A Picnic In The Park With Ordinary People

Summary:
June 21, 2014: While in Central Park, Teddy Altman meets four very ordinary people, who are quite encouraging.

Central Park - New York City

Sitting on 843 acres of public land, Central Park is one of the most famous sight-seeing spots in New York, and is considered large enough to have its own police precinct (the Central Park Precinct) dedicated to its protection. The Park boasts several lakes — all of which have been created artificially — extensive walking and bridle paths, two ice skating rinks, a variety of outdoor theatre spaces, several playgrounds, and a considerable collection of whimsical statuary. It is home to Belvedere Castle, the Carousel, the Central Park Zoo, the Conservatory, and Cleopatra's Needle (one of three, 70-foot Egyptian obelisks from the Temple of Ra in Helios, its mates residing in London and Paris).


Characters

NPCs

  • none

Mood Music:
mfsb Picnic In the Park


There's no reason students, teachers, and alumni at Xavier's can't hang out, play frisbee, and have a picnic on the extensive grounds at the school. It's a beautiful campus, after all. But Charles Xavier's dream is one of integration, and when there are still a lot of students on campus for summer break, sometimes the older group needs to get away from the school and back out into the world. Amara suggested a trip to Central Park, swinging by an Italian deli to pick up some meat, cheese, and bread before they hit the park. It's a beautiful day, not yet late enough into summer for the heat to be oppressive, and while the park is crowded, there's plenty of room to relax.

"Doug, have you ever tried to speak with animals with your ability?" Amara asks as she spreads a blanket over the grass, carefully arranging the edges.

*

"Yep. Of course, the problem is that my voice doesn't function at the higher pitches, so I can't do it," Doug replies. "Tried it with dolphins — I think they were giving me looks of pity because I couldn't do the clicking just right. And I'm way, way too big to do the bee wiggling dance, so… yeah."

Pulling the other side of the blanket to help Amara arrange the edges, Doug smiles back up at Amara. "And cats don't listen to each other anyway, so why would they listen to me?"

*

Gymnastics meet this morning in NYC. Teddy Altman competed, placing third in floor exercises. The difficulty was a few points lower than it should have been given that amazing kid from CUNY, and Teddy took a step on the dismount, because he lost concentration. He's taking advantage of being in New York though; he's running in Central Park, along with probably a few hundred other randomly scattered people. He runs along the path by the picnic area, not really paying attention to anything but navigating.

*

Bee wiggling dance? Cal glances over to Doug, trying to imagine that. Does it involve wagging his stinger? Shaking his head at the errant thought, he gives the blanket he has a shake and it unfolds and spreads out on the ground perfectly thanks to a bit of TK. Pulling off his shirt, he stuffs it into the pack the blanket came out of then gets a beer from the cooler.

"Even odds we get attacked by someone or something?"

*

Wiggle wiggle wig— wait. That's not the right wiggling dance. Fortunately, Lunair is not a rapper OR a bee. Because both outcomes would be kinda weird. Lunair quietly contemplates the idea of Doug doing a bee dance.

"But cats are really social… they live in colonies and listening is important to them, too. Most people get two of them because cats cuddling is cute. Though, they meow to us more than to each other," she points out.

Lunair is among those students from Xavier's coming to hang out. She really could use the socialization that doesn't involve firearms, twerking someone or worse. One problem she seems to have is that when not actively working to emote, she seems oddly neutral and blank.

"Neat." Totally jealous of TK. And she tilts her head at Amara, too.

"Umm…" Odds, odds. Lunair is thinking. "Well, you're not wearing money armor or a steak outfit…"

*

"It happens less often than you'd think," Amara smirks at Calvin's bet.

"More like one in three. And I think I've seen you try that bee wiggling dance, Doug. That's what you were trying to do at the club a few weeks ago, right? Definitely missing the pheromone element from that one," she teases, kicking off her shoes to spread out on the blanket. Shorts and a tank top: the official uniform of early enough in the summer for people to still be appreciating the heat.

"Cal's spent too much time on the team, Lunair," she laughs to the other girl as she works the odds. "He's probably looking for ambushes right now. In the middle of all those shirtless joggers."

*

Glancing back up at Lunair, Doug nods, musing.

"Maybe. I tried it with a cranky alley cat, so…"

Eyeing Amara, Doug quirks an eyebrow.

