Just Add Water


jack_icon.gif tavisha_icon.gif

Scene Title Just Add Water
Synopsis Jack attempts to show Tavisha a thing or two about his power, but the lesson derails before it can really begin.
Date January 3, 2009

Swinburne Island

Originally man-made to quarantine immigrants found carrying smallpox, cholera, and other potential outbreaks, Swinburne Island later fell under management by the National Park service. It's largely been forgotten in the days since the bomb. Few have the time or resources to spare for a ten acre plot of rocky, overgrown land. More than a mile off of South Beach, it's reachable only by boat, helicopter, or grueling swim. The sole standing structure, an immense, sprawling hospital complex, has fallen into a state of sad disrepair since it was last used in 1911. Portions of the roof have caved in and entire wings have been swallowed by encroaching plant life, including a tall, razor-sharp form of yucca often reffered to as 'Spanish Dagger.'

Head hurt. Mouth tastes like asses. Belly feel bad.

Jack rolls over, falls off the couch, and crashes untidily to the floor. The minor collision is accepted with a stoic wince. Obviously, it's not the first time he's woken up with a hangover in someplace that's not his bed. Not his bed… Where the hell is he?

That's right. Drunk. He got very, very drunk last night with the geeky, well-intentioned kid. Tav. Jack can't help but smile as he drags himself to his feet and glances around the converted Swinburne surgical bay that serves as one of his sitting rooms.

Whatever. He's around here somewhere. Kid can hold his liquor, too.

A few minutes later, the Somali transplant is carefully picking his way along the path leading from hospital to shore. It's a narrow, unobtrusive passage cut through the yucca that's barely wide enough for one man, but he seems to know it well, even while staggering with a heavy jug of water in one hand. When he finally sinks down on the rocky beach, he thumbs the cap off of the jug and twitches his fingers over the open mouth. In response, a narrow spout of water rises out and hits him in the face. The second application goes directly into his mouth, which he rinses out vigorously.

Ahh… Better.

The last time he woke up in the morning, his body was recovering from allegedly falling off a bridge. This takes the edge off the hangover he wakes up to now. But not quite. At the sound of footsteps, echoing too loudly for Tavisha, he rolls onto his back and drapes his arm over his eyes— and then flinches at the sound of a door shutting. He can fling tables across the room, and he can hear things superhumanly, and that last one is currently doing him no favours.

His feet find the floor as he pushes himself up to sit, his coat abandoned and his shoes lying haphazard on the ground from when he had drunkenly fumbled them off. Dressed now in a rumpled dress shirt opened to reveal a white wife-beater, jeans, and socks, Tavisha strips off the last item of this list, and moves to belatedly follow the other man, a hand holding his head as he goes. His throat is parched, his head fuzzy from a headache, and he could use some creature comforts, but all in all, it actually feels kind of good. Irresponsible and freeing. He's likely a man of thirty or more, but everything feels— bizarrely new and at the same time, not at all.

The sun is low enough not to be too harsh, a blessing, and he carefully follows the thin path, having been warned away from the razor-like grass. He easily finds Jack, opening his mouth to call out a greeting— and stopping, instead, watching the way the man manipulates the water, standing stunned for a moment. He would never have guessed. Fascinated, Tavisha stares, almost rudely, and approaches to get a better look.

Jack swishes, spits, and wipes his mouth on the back of his sleeve. He never made it out of his ragged sweater and cargo pants, a fact he's now appreciating, as he hasn't brought a towel. He rubs his fingers against his gritty eyes and stubbly cheeks. Groan.

He's in the process of "scooping" out another splash of water when Tavisha betrays his approach. Unaccustomed to sharing his island, Jack reacts instictively. His hand splays out flat, palm up, and as it does the water stiffens into a sharp, circular blade that hovers at his fingertips.

When he realizes he's about to lance his new friend, Jack blinks blearily and allows the missile to disperse. "Fuck. Sorry, kid. You scared the crap outta me."

Tavisha doesn't seem particularly alarmed at the near threat, still watching Jack's hands and his expression a mixture of fascination and mystified. Then a quirky smile pulls at his mouth, meeting the other man's eyes. "Sorry," he apologises, without really meaning it. He moves to stand nearby, bare feet finding flatter rocks to stand on as the sea gently hits the edge of the island over and over, sending spray up, and Tavisha peers down at the foaming water, then towards Jack. "You're one of them. Is it— is it difficult? To do what you can do." Hangover almost entirely forgotten, the look Jack gets is one of avid curiousity.

Jack has seen fear, anger, even violence in response to exposing his abilities, but he's never been met with open, honest curiosity. He seems taken aback at first, but an instant later he's smiling crookedly. He shrugs his broad shoulders and tucks his hands together at the small of his back. "Depends on what I'm doing, I guess. Little things like that? Not so much. How 'bout you? Got a special talent you care to share now that we're pals?"

