Looking away
Jonothon Starsmore furnaceface
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The Massachusetts Academy, Early Spring
Jono had a dilemma.

Or, more accurately, Jono had a whole host of dilemmas, all wrapped up into one tidy little envelope, sitting on his nightstand and staring him in the face. In part, of course, because of his face. The letter was, after all, from Xavier. And accepting the proposal in the letter meant a good many things. Leaving Massachusetts. Leaving Angelo and Jubilee and the others behind. He'd done that once before, when he wound up on Fandom Island, and he wasn't entirely certain if doing it now counted as running, or simply moving forward.

And there was the rest of the dilemma, there. Things had been insane for the members of Generation X, lately. Busy, heartbreaking, not particularly easy, and everybody was dealing with these things in their own ways. Surprisingly, the biggest changes to be seen were in Emma and Sean, both of whom were beginning to worry the surviving members of the team. Now would be some pretty rotten timing for Jono to take Xavier up on his offer to join the X-Men. Right?

His eyebrows furrowed a little as he stared again at the letter, and then shook his head, shoving it into his nightstand. He'd sleep on it for a few more nights, and maybe that would help him figure out just where he wanted to go from here. In the meantime, he was pulling out his phone and firing off a short e-mail to his friends.

Believe it or not, I miss you guys. How have things been?

Jonothon's conversation-starting skills needed work. But it was either this, or listen to Paige go on about rescuing trees from some money-hungry oil corporation for the millionth time.

[NFB for distance, but Open for texts, e-mails, surprise multidimensional visits, anything you don't need a mouth for. If you figure your character got Jono's amazingly verbose e-mail, they did, sure! I'm actually around again! Yay, around again!]


2011-06-27 02:18 am (UTC) (Link)

You know, you'd think I'd have some better idea about who you ought to leave the shop to? Ariel, perhaps, or keep an eye out for somebody around the island who has an ear for good music. If I knew which way was up lately, I'd say to just keep it in one piece and mail me the keys, and I'd stop in every now and again to make certain that nobody's knocked any walls in.

Jono had been about to say 'burned the place down,' but had managed to think better of that one at the last second. Thank goodness.

Unfortunately, my trouble is that sort of unwanted houseguest that shows up without an invitation and makes itself well at home, in that sort of way that makes it impossible to forget that it's there at all. And it brings friends. Throws parties in the living room, practically. I don't think it's anything I can't handle. It usually isn't, after all. But if I ever do end up needing assistance, I'll keep in mind that you made the offer. Thank you.


2011-06-27 02:30 am (UTC) (Link)

Now that had piqued her interest.

Is it the sort of houseguest that one needs to evict? Alice typed. My vorpal blade is a touch rusty, but I can still swing it as well as I ever could, I assure you. Or is this more metaphorical, like the way my madness lives in the back closet? Self-evictions are often the hardest. Keep a weapon steady and don't listen to a word that your own personal Red Queen says. You're the stronger one, that's what matters.

This was as close as Alice got to reassuring and supportive. She was trying, at least.

Ariel it is, then. Lindsay seems trustworthy, as well, and there's a new employee I haven't spoken to much. I really should make more of an effort. I suppose I could leave Dinah in charge, but Dinah seems intent on following me around, and I haven't the heart to leave her behind.


2011-06-27 02:44 am (UTC) (Link)

It's something somewhere between metaphor and the world at large, really. I can hardly evict what I am, and so I have to do the next best thing, and do what I can to be the sort of person that lives to see tomorrow. At this point, I think it's mostly a matter of making the proper decisions. Damned if I know which decisions those ones are, of course.

It was supportive enough, all things considered. Jono would take support where it came. Sure, he got plenty of moral support from the other Generation X kids, but that only ran so deep.

If Dinah is anything like Joni, she really only likes th'place for that patch of sunshine that creeps across the counter in the mid-afternoon. Not terribly useful for getting work done, those sunbeams. What's the new employee like? Musically inclined in the least?


2011-06-27 03:06 am (UTC) (Link)

There's no escaping what you are, I'm afraid, Alice replied. Those evictions are more difficult. I suppose it's like Leto being Pre-Born, or you being a Mutant, or myself being mad. Certain things are, and one has to accept that as a starting place, regardless of how fair it might seem.

