rocket_icon.gif simon_icon.gif

Scene Title Fatherless
Synopsis Simon throws knives. Rocket watches. Between zombie attack victimhood, weird genes and daddy issues, they have everything and nothing in common.
Date March 30, 2009

Staten Island: Coast

The coast of Staten Island is as much of a presence as its inland, with rivers that invade right into its heart as well as cutting off the circulation of transport from the rest of New York City. The coastal regions reflect a lot of this borough's rural nature, with rough shores and plantlife, broken brick, and general abandonment. The harbors are left to the devices of those that freely come and go, a conspicuous lack of official presence - a number of them notably overrun by the developing crime syndicate, but there are still quite a few, particularly on the coasts nearest to Brooklyn and Manhattan, that are accessible to the lawful public.

Simon used to be against violence; totally against it, in fact. This probably stemmed from him being picked on so much growing up. Over the past six months, though, Simon has had more close calls than he can count. After the attack by the so-called monster, he's had enough. Something inside this kid has snapped, like a crumbling dam, and now all the pent up rage that has been boiling inside him is starting to seep out. Luckily, Simon hasn't lost his focus, yet.

He's come out tonight on the rocky and littered shores of Staten Island to do some target practice, which is something he's never done before. Sure, he's shot hoops with the basketball team, but there was never the curdling violence that is present tonight.

About fifteen feet ahead of him is a bed of shattered glass and ripped open soda cans. Really, anything he could find lying around. In his hand is the knife purchased at Tucker's Pawn Shop, a wicked looking thing with police or military specs written all over. He holds it in his hand, like he's seen people do in the movies and on television, and tosses it with all its might. Just like every time before, the knife hits home. Now it's a half-empty cherry coke that's brought to its knees, bleeding carbonated battery acid.


The half-empty cherry Coke can's distant cousin— Red, classic— is tight in Rocket's white-knuckled hand. He's some twenty feet back, the course he had charted down from the Lighthouse's square and simple front door and onto the spot of shoreline where Simon had set up his 'workshop.' Both dark eyes have their lids pinned back, are stretched round with surprise; his mouth hangs halfway open. He hadn't seen much. Just got out here, to where there's a light. Still, he'd seen more than enough.

Rocket saw one throw, and no one he knows can throw like that. Not even the big burly kids that the ringleaders keep for bodyguards in the ragtag bands of runaways that he's been part of. "Wow. Whoa," he repeats, raising his other hand. A thin forefinger points at the ground, the fragmented targets cast out around it. "Y-you killed the crap out of that stuff.

"There's no crap left." The latter probably does not accomplish much in the way of clarification for much except for Rocket's degree of admiration. High.

As Rocket can plainly see, Simon is still in the recovery process as far as his monster-inflicted wounds go. He has some gauzed wrapped around his head to keep his bruised and busted jaw from moving more than it has to. He can still talk, though he tends to mumble, which makes it hard for some people to understand him. Eating is also more difficult. Thanks to an underused ability, murdering cans from a distance seems to be much easier.

At the sound of Rocket's voice, the boy turns and eyes the younger kid before making his way to the object of his rage. The hilt of the blade is grasped and the knife in the can is pulled out from its resting place. It's wet and sticky, so Simon rubs the flat sides of the blade against his jeans while he walks over towards Rocket.

"Dude, is it completely horrible that I'm so good at this?" he asks Rocket, his jaw pulling at the bandages as it moves about in its restraint. "Just tell I'm not a freak. Lie if you want, I don't care."

The younger boy pulls a face and promptly moves forward, unwary of the broken shit nearby or of the fact that Simon could, apparently, kill him with a flick of a wrist. He's faced worse in his time as a pirate. Maybe. Maybe not. Deaths all carry a certain sameness. It's the living who suffer from variability.

"Brian's naked when he makes new dupes," Rocket responds, kicking a triangle of exploded glass out from under his shoe. He crunches to a halt within arm's reach, bends his torso in order to bring himself to eye-level with the slit in the injured soda can's hull. "That's wayyyy worse, man. I'm not even kidding. Suddenly: dicks flipping everywhere."

He glances up briefly, then takes a drag out of his own soda can. The fluid is cold. It's late in the day to be intaking caffeine, but it's the privilege of runaways: no curfew. Not really. "Zuleyka wants to kill the zombie. I bet you could."

