Frankie's first week as boss.
Preceded by Boys' Night Out
Followed by Cold Turkey (Frankie )
- Frankie looks around the large, empty club. It was nice in here, quiet with the lack of fighting and yelling. He's even got some swell old music playing, the kind that would be inaudible with a crowd. He sighs happily, and begins stretching. Cross' shy friend would be here soon, and Frankie was doing his best to relax. Not gonna make a fool of himself. Not today. Just gonna help this guy out.
- Claud internally panicked when Mr. Valentine suggested the Grooveline, but he couldn't let it show to save appearances, so he had agreed. Following the directions Cross had written for him, he made his way into Mafia territory, doing his best to play the part. Just blend in, disappear, just another young grunt, cannon fodder. Don't mind me. He took a deep breath in front of the doors, and walked in. Thank god. They would be alone. Hopefully.
- Frankie looks up from his stretching. It was showtime. Time to see how shit of a teacher he is. "Mr. Claud! So glad you could make it! Hope you don't mind that we're alone. Keepin the place closed for a bit during the transition!" He laughs lightly. Honestly, scouring the place of Sally's uncontrollable psychedelic residue was more of the reason, but he shoves the thought away. "But not'ta worry, if you need a partner, we can make do."
<Frankie> .... I miss Sally ; - ;
<Claud> me too ;m;
- Claud nods, and plays along. "Right, of course. It's actually nice that there's no one else here, I haven't danced in..." he thinks back, wow it was a depressingly long time. "Well it's been a long time." he smiles.
- Frankie tuts. "Well, now's the perfect time ta start up again, pal." He rubs his hands together. Time to jump in. "Now then. Yer style, vibe, and problems with yer vibe. That's what we're gonna start with, yea? Cause Claud, what I'm thinkin is, if yer anythin like me, a little practice and a change in yer thinkin might fix everythin right up," he beams encouragingly.
- Claud tries to put on a brave face, but he looks stricken with panic when Frankie lays out 'the plan.' "Oh, w-wow, well, if you say so Mr. Valentine." he smiles back stiffly. "The biggest problem with my vibe is... is that I don't really know what it is or how to control it."
<Cross> would it be possible to get a hold of that residue? the psychedelicness I mean. I have a buyer
Frankie probably hoarding it, but it's fuckin dangerous without Sally
<Cross> .... you ass XD
<Cross> Valentine don’t hurt yourself
- Frankie grins. He knew a thing or two about control, and feels a glimmer of confidence. "Ah, don't you worry about that kiddo. Seems half the city is still tryin ta get a hold on what vibe they got." He smiles reassuringly. "So, what styles have ya tried? And what's happened when ya've done them?" He's not being too delicate here, and worries vaguely that a gentler approach may work better...
- Claud looks at the floor, hands in his pockets. He couldn't sidestep the question any longer. "Ballet. People've died." His whole body goes numb.
- Frankie looks sadly at Claud. Yea, that sounded about right. Some people didn't want to dance cause they were timid. That didn't feel like the case here. "It's alright kiddo. It weren't you're fault. Vibes go funny sometimes... and yea. Sometimes it's something interesting. But sometimes a powerful vibe... well... All we can do is move on, and try to work on our control, so we never repeat what we have done," he finishes fiercely.
- Claud his jaw flexes, but he nods in agreement. He wanted so much to argue. No it wasn't okay, it would never be okay, and he would never forgive himself. But he keeps his mouth shut against all that, nods again and just says, "Okay." Now what?
- Frankie sags a bit... picked one hell o'va week to stop drinking. But he's telling Claud the same shit he constantly tells himself, so maybe it'd be alright. "Well... I was thinkin we'd try some basic moves, ya know? No complicated patterns or nothin." He looks down, not wishing to upset the guy further... but it needed to be asked. "Before we start, though, can ya tell me how yer vibe manifested durin' ballet? I need to know what I'm dealing with, else I wouldn't pry."
- Claud "I understand, sorry, it's a lot more difficult than I thought it'd be," he laughs a little and smiles, pain shining in his eyes. "Dancin' together, m n' my sister, anything we danced together was easier, but with Ballet, well, we set fire to the studio once, but we were fine." He really didn't want to go into the details about that.
- Frankie "No need ta apologize kiddo," he says gently. "The fact that yer here at all after what you gone though is amazin, I know it, and don't you forget it for a second." Frankie idly stretches, caught up a bit in his thoughts. "So... hm.. We don't know if the fire was you or yer friend. We know it din't hurt ya, so maybe it was yers. Or maybe yer a nullifier. Or maybe yer friend was. Or maybe-" Frankie stops, smiling sheepishly. "Ya know what, how bout we just try something small, stead of theorizin?"
- Claud smiles back, "It was both of ours. I'm sorry, I shoulda been more clear about this. I was... I am a twin. She was my twin."
- Frankie "Twin? Ah... that could complicate it... Once met'a pair, couldn't dance without one another. Literally. Had ta be in the same room... But we'll see what we can do with what we have, yea?" He knows better than to ask about Claud's sister. The past tense he used spoke volumes.
- Claud pales a little at the prospect. Well that settled it then, there was no point. But then again... she had danced without him all those years, maybe it didn't matter. But... "Alright, s-so, where do we start?"
<Cross> okay if I indirectly have a hand in blowing up two mafia clubs, I am going to get suspish
- Frankie This place is practically in orange district. We know how to rebuild B|
<Claud> hahaha oh no, Cross XD lawl
- Frankie "Well, let's start with my own favorite, just for kicks," he jokes lightly. "How bout ya give me a real basic move of Charleston, yea? Just a reaaal simple swing step, practically walkin, right?" He demonstrates, kicking his leg back and forth, but going no farther.
- Claud "Yeah okay," he imitates Frankie relatively easily, his limbs becoming re-accustomed to the movement. It had been a long time, but his ability to learn fast and do as the instructor did was still there.
- Frankie watches Claud for some sign of vibe.... Nope. "Alright, that din't seem ta do much for yer vibe... Hm, can ya try followin through on the next beat with another kick? Maybe it needs ta build a bit." He ponders this. "And also, how ya feelin? Happy, angry, worried? That might enter inta things."
- Claud "Yeah we can try more steps." He could follow Frankie easily enough. He had been classically trained but, well this used to be his life. "I--I dunno, um, scared, kinda, an yeah, sad." His voice gets quieter.
- Frankie is about to demonstrate the next step, but stops when Claud comments on how he's doin. He knows the kid was feelin down. What had he been thinkin, asking about what was probably the most horrible thing in his life and then just going on about the fucking Charleston?? He looks down at Claud, hiding his shame with a smile. "I'm sorry kiddo, I should realized. Here now, let’s stop with the dancin for a sec. Howsa bout you tell me about what kinda music floats yer boat?"
- Claud "N-naw it's ok, if we get results..." Oh no, music. He might be able to dress fancy and take on airs, but he did not have the music tastes of a mafia man. "Uh, well, anything with guitar in it really."
- Frankie "Well results are good, but sometimes a vibe comin outa good feelin's has a different effect, ya know?" And sometimes vibe coming out of bad is deadly, he thinks to himself. Face still friendly blank, though, "And sure, a guitar is fine, but what I'm askin is what kinda music is it that ya jus can't get enough of? The kinda stuff that just makes ya go 'ahhh’" he sighs contentedly. "Don't tell noone I said it, but it don't have to be disco," he winks jokingly.
- Claud relaxes and smiles a little bit more genuinely, "Oh thank god, okay, yeah, it's not exactly made me popular that I love Classic Rock." The smile turns sheepish.
- Frankie laughs at Claud's intense relief. "Kiddo, if it weren't obvious, disco ain't really my bag neither. I love the oldies. The real oldies, yea? And I meet quite a few more Pink Floyd fans then I do Glen Miller. You can relax here, see?" He grins once more before disappearing into the back. "I'm takin requests, real rare occurrence~ you got anythin yer dyin ta hear?"
- Claud "Yeah but, all that 1920's and 30's stuff, it's dignified, it's got, y'know, history behind it. Not a lot of people in these parts respect the poetry in Kansas, Yes, or Pink Floyd. Well, heh, I guess I don't hafta preach to you. Anyways, I dunno, what's considered easy to dance to?"
