Arachnophobics Anonymous

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Date  • 2020-06-23

Summary  • Outreachers meet with L. Friar about the way forward.

 

Located in downtown Portland, the Oregon DMV is where hope goes to die and dreams go to stagnant until they become fart clouds drifting through folding chairs. It perpetually has the same spiritual energy as cheese. Its carpets smell like mites despite the vacuums never shutting off; always whrrrrrrrrr!ing loudly somewhere in the mass grave of the waiting area. The ceiling looks like it is collecting every shape, pattern, tone, and hue of brown stains; none of which are actively dripping or moist, but all are thoroughly suggestive of major roofing issues. It's a place no one wants to go. It's also a place no one really suspects someone going to and not coming out of for, frankly, so many hours that a jest of days is only mild hyperbole. There are signs that lead to other parts of the building, however, and one of those signs is for an arachnophobia support group. Hilarious; some asshole put it in the basement. Fortunately, it's not actually for arachnophobes. It's for Outreach. This isn't a meeting to cry over their lost home, however. It's a meeting for what they're going to do about it. Signs with no spiders anywhere on them lead into the basement like a slasher flick. There, beyond the broiler room, is a room entirely existing for the purpose of holding folding chairs. The sixty percent of it that isn't full has a circle of chairs instead; like some AA meeting. The first to arrive is Lisa Friar, but her nametag doesn't say Lisa. It says, 'Hi! My name is: L. FRIAR'. She is sitting in the farthest chair from the door. The room smells like coffee and dust. There are unopened boxes of donuts. Is this AA? Is someone getting an intervention?

Whatever it is, it's gross. This is not a very hip place to be hanging out. Verge was never much a fan of VsR, because he kept expecting Professior Xavier to be pulling wheelies in the hallways of that crusty old place, and that dude's accent is crap compared to Virgil's pure Cambridge lilt. Freaked him out. Plus no matter how many times he wandered past the girl's rooms, he never saw any naked ass. It was depressing. And, then there's the fact that he also had no idea anything had happened to it, anyway. BUT!---he went looking for Rowan, and after sniffing around town for a great many hours, his nose brought him here. Cost him a few tabs of his best Flying Eyeball to some VsR alumni hanging out at the Roxy, but, should be worth it.

...Or, maybe not. Because this place is fuckin' bleak! But here he is, catwalking it in, hips swaying their best Jim Morrison come hither, cocksure as ever. He's shirtless under a purple jacket with butterflies embroidered along one sleeve (straight out of the 70's, that), and a pair of tuxedo trousers. And Jesus sandals. "Here this is where the disco is." To anyone listening.

Here=Heard

Never one to disappoint 'Verge,' enter the Rowan. And in clothes that don't seem to fit properly (too big for her), aren't remotely her typical style (fucking pink), and streaked with chalk in myriad hues (not pink). As if she has some sort of preternatural carb-sniffing olfactory power, she pauses only briefly near the doorway, then makes a beeline for the donuts. Not entirely without manners, she glances toward the blonde whose HMNI tag denotes her as 'L Friar,' and proffers a jaunty upnod. All that's missing is the 'sup,' really, and the display of nonchalance would be complete. Virgil, at least, gets a smile from the lass before her mouth is obscured by sprinkle-laden frosting atop fluffy pastry.

Brendan steps inside. He's in jeans with a t-shirt stretched taut over that well-toned chest of his. White, with a silkscreen of a unicorn puking up a rainbow. He's got on sneakers that are pretty badly beat up. He eyes the donuts and veers away from them. Carbs are the enemy. He gives L. Friar a nod. Rowan and Virgil get a smile, and to the latter, he says, "Dude, that is the last time I go out with you." He has probably said it before. He will probably say it again.

There's a bit of haggardness to L. Friar's face, but she's be grumpy if anyone pointed it out. She's doing her best to look professional. She's got a skirt suit on, a nice blouse, and she's kept herself in good shape despite the recently ended quarantine. She is definitely relying on that coffee in her hand, however; stifling a yawn before she takes one more sip of it and sets it down on the cement floor beside her folding chair, she stands up to her very short height and forces a welcoming smile.

"Hello, everyone. I know a little bit about each of you, so let me return the favor. I'm Lisa Friar; an Outreach alumnus. I'm here now on behalf of Dean Perkins and some of the supporters of the program to tell you that it's very unlikely that we'll be able to return you to your homes in the Vill St. Rose ever again." She takes a breath to help her maintain her concerned but calm composure. "For that, I cannot apologize enough. It was a horrible act we should have seen coming and did not." She pauses for a moment and gestures. "Help yourself to coffee and donuts at any time. This isn't group. We're not going to pass around a conch shell. We're going to take about our next steps, and how we're going to refocus now that we've gotten all the minors somewhere safe."

