Log:The Chimes of Big Ben
Hector is settled in with his Spanish homework, an espresso and a half eaten muffin. He's in a Pansy Division tour shirt and black cut offs. The hair on the top of his head just long enough to curl now. He has the heavy class ring with the black stone on his left index finger and a thin bandage circling the ring finger on his left hand.
Felicity comes in, backpack slung over one shoulder and grabs a menu before looking around to decide where to sit. On spotting Hector, she wanders in his direction. "Mind if I join you?" She's back to her usual jeans, t-shirt, leather jacket. Today's t-shirt is a shell with the golden mean graph overlaid on it.
Hector gives her a dimpled smile and a courtly gesture, "Please! Anything to distract me from this." he pushes his vocabulary lists away and puts down his pencil, "It must be so weird for you to come back to all this crazy, huh?"
Felicity flops into a spot and starts pulling out her notebook and pencils and some dice, apparently just because. "Yeah. I mean. I kind of figured it would be several months of just keeping my head down and trying to not do anything too crazy. And instead... coked-up biker gangs are threatening all my cousins and old friends." She shrugs and starts idly rolling the dice. "I kind of want to go back to when I was dreading being bored."
Hector smiles sadly, 'I wish I could just pack everything into Cash's car and escape back to home where everything made sense, but home is gone in a lot of ways that matter and I promised someone I respect not to steal his future, so here I am instead."
Felicity shrugs. "Fleeing isn't really an option for me. Even the places that would probably hire me without a college degree aren't gonna hire me without a high school diploma and will really question a GED. Soooo, I'm here at least through graduation. And... yeah. The future and being set up to be in a better place is still important." She sighs and rolls the dice a few more times, then frowns. "Food. I need food. Got any suggestion on what to order or should I let the dice decide my fate again?"
Hector grins at her "Pick something different for both of us and if one doesn't work we can share the other." He takes a sip of his coffee and asks in a casual tone, 'so are you a lesbian?"
Felicity snorts. "Well, you might know what was particularly good, but fine." There's a small pause and she adds, while studying the menu, "And no, I'm Bi. I'm just... finding someone just to find someone for the next few months after which we may, well, be going to opposite sides of the country doesn't make much sense." She glances up and gives him a slightly rueful smile. If something happens, it happens, but I see no need to force it." Back to studying the menu.
Hector nods, "That makes sense... I wasn't sure if it was really that or a closet thing. Jade coming out was this whole... Nevermind. I'm still learning the menu here myself. It's been a busy few moths for me."
Felicity frowns. "Okay, none of these are going to compete with the burgers at the Marchant house." She considers a bit more, then nods decisively and waves over a waiter. "Hey, we'd like an order of chicken strips, an order of mozzarella sticks, onion rings, the loaded potato skins and a side salad with Italian dressing. And I'd like a prickly pear lemonade." She glances to Hector. "Anything else you want? I figure we'll just share it all." Once any additional orders are added and the waiter's gone she shrugs again. "Not in the closet just, it takes me a while to get involved with someone, usually. And I wasn't really interested in anyone at my old school. And I had a good friend who was in the closet and needed my cover. Also, having a 'boyfriend', particularly a boyfriend a class above us, meant that the annoying guys left me alone a lot more."
Hector laughs, "That's true, but really, what could. Oh man, that all sounds amazing and I've never had prickly pear lemonade, so I'll have one of those too. We can go dutch." A shadow crosses his expression, and he takes a gamble, "How well do you know Landon and Lucas? What's the deal with them?" He flashes her a smile, "I promise to keep my hands and eyes in respectful locations when we dance... There's nothing wrong with that. Taking your time. I think Cash is like that, but it worked out." he picks at his bandage a little, "I'm not crazy, you know. I get why marrying in high school is messed up, but I knew when he offered to take me back it really did need to be for always. The... trappings help Cash, make it more concrete, make him feel safer that I won;t leave again and he needs that right now to resist. I had to make the decision quickly, but I know what apart looks like and I know this is the right thing for us, but for most people... trust me I get it."
Felicity shakes her head. "Wasn't judging you. I mean, you hurt him, I will throw all my ingenuity into making you suffer, but no. I can see how the stability and certainty would help him." She considers. "As for Landon and Lucas... I'm not really sure. I mean, I remember when everything came out and suddenly they had a different family and... I mean, they'd been kind of awful, but it still seems horrible. When I left, they were starting to settle in. Haven't spent enough time with them to really say what they're like now, other than they were needing help studying for math and that's always the way to my heart. Or at least my attention."
