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Masks 28.3 - Blintzes and Bad Conversations [Cutscene] [RP] [Recap]

[Wanted to follow up on Adam and Jason's conversation at the coffee house.  Since it's rather close quarters, I could see others getting involved too since it sounded like a lot of people wanted a chance to talk to Concord about everything that's happened over the last couple of days.] Social situations were never Adam's forte. It was always hard to tell what people thought and meant. Someone could say one thing and mean something entirely different. The Concordance had made a lot of that easier, but it was still something Adam tried to avoid if he could. At the Blintzkrieg, however, there wasn't a whole lot of space to avoid anything. Everyone was still tightly packed and talking after the AMA. It's been a lot heavier and emotional frought than anyone probably suspected. A lot of the questions Adam hadn't been ready for, but the thing that had surprised him was Jason. At the best of times, Jason was a storm of emotions--all of them cascading off one another and banking off in unexpected ways. Today was different. Adam still saw the storm, but something about it seemed more focused. Directed. He'd felt it when Jason tried to comfort him during the AMA. Jason was trying to reach out. Adam was happy to try and grab onto anything after everything that'd happened over the past couple of days. Adam waited for his moment. Don't drag him away from anyone else. Don't be a bother. Just... try. "Hey Jason," Adam said quietly. He didn't quite know what to talk about. It's hard to start off a conversation with, "Thanks for being there. You can't tell because Concord doesn't have any biological reactions, but I've been crying for like the entire time since they started asking questions. It comes off as a Weird gaseous blue energy that no one seems to be able to see." Instead, Adam tried to check in with what he thought Jason thought was important.  "Uhh, so you went into the Sepiaverse, right? Did you find your dad?"
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[You're just trying to make up for my giving you Insecure at the end of last night, aren't you? :-) ] Jason stiffens for moment, takes a breath, as if about to say something, turns it into a sick smile and a chuckle that could probably be nudged into a sob if Adam were the sort to do that. At last he says, "Yeah. It's --" He glances around the very crowded room. There's probably a ton of privacy in the middle of a crowd of people yakking and chatting, but not of the sort that Jason would want. "-- complicated. I should update you guys. When I get a chance." His eyes flicker. "Charlotte knows, and --" a half beat "-- Summer." The smile isn't getting any better. "And Alycia, of course. You might have seen her, at the --" He cuts off, looks at Adam. "Um ... it's -- look, I heard a little bit about what --" He gestures around Adam, as though pointing out his aura. "And those questions, and all that. I -- don't know the details, but it sounds like something pretty awful happened to you. Is there anything I can do? Or we. Or resources, or chips, or just a place to talk or ..." He trails off, running out of words.
Adam looks down at the chips. He didn’t know where Harry got them from, but they are all the colors of the Concordance. All the colors he didn’t wear anymore. Adam knew the smart thing to do would be to just stay quiet and have a somber moment with Jason. Exchange a polite nod, like his dad told him to do when someone gives you their support. Don’t make this awkward for yourself or them. Adam did not do any of that.  The silence was almost physically painful.  So instead, he filled it with whatever thoughts popped into his mind. “Yeah, I don’t need to eat anymore,” Adam begins to ramble, popping a chip into his mouth. “Even when I’m not Concord. I sort of figured that out when I accidentally went three days without eating when I started going out as Concord... Momma was so angry when she found out about that. Still, I like eating. Besides, it can be damaging to my self-perception and view of others to ... willingly distance myself from them. ” Adam goes quiet for a long moment. “Sol told me that.”
Jason snorts, softly. "Don't be a recluse," he says. "My brain told me that. " His smile is still crooked, but it has some legitimate mirth in it. "I really didn't want to do this --" Hand gestures. "-- AMA thing. Really didn't. The last thing I wanted to do is talk about myself, given all the -- all the things I've done lately. Mistakes I've made. Painful decisions." A sigh escapes his lips. "It's a slippery slope to pull back from the world, especially when the world hurts.   But that just makes it easier to not treat the world as real, and to make even worse decisions about it. I've seen that with -- a couple of times -- recently. "This team --" Jason looks around. "-- has done a lot to keep me from that mistake. Because I could slip into it, way too easy." He shifts, uncomfortably. "If -- you're feeling 'distanced' -- maybe we can help you, too. Hell, maybe that's why we're all here, to help each other stay human."
