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"New Amsterdam" (1/1) John [PG-13] X2, author: trismegistus

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  • katetshoni
    Title: New Amsterdam Author: trismegistus Summary: The most human contact he gets is during his bi-weekly forays outside, and even then it s with a
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 5, 2003
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      Title: "New Amsterdam"
      Author: trismegistus
      Summary: The most human contact he gets is during his bi-weekly
      forays outside, and even then it's with a politely-smiling Chinese
      woman selling him mangos.
      Rating: Nothing the MPAA wouldn't mind you reading, I think.

      He lives in a tiny little cubbyhole of an apartment on Avenue D & 6th
      Street; he has a futon and a small fourth-hand television set that
      doesn't pick up channels broadcast during the day, because of the
      smog content in the New York air diffusing the signal.

      He shops for his groceries at the farmer's market in Chinatown every
      week, because he doesn't have enough money to buy food from anywhere
      else. D'Agostino's is a pipe dream for him; K-Mart is a pipe dream
      for him. He only get fruits and vegetables, ever, because his gas has
      been shut down, preventing him from preparing meat. Or fish, or
      poultry, or really, anything that requires heat in order to be
      edible, and really now, isn't that so damn fucking Alanis? He tried,
      once, to cook with his powers, but he didn't have the fine control
      necessary and ended up torching the single chair he'd managed to drag
      up from the street.

      This is what it's like to fight for mutant freedom; this is what it
      means to be a terrorist.

      All things considered, John had hoped for more.

      John walks the streets these days in something of a daze. He sees
      people slip around him like fish navigating around a break in the
      current, and after they streak past him he mocks up conversations
      with them in his head.

      _So yeah, Mr. Tall-Dark-and-Obviously-Fond-of-Sid-Vicious'-Hair, did
      you catch the Mets game last night?_

      But even then, after that, after the first few fumbled sentences in
      his head, the people collapse, the experiments fail. Because
      conversations require two people, or more, and as a rule of thumb are
      designed for execution outside the confines of one person's mind, and
      John: John doesn't have the energy to sustain them, in his head.

      The most human contact he gets is during his bi-weekly forays
      outside, and even then it's with a politely-smiling Chinese woman
      selling him mangos.

      Sometimes, he's stricken with the urge to speak with people on the
      subway. The last time he was on it, bobbing his head in time with the
      dips and lows of the train gliding over its tracks, a purple-haired
      girl with a nose stud tried to make eye contact with him. He nearly
      winked at her, before he caught himself and buried his face in the
      curve of his palms and started laughing hysterically; melodramatic,
      yes, but it conveyed the desired message, the girl had looked away,
      and never mind that John thought her pretty in a porcelain way,
      because his stop. Was next.

      A mind could collapse in on itself, with thoughts like these.

      Instead, this is what he does for fun, for a diversion: he goes to
      Central Park, the Met, the New York City Public Library. (Yes, he
      straddled the lions one night when even the city's dispossessed were
      nowhere to be seen; no, he never screamed "Who you gonna call?" at
      the top of his lungs, even though he sort of maybe wanted to.) He
      doesn't go to these places out of any sense of community with the
      teeming throng of humanity that surges around him constantly,
      perpetually, invading his senses and assaulting his sense of personal
      space--but because they're free.

      Well. Free as such things are. The Met. Suggested donations, they
      have, and while John feels a little guilty that he's skulking around
      the Met taking in the swoops and curves of Brunelleschis and
      Caravaggios for fifty cents on the dollar, he figures that if the
      place was really strapped for cash, it would case one of the big
      naked Greek man statues that are all over the place.

      The days go by like faces on the subway. They run together like ink,
      seeping through paper--one day, a week, and suddenly it's been half a
      year living in a loft that might generously be qualified as a cell.
      He's lived alone in the city now for a little over six months; the
      last night he saw Erik, the man had handed him a cellphone, uttered a
      single word ("Wait," pronounced the way Erik pronounced everything,
      like gravity bending the sides of his mouth), and slipped into Gotham
      dreaming without so much as a fare-thee-well to John.

      It's okay, though. He had been getting used to it. Up until last week.

      A week ago, on the subway back from the Met--riding the subway back
      being one of the few indulgences he allows himself, and
      fuck Mayor fucking Bloomberg for the fare hike that's effectively cut
      the number of trips he can make on the 6 down by a third--he
      overheard some flatscans talking about something happening on the
      west coast, in the city most near to the rising sun: San Francisco.

      Explosions. Property damage. Leather.



      So he got off before his usual stop and walked into the Circuit City
      on Union Square, where a cluster of people were situated around the
      widescreen TVs, watching the tail end of live and breaking news, and
      John got there just in time to see what he recognized as an optic
      blast punch through Erik's shields and send the old man plummeting
      down into Pacific blue.

      The flatscans murmurred their approval; leveled invectives against
      the damn mutie population; brushed up against John as he stared
      blankly at the instant replay of Erik falling into the western sea.

      John went straight home, after that, and hasn't left the apartment

      He still has the cell phone with him. Presumably it can still make
      outside calls. Maybe even non-pseudo-supervillain-related ones. It
      used to be able to; he has made one on it, once, an order for
      Malaysian food from a place down on Bayard, back before he realized
      that Erik wasn't depositing any more money into his bank account and
      that nobody was coming to sound the call to arms any time soon.

      Last night he tried dialing Erik's number; he got a click, a three-
      tone beep, "The number you've called has been disconnected, and its
      owner dashed against the rocks that guard the San Fransisco Bay.
      Please hang up and try again."

      There's nobody else he can call; Erik insisted on complete and total
      autonomy in his cells. It's like some horrible secret Ivy League
      frathouse gone wrong--the only other mutant who knows you is the
      mutant next to you in the chain. Still, he knows where a few of his
      peers are, if not necessarily how he can ring them up and ask them
      over for a barbeque and the game. A few cities over, in Philadelphia,
      there's a terrakinetic waiting for Erik's order to bring the City of
      Brotherly Love to its knees (heh, and John laughs and makes a joke
      about death knells and the Liberty Bell, even though nobody's there
      to hear), but John has no way of getting in touch with him.

      He has no way of getting in touch with anybody.

      Once, at the obelisk next to the museum, he thought he saw Bobby and
      Marie. That was--difficult. He had been lounging, sitting on the sign
      that said "Do not touch the obelisk," and his fingers were tracing
      the glyphs that told the story of Ra Sun-God, Most High, riding alone
      across the sky. He had heard a boy say a name that sounded like
      Marie, and John's ears perked. Because nothing had pricked his ears
      so in weeks, months, and when the mind is locked in a box like his
      had been it seizes upon notes of familiarity it strikes out in
      unexpected ways. And he looked up and there was Bobby with his
      spilled sand for hair and Marie with the way she tucked her hair
      behind her ears--

      --and when John leapt from his seat atop the obelisk's legend, one
      hand already up in salutation and a wicked, stupid smile curling his
      lips, the boy had turned and the girl had laughed and Bobby and Marie
      vanished. The light caught different-like on the girl's hair, the
      boy's nose narrowed to a sharper point than Bobby's ever did, and
      John went back home to his vegetables and his futon and the cinders
      of his chair.

      It's not so bad, at night; then, the sky clears and the air thins
      just enough so that the schizophrenic box of circuits and plastic
      that he calls his television set is able to receive a steady signal.
      Then, he channel-surfs between Leno and Letterman and he banishes the
      thoughts of Bobby and Marie, and John waits for a call that he
      suspects will never come.
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