ArchivedLogs:Always a Problem

From X-Men: rEvolution
Always a Problem
Dramatis Personae

Claire, Dusk, Hive, Jackson, Parley

2013-06-17


(Part of Thunderdome.)

Location

<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. 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.

Jackson's apartment right now is gleaming! Tidied and swept and impeccably polished. A spiraling tree of cupcakes stands on the counter, and the apartment smells heavily of chocolate and orange mingled with the more subdued basil scent of cleaning product. He's -- /probably/ been fretting. Stress-cleaning. Stress-baking! Dusk's apartment has already received a shipment of cookies.

Right now he's doing none of that, though; right /now/ he's perched on a beanbag by the window, with laptop and drawing tablet. His teeth wiggle at one lipring, eye focused on the screen as his stylus taps against it. There's a plate beside him -- it has two empty cupcake wrappers already. A third cupcake is half-finished on the plate.

He is waiting more than drawing, a little fidgety, a little restless; the appointment with Claire was scheduled on short /notice/ but that seems to be the way of things this week. So now. Waiting. Taptaptap. his stylus taps against his tablet, immediately undoes the mess he's just made of his drawing. Fidget.

Dusk is less fidgety. He's out on the fire escape behind Jackson, one giant wing slowly flexing and stretching behind him. The other is tied in place, wrapped securely folded-up with a splint taped to one of its long fingerbones. He has a cigarette in his pale fingers, though he isn't smoking it. It's currently a long mostly-burned-up length of ash that threatens to fall off at any moment, the ember working its way slowly down towards the filter. His eyes fix outward, down at the city, bony-thin elbows propped against the railing.

The knock-knock-knock is very careful, very /neat/ and tidy and steady. Behind the door is one Claire Basil; dressed as smartly as she can manage -- a dark green knee-length skirt, a lighter green coat (with gold buttons!), an off-white (slightly pink!) buttoned up shirt -- and pink flip-flops. There's an expensive leather handbag over one shoulder, and a dark green hat on top of her head, to keep the sun out of her eyes. She's also got a leather briefcase clasped firmly in her other hand -- the size and bulk of it indicate there is probably a laptop inside. A laptop, along with who knows how much more paperwork.

Accompanying Claire in his lurksome secretarial fashion is Parley; he's dressed in the unenthusiastic professionalism you find behind any greeting desk; gray turtleneck - extra high reach - possibly a little hot for the weather, black belt and slacks, glasses. He has the bewildered rumpledness to suggest he hasn't been sleeping /in/ his clothes, but only by virtue of having not been sleeping at all. Pouches under his eyes make a slight /squint/. In all likeliness, he'd gotten to Claire's just in time for her to snag him up in her wake.

Jackson doesn't get up to get the door immediately. He probably should! But he just looks at it with a continuation of fret. His stylus stops tapping. And then starts tapping again! Quickly. Quickquickquick. Taptaptap. Rat-a-tat-tat. In contrast to the others he looks fresh, well-rested. Vibrant! But then, he usually does; illusionists are slower to show strain outwardly. Inwardly, his mind is, as it often is, too-bright, technicolour imagery that would be kind of painful on the EYES if it weren't all in his head. But slower than its usual hummingbird-buzz; sluggish to shift focus, sluggish to get /up/ and answer the door.

Which he eventually does! It takes a minute. His smile is delayed still further. "Hi. Ms. Basil. Parley. Hi." He steps back, waves them inside.

Dusk is slower still. He doesn't actually respond to the knock. His wings quiver. He continues his downward stare at the city as his cigarette burns lower. For the past almost-week he has likely been a fairly miserable person for the psionically gifted to /be/ around and it's not any better today: if the sucking chasm of sad-feelings floating around the building has an epicenter it is probably here, raw and aching.

At the moment, at least, the skinnypale vampire is living /up/ to his inadvertently goth appearance. The intervening days, though -- the news lauding the police force, the speculation on Ian's involvement in the murder of a ~hero~, these things have sharpened the edges of what started out as just bleak bottomless grief. Given it teeth and claws that are climbing their way out of sad into anger. He is listening though he doesn't look like he is, a faint perk of awareness at the knock that has not yet roused itself into motion.

