Reluctant Soldiers


helena_icon.gif jay_icon.gif

Scene Title Reluctant Soldiers
Synopsis Helena visits Jay a few days after the incident at the bus stop near the Verb.
Date September 23, 2009

Columbia University Dorms

It was fairly easy to find Jake and follow him home. He didn't do anything at all to throw off a tail; he truly didn't do any of that intentionally. The dorm was easy to get into, too - this is a co-ed dormitory, though guys and girls are on different floors.

Jay doesn't actually spend a lot of time in his dorm room. His brother spends most of the time there, if you're watching. They look nothing like brothers, though, and particularly nothing like twins - James is dark-skinned, dark-haired, and blue-eyed, bigger than Jake, and seems to spend the most time there. This particular afternoon, though, Jake just finished off a track session and came straight back to the dorm, no stopping at the gym, to shower - and James is out, studying. The rooms have little closet bathrooms in them, and at this particular moment, Jake's inside his, rinsing off the sweat and grime of the athletic business.

It seems the right time. Helena's got her Evelyn wig and clothes on - it makes her look like a left-leaning poli-sci or film major - and there isn't a lot of to-do with the way she casually heads to Jay's floor and knocks on the door. Act like you belong, and people will assume you do. It doesn't bother her much if people assume she's Jay's latest co-ed floozy. Leaning against the door frame, she waits for him to answer. She knows he's there.

The knock is unusual. Thus Jay actually shows up wearing a towel, as opposed to what he'd likely do if he thought the person at the door was familiar. The door is yanked open, and… he blinks, then tilts his head just so. "Who are you?" …No, he doesn't remember. It was at least two weeks ago. He's had entertaining stuff happen since then, not to mention a few jolts of various substances that destroy short-term memory.

Oh wow, fanservice! Helena's eyebrow goes up. "Evelyn?" she offers in a questioning tone. "We met at the Rock Cellar. I'm totally stalking you. Can I come in? I promise to turn my back, or I can wait a minute."

Jay's brows furrow. He thinks. Then it dawns. "Wait, Evie? The girl who…" And then he makes a face. "Sure, come on in. If my brother shows up we're making out, though. Can't let him get the wrong impression." And he pulls the door wide, staying out of the way - and closes it once the young woman's in. "What can I do for you, Evelyn?"

Helena lifts her brows. "Wow, puckerface. Not the reaction I'm used to from men." Oh yeah, did we mention? Jay may not get a good look, but she's applied makeup over a fading bruise along one corner of her lip and chin. Upon walking in, she finds the nearest seat - or mattress - to park on, and crosses her ankles, studying him demurely. "I understand you had a little crash-go-boom with a guy not far from the club a few days ago?" She shrugs one shouldered and smiles. "I hear things." Holy crap, maybe she is stalking him!

Two beds, on opposite sides of the room. Two desks, two closets, same deal. Narrow, five foot strip of carpet between them. Take your guess which is Jake's - one has athletes and musicians plastered on the wall; the other has abstract, hand-drawn art and indie music posters. "The heck are you talking about?" It really does shock him that someone else might know that much about his life - but he didn't give that encounter a second thought once it was done with. There are chairs in front of each desk. Jake drops down on the edge of the bed with the athletic posters upon the wall behind it, and slouches. The towel shifts dangerously. "I haven't been near that place in…" He was going to say weeks, but he pauses, eyes narrowing. "What do you want?" He remembered, and yeah, that's creepy.

Helena can't help herself, as much as this is less than pleasant for Jay, it's bordering on gleeful for her. She doesn't mention the slippage potential - the view is nice, and it's a little subconscious rebellion against the man who hit her to enjoy the view. "Do you know how lucky you were that you got to walk away?" she asks, perching on desk's study chair. She rotates so she's sidelong, twisting so her arm rests on the back and she can look up at him. "That guy was Humanis First."

Jake pales, green eyes going wide. "You're sure?" He sits up straight and grabs the corners of the towel. It can dangle, and there's a threat of slippage, yes, but it's not going to fall. The whole reason for that grab is evident in the tension in his muscles - he's thinking of getting to his feet and maybe bolting or something. That's definitely a flight response. Nevertheless, he doesn't shove to his feet quite yet.

Helena sees the reaction, and rolls her eyes. "I'm five foot two, Jake. What do you think I'm going to do to you?" She cocks her head, studying him thoughtfully. "Oh, yes. They've had their eye on that building for some time. You crashing into him and that particular moment…" her gaze goes thoughtful, "That was really lucky."

Helena ammends, "Five foot two and a half. The half's important."

