72-Hour Spider
Roleplaying Log: 72-Hour Spider
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Gwen and Carolus discuss their troubles while settling in for a movie.

Other Characters Referenced: Atlas, Ghost Spider
IC Date: January 19, 2020
IC Location: Jersey City
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 22 Jan 2020 05:50
Rating & Warnings:
Scene Soundtrack: [*\# None]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

* OOC Time: Sun Jan 19 21:32:32 2020 *

* * *

Carolus's Residence
Jersey City

The transformation of a nearly-empty house to something approximating a home has been fairly gradual, and Ghost Spider has probably witnessed the majority of it. A coat and hatrack stands next to the front door, and although it isn't evident on first contact the upstairs has been furnished enough that the house is considerably more open to long-term guests.

The biggest change, though, is that the living room isn't just a couple of chairs pushed together around a single end table. An L-shaped couch is in the sitting room, the chairs to the right side of it.

The curtains are drawn, offering dim-but-reasonable lighting that probably represents Carolus's ideal light levels.

His message to Ghost Spider was simple:

Do you need anybody to talk to?
Failing that, would you like to hang out?
9:07pm

This pair of questions has become regular. The second, always modified by situation. Tonight, not so much. Carolus is not at a restaurant, conducting business that puts him someplace weird, or fighting racist arms dealers.

Presently, he is sprawled out across the outcropping section of couch, completely flat. Apparently laying on his wings isn't particularly uncomfortable if he's not doing it at strange angles.

His phone is— dangling from the ceiling within comfortable arm's reach, a middling bundle of silk adhered to the ceiling.

You… get here the easy way, right? Or are you coming by bus?
9:10pm

* * *

I always take the bus between NY and Jersey.
10:17pm

A window on the second floor is opened as Gwen slides in, making sure the window is shut and curtains drawn behind her after she makes her entry. Swinging over the bannister on the second floor, she sticks to the cieling with an acrobatic half-drop, meandering in frank defiance of gravity as she meanders across Carolus' roof.

"Am I your emotional support wallcrawler, now?" She jokes lightly, pulling her mask up to her nose to flash a smile. "For a second I was going to ask if hanging out involved murders this time but… I guess it's still too soon."

* * *

Carolus reads the response and shakes his head. He supposes it's part and parcel with keeping one's identity locked down, but he can hardly imagine it. He supposes he'll need to, a little ways down the road. He doesn't intend to be licensed much longer, if he can avoid it.

That means no more flying in some places for him.

"If it pleases you to think of things that way. But perhaps I am intending to be an emotional support moth. Though…" Carolus raises a finger to his chin, "I suppose that you would probably be honest about needing it."

His gaze, already fixed on the ceiling, doesn't really need to go much of anywhere. Carolus's eyes follow Ghost Spider's expressions. They're funny, when the mask is all the way on. Nice, when it's not.

An amused exhalation is his initial reaction to her macabre joke.

"'Hanging out' is hanging out. I'm not /that/ strange, Spooky. No, I wanted to make certain that you had somebody to talk to, outside of the constraints of a team, which is often a complicated matter. To discuss any sorts of plans to eliminate the clock you're running against— or to get out of here. Or both." He carries on, without quite managing to actually ask any of them directly.

* * *

"I'm fine, Carolus. Beyond the whole 'Doctor Strange thinks I'm going to collapse into my own insides thanks to a dimensional hiccup', things are fine. I've got you, I've got a team, I've got the X-People who will apparently kill for me…"

Her words are grave, but her overall demeanor is relaxed. Actually seeing the people - feeling their reactions, hearing their voices - had helped her temper.

"So you wanna hang out? Well, I'm the absolute expert."

Touching her hand to the cieling, she spools down slowly on a perfectly still web-line, feet-soles meeting on the line as she drops closer to head level. "The clock? I'm…"

Her expression turns contemplative. "I'm not sure I'm on one. I'd feel it, if I was. You know, my danger sense?"