"So, what you're saying is: when can I squeeze you into my calendar again?" To Brendan from our Virgil as he studies the cuticles of his left hand, smiling at Mr. Angel Face as he nibbles a tiny hangnail off. His eyes flit to Rowan then, hooding once then flaring slightly in an ocular, 'Miss me?'--though he never says the words. That can come later. And it best include her throwing herself on him and smothering him with kisses proclaiming how so very much she DID miss him, in fact. Or else.

But, first things first. Miss Friar there looks important, and he's a smoozer, so he's just about to turn to her and lay on the charm as thick as Grandma's best biscuit gravy, when, L. Friar rises and says everything she does. His lips close and he's silent a few moments after this news. Eventually, he says, since she said she knows 'a bit about them all', "For the record, I never filled the Dean Perkin's desk drawer with frilly ladies underpanties. That wasn't me. They said it was, but whoever they are, they're liars."

On some level, Rowan is wholly unsurprised by the woman's announcement. Does that mean she's okay with it? Fuck no, and that's fairly apparent by the tension that races like an electric current along the line of her jaw, her teeth clenched ferociously beneath the surface. Not even sweet sprinkly goodness can make this all better. It's doubtful even bacon could. And understandably so! Of those present, after all, Rowan actually lived at the school. Because, uh.. she didn't have anywhere else to live. The Resident Advisor gig was as solid an option for her as they come, and now that's gone -- as, it would seem, are all of her belongings. One can almost hear the thunder rumbling through the invisible storm cloud that just appeared over the little redhead's.. um.. head.

Brendan lives with a famous singer in a huge house in the hills. The news doesn't hit him quite as hard. He's not without empathy, and he gives Rowan a concerned look. "If you need somewhere to crash," he says, "just let me know. My sister is staying with us, and I was thinking of trying to get her into Outreach anyway, but it's a big house. We can make room." With a glance to Virgil, he says, "You better just treat my sister like she doesn't exist, man. I know how you are." There's no real threat in his tone, however. Brendan is a teddy bear. He comes over to Rowan and gives her shoulder a squeeze. "We won't let you end up on the street," he says.

"I don't think he cares," Friar tells Virgil with a softness to her voice that belies its flatness. "Someone wanted him dead so bad they cursed bullets to hurt anyone that tried to help him. Dr. Perkins is going to be convalescing for some time. So." She nods. "They laid out our Dean, yeah. They took our school." With a look at Rowan she adds to everyone, "Your home." She picks her coffee back up. It's the spinach to her Popeye even if she's more like a half-size, blonde Olive Oil. "I don't want to let them win. We're not giving up. We're just... a little overwhelmed. But we have a plan. And the first part of it is to make sure Mr. Phillips's sister isn't at risk." She gives Brendan a dry look and then Virgil a 'he's that kind, huh?' squint; sizing up the threat of this alleged hornball. "We've found a place for you guys. Something a little... uh." There's a pause. She continues as if confessing. "The Villa was a place of special luxury and, frankly, that's going to have to be set aside for now in favor of function and survival. It's not quite ready to be moved in yet, and we'll get back to that." She takes a sip of coffee and clears her throat. "And it's ghost problem-" Quickly moving on. "-But I know how you guys can help me get some dirt on whoever uprooted you, if you're game, too. Shield and sword, right?" She tries. The smile is there. She's an admin doing her best in a more hands-on role than usual, but she tries.

Perhaps surprising, Verge's eyes don't so much as shimmer -- much less diabolically, at the news that Brendan has a sister and the wee warning (which is, as we all know, entirely just on Brendan's behalf). Opportunity is a sweet mistress sometimes; best to take advantage of Her when her knickers are down. "Well what about me? Is there room for me there too? I promise to behave and I won't even snicker when Garrett caterwauls when he pretends to be a top." He bats lashes at Brendan. Can he live there toooooo?

Oh, NM. There's a new place. But back to business. "The Dean's a cool bloke. I'd lay low anyone what fucked with him, so you can count me in." Said to L. Friar. "And I can remedy any 'ghost problem' as well. More than likely, rather quickly. I'm like walking, breathing, pest control for spooks. And I have other gifts. Never told this lot about them before." Nope, never did. That was between him and the Dean. He never even cracked during that silly sleepover where no one even played Seven Minutes in the closet.