Jake snorts at the clarification on the height. "You said Humanis First. That usually means get the fuck out and call the cops. Is he watching me? Am I in trouble?" The rest of that is going to pass without comment, not because it made no impact, but because the tiny flinch is quickly covered by that last innocent, incredibly worried question. "I'm not an Evo, all right?" Everything on the line right now. "They've got no reason to get pissed at me. Hell, that whole thing was an accident." And now he's looking at the girl across from him with /intense/ wariness. What if she's some kind of HF recruiter?

Helena snorts. "No one gets that pissed off about being called a freak unless they are one. Or think they're one. Which is flawed from the start, because Evolved aren't freaks." She shakes her head. "You just got in the way. They're not interested in you, as far as I could tell. You were just in the right place at the right time." For someone, anyway.

Jake scowls actively now. "Yeah, well, it wasn't on purpose. And we're not having another goddamn political discussion. Dude calls you a freak, you punch him in the face. That's just what you do, all right? Some people like to fight. I like to give it to them. Is that some kinda problem?" It is. Especially if the dude was Humanis First.

"Whatever happened to dude calls you a freak, you ignore him?" Helena counters mildly, resting her chin on top of the arm resting across the back of the chair. "And wanting to bring the fight isn't a bad thing, provided it's the right time and place and opponent. He also had spotters. It could have been a whole lot worse than it was."

"Yeah, well, lucky I missed, then, I guess," Jake mutters, and rolls his eyes suddenly. "You got a point to all this? Or are you just feeling me out? Because frankly, I'd rather you feel me a whoooole different way." Theeeere's the obnoxious Jay who was briefly around at the bar, before things got serious. He slouches back again, making quite sure his hips are prominently placed. Maybe he'll offend the poli-sci chick into deciding he isn't worth her time.

Dude. She shared yardtime with the likes of Shard and Toru. Smarmy frat boys are cake. "I just think it's a real shame you've got all that conviction and untapped energy and aren't directing it anywhere." Helena - no, Evelyn - replies mildly. "Why do you think HF would be watching the building?"

"Probably caters to Evos." Jake shrugs, still wary. "Or is owned by one, or had one throw up on the dance floor once. They're terrorists. Do they need a reason for what they do? It's all about the hate. Which, by the way, I don't. I pretty much love everybody and everything, and don't give a right shit about the world. So if you're recruiting for them, feel free to take the pitch elsewhere, only thing I'm interested in is running in the next meet." Finally he heaves to his feet, meanders over to the closet, and yanks the thing open. There are drawers - it's really more of a wardrobe thing. His get fished through for a clean - though not folded - tee shirt.

Helena busts out laughing. "Oh my god," she says, "Oh my god, give me a minute, I - " BWAH HAH HAH. "Oh," Hel says, wiping her eyes. "I know you're a smart guy, but you are totally on the wrong track." Grinning, she inquires politely, "May I use your computer a moment? I'd like to show you something."

Jake just… stares, for the whole duration of that laughing fit. It's not funny, to him. There's a brief moment where he starts to smile - and then it vanishes as if it were never there. "Yeah, sure." There's only one. It's a desktop model. "You mind if I get dressed first?" It's password protected, but is turned on. He tugs on a gray shirt without looking at it aside from finding the tag; it reads: self-parody. And then he goes digging into the drawers lower for underwear and a pair of shorts. Briefs, if anyone wondered.

Helena politely turns her head, lifting her hand to shield her eyes from the side. And she doesn't peek. Promise. Maybe a little peeking. Or implication, network television primetime style, that she might have peeked. The fans will have to speculate!

Yeah, well, Jake's pretty good at getting dressed while keeping the towel on for some reason - but either way, his back's turned. Hey, at least she gets a brief show? Yank. Yank. And then, dressed, he turns and goes padding to the computer, hits a button, and punches in a password without thinking of it. Enter. The computer comes up. He chokes with laughter. "Oh my god." Apparently his brother's left up. "Fucking bastard," he adds with a grin, flicking close rapidly. "Okay, your turn." There are girls in bikinis on the desktop. Cuddling. Twins, actually. Try not to read too much into it. Jake stands, indicates the computer with a flourish. "You blow it up, you buy us a new one. And eighty gigs of porn."

Helena smirks at that, and pulls up a web browser, and then in turn, the url of a popular video share site. Doesn't really matter which one, Phoenix videos always go viral. But after a moment, as the video plays, Jake might start to make some connections between the blonde on the screen and the brunette in the chair.