* * *

"It is… I think, easier than usual for us to be able to develop a strong bond with somebody who appears to accept us, irregularities and all. And you stuck your neck out far more than you had to in order to help Warren. On one occasion, to an unnecessary degree." Carolus's antennae bob, his expression turning a little guilty.

"I suppose it's also not too difficult to take 'life debts' seriously. But you saw the circumstances that just played out. Hodge was Warren's best friend."

A questioning look flickers across his features, wiping away the guilt— it's a quick transition, recognition settling in as Ghost Spider spools down.

Carolus laughs lightly, nodding lightly in a way that most people understood to be an expression of agreement.

Until, that is, the matter of the 'clock' comes center stage. Then he's right back to looking a bit worried.

"I think I understand. Would you like to hear my concern about that, or shall I let it sit for now?" He asks.

* * *

"Hey, look, I did what I felt was the right thing to do. What I had to do."

Gwen taps and screws a finger into the side of her head. "I can feel things. What I've got to do. Where it's important for me to be. The danger, my ability to help. I'm drawn to it. I'd say 'like a moth to flame', but it's not like I'm powerless. Like a spider on a web. I can just feel where to go. And I felt like Warren was important. That helping you's important."

Gwen shrugs, bobbing in the air as she does. Her voice drops to a strange, somberly quiet tone. It's the tone of truth, dripping with painful meaning. It's something very raw. "Sometimes the people closest to us turn out to be the ones with the biggest secrets."

The topic shifts to the clock, and her Spider-Sense, and she leaves the well of feelings she had dipped in. "Oh, you can't do that to me. That's dangerous words right there, don't let it be like that."

* * *

Sam Guthrie heads to the FRP Room Hub.

* * *

"Neither are moths, Spooky. They go into the flame because they don't know any better, but they're not powerless. They could go in another direction. They just don't." Carolus says, antennae rising and falling again. He adds, "And just because you did what you felt you had to do, doesn't mean that's not something with a… worth, to it. People value things differently. Acts, too."

"You helped. You cared. A lot of people didn't, and don't. Or worse."

He makes an acknowledging noise.

"Yes. It is a difficult notion. But common in our shared community. It is… I think… a reflex of mutants to let those things lie. Or at least, it is a reflex of mine. Perhaps it shouldn't be." He reaches up, tugging lightly at the fabric of her hood to indicate Ghost Spider's mask without actually disturbing it, "These, for instance, are safety devices. Take them off without care and it's like taking off somebody's seatbelt while you're driving. Maybe nothing will happen. Maybe you crash. But that's why I don't ask much. It's not that I'm not interested in the answers."

Carolus withdraws his hand, resting it across his stomach. He makes a noncommittal noise.

"I don't think I understand what you mean. I'm not trying to be elusive. I just thought you might not want to be burdened with such a hypothesis. But okay."

"Are you sure you would feel it coming if it wasn't too imminent? I've seen enough to know you're practically prescient, but if… I don't know," He brushes a hand against the back of the couch, "if there was a cruise missile headed this way, would you feel it the moment it launched? Halfway? Quarter? Don't actually answer that specifically, I don't want to be a liability to you if I'm ever compromised."

* * *

"What can I say, Carolus? My two biggest weaknesses are stupid hero speeches and caring too much. I just think saying the latter sounds like a Hero Humblebrag. 'Oh, I'm so giving even I know it!' sounds like such a…

"… like a Stark thing, maybe."

Her mask is tugged and her web-swaying is influenced by the touch, her rocking turning 'back and forth' from side to side. "I'm saying it's really stupid to say 'oh I thought of something, but I'll just not say it'! I'm saying…"

Hood released, Gwen rotates, one leg extending, and then the other as she rights in the air and drops onto the coffee table next to Carolus, flipping the web-line down with a quick wrist-flick after. "… That the very last thing I want someone who I need to trust with my life to hold things back for later. If you've got anything to say, say it. People die because people don't talk about important things when they can.'

