ArchivedLogs:(Not A) Friendly Brawl
|(Not A) Friendly Brawl|
Eric and Steve fight; friendly is a matter of perspective.
<NYC> Lower East Side
Historically characterized by crime and immigrant families crammed into cramped tenement buildings, the Lower East Side is often identified with its working-class roots. Today, it plays host to many of New York's mutant poor, although even here they are still often forced into hiding.
The sun blazing low on the horizon sends its rays down along Delancy street and lends a lingering edge of summer to the breezy afternoon air. The residents of the LES are returning home from work, emerging from the subway stations and gathering in cautious groups on stoops and street corners to converse. Steve is still dressed in work clothes, though the sleeves of his pale blue oxford shirt have been rolled up to expose muscular forearms, and his gray linen trousers could use a good pressing. The shield slung over his back gleams bright in all its in red, white, and blue glory, the star at its center shining with reflected light from the sun. He does not look in the least encumbered by the bulging nylon grocery bags he carries under each arm. "...So, basically, I've learned not to take just /any/ book recommendation from anyone."
There's a small blue shark keeping pace along beside him, dressed far less conservatively in a very (very) short black and purple-lace miniskirt, silvery-glitter fishnets, a black halter crop-top with a crocheted heart pattern to its chest piece. B's heavily clunky boots aren't so much stomping at the moment as gliding a few inches off the ground, lending an odd cadence to her gait. Though hir bags are also bulging, the tiny sharkpup doesn't seem particularly weighed down by them either.
"You've been spoiled," ze tells Steve seriously. "You get one too many recommendations from Flicker or the Tessiers and you start to think you can just up and trust what books /any/ white man tells you to read and it's just not /so/. Most of them are kind of -- well, gross."
Walking steadily towards the shark and soldier, Eric has a black backpack slung lazily over one shoulder of his red jacket. It's not bulging, per se, but the wrinkles in the leather hint that it's not the lightest thing in the world either. One hand held out in front of him, Eric's attention is fixed on the cell phone in his hand, thumb gliding over the glass surface in tiny sweeping motions.
The police officer is humming to himself, in fact, as he texts as rapidly as his thumb can move. "Sorry honey, mmm, mmmm, mmm," his head bobs in time with music playing only in his head. "I could leave the party without ever letting you know." Beat. "Without ever letting you know."
Steve nods and heaves an exaggerated sigh. "I ought to have known better, but the fellow seemed pretty interested in several /actually/ good books, so I was lulled into a false sense of security. To add insult to injury, John does not even die at the end of the book!" He clicks his tongue and gives a small, disapproving shake of his head. He might have been about to say more, but right then his eyes snap to Eric's face. His brows furrow deeply, his lips press into a thin line, and he speeds up, ever so slightly.
"You /ought/. Hadn't they invented white dudes in your day? I've seen posters I was pretty sure that --" B trails off, though, nose twitching and a faint ripple of motion running down along hir gills. Hir clawed fingers curl tighter around a strap of hir bag, shoulders tensing faintly when Steve speeds up. Hir tone is light enough, though: "Don't tell me you're in trouble with the law again." After another beat of thought she adds, "... or does he just hit on you all the time, too?"
"Without ever letting you know, without ever---" Eric shoves his phone into a pocket and looks up, a bob in his step along in time with the music. He cuts himself off, eyes widening when he sees first B. His eyes flick over Steve a moment later, blinking once, twice. He raises a hand, smile spreading broad on his face. "Hiya, B! How are ya' doin'? Heya, Captain. Long time no see." The police officer shrugs the bag a little bit further up his back, causing it to make a metal clinking noise.
"Oh, /I'm/ not in trouble. Not in any /new/ trouble, at least." Steve keeps his voice level and quiet, though not so soft that Eric could not hear if he cared to listen. "I just have strong and probably irreconcilable personal differences with that one about the meaning of duty." His expression remains stony when Eric greets them. "Officer Sutton," is all he says, with the barest hint of a nod and without slowing down.
"/Just/ this one? Not, like, the entire police force as a whole by now? Do they love you or hate you?" B quiets when Eric spots them. Hir huge black eyes open even wider, her hoverboots gliding briefly to a halt when she's addressed. Hir clear inner eyelids slide open and closed for a few rapid blinks. "Oh, well. I mean. My pa's still in jail. And Shane's still --" Shrug.
Eric's smile tilts to one side, his free shoulder shrugging upwards. "I knew about Jax. But how are you holdin' up? And... Shane's still?" One thumb sticks into his pocket, fingers drumming along his leg once. He stops walking, stepping once, twice to one side out of the path of the sidewalk. The police officer's eyes flick over Steve's face with a confused little double-blink before they return to B's larger ones.