It was nearly Buddhist, which was surprisingly for an Anglican girl who had been losing her faith of late.

You've pegged Dinah in one. The new employee is blond, charming, and thinks me quite mad. He's right, so I've little objection. He likes music, so he makes a handy addition to our group.


2011-06-27 12:19 pm (UTC) (Link)

At least there's that. Accepting it, I mean. I'm doing a fair bit better at that much than I was before. Fandom did a good number on me in that regard. I suppose the real battle is holding on to that much even while I'm not there.

So far... not so great. There was the real challenge. How was Jono supposed to hold on to his self-esteem when members of his team died gruesomely in the middle of an anti-mutant riot, or when his own friends told him and Angelo to stay behind because they 'look like mutants?'

Thanks again for that one, Lee.

I suppose if he likes music, he can't be all that bad. When does the bloke work? I might have to stop in and play 'Lost Customer' a bit, see if he's learning his way around some, sometime. And if he can't tell the difference between The Clash and Pearl Jam when I come in, I'll whip him into shape before I leave again.

Probably by forcing the poor chap to listen to everything left of the Country section for just about the rest of his life.

Maybe longer.


2011-06-27 08:24 pm (UTC) (Link)

It's a shame one can't mark ground as won, and never have to revisit it, Alice agreed. It would make for a far shorter war. Though placing land mines on mental territory is only going to lead to casualties all the way around.

It was hard to tell when Alice was using metaphor and when she wasn't, some days.

Do you suppose you might visit, then? The CDs would like to see you once more. And you can make Seifer jump through the proper hoops. (Fridays, are his days. Tuesdays are mine.)

She hoped she was spelling his name right.


2011-06-27 09:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Jono's reply this time around might have taken a bit longer to formulate. There were only so many Seifers in the world, right? Especially ones that walked around as though they owned the world...

And he was working at the Groovy Tunes?

Bloody hell.

I think I might have to pay a visit. Check up on your new Friday employee. Get a bit of fresh air that doesn't involve wandering aimlessly around the wilds of Massachusetts. It might help me clear my head a little. Lord knows I need it.

Seifer. Jono would be laughing, if only he was able.

Besides, the last time I visited, I wound up thinking I was some mad cowboy. I had the most atrocious Texan accent, and kept trying to figure out who took my horse.

Thank you for that, Fandom.


2011-06-27 09:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

Are there wilds in Massachusetts? I've never been. It always sounded particularly fussy, the way Oxford did. I should like for there to be wilds in Massachusetts, instead of stodgy Pilgrims and tiresome rules.

That Alice tended to anarchy should surprise no one.

I've never been to Texas, either, though it sounds more inclined to the wilds. At least it has horses, which means one can ride. There's something more freeing to knowing that one can at any point climb on and ride and possibly outrun some of those troubles we were discussing earlier. Troubles usually find their own horses but no one said it was a perfect solution.

Nor did anyone say Alice needed to make sense.

If you are to be visiting I feel I should warn you in advance that I may be somewhat rounder about the midsection because it would seem that I am pregnant.

She had been hoping to work up to that one, but ... well. That worked, too.


2011-06-27 10:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

I should be... congratulating you, then? Is this a "Congratulations" sort of thing?

Round Alices took some sort of priority over horses and wilds. He'd address the rest in a bit, but when someone stated point-blank that they were expecting, there were certain social niceties to be observed. Probably.

He had no idea. Jono was generally pretty terrible at that 'social niceties' stuff.

There are wilds in Massachusetts, yes. You'll be pleased to learn that there haven't been Pilgrims here for quite some time, in fact. Of course, there are rules, too. Most places come with rules. But avoiding those is mostly just a matter of knowing where to go in order to not get caught.


2011-06-28 01:18 am (UTC) (Link)

I've yet to determine that myself. Alice didn't see any point in tiptoeing around it. Leto will be thrilled; he's long since lost the ability to sire children. (There's a timeline mishap in play.) But I'd be a perfectly dreadful mother, and I can't picture myself warming to the role. I'm not certain where this leaves me, and I'm short on time to decide.

She bit her lip before continuing.

I do like that approach myself -- rules only apply if one isn't caught breaking them. Most rules can be bent, anyway, if one is skillful enough to apply pressure in the right place. Is Massachusetts dangerous? Is it filled with oddities and madness? Would it be a safe haven for someone fleeing her own life?

