Nostalgia for a Misspent Youth

Summary:
August 23, 2014: Roberto and Simon meet in an old haunt from their school years to discuss the past and the future.

Mutant Town

Mutant Town isn't so much a slum or ghetto as it an enclave. Sure, it started out as something else, but it's big enough now to have its own personality and, frankly, subcultures within the larger… uh… subculture.

Regardless, it's as eclectic and unpredictable as its inhabitants. Which means: Very.


Characters

NPCs

  • Bartender

Mood Music:


After they ran into each other the other day, Simon was curious about this 'new project' of Roberto's beyond the little bit they already talked about. But it's also an excuse to get caught up and that always works best over drinks. He hasn't been back in the area long enough to learn where any of the good bars are so he suggested one in Mutant Town that they used to sneak off to and pretend they were of legal drinking age. It's… seen better days. But he gets a table and waits for Roberto to show up.

-

Everything in M-Town has seen better days. The round-the-clock partying of Burning Human has left most of the area in even more of a shambles than usual. Still, the nostalgia factor is strong with this place, and when Roberto shows up, he can't help but smile at the dim lighting and dingy furniture. He's dressed causally in a blue tank top and earth-tone shorts, but also wearing an event security lanyard around his neck — better than ID at most places. He spots Simon and waves while he's ordering a well drink from the bar, and makes his way over just a minute later. "Porra, this place smells just like I remember!" he says with undue enthusiasm.

-

"Like stale alcohol?" Simon asks, smiling as Roberto walks over. A drink is set before him but it's barely been touched so he can't have been here long. Or it's not his first. "They probably haven't mopped since we were here last. You picked this place out, if I remember right."

-

"Well, it was better than picking a nice place and having to bribe the doorman every time we stepped across the threshold. Or bounced through the wall, in your case," Roberto answers with a laugh. "Although you should really let me show you a few of the places I go these days. Expensive, but worth every penny."

-

"Only in Mutant Town can you claim to be twenty years older than you look and it's actually possible." Simon agrees. Or such was the excuse to not card everyone. He 'hmms' about the offer to show him some other places. "I couldn't afford to drink there. And it wouldn't be fair to make you buy except at the hole in the walls."

-

Roberto snorts at that. "I've just hired half our graduating class at DCI. I think I can afford a drink or two," he points out. Then his eyebrows lower and he gives Simon an inquisitive look. "Unless you're also looking for one of those jobs? I'm sure I can make room in the budget for a few more, if so." He flashes a roguish grin. "Buy a man a drink and he's drunk for a night. Give a man a job and he can be drunk for a lifetime."

-

"I don't know. Maybe." Simon admits. "I'm a little wary about going public. I'm not a citizen, if you remember. I can be deported. Also, how does it affect being part of… the others? I mean, what they do is important to and I want to be part of that."

-

Holding his glass and swirling the ice in it, Roberto sits back and gazes upward thoughtfully. "We can apply to get you a work visa. Shouldn't be too much trouble — DCI already employs people from all over the globe." He takes a sip, makes an exaggerated grimace at the taste, and then continues, "I don't think it should interfere at all. I plan on joining the rest of the teams on their missions when possible. We're not truly separate, we're just different facets of the same group."

-

"I have one of those. The Professor got it for me. I'm thinking more of when it hits the fan and the government decides it doesn't like us." Simon stirs his drink with the little plastic straw then lifts it to sip from. "In costume, all they can do is try to find us. If they know who were are…"

-

"Ah," Roberto answers slowly. "I hadn't thought of it that way. Strictly speaking, I suppose the same could be said for me, although I don't imagine I would have much trouble fighting the case, with my family's resources." Must be nice. The Brazilian sets his drink down and leans forward, meeting Simon's eyes. "Honestly, I don't think the Red Team approach is for everyone. If you aren't comfortable with a public identity, that's nothing you need to be ashamed of or feel bad about. Like I said, we're different facets of the same group — each providing a different environment for different people."

-

"I'm worried about the rest of you too." Simon points out, glancing down into his drink. "You know I believe in what the Professor teaches us. And ideally, what you have in mind would be perfect to help that happen. Is it too soon though? I'd like to be part of it but I just don't know." After another sip, he muses "I suppose we could always get new identities?" It's not like he's so attached to his old one.

-

Roberto laughs, reaching over to sock Simon playfully on the shoulder. "Don't you worry about us. I marched right into the Triskelion with a bunch of demands for SHIELD and walked out not only without a scratch, but with what I went in to get. After that, no government agency can scare me." As usual, Bobby's confidence is unshakeable.