"Mr. Holland," Claire responds, quickly -- her grip on her briefcase tightens as she slips past and into the apartment proper, no doubt silently dragging a /Parley/ along for the ride. Her own thoughts are -- as polished and well-oiled as ever; there's a humming /briskness/ to the way she thinks, whether she is sad or happy -- a faint color of grimness detectable on that shifting, clicking, structured mechanism of a mind -- that, and the notable lack of her usual frivolity are the only hints she gives of her current emotional state. "...oh, have I met --" She looks to Dusk, a moment, eyes lingering -- before adding -- tentatively: "Claire Basil."

"Jax-san," Parley compresses his mouth in nod when the door opens, swept along in the still eddy left in his employer's wake - or /causing/ it. "This is Dusk," he makes the introduction low-key, offering to take Claire's briefcase. << he is (hive and)(ian friedan)'s (roommate). >> He shares the information with the cool, smooth-stone hardness that rides like slate rock in his mind. He runs his eyes up and down Jackson, possibly gauging reflexively what is or is not... /sincere/ in his appearance, though whatever is present is hardly pointed out. It's Dusk he's asking, quietly, "-how is your wing?"

Is he -- edging towards the cupcakes? To /circle/ the little stand they sit on? Shh. He licks his lips, watching faces.

It's a habitual layer of /makeup/ applied -- over the long sweep of scars stretching etched and pitted up Jackson's left side, over the unhealthy pallor in his face, over the sleepless shadows beneath his eyes. And makeup of the more general type, as well; glitter-bright in silver-blue over his eye, chrome-shiny on his nails.

The smile is genuine, if tired; that part usually /is/, quick and warm as he locks the door behind them. "Do y'all want somethin' to eat? Drink? 'sides water there's juice an' lemonade; could make coffee or tea if it suits you. The cupcakes are chocolate. Orange pudding filling 'em." It's an explanation and invitation both, as he nods towards the spiraling cupcake stand. "Though um, I got real food too. Stew. Lentil." He fidgets a hand across the smooth-bald top of his head. "Sorry, Ms. Basil, y'ain't met before but Dusk's -- on my -- team," finishes out loud while << (family) >> is more the concept that rides along with it, though it's muddled-incomplete in concept there, too. Family he fights with? Family he'd die for? Family he will, very possibly, some day order to die. Perhaps more soldier than brother, though there's overlap there.

"Thank you. For comin' on short notice. It's just -- there's been a lot of change and I -- might could use some help figuring out where to even go from here."

Dusk turns when he's addressed; the motion drops the long stick of ash off the end of his cigarette, scattering to float wispy down to the city below. "Parley," holds a quiet note of warmth, in mind even if it doesn't make it to his sort of heavy-dragging tone. "Ms. Basil." He frowns down at the sad end-stub of his cigarette like it has betrayed him by smoking itself while he wasn't paying attention, and stumps it out against the railing to flick it over the edge afterwards. He returns through the fire escape window at an awkward angle, one large wing pulled through before the other.

"It -- feels -- fine, actually," he notes with a trace of puzzlement -- it's only been not yet a week and he /normally/ is far /slower/ to heal than most people! "-- but I don't want to unwrap it yet because --" Because. He doesn't really finish this in words though in sentiment you probably /don't/ need to be psionic to do so. Because hospitals don't /take/ people like him, because x-raying it hasn't been possible, because letting unsplinting the once-broken bone too early could cripple it for life. Corey's mysteryblessing will have to stay mystery a while longer. "-- The cupcakes are delicious," he adds.

