Mosaic II


aura_icon.gif brynn_icon.gif carl_icon.gif delilah_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif hailey_icon.gif jonah_icon.gif kaylee_icon.gif kendall_icon.gif peyton_icon.gif seren_icon.gif walter_icon.gif

Also featuring Ricky and Lili

Scene Title Mosaic II
Synopsis The Winslow-Crawford Academy opens its door to the community for another art project, drawing in friends new and old.
Date April 10, 2021

Winslow Crawford Academy for the Gifted

The cafeteria at the Winslow-Crawford Academy is serving another purpose today — an art room. The school has art rooms, of course, but this the art being made today is being made by many, many hands, and so several tables have been set up, covered in white butcher paper, and supplied with ink, paintbrushes, and of course paints to create another mural for the school.

The first tile mural has been brought to the new campus, rather than left at Brooklyn College, so it hasn’t been forgotten; it exists in the main lobby of the administration building where all can see. But the new one will be placed in the courtyard in front of the school, below the name of the academy.

Brooklyn College art students are on hand, despite not being on the same campus, to help the Academy staff in guiding parents, students, and community members alike through the process — pick up your tile, find a seat, share the colors, drop off the completed tile, clean up the work station.

Most of the seating is first-come, first-serve, but there are plenty of tables, so that people can gather with large groups of people that they already know.

Peyton herself is in the midst of it all, to direct traffic, answer questions, and greet people as they enter. The dean is casual today, in jeans, Toms, and a navy-blue WCA sweatshirt that both promotes the school and keeps her better clothes from getting paint all over them.

Gradually easing himself into the social scene now that he's back in familiar stomping grounds, Kendall has been trying to reconnect with people he knew in the past; for the most part, it's trying to find out if they're still around. Hearing about a community art project at a local school intrigued him, and upon looking into it a bit more, recognized a name, which is a second reason to go. So he decided to head over, and since it involves paint, he comes wearing clothes already pre-decked with some splatters that refuse to come out in a wash.

Going through the checkpoint like all the other visitors, he looks about enviously. Maybe if his school looked like this, he would've been more willing to go. Damn these kids got it good. Being pointed in the correct direction, however, and he decides to head over. It's true that he doesn't quite look like he fits in, what with not having any spawn following him around, but it's a community thing, right?

As he's hesitating off to the side, he catches sight of Peyton. They weren't exactly BFFs but he remembers a few run-ins… one of which causes him to suddenly look embarrassed. Oh well, better man up, at the very least he can apologize for being a stupid little kid.

“Mrs. Whitney!”

An enthusiastic eight year old boy waves from one of the many tables, “Look!” He calls over, holding up the tile which doesn’t look like much yet, just some green and blue and red paint. But knowing Carl Sumter… “It’s a dragon,” he shouts over to her.

He has to shout over the din of sound and the distance they are from each other. Which isn’t that far, but in the mind of a child it must be a great distance.

Just on the other side of the boy, Kaylee Thatcher gives the head of the school a lop-sided smile of amusement and apology. Having offered to bring her son, while her ex-husband dealt with other matters. Unlike last time, she doesn’t have a tile, she’s just watching and helping her son.

When Carl turns back to his painting, Kaylee licks her thumb and tries to wipe a smudge of green off his cheek, only to have the boy duck away. “Moooom,” he hisses between his teeth, looking to make sure none of the other boys saw that.

Being the cafeteria, there is plenty of room for folks to mill about while the activities go on; Delilah has found some of the refreshments and settled herself down not too far from the action. Close enough that when she sits down, Walter rushes up to paw a cookie from her before scuttling back to the project as only a ten year old can. Dee can only grunt as he leaves a dust cloud, a put-upon sound stifled by a soft cookie.

For now she isn't taking part— likely because Delilah appears to still be wearing an outfit from work. Aprons can only do so much. Maybe once the ruckus subsides? She lifts a hand to wave Peyton's way when their eyes briefly meet. Instead of shouting. (Carl.)

Seren Evans adores art and this school too much not to show up in support for this event. All they can do is volunteer their skills as an artist here, but there's nothing wrong with that.