"Be glad I don't have pheromone glands, or you'd be getting an earful right now."

Eyes shifting towards Calvin then towards where he's looking, the young blond smirks.

"Or planning his own ambushes."

*

The thoughts going through Teddy's brain: Runner, runner, bike what a jerk, old couple holding hands how cute, 'nother bike driving like a douche, Redhead little girl with Annie hair random-walking onto path, Mommy not looking dammit bike guy isn't either SPRINT!

He snatches up the little girl, and puts the other hand out to stop the bike, grabbing the handlebars. The dude riding it will probably fly off into him, but tough, he should be paying attention. Teddy's not gonna move. Well, slide back maybe a little. Don't want to freak out the onlookers THAT much.

The little girl starts to cry, and Teddy is too busy with a faceful of belligerent weekend bike-warrior. And Mommy has now noticed and oh man can she cuss.

*

"Not just in the middle of the shirtless joggers." Cal corrects. "You can't let yourself be distracted to the exclusion of everything else."

Sitting down, he pulls out the food and starts assembling a sandwich. As the girl starts to cry, he looks over and instantly sees what's about to happen. The nice thing about telekinesis is it's invisible. So there's no obvious cause of the bicyclist flying off his bike above Teddy's head. Nor of him landing much more gently than he should on his back on the grass. That physics just doesn't work that way is irrelevant. The average person isn't going to calculate vectors and angles and determine that trajectory was impossible.

*

"That would probably be why. He might not have been a social cat to begin with," Lunair points out. She looks between the two. Ponder.

"I am sure your wiggling will come in handy if we ever fight an evil beekeeper?" She offers helpfully. She's surprisingly optimistic.

An amused look though, "Oh. Shirtless joggers could be supervillains who hate clothing." Ponder. Yes.

"He's really diligent," Lunair is kind of in awe of Cal. He's like a big brother with tons of cool powers she never got. "Or everything in general." Ponder.

Nevertheless, she ambles over to check out these sandwich fixin's when the bike thing goes down. Then blinks, her eyes widen.

"Oh dear." She looks to Teddy and the girl, watching the mother.

"Are you alright?" She calls to Teddy then. Whynot?

*

Following Cal's gaze, Amara arches a brow as the altercation begins.

"Nicely done," she murmurs, sitting up a little straighter to get a better look at things.

"Welcome to New York City," she smiles faintly, rolling her eyes as she stands and brushes herself off. "Where the default response to anything is to yell at it."

"Doug, would you like to see if you can bee dance your way through smoothing some of this over?" she asks over her shoulder as she starts toward the people.

*

"Damn. Amara, take the guy, I'll talk to the mom, and… well, just smile, I guess," Doug replies, as he stands up, moving up towards the commotion.

"Excuse me, um… miss? You mind taking your daughter back?" Doug asks, tapping the mother on the shoulder.

"I mean, he did save your daughter from being run over by a bike, after all…"

*

"Woah," Teddy says, pulling up with his left hand to control what he thinks will be the bike swinging wildly - but it doesn't. He turns around to face the Wrath of Mommy, and since the girl is reaching for her, he hands her over.

"Sorry for grabbing her, but the bike…" OH MAN, she just doesn't stop. "Calm down, lady, she's OK, really."

He puts the bike down, not noticing the grip-marks he's left in the handlebars — not going to worry about the bike guy, who seems to be lying on the ground wondering how he got there. Several people are yelling, and there's a girl over there who seems to be talking to him, and a cute blond guy is talking down Mommy-from-hell. And there's a REALLY hot slightly older guy there with the picnickers who have come to his aid, and surprisingly, with a little convincing, Mommy stops cursing. Besides, she's being strangle-hugged by her little girl.

*

"Always something." Cal notes to no one in particular.
"Did we get mayo?" He digs a bit further in the bag before pulling out one of those squeeze bottles.
"Ah, good. Damn it, no salt. Sometimes I would be happy to have a tranquilizer gun. No, that's not a request, Lunair."

*

"And cursing at it," Lunair adds helpfully to Amara. "Though, that seems better than some of the responses in places in Gotham."

Pause.

"Not that I would know." Or that she wouldn't happen to have a habit of responding to certain things without shooting them. Ahem.

Lunair pauses as poor Teddy seems a bit overwhelmed. She gives him a sympathetic look.