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Adam looks down and feebly kicks at nothing, betraying the twelve-year in control of Concord. When he speaks, it’s barely above a whisper, “I don’t even know if I am human anymore.” “I don’t know if Leo told you,” Adam says, a smile forming on his face but not a bit of humor in his voice, “there was a Keynome under Halcyon. Was .” Adam gives two taps to his chest sigil. “Leo sent me down to do something about it when the Vyortovians showed up. It’s part of me now.” Adam looked down at the floor. It hurt to think about what happened in the Crystal Cavern. Adam only remembered it in broad strokes, not exact details of the events. He remembered Sol and what he said though. How in the final moments he seemed to glow and reflect off all of the crystalline shards at once. Like Adam could see the real him for the first time and not just feel him or his energy construct. “Sol too,” Adam continues. He’s still idly reaching for the bowl of chips, even though it’s been empty for almost a minute. He stopped actually popping them into his mouth after a while.  Just started grabbed a handful and then they seemed to absorb directly into his hand, not that he noticed.  The sensation of taste was still there for as long as the chips held out.  Now it was like an automatic function--like an assembly robot that ran out of parts but still dutifully went through the motions. “He’s… gone but I still feel him. Does that make any sense?”
"We've all got ghosts, man." Jason says, his tone matching the other. He's upset himself, but he can see the pain, the insecurity, the confusion enmeshing Adam. He sees the chip thing, and it creeps him out and that is exactly what he can't  say, so he treats it as another factor of the problem, tries to leave enough emotion to relate, but not to contemplate. "Sol -- he reached out to me. To everyone, I think . Across the dimensions, which I had no idea he could do. He summoned us back, from the Sepiaverse, to help you.   The words -- the other words -- flash through his head, like they did then. " Your commitment to doing right for the world and those you care about it admirable. Your own self-doubt is your worst and, possibly, only enemy. When you see your friends standing with you, act -- they are the clearest reflection of your best self." "He said I should stand beside you, be there for you. Just like you've stood by us, by me. He'll always be with me --" Jason taps his temple. "-- up here. I need -- I want  -- to remember him, and what he said.  You should, too." You should, too,  his own head echoes to him. Easier said than done. One hot mess at a time. Adam needs me. "I don't know what it means to have the Keynome inside of you. If you need my help figuring that out, I'm here. But if I understand anything about them, it shouldn't change you -- it should make you more human, all the possibilities of humanity. That's a shitload of choices, but you don't have to make them now, or all at once. And you don't have to make them alone." We don't want  him to make them alone, because that's kind of terrifying,  he thinks, instantly ashamed of doing so even as he realizes it's true. But it's also true that he doesn't want Adam feeling alone for Adam's  sake, too. "There's been too much alone-ness going on in all our lives."   His voice catches.  Jesus Christ, Quill, if you start blubbering I will be really pissed off. Jason reaches out again, putting his hand on the shoulder of the arm that's been doing the assembly line chip eating. Jason searches for something to say that won't be a horrible cliche. All he can think of is, "Let me help," which is still a borrowed line, but a good one.
" There's been too much alone-ness going on in all our lives ." The Truth of the words hit deep. It was impossible not to feel alone when you've been joined with someone else and had their thoughts touch yours for so long it started to feel normal. And, Adam thought, maybe not impossible to feel alone when you know so much of a secret world that only the very (un)fortunate ever get to know about. Or if you'd died and came back to life. Or were part of a celebrity family. Or one of a handful of living construct AIs. Maybe just because one was alone, didn't mean having to be lonely. Adam reached up and gave Jason a quick hug. "Thanks Jason," Adam said before he let go. Behind him, Adam thought he heard Taz shout something out but he wasn't paying attention. "I guess we should figure out something with this," Adam said, motioning towards his chest. "The Dread Queen wanted it. Some weird space bug wanted it. Who knows what this thing is even capable of?"
Jason returns the hug, a little awkwardly. Not the thing in my family -- my growing-up family.   "We'll find out what it's capable of -- what you're capable of. But maybe --" He shakes his head. "Maybe, though, just for right now, just for once, we can ... enjoy the moment." Otto tells the punch line of a joke to some onlookers, punctuating it with small, laughing beeps of his horn. "Maybe," Jason says, looking around at his friends. His right-now family. He shoots Adam a grin. "Maybe, that's the best possibility to pursue."