(2021-06-06) ...and Sometimes They're Still Just Kids
…and Sometimes They're Still Just Kids.
Summary: Nina asks Marcus out. It goes about how you'd expect, and degenerates to silliness shortly thereafter. Also, Dolphins do scandalous things.
Date: 2021.06.06
Related: None
NPCs: {$npc}
Scene Runner: {$runner}


Astro Park
Alive with the sound of voices and laughter, the cacophony of the park is mixed with sounds of rides and laughter or screams at appropriate parts of the rides. As one walks the midway, sounds join in from the carnival games one finds there and the barkers reeling in spenders. Likewise, in the middle of the midway, the open space arcade, like an old palisades dance hall that has been converted, calls out with quarter dropping and flashing lights. Off to the north, the Ferris Wheel looms over the other thrill rides, the loved attraction by all locals who grew up riding it, it lights the night sky for miles around. Opposite that end, the sound of go-karts whizzing around a large track can be heard, one can ride bumper cars, bumper boats or play miniature golf all inside the go-kart track as it is that large.


IT'S SUMMER! That means no homework, a later curfew, and more opportunities to head to the mainland. As it's one of the first weekends of freedom, Marcus has been bugging people about going to Astro Park for days, and has finally gotten his wish. After spending the day at the park, even Marcus is finally starting to wind down a little, perhaps from carrying a pair of large stuffed animals he won by wasting money on the midway. They're half as big as he is! He probably even needs somebody to help keep him from walking in to people and things with the large crowds in the area.

Nina tags along with Marcus, and nudges him this way and that to dodge people. It helps her to not just stand and gape. Sure, she'd heard stories about amusement parks back in the day, but the technology has marched on, big time, and she's never seen one before. She finally tries to take one of Marcus' hands. For leading him.

"Wait, whoa, I need that!" Marcus says as Nina takes one of his hands, causing him to fumble a plushie. Which then causes him to bobble the other one, trying to not fumble, and now there's two giant plushies on the ground. "Dangit!" Marcus curses, frowning. He then looks up to Nina and shrugs. "Would you mind carrying one? I guess I won't look cool if I keep dropping them, even if I won them. It'll be alright if they think you won one, too. … I guess."

Nina scoops up the giant plush rabbit. "I didn't play because there's no way I could lose at ring toss. I try to be at least a little subtle when I… mmm how do you say it? Rip people off." She looks at Marcus. "This is amazing. All of it. It's so much. How do you take it all in all the time and not have your head explode?

Could Marcus grin any bigger? Probably not. "By repeated viewing!" he advises. "They offer summer passes. Then you can come every day! I'm totally begging my mom for one, since I did actually manage to get a B in math after Keyson helped me."

Nina throws both hands - and the plushie - in the air. "Yay!" The plushie does a somersault in celebration as well, before dropping back into Nina's arms. "That's great news. She's amazing, isn't she?"

"Yeah, sho is. I totally think she's gonna wind up being a Team Captain someday. She's got the right stuff," Marcus agrees, nodding. "Speaking of, how did your year wind up? Did you do okay, even though you came kinda late?"

Nina nods. "I got through remedial math, anyway. English… I'm working on. I did ok. I'll be able to take Freshman courses in the fall." Nina nods to Marcus' comment that Keyson will wind up a team captain. "I think you're right about that." She pauses a moment. "I'm glad she could help you as much as that. I know you were really worried.

"Yeah, I talked with my mom about it. Apparently? She can't do algebra in the slightest. It's got something to do with the whole alien thing. We can't process numbers the same way. She said it's part of why her species has interstellar travel and we don't; our math can't handle the computations," Marcus explains as they start strolling down the midway again. "She also keeps warning me to let her know if I start to feel anything strange this summer, which has me a little worried."

Nina strolls with Marcus. "Oh that's interesting. Can I meet your mother someday? I've never met an honest to God alien before. Even if she does look human and is um…" She gestures with her free hand for the right word. "Biologically… compatible?"

"I dunno. Probably? They have parent days at school sometimes," Marcus says, shrugging. "Have you ever thought about looking for some of your relatives to see what your family got up to through the years? They've got a whole website now dedicated to keeping tabs on your ancestors."