Their eyes gleam with rings of silver as they look up across the table at Carl, seeing his balking even if none of his peers did. "Hey," they say in a conspiratorial hush, laying aside their brush. "Watch this." Hands close before them only to open and release a palm-sized dragon which flies the young boy's direction. Red like his tile, tiny, and roaring, it flaps its wings and beats its tail, as fierce as can be.

They finally grin lopsidedly, elbows setting on the table as they pick up their painting implement again.

Unusual motion at one of the tables draws Kendall's gaze, and he raises his eyebrows when he sees a little dragon there, and right next to it was that person he remembers at the club who was showing off cool illusions! He glances back at Peyton again, and decides to chicken out and approach her later. What's he even going to say, anyway? 'Oh hi, remember when you bought an underaged kid at a date auction he snuck into?' …yeah, not exactly the best conversation starter, that.

For now, though, he decides to move over to that table, all set to introduce himself properly, when he catches sight of Kaylee. Oh. "Um, hi. Long time no see.." Maybe she won't remember him, or that he dated her sister. Well shit, things are feeling a little awkward. Good thing he hasn't seen Delilah yet since she just walked up.

Jonah slides back into the seat across from Carl where he’d set his unpainted tile before running off to find a better bottle of orange paint than the one this table was stuck with — someone had dabbed some other color in it, making it closer to puce than the proper sunset-shade he’s looking for. He’s willing to admit it was probably a mistake, the wrong paintbrush dipping into the wrong bottle, but he isn’t willing to ruin his dinosaur-themed tile with the wrong orange. That would be awful.

“Oh, my God, it’s so tiny!” he crows gleefully, leaning forward to peer at Seren’s illusion and grinning wildly — since last time they painted, he’s grown his adult front teeth which are still a bit large for his nine-year-old mouth.

Peyton waves at Delilah and Walter, then turns to follow the sound of Carl’s voice. She heads in that direction, not noticing the embarrassed Kendall just yet, as she only has eyes for the dragon tile being shown to her. “That is going to look a-maze-ing, Carl. I can’t wait to see it when it’s finished.” She tips her head at the little miniature dragon Seren has brought to life. “I see life is imitating art this time, instead of the other way around, hm?”

Jonah chews on the tip of his paintbrush — he’s making something dinosaur themed, but seems stumped as to what he’s going to create. Never mind they had ideation workshops in their classrooms earlier in the week. He’s a man of the moment who needs inspiration to strike. He whirls around to find Walter. “What are you painting, Walter?”

Heck yes Hailey has a tile. Sitting beside Brynn, the empath chatters away as she diligently applies her colored brush to the ceramic. She's not a good artist like the other young woman, but she doesn't care. She's here to make sure there's a work of pickle artistry in this mural too. Last time, she made a monkey.

The brown paint is smeared over her tile a little too liberally and her monkey… no longer looks like a monkey. Frowning, she pulls a towel from a small cleanup bin and works to wipe away most, if not all, the paint. Once it's white again, she tries… again. She glances over at a few of the other creations, and is satisfied that hers isn't the worst.

Lightly bumping the elbow next to hers, she glances over at Brynn and quickly cants, Did you invite Paul down? a sly grin spreads across her face, Are you guys a T-H-I-N-G yet?

Living in a world of power and knowing nothing else, Walter still hasn't lost that kid-sense of wonder when it comes to displays; he's paused in painting deliberations when Seren releases the small dragon, and while he doesn't get as vocal, there's still a happy laugh. The brush end of his implement is extended towards the wee dragon, a tentative poking.

"Hnh?" Audio processes a touch slowly, the question his way dawning. "Oh, mine?" Walter's shoulders lift in a big rolling shrug. "I dunno yet. I'm just thinkin'." Too much like Jonah, there, right now. "Maybe a knight or a castle to go with Carl's? I can't remember what I did for the first mural." The smile Walter gives the other kids is an awkward one with too many teeth for a real smile. Sheepish out the ears. Eh-heh.

There is a soft and delighted gasp as the dragon comes to life before Carl, his blue eyes wide with wonder. “That’s so cool,” he half whispers, dropping his brush to hold out his hands to it, not at all afraid of the fierce display.

He simply trusts Seren won’t let it do anything to him.

Meanwhile, his mother looks up as the young man approaches. For a moment there is confusion on Kaylee’s face, but then it hits and there is a soft gasp of surprise. “Kendall! Oh my god…. You’ve grown.”

