O, the Humanity

Cast: date: 'August 28 2012'
place: 'The Red Building, Hollow Tree Hostel'
participants: 'Amy, Rose, Wynn, Crispin'
synopsis: 'Rose arrives at the Watch safe house and ruffles some feathers with her opinions about humanity — specifically who is, and who isn''t.'
log: "Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name. And they won't make faces at you if you start talking to thin air or sneeze fire. Sure, there's the HQ, but that's a bit like hanging out at the office. So, Wynn's made it clear to Watch members that they're welcome to come by the safehouse. It's good for the new members and just general Touched to see others of their kind who appear (mostly) stable with (mostly) normal lives. Good role model and all. \n \nWynn is currently unpacking reusable grocery bags and plastic crates stacked with groceries and supplies. He's reloading cupboards and restocking the fridge. Unlike the hostel side, the safehouse side has a fully-stocked kitchen. The radio is on. Whenever he has control of the radio, it's always jazz.\n\nAnd Crispin is… in the oven. Really. The door is open and he's crawled inside because it hasn't been heating properly or reliably. Two long gangly legs and half a long torso extend from the appliance and a toolbox lies open beside him. \n\nAs Wynn comes in, the hostel superintendant calls out without emerging: \"Think I've got it. This thing needs to get cleaned a bit more often; something burnt to a crisp and mucked things up a bit. Well. I say /something/. A few things. But it should be working decently now.\" He crawls out, wiping off his hands and his face with a rag. With one foot he closes the oven door, hopping on the foot briefly as he casts Wynn a grin. \"Means we could have a reliable roast. Or lasagna. Or a cake!\"\n\nThere's the sound of the latch and the front door opens, admitting a slender and somewhat bedraggled figure with a large duffle slung over her shoulder. Dark haired and dark eyed, she looks like she was recently ducked in a pond or something. Her hair, up in a spectrum of plastic clips, it sticking out all over like it dried funny. Her mascara's run and been subsequently smudged. She eyes the access card in her hand, then shoves it in her back pocket. \"Oi! Anyone home?\" She lingers in the foyer, looking about.\n\nSomewhat behind the other woman arriving, there's a car pulling in view of the safehouse; a black cab, in fact, with others being let out and shooed towards the other buildings. The on-duty light turns off that car as soon as Amy's exchanging that last fare on her shift; she just catches sight of the other woman going in, notes that there's company to be had, before circling to park and follow and find out who's about.\n\n\"Ah, yeah. Boys about a week ago tried to make their own pizza. But they overloaded the toppings and the crust sort of…melted between the racks. I thought we'd scrubbed it all up. Before that, I think a stew bubbled over.\" Wynn ruffles his hair. All part of running a hostel where everyone has to cook for themselves. Sigh. \"Probably needs a good self-clean, yeah?\" \n\nHe looks up and over as Rose enters, then pokes his head around the corner. \"Hiya. There's a mat and a closet there for your things. Need a towel?\"\n\nShrugging, Crispin flashes another grin: \"Job security for me. It's a good stove. Should keep running a good long time as long as it's kept in good repair. Could use a good clean, though, yeah. Think I could probably use a shower, though.\" He looks up when Rose walks in, quirking his head to one side before waving to her: \"Hallo! Towels are in the cupboard; follow me and I'll show you. I'm about to grab one myself. Shower-time.\"\n\nThe bedraggled and smudged young woman steps inside wearing a faint, pensive frown. She glances from Wynn to Cedric and back again. \"Uhm.\" She nods. \"Right. Shower'd be — yeah.\" She nods again. \"Had myself a little unexpected swim.\" A nervous smile twitches the corners of her mouth. \"Prefer to sleep in my bus, though. If it's all the same.\" She doesn't look like she's ready to put down her bag, either.\n\nRight up behind Rose; it's not that Amy's looming, exactly, but she says, from over Rose's shoulder: \"Fall in a puddle, yeah?\" she wonders. \"Your bus is positively -blinding-,\" she remarks, then lifts a hand towards the gents in the safehouse. \"Break,\" she explains, taciturn. \"Before I go back out and drive them all home from the pubs. Did someone say stew?