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 I will not encourage others to fly, Hayden
Miriam Kirkland Cohen
 Posted: Jul 23 2014, 04:06 PM
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Motel, San Francisco
Thursday, 8:45a.m.



Miri always slept well after a burst of speed like yesterday’s—although it had only been for a moment, acceleration seemed to be the thing that really wore down her energy. She was asleep shortly after arriving home from her shift, and up first thing in the morning with her stomach growling.

By the time she went to meet Hayden, she had swallowed a peanut butter sandwich in two bites, begun another scarf project, reviewed her homework for the following week (reflection papers, easy enough), and fried donuts because while, yes, she could buy them, sometimes she liked cooking.

When she couldn’t wait any longer, she called Hayden to make sure he was up (and hopefully not be the cause of that!) and caught the bus into work. She wasn’t actually on and walking through the motel not as an employee felt strange. Of course she knew her way around, but no one could stop her and ask her to do something.

She made her way up to Hayden’s room and knocked. “Hayden, you still awake? I brought donuts!” It seemed like the least she could do, and a good way to coax him up if he was still sleepy.
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Hayden Frye
 Posted: Jul 23 2014, 06:07 PM
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Sometimes Hayden liked to sleep in. Who didn't? Especially when he didn't have a job to get up to.
When his phone rang it took a moment for him to wake up enough to answer, but once he was up he got ready pretty quickly. After his morning routines, a shower and some extra layers of deodorant, considering who he was about to share a car with, he was ready.

He had just pulled on a t-shirt and a pair of shorts when Miri knocked on the door. "Course I am," he said while he opened the door. He grinned broadly at the sight of her; it seemed like it wasn't physically possible for her to turn down her energy level.
"Good," he said when she mentioned the donuts. "I was fixin' to check out that complimentary breakfast, but I guess I'll just save that for later."

Hayden left her waiting by the door while he filled a plastic bottle with water at the sink. After slipping some shoes on he was ready to go. He had moved all of his luggage inside: usually he left his less valuable but bulkier belongings in the back of the pickup covered with a tarp. Things like his tent, sleeping bag and toolset.
Yesterday he had brought it all into his motel room after he got home from the pizzeria. If they were gonna race he didn't want to have to worry about losing any of his stuff.

After locking the door he walked quickly down the stairs and to the car, since he wanted to spend as little time as possible outside of the motel. He didn't really want to face the small girl or her parents today...
He stopped next to a red-and-black pickup: it wasn't exactly last year's model and had a couple of dents.
"Jump in," he said as he got into the driver's seat and started the engine. "You're the local, so just point me in the right direction."
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Miriam Kirkland Cohen
 Posted: Jul 23 2014, 06:31 PM
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Miri hopped into the truck, swinging her backpack to the floor between her feet. She chose not to mention it, because that would be sort of weird, but she did notice that Hayden smelled a good deal nicer that morning than he had when he came into the office the previous evening. Rather than saying so, though, she fished out a paper lunch bag and set it open between them.

Paper bags were compostable and her neighbor kept a compost pile. Miri hated the smell—had even planted a window box of herbs to block it—but appreciated that contributing to the compost pile led to donations of fresh vegetables.

She gave him directions out of the city before grabbing a donut for herself. Partly she was still hungry, partly she was building up her strength for the run, and partly she wanted to show that even though they were homemade, they were not poisoned or anything equally sinister.

“How many axles is this thing? I’m asking because there’s a toll coming into the city. I have cash and everything, I just need to know how much. Seems like two, but cars are not exactly my area. So,” with almost no transition, “how was your night?” There was a touch of professional interest in the question, but she also asked because it was the polite thing to say.
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Hayden Frye
 Posted: Jul 23 2014, 08:02 PM
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As they stopped in front of a red light Hayden took the opportunity to fish out a donut from the bag. It was delicious, and he ate half of it in two bites before the traffic light changed.

He was about to tell her it was a four-wheeler, but didn't get the opportunity since she had already moved on to the next matter. He had some troubles following her when she changed subjects like that, but he didn't find it annoying enough to tell her to slow down a bit.

Sleep hadn't come easily to him that night, though. It had been one of the reasons why he'd overslept. In his mind he kept repeating the moment the girl slipped away from his arms, over and over again.
"It was alright. Went out, got some pizza, went back to the hotel. Whoever cleaned my room forgot to leave a mint chocolate on the pillow, though, so I'm fixin' to complain about them to the management," he joked.

"Oh, I was gonna ask you yesterday but forgot," he suddenly said while snapping his fingers: now it was his turn to jump from one subject to another. "Does your folks know about the speed thing? I've heard that people are bein' more open about the triple-h-ex around here."
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Miriam Kirkland Cohen
 Posted: Jul 23 2014, 08:18 PM
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Miri wanted to say that it didn’t matter because she was eighteen, but she was a practiced liar. She knew better than to volunteer that sort of information. ‘Doth protest too much’ was true and an easy trap to fall into.

