ArchivedLogs:A Late Substitution

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A Late Substitution
Dramatis Personae

Micah, Hive

28 December 2013

Hive proposes a new plan for handling Malthus.


<NYC> 303 {Lighthaus} - Village Lofts - East Village

This apartment is cheerful, in its way -- bright and airy, its floor plan open and a plethora of windows providing it with an abundance of light. The tiny entrance hall opens into a living room, small, though its sparse furniture and lack of clutter give it a more open feel. The decor is subdued and minimalist; black and white is the dominant theme, with occasional splashes of deep crimson to offset the monochrome, though of late myriad bright-coloured dragonflies swarm across the living room wall. The couch and armchair are upholstered in black corduroy, the low wide coffee table central is black wood and glass-topped, and a few large pillowy beanbags provide additional seating by the large windows that dominate the back wall. The living room and kitchen both hold a rather inordinate number of lamps in addition to the ceiling lights; standing lamps, small lamps on each counter, large sunlights in the corner. More often than not, they're largely all turned on, too.

Towards the back, a couple of doors lead off into bedrooms and bathroom, and to the right, the kitchen's tile is separated from the living room's dark hardwood floors by black countertops. Above the bedroom to one side, there is higher space; a ladder climbs up to a lofted area looking down on the living room. Standing in front of the partition between living and cooking area is a large fish tank: one lone Betta, blood-red, swims regally among several species of black and silver fish. A hallway beyond the kitchen leads further into the apartment. Another bathroom stands just into the hall and the farthest door leads to the apartment's final bedroom, the door usually kept shut to hold in the acrid fumes of turpentine and paints from within.

It is a lovely late afternoon, the sun streaming in through the open curtained windows in Lighthaus rather earning the place its designation today. It is even warm, for December in New York. Micah has been home from a late morning shift at the shop long enough to shower and dress and reheat some remnants of Chinese takeout. He is sitting at the dining table, dressed in patchy jeans and his blue Totoro face T-shirt over a long-sleeved navy henley, hair still drying spikily, slowly picking apart a scallion pancake into pancake-bits on the small plate in front of him. A bowl of veggie lo mein sits beside it, chopsticks still resting atop it clean, food untouched.

Hive doesn't knock. He just opens the door and lets himself in, locking the door behind himself and slouching his way in. He's in faded old jeans, plain black tee with a denim shirt unbuttoned over it. He doesn't offer any greeting, either. He heads into the kitchen, crossing past the table to put on a kettle for tea. Prepare a ball with some mint and lavender.

Micah spares a glance over his shoulder when Hive enters, attention drawn briefly by the sound of the opening door. “Hi, Hive,” he offers in a neutral tone that wouldn't be noteworthy typically, but is a far cry from his usually more bright and enthusiastic greetings. His eyes briefly track the telepath into the kitchen, watching until he starts his silent tea-making. Then he turns back into creating what is slowly becoming pancake shreds. Scallion confetti.

Hive just grunts, in return. He continues with his tea preparation in silence, sparing a brief glance for Micah and his pancake-confetti but mostly just watching the tea boil. Steeping it. Eventually, though, he has a hot mug of herbal tea, which he sets down in front of Micah. He pulls out a chair beside the older man, settling himself down into it. His fingers lace over his chest, dark eyes half-lidded as they fix on Micah, deceptively sleepy despite the keen-alert awareness of his mind.

Micah had been /starving/ when he got home from work. Quite looking forward to food during his shower and reheating of leftovers. Then he sat down and thoughts of heading off to work with Regan again took over and then, preemptive nausea. Unbidden remembered images of dozens of illusion-Malthus deaths at his hands. He glares at the pancake as if this is somehow its fault, shredding to tiny pieces apparently an appropriate punishment. The mug of tea earns a confused look, a head tilt in Hive's direction. "You came over to stare at me and make me tea?" he asks with an incredulous tone.

Hive shrugs a shoulder, a quick uncomfortable twitch of motion. "Mint's good for your stomach," he finally volunteers, a little abrupt, a little gruff. His fingers squeeze tighter against each other. Unlace and re-lace, resting over his stomach.

"Apologies if my stomach has been botherin' you," Micah offers, far more of mechanical reflex and less of actual contrition in the apology. The words are aimed more toward the mug of tea than Hive, to judge by the direction of his gaze alone. Stubbornly, he starts pushing pancake-bits into his mouth, chewing slowly.

"Fuck you I don't give a fuck about your gorram stomach," Hive answers, with the same gruffness but no real heat. His eyes close the rest of the way; he watches Micah now mentally rather than with his eyes. "Micah, I --" He stops here. His jaw clenches tight, eyes screwing up. "{Fuck,}" is what he breathes out in exhausted heavy Thai.

Micah continues eating the bits of pancake steadily, ignoring the nausea. He just watches Hive impassively through the string of curses. “What, Hive?” Though the question is short, it sounds more tired than really irritated.

