Colorful Connections


geneva_icon.gif seren_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title Colorful Connections
Synopsis A colorful combination of characters congregate in the cafeteria at Raytech. Christmas spirit optional.
Date December 2, 2019

Raytech NYCSZ Branch Office

Butterflies are flitting down the hall from the Raytech lobby this morning. Not at all the mechanical butterflies that lurk and flit around the lobby atrium, these are something else entirely, colorful and velvet and without the bits that give away they're unreal.

Except these ones have a different trait going for them in that regard — their colors are shifting.

A chuff comes from an animal that pads the hall by Seren's side, tiger paws padding quietly on the ground, wings folded against his side. He's grays and blacks all over, his tiger stripes and feathertips the only orange bits to him. Amber eyes track the butterfly that had tried to land on his nose before he glances up to Seren, who smiles cheerfully with their hands clasped together behind their back.

"It's Christmas Season, Baird," they whisper with excitement, and at that moment the tiger gryphon is adorned with a festive scarf. At noting its appearance, owlish tufts for ears on his head flatten down. Seren is oblivious, shoulders swaying as they make their way toward the staff cafeteria for breakfast, just as oblivious as they are about the startled cafeteria attendant who steps out of the way to avoid being close to them or Baird. The woman stands with her back against the wall while they pass, brow furrowing at the rainbow trail of butterflies in the two's wake.

It's just your average Monday morning at Raytech.

Except someone didn't get the memo. This particular Monday sees at least one of Raytech's employees doing something he doesn't usually do — Dr. Zachery Miller usually makes sure he beats the lunch rush by enough time that he barely sees another soul on his way in or out, but even though a crumpled bit of foil on the corner table he's claimed implies that he finished his lunch some time ago, he is still here.

Without lifting his head, his monocular gaze lifts from a small, well-used notepad in front of him and locks onto Seren and their charge the moment they both enter the room. A pencil is flipped over between his fingers in order to tap tap the dulled eraser at the end of it down onto the table in thought. Is it too late to leave now? Probably. Plus, he's still got coffee.

Maybe if he just focuses on the scribbled writing out in front of him and keeps his head down, he can spend the day as usual - avoiding talking to anyone until the workday's at its end.


The whuffling of a sniffing animal at the foil indicates most likely not. A short exhale follows, large amber eyes tracking up and over to Zachery guiltlessly. The winged tiger shifts the fold of his feathers, a brilliantly blue tongue slipping out from his maw to lick his chops. Hello, do you have any left for him?

"Baird," Seren chastises him, light and delicate. Their smile is quick to come back. "Sorry he's bothering you— he didn't steal any of your breakfast, did he?" It's still that early, in their mind.

"Lunch," Zachery replies, as if the distinction is really necessary.

Flipping the notebook closed with one smooth motion, he rests a hand atop the blue cover and turns his head to look at Baird first, then at Seren. Neither of them get a particularly warm reception, but at least he musters a semblance of a polite smile of a greeting for Seren, even if it disappears a second later.

But then… he looks back at Baird, as though the creature existing in his blind spot is decidedly less than preferable. "No, I was already… done with that, actually. I was just going to head back to work." Except that he's not, instead choosing to let his gaze drift over teeth and ears, fur and feathers. "Does he eat?"

"He does," Seren sees no harm in announcing. They look down at the creature by their side, resting a hand on top of his plush head. "He eats up stories and becomes them, when they don't turn into other friends. He eats nightmares when they refuse to fade."

"He also enjoys chocolates and stolen bites of real food, too," they add with a wry smirk, looking back to Zachery. "Curious about everything as he is."

Zachery listens to the answer the same way one might listen to a mathematical puzzle, gaze unfocusing as his attention moves elsewhere.

To things that shouldn't be there, by all accounts. Yet are. Sort of. Are they? Unclear. The look of distraction slips away from him as he clears his throat and looks to Seren again, instead, pulling the notebook closer and laying the pencil on top.

Expression a carefully controlled neutral, he considers his words for a moment, and then calmly echoes, "Nightmares. And chocolates." A hint of tired amusement slips through the cracks and into the beginnings of a smirk. "I'm fairly sure that - when I've figured out the rest of the world's biological mysteries - you and Baird, the last thing I haven't yet made sense of, will still be right here, waiting, to mock me."


In light of his peculiar situation, Zachery might derive some comfort from the fact that that voice that drifts across the cafeteria floor to meet them is very real, as is the body that it belongs to. This would be none other than Geneva Stevenson: gloriously, notoriously irritable intern at Raytech, now taking long unhurried strides towards the corner table to join the pair of them as though she’d received a personal invitation to do so.