Jake leans forward to have a look, reaches out to flick on the speakers. At the first few words, he turns rather pale again, and straightens right the fuck up, stepping back warily from the girl in the chair as the speech rings out of tinny speakers. "Shit," he says as the speech continues, eyes looking on the young woman before him, actually in the room. "That's you." He's seen it. Of course he's seen it, everyone's seen it. "What the fuck." Not actually a question, more a statement of fact. The fuck, it has been whatted. "Okay, turn that shit off!" Not him, he's not getting near the computer now.

"Wow." she says softly, as she reaches to toggle the video to stop, her face frozen on the screen. She rises from her seat, studying him almost pityingly. "I had hope for you." she can't help but remark. "You're exactly the sort of person that message is meant to get to. I hope it hasn't been a failure to others the way it has with you. I thought you were someone who wasn't afraid to act as you believe." She looks over her shoulder, noting wistfully, "I am cuter as a blonde, though."

Jake stands there twitching, jaw working. "I've seen it. I don't need to see it again." The words stuck. "You mind closing that thing now?" His jaw tightens and his fingers curl momentarily into fists, then relax - the very fact that he's actually showing a reaction is a strong indicator that that got to him. "And you can damn well shut the fuck up with the mouthing off." Green eyes narrow to sharp slits. "You need to back the fuck off, lady." …To where, exactly? He's between Helena and the door.

"Ooh, I'm afraid the mouthing off ain't gonna stop anytime soon." Helena mock-winces. She doesn't turn off the monitor or X out the video, though. "Where exactly are you expecting me to back off to?" she asks, peering up at him. She has to crane her neck. That is annoying! "It wouldn't bother you so much if it didn't mean something to you. That's good." She can't help but add rather coyly, "You know, if you really want me to leave, you'd kind of have to get out of my way. Though if it helps, you don't have to ever see me again, unless we just stumble on each other by accident." She's tempted to tell him that Dee says hi, but wants to avoid informing him that he'd been making out with a poison maiden.

Jake drags in a deep, careful breath. "You people are insane," he says, almost hisses. "Let me guess. That chick selling Refrain was with you. The bastard with the Brooklyn accent at the casino. That dude who keeps looking at my ass in Chem. …Why the fuck do I keep running into you?" And there is, for the briefest moment, the oddest expression on Jake's face - something a lot like despair. He draws back further, retreats to the far side of the room and sets his shoulder against the door of the closet.

"Insane." she says. "Do you think, if we weren't expected to carry around our little versions of a yellow star that I would be doing this at all?" She advances on him, gone scowly. "You think I didn't have a life, or want things? College, or culinary school, have a boyfriend, rush a sorority?" She shakes her head. "No. The government's gone mad and people are afraid, and by the way, Phoenix doesn't sanction Refrain use at all. It's highly addictive, and it weakens us. I'm the only person from my organization who's kept an overt eye on you. Well," she notes thoughtfully, "Dee thought you were cute, but she couldn't come with me today." She shrugs. "I'm not interested in frightened boys or reluctant soldiers.

Cue pure, flabbergasted silence from Jake… and then he thumps his head against the door of the closet once, twice. There's a rhythm to it when it hits the third time, and then he stops. "I can't. Look, I just… can't. You don't have anything else to lose, all right? I do. You don't want a reluctant soldier, fine, you don't want me. I'm not a soldier, anyway." It's all very rationally spoken, but there's a certain distraction to his face which suggests memories. "Christ," he adds at a mutter, and then cracks a laugh. "She was hot, too." And then he shakes his head, lets it drop back, stares at the ceiling. "Fuck." No, he's not cursing Helena, much as he might like to.

"I have my life." Helena says. "I have my ability. And you'd be surprised by the loss that you can feel when it's taken away from you." She shakes her head. "I'm disappointed. You seemed so…daring and unafraid." She reaches into her pocket and pulls out a disposable phone. Setting it on the desk she says, "This is for you. It's got a pre-programmed number on auto-dial and it goes straight to a voicemail. It's not traceable, there's no GPS in it. Destroy it, throw it away, or hang onto it for a bit, but think hard about what's going to happen when eventually you end up choosing to get your own brand of dogtag from the government, winding up in one of HF's surplus bodybags. We're not terrorists, we don't hurt innocent people, though we do defend ourselves and we step up when necessary. Leave a message if you change your mind." With that, she heads for the door, fingers brushing against the hair of her wig. "God, I hate this thing. It makes my scalp itch."

"I'm not—" Jake tries to protest, and then clams up. He stays that way until she's past him, at the door, has a hand on it… and then his mouth gets the better of him. "Look, I wish you folks the best. I really do." And finally he shoves off the closet to spin and face Helena, watching this departure. Adding anything more to that would probably be suicidal.

