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 Friends Are For Now, Best Friends Are Forever, February 20th | 20:50 | Closed
Mimic
 Posted: Jan 11 2018, 04:01 PM
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Nearly a month had come and gone since Calvin had last seen Chuck. After what happened at the Ty Warner Penthouse she had made it clear that she needed some time to sort herself out, and Cal had agreed to that. Since the 26th of January though, Calvin had only heard from Chuck once after she had taken care of her family business. That had brought him great relief, feeling like a painful chapter in his life had finally come to a close, but the fact that he had been told over the phone instead of in person and that Chuck had been to the point and more or less all business had not sat right with him. Had he known how long it would take for them to actually meet in person again, Cal probably wouldn't have agreed for them to go their separate ways that evening at Berto's. Even with what had happened then, he still considered her to be his friend. His best friend even, if Reece was removed from the equation because she was more like a little sister to him. He missed having her around, felt guilty about not just going "Fuck it" and looking her up on his own accord sooner, but on the 20th of February he decided to do just that and go to see her wherever it was she was staying currently.

All that Chuck got in the way of prior notice that Cal would be visiting was a brief text asking her where she was staying at the moment. Seconds after she had informed him that she was currently at her place in Brooklyn, there was a knock on the door followed by a familiar voice calling out. "Chuck? It's me, Calvin." There was a brief pause before he added, "Is this a good time? I figured it was about time we talked." Asking if this was a good time for her would probably have been a good thing to do before he came over, but making decisions first and considering them more carefully later was what Calvin did quite often. That he now possessed superhuman speed allowing him to break the speed of sound several times over was not helpful.

"Hey," he greeted her with a warm smile once the door was opened. "Sorry for just showing up on you doorstep like this. Someone left the door open downstairs." They had in fact not, unless you counted letting it fall shut normally and having it intercepted by a speedster before it could as being left open. "If this is not a good time, I can come back later?" It wasn't as if he was strapped for time these days, living the ever so difficult life of being a billionaire's boyfriend with everything he could wish for provided for him. His days were filled with his art, learning Portuguese as a silly little surprise for Berto, cooking elaborate multi-course dishes that would have done his mother proud, and spending most of the rest of his time in his lover's arms.

Life was a struggle.

"So, how have you been?" Cal wondered once Chuck had invited him into her apartment. "You know, since..." Since murdering your dad was not the kind of thing that Cal could actually manage to get past his lips, but it wouldn't be hard for Chuck to know that's what he was talking about. "I heard you left the Brotherhood too," he managed to get in before Chuck had a chance to speak. It seemed prudent to just get that out of the way, and try not to seem too pleased about it. The smile on his face betrayed him, though. "Reece can be a gossip," he explained to her, shrugging lightly. "I'm glad that you got that sorted. Both of those things." Now she could actually get her life on track, just like he had been trying to, and if she needed or wanted him to, he'd offer her any help he could.

Notion
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Notion
 Posted: Jan 12 2018, 09:30 AM
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Sending her message to Calvin and thumbing through their previous conversations made crystal clear the turn their relationship took a month ago. Charlie had completely cut herself off from her best friend, and hadn’t seen him as she no longer shared Station M with Mimic or that spot in the Lower East Side. In the last six months, the woman’s life had been a roller coaster of ups and downs, and it was just about time to put on the brakes. No matter how painful it was to hew her old self into something good, she needed this time away to do it.

Coming to Brooklyn was a means to lay low and a stark departure from her lavish diggs in Manhattan. It was simple, clean, and secure, as any safehouse should be. She’d chosen a spot in a particularly tight-knit community of orthodox Jews, where those outside the community stuck out like a sore thumb and watchful eyes around town kept tabs on nearly everyone. And, for the most part, it was working. Aside from that time Ava found her after roughing up a trail of leads in order to inspire their recollections. By now she had cameras inconspicuously set around the property as well as delightfully gossip-prone neighbors happy to tell Charlie everything that occurred while she was away. It was easy to assume that however Calvin arrived, whether teleported or Uber’d, people were going to notice.

She’d told him about buzzers and indicators and codewords to assure that it was indeed Cal knocking. So when she heard that familiar voice from behind her door just moments after sending the message, she was understandably unsettled. Her first instinctive reach was toward her gun on the bedside table, but instead she nabbed the iPad beside it and swiped to the door’s camera feed.

Full lips curved into a smile before Charlie had even realized she was grinning, the mere sight of the guy prompting a wave of relief. She’d had plenty of time to process in the days since they’d last seen one another. Weeks before the time she played ‘David’ and slayed Goliath. But knowing what had happened between them, she wasn’t sure what kind of resolutions Cal had come to himself. That he’d arrived here mere seconds after invitation put Chuck’s heart a bit more at ease. It was nice to know that the reunion didn’t require much deliberation. Charlie tossed the iPad back onto the bed as she stood and rose from its cozy confines, swiftly making her way to the door. She heard him say… ‘something something’... ‘come back later’ by the time she’d reached the door and began disabling the various locks securing the threshold. Why he didn’t just use his telepathy was beyond her.

Opening the door to see that loveable mug made Chuck’s heart grow two sizes bigger.

“Calvin,” she breathed through a broad grin, warm brown eyes sparkling up at the taller man. “It’s so good to see you, my friend,” she gushed through her beaming smile, her heart full. It was the first time she’d felt this kind of joy in too long. As of late, Charlie had become quite the recluse, which was part of the reason why she wasn’t overcome by the urge to wrap him up in a hug and remained leaned in the doorway. Stepping back a few paces to usher him in, she beckoned him, “Yalla, come in,” before closing the door behind him and rebolting the various locks.

Turning back to Cal, Charlie surveyed the guy. His change in pace had suited him well, looking rested and happy and healthy. … And chatty, as some things seemingly don’t change. Before she could get a word in edgewise he was already throwing jabs. Charlie shook her head and smirked, walking the few paces to the kitchen area and pulling out a stool for Calvin at the countertop. “I’m good, Cal. Getting better every day,” she answered simply, moving around to the cabinet and pulling two water glasses. “And yes, that is correct,” she admitted, almost reluctantly. Charlie still wasn’t sure if leaving the Brotherhood was her best bet, still not 100% convinced that Station M wasn’t the place where she could make the most impact. Unfortunately for Chuck, the truth of the matter was that she was spiralling out of control and that downward momentum would never be reversed as long as she deceived and killed for a living.

“Reece…” Charlie reminisced upon her relationship with the green eyed teleporter at Calvin’s mention and shook her head with a smile. She could only guess what lovely things the teleporter had to say about Charlie in the description of her departure. “How’s she doing? I haven’t spoken to her since Genosha,” she admitted, the mission taking more of a toll on her than she’d first given it credit for. Shortly after that day on the island she’d cut ties with the majority of the Brotherhood for the foreseeable future. Charlie didn’t expect this to draw much protest from Blink.

“It’s not the best place for me right now,” she began to explain, filling the glasses with room temperature water from a carafe on the countertop. Sliding a glass to Calvin,s he took a sip of her own before continuing, “Thanks to our mutual friend Ms. Frost I have the luxury of forgetting some things. It’s the things I can’t forget, the things I’ve done for my government, for the Brotherhood, for myself… I just can’t be made to kill out of job obligation anymore. Back in Genosha it was… it was too easy, you know? To kill a half dozen men in a few minutes, to pump bullets into Joe Schmoe or Jane Doe, for the ‘greater good’. And I feel nothing… It’s automatic. By the end of the day I was no greater, and I certainly didn’t feel very good.” It seemed that in their time apart, Charlie had been focussing on the whole expressing herself honestly thing. She paused, her eyes leaving Cal’s as she took another sip of water before she had to address the elephant in the room.

Charlie’s brows knitted together in consideration for a moment, stuck on one certain detail before she could proceed, “Hold on, you’re not pink... How did you get here so fast?”
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Mimic
 Posted: Jan 13 2018, 07:27 PM
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Taking the seat at the countertop Chuck offered him, Cal smiled contently at his friend. This right here, just being sat in his friend's kitchen while she grabbed him a glass of water, was just so wonderfully mundane. Sometimes it felt like nothing in their lives was ever normal, so a situation as simple as this just felt good. It was almost as if nothing had happened between the two of them, though of course what had occurred was hard to ignore even if there were no hard feelings over it. For now though, Calvin was happy to leave that subject untouched. The two of them deserved at least a moment to catch up before they took the conversation down that particular, potentially awkward route.