The reaction from the former telepath distracts Carl enough to look up at this stranger, though his hands stay steady for the tiny dragon. There is a mild look of suspicion in his eyes. “Who’s that mom?”

“This is Kendall, he saved mommy and daddy’s life once a long, long time ago,” Kaylee explains to her son who ‘ohs’ softly and turns back to the dragon. It was a bit more interesting. She moves to stand… watch out, there might be a hug incoming for Kendall.

Brynn is very carefully plying a paintbrush across her tile. Though she is right-handed, she cannot feel her hand and she's been practicing art with both hands lately. Her tile started with a simple blue background and now she is meticulously putting swirls of white into a corner with her left hand. The jostle from Hailey makes her yank the brush away from the tile, and she gives her sister an exasperated look. Her right hand flies up and her signing — for those who know her well — is looking better than it did a couple months ago, if still a little sloppy. Of course not! Cripes, Hailey, will you let off?? Paul flirts with everyone — nothing with him is serious! A Thing?? O.M.G!!

At the door, there is a whoop from yet another small boy who bounds somewhat recklessly toward his cousin and friends. Ricky (Ray/Cardinal) Roberts is nothing if not energetic. And Baird's presence makes him crow, "Primal! Carl, guys! If we all do dragons or knights, they can link up like a puzzle and make one bigger picture, right??" He looks at Seren and Baird. "Wanna be famous on our tiles??"

Two small sandy-haired girls are slower but join the boys at the table as well. "Ricky, stop shoutin'," instructs Lili, while Aura just admires Baird silently and takes a seat by Walter, waving to Jonah and Carl. The blonde who stopped at the doorway as the trio cut loose pauses and slants a rueful look toward Peyton. There they go again — the little cadre of OMG. Elisabeth is just taking a moment to see who has already arrived and who hasn't.

Kendall has been hugged a couple times already, so he doesn’t move away when Kaylee gets up. He’ll even hug back, albeit a bit hesitant. Oh, so she’s not going to yell at him for disappearing one day and being gone for 10 years? Well that’s good at least. He steps back with a slightly bashful grin at her, then looks from her to Carl. Um. Is he supposed to know who the dad is…? He really can’t remember if Kaylee was dating anyone? Or married? Um. Well anyway.

“Hey little dude.” How do you even talk to little kids, anyway? Awkward smile. Well, all right then. That should be good enough for now. When more kids show up, he looks from Carl to Walter (who for obvious reasons he doesn’t recognize even if he DID see him as a baby) and grins. “A castle, or a knight, huh?”

With a flourish of both hands, he plucks chess pieces out of thin air, raises an eyebrow over in Seren’s direction, and then sets them on the nearby table. The rook and knight pieces ‘transform’, the knight into a little knight riding a horse, complete with armor and a tiny sword and shield, and the ‘castle’ transforms into what Kendall imagines Bannerman castle looked like not destroyed. It’s the only castle he’s ever seen in person, after all. Yeah, ok, he’s showing off. Seren started it.

“That’d be cool,” Jonah says with an encouraging smile for Walter — it’s a little sycophantic, because Walter is a whole year or so older and so that much cooler than he is. “I’m sure it’ll look good!”

He begins to pour a little of the orange paint into a cup, though his dark eyes dart over to the little display of illusions from Seren and now Kendall.

Peyton turns at the name Kendall, and lifts her brows. “Hey! I didn’t know you were in the Safe Zone. You been here a while or just decide to come back to civilization recently?” she asks brightly — the question has landmines in it, of course, for all the reasons someone might have stayed off grid or been caught out west, like so many were after the war, but she trusts him not to unleash a tale of tragedy in front of all the children. After all, he’s not one, anymore.

Elisabeth’s arrival and that of her brood draws her attention that way and she smiles at the expression on the other mom’s face. “There’s coffee,” she calls, pointing over to the refreshment stand. And it’s even good coffee, because Peyton is a bit of a coffee snob and likes to keep the parents pleased.