\" Sounds hopeful.\n\n\"It's all right,\" Wynn says to Rose. \"If you've got a card, you're cleared. That means you can make yourself at home or not as you please. There's no pressure. This isn't like the soup kitchens where you need to listen to a sermon to get fed.\" He lifts a hand to Amy. \"No stew, sorry. Some basmati rice and curry, if you fancy it. Coffee?\" He glances to Crispin. \"Coffemaker /is/ working, yes?\"\n\n\"It's working,\" Crispin calls, \"though if you'd actually buy a decent one instead of using the free one you get by joining the coffee club, it wouldn't break down every other week!\" He gives Rose a friendly smile and raises his hands, walking backward toward the bathrooms just down a narrow-ish hallway. \"Don't worry. Safe as houses, us.\" He pauses at a wooden cabinet and opens it, pulling out a neatly folded towel and tossing it Rose's way before grabbing one of his own. \"Women's that way. Men's this way. There's soap and such in here if you need it — Wynn provides pretty much everything. 'S all right. When I came,\" he adds, nodding to Rose's duffel, \"I didn't even have a bag.\" Though now, if one ignores the Touched side of him, Crispin looks fairly put together. He heads into the men's showers then, whistling to himself as he closes the door.\n\n\"Had to dunk a lad covered in fire ants and punt a snapping turtle,\" Rose tells Amy, craning a bit to flash a bright, edgy smile at the driver. \"Thanks. Dad named her Scheherezade, but she's Cher for short.\" They're totally both famous, right? Shut up. To Wynn, she nods — again — looking… a touch apologetic. \"So, like… it's only us allowed in here, aye?\" They can talk trade and all that? In other news, she smirks and admits, \"I'd fucking kill for a good curry.\"\n\nRose snatches the towel from the air. \"It's not a bag, really. It's a portable hole. Luggage's answer to the TARDIS.\"\n\nAnd Amy bursts into song: \"Gypsies! Tramps and thieves!\" Utterly serious, and no longer singing: \"I suspect you hear it from the people all the time. Good cause, fire-ant prevention.\" Someone fling something at her now for that musical joke, or she'll keep doing things like that, there'll be no having anything from her. \"I prefer not to be murdered for curry. She can have it,\" she says reluctantly. \"That is, if there's only enough for one.\" There's one of her infrequent smiles, and it's aimed at Wynn; he proposed food in the first place, after all.\n\n\"Hey, do you know how much it costs to feed teenagers? The Watch safehouse budget only goes so far. We haven't the money for fancy non-plastic coffeemakers.\" Wynn snaps out a tea towel in the direction of the departing Crispin. He's got a sour look on his face, but it might just be for show. He nods to Rose. \"Yep. Nobody here but us weirdos. Talk all you like, but not if you go into the other two buildings. They're full of filthy normies.\" Deadpan, that. \"Lucky for you ladies, there's curry for all.\" He opens the fridge and pulls out a big pot from a rice cooker and a casserole full of saffron-coloured chicken curry. \"If you're lucky, there might even be a bit of naan left. Make yourselves at home.\"\n\nPoking his head out the door — he was apparently able to hear even though the water was coming on — Crispin calls out: \"They wouldn't be filthy if we didn't use all the hot water!\" Rimshot. He pokes head and all back into the bathroom, hopping into the shower and refraining from singing Cher or, for that matter, anything else. Even if Amy's song is running through his head now.\n\nRose bursts out laughing, grinning at Amy's Cher-ing. Some might call it over-Cher, but never she! \"I'm sure I could find someone more deserving to kill for my curry,\" she assures the blonde. Oh, but see! Enough for everyone. Doesn't seem to be call for murder after all. She might look a tiny bit disappointed. She carries her duffle to the table, only setting it down just beside her. She hesitates, then asks, \"S'it rude to ask if any of you lot are actually human?\"\n\nAmy drifts towards the curry herself, studying it, then turns her head to smile at Rose. \"Aren't you? Where do you draw that line, exactly? I take off my pants one leg at a time, same as you.