"Reece is doing well," Calvin said when Chuck asked about their mutual friend. His expression had faltered for a moment at the mention of Genosha, the promise he'd made to Seamus and how he'd not managed to keep it coming to mind, but Cal recovered quickly and offered Chuck another smile. "Genosha wasn't easy for her, but other than that she's doing good." He almost added "all things considered", but decided not to. That it didn't feel right to him that she still chose to stand beside people like Suvik didn't matter. Reece's decision to stay with the Brotherhood was her own, and if she felt that was the right place for her then Calvin wouldn't turn turn it into an argument, or discuss it behind his friend's back. Nor would he bring up what Reece had to say about Chuck's departure, but that was mostly for the brunette's sake. Hearing that Reece was happy she wouldn't have to worry about Chuck's creepy powers anymore would not go over well.

Instead Calvin took the glass Chuck offered him and sat there quietly as his friend talked about her decision to leave the Brotherhood. Her words resonated strongly with Calvin, who had come to the decision himself for many of the same reasons. In an environment like that it was surprising how easy it was to resort to killing someone as a solution, and for him removing himself from that position had been the first step towards changing that about him. How Reece managed to avoid killing anyone while with a group like the Brotherhood, especially when she had so much anger bottled up inside her, Calvin had no idea. He was actually kind of proud of her for that, and hoped that it meant she would find the purpose she was looking for with them without losing herself like he and Chuck had.

Taking a sip of his water, Calvin nodded when Chuck finished telling him about her departure from the Brotherhood. "I know exactly how you felt." Hopefully she had at least been able to do some good on Genosha, to make up for what she had felt forced to do there, but Cal was reluctant to ask for any details. He went quiet for a moment as he contemplated asking regardless, when Chuck distracted him by wondering how he'd gotten to her place so fast despite not having Reece's familiar pink hue.

"I ran here?" Cal informed his friend, his brow furrowing slightly. It hadn't even occurred to him that this was something that needed explanation. He was the Mimic, the power of any mutant he had access to for only a short amount of time was his for the taking, and changing out one ability for another was just something he did. But then he had consistently held onto most of the same powers during his time with the Brotherhood, only letting go of Shiro's power when it had been necessary during the inauguration, so it made sense that Chuck didn't just assume Cal had changed things up because that's what he did. "Oh," he added sheepishly, "I went to Xavier's a few days ago, figured I'd shake things up a little. Sticking to the same powers all the time gets boring. So now--" Calvin vanished in a blur, coming to a halt again next to Chuck almost instantly, "--I've got super speed. Figured it would come in handy. Had to wait in line at the store the other day though, and let me tell you that was not great." What he'd gained in speed, he seemed to have lost in patience.

"You're going to have to talk to me now though," Calvin informed Chuck as he sped back to his stool, but remained standing next to it instead of sitting down. "I decided to get rid of Jean's powers. They were useful, but man is it ever a relief not to have people's thoughts trying to get into your mind all day." He'd gotten rather good at filtering out surface thoughts, but not having to bother with that was still a major step forward. "Picked up this lovely ability too," he told his friend as his body transformed from flesh to organic steel, adding seven inches in height and significant muscle mass to his already fairly impressive physique. "Stronger than anything I could gain through assimilation before, and available on demand." Calvin remained like that for a few seconds, so Chuck had some time to appreciate how shiny he was, then turned back to flesh. "Only downside is that any clothes that can't accommodate for the added mass just get ruined," he added with a chuckle. He'd have hit Jean up for something made of unstable molecules, but he knew that stuff was way too expensive to spare for someone outside of Xavier's.

"But enough of show and tell," Calvin said as he sat back down, grabbing his glass to take another quick sip of water. He'd happily continue their small talk, but there were some things that couldn't just be ignored. Even there were things Chuck might not be particularly keen on discussing, Cal felt like it would be good if she did. That's what friends were for, right? Cal would want to do the same if things were reversed, but at the moment he mostly just had how happy he was with Berto to talk to her about, and that seemed kind of tasteless to bring up considering everything Chuck had been through. "Besides leaving the Brotherhood, how have you been doing?" He could have just straight up asked about her father, or about the new leaf she'd been intending to turn over after what happened back in that penthouse, but Cal would only dig so far. The rest of it was down to Notion.
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Notion
 Posted: Jan 15 2018, 10:08 AM
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The sheer speed at which Calvin moved to appear at her side ruffled Charlie’s hair into a mess, the burst of wind aiding in the gasp of surprise the movement inspired. Her knee-jerk reaction was to slug Cal in the arm, which she only just missed managing to do before he zipped back to the other side of the countertop. Chuck’s jab sailed through empty air, prompting a soft chuckle and shake of her head. This guy… there was never a dull moment with Calvin, and his most recent acquisitions were a testament to that. Never dull, but now it seemed that he was impressively shiny. The metallic form he demonstrated was reminiscent of the condition Cal was in when they’d first met in Utah. This power he acquired from Colossus was something else entirely, as his increased size made perfectly clear. He was ever the swiss-army-knife of mutant abilities, and Charlie was pleased to see that Calvin hadn’t lost any of his practicality since they’d last spoken. From the first time they tangled at the Trask facility, Charlie was thankful she had a friend rather than a foe in someone so powerful. "Damn, Calvin," she marveled candidly. "Definitely an improvement over hearing people's dope inner dialogues." Combing her mussed hair into compliance with her hands, the young woman marveled in the ease she felt in Cal's company. It was food for the soul to be in the company of friends like this one.

Then, finally, the question Charlie knew he would ask was posed, its tone and implication slightly different than its more benign phrasing a few moments ago. She took another sip of water, chased by a deep breath, before bringing the glass to rest on the countertop between them.


“Since I last saw you Cal…”
she hesitated, her gaze drifting away from Cal’s for a moment, then returning to meet his hazel eyes. “Since that night, so much has happened. So much has changed,” Charlie began, her breath slow and methodical as a practiced means to keep her emotions in check. She wanted to be clear when she explained to her dearest friend who she hadn’t seen in weeks just what she was taking so long to articulate. It had taken this long, because it required that she make some serious changes in her life to be able to even voice it adequately to Calvin here and now.

“What happened at the penthouse,” she couldn’t say Berto’s name out loud just yet, not knowing if she’d irreparably damaged their relationship that night with her selfish actions, “the raid at my place in Manhattan, what those bastards did to Alexei, the operation in D.C.,” Charlie went on. There were half a dozen reasons why Charlie had to change, and most of them had come to some pivotal breaking point in the last month or so. “All of it pointed to one clear and necessary decision. The way I was living my life, the way I conducted myself and imposed on the will of anyone I deemed deserving… It was only going to get me and the people I care about killed,” she explained, her expression tranquil but impassioned. “But more than all of that, Cal, I was miserable. I felt like a virus, infecting and slowly killing anyone who got close enough. A few days after D.C. i stopped living at the Station. I seldom left home without my suit on, I didn’t speak with or engage with others unless totally necessary. I knew this feeling, this ache in my chest, it wouldn’t go away given what I was meant to do with my team. But a part of me still believed I could keep things separated. That I could find happiness and worth while still working to rid mutantkind of scum like Trask.” Charlie’s nose involuntarily scrunched at the sound of that word coming from her lips, its taste acrid and sour.

“Genosha was the final test. We acted swiftly, effectively, and I killed without hesitation or contemplation. From that first trigger pull I was numb, like I’d been put on autopilot. Murdering and maiming and manipulating, and I didn’t feel a thing. That night on the way back, I knew I had to leave if it was ever going to get better,” she leaned into the corner of the counter, pausing for a moment to catch her breath. Charlie wasn’t much one for monologues, but Cal had asked for it and there was plenty to say given how long it’d been since they last spoke. Looking down at her glass, Charlie turned it between her fingers to fidget with something concrete while her mind wandered to what if’s.

“And I kept thinking, what would she think? What would my mother think of me if she knew what I’ve done in these last few weeks? The shame she’d feel, knowing what I’ve become,” Charlie questioned, taking a sip from the glass she’d been distracting herself with and putting a little water on the fire warming up her chest. “I’m done with killing for a career, with bending wills, with shameless self indulgence,” she declared, honey brown eyes meeting with Cal’s. “Right now I just have the simple task of figuring out how to actually be happy,” Chuck added with a smirk, shaking her head at the comedy and cruelty of the truth behind that statement. Through all this she at the very least still had her sense of humor, able to laugh at her own misfortunes not wholly to keep from crying.


“There’s a great deal of distance culturally in this community. It’s made adjusting a little easier,”
she explained, the Orthodox Jews she shared the building and blocks with keeping their distance from the woman out of religious necessity. That was perfectly fine with Charlie, especially in conjunction with how the modest dress of this community allowed her to hide her suit under most of the outfits. For the first time since her mutation had manifested, Charlie was figuring out how to engage with humans in a way that left them relatively unaffected by it. She had her moments, but slowly and surely this whole Changed Chuck thing was coming along.