Right now though, Gene appears to be in a rather amenable mood despite the excess of Christmas spirit in the air, her judgment-filled gaze instantly landing on Baird like the colorful magnet he is. Absentminded in her intrigue, she allows her hand to glow thick and fuzzy and orange around the metal thermos she is holding— a shade or three brighter than Baird's orange tigery bits— for just a moment, before actually lifting it for a sip.

"…That's fuckin' lit, Seren. I don’t think I’ve seen him do that shape before."

Seeing Zachery's mood lift even slightly is its own form of reward, coupled deliciously with the thought he might still have some wonder left for the world. That might be a judiciously optimistic opinion of the situation, but Seren is nothing if not optimistic in most things. "We'll take that as a compliment," they advise him, a hint of pride in it as they clasp their hands behind their back.

Baird notes Geneva's approach first, head turning lazily to note her before his tail sways through the air, unseating one of the multi-colored butterflies and sending it flitting. Only then does Seren turn and smile at Geneva, and the rest of the butterflies scatter from before fading into nothing as they flit away.

"Good morning, Gene!" they beam. "I tried to talk him into looking like a snow hare, but he wasn't having any of it. Nope, he wanted to be big today. And definitely not festive."

A point which the gryphon contends against by turning his head to the side, this way and that, to try and free himself of the red-and-green scarf circling his thick neck. He sneezes in a sign of irritation when he can't quite get his maw around it in a way that doesn't just tighten the loop of it further.

"Bud, c'mon," Seren protests with faux sadness. "You look great!"

Zachery's eye locks onto the new arrival the moment she enters his periphery, and his taking mental note of that glow is a long way from subtle, with how his gaze lingers.

But the conversation at hand catches his attention again, the lure of a correction waiting to be made is too shiny to ignore. "He looks like an American mall." The statement leaves him matter-of-factly, with an exhale of amusement only just escaping him before he looks to Geneva again. "I don't think we've been properly introduced. Zachery Miller."

He looks Geneva over, as if making a quick assessment as to whether or not a handshake would be wasted or unwise. He decides yes, then offers perfectly pleasantly, "I'm usually…" employed here on and off because the consequences of bad decisions make for tricky scheduling "… down in the labs?"

Geneva is more than used to being stared at. After all, it isn't like her ability is even a little bit subtle either, and it sees a great deal of use in this building daily. In fact, she almost seems to relish the way that Zachery sizes it up.

"Mmkay. Let me clarify. Baird looks great, but man, let him get out of that terrible scarf," she adds bluntly after she finishes a first sip from her thermos, stream trailing gently from out of the partly-opened top. As far as she's concerned: no one, even a literal figment of somebody's imagination, ought to be forced to suffer such an indignity.

"And YOU!" Gene rounds on Zachery almost before he can finish his introduction, and from how concentrated her manner is, he can tell that she doesn't give a damn about the social mores that normally accompany one. "Nah, bud. I already know who you are. I'm Gene, friend of Emily's. She's told me all about how you helped her kick the shit out of some racists a couple weeks ago."

She caps this off by punching the doctor lightly but jovially in his shoulder, a pleased-as-punch smirk on her face. Fuckin' oorah.

Seren is not easily swayed, but nor are they entirely immune to the effects of such peer pressure. After all, between Baird, Zachery, and Geneva, they get the hint. It's pouting that they lean forward and delicately unwrap the scarf from around Baird's neck, looping the length of it around their own instead. It's a long thing, its tails easily going to their waist despite the efforts of the looping. All the while, they keep an interested eye on the developments between the two.

An eyebrow is arced in Zachery's direction. He's a hero? Baird purrs, pleased as punch about something.

The punch arrives as a surprise, and Zachery sits stunned, taken immediately aback but showing it only through raised eyebrows over mismatched eyes.

"… Oh, ah-" He darts a look between Seren, Baird and Geneva in turn. "I wasn't sure whether she'd told anyone about that." There's a hesitance on his words, probably something to do with memories of getting a little carried away doing his 'heroism'. But then, something else entirely helps a lopsided grin surface. He tries to force it back and away but another thought only serves to strengthen it. Let's deflect, shall we — "Emily has friends?"

"Yeah dude 'course she has friends." Probably far more than can be said for Zachery, though Geneva can't know that.