"Did we forget salt? Oops," she looks apologetic. Then she perks as Cal mentions being happy to have a gun. Then the perk goes away at the last sentence.

"Oh." Well, then!

"Um. Should we offer him a sandwich? He seems dazed," Peer.

*

"You're not supposed to put mayonnaise on it!" Amara calls over her shoulder to Cal. "You're supposed to enjoy the flavors of-"

Sigh.

"Philistine." But hey, still unhappy people to deal with, and she leans over to smile at the downed biker, wiggling her fingers in a wave.

"Are you all right down there?" she asks, offering down a hand. "It looks like you took quite a spill. Perhaps it would be wise to ride a little more carefully here, yes?"

*

It wasn't an accident that Doug'd suggested Amara deal with the biker- at least she'd be in better position to soothe the biker. And as the mother holds her daughter, Doug offers a reassuring grin, inclining his head, body language intended to offer a calming effect. If those two could stay calm, then it would be much easier to defuse the situation.

"Everyone all right? No harm done?" he asks, glancing at the little girl. "You look fine, but you know… I think you might feel better with ice cream? How about it? I'll buy you one, won't you come this way…?"

*

Bicycle Maniac accepts the hand up. He mumbles a thank-you with a thick Bronx accent, then looks at Teddy like he might have words to say, but his bike seems to be ok… and he sees the finger-dents in the handlebar, and blinks. And decides that cowardice is the better part of valor. Without another word he gets on his bike and makes his escape.

Teddy, for his part, is, yes, a bit overwhelmed. He waves back to the concerned girl.

"Yeah, I'm OK." He looks at the cute blond guy who seems to be somehow herding the Mommy and little girl, and scratches his head. Wow. If diplomacy was a super-power, huh?

He shrugs, and looks at the picnickers.

"Um. Thank you for your help."

*

"The flavor of over processed meat?" Cal answers, glancing at Amara as he spreads the mayo on the bread.

"You want real flavor, we need to cook our own then slice it." Which is not unheard of.

"And make our own sides too."

*

Pause. Time for Lunair to activate SOCIALIZATION! Vwoosh! Fortunately, this is not an MMO, nor does she start glowing or casting anything. Looking to Teddy, she tilts her head and carefully steps over. Doug is taking care of the little girl. There's Amara and the biker. And then Teddy. She is expressionless as she thinks, which might come off a bit eerily. Neural circuits, go! And happily, today she's not dressed in gothic lolita. Less frills in the warm weather.

Pause. She looks at Teddy evenly.

"… our friend is distracted. But would you like a sandwich with us? It was brave of you to help." Hopefully this ends better than her attempts to deal with the electric guy. Although, she did kinda shoot the electric guy with a Twerker.

*

"Hey, we went to the real Italian deli for a reason!" Amara protests Cal's description, hands on her hips.

"Mayonnaise. Honestly."

She turns back to Teddy then, offering a more friendly smile.

"It was not a problem at all," she assures, shaking her head. "We saw what you did. Most people lack either the instincts or the reaction speed to do the same. The least we could do was deflect some of the fall out. I'm Amara," she introduces herself, then points out the others.

"And that's Doug, Calvin, and Lunair. We certainly picked up enough to share," she adds to Lunair's invitation.

*

It was kind of handy to use body language to communicate and sooth people, by gauging their reactions and using his own to sooth things over. Doug had to remember to thank Asimov for a view into psychohistory and how more people were easier to manipulate than fewer because one could rely much more on visual cues and behavior to take advantage of 'groupthink' and have people reacting more together — so much easier when mother and daughter were involved. Calm down the maternal instinct, appeal to the younger daughter's youth, and…

"Ice cream! There you go, I hope everything's good. I need to be getting back, but you have a nice day, hear?" Doug grins.

*

"Sandwich?" Teddy realizes that he didn't eat after the meet, and being who he is, food is always welcome anyway.

"I could eat. But I don't want, I mean, only if you're sure you have enough."

So, Mr. Hottie is named Calvin. Not sure about the little beard thing but it totally works for this guy. Especially without the shirt. Teddy tries not to stare too overtly, but he does smile. The group is overall, a little older than he is. But friendly.

The Mommy, once calmed down, is grateful, though she seems to have confused blond Doug with the blond runner who stopped the bike.

Back at the picnic blanket, Teddy realizes that he's been given names, and says, "I'm Teddy Altman. Student at Metropolis University, but I was here for a competition so I took the chance to run on my old running path."