Charlie leaned forward onto the counter, resting her elbows on its surface. Certainly this was a lot for Calvin to process, unless the new speedster side of him was already painfully bored of her pauses. “I’m really working on this whole honesty thing, so please feel free to ask me those questions that I’m sure you’ve had burning you up since you got here,” Charlie tempted with a quirked brow. This was weird, egg-shelly territory as far as reunions went, and both of them seemingly went into it with an air of caution and consideration. She was now giving the greenlight to throw said caution to the wind. Aside from Brotherhood secrets, Charlie was an open book. “Then I get to ask you all about your life this past month. You look well, Cal, happy and healthy. You’ll have to tell me your secret,” she teased, beaming a smile his way. At least one of them had flourished since the whole Calchurto incident.

Mimic
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Mimic
 Posted: Jan 16 2018, 06:38 PM
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A grin spread across Calvin's face when Chuck showed approval of his newly acquired powers. It felt like it had been forever since he'd acquired new abilities and had someone show any kind of genuine appreciation for them. That was something Cal seemed to have lost sight of years ago, both thanks to Utah and the episodes of depression that resulted from his bipolar disorder: his ability to mimic those of any other mutant used to be fun. But now that he both had his freedom and his life seemed to be heading in the right direction for the first time, he was beginning to rediscover that his powers - hell, life in general - could be good.

The smile on Cal's face faded a little as Notion began telling him about what had happened to her recently, the way she looked away from him for a moment bringing his mood down just a little, the fact that this wasn't easy for her to discuss obvious to him and the night she referred to not one of the better ones in recent memory. When his friend looked back his way though, the smile had already returned. He didn't want her thinking that discussing this upset him, and the smile did come easily enough to him because the idea of Chuck actually opening up to him made him happy. It might not have seemed like all that out of the ordinary a thing between two close friends, but he knew that this wasn't easy for her. Cal just wanted to be encouraging.

Doing so was not easy though, at least not when it came to maintaining a bright expression. Cal couldn't help but let his gaze drop briefly as Chuck listed what had happened over the past few weeks, leaving him staring down at his glass of water. The mention of Alexei's name and the raid that had taken the young man's life were especially difficult to hear about. A sense of guilt still gnawed at Calvin, even though no one had blamed him for it, not even Alexei's own twin sister. It wasn't as bad as it had been in the days after it happened, when Berto had provided such valuable companionship and support, but it was still there. Cal was likely never going to stop feeling responsible for what had happened Given who had been behind that raid, he knew the same went for Chuck.

At least that man had been dealt with, but while it should have filled Cal with nothing but relief knowing that monster was no longer in a position to hurt any of their kind, it left him hollow. Knowing what his friend had needed to do to deal with the man, with her own father, and that he had immediately backed out of helping her to try and salvage himself without any proper consideration that it would affect Chuck in a similar fashion, it brought upon a sense of guilt yet again. There seemed to be a lot of that going around lately. The only silver lining here was that his friend had been able to tear herself away from that life, that she had managed to adjust her course just like Calvin had a month prior. He could take solace in knowing that, just like his own life had done, Chuck's would surely take a turn for the better. She just needed to find what would actually help her accomplish that. Perhaps she would find that here in this community she had come to call home, though Calvin didn't quite have an understanding of it which made it hard to judge, but wherever she did end up finding it she would only do so because she had come to the decision to leave the Brotherhood behind.

"You're better at this honesty thing than you give yourself credit for, Chuckles," Calvin smiled at his friend when she left him an opening to ask her any questions he might have. But while she had give him plenty to think about with her recollection of recent events, she hadn't left him with any pressing questions. There was only one thing that came to mind immediately. "Do you have any ideas yet about what you'd like to do?" She likely would have told him if she did, instead of telling him she still needed to figure out what made her happy, but even if she could not answer his question directly she could take it as an invitation to bounce ideas off of him. "Whatever it is you do decide to go with," he added before she even had a chance to muse about any possibilities, "I'm sure you'll find something that would have made your mother proud."

Calvin would have liked to offer Chuck some sage advice then, but in all honesty he had none to give. The happiness that he had found for himself was something he'd just sort of stumbled onto, and Calvin was slightly hesitant to talk about it. Or rather he felt reluctant to discuss the man who played such a pivotal part in the happiness that he had found. But if they were going to be open, and once again properly embrace the friendship there was between them, Berto was hardly a topic that they could avoid. "You've met my secret," he told Chuck, the corners of his mouth twitching up slightly at the thought of the man. "Berto is wonderful. He was--" Calvin frowned, pausing mid-sentence as he reconsidered what he was going to say. "He is a troubled man, and no that has nothing to do with what happened between the three of us." It felt prudent to point that out immediately, lest Chuck assume she was responsible for that. "But he has been doing progressively better." He was in therapy, and after so many weeks of avoiding it had finally visited Xavier's. He still had a long way to go, but he had Calvin feeling optimistic.

"I don't mean to drone on about him," Cal continued, offering Chuck a brief, apologetic look, "but Beto is why I'm this content. You know what he's like, I--" Catching himself just a second too late, Calvin fell awkwardly silent for a brief moment, but then he just shrugged. "Sorry, I didn't mean to say that, but... well, I'm pretty sure you did get a good idea of what kind of man he can be." Even if Berto had been under the influence of Chuck's pheromones, Calvin had no recollection of his friend's powers ever turning people into someone that bore to semblance to who they were. And the man Berto was, was one that Calvin really just wanted to wax poetically about to someone. So far he'd just not gotten the chance to. He wanted to talk about the way Beto's entire face lit up when he smiled, how passionate he was about the things he enjoyed, how he danced while cooking, the way he'd sometimes end up speaking Portuguese when he got excited about something and apparently forgot how to English, and so on. Calvin was sure that Chuck was not waiting for that though, and so for her sake Calvin refrained from falling into the trap of droning on endlessly about every little thing about Beto that made him happy. "He brightens up my entire day just by being in it," was all that he said for now instead. But he did follow that up with a confession that, had you told Calvin little over a month ago that he'd ever say those words, would have had him laughing in your face. "I'm actually in love with him."
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Notion
 Posted: Jan 19 2018, 02:00 PM
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The inevitable question of “what now” was something Charlie knew would come up. In hindsight, she’d somewhat ruined her opportunity to avoid it further by being so forthcoming with her description of the last month. But when the inquiry fell from Cal’s lips, she honestly didn’t have a concrete answer for him. Charlie’s correspondence with Emma since their time together in D.C. was a step in the right direction, but was far from anything concrete at this point. For the time being, her focus was mainly to relearn how to interact with society and re-imagine her place within it.

This was the prime time in Charlie’s life so far where it would be ideal to pursue her passions, to get back to dancing, to study new languages. The reality of the situation, though, was that this city required a great deal of cash flow. Whimsically following the pursuits of her heart wouldn’t pay the bills, but consulting work at Frost International certainly might. The small fortune she’d amassed in her pursuits around the city and with the Brotherhood wouldn’t last forever.

“My gainful employment is still in the works, you will have to stay tuned. Right now, I’m just working out how to be —“ she stopped, the word she almost chose sticking in her throat as if to stifle its use. ‘Normal’ was something Charlie would never be, nor had she ever really wanted to be. As inconvenient and awful as her mutation could be to live with, she was proud of who she was. But even so, her behavior thus far had been far from normal, and if there was any hope in her mental and emotional state changing, it was to swing that pendulum at least a little further toward the middle. Charlie struggle with that word, nevertheless. She was a mutant, she was unique, she was extraordinary. Far from the confines of normal.

“— how to be myself, without changing everyone around me,” she revised, her forehead wrinkling slightly at the proclamation as Charlie turned her own words over in her head. It was no easy task, leaving others unaffected. It involved a great deal of practiced control of her personal space, anticipation of others movements, and most importantly steadfast focus to keep their natural emission at bay. Factoring those arduous hurdles into the already complex array of social and professional interactions a person engages in on any given day was a full time job in and of itself.

Charlie had also taken this time after dealing with Goliath to consider her mother. What Sapir would have wanted was for her daughter to be happy. To feel love and to be loved. There was plenty of warmth to be felt from the dear friend across from her now, more love than she’d known from most people in her life, but the happiness part still needed work. Little by little, the more she teased away the bandages she’d slapped onto her problems, the more Charlie was beginning to figure out exactly what her flavor of ‘normal’ would be. She was more than pleased when the conversation shifted toward Calvin, taking the spotlight and the possibility of further inquiry away for now.

