|i_amsoaring (i_amsoaring) wrote in we_coexist,|
@ 2013-04-17 20:58:00
|Entry tags:||hoban washburne, maxine baker, zz:status complete|
Maxine's First Day of School (Maxine: done)
Wash had the cargo door open in preparation for Maxine’s arrival from school. Even after he had insisted he wait at the bus stop in front of the park for her Maxine had insisted she walk back to the ship herself. And though he fully trusted a five year old girl with the simple task of walking less than a block through the park and trees to a well hidden space ship, he decided to set proximity alert to small blonde child anyway.
Well, roughly speaking. Though apparently raccoon also classified as small blond child.
He was under the pilot’s display working on fixing some electrical shorts with his tongue sticking out neatly at the corner of his mouth when the alarm went off again. He sat up quickly, narrowly missing smacking his head on the side of the console, and listened for tiny feet up the ramp.
“Maxine? That you? Come on up! Or...or should I meet you?” he asked himself this quietly. “Wait, or...something! I’ll meet you!”
Maxine had a small, box shaped backpack strapped comically to her back and a pink lunch box clutched in one hand. She wore sunglasses, because she thought that they made her look more like a superhero. Although the small child would not admit to being afraid of going to a new school in a strange city that had kidnapped her, she was.
At least, there were some very justifiable nerves.
“Ni hao!” Maxine greeted with the accent of an American five year old that had exactly one day’s worth of Chinese lessons. It was something, at least. Her school lessons, like The City, were slightly eclectic.
“Wei!” Wash replied with a grin as he met her and closed the ramp behind her. “When did you learn Mandarin, mei-mei?”
He bent down to her level and, covered in grease from working what he could of the engine, took her sunglasses and put them on, them stretched awkwardly across his wider face.
“How was the first day of awesome weird city school, Maxini?” He was trying out nicknames.
“We’re learning it in school. We didn’t learn Chinese at my old school. It has totally different letters though. You have to know two thousand of them to read it. Except they’re not really letters because they’re whole words. We learned the symbol for sun today and how to write and say ‘ni hao’.”
Maxine stepped onto the loading dock and set her backpack down, grinning at the way her glasses looked on Wash’s face.
“Don’t break those though. I need them to hide my real identity. Most superheroes don’t tell anyone who they really are even though my dad does. First I have to learn how to use my powers. In Red Class my teacher is a cat. His name is Socks because of his white feet.”
“Wow! You’re going to learn more than me! Maybe you can start reminding me about how to write it, because it’s a little foggy,” he said, not entirely making it up.
“Oh!” he took her sunglasses off his face and put them on top of her head. “Kind of boring not getting any of the credit for your heroics. Lot safer, though.”
He still wasn’t sure he entirely knew what to make of her claims at heroism. It was The City, anything was possible. But it was hard for him to see the small blond girl as anything but a small blond girl. Then again, River. Looks could be deceiving. Nevertheless, it was something he’d put in the back of his mind.
He picked her up bodily, letting her legs dangle carelessly as if she were cargo and swung her around a little haplessly, though not too haplessly.
“Tell me about this red stuff again...and I hope that cat has good credentials. I’d want none less than the best qualified feline teaching my Teeny Maxini,” Wash said. The nicknaming thing, he’d work on it.
He lugged her to the cockpit and put her in the co-pilot’s seat so he could still hear her while continuing to work.
Maxine shrieked with joy at being hefted about like a sack of potatoes. She was going to be as strong as a grown up some day, she just knew it. Until then she was content to be carried, giggling the entire way. Around Wash she forgot that her dad was late rescuing her.
Once she was settled in the co-pilot’s seat with her feet dangling high above the floor she cleared her throat importantly to explain The Red. She even took a deep, steadying breath, staring intently at Wash. Which backfired, because looking at Wash she broke into hysterics only halfway recognizing how ridiculous she was being.
It took a few moments, but she regained her composure. She started again, taking another deep and very serious breath when, looking at Wash’s face she started laughing again: “Stop looking at me like that! I’m trying to tell you!”