It doesn't take a lot for Delilah's curiosity to be drawn; though she doesn't hear the exchange clearly, she does see when Kaylee subjects a young man to a hug, and the kids finish gathering around the table. It takes a moment more and getting to her feet before his face stirs back into her head. The magic show doesn't hurt, and now she realizes what the hug was about. Unlike Kaylee who was in sight, Kendall feels Delilah's hand on his arm before he sees her face, a gentle pressure in her touch to turn him towards her.

"Oh my god, it is you." Surprise flickers into warmth and a smile like the sun. Suddenly, life has surrounded Kendall like iron flakes to a magnet, and Delilah is, of course, one more hugger. "C'mere, holy crap—"

Thankfully, unlike Carl, Walter is perfectly used to seeing his mother greeting strangers like this. A standard, right? He gives Jonah a twitch of a grin, eyes moving to Aurora as she slides into place beside him. Walter's never quite understood why she attached to him so quickly— but she did— so he just takes it in stride.

After a few moments of scratching a pencil to make an outline on his tile, "Hey, 'Ror, here," Leaning up a little from his seat, Walter reaches out to bring the girl at his side her own fresh tile. "Go crazy."

"Careful," Seren warns Carl when he extends his hands out to the dragon. "He's a…" Their lopsided grin begins to fade, and their head, the head of the small dragon, and the head of the winged and beaked blue russian cat in their lap turns in Kendall's direction. Their brow lifts up.

"It's you!" they exclaim. The transforming, magical chess pieces confirm it.

The tiny dragon nearly in Carl's clutches gawps at him with a flash of its darkened maw and its glowing inner throat before it peels off in Kendall's direction like a particularly curious gnat. Seren wraps an arm around their familiar's torso, scooping him up under his front paws while the rest of his body hangs down unsupported as they come to their feet.

"I didn't think I'd see you again! Oh my god!" Their initial excitement only seems to be growing, a look spared between Kaylee and Delilah both before a growing grin is afforded in Kendall's direction. "Your ability— it's like— I've never seen any one like mine!"

"Oh, you know. Away." Kendall waves vaguely westward when Peyton shows up next, proving one of her guesses was, in fact, correct. "Made it back to the safe zone about a month ago." That's not really a subject he wants to bring up to anyone just yet, let alone around a table of kids.

The touch on his arm does cause him to turn, and then there's that familiar deer-in-headlights look that Delilah should be familiar with no matter how old he is now. Oh crap, it's Dee. And she's hugging him. What's with this reaction, it's like he's still a teenager or something. "U-uh, hi Delilah… been a while." he stammers. His hug back is a lot stiffer than the one he gave Kaylee, because he never had a puppy love crush on her. And during that, he looks from Delilah to Walter, and a sudden look of comprehension dawns. Oh, it's the fetus. Baby thing. Right. That guy. He's now an actual person.

He steps back and manages a nervous grin at all three of them, though. "Wow, if I knew I'd get this much attention from a bunch of attractive ladies I'd disappear for a few years more often." He jokes. Yeah he's getting punched for that, probably.

When the tiny dragon flies up to his face, however, it's a welcome distraction, and he turns to the one he originally headed over to see, only to find them staring at him. "Hi, now we can properly meet. I'm Kendall Cunningham, and… well I've met one person who can do this but I haven't seen her since…" a quick glance towards the kids again. Yeah let's not bring up the events on Pollepel. "But anyway, yours are so cool, I can't make anything like that without drawing it first." Baird is given an admiring look.

Kaylee might have told him about Carl’s dad, but a lot happens as others recognize the young man. Amusement has a smile pulling her mouth up on one side, leaving him to Delilah’s care. The woman settles herself back into her chair and watches not only the awkwardness, but the kids painting. Her sister-in-law and the kids get a wave.

A little disappointed at the dragon changes course, Carl is quickly distracted when he hears his name and grins brightly upon seeing his cousins. “Hey!” He looks down at his tile with some worry. Looking at the sleeping dragon he’s working on and it’s two sheep friends. Rinsing out his brush in his cup of now greenish gray water, he loads up on black and starts outlining the curled body. He is a vision of total concentration as he follows the curve of the tail to where it’s end rests near the dragon’s chin.

“Well, welcome back. Jonah and I’ve been here for a couple of years now, once it looked a little more like civilization and less like rubble,” Peyon says, reaching a hand out to tousle Jonah’s dark mop of long hair. “Let me know if you need anything.”