- Frankie chuckles when Claud seems to be trying to comfort him?? "Kid, yer workin too hard, right? I know who I am, you don't gotta prop my ego here. This is about you, and what you enjoy. So what if we don't know yer dance yet. We're gonna have ya do whatever comes natural, what makes ya happy ta do. That seems ta be the best way to go about things. So just pick a favorite. We'll see where yer feet take ya, yea? Doesn't do no good forcin this stuff" he says with a voice full of laughter.
- Claud grins, "Right, of course." OK, something not depressing, think! "OK, how's about anything upbeat by Elvis, his stuff had a good beat you could swing to."
- Frankie "That's what speaks ta ya? Swell," he calls. Elvis fan huh. Never woulda pegged him ta lookit him. Frankie grins and sets the impressive sound system so play a long list of Elvis, starting of course, with a cover of one of Frankie's own favorites. He returns to the floor, sparkling slightly.
<Claud> hahah OH SHIT the lyrics XD "they said you was high class, but that was just a lie" HE'S ONTO YOU CLAUD
<Frankie> I think that song applies to everyone in that room = w =
- Frankie loves it for a reason
- Frankie likes this version more, but Elvis is no slouch
- Claud Ah, good old Elvis. Hearing this song brings a smile to his face. and when Frankie approaches him it's like a sudden magnetic pull. He reaches out his hands, "Swing? I'll dance girl?"
- Frankie feels a tinge of pride when he sees Claud looking happy and enthusiastic for the first time today. Yep. This was 'spossed ta be fun. Even if they didn't manage to figure out the kids vibe, at the very least, Frankie could help him enjoy dancing again. He takes Claud up and gets ready to dance. Looked like someone knew a bit more than a basic step, he thinks happily. "Sounds jus' delightful, kiddo~"
- Claud catches the beat and starts moving to the music, waiting for Frankie's lead. They start, and it's like he'd never stopped dancing. It's not pure swing, at least not on Claud's part, after a few measures he starts to improvise some, but that's what swing was all about. He had long limbs and he used them gracefully.
- Frankie keeps it old school, spining Claud, holding Claud, but generally letting him do his own thing as he guides the pair onto the enormous dance floor. What was he doin, tryin ta teach the guy a style when he so clearly had his own?? Frankie kicks and hops and smiles and glows. He's havin a good time, but hasn't forgotten why they're doing this. He watches Claud intensely.
- Claud is smiling and even laughing a little as they danced, ah god it felt so good, and maybe this time would be different, maybe... he falters a little, misses Frankie's lead, and then stops dancing all together. "S-sorry, I, I think I need a minute," he starts to wheeze, his heart was aching painfully. He could still breathe normally, it wasn't a heart attack... was it?
<Frankie> is it a heart attack?
- Frankie can fix those :Ic
<Claud> it's not
<Frankie> = w =
<Claud> too bad
<Frankie> is it with his heart though?
<Frankie> o w o
<Dustin> Claud can only be healed with the power of ~*~love~*~
<Frankie> ; ^ ;
<Cross> ... welp I can’t do jack shit for that, son. yer on yer own
- Jack heals his heart with love I guess. Jack marries Claud, bears little insufferable ginger children etc
- Cross just heals regular stuff I guess
<Cross> pride of the mafia etc
- Cross questions the meaning of his life when discovering claudlets
<Claud> XD hahaha Claudletts
- Frankie is charged and smiling, but the moment Claud looks uncomfortable- He stops mid kick. The music continues without them."Kid-" Ok, well Claud had warned him... but his pain was still so distressing- "Kid, no- don't go apologizin, we'll take all the time ya need," he pants and inspects the square. Was he really ok? "Look, there's a Vendy just in the other room, let's get ya in there, yea?" Asthma? Or somethin even more- Frankie does a subtle wiggle and can see and feel Claud's soft electricity, thudding along to his heart. Somethin was off—the rhythm wasn’t right..
- Claud grips Frankie's arm for balance and support, as he starts to fold under the pain. The memories, his regrets, his sorrow all came rushing back as the emptiness of where his twin used to be seemed to gape after him like some angry hungry maw. Finally he gasps in a deep breath, can't think of any other way to escape this pain but through words. "Ohgod she's gone, she's gone and I knew the moment she died and I did nothing." he draws in a shaky breath as the tears start to flow. "Oh god forgive me I can't live like this any longer."
- Frankie holds Claud up, trying to steer him towards the Vendy. He's debating trying to shock the heart back into proper behavior before leaving him to the Vendy - but Claud's words interrupt his thoughts. Frankie pats him. "Here kid, here, it's gonna be ok, it wasn't you're fault Claud." The whole city was feelin this pain. What'd he been doin, wallowin in his own?? "Alright now, come with me, we're gonna sit you down, we're gonna talk about this, this ain't somethin anyone should keep shut up inside. It ain't good fer ya. 'S fuckin poison. No one can live like that, and it ain't your fault. You hear me?" He keeps a steady stream of reassurance while guiding Claud to a seat.
- Claud sits and cradles his head in his hands, fitful sobbing breaking through now and then. He'd been in mourning all this time, but he hadn't cried this hard since the Dance War. And the pain was coming in what felt like waves. He'd be nearly back to being fine, and then the gaping emptiness would come rushing back. If this was his vibe, why was it punishing him so? Soon the crying and pain had subsided to manageable levels and he sat there in embarrassed silence, face in his hands.
- Frankie sits down quietly by Claud, slowly petting his back as it's wracked with sobbing. I am officially the worst teacher that ever existed, he thinks vaguely to himself as he watches Claud, slightly at a loss. But he's not done helping, goddamnit he isn't gonna just sit here. "Kiddo..." he starts in a low tone, "Now, first off, I don't want ya apologizin again. Yer a good person. What happened ta ya's been horrible. But ya can't blame yourself. This vibe stuff- people here treat it normal, but its insanity, really." He stops speaking when Claud seems to finish crying...
- Claud looks up and nods, staring at the opposite wall, sniffling occasionally. "You're right. I'm s--you're right." Gosh that hand on his back was comforting, just the knowledge that someone cared was nice, but the physical contact seemed to make a huge difference. He closes his eyes again. "So that's it then, I can't dance without my sister. She managed to do it somehow, but I don't think I can."
- Frankie "Look now, don't take what I said about the twins to heart kiddo. I seen hundreds of different vibes in my life, and sure, some of em even look the same at a glance. But I ain't seen a single one that acts the same. So don't you go sayin somethin like ya don't think ya can, right?" Frankie continues patting Claud, trying to comfort him... It reminded him of a looong time ago, before he was even on the island. "Some vibes, the jus take time... and yea, sometimes it hurts... but if ya can grow, and get through it..." He sighs. "It's worth it, Claud. I swear to ya."
- Claud "I hope you're right Mr. Valentine. I hope you're right." He takes a few more shaky breaths to calm himself further. A familiar fatigue settles in, but there's something more. A background noise, like a low steady hum that he can feel through his body. It wasn't the music which was still playing in the background, it was something completely different, and oddly calming. He looks around for the source. "Can you hear that?"
- Frankie "Just 'Frankie' will do," he flashes a pitying smile. "And if my own vibe's any indication, I'm sure I'm right" Kid heard a noise? Frankie looks up, listening to the hum of the energy in the building, the surrounding power grid... but that had always been there, and he doubted Claud was referring to it... or was he? "You don't mean the music..." He looks at Claud with a hopeful light. "Canya hear the electricity, kid?" Maybe they guy was a leech? Grabbin his lightning would explain the heart pain, too...
- Claud "I um," he leans against Frankie, "No it's not you, I think my ears are ringing..." but he doesn't move. He was suddenly very tired and Frankie was very comfortable. He could feel a warmth... no, more than that, radiating off of Mr. Valentine. He sighs and something within him started reaching out to that center of light and warmth—and pulling.