Her heart warmed at his words about Berto and their love, her lips warming to a smile in mirror of Calvin’s own. What a relief Charlie felt, knowing that she hadn’t dismantled the good thing the two of them had going before their incredibly unfortunate meeting altogether at the penthouse. That surprisingly cruel twist of fate was something Charlie never wished to experience again, but definitely one of the catalysts for the steps of progress she was making now. Sunspot seemed to be doing much better than the last few times she’d seen him, the guy previously only able to cope with the help of Cal, booze, or pheromones.

The brief time Charlie and Roberto spent together, aside from that sour bit near the beginning, was delightful. It was fun, and easy, and relaxing, the man’s natural charm and charisma showing through the pheromones. Though the last time they’d seen one another was an experience she’d love to forget, Charlie was more than jazzed that Berto was on the up and up.

“You wear love well, Calvin,” Charlie replied when her friend finished gushing over the companionship he’d found. “It’s good to hear Roberto is doing better. I think about him often,” she added, looking to her water glass for another sip and a moment to quell the emotional reaction rising slowly and subtly within her. Calvin was glowing, head over heels for a wonderful man and she was alone and detached in Brooklyn. Being the realist she was, Charlie wasn’t naive enough to think she’d find something like what Calvin and Berto had in this lifetime. The swath of mutants immune to her touch was small enough, let alone those within it who she was compatible with. There weren’t plenty of fish in Chuck’s sea.

Charlie’s shared smile with Calvin faltered ever so slightly before her awareness of the fracture in her facade had her quickly patching it. Unwilling to let her self-doubt get the best of her in front of Cal, Charlie opted for a change of scenery and a transitional moment to compose herself. “Come sit with me, I have about a hundred more questions of you,” she proposed with a smile, striding toward the small sitting area near the front window of the apartment. She plopped down into the recliner seated across from an oversized loveseat, the pair’s usually cozy proximity lengthened by the new habits Charlie had habitually put in place since their last encounter.

Seeing as he hadn’t been dosed with her pheromones in some time now and she wasn’t completely sure if he’d traded some of his immunity for his new power acquisitions, she hesitated and resolved to keep a safe distance. Calvin was one of the few people that Charlie both didn’t affect and had the inclination to love on, most of her fondest memories with the guy involving big bear hugs and chilly walks arm and arm, solving (and committing) crimes. It felt natural to curl up on the couch with him, but those actions shouted deafeningly against the work she’d been doing in recent weeks to bring mindfulness and restraint to her interaction with others.

“What were you doing back at the school?” She asked, holding her half-full water glass in her lap as she worked to push the negativity creeping at the edge of her mind into some unseen place. “And, your art, Cal! Please tell me you have some shots on your phone to share,” Charlie added, her appreciation of Calvin’s artistic pursuits evident in the enthusiasm of her request. She was barely effective with stick figures, so the few times she’d peered over Cal’s shoulder to watch him create were both thrilling and perplexing.

“Where are you living now? I feel like I have a whole new you to get acquainted with,” Charlie joked, shaking her head with a smirk. Chances were, if Beto had any say in his lodging, Calvin was comfortable.

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Mimic
 Posted: Jan 20 2018, 09:57 PM
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Chuck's mention of gainful employment brought a slight smile to Calvin's face. Not that he didn't think his friend was incapable of making a living for herself using something other than the skills she had picked up during her time working for the Israeli government or her mutant ability to coerce people into doing whatever she wanted, but something about the idea amused him still. Of course he would have no sage advice there either, considering that his own prospects when it came to any sort of employment were basically nil. "High school dropout, three years experience at being a slave and a subject for gruesome experiments, spoke at the most recent presidential inauguration as a member of a group of mutant terrorists, experienced artist but not in an actual professional sense, might be wanted by the U.S. government for his ties to the aforementioned terrorists" did not make for an enticing resume. At least Chuck had some actual skills and experience on her side, not to mention a face that wouldn't immediately raise all of the red flags because, unlike Cal, she knew discretion.

When his friend's sentence got caught in her throat, Calvin nearly reached for her and told her that he got it. Honestly, "working out how to be" covered it pretty well, he thought, it was the same thing he had been doing since he had left the Brotherhood behind himself. So far he didn't feel like he had much to show for his efforts, still lacking a way to support what he believed in when it came to his people, but at least he was on some kind of track now instead of being completely derailed. He was happy, which was a huge step up from where he had been before, but despite how content he was with Beto and how wonderful it was to be able to indulge in the things he enjoyed, Calvin did still yearn for more.

But this wasn't about him, even though Notion seemed rather keen on changing the subject from herself to Calvin. "You'll figure it out," he assured her, offering her another warm smile. "Figure yourself out, I mean." He would offer her more, some concrete way that he could help her out, but he was coming up empty. Berto had connections that could prove useful, and a multi-billion dollar company that might offer prospects, but suggesting that still felt weird. He had moved on from what had happened in the penthouse, the emotional impact it had on him and his relationship with Berto being dealt with, but it still felt strange to suggest she talk to the man who'd been the centerpiece of that particularly awkward encounter.

Chuck's comment about how he wore love well had Calvin lowering his gaze for a moment, sure that his face would fluster. His current situation was one that Cal still needed to get used to, love being something he'd never even seriously considered as an option for himself before he'd been swept off his feet by Berto. In the years prior to his captivity in Utah, his charm, his affection and everything else that he now dedicated solely to Roberto had been nothing but tools for him. Only once had he even briefly opened himself up to more, not long after he had left Xavier's and found himself in Shiro's company in Japan, and when that had not turned out to be an actual prospect he seemed to have simply given up. He had taken the man's powers and a not inconsiderable part of his wealth and simply left, and from then onwards that was all he had done. With Berto, Cal surprisingly didn't even care about the wealth that he came with, though he would be lying to himself if he claimed there weren't plenty of benefits that came with dating a billionaire.

At Chuck's request, Calvin grabbed his glass of water and followed her to the small sitting area, making himself comfortable on the loveseat across from where his friend sat herself down. That this was a conscious decision on Chuck's part to keep some distance between them didn't even occur to him; their friendship had recovered well after what had happened at the penthouse, avoiding the proximity that had seemed to come naturally to them before didn't register as an option with him. He just sat back on the loveseat and smiled at his friend, though that smile faltered when she asked him what he had been doing at the school. The details of that visit had not been something he'd given much thought when he mentioned he'd been there, but now they were at the forefront of his mind and they brought his mood down a little. Cal was tempted to pass up on answering that question and instead reach for his phone to show her some of the art he had done recently, or tell her about how he was sharing an apartment with Berto, but it didn't sit right with him to be anything but open with his best friend.

"Roberto needed to visit there," he started, "to face the consequences of what he did there as part of his recovery process." What exactly Berto was recovering from, Calvin wouldn't just share unless Chuck asked for it specifically. It did not feel right to him to just bring up the details of that in casual conversation. Hopefully his lack of any immediate elaboration on that would clue Chuck in on that he didn't wish to discuss it, but he'd consider it if she insisted. When it came to his own reasons for visiting, Cal did not hesitate to be more descriptive, even if it meant up bringing up an uncomfortable topic for the both of them.

"I was there to support Berto," he shared with Chuck first, before digging into why he had wanted to visit there himself. "And I needed to inform them what happened to Alexei. He was a student there years ago, before he left with Anna to join the Brotherhood. He had been there following the incident that saw him turned back to when he was seventeen as well. They had a right to know." Whether they actually cared all that much about someone in the Brotherhood dying was a different matter altogether. Merry hadn't seem sure what to do with the information, which made sense considering her lack of memories, and he understood how she had immediately shared her concerns regarding the people responsible for Alexei's death instead. Didn't appreciate how she jumped to the conclusion that he was an inconsiderate idiot with no concern for anyone's safety, based on the barest amount of information that had actually been made available to her, but then it hadn't been the first time that had happened. Assuming the worst about him was apparently her jam now, but that wasn't relevant. Cal doubted he'd be hearing from her again, and as far as he was concerned it was probably for the best. It wasn't what he wanted, he'd hoped he could repair their damaged friendship after leaving the Brotherhood, but he was realistic enough to accept that might not be possible.

