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Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses; FRIENDSHIP CANNON TARGET CAE-DOT ACQUIRED
Topic Started: Feb 15 2016, 08:14 PM (984 Views)
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((Irene Djezari continued from Airline Food))

Irene's thoughts ran, wanting for gold. Webber's Tolstoy essay. She'd left most of the relevant papers, the tickets to her runaway mental train, somewhere in the luminiferous aether. That was to say, she had no idea. Maybe in a pile in the girl's locker room office, maybe at home half smothered by her own tie-dye bed sheets. But her mind had an overpopulation of ideas anyways:

Compare and contrast the style of realism. The digital tone death knell of the archaic and classic, the high-brown nature of man brought with earth shattering finality into the dirt where she belonged. The last and greatest work of an era, at least according to old dead white people(TM). Irene was inclined to agree on the merit of the sheer scale of the work alone, but modern work was... well, more modern. Yung Leo's diction fell just slyly short of the sort of drabble that pretentious teen and no less pretentious post-modernist enjoyed. It was too clean, too pure... Something... Something...

Uh, well. The thoughts were all at least decent.

Sure most of them weren't exactly airtight enough to pass for a proper literary analysis-slash-criticism. But hey, she was going to forget most of them by the time she sat down to actually bang out the essay. She'd have plenty of time to thresh the wheat from the chaff then. Oh. Maybe a biographical element, touch on the actual author. Actual death of Tolstoy sometime in the early 20th century aside Irene refused to believe that he was really dead in the context of her thoughts on his massive tome. DOTA be damned. Only LOL was acceptable. If she recalled correctly Mrs. Webber had mentioned that had some sort of spiritual awakening later in his life, developed a profound form of contrarian Christian canon...

Speaking of Christian canon.

She could tell this book was related to The Bible because it had the words 'The Bible' on it in block lettering. Irene regarded it's typeface neutrally, her eyes laminated with glaze as she stared straight through the many pages worth of 'Word' of god. Religion was something she considered herself on the fence about. Another thing that had been dirtied, brought to earth by the last century's worth of circular progress. Her brain was too modern to waste the time. There was another face though, and that one Irene regarded more warmly, a short fuse of a smile igniting her face. Not the most familiar face but Irene was able to at least dredge up a name from history almost as ancient as the periods they were each studying.

"Hi Abby. Studying?" Sans further progression of their conversation Irene sat herself and her behind on the sun-kissed grass, nearly right up against to the other girl. Warm like a bed, she liked that. She wasn't inclined to relax, in the presence-slash-pseudo-personal-space of a relative stranger. She'd probably want to get up in a few anyways, in a spastic fit fueled by arbitrary energy.
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If Irene's mind was a race horse she wasn't exactly winning folks big bucks anytime soon. Rather she was the embodiment of discombobulation that sputtered out of the gate and ran itself in a circle with both legs too short. Already she was weighing a bevy of concluding sentences broadly describing the historical significance of Tolstoy's Europe. Sans the necessary evidence contrived to produce such conclusions. Finished before she even started, and that was probably not an innuendo. And even those conclusions neatly wrapped themselves up, all points neatly made, dropped, forgotten. In her mind's eye Irene had sported the briefest of fives on the AP exam. And then she was briefly appraising nutmeg locks and piercings as she considered Miss Floyd in all her modest glory borne of god, or whatever.

"Heart to heart? Aw yeah, I getcha," Irene said emphatically, with an unwarranted sage nod. "I talk to my books too, sometimes I just gotta feel them out the verbal way." It was historically, empirically, canonically proven: god and some half of Cochise had borne witness. Half whispers, nigh possessed, speaking in eldritch tones of covalent bonding and London Dispersion forces. I see London, I see France. Irene promptly adjusted her legs, reminded briefly of the inconvenience of skirt pieces. Press that down flat, there we go. "What exactly are you reading?" Irene was tempted to peer despite the awkward positioning. She gave into said temptation, and the next second she was hovering yet closer, trying to steal a glance over Abby's shoulder. Locks of Irene's hair tried to drape themselves over her poor victim's shoulder.