"Officer Sutton happened to express his opinions on the matter to me directly. I suspect I might disagree with most police on the meaning of duty, but I generally avoid conversing with them at length." Steve's tone has gone uncharacteristically dry. "They seem rather fond of me despite my rabble-rousing, but I suppose I get a pass for being so wholesome and historical."
'Wholesome and historical.' B mouths this silently, an also-silent ripple passing through her gills. "I also try not to make a habit of talking to the cops," she admits freely, "but this one dated my brother for a bit a few years ago so it was harder to avoid. Dated?" Hir brows pull together. "Is that the right word? Do you /date/?" Shaking hir head, she hitches a bag higher on hir shoulder. "Blue," she finally answers Eric. "We're both still pretty much blue."
Eric's smile is wry, though his tone remains light. "Wholesome? Well, I guess. We tend to give the elderly the benefit of the doubt, Captain. Respectful to our elders n' all." Eric chuckles and nods. "Date? More often not, but... yeah, I think date would be the right word." He pauses for a moment, then chuckles. "I gotta say, I'd be hard pressed ta think of ya'all /not/ blue. I guess blue's a good start, at least."
"A few /years/ ago?" Steve echoes, pale blue eyes wide with undisguised horror. "I haven't seen much evidence the NYPD is particularly respectful of elders, but perhaps /you/ should learn to respect /children./ By keeping well clear of them."
"Yeah, like -- three? Four?" B shrugs. "We were --" There's a small hesitation in hir voice. "Younger, then." Hir head shakes once, quickly. There's a very thin press to hir lips. "/Two/ burned houses ago. Before the fighting cages. Feels like lifetime. Guess we've had a lot of growing up to do. The NYPD's definitely been glad to help us with that." This last is brightly -- brittly -- cheerful, at least.
"Oh, please." Eric rolls his eyes at Steve with a look of amusement. It quickly dies, though, as Eric echoes, "before the cages. Before the Rising, too." The police officer shudders, visibly. "Lady Justice may be blind, but she doesn't have to be stupid. Your Pa should be free, and those fuckers shouldn't ever have made it to trial." He grimaces, and one hand tugs at the strap on his bag, shifting the weight around.
"Please? Please /what/?" Steve's jaw tightens. He puts down both of his grocery bags. His hands clench into fists, and his weight settles lower. "You talk a big game for a man whose hands are the instruments of miscarried justice." He takes one step toward Eric, easily within striking distance now. "Shut up, or I will shut you up."
B's mouth opens -- but only briefly before closing again. The whir-hum of hir boots is quiet as she slides back a foot or two.
Eric hefts the bag off of his shoulder, placing it carefully down on the ground with a large clanking sound of metal-on-metal. "'Whose hands are the instruments of miscarried justice'? What about you, Captain? You swore an oath same as me -- to uphold the law, n' the Constitution. Ain't nothin' in there about /choosin'/ which laws to follow. Or did you not mean it?" Eric takes a step closer as well, eyes flashing angrily.
"I meant every word." Steve's voice is clipped, tightly controlled. "And then I learned that 'all threats, foreign and domestic' included people like you." His left foot shifts back on the sidewalk slightly and he pivots into a startlingly fast right hook aimed at Eric's torso.
B's inner eyelids are blinking rapidly again, a quick flutter rippling down hir gills. Hir hand turns briefly over, fingers tapping lightly against a faint holographic display briefy projecting from hir wristband and then fading away. Mostly, though, she just watches.
Eric starts to raise his hands, but he's not nearly quick enough to be able to block the force of the punch. With a loud grunt, Eric is knocked off of his feet as Steve's fist collides with his chest. Falling briefly down, Eric pants for a moment before he straightens back up to standing with a grimace and a cough. "Out a' the two of us, I know which one of us has more to to with the shit that's goin' wrong in this country, and it fuckin' ain't me with the flag draped over a government issued shield." Eric's hands rise into a boxing stance, as he moves forward with a determined step, a quick one-two jab aimed towards Steve's face.
"What's going wrong with this country is the greed of the bosses and the fears of the bigots written into laws that /you/ enforce." Steve blocks the first jab and ignores the second one, allowing it to connect without much visible reaction to the force of its impact. "Your first duty is to serve and protect. Not /follow orders./" He feints left and punches right again -- right at Eric's gut this time, harder than before, though still withholding a significant measure of his inhuman strength.
B leans back against a wall, lowering hir bags to the sidewalk. Briefly rummaging through one of them to extract a packet of jerky, which she neatly slices open so that she can skewer a piece to nibble on. Hir eyes skip one way down the sidewalk and then another, lighting on a wide-eyed gawking teenager here, a scandalized-looking businessman there; ze tips hir hand again, fingers fluttering once more at the air as /her/ attention returns to Steve. And his punching.
