Difference between revisions of "Logs:It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;"

From X-Men: rEvolution
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Revision as of 23:42, 27 May 2020

It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;

That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.

Dramatis Personae

Leo, Matt, Peter

2020-05-26


"Where do we turn to make sense of our powers or our place in the world?"

Location

<NYC> Tierra Neustra - Queens


Much-beloved by neighborhood regulars despite its somewhat unpredictable hours of operation, this little Salvadoran restaurant is tucked between a Duane Reade and a botanica just across the street from historic Rufus King Park in Jamaica. Its interior layout is clean and homey if somewhat slapdash, a booth here and a cluster of wobbly little tables there, but each always accorded its allotment of condiments and real candles in colorful stained glass votive holders. There's a small but jarringly kitschy tiki bar--complete with little fake roof of palm fronds held up by bamboo poles--beside the counter with the cash register, which is perpetually adorned with a rotating cast of colorful 7-day candles in a dizzying array of colors.

Tierra Neustra's hours have been curtailed even further of late since they have quietly donated the use of their space to the MMMC's wandering neighborhood clinic. The staff has stacked most of the tables and chairs against one wall and left lovingly packaged meals in the refrigerator for the volunteers, in addition to quietly spreading the word about bringing in sick family members to see El Guapo Doctor--and maybe those other doctors, too. Even so, the early evening rush has tapered off today, and with the last patient--a plump toddler startlingly cooperative despite a painful ear infection--sent on his way in the arms of his relieved abuela, most of the volunteers have gone out to take their supper in park across the street.

Matt remains, though, slumped in one of the cushioned booth seats with his laptop set up in front of him, though he's not managed any actual work on it in some little while. Though his clothes are rumbled from a long day, he still looks reasonably sharp in a pale pink dress shirt, purple paisley tie, black linen vest and black linen trousers. Now he rises, though, plucking up his empty glass as he goes. "Some supper for you, too?" he asks El Guapo Doctor. "Or some coffee, first? I know I could go for a cup."

The not-at-all-doctor in question is looking only a little bit on the tired side but a lot on the frazzled one by the time the last patient leaves. He looks less sharp than Matt, in cerulean polo shirt and cigarette-cut black jeans. His eyes have fixed on the door, a little distant, and it takes a moment for him to pull his gaze away when Matt addresses him. The rumple of his brow looks a bit lost, like the words haven't quite clicked -- maybe he does need that coffee. "I -- what?" He looks down at his hands. Up at Matt's. "Coffee would be good. I think. What time is it? Do you all need to -- I. Maybe I shouldn't keep you."

Being inside the actual clinic where the work is being done is new for Peter -- the lanky young pale-faced college kid is used to just keeping an eye on the exterior. The fact that he's got a knack for picking up on danger before it happens might have something to do with his presence inside, now... or maybe it's just his growling stomach. He's got on a dark red buttoned-up shirt -- with one side untucked, the other tucked in -- and a pair of black jeans. Phone in one hand, operated with his thumb -- half-eaten apple in the other. He's also got on a pair of laceless gray sandles splattered with white spots from that time he spilled bleach.

At a glance, Peter looks like he's just propped up against a nearby wall -- left knee bent, the sole of his foot flat against concrete. But look closer, and... uh. He's actually not touching the ground. His right foot is pointed down, like the toe of a ballerina, but stops just short of the floor; his backside, legs, and feet all seem to be somehow... just glued to the wall at his back. "I got nowhere to be," Peter announces, never even looking up from his phone. "You should definitely eat, though." He finally peeks up from the screen, to watch the toddler wriggling, carried out -- a ghost of a smile slipping over his face.

"It's half after seven, and I'm not fussed yet about getting home," Matt replies breezily. "Or, at least, not eager to brave the long dark of the E train until rush hour eases off. If I wait a while, I might even be able to ask Luci to pick me up in good conscience." He vanishes into the kitchen and returns a moment later with a steaming carafe, pouring two mugs and setting one down on the table beside Leo. "If you need rest, though, we can get everyone to pack it in once they've eaten." He holds up the carafe and waggles it in the direction of the young man stuck to the wall. "Any for you, Peter?"

Leo's hands smooth flat against his knees, brushing away at some invisible fuzz of lint there. "I am -- not very hungry," he demurs, "although I am told the food is. Very good, here." He curls his hands around the mug, dipping his head in thanks to Matt. When his eyes fix on Peter it's with another puzzled frown. "Are you -- stuck? On the wall?" He squeezes a little tighter at the mug. Shakes his head, briefly. "I -- I don't need rest. It's much less tiring, with you here. Thank you. I just --" There's a slightly darker flush to his cheeks. "I never know how much to -- everyone has been giving up so much time for my behalf. Lately. It feels a little -- greedy. To linger, you know?"