Helena looks over her shoulder at him. "You are." she says. "Or someone very close to you is. You wouldn't react like that if it weren't true, especially considering what your dad has to say. It's really simple. Once I leave, throw the phone away, if you really think that's what you need to do."

Jake's lips twist into something bitter and a sour smile crosses his lips. "Oh, I know me. I'll keep it until something horrible is about to happen and then my best friend will zap it on accident right before the cops bust down the door." There. Confirmation. Someone close to him is Evo. …Of course, there's another hint buried in there too. "Hey, if I see something happening or something…" He shrugs. "Might need it." There, he's calm again, see? No more visible paranoia. …Well, not much, anyway. "Who did that to your face?"

Helena shakes her head, smiling faintly. "We're not Dial-A-Hero. Our job isn't to come rushing in at the last minute. Using that phone is about you deciding you want to do what's right, not get out of a jam. This is the sort of thing where waiting until something happens generally means it's too late already." Absently her fingers touch the corner of her mouth. "Someone hit me." she says, in a tone that suggests she gave as good as she got.

"Hope you got 'em back." Then Jake shrugs. "Look, if I use it, it'll be important. And I'm not gonna fucking use it." Then he flicks a look heavenwards and sighs, deeply. Apparently the thought that she might actually leave has settled him down. "I'm not a fucking coward. You know who my dad is, you know why I can't just give you what you want."

Helena cocks her head to the side. "What do you think I want?" she asks, suddenly curious enough to linger at least a moment.

The teenager blinks. "Duh. You want a caped crusader for your little crew. Preferably with magic powers and super fantastic badassery. Which I have - the badassery, anyway - but…" He sighs. "Look, I've done some illegal shit. Hell, I'm probably being illegal just standing here." Not registered. "Joining a terrorist organization? No. My dad would have a fit." The twitch of attention towards the other bed makes him wince, though. It's not his dad he's worried about. "I'm not Evo. I'm not gonna do bad shit. I might try and kick the legs out from under some HF asshole if I get the chance, but… not like that."

Helena shakes her head. "You have the wrong idea." she says. "The wrong idea completely. Look - we…we're a movement, not a terrorist organization. We paint graffiti and pass out flyers and do videos. We have Miracle Day. Sometimes yes, people attacks us, and we fight back, but our goal isn't to make a war in the streets. No one's expecting anyone to do anything that's against their conscience to do. People in Alabama in the 60's weren't soldiers, but they did have to defend themselves. You see the difference?"

"Yeah, sure," says Jake quietly. "I see the difference. I also see that you guys were directly interacting with a Humanis First spy. I mean, c'mon, you know about that, you did something with him. I already promised to stay the fuck away from them, okay? I'm not an activist. I'm god's little joke." And he snorts, then tugs away and meanders off to drop onto the edge of the bed.

"Wow, genius." Helena says with a roll of her eyes. "A Humanis First operative was watching our movements. Can't imagine why wouldn't just live and let live, right? That wasn't just some random poke, they were spying on us. And no one in that situation was doing anything they didn't want to do. We just got extremely lucky that you passed by when you did."

"Yeah, well…" Jake frowns, just so. He knows better than to be sharing this sort of information, but… it's tempting. "Wasn't your luck. I have this shitty habit of ending up in the worst possible situations. I'm probably lucky to still be alive, if you wanna talk luck." She's digging. He can't help the suspicion that someone let it slip. "I'm not going near HF. I promised."

Helena actually isn't digging. It really was lucky. They got the guy's notebook and everything! "Like I said, we don't go looking for them." Helena says patiently. "Look, we're going to go around in circles. I know you don't think much of me, but if you need to talk about things…" she tilts her chin in the direction of the phone, "You know how to get ahold of me."

Leave it to overly-paranoid Jake to see someone who knows in every mention of the word 'luck'. "Yeah. And you're dead wrong what I think of you, lady. You're braver than I ever could be." Jake flicks a glance off towards the computer and winces. "I got some cleanup to do." He heaves up and heads over to drop down into the chair there.

Helena grins. "I have a name, you know. I'm all of two years older than you. You can call me Helena." And with that, she slips out the door, closing it behind her to stroll out the dorm building as easily as she slipped in. The disposable cell sits on his desk, not likely to grow legs and run away anytime soon.

Funny, that's exactly how Jake looks at it once she's gone - before he tucks it away in his pocket, safely out of sight. Twitch. Two years, huh? But scary as hell. …Might be worth it. He flicks the door a glance, then drops down at the computer to start clearing his browser history.

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