"And I'm not up to much, just mentally prepping for the usual after school crawl." This for Irene being a variable combination of baseball and then various forms of wasting away her youth. "You too, I bet? I see you around so much, I swear you must be supes busy."
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"James?" One syllable betrayed Irene's confusion as she considered the possibilities. James Watson? James Franco? Irene wasn't even sure where that second name came from, save the barest twitch of trigger-finger inklings that it had something to do with things Asimah and Mom possibly watched. Arbitrarily, off the top of her head... The King's James Bible. The James Bible of the King. Made enough sense for Irene to go forward on that assumption. The hypothesis was lent further credence by the good 'Lord' bit. "Man, that one took me a bit." Irene could have played off her noteworthy pause there any number of ways but she'd already blurted out the truth. Dammit. At least she now had a shoulder to cry on, Abby being so kind as to provide one. She even offered a smile, which was happily returned. Irene liked cuddling with other girls in a platonic sense, it reminded her of the times when she could snuggle with sis without feeling all kinds of uncomfortable and embarrassed. She drew closer until she was essentially using Abby as the third leg of her table. Rickety any sort of construct built even in part from an Irene doubtlessly was.

"How exactly does James speak to you?" Irene studied the text she continued to blithely believe was the King James version. Her eyes scrolled as if controlled by the non-organic variety of mouse, rudely flicked back and forth in a microcosm of all that was wrong with the internet generation. But she was legitimately going fast. One second it was 'where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from?' A few seconds of skipping rope with Abby's pointer finger later and she was reading about messages and destiny. An itch over her retina caused some skips. Nothing significant, maybe a few lines or a dozen lost. But something made some sort of impact, the K-T event for her dinosaur brain. 'If you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.'

Sounded contrived.

"Lots of talk about not sassing or undermining folks for spite, mind, but I can't think of anybody I'm lookin' to badmouth?"

"I legitimately doubt you could badmouth anyone if they had, like, a gun to your head and the distinctive aroma of fish and sewers about them." Maybe Irene didn't know Abby quite well enough to make such an assertion. But hey, it was a compliment. Irene hoped. "But man. I bet there are some people right at this school that James here has got on his naughty list." It wasn't a question, but experience had taught Irene that this was the sentence that either triggered gossip or pointed ignoring. When she remembered to use it, anyways. She'd run the stats someday, maybe get a number that was above zero if she was lucky.

"Easing someone else's struggle." Well it was quite the compliment lobbed Irene's way. For the briefest of moments her ego happily purred, satiated by niceties. Sure, she was totally a good girl at heart. But wait a minute. What was it that the people who used these books with the huge crosses and robes and stuff said? Practice what you preach. By Abby's standards... Well. Irene didn't work at a clinic or a shelter, really, unless one counted the Vaults from the Fallout series. Her Fallout character, now there was a saint, save the whole accident where she had picked the wrong option with the nuclear bomb. She didn't like to talk about that one. No, wait, focus. Irene wasn't her character, even though said character was named Irene. Irene was Irene. The 'herself' Irene. Descartes eat your heart out.

So, no clinic, no shelter. Not even much family, really. Asimah and Mom and Dad... had she even really seen a concentrated amount of them since Dad's birthday that February? The one she'd spent half of street passing with the girl the table over half her age?

Irene wasn't bothered, not yet. She needed at least a few more existential screw ups to really make her feel that alien turning of her stomach.

"Uh-huh, I see." Irene managed to keep the conversation going, even through the distractions of her own ruminations. "Well, uh. Thanks! I mean I don't do much. I don't even rub my hands all that often, I mean it's super hot like every month of the year. Why would I need to try and conserve body heat?" Irene was still sort of smiling dumbly, still sort of happily dumb. "So that sort of stuff is what you spend most of your time on?" A finger instinctively pried at the page, against Abby's possible wishes, trying to turn it. Maybe Abby was actually done, but Irene sure wasn't aware enough to confirm that fact.
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"Jesus had a brother? I thought he was born from some chick who never had the sex and all?" Irene managed to make that sentence sound even more uncomfortable than the sum of it's words. "But no, that totally makes sense," Irene held Abby's gaze evenly, one could see the neat pirouettes of the little gears in Irene's brain through the clear of her eyes. Really, it only made sense. Implicit lessons from the accounts of someone who had borne witness to what the reader was actually supposed to learn from, in this case god and stuff. Secondary source, pretty much. The same kind of shit Irene would be dropping on her Tolstoy essay, though possibly with less pretty language. Or more, if she wanted to give Webber a headache. "I mean one of the things is that the guy in the sky's word is supposed to be interpreted by the followers, not just spelt out? Well making it hearsay like this just enforces that. Pick out the meaning from the meaning hidden within the story and all. You know, I bet all these Bibles and stuff would make good fodder for English class." Irene swore there was further points she could have made with her improvised discourse but her mind was already veering away, tires of her mind screeching as they banked to the heavens.