- Frankie is a little surprised when Claud cuddles up to him, but after the deep, painful thing he's shared, Frankie isn't heartless enough to push him off. "Ok buddy, I think it's time we did get you to a Vendy, cause a little bita dancin shouldn't be doin that to ya..." He stands up, and hauls Claud to his feet. "Kid, you ever get this kinda thing happen around other vibes? Like, find stuff ya touch freezing when yer near an ice vibe?” Would explain everything, he thinks triumphantly. Frankie stumbles suddenly.
- Claud keeps a firm but loving hold on Frankie's arm, and keeps him from falling. He can't seem to process language right now, and suddenly he's re-living V-day, the good part of it. Warmth and light was flowing into him and he couldn't seem to stop it, he was starving.
- Frankie is dizzy—he can hardly tell ground from air, but he hadn't touched a drop in days, what was this?? Oh god—the kid is a leech—And he's takin too much- He's takin all of it!! "K-k-kid- stop- I c-can't-" he tries to protest weakly. He feels like he's drying up- He told them, you can't unplug him, he told them- didn't he?? Was that even the same person-? Frankie's vision goes dark and his thoughts spin. Unable to stand on his own, he leans on Claud,
<Cross> ... ohshit
<Dustin> DAMN VAMPIRE VIBE USERS git off mah lawn
- Remi stands on X's lawn. B|
- Dustin shoos Remi with his cane
<Frankie> lol in step city, kids shoo grumpy old men from their lawns
<Dustin> LOL yes
<Remi> But copying leech or just LEECH leech? 8]c
- Remi AJ popcorns more.
<Frankie> who knowwsss?! 8I
- Remi AJ shares popcorn with QQ.
- Frankie QQ noms
- Claud Frankie's protests sound distant, but more alarming to him than that was the fact that Claud could immediately sense his displeasure. He grudgingly puts some of it back, sending non-verbal apologies along with it. Please don't be mad.
- Frankie can feel his body trying to shut down. No dammit no I ain't gonna- no- Everything’s spiraling, his limbs feel heavy- But a sudden surge of blinding light hits him. He gasps, and throws himself off Claud, fallings to the ground. He needed to dance. Or get mad. Or something. But all he can do is lie trembling.
- Claud A subtle light fades from Claud's eyes and he sits down hard, trying not to hyperventilate. "That's... never happ—happened before..." he gasps. "Are you... alright?" The emptiness was flooding back fast, and he was nowhere near satiated. A renewed hopelessness hits him and he slumps, spent in every way.
- Frankie FUCK DID I PICKED ONE HELL OVA WEEK TO STOP DRINKING. Frankie tries to sit up, take back control of the situation, not look like a fucking shaking wimp. Frankie takes deep breaths, still too low on vibe. Everything aches. But he is not going to let Claud down. "Hhh- Ok, k-kiddo, that- that was real good. Hhh- hh- We learned sometin right there, ya see? Looks like what you got there is some sorta leech vibe- And tha's fine! Don't let anyone tell ya otherwise!" Frankie shivers violently. "Jus couldn't keep up with it, is all, don't you worry, alright? See, I'm thinkin, if ya use it while we’re dancing..." Then you experience intense pain. FUCK.
- Claud is too busy shaking and sitting fetal to notice how bad Frankie looked, but the strain in his voice was enough to know. He was some kind of monster, doing that to Frankie. He could have killed him, and yet he was still trying to help Claud. Somehow this hurt more than if Frankie had simply been mad at him and left.
- Frankie stands slowly, feeling every inch in his body scream in protest. He walks to one of the numerous outlets lining the walls of the club, taps a foot to the long ignored music, and a tendril or static eagerly leaps to him. Frankie looks as if the whole incident had never happened. He straightens his bowtie and move again to sit by Claud. "Look buddy. Like I said when we started. Vibes go funny all the time. It ain't yer fault." He pats the kid on the back again without hesitating.
- Claud struggles to keep from flinching, keep himself, his vibe in check. What bullshit. "I hate this island." he says, softly but full of acid. But the anger is short lived, he simply does not have the energy to continue being mad. He sighs, "Alright, so what do we know? That I have some kind of needy dependent vibe that requires a partner of some sorts in order to work? That sound right to you?"
- Frankie Hate the island? Hah. "You an me both, kiddo," He scoffs, more bitterly than he'd intended. "But there are some good things here, if ya look for em." Frankie rubs his hands together. "Right. What we know is that yer vibe likes a partner. Yer style does too, so it makes sense, see? Don't mean yer needy. Just means ya like people." he grins, and produces a few sparkles for Claud's benefit. "Couldn't do this till I tried partner dancin neither. So yea, sounds pretty reasonable. I think the only problem is, there's somethin else to it. We jus gotta figure that out, and you'll be cuttin the rug in no time, see?"
- Claud perked up a little when he sparked. He didn't remember it being this way all those years ago. Maybe he'd been healthier then, or maybe it was because he'd been dancing regularly. "I think it's like, when you try to eat food after starving, and it just makes you sick. Maybe I went too long without dancing, too long without people."
- Frankie "Oh man, ain't that the truth! Ya know I been tryin ta eat all week, but damn if most of it don't just wanna come back up!" he chuckles at his own expense. "But I'll get used to it again, and so will you. It ain't my business ta ask about yer history, but kiddo, you got more family than you can shake a stick at now." His smile becomes more genuine. "We won't let ya suffer through this alone."
<Monsieur_d`Aubigne> FRANKIE SOB
- Monsieur_d`Aubigne AJ hugs, makes easily digestible food and tea for.
- Claud that just makes him feel terrible. He lets his head sink into his hands again. He had to tell him. "Mr. Valentine, I'm afraid that's not the full truth. I'm not an initiated Mafioso."
- Frankie stares at Claud, face bewildered and a bit hurt. Here he was, puttin his heart into this, and the kid- Mister Claud here was just tryin ta fuckin poke fun at the fuckin Mob. He could picture it all, some bastards, planning to make him look like a goddamned imbecile—Oh, Mr. Valentine, I'd love for you to help me~ Jesus Christ was he the biggest sap on earth, or what?! Frankie looks down. He wordlessly removes his arm from Claud when he begins to spark.
- Claud Ohhh shit. Talk fast Claud, talk fast. "I'm sorry, I shoulda toldja sooner, but not being able to dance, it was an obvious hindrance to being fully accepted, an' Cross didn't want to get me in trouble when we ran into you... I'm sorry, I didn't know what else t' do." he finishes lamely, swallowing hard, waiting for the inevitable anger.
- Frankie Waiting to get in?... but that was just too perfect, wasn't it?? If he had a cred for every time he caught some idiot UG thug with an orange spray can and a story about how they were just waiting to join purple... Frankie's lip curls into a snarl. And Cross? Tch. Of course."Yer sorry. Weeelll ain't that a pretty little story. And I suppose next you'll wanna tell me you were just hangin around a high class, exclusive Mafia restaurant cause you were feelin peckish?" His voice sounds dead, but the sparks thicken.
- Claud he didn't believe him. He couldn't implicate Cross any further if Frankie wasn't going to believe what he had to say. "Look, I know it sounds stupid but you have to believe me!"
- Frankie "Why?" he demands.
- Claud "Because if I didn't care I wouldn't be tellin you the truth. It's been eating at me ever since I realized what'd happened." It wasn't a good enough reason and he knew it. But how do you prove you aren't lying?
- Frankie A sigh escapes. The argument was decent. He'd heard similar. Although... Claud wasn't taunting, rubbing it in, nothing like that. But… was he really gonna be a fool again?? He watches the phony, but he pictures Claud, shaking and crying. There were some things you just couldn't fake. Frankie feels a headache coming on. "So. You are not purple. UG then? Or a square? I cannot picture you in the green, somehow." Frankie's voice has become clipped, overly polite, but the sparking continues. "So what am I supposed to do with you?" He had responsibility beyond himself now, and an image to uphold.... But... He can almost hear the kid's misery filled voice as he cried for his dead sister, asked for forgiveness... Would it be allowed? Who would even try to stop him?
