Kind of Useless, But It's Mine


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Scene Title Kind of Useless, But It's Mine
Synopsis Jim's ability leaves him feeling frustrated after a vision he's not sure how to stop.
Date August 16, 2018

Driving from Red Hook to Elmhurst

Well, wouldn’t you know it — an afternoon meant for digging in a garden to help restore a neighborhood turned into a staring contest with some clouds, and a hell of a headache afterwards. That’s where Jim’s at right now, though at least the slightly awkward several minutes he’d been more or less catatonic was less awkward in the company he’d been in than it would have been in some.

Less does not mean not at all, but it’s the little things you have to hold onto.

In any case, he has made his excuses and started for home, squinting against even the dimmer light of the overcast afternoon. He is not, however, starting for home very fast; his steps are a little lethargic, as though he’s walking through slightly thicker air than the rest of the world.

Peyton and Jonah leave, more tired than they started, but with less to carry, their donations left with the garden for others to use. Jonah happily splashes in puddles as Peyton finds her keys in her pocket. She glances at Jim a few feet down the sidewalk, chewing her lower lip for a moment pensively, before she calls out.

“Jim! Do you want a ride? This weather might turn on us any moment,” she says, with a glance up at those clouds, before opening the back passenger door of teh SUV, for Jonah to climb into the backseat into his booster seat. Her offer is carefully worded, not to imply he shouldn’t be walking around in the state he’s in. “It’s no trouble.”

Hearing his name, Jim turns back, still with that squint, and he does not look up at the clouds — no, he’s studiously avoiding those for the moment. He doesn’t answer right away, standing there on the sidewalk as he looks toward the car, then her, then Jonah, his mouth pulling a little to the side. This time it’s not a smile, though it’s not exactly a frown, either. Just considering.

“Thanks,” he finally says, apparently coming down on the side of not walking the entire way home with a migraine. “That’s nice of you.” Despite the hesitation of before, the words are sincere, and he starts toward the car, waiting to make sure he’s not in the way of anything to do with child wrangling before he gets inside. He settles back, his head hitting the headrest as his eyes close, but it’s pretty obvious he’s not asleep, nor is he likely to be any time soon.

Peyton nods, watching with some worry in her dark brown eyes, before closing the door on Jonah. She moves around to the driver side and climbs in as well. She takes her time putting on her seatbelt and glancing back to make sure Jonah has his on and is settled, then starts the car, though she doesn’t pull away just yet.

“So, where to? We don’t have anything else planned today, besides a bath,” she says, lips curving up as she glances at Jonah in the backseat. She glances at Jim, studying his profile for a moment, before flicking the windshield wipers on to do away with the collected rainfall. “I’ve forgotten what an August rainfall in New York feels like, somehow,” she adds, wrinkling her nose to indicate it’s not that great — humid and sticky rather than clean and refreshing, even if it’s good for the soil they were just working.

Despite his state, the words do draw a laugh, even if it’s a quiet laugh. “Sounds like what I need, too,” Jim admits. “But you can’t know if you’ve had fun if you didn’t get a little dirty, right?” His eyes open and he looks over his shoulder at Jonah in the back seat, the wrinkles around the corners of his eyes a little more pronounced than they might have been at another time, but the smile no less genuine for that.

He turns back around, glancing toward Peyton briefly, before he looks out the front window. “Herkimer Apartments,” he says. “Or somewhere close that’s on your way. I don’t need to be let off right at the door. A little rain isn’t gonna hurt me.” And again, despite the fact that he’s clearly not as well off as he was when he’d arrived, he’s still talking in what seems to be a relatively normal tone, if a little bit more quiet than before. “It’s not what I’m used to,” he agrees. “I feel like I never really dry out for a couple months, even when it’s not raining.”

“And rain will make the flowers grow,” sings Peyton softly, with a small smile, as she pulls out now that she has a direction to head in, pointing her car in that direction.

“I’m from here… most my life, anyway. But I’ve been up north a few years,” she chatters as she drives, small talk. As she drives, her eyes flit to that rearview mirror now and then to check on Jonah, who’s pulled out two plastic dinosaurs from his pocket to play with in the backseat.

“Where did you say you were from?” She asks, glancing back to Jim. He said it earlier, but she can’t remember, despite it not being all that long ago. “It’s Jonah’s first time here, to New York though. A big move, from Toronto.”

From the little smile at the sung lyrics, Jim must recognize them, and he nods, just one down and up. Nothing too fancy or overexerted. It’s not the time for vigorous nodding. His eyes have mostly closed again, though there’s a little sliver between his lids that can still be seen. “Oh yeah?” he says. “What brought you back? Exciting opportunities in gardening?” The tone is joking, and what might have sounded harsh from someone else with a little dryer, more pointed humor, is tempered by his mellow affect.

