1964-05-23 - Gracious Dawning
Summary: A unknowing alien-hybrid walks into a Community Center with a guitar player and a man with golden skin enlightens her.
Related: Birds of a Feather
Theme Song: None
josh jay rosemarie 


The Community Center isn't really officially any such thing: its an old office building and tiny restaurant next door that wasn't really used at all, and over time, the mutants moved in and started making use of it. People donated things: time, food, equipment, and it became something of a sanctuary. It manages to provide a meal a day for anyone who needs it, if not always the best. At times some of its rooms are a makeshift clinic — usually when Josh is around, but there are some others who help.

It is in the clinic that Josh is now: a little girl and her mother is there, and the girl is crying softly as she holds her arm to her chest. Josh crouches down next to her, and gently lays a hand on her shoulder. First he sends away her pain with a golden glow, and then he closes his eyes a moment and focuses on the fractured bone. It takes longer to heal: the golden light radiates around his golden skin and flows into the girl, but soon enough it is done and he rises. The mother murmurs her thanks and offers him over a thermos and paper bag. He smiles wearily, "She's fine, Ruth."

*

She had made the phone call with a trembling set of spins on the rotary phone, finally convinced the other end of the line that she needed to speak with Jay after so very many stuttering attempts to explain, and the place to meet was decided upon. The Community Center, it's called, and as Rosemarie walks up to it, she has a vague premonition that this is so very different from what she calls normalcy. Her grip curls about the cross-body strap of her courier purse, cementing her in the present in a manner, and she slows to a halt off to one side of the main entrance. Craning her neck, she looks both ways down the street and then at her feet, in their ballet flats. A faint blush rises beneath the freckles of her cheeks as she wonders if she had the time wrong — or the day — or the place — or heaven forbid, she's been ditched.

*

He may not have been waiting with bated breath, but Jay's smile was audible over the phone when he actually got to it and heard Rosemarie on the other end. She doesn't have the day wrong, or time, and certainly the polite southern boy wouldn't stand up a lady. He's just a little, well, tardy. But after several nerve-wracking minutes, Jay comes jogging around a corner down the block, an acoustic guitar shifting around on his back, hanging on for dear life to a neck strap currently flung around his chest, holding on to the neck down by his hip while he jogs. "Rosemarie!" Jay calls and waves from afar, making a bit of noise as he jogs toward the uncertain young woman.

*

For his part, Josh settles into a chair and proceeds to pull the sandwich out of the bag. People who need healing get it, but those who can, feed him to help him keep his strength up. Its not a payment for it is not asked for. So, he munches.

*

Her name brings her to look up and down the street. Oh, thank god, she wasn't ditched. She literally seems to gain an inch in height as she turns to face him, a grateful smile on her face.

"H-Hey, J-J-Jay!" she calls back, her voice traveling despite the stutter. She waves a hand and walks towards him a few feet to meet him off to the other side of the front door. "Th-This is the p-p-p-place, r-right?" Gosh, she's still concerned, dear Rosemarie. At least her uncertainty is certain. She'll follow in Jay's wake, wherever he leads.

*

Jay slows the last couple of feet to a gracefully-graceless lope, his toes dragging a bit on the sidewalk as the clicking of his sandals slows, then stops. Not near to being winded, the red head smiles gently and nods, looking up at the front of the building. "Yep. He said he's here most days. Shouldn't be too hard t'find the fellah." Turning his attention back to Rose, Jay reaches helpfully for the door and opens it wide. "Don't worry. He's real nice. You'll like him." Optimistic as the day is long, Jay will follow Rose inside, practically ushering while he holds the neck of his guitar carefully through the door to keep it from bumping, and immediately split off to ask someone where Elixir might be.

*

Elixir is well known here; the room used as the clinic is pointed out by a passer by. Inside, he continues eating his sandwich, slow and steady. Once people step inside, he rises immediately, but his eyes don't immediately fall upon the newcomers. He is wary of what the latest injury will be: if he doesn't look immediately he doesn't have to know. But. He has to look, and so he blinks and smiles, "Jay." he greets.