Nina nods. "I think I've found them. I can't be sure, since a spit-test would show Alina's relatives and not mine. I'm Jewish and my last name is Cohen. That's like having Jones as your last name. You and everyone else. They're still mostly in New York. My brothers and sisters are all gone. All that would be left would be their grandchildren and great-grand children. Nina is quiet a moment. "So when your mother says 'feel strange' does she mean like 'Sometimes we grow tentacles?' or 'Puberty?

"Aww. That's tough. But hey, how awesome would it be if you can meet some great-grand nieces or nephews? Not many people could say they ever got to do that!" Marcus offers, trying to not dwell on the negative. At Nina's follow-up question, Marcus shakes his head and shrugs his shoulders up again. "I dunno. She won't tell me. I'm just s'posed to let her know ASAP if somethin' happens. Which is super ambiguous and not helpful, when you ain't got no idea what you s'posed to be feeling in the first place. Like, I had health class. I know girls are s'posed to make me feel something, too, if they're the right one. But I didn't really feel anything that I would say was 'strange' when I was around Karina. Even when we snuggled or kissed. And you're a girl, and I don't feel anything around you. So how'm I s'posed to know what to watch out for? I don't know what it's s'posed to be!"

Nina is quiet for a little while. "I do. Maybe. Alina was… further along than I was when I died. And it's like… all the mushy things… romance scenes, and the cuddling and the kissing… all of a sudden they mean something to me, and I don't know what, whether I like it, or I'm scared of it, or it's repulsive… it's like watching a car wreck. You don't want to watch, but you can't look away either. I mean assuming… she was talking about puberty. Tentacles… had 'em. You get used to it."

Well, now it's Marcus's turn to be curious. "Wait, you've been cuddling and kissing? With who!? When!? Are you in love with somebody already?" he asks, his grin turning impish.

Nina looks at Marcus like he has just sprouted the aforementioned tentacles. Out the top of his head. "God, no. I watch a lot of TV. Trying to acclimate to this time." She leans in conspiratorially. "The kind of things they put on Netflix would have gotten them arrested in 1912. I really have caught myself thinking 'they're right. I'm not old enough for this.'"

"Ohhhhhh," Marcus says, looking much less incredulous now. At her final comment, he snickers and grins again. "Well, if that's what you think now, don't ever let anyone offer to show you Showtime or Cinemax," he suggests. "You'll be traumatized fo' sho'."

Nina looks at Marcus and snorts. "Sounds like you've been watching a little bit yourself. You don't look badly traumatized."

"Oh, heck no, I know better than that!" Marcus says, shaking his head adamantly. "One of my friends back home had an older brother who he used to catch watching that on his computer sometimes. They actually have shows about people having sex and stuff. With nudity and e'rything!"

Nina holds onto the stuffed rabbit a little tighter and tries to fight the shiver. "Is that how we get? That we want to watch other people do that?" She shakes her head. "Maybe fish do have a better idea. I'll lay my eggs and you guys can fight over them.

Marcus snickers at the egg comment. "No way, Jose," he disagrees. He thinks about it for a moment, considering, then shrugs his shoulders a little. "I dunno. I kinda understand how they warning us that our bodies are fittin' ta change and we're gonna want to do that stuff. I mean, up until I kissed Karina, I thought it'd be all super gross to do that. But, it wasn't. And I think, maybe once you find out you /want/ to do that stuff … but you can't …. I mean, it's like watching football, kinda. I can't get out there and play all the time, but I sho love to watch other folks do it. Maybe it's like that?"

Nina hmms." She stops, toying with the rabbit's ears telekinetically. "So… more like… they watch because they're lonely?"

Marcus thinks, then smirks and shakes is head. "No, I think they watch cuz they're horny."

Nina flushes. "But… but… we have… hands. We can… you know… reach. Try being a dolphin!"

Marcus's eyes go really wide at that and he stops, dead in his tracks, and asks- probably a little too loudly- "Dolphins masturbate?!"

Nina hides behind the stuffed animal. "The stuff they don't tell you in SeaWorld, huh?" She mutters quietly. "More than that. When they're curious about something, it's the only really touch sensitive part of their body.

Marcus blinks some more, and then he starts laughing. And then he doubles over. And then he drops to his knees. And then he tips over. That information is, apparently, hilarious.

Nina adds, dryly "There's a reason the dolphins they let you swim with are almost always girls."