"They were worried about me being followed to the school by those responsible for Alexei's death," Calvin continued, the brightness that had marked his face earlier nowhere to be found. "I assured them I hadn't been, and that Goliath was no longer a problem." He sure as hell hoped he wouldn't be, somehow still affecting their lives from beyond the grave. Cal had no desire to ever revisit that particular chapter in his life again. He wouldn't even have brought the subject up at all, if it hadn't been relevant to his visit to Xavier's. "I do still worry that they'll come for me." he confessed to Chuck then. "Someone. Anyone. I don't even know who to be on the lookout for. Goliath might have been acting on his own, and his men didn't seem all that well prepared, but he's not the only one who knows about me." He couldn't have been the only one involved with the facility in Utah who made it out of there alive, having all that information they gathered on him over the years at their disposal. That alone would be bad enough, but then he'd exposed himself on television during the inauguration of President Kelly to tell his story, meaning that every high ranking government official out there knew his face. There had only been so much that HardWire could have done to help drag him out of that particular pile of shit. So when it came to who he needed to be on the lookout for, the answer seemed to be "Everyone".

Heaving a sigh, Calvin let his gaze drop for a moment as he sat there in silence. "Sorry,", he said quietly, looking back up at Chuck. "Didn't mean to kill the mood there. I do have some pictures of my recent work I could show you." As he spoke, Calvin shifted his position on the loveseat so he could fish his phone from his pocket. "I wouldn't mind going back to discussing the parts of my life that aren't terrible." He managed a small smile then, patting the space next to him to indicate he meant for Chuck to sit down next to him. "I am doing well though," he assured his friend, not wanting her to worry about him too much, "most of the time nowadays life almost seems mundane. You know, beyond being involved with an actual billionaire and the need for constant vigilance." But then as mutants living in a world where their kind was far from welcome, vigilance seemed prudent for those who hadn't been in the government's hands or shown their mug on national television. Not doing so was how you got yourself hurt, or worse.
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Notion
 Posted: Jan 23 2018, 12:23 PM
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A supportive smile was the best Charlie had to offer when Calvin began his answer about going back to the school and Beto. She knew her friend well enough to see when he didn’t want to be pressed on a subject, and remained quiet on the topic. In all honesty, Charlie was pleased as punch to know that Roberto was making strides toward a healthy life. When she’d first met the Brazilian billionaire, disrepair was a word that didn’t do the guy’s condition justice. The resolution that they had come to on that evening wasn’t something healthy, happy people come up with. Perhaps that’s why it worked for them, as briefly as it did. They were both broken enough for it to seem like a good idea.

Cal’s quick transition to the topic of Alexei and his corresponding change in mood stole the smile from Charlie’s lips as well. Losing a teammate, a friend, on top of Cal’s suffering of having witnessed the whole thing weighed heavily on her. And that was before she even knew the whole truth of the ordeal. Her friend’s constant vigilance and paranoia of pursuit wasn’t unfounded, that was for sure, but his reasoning behind some of it was ill-informed. Charlie bit at her bottom lip, knowing what she had to tell him, but not wanting to hear the words out loud. His move to change the subject only pinched at that anxiety further, knowing she had to say this piece before they could move on to rosier topics. Sitting up in her seat but not yet accepting the invitation to sit beside him, Charlie finally piped up.

“Wait, Cal,” she requested, honey brown eyes imploring him to revisit the terrible bits for just a short while longer. “I understand that feeling, that feeling of constantly being pursued. But you need to know... that night at the apartment? Those men weren’t after you, or Alexei. They were there for me,” Charlie explained, full lips setting into a grim line at the admission. This truth became evident in her tangle with Goliath, the burden of being responsible for Alexei’s death fully hers. It wasn’t to say people weren’t still after Cal, but things weren’t exactly as he’d assumed. Whether or not this would give him some reprieve, Charlie wasn’t sure. “It doesn’t change what happened to him, but at least there’s comfort in knowing that particular target wasn’t on your back,” she added with a slight shrug, trying to find some silver lining in the admission. The various other organizations that might have an interest in capturing or killing Cal couldn’t be accounted for, but at least Goliath and his goons weren’t interested enough to have made that particular call.

“And that will be the end of the downers on my part,” Charlie assured, wanting to change the subject just as quickly as Calvin had earlier. Still, she hesitated to take the offered seat next to Cal, only rising after deciding that a disclaimer was necessary. “Well, actually, not quite the end. I’m a little concerned about your tolerance to my company, Cal. I’m not sure it’d be best for me to be so close,” she informed him candidly, the unease evident in her expression. She slinked closer, stopping instead at the armrest of the loveseat where she half sat, half leaned a meter or so from Cal. Between the residual pheromones in the room, the possibility of incidental touch while sitting so close, and the fact that his once staunch tolerance was now nil having been away from one another for a month, Charlie wasn’t so sure he’d be left unaffected.

Surely, there was a good chance that Cal would be fine, but given Charlie’s steadfast focus on changing the way she engaged with her world, it felt strange to share space with anyone. Regardless of their past and their close friendship, Charlie’s parameters of engagement had changed. Affixing these new protocols to people from her past created a bit of dissonance that wasn’t sitting with her well now. “Toss it over?” Charlie offered, nodding to the phone queued with Cal’s latest creations. With any luck, Cal might humor her paranoia, instead of forcibly hugging her into being a normal friend.

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Mimic
 Posted: Jan 28 2018, 04:37 PM
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Chuck earned herself a quizzical look when she told Cal to wait when he attempted to move on from the uncomfortable subject he'd been talking about in favour of discussing something far lighter. "What's up?" he wondered, the uncertainty about whether this was something actually wanted to hear evident on his face. But if there was anything that Chuck needed to get off her chest, Cal was willing to listen. Not just because she'd just humoured him while he dragged the mood of their friendly get together down into the dumps, but because she was his friend. Listening to whatever she had to say was part of the friendship package, and honestly the least he could do if he wanted to help her become better at this whole communication thing that she'd been struggling with before.

His brow furrowed slightly as Calvin listened to what Notion had to say, apparently knowing something about the night that Alexei got killed that she hadn't shared with him before. "Sorry, what?" he let out incredulously when he was informed that he hadn't been the target then, but that they were there for Chuck instead. Inhaling sharply through his nose, Calvin closed his eyes briefly and forced himself into a calm breathing pattern, to calm the anger that briefly flared up inside of him. That was not the kind of detail to keep to yourself, both because it would have been rather nice to know that he had slightly less reason to constantly watch his back even after Goliath's demise, and because he felt like he had the right to know his best friend had been in danger. He hadn't been able to help her deal with her father, but he damn well felt entitled to being allowed to help keep her safe.

"Wow, okay. No." Calvin shook his head when Chuck supposed there was comfort in knowing the target hadn't been on his back after all. He looked towards where she had seated herself, for now ignoring the also rather touchy subject of how she seemed so intent on keeping her distance from him, and instead took his own turn when it came to not allowing them to move to discussing something less dreary. "Knowing that you were their target doesn't bring me any comfort at all, Chuck." Why did she even think it would? He had already suffered through three years of repeated torturous experiments and survived, and had a whole slew of mutant abilities at his disposal that made him both difficult to prepare an assault for and even harder to hurt, let alone kill. Chuck, despite her considerable skill and her own mutant ability, was far less hardy than he was. More importantly though, she was his friend, and knowing she had been in danger only brought him more concern, not less.

"Promise me that the next time something like this comes up, and I really hope it doesn't, you let me know sooner?" Calvin could argue about how it had taken her over a week, and how he didn't appreciate being left in the dark, but honestly he was just glad she'd let him know now. Asking her to handle it differently in the future seemed like it was a lot more helpful than chastising her for how she'd handled it this time. "We're friends, that means we should be able to support each other when it comes to things like this," he tried to impress upon her. Not that he could have done anything about it after the fact, but wow. Knowing that your own dad specifically targeted you to have you murdered sounded like definitive "Could use my friend's shoulder for support" type of situation.

Heaving a heavy sigh, Calvin briefly turned his gaze down towards his phone, before looking back towards Chuck, gesturing at the space between the two of them. "And honestly, this? Not something I think you need to be worried about." It was considerate that she did, probably, but at the same time the fact that she no longer felt comfortable being in close proximity to him tied an uneasy knot in his stomach. That wasn't how things were supposed to be between them. "Just scooch on over here, Chuckles," he told her. "I'm not tossing you my phone, I don't need things to get weird between us again because of you coming across any nude selfies." Calvin paused briefly, maintaining a straight expression, before he chuckled and added, "there actually aren't any, no worries." Why would he show Berto pictures when showing him in person was so much better.