<Frankie> pffft, Frankie's first 'mad-with-power' act is to train a square
<Claud> bawh ;m;
<Bella> you're a boss, not a miracle worker
- Claud bristles at even the hint that he was UG and through clenched teeth hisses, "The Underground. Killed. My sister. No. I'm just a square. Just a stupid nobody." When essentially asked what his fate should be, he shook his head. "I don't know. I don't know." he deflates again and casts himself to the mercy of this Mafioso.
- Frankie Ah. Unless it was all a lie, definitely not UG... well that was a decent start, maybe. Square then. That was fine. It would have to be. "Look Mister Claud. You got it wrong. Bein all classy- high position, even fuckin loaded with cred—it don't make things easier. Squares—" He stops. What was he doing, he needed to get the guy outa here, not give him a goddamned pep talk... But why? It was his damn venue... So fuckit. "—squares can do alright for themselves. Just gotta focus on what matters. And what don't matter, is whether yer a famous stepper or a 'nobody'." That is, as long as the factions didn't fucking go to war again, he thinks darkly. "As for me, well... I'm a family man. I like ta see em livin life real happy like, right? So what, if we ain't exactly related though blood? And then ya wonder, if blood ain't that important, then why'sa color so big?" He gives Claud a meaningful look.
- Claud All this talk of family was only reminding him of what he didn't have any more. But if he was understanding correctly what Frankie was saying... "Mr. Valentine, I hope you understand just how uncommonly charitable that attitude is. Back in square district, hardly anybody cares what happens ta' anyone else, and so I thought, even if I don't agree with what the Mafia stands for, if it meant having a family again..." his throat tightens and he swallows a few times. He looks absolutely miserable.
- Frankie Was it so uncommon?? Just how idiotic is this play?? "I-lookit, lookit this ain't nothin, right? I mean, fuck—the war was—Look ok, I can't just let ya run around like ya are, right??" He scrambles to resume his cool after Claud's worrying statement. "Right. Mister Claud. I don't know what to say for squares. But as for Mafia? We're just tryin to make the city safe..." Well, Frankie told himself they were. But with all the crazy vibes, and poor, untrained steppers like Claud here, he could sometimes believe it. "We got new people since the war, see?” Me, fer one. “No more Crazy Cornell. No more shunning them that don't disco. We are a family, before anything else." And this isn't mere propaganda. Frankie shines with belief.
- Claud nods and keeps his opinions on the mafia to himself, it was best not to upset him. It was self appointed power, and those in the mafia and other organizations were extremely susceptible to abuse of that power, as he knew first hand. "I understand Mr. Valentine, thank you." He hugs his knees and looks sadly away. "So what do we do now?"
- Frankie despite his haze of faction pride, he can see Claud isn't buying it. Honestly, after the war, Frankie'd felt the same way... even now, if it weren't for Bonita, Frankie himself would be out. He drops it. The kid would see for himself. "Ahh...well. I have a few ideas. But before we go on—" Frankie's brief, relaxed calm vanishes. He stares at Claud intensely as before. "You gonna swear to me that you ain't gonna use what I teach you ta hurt my family. My vibe don't seem to hurt ya, but don't you go thinkin that makes me harmless." He'd been killing long before the lightning. "I will help you, if you are serious. But if you make me regret this, go after them I want safe, I will make you regret being born." His tone is businesslike. Practically friendly.
- Claud 's eyes go wide and he instinctively curls tighter. He had questions of course, What about in self defense? What if they start it? What if they attack an innocent? But all he can say is, "Yes sir, I understand completely." Just do what the man says and get out of here as fast as you can.
- Frankie examines the familiar fear. Some part of him relishes it. He was doing good work, keeping people in line. But... A larger part of him simply feels like shit. "...Do you? Do you understand what I am doing for you? I am making myself responsible for your actions, Mister Claud. I owe you nothing, know very little of your temperament, or whether you are cruel, fight-happy, vain, or plain reckless. I ask nothin in return. This is a horrible risk for me, and in truth is probably a terrible move. On the other hand..." What..? This wasn't his job. But... Kid reminds him of himself, after V-day, after the war... "I ain't asking you to lay down and die. The place is fuckin dangerous, I know. But you got a problem with them I look after, you call me first. You do somethin nasty on purpose with this... Well. You understand me, right?
<Pth|Zzz> if Cross pisses off Claud enough somehow I think this gives Frankie dibs on punching his face. family is weird
Claud DAMNIT >:C
Frankie Go ahead and beat assholes up, that’s fine. Just Vendy them after uwu
- Claud just wants to nod and agree to everything Frankie was saying, but he knows just turning into a blithering yes man wasn't going to impress this guy at all. Quite the opposite actually. "Mr. Valentine, I seen firsthand what the war did to people, and I chose not to fight because of that. I wouldn't be here today if I wasn't at the very end of my rope, I got nowhere and no one else to go to… Running away didn't work, drugs and drinking and sleeping didn't work. I realize how selfish it is of me to ask help from you, and how dangerous it is for both of us. If it will help keep the peace between you and yours, I will agree to defer to your authority." He looks grim, scared, but he is telling the truth.
- Frankie The back of his mind is still telling him that this is all an act. Frankie buries the paranoia. It was wrong half the time anyways.... a third of the time... ok, sometimes the paranoia was wrong. Frankie watches Claud's body language, scrutinizes his words. He nods along. If this wasn't just a ruse, he was practically looking in a mirror. In the silence that descends when Claud finishes, Frankie tries to decide. Hold or fold... but there isn't a choice, not really. He realizes this with a sigh. Yep. Biggest sap on earth. He'd been caught the moment Claud had freaked out. "Askin fer help ain't selfish, kiddo. I just wanna make sure I don't end up buryin someone I love cause’a you. I think that's reasonable'a botha us, really."
<Claud> weeeeeeeeeeeeeeh ;m;
<Monsieur_d`Aubigne> Aaaaaw :<
- Claud It really starts to sink in just how complicated faction rivalries were; everyone had someone else they loved and cared for, someone for whom they'd die for. Love really was the best motivator. He nods, "Of course," the rest of his words catch in his throat, he could see the hidden pain again. If it meant taking an extra beating to preserve Frankie's peace of mind, then so be it. He'd do that willingly.
- Frankie stands up. Talking was over, time to get to business—he catches the unsteadiness in Claud's voice. Maybe not. "Alright kiddo, I been doin a lotta talkin, and you been doin a lotta listenin, an it's clear there's somethin on yer mind, so out with it already. Don't need anymore lies here, if it's all the same." He offers Claud a hand up.
- Claud takes his hand, and is easily pulled to his feet. "Sorry it's just," he looks at Frankie curiously now, "it's like you know me, an' we barely have had more n' a few hours t' get ta know each other." He smiles a little and looks away, hands in his pockets, "That, sounds dumb, sorry."
- Frankie "What-? Hah, you're a riot, Claud. Know ya?? I'm just yammerin on, yea? That's what I do." And that is all the discussion about me there will be tonight, he thinks with annoyance. Frankie stretches again to limber up after the tense stress from the vibe drain. "Ain't dumb, you jus been through a lot, don't you worry. We're jus gonna keep goin, less you need sometin ta drink," he eyes Claud's oh so familiar starved frame. "Or eat,"
- Claud tries not to look too self conscious, he knew he was skinny. "Uh, if you got a water fountain or somethin' that'd be great, yeah." The fear and exertion had left him with a dry mouth, but he hated asking for favors. No point in dehydrating himself though.
- Frankie "Yea, sure we do. Just around there" Frankie points Claud to room filled with an elaborate set of fountains. He's assuming the kid just wants to keep going, there's no way you can dance regularly on a diet that produced a frame like that... unless... ugh.. the answer was obvious... "Water in the other room, though there's a Mister Vendy if ya want a bottle or a bar. Heheh- You ever tried the Vendy bars, kiddo?" Frankie asks innocently.
- Claud Heh, tried? More like lived on. Not wanting to let on how destitute his situation was he just smiled, "Yeah, uh, they're better n' nothing in a pinch I guess." He excused himself and slipped into the other room, taking a long drink and forcing himself to grab a bar, eating it hurriedly before rushing back. "OK, so," he deflates a little, unsure how to continue, "What's the plan?"
