'd never haul off and punch a guy I just met, particularly when I'm the one who started talking to him. That'd be, like, way rude, come on." He scratched between his lower lip and his chin, his mouth twitched to resist a smile. "If it makes you feel better, I totally roll my eyes at everyone, all the time, for everything, so don't feel too self-conscious about it. And if people skills interest you, well, I'd say there aren't too many people here who could teach you better than I can. This particular conversation maybe isn't a good example, but, like, I know social stuff. I can play the game, which is kind of a bad metaphor for being so accurate."

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"Of course it is a bad example, I am not playing the game. So my rules are different than yours. We have completely different win scenarios, ya?" His head tilted, as he just looked at Darren in a fashion that was no that different from what one would imagien a scientist examining a specimen.

"Why do you have an image to protect? Is it under attack or threatened? I mean, if you sitting here across from me to get a friend, you are compromising your image, even if just a little, right? Is protecting it as important as the image itself?" He became a bit more animated than what he had been, as if dissecting these things were really that interesting to him.

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