And now Marcus has a reason to roll around.

Laughter is contagious, and it slowly pries Nina from her sheepish expression to laugh along with Marcus. She crouches down and between bursts of laughter says, "are you alright?

When Nina crouches next to him to ascertain his wellbeing, he waves her off, nodding and holding his stomach as he rolls. "I'm good," he manages in between belly laughs. "That's just … so funny … I can't … believe … dolphins … do that!" Then, he manages to collect himself for a moment, just so he can say, "This new sweater feels amazing!" And then he makes with the grinding motion and starts laughing all over again.

Nina snorts and laughs. "I will not be borrowing it any time soon."

Slapping the ground, Marcus adds, "'cuz you can't feel it like I do!" and then continues dying.

Nina laughs, "I can, but I use my fingers.

"Not if you're a dolphin!" Marcus reminds her. Then, that sparks another thought: "Ohmygod, a dolphin /handshake/!" Marcus may very well suffocate if this keeps up.

Nina squeezes her eyes shut. "Handshakes are a primate thing, I think, but I read scandalous things about some species of chimps. Look up the bonobos some time. Just… make sure you're sitting down. Dying laughing is probably less fun than it sounds.

Sure, ruin the fun with science. Even with the introduction of facts, Marcus still finds his idea pretty darn humorous. However, having rolled around on the ground for the better part of a few minutes, he's finally come to realize that some people are probably looking at them in a less-than friendly manner. So, he tries to collect himself, taking deep breaths and holding his stomach as the chuckles refuse to die down completely. "Oh, I think I'm good on that. I'm gonna have enough fun laughin' bout dolphin handshakes for a month," he replies, sitting back up finally. After another big, deep breath, Marcus lets out a loud sigh and grins at Nina. "You know so many crazy things."

Nina blushes. "I've been a dolphin."

"Aren't you glad you've got hands again?" Marcus asks, grinning.

Nina snorts and laughs. "Not going near that question." She shakes her head and laughs. "Every time we're together we're talking about reproduction. That probably means something…"

Marcus laughs again and raises an eyebrow. "Well didn't you already say something about wanting me to fight over your eggs or somethin'?" he teases, grinning.

Nina shakes her head. "No I meant fish have it better" She's still very red, but she looks away.

"Yeah, they ain't gotta pay no child support, neither," Marcus agrees, still smirking. "But, on the other hand, they ain't get to laugh so hard their tummy hurt."

You say, "And most of them get eaten before they're born, too. You do have a point." She's still looking away, eyes still tight shut."

"… caviar. Yuck," Marcus says, shaking his head. "Plus, there's gotta be something fun about sex, otherwise people wouldn't do porn."

Nina looks at Marcus, and just shakes her head. "Too bad you don't feel that way about me."

Marcus blinks at Nina, suddenly very confused. "… feel /what/ way? … like doing porn?" he asks, incredulous.

Nina gets that 'tentacles growing out of your head again' look as she turns to Marcus. "No, not that. God. That'd be like learning to ride a bike in front of a motion picture camera." Nina really does have no idea.

So … if not that, "… then … what the heck are you talking about?" Marcus asks. "Why is it too bad I don't feel what way?"

Nina shakes her head and turns to offer Marcus a hand up. "Nevermind. Doesn't matter."

Marcus screws up his face and peeeeeeeers at Nina for a long moment, before shaking his head and accepting her hand up. "You know, that's something else I don't get. Girls. Y'all be changing subjects in the middle of a paragraph and then be getting mad at me when I ain't follow along. Confusing as all get out," he says as he picks up the stuffed giraffe.

Nina looks at Marcus. "Do you ever feel tangled up inside, Marcus? Like… you want to say something to someone, you want them to feel… something, and you can't find words that don't just sound stupid?"

Marcus listens, cants his head to the side, and then he grimaces a little. "Um … not really?" he offers, plaintively. "I mean, you know me. Most of the time, my thoughts wind up on the oustide of my head, anyway, no matter how dumb I sound."

Nina looks at Marcus and chuckles softly. "Well, you're right about that. Don't have to be a mind reader to tell what you're thinking about, most of the time." She looks into his eyes. "Must be nice, seems like."

Marcus has to snicker at that, shaking his head slightly. "Oh, I dunno about that. Gets me in trouble in class often enough. And I don't always have the best ideas, or the greatest answers to stuff."