The mention of a wing draws Claire's attention toward Dusk; an eyebrow shoots up, a faint hint of curiousity/light peeking out from the depths of her mind. She lets Parley take her briefcase without quibble, listening to his mental chatter -- her attention swivels back toward Jackson. "...no, I'm quite fine. Thank you, however. I'm --" She struggles with the right sentiment here; Parley -- or Hive, if he's listening in -- might pick up a brief tangled knot she's struggling to unravel. Surprise? Curiosity? Worry? Concern? "--happy to help. In any way I can. There's still -- quite a lot of work to be done. An /extraordinary/ amount," she adds, and with this sentiment comes -- an endless torrent of paperwork. Lists of names. People she's tracking. Interviews, being conducted. Information, recorded. So /much/ work.

And even then, that's the work that's managed to /reach/ Claire's desk; the increase in mutant assaults has likely found more mutants reaching out for justice, of which Parley has fielded with a necessary mercilessness. Boilerplate response questions - was there injury? was it documented? were there witnesses? was there an arrest? did you resist?

Sadly, very few stand a chance. And for now, so many must be turned away or postponed.

For now, Parley is - well, it's difficult to entirely say, he's preoccupied in handing a cupcake back and forth between either hand, absently circling around Dusk to look at his wing. Not touching, but studying with a slight frown between his brows. "...and there's more, yet." He murmurs. Licking at a bit of crumb on his thumb.

"S'always a lot to be done," Jackson agrees, returning to his computer. He doesn't touch it again, but he does pull a thumb drive out of his pocket to fidget with /that/, too. And after this he cuts right to the chase: "Tony Stark is holdin' a press conference. Tomorrow. With me. And Dr. Saavedro. About the fight ring. And trying to end all this -- violence." His eye cuts to Dusk at this, briefly, and then returns to -- Parley, actually, rather than Claire. "We have video from the fights, now. But I don't -- know how much good any of it'll do. What happened last weekend destroyed a lot of any hope we have about gettin' public /sympathy/ for this."

Dusk's wings quiver; one stretches out slightly, the other presses against its binding and then stills. "The video's really kind of horrifying. But at this point that'll probably just -- add to the idea that we're all monsters." The last word there draws a small smile out of him. Thin. And sharp-fanged.

At the mention of Tony Stark's name -- Dr. Saavedro -- press conference. Tomorrow. Fight rings announced -- there's a brief flutter of shock in Claire's mind that doesn't register on her face (beyond the sudden upward spring of eyebrows). "...Stark? The -- computer fellow?" Claire is not familiar with American celebrities. But it's kind of hard to not have a passing knowledge of them, particularly not when they're plastered on /everything/. "Why... Stark?" But then, at the mention of video, Claire visibly grimaces. "During some of the interviews, it came out that they were clever enough not to sell any video feeds of more--" << (normal-looking?) >> "--visibly sympathetic mutants. Only the ones people would presume are --" A glance to Dusk. A tightening of that mouth, followed by a slow, grim nod. "--monstrous. And yes. Officer Whelan's death was -- unfortunate. This will come out as an attempt to besmirch his 'good name'. Or some such nons--"

Claire pauses, mid-sentence. Eyes widening. A glance thrown toward Parley; her eyes sweep back toward Jackson, then. Something hard and edged in her tone as her mind suddenly begins to /buzz/ with thought. "...the interviews. Was he -- I can't even recall. We've done so many already, but. I think -- he was one. If he was -- Mr. Holland, we have him on tape /confessing/ to this."

Parley meets Jackson's look, his head tipping down as though something were... communicated in the contact. That, or he's just tipping down to bite into his /cupcake/. Shortly, he's turning to meander to the window, turning his back to the room. A /huff/ of air pushes through his nose, as though impressed - or just drearily /sympathetic/, "First Osborn, now Stark... You're a /magnet/ for millionaires, Jackson Holland."

Tipping up his head when the shadow of a pigeon flickers across the windowframe, he says, abruptly, "-- there's a problem."