Tavisha's expression fades into something a little more reluctant, rueful, turning to look towards the horizon where the landmass of Staten Island is clearly visible, the wind upping at hair and clothing and feeling refreshing for anyone with a hangover. Unlike like the stink of Fresh Kills Harbor, the scent of the water out here is clean, almost, if still spiked with salt and sealife. He brings a hand up to rub at the back of his neck. "Kind of," he answers, non-committal, with a touch of irritation - like he'd rather be able to simply show off too. "I don't really understand what it is, though."

"Relax, pal. I'm not here to pry." Jack gives the younger man a light, friendly cuff on the shoulder. "I know how confusing it can be, though. How frustrating. I've been there." For a few seconds, the jovial facade that's carried him through the night and into the morning slips, exposing the depth of his own turmoil, if not the nature. Then, just as quickly, his mask is back in place and all is well.

"You ever want to try and talk it out, just say the word," he continues more quietly. "Trust me, if you don't own your power, your power will own you."

That last statement— it catches. Like a dart that finds its mark. Tavisha's gaze is drawn from the ocean to study Jack a moment, the fact that he's troubled written plainly on his face, eyebrows angled even more as he thinks that over. He exhales a sigh, before turning to face him. "It's just… I think it's different," he says. "Even more different than everyone else who's different. I can hear things, like…" His head tilts, and he glances again towards Staten Island, points. "There are two men arguing at the harbor, right now— I can't make out the words, but they sound angry. And I can— do this." He extends an arm, hand flat, palm down— and the pebbles caught between the larger rocks rattle, before a couple jerkily lift up, as if caught on marionette strings. Awkwardly, Tavisha steps back, and then gestures with that hand, swiping the air. A few simply drop back down, but others arc out towards the water as thrown. "And— I think— " He squints at Jack. "I think I can do what you can do."

The quick series of revelations is surprising, to say the least. Jack glances from Staten to rocks and back to Tavisha again. "Wow…" he whispers, his expression of astonishment fading to a wide grin. "You— really? That's fuckin' incredible. I've never met somebody who could do more than one thing before. That's a rare gift, mate."

Jack purses his lips and wrinkles his forehead thoughtfully. "Hrm," he mutters. "What do you mean you think you can do what I can do?"

The grin he gets is met with an uncertain, if relieved smile of his own, and at the very fair question from Jack, Tavisha shrugs broad shoulders. "Just sometimes— in the past…" How do you explain that during a feverish night of anxiety and fear, he'd accidentally made the walls of his bedroom run with water in unnatural, dripping rivulets, without sounding crazy?

He sets his mouth into a contemplative line, before looking down at the mass of water just a few feet away. With an air of determination, he extends a hand towards it, concentrating. Nothing happens for a few moments, until it comes clear that water is starting to gather not in the air, but on Tavisha, outstretched hand beginning to drip with it and hair glistening. Unwittingly pulled from the air, on to him. But rather than working within the laws of physics, the water just seems to travel thinly over his skin - up and to the side and around rather than just straight down.

Tavisha jerks his hand back and studies both hands, before hurriedly removing his watch from his wrist with an impatient sigh. He shakes his head to let water droplets spray off his hair like a dog might, before running a hand through it. "Not exactly what you do, I guess."

Jack cocks his head to the side and studies this new feat with uncanny intensity. When Tavisha is done, he claps his hands together and laughs gleefully. "I like that one, kid. Bet you're a riot at a wet t-shirt contest. Look, if you can do that, you can do what I can do. You just need practice."

With one outstretched finger, Jack makes a come-hither gesture toward the surface of the water. He mimics Tavisa's performance closely, save for he holds the building puddle in his palm. That, and he doesn't soak the rest of his body. "Don't try to force it. Water doesn't really work that way," he explains. "It's all about being relaxed and tension-free. Like bong hits. Here, hold out your hands." With an encouraging smile, he lifts the puddle up and prepares to pass it over to Tav.

Like bong hits. Tavisha's eyebrows raise incredulously, but he otherwise doesn't argue, a flicker of a smile showing as he pockets his newly bought watch. Considering it's a fake Dolce & Gabbana, of things, it probably wouldn't take well to a second dunking. He hesitates, then takes a deep breath to let out a sigh, and holds out his hands as instructed, cupping both of them, eyes on the puddle of water Jack created.

With gingerly tipped hands, Jack allows the puddle to drain into the basin formed by Tavisha's palms. At first he holds his friend's wrist with one hand, steadying him and observing his progress closesly. Then, slowly, he withdraws, leaving Tav to support the water with his own hydrokinetic ability. "There you go. Don't clench up, you'll drop it," he teases.

