One Small Step
Roleplaying Log: One Small Step
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Rictor enlists Bastien's help to smuggle at-risk young mutants out of state.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: March 25, 2019
IC Location: Shakedown - The Waypoint
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 26 Mar 2019 21:18
Rating & Warnings:
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

There's been a nihilistic mood at Shakedown in the days leading up to and over registration. A lot of people just want to stop thinking about it. That means loud music of the industrial type, and lots and lots of liquor. It's probably the kind of scene that Bastien likes to slip out on, in contrast to the bubblegum of 90s night that usually involves lots of neon and drag queens. But Rictor asked him to either stick around or to come back for about 10:30 PM when the bar is full of sweaty bodies that are already quite drunk. He didn't say why, but it didn't seem like it was for their third date.

The man himself is behind the bar, quickly and efficiently getting drinks out almost as fast as they can be ordered.

* * *

There was an inward cringe at being asked to come back at night, especially when recently when he'd prefer just to hole himself up at home or the studio to avoid the tensions of the city. At least Bastien has changed out of his normal work casual clothes into a black cable knit sweater and grey corduroys, so he blends in a little better than plaid and khakis with the crowd.

A nervous smile is flashed at the doorman before he enters through the front, keeping his head bowed and eyes cast down as he weaves his way to the service portion of the bar. Instead of calling for Rictor and interrupting his flow, he waits until he knows he's in Julio's field of vision before he just raises a hand.

* * *

Rictor doesn't see Bastien at first, but when he does, he makes a hand gesture and grins in a way that says 'yep, see you!' Then he holds his hand up to indicate five minutes, and points towards the back. He touches his ear, says something to call up a replacement, then wipes his hands down and steps out from behind the bar.

"Hey," he says, approaching Bastien. "Thanks for coming." He reaches out to squeeze the other man's shoulder, then moves into the back, heading directly for the storage room.

* * *

Wait, was that hand motion for Bastien to meet Julio in the back. Did that mean to wait for Julio before heading to the back in five minutes? The inner conflict is made physical when he takes a few steps in that direction, then decides that was the wrong decision and he returns to his original place at the bar to wait. In fact it's almost the full five minutes of wash, rinse and repeat of that little bit of pacing. He almost looks relieved when Rictor comes over and he wordlessly follows after with a wring of his hands.

* * *

Rictor doesn't seem to notice the indecision. He's a man on a mission. He heads right down the narrow staircase to the storage area. "We're going to have to be quick."

"Ric!" calls a voice from the top of the stairs, "Two more."

"Send them down!" says Rictor.

It takes a moment, but two teenagers awkwardly move down the stairs. One looks to be especially punk - and she rather is, but it turns out she's just leaning in to the look that the spikes sticking out of her head naturally gives her. The other is a slightly older young man with frizzy hair. "You really gonna get us out of the city through the sewer?"

"Something like that," says Ric, with a smile towards Bastien.

* * *

"Oh, um. Yes, of course." Just because he's a nervous man doesn't mean he doesn't catch on quickly, especially with Rictor's interest in Bastien's particular set of skills. He's known about the mutant form of the Underground Railroad to get them out of town, but he has never been asked to participate before. Things must be getting dire to rely on the skittish accountant.

Bastien nudges his glasses up onto his nose so they seat correctly, then gives Ric a feeble smile. "You'll have to tell me approximately where you'd like them to go, then we'll have to hope I have a marker there, yes?"

* * *

"Already taken care of. I dropped the button at the place this afternoon." Rictor moves towards the far wall, and with the help of one of the other staff members, a series of boxes attached together to look like a stack of liquor is pushed aside revealing a heavy door. Beyond that door is an old portion of sewer, that looks like it's been bricked over since prohibition.

Inside, there are about a dozen other young people, most of them very obviously mutant. They're on air mattresses and are amusing themselves playing board games. The far wall is decorated with bright graffiti that names this 'The Waypoint.'

The two new teens cautiously step in, until their names are called and they move over to join their friends. There's lots of hugging.

Ric hangs back by Bastien, then reaches out to squeeze his shoulder again. "I dropped the button at a spot in Jersey City. There's a bus waiting to take them further away."

* * *

Bastien blanches beneath his beard as he steps into what has been dubbed The Waypoint, mainly because his eyes are counting up all the bodies. The news of the button does little to assuage his trepidation, turning into Rictor when that hand goes to his shoulder again.

His own caps Rictor's elbow as he steps in, bowing his head so he can speak quietly to the other man and not be overheard. "I've never transported this many people before."

* * *

"We can do them in small batches. If that is still too strenuous for you, we can take breaks. And if we need to, we can keep some of them here until tomorrow." Rictor says that to try and calm Bastien, but obviously, getting everyone out of here tonight would be the best-case scenario.