She liked Hayden, but she didn’t want to start spilling her whole sob story when he seemed to be just trying to make sure she was doing the right thing. “Yeah, they know,” she said, which could be true. She wasn’t sure what she believed about the afterlife, but if there was a Heaven and people could watch life on Earth, then yes, her parents knew what she was.

“It’s cool, though. Not everyone’s crazy about it even here, but I think it’s more like… it’s less okay not to be okay, you know? Like even if you don’t like mutants, you’re not supposed to be a jerk to them. Um, to us, I guess. Being a mutant is way less of an issue than getting your pay docked for forgetting to put the mint on someone’s pillow,” she joked.

“Do you—do you still talk to your parents? And your sister? I’m sorry if that’s too personal.”
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Hayden Frye
 Posted: Jul 24 2014, 03:38 AM
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When she said that they knew he just nodded. It hadn’t been a very elaborate response, but he knew better than to pry. Sometimes he forgot that just because he himself didn’t mind talking about his family it didn’t mean that others wanted to be as forthcoming.
Hayden might not have been the smoothest guy in existence, but he knew when someone wanted to avoid a topic. Alright, no more family questions, then.

He liked what he heard about the acceptance level of mutants; it was more or less what he had expected. Sure, he didn’t expect mutants to get a day named in their honor, but it sounded decent enough. He gave her a lop-sided smile when she mentioned it would be worse to get her pay docked.
"Alright, good to know."

When she asked if he talked to his parents he looked forward at the road again.
“Nah, it’s alright. Sure, I call home sometimes. Not very often, though. Birthdays and holidays, y’know. All in all, I think it’s a good thing my mutation’s very basic. They would have a harder time acceptin’ it all if I had a tail or breathed fire, but now… they’ll come around eventually, I believe.”
He tapped his free hand absentmindedly against the steering wheel. Soon he'd get to see the Golden Gate, victim in countless disaster movies, in real life.
“My siblings and I have more contact, though. I have an older brother and a sis, then there’s Anna. She’ll be sixteen this fall.”

He ate the last piece of the donut, and gave an appreciative hum.
“These are good. Did you make them yourself?”
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Miriam Kirkland Cohen
 Posted: Jul 24 2014, 12:15 PM
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Alpha Squad



Miri wasn’t sure what to do but nod as he talked about his family. It sounded nice. Even before her moms died, she was an only child. She had read about siblings, everything from ‘it’s the best thing in the world’ to ‘it’s the worst thing in the world’, but didn’t really know what having one felt like—and even though some people said it was awful, she was jealous of people like Hayden, who clearly loved their siblings.

The donuts were an easier discussion. “Mhm. You remember I said I could smell, like, everything? Well, I took a few cooking classes ‘cause sometimes… it’s not like I’m going to ask my neighbors not to keep a compost heap, but I like to have something nice to smell sometimes. Anyway it turns out that’s nifty with cooking, because as soon as something starts burning, I know.”

She wasn’t a great cook, but she could feed herself passably well. At first it had been a lot of peanut butter and mac and cheese.

“Hey, what about you? I mean, if you’re living out of motels is it a lot of diner food and stuff?” she wondered. There was an implication of whether or not he knew how to cook, but there were logistics, too.
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Hayden Frye
 Posted: Jul 24 2014, 03:50 PM
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When Miri told him that cooking helped cover up bad smells he understood what she meant. Humans may not think they used their sense of smell much, especially not when you compared it with hearing and sight, but it was still very important. Some smells had a tendency to drop-kick you right in the cortex and send you spinning down memory lane. Hayden still couldn't eat strawberries without remembering a birthday party he was invited to when he was seven... he and another kid had ended up in a fight which ended with them accidentally trashing the birthday boy's inflatable pool, come to think of it.

"So you drown out the bad with the good," he transcribed and then grinned. "Let me guess, little ol' ladies who take a perfume shower before goin' to the store can't be your favorite people in the world. I mean, it must be like a... a punch to the face?" he guessed.

When she asked about him he lifted his hand and waved it slightly in a way that showed something was uncertain.
"Just the basics," he admitted. "I was good enough at it back home, but I'm a bit out of practice what with me livin' on the road and all. I'll probably have to live off gas station food till I get a hold of a real kitchen."
He scoffed.
"Or till I drop dead from scurvy."