She turns away to make her rounds, moving in a meandering circuit through the cafeteria to socialize with parents and ooh-and-ahh over the kids’ artwork as she goes. Now and then she gets a hug from a small child, or a high five from an older one. She’s not the one who gives out homework, after all.

If Dee notices the way that Kendall stiffens up, she is now wise enough to not point it out in front of everyone. Instead, she just leans back with a smile, laughing as he's more or less mobbed by folks happy to see him. One hand remains at his arm for a time, a caring touch to make sure that he doesn't, as he says, disappear again. Not this fast, anyway. Later, please. She pulls her hand back to herself while Seren engages with him, chuckling at the mutual cooing over abilities.

"I think Seren here takes things right out of their head. Right?" Dee is less familiar with theirs, incidentally— "Kendall was always the artist, sounds like it hasn't changed. Have you caught up with the Lighthouse kids yet?" Brown eyes light up a bit more. "I bet they'd love to see you, if you haven't."

Kendall relaxes after the initial surprise passes. Really, what WAS with that reaction, why is his inner voice such a drama queen? “Oh yes, I’ve met them.” is the dry response from Kendall. And if Dee knows them too, she probably knows. “Matter of fact…” he looks over at a different table and waves, even if they’re not looking up and probably won’t see it, but whatever. He saw them when he came in earlier. “Brynn actually invited me to stay with them a couple weeks ago. I was, uh…” Kendall looks embarrassed, rubbing the back of his head. “I was staying in one of the old safehouses on Staten because I didn’t know anywhere else to go.” needless to say, there’s probably a good guess which one it was, too, though likely a different shade of green now. Also, good thing he excels at being sneaky. “Was kinda hoping I’d find…” he trails off and shrugs, looking away. “Ten years is a long time.”

Then a quick shake of his head and he grins back at Dee. Yeah, enough of that depressing stuff. “At least I’m not embarrassing myself this time when you snuck up on me.” and just to make sure, he casually lifts the arm that Delilah isn’t holding and waves a hand above his head. Nope, nothing there.

"But yep, still doing the drawing thing. Saved my life a few times, matter of fact, so glad I kept up with it. Half the reason I'm here, to be honest. Couldn't not show up for a community art project, huh?" He gestures to the old paint stains on his clothes with a grin, then a glance about at all the tiles being industrially worked on everywhere by kids and adults alike. "Smaller scale than the mural I helped work on a while back but looks more meaningful to have all these budding artists participate."

With that slightly pompous statement, he goes to snag a tile himself, setting it on the table. With an odd movement, he mimes removing a backpack, and then suddenly a very real one appears out of thin air before it gets plunked on the table next to the tile. Taking a seat, he digs through the bag and brings out a few of his own art supplies, leaving the ones supplied by the school to be used by everyone else. Before he starts, though, he looks inquisitively over at Seren. "Powered by pure imagination, huh? Mine's kinda opposite, I tend to make things as real as possible."

The word Lighthouse catches Hailey's attention and she looks up and smiles toward Dee and Kendall. "Oh hey loser!" she calls out cheerfully (to the new roomie, she would never call Delilah that). "Why are you guys over there gossiping like a couple of old ladies instead of painting a freaking!!"

Making an explosion sound effect with her mouth, she spatters a streak of red paint across her tile, accidentally hitting the corner of one of the boys over there. Hailey wasn’t really paying attention to whose tile was whose… but there’s a few flecks of red near a green lizard thing. "Whups, oh hey, it's like blood from the dragon's mouth man… that fire breathing dink wrinkle ate UP that knight. Chomped him straight in half. Ask Brynn, little dude, she knows."

The look that Carl turns to Hailey is one of horror at what she’s proposing, blue eyes wide. “Dragons and knights can be friends, too. Dragons can be good,” he bursts out defending the poor bloodied dragon. Luckily, it wasn’t his tile that got spattered, his dragon is red, but that doesn’t stop him from sidling away from Hailey, moving to put his mom between him and the girl.

Giving Hailey a bit of side-eye Carl goes back to his sleeping dragon and the sheep hanging around him. It was a peaceful scene. Kaylee casts an amused look at her son, but also listens quietly to the conversation.