Nina laughs and moves to walk with Marcus. "You're talking to the girl who went down with the Titanic because she couldn't give up a teacup. Your ideas aren't any worse than mine, probably.

There's Marcus almost ever-present smirk again. "… yeah, you prolly get worse ideas. I mean, you was a dolphin …," he teases, before grinning again.

Nina snorts and laughs. She folds her thumb under her fingers, reducing her hand to a sort of shapeless lump, extends her arm partway and pokes Marcus with it a few times in the side, rather gently, like a curious elephant might…

Marcus snickers and knows exactly what she's doing. "Awesome t-shirt, right?" he asks, winking.

Nina laughs. "Oh, you have no idea." She winks at him and nearly drops the rabbit laughing.

-scene change. The image goes all wobbly-

Ares/Athena Lobby Coral Springs
Mon Jun 07 01:13:50, 2021 — Sun Jun 06 22:13:50 2021

This is the lobby of the Ares/Athena residence hall. The walls are nearly 2 meters (6 feet) thick, and that there are no windows wider than 10cm (about 4 inches). For all that, it's cheery and bright inside, lit with high-quality LED lighting. The travertine floor is covered with warm rugs, there's a fireplace with holographic fire when it's on, surrounded by comfortable La-Z-boy overstuffed sofas. At the other end of the room is a hallway leading to the girls' halls, and stairs and an elevator leading to the boys' halls upstairs. There's also a counter, staffed 24x7 and post office boxes. There are rumors of defensive turrets, too, but if they're there, they're cunningly hidden. The lobby's cream paint is accented with Ares blue and Athena red trim, and the emblems of both teams are prominently emblazoned on the wall.

It is a spring night. The weather is cool and overcast.

Marcus - 5' 6" African American teenager with a short locks and wide smile.
Nina - Slender, short curly hair, boyish
Exits: [CY] Coral Springs Courtyard [D] Ares/Athena Laundry
[UP] Ares/Athena Upstairs

[N] Athena Girl's Hall [S] Ares Girl's Hall

As we arrive at the lobby of the dorms. Nina is walking with Marcus, still carrying the rabbit. Even the ferry transit didn't get to her too much. Calm day on the water. Helps a lot. She holds the rabbit out for Marcus. "That was fun. We should go again. There's so much we didn't do, and so many embarrassing things I haven't talked about yet."

When Nina holds the rabbit back to Marcus, he pauses and considers for a second, then shrugs and shakes his head. "Nah, you keep it. I only wanted it to walk around the park with it as a trophy. Nobody here is gonna care that I blew like twenty bucks getting a giant stuffed rabbit," he says, moving to hold the giraffe over his shoulders, legs on either side. "And like I said, I'mma beg my mom for a summer pass. If I get it, we can use allowance to pay for your ticket and we can go a bunch. We should see if anybody else wants to come, too. It's obviously more fun when your with people!"

Nina looks at Marcus, then at the rabbit. "You gave… this to me?" She squeezes the rabbit tight. "Or we could just go… just the two of us again." The rabbit gets another squeeze. "Like. You know. A date."

"Well, sure. I mean, you carried it all the way here," Marcus replies about the rabbit. The second part … causes him to pause. And blink. And then raise his eyebrows. And then lower them, suspiciously. "… like … a for real date? … or just … like a friend thing?" he asks, cautiously.

Nina looks genuinely stumped. "What's the difference?"

"… so, Karina and I had this debate before when we decided we didn't like like each other and just liked each other," Marcus says, adjusting his grip on the giraffe as he settles in for an exposition. "If you go out on a date as just friends, then nobody has to do anything for the other person and you're not really planning on holding hands or making out, you're just going together to go together to another place, together. Like hanging out in the dorms, except you're not in the dorms, you're someplace else on purpose. /BUT/! If you're going on a date as a for real date, it's because you like like the other person, and you want to do something with that person in particular because you want to do that with that person and it's not just hanging out, you're dating and seeing how much you like like them."

Nina licks her lip nervously. "Um. So… if it doesn't work out that you like each other that way, does it go back to being a friendly date?"