Gwen's smirk returns, as her head tilts up, nose raising. "As for my precognition… I want to say once it launched. I was feeling like I had a super-cold that turned into a migrane for almost a month before that portal grabbed me. Pins in the skull, like possibility was a porcupine I was rolling on my face."

* * *

"I feel as if Mr. Stark would find a way to make what you just said sound humble by comparison." Carolus remarks, able to /imagine/ exactly what he means without having the slightest ability to articulate it. It's a first, for him. He can usually whip out a pretty good impression if he wants to.

Perhaps it's the passing negative impression of shoving Cameron Hodge into a portal that makes him imagine Tony Stark as Dr. Cox.

"But if you want me to raise alarming possibilities immediately, then I will honor your wishes. Sorry. That one is all I have for the moment, though." The mothman admits, turning on to his side to face Gwen properly now that she's decided she'll be a part of this half of the room.

"And you are not feeling any of that right now." Carolus says. He nods, more to himself than to her, "Okay. I will operate under the assumption that you will have a reasonably long lead time if your condition should become dangerous. Those are… extremely impressive parameters, actually."

"Two things, then." Carolus lifts one hand, raising two fingers, "Firstly, would you like to watch the… /other/ Judge Dredd movie, I don't remember what you called it just now. Secondly…"

He hesitates a moment, lowering his hand, "I would not consider that a pleasant bus ride. If you're not uncomfortable with the idea, I /could/ take you to… er… what I assume would be an out-of-the-way approximate to avoid exposing your Titan friends. And I suppose, if you'd like to know what is outside of my immediate range, I could tell you that. You have, after all, just told me something I advised you to withhold."

* * *

"I think people get used to hiding everything. Important information and thoughts should be shared. Well…"

Gwen's lips tug across her right cheek in consternation as she brings a hand to rub the back of her head. "… Ok. Not everything, I guess, but stuff about plans and information and stuff. You know what I mean."

"Yeah, let's try this other, worse-er Dad Cop Dystopia. And - you don't need to tell me anything, Carolus. Can you really know my danger sense is that good and use it against me? I'm just surprised I'm not a neurotic wreck really."

"Let's order a pizza and some ice cream for calories, I guess, if we're gonna do a movie."

* * *

Carolus rises, carefully— a little oddly, actually. He seems to be trying not to fold his wings awkwardly in the act of getting up. They twitch and flutter behind him as he heads towards the kitchen.

"Nope," he says, "going to cook something. If you want something like breakfast instead of whatever I dream up in the next ten minutes, speak now or forever hold your peace. I do have ice cream though."

The sounds of cabinets opening and shutting echoed out from the kitchen, just around the corner.

A pause follows.

"Think about that other question."

Another pause.

"And it doesn't have to be /worse/. It could be as good, at least…"

One final pause.

"I don't think you get used to it. Hiding things is… effort. Like lying. Eventually it stacks up so high it has to topple over. Even if you thought you were okay with it. Even if, really, it's safer."

His voice trails away, replaced by Kitchen Noises.

* * *

"Well, I want something greasy and delicious, and as I've already asked and you swore never to stock them - corn dogs are off limits. So, omlettes and biscuits and a whole bottle of hot sauce sounds divine right now."

Gwen pels her mask up farther, flooping her hood down to rest pooled around her collar with a flick of her fingers.

"What other question… Ah, whatever."

Gwen Stacy hops over with an easy tumble to collapse into Carolus' abandoned couch, sprawling out with her hand held over her face so she could shield her eyes with her hand, and look up into the bunched-up hood wth the large eye-lenses that rested among her fingers.

"I do a lot of toppling, Carolus." She mutters, largely to herslef, as the Kitchen Noises reach full fervor.

* * *

* OOC Time: Mon Jan 20 14:10:00 2020 *

* * *

"I said that I would never stock /State Fair/ corn dogs, not that I wouldn't /make you/ corn dogs." Carolus replies, the clatter and shuffle in the kitchen coming to an abrupt halt.