In other news. Irene really wanted to play Fallout again, now that she'd reminded herself. Other other news, the compliment had worked. Abby's cute little giggle was infectious, it was well received as Irene herself giggled. Half on imitative impulse, but she was legit feeling the vibes. Why didn't she hang out with this girl more? She had something of a mean niceness about her, it seemed to saturate the very air. Okay, page turn:

'And a final word to you arrogant rich: Take some lessons in lament. You'll need buckets for the tears when the crash comes upon you. Your money is corrupt and your fine clothes stink.'

Damn, did that mean Irene had to do laundry more often? She would hate to have some sort of miasma following her just because she happened to drown in brands and all that.

"Five nights..." Irene murmured. That was a lot of nights, so went the gospel of Rene (1:1). "That's insane! How do you find the time to have spare time and all that?" Spare time, that's what the first verse of Rene would be on. 'Spendth thy time on the god given game of two dimensions'. Throw in praise of the waifu and heck, that was half of Irene's character on paper. "And I've been, uh. Climbing rank in League of Legends, if you ever heard of it. I mean it's no charity work and all that awesome stuff you do, but I wanna be the first girl pro gamer in the world. Well, secondish."
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This all reminded Irene so much about how she got when talking about... stuff, something or another. One parts old dead white people theories and one parts video games and Mountain Dew and Irene had the typical recipe of her average fun conversation. Well okay, maybe that was unfair. All conversations were fun, some were just slightly out of her element. By some degree. Okay, most of them were. But Abby, she seemed to have something, a brain child that needed to be birthed.

"Well that's all interesting. Literal interpretation of the book of god is a more traditionalist stance, right? So where do you stand on all of that? Uh, if you're fine talking that kind of thing," Irene hastily added in addendum. She just remembered, some people got really weird when talking about this sort of stuff. All 'fire' and 'brimstone' and 'back in my day people were smited (smitten?) for their trespasses on god's lawn' or however that phrasing went. "But yeah, I mean. Totally English worthy. It's like equal parts English and History and all, super relevant to that integration of concepts stuff the teachers sometimes drill on the start-of-school rubric. Like, I'm sure if we talked to faculty about it..."

If. That was a big question for someone like Irene. Now that Abby was talking about it... Irene couldn't really fathom not having space in her schedule to do nothing of substance. But the one who kept her schedule full was the one who was all nice and pretty and such. Even when she wasn't doing anything she was thinking of the ways she could be doing something meaningful. Irene, well. Even when she was doing something probably worth her time she usually thought of the more mundane aspects of her day. Like 'hey, wonder what I'll play when I get home?'. But, well. it didn't matter that much. Right?

"Uh, it does make sense! I dunno, I just never feel that same compulsion, myself. It must be weird, always doing stuff that's so... serious? Intense? Grown-up?" Oh there was that dreaded word again. They did have multiple conversational threads that Irene was sort of tracking though. The thing with whether Jesus could be 'your mom' joked or not, the now kinda uncomfortable stuff with the real talk. Oh, and League, there it was. Irene flopped off Abby in a fluid roll of her shoulders. Back to Earth she drifted like a particularly obnoxious leaf. The one that refused to get in the pile with all the others no matter how many times it was raked and just sort of sat there and crumbled into ever more aggravatingly tiny pieces. Why move? It was nice and warm on the grass.

"I mean, I'm pretty happy about it. Like I've got my peel support game on point, that used to be my shortcoming bot lane because I'm more aggressive than the Cochise Coyotes on their ninth. But I've added Janna and Lululululu to my roster and I think I'm really getting the whole 'don't roam when I'm not supposed to' stuff down. Just have to get my ward timings on point and I..." Okay, no, there was no way Abby understood, like. Anything at all from the last few seconds of sustained rant. Irene just fell silent on that note, trying to find the punctuation to her last sentence in the cotton fluffies that floated above.
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Abby legitimately looked impressed, somehow. Irene's first instinct was to feel gratified, validated in her ignoble pursuits. Second instinct was to be slightly suspicious. Abby wasn't a nerd, geek, creep, loser, or any of the other folk Irene knew from her general gaming circle. But hey, it was probably just legitimate openness of mind and heart. Irene decided she liked Abby more than ever, in this moment of moments. Irene also decided that she needed to get some new gaming friends.