* * *

"I think…I think I might need to throw up." But instead of fleeing to find a bathroom, Bastien turns quickly and his back hits the wall. There he sort of just slides down until his knees are bent like he's sitting in an imaginary chair. Head falls forward into a cradle of hands as if dizzy, fingers rubbing at his eyes beneath the rim of his glasses.

* * *

"Bastien, Bastien…" Rictor shoots a glance over his shoulder, but fortunately, the kids are entertaining themselves and seem in good spirits. He drops down beside the other man and reaches out to squeeze his hand. When he speaks, he's switched to Spanish. "Take deep breaths, okay?" Then his face scrunches up in guilt. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have thrown this at you. But it just happened this afternoon that they've started running regular patrols in the alleyway where we usually put a van to sneak the kids out. And I didn't trust talking about it over text or phoning. We don't know how much they're listening."

* * *

Bastien just sort of numbly nods to Rictor's words, taking them in but how much he is actually hearing is left up to debate. At least he's breathing through his nose and exhaling out of his mouth to abate the feeling of nausea. "You have to understand." He says quietly, answering back in their native tongue. "I am an accountant with a party trick, not some….some…" He can't even find the correct word as to what type of person risks everything to move a bunch of kids out of harm's way. "I am not you."

* * *

"Bastien, what you can do is not a party trick. What you can do is going to save lives. It's amazing. It's beautiful. And you can do this." Rictor tries to look the other man in the eye. "And I'll be right here. If you feel like you can't do it, you just say the word and we'll try another way. But if you can get even three of these kids out of the city, you will have done a great thing."

* * *

Bastien despondently lifts his eyes to Julio, looking tempted for a moment just to beg out of this whole situation. "I don't wish to disappoint you." That notion alone seems to turn his stomach again, and he hunches back over but instead of just giving up entirely, he asks. "Do we have time to get me a drink?"

* * *

"I think we can manage that. Considering we just walked through a room full of alcohol." Rictor starts to stand, then crouches back down again. "If it would really help. Does it help for you to be relaxed? Or would it make it harder?" He's fussing a bit, and he catches himself. "Be right back."

As Rictor goes back towards the storeroom, some of the kids start to look Bastien's way. They're almost all of them visibly mutant, and from the looks of their clothes they're either runaways or orphans.

Rictor returns after a few minutes with a bottle of red wine. "I hope this will do. It's.." he looks at the label, then says, "…drinkable? It's got a good profit margin. That's about all I know." And it's got a twist-off cap.

* * *

When Rictor leaves, Bastien finds the kids looking in his direction. He tries to give them a reassuring smile, adding a bit of a wave, but ends up just looking like that odd man at a family barbecue that doesn't know how to address the current generation.

The bottle that is handed over gets the tiniest sliver of an amused smile out of Bastien, which does more wonders than the alcohol itself ever could. "Clearly the boss went to the top shelf for this emergency." He cranks it open without the normal fuss he'd give to a bottle of wine and only hesitates for a split second before he gulps straight from the mouth of it. "Okay. Okay." He mantras to himself once he's got the burn of liquid courage coursing down his throat. Mouth wiped on the back of his arm, "Let's start with three and go from there. You're sure the button is in a clear location?" It'd be horrible to go through all of this only to send him beneath a dumpster or something equally unpleasant.

* * *

"I'm sure. It's in a clear, safe place. A parking lot behind a community centre. I've been in contact with our people, and they're there, waiting for the kids." Rictor reaches his hand down to offer to help Bastien up. "And I told you, we aren't a top shelf wine sort of place. If you can't order it easily when you've already had four, it isn't worth stocking." He grins and chuckles.

* * *

"I think this is the one time a shot of whiskey wouldn't have gone amiss." Bastien takes the hand up, leaving the bottle of wine next to the wall after just that one drink. Likely it was the mental aspect more than the alcohol itself to bolster him. "Well then. I guess there is no more reason to delay." He swallows hard at the lump in his throat, threatening to choke him before he makes his way to a clear area. "If you could have them come over here please. They need to be quick." Glasses are removed from his face and folded to hang on the neck of his sweater.

* * *

Rictor keeps a supportive hand on Bastien's shoulder, even as he calls over to the kids. "OK, so you'll have to be quick. Don't be afraid. This is my friend Sebastien. He's going to make a portal to Jersey City. When you get there, it's important that you stay very quiet. There will be people there who will take you to a bus. Then we'll take you on to the next safehouse, where you'll find out what you're doing next."

Then his voice raises. Thanks to the thumping bass upstairs, he doesn't have to be quiet. "Anyone who doesn't want to go, you have to decide now. But know that we have heard a lot of stories of people who didn't register being dragged out of their homes to the Raft. If you're here, it's because you didn't register, and you have a record. So know if you leave, you could very likely get caught. Okay?" He looks at each of them. The kids all nod, their faces quite sober. "Okay then. Bastien?"