"Have you set your heart on omlettes and biscuits and hot sauce now, or do you want the corn dogs?" He's clearly making some assumptions though, because the noises resume. A heavy something is being set out on a cabinet, several other 'somethings' soon following.

Or possibly he's just laying both options out. It's hard to say without going in there.

A six pack of glass-bottled cola becomes visible at the edge of the island a moment later, accompanied by the characteristic rattle of glass-on-glass. He replies, "I was offering to fly you closer to your destination. The bus is fine, but straight lines are better."

The noises stop for a moment.

"Do you? Are you sure? Seems to me like you pivot instead. Tell me about this alleged toppling." It's almost a /challenge/, the way he says it, albeit a gentle one.

* * *

"Excuse you. State Fairs are both stately AND fair, and are also the best calories to dollar value in the freezer aisle of CostCo. I did the math."

Gwen spreads her fingers, webbing shining between the tips of her digits. "I *ran the numbers*, Atlas."

Rolling on her shoulders to scooch around on the couch and get more comfortable, getting her head up on the armrest, Gwen looks towards the kitchen. "Well, I'm feeling hot sauce now, because I can get corndogs whenever. Good biscuits, though, that's just home cooking goodness. You can't pull that out of a can no matter how much that little white biscuit bugger wants to say you can."

Spotting glass bottle soda, Gwen squints her eyes at the angle, and with an arc of her wrist, fires a web-line onto the top of one glass bottle, seizing it before artfully yanking it out of the case - through the door to the kitchen - and into her hand. It is probably shaken badly.

Popping the cap with her thumb, Gwen immediately clamps her mouth over the top to cap the fizzy explosion, snorting through her nose as she does. Carolus asks her meaningful questions, which she has to take a minute before answering.

"Well, there was that time I killed someone. Then there was that time I got beat up by ninjas and kicked off a bridge. Then there was that time I got mind controlled and went on a whiteout rampage. Oh, and that time just now I tried to drink a soda and it exploded on me."

"Just toppling left right and center."

* * *

"My objections are not related to the cost-benefit analysis of purchasing State Fair corn dogs, Spooky." Carolus replies, coolly. There's another loud noise as he puts something away, probably intended for use in making corn dogs. He continues, "Perhaps I like this part. Perhaps I have ascertained that it is usually cheaper to make than to be made for."

Another pause in activity follows the webbing of the soda bottle. A second bottle disappears from the pack, followed by a characteristic hiss, before the sounds of the kitchen resume.

"Okay," He says, "but I don't smell the sort of mess you get from a fizzy explosion covering the place. Smells like you contained it. Based on the things that you've said up to now, I think you've done something similar when all of those things happened. Containing those… that takes different containers."

Another pause, and clink of glass on surface. An oven door opens heavily.

"'People die because people don't talk about important things when they can.'" He repeats, carefully.

"So maybe you don't pivot," The mothman grants, "but you sure seem good at getting back up again and committing to course correction."

* * *

"Nah, you definitely like it. You're well enough off you have a choice. You could find a few places you like and make simple lunches and dinners some nights and get by way more than just fine. It's definitely a like, and not anything about corndogs." Gwen reasons, before retreating to the sugary rush of cane sugar soda.

"Oh come on, I popped a fizzy, don't overanalyze it. Not everything I do has to be 'plot relevant'!" Gwen complains with a light laugh, the clunk of her placing a glass bottle on a table audible even in the kitchen. "I contained it. But as for the rest… Let's not get into a session about how I bottle up my emotions. The point isn't bottling it up, or containing, it's moving on."

Gwen doesn't need her own words parroted back at her, carefully or not. Were Carolus to poke his head around the doorframe, Gwen would be laid out and eyes closed. There's not a discrete tightness to it, but it's a state of 'forced rest' without real relaxation. Bracing, not steadying breaths.