“South Dakota,” he continues after a moment. “I’ve been here a few years now, though. I like it fine, but I don’t think it’s ever gonna feel like home.” He tips his head up a little bit as though he’s looking in the rear view mirror at the child, even though his eyes don’t open much more than they already are. “How do you like it so far, Jonah?”

Peyton drives slowly, as if she might be mindful that he could have a headache, that jostling too much over a speed bump or pothole might worsen. “I understand that. Toronto was never quite home for me, either, though I do miss it, and our school back there. It was time to come home, though — New York’s always been my home, except the past few years.”

Jonah looks up to make eye contact in the rearview mirror, though that’s angled at his mother’s face, rather than Jim’s. “I like it but I miss the goats and living in a big house with the big kids,” she says, and Peyton glances back, her smile sweeter when she looks at him than it is for anyone else.

She glances at Jim, to offer explanation. “We run an academy up there, so there’s a big estate and many students who board there,” she says. “We’re opening a small sister campus here, though this one will be for younger children.” She tips her head to indicate Jonah. “K-8. The academy up north is more like Hogwarts, 7 to 12.”

Jonah heaves a long-suffering sigh. “There’s no such thing as magic. Just genetics,” he says wisely.

Jim is probably grateful for the careful driving, and while he’s not exactly chipper, he’s at least still able to carry on a relatively normal conversation. “I bet you do,” he replies to Jonah. “If I was living with goats, I’d miss them, too.”

He glances over at Peyton, his eyes opening a little bit more so that he can actually see her, though that’s still a little much for him, it seems. “Oh, that’s cool,” he says. “So like the X Mansion?” he asks with a little huff as Jonah gives it to them straight. Since of course, there’s no such thing as magic. No sir. Not at all.

“Yeah! But my mom is not Xavier, she’s Ms. Whitney,” Jonah says with a firm nod.

Peyton chuckles. “It is a little like it, yeah. Most of our kids are SLC-E. I wanted to give them a place that was safe, you know. It wasn’t as bad in Canada as it was here, a few years back, but still. I mean, even in Toronto, we got some interesting phone calls if you know what I mean. Nothing ever turned out to be legitimate, thankfully.”

She looks at Jim through the corner of her eyes. “Are you all right? I may have some advil in my purse. Did something happen?” she finally asks, softly.

“Still pretty cool,” Jim says, glancing in the rear view mirror again briefly, before he looks back to the front. His expression gets a little more grave then, though — which at the moment is saying something — and he nods. “Yeah,” he continues. “I hear that. We got some of that on the Rez at first, though there aren’t that many SLC-E Natives. Or at least it seems like there aren’t.”

He quiets then, and his eyes close again, as though he hasn’t heard her. Of course, he has heard her. The corners of his mouth tighten a little bit as he takes in a deep breath, letting it out in a long sigh. “I had a vision,” he says after the pause that’s quite a bit longer than it needed to be. “Sometimes they take a lot out of me, that’s all. I’ll be fine after I rest.”

“Well, we’re a small part of the population — and that’s a small population, in the grand scheme of things,” Peyton says, though when he says he’d had a vision, her brows draw together, an expression of worry marring her features.

“Oh, wow… I’m sorry. And here I am chatting at you when you probably just want peace and quiet,” she says, tone hushing just a little, as if her voice had been too loud to begin with. “How often do you get them?” she asks curiously, despite the fact she’s apologizing for talking too much.

Jim shrugs, and there’s a little wry pull of his mouth at that, something that might have been a smile were he in a little better frame of mind. “It’s all right,” he says. “I’m used to it. They just knock me out for a while, but after that I’m fine.” He reaches up to rub his face, as though trying to clear the cobwebs from his brain. Whether it works or not is debatable.

“It depends,” he says after another moment’s pause, but not as long of one as previously. “Sometimes a couple in a month, sometimes I don’t get one for six months or more. I used to try and track them to see, but there wasn’t a pattern I could see, so I stopped. I hadn’t had one in a while, before this one. I don’t usually understand them very well, either. Or at least, not enough to do anything about.” There’s a touch of bitterness to his tone now, almost imperceptible.

Peyton focuses on making a turn, but her frown, a sympathetic one, deepens. “That must be frustrating. I have to think about mine — except the first time I manifested, when I had no control. But it’s in my control now. And even then, it’s frustrating, when I can’t do anything about what I see. I can only imagine it’s worse for you. I’m so sorry.”

She rakes her teeth over her lower lip nervously, before asking, “Does anything good ever come of it? I mean… have you found it useful? I hope?” It’s a belated hope, given she just gave her condolences over the vision he’d had moments before in the garden. Her eyes flick to the rearview mirror again, to look at Jonah, before her gaze shifts back to Jim.