*

"Yes, we have lots of food. And olive oil mayo." Cal's completely unrepentant about using it on the over processed but 'real' Italian cold cuts if the grin he gives Amara is any indication. If he were Doug, he'd stick his tongue out at her.

"Did someone bring soda?" He was in charge of the beer.

*

Pause.

"Yes, I brought soda. There are a few kinds, although I may call dibs on the lavender soda." At least Lunair was sensible enough to get some of the stock flavors and a couple of Italian sodas. She has a sense of humor that quirks in its own way.

Lunair smiles politely to Teddy, and nods.

"I believe that we do. And if not, I can probably help grab more. Unless we suddenly suffer a sandwich shortage." Like if the Foodomancer wandered into town. Ahem.

"The pleasure is all mine," She nods after Amara's introduction. She seems amused, though. Just - odd. Lunair seems odd.

"And you go to the University? Really? What do you major in?" She seems curious. He's near her age, so that's likely it.

*

"A pleasure to meet you, Teddy," Amara nods politely to the young man, waving toward the blanket and starting back that way herself after looking back to where Doug went to make sure nothing's gone horribly wrong there.

"Speaking of the beer," she adds when she reaches the blanket, leaning over to take one of the bottles for herself and dropping back down comfortably, "You have a license, don't you, Lunair?"

*

Doug did have to, at least, correct the misunderstanding. Especially since he'd already pointed out the person who did the saving. He does, however, offer to bring them if they wanted to thank him, but that it wouldn't be necessary, things were being handled.

And whether or not they were willing, Doug was coming back, settling down and nodding at Teddy.

"Hi, nice job. Name's Doug Ramsey. You are?"

*

Teddy will accept a Moxie if they have one, because you just can't get them in Metropolis. He smiles at Doug. Mommy and Daughter wave and he waves back to them, but returns his attention to the picnic group.

"Teddy Altman."

His body language is a complicated mess, like most people, but not quite the same. He's responding more strongly to Cal and Doug than to Amara and Lunair, even though he's talking just as politely to them. Just not, y'know, looking quite as hard.

He sits on the grass next to a blanket, or is kneeling actually. He pulls the sweatshirt-hoodie off, showing a tight-fitting Metropolis University Gymnastics team tee.

"I haven't chosen a major yet. I'm thinking either history or maybe media. But meanwhile I get to be on the gymnastics team, so."

*

Cal… looks at Lunair.

"Lavender soda?" Seriously? He shakes his head at the things people are willing to eat and drink.

"A gymnast?" That caught his attention.

"Chance for the Olympics?"

*

Lunair looks to Calvin.

"A barbeque? I could help!" Suddenly, visions of Lunair and a flamethrower… wait, she was serious. Well, maybe not a flamethrower then.

"And yes, flowers are delicious. I like rose and some others. Why?" She looks confused. At Amara's question, she smiles and nods.

"Cars for now. I keep thinking I should get my motorcycle license," she remarks. "What is up?"

At times, her speech flows more naturally. Other times, it's stilted more than a giraffe on skates.

She doesn't seem to notice or mind Teddy's response preferences. She probably has a hard enough time keeping up, and he's not afraid of her. People always seem so good at picking up unnerving auras.

"Ah, neat. Those all sound cool." Nodnod. She seems curious at Cal's question to Teddy, too.

*

"Perfect. Lunair is designated driver," Amara declares as she takes a sip of beer, flashing a grin at the other girl. She listens to the rest of the conversation, but as she looks between the others, she works on unpacking the picnic. And she doesn't appear to be going for 'sandwich', either. She's quite happily laying out the different meats and cheeses in neat little circles, and laying out the breads as well. Because apparently this is a Martha Stewart shoot.

*

Hmm. Hottie Calvin asks something he's wondered about, and rejected. But how to explain it? Well, false modesty is probably better than the truth.

"Not quite that calibre, but maybe I can get there," Teddy says, entirely credibly, if you don't have mutant lie detecting powers. But no, it really wouldn't be fair; he can and does limit his strength and agility to human high norms, but Olympic athletes are a step beyond that, and it would feel like cheating. Not like the minor cheating that let him fake being a fully experienced jock, either, when he was just beginning. Besides, they probably test for mutant genes. Which Teddy is sure he has.

