Part of perfectus TP.
<NYC> The Unicomplex - Village Lofts - East Village
In contrast to the messy apartment outside, this room actually tends to be fairly neat. Clothes in the two laundry hampers, books and clutter relegated to the bookshelf or the desks. It's set up for two, Flicker's neat-made bed on the left wall and Hive's generally unmade one on the right; the shared closet is large, on Flicker's side of the room, the shared bookshelf on Hive's side packed full. The back wall holds a pair of desks side by side, both with their own desktops. The walls are eclectically decorated. A replica of Arya Stark's Needle, a few bright-colored but anachronistically somewhat morbid paintings of Jax's, a Mega Man X poster, a stained-glass suncatcher hung in the window and a collage of feathers framed on one wall.
Possibly at some point today Hive was planning on /going/ to work, setting up actually in his office to be productive. That has not actually happened, though. Instead he's at home -- though being productive! In red and gold Theta Tau cap, baggy Cornell sweatshirt, faded jeans, warm new blue socks, he is tucked into his desk chair with a soft black blanket draped over his lap. There's a thermos of coffee to one side of his mousepad beside a large bottle of ibuprofen, caffeine fresh-brewed by Dusk if the coffee-smell in the kitchen and his roommate working out in the living room are any indication. There are plans spread across his three monitors; the Commons on two of them though the third monitor has -- perhaps an office-building, half-completed. Hive is working -- very slowly, with frequent pauses to try and wrangle tired-unsteady hands back into cooperation.
There's a mind come, to the front door, that subsequently lets itself in and heads towards the kitchen, embodied of something somewhere a dog gnawing on a bone and a pile of suitcases falling down a flight of stairs. Jim's /planty/ today, or at least has been since coming in the building, slightly ruddy and smelling of ceder, with a trace of spiky green needles at the wrist bones and hinge of jaw, wearing the ratty tweed coat he's been tooling around in lately, over a brown and cream flannel buttoned up over a green t-shirt.
He passes up Dusk with a chin-jerk of greeting, raids the kitchen for whatever hopefully thick black coffee he can cozen off the household, before crossing the livingroom way to announce through the steam, "So I guess I should be giving Mel a baby shower or something." Just kind of - drops that bomb in Hive's doorway.
Hive doesn't look up from his work at Jim's approach, answering his entry with a brief press of psionic energy flicking out in light tap against the older man's mind before withdrawing. "Hngh," is his answer to Jim's announcement, rocking back slightly in his chair and taking the arrival as cue to give up on his mouse and keyboard for the moment and instead reach for his coffee. Also slowly, closing both hands around the thermos and squeezing in tight before he lifts it. "How the fuck do you do one of those? Is that /your/ job? I thought that was like a. Fff. I don't know. Friend. Thing. But I've never had a baby I'm not actually sure."
Clean, sharply scented coniferous needles in Jim's mind ripple in response to mental touch; all shedding bark and sap and gritted Jimminess. Full of uncomfortable flicker-thoughts of Melinda sitting across from him at Home, wringing her hands and being huge-bellied. "Dude, /I/ don't know. I. Us. Her friends. S'a thing that happens around this time, isn't it?" Is he asking Hive for advice? He doesn't even /know/, it's an unhappy prowling thought in his head as he comes further into the room.
"/I/ don't know dude you know how many of my friends have actually spawned? /You're/ like eighty you should know this shit by now you must've known someone before who whelped." Hive slides his thermos open with his teeth, taking a careful sip of hot coffee /also/ through his teeth. "Should ask Micah about this shit he's /so/ fucking. Eager. About baby crap. He's probably already /planning/ a fucking --" He waves a hand towards Jim. "Presents."
Jim drops /dry/ sidelook from behind his coffee, "Somehow missed out on the 'family' scene this decade." Lower-mutters, "My ex always dealt with this kind of crap." Clearly, that's why he's now talking to Hive, they're pretty much married. "Yeah, I'll ask Mickey. I don't even know what you fucking... do. Where the hell are all the uterus-carriers around here? S'a fucking sausagefest." He leans over Hive's shoulder and points to the third monitor, with the less recognizably... 'Commons' building displayed on it. "S'that."
"Don't think you need a uterus to know about baby showers, dude." Hive takes another sip of coffee and sets his thermos carefully back down on the desk. "Think Micah's already. Knitting -- fucking. Blankets. For the kid." He slouches forward, propping an elbow on his desk and slowly returning his hand to his mouse. "That. Is work for someone who's actually paying me goddamn /money/. Pretty fucking novel."