“Should I ask what you saw? I don’t know if that’s polite or not,” she adds, quietly.

Jim doesn’t say that it’s all right, or try and wave off the concern. Instead, he just says, “Thank you.” It is frustrating. Besides that little shade of bitterness, though, he doesn’t let it show, still calm despite the pain he’s obviously in. He continues to just breathe, in and out, slowly, and as he does his face smooths out just a little bit.

As for whether anything good comes out of it…well. “Sometimes,” he says. “If I can interpret one of them soon enough to be any good. They’re always true, but it’s a lot of metaphor. Once whatever happens, happens, I get it. But until then, I could spend days trying to figure it out, only to have it happen in a way I never would have figured out in a million years.”

He quiets then, and his eyes open almost fully now to stare ahead of him, like if he closes them again recounting the vision will be worse. “I don’t know if it is, either,” he admits. “I’ve never met another person like me.” A little laugh escapes him, though it’s not really amused, and it fades quickly. “Fire,” he says. “Fire in a forest. Animals running away, and then people. Then suddenly I was in some water on a boat, and people were jumping off a pier to escape the flames. I fell out, and started falling through…something. I don’t know what.”

Her mouth turns up a little at the fact he’s not sure if it’s good etiquette or not, either. “Well, tell me if you’d rather not,” she says but then listens as he tells what he saw.

Her eyes widen a little, and she shakes her head, as if to clear it of the mental images he’s painted for her own mind. “That sounds terrifying. I’m sorry you had to see that. If you see yourself in them, does that mean you’ll be there, or is that just part of the metaphor?” she asks, worried for him, it seems. “I mean, because I’d say if you steer clear of forests, you might be okay, and, well.” She gestures at the asphalt, concrete, and steel and brick buildings around them. “I don’t think you’re in danger here.”

Jim nods, his fingers tapping against his leg, just a little agitatedly. That little movement belies his otherwise calm state — it’s barely even enough to notice, really. Once it is noticed, though — if it is — it’s unmistakable.

“It depends,” he says. “No way to know. Sometimes it’s just metaphorical, sometimes I’m actually there. Sometimes it seems like I’m seeing it through someone else’s eyes.” He turns his head to look out the wide window instead, so that only the edge of his profile is visible, should she glance toward him. “I doubt it’s literal this time. It just didn’t feel like that, especially at the end. I was just falling endlessly, until I snapped out of it. I think that part is important. I’m just not sure why.”

Peyton turns down another street. They’re in the Elmhurst neighborhood now. She makes a face at his words and nods. “We had a vision once. Everyone in New York, or a certain radius, you know. I misunderstood what I saw. It’s not something I’d want, not long term. It’s a lot to carry,” she says quietly.

His dream makes her tip her head, and she shakes it after a moment. “So no forests and no boats,” she says, making a small joke, like that will solve everything. “You might consider telling someone in SESA but I don’t really know what they’d do with it, vague as it is. I can give you a card, though, if you like.” She’s got a stack of them, for various reasons.

“Yeah. Compared to people who can teleport or walk through walls, or run really fast or grow things that help people, it’s kind of useless.” The smile that settles on Jim’s face now is a bit more wry, though not too much. “But it’s mine, and I’ve walked with it for long enough that I’d miss it if it left.”

He turns back to her at her last words, though, and despite the obvious pain and fatigue, his eyebrows raise and his gaze sharpens a little bit, focusing on on her more clearly. “Yeah,” he says, “but it can’t hurt. I’d take it if you’re offering.” Which clearly she is, but just in case she changes her mind.

“Useful has its disadvantages,” is all Peyton says in a quiet voice, before pulling up to the apartments. She reaches for her handbag, tucked behind the back seat, and pulls out a business card case, rifling through them before coming up with two.

“Here’s a SESA one. That’s just the general number, but someone can field the call and point you to someone in the right area, I’m sure. I don’t know if they have anyone who collects precognitive visions or not. That would be an interesting job, wouldn’t it?” she says with a small smile, then hands him a second card. “That’s me, at the school. If you need something. I don’t know what that might be, but we should all be helping one another, however we can, right?”

Jim watches her for a few moments, his eyes narrowing just a little bit as he does, though it’s thoughtful, more than anything else. After that silence, he nods once, conceding the point, but instead of answering those words, he reaches to take the first card, and the second one, as well. They both get a cursory glance, though it’s the latter that is looked at longer, rather than the former. “Right,” he says, “sure, of course.”

He puts them both into his pocket then, and gestures vaguely. “Just up here is fine,” he says. “You’ve done enough. I really appreciate the ride.” And maybe the also vague future commitment, though he isn’t thinking about that at the moment, just about how soon his head can hit the pillow.

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