A quick, confused glance goes to Lunair, when her speech goes sideways from the norm. He's got an instinct for different vs. normal. It's like she never learned to Normal. Oh well. She's friendly, and she eats flowers, bonus. Her friend, with the little circles of meats and cheeses? THAT is Normal. TV says so. So both Lunair and Amara get treated to Friendly Jock Smile #11-4, mild amusement, non-judgemental.

*

Joining in to help Amara organize the sandwiches, Doug pauses at the very careful layout.

"You're a perfectionist now?" Everything seemed to be laid out just neatly. Amara was a closet aestheticist, it seemed. Doug does, however, look up at Teddy as he lies, and the expression he flashes is more of a 'bullshit' stare. But in the interest of polite company, he doesn't say it. But his demanor shifts from being more open to being a bit wary.

*

As if Cal can get drunk on beer. Not that Amara knows this. He just nods at what Teddy says.

"Well, plenty of other competitions out there."

He watches Amara and is obviously amused at the meticulous laying out of slices.

"Do they offer degrees in home ec?"

*

Lunair COULD get drunk, but it would be illegal in the US and potentially lethal. At Amara's grin, Lunair quirks a smile.

"Fair enough," Nodnod. She goes with it. She listens to gymnastic and athletic talk, seeming curious but uncertain. Lunair is definitely not normal, missing out on a lot of early contact. But hey, she's friendly in light of it all. At Teddy's confused glance, she tilts her head back. She does eat flowers!

"Though, I major in Botany. Since it seems mean to ask and not answer back," she finally remembers.

Lunair does dig flowers. She looks to Amara and the sandwich organizing.

"That's a neat arrangement," she offers. Really circular.

"I would imagine it would be a culinary or arts degree," she remarks to Doug, looking puzzled. She smiles back at Teddy, though.

"Um, what soda would you like?"

Since he's happily chatting with Calvin and it is polite, if he doesn't have one already. A drink, not a Calvin.

*

"There is something to be said for taking pleasure in the small, normal things," Amara shrugs to Doug and Calvin alike, unconsciously echoing Teddy's thoughts about what's normal.

"Besides, this is nothing. You should see the feasts at home. At home, these would most likely be elaborately arranged into…Well, you could probably make this salami into the shape of a rosebud, if you wished. It's funny, I was just telling Nancy how odd it is to me sometimes that you all need to be taught basic home keeping skills. We may have had slaves and servants to do the more menial tasks, but I still learned how they were done."

Looking up from the plates, she smirks haughtily at Cal.

"And it was political science, thank you very much."

*

"You'd probably love working at Subway's or Quizno's," Doug comments, arching an eyebrow as he looks at the sandwich arrangements.

"So…" And here Doug follows up on the not-quite-truthful statement Teddy had issued, "Maybe you can get to Olympic-level? I'd think you were there already. Maybe better."

*

Degrees in home economics? Well, yeah, they do - but at culinary arts schools, now, and they call them something else now. The history nerd who occasionally emerges in Teddy's place grins at that.

"They gave them to women at Vassar in the late 1800s," he says. History class trivia. Rather than getting into the whole rise of feminism, though, he turns to Lunair. " A Moxie Cola if you have one?"

He looks over at Doug when he asks, quirking an eyebrow. So, the guy noticed something? Probably. Dammit.

"Yeah, uhm. I can't compete at that level. They'd think I was cheating, even if I wasn't. I would think I was cheating." That's entirely truthful, as far as it goes.

*

<Careful about the Nova Roma references out in public.> Cal sends to Amara. <Especially about things like slavery.> Fortunately, Teddy didn't pick up on it, or just decided not to ask.

"Why would competing at that level lead to accusations of cheating?" he asks curiously, now giving Teddy an appraising look.

*

Lunair tilts her head, as Amara speaks. She seems curious. Then she glances to Teddy. A quirked smile.

"I see. And yup, one cola," as she pulls one from a cooler. Hey, warm soda can get kind of icky. Lunair has her picky points. She will carefully open it and pass it over to Teddy. She seems lost as he mentions being concerned about considering himself cheating.

"Sometimes, when people have an overwhelming ability, they hold back? I don't know."

Lunair doesn't comment further. Hey, lavender soda!