"That you aren't." Delilah remarks when Kendall waves his hand in the empty space above him, grinning ear to ear. It mutes some, and she gives the young man a bump in the arm as she frees him more completely. "Next time you're roughing it, you've got lots've friends with couches, alright?" Suffice to say, Dee is very glad for the Lighthouse Crew, even if Hailey is animatedly causing a creative ruckus. With Kendall seated, the redhead rests a hand on his shoulder with a squeeze before stepping around to pull a chair up next to her son.

Who is definitely his own little person. Who has been tapping the end of a brush on his lips as he sits hunched over his art, peering over at Kendall. It's his slightly scrunched thinking face.

Ricky is already hard at work peering at what Carl and Jonah and Walter have on their tiles. And as is usual, with the themes being dinosaurs and dragons, he is all in for that. Even though his art skill is less than stellar — he's too impatient to sit still for long to be a great artist. "Primal!" The exclamation is accompanied by Ricky abandoning his tile to climb around Carl so he can look at Kendall's backpack. "Did you just teleport that outta nowhere? Was it invisible? So you carry it in a spacetime pocket? Or summon it, like Harry Potter? How'd you do that?"

Aurora grins up at Walter and accepts the tile. "Thanks." And then she settles between Walter and Lili, happily putting flowers on hers. Lili grins at Carl and takes a seat by him to work on her own image — Carl at least knows how not to be loud and boisterous.

Helping herself to coffee on the side of the room, Elisabeth is happy to just watch the small brood of children engaging in things together. She doesn't know Kendall and so doesn't interrupt the apparent reunion. Although she sets her coffee down when Ricky starts bombarding Kendall with questions and heads that way.

As she works on her tile carefully, her left hand going slow with her art, Brynn can't help being amused by her sister. Hailey is happily splattering away and grinning like a crazy person, shouting right in her ear — OW, HAILEY — across to someone. The brunette looks up and around, noting Delilah and Kendall standing together and she waves with her right hand. Then she glances at the green lizard tile and signs, Oh geez, I'm sorry. she puts her own paintbrush down to help wipe the spatter off the tile.

Kendall pauses and turns his gaze back to Hailey, then just sighs, rolling his eyes heavensward. Then an idea hits him and he suddenly has a piece of paper in front of him, which he folds into a paper airplane. He stands up once it’s ‘made’, and throws it over to that table, and unlike a real one, it lands perfectly in front of her. Of course, not being real, it doesn't get dirty or knock anything over, but it does have 'NO U' written on it. Real mature. Brynn gets a smile though because she's not a butt.

And then he's under a barrage of questions by a kid, and he grins at him. "Well, not invisible, you just couldn't see it." Because…. There's a difference apparently. "It's magic." He accompanies the word with jazz hands surrounded by a rainbow hue of sparklers and stars that fade away within seconds. Cheap tricks for someone whose power is illusion, but likely impressive enough when you're under 12.

"But now isn't the time for magic, now is the time for art." And now, Kendall sits back down and picks up the tile and regards it thoughtfully. Right away it darkens to show a scene with smoke-filled skies and broken—he hastily swipes his hand across it with a grimace, 'wiping' it clean. Not that.

With more care, he starts thinking about a more kid-friendly design. Hopefully no one saw that. It did give him an idea though, and once again, it darkens, this time showing a skyline in grayscale. Then he holds his hand out in front of it, and a handprint shows up, with brighter colors. He nods to himself, then gets out some paints from his bag. Black, white, blue, and yellow are laid out with a few brushes, then he starts using the butcher paper on the table as a makeshift palette. Using the 'image' on the tile, he carefully starts reproducing the blotches of color he envisioned, using a nearby jar of water and a rag he pulls out of his bag to carefully clean the brush between dabs to make sure he's not introducing any wrong shades.

Let's do art.

“Oh, my little dude…. So much to learn,” Hailey says to Carl with a sigh as he slides further down the table. Not letting that phase her, she points her brush in his direction.

“Not all dragons are bad but not all knights are good,” Hailey says with a strict aire of gravitas. “A long time ago, there were bad knights and good knights. Just like today, there’s good knights and bad knights, they just don’t get called Sir Middlefoot of Braithwaite Sandwich… most of the time.” Who knows with those weirdos in England. After all, they do call the Americas across the pond and it’s an ocean not a pond. “Right Aunt Kaylee?”