Hector says softly, "I did hurt him once and I'd rather die than do it again. I really mean that. I want to make his way smooth for him in all the ways I can. I think he is beautiful the way he is and I get the ways he world can harm him. I want toast and between him and the kinds of harm he can't defend against. I don't think he ever would have drunk that stuff if I hadn't... done what I did. I am going to do everything in my power to make that right for him." he cocks his head, "Everything came out? They are kind of both Lester's and Marchants at the same time, but i never got the whole story or how everyone's related to who." He looks down at his hands, "I kind of fucked up with Lucas. Twice, I think."
Felicity scrunches her nose. "So... they'd been raised as Lesters because their mom claimed that they were, but something happened and the person they'd thought was their dad somehow insisted on a paternity test, which ended up showing that their biological dad was one of the Marchant brothers, but... he didn't want to be a father or accept any kind of responsibility. So their Uncle kind of adopted them. Took them in. Their mom's still... Look, I try really hard not to judge, but..."
Hector cocks his head, "That is kind of messed up.... Which Uncle took them in? I often feel like I walked into the middle of book four of one of those massive generational saga series."
Felicity says, “Robert. Vincent's their biological father. But yeah, so basically, their Biological father sucks. Their mom is seriously questionable. Their supposed father sucks. I mean... who raises kids for twelve years and then sues to get out of child support?”
Hector nods, quietly angry, "It is shitty to take it out on the kids. Whatever bullshit was going on amoung themselves you do not disown your kids." He takes a breath, "My father didn't know I existed until last fall, but he was decent about it."
Felicity nods and scrunches her nose again. "Like I said. Vincent sucks. I can see why Beth went with the potentially more reliable option in terms of claiming paternity, though... that whole thing is fucked up as well. I mean, Karl has another kid //in our class//. But... yeah, there's plenty of 'all of you are awful people' to go around. I'm glad your dad stepped up, at least. It's too bad you hadn't known him earlier."
Hector smiles crookedly, "I have an older brother and three younger siblings. We are somehow all eighteen and in the same class. I swear there must have been something in the water here the year we were all conceived." He looks away, voice dropping, "It was good, My Mom and me, until she got worse. I didn't mind not knowing my dad. he's just this... nice, well meaning stranger, you know. It's more... I would have liked knowing Spear and Silver and the rest growing up. I still haven't had a conversation with James beyond that one fight we had in class where he compared cash to Pol Pot and I called bullshit on that, but it would have been nice to... I don't know visit back and forth."
Felicity blinks. Then she blinks some more. "He... compared //Cash// to //Pol Pot//?! What?! In what universe... You know, never mind. But yes, I didn't have siblings, but I had lots of cousins and yeah... at least having the //option// would have been nice for you."
Hector's tone is grim, "I know you're supposed to stand by your siblings, but screw that, you know?" He takes a breath, "I've worked things out with the triplets mostly. I didn't realize why Silver was angry until she was... mostly over it, and Spear had every right to be furious and I get why people want to protect Spear. I want to protect him too. It was a rough couple months with everyone hating us and it's still a lot more fragile for Cash than for me."
Felicity shrugs. "Sometimes, you stand by your siblings by calling them on it when they're a jackass. And if someone being a stupid teenager results in you comparing them to a mass murderer, you're being a jackass." The purple drinks show up and she flashes the waiter a smile, then takes a sip. "I don't really know what all he did, though I'm willing to go with him being thoughtless, but we all make mistakes." And now she's frowning again, apparently thinking about something else.
Hector sighs, "Trust me, I did not intend to be in a Montague/Capulet situation at a brand new school the last half of my senior year, but I didn't particularly want much of anything that happened senior year except getting cash back and working stuff out with my surprise siblings... How... How much did you pick up about what happened?" he catches her frown, "what are you thinking?"
Felicity starts and blinks at Hector. "Hmm. Oh. Mistakes and the consequences thereof. I gather Cash had been dating Spear, then vanished without warning. Then somehow sent you back with a dear, John letter. And... then you two broke up and he came back... and then it turned out that your father was from here which you found out when your mother died. I think. Some of the timeline in there may be wrong. I've been trying to keep track, but getting sort of bits and pieces."