It's hard not to freeze up, panic, let go of his own trust in what he can do, but Tavisha forces himself not to. Breathes in, concentrates. Unfortunately, he can feel the water start to drain away between his fingers as if he were just a normal person attempting to hold a handful of water, and his jaw clenches. Don't, he silently wills, trying to set aside his frustration. Calm. Stay. And— miraculously, it does. Even the trailing drips of water pause, then seem to reverse, collecting back up into his hand, and Tavisha lets out a small, breathy chuckle, the flat surface of the puddle in his hands lifting into an unnatural, shimmering dome.

"Woooo!" Jack cheers, a crooked grin splitting his craggy face once again. "That's it, kid. You're a natural! Now keep holding it together…" Slowly, he reaches out and presses one spidery fingertip into the top of the dome, forming a small, circular depression. When he withdraws, the depression remains. "Now it's a volcano. See if you can hold that together," he challenges good-naturedly.

His eyes hood, staring into the cupped water, into the hole now bored into the centre, as if hypnotised by what he's doing, heeding Jack's encouragement without response. The water begins to whirlpool in his hands, becoming more of a cone than a hill, slow and circular before picking up speed. He remembers this, to a degree. He remembers willing the entire river not to let him drown—

— but there are things in this world greater than you, that's what rivers and oceans have to teach us, and the weight of the water grabbed at his coat, the churning waves pushing him away, a smaller hand in his own torn from his grip. It takes him under, threatens to invade his lungs, and he asks her forgiveness, and slowly, unnatural currents push him up and up to break the surface, to allow him to breathe, to carry him away-

— and the puddle in his hands quickly becomes a splash, spraying salt water on both of the men standing at the shore, Tavisha gasping as the fleeting memory disappears again, as intangible as mist. Wet hands clench, and he blinks at empty air. "Sorry," he says, a little abruptly, entirely distracted.

There's something there. A tension in the air that's almost tangible. A sense of near-panic that causes Jack to flinch in a way that a little water never could. He recovers quickly, though. Reaching out, he grips the young man's forearm firmly to help ground him. His weathered features pinch into a concerned frown as he murmurs, "Steady on, kid. You okay? You look a little green around the gills."

"Yes," Tavisha says, shortly and unconvincingly, still a little lost until finally a wandering gaze rests on Jack's, and he nods a little. "I was just— remembering. Before you found me." The bridge that— collapsed, exploded, who knows? He certainly doesn't. Whose hand did he lose in the churning water? His own drifts up to rub at his own forehead, and he steps back from Jack, forcing the other man to lose the grip on his arm. "I think this power is how I survived. I don't— remember a lot."

Jack takes the hint and withdraws a step of his own to give Tavisha a bit more space. "I got the impression you were feeling a little… scattered." He reaches up to tap his own temple, the universal sign for 'something's wrong in the brainpan.' Somehow, his rueful expression softens the gesture. "Try and relax, eh? You'll feel better after I whip up some breakfast. You like waffles?"

Softened gesture or not, Jack doesn't know how right he is, and Tavisha's expression becomes a little more severe, glancing down towards where his bare feet balance himself on the jagged rock of the manmade island's shore. But then— "You have waffles," he says, glancing back up at him in a doubtful tone of voice, before the corner of his mouth turns up in a reluctant smile. "Sure. I love waffles. I'll be in in a minute."

After a final, concerned glance that borders on brotherly, Jack turns back toward his hospital hideout. "Take your time, kid," he calls over his shoulder. "Island's not goin' anywhere, and neither am I. We'll get you straightened out." The last sentence is barely audible as he fades into the yucca, but the offer of a place to stay still clearly extends past breakfast.

Barely audible maybe, but inevitably, he catches it, just as he's able to listen to Jack's heartbeat long after the man has disappeared into the hospital. Turning away, Tavisha takes his watch out of his pocket, running his thumb over the glass surface. It ticks on, having survived. Maybe twenty dollar stolen watches are more durable than we give them credit for, and he takes a moment to strap it back into place, before crouching on the rocks and looking down into murky waters.

Somewhere, he must have had a place to live. Somewhere, there is a house, or an apartment, or something filled with belongings, clothing, food that's going to tick past its expiry date— unless there was someone out there who lived there too. For a moment, Tavisha was almost willing to let it go— enjoy the life he has now, start again, new name, new face.

Until the memory of a hand insisted that once upon a time, he cared about someone. Maybe he cared about more people than that. Maybe there are people who care for him.

After a while, Tavisha gets to his feet, straightens his jeans a little bit, and makes his way back towards the hospital. Seabirds that he didn't even notice take off from their perches on the rocks nearby, and pinwheel in the sky as the sun climbs higher. Luckily for Tavisha, he has all the time in the world to get things straightened out.

February 3rd: The Skeleton Crew
February 3rd: Checking In
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