From indoor gardens to outdoor, though without the protective greenhouse glass the back gardens do not last all year round. Still, the gardens out here are well-tended and well-worth spending time in, as well. The paths wending through the beds of flowers and herbs and vegetables spread out through the school's back grounds, tended by students as a credit class. Benches offer seating and a small pond is home to koi and turtles, as well as a few frogs. At the far back edges of the garden, a droning buzzing marks a few stacked white boxes as beehives.
It may be evening, but the world hasn't cooled down all that much. The droning of the hives at the back of the garden just seems to add to the slow-heavy summer feel. Sweltering air. A lot of humid. The world has been wilting under the heat through most of the day -- but in it, Flicker seems if anything to have all the /more/ energy. He's a restless /blip/ of motion in the garden, right now. Hard to track, really. Over here by the koi pond, now there by the beehives, now here by the workshop, now here by the azaleas. Sort of a blur in his skitter-hop-jump from place to place to place. It's probably his equivalent of pacing. Mostly nondescript as he is today (grey shorts -- hiking pants unzipped at the knees, really -- and a grey-green tee -- and blurry-fast as he's moving, he'd probably be hard to track and easy to overlook if not for the brilliantly bright flash of color provided by the mechanical arm at his right side. Not really aiming to blend /in/ with his biological one, today it is shaded in a vividly metallic blue overlaid with a shining silver circuit-like pattern where veins and arteries should be.
Matt emerges from the conservatory, gazing around him in undisguised pleasure. His hair is quite damp and sticking out in all directions, and he wears a heather gray Xavier's Athletics tee over black shorts, both just a bit loose on him. He carries a steel jug in one hand and a steel cup in the other. The flitting blur of colors does not seem to startle him as he wends his way toward the pond. "Lemonade? It's fresh and minty and ice-cold." He sips from the cup in his hand as he sinks down onto a bench.
Blip-blip-blip. The flash of color comes to a halt -- first overhead but then down beside Matt. Flicker's eyes are bright, his smile brighter -- if just a touch briefer than usual. "/Cold/? That's the magic word, today." His gaze flits over Matt's clothes quickly. "You're really getting in the spirit quickly."
Matt's smile is just as bright and somewhat longer-lived as he hands Flicker the cup. "I was really tempted to make tea instead, but I'm *still* buzzing from the cup I had two hours ago." Though he leans on the word 'cup' enough to suggest that he does not mean eight ounces. "Forced detox has lowered my tolerance." Looking down at his garb, he chuckles. "In a way, yes! I came here for the ultimate frisbee match. Borrowed these from Jax so I could shower." He studies the other man closely. "How're you doing?"
"Jax and Joshua say this caffeine thing is going to end soon. You're going to have to work back up. Get your fortitude back." Flicker rocks forward, takes the cup in his brightly colored hand -- though he uses his flesh one to carefully stabilize it as he sips. "Frisbee? Sounds fun. I'll have to try and not miss the next. How'd it go?" His gaze shifts away -- up to the sky. over to a nearby hummingbird feeder, back to Matt. "Oh, you know. It's been..." The pause where he trails off lasts only a beat. "Busy. When do you actually start here? Or have you?"
"I've had some opportunity to ease back into it already, but caffeine just still packs way more kick than I'm used to." Matt rolls his shoulders, stretching. "It was *so* much fun, though it was maybe not the best choice of weather for it. Lucky nobody got heat stroke." He bites his bottom lip, brows knitting faintly. "Just busy?" The question is gentle, quiet, not insistent. His fingers play over the perspiration on the side of the cold steel jug. "I start in the fall. Teaching French and pagan history."
Flicker takes another gulp from the cup. Passes it back. "Pagan history?" His brows lift, smile flitting back into place. "Huh-cool. Did we have that when I was here?" It's a musing question, more to himself than to Matt. Though /actually/ to Matt: "How do you /fit/ all that into a trimester?" His hand moves back behind his head, rubbing fingers (cold-damp with condensation now) against the back of his neck. "I -- don't know." Quieter. He drops to sit beside Matt on the bench. "/Head's/ definitely busy. Hard to know where to put it all, though, you know?"
"I'm actually not sure if the course is meant to cover just European paganism or an actual whirlwind tour of every non-Abrahamic tradition." Matt refills the cup and drinks deep. "I'd prefer the second one, but it really would be a whole lot to cover. Either way, it's meant to be a survey course, breadth over depth, aimed at exposing students to the variety of human spiritual activity." Topping the cup off, he passes it to Flicker again. "I know...some of it, at least. And I wasn't even in the middle of it all like you were."
Flicker's leg bounces, restless, up and down where he sits. He takes the cup -- taps fingers against its side. Just as restless. Doesn't drink. Some of the liquid sloshes out where his hand semi-jostles on his jittery knee. "Either way it's more exposure than most schools will give." The slight resettling of his posture brings his shoulder up to rest against Matt's. "Came to talk to the Professor. About how to -- not. Go down -- that future. Those dreams. Jax and the war and all of it."
Still and calm if only by comparison, Matt relaxes against Flicker. "Yeah, I was pretty stoked that it even exists." Then he tenses, sucks in a sharp breath, and shivers despite the broiling heat. "Oh, dear," he says at last, softly. "That is a headful of awful." His free hand plucks at the hem of his borrowed shirt, and he stares fixedly down into the shadowy edge of the pond. "Were you able to...come up with any plans of action?"