*

<Get OUT of my head!> Amara tenses, shooting a look at Cal for no apparent reason to anyone else before looking back down at the trays. There really is only so much to lay out, though, and soon everything is arranged to her own specifications. On the up side, there isn't even a tremor around them, and that brief flash of anger seems to fade quickly enough.

"I hope that you at least let yourself work to your full abilities when you aren't competing," she offers to Teddy. "It's one thing to hold back in the interest of being fair, but potential is a terrible thing to waste."

*

"Oh…" Glancing at Lunair, Doug nods slowly, his gaze returning back to Teddy. "If that's true, maybe… maybe you need to get checked out?"

*

Teddy's now a bit more uncomfortable. These are nice people, but … dammit. Lunair's nailed it. He accepts the Moxie, and takes a swallow before answering. And Amara's comment makes him pause a little more hopefully. OK. Just spill then.

"They test for mutant genes in the big competitions now. Just like they test for performance enhancing drugs," he says, keeping his voice pitched low enough that it won't carry to the next group of picnickers. Because, well, these guys are friendly enough, but maybe they're going to freak out and he'll have to escape. Best to only have to evade a small group.

*

Amara's reaction gets a quirked brow but nothing else as Cal just tears off another corner of his sandwich. Though at what Teddy says, the other brow rises to meet the first and he studies the young man.

"A mutant?"

That's an interesting development. And something he can double check. Letting Scott's power drop, he sifts through the 'feel' of what he can mimic. While he can pick up the other three, there's nothing about Teddy he can mimic.

"You might just be underestimating yourself," he says after a moment. "Superior ability doesn't mean you're a mutant. But if you want to make sure, you can just get a private lab to check for you anonymously. You'll probably be surprised."

*

Lunair tilts her head at Teddy.

"I see. I guess that's up there with the chromosome tests they do? I only read it on wikipedia," she offers. "But people come in many flavors, with many levels of ability."

She shrugs.

"That's all." Many kinds of powers, much more. "I don't know."

She looks to her pale purple soda. She seems puzzled in general.

"Still, you seem really nice and so … I don't think it's a worry in that way."

She's oddly cryptic and she's having trouble explaining it.

"… a tulip," Lunair is going to investigate that flower.

*

"That is a prickly issue, isn't it?" Amara muses at the topic of testing for mutant genes.

"On the one hand, we all want competitions to be fair. On the other, it isn't as though they're testing humans for raw potential before they're being allowed to compete. And it seems like simple sense that some people are simply going to be born more capable than others when it comes to many sports. Why should mutants be excluded simply because they have a higher base threshold of raw ability? Usain Bolt has a higher threshold of ability than that man," she nods toward a random jogger.

"But no one considers it cheating for him to perform to his highest potential."

"Well…" Running a hand through his hair as he considers, Doug glances up.

"It's worth checking out anyway. If they already cleared him, what's the worst that can happen, they find something else and force him to vacate the records? Nothing really different, anyway."

*

"I'm pretty sure about the mutant thing," Teddy says, shifting his face to exactly copy Doug's. They're similar enough that it probably won't be noticed by other people farther away. And his voice is now copying Doug's.

"It's not just superior ability. Besides, where would I find a lab I could trust?"

And when Lunair is distracted by a shiny tulip, he starts to say something, mouth open and finger about to point, but then he shakes his head and shrugs. He reverts to his own face and voice.

"I'd be disqualified from competing anywhere. Everywhere. It's not fair, but it's how things are. I like to compete."

*

Given that Cal's sitting with less than a full tank, he picks up Doug's powers since the young man proved just how useful they can be. They're just not something he wants to come to rely on. He purses his lips at the demonstration of power.

"It's not a mutation." He sounds quite certain of that. He has yet to run into one he can't mimic. He just can't say what it is.

"But it is kind of not fair," he agrees. "On the other hand, Usain Bolt is still the human genetic baseline even if he is outside the bell curve on physical ability."

*

Lunair is admiring a particularly nice dark purple tulip.

"What a marvelous strain," Smile. Pause. Then an apologetic look to Teddy.

"No, it isn't fair in many ways," She remarks. "Though, it is honorable of you to think of others so," she offers.

Although, it might be odd that no one freaks out about it. She doesn't seem to have a response to Amara, though she nods at Calvin.

"Anyone need anything to drink before I return to admiring this flower?"

*

"Maybe you can't tell because-" Amara starts to say something to Cal, then cuts herself off, clearing her throat and taking another sip of beer instead as she eyes Teddy.