*

Rosemarie's attention flicks all about, silently attempting to figure out precisely what this place is. She's right behind, or beside, Jay as they make their way to the room in question. It's clear that the red-winged Kentuckian is a known factor to the person inside, but the vision before her is what brings the brunette librarian to freeze in the door.

"Oh." It's an almost reverent sound, disbelief warring mightily with biology insisting that yes, in fact, the young man she's staring at does have skin a brilliant, nearly-metallic shade of gold.

*

Bobbing his head helpfully to the passerby, Jay returns to Rosemarie's side, reaching out boldly to try to take her by the hand if he is able. Unless she flinches away, of course, then Jay will smile sheepishly, murmur an apology and head in the direction of the makeshift clinic anyway. He hasn't been here much either, but his focus is singleminded as he heads back. Interrupting meal time, Jay's expression warms when he does indeed confirm the man inside is the one he's looking for, verdant eyes brightening. "Josh." Then steps inside further, introducing the librarian he walks with. "This is Rosemarie. Rosemarie, this is Josh. Elixir."

*

Stepping forward, Josh offers a golden hand to Rosemarie to shake. Despite looking like gold, the skin is soft and feels warm and just like anyone else's hand— if she will shake his hand, that is. "Nice to meet you, Rosemarie. Welcome to the Center. There's not much to it but the volunteers do what we can." He looks questioningly over to Jay, smiling again, "Did you need something or are you here socially?"

*

Given that Rosemarie kept her hands about the strap of her courier purse, where they remain as she blatantly stares at the outstretched palm in hues of burnished metal, Jay was like as not to be left to his sheepish smile. The librarian looks back up to Elixir — no, Josh's face and her voice fails her utterly. She's all one big bundle of nerves and excitement and oh-my-god-ness and the skin behind her ears is itching like mad. Surely one of the gentlemen must note how those cinnamon-brown eyes are already bleeding towards raptor-yellow even as she defers to Jay for the answer with a stricken look.

Cat's most definitely got her tongue, red-red blush and all.

*

Standing off to one side while he makes the introduction, one hand still resting protectively around the dangling neck of his guitar behind his back, he's excited, certainly, but as Josh turns to him and Rosemarie loses her will to speak, his smile smooths and voice lowers to a private level. "Actually, a bit of both? Rosemarie has some, ah, questions about her biology. An' you being you, Ah thought you might help?" Red brows loft upward softly, inquisitive.

*

"Oh, sure. That's easy." Josh looks relieved. A bioscan takes practically no energy. His hand still held out to Rosemarie, he offers her his warmest, most reassuring smile. Its, literally, shiny. "Take my hand." he says softly, "I can only read your biology by touch. From afar I can only tell your relative health."

*

She's absolutely a bird near to start to flight, all drawn up sleekly despite the opposing duality of quailing in place. Her eyes, nearly entirely a matching shade to Josh's skin, look between him and Jay as if she's observing a tennis match. A swallow and she uncurls her dominant hand from about the strap crossing her chest with the slowness indicative of fighting nerves.

She reaches out, the tip of her tongue resting against her upper lip, and after a moment of trembling hesitation, grips the golden hand. It is…well, it feels like normal skin, supple and warm, full of life and muscle and tendons surrounding bone. A hand. That's reassuring for a moment, at least.

*

Jay watches with gentle amusement over the sheer level of anxiety Rosemarie is exhibiting. Jay slides a half step closer to the young woman, trying to loan her some of his comfort and strength, perhaps a sense of protection, though he knows she can take care of herself. Jay turns his head to her and lowers his voice, "Yer gonna be okay. He's a doctor, aside from bein' a good man. He'll be able t'tell you what's what."

*

Josh's golden eyebrows— even his hair is gold, little strands of pure spun gold thread it looks like— climb up his head and tries to hide in his hair. "Fascinating." He lets go and shakes his head slowly, "You are only partially human. Most of you is alien: and there is something in their biology that reminds me of… birds, actually." He runs a hand through his hair, and lets it rest at the back of his head, sort of scratching there. He looks between Jay and Rosemarie, "I have encountered aliens before but never one of the species I read off of you."