- Frankie Better than nothin? Sure. Frankie knew the ins and outs of that. After a week of feelin' hollow, the gritty, sweet, inedible bricks felt like a godsend. Made choking them down almost not horrible... Ah. Starting to see the full picture. Possible drug addict, no vibe control, and likely a vagrant. But... he’d seen worse recover... and he couldn’t back out. So. “Only choice is ta keep goin. What I think ya need is more power. ‘Course, I can provide, but not like that back there. We gotta number’a options, but none’a em involve you dancing. So it's more of’a ‘xperiment, ya see, cause if you blow the place sky high, I’d like it ta be before we re-open the place officially,” he gestures around the empty club. “You think you can handle it?”
- Claud takes a deep breath and nods, "I think if we go slow, and since I know what to expect now, it should be OK. What did you have in mind exactly?" he bites his lower lip.
- Frankie "Oh, you leave that part to me, kid!" He smiles. But even if he's resigned himself to helping, he's not about to reveal to Claud anything else about himself, particularly the variety of ways he charges up. "You just wait here, I'll be back in'a jiff!" Frankie steps away to his private room this time around. Didn't really feel like his yet. In the oppressive silence, he again wonders what the hell he's gotten himself into as he searches a cabinet. Eureka. Frankie pops a tiny pill, and moves to a wall cord... He'd just worry about it all later. When Frankie returns to Claud, he's glowing enormously, with a purple bloom to his vibe. "Szzzo. Here we g-g-o," Frankie offers his hand.
- Claud can tell when someone is faking smiles for his benefit. He feels awful, he really ought not to have come at all. But they had learned so much already. The lights dim and glow slightly, and he looks around, suspicious. When Frankie returns, he has to fight hard to not let his growing panic show. Just trust him, he thinks as he nods and reaches out towards Frankie's hand. He makes contact gradually, touching with only his fingertips, working his way up to grasping his hand. The fonk-augmented energy at first feels like too much, and he tenses against it, but he quickly starts to adapt and learn how to control the influx of energy first reducing it to a slow trickle, then to a moderate flow, playing with the amperage as a child would play with the bath faucet. He smiles at his small success, but frowns a little when he notices it feels... off. This was about as enjoyable as the clinical sterility of an IV drip. Which is to say it wasn't bad, but, there was no heart behind it. He could sense that Frankie did care, but not in the way that would create a strong connection. He wanted to try something more, but first, "Hey, you doin' alright?" he asks softly.
- Frankie "Therezz ya go worryin-n-n-n again abouzzt-t-t me~" his chuckle throws off sparks, his vibe growing more purple by the minute. Everything felt so beautiful and distant from up here, even without the fonk, though that added a whole other element to the concoction of feelings washing over Frankie- Claud's mere touch sends shivers rolling down his spine. "I- ahaha- Ah- don't-t-t youzzz worry, I t-t-t-ooold ya zzzztt not-t t-ta!" Frankie is brimming with vibe. Not full capacity by any means, but Claud's leeching is barely noticeable now. Now, if only he could dance, god this would be perfect- but it's not time to breaking it, it's time to help. He's not too far gone to remember that. Frankie sighs with longing. "Szzzo, howszzzz it feelin-n-n-g?? "
- Claud was seriously intimidated by how alien and potentially dangerous Frankie looked at the moment, but he tried not to dwell on that. He nods and seriously thinks about how this felt. It felt good, in a way, but it was also somehow hollow. He thought about his drug use, the addictive high and how lonely it felt. "Well, so far so good. But I want to try something." he holds up his other hand, palm towards Frankie.
- Frankie is finding Claud easier to read since taking the fonk. He's nervous, dissatisfied, eager... That beautiful, empathetic, connected feeling was one of Frankie's favorite aspects of the purple stuff. With a fond look in his lavender eyes, Frankie watches Claud. "Szzzure thing-g-g, k-kid-d-d-o~" But first, let's stop spookin' ya. Frankie hides his vibe away inside himself. The room loses it's strange magenta light, and, beside the electric hum and fonk glow in his eyes, Frankie looks normal again. "N-nn-o n-n-eed-d for the light-t-t-t szzzhow, hhhhhmmm~?" Almost without thinking he pulls off a glove. The silk against his hand was so soft, he just want to keep rubbing against it—Focus on the kid. Frankie sets his palm to Claud's, biting back a giggle of pleasure at the sensation.
- Claud relaxed as the sparking subsided, making it easier to focus. He even smiled a little at how barely contained Frankie's giddyness was, and closed his eyes to concentrate. He had felt something, right before he and Frankie broke contact: he had stopped leeching and actually reversed the flow. He thinks back to those previous moments; what had he sensed? How had he reacted and what was the effect? He looked for the living center within Frankie and found it, brighter now with an artificially enhanced light. The drug's effects were distracting but he'd have to work around that. It would be like a circuit, the connection between them, that's how it was supposed to be. Symbiotic, not parasitic. He reaches out carefully, calmer now, more in control of himself and his emotions. He starts with sending something small, knowing how quickly and easily this could fly out of hand. "I'm sorry," he thinks through the tentative connection, and then, "Thank you." He didn't know if words would be heard, or just the intent behind them, or maybe even a vague notion of what was being said. The way the brain processed language and information was a ponderous thing, and he was nowhere near qualified to remark upon it.
- Frankies watches Claud patiently, though he's itching to get up and leap around the club. He focuses on the buzzing in his head. Ah... that was perfect- Frankie's lost in electrical humming while Claud investigates. "Oh, I t-told ya not-t-t t-ta apoligi-gizzzzzz, when-n-n are ya gon-n-na stop-p wit-t that-t??" He asks with a grin. "An-n-n it-t-t's my pleazzzure-" Hold it- Frankie's eyes go wide. He jumps back, stumbling as far from Claud as he can, hitting the club's wall. Frankie explodes with vibe- The lights go out, the music stops- everything's dark except for Frankie's brilliant purple. He shakes. No one was supposed to go there besides him and Poppy- DON'T THINK ABOUT THAT FOR GOD'S SAKE- Frankie covers all important thoughts with static. He was very familiar with shielding his mind, but he hadn't expected that kind of attack. Had the man meant to invade his mind? Had this all been a poorly concealed ploy? He was well aware of how fucking guilible he was long before now, but it still hurts so badly. He stares back at Claud.
- Claud For one beautiful moment, they were connected, and he looked up, grinning at Frankie, only to watch as his face contorted with fear as he went on the defensive, stumbling away and spiking with energy. He wanted to run, he wanted to cry. His legs felt like lead, he couldn't move, couldn't speak. Having the connection cut so suddenly was traumatic enough, but to see that look of abhorrence and fear on Frankie's face... what had he done wrong? His jaw worked but nothing but small strangled sounds came from his throat, and even if he could speak he doesn't have an excuse, he doesn't even have an explanation. He desperately looked around the darkened studio as if he'd find the answer there. The silence was screaming loud.
- Frankie takes one look at Claud's expression, and a feeling of dread fills him, because in his heart he knows, once and for all, that Claud is not faking this. It would have been so much easier if it was an attack. An attack, he could fight, could kill, could make go away. But a terrified, lost man? He just had to deal with it. Fuck. The room goes dark as Frankie drops much of the electricity back into the grid to make room to think. There was nothing to do about the fonk, but intense shock had done a lot to clear the small dose... Well now. Claud's vibe could get into his head... Of all the things Frankie did not want, that might be at the top. He had only ever opened up so deeply to one person. The idea of this near stranger, waltzing through his mind... Maybe he could call Phoenix...? No. He's a boss, not a simpering child that runs crying for help. Frankie flares everything back on and approaches Claud casually. "Right kiddo, now we're gettin somewhere. So! We're gonna try this again, but first I would appreciate if ya could tell me what ya saw. I'd like to know what I'm in for, is all." Frankie's tone lacks even a hint of accusation. He pats Claud gently, trying to radiate the sense of normalcy.