Hive's fingers unlace again. He lifts his hands to dig his palms against his eyes, though keeps them closed when his hands fall heavily back to his lap. "The fuck do you /think/, Micah, I --" At first he /does/ sound irritated, but this cuts off quickly. He exhales a shuddery breath, head tipping back against his seat. "Please." It doesn't sound gruff or irritated anymore, just a quiet tired whisper. "Don't –"

His plate nearly cleared, the pancake has /almost/ managed to find an end to his abuse. Then at the 'don't', Micah tosses the last few pieces from his fingers to the plate. "Don't /what/, Hive? Don't stop Jax from comin' home shaky an' cryin' an' feelin' like he's failin' t'protect his family? Don't stop the threats against /my/ family? Don't stop the twins thinkin' they're gonna lose it one day an' kill Don't stop my /husband/ an' my /kids/ from bein' tortured an' killed?" His tone grows increasingly agitated with each question, the last loaded with one of the mental images that he uses to convince his fingers to pull the trigger, to wear down at the painful seconds of hesitation before the simulated kill-shots. Spencer, terrified and huddled in the corner of his bed, sheets pulled up protectively to his chin. Malthus, face terrifyingly passive, bringing down a long, wicked knife. Bright red blood staining faded Care Bears sheets over a still body. "/You/ wanted t'see me angry," he throws out, bitterly.

Hive flinches, tensing up. First at '/my/ family' and then at the image that fills Micah's mind. His fingers curl into fists, bony forearms tensing. "/You/ don't have to do this, Micah. There's other ways. There's /better/ ways. I could just make the man fucking kill himself, /you/ don't -- don't have to. Please."

No longer having any pancake in them to take things out on, Micah's fingers grip tight to the edge of the table. "No one else is doing anything," hisses out between clenched teeth. He forces the muscles in his jaw to relax slightly, tears pooling in his eyes instead. "Fine then, not me. Just me askin' someone else t'kill /for/ me. An' then what happens? What happens when that person gets caught? What happens when it's one of you?" His head is full of the backlash from Nox killing the cop. Mutant beatings and killings and Ian getting shot to death. The attacks in the sewers. Evolve a smoking ruin. Then, more specific concerns for the person who does the killing. Dusk serving as the example, cops taking him in, pale and underfed. Shoving him into an alley to beat him until he stops moving and even past that point. One uniformed officer leaning against a wall, the casual look-out to prevent any witnesses contesting the story of resisted arrest and necessary force and unintended death. "How can I /possibly/ ask any of you t'do this?"

"How the fuck would anyone catch /me/?" Hive's brows raise. "You know, it's literally impossible to check for telepathic influence without another telepath, and that only works if the person's /alive/. I walk him home and have him put a bullet in his /own/ brain, who the hell would ever know besides you and me. Job like that man has, it's gotta have a whole lot of stress weighing on him." His muscles clench up again at the images coming from Micah, face paling. He presses knuckles to his lips, nausea constricting his expression. "That man needs to die," he agrees, voice tighter, "I just -- /you/ don't -- have to pull that trigger."

The tears swim in Micah's eyes without spilling over, smearing the world in front of him into an Impressionist painting. “Hive, I can't...I can't ask y'to. What if they do...have a way? What if Malthus has that...anti-telepathy material of Osborn's? An'' you've had t'do so many... I can't ask y'to do it again, it's just not...” He shakes his head, mind a cacophony of denial and conflict from also /wanting/ so much to take the out. So much to remove his own hand from it.

"That anti-telepathy shit only works in like -- rooms. Vehicles. Places built in with it. You can't just carry it around in the street with you or God help me I'd /have/ one of those tinfoil hats already and never have to fucking hear --" Hive's jaw clamps shut, his hands shaking as his fists fall back to his lap. "/You're/ not asking shit, Micah, I'm. Fucking begging you. And I don't goddamn beg but this -- you don't want this blood on your hands."

Micah presses his eyes closed, finally breaking the dams of the tears that come streaming hotly down his cheeks. He sits silently, eyes squeezed tight, teeth digging into his white-blanched lip. "Okay." The whisper is so raspy, feather-light, that it might not even be audible, that Hive may just pick up on the telepathic impression of the word more than the sound. "I'm s'posed t'go...practice. In about an hour. The killin'. I'll talk t'the people who're helpin'. They been...scoutin' Malthus. I'll see what they think of. Of this instead. Of your plan. It seems. Like there's less chance of other people gettin' hurt than what they'd come up with. I'll see...I'm so. Not good at this. Make sure we ain't missin' anythin' important. But if they say yes, then. Okay." His breath comes in a sudden shuddery sob and he forgets to edit his words for the first time in over a month. "I'm sorry."

Hive's chair scrapes against the floor loudly as he pulls it closer to Micah's. He reaches out, wrapping bony arms around Micah to tug the other man close, hold him fiercely tight. His arms are trembling, his breath shaky. He says nothing, now, just squeezes Micah close against himself.

Micah collapses into the hug, face pressed damply into Hive's shoulder and fingers clenching fistfuls of the other man's shirt. His shoulders shudder with sharp breaths and silent sobs, clinging to Hive until the tears exhaust themselves.