"Oh, no thanks -- giving me coffee is like giving a grill napalm," Peter says, a wisp of laughter lingering under his voice. "By the time I was 15, the baristas at Evolve all knew my face. Wouldn't let me order anything stronger than a diet coke." The phone vanishes in his front pocket; the apple is devoured in three more massive bites. CRONCH, CRONCH, CRONCH. He starts to idly nibble along the edges of the core. At Leo's mention of being 'stuck', Peter flexes his legs and slides down to the floor. "Not stuck. Sticking." He flings the apple core like a shuriken. It twirls across the room and toward a trash-can. Swish.

"Dude. You helped end the pandemic in New York City. My Aunt May is probably alive because of you. Thousands of people are probably alive because of you. And now you're just..." Peter gestures toward the stairwell where the toddler-and-company have just left. "...still helping? Please -- be greedy."

"Mmm. Perhaps you can bring some food back with you, no?" Matt's eyes flit to Peter, glimmering with bemusement as he lifts his coffee for a sip. "I know full well caffeine sends you bouncing off the walls, but you can make your own decisions about that--especially when it's not our walls you're bouncing off." He drags a chair over and sits himself down by Leo. "I don't think it greedy in the least, but even if it were--" An elegant turn of his free hand indicates Peter. "--as he says, you have more than earned it. I don't doubt this is profoundly difficult and complicated for you, and I would there were more we could do in the moment to ease that. If lingering can accomplish that, even a little?" He shrugs. "As we've said, we're in no hurry."

"Oh!" Leo's eyes widen when Peter slides off the wall. "You -- do mean metaphorically, right? You wouldn't really explode?" He picks up his coffee, hiding his face behind a long sip of it as his blush deepens. "It is nice. To have the company. I mean, I do -- have company, where I'm staying, I just --" He sets the cup back down, his eyes lowering. "Do you ever just look around at life and wonder how it got so -- weird?"

There's a breathless little laugh that comes from Peter at the mention of literally exploding. "Yeah, just metaphorically." He slouches a bit more against the wall behind him. At the mention of life being... weird, Peter's expression becomes a little more wistful. He's (rather thoughtlessly, and perhaps just a smidge rudely) looking at Matt. Or, maybe more accurately, looking through Matt; clearly lost in some distant memory. "...yeah, I --" Blink, blink. He suddenly blushes, catching his own stare and looking away. "--I imagine anyone who doesn't feel that way probably... isn't paying attention."

"The exploding is metaphorical," Matt agrees, the corner of his mouth tugging up, "but the bouncing is all too literal." If he's much bothered by Peter's staring, he does not let on. "I would certainly say so, though I'm sure even now there are degrees. It's fine to want or even to need something that feels a bit more 'normal', whatever that happens to mean for you in a given moment." He studies Leo sidelong for a moment. "I'm sure that some of your old labmates, at the very least, would cherish spending some time with your--while you're not busy saving lives. I imagine they'd fear for your safety, and you for theirs, but I don't think that's at all beyond our ability to manage." This last with just the faintest curl of an encouraging smile.

"I think the world has been weird a long time. It's just -- not always so personal about it." The tiny slip of Leo's smile is wry, but does not last long. He draws his fingertip lightly down the handle of his mug, staring at it intently. "Does spending time with people you got tortured with feel normal to you? I think," his voice is a little slower. A little more measured, "maybe all our standards have got. A little skewed." He is slow to pick his coffee back up. The look he gives Peter over the lip of his mug is thoughtful. "It's Peter, right? How did you end up --" The roll of his wrist tips the cup outward, indicating the restaurant-turned-clinic around them. "A terrorist?"

The lingering ghost of a smile that crossed Peter's face at 'the exploding is metaphorical' gets stretched into a thin, tense line at 'spending time with people you got tortured with'. He bobs his head with a nod at Leo's comment regarding his name -- and when he asks the next question, Peter's eyebrow shoot up. The amusement returns: "Comic books, mostly." The smile deepens, though tempered with a self-conscious blush. "When you're some lonely fifteen year-old who wakes up with super-powers, it's hard not to think you're the protagonist of an Animorphs novel." He mops his face with his hand, briefly hiding his expression. "I'm... I'm really glad you're helping. Seriously, your life -- everybody's life, these days -- it sounds like a super-villain's origin story."