It took Maxine a little longer to stop laughing the second time. The third time she looked ahead out of the window. “Did you see The Lion King? It’s a really good movie and there’s this part about the circle of life in it.”
Wash just took her hysterical laughter in stride, his face straight which was probably making her all the more giggly. His eyebrows twitched up just a little at her continued joyous cackles.
“Is this better?” he asked, putting his hand up to cover his face. He peeked through his fingers at her question, “Mmm...nope. Must have missed that one. Busy flying a spaceship. You know.”
“The circle of life is like, all the animals and the bacteria and stuff. And the animals are born and they eat each other and they die and then more get born.” Maxine made a giant circle motion with her hands while she spoke. “The Red is where the animals go when they die, even the humans sometimes, but not all because a lot of people try to not be a part of the Red.”
It made perfect sense to Maxine! She glanced over at Wash to see if he was keeping up.
“The Red makes it so my dad can be like any animal. Like barking and flying and stuff. I don’t know how to do that yet though. Mr. Socks says I’ll be able to do other things, though.”
“Kay,” Wash said. “Kay,” he said again, trying to actively follow.
He watched Maxine’s hands travel, his own hand now clear of his face.
“O...Kay,” he said a little more unsurely. He wasn’t keeping up. He wasn’t even keeping up a little bit. And he did not try to hide the absolute befuddlement that crossed his face in response.
“Mr. Socks sounds like a...very smart cat,” he said, furrowing his brow with the effort he was putting into understanding her completely. He would ask for her to tell it to him as if he was five but...well...the irony didn’t escape him.
“Um, so, the red stuff, that’s like an afterlife or...because the animals go there when they die so...it’s...heaven?” he said, taking a big ole guess. His face took on a helpless look briefly and it was obvious how desperate he was to understand that thing that had lead the small child to stay up at all hours of the day and night when the sun did a no call no show act for nearly a month.
He winced; he had a feeling he was wrong on that guess.
Maxine shook her head emphatically. Not that she really had any concept of Heaven. She didn’t. It was just a Sunday School story.
“The dead part is like … the top secret headquarters for the Red. But it’s also the living part, too. You’re a human which is a kind of animal so you’re apart of the Red. And so are all the fish and the birds and even germs.”
Maxine chewed her lip thoughtfully.
“It’s like the Red is all the animals and the Green is all the plants and the fungus.”
Clearly, throwing in more information was going to somehow make it all clear. “Swamp Thing is part of the Green,” she added, expecting him to know who or what Swamp Thing was.
Wash sort of sat there, electrical maintenance forgotten, with his mouth open as she spoke. His bottom lip slowly climbed up to nibbling teeth and his tongue got into the act, as if mouth work would solve his confusion and stimulate his brain.
“So. Okay. So when you’re dead you’re part of...of ‘The Red.’ But, but when you’re living you’re part of The Red, too?” Wash asked, his hands getting into the act as he held them out trying to frame the concepts in his mind. And in the back of his mind was the possibility that this was the product of an incredibly active imagination.
But there was a yearning to learn that which Maxine believed despite its legitimacy or application.
“So is it...is it like energy--gah! Wait. No! No Green. I haven’t got The Red, yet. Throwing in another color is not helpful! Sorry. I’m just. I really want to know what it is. I’m not mad at you. Just...a little feng le!” AKA, a little ‘crazy in the head.’
He scratched his head.
“Okay. The Red is like a thing that co...nnects? It connects all the animals or...and so...how do you know this, anyway?” he suddenly asked, the question just occurring to him then the answer tumbling in just as quickly. “Oh, cause your dad. But how does he know this?”
“No, my dad doesn’t know because he can’t talk to the Red. The Red told him it was aliens that gave him powers so he would understand. The Red is the animals and The Green is the plants. You’re made up of animal life so you’re Red. Plants are made up of plant life so they’re Green.”
Maxine stared up at Wash with unblinking eyes to see if he’d understand.
“I’m Red,” Wash repeated. “I don’t look good in red,” he joked.