Now it's Simon's turns to make a face at the comment about Brian. "Seriously? Wait - what do you mean 'make new dupes'?" he asks, because he and Brian have never actually taken the time to sit down and talk about each other's abilities. They actually never even admitted out loud that they were both powered at all. Funny how the details sometimes slip by in day to day conversation.

As far as the monster goes, Simon's eyes narrow, like they always do when something really ticks him off. "Then I guess I need to talk to Zuleyka, because seriously Rocket, I'm so pissed. You have no idea." He says this while holding the knife up near his face, sharp tip pointed at the sky. "But I don't know about killing it. I mean I can definitely hit it, but if you have come earlier you would have noticed that I can't control this thing," the knife gets a little wave. "Sometimes just the handle hits, and that's not awesome at all."

"Yeah, that's probably why you need to use a gun, dude," Rocket answers, rubbing his palm against the side of his face with a rueful sort of fatigue. He slides it upward, curled fingers raking his curls briefly. They wind up standing awkwardly on end for a brief instant before the wind flattens them down on a diaphanous eddy. His shoulders hunch against its chill intrusion. "Zu's pretty freaking hardcore.

"She had a friend over a few days ago. He said he thinks the zombie has to be some kind of Evolved, maybe the radiation from the Midtown Man messed him up or something."

Blinking hard against the sting of airborne salt, he looks down at the fallen glass. "Brian— Brian Fulk can make copies of himself. It's pretty… wild," Rocket decides, is the word to use. 'Unnecessarily and unexpectedly nude' is somewhat beyond the grasp of his spontaneous vocabulary. "Ionno, he's still Unregistered but Linderman's gotta know about him. It's weird."

Simon lets out a sigh and rolls his eyes so hard there's a point where just the whites show. Maybe. It's dark outside. "Yeah, well, that asshole pawn shop dude wouldn't sell me one, so I'm just going to keep practicing with Betsy here," yes, he named his knife, "until I feel confident that I can take out whatever mutant, evolved, undead - whatever - decides to bust down doors in the middle of the night."

"Who is Zuleyka, anyways?" Simon still hasn't met most of the people at the Lighthouse, considering he hasn't been there long, and for the past couple of nights he was away to close out his hotel reservation and grab his belongings to bring back.

The whole Brian mess isn't commented on, but that doesn't mean he's not thinking about it. Multiple nude Brians? He must have a lot of mirrors then, or at least Simon guesses.

"Zu's the girl — our age — who went all, you know, psycho gymnast and stuff, with the black hair and the nice teeth." Strange though that sounds exiting Rocket's mouth, really, that's the association that comes to his mind and not unflattering for it. She'd had hers in a snarl, struck down, striking back. "She can probably sell you a gun, too, if you want.

"I think she would take cash or maybe just lend you one for zombie hunting if she thought you could really handle yourself out there." These words arrive a fraction of a second too late. Tripping over something else; something Simon had said, that Rocket thought about, that he wasn't sure how to remark on. He wiggles his soda can.

Fizz fizz, burble, pop. Tiny nervous gassy noises. "You mean Tuck's Pawn Shop?"

"Seriously?" Simon asks about Zuleyka. That girl was pretty wicked with her fighting finesse, but buying a gun from her doesn't sound like such a great idea. What if it was stolen or something? Simon couldn't live with himself. Best to stick with a knife or something he can get through legal means. Then again, he would probably be pretty good with a gun, and then the monster wouldn't stand a chance. Would he?

Simon doesn't get a chance to think about that for too long, because the subject turns to Tuck. "Yeah, that one. He had this pretty pistol that I wanted, but he wouldn't sell it me. He was all, like, 'You can't buy that, you're a *kid*'. And then I explained to him that I had cash, but that didn't change anything." He sighs again and looks away, then back at Rocket. "Life is hard."

Life really is hard. Probably doesn't explain why Rocket's round face goes the shade of filter paper upon clarification on the pawn shop, and then starts to blotch pink underneath the flickering light of the lamp nearby. Had Simon asked, he could probably clarify that Tuck's wares are, in large part, illegally appropriated anyway. He doesn't, though, so the younger man is left staring down at his shoes for a long moment.

"Like any of the f-full-grown men around here are smarter about using guns than us, right?" he mumbles, finally, flattening his mouth around a froggish frown. Rocket squints upward again. "I think most Manhattan kids would've left by now. Are you just hanging around on Staten Island until you run out of cash or something?"