"You get paid with the satisfaction of hard work," Jim assures sardonically, never mind the low gritty guilt lurking at the back of his mind, thinking of all the hospital bills and treatment plans stacking up somewhere in the world. He almost leans against the back of Hive's chair on habit until he remembers all the shaking might make Hive's limb-management even harder, and instead drops onto whatever else is nearby to serve as a seat. Maybe the desk itself. Maybe the bed.
"I don't," Hive is musing, almost to himself with a low note of amusement buried in his tone, "even have insurance. Too late for that now I guess." One side of his mouth curls upward, tugging briefly into almost-a-smile before returning to a tired droop. "Shit. Does hard work count as currency now then? Because in that case I have a fucking /goldmine/ for you."
"Think Jax's got us all beat," Jim is not smiling in return. For a moment, thinking of the dark underground of the sewers; how many Morlocks would be infinitely more comfortable is ones industry actually equated ones financial success. << And how many god damn Wallstreet mother fuckers would be sleeping in cardboard boxes. Or eating them. >> He shouldn't laugh but he DOES, "And yeah, a little late. You think? You got one hell of a fucking /pre-existing condition/ cooking up there." Up there being - Hive's SKULL.
"Motherfucker doesn't need downtime, he cheats." Hive tugs his keyboard a little closer, fingers tapping at the keys until he's pulled up a picture on the screen -- it's a photograph /of/ a drawing, Anole gaunt and dirty huddled on a dingy matress in an old grey Army sweatshirt that sags unevenly in one arm, some dingy-dimlit room full of scattered fast-food wrappers and wadded up bloodstained bandages on the floor. A thin window, winter-bare trees and a building with round brick columns visible through the slim slit to outside. "Here. Take a look at. This. Thing." He waves a hand towards the drawing on the screen.
Like a vacuum torn into space, all the grim humor and ease in Jim is sucked away and replaced by a very deep, very sudden coldness. A hardness that slams in and roots deep, where shock and disgust would dwell. Outwardly, it's only a moment of widening eyes. A sudden silence that isn't, at first, breathing. And a snarl that curls his lips back gradually when he speaks, "...who the fuck would draw something like this." << fucking snuff pervert mother fucker i'll kill him. >>
Hive rocks back in his chair, eyes drooping half-closed as he weathers the shifting landscape of Jim's mind. His elbows drop to the armrest of the chair, fingers curling in to rest against his stomach. "Person who drew it isn't the problem. Jax met a guy. Clairvoyant, I guess. Remote -- viewing. Or drawing. Or -- fuck. If he's got something personal of someone's, he can close his eyes and /draw/ -- wherever the fuck they are. Window of space around them. If they're alive."
He lets this sink in for a moment, and tips his hand out towards the screen. "Gave him a bracelet of Horus's. A chess piece of Matt's. Pups dug up his tablet," with a nod towards the screen, "from his dorm. The drawing he did of Horus led us straight the fuck to him."
"Okay." Inhale. Exhale. "So..." Jim is up, suddenly on his feet, stalking - somewhere. Anywhere. Whipping around, coming back. His respiration and the shift of fabric in his clothes is suddenly very loud in this moment. "You've known about this for /how/ long now? Without telling me a god damn--! Where is he?"
Hive's teeth grind slow, a grating creak to overlap with Jim's pacing. "Jax and Micah have just been getting the drawings commissioned," he answers with a slow squeeze of his eyes. "Found Horus, got this one -- Matt's is still in the. Works." He lifts his hands from his stomach, pressing palms heavily against his temples.
"Don't know where he is. Isn't sleuthing your gig? This shit's all we have to go on." He opens his eyes again, reaching out to tap a finger against the screen, pointing to the building visible through the window. "But that. That building I think I know. It's this bigass fucking -- Armory. Kingsbridge. In the Bronx. 'least I think it is. But there must be a million fucking places in the Bronx that can see the thing out their windows."
"...Not as many that'd have a window that narrow," Jim hears himself saying, through the turmoil. Through a dark thought churning like tar, of memories. << last time you went looking for a kid, jimmy... >> He clenches it in, harder, like cracking knuckles and popping joints to internalize it behind hardwood and a dead language when Hive's eyes close against the intensity of it. Because he's also thinking, methodically, with eyes locked on the image. << -concrete floor. not wood. narrow windows. basement? or upper story in a warehouse? could scope out the building. check the angle. >>
A part of him hates it. How easy it can be, to look past the blood. The scattered wrappers. The pathetic huddling. The other part is just relieved it can. "The artist's images," he jerks a chin, "They correlate to a time of day?"