"Really, on the scale of where my head has been lately, it's a headful of --" Flicker shakes his head. Takes another sip of lemonade, licking some of it off his knuckles. "Relief, almost. Planning, meeting. That's /doing/ something, you know? /Doing/ something I can handle. Where I've been at lately there's been so much --" He pulls in a slow breath. Tightens his fingers against the cup. "Not so much plan yet. Idea for plan, maybe? I -- suggested. That maybe the school go public. That if we were open about who we are and what we do there's less scope for -- an attack under the pretext we're training terrorists or whatever-on-earth. /Even/ if we're all freaks it's going to be a hard sell getting approval to gun down a bunch of schoolkids."
"/Doing/ something is why I wanted to come work here." Matt drapes an arm around Flicker. "Not that I think teaching French literature and pagan history is going to stop...all that." His head sinks down to rest on the other man's shoulder. "I don't disagree, but going public would definitely have its own repercussions, too. For the kids no less than the school itself." For a moment he is silent, flicking the water he collected from the outside of the jug out into the pond. "Speaking of a headful, though, how is Hive?" The worried tension in Matt's face is perhaps more easily felt than seen now. "I sensed him...spreading out again."
Flicker rests his cheek against Matt's head. His hand moves to the side. Setting the cup back on Matt's knee, now. "Lot of repercussions." Quiet agreement. A little heavy. "But ones we can handle, I think. Less -- deathy." The jitter of his posture settles, at the question about Hive. No more restless tapping of foot, restless tapping of fingers. Slow breath in, slow breath out. "... seems meaningless to say I lost him again. I think he's -- been lost. A while now."
"Bite-sized repercussions." Matt lifts a condensation-slicked hand to indicate the size of said repercussions between thumb and index finger: somewhat larger than bite-sized, perhaps, for the average human jaw. Then he retrieves the cup as if to fill it, but doesn't quite make it all the way. Just turns it in his hand meditatively. "Yeah." So softly that no one much further away would have heard. "Sometimes I wish I could just..." He trails off into a sigh. "You know. Bring him back. But it'd literally tear him apart." He finally does refill the cup, awkwardly, and balances it in the palm of his hand. "Maybe he only feels whole when he's lost to us."
"... thank goodness Shane's joined our team." There's amusement in Flicker's voice while he eyes Matt's gesture. Then he's quiet. A long quiet, breathing a little less steady, eyes squeezing closed. "I used to think I could be his anchor." The admission sounds -- oddly guilty. "Some kinda hubris. Where he is -- I wouldn't even /begin/ to know --" His words cut off, into a sudden hard swallow. One hand lifts, scrubbing palm across eyes. He turns his face in, for a moment, against Matt's hair. Then sits up, crooked-sheepish smile sliding across his face. His fist circles over his heart. "-- you had Frisbee and lemonade and garden. I didn't mean to pour angst over all that."
"Being someone's anchor is..." Matt shakes his head, pauses for a moment the search for words that he never finds. "Well, it's a thing, but it's not as important as being their friend, or lover, or family. When Hive is like this? He still has us, often kind of literally." He lapses back into his wonted smile. "Anyway, I still have those things," he points out, raising the cup to salute the thriving vegetation around them. "There's an ultimate frisbee club and everything!" Offering Flicker the cup again, he adds, "And I've missed you."
"He's just so often been mine." Flicker's voice is quiet. He lapses back into silence after. Eventually he lifts the cup -- this time, drains it entire. A lightning-quick swipe of hand follows. Nabbing the pitcher as well. A bright grin flits across his face. "Now," lightly teasing, "you don't have lemonade."
"Sometimes our roles have to change." There's a slightly distant note in Matt's voice, almost wistful, but only for a moment. "We need sails as much as we need anchors." The empty hand which had held the jug comes up to cover his mouth, mock indignant. "You promised angst, after all." He sighs heavily. "Don't make me beg. My sad puppy face is emotionally devastating."
"I've never had a problem /moving/. Staying grounded --" Shrug. Just tiny, a small hitch of motion. His grin stays in place as he bounces up out of his seat -- just a little quicker, just a little higher into the air, than getting to his /feet/ would be. The pitcher held juuust out of reach overhead. "Pfft. Look at these scars, man. /Battle-hardened/. Gonna have to come at me with more than sad puppy. I'm tough. I can /take/ it."
"Moving doesn't necessarily get you anywhere." Matt does not sound as dour as his words might imply. "No more than staying still will ground you. I'm *sure* there's a song about this..." He stands, too, hands clasped together over his heart, eyes wide and glistening just a touch. "Please, Sir. I want some more." *He's* not headed to Broadway with that performance, but in a series of slow jumps (glacial, really, by his standards), Flicker moves back toward him. Matt rises onto the tips of his toes, unhurried, hand stretched up to vie for the jug right as he deposits his friend beside him, feet planted solidly on the ground now.
"Oh man." Flicker's eyes open wider. "That /is/ pretty heart-rending, I gotta --" His words cut off. Jaw clamping shut, tight. He's stifling a chuckle by the time he lands, though, even if he's chuckling /while/ sort of half-collapsing in against Matt's side. Arm draping around the other man's shoulders, the other not particularly battling for the stolen jug. "Wo-o-oah that feels trippy." It doesn't sound like a complaint. Nor does: "Cheater. -- Moving gets us AC. And Jax's cookies. C'mon. Let's go in."
"Told you. *Devastating.*" Matt curls an arm around Flicker to steady him, grinning broad and mischievous. "The cheating is a part of my waifish charm." Whether it's the prospect of climate control or snacks that really resonates with him is hard to say, but his eyes widen with unaffected anticipation this time. "Oh, well that's different." He relinquishes control of Flicker's power and steers them back toward the mansion, lifting the jug of lemonade high. "Weigh anchor and hoist the mizzen!"