- Claud exhales shakily and tries to get a rein on himself. OK, so at least Frankie was putting up a brave face, and a very convincing one at that. The casual touch was reassuring... But his extremities still felt numb and cold; he'd shrunk so far within himself that his spirit felt small and his body too big. "I didn't see... I don't think it works quite that way, I mean, what I felt was, i-it was like knowing you were there, and on the periphery of my... sensing, I could tell that there were other people, alive, in this area." Damn the English language and all it's limitaitons. But he could see where this was going, what the point of concern was. "There are thoughts, Mr. Valentine, and then there are thoughts, even in the mind. I-if you don't want something heard I'm not going to hear it. In a manner of phrasing. Emotions, mostly, feelings... I know I scared you bad, I'm-- I apologize for that." He can't make eye contact, he felt so stupid saying this, so exposed. But then again, so had Frankie.
- Frankie believes Claud, at last. So... merely sensing. He did that himself, wasn't so badl... But Claud had spoken to him, to his mind. Only one person had ever... He snaps at himself. Fuck you Francis. Today, it's gonna be two. You agreed to it. You gotta get over yerself. Just gonna smile and put on the same old show. Maybe even sparkle. And in the meantime he'll keep the static over anything important. Sure, he believes Claud's innocent intentions, but the kid doesn't have a clue what his own vibe is capable of. "Not scared, kiddo. Just a bit shocked, is all." He lets out a tiny thread of lightning to emphasize his joke. "And ya know what, I'm gonna have ta start chargin' ya a cred fer every time ya apologize, see?" He laughs lightly. Now that his heart has stopped pounding in his throat, this whole performance is easier. "We'll try this again, and I'll keep myself from jumpin like'a jack rabbit, right?" Ok. Needed power again. He'd left the cord in the back, but didn't wanna give the kid time to think and get mopey... Well, it was about time Frankie started pushing his vibe too. After briefly closing his violet eyes, he begins glowing electric purple again. Look ma, no wires, he thinks with suprised triumph. Eyes open, palms out to Claud. "Have at it-t-t."
- Claud "Right," he manages a half grin. He'd better take him seriously just in case, he was broke. OK stupid THINK, he's got thoughts and feelings he wants to keep private, just like anybody else, so keep it superficial, he berates himself. Instead of communication, maybe... a song? Claud had always enjoyed his ability to remember full songs, instrumentals especially. When he couldn't sleep, some nights he'd lay awake, meticulously playing full albums in his head. Right, better warn him first. "Instead of thoughts I'm going to try music. I have no idea how this will translate, so..." he places his hands on Frankie's, closes his eyes in concentration, and thinks his way through "Australia" by YES.
- The warmth of energy flowed to and from him, and he relaxed somewhat, the fear leaving his limbs.
- Frankie "A szzzong? Well cert-t-ainly! That-t szzounds szzwell!" Pleased that Claud isn't giving up after his stupid outburst, his enthusiasm isn't entirely forced. Right then. He braces himself for the one thing he has feared for years. But it's not what he expected- music hits him, and he's not ready for it. It's- it's not like hearing it, which already tended to send him into a state.... He can feel every note- but not just feel- in his mind, he can see, practically touch the notes, god... so beautiful... Frankie's lightning transforms with Claud's vibe, turning gentle. Both men glow violet with Frankie's enhancement. Even the protective static in Frankie's head becomes a happy haze of light and joy as his defenses lower in the face of the music. The whole club wells with his amplifying vibe, and the Grooveline is filled with twilight.
- Claud It was really difficult to keep the notes in sequence in his head. He had to rely on memory, but not only that, had to think slower than the speed of thought, which is quite slow, comparatively. Parts of the song kept overlapping, like slippery fabric, or deleting themselves, or moving around, sometimes he'd get stuck in a loop that he had to force his way out of. But the sensation was wonderful, and from the way the incoming energy felt, Frankie felt the same way. He hummed a little, pleased. He moved on to "New World Symphony," afraid to do anything that had words for fear of what emotions he'd evoke.
- He let the last of the notes reverberate around the inside of his skull, and could no longer fight the urge to catch Frankie up in a big hug. He hoped that feeling of relief and gratitude would communicate through the link, this was nowhere near any kind of sexual advance.
- Frankie doesn't notice the hiccups in the song, enraptured with the sensation of music flowing into his mind. And there's something else in it, too. It feels like her... happy, joyful energy—She was alright. It'd been a dream... he'd though that so often before, but all those other times, there'd never been this accompanying feeling... Poppy is here. He's unable to think. All that registers is sharp, sweet adoration. He is suddenly back before the war. When Claud hugs him, Frankie returns the embrace tenderly. All the things he'd wanted to tell her all this time, he sends through the familiar connection. You are perfect. You are beautiful. You are the most wonderful person that ever, ever existed. He leans his head onto Claud, brushing the man's cheek lovingly, eyes watching him blindly. His vibe becomes so thick as to be nearly opaque, and the room apears as a vast purple nebula.
- Claud gets the feeling that he's no longer being addressed. He can't make out for certain what Frankie was thinking, but he got the general notion that whomever Frankie is thinking to, it isn't him. He waits it out, not wanting to interrupt or ruin this moment. It feels good, of course, but it wasn't meant for him. And maybe Frankie realy was transcending this world and connecting with—oh my god. What if it were possible to connect with the... oh my god. Fear and excitement threaten to burst their quiet moment. But as soon as Frankie came down to earth, he had to ask him. He had to know.
- Frankie can see her now, watching him with luminous, understanding eyes that told him he mattered... but she isn't responding. Why?? He's alone in his head... Of course. He was always alone... As he watches her, she burns away. And then there is only the Square. Frankie stares at Claud for a moment as the room spins, the purple haze vanishing. He steps back, hands still pressed to Claud's. "Ah- excuse me for just one moment, if you don't mind Mister Claud." He explodes with feral laughter, expression manic... With a shuddering breath, it dies. Frankie's face regains it's easy smile. "Lookszz lik-ke szzomeone doeszzz got themselvesz a bzzit'a a telepathy thin' goin on~ Haha HAH- That's one hellava vibe fer partner dancin, lemme tellya. Yer gonna be popular, kiddo. Peoples'll be linin' up for'a chance with ya~ Nice song, t-t-too- songs? Yea. Both of em. We should get you on an inszzzt-trument, if you ain't already. Buzzt lat-ter." One last animal laugh escapes. "So t-t-tell me. How waz that laszzzt run for ya?" Before I lost it, of course.
- Claud waits semi-patiently as Frankie comes back to himself, but he wasn't expecting that reaction. His eyes go wide as he watches the other man unhinge a little... a lot. He tries not to let his alarm show for too long. But what he said next, it was flattering, and it may even be true, but he wasn't sure if that was the life he'd want to lead. "It was, um, well it was better! I'm glad the music worked, I've never tried that before," he smiles briefly, trying to think of how to phrase his question. "Uhh, you seemed to, um, leave for a moment there... it was like you were connecting to someone else, somewhere else, so d-d'you think since I could sense when my sister died, over a great distance, if maybe I could still connect with her...?" What? Past death? He looked down, "It sounded better in my head." he said, sullen. It was a foolish grasp for hope.
- Frankie watches Claud's fear. No. He gets a grip, tries to lighten the mood. "Waszz defint-t-ly good-d call wit the tunezz-" But then he comments on Frankie's behavior... should have known better than to hope the kid didn't hear it.. And now he's asking about ghosts... So. He'd seen what haunted Frankie. Worst case scenario. Somehow, it's a relief, that someone else knew... "I'm afraid that that was likely not yer vibe, kiddo." His says quietly. "Just happens sometimes. Ain't often so bad, but yer vibe kinda jabbed some old stuff..." He looks hollow. "Anyhow. Even if yer groove can't, there's a few steppers what vibes do connect to thems that passed. However..." He looks at Claud intensely. "...Claud. It's perfectly natural ta want 'em back. But it don't do any good ta dwell on that stuff, cause far as I know, there ain't no one with'a resurrection power." Frankie had looked. God, he'd looked. "After what ya saw just now, ya might not believe what I'm tellin ya... But I know. It's best to focus on the livin, on the act of livin."