"It might if I did that," Matt allows, looking up thoughtfully. "Well, I suppose my siblings count, so yes--my standards have been skewed a long time. I also spend time with the people who rescued me from torturing, and there's some overlap between those, for you." He sips his coffee. "Goodness, but I think I might have preferred falling into a vat of toxic chemicals for my origin story." He pauses a beat, a flash of disgust passing over his face, there and gone. "I guess it wasn't all that far off. But, maybe if everyone's a super-villain--or nearly everyone--it's time to adjust our notions of what 'villain' even means, no?"

"Your siblings?" Leo's blink, his hitch of brows, is uncomprehending. "I don't -- think I have enough experience with comics to really. Get this trope. But I guess waking up as a teenager with superpowers would have been -- an experience all of its own." He takes another sip of his coffee, eyes closing briefly. His lips have twisted slightly when he looks back at Matt. "-- do we know it wasn't your origin? You have -- kind of been assaulted with toxic chemicals a lot." He turns the cup around in his hands, a small uncertain twitch pulling at his mouth. "You know, when I got out the second time, I did come very close to --" But here he catches himself, looking down into the cup. "-- well. Probably that isn't an admission I should make. But I think the line between super-villain and not can be a -- delicate one."

"When I first met him, I legit thought Lucien was a super-villain," Peter confesses to Matt. "I imagined him as Ra's al Ghul. One of Batman's villains. He fell into this pit of chemicals, and it's -- um -- it's dumb comic book stuff." He waves the explanation off, then adds -- half-mumbled: "Maybe don't tell your brother I said that, though." At Leo's own particular confession... Peter's eyes lock on him. His gaze soften, and his mouth twists into a regretful, melancholic little frown. "No... no, I -- I understand. People keep treating you like... like you're a threat, a monster, some sort of villain, and... sometimes, you're just tempted to..." He takes a breath. "Show them. What that would really look like."

Matt waves one hand vaguely. "Rough childhood. If you're interested in studying the genre you find yourself so unceremoniously dumped into, I'm sure Peter can provide a reading list." His smile comes bright and quick. "Actually, you're right, I'm just going to own that toxic chemical origin story. Even comes with baldness--major super-villain cred." So saying, he runs his hand a hand his short fuzz of hair, still oddly soft and lusterless. "Mmm. It's a curious thing, being raised on fairy tales in which you are the monster." His head dips, and he holds his mug just below his chin, inhaling deep. "I'm not sure there's any coherent line at all. I prefer to focus on what you actually did--even if that's not necessarily uncomplicated, either--and what you continue to do. And there are some very effective people working on making sure others do, too."

"Lucien?" This startles a quiet laugh out of Leo. "But he's so -- kind." His shoulders hunch inward under Peter's gaze, head dipping in the barest nod. "It's easy to feel like one. Especially --" His head shakes quickly; he gestures, a little jerkily, toward Matt. Takes a longer gulp of coffee. "A lot of people still say I'm a terrorist. And a lot of people say I'm some kind of hero. It's hard not to feel like the truth is somewhere -- in a different realm from either of those. What I actually did may have saved many lives but it still feels monstrous. Is that -- some regular mutant thing? I don't even know how to map all this onto -- how I used to look at the world."

"When we met --" Peter's lips purse into a tense knot. "We met under... tense circumstances. I was just some dumb kid, and he was from a world that scared the crap out of me. He did save my life, though." There's a tiny near-imperceptible glance toward Matt, as if Peter was trying to transmit his gratitude through brotherly osmosis. "I mean... if I'm understanding correctly what you did...? Then yeah. The fact that someone can even do that -- having power like that? It must be terrifying."

"You can be kind and also badass. Most of the kind people I know are." Matt wraps both hands around his mug and subsides a little farther into his chair, studying Leo through the faint wisps of steam rising. "It manifests differently for different people, but yes, that is a rather common experience among mutants." He takes another slow, slow sip. "I genuinely think it's at least in part for the dearth of useful and nuanced narratives about us. Where do we turn to make sense of our powers or our place in the world?" He peels one hand away from the mug and turns it palm up. "Superheroes and supervillains, gods and monsters."

"I have begun to think around here, tense is the only kind." Leo drains the last of his coffee, but does not set the mug down just yet, cradling it close to his chest. "Those -- are frequently the symbolisms I see used to talk about us. It seems -- not wise, though. To raise up a whole generation of mutants in those frameworks. At least --" His brows draw in, his fingers tightening against the empty cup. "If humans think right now we make terrifying monsters, they -- will not like it when we start to assume the role of gods."