Hive rubs his fingers up against the side of his head, pressing down against fuzzy-short hair to trace against the scars beneath. "Not -- sure. Maybe just whenever he's working. I think it's a. Think it's -- think he draws things /then/." His hands slowly drop back against his stomach. "Don't know when he was working on this. Not much to go on, but you think you could --" He grimaces, looking at the picture and then dropping his eyes unhappily away from it. "That. Do that. Thing. You're doing."
<< That thing where I make everything exponenially worse? >> It's not meant to be part of an answer, not meant for Hive at all. But it's there, in Jim; thinking of dark eyes in the tangible shadows. Of a voice whispering 'james...' << christ this'd have killed nox to see. >>
And still, he's chewing steadily on in the background. << no bars in the window - is that too narrow for him to fit through? be a tight fit. wouldn't matter if it /was/ a higher up level of the building, the kid can wall crawl. he too hurt to try or-- >> ..., he almost stops himself, then doesn't. Churns on, << is he prisoner at all. not impossible, jimmy, he's just squatting on his own. never assume, buddy... >>
"I wanna see the original picture," he says out loud. Gruff. A hand shoving itself in a pocket to fish around, "Snap a few photos of my own. Get some close ups." He withdraws a small battered little notebook and thumbs it open, pulling a pen free as well. "--Kingsbridge Armory?"
"Downstairs. Ask Jax or Micah for it." Hive's teeth grind slowly again, fingers still working at the sides of his head. "Thing where you poke around. Find -- whatever the fuck. There is to be found. Would he have ditched all his shit if he were just fucking off to go be on his own?" It's not an argument, just an actually curious question; Hive barely knows Anole anyway save by proxy. "I mean he seemed pretty tight with Peter and the pups and they haven't heard shit-all since just after the." His teeth grind again. "After the." Crrrrrk. In lieu of words only a thud of mental imagery. Sagging rotting faces and teeth tearing chunks out of flesh. Screams overlapping with sirens in otherwise eerily-deserted city streets. "And I mean he fucked off from school to /check/ on your folk so it doesn't seem like he'd've. Not said anything to you guys either."
"Doesn't seem the type," Jim answers evenly down towards his notebook. Writing other words in short hand, reminding himself to look into building records, standards for narrow window panes for what years might correlate with custom-cut glass, locations in the Bronx that might sell large numbers of bandages (and candywrappers? really, jimmy, you know how many corner stores there are in the fucking Bronx?) "But the quicker you assume something, the sooner you are to miss something." Not like he believes it himself. << ...left school alone to come check on us? christ, stupid little... /bastard/. >>
His heart is thudding harder than it should, and he stares at the notebook for a moment beyond what it needs to write in it, not reading anything. Just breathing. "Welp," snap of his wrist, and the notebook is closed. Tucks it into an inner pocket. Breath in. Breath out. "... thanks. For." The information. The bad news - or maybe it's good news. Jim's not really decided. "Letting us know."
"There were things." Tearing-flesh-screaming-rotting. Things. "He was worried you wouldn't -- have food." Hive's teeth grind again. "Don't know exactly when he. Stopped texting the pups. Would have to ask them." He closes the window with the picture, slouching in against his desk to reach for his mouse. His hand misses, thudding down against the desktop instead. He slumps down further, resting his head on his arm. "You manage to narrow the area down some I can -- come up. Listen, at least. City's fucking noisy but when people are --" Chrrrrk, his teeth are grinding together harder still. "... some minds are louder."
<< That'll be a fucking /last/ resort. >> This steadies many things harder, watching Hive slump down over an arm. << Rather end up in a god damn cage again- >> "Guess it's too late to yell at him for not texting ahead," Jim is trying not to think of the blood bandages. The gaunt body. The cold -- resignation sinking into the back of his mind. "The twins already know about this?" It's already just... a 'this'. It's gaining momentum, in him. That clean somehow /pure/ line that puts, somewhere in the future, a window he can put his /fist/ through.
"They've been at school. Mostly at school I think. I don't know what their dads have told them yet. Kids got -- fucking /exams/ this week they don't need --" Hive's head shakes, against his arm, slowly back and forth from one side to the other. "You find him, man, you can yell all you fucking want."
"When's the last time this world gave a shit about what any of us needed?" Jim mutters, looking out a window, at the city beyond. << Don't need to talk to them yet anyway. >> With a more subversive thought, << ...though if I narrow it down to neighborhood, gotta wonder... all those bloody bandages... >>
"Rest up, Hivey." He's turning towards the door.
"The world gave me stars." Hive sounds a little distant, here, face still buried against his arm. "S'fucking stupid but I was starting to hope --" This just cuts off into a sharper chuff of breath. He pushes himself upright slowly, grunting quiet acknowledgment. And slowly starting to reach again for his mouth, teeth gritting once more as he returns rather painstakingly to his work.