After the No U disappears, Hailey narrows her eyes toward Kendall and her smile turns into a sinister grin. She nudges Brynn with her elbow, “So Brynny… what are you painting?”

After their initial outburst, Seren's fallen into a sheepish quiet, seeing all the activity and happily playing background to it. Even as Kendall makes comparisons between their abilities, they've more shyly resumed their seat, listening and watching— sometimes with a knowing sparkle to their eye— but resuming their own business as much as possible.

It's honestly just a treat enough to watch, and they're not even certain what to say? So this suits them.

Carl's upset gets their attention, though. Seren looks back to him, and the little dragon from before lands on the table in front of him— much more well-behaved than before, and curls up in an imitation of the tile art. It's more than just an imitation, too, as the edges of their irises glow more white than silver, lending the dragon every bit of what Carl imagined it would look like.

"Some dragons, though, and some knights are the best of their kind," they advise kindly across the table. "There may be bad in the world, but it's extra important that those good beings exist, to stand out among all the rest. To be exemplary, and help others." Seren tips their head knowingly, and Baird sets his tiny paws on the table before he and his summoner to peer at their own tile next.

Just what are you gonna paint, Seren?

“Oh I am not getting into the middle of this one, you are on your own Hailey,” Kaylee says with hands lifted, as she gets to her feet. “I’m going to find Peyton and see if I can help her. Be right back kiddo,” she tells her son, who looks at Hailey defiantly, before wandering after the lady in charge.

The tiny dragon and Seren are a good distraction, changing that glare to a grin, as his irritation lessens. “See! They get it!” He says pointing at Seren. “They can be friends and do good things. Sometimes people we think are bad are just misunderstood. They might be mean and cranky, but you don’t know, what’s going on where you can’t see.”

Carl brushes more lines, outlining the colorful shapes, as he talks, “Never assume people are bad… I’d tell you what assume means, but I’d get in trouble for bad words and I want ice cream later.” He looks over at the other, with a mischievous look, cause he knows what assume means, bad words and all.

Brynn manages to have her brush not on her tile for the next jostle from her sister and grins. Setting the brush down, she uses both hands to rapid-fire sign back, I'm trying, she emphasized the trying part, to reteach myself how to paint. My hand does what I tell it to, but it's not always where I want it to be when it does it. So it's just a simple meadow with moonlight flowers this time. Nothing detailed. She still doesn't have — and may never have — the fine motor control to bring the detail of her art to life. But she's trying to make the best of it. If you stop jumping up and jostling everything like you're on a pogo stick,that is, she teases Hailey.

In the meantime, it's a rare occasion when all of the Ray children are actually sitting quietly. Ricky is watching as his cousin faces off with Hailey over dragons and dinosaurs and he staunchly backs Carl. "We know all about good dragons and bad dragons, cuz we got a dragon! Dad's work made it! It's actually a dinosaur, but we pertend it's a dragon. It used to be at the front desk of our building!" He jumps up on the bench seat like he's gonna help Carl instruct Hailey.

His sisters both look rather long-suffering at this, and Lili sighs. "Now you done it," the little girl tells her twin. "Now Mummy is watching!" And sure enough, the sharp-eyed blonde is looking like she's about ready to move in and scoop up a noisy Ray child and whisk him out of trouble. But Ricky did promise to be extra good tonight. So he slowly climbs back down to sit and pick up his paintbrush again. "It means ass out of u and me," Ricky helpfully supplies.

And Aurora? She squinches a little closer to and behind Walter hoping that if Mummy heard Ricky say that, she's not in the line of scolding. "That's a bad word, Ricky," she hisses. "You shoulda used aspirin!" That's what Unca Kain always said.

Kendall was just about to dab the first bit of paint when he hears the kids start talking, and pauses. Then he looks over at the group and slowly raises an eyebrow. "Huh. That is a bad word. Looks like ice cream is definitely in danger now." He chuckles and looks back at his drawing, or rather, what will be his drawing. "And yeah, they're right, there's good people and bad people, and probably good dragons and bad dragons. I've read books with both. Bad dragons like Smaug from The Hobbit, for instance, or good dragons like Ruth from Dragonriders of Pern."

