2464/No Surrender

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No Surrender
Date of Scene: 15 July 2020
Location: Medical Lab
Synopsis: Julio cheers Doug up. Really!
Cast of Characters: Douglas Ramsey, Julio Richter

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
    Sometime after their return to the mansion, Doug is sitting alone in the medlab, stripped to his underwear. He has disinfectant and gauze pads, and he's using a pair of forceps to carefully dig the silver hooks out of his skin. Aside from the occasional twinge of pain on his face, a grunt of discomfort and the clink of bloody hooks into a dish, the room is otherwise quiet. The nature of Spiral's hooks make it so he even has to dig them out of his techno-organic arm, which takes considerably more work.

Julio Richter has posed:
Shortly after getting Doug situated in the medical lab, Julio borrowed a pair of scrub pants and headed upstairs to get fully dressed: jeans and a gold secondhand T-shirt from somebody's family reunion -- the Wilsons, apparently. He wasn't even remotely likely to get back to bed after their nightmarish stay in the Stream, so not too much later, he reappears with a tray of snacks foraged from the school's extensive kitchen. Fruit, peanuts, chips, yogurt -- he's not sure what Doug will be hungry for, but he's reasonably sure Spiral wasn't feeding him well in memeland, so he just tries to bring enough variety to hedge his bets.

He steps through the metal door without knocking, then stops when he realizes just how the tables have turned. "Ay, lo siento," he calls out, turning aside quickly and looking at the wall. He holds the tray out in Doug's direction. "I brought food. Um. In case you're hungry." Pithy, isn't he?

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
    Doug tilts his head and looks up. "Thank you." He says. "I'm almost done." Each time he digs out a hook, he applies antiseptic to it, cleaning the wound, then liquid bandage - he continues in silence for a time, before he sits, and then takes the tray - he opens a yogurt, and stirs it, before he takes a mouthful of it.
    "I appreciate it." His tone is still subdued. "Thank you. You're looking a lot healthier, by the way. I see the school agrees with you."

Julio Richter has posed:
Having come the rest of the way in and set the tray down where Doug can reach it easily, Julio answers, "If you say so," with a chuckle and a lopsided smile. The good cheer is a little bit forced -- his expression quickly turns to a sympathetic grimace as Doug removes another of the tiny silver hooks.

"Jesucristo -- have you just been pulling those out of yourself this whole time? We should wake up a doctor, maybe," he suggests. Having set the tray down, he's left with just the scrub pants he'd brought back to return, draped over one arm. "You need these?" he asks, holding them out to Doug. "I have some recent experience being the awkward, half-naked guy at the party."

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
"It's only pain." Doug says, "You get trained to deal with the physical stuff." He sets the tool down in the dish, and then rolls his shoulders, before he takes another bite of the yogurt. He tilts his head, and then says, "Thanks. I'm not embarassed, and I have nothing to hide - but thank you." He takes them, and then proceeds to put them on, carefully, as there were hooks in his thighs and calves, too.
    "...Unfortunately these things happen." He says, before he opens a pack of honey roasted almonds, and eats a palmful of them.

Julio Richter has posed:
Julio gives a little shrug and a nervous laugh. "Yeah, well, I was pretty embarrassed when it happened to me. But I guess you're in way better shape -- maybe I'm just projecting?"

At 'these things happen,' though, he snorts in amusement. "Yeah, I've noticed. And I decided I am never going anywhere without all my clothes on ever again. Jeans and a shirt to bed, every night."

He pauses to glance over what he can see of Doug's body, checking to see whether the hook-piercings look infected or anything, then rolls his eyes and adds, "I'll probably just get abducted directly from the shower, then."

He lets the joke sit for a second, then continues tentatively, "You sure you're OK? That pain didn't just look physical."

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
    "I've fought Spiral before, I know what she can do. I've been possessed by bodiless telepathic entities that are pure evil. Berto once put mayonnaise in Sam's running shoes and left them under my bed. I've fused into a singular being with a techno-organic life form. I'll be all right." They don't look infected, just livid - but he seems to be dealing with them.
    Finally he says, "I know that you're gay, Julio. I've known from the moment I met you. It doesn't bother me in the slightest. You're you. Nobody has the right to demand you be anything else."

Julio Richter has posed:
Julio has opened his mouth to respond in amusement to Doug's litany of bizarre miseries when the newly returned mutant gets around to the rest of what he wanted to say. Julio's jaw just hangs open for a second, and he sits back against the cot opposite Doug's with a quiet bump.