- Claud listens, eyes starting to rim with tears a little. He nods his head in understanding. "You're right, and in a grim way it's a bit of a relief that it's one of the few things that hasn't been messed with by vibe. Of all the things that don't make sense on this island... Yeah." he takes a deep breath and tries to put those thoughts aside. There was no sense in reminding them both about the finality of the tomb. Wanting to change the subject he mused, "I wonder, since I could detect things from a distance, I wonder if I could learn to broadcast as well. It would be useful to not have to maintain physical contact all the time," he lifts their hands up a little in illustration. /As nice as it is./ he thinks before he can stop himself.
- Frankie is suprised how quickly Claud agrees to drop it. He feels rather hopeful at the reaction, as well as at Claud's continued eagerness to explore."Well, I don't wanna overwhelm ya- Hah- who am I kiddin, yer doin great." He claps Claud's back aprovingly. "I'm gonn-n-na hazzzard a guess that-t 'broadcastin'. as ya put it, is gonna be posszzible. Lookszzt like yer tailored made fer part-t-tner dancin', emphasizin szzwing. But that ain't'a style you's szztay touchin' fer, see?" Frankie releases Claud's hands, but not before a pleasant shiver courses through his body when those kind words reach his mind. His vibe immediatly reacts, illuminating softly- an old, old habit, one he didn't realize would still come so naturaly... God he needs a drink so bad... Moving on. "Alright-t kiddo, yer gonna hav-v-ve ta help me help you at thiszz point-t. If there'szt anythin I can do what-t-t makes this easier, juzzt' szzay the word."
- Claud tried to suppress the painful shiver that hit him as well. "You should probably warn me before breaking contact, I think I need to let the connection fade first, it's... uncomfortable otherwise." He rubbed his hands together nervously, thinking of what to do next, "Uhh... I want to try dancing again, something slower I think. A waltz..." He thinks back on a happier time, his sister and he were in musical theater, and every performance, between one of the scenes, an older gentleman who had taken a liking to them both would playfully waltz with her in the wings, while Claud looked on smiling. Later, she had shown him how, and they had taken a few casual lessons, enough to enjoy themselves but not enough to be adept at it. Was something so emotionally sensitive really a good idea? "Yes, a waltz. I'm not terribly good, but maybe a gentle connection will help us stay in synch?"
- Frankie "Uncomfort-table, eh? I'll keep it-t in mind. Hmm... szzcratch the part-t-tner dancin' theory, I szzupposzze. Can't-t-t stay touching the ent-tire time durin' szzwing. Also meanzz the broadcast-tinzz iffy... Shoot-t, I 'szpose it-t wasz t-too good ta be t-true... though, this iz yer firszzt time. Yer makin' miraculousz p-progresszz, really." He smiles for Claud. "And a waltzz-z is a terrific idea, k-kid!" No. The thought of waltzing with a self-confessed unskilled partner makes him cringe. But that's what the enhancing vibe was for. It'd strengthen Claud's vibe, and, espcially with the fonk, improve the kid's dance technique enough to make it tolerable. He turns and disapears again to fiddle with the music. "We'll st-tick with classic-c ztyle, 'sztead of Vienna. Bit-t szlower, yea?" Frankie returns and prepares to dance, pulling Claud gently into position as another Elvis song begins.
- Claud nods and smiles back, "Thanks. We'll just have to see how it goes as I get better I suppose." he smiles a little to himself, at least something was going right. Sort of. When Frankie returns, he settles into the unfamiliar position of letting the other man lead. He's a little tense, afraid of what might happen again. He also doesn't want to mess up. Re-establishing the connection, they start off a little rough, disjointed, but as soon as he figures out how to anticipate their movements through the connection, things smooth out real quick. The song is terribly sad though, and he tries not to listen to the lyrics, focusing instead on their link, the rhythm, and the steady hum of energy from Frankie. He could get lost in that hum.
- Frankie "'Sz alred-d-y much imp-proved, k-kid!" Why, not even an hour ago you practically drained me dry, and now we're actually dancin with it. Well, if you could call it that... Frankie tries to produce his amplification vibe, but even with the fonk, the poor dancing is making it hide. And the song... Frankie hadn't remembered how goddamned sad it was. He'd simply picked it cause it was the first Elvis tune to come to mind that suited a waltz. And... well, all these old memories being dreddged up, maybe he kinda remembered dancing to an older version of the tune, long ago...
- Fuck. What did that matter now. He grits his teeth, resigning himself to the waltz while intense heartache fills him... But quickly, Claud improves?? He improves so dramaticaly. Suddenly Frankie is not dragging a dead weight along the dance floor, he is conversing with his partner, who is following his lead as if they had practiced together for years. Frankie does indeed glow and sparkle joyfully now. "Kiddo! Kiddo, I toldya! Yer vibe- dammnit it's beautiful!!"
- Claud is concentrating so fully on connecting with Frankie, that he's getting just about everything: the initial disappointment, the resignation, the heartache, then as Claud finally caught up, the unspeakable joy. The emotions hit his raw nerves like hammers, but he can't cut himself off from the connection, not now, he was learning too much. An aching fills his chest, but less than the physical pain he felt before, thinking of the opportunities he'd missed and would never have again. He tries to speak but the words don't come, so he "speaks" through the connection, "You said, "focus on living," but how am I suppossed to do that when I don't have a reason to?" Tears rimmed his eyes and he fought hard to keep them from spilling over.
- Frankie amplyfying light quickly washes over Claud too, as if even his groove is grateful for the sweet moves. If this was what Claud could do after just a little testing... He brightens with the thought. But they are connected, even without vibe, and Frankie can sense his partners distress before the words enter his mind- Frankie wonders just then, how he could have mistaken him for her?? He burys the thought -had a question to respond to, one he'd been struggling with for years. He simply dances with the kid for a while, thinking to himself... He'd never been that great with words, which was why telepathy vibe had agreed with him so much... He sighs, and sends Claud memories of emotions. The desire to belong... finding someone, finally, who wanted you.. keeping them safe... He stops sending the emotions, tries to stop thinking, because those thoughts, for Frankie at least, always resulted in self-loathing and crushing guilt. Still on a light note, he attempts to speak through Claud's connection. "People, Claud. Find people, and love them, and be happy." Out loud, he asks quietly "Did ya get all that? Ain't sure how strong yers is yet..."
- Claud worries that maybe he hadn't communicated clearly enough through the connection, and considers retrying when he sees the subtle change of expression on Frankie's face, and knows he's thinking about it. He wasn't ready for the onslaught of emotions remembered, they were so strong and vivid he almost cringes against them. But like sticking your cold feet in hot water, he eventually relaxes, opens his mind and 'hears' the instruction. He takes a shaky breath and nods. "Yeah, I uh, I think I got it all. Th-thank you." he smiles but it's pained. He knew Frankie was right. It was just finding the courage to do so.
- Frankie can sense Claud's discomfort with his response. But after sharing with Claud something so private, Frankie's own reason for getting out of bed everyday, he's suddenly intensely self concious- what had he done wrong?? Did even his few remaining decent emotions feel dirty now, too? Or did he simply sound insincere, even in his mind- Frankie cringes, emotionally recoiling, his dancing becoming stiff and forcefull. But when even his vibe visibly shrinks back, he pauses- Fuck. Ya know what, he wasn't gonna get all idiotic and insecure here. Fuck that. The kid needed a teacher, not a fuckin child. "Claud. You gotta tell me what's goin on with ya, else wise I can't help ya, and wont know if I'm fuckin up."
- Claud could feel the withdrawal, and they come to a halt. He lets the connection fade a little, just in case they separated. "I'm just... so scared." he laughs a little, nerves coming back. "Ever since my sister died, well, we was together since conception, you can't get much closer than that, right? So with her gone, I gotta go on living like half a person. I ain't had much practice being sociable... I never even wanted nobody." he finished quietly, and hoped Frankie knew what that meant. "You ain't messin' up Mr. Valentine, you've been kinder and more helpful to me than anyone has been in years. I guess I just got some stuff that I gotta work out on my own."
