From X-Men: rEvolution
Dramatis Personae

B, Iolaus, Joshua, Matt, Steve


"Really curious what sort of apology you think's going to cut it."


<NYC> Central Park South

Central Park South is home not just to the park itself, but also to the Belvedere Castle, the Alice in Wonderland statues, and the Central Park Zoo. These areas tend to draw tourists like a magnet - it is, perhaps, for that very reason that places like Bethesda Terrace tend to attract more New Yorkers than not, if just to escape the press of tourism that infiltrates the whole city.

The sky has been spitting rain on and off all day, and in between showers remaining mild and gray. This is not, perhaps, the afternoon for a pet adoption fair, but there's one going on nonetheless. All of the pens and crates are set up under big white canopies, and even the information desk up front is under an awning from which hangs a big banner reading 'A NEW LEASH ON LIFE!' Volunteers mill around, chatting amongst themselves, playing with the animals -- mostly dogs, some cats, play a scattering of birds and exotics -- and trying not to swarm every visitor who wanders their way. Half of the people who approach the fair seem to just waiting out the latest shower.

Steve is sitting in a folding chair, petting the immense brindled mutt beside him -- some kind of bully mix, probably? He's wearing a waterproof black workout jacket over a red, white, and blue flannel shirt, much-chewed blue jeans, and scuffed black combat boots. There's a library book tucked against his side -- /The Mists of Avalon/ by Marion Zimmer Bradley -- and a silver travel mug in his other hand, redolent of cheap coffee, though he seems to be enjoying it just fine.

B is slow in making her way through the park. Currently sporting glittery silver skinny jeans, enormous stompy knee-high boots, a purple jacket with her kutte over top -- though her clothes are a little damp she seems unbothered by the threat of impending rain. Her attention is mostly focused on the phone in her hands, a lot of glowing green -- or, wait, grey -- on its screen -- she's muttering quietly in Vietnamese as she sidles up alongside Steve. "{Who on earth -- oh, dammit,}" Hir head lifts to address -- nobody in particular, "Can't you just pet puppies or something?"

A moment later Joshua materializes beside them, leaning down to scruff the mutt on the head. "I can multitask. Pet puppies /and/ stomp your fields."

Unlike most of those fetching up against the fair by accident or for shelter, Matt comes striding in amongst the canopies with a purpose. He wears a light green softshell jacket with silver trim, gray cargo pants, and brown hiking boots. He has an olive Blue Suns messenger bag slung across his chest and carries, closed but still damp, a black umbrella with a clear plastic shaft that's /glowing/ in Blade Runner fashion. He stops often to stoop down and pet, before spotting and making for the little cluster of familiar faces. "Look at you!" he coos at the dog, kneeling and settind down his umbrella so he can dedicate both hands to the scritching of ears. "You are so huge and muscley and perfect!" He pauses and peers past the dog at Steve, B, and Joshua, blushing just a little. "Salut! What's her name?"

Steve looks up and waves when B approaches. To hir question he looks somewhat perplexed and begins to reply, "I /am/ petting --" But Joshua's arrival demystifies him and he breaks off into a snicker insead. "So which team has the park now?" to both of them, lifting his coffee for a long drink. He starts to salute Matt with the same mug, but then looks vaguely self-conscious and sets it down in his chair's cup holder. "This spectacular lady," he replies, smoothing a hand down the dog's flank, "is Zenobia." He reaches into his pocket and palms a small training treat. "Zen, take a bow!" The dog pops up and drops into a play bow, tail wagging high and muzzle almost touching the ground. "Good girl!" Steve flicks the treat up with his thumb nail and Zenobia neatly snags it out of the air before sitting down again.

"Nobody has it /now/," B complains -- though it's a halfhearted sort of complaint.

Joshua is already tucking his phone back into his jeans pocket. "I'm playing on the side of chaos, today. Seems an approprite day for gray." His eyes widen, suitably impressed at the dog's tricks. "Nice. What a sweet girl, huh?"

"I think we need another dog at the Commons, don't we?" B is hanging back, though she looks pretty delighted at Zenobia as well. "Steve, how come you haven't brought any of them /home/? You're the worst puppy supplier ever." She's drifting over to claim Matt's umbrella for herself -- mostly so she can play with the light in its handle, flicking it on and off.

Matt's hands come up to his mouth, but can't quite cover his wide, joyous smile. "Oh! Oh, oh, oh!" It takes him a moment to recover the capacity to form coherent words again. "How wonderful!" His hands stray back to Zenobia's ears, rubbing gently this time. "The Commons has /so/ many dogs, though." With a deep, wistful sigh. "/My/ house has none."