* * *

Sebastien pushes up the sleeves of his sweater to his elbows, looking at the assembled kids and giving a few directions of his own. "Please do not hesitate, just step through as soon as you are able. It will be just like blinking and over just as quickly. I urge you not to hold hands, in case the connection is, um, lost." Well, he almost sounded sure of himself until the very end where his speech wobbled a bit. His throat clears, "Alright. Here we go."

There is one last glance in Rictor's direction, thankful for the reassuring hand on his shoulder. A hand extended and a deep breath taken before the soft glow of blue starts to encompass his fingers and creep up his hand. Shortly there after the portal blinks into existence, growing quicker than the demonstration he gave Julio.

* * *

A few of the kids whisper to each other, but no one leaves. Rictor looks Bastien in the eye and nods in encouragement, squeezing his shoulder as he does. He motions to two of the kids who look like they've been there the longest. They heft backpacks onto their backs and stand, waiting.

If all goes to plan, the portal will show a dark parking lot with a yellow schoolbus beyond.

* * *

There is a brief moment where the growing portal actually shrinks. But then, with a tightening of Bastien's muscles and a set of his jaw, it blooms open again and shows the destination clear as if he'd cut a window from one location to the next. "Alright. Now." He instructs without removing his focus from the portal.

* * *

The one thing about these kids is that they're pretty comfortable when it comes to powers. One or two of them look dubious, but most look fascinated. One of the older boys actually says, 'fucking cool,' as a mutter under his breath, before he's elbowed in the gut by his friend who motions to the younger kids present. The first two glance at Bastien and Rictor, then step through.

Rictor leans in and asks quietly, and again in Spanish. "Doing all right? Can more go through?"

* * *

"Quickly, quickly." Bastien comments in clipped tones, all of his focus on the feeling that spreads from his fingers and allows them the safe passage to Jersey City. "Two at a time. I'll warn you if I feel it start to wane." He has a look on his face that Rictor has never seen during their times together. It's stoic determination. All his soft and quirky expressions are gone, features now pulled tight with seriousness. "Go, go now." He urges the others.

* * *

Rictor stays close by, with a hand on Bastien's shoulder. But at the same time, he urges the kids through two at a time. They move through quietly and quickly, some more hesitant than others about stepping through the portal. Before too long, they're down to the last few kids. "Almost done," he murmurs.

* * *

A slight bead of sweat has started to dapple Bastien's brow, making his dark hair stick in little curls. To his credit, the portal doesn't falter through this never before tested extent of his power until the very end. When he sees the last of the kids step through, there is one last glimpse of the huddle of them on the other side before the gateway blips out of existence and Sebastien stumbles back. "Was that all of them?" He asks in a dazed sort of question.

* * *

Rictor lets out the breath he didn't realize he was holding when the last of the kids are safely on the other side. He lets out a little exhilerated laugh. "Yes, yes that's all of them. You did it. I knew you could do it!" He smiles brightly, then reaches out to grab either side of Bastien's head to pull him in for a quick kiss.

* * *

It's not until that quick kiss until Sebastien seems to realize it's all over, his own smile lighting up his face by a thousand watts. "Yes? Yes!" Bastien grips Rictor's elbows and does a little excited hop with a whoop of laughter. A glance is given to where the portal stood, and the happy jumping continues. "We did it! Sweet merciful Mother, we did it!"

* * *

"I didn't do a damned thing," says Rictor with a bright smile. He grabs the back of Bastien's neck and gives him a little shake. "It's all you. That was all you. You saved those kids from prison." He takes a breath. "And it was amazing."

* * *

Bastien's bounce eventually dies down and his laughter fades, though the sheer joy still lingers in his eyes and makes them crinkle at the corner. "Thank you." He finally seems to accept the compliment, but the words do double duty when he adds, "For believing in me." For the first time, Sebastien has the nerve to initiate a kiss of his own, a softer thing that lingers even if it doesn't deepen past the pad of lips.

* * *

Rictor smiles brightly when he realizes that Bastien finally accepted the compliment without deflecting it or giving credit to something or someone else. He's pleasantly surprised at the initiation of the kiss, and he returns it gently. When he pulls back, he asks softly, "How are you feeling?" and then, wryly, "Need another drink?"

* * *

"Actually." Sebastien says as he takes a half step back as he fingers his glasses off of their hitch on his collar. He unfolds them to slide back up his nose and blink owlishly for a moment as his eyes readjust. "Pardon me, but I think I am going to go see about that throwing up." Despite the fact he admitted he's going to go hurl, he's awfully chipper about it.

* * *

"Oh." A beat, "Oh!" Rictor backs up, then looks around. He finds a cardboard box and sort of nudges it over towards Sebastien. Not as good as a bucket, but if he is going to be sick, at least that would contain the fallout.

* * *

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