Out of curiosity. She had Wonderland, but it was lonely being the only person there.

More importantly, are you enjoying Massachusetts?


2011-06-28 01:33 am (UTC) (Link)

Jono tackled that e-mail with all the consideration he figured it deserved. Which meant, possibly unfortunately for Alice, that she was going to be getting a small novel, now.

You know, I've often heard people say that they'll be terrible parents, and then they go and surprise themselves. I always figured that I'd be a rotten parent myself, and then Fandom turned around and gave me a glimpse and some possible children from my own future, and... Well, granted, one of them was a bit of a piece of work. And there was another, perfectly content with life. Well-raised, happy. Surprised the hell out of me, you know. You've got more experience with the island than I do, at that, don't you? Didn't you ever get a peek at any possible children of your own? I find it difficult to believe that you could be any worse than me as a parent, at least. Or, for that matter, any worse than my parents were. For a start, you seem to actually be worried about it. So, you care. Already, you care.

Too many people in the world can't be bothered to do that much.

As for Massachusetts... There's a bit of a mixed bag of replies, for that one. On the one hand, I'm stranded in a school in America, in the bloody woods, in a world that hates and fears me for what I am. We lost one of our own not long ago. It isn't even a remotely safe place for the likes of me. But then, there isn't really a place in the world, at least in my version of it, that is a safe place for the likes of me. You... aren't the likes of me. People around here wouldn't hunt you down for the very serious crime of ever being born. I don't think I'd really be able to give you a very fair assessment of the place, in light of all of that.

To be honest, I was offered a way out of Massachusetts recently. I'm contemplating taking them up on it. Maybe. Perhaps. I'm terrible at these sorts of decisions, I'm afraid.


2011-06-28 01:50 am (UTC) (Link)

She was all right with small novels. Jono was one of the few people who might understand the oddities of her mind, on this. Perhaps it was a British thing. Or an outcast thing.

Not that Alice had ever wandered around with her face on fire, obviously.

I had future children. It was difficult. I couldn't bond with them. They scared me. I felt like a broken toy. My child would hug me, and I would make myself hug back, and my head would be screaming for me to flee. Their affection is so free and easy. I don't believe I'm capable of that. Perhaps I'm only afraid of having it because I'm convinced it will be taken away again.

That would explain why she always pictured her daughter with Matilda's face.

I don't know that I ever apologized for reacting with fear to what you are, that first day. It wasn't centered on you being different; it was the sense of fire, not that the fire came from or was attached to you. I'm sure that didn't feel like any less of a sting, and I wish I could undo that somehow. But I can't, so I suppose there's little point in hoping.

I'm sorry about your -- friend? acquaintance? colleague? compatriot? comrade? brother-in-arms? The one who was lost. I suppose there are many roads out of Massachusetts. What makes this one so attractive? And why the hesitation to decide?


2011-06-28 02:16 am (UTC) (Link)

Outcasts came in all shapes. Being an outcast might have made it easier for Jono to understand where Alice was coming from. Being terrified of whatever the future might hold, however, was probably more likely the culprit in any case of understanding between them.

They seemed comfortable hugging you, then? Free and easy affection doesn't come from nowhere, Alice. If you weren't a good mother, they wouldn't have been so inclined to get close to you. Children don't solicit affection from a parent who never has any to give. What would be the point?

Jono was speaking from experience, there. All he ever had for his parents were bitter words, which he'd never be able to say to their faces. Hell if he had any idea where to find the Starsmores that had brought him into the world. They didn't want to be found. Especially not by a faceless mess that happened to share their DNA.

Fear... it happens, Alice. I can understand a fear like yours was. I know it wasn't meant to be personal. I knew it when you backed away. And it did sting. It always does, when I get a reminder like that about just how different I am. But that's a kind of reminder I can live with. Fire is fire. Hell, it frightens me, too. So it's a fear that I can relate to, as well.

He was... nearly a friend. A comrade, more accurately. We were both working together to face down that more destructive sort of fear, and it turned around and got nasty in retaliation, and we lost him. My way out would take me to a group of people who do the same thing- who want to prove that there isn't anything to be afraid of, by doing the right thing with what we can do. But leaving them means leaving the others, here. So soon after losing Everett, I don't know if I can do that to them.