Hair grown out long to reach almost his shoulders and flecked through with strands of grey, Iolaus looks quite a bit older than he had only a year earlier. His clothing, too, has changed -- worn, looser, hanging off of his shoulders instead of tailored-fit. He steps through the park, windbreaker tugged around his shoulders. As he starts to pass the little crowd of animals, though, Iolaus veers off of the path, a slight smile tugging at a corner of his lips. The smile freezes in place as his eyes flick from the dogs to the other /people/ at the gathering, though, pausing in mid step. His eyes bounce from figure to figure, stopping on several people in turn -- B, Matt, Joshua. The doctor closes his eyes for several seconds, sighs deeply, then steps over towards the group. "B. Matt. Joshua." Iolaus says, quietly.

Steve hangs his head. "I know, it is a tremendous shame to me, honestly. But I didn't want to get a pet while I was staying in the guest room, and now, well, I'd have to talk it over with Savannah, obviously..." His hand thumps the dog's side, which sounds like a muffled bass drum. "Besides, I was making sure there were plenty of the dogs for the Tessiers to adopt, obviously." His eyes had begun tracking Iolaus -- not wary or concerned at all, just watching -- well before the man spoke. He does not speak, but studies Iolaus's face closely, the slightest wrinkle forming between his brows.

"Yeah, can you /imagine/ this slobberpuss on your brother's immaculate furniture? Muddy pawprint all over his gleaming floor?" B is kind of giggling at the thought.

"You have fish," Joshua adds mildly. "What more do you need? Cuddle them. I'm sure --" But whatever he was going to finish this sentence with, it just cuts off. His lips press slightly together a good while before Iolaus has actually approached, and though outwardly he's still quiet -- calm. Crouched petting the dog. His telepathy stretches alertly outward in silent mental watchfulness.

It takes a moment longer for B to stiffen. Hir nose twitches, gills fluttering. Ze sets Matt's umbrella back down, rocking a half-step back closer to the others as hir black eyes fix on Iolaus, silently.

"I /can/, and it's /wonderful/." Matt boops Zenobia's big black nose. "He would make the most dramatic faces about the mess you made and then spoil you extravagantly anyway." With his back turned toward Iolaus, Matt should perhaps have been the last to notice, but as soon as Joshua's telepathy unfurls, he goes still. Half-turning, he keeps an arm draped over the dog's broad shoulders and stares up at the newcomer. His first thought is to just leave--but dismisses this at once. << {What possesses him to speak to us now? I should almost like to know...} >> A slow churn of anger rises inside of him, fierce but manageable, at least for the moment. "Iolaus," he says softly, his voice uncharacteristically cool and dispassionate.

Iolaus nods his head in greeting as each person looks to him in turn, lips pressing together for a moment. << Well, I suppose I should be thankful that they haven't started speaking with their fists. >> Iolaus glances at B, bowing his head once. << Or claws. >> "Sorry to interrupt your afternoon. B... I'd like to talk to you at some point, when you have time. Lunch, coffee." Iolaus waves his hand, once. "Whatever."

"Zenobia is a very well-mannered lady!" Steve pats the dog on the head as if to reassure her that no one would believe B's slander. "Though...she /is/ kind of slobbery and likes a nice soft couch if she can find one, but that's hardly her fault." He's a little puzzled by the others' reactions to Iolaus. << But if they're alarmed by his presence, he might be trouble. >> Shifting in his seat almost imperceptibly, he is more than prepared to reach for the shield leaning against the back of the chair if need be. When Matt speaks the man's name, the furrow between his brows deepens. << Iolaus Saavedro is the doctor who founded Mendel. Maybe this is him? It's not that common of a given name... >>

Joshua's brows hike up when Iolaus addresses B. There's a reflexive tension in him at the 'sorry', though it fades back into quiet vigilance.

B is less quiet. A soft growl in hir throat at the apology that only deepens afterwards. It trails off into a quiet huff of laughter, though. "You want to take me to /lunch/? Right. And I'd be subjecting myself to this because --?"

Matt pointedly turns his attention back to the dog, scratching under her chin and along her jaw. << {He's not talking to me, and I should just ignore him. That would be best. I wasn't ready to see him and I'll. Just. Ignore him. This conversation won't last long.} >> His breathing comes slow and steady.

"Because we were friends once, and I owe you an apology." Iolaus looks at Joshua, and then Matt in turn. "All of you, really." Visions flash briefly in Iolaus' mind -- Matt, strapped down to a table. A long needle, a vial marked J-448. Iolaus winces, shaking his head sharply once. "Some, more than others." Iolaus adds, looking at Matt. "Making amends, however I can."

Steve's pale blue eyes skip from Iolaus to B and then back. << Yep, definitely /that/ Iolaus. >> His certainty about this, oddly, allows him to relax somewhat, and his sense of the tired-looking man standing before them shifts from wariness to distaste. But even that is somewhat abstract by now. He rubs his knuckles over Zenobia's broad, flat head, then rests his hand on Matt's shoulder, giving it a gentle, bracing squeeze.

Joshua's eyes narrow faintly, and he pushes to his feet, thumbs tucking into his pockets. "Really curious what sort of apology you think's going to cut it."