“Your dad doesn’t know. But you do. Can you talk to The Red, then?” he asked, understanding slowly creeping from its hibernation. “Is it...is it talking to you right now?” The last bit was whispered suspiciously as he looked around. “It’s not saying anything bad about me, right? Because if it is, I can explain...”
He held his hands out in surrender.
Maxine continued to stare at Wash with an uncomprehending expression. “No, because you are Red. Like how blood is Red.”
It was probably too soon to mention The Parliament of Limbs.
“...What’s an avatar?” she asked.
“Oh. That’s convenient,” he said, tracing the veins of his wrist with his fingers in consideration. In the slight pause that followed he ran through all that she had said before trying to connect and construe and all those fancy words people do when they’re learning something new.
He blinked at her question, an apparent non sequitur, and cocked his head.
“What?” he answered intelligently. It was a prompt for more information and hopefully the five year old possessed those social skills to understand.
“What does avatar mean?” she asked again. “I don’t know what the word means.”
“Oh! Oh, I can do that! I know this one! Ha! Yes!” he said with glee.
“Oh, how do I explain it. Well. An avatar is sort of like, it’s like a representation of something. Like, uh, like if I wanted to be somewhere and talk to--well--more like when you’re playing a board ga--well. It’s--okay, no. I got this. It’s sort of like remote flying. Like, if we were in the sky and I wanted to have a ship up there, right? But it was too dangerous a mission. So what I would do is send a ship with no one in it, but I could control it from the ground or another ship. So I could still be flying it but I wouldn’t die if it crashed.
“That ship, that’s kind of like my avatar. I’m flying it the way I’d fly it if I were up there, but I’m not there. Like it has my skills but it’s not me. Sort of. Does that make sense?” he asked.
Maxine shook her head.
“So avatars fly?” she asked uncertainly. Maxine wasn’t able to fly. At least not yet, so the explanation was lost on her.
“No. That’s just an example. Um,” Wash said and held his hands up to his mouth to think. He squinted his eyes trying to figure out a more general explanation.
With a look of determination he brought out the phone that Tony gave him. He tapped the device a couple of times then held it up to Maxine’s face and said, quickly, “Smile!” as he took a picture.
He saved and brought up the picture for Maxine to see.
“Who’s this?” he asked, gauging her reaction carefully.
Maxine stared at the phone with an expression that was threatening to become permanently confused. She looked between the phone and Wash uncertainly, wondering if he was changing the subject when she slowly answered, “That’s, uh, me.”
She even touched the screen with her finger, leaving a smudged print on the screen.
“It’s not exactly you,” Wash said. “It’s a picture of you. It’s your avatar! See? Has the same cute little nose and tangled hair.” He ruffled Maxine’s hair a little. He’d have to see to that. That was a bad thing, right? A comb might be a good investment. Women things...
He then turned to the phone and said.
“Hello Maxine!” He waited for an answer from the phone, then shook his head. “It’s not really you, dong ma? It represents you. That’s what an avatar is. It represents someone. Doesn’t have to be a picture.”
He bit his bottom lip in expectation, some “a ha” moment in Maxine.
“Oh.” Maxine didn’t really understand, but it was close enough. It wasn’t a picture and it wasn’t something that flew, but it was similar to those things. It sort of made sense and sort of didn’t.
“What does ‘dong ma’ mean?” Maxine also hadn’t mastered the concept of a tonal language. Her accent was fairly terrible. And though she had asked, she was starting to get restless. Her legs kicked the air and she occasionally tested the seat by bouncing in it slightly.
“Are you gunna make this thing fly again?” Maxine asked, cutting herself off. She decided that was a much more interesting question.
Wash winced. Okay. So they’d work on that.
He looked up to answer her next question and waited patiently for the completion of her second question.
“That’s the plan,” Wash replied with a look of longing as he stroked the display in front of him, scooting the dinosaurs he’d been so gleeful to find still on the monitors.
“Here. You wanna learn how to fly her?” he asked. “Get on my lap. You can be my co-pilot when we get her fixed.”