Fortunately for Dr. Miller, Gene is still much too focused on the former topic to be at all interested in where he'd intended to go with this. She latches onto the hesitation she sees in him, her smirk growing even more broadly lopsided in her flare of enthusiasm.

"Hey now. No need to be so humble. You - are - the - kind of person we NEED in today’s society. The kind willing to go all in with a fuckin' baseball bat." Though Gene doesn't quite punch the poor man in the shoulder again, she does curl her forearm up into a peremptory fistpump at her side, looking meaningfully at it and then back at him with her lower jaw clenched in solid approval.

If Zachery feels under the spotlight, it's because he is. The space immediately surrounding him has dimmed, putting a highlight on his whole presence.

Seren has stopped fussing with the scarf, leaving it where it lays over the top of their dark grey blazer. It does set a lovely frame around the red tie they wear. (Of course they're in Raytech colors. It's any given Monday!) Their brow lifts even higher as Geneva hints at the travails mentioned, a look shared with Baird below to share in the wow of the moment.

"What exactly happened?" they ask a moment later. Their head tips to the tiger-sized figment of imagination at their side. "Baird wants to know."

Whether it's through discomfort or amusement or both, a laugh escapes Zachery, his gaze narrowing. "Yes," he answers with decidedly less enthusiasm than Geneva, virtually bristling as he lifts his arm and realises what must be going on with the lighting situation after a quick look around himself. "That's me. The hero we all need."

To say he sounds conflicted about this is an understatement.

The look he gives Seren is a little more carefully composed, his grin gone entirely, shoulders slowly rising. He drags the pencil and notepad off of the table, pat-pat-patting the latter against his leg. "What happened is that I… put someone in the hospital by hitting them repeatedly and causing a fair bit of blunt force trauma. I wasn't sure they'd lived, initially, but I assumed that if they hadn't, I'd have heard about it by now."

Wellp. There it is.

"That's even better!" enthuses Geneva in an answer that possibly nobody had been expecting except herself. But to her, the conclusion couldn’t be any more obvious. "You're still leaving things out! You were willing to kill, or almost kill someone who was threatening my best friend. Without thought for your own safety, or at least putting it second."

Really, how more admirable could this man get?

If it weren't for the fiercely explicit grin on her face, she could practically be glaring for the way her gaze is so energetic. "Because the way Emily told this story to me, they attacked first. Is that not right?"

The ask is rhetorical. Gene stands with her opened fist dropped back down to her side, waiting to be told she's right.

Zachery's attempt at making himself sound like he's done something awful don't dissuade Geneva at all. But Seren? There's no audible recordscratch, but the harsh light of reality resumes play, and their eyes widen slightly. Baird loses his color, orange becoming dark gray, and even the black of him loses its vibrancy, becoming flat. Amber eyes turn monochrome as he turns his head in his summoner's direction, fur on the back of his neck starting to rise in response to Seren's internal reaction.

"Oh." comes from them, very soft. "Oh, y…"

Seren doesn't know what they think about all this yet, and it shows. Saving someone is a good thing. Almost killing someone with a baseball bat is a bad thing. An exceptionally bad thing.

But Geneva sounds so very glad for it, so.

Seren lifts their head from the dip their posture had started to take, forcing a very small smile that doesn't at all match their expression. Baird at their side is almost translucent as it becomes harder to focus on his magical presence. The Christmas-colored scarf around their neck remains, but it too has gone black and gray. "It… sounds like you were in the right place at the right time. I'm glad you're…" Well, come to think of it, he doesn't look great.

But he's at work, so he can't be all bad, right? "I'm glad you're safe, too." Then Baird is aggressively nosing his way under the palm of their hand, and they smooth their hand over the back of his head without looking down at him.

Zachery's pat-pat-pat of the notepad goes still, when he finds himself still trapped between the two different perspectives.


Geneva's enthusiasm certainly makes one the louder of the two, and his wariness is momentarily dropped in favour of listening to her words with what looks like slowly growing fascination. Receiving compliments might be unfamiliar territory, but apparently not unwelcome, and he sits up a little taller before visibly fighting back a look of gladness that threatens to surface.

"Yes, they, ah - … swung a bat - it hit her in the shoulder," he answers, his voice distant as he plucks details from memory. Not from having seen it, considering he was in the middle of a tackle, but having known it all the same. Only then does he look to Baird again, brow creasing as he pushes his chair back and rises to his feet, items in hand.