Simon notices the way Rocket is changing colors on him, but the kid acts funny constantly, so he doesn't make much of it. Still, he eyes him curiously, but doesn't prod in case it happens to be some medical issue. Those can be embarrassing to bring up. "Yeah, tell me about it. It's not like I'm going to go around pointing it in people's faces. You know?"

Simon lifts his shoulders in a shrugs and then shakes his head at Rocket. "No way, it's nothing like that. I mean, honestly I didn't expect to be here so long, but I happen to fit in, sort of." He pauses to think on how to better explain things. "Well, I don't really have anything back in Manhattan. Not anymore. Here, though, I have friends. And, like, maybe even a purpose or something."

"Yeah. Tuck doesn't know anything anyway. He's like a huge kid who makes all of his own problems and there's a s-stupid punk rock song for every single one of 'em." Rocket's voice doesn't do 'vitriolic' very well; instead, frustration and annoyance reverberate loudly through the wobble and undulation of his tenor. He frowns at something that isn't Simon for a moment, before looking again at the wreckage of target practice. He wonders how long the older boy has been out here.

It's cold, and there are zombies out. "Was it 'cause of the Bomb?" Rocket asks.

"Yeah? You seem to know a lot about the pawn shop guy," Simon says with an almost suspicious tint to his voice. He figures that it's a small island, though, and they probably have run into each other enough.

At the mention of the bomb, another sigh escapes from the kid's pursed lips. "You know, there's not too much you can't blame on the bomb," Simon starts explaining. "But, yeah. I guess you could say it was the bomb. It changed everything in so many ways. Then there was the bomb at my school last year. That changed things, too." Simon blinks a few times, but remains silent, though it looks like his mind is racing a mile a minute.

The rest of the soda goes into Rocket's mouth, a thin trickle sliding out of the right corner of his mouth before he arrests it with a wipe of his forearm. He doesn't answer about how much he knows, or not immediately. Nods in simple agreement that the Bomb fucked up everything, and blinks at the mention of a second bomb. School. Good reasons not to go back to school.

"Sorry. That sucks." Stupid, empty gesture, but if anyone's owed one— it might as well be somebody Rocket can kind of understand.

Leaning over, Rocket places his emptied can on the rock that had held up all of Simon's other victims. Though a stiff wind blows, the other boulders block out enough of the wind that the aluminum tube only slides a few inches before tinking to a halt on a bulge of texture. He steps back, away, to give Simon room should Simon please. If not, well. He doesn't want to ruin his shoes this soon. They're already secondhand, but new to him.

"Tuck's my dad," Rocket answers, eventually. He puts his hands in his sweater pockets and curls his fingers up tight enough that he can actually feel them, the round bone of knuckles biting into his palms and cuticles twinging from pressure.

The coke can is given a hard look as, in Simon's mind, it takes the shape of a vicious Christopher Walken, blood drenched and maniacal. The kid starts to walk away from the can, putting some distance between him and it. A breeze blows through, ruffles his hair. "No big deal, Rocket. I'm not the only one who lost things in those bombs."

He turns, raises the knife in his hand, and stares the coke can down. Targeting systems online. The knife is tossed, it flies, end over end, and connects with can. The edge of the blade hits the aluminum, sparks against it, and sends the damaged thing flying against a boulder.

Simon smiles at the hit, then turns to regard Rocket. "Really? I'm sorry, man. He's not so bad, I guess. He just cares, you can tell. Otherwise he would have probably hit me with a broom until I stopped bugging him.

"Whatever," Rocket blusters back. He tilts his head to the left, rubs his cold ear into his shoulder, which only makes the skin of his head behind his ear feel cold too. He doesn't want to blink and miss the knife throw, so his retinas end up going kind of chilly and stiff as he watches. It's amazing to see, though.

You could do geometry measured off the line of that throw. He grins, if only briefly, a show of even white teeth.

There's a loud sniff, and then he cranes his curly head when Simon goes to retrieve his knife from between slabs of granite. "At least he isn't f-freaking washing out his crack pipe with beer at three in the afternoon anymore. Unngh." That lattermost remark probably wasn't meant for Rocket's estranged father. He's rubbing his nose with his fingertips, making a face.

Simon makes his way over to the rocks and glass that is his target range. He spots his knife and reaches out for it. That's enough of this for one night, he things to himself as he starts to put the weapon away. There's a sheath on the inside of his jacket. In a pocket where the knife goes to hide. When Simon reaches Rocket, he asks, "You alright?"