Tch. Please. Brendan and Garrett both have been out of the closet for a good while now. Anyway. Rowan raises her hand to rest it atop Bren's where it lies atop her shoulder, squeezing gently in gratitude for the support expressed. "I'll be fine," she murmurs, mostly for his benefit. "Just ticked that all my stuff's like.. inaccessible, and basically lost for good." Which probably explains the too-large Pepto Bismol-hued shit that she's wearing right now. Borrowed, no doubt. Her gaze slinks back over to Friar, and she's about to nod, when Virgil goes and starts divulging heretofore unknown Stuff, about himself. Quirking a brow, she leans back a little in her seat, taking another bite of donut in lieu of talking. You know, in case he decides to share even more.

Brendan eyes Virgil, then he sighs. He knows Virgil. He knows his sister. He knows he's powerless here. "I'd have to ask Garrett," he tells the man. "But I won't let you go homeless either, so..." Generous to a fault. Even if it makes trouble with the mister. He gives Rowan a squeeze around the shoulders. Then he says delicately, "I recently started seeing ghosts. My sister sees them, too. I'm still freaked out about it all, but if you need people who can see them, maybe to help Virgil, I volunteer."

In no hurry, L. Friar just sips her coffee and lists; eyes attentive on each member of Outreach as they speaking about sleeping arrangements and such. She looks at the three members and waits for them to finish their discussion. She gets a text at one point, but other than the lighting up of her watch beneath her sleeve one would never know it. It gets a quick glance and nothing more. "No one is forcing you everyone to live anyone. If you feel safer at the Phillips Residence, I understand. It will likely be much more comfortable than what we've found, but..." She clears her throat softly and wonders how she can reach these people half her age without scaring them. She wants to protect them and terrify them. Conflicted, she throws her Hail Mary.

"I'm a time traveler."

Does she have their attention? "I was visiting the Villa St. Rose; investigating Dr. Perkins for a petty misconduct allegation. I took a round before I even knew there were hostiles on sight." She's being very brave right now. More than they know. Her swallow betrays it more than the moisture that instantly coats her eyes as she continues with a brief, slight nod at Rowan. "She came out of her room and tried to save me only to die horribly. They had the children. Everyone else was either dead or headed that way and we didn't see it coming.

"So I went back in time." She pauses. "I think... you should all very strongly consider living in a secure location. There's a group that wants to either kill you or experiment on you, and they consider 'both' to be an option."

"You're too kind, Brendan." A fact Virgil enjoys very much about the seraphic blonde. "I'll happily squat with you all until we can get this pesky ghost problem resolved." A beat, then, "Mind, if I need to behave myself about your sister, you need to watch how handsy you are around mine, then." A slow and obviously suggestive turn of his onyx-colored eyes towards Rowan. But he doesn't elaborate because the Good Friar there is explaining some things. Look how well he's behaving!

"Right. And... how exactly does one time travel? I'd like to learn. I have a few things to say to my mum about waiting too long to let me wear long pants." Kidding. About half of it, anyway.

He's really quiet then for a few moments, pursing his lips. Finally, "So, what do we know about this 'group' that's after us?" Then, a second later, "I really need to smoke a bowl."

Rowan is still gaping for a few moments longer at Virgil and Brendan, jaw ever so slightly slackened. "Where the fuck were these gifts when I was talking about forming up the Portland chapter of Ghost Facers?" she demands, arching a brow. Archly. "That settles it, then. I'm buyin' a damned van." She actually looks grumpy enough that Virgil's uncharacteristically sweet reference to her as his sister only earns him the wobbliest of delayed-reaction smiles in the history of wobblies, or smiles. Turning her attention back to Friar then, the redhead frowns a bit. "So if you hadn't gone all Watcher Woman, I'd be dead right now?" Squint. "Count me in for the time traveling lessons. And the ghost-busting, if that'll make this secure location of yours fully secure."

"They just manifested," Brendan tells Rowan. "I've been so freaked out. I could've really used some help figuring it out, but the school was gone, so... Anyway, my sister is the same way, but she doesn't seem to mind it." He eyes Virgil. "I'm not coming on to Rowan. She's one of my best friends, and I am extraordinarily gay." Like the rainbow-puking unicorn t-shirt doesn't confirm this. He looks like he's already regretting this as he says, "You can stay with us. No drinking on the property, that's non-negotiable." It's a known thing that Garrett Knox has struggled with alcoholism. To Friar, he says, "Who are they, and how do we stop them?"

A good read of character can see the doubt on stitching itself into L. Friar's brow; furrowing between her eyebrows but pulling them more down than together. The moisture in her eyes is getting better rather than worse. "I know people like to make light of a dark situation, but-" She clamps her lips together as she looks at those there. One might expect annoyance from the way she started to speak and cuts herself off, but she just seems worried. "You're all seeming very cavalier about all this." She sucks in a slow breath and mutters, as if accidently to her self, "Where the fuck is he?" Looking hopelessly towards the door, she looks back at the others and releases her sigh slow and controlled out her nose.