His eye follows the line of Seren's hand up to their face, and their show of concern is met with considerably more doubt hiding in the way his nose wrinkles with a grimace. "I should probably get back to work," he announces with flat affect. Abort, ABORT. Uncertainty levels TOO HIGH.

The faltering, relatively tame explanation Zachery gives of Emily being attacked nevertheless has Geneva's eyes smoldering with little coals of impotent rage when he gets to 'hit her in the shoulder.' "God, I wish I had been there," she fumes without restraint, oblivious to whatever elusive lines are drawing themselves into the doctor's topographic map of emotions.

Seren, however, looks to be another matter. As the color literally drains out of Baird's existence, Gene puts one hand solidly astride her hip and places herself between them and where the corner table sits, deliberately bodyblocking much of the growingly despondent pair from Zachery's view. No need for the doctor to watch whatever depressing shit is going on there.

"You both are ridiculous," she criticizes, tossing a strand of blonde hair out of her face with a sudden irked flick of her head. Incidentally, her choosing to stand right there means that Zachery's main escape route has been cut off as well. He can still go around the other way, of course, or squeeze out in front of her, but both of these would be awkward alternatives in their own ways.

"Seren might be awesome for conjuring up clouds of glittery rainbow farts, but apparently they're not so great at being happy when it's actually called for. Who gives a fuck about the Christmas season? This is the real deal, here— the real type of giving people should fucking be doing. And YOU, Dr. Miller, deserve a huge thank you for what you did for Emily. Even if no one else has the balls to say it, apparently. So. Thank you."

When the path he'd chosen to leave through is blocked, Zachery's motions halt, noticeably taken aback in the way his mouth opens but words only manage to come after a considerable delay.

"It was risky, Gene." This sounds like it should have been a correction, but is spoken with too much enjoyment creeping into his voice for it to fit that function. Something clicks. "Risky," he continues, grin returning free of hesitation this time, "… and really very worryingly gratifying. Even after they'd broken my nose. You know, I probably should have put the bat down when they asked me to, but at the same time, the fucking shits had a knife to her throat — was I supposed to just ignore that, then?"

Zachery Miller, for all his faults, is not known for swearing. At least, not at work, though the ease and malice with which it leaves him at this moment suggests this is more the result of personal rule than habit. A rule currently forgotten.

Seren is still looking down after Baird has nosed their hand more aggressively, realizing too late the conflict in them is having an external result. "ah" comes from them, tiny and under their breath as they blink, and then the scarf disappears. With effort, they try to focus on restoring some of Baird's visible vitality in color, Geneva's slings against Christmas and them themself going unheard in the intensity of their thought.

They're still listening, they'd lie, just distractedly.

"Hey, something's wrong with Baird," Seren voices, beginning to slide a step back. Their brow knits in concern down at their figment, who simply keeps leaning supportively against their side, to the point they stumble a step from his physical encouragement to keep moving. "I'll, um, I'll catch you guys later."

Who is worried? Certainly not Geneva. "Of course not," she trumpets in first agreement, then categorical approval at hearing gratification arise in the doctor's tone at long last.

Gene had technically known about the knife as well— Emily had known better than not to tell her everything about this— but once again, the mere mention of it from Zachery is enough to send her into an ephemeral convulsion of fury. Her fingertips clench around the burning-hot rim of her thermos like a shrinking band of iron, and her gaze is flat with anger.

"That's something no decent fucking person would ever let go," she concludes emphatically as she steps back just enough to allow Seren room to depart, fingers also loosening reluctantly. As she does so, she snorts in one final, generous flash of a smile towards him. "….You know, Miller? You're alright. I'll see you around." And when she moves onwards to Seren, just before beginning to step away herself, her smile becomes slightly only more sardonic. "Heh. Happy holidays, Rainbow Dash. Hope you sort your shit out."

Zachery is left standing in the wake of two whirlwinds of vastly different varieties, expression one somewhere in the middle of relief and eye-narrowing confusion as he watches both of them depart.

This is why he doesn't usually come in here. This is why he stays in the aforementioned lab.

It's not until they're both out of his sight that he finally pat-pats the notepad against a pantleg again and says so quietly that no one could possibly hear him, "This fucking place."

Seren looks back over their shoulder as inadvertently they all head their separate ways. Distractedly, they go back to patting Baird's side roughly again. "That's it," they encourage him, trying to tease vibrance back into his being. "Almost there, buddy."

There were such a variety of different people all working at Raytech, all with their own palettes of personality. The colorful connections that could be made were always a wonder, even if sometimes they came in clashing hues.

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