"It's an interesting ability, anyhow," she says to Teddy.

"But who's to say the human baseline isn't moving? Laterally, maybe."

She shrugs, reaching for a piece of cheese to wrap some meat around it.

"They're questions that are going to have to be asked. And hopefully answered tolerantly."

*

Glancing at Amara, Doug tilts his head.

"Uh… sure. Lemonade?" he says to Lunair, before he turns his head back to Calvin.

"It might not be the human genetic baseline or the mutant genetic baseline, is that what you're suggesting?"

*

Not a mutation? Well then what is it? Teddy's still convinced, but if the guy thinks it's not, then maybe he has a reason to know. It just means Teddy has to figure it out. Maybe he can find a lab to get tested, if there's one he can trust. Not the one at the University though. Everyone knows that the SRD snoops all the records, just ask the weekend protesters. Then again the weekend protesters think Bat-Boy is being kept prisoner by Lexcorp.

"You know, you guys make me feel positive for humanity at large. If you can accept this so easily, maybe things won't turn out as bad as Magneto said," the blond shapeshifter says. He takes another sip off the bottle of Moxie. He totally misses Doug's remark to Calvin.

*

Cal nods to Doug.

"Exactly. Obviously, it's not a normal human ability so there needs to be a third option."

Finishing his beer, he holds up the empty toward Lunair in answer to her question.

"Refill please? Thanks. Magneto is… From my studies, Magneto is from an older generation and lived through some of the worst parts of human history in the last century. It colors his outlook. One only needs to see how things are today to recognize how much progress has been made. Not in all parts of the world but at least in the West. It's slow but it's happening."

*

Lunair smiles, and will pass Doug a lemonade.

"Sure thing." Then she is quiet a moment.

"It is a neat ability," she agrees. "I imagine there are many options. How does one define this or that?"

Magic? Aliens? The world is a remarkable place. She shrugs at that.

"I think I met him once, now that I think about it? I'm not sure," Lunair admits. She shrugs. She looks to Cal and smiles. She picks up a beer and moves to refill the empty.

"Refill! and no problem." Although, if Lunair DID meet magneto, that's one heck of an odd meeting. She doesn't elaborate.

*

"I am somewhat biased, admittedly." Amara leans back, folding one arm behind her head as she stretches out.

"But this is not the first battle for civil rights. They take time, but eventually…things get better. Humanity is advancing. It is improving. And I do not mean that only in the sense of evolving."

"How that's supposed to be tested for may need someone else to do it," Doug responds, considering. Looking back down towards Amara, Doug quirks an eyebrow. "Well, you're biased. You're from a place that's out of step with the times."

*

They didn't freak out. Amazing. Teddy relaxes. Mostly. And he's beginning to get the feeling that there's more to these guys than they're letting on, but that's fine. He's not about to pry. Not when they're actually being so accepting. Almost as if… nah. That would be a totally unbelievable coincidence, for them to be mutants. None of them has shown any hint of it anyway. Nothing that can't be explained by Martha Stewart Living and a gift for calming panicky mothers. So he goes to the spread and puts together a modest sandwich, and returns to his spot, eating and listening. (Study them, you need to be able to fit in.)

*

"If you have a doctor you trust, you can probably get him to send in a sample anonymously." Cal suggests.

"Insurance won't pay for it, of course, but that might not be an issue for you."

On the other hand, gymnast. Often notoriously poor and under funded.

*

"I have doubts that there is a place that is in step with the times," Amara snorts softly at Doug.

"The 'times' in New York is very different from the 'times' in Gotham or Metropolis, which are different from middle America, which is different from Mexico, which is different from Europe, which is different from Africa, which is different from the Middle East. The human condition has very little to do with the times, I think."

*

Lunair is definitely not freaked out. But then, she's rating somewhat highly on the oddity scale. At least 20 kiloweirds per second! She seems pleased though that he's relaxing. And she's probably a terrible subject to study on fitting in. She looks to Doug and Amara.

"It is nice that things are improving, even if it's kind of slow," She offers. She pauses. "I can help pay for it if needed. It might make him feel better."

*

"Says the girl from a remote place in darkest Brazil," Doug snorts, before he glances at Calvin.

"We could refer him to another doctor, can't we?"