"You remember Utah," Calvin told her next, "where you had to lick me to get enough pheromones into my system even after our Awkward Dance." And even then it hadn't worked all that well, though that had less to do with Calvin's resistance to her powers and more with how he had been stubbornly specific in following her commands, freely continuing to try and harm Creed. "Didn't have speedster metabolism as part of my abilities back then either. You should see me eat." Frowning lightly, Calvin's eyes briefly shifted sideways as his thoughts shifted to food. "No seriously, you should. Do you have anything to eat? I haven't had anything to eat since... dinner." Which, hearing himself say that out loud, just sounded ridiculous. "Okay, that can wait," he decided, patting the spot next to him again. "Come, sit. I've had a lot of free time on my hands lately, so I have quite a few things I can show you."
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Notion
 Posted: Feb 6 2018, 08:12 AM
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Unsurprisingly, Calvin didn’t seem so pleased when Charlie informed him of the withheld information she’d been hanging onto. After a point, adding more tumultuous news to a pile of unfortunate truths was too much for any given moment. She’d felt that ‘I killed the architect of your anguish and turns out he’s a mutant after all,’ seemed like enough at the time. Now felt like a good opportunity for a fresh start in their friendship, and the ideal time to gear Charlie’s communication toward complete transparency. Regardless of how brutal and inconvenient that candidness might be.

“I promise, Cal,”
she assured, offering him her warm and friendly smile tinged with a little regret. She should have been there for him this past month… She wasn’t alone in the fear, uncertainty, and insanity that plagued her existence these past few weeks. Cal was subjected to it as well, and she was nowhere to be found for him when he may have needed her. That lapse in friendly graces was something she wasn’t looking to repeat. Old habits of a clammed up Charlie had to end here and now if she ever wanted to grow or move forward. “No more secrets, no more censoring,” the brunette affirmed, nodding definitively with the statement. As ugly as the truth got, it would be there between them regardless.

There was no hope in stifling the belly laugh that Cal’s apprehension for inadvertent viewing of scandalous photos inspired. She raised a skeptical brow at his claim that there wasn’t anything to be worried about, giving him a nod that wordlessly conveyed, ‘oh yeah, okay, sure thing.’ His reasoning for why her hesitation was downright foolish made perfect sense, but Charlie had created concrete lines for herself these past few weeks. Making the conscious choice not to cross those lines was what made her so successful in the 180 she’d pulled since leaving the Brotherhood. But for her best friend, there were exceptions to be made, and given Calvin’s thorough appeal she saw no logical reason to avoid proximity any further. “You’re making some very good points here,” she admitted with a smirk, venturing closer past her arbitrary lines and back into her own comfort zone. Charlie plopped onto the couch beside him, tucking her feet beneath her as she cozied into the loveseat.

“If you’re hungry, there’s a fantastic falafel place two blocks away. And they deliver,” Charlie tempted with a waggle of her brows, not letting Cal gloss over the topic of food that quickly. This was New York City, after all, meaning they had over fifty different types of cuisine available for delivery at any moment. Hunger was a burden her friend didn’t have to endure, or sacrifice for time with a friend. For now, though, he had her ravenously interested in what he’d been working on. Charlie always admired Calvin for his artistic skill, the ability to translate what was in his mind and heart onto canvas or paper being something that she’d never experienced. For her entire adult life, Charlie destroyed instead of creating, right up to the point where nothing was whole anymore. Perhaps this period of putting the pieces back together was some abstract form of collage.

Charlie leaned in closer to Cal to see the images he was swiping through on his phone, requesting he pause and give her time to adequately squint at each one. Viewing these pieces on a phone didn’t seem like the best medium to view them, but any glimpse into the good parts of Cal’s new life were greatly appreciated. “Have you been using acrylics or oils?” she inquired, too immersed in her inspection of the piece to look up. Sure Charlie wasn’t an artist, but she was far from an uncultured goon, and could at the very least pretend like she knew what she was talking about. Seeing as Cal was dating a Brazilian Rockefeller, there was little doubt he had access to every type of art supply he might need. That, in conjunction with his ample freetime, had led to a boom in Calvin’s productions that he had every right to be proud of.

Looking up from the phone to her dear friend, Charlie couldn’t help but beam at him. “I’m really proud of you, Calvin. Look how far you’ve come,” she gushed, her eyes crinkling at the edges as she sat back into the armrest of the couch. Charlie would scoff at the idea of everyone deserving happiness, but if anyone deserved bliss it was this guy. Given what he’d been through and the content of his heart, the contentment he’d found in his new life with Beto suited him. However Charlie had dealt with being Cal-less for so long was currently beyond her, though now she was sure not to let such a lapse in time come between them any time soon.

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 Posted: Feb 7 2018, 04:18 PM
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"No more secrets," Calvin echoed with a nod when Chuck promised him that from then on, she would offer him transparency and honesty. He would offer her the same, knowing that while he had not kept something as major as Goliath's true target on the night Alexei died from her, there had been times in the past where he could have been more open with his friend. Had he not been so coy when it came to Roberto, keeping pretty much every detail about the man to himself because he was so odd about how the Brazilian made him feel instead of just confiding in her, all of them would have been spared a very awkward encounter nearly a month ago. Chuck was a sharp woman, even some details about the man he had spent his time with would have likely informed her enough to figure things out. Instead he'd just left her with nothing, but no more of that. If he was going to claim Chuck was his best friend, talking about the men (or whatever else) in their lives had to be a fairly basic part of that. Though with how things had been going between Beto and himself, getting Cal to talk about his love was not going to be an issue, though making him shut up about him might very well be.

Chuck was met with a bright smile as she finally sat down next to him instead of sitting away from him the way she had been. "I make the best points," he told her as he himself scooted over towards his friend a little bit. "And the worst decisions. I think outside of right now, we probably shouldn't listen to me." Yes, we. With everything that had happened, Calvin had begun to realise how often he made poor choices because he didn't really stop to consider them properly beforehand. It was only ever hindsight that informed him that a decision might not have been the best one he could have made. Now he was finally starting to use that hindsight to try and keep from making too many mistakes in the future. But whether or not that would actually pan out was a different matter altogether.

The mention of a falafel place nearby briefly made Calvin reconsider showing Chuck the pictures of his artwork, his mind tempted by thoughts of food. That could wait though, he quickly decided, wanting to spend some quality time with his friend first instead. Not that they couldn't do so over food, but being sat together on the sofa like this, with him intending to share something as personal as his art, had a certain kind of appeal to it. Food would come after, though. "We could actually just go and eat there?" Cal suggested. He understood why Chuck would rather eat in rather than spend her time around people who were likely to fall under her thrall, but he didn't much like the idea of his friend just being cooped up inside all the time either. "My treat," he offered, his brow furrowing slightly as he considered his words more carefully. "Beto's treat, technically, but... potato, potahto." There hadn't been a moment where his boyfriend had hesitated to share his wealth with him, so at times it was easy for Cal to forget how he was basically a jobless, penniless bum.

With Chuck settled in next to him, Calvin started going through some of the photos he had taken from his work. Many of them had pictures taken from different angles, because lighting could make all the difference when it came to how a painting came across, and proud as he was of his work Calvin wanted to capture it as best he could. Of course the best way for Chuck to appreciate his work would be to actually come visit and see it all in person, but he'd just... work towards that. Even without any hard feelings and several weeks having passed, Cal wasn't quite sure about tackling the potentially awkward situation of ending up with Beto and Chuck in the same room together. He really did want his best friend and his boyfriend to get along, as he felt they would have had they met under different circumstances, but he could appreciate that the time for that hadn't come around yet.

"I've mostly been using acrylics," Cal told his friend when she wondered about the kind of paint he used. He got why Chuck felt like she had to ask, since he'd used several methods to dilute or modify the acrylic paints to more closely resemble oil paint, and he was impressed that it had been something she had even considered. A lot of people didn't even know there was a difference. "I could have just used oil paint for most of them, or even watercolours," he added as he continued to browse through the pictures of paintings and the occasional drawing. He'd pause now and then to tell Chuck something more about the artwork, why he'd chosen that particular subject or why he'd decided to modify his acrylics in a specific way. Finally coming to the painting that Calvin felt most proud of, one he had made of Roberto, he looked towards Notion and chuckled. "Well, there's your nudes."

It wasn't quite nude, with a carefully placed white sheet covering up the naughtiest of Beto's bits, but beyond that there wasn't anything covering him up. The painting depicted Berto from the side, sat on a table with one leg stretched out in front of it and the other pulled up, his arm resting on it. His face was in profile, chin tilted up and a characteristically Berto-like smile on his face. "He's not... great at sitting still," Calvin explained with a smile, neither his expression nor tone hinting at any annoyance due to Beto's restlessness. "Kept getting up and coming over to see my progress, as if I'd just taken a picture of him with my phone and he wanted to make sure he looked cute." Perhaps it would have been more sensible to actually take a picture instead of expecting his lover to sit still for so long, but Berto being part of the actual process was what really made Calvin appreciate this particular piece of work.

