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Latest revision as of 22:15, 18 May 2020

Worth It
Dramatis Personae

Jax, Steve


"These days anything I do in public, I have to drag Captain America with me, and he's -- heavier than he looks."


<NYC> Chimaera Arts - Dumbo

This is just one of the many abandoned warehouses in DUMBO, and like many of them it has recently changed hands. Unlike most of those, however, it does not have some corporate developer's sign out front promising a transformation into luxury condominiums or a boutique shopping center or the latest concept restaurant. Instead it's marked by a piece of weathered but wildly colorful plywood propped up on a stack of broken pallets, which reads "Chimaera Art Space!" above "chimaera.org" in smaller letters.

The warehouse is moderately large and decorated with graffiti art in various styles--some of it recognizable as the work of renowned local street artists. A pair of monstrous scrap metal sculptures, perhaps still works in progress, flank the entrance. The building itself has undergone significant renovation recently, complete with wiring, plumbing, and a modular partitioning system. The grounds, too, have been cleaned up, ramshackle fences torn down and rusting detritus removed in favor of reclaimed (and brilliantly repainted) outdoor furniture ringing an impressively engineered firepit.

The glorious spring day is fading to an equally glorious evening, and most in and around the art space are outside on the grounds. A very casual drum circle has been going for a while near the fire pit, and someone has brought the much-stickered communal guitar over to add a sweet if somewhat arrhythmical melody. Inside the warehouse partitions have been set up for the evening's painting class.

Steve is just emerging again from the storage space, carrying half a dozen sturdy easels on each arm without any evident difficulty. He's in his art clothes, a paint-splattered black t-shirt, well-worn blue jeans likewise bespeckled, and his oldest, most comfortable combat boots. His right hand is, as almost always these days, neatly wrapped in white gauze that keeps the fingers bound together and prevents him from easily flexing them too far. He enters the classroom and sets the easels up in neat rows. "So, ah...do you have a full class this time?" he asks casually as he settles the last one into place.

Jax has been arranging the smaller painting supplies on the table at the front of the room, brushes and paints lined up neat and tidy and awaiting his students. He's vividly colourful this evening, somewhat reflective himself of the shift into springtime; his hair is layered in a new leafbud-green with soft pastel pink in the underlayer, intricate floral designs on his nails, his makeup faintly shimmery tones of green and silver. His denim cutoffs have metallic dragonfly patches dotted over them; he wears layered tank tops in yellow and green, his mismatched knee-high socks brightly patterned, tall stompy boots pastel green and black. His lip catches momentarily between his teeth, eye darting brief to Steve as he arranges a cup of brushes just so. "Oh -- gosh, yeah. It's been -- I mean, I think a lotta folks are just eager to get back to doin' something, you know? A lot of our classes are filling, even ones that normally ain't real packed. We might have to add a couple more this round, way demand's been. There's worse problems to have though, huh?"

Steve's smile comes half a beat too slow, but seems sincere enough. "That is a great problem to have. It does make sense, after so many folks have been cooped up so long." He drifts over to the table, looking over the supplies. "And -- well, I don't know how common this is and I sure can't speak for anyone else, but..."He trails off, and for a moment it seems possible he's lost his train of thought or changed his mind about speaking it aloud. But then he shakes his head, gives a faintly embarrassed smile. "Just, drawing's always seemed like a good way to -- help think through the rough spots in life, you know?"

"Gosh, do I." Jax's nose crinkles up as he leans back against the edge of the table. He braces a palm against it, fingers drumming lightly on the cracking surface. "And there ain't been no shortage of things need processing lately, huh?"

The hesitation after this isn't long but it's noticable, Jax's teeth wiggling at one of his lip rings while he looks down at his shoes. "Don't suppose you've exactly run out of stuff needs thinking through, neither. Steve, did you -- like my class? Oh, goodness, I don't mean like --" He looks back up swiftly, cheeks burning red. "I ain't looking for some kinda reassurance that -- I know you got your own reasons for --" He pressed his hand to his face, scrubs his palm against his cheek. "I'm sorry, I just mean, if you was getting something out of it -- if keeping at it would -- be a good -- we could work something else out, if. If that'd be any use to you. It don't have to be this class."

"I suppose there never is, but this year -- well, they just keep piling up." Steve reaches idly for the brushes. Stops himself, blushing faintly. "And me...I had a pretty solid stockpile already." His chuckle is not entirely humorless, here. At Jax's question he blinks, perhaps startled, though his expression is hard to read as he blushes deeper in sympathy. "I loved it -- God's honest truth. You're an amazing teacher, and I don't know if paint will ever be my..." His brows furrow briefly. He tucks his right hand between his left arm and his side, loosely folding his forearms. "Well. I was getting something out of it. I really don't know if -- if I should keep at it, or if I'd just embarrass myself. Can't say I wasn't thinking about it, seeing all this laid out." He turns his hand up to indicate the supplies on the table, a gesture distinctly learned from the Tessiers and yet somehow more expansive, coming from him. The corner of his mouth ticks up, a faint ghost of a smile. "Guess I wasn't too subtle."

"Sometimes embarrassing yourself is how you learn." Jax's blush does not fade but his smile returns quick and bright at this, albeit not for long. "But -- what I mean is you don't -- don't gotta. Or -- not in front of everyone, if that's -- too much. Too soon. If you wanted to keep workin' -- I mean, my schedule's kinda nuts but I'd be glad to work out times to keep at classes jus' -- you an' me. We could do your place or mine or here but jus' -- you know. Not with everyone." He lifts his hand, too, gesturing towards the neatly laid out table. "But if you still love it, I'd love to help you keep at it. Lord knows there's pain enough already and there's always gonna be."

Steve laughs, a short but bright burst that tells the tightness in his shoulders when it travels down his body. "I embarrassed myself all the way through art school, but ah..." He runs his hand through his hair, gaze dropping to the floor. "...that was little Steve from Red Hook. These days anything I do in public, I have to drag Captain America with me, and he's -- heavier than he looks." This chuckle is more tired than anything else. He untucks his right hand, rubbing at the bandaged knuckles with his left thumb, slow and meditative. "That would be wonderful, if -- if you think it's...worth your time." His ice blue eyes are wide when they flick back up to Jax's. "I surely do still love it."

The soft breath that Jax exhales at Steve's answer comes with a brief warm flutter of glow in the air around him, only barely visible in the well-lit room. "Yeah, I kinda did figure it gets hard what with everyone checkin' for Captain America to -- sort through what you just need, sometimes. But I -- thanks." His eye flicks, brief, towards Steve's bandaged hand, then down to his own, scarred fingers curling loosely in on themselves. "And you are, more'n worth it to me, honey-honey, and --" His teeth scrape his lower lip, clicking light against a lip ring. "-- if you still love it, then your art sure is, too."