"I mean, I guess I just care about it and that's why it all works out. Like you and your commitments to the community. I doubt I could track all of that." Well, maybe. Maybe if Irene was just a little more inspired. Reached out that tiny little thing she called a hand a little more. Irene didn't want to think about that anymore, though, and the conversation was changing currents as rapidly as Irene's own neurons were. She could sail around the rough patch, straight for smooth waters and easy times. 'Mutual decency and charity'. Ugh, no. Irene wasn't about to entertain the disquieting, slow and pained rumination anymore than she had to. Abby was talking about what she believed in, what made her tick. What made her a better woman. Irene was even inclined to read the sudden tic in Abby's smile the wrong way. Abby had a cannon pointed her way, but it wasn't quite the friendly one.

Irene was just being silly. She just needed a moment, a protracted one where she seemed visibly disturbed, eyes fluttering between several states of focusing on nothing in particular. And then it was all good, she half-forgot why she had weathered a gnarl in the contortions of her intestines. Irene straightened up into a sitting position, knees clamped to her chest, so she could watch Abby lounge against the tree.

"Yeah, I guess..." A very well-thought out response, for sure. "Oh. Philosophy. I believe in the scientific method, I guess. And I skew liberal, like Jeffersonian or LBJ or Carter level ideals. I dunno about religion but I like the sound of your guy." Irene had missed the name, something like Alexander Graham Bell? "Hell's just, like, Pavlovian conditioning for the ancient man. Scare tactic, you know?"
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Sort of there? It was the most 'there' anything would ever be in all mortal history! But eh, this was Abby's field of expertise. Irene understood on some level that now was not the time to make an ass of herself. Not for a lack of trying:

"You sure about the heart being in the right place bit? It's kinda like most political systems, ain't it? The road to hell is paved with intentions." She'd missed the 'good', but heaven forbid she actually ever get an idiom completely right without divine intervention. "I mean I guess it's interesting to think about the historical evolution. As much as I dunno about the details and all." Who was Paul and what was he writing letters to? "Weird that they called the time right after hell was invented 'post-hellenic'. That would be like calling the time right after modernism was invented 'post-modern'. Though I'm sure some hipster assholes were already on it." Well Irene had forgotten at least some of her early Western history unit.

So Abby's fathers was one of those fathers, huh? The well-reported bane of many a person of Tumblr stock. Irene couldn't really relate, though sometimes she liked to pretend that she could. No need to lose precious hashtag material. This time around though Irene had to put her stance on the matter out in the open. "I dunno, my parents have never really been too much about that whole 'young missy you listen here' sort of deal. I really can't imagine, but I'm sorry it's all like that, Abby. Uh... have you ever told him how you feel about the things?" Clarify Irene, clarify. "That he says?"
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Giggle for giggle, law of equivalent exchange and all. Wait. Was that the actual scientific name or the FMA reference?

But yeah, Irene dumbly let the laughs and such loose, let them rattle her chest. So there was something else she didn't know. Typical, nothing to be surprised at there. So Abby had two dads. Dads squared. Double the father figures, double the fun. Huh. Irene barely had one father figure, and Abby here was pretty much swimming in them. Maybe that's why she was the cool one?

"Oooh, okay. So I guess we share opinions politically, then." The breath used on that sentence could probably have been used in a more constructive and less repetitive manner. "There probably are LGBT conservatives, I mean I wouldn't know off the top of my head." It was something that just couldn't be easily found, as far as Irene was concerned. Like the lost colony of Roanoke. Like the Higgs Boson. Wait, hadn't they found that one? Irene hadn't exactly payed the most attention to those particular developments... Like Dariuses' copy of Mario Kart. No, hold on. At some point Irene had totally bungled the simile. Something about conservatism. Maybe it had been her aborted attempt at a critique of Reaganomics. However that slotted into the conversation at hand.

"I mean... yeah, I agree. I dunno how else I can say that more eloquently. Like, essentially. Fuck the people who stand in the way of basic human decency." Irene's leg had started to twitch. Restlessness was slowly kneading it's familiar tingly touch into her thighs. Twitch. Twitch. "Like okay, I've seen a lot about it on Tumblr and all. Human sexuality and gender are far more than just a two-for-two sorta deal. You get all this stuff in between, and people shouldn't be railed on for living the lives they want. For railing the people they want." Twitchy-twitch. "I mean, as long as it's all consensual and follows the Geneva Convection. Convection? Wow."
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"Personally, I can't imagine having that kind of time!"