B's ridged brow just lifts higher. "Does it come with Rasheed's head on a platter? Because otherwise --" Hir hand tips up, webbed fingers spreading.

Matt sucks in a deep breath, as if preparing to speak, although he does not. Just leans on the dog's solid bulk, and leans into Steve's hand when it rests on his shoulder. << {It'd be better if we /hadn't/ been friends, once.} >> His powers stretch out and coil around Joshua's, bolstering and adjusting them kind of /restlessly/, riffling through the vast arrays of abilities at the ready. "Making amends?" he echoes. "With lunch and coffee?" << {Dear gods, can he hear himself?} >>

"Making amends however I can." Iolaus clarifies, with a nod of his head. << What if it was /really/ good coffee? >> The doctor shoves his hands into his pockets, shifting his weight back and forth between his feet. Steve gets a glance, measuring, before his attention turns back to his three former friends. "But I thought I might /start/ with a full apology over coffee or lunch." He pauses for a second, frowning. "I don't think I have that sort of reach, B. He and I aren't exactly on speaking terms anymore." << What, does he think I'm still part of the Evil Doctors Club? What do they /want/ from me? >>

As if reminded of his own coffee, Steve picks up his mug and drinks from it. His gaze has ceased its dog-at-tennis-game bouncing, fixed on Iolaus now, intense and inscrutable. His other hand remains on Matt's shoulder, kneading slowly.

Joshua sucks in a quiet breath -- it's in time with a soft mental /ripple/, Iolaus's thoughts echoed to his friends together with his own backdrop of incredulity.

B's gills ripple faster. "Evil? No. You're worse than that. You're just /spineless/ in the face of it."

Matt grits his teeth and reaches down, down into the unactualized well of powers inside Joshua. To Joshua himself this feels like an unsettling wobble inside, and then suddenly he has two more powers that he hadn't accessed consciously, without diminishing the three he already had on standby as they normally would. One is Jax's--but Matt doesn't use that one, the subtle but pervasive touch of his ability simply /clinging/ to it. The other is Scramble's, and it stretches out for Iolaus's mind like a living thing with its own will.

It hardly feels like anything at all to Iolaus himself, at first. Just a sharper twist of remorse. Then a kind of sinking sensation, and the sense that nothing is right with the world. That nothing is even /real/. That something horrifying and unthinkable lies behind and beneath every color and form and movement, just waiting for him to turn his back.

Iolaus grits his teeth, flashing a look at B. He opens his mouth to respond, but pauses, mid-word and glances behind him. "I..." The doctor blinks several times, looking back to B, forehead scrunched up in confusion. "Sorry -- what?" One hand comes up to run a hand through his hair, then lets his hand drop down to his other arm. Tapping, tapping. "Spineless? I've put my life on the---." Iolaus cuts himself off, glancing behind him again, then shooting B a deeply suspicious look. Zenobia, next, the doctor examines with narrowed eyes. "Excuse me." The first few steps are collected, a normal walking pace, but as he gets further away from the crowd of people, his steps quicken; by the time he reaches the path, it is less a power-walk as it is a jog. Or, perhaps, flight.

The relaying of Iolaus's inner monologue throws Steve off for a moment, and he /stares/ at the doctor kind of perplexed. Then even more so as he starts to come unraveled. << Well. That happened. >> He slowly begins to withdraw his hand from Matt's shoulder. "I don't suppose I could interest you all in some cheap coffee or tea or donuts?"

Joshua tenses, letting out a sharp hiss of breath as his fists clench up. There's a reflexive clenching inside him, too -- trying at first to wrest control of Scramble's borrowed power /back/ from Matt, futile though this might be. In the next moment he vanishes, though, blinking away entirely and taking his cache of power with him.

B's claws lengthen as Iolaus talks, posture dropping into a lower stance and a quiet growl in hir chest. Hir eyes slant to Joshua though -- the growl deepening as the teleporter vanishes. It doesn't let up even once Iolaus is leaving, starting to quiet only when Joshua reappears a few seconds later. "What did you /do/?"

Joshua is a touch paler, his jaw set. His eyes follow Iolaus away, but his mind is trained on Matt. "/I/ didn't." Rather terse. "Coffee?"

Matt winces when Joshua breaks his hold on his powers by--simply being out of range. He closes his eyes and rests his forehead against Zenobia, opening them again only when Joshua returns. "I did. {Sorry.}" His remorse is real, but relates solely to violating Joshua's agency over his abilities; for Iolaus, he feels only a numb sort of blankness now, as if deciding to hurt the man had burned away scorn and pain alike. He lays a hand on Steve's as if he keep him from pulling away, but a moment later he's abruptly on his feet. He holds onto Steve's hand for just a moment, squeezes it and lets go. Then, turning with heavy steps, he departs, his umbrella forgotten on the ground.