Even as he admits, "We might be getting ahead of ourselves, or we might be coming into the light at the very perfect moment. There's only one way to know for sure. I won't begrudge it if you prefer to wait and see how it goes for us, though." He gives the phaser a smirk and a shrug. "I don't know about creating a false identity, though. That's a for-real crime. May not be a good idea." Although he's aware of Simon's issues with his past life, he doesn't address them directly, knowing they're a sensitive topic.

-

"If there's a manhunt for you already, I don't think making it a little worse is going to matter much." Simon points out with a wry smile. It turns into something a bit more real as he considers Berto. "Though I suppose if I can just flee to Brazil it wouldn't be too bad."

-

'Berto grins sheepishly, ducking his head in a confessional nod. "Yeahhhh. I'm not going to lie, it's easy to be foolhardy from time to time with a safety net like that. Although if this whole idea goes tits-up, I suppose we can all retreat into hiding if we really need to."

He regards Simon curiously. "So, are you still on the outs with the law? I thought that was sort of" — he waves one hand vaguely — "resolved. So you do have a second chance at a life entirely free of manhunts."

-

Simon shakes his head at the question. "That was never a problem. I wasn't with them long enough for the law to even notice me. The Brotherhood though… Well, that's something we all need to watch out for." He digs out the maraschino cherry with his fingers and eats it, dropping the stem back in the glass as he thinks. "It would be fun being with everyone again."

-

"Not gonna lie, that was a decent chunk of what gave us this idea in the first place," Roberto admits, taking another sip of his drink and slowly readjusting to the cheap tang of Mr. Boston. "It was me and Doug and Amara and Illyana talking about old times, wondering what to do with ourselves, and wishing we could all just hang out again." Roberto gives a wistful little tilt of his head, then laughs. "Well, I've never had to wonder what to do with myself. That was sort of pre-determined."

He smirks and stirs his drink idly with a cocktail straw, then adds, "As for the Brotherhood, I'm aware that we could be a target. Better us than someone else, as far as I'm concerned."

-

"Did you know it's not illegal to use another identity unless you do so with the intention of commiting a crime? I looked it up." Simon, of course, checked multiple sources like a good researcher. "So I wouldn't even need to use my real name."

-

"Really? I did not know that," Roberto answers, his eyebrows rising. "I guess that makes sense, what with all the Wonder Womans and P. Diddies running around. You'll probably still have to file your taxes the old fashioned way, though. I'm not sure — fortunately for me, I have people around to know that sort of thing." Like other Simon, for instance. "I suppose as long as you're living openly and using a consistent identity, it makes no particular difference. But of course, I don't want to discourage anyone from joining the other teams, either. We can still see each other if you go Gold. I'll make sure you get invitations to all the wild parties we'll throw." With 'Berto, it's hard to tell whether that's a joke or not.

-

"Or I could do both if it's okay with everyone." Simon muses and also looks to Berto to see if it would be okay with him. "Gold wears costumes and conceals their identity. Who knows who's under those masks, right? And even if someone guessed because of the powers, no one knows where Gold goes when they're done."

-

"Fine by me," Roberto answers with an amiable shrug. "I plan on accompanying Gold on some of their missions anyway, like I said. At the end of the day, these distinctions are just a general description of our approach. X is X is X." He glances around, making sure nobody heard him say that. After all, strictly speaking, they're incognito.

-

"So what kind of thing would I be doing if I did?" Simon asks and finishes his drink. "Illyana is better at delivering packages that have to be there right away. Bigger payload too."

-

"Well, it's sort of a setup where you design your own job," Roberto says with a small shrug. He pauses, holds up a finger, and narrows his eyes at Simon. "And no, bursting into shower stalls unannounced is not an acceptable job description." He holds the accusing expression for a beat, then grins and takes up his drink again. "What do you think you could get paid to do with your powers?" he asks, before taking another sip.

-

"Well, I'm faster than a bike messenger. And when it comes to port to port deliveries, those are easy." Simon answers. "Getting to the middle of continents can be more time consuming. My powers aren't all that useful really. Illyana's is more flexible." He thinks a moment then says "If I phased someone, they couldn't get hurt but I'd have to know when to do that or just keep them that way which means staying in contact."

-

"Interesting. Maybe bodyguarding?" Roberto speculates, swirling his drink again. "Can you imagine how much the average celebrity would pay for an instant phase-teleport past the paparazzi? Not to mention the applications if a VIP were in actual danger."