"He came for --" Jackson starts, but then shakes his head like this is not important; what /is/ is: "Not just computers. I mean, he's in defense. He's in basically everything. Has a lot of government contracts. But most of all? He's one of the most famous people /in/ this city and we got a lotta them. I don't think a one of us could've made the media stop an' listen after this," << sickbastardmotherfucker >> "police shootin' business. But if he wants them to stop an' listen, they'll stop an' listen." His lips compress. "I just," he admits, quieter, "ain't all that sure what to let them /hear/, things keep escalating and --"

The breath he draws in is slow. His brow creases as he looks to Claire. "/Him/? You got him on tape? That's --" Huge? But his mind is slow to process right now, just turning this over cool and numb and black. "-- Problem?"

<< When. Is there not a fucking problem. >> Hive doesn't sound cranky really but it's hard to gauge; his voice just /snaps/ whipcrack-sharp down into all their minds. If it weren't such a weaponlike jolt it would probably be a /sigh/.

Dusk winces, the upper tip of one wing lifting to press its clawed thumb against his temple. "Billionaires," he gives in sort of dust-dry correction. "How would you present that? As tightly wired as the city is right now, people will think telepath. They'll think metamorph. They'll think anything that'll let them keep on propping him up as a hero."

"Yes," Claire responds, quickly -- sharp, harsh, penetrating -- her eyes narrowing. "We have--" Oh. /Ouch/. She grimaces, her grip on the cane tightening at the grating note of Cranky-Hive voice. << {...Hello,} >> she says, in softer, careful French -- even as, in English, aloud: "...Hello." Then: "Problem?" she asks Parley, her eyes sweeping back to Dusk -- there's something hungry in her eyes, her posture, her tone: "/Maybe/. Some would, yes. But -- there is a saying, among my friends. When you have an ace, never use it until it's too late. At the press conference. Mention no officer's names. Do not implicate Whelan -- in /anything/. If someone asks -- /no comment/. Wait," she adds, a slight clench of teeth, "for /them/ to make it about him. To accuse you of besmirching his good name. The mayor, perhaps. The chief of police. /Then/ reveal the video -- when they've bared their throats."

Where Hive's mind hammers down on the rest of the minds present, it hits only softness in Parley's. A gentle /give/, cushioning the blow... though sinking beneath it as well. And he constricts politely, like a deep inner muscle, to give the telepath something firmer, for a moment, to sense of him. << (just wait.)(this one's new.) >>

He turns, arms crossing, to lean against the wall beside the window. "-the American government has been communicating with Latveria. They've been discussing an exchange of mutant-suppressing technology that hasn't yet been agreed upon." Though his expression is merely severe, nearly-smiling, one of his thumbs is rubbing restlessly for a few cycles along a index finger. "If we release this, and it sets off the /mutant/ community into further escalation, we could be forcing their hand ourselves." In the forefront, his smile. Just behind it, a /clench/ twitches in his jaw muscles. "This is a technology that makes Osborn's drones look like toys." He's looking Jackson in the eyes again. "Only these ones are programmed to take you alive."

There should probably be something there in Jackson in response to this -- dismay, upset, shock. But there's only a slow inward tightening, quietly harder, quietly pensive. "And if we don't release it, do you think the escalation's going to stop?" It's not a challenge, it's a genuine uncertainty: "Things're already spiraling." << and I don't know where the brakes are. >> "I ain't had no delusions of finding no /justice/ in any of this for a while. I just want to stop the killing from getting --" His lips clamp down; in his mind there is just a formless swirl of shadow, shifting and reshaping. "But things ain't gonna change without a catalyst."

<< Won't stop. It'll just burn slower. People already want blood. It'll just change /whose/. >> Hive -- sadly doesn't sound like he thinks this is /entirely/ a bad thing.

"The cops," Dusk says through clenched fanged teeth, "were murdering us in the streets even /before/ that stupid fucking monster," << killed that bastard >> "got killed. People might die. But people /will/ die. Are already dying. And /that's/ going to continue if this doesn't come out. Right now they're on track to give the cops /more/ license to kill us. Staying quiet won't derail /that/ train. The /level/ of corruption this thing represented -- it's going to get brushed under the rug if we /let/ them sweep it there."