Eric growls, following the feint and putting his full force behind an uppercut as he steps into the punch. With the force behind the fist, it almost immediately doubles him over, wind knocked completely out of him. Eric staggers back, teeth stained red with blood from where he bit his cheek. His hands come up into a defensive position, mouth opening while he gasps trying to regain his breath. "Better me... than someone who will... shoot first." Eric spits out after a few gasps, between ragged breaths. "I do more... to save mutants... than you do. Coward."
Steve settles back down into a neutral stance, fists at the ready, limbs loose. But he does not attack again, just yet, his eyes skimming over Eric, appraising. "I'm sure you deserve a medal for not shooting me," his voice is calm, and surprisingly absent of disdain. He sounds sad. "Unfortunately, being the lesser evil doesn't make you good. Or brave." He does not even react to the insult, but slowly straightens up. "We're done. I'm sure you know how to obtain medical attention if you need it."
Eric straightens up, pain still in his expression, but a strong determination as well. “Refusing to participate in… a broken system makes you no better… than others who have stood back and watched atrocities... in the past.” His voice is still interrupted by deep draws of breath, but he settles back into a linebacker’s stance, eyes fixed determinedly on Steve’s face. He takes one step forward, then a second, slowly closing the distance between the two men.
B is still quietly nibbling. Fingers of hir other hand still tapping absently at the air as ze watches. A slight ripple to hir gills that settles back into quiet, shortly.
[No digital response from Hive, but a sudden mental ripple pressing up inquisitively against all their minds -- anyone want in?]
Surfacing in Steve's mind, soft and subtly amused -- maybe his own thought, maybe not; after all this time hived the lines start to blur: << You /know/ all the MID cops are mutants, right? >> Twinned with this thought, a -- remembrance? Awareness? Glimmering mentally, of Eric's lightning-regenerative ability.
Steve had just begun to turn away, but then freezes. The fury that Eric's words spark in him is immense, terrible, almost palpable to those physically present. To Hive it is inseparably twined with an even more profound anguish, but all B and Eric can see is the the tensing of his shoulders, the tightening of his fists, the sudden dilation of pupils, black swallowing up the pale blue of his irises. He draws in a deep breath, lets it out. Draws in another, more steadily now. << Walk away, >> he tells himself firmly, << just walk away. You have bigger fights to worry about. >> But then, an answering thought as he grits his teeth, << He can take it. >> No sooner had this thought completed than does he whirl and slam his fist full force into Eric's solar plexis.
Eric’s fist rises at the same time as Steve begins turning, but his blow towards Steve’s chest comes in time with Steve’s fist slamming into his stomach. The sound he lets out is halfway to a laugh as he, literally, is taken off of his feet. There is a crunch as the police officer hits the ground, and pain lances across Eric’s face. It takes him a couple of moments for him to catch his breath -- any breath, with his mouth opening and closing several times as his nervous system tries to recover from the punch.
Teeth gritted into a toothy half-grin, half-grimace, Eric spits out a stream of heavily bloody saliva from between two teeth. One of his hands runs down the right side of his ribs, he shakes his head. “/Fuck/, that smarts,” he growls, as an audible crackling sound comes from his side. Eric turns his head from side to side, muscles crunching in his neck. He looks up, propping himself up with his other arm, eyes glancing over Steve’s face. Taking long, ragged breaths for a few moments, he tilts his head to one side, pauses, then reaches one hand up towards Steve, palm up, blood-smeared knuckles with no cuts underneath.
Punching Steve's chest is kind of like punching a slightly padded wall, and the impact does not seem to affect him beyond a minute hitch of his breath. He exhibits no sign of alarm at Eric's collapse or the blood he spits up; he also looks unsurprised by the officer's rapid recovery. "I can do this all day," he says dryly, to Eric's outstretched hand.
Eric raises an eyebrow, extending the arm a little bit further. “Help a guy up?” Eric asks, still propping himself up on one elbow. “You did snap one of my ribs,” he says, though he doesn’t seem all that upset -- on the contrary, his voice is slightly amused.
B’s posture doesn’t change all that much on the sidelines, really; a slight lean against the wall she’s claimed, a faint tip of head to track the (slowly accumulating) crowd of gawkers who have given the fight a wide berth but are still staring, wide-eyed, in small knots around the sidewalk. She straightens here, though, polishing off her latest piece of jerky and scooping her bags back up from the pavement. “People are waiting for food at home.” Mild.
"We are not friends, Sir, and this was not a friendly brawl." There's only the slightest edge to Steve's voice. But the light, dry tone fades into his wonted passion again with, "The last time I offered you my hands, you put me in shackles." And with that he turns from Eric to retrieve his groceries. "Of course. I apologize for the delay." Shouldering the bags, he sweeps away down the sidewalk.