Right now they were driving past rows and rows of pastel-colored small houses, standing shoulder to shoulder along the sloping streets of San Francisco.
"So what's up with the knittin'?" Hayden suddenly asked. "Don't get me wrong, it seems awfully practical, but I haven't met many girls your age who're into that sorta thing anymore."
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Miriam Kirkland Cohen
 Posted: Jul 24 2014, 06:26 PM
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Played By:
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17
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Female
Organization
Alpha Squad



“Oh my god,” Miri agreed, “you don’t want to think these things about older people, but I can smell what’s under that perfume. It’s not that bad. They don’t—it’s not necessary. But they wear all that perfume and then I just…” She hated them. She hated the noise of it, like someone screaming up her nose. But you couldn’t say those things, about hating old ladies!

She resolved to bring him an orange the next time she saw him, or maybe for a crass edge some sort of orange chews. Of course she knew he was joking about the scurvy thing, but wasn’t that how a joke became an inside joke, when you told it back in a different way?

Okay, so some stuff was new to her.

“I like knitting. Well—when I was a kid, my parents had this friend who liked to spin yarn and I thought it was the most amazing thing. You start with these fibers, these weak, tiny fibers and they’ll cling together but they’re not strong. Until you spin them. And you take these raw materials, this nothing, and suddenly, it’s stronger than you.

“So I had a ton of yarn and by the time I was eight or nine I had to start using it. My mom bought me a loom for my birthday—and, well, the knitting came later. I fell in love. There’s something satisfying about taking a pile of fibers—usually I get it already carded. But taking that and making it into a sweater or a blanket. It’s kind of like the baking, only with touch.

“Hey, we’re not that far off from the bridge. You won’t have to stop when you cross, I mean for the fees. That’s only for coming into the city. Anyway, what about you? Don’t you have hobbies?”
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Hayden Frye
 Posted: Jul 25 2014, 02:31 PM
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Scoot
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Age
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"Might be a defense mechanism," Hayden suggested. "Y'know, to make sure people keep their distance from 'em."

Truth to be told he had never really put much thought behind the concept of knitting. Still, it was interesting to hear her talk about it - the way she talked about it made it sound very philosophical.

He just nodded when she told him about the bridge. You had been able to catch glimpses of it from the top of the hills they and passed - he couldn't believe how hilly this place was. San Franciscans must have calves of steel.

"I think I told you that I would climb anything that stood still long enough... and some things that didn't. Me and a couple a friends used to do a bit of free-runnin'. We did parkour videos, that sorta thing. That stopped when we found out I was a mutate... unfair advantage, and all."
He grinned, though if she had paid attention the night before she'd know that 'and all' probably meant being confined to the home. Still, no need to drag up that all the time.
"Other than that... I like fixin' up cars. Engines. My daddy and uncle let me help out in the workshop when I was little, and I grew to like it. It's... meditative, y'know. You can always tell what's wrong with a car and what needs to be done 'bout it."

He made a low, contemplative whistling sound by sucking in air through his teeth.
"I play guitar, sometimes," he admitted.
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Miriam Kirkland Cohen
 Posted: Jul 25 2014, 06:01 PM
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24601
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Miri had heard of free running, but never participated in any herself. It sounded interesting, though. She was so fast, it seemed like a natural thing to try—and of course she remembered what Hayden said yesterday about his parents keeping him hidden. Climbing the walls, hadn’t he said? Which seemed doubly unfair now that she realized how active he was. Miri needed her outside time, but spent a fair few hours indoors.

“Is that why you really came here?” she blurted. “It’s cool if you don’t want to say, it’s just, I didn’t think you were really that interested in the redwoods… although actually, they would probably be pretty fun to climb. And, hey, maybe if you stick around a while I can hear you play.”

Well, that was an unintentionally saddening remark as Miri realized that Hayden might be leaving in a couple days’ time. He had only paid for three nights. She was always friendly with guests, but with Hayden she had dropped her guard. How could she not? He was like her, and possibly the friendliest mutant she had met. Not that Alex (Alex!) Lee was unfriendly—but he was professional. Hayden was just another person.
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Hayden Frye
 Posted: Jul 25 2014, 07:55 PM
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"Yeah, maybe," Hayden said noncommittally about the guitar playing.

Why he really came there was a bit complicated, so he had to contemplate her question a bit.

What he liked most about his rootless existence was that he could go literally anywhere he wanted. If he woke up one day and wanted to drive to the Great Lakes? Let's do that! Las Vegas? Why not!

What he wasn't so fond of was how lonely it got after a while.

Hayden was outgoing, it wasn't hard for him to talk to new people. Some of them were good, some of them were bad, he had even met a handful of mutants during his travels.
Some of them he got close to.
But in the end, if you kept moving from place to place, the people you met were lost on the way. Or kept as Facebook friends, but that wasn't really the same thing.