Marcus winces and shrugs his shoulders up, shaking his head. "I dunno. Karina and I didn't like like each other, we just liked each other, so we never went on a for real date. But … I don't like like anybody, Nina. I like you, you're awesome and great and I'm super glad we met and we're on the same team and get to hang out. But I don't really wanna do any kissy stuff with you. I wanna go explore and go to dino island and go on roller coasters and climb trees with you. I really like to do those things, and you are fun to do them with, so that'd be better than kissing and stuff, anyway."

Nina nods and thinks about it. "Well. I guess it's a friendly date then. Like hanging out in the dorm, only not in the dorm." She squeezes her eyes closed a moment and juts out her jaw a little. "Yeah. That'll be fun."

Marcus can read a room every once in a while and he grimaces, offering an, "I'm sorry?"

Nina looks at him and smiles, weakly. "For what?"

Well, this is awkward! Marcus isn't sure for what! He can just tell she's not as excited about it as she was before he said anything. "… I dunno. Cuz … I kinda get the feeling that that's not really what you wanted?"

Nina takes a slow breath and pets the rabbit. "To be honest… I was more scared you'd say yes.

Marcus blinks a little in surprise. "… oh." Well, ego, you can take yourself down a notch or two! Now Marcus has to decide about he feels about /that/! … ugh. FEELINGS. "… well, in that case! I guess it's a date!" He chuckles and grins sheepishly. "I was afraid you like liked me and I didn't wanna hurt your feelings. I really don't like hurting people's feelings. It feels awful."

Nina shakes her head. "Don't. No, you didn't hurt my feelings. I mean… I kind of hoped it could be yes… but that's like looking down off the high dive. No is a hell of a relief. Mostly just… every time you talk about kissing… I keep thinking I'd like to try it, and the person I picture trying it with is you. Whether that means I like you or you're just the one who keeps bringing it up, I don't know.

Oh gawrsh! Marcus looks even more sheepish, now! "… really?" he asks, then he shifts his weight uneasily, looking away. "I really don't mean to bring it up. I really don't even think about it that much, to be honest. I mean, at least not about doing it. … do I really talk about it a lot?" he asks, glancing back in Nina's direction.

You say, "Maybe I just notice it more." She chuckles softly. "They make this stuff look so easy in the movies. Except when the whole movie is about this stuff, and then it's like "will you people just talk please?""

Marcus winces and nods, looking away again. "… we do kinda wind up talking about it a lot." He thinks about it for a few seconds and then sighs. "I guess I just … like, you're super interesting and you know so much about so much stuff, that I'm always curious and asking more. But, a lot of what you know seems to involve … well …. Like, with the dolphins! That didn't really even have anything to do with what we /were/ talking about, but … I mean … that's crazy! So how could I not start laughing and talk about it more?"

Nina chuckles. "I never even thought about it being funny before. When you're in that moment, you're in that moment. But I was never in that moment as a human being. Maybe you look at it a little from the outside, being half-alien or something, and it makes it easier for me to see it through your eyes. You're my friend. Probably my best friend. I'm glad that didn't get messed up.

"Never that. At least, not on my end," Marcus reassures her, nodding and smiling. "And … really … I mean, if that's the only way dolphins can feel? I mean, you look at a dog and see it humping stuff, and that's funny. A dolphin gotta be humpin' just to feel? Man. Can you imagine? A couch. A sweater. Yo' mom's drapes. Dinner?" The smirk grows into a grin and Marcus has to stop before he gives himself another laughing fit. "I mean, that's daggum hilarious."

Nina giggles. "I've been a cat, too. Let's just say you appreciate toilet paper after that.

"Ooo, owww!" Marcus says and visibly winces and then cringes, lifting one leg to cross it slightly over the other as he considers. "Oh shoot, yeah …. Ow, man."

Nina laughs again. "Yeah. I liked being a cat though. They're just bright enough to have a sense of humor and not enough to have any morals about it.

"They have a cat sanctuary in town. My mom says they're vile creatures, but cat jump fails are like, my absolute favorite thing to watch on youtube. They're just so freakin' adorable," Marcus says.

Nina nods. "I should volunteer there or something for the summer. Cats like me. Always have, even… before. I wouldn't trade Alina in for a cat or anything, but… I like them just the same. Just like, not like" She makes the same dolphin gesture with her arm and pokes at Marcus again to punctuate like. Apparently, we've found a running gag.

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