Hector nods, "You are way better at this than I am, I think." He makes a face when he realizes his coffee is cold and pushes it away, "Cash... needed to figure out who he was when he wasn't here if that makes sense. He agonized about Spear for weeks, but there was something... It was like magnets, you know. Or like harmony. We just fit and he thought he wasn't ever going back, so he wrote spear the letter and one of my friends took it to Seattle with him to mail so they wouldn't just come get Cash."
He meets her eyes, "I shouldn't have sent him back here. I thought... I couldn't be a boyfriend and do what my Mom needed me to do. I was wrong, but I'd already called his folks and I couldn't take it back at it was terrible. It was the worse thing I've ever done and I still can't forgive myself even though by some miracle he did. Eventually. Spear didn't know Cash left him for me. I didn't know Spear and I were writing a break up song about the same guy together." He closes his eyes and looks away, but he can't keep the pain out of his voice. "Star figured it out and then all the Thistles hated me for hurting Spear and for letting Cash.... he hated me then too, and my mom was dead and the thing with... the guy I dated when I first came here ended badly. It's better now, but for a while.... Mom was dead and I had no one. And then they all hated me worse when Cash took me back. That's better too now that Jade and Spear are a thing."
Felicity blinks. "Oh. You told his parents where he was when you found out your mom was sick. Okay. That... locks a couple of things into place. Yeah. And... I can see that realization about the song being bad." There's a pause. "I've been told people get weird when their parents are dying. Like, generally anything short of murder, I kind of feel someone should be forgiven for around that." She considers and starts to say something else, but is interrupted by the arrival of food. The waiter gets another one of her quicksilver smiles, there and gone in a flash. "I'm glad it all worked out."
Hector shakes his head, "She'd been sick for years. I thought she was managing okay, but I found her on the floor and things moved... very fast. We had to go east for an experimental treatment, and I... wasn't handling things well. I panicked." He smiles crookedly, "I think that's where cash ended up, but people... weren't in the mood to give me much slack here. Ashley came around when she realized I wasn't the one who got her brother hooked on... the hard stuff. The girls and I talked it out. Separately. Eventually." He gives the waitress a quicksilver smile of his own and a polite thank you. Once she is gone he drops his voice, "For some definition of all right. Silver and Cash got hooked during the... bad period. If I'd kept Cash, if I'd never come here, I don't think that would have happened."
Felicity nods slowly and eats an onion ring. "Maybe. Or maybe it would just be someone else we'd be equally upset about. Or maybe it would be you because you'd still have ended up back here, but differently messed up. I'm not sure you could have stayed away." She frowns a little more. "The problem is... once you introduce the possibility of magic and destiny and supernatural luck into a system... Did I really make a mistake, or did the universe decide I needed to be here so it... arranged it. Maybe somethings we can nudge and change, but something are going to happen no matter what. Or maybe they could theoretically be resisted, but the cost is too great and the struggle too much. I'm not saying just drift along, but worrying too much about what you should have done in a situation which will never come up again is futile unless you've got a time machine tucked away somewhere."
Hector dips a mozzarella stick and eats it, thinking that over, "There's a theory that Cash wanted a Thistle desperately and the Freeland woowoo stubborned me right into his life. I thought about it a lot since the idea was first mentioned to me. Magic or fate or dumb chance I love him just the same. Cash and Spear... I tried to help Cash get spear back when I first came, but Cash, fond as he was and is of Spear... I think if it is the Freeland whatever you want to call it picked the right Thistle, even though we didn't know I was a Thistle at the time even though it hurt a lot of people. I love Spear with all my heart, but I think he's happier in the long run with Jade. I think Cash and I make better sense for the long run... Is that hubris? I just know that from the moment his song lured me like a siren, I've only been happy with him and it's been hell without. So maybe the real mistake was... fighting gravity. I won't do it again."
Felicity fiddles with a chicken strip, ripping it into smaller pieces and dipping them individually before popping them in her mouth. "Yeah. I can see that. I mean, you do seem to work. And Jade and Spear seem to work. I haven't really had enough experience to know what I'll think long term, but for now, it's good."