\" In its way, it is as good as an admission of abnormality as any; she doesn't rush to say 'oh yes, plain old humanity right here', which says it for her. She flexes her long fingers, and adds, \"Not everyone might call me human, but I'm certainly mostly harmless.\" No one told her that a vague disclaimer is no one's friend.\n\n\"Oi. You.\" Wynn calls after Crispin, but his clever comeback is probably going to get drowned out by the sound of the shower. \"Hot water is impossible in a hostel.\" Even as he mutters a bit to himself, he's fetching bowls down for the ladies to fill and then nuke. He lifts a shoulder at Rose's question. \"I don't have fangs. I don't morph into a monster and I was born to human parents. Is that good enough? Or yeah, is your definition more narrow?\" He arches his brows and glances from Amy over to Rose.\n\nThere's not singing coming from the bathroom. Not singing, exactly. There does appear to be a conversation, though, even if it is a bit one-sided. The water stops after a few more moments but the conversation continues, and after a moment Crispin is striding back down the hall briskly — clean and clothed, thank goodness — speaking to nobody at all, or nobody visible: \"…call 999? You really want the police to get eaten by werewolves, then?\" He pauses for a response, toweling off his hair and frowning at some point midair. He frowns again, passing a hand over his eyes and grimacing. \"Uh. What was that about human?\"\n\nRose listens to Amy, frowning faintly. She shrugs at Wynn's question. \"It used to be pretty narrow,\" she admits. \"But that doesn't wash, anymore. So I'm adjusting.\" She kneels to open her duffel, putting a bottle of Highland Park up on the table. It's invitingly unopened. \"We're on the same side, after all.\" What's that about human? \"I am, you're not,\" she tells Crispin. \"Bit of a mind fuck, but I've reached a plateau of acceptance where I don't think I'll be shooting anyone tonight.\" A beat. \"Or I might just really fancy curry.\"\n\n\"Prefer not to be shot. Especially not in the so-termed safehouse. That would be an irony, wouldn't it?\" Amy wonders. \"We're not the monsters.\" But there's an awkward shuffle when she says it, and she focuses on the food, until Crispin's conversation registers. \"Something…going on? Trouble somewhere?\" Her adjustment, it seems, involves accepting folks talking to the invisible people, and taking that conversation seriously.\n\n\"I'm human, thanks. We're all human. We're human who had something happen to us, but that doesn't…I mean, please don't go 'round here calling the people inhuman. The ones that come here are usually having a rough enough go of it as it is.\" Wynn glances sidelong to Crispin as he starts talking to air, but doesn't comment on it. \"You want curry, Crispin? There's enough for all. It's fairly good.\" He grabs a spoon and drops rice and curry into a pair of bowls, which then get popped in the microwave. He then goes to make coffee, but when he pops the top to replace the grounds, the cheap plastic lid pops off. He starts to curse, but doesn't even bother. Instead, he just sighs, droops his shoulders, and opens a drawer to fetch the duct tape.\n\nCrispin takes a deep breath. Another. \"Curry. Yeah. Thanks.\" He turns his gaze — pale, too pale, with grey eyes that really look like they shouldn't be able to see anything — on Rose, and for a moment his expression is icy. \"Well, at least I'm in a nice safe place where no one will attack me or, you know, judge me for being different. Always a /good/ sign to know I'm around friends.\" He moves to the counter then, his stride over-long as he reaches for the coffee maker: \"Never mind it; I'll get it on. Just eat. Nothing's wrong; nothing right now, anyhow,\" he adds with a nod to Amy.\n\n\"You don't seem at all like monsters,\" Rose agrees with Amy, almost gently. \"But I've been wrong on that count before.\" She pushes herself up straight. \"Any event, left the arsenal with Cher. Only thing I'll he shooting is rubber bands, if we get a bit into this bottle.\" She gestures to the scotch. She lifts a shoulder at Wynn. \"Oi, mate — if there's anything I'm learning lately, it's not all black and white, ken? Just 'cause you're not human anymore doesn't mean you're 'inhuman' — it's just… well, you know. No one comes out of that place unchanged.\" Crispin gets a roll of her eyes. \"Don't be a big girl's blouse.