He turns his face aside for the space of a few breaths, processing, then finally resumes eye contact and answers, "Ah... OK. I kind of thought you might, after a while. Your whole" -- he taps his temple with two fingers -- "mutant understanding thing." He reaches back to rub at the back of his neck, frowning. "Kind of sounds like you had a head start on me, though. I knew /something/ was up a long time ago, but I had too much on my mind to really worry about it until I got to the school. I don't think I really admitted it to myself until, well..."

He rolls his eyes and shrugs. "Embarrassingly recently, anyway." His posture tenses slightly and he continues, "I haven't really told many people. I'm not hiding it or anything, and everybody I /did/ tell has been fine with it. It's just... a lot to deal with."

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
"We all have our baggage." Doug says. "But, like I said, being a singular entity with an alien being - who identifies as male - that'll kind of change your perception about intimacy." He pushes a bag of chips over toward Julio, as he sits on the edge of the bed. "Well, I apologize for presuming." He takes another spoonful of his yogurt.

"You handled yourself well - your training's coming along fast. In a way, I wasn't sure if you coming to the school was the best idea--" He looks up. "In case you haven't noticed, in many ways we're mutant paramilitaries pretending at being super-heroes. Our intentions are noble, but the bedrock facts are what they are."

Julio Richter has posed:
Julio snorts and tears open the bag, letting the crinkling sound fill the space for a moment. "You weren't presuming," he says, as though still in the process of admitting that to himself. "You just got to the right answer before I did. I've been taking summer classes; I'm getting used to the feeling." With that statement, some of his habitual snarky humor is beginning to return.

"I have noticed," he agrees, demonstratively looking around their coldly metallic, subterranean surroundings. "I mean, I noticed the subbasement and the secret lift about as quickly as you clocked me for a big old puto." He shrugs. "You've got people stuff, I've got rock stuff. I said something to Scott and he didn't bother to hide it or anything, so I guess I'm in the club, now. Then there's the whole thing Jean is working on..." He shakes his head and trails off, staring at his own lap.

"It doesn't bother me. If anything, I kind of wish it /did/ bother me more," he continues, looking up again. His expression grows quizzical after a second. "Male alien being -- you mean your arm?" he asks. It's kind of hard to miss it with Doug sitting there shirtless. "I, uh, didn't know it was a boy. Hope you're both... happy together." He's flailing, just a little.

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
Doug blinks, and looks at his arm - and then he closes his eyes, before he laughs, some of that damaged mood shed in the outburst of humor. "What? No! This isn't Warlock!" He says. "I magine it COULD be Warlock," He flexes his arm and rolls it, "But if it is, he hasn't made it apparent to me yet. He's out there somewhere, finding himself. I think I'm single again. But that's all right."

Then he gives Julio a look. "Please don't refer to yourself in the perjorative ever again, please."

Julio Richter has posed:
"You said singular being! We just fought a bunch of alien cyborgs -- what was I supposed to think?" Julio protests, laughing as well. "OK, fine, your arm and your body, like" -- he gestures vaguely, indicating Doug in general -- "it all /works together/ a lot better than the Brain drones, sure. But I'm just getting used to this alien stuff. We can't all have been doing this since we were twelve."

The more serious request, at the end, leads to a more pensive response: "I..." He takes a slow breath. "OK. I'm just getting used to that, too. Trying to take the teeth out of it, or something."

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
"Fifteen, and - no, I suppose not. It's amazing how the window slides and the bizzare becomes your every day." Doug says, before he gives Julio a look. "Whatever's broken about us, we are a family. We have a common identity forged by shared difficulty, adversity, and on occasion, triumph. You have nothing to be ashamed of."

Then he shrugs, once. "Would you like help finding a boyfriend? I can help you put together a dating profile. Or be your wingman down in Mutant Town. I'm good at those kinds of things." He might be teasing. He has a twinkle in his eye.

Julio Richter has posed:
At the correction, Julio pauses in crunching his way through the chips to throw his head back and his hands up dramatically, rolling his eyes. Fifteen, not twelve? Take me away in chains, officer, I'll go without a fight.

"I don't think I feel ashamed," he answers when Doug is finished. "Not really. When my head's not in a great place, mostly I just get angry, to be honest. But I think we all have that anger in common, too."

Doug certainly seemed to, fighting Spiral in the Stream.