-

"I can do that but Illyana is better at it." Simon points out again. He's never acted like he felt they were in competition so it must just be truth in advertising. Catching the bartender's eye, he lifts his glass and nods. Refill. "I was really glad to see you again, Berto. I've wanted to thank you for a while now."

-

"Illyana might be better at the teleportation, but can you imagine her having to mollycoddle a VIP for hours at a time?" Roberto asks, raising one eyebrow at Simon as he gives the bartender the peace sign — make that two. "I adore her, but people skills are not her thing. She moves inanimate objects great distances, you escort people over short ones, no clients get their heads bitten off by angry limbo demons."

He cocks his head to one side curiously. "It's good to see you, too, but thank me? For what?"

-

Roberto's description of Illyana gets a quick smile. S'truth. "Not so short." Simon corrects. "I'd discovered rivers and even the ocean works well for me." Hence port to port. As for his question… "When we were in school? You didn't let me hide. You kept trying to involve me in things and wouldn't take no as an answer." Not always but usually. "You helped a lot and made it easier."

-

Roberto sits back a bit, genuinely touched. "Hey, no problem, camarada," he answers with an aw-shucks grin that he probably picked up from Sam Guthrie. "If you're one of us, you're one of us." That's pretty much how it works, as far as 'Berto is concerned. "I know there's a party animal in there somewhere, just waiting to get out. It's my job to give you the encouragement our teachers are too sensible to offer."

He grins as the bartender comes over with their drinks. "That's neat. I didn't realize you could use water like that. Guess you've never been as into showing off your powers as some of us. By which I mean me."

-

"Maybe but you didn't have to do that." Simon points out. "I owe you one." Hundred. Then he grins. "I had the biggest crush on you, you know. And before you say anything, that was NOT connected in any way with the shower incident."

-

Roberto bursts into laughter, putting one elbow on the gouged-up tabletop and leaning his head against his palm. "Whatever you need to tell yourself, Simon," he teases when he gets his amusement under control. "Although it's not like it's difficult to catch me naked. Next time, try when I'm not standing on a bunch of slippery tile." He doesn't seem at all perturbed by the idea that Simon thought of him that way. To be honest, he doesn't even seem all that surprised.

-

Not surprising. Simon had no experience at hiding that kind of thing and it was his first crush on top of it. "I hope I'd have been a bit more subtle about it if that had been my intent." Smiling at the memory, he eats the new cherry then drinks some of the whiskey sour. "So where are you all doing this? At the base? Not the school, I'm sure."

-

"Hope all you want, man. How many teenage boys would you describe as 'subtle'?" Roberto teases just a bit more. "Maybe you've refined your technique a little since then — we'll see." He grins, then follows the change in topics. "Nah, those places are so isolated. We're going to be right here in Manhattan, in the Da Costa building." He grimaces and shakes his head. "My pai is a very driven businessman, but he is neither creative nor humble in his naming schemes."

-

Simon just ignores the teasing. "So none of you will really be around there much. Which means if I want to hang out with you all, instead of with the teachers, I'm going to need to sign up. Well. Someone needs to keep you out of trouble."

-

Roberto shrugs and smiles. "We'll certainly visit, but yeah, our day-to-day won't take us there too often. I hadn't thought to make our winning personalities part of the pitch, but I suppose you're right." His smile shifts into a smirk as he downs a bit more of his own vodka soda. "Keeping us out of trouble is going to be a pretty tall order, though. You do remember what we're like, right? You may not want to commit that much time and effort to what is probably a lost cause."

-

"Oh, I remember." Simon assures Roberto. "I remember how, almost every time I got into trouble, it was because you dragged me into doing something we weren't supposed to. I'm not assuming you've grown up that much." And he'd probably be disappointed if that was the case.

-

"'Supposed to,'" Roberto says, leaning forward and delineating double quotes with his fingers. "I try not to let other people tell me what I'm 'supposed' to do. Every mistake is a learning experience, right? Think how much we've learned, between us!" He laughs. "I think I've grown up in lots of ways. That one? …Maybe not so much."

-

"Well, keep the law out of it at least." Simon says, turning serious for a moment. A brief moment. "I'm too pretty to go to prison. I'd be popular. So would you. Not that stone walls would a prison make but I hear they get angry when you disappear out of your cell."

-

"That is perhaps the worst compliment I have ever received," 'Berto says, snorting with laughter. "But your point is taken. Actually, as the public face of the X-men, we'll be going above and beyond to be model citizens. I'll discourage people from getting parking tickets, much less thrown into prison." He shakes his head. "I mean, we're a bunch of young, hip, staggeringly sexy superhumans. There are so many perfectly legal ways for us to get into trouble!"