\"\n\n\"Some more than others. It's all right,\" Amy says, peacemaker. \"I take it you can't tell straight off about us. Good enough.\" She sticks out a hand towards Crispin, as she hovers waiting for the curry. \"I'm Amy. Don't think I've seen you in my cab, or around.\" It might be a defusing bit of friendliness she's offering him, there; it's certainly got good cheer enough. Hard to ruffle, Amy, even with talk of arsenals.\n\n\"Oi, /mate/,\" replies Wynn to Rose. There's an edge to his tone, \"This is my house. My business. I don't have many rules, but one of them is to be respectful. You think what you like about our level of humanity, but you keep it to yourself while you're here.\" The microwave beeps. He tugs the pair of bowls out. Rose's is sat down rather firmly, while Amy's is a bit gentler, perhaps by virtue of being the second. \"We get kids here. Lost kids. And people with powers they're struggling to keep a handle on. Language like that is like striking a match in a room filling with gas.\" His eyebrows raise. His tone has calmed as he's spoken, but it's still done with conviction and the authority of a man who knows he's in charge, here. Then he turns to fill up another bowl. \"How hungry are you, Crisp? You want to finish off what's left?\"\n\n\"Gosh,\" Crispin deadpans, squinting at the cheap plastic coffeemaker and twisting the lid ever so slightly, \"a whole /arsenal/. That must make you awfully special, then. And with a meaningful opinion, too. I'm suddenly incredibly concerned about what you think and impressed by how 'ard you are, lass. Can I join your super special club of scary people?\" His fingers manage to shove the lid into place at last, and he lifts it up and down a few times before dropping it with a note of satisfaction. \"Shove the rest in a bowl and I'll clean it out,\" he says. Stopping to wash his hands in the sink again, he glances back to Amy and dries them off before offering her one. \"Crispin, love, at your service. And for being neighborly, /you/ can have a bit of scotch for dessert.\"\n\n\"Rose,\" responds the so-named to Amy. There's a smile to go along with it. She glances at Wynn, measuring his words. \"Tact,\" she agrees, simply. \"I'll work on it.\" As Crispin speaks, she hooks her arm lazily back over the chair. \"I thought I was joining yours, mate.\"\n\nAmy has a solid handshake, but she shakes her head at Crispin in a demurral that's truly regretful. \"Rain check. My second shift today starts shortly enough. Driving means that scotch for dessert's got to wait,\" she points out. \"If I'm more pissed than the blokes I drive home, I risk losing points. Bad enough what I risk there for speeding, most weeks,\" she admits, half sheepish and half proud. She casts a frank little smile at Rose when she collects her bowl, and a strange little hand-gesture for half a second that's one of those girl-talk moments in miniature.\n\n\"Do, please,\" says Wynn to Rose. \"This place is meant to be welcoming to all Watch and Touched.\" He scoops the rest of the curry into a bowl. It all barely fits. It gets slipped into the micro. \"I'm Wynn. I manage this place. Though I imagine since you're all here, you know that bit.\" He goes to the bread box and pokes around. \"I've two naans left, and a couple of pita. Fight amongst yourselves.\" He tosses the stuff down on the counter.\n\n\"Naan for me,\" Crispin puts in, snagging one and twiddling off a bit. Yes, before his curry's done heating. He's hungry. Amy gets a friendly shrug and he adds: \"Think we've ice cream in the fridge. You drive a cab, then? Tougher work than most give you credit for.\" When the micro beeps he hops up again, opening the door and pulling out the bowl with the requisite hisses of pain at the heat of it. He starts stirring the rice and curry together rapidly with his fork, eying Rose but saying nothing in reply.\n\n\"Thanks for the welcome, Wynn. The food and the facilities. It's appreciated.\" Rose sounds quite sincere. Actually, everything she says sounds sincere. Therein lies the problem. She flashes a grin at Amy, then tucks into her curry. She eyes Crispin right back as she chews. She does the two-finger point at her eyes, then his, then hers again. There's a dimple on her cheek that indicates she's trying really hard not to laugh. Or maybe she just chews weird.