"...after the video is released," Claire continues, her tone much more subdued beneath the teeth-gritting anger in Dusk's tone, "when they begin to claim it's telepathy, or a metamorph. /Then/ we release the bank account information. Connecting the purchased videos -- with the account -- which is connected to Officer Whelan's name. If we're /very/ lucky," she adds, slightly more tensed -- as if asking for this might be -- /too/ much! -- "some of the people associated with that account might make public statements denouncing the accusation. At which point, we can expose their specific involvement."

Claire turns, then, toward Parley -- frowning a tense little frown. "I heard on the news. The Latverian monarch is giving the government aid -- they didn't specify of what type. I presume this is what you mean by..." She shakes her head, though. "Regardless of how this changes the landscape -- this is an opportunity too perfect not to take. An opportunity to give the /truth/ a turn. With Mr. Stark's press conference, the videos -- followed by the inevitable attempts by those in power to paint this as a smear campaign -- followed by the release of Whelan's confession? /With/ the financial information shortly thereafter? Many people will think whatever they'd prefer," she relents, but soon adds: "But some. Some will no longer know /what/ to believe."

Parley listens - to Claire's /doggedly/ meticulous planning, his eyes shifting across the far wall as though following each of her points in the air. And to Dusk and Jackson, with those eyes then quietly closing. He turns back to the window, "...it could be done." There's reluctance to leap - or perhaps reluctance to /want/ to stop it.

To Claire alone, he adds, quieter, << (...they're so angry.) >>

But 'angry' could just as easily be reworded to << (in pain.)(if this blows up--)(--the damage it would do them...) >>

"What /do/ we believe," Jackson is musing mostly to himself, dropping down to sit in his beanbag chair. He picks up the half-eaten cupcake he's been working on, licking orange pudding out of its center. "I think no matter what happens, s'gonna be ugly. But." His gaze lowers to the thumb drive in his hand. "It's already ugly."

Dusk doesn't say anything, here. His wings flutter, one huge limb lifting as the other presses hard against its taped binding. He turns aside, eyes fixing on the window outside. His arms curl tight against his chest, wing settling back down in a fuzzy soft cape against his back. << (already so ugly) >> is in his mental plane coloured hot dry red. Hungry angry bloody red.

<< {I know.} >> is Claire's response to Parley, whisper-soft. But audibly, she speaks, eyes locked on Jackson: "Another thing -- you're releasing the videos at this press conference, I presume? Have you contacted the people -- /in/ those videos?" A pause, before she adds: "...the ones who are still alive. Because -- it's going to get ugly, yes. But it's particularly going to get ugly for /them/."

With his back to the room, Parley's mind opens, and lets the bloody red flow inward. And what he shows in return, to all in the room is - clinical. Cold.

<< (An image of a room behind thick reinforced glass; a mutant ringed in combative flame, his teeth bloody and broken, screaming in furious Russian at a looming machine that drags him into the air and effortlessly slams him down again by the leg.)(Played over it is a hard, monotone voice roaring through a mechanical projection "-from a tactical standpoint, these models will be accompanied by a class of units equipped with at least three different forms of neutralisation - electroshock, tranquillisation darts and rubber pellets-") >>

"It can always get uglier," his voice, in contrast, is absent-light. Almost like he's offering. He inhales, allows it out, "I can help go over the footage, if you'd like, and try to match identities with the survivors. One of them is-" He gestures loosely towards the exit, "Living in my apartment for the time being."

"I've watched it all," Jackson says this in a quietly detached tone, his gaze no longer really focused on anything. Just downward. But in the next moment it is clear and sharply present, watching Parley and Claire steadily. "Three of them are currently living with me. Almost all are dead. One is -- likely a wanted fugitive. I didn't intend to -- blindside anyone still alive, no." He rises, offering the thumb drive out on a palm, to Claire or Parley either. "It's not -- pleasant. I wouldn't advise watching it if it's not -- necessary." If he has any reaction to the mental image relayed, it doesn't show much. Filing it away inwardly, the mental cataloguing oddly detached, too.