Hector says quietly, "Jade will take Spear away from this place and he'll have a chance to figure out who he is without all that weight of history and baggage and expectation. This is a nice place to visit and there are people I care about here, but I don't like... the way this place constricts people into roles. I grew up somewhere else. I got to be me before I was one of those creepy Thistles. it made all the difference. And Cash thrived out there. He only started to get back some of what he lost when we went back to California for auditions. He's better away, more relaxed, more... More Him." He studies her, "You've lived somewhere else, was it like that for you?"
Felicity considers this seriously for a while. "I'm not sure. Maybe. Though I was always rather determinedly myself in a way not everyone can manage. There's a lot of ways Cash and I are the same, but we handle it differently or it affects us differently. I always kind of 'got' him and understood, even if I didn't melt down in the same ways. I do kind of worry that my leaving took away one of his supports. I also... well, maybe it's just a different weight, but the Bloomquists... we're liked. It's not the same as being creepy or stuck up or angry or ambitious. We got the relatively easy mantle, I think."
Hector studies her, contemplating what same might mean and the mantle of the Bloomquists and coming to a silent conclusion. He nods. "That makes sense. All of it. Does it make you uncomfortable when I look you you in the eyes? Is there anything you'd like me to do or stop doing to make things easier for you."
Felicity laughs and shakes her head. "No. no. I don't have the eye-contact thing. And... I mostly managed to sublimate my need to fidget into socially acceptable activities. Mostly. But I'm not always great at knowing what's socially acceptable and what isn't. I've worked at it, but sometimes I cross lines I don't even see. And I understand how he thinks, usually. And I like rules. Sort of. I like rules I think make sense. That's part of the math. The math is rules for the universe. If I can just work out the equations, then everything is right, y'know?"
Hector helps himself to a chicken strip and quietly files the information away, "I'm used to fidgeting and if you like we can work out a signal or something for things in groups that might cross social lines, but it won't bother me if you do or say something not generally acceptable. I'm relaxed about a lot of that stuff." He nods, "That does make sense, yes."
Felicity grabs a potato skin next and sits back a little. "We could. It may or may not work. When I get kind of focused is when I'm most likely to do it and it can be hard to get my attention, then. At the very least, if you're willing to help explain once I realized I did something, but I'm not sure what, that could be useful. I'd..." Having finished her potato skin she grabs an onion ring and starts pulling pieces of the breading off and dipping them each separately. "When I was a kid. I'd just... do things. Because they made sense to me. And then people would be surprised or horrified and then they'd act like my explanations made no sense or were crazy. Like I hadn't thought about things. I always thought about things before I did them. I just decided the risks were worth it."
Hector smiles fondly, "He can be like that when he's focused too. I'd be happy to help. We could make it a kind of game to work out the unwritten rule together." He tries his lemonade, "Oh! This is really good!" He cocks his head, "Sounds like a lack of imagination on their part."
Felicity grins. "Right?! It totally was. Well, and not understanding the allure of the tire swing over the cliff. But there's water at the bottom of the cliff, so even if had fallen, I would probably have been fine." She laughs again. "There was like a five percent chance that rope was gonna fail, tops. And yeah, Prickly Pear is one of my favorites. It's really hard to find outside of Arizona. I've missed it."
Hector looks genuinely baffled, "Who wouldn't want to swing on a tire swing over a cliff given the chance? I'm sure you checked the ropes." He has some more, "I wonder if they have cactus quesadillas around here?"
Felicity grins. "Nopales? Yeah, though not here. You have to find one of the good taco places. Where by good, I mean they're very confused by the red headed white girl showing up."
Hector grins, "You and I need to go out to eat more often. I bet you know all the best places around here... I loved that when I first found Cash. He was so hungry and I just wanted to feed him all my favorite foods and take him to all those weird little places the tourist never see."
Felicity's eyes sparkle. "Okay. Don't tell Cash, but you're totally my new best friend. Weird restaurants are the best. Especially the cheap ones. Sometimes on weekends, I'd go into SF and wander around Chinatown and try things without knowing what they were."
Hector beams at her, "How were you and I not friends our whole lives? I used to do that too. Weird restaurants are the best! And it's so much more fun exploring with a friend."