Before he starts painting, though, he smiles and conjures a little white dragon that flies over to join the red one, while he's thinking of it. He won't bring out Smaug, because he was a mean dragon. That done, Kendall looks back to his tile to finally start filling in his image of a handprint superimposed over a broken skyline.

Walter has been in his own little world scratching a faint outline of where he wants things to be; it's Aurora and the boys spitting verses that see him blinking and looking up, brow furrowed in interest. Wait, what? A look is given to the younger girl shrinking into his shadow.

When he does process what he thought he heard, Walter just laughs, nose crinkling up, delighted. "Jeez, you didn't even try to whisper that did you Ricky?" You have to whisper those kinds of things!

He looks up and catches his Mother's passively amused eye, and he immediately clams up to stifle some lingering laughter and go back to his tile. Not Delilah's job, but she is near enough to curtail it should the children start spewing expletives.

Jonah’s listening to the others but very intent on painting his tile — this one is of a dreadnoughtus eating from a tree while a pterodactyl soars overhead. Now and then his dark eyes look up at something one of the others say, but he keeps painting, worried about messing up his art project if he stops to chime in.

Finally at a stopping spot — the eyes for the pterodactyl, complete with eyelashes for some reason, he dips his paintbrush in a nearby cup of water. “Benji told us once that if you assume you make emus out of everyone,” he says softly.

A nearby child, younger than the group clustered at center of this table, looks at Jonah with wide eyes. “An emu’s kinda like an ostrich but a little smaller,” Jonah explains with the air of wisdom that all children have over a child three years younger than they are.

The cafeteria grows fuller and fuller as the clock ticks on — it will take some thousand or so uniquely-painted tiles to fill the space that Peyton’s chosen for the new mural, several times larger than the first.

Taking her tile and flopping down into a seat next to Kendall, Hailey smirks at the young boys. Her brush drips a trail of watery red from where she was to where she is now. "Wow, being bullied by a bunch of tweens. I should've worn my pink shirt today."

She looks over at Kendall's naked tile before dipping her brush into the brown paint and making a few artistic strokes on the diagonal across her own tile. "I think you mean I'm right, Ken-doll," she chirps with the confidence of a cat in a birdhouse. "I was the one that said people are good and bad." Leaning in she lowers her voice and utters in a not so quiet whisper. "She didn't invite Paaaauuuul.. you can go sit with herrrrrrrrrr… eeehhh? eeeeehhh??" nudge nudge

Seren lifts their eyes to look at the dragon joining the one fashioned from Carl's thoughts with a flicker of a smile, glancing back and forth between the kids as they debate the downfalls of assuming and what it makes them all. Grey outlines of their tile's final shapes are painted on the blank canvas before them as they stifle a chuckle.

The kid's conversation being for the kids, their idle attentions work their way back toward the other conjurer at the table. Seren offers Hailey a small smile. "We can both be right. The kids deserve to know there's good, too, not just the bad." They look for a moment to Brynn where she sits and then glances back to Kendall.

"Awful lot of moving," they interject quietly on his behalf. "Maybe you'd not mind if I borrow him for a moment?"

At Hailey's words, Kendall looks up from his tile at her, then over to Brynn, then back at Hailey. "I already got a setup here though." He replies with a gesture to his 'palette' drawn on the table. No offense, Brynn, art is Serious Business. When Seren says their piece, though, Kendall looks over at them with a faint expression of gratitude. Rescue him from Hailey! Speaking of which…

Kendall lifts his hand up in the heavily exaggerated classic pose of pretending to hide what he's saying without hiding a damn thing. "I think she has a crush on me." He whispers loudly to Seren with a glance over at Hailey again to see her reaction, regardless of whether Seren would play along or not. What is this, middle school? Well, actually, given the location…

"I'm starting to think this Paul guy is a made up person. Trying to make me jealous?" Wicked smirk. "Anyway." Abruptly he turns back towards Seren. "Hi."

The chatter continues, as adults and children paint side by side. Now and then art students come by with trays to collect the finished tiles, and as people complete their painting, they empty their seats, which are taken by others throughout the morning, until a thousand tiles are completed and ready to be fired and installed.

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