He guessed that he was, maybe, looking for the same kind of community he'd had back in McCamey back when he was a kid. Since he obviously wasn't going to get that back anytime soon, he'd thought that he might join an already existing community. Like the mutant underground culture in San Francisco.
And if that didn't work out for him, he would just have to go on and continue his search elsewhere.

But so far it had been promising. He'd arrived the night before, and he had already made a friend. The thought made him pause, but it felt about right. Miri had passed the tiers stranger and acquaintance and settled firmly at tier friend.

But that wasn't something you brought up in a conversation, and neither was that he'd went to San Francisco because he was lonely, so instead he gave her the short answer he hadn't been able to give her earlier.
"I'm mostly here for the nightlife," he finally said after the long pause. "I've heard a lot about it and wanted to check it out myself... but that wasn't something I wanted to bring up yesterday, if you catch my drift."

"And I'll definitely try to climb one," he added cheerfully, trying to bring back some energy the conversation might have lost during his long pause. "Hell, I'd never forgive myself for lettin' an opportunity like this go to waste!"

"So... you wouldn't know any good places to go? Like clubs and whatnot?"
He guessed that she was a minor. Technically, so was he... but she was minorer. Still, she might know of some good places... she worked at a motel, after all.
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Miriam Kirkland Cohen
 Posted: Jul 25 2014, 08:37 PM
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Miri nodded. She got it: guys who live out of trucks probably don’t make big plans for the future. She did not guess it to be lonely so much as nerve-wracking. You weren’t really safe in a truck, were you? Someone could steal it. And hotel rooms, they’re not home. And a person ought to have a home.

“Um, not really,” she admitted about the clubs. She still had not pieced together that he meant mutant clubs. “Those places are too intense for me.” So many people, and the loud music, and the lights—for someone with enhanced senses, it was one headache building into a massive brain’splosion.

“The Mission is probably the hottest neighborhood these days.” She did not do much clubbing, but she had heard enough to know the neighborhoods—she was dull, not deaf! “The gay scene is Castro.” The idea that Hayden’s sexual orientation might have been part of his need for a change of scenery remained in Miri’s mind. It didn’t matter to her either way, but if he was looking for that, he ought to know where to look.

“I don’t know about raves and stuff, except that a lot seem to happen on Treasure Island. Honestly I’m better at telling you the best restaurants to hit, but I could probably figure where the most people puke at the weekend! Oh, and everyone always thinks they’ll find clubs by universities, but UCSF isn’t like that. San Francisco State is more along those lines.”

She had completely misunderstood his question.
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Hayden Frye
 Posted: Jul 27 2014, 06:35 PM
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Actually, it didn't come as a surprise to him that going to clubs would be a bit overwhelming for someone with Miri's keen senses. The music, the flashing lights, the smoke, the sweat, the people... Hayden wasn't exactly an experienced clubber himself, but every part of clubbing screamed 'sensory overload'.

When she started to list different neighborhoods it seemed as if she had more knowledge than she took credit for. Hayden gave her a sideways look when she mentioned Castro. He tried to think back on how he had phrased his question - had it sounded like it was that he was after? Or was she just bringing it up just in case?
Well, if he wanted a straight answer he should probably ask a straight question.
"Alright, cool, good to know, " he said lightly. "But I was thinkin' more about the mutant scene, actually. I mean, I heard there is one, but I guess it might be just a rumor. You haven't happened to hear anything about that, have you?"

That was when they arrived at the famous bridge. Hayden slowed down a bit to be able to take in the looming structure above them, with the thick red cables hanging down from it. He knew it was very tourist-y of him, but it was actually a bit impressive to see the landmark in real life.
At least he didn't stop to take pictures.
"Golden gate!" he exclaimed. "America's finest piece of infrastructure. I guess you must know a lot about it, huh? Bein' a local and all?"
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Miriam Kirkland Cohen
 Posted: Jul 27 2014, 07:29 PM
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“Oh! I don’t know about that,” Miri admitted. “But I know a few other mutants—I’ll ask around.” Okay, so he had been looking for a slightly different type of club. To be honest, while she had read about it, even seen ‘mutant culture’ depicted on TV, she had never been confident enough to seek it out for herself. Where would she even start to look?

As for the bridge, “Not as much as you might think,” she admitted, “but I do find it impressive. They did something last year, seventy years since construction first started—of course it took more than a year to build, so there will probably be another sort of event for when construction finished—and there are six hundred thousand rivets per tower. Oh, and eleven men died on it, ten of them all at once. So… I guess I know a little about it.”

She had not realized how much she had internalized.

Once they crossed the bridge, they had only a little while to go before they had a good stretch of road. “You’ve been all over the country,” she reflected. “Have you met a lot of mutants?” Immediately she regretted that. What if he wanted to talk about bridges or architecture or something and she had just stuck her foot in her mouth turning the conversation back to mutants? But then, that interested him too… right?
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