- Frankie sighs with regret. He could have danced all night, with Claud following so skillfuly. Frankie pants and holds the Square, remembering his earlier complaint at sudden disconection. He listens sadly. "I understand kid, I really do. I..." Frankie stops. Was there a point in hiding this still? Even if his enemies found out, it's not like they could use it against him, not anymore... "-I had siblings, too. Have? Eh. They were very... important." That is the worst understatment he'd ever given. God is he awful at this. "Ain't heard from em since the rails closed down." He gulps, and wishes he hadn't said anything. "Now, the only reason I'm tellin ya this is cause, if it weren't fer some'a the people I met here in the city, I wouln't be here talkin to ya. After that, I mean." He gulps. "A-an', bein shy's fine, but doin shit alone..." He struggles for words. "-You don't have ta, is what I'm tryin to say." No, he was trying to say much more than that, but... He can't express it.. Instead, he tries sending Claud a memory of the calm, gentle happiness of being with someone who actually cares after years of painful isolation.
- Claud Suddenly their connection lit up with memories of the sort of peace Claud had been seeking after for so many years, the happiness he once had with his twin, and it re-opens a festering wound, angry and ugly that he hadn't conciously realized was there. He blindly grabs at the memory, I WANT IT, I WANT IT SO BAD and as suddenly as it had come on, it left, physical and emotional exhaustion taking its place. He slams down the connection completely and moves away, shaking. In that moment he realized something, he was mad at her. He had harbored within himself a deep and yawning hatred for what she had done to him before the end, even, irrationally, blamed her for things out of her control, out of his control. Had this been the source of his drug-induced fits of rage? The days and nights where he'd be hurting so bad that all he could do was lash out in fury against whatever was near him? Then the tears came. They came and came and threatened never to stop. "Goddamnit..."
- Frankie can feel something trying to latch on to the memory of happiness- it's a similar sensation as earlier, the feeling of his vibe being drained, nearly passing out from the loss... He couldn not lose that memory- nooono no no- He screams to himself as he throws up a static in his mind, burying the thought under a deafening buzz... Frankie stands alone. The kid didn't mean to, he tells himself shakily. The kid- Frankie closes the distance between them. His instincts tell him to hold Claud again, but he isn't sure, with his connecting vibe, if that's a good idea... particularly after the kid'd cut it off himself. Hm. why leave it to chance?? Frankie speaks in a quiet, reassuring voice. "If ya needa shoulder, I'm here fer ya, Claud. And an ear. Ya ain't required ta tell me what's goin on up there, but if ya wanna talk, I'm right here."
- Claud wasn't even aware of what he had almost done, all he could think of was how terrible he felt; the guilt and anger finally building to a breaking point inside of him. He hugged himself and ever so slightly leaned his head forward, resting it against Frankie's shoulder, gasping and trying to regain some composure. Find people and love them. Fear and doubt nagged at his mind. Would anyone have him? Would anyone want to love him back? As emotionally fragile as he was, could he take even the smallest amount of rejection? He pulls a handkercheif out of his pocket and presses it to his face, making sure he doesn't drip. "Guess I'm more messed up than I thought." he says at length. He was so broken.
- Frankie sighs, relieved when Claud comes back to him. He puts one arm around the square, patting his back comfortingly while trying to keep his own thoughts positive and voice free of static after rifling through the old memories... "You might not believe it, but most people are more fucked up than they realize. Big cover-up operation, see?" He smiles jokingly. "Go through their whole life, not knowin. Yer already ahead, Kiddo. And yea, seems you been through more'n most. But it ain't what's past what decides yer life. It's you, today. What you doin here's real good" Heh. He should take his own advice, he thinks mockingly, but continues. "Maybe what I toljya seems impossible. But you already begun..." He looks down, bracing himself. Was he really going to- ugh. Yes. He was- "... Mister Crozz is an amazing sztart-t. He'zz one'a the most loyal c-creatures I ever met, leazzt towardzz the things he carezzzt about-t-t." 'Til now, 'things' had only ever involved Phoenix, to Frankie's imense displeasure. "Szzo. If you can-n get in hizz good graces, I'm guessin you's gotta knack er sometin."
- Claud Cross? Loyal? He supposed he could see that... nnnnno he couldn't. Were they even talking about the same guy? Goofy, perverted, barf-in-the-gutter-lay-around-drinking Cross? He seemed as self centered as they come. 'Course he did say that he was using the apartment as a safe place so... He never saw him when he was with other people, only when he was alone, in hiding. Looks like they'd seen the worst of each other, and perhaps Claud had judged him too harshly. Cross had been inexplicably kind to him. Or maybe Claud had just been a means to an end. "I'm not sure what I am to Cross. Maybe he just pities me, but I suppose it's better than getting on his bad side." He sighs, starting to feeling safe and warm again. "I think that's more than enough fun for one night, don't you?"
- Frankie feels a bit reassured at that reaction. That Cross was helping Squares went against Frankie's view of the man. It threw him. Speaking well about the mafioso was like dancing badly on purpose. It just felt wrong. But Claud's uncertain words implied that Cross' behavior towards Claud was still something of what Frankie was used to. His tone becomes easier. "Hehe- Don't get me wrong. The man is still a bastard. Don't matter though. Whatever you are ta him, he got you ta me. Even if he wazz jus t-tryin ta make me look-k the fool, he done well by ya." He sighs. He still wanted to dance. He wanted to continue all night. Longer than that. He'd want to 'till the fonk wore off. But Claud hadn't taken any, and he was just gettin back into dancin' anyhow... "Yea. I think we made some really incredible progress today, kiddo! Yer gonna master yer vibe in no time, at this rate, I honestly think so." He grins and sparkles at Claud. "Whatsay we clean up, and I buy yas a congratulatory dinner?" Kid was too damn skinny.
- Claud "Honestly I think he was trying to make a fool out of me, you just happened to get caught in the cross fire. But I am grateful that good came of it." When Frankie offers to buy him dinner, he's flabbergasted. "Wha--you, you'd do that? Fer--fer me?" he can't hide his smile, "I couldn't say no!" Well he could, the gnawing hunger was almost like a best friend at this point, one more day on vendy bars wasn't going to kill him. But it would be an insult to refuse the offer. He owed Frankie. He owed him big time, and at this point he'd do just about anything the other man asked.
- Frankie "Make a fool of ya? For heaven's sake, why?" He shrugs off the puzzlement. Who cared why the bastard did what he did. "Well, regardless, all's well that ends well." He grins. "And of course I'd do this for ya. A bit'a grub ain't no big thing." Frankie waves a dismissive hand. Get the kid comfortable with this, maybe he can get at least one good meal in him regular... "So, there's showers downstairs, or you can jus vendy up. Yer choice." Vendy's were quicker, but... ugh. "Now. As fer where we're eatin, well, I got a place in mind. None'a that fast food crap, see?" Nice big nutritious meal, that was just the thing for the guy. Frankie'd get some soup or something... or simply tea... But it'd be relaxed and comfortable and distract them both from how emotionally fucked this night had left them.
- Claud smiles, grateful and spent emotianally, mentally, physically. "I am forever in your debt Mr. Valentine," he says, the exhaustion making his attempt at a bow a sloppy one. It just seemed the right thing to do. "I think I will, um, take a quick shower if that's alright, I won't be long." He looks around and then has to ask, "Uh, which way...?"
- Frankie is so relieved when Claud opts for the showers. Vendys just couldn't compare to honest ta god soap and water. "Ah, well... lookit, don't worry 'bout ownin me, see??" Ugh. Frankie didn't want to think about that kinda thing, not right now. Just cleanup. Yep. "And hey, showers'r fine, wouldn'ta offered otherwise. Jus' follow me." Frankie heads to the back, removing his jacket, tie, gloves. He slides a keycard. "Jus down these stairs- Ah, shucks ya look dead on yer feet kiddo!" Frankie puts an arm under Claud and helping him the rest of the way.
- Squeaky clean, with freshly vendied clothes, the two leave the Grooveline looking quite dapper. After a short drive, they arrive at a snazzy Mafia joint. Frankie proceedes to try to get as much food into Claud as he can while attempting to keep his own tea down. Throughout the meal, they stick to topical subjects- music, dancing... nothing serious, nothing painful. Though not the most exciting dinner ever consumed, it is calm, uneventful, and pleasant.