"That's what you have to do when you're alone, Carolus. Course correct. I've at least been blessed with the ability to swerve back into my lane and not wrap myself around a tree, but…"

She doesn't have a followup.

* * *

"I do like it. But it's not as fun when you're by yourself, gloomy subjects notwithstanding." Carolus says, the sound of the oven swinging shut punctuating the end of the sentence. A light ticking noise chases the sound, followed by running water.

Carolus's shirt is more than a bit flour-y when he emerges back into the living room, coming 'round the back of the couch, leaning forward against it and casting a shadow across her as he goes.

"To be fair," he says, "I didn't bring the soda into that part of the conversation."

"I think you are rather less prone to bottling your emotions than most of us. Perhaps it is doing you some small disservice to make the comparison, but from shortly after we met I could tell that you were more responsible with your feelings than many if not most of my peers and mentors. I said so, then, too."

He tips the bottle in his left hand back, sipping at the beverage within. There is a characteristic sort of *poomf* as he deliberately breaks contact such that it echoes within the bottle, not quite as if he had blown into it.

Gesturing loosely with the bottle in hand, he says, "You're not alone now. When you get back home, you should find ways to be less alone there. Easier said than done, I know. Took some ghost falling out of the sky to bring /me/ back into the fold."

* * *

"To be fair." Gwen cracks an eye, a helpless little smile dogging her otherwise dour expression. "Screw you."

Gwen sits up properly as Carolus moves back into the room, her legs swaying down to plant mint-turquoise soles on the floor.

"Well, it's sort of news to me, sort of… I guess I've always had to deal with my stuff however I could. After I got my powers, I changed my 'thing' a lot. Normally I'd be fine just curling up in my room listening to drumlines and drawing. My dad tried to drag me out to do stuff but it wasn't my jam. Now I'm almost an adrenaline junkie, my whole perspective's changed."

"Like the tune-up didn't stop until it went over my head, too. I'm not the sort that would just jump into danger before. It was… scary."

"Then what became scary was not jumping in. Not knowing."

"Like that whole trolley problem's answer just flipped like a switch, and I couldn't sit idle and see those people die. That I had to do something to help."

Gwen sighs. "As for home, well. Besides the Wasp, there's really no professional superheroes out there. I'm kind of it. It's lonely. Not like here, where you fall out of the sky and three superheroes run up to see if you're a themed goon from outer space."

* * *

Carolus makes a vaguely acknowledging sound in answer to Gwen's retort, taking another draw on his soda. There's something about his entire reaction that seems more /perplexed/ than anything else, as if he was utterly unprepared to muster a response.

"My intro to this scene, apart from exercises to learn control of my new anatomy, was the invasion. It involved a lot of killing alien soldiers, and trying to stop alien soldiers from killing other students. I put some distance between myself and… mutant things… for a while."

"Building bridges all the time is exhausting," he continues, "so my success at engaging ordinary people is… not so good. In summary, I have withdrawn from my community and been worn out by the outside world for these last few years. And I don't have that many years behind me to begin with."

He finishes off his soda, takes a deep breath, and says, "Sorry. I don't have a solution. I wish I did. The only thing I can suggest is to find a way to have this universe on speed dial."

He ventures back to the kitchen, speaking as he goes, "Maybe you're not here just to this place's benefit. Maybe your home universe needs something that you can, in some part, take back with you."

Glass clinks into a partly-full recycling bin. The rattle of pans follows, a light squeal of styrofoam.

"Give me omelette direction. And go ahead and put the movie on, this won't be much longer. Red button on the controller." He says.

"And, er…" Carolus hesitates, poking his head out 'round the corner for a moment, antennae bobbing, "I apologize if… I am merely making you feel bad to no benefit."

Smiling faintly, he adds, "I can definitely see you as a drummer, though." Then he's back around the corner again.