Felicity laughs. "Lack of proximity. And it turns out that there are a lot of people in San Francisco so it's easy to miss someone. Did you ever find the R&G lounge? They have the best salt and pepper squid I've ever had. And the exploring with a friend being better is why I used to drag Cash along with me when I decided to do something. Also so he could summon help if I fell down a well or whatever."
Hector shakes his head, "I haven't, but I'll look for it next time Cash and I go home." He smiles at her, "We should kidnap Cash on a weekend and go home and just... do normal people things, the three of us, away from all this." Vampires and biker gangs and drama. "Surf. Eat strange and interesting foods. Wander."
Felicity nods. "Absolutely. Everyone needs time off from doom. Oh! And there's this traditional Chinese music store that's tucked down a side street that I bet you guys would love. Only I don't know the name because it's in Chinese."
Hector helps himself to a potato skin, "We'll find it, and the journey is part of the fun."
Felicity leans in against Hector's side, not cuddling, but just like shoulder-bumping him and then staying there. "It's a plan. I can get back there. I just sort of have to go by what things look like and it's three blocks up and one over from the place with the really good Bao."
Hector doesn't seem to mind. He smells is citrus and fougere, but not cloves, no matter how much he would like to smoke one. "I navigate that way too mostly. Landmarks, preferably delicious ones."
Felicity grabs another mozzarella stick and thinks some more, just subsiding into silence as she eats.
Hector eats peaceably, comfortable with silence for several minutes, but after awhile asks, "If we survive this, where do you want to live? After college, I mean."
Felicity considers and shrugs. "Not sure. May depend on if I fall in love with some particular specialty in college. That could dictate my plans. Maybe L.A., maybe S.F.. I kind of want to be able to go to Reno or Vegas, but I'm not sure I want to live there. There are probably places on the East Coast that wouldn't be bad either. I know a lot of people like Boston."
Hector thinks it over, "I here Winters are rough in Boston... I admit, I never want to be more than a couple hours from the Ocean if I have a choice, so I'm not sure Vegas is for me, though spear did get to meet the ghost of Liberace."
Felicity laughs in delight at Liberace's ghost. "Really?! And like I said, probably don't want to live there, but it being a couple hours away for weekend trips sounds fun. I will keep Boston winters in mind. I've never really lived somewhere with winter."
Hector nods, "He had a strong no smoking message apparently. Also? He was kind of into Jade." He nods, "I've never lived anywhere like that either, though we have gone on vacation where there was real snow. I think I'm a warm weather kind of guy at heart.
Felicity tries so hard to stifle the snicker and so, so fails. "Of course he was into Jade. Of course he was. Oh god, that's beautiful." She shrugs, "Well, again, there are places in California to get snow. But visiting snow for a weekend or a week or something and living in snow for months at a time kind of strike me as different."
Hector grins at her, "Prettiest man in the whole of Arizona...." He sighs, "That's my worry. Snow's so pretty and fun for a short visit, but every day for months?" He shudders.
Felicity nods. "Well then, cross off places likely to get a lot of snow. Though if I get into college, I will probably manage to stick it out and get into grad school. Maybe I can try out somewhere with snow for grad school and then flee if it turns out to be a horrible idea."
Hector says, “Two years is easier to stick out than four.... We're set for L. A. next fall. I'm hoping we can spend the Summer back home. I'm still working that out, but it's hopeful. Money's going to be really tight until we get out of Probate, but we'll manage, I think.”
Felicity nods. "I have to wait to hear if they're going to unaccept me. Which... probably depends on my AP scores and not getting in too much trouble between now and start of school. This may be a challenge for me. Not the APs. The other part."
Hector tudies her, "So what sort of trouble Did you get into. I'm guessing it wasn't cliff swings this time."
Felicity glances around and scrunches her nose. "Not as far off as you might imagine. Look. It is not my fault that I gave them specifications for the rope and they used older rope which didn't really meet them. It is my fault that I didn't double the safety margins and check the rope before we used it. And no one died. And they're making a really big deal out of nothing. It was Senior Prank. There's one every year." Pause. *indistinct mumble*.
Hector's eyes go wide, "Ooooohhhh!" he takes a breath and says carefully, "I'm glad no one died. Um... how many injured?"
Felicity rubs at the back of her neck. "Only one. And it will heal. And I made everyone else go home then called 911. Half of this is that I wouldn't tell them who else was there or in on it. The other half is that maybe some of the other things I was doing kind of came out while they were investigating that and the principal was less than pleased. Well, and the pedestal of the statue got broken."