"There's a historic--Why do people say 'an historic?' Anyways.--There's a historic hotel not far from here. The Heathman. It's been haunted for years, but it's always been more of a tourist draw than anything else. Part of the whole Haunted Portland tour and everything." She rolls her eyes so fucking hard but doesn't even touch that; moving right on. "How about you guys let me focus on the baddies, and you go spend a night at the hotel and see what you find? We got a deal with the owner that he'll give us the seventh floor if we can... you know. Stop all the screams. You'll have to go talk to him for details, but... yes. Let's do it this way."

"Not a drop." Virgil promises Brendan, crossing his heart. Mostly because he doesn't drink much at all. He just does massive amounts of drugs.

He remains on his best behavior in front of the time walker. Because, she can travel through time. He's not showing it, but that shit freaks him out. "When can we check in? I am ready to be of service, Madam."

"Hey. If I let the shit that happens to me determine my demeanor, I'd suck the life right out of any room I walked into," Rowan voices quietly to Friar, and in that moment, her eyes actually do reflect the truth behind her facade. Crushing weariness. Keen anxiety. Fury, mingled with a healthy dose of fear. Wrenching depression. All roiling tumultuously together in a storm of emotion that would probably send most normal folk rushing into the arms of Big Pharma. She draws in a slow, steady breath, closes her eyes for a long moment, then forces a smile back to her lips as she looks up again. "We'll take care of the haunting. I'm not a medium, but I'll back these guys up in other ways."

Brendan says to L. Friar, "Don't mistake our behavior for glibness. We're still reeling. But we can't afford to curl up in a ball and wait for the badness to go away. Each of us have had to, in our lives, get back up again and deal with it. I assure you, I'm terrified. I'm horrified. I also have to take the next step to get through it, whatever that is." He glances between Virgil and Rowan. "I can stay at the hotel," he says. "I'll just let Garrett and Tam know I won't be home." He then asks, "Since the dean is convalescing, who do I talk to about getting Tam on board with us? She's like me, and I think she could help us."

"It's essential we get things back on track in every way that we can for exactly that reason. To help people like your sister. To give them a chance of not getting kidnapped, experimented on, or exploited by people that see her gifts as an opportunity." Friar stands up and walks over to Rowan to a position where it might seem like she's going to put her hand on her shoulder. Instead, she pulls a business card from her pocket and lowers it in front of Rowan. "Talk to the manager. Give him my card. He's... not like us, but he's friendly to our cause and our needs. Please be kind to him. Like the rest of us he's under a lot of stress."

Once the card is taken, Friar gives each of the three small cards. This set has emergency contact numbers on it, but none of them are 911. There's "Lisa" and "Avi" and "LB Issues" on there with phone numbers on one side. On the other, there are some addresses of emergy safe houses that can be crashed at.

Virgil is still trying to figure out if calling him (or them) 'cavalier' was a compliment or not. So he's just not commenting on it. He puffs a bit out, though. Because ol' Friar there isn't bad-looking at all, and if she thinks he's cavalier-like and she's unattached then maaaaaybe, you know. Bow-chica-wow-wow. How YOU doin'? Cavaliers were like, what? Pirates in America? But, he only half puffs. Just in case it was an insult. Whatever the case, he put himself out there immediately and doesn't look abashed one iota. He just remains quiet as she approaches Rowan with the business card.

Rowan peers at the card once it's in hand, then at the secondary, which bears the contact numbers. "Right," she affirms quietly, nodding once and rising to her feet. If she's at all aware of the quagmire of ponderances that's bogging up Virgil's mind, she gives no sign of it. She's doing the 'businesslike' thing at the moment, and not paying attention to such things as clothes being peeled off by lascivious eyeballs. "Okay, so we'll let you know what we find out at the hotel, then," she confirms, tucking the cards away in a back pocket for safe-keeping. No place safer than Ro's ass, and the pale denim pocket plastered up against it is about as close as anything's gonna get. Turning a wan smile toward Virgil and Brendan, she proposes, "Grab some coffee and figure out when we wanna do this?" Meanwhile, she's edging toward that table, where she scoops up a whole freakin' box of those donuts.

I mean, who else is gonna eat 'em?

Brendan considers a moment, then helps himself to a cup of coffee. Just a cup of coffee has no carbs. "I have rehearsals most days this week until around eight," he says. "I have a couple days off this week, though. I can turn up after practice, too. These things usually come out at night anyway, don't they?" He looks to Virgil. He's the spooky expert here. He asides to Rowan, "I got the part, did I tell you? Hedwig. How crazy is that?" Because alas, L. Friar, their mundane lives do go on outside of near-death experiences.