The clinical cold image finds in Dusk just a continuation of fierce-hot-red. Hungry. Rage. His fingers tighten against his bicep; the squeeze isn't as stark in him as it would be in most; where his fingers press down hard he has no colour there to /lose/. "It can always get uglier," he manages finally, quiet. "There's only a couple in the footage who -- /survived/ their fights who we don't know. Two, maybe. You could just not show those. -- Don't know if showing Nox's would make things better or worse. Explain her reasons. But make her look a monster again."

There is a sudden hard tenseness in Claire's mind; is it at the image of clinical abuse that Parley throws her and the others? Or at Jackson's words? Perhaps both? It's hard to say. Her brain /clenches/, seizing up as Jackson holds out that thumb drive to her. Her hand moves to reach for it -- but then she's speaking, even as her hand hesitates -- as if tempted to pull back /without/ it. "The three. Are they alright with..." Her eyes snap up to Jackson's, then. "...living with you?" Her eyes narrow -- then widen. "Your children." << {Oh, God.} >> "Mr. Holland -- are you sure you want to -- have you spoken with them?"

Claire's eyes drift, then, toward Dusk -- /more/ tenseness at the name 'Nox'. "...Nox. {Lord deliver me.} It would be -- if she is in these videos," Claire adds, glancing back to Jackson now, "this would essentially be as good as a confession from her."

"If anyone needs to be painted in a sympathetic light, it would be her right now. We could easily position it that Mr. Whelan /trained/ her to kill - hubris might be an appealing angle, if we introduce it near the end." Parley is scrubbing at an eyesocket, looking somehow more tired now as he watches the faces around him, watches the thumbdrive only negligently, slumping further against the wall.

"-- Unpleasant things don't vanish if you look away. If this footage is shown in court, it's better to be prepared for what's on it." He comes away from the wall, moves towards Claire but... slows, not-quite touching Jackson's forearm, but holding a hand over it as though requesting permission to. Looking for a moment at his face. "We're going to do everything we can."

"If it comes up --" Jackson hesitates, and nods. "He did. Sort of. More than sort of. Push everyone into that." The not-quite-touch is accepted with a tip of his head, a slight lift of his hand into it; there's a very faint easing inside, here. Not a lot. Blunting the edges of the hardness that has calcified throughout this conversation. "My kids, yes. And a third. But he's -- we can't show. The other, he's a kid too." A muscle twitch-jumps in his cheek. "My kids," the words are steady but he speaks them through his teeth, "know. They're OK with it." His eye meets Parley's, and he nods, once. "Thank you. Yes. We." The look he gives to Dusk is /worried/, more inside than externally, a uncomfortable twist of concern that he is not sure how much he can risk giving /in/ to right now (so much to /do/ so little time for the people he wants to give time to.) "-- do everything we can."

"If anyone needs --" Dusk gets no farther than that. Inside him, the hard fierce anger flares -- and then dies. Replaced instead by an odd quiet-blank -- determination? Hardness? Nothingness? He slips past the others, one wingtip brushing lightly against Jax's and Parley's elbows in turn. "Thank you," he says, quiet, to Claire and Parley, but that's all; he's heading for the door.

Claire produces a low, throatish sigh -- she steps back when Parley moves in to take the drive. The tenseness loosens, the knot unraveling -- but she's still tight, still harsh and hard-edged. "...I understand," she tells Jackson, her eyes turning -- to Parley, then. Back to Jackson. "...be safe, Mr. Holland. If there's anything else I can do -- please, don't -- hesitate."

Parley's eyes flutter slightly, as Dusk's soft wing trails past, fingers reflexively trailing over it delicately before they reach back, cup beneath Jackson's forearm and he takes the drive gently as though it were a bruised thing. Slips it from sight into a pocket. He stands there, up close and -- rigid. With his head head tipped down. And awkwardly, he... gives Jackson's arm a squeeze, and steps away. With a muffin swiped for the road, he hooks up Claire's briefcase and offers her his arm, to walk her out.