Yeah 'cause she was too busy having the time to be Miss Save The World. Abby was essentially awesome, Irene had long ago decided, awesome to the point of being kind of intimidating. Even her family sich maximized the Tumblr points.

"I mean I totally get you there. I saw it on a blog." Irene half spoke straight over Abby, eager as always to put her thoughts to less-than-cohesive voice. "Lot of blogs, actually, there's like legitimately some differences in how some structures in the brain work between your average conserva-"

And then the mood suddenly, briefly, but more than perceptibly took a turn for the dour. More Tumblr points incoming, likely. Irene's mood proved as quicksilver as her everything else, the lips parted into a laugh mere moments prior sealed Ziploc tight. The rant that had been crystallizing imploded with a pathetic and noiseless squeal. What Abby had just said... No time to think over what had to be said. Just say it.

"Pick up the pieces... you're speaking from experience, aren't you?"
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So...

Thoughts, just for a moment. Memories. Friends had come to her like this before. This and that and problems that numbered ninety-nine. Their lashes often already dripping with nettle stings of their not-so teenage anguish. Asimah, Miss Perfect herself, had once with breath smelling of something fermented and eyes threatening to erupt. Irene's shoulder had been there, every single time. Shit was well built, solid. But everything else, not so much. She'd never held back the barrier. Tears had always come somehow, every single pixels worth of saline crumpling Irene's heart like the one-ply tissue paper it was. Irene had never been able to do anything. Words, actions, those things she loved so much and threw around carelessly like the schoolyard bully. They all, like. Uh. Failed her. Was this why she wasn't the strong one, wasn't the cool one, wasn't the senpai-de-jour?

Wasn't Abby?

Turns out she was just Irene.

Fuuuck.

"I know, yeah." If words failed, more of them sometimes worked, right? Probability. Roll the dice. Play the roulette. Other metaphors. "I can't imagine." Well Irene could, but it was all just stereotypes. Bullies and screamers and baby mama drama in high-def. What was she supposed to say to someone who knew the real thing? All the things she wasn't capable of saying, they were right there, gently shimmering the prettiest little trails down Abby's cheek. IMAX quality. "I mean, uh. If you want to talk about it." Irene's voice was mute, quietly unsteady. Which still meant loud and proud, but without the polyphonic vibrancy it normally carried. The others back then had all reacted badly when she'd looked like she was freaking out at the possibility of a definite conversation. She tried her hardest to not look unsettled.

Trying didn't equal success. As Abby well knew.
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The tears went away, but like those other times before nothing really seemed to clear. When the tears went away things were supposed to get better, right? But Irene would always somehow get the sense that nothing had resolved. Nothing clear cut. Irene flailed at it for a moment, blankly observed Abby. The way she smiled and the way it seemed like that smile wasn't complete. Like a sketch, a moment only barely captured in flesh-tone. Wobbly lines. Finger painting. Irene's compulsion to reach out and trace over the contours of Abby's face was only barely ignored.

"Well, it happens to everyone." Wasn't entirely true. Sometimes a 'little moment' could be something more. Something to puzzle and solve out like a textbook problem. Irene didn't always get the best grades. "I, uh..."

Words.

"Hope you're feeling better now!" Really it was more like 'hope you're feeling better now?' The exclamation point didn't really avoid the fate of being a glorified question mark. Irene continued to wonder. To remember how she'd wondered so many times before, and how every single time it had gone:

"Well I guess I should be going now. Class and all. We should talk again sometime though, you're super cool Abby!" That, at least, was totes true. Irene got the inkling that what she was doing was totally not the way to go about it. Well it had always gone alright prior. It wasn't like her sister had dumped her for doing the wrong thing. Or her old friends... um. Well, okay. Some had. "Here's my number." Irene blurted it out, managed to slip a nervous giggle at the '69' in the final four digits. It was always nice to give the old number out. A lot of people in the school had it. It was a typical Djezari closing statement, her phone number. Always worked. No matter what.

"Cya!"

If there had been a door for Irene to awkwardly stall at and debate the merits of closing or leaving open she'd have been a bit longer.

But she just walked off, but not without an obvious backwards glance or a few.

((Irene Djezari continued in Dance or Die))
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