*

A full-body shiver announces the critical fracture of Rosemarie's composure.

"Alien?" Remarkably clear, that particular word. Her teeth audibly chatter as the blood drains from her face, leaving her splotchy in a manner construed in very few ways other than shocked. "I-I-I-I…" Silent mouthing regains primacy and she clutches at the blouse she wears. The Otherness, drawn forth in simple and primal curiosity, rushes full-blown through her circulatory system and she has time to stagger out of the doorway, probably knocking into at least one of the gentlemen in the process. Wings unfurl from beneath skin and pale-yellow shirt alike; the fabric gives and they expand out, whumping air in the small space. She makes it to a chair and collapses, gripping at the front of her shirt and inhaling in ragged squeaks. The fans of plumage behind her ears are fully expanded, fluffed up to broad crests. If anyone's able to convince her to uncurl her fists, talons have torn neat holes in the feminine button-down — another instance of sartorial murder. The wings attempt to curl close around her, to protect her from whatever has brought her to this point.

*

Well. THAT certainly wasn't what Jay was expecting. he was expecting a mutant like themselves, with some more details on her mutation as Josh had insinuated he may be able to read more into one's mutation and genetic. But, an alien? Jay's mouth falls open softly as Josh explains, nearly translucent eyelashes fluttering with a wave of surprise. "Ah..what? Lahke Kai?"

About as eloquent as Rosemarie's reply, but less stutter, though he does turn his attention back to the woman he stands near when he feels her tense and turn to flee, bumping into Jay outright on her way toward flight. "Wait, Rose!" Worried and apologetic, Jay turns to Josh and quickly explains, "She's a lil timid…" At a loss between explaining to the golden hued man and rushing after his fellow avian-adjacent individual, Jay gestures with an open hand to Josh, but he has nothing left to say and instead spins around, carefully holding on the the instrument slung across his back as he follows after Rose and finds her soon after, collapsed in that chair. Trying to hide.

A pang of deep sympathy written all over his person, the lump on his back shivering as Jay hesitates with his hands out toward Rosemarie, not daring touch her, lest he upset her more. Instead, he slowly takes a knee in front of her and off to one side, lowering his tone. "Rose? It's gonna be ahl raght."

*

Josh didn't know what to expect: but the woman turning into a giant bird-person? Even after reading the alien bird thing, that was nowhere near his top ten list of likely outcomes. So he moves in to follow, but while Jay doesn't touch her, he reaches out to try to grip her hand. His intent is to read her again: and since he still vividly remembers her biology before, he will try to suppress what has changed. Of course, she might just talon him in the throat.

*

Someone's talking — someone's talking, pay attention. The Otherness twinkles in her blood and another shiver of her wings brings the long drapery of primary feathers to shuff along the floor, likely brushing against the two gentlemen now close to her.

She dares to look up through the waterfall of tumbling moderately wavy hair across her face, the hanging of loosed hairs from her bun acting as metaphorical shield itself. "A-Alr-r-right?" she whispers. Josh indeed risks a knee-jerk reaction from the librarian with wings and upon reaching out, he can place his palm with relative ease across the back of one of her curled hands. The other spasms and the recurving grip of her talons drags across the golden skin. They're wickedly sharp, these shapeshifted atavistic attributes, and it's something that Rosemarie likely doesn't notice as having happened — at least, at first. She's still staring at Jay through locks and beyond the soft curvature of a joint-fold of one midnight-blue wing. It's intense, this stare.

*

Jay doesn't seem scandalized in the least while Josh goes ahead to try to grasp Rose's hand, though when her wings flutter and move, he goes out of his way, almost falling over in his knelt state so as to not accidentally brush her feathers. A little bit of color making his fair skin pink and reaching tendrils down his neck. Jay is knelt down, peering up at the terrified woman in the midst of the sad little community center, full of people who also feel some degree of alien and lost. Jay nods a few times, eyes wide as he whispers, "Yeah. It'll be ahl raght. Yer still you, that's all. Yer safe, here."