* * *

'New anatomy'. That gets a genuine scoff from Gwendolyne Stacy. "I went from like, ninety pounds wet and a noodle to one twenty and small change, cut like an olympian, and *sticky*. I spent a day or three getting just adhering to things really down. By the way - not detaching from things when you've got our kind of strength? Well, you know how bad it is. My control was alright, but…"

A helpless, cheeky grin spreads across Gwen's features. "I managed to only stub my toe on a door and have the door lose on the way out, but my dad thought I was throwing the worst tantrum of my young adult life when the thing came off its hinges and needed complete replacing. Bunch of new potholes were my doing, though, down by the reservoir."

"I wore a hoodie and did urban exploration for a bit. I was a punk. Then Wasp set me right, and I inspired some people by being Spider-Woman. Up until I killed my biggest fan."

"Didn't know it was him at the time. Thought he was some sort of freaky lizard-monster. He sure hated me, though. Looked like a t-rex in a labcoat."

Gwen grows quiet after that, leaning forward to rest her elbows on her thighs and steeple her fingers short of grasping her soda. "Speed dial, huh? Well, if I'm supposed to bring something back… what do you think it'll be? Beyond No-No dimension trauma, I'm kind of out of ideas."

Gwen grabs her soda with the palm of her hand - just sort of slapping it like her hand was a piece of flypaper - and glances up at Carolus. "Well, when I met you, you were all bundled up like you were going to sleep outside in an alley. You stopped dressing like that, but I never asked. So I guess… Well, from one person incapable of opening up, I sure do open up. And to one person self-assigned 'closd off' you sure are warm and open with people."
"Maybe we're just bad liars, Carolus. And, uh, bell peppers, ham, the sharpest cheddar cheese you've got, and whatever else is good in the fridge."

A wan smile follows Carolus back into the kitchen as Gwen fiddles with the controller for the moth's local gameswitch 460 to pull up the movies list and type in on the soft keyboard 'd r e d d'.

"Oh, I shredded. I was the best. All the whudda-whudda and krshhh'es you could spin two sticks at."

* * *

"I went through a metamorphosis at age twelve. I will describe it at a later date." Carolus says, with utmost sourness. It's an unnatural tone with him— he's usually lukewarm about everything, even when he has something approximating a strong feeling about it. Whatever this involved, it left a long-term mark.

"Everything else… you'd probably have been taken for a mutant, here. Truthfully, it is better to be considered… anything else, really. A lab accident. A demon. An alien. A toxic spill that coincidentally didn't just melt you— no, that's not a lab accident. People cope with those things better than the notion of an evolved humanity, I suppose."

The more serious issues are met with silence. What do you say to that? Carolus has anxieties, about people who died… maybe, because of him. Because he couldn't be everywhere at once, because he prioritized one alien over the other, because he didn't apply a silk bandage to this person at this time, because… because a lot of things. It wasn't as close as /that/, though.

"I think," His voice broke a long, uncomfortable stretch of silence, "that there is a lot to unpack here. So… understand that I am not closing you off, but putting a moratorium on difficult subjects until at least after the movie. But I do want to…"

Plates rattle, the timer dings.

"I do want to address the general thrust of what you said, and if you wish to revisit any of this we may at your leisure. One of the things you learn in theater is that people want to be understood. That seems basic, doesn't it?" The question proves to be rhetorical. Carolus emerges and begins laying food out on the coffee table— biscuits, Gwen's omlette, hot sauce. Having extra hands helps.

"We want to be understood," Carolus repeats, straightening up, "and we want to be independent, and we want to be strong, and sometimes we think those things are mutually exclusive."

"These are contradictory, and equally true: We want to be understood, and we want to shut up, and we want to…" He brings both sets of arms around himself in a deliberately exaggerated gesture, "cover up, make it easier on ourselves. Minimize hurt."

Carolus allows his arms to fall loosely at his sides, "So you say you're lonely. Well, so am I. It's my own fault, but I'm trying. So are you. And at the same time, we're all those other things too. It's not simple, and it's never going to be."

"And that's okay." He concludes, lightly.

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