\n\nAmy ever so carefully snags one of the naan before Crispin descends on it, having announced his intention for one. It seems more her focus than the curry, which she only picks at, but she quickly turns her attention back on Wynn. \"You run this. What should we bring to help keep you going?\" she wonders. \"I'm not much at remembering to bring things in, but wouldn't want to see this place sink without help, since we do come in and eat your food and use your no-hot-water.\"\n\n\"I get some funding from the Watch. Not a lot, obviously, since we're not exactly an organization that's rich and powerful, despite the paranoia with which some of the young ones look at us.\" Wynn returns to stacking a few non-perishables that he was in the middle of stowing when company arrived. \"I ask the people who take shelter here to earn their way by helping out, if they can. Cooking, contributing the odd bit of groceries. I have a list up on the bulletin board of things we're running low on. Someone can claim an item or two and add it to the pantry. Or people can clean here, either here or on the main hostel side. Or take a shift at the desk. Or do laundry. That sort of thing. We also accept cash donations.\" His lips quirk in a little grin. \"But everyone's welcome. We're meant to be a stable place for people who've gone through hell. Quite literally.\" He glances around the room, then grabs a few tins of tomatoes to tuck away.\n\nChew. Chew. Swallow. Scoop up a bit more basmati-and-curry with his naan, chew, chew, swallow. Crispin nods to Wynn's explanation, though his focus seems to be more on dinner. His manners are, oddly, obnoxiously polite: one hand in his lap, the other holding his fork when he isn't using the naan as a spoon. He eyes Rose, a crooked smile raising the corner of his mouth. Swallowing, he murmurs: \"The urge to show you a mouthful of unchewed food is actually becoming /completely/ overpowering.\"\n\nRose makes a quick, strangled sound of mirth and promptly inhales a bit of curried rice. The subsequent coughing fit is epic, leaving her purple-faced and streamy-eyed. She thunks her forehead down on the table as she wheezes for breath. \"Fuck,\" she croaks, at length. Giggling, she pulls up the hem of her tank top to wipe her eyes — and her mouth. \"Now I smell like I've bathed in pond bracken and curry,\" she rasps, coughing a bit more as she brushes herself off. \"Fantastic. Someone should bottle this smell and weaponize it.\" With that, she pushes back from the table. \"I think I'll have one of those famous tepid showers I've been hearing about.\"\n\n\"Smelled worse,\" is all Amy tells Rose, and shakes her head at Crispin in amusement, while answering Wynn's outline with, \"Can always pick up some things for you between shifts. I'll be sure to do what I can. Bring enough people round to be a drain on the place, all in all.\" Usually pulling in to park at top speed when she does, too.\n\n\"Oi. The water's fine. If we don't run the dishwasher and the laundry and all the showers at once,\" murmurs Wynn. He's a little defensive about the hostel's shortcomings. He tries, but there's only so much you can do running three old houses on a tight budget. When Rose goes to stand, he points at her bowl. \"Pick up after yourself, all right? No leaving bowls on counters. I'm no one's mum.\" Amy gets a nod. \"I appreciate any help. But don't stress about it. We do all right.\" He walks by Crispin to load stuff in a cupboard. He gets a nudge on the way by. Be good.\n\nInnocent. Affronted. Hurt! \"I didn't do it, now did I?\" Crispin sniffs, but he winks and smirks at Rose. All forgiven? Depends. Do Scots hold grudges? \"I left a bit of hot,\" he says. \"And I might be able to rig something up if I get the parts. Solar for the heater might be pointless given this is, you know, /London/, but you can get really hot water quite cheaply that way. If you let me loose on junkyards, I might be able to find a good spare water heater that just needs a little repair. Might take a little fun with plumbing to get it to work, but it might help.\"\n\n\"You don't look like anyone's mum I've ever seen, but you might sound like it,\" Rose says to Wynn, scooping up her bowl and cleaning up after herself proper. \"But you might sound like it. Just a wee.\" She gives Crispin a bit of an up-nod. Perhaps. Amy gets another quick, bright flash of a smile… and then Rose is off, down the hall to the ladies and whatever warm water's left."
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