Wicked talons reach out in reaction to being touched and Jay leans back swiftly, then lunges forward to clamp a hand down on the back of Josh's. Just for a moment, then shakes his head and pulls back, mentally berating himself as he murmurs to the golden-skinned man lamely, "Sorry. Instinct."

*

Josh radiates golden light: it's as if his golden skin was turning into gas and radiating off of him. He grunts in pain, though, when talons rip through flesh: immediately the flesh begins knitting back together, though. It isn't instantaneous, but the wounds can be seen closing up anyways. Josh looks to him and he smiles slightly, "Never apologize for trying to give aide to someone." Healing his hand is really only a small bit of power, with most of it pouring into the birdish woman. But he gives up after a time: stepping away and letting the glow fade. "I'm sorry." he says softly to her, "I wasn't able to return you to your previous state. I restored some balance, but only that." He looks pained, "I didn't mean for my words to have… such an effect."

*

Rosemarie flinches away as Josh begins radiating a beautiful glow, not too unlike the first rays of dawn. Her wings flick back and mantle to shadow her body, a startled effect expressed too through the flattening of the dual crests behind her ears.

Safe. You're safe, comes the echoed expression through an alien sense of awareness, sympathy still a distant but familiar pang in her own blood. There's a soothing flush that's paired inherently to the shine of light on the red of her closed eyelids and then it fades. The Otherness hasn't gone away, but it seems…closer now, more as friend than foe.

Blinking a few times, she first gives Josh a wary glance. She has no words for him, still nervous. There's an unconscious shift in the chair towards Jay as her wings settle back down.

"…I'm okay," comes the whisper, finally, dripping with embarrassment.

*

Jay watches, his attention flickering back and forth between the two unusual souls he huddles near; The feather-crested woman trying to calm herself and the golden skinned fellow emanating light. Yes. It's definitely an interesting crew tonight, but this close to Mutant Town, it's nothing. Barely worth a glance. Though when it seems that Josh is able to calm her enough that Rose is able to peer out from behind her own feathers, Jay offers a worried smile. "Right on, yer okay." A little ruffle of sound from beneath his straining shirt, Jay's expression cautiously warms and brightens. "There y'are, Rosie. Hai. Sorry. That was pretty startlin'."

A quick habitual lick of his lips, Jay exhales a breath and sits back on his haunches, long primary feathers curling along the floor behind him. A turn back to Josh. "Ah'm sorry about all this. That's…unexpected news."

*

Josh nods his head simply, "This is a sanctuary, such as it is. Or, at least, if anyone tries to make it unsafe I correct them. Here we can be safe and … its okay, she is what she is. As far as I'm concerned." He looks at Rosemarie more directly then, to speak directly to her, "You are one of us, and you are welcome here anytime. If anyone says otherwise, tell them Elixir said so." People don't tend to argue with the healer.

*

Dusky-blue feathers shuffle back to the red ones hidden away. The fans flick up again and relax to a more neutral spread. Rosemarie glances between the man with golden skin and her fellow winged friend.

"…th-thank y-y-you. B-B-Both. I-I-I-I'm g-g-going to s-s-sit for a b-b-bit, I th-think." She sits up slowly, tucking hair behind one ear and into feathering with stilted flow to the movement. "I n-n-need t-t-to th-think." She's content to remain here at the Community Center until she's calm enough to walk home without any sign of Shi'ar blood.

*

Seconding Josh's far more eloquent words, Jay looks back from the older man back toward the fine feathered female in front of them, his head bobbing a nod. Daring to reach out if he may and rest a hand on Rosemarie's shoulder for a squeeze. "Of course. Just don't overthink it all, huh? Yer still the same lady y'were yesterday an' the day before." He pushes back up to his feet, content to let her think. Everyone needs time during these epiphanies.

*

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