"He also questioned the presence of the sheet," Calvin continued. "I told him I would like to actually show this to people, then he questioned the presence of the sheet again." Calvin couldn't help but laugh as he shared that particular anecdote, shaking his head lightly. It wasn't that there was no modesty or humility in that man at all, but ofttimes you had to go looking for it to actually find it. That was one of the things about Berto that Calvin liked best; that easy confidence that had been more present lately, how he could somehow get away with the kind of self-assuredness that would just earn other people a roll of the eyes, all thanks to the charm everything he did seemed naturally infused with.

"He's perfect," Cal added with a happy sigh, seamlessly slipping from discussing the painting to discussing Berto in general. He had not really had a chance to gush about the man he had come to feel so strongly about to anyone yet, so Chuck was going to have to suffer bearing the brunt of it. He had intended to avoid doing so, after practically singing the man's praises before, but there was only so much he could do to bottle up the the emotions inside of him. "He has his demons, like we all do, but it seems like he is finally coming back more to being the man he used to be." Returning to Xavier's and his continued therapy sessions were to thank for that, Calvin thought, mostly neglecting to consider his own part in Beto's progress because the concept of him helping anyone be better was one his mind did not readily turn to. "Sorry, I'm doing it again, aren't I?" The smile that had been plastered on Calvin's face while he spoke of Berto faded for a moment as he averted his gaze. Considering Chuck's unique and difficult situation when it came to interacting with others, it seemed rather selfish and rude to rub the happiness that Beto brought him in her face like this. And yet even as he considered that, feeling like he should stop, Calvin had to bite back on going "But anyway..." and simply continuing to waffle on about how wonderful Sunspot was.
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Notion
 Posted: Feb 9 2018, 03:37 PM
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Though the rigid parts of Charlie’s brain were enticing her to maintain her distance and stick to her plan for success, it felt so good just to sit next to Cal. The luxury of casual human contact, of positive and genuine platonic proximity, wasn’t often reserved for the young woman. But with Cal and others like him, it opened her up to a world of experience she otherwise would have to go without. With so much distance between herself and others these last few weeks, his presence now was especially potent. This time with Cal was much needed nourishment for Charlie’s soul.

Seeing Cal’s eyes light up at the mention of falafel broadened Charlie’s grin, only to have it fade slightly at the idea of going there in person. Aside from the cultural hurdles that living in this neighborhood imparted, she was hesitant to go out unless truly necessary. Her friend’s voracious appetite might fit that criteria, but in the moment Charlie was hesitant to agree. This was just starting to feel normal, and leaving meant putting all that aside and doing her best to swim with the current out there. She’d need to be suited and hyper aware, and to give Calvin a thorough explanation of how men interacted with women in this micro-culture before they dipped into garbanzo-bean-based bliss. For now, at least, she wanted to stay put.

“If you’d like, Cal, maybe after show and tell we can grab a bite,” she considered, wanting to meet the ravenous young man halfway. For now, though, she was happily preoccupied with what Calvin had to show her. As they scrolled through the photos of his art, Charlie would stop him occasionally to lean in and zoom on certain parts before proceeding to the next. Not one to collect fine art herself or to be found haunting New York’s galleries, what she could appreciate was craft. Cal’s varied use of the same type of paint piqued her interest, some of its applications looking quite different from one another. His art was growing along with him, and he seemed to feel free enough for experimentation and new techniques. Calvin’s creations put on display just how far he’d come since that terrible night at the penthouse when they’d last been in one another’s presence.

While over the moon for her best friend, all of this was a stark reminder for Charlie of how far she still had to go. She was only just getting her footing on what might constitute happiness at some point down the road. Their roads toward that desired avenue would be inherently different, as Charlie doubted a billionaire was around some corner waiting to sweep her off her feet, all while coincidentally unaffected by her pheromones. There was a very good chance that Chuck’s recovery would be something she did on her own. But sitting here with her dear friend, sharing smiles and candid truths with one another, she knew it to be true that she wouldn’t have to do this alone. She had a Cal, and a Cal was an invaluable asset to have in one’s corner regardless of the circumstances.

“Ooh, lala!” Charlie teased at the sight of a scantily clad Beto, nudging Calvin with an elbow as he gushed over his handsome beau. As much as her loneliness stung, it didn’t keep Chuck from feeling joy for the love her friend had found. Seeing Beto in a state of undress wasn’t something new for Charlie, though she would shudder to admit that to Calvin even after their proclamation of transparency. The time she’d spent with Beto was primarily lazing around the penthouse in silky robes, or soaking in fancy whirlpool tubs while sipping bubbly and exchanging language lessons. Neither Charlie nor Beto were particularly shy about their bodies, so it wasn’t cause for pause them, but most definitely would be for Cal. She chose to skip right over that inkling, thankful that Cal had ditched his telepathy for super speed and didn’t have the inside line to her inner musings.

The question now at the tip of her mind was, ‘What’s next?’ Calvin had turned what was a hopeless situation a few years ago, enslaved in Utah, into most people’s dreams. He was madly in love with a billionaire, pursuing his passions, and genuinely happy. So what was on the horizons for the guy now? “Yes, yes you are,” she confirmed with a smirk at Cal’s self awareness of his poetic waxing over his favorite subject. “But it’s nothing to apologize for. You being happy makes me happy,” she assured him, leveling honey brown eyes at the man before her before asking that question that she’d been most curious about.

“What now? Will I be seeing these in Manhattan’s finest galleries? Are you going to start giving private lessons?” She asked, the last two questions meant to be a jest though they were well within the actual realm of possibility.

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Mimic
 Posted: Feb 9 2018, 08:33 PM
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Staring down at the phone in his hands for a few seconds after he'd broken off eye contact with Chuck, embarrassed about falling right back into discussing Berto so affectionately after deciding earlier that he would try not to, Calvin sighed lightly when Chuck confirmed that, yep, he was in fact doing it again. Her tone was light though, and the words that followed affirmed that she wasn't bothered by it. Turning his gaze up to meet hers again, the corners of Cal's mouth turned up into a little smile. He couldn't help but worry that it was insensitive of him to beam about how content he was with his love, but if she insisted that wasn't the case then he would take her word for it.

"Well, if that's the case then maybe I'll stop holding back," Cal told her. He chuckled as he considered his words for a moment, deciding still that it would be better if he held back at least a little. He had no doubt that he could fill every minute spent with his best friend telling her about his love, especially when everything was still so new to him and all the progress that had been made was allowing him to actually enjoy it fully. Calvin imagined even Notion would end up just being done with it eventually.

The question that followed had Cal furrowing his brow a little. "What now?" he echoed, caught off guard by an inquiry he hadn't really stopped to consider himself before now. He had settled into the experience of being in a relationship with Berto so much that he hadn't wanted to look forward, content as he had been to just live in the present and enjoy it wholly. "I haven't actually thought about it. Is that bad? Now that you brought it up it doesn't sound great to just have... no plan at all.."

His frown deepening, Cal thought about Chuck's question and the fact that he had no concrete answer to it a bit more before speaking up again. "Actually, you know what? I'm good with having no idea what I want to do. For now, at least." Calvin had no intention of spending the rest of his life wandering around aimlessly, but where was the harm in just enjoying life as it happened for a while? "This is the first time in--" Puffing out air through pursed lips, Calvin briefly mused on the past few years of his life before continuing. "Eight years?" Something close to that. "Yeah, it's the first time in about eight years that I actually feel like I'm in a good place with my life, with who I am."

His bipolar disorder had derailed the semblance of normality he had at Xavier's when he was fifteen years old, culminating in his departure from Xavier's when he was seventeen. After that, he'd wandered the globe for several years, making a life for himself by taking advantage of other people, with his disorder still frequently rearing its ugly head. Over two years of being held captive by the government at that damn facility in Bluffdale, Utah had followed that, and upon his release from there he'd quickly made the ill-conceived choice to join the Brotherhood. Taking some time to sit back and enjoy life as it was without worrying too much about the future, aside from that that nagging concern that the government would come knocking on his door, felt like as good a plan as any.

"I'm not content with the idea of just doing nothing forever," he told Chuck then, not wanting her to think he'd just ease into the life of dating a billionaire and losing any sense of purpose, "but I haven't figured out what comes next for me, and I'm not in all that much of a hurry to do so either. Maybe I'll do something with my art." He shrugged his shoulders lightly. "I've never really given exhibiting my art any thought, and I'm not sure how well I'd take to teaching, but I'm not ruling out either." Despite having comfortably settled into the now, Cal wasn't averse to looking to the future and considering possible options either. He was just not in a hurry to make any concrete plans for it.