-

"Are we going to have costumes? Or uniforms? Staggeringly hip and sexy ones?" Simon asks. "It would be a good way to differentiate us from the others when there' crossover. We'd look different. And if we're acknowledging that we're part of them, then different costumes would throw people off."

-

"I've got marketing people working on that stuff. We'll definitely have uniforms of some kind," Roberto answers. "Likely red. Definitely sexy. There will be room to customize — I'll need to show a bit of extra skin, Sam's going to need goggles, that sort of thing." He smirks. "They'll be optional when you're actually on assignment, though. Some jobs will have dress codes, like in offices. They're mainly for when we take high-profile heroic jobs as a group: disaster relief or protecting peace summits. At least, I think so. Who knows what marketing will come up with?"

-

"I'll need holsters for my batons. I've also started to use stun batons so two on each side." Simon thinks out loud. "And don't you mean you'll /want/ to show a bit of extra skin? They'll look good for photo ops too. And should feature an X somewhere. Are we going to be calling ourselves something?"

-

"Marketing is leaning toward 'X-Men: Red,' now that we have permission to use the name. Just 'Red Team,' internally," Roberto answers. He smirks at the suggestion that he's just showing off, but explains, "Not that I mind people looking at me, but I am solar-powered, remember? The Sunspot shadow wraps right over anything skintight, but I'll want to be able to get a little boost even when I'm powered down. You're right about the photo ops. We may end up starring in commercials and stuff, too."

-

"X-Men: Red sounds like Pepsi Zero." Simon says. "We'll be a soda. But far be it from me to contradict marketing. That's their job." To sell soda. Or whatever. He does nod at Roberto's explanation. "Oh, true. Who else is on this, by the way?"

-

"You should see the sales numbers on Pepsi Zero," Roberto says enviously. He never gets to mass-market trendy brands! So unfair. He sets his drink down and starts ticking the roster off on his fingers. "So far? Me, Sam, Illyana, Amara, Doug, Cold Bobby, and Mike." He glances upward and squints. "You may not know Mike. He's not a classmate, he's Cold Bobby's roommate. An absolute wizard with machines."

-

"I don't. And I only met the other Bobby the once." He seems okay to Simon based on the one meeting. "So it'll be like we're back in school again. With less homework." Which is always a plus. "All right, sign me up. Or did I say that already?" he asks, glancing down at the now empty glass.

-

"Only the homework you take on yourself," Roberto agrees with a broad smile. "And you didn't say it in so many words. Glad to have you on board. Feel free to stop by the Da Costa building any time you want to see the headquarters, too. It's pretty swank, if I do say so myself." And has he ever hesitated to say so himself? No. He polishes off his own drink, then: "Another here? Or are we making a bar crawl of it?"

-

"If you go out wearing that, you're likely to get put to work." Simon points out, indicating the security shirt. "It's just asking for trouble. Let's just stay here. It's cheap and they don't water them down too much."

-

"Ah, but watch," Roberto says, whipping off the lanyard and holding it a few feet from himself. Now he's just wearing a tank top and shorts. "It's a practically impenetrable disguise. So long as I don't decide to throw someone out of a bar, we're golden." He smirks, then puts the tag back on. "Then again, this is a total nostalgia party. I'm good if you are." He motions to the bartender to get them both more drinks. "Now that you're on the team, you can get one of these, too, come to think of it. This is sort of our first job."

-

"And if anyone starts something, I take them up to Harlem." Simon has such an easy time navigating in Manhattan. All the roads connect and even underground, the entire island is a solid block of granite. "But we should get something to eat after this round so maybe a crawl is a better idea."

-

"Aww, but punting people to the moon is one of the simple pleasures in my life!" Roberto says mournfully. "You wouldn't take that away from me, would you, Simon?" The bartender brings over another couple of drinks, and the Brazilian leans back lazily in his chair. "We could always get delivery. Or you could wall-warp and get us takeout!" He points at his friend and grins. "You're hired! Most expensive delivery driver on the planet!"

-

"Delivery then." Simon agrees then suggests "And get enough for everyone here, courtesy of X-Men: Red. Great flavor, fewer calories." Pause. "Will we have action figures?"

-

"Ha! Only if being the CEO of the company gives me any say in the matter," Roberto agrees with a rakish grin. He pulls his phone out of his pocket and starts searching for the nearest, greasiest delivery food he can find. Leave the free cars to Oprah and Tony Stark — the X-men know what the people really want.


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