Turning to the less serious topic, Julio snorts out a laugh. "Like you said, I just joined a secret mutant paramilitary. I don't have a car, or a job, or ID. I don't think a dating profile is going to get much of a response." He squints at Doug for a second, then adds, "I mean... I'm not promising that I won't occasionally /ask/. If you're able to spot, uh... guys like me just by looking at us, that's a useful skill."

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
"I'll keep an eye out. I say this as a person who is coming to realize that in many ways they're sapiosexual or... linguosexual, if you consider language the sum total of someone's self-expression, not merely how they communicate - you're a handsome and witty guy." Doug muses, "And I noticed, so other guys certainly will, as long as you don't hide your light under a bushel - which is really what this is all about."

"You'll find that there's no agony as acute as feeling pitifully average and then being around some of the most beautiful people in the world. You'll notice that when Ororo or Betsy walk in and, I sincerely beg your pardon, you'll find yourself quoting Ray from Archer - 'Nobody's THAT gay.' Then again, Sam's sister is also bright and incredibly cute. So what IS a Doug to do?" He quirks his mouth. "Don't tell Sam I said that." His mood does seem to have improvved, somewhat.

Julio Richter has posed:
Rubbing the side of his neck and looking away as he shies from the compliments, Julio nonetheless laughs pretty hard at the rest of what Doug has to say. "I absolutely will not tell Sam you said that. He already died once tonight. He's been through enough." He shakes his head and continues, "I absolutely know what you mean, though. I'm definitely improving, physically, but I'm probably never going to be like some of the guys here."

He holds his hands out and, in a near-parody of the hourglass curves gesture, slams out the outline of a bricklike physique in midair. "And the women -- ¡puf! -- yeah, somehow they keep distracting the cute guys, too. What a surprise." He rolls his eyes. "Maybe that's what I should do, just find the most beautiful woman I can and stand next to her. Any guy who doesn't trip over his own feet leaping at her can at least be a candidate."

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
Doug shrugs, and considers that. "Or try for one of the really damaged types. The kind who seem to be more into swords and other military hardware than people." He gives a lopsided grin. "Thank you for the food, by the way. Turns out I wasn't letting myself act on how strung out I was. Spiral messed with my head pretty badly - and the trick is, she doesn't brainwash you. She just uses what's already there and changes what's up and what's down. You're fine -- but the reality around you is all wrong, and she - adjusts you to fit."

Julio Richter has posed:
"Ooh, sounds healthy," Julio comments with languid sarcasm. "I said I was joining a paramilitary, not that I wanted to bang one." He squints off into the middle distance, thinking. "I mean, I guess there's a sort of rugged appeal to the Che Guevara thing..." He crunches down on a chip, and the noise seems to snap him back to the moment. He shakes his head quickly. "No, Julio. Focus."

He flicks his chin at the tray of food and answers, "Hey, de nada. You were pretty out of it in there. It was scary; I wanted to make sure you were back to yourself." He flashes a furtive smile, the dodgy runaway surfacing again for a second. "Besides, you gave me food when I needed it -- and a lot more than that. I owe you, big time."

He hops up to seat himself on the empty cot. "So, speaking of which, if you need to talk about what happened, I might not be a genius or an expert on Mojo-whatever like some of the people here, but I can listen."

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
Doug is quiet about that. "You want to pretend these things slide off you, but they really don't. Spiral -- in many ways she's as bad as Mojo. She uses people, she manipulates them. She hates him - but she's in his power. This time, in a messed up way, she played on my sympathy. There isn't an X-Man who doesn't want to see Mojo taken down a peg. Not that you have a basis for comparison - but you will, someday. A long time ago I didn't just help beat Spiral - I humiliated her. I, a nobody, stood up to her when nobody else could."

"But just because you hit a home run once doesn't mean you will every time. This time, she got me. I'm sorting it out. We all end up in therapy -- by the way."

Julio Richter has posed:
"I know what you mean about pretending," Julio answers, sympathy in his voice, alongside something darker. "I guess that's why I asked. It sucks to have it in here." He taps his sternum, then waves a hand over his face. "But up here, it's all macho." He huffs out a short breath. "We all end up dealing with something. Whether through therapy or just blowing stuff up real good, or both."

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
Doug shrugs. "Nobody ever accused me of machismo. Anyway. Have some chips." he says, "I need to check myself over and see if I missed a hook anywhere."