That whole bit about the crack pipe makes Simon miss his father for a moment. Thank god he never did stuff like that, otherwise, well, Simon doesn't want to think about those things. Instead, he crosses his arms over his chest, because it's just now that he realizes it's cold outside.
[Pose Order Object(#154){Builder}<-(#467)] ORDER: It is now your pose.

It is cold. That's all.

"Brian's probably making hot cocoa or something. Because we're like, four years old and make safety blanket tents and things," Rocket says, abruptly. He digs his shoe into the ground, working at a piece of exposed stone, before realizing that it is too large and heavy for a casual kick to move. Stops bothering. "Want to go and, like, have some?" Classy as a homeless kid is wont to be, he wipes his slickened fingers on his pant leg.

"You mean you don't?" Simon asks in reference to the security blanket tent. He nods in the direction of the Lighthouse and starts to head that way, slowly so that Rocket doesn't have to exert himself to catch up or something. "Let's get out of here," he says, shoving his hands in the pockets of his jacket. Hot chocolate sounds pretty good right about now. Plus, if Brian is making it, then he can drill him about this power of duping he apparently possesses.

After a moment of walking, Simon turns to Rocket and lifts his chin a bit at him. "So, what's your story? Why are you living at the Lighthouse and not with your dad?" As an afterthought, he figures that could be a sore spot, but he only tiptoes around subjects *sometimes. Plus, he really wants to know the answer to this one. While he waits, he reaches up to itch some under his bandage, which is irritating the hell out of him.

There's a desultory guffaw for the security blanket tent thing, a lopsided half a smile with too many round white teeth showing in it. Rocket shakes his head in answer and falls into step, his thin legs looping steady pace at Simon's side. Small stones and worn glass slide away underfoot.

If he were a somewhat more thoughtful boy, he'd probably see something wrong with leaving that pointy wreckage around in the vicinity of six-year-old children, but he isn't that thoughtful a boy, unused to the presence of kids so much his junior. And used to them being able to take care of themselves, in strange certainty. A few seconds with Bai-Chan, and you begin to understand.

"My dad was a junkie," Rocket says, after deciding to say so. "I thought he died after the Bomb went off.

"It blew all that crazy toxic fume stuff over Staten Island and… I don't know, I guess I figured he'd roll over and forget to feed himself and die or something in a couple days. Anyway he didn't even know I had a job so it was up to me to find him. I went back to or house and there wasn't… there wasn't anything. So I hear he's still alive after a couple years. I saw him pretty recently." Kick. Kick. Sand flits away from underneath Rocket's shoe in a ragged sheet.

"He says he's straightened out but he's still a freaking criminal who owes money to crazy people so I don't want to move back in."

Simon figures there's enough crap on the shore for him to be OK with leaving all that glass about. After all, he found it there, even though it wasn't necessarily as sharp and dangerous. He forgets it about it quickly, though, because Rocket's story is actually really interesting to hear. He listens to it all without saying a word, which gives his aching jaw a break. When Rocket is done, though, he nods and glances sidelong at him. "Damn, that must be really tough for you. And I'm not just full of pity, you know. I mean it.

Simon pauses a moment and continues to walk, the Lighthouse coming into view not too far away. "My dad was, like, the complete opposite. Never did any drugs in his life. Always remembered to feed himself. But you know what?" And here Simon chokes up, if only for just a second. "He *did* die in the bomb. What does that say about doing the right," here he slips his hands out of his pockets long enough to make quotes in the air, "thing. I don't know what I'm getting at, but if I were you I would at least try to see what's up with your dad. He must be doing something right if he's still kicking."

If Rocket were one to suspect that people would be snide assholes when he tells his sob story, he probably wouldn't have told it. No. His isn't the embittered pride of a recalcitrant boy-thug who's grown up too fast and hates the world for it. He is aware that sympathy exists, that pity is as often kind as condescending, and he trusts Simon insofar as they're just talking.

And walking. Live in the same house full of wayward children who've found good fortune and a roof over their heads. Rocket checked this gift horse's teeth a little, but only half-heartedly. He's okay. Life is hard, but he saw a kid take out two Coke cans with a thrown knife just now, and saved an old man from a zombie the other day, and Zuleyka didn't correct Cardinal when Cardinal put the 'b' word on him. Life isn't impossible.

Not for him, anyway. Mr. Allistair was, apparently, less fortunate.