"I think I'd like to do... something for us," he continued. "Mutants, I mean. The Brotherhood wasn't for me, but the motivation I had when I decided to join them is still there. I still want to do right by our kind, because pffft--" Calvin gestured in front of him, as if humanity as a whole was sat right across from them, "--humanity sure isn't in any rush to do so." The anger Calvin had inside him shortly after his release from the facility in Bluffdale had diminished, but he was still far from their biggest fan. "I don't know what it is yet, but until I figure that out I'm just going to enjoy spending my days with the best damn thing that's ever happened to me."
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Notion
 Posted: Feb 12 2018, 11:20 PM
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No plan could be good. No plan could even, for a while at least, be great. Charlie had come to the United States with relatively no plan and had a hell of a good time. Sure, it had eventually led to her recruitment with the Brotherhood, a subtle way of planning for her own self destruction down the road. But for a while, having nowhere to be after her time in rigid governmental and military service was the perfect application of her time and space. It was a necessary transition to what she’d assumed at the time were greater things. Regardless of what he intended to do with it, Calvin had earned more than once over the right to do precisely what he wanted with his freedom.

Charlie had unconsciously started to nod in agreement as Cal mentioned what he really wanted to do. He was speaking the same truth she’d felt resonating in her for weeks. They were exceptional people with incredible gifts, and the best application of those gifts involved giving back to others. If she could help other mutants avoid even half of the horrors she’d had to experience in this life, that was a win in Chuck’s book. The best way to actually do that was a little less clear, but the woman was a testament to the power of intention and the sheer force of focussed will. “I hear you, I’m right there with you,” she affirmed, the corners of her lips turning upward in a supportive smile.

“I’m working on something along those lines… mostly just ideas right now. But I’ve been feeling the same thing, Cal. Knowing what we know about the X-Men, and working with the Brotherhood, I feel like there’s some valuable perspective gained there that we can really use to help people like us,” Charlie shared, her honey brown eyes meeting Cal’s as she elaborated on their shared motivations. “I feel like I’ve been squandering my potential, misallocating my efforts. It’s about damn time someone starts doing some real, worthwhile work for mutants. Why not us?” She proposed, her brown eyes sparkling up at her friend. For a while there, she’d forsaken her gifts. Life would be so much easier without them, fewer complications arising from basic day to day activities. But with influence came the power for great change, and Charlie was ready to bring that potential to fruition.

“Hopefully by next month I’ll have more in the way of actual things to show you,” Charlie mused, the ideas she had still swimming around in her head. Once she was able to really nail one down and smooth over its edges, she’d be willing to share with her best friend. Calvin’s reiteration of Beto’s place in his life left a lingering smile on Charlie’s lips, her brow furrowing slightly as she came upon a slightly unsettling idea.

“Wait a second… You two aren’t going to poof off to Brazil and leave me to gradually thaw out here in New York, are you?” She teased, sure from the tone in Calvin’s voice whenever he mentioned his Brazilian beau that they might run off and elope together any day now. The two of them hadn’t been together long, but Cal had fallen and fallen hard. Regardless of the short time of their relationship, Cal had found something real. And as much as it stung, knowing she may never experience something like that, Charlie was unable to resist sharing that glow with her friend in the smile she beamed at him. “I’m just so happy for you,” she confessed with a shrug and a sigh. The Cal she’d made furious and broken a few weeks ago was now thriving despite that and everything else he’d been subject to. “Thanks again for coming. It’s food for my soul, you being here.”

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Mimic
 Posted: Feb 14 2018, 04:29 PM
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It came as no surprise to Cal that Chuck was of like mind when it came to wanting to do something for their kind. That strong sense of needing to benefit their fellow mutants in some way was one of the things that had formed the strong bond between the two of them since they had met, laying the foundation for their friendship. There were others in the Brotherhood who felt the same way of course, some even without any real hint of psychopathy to go with it, but with Chuck and Cal there had been that something extra to strengthen their connection. Working on solving Marissa Friedman's murder had certainly been a major part of that, the two of them putting their skills and abilities to use to do right by one of their own outside of whatever agendas or ideals people like the X-Men or Brotherhood had.

Despite not feeling like either group was right for him, Calvin did furrow his brow slightly when Notion mentioned how it was about time that someone started doing something real and worthwhile for their kind, as if neither the X-Men or Brotherhood did anything of the sort. "Utah. Genosha. Their methods might be harsh and careless at times, and they could definitely use some stricter membership requirements, but the Brotherhood has some worthwhile goals, and accomplishments to match. I wouldn't be where I am now if not for them." He paused for a brief moment, his nose scrunching up at the idea of still being stuck in that damn facility, before shaking off those negative thoughts and continuing. "The same goes for Xavier's. Eleven year old me would not have had anywhere to go without that school, and the same goes for so many other kids." Calvin was not sold on the X-Men's ideals, feeling like they did not make enough of an effort to support their kind outside of the school, as if they just couldn't see properly beyond the walls of their mansion to see just how bad the world could be for people like them, but he could respect at least part of what they stood for.

"But--" Calvin continued with a smile, not wanting his friend to think he was just tearing down what she had put forward. "I agree that more could be done. Somehow. More needs to be done, especially with our government going to shit completely." Quite the accomplishment, considering it hadn't been in all that great a shape to begin with. "And most people just don't really seem to care all that much. You'd think the revelation of what happened back in Utah would have caused more of an outrage, but instead the narrative seems to focus around how much of a threat we are more than ever." It was not a good time to be a mutant, and every effort no matter how small that could make a difference for the better was important. If the two of them could figure out a way to put their obvious drive to do right by other mutants behind something worthwhile, perhaps they could make a difference too. Calvin certainly liked to think so.

But until Calvin found something that felt right for him, he would simply enjoy the life he had found for himself with Roberto. After everything he had been through alone, and the bumpy start the pair had experienced together, he felt like he actually needed to do so. If he didn't slow down and take the time to sort himself out and root his life properly in his newfound happiness, he would not be in any position to help anyone else. Thankfully the privilege that came with Roberto's wealth facilitated taking the time to stop, breathe in and just live in the moment for a while without having to worry about making ends meet.

A soft chuckle escaped from Cal's lips when Chuck suggested he might run off to Brazil with Berto and leave her behind in the cold. "Okay, so funny story..." Cal started, shifting slightly on the loveseat, pulling one leg up until only his foot was still hanging off the side, his body turned so he was facing Chuck. "That's actually the plan," he revealed to her then. "Well, my plan, specifically. Beto has been singing Rio's praises since the first time we met, and the past two weeks he has not stopped talking about the upcoming carnival." It was adorable, that Calvin thought so was plain from the way he spoke. Berto's passion was one of the things that had drawn Calvin towards him initially, and there really wasn't anything the man felt more passionate about than his native Brazil.

"Sadly, we've not been in a position to plan a proper visit in time to attend," he shared, without giving Chuck a specific reason for that. The main hurdle there was Berto's therapy, and Calvin's continued insistence that he attend all of his sessions for his own good. He could very well find a therapist in Brazil too, but that would take time, and Cal wasn't going to let his love get out of the welcome routine of regular therapy sessions that he had settled into. But that didn't mean they didn't have options to work around that. "So I've asked Reece if she can teleport us there this coming Thursday as a surprise, just for a few days." And as always, Reece seemed happy to help. Sometimes Calvin wondered what he actually did to deserve a friend as good as her. "I'm very excited about this visit myself, but honestly I'm mostly just there to see the look on his face when he realises where I've taken him." The entire carnival experience could somehow end up being a complete dud, and Cal was sure that moment would still make it all worth it.

Changing his position on the loveseat again, Cal moved until he could rest his head on Chuck's shoulder. He was an affectionate young man, and an especially avid hugger, and his friend was likely used to this sort of behaviour by now. It made Calvin glad that Chuck's concerns about being in close proximity to him hadn't persisted. "I'm glad to be here," he told Chuck quietly, "and that we managed to get back to just being like this." For a short while, things between them had not been at their best, but thankfully their friendship had been strong enough to persist through that. "Do you think things between you two will ever not be weird?" Cal wondered, hazel eyes looking up to sort of be able to see Chuck's face. "You and Berto, I mean. You're my best friend, he's my boyfriend, those don't feel like things I should keep separate, and yet..." With what had happened, Calvin couldn't help but feel like that would be for the best, as much as he wished it wasn't.
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