Hector nods, sympathetic rather than judgemental, "So next time you'll buy the rope yourself, I bet. So what else were you doing?" He seems genuinely curious.
Felicity rubs the back of her neck again. She's sort of leaning against Hector, not cuddling, just leaning, like she'll do with Cash sometimes. They've got several plates of appetizery things which are mostly gone, now. Felicity sighs a bit. "Buy the rope myself or at least check it better. And maybe bump the safety margins when dealing with a bunch of teenagers. But I swear it was a freak thing, like there should have been enough of a margin, even with the worn rope. Someone's hand slipped at just the wrong moment and the dynamic load from the swing pulled just wrong on the worn spot on the pulley and it snapped. Slipping a minute later would probably have been fine." She takes another moment and reaches for her dice, tossing them a few times. "I may have kind of been running a small betting ring, but I didn't have that many faculty members involved and none of them were actually teaching any classes I was in. I mean, it really was mostly for amusement value."
Hector nods, "Well that's the important thing. you learned from it and you'll make a different mistake next time. That's what I try to do anyway." Then he throws his head back and laughs with pure delight, "How wonderful! What did you have them betting on?" He seems entirely comfortable sitting there with her.
Felicity smiles a little ruefully. "It was more or less a numbers game based on how often the principal used certain words each day in the morning announcements. So we counted how often he said 'the', 'and', 'will', 'or', 'is' and then total word count. And paid off for people who got one or more of the numbers exactly right."
Hector says, “So not SAT scores or something potentially.. corrupting. I bet your principle took it personally. Doesn't sound fair at all.”
Guess who isn't grounded anymore? Cash Freeland! Who knew a little tattoo would be such a big deal? He strides into Big Ben's, dressed in a mix of goth and grunge. Ripped jeans and black t-shirts. He's letting his short haircut grow and curl a little and his face is fuzzy from a missed shave. He happily takes a seat with Hector and Felicity. "You're going to steal him like that. Leaning. He like girls too." He smiles his big tin grin and roots around for a leftover bit of food.
Felicity blinks. "No, not SAT scores or even college admissions. Just he really didn't want it coming out that there was an actual betting ring going on at school. And yeah, didn't like being part of the mechanism, even if him knowing about it would have made it unworkable because then he could control the numbers." She sticks her tongue out at Cash. "Am not. He's totally gone on you. I'm not even close to a substitute." Then she grins. "Missed you. Good to see you out again."
Hector curls an arm around cash and kisses his cheek without dislodging the other red head, "Nah. I'm taken. I have the tattoo to prove it. You are stuck wih me now, Cashew.... We've been talking about a weekend trip home for the three of us. we can eat in cool weird restaurants we like and do normal stuff like wandering around, surfing.
Cash leans right into Hector like that is where he belongs. "I would love a trip like that. The three of us. I can show Felicity the park where I love took bloom." He says, with a cheeky sort of grin. "Love at first flute. My folks said this was my last grounding, as it were. I'm an adult and blah blah...just keep working weekends and don't bring shame and I am in the clear." He kisses Hector back on the cheek. "No one believes me when I tell them I'm not an awful surfer. I'm bringing a camcorder."
Felicity snickers. "Well, they haven't grounded me, but I'm pretty sure that's just because they know it wouldn't work. Anyway, no shame, check. And yeah, we should run off for a weekend together. We've been discussing our favorite places in China Town because it turns out we both have the same idea of what to do on weekends in the Bay Area, we just spent most of our time of sort of opposite ends of it and there are a lot of people in S.F. so it's easy to not meet someone there."
Hector grins, "You are a perfectly decent surfer. I keep telling them that, but they won't believe me.... Gah! It feels like forever until we graduate, like time keeps getting slower and slower.... I don't think dad and Vanessa we don't even have a curfew r anything, though now I'm always inside somewhere after dark.... I already feel like I've known her forever."
"Because Felicity and I are like, fun house mirrors of one another. We think along similar lines. Plus, red hair. So easy friendship." He kisses Hector again. "So, let's get this San Fran plan in order." He pauses a beat. "Oh, grounding me is more like, I don't go home after school. I work, work work until dinner. I get a sexy tan though. Anyway...San Francisco. I miss the seals..."