*

Teddy eats sandwich and pretends not to notice that he's being problem-solved, and wait, darkest Brazil? Really? But that's just natives and Nova Roma. That … might make sense after the earlier remarks he pretended not to hear… This girl being from Nova Roma? Then these guys could be archaeologists? Wait, the gothish one is a Botanist.

"Were you guys all on an expedition or something?" Teddy asks.

*

Cal considers what Doug implies then nods.

"Give me your phone number." he tells Teddy. "I'll pass it along to a geneticist we know. If he has the time to run the test for you, he'll give you a call. Might not even charge you if he's feeling curious. And knowing him, he almost certainly will be."

Then answers, "No, we're just having a picnic."

*

Lunair doesn't seem ruffled.

Pause.

"From Brazil?" She seems curious. Then she glances to Teddy.

"Huh? Not unless you count an expedition for sandwiches," she remarks wryly.

"I'm only a sophomore at most, depending on how many credits you count. I'm not cool enough to go globe trotting for plants yet," a wry smile, "… but it would be nice," she considers.

*

Amara snorts softly at Doug.

"There is a good deal to be said for skipping the intermediate steps of modernization, you know," she says archly.

"There is less…existing infrastructure and investment to interfere with plans for new things. And a certain appreciation for older ways."

At the talk of expeditions, she smiles swiftly, shaking her head.

"Not exactly, no. Though," she adds to Lunair, "If you are interested in studying the local flora, we were considering a trip some time this summer."

*

"Don't worry about it. You'd probably appreciate the fauna too," Doug grins, as he nods at Calvin.

His attention shifts towards Teddy.

"Give it a try. You never know, right? Plus it'd give you a better idea how to prepare if you knew."

*

OK, so eliminate the possibilities and what remains is the explanation. They're aliens hiding on earth. Only possibility left. Well, the're DECENT aliens, anyway. Teddy nods to Doug and pulls his phone out, and slides through the menus. His number pops up.

"Copy away, man," he says, handing the phone to Cal. He grins, half-dizzy from how strange this has been. But it's a good dizzy. Maybe it's like the whole 'getting stoned' thing that some of his friends tried to sell him on, but the stinky herb never made him feel different. This has been confusing but fun.

*

Cal takes the phone then pulls out his own and adds it to the directory. Once he's done, he hands it back and says "We'll give him the message." The talk about modernization, he wisely stays out of.

Lunair smiles.

"That would be pretty neat," Oh the plants! So many plants! She hms.

"And parrots. Parrots are cool."

She quite likes parrots. Lunair would be definitely an alien in some ways. But she's not. As for modernization, it's hard to say. Modern medical care is why she's even alive but…

She finishes her lavender soda and goes for a sandwich.

"Classics are often quite nice."

*

"You should never be afraid to know yourself," Amara advises Teddy with a small, encouraging smile.

"Especially when you seem like a good person to begin with, what with the rescuing small children and all."

Teddy takes his phone back, only slightly disappointed that Hottie Calvin didn't add his own number to Teddy's phone. It's just as well. The attraction there is clearly one-sided (why are they always straight?) and mostly physical, anyway, and he's got a crush his own age waiting back at the dorms.

"Thanks. I appreciate it. And yeah, if I want to learn to be a super-hero, then I better get in practice with small children, kittens and puppies, they're like training wheels."

His sandwich is all gone, and the Moxie is empty.

"Hey, I need to get going, I have a ride back to Metropolis that I'm gonna miss if I don't get going. And hitching that distance is the pits. Thanks for the sandwich and the Moxie and the good advice. You're all awesome."

He grabs his Star Sapphire logo hoodie and returns to the path, waving, and then takes out running full-tilt, "On your left" to the runner he passes…

*

Cal lifts a hand in farewell and watches Teddy run off.

"Damn. Wish I had met him in high school. Then again, no one liked me in high school. Especially the jocks."

He shrugs and drinks some more beer.

"Almost certainly not a mutant though. I've never come across one I couldn't mimic."

*

"… kittens are nice," Lunair agrees. She smiles to Teddy.

"Be well and stay safe. Thank you. You are also awesome."

She waves back to him. She looks to the others. Cal's words make her blink.

"Why would people hate you?"

As far as Luna ever knows, he's been a pretty awesome big brother kind of figure. Even if sometimes they collide a little on morality. And his disapproving look +5 always seems to STICK. She seems content to linger for a time with the others.


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