"I'm sorry, man." Rocket looks up. Some shadow that has nothing to a lack of external light eats into the dark of his eyes; his hand ends up hovering in the air over Simon's shoulder. An awkward pat there. Just one; bro-clap. "I'm really sorry. You're… I'm gonna see him again. Told him I would."

Simon hates getting sentimental. He never even did it with Mallory and that was one of the only things she wouldn't tease him about, because she felt just a bad about mom and dad as he did. So, instead of saying "Thank you," or responding to the bro-clap with one of his own, the kid just skips to a different topic. Or tries to, anyways.

"Don't worry about it. Shit happens, you know. You just have to deal with it," he says more to himself than to Rocket. There's a look in his eyes that suggests he doesn't really believe all of that, though. Still, on he moves.

"Man, hot chocolate is seriously sounding good right now." His taste buds water and images of Christmastime float through head. Really, that's the only time he ever drinks the stuff.
[Pose Order Object(#154){Builder}<-(#467)] ORDER: It is now your pose.
Rocket doesn't like getting sentimental very much either. The boys he normally hangs out with don't have a lot of tolerance for it. He's not heartless, though, so he carefully categorizes sympathy in a different but adjacent column, and politely excuses the abrupt transition between conversational topics. He doesn't say 'You're welcome.' That would be fucking weird.

They both move on. Rocket, nodding his head in fierce agreement. When the chapped wooden stairs seesaw into view, he breaks into a running jog, leaps onto the second one in an ungainly, kitten-like bounce. Turning, he drags his hand along the railing. "He even has those really tiny marshmallows to put in it and mugs with dorky stuff written all around the ceramic.

"Sometimes, I wonder if he was ever sixteen. Ever."

"Oh, man, really? I wonder if one of the kids got him a World's Best Dad mug. I don't think I could let him live it down," Simon says as he bounds up the stairs, right behind Rocket. Thankfully, it seems that the boring sappy topics have been left in the dust, hopefully along with all those broken bottles. Simon feels rested and well vented, which is what he needed. Now, he needs cocoa.

A gring plays across Simon's face as he pulls the door to the Lighthouse open, bowing low and ushering in Rocket with a graceful wave of his hand. "After you, sir," he says while wondering if he can catch Zuleyka wherever the cocoa is. He may not be so angry anymore, but he still wants to kick some zombie ass.

Nor would Rocket be inclined to let them kick zombie ass alone, if they really are going to. Hard to tell; it hadn't taken Cardinal much to talk Zuleyka down from expedition one, but with a boy who can't miss and enough firepower, really—

Rocket doesn't really want to go, but it'd be a way to pass the time. Piracy's a little slow recently. Ever since that clusterfuck that landed Jack at Filatov's with a gasping hole in his ribs. "Thanks," he calls easily, loping in through the door. The floorboards creak underneath him, and he cranes his head to check the hallway for pitter-pattering troll feet or the deeper registers of nearby adult conversation. None down here.

Kitchen, then. Light's on. You can see it from here, warm, yellow, diluted by walking shadows. "I'm Evolved, too," Rocket notes without looking back. "I'll show you some time if you're around. It isn't flashy, though."

Simon walks into the room behind Rocket and shuts the door behind him. He makes sure to do it slowly so the door doesn't make enough noise to wake anyone up. As the two make their way to the kitchen, Simon grins and offers Rocket a nod. "Yeah, that sounds fun. I don't really care if it's not flashy. I don't know many other people who are evolved. Well, recently I found out I *do*, but it's still new to me. So, I'm sure I'll find whatever you do to be totally badass."

The kitchen light draws him in and he breathes in deep, hoping that something that smells good will be in there. "How about tomorrow?" Simon asks, hoping to have something to look forward to before he falls asleep.

"Mmm. Wednesday's probably better," Rocket replies, crooking a grin. "I have some courier stuff to do tomorrow. You know, badass pimp Staten Island street kid stuff." Like running courier and picking pockets, but he would rather not elaborate on that. Thievery, particularly. He doesn't like doing it, doesn't like that he'd nearly done it to Simon, and as a function of all that, doesn't want to discuss. An automatic glance over tells him that Simon's hid the knife. "Stuff. But there's no stuff on Wednesday.

"Hey, Brian." Rocket puts up his hand, snot long since dried, and bends his mouth around an only slightly-yellowed grin. They step into the light.

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