ArchivedLogs:Any Healer You Can Find

From X-Men: rEvolution
Any Healer You Can Find
Dramatis Personae

Jackson, Micah, Hive, Flicker

3 March 2014

Harsh realities of upcoming raids. (Part of the Prometheus TP.)


<NYC> Candyland - Village Lofts - East Village

This bedroom is bright, bright, bright, a cheerful riot of colour in contrast to the more minimalist scheme outside. It, too, has a plethora of lamps to lend it even more light than what comes in from the large windows opposite the entry; many of them bear stained-glass coverings in cheerful mosaic patterns to add still more colour to the room. The walls have been painted in pale blue with darker blue trim, though one is instead a mural of surreal fantastical artwork, odd unearthly plant and animal life spread across it in vivid colours.

There is scattering of furniture here -- a bed on the wall adjacent to the window (usually dressed in vividly patterned mismatched sheets), a dresser opposite the bed, standing beside the large closet, both in wood that has been painted black and then covered in a swarm of brightly coloured images, too. The wall near the door bears an enormous handmade shelving unit, similarly painted; it is filled largely with meticulously organized art supplies.

By the window, a desk stands in as-yet-unpainted wood; besides laptops and drawing tablet it often bears an eclectic mix of items, too. Comic books, knitting supplies, a hiking pack of climbing gear.

There's dinner still cooking on the stove, but the chickpea curry there will be on slow simmer for a good while yet. In the meantime, while it cooks, Jackson has retired to the bedroom to work. Casual-comfortable for now in faded old paint-splattered jeans and a similarly paint-splattered Rainbow Brite tee, palette balanced on one hand and a paintbrush in the other. He's been wearing sunglasses through much of the day but at the moment for the sake of painting they're shoved up into his tricoloured peacock-toned hair.

On his easel his new painting is still in incipient stages, the base layers of paler colour not yet resolved into anything like a concrete /image/. A few of the /finished/ ones -- Dusk, Clarice, Zombie -- are propped against the desk nearby, incorporating a rather liberal dose of Jax's vivid colour-usage and dreamlike-surreal style into the otherwise portrait-y portraits. Tacked up around his easel this time are sketches and shots of the twins, apparently the next on the docket for his series.

He's been home for some while, getting home from college classes late in the afternoon and settling in to cook and bake (pecan bars!) and then work. Despite years of training in psionic resistance it's been difficult all this while not to let /some/ small measure of his sick-anxious-worry leak through -- largely buried under a sea of smaller concerns that he /lets/ wash to the top, nevertheless his creeping sense of apprehension at planning a new raid comes sneaking through every so often.

At the moment, though, there is only painting. In /this/ it is easier to let the rest of the world melt away. There's music playing from his computer -- S.J. Tucker's "Cheshire Kitten", at the moment -- and the song washes through him as he works. Shifting hazy images of the pups -- Shane with his violin, Sebastian intensely focused working on Jerusalem, both twins coiled up together asleep in a beanbag, the boys wrestling each other in the water, or dragging a fresh-killed deer between them across the ground, Shane belaying Bastian up a cliff face, Bastian dressed in elegant pink-and-yellow ao dai tucked onto the couch with a book in hand -- drift in and out of focus around the room and for perhaps the first time today there's little left of stress and worry and apprehension in Jackson's mind. Just -- a lot of love.

Micah's return from work was later in the evening, arriving to the smells of baking and cooking already in progress. Work hasn't /quite/ finished either, his laptop open on his lap with assorted windows in text documents, spreadsheets, e-mails. He's pausing at this just now to stretch, arms toward the ceiling and feet toward the foot of the bed where he's tucked in with his computer. He rubs at his eyes, blinking a few times to work out the staring-at-a-screen-too-long dryness before reaching for his cup of Darjeeling, draining the last lukewarm swallows from the bottom of the green earthenware mug. Setting the computer beside one denim-clad hip on the bed, he leans over to survey Jax's illusions with a warm, fond smile. "So hard t'pick just one with so many good options. How d'you choose?" He attempts to straighten himself out a bit, a great deal more success found in the tug to the hem of his Reading Rainbow-dash T-shirt than in combing his fingers through his tousled auburn hair.

<< Knock knock. >> Hive's thudding slam of mental voice interrupts the worktime tranquility. He's gone ahead and let /himself/ in, stopping by Spencer's room to say hi to the boy before he and Flicker show up at Jax and Micah's bedroom door.

Flicker knocks -- you can tell because it's quiet and /polite/, an almost apologetic tap-tap-tap of knuckles. Also because he actually waits politely for answer as well, rather than just barging in afterwards. He looks a little rumpled, white button-down and khakis kind of long-day-mussed.

Outside the door, Hive is leaning rather heavily on Flicker's arm, looking perma-sleepy as usual with eyes half-lidded. He's dressed in faded jeans, thick grey socks, a denim long-sleeved shirt unbuttoned over a plain black v-neck tee. Blue-and-red-starred hat on his head.

It takes Jackson a moment to reorient himself, eye leaving the canvas to peer over towards Micah instead. Or maybe towards the slowly fading image of Shane engaging in a staring contest with Sprite that has joined Micah temporarily on the mattress. He shakes his head, a lopsided smile on his face. "They said I was only allowed t'paint them if I painted them /together/. Past that though --" He shrugs, palette wobbling with the motion. "I don't know. When are the pups most /themselves/? Definitely --"

His words cut off in a sudden wince at the thud of mental greeting, palette wobbling further; he curls his fingers inward to stop it from sliding off his hand entirely. "Hnnggh." There's an abrupt clench of /dismay/ that registers in his mind, quickly brushed aside in favour of a chipper: "Door's open!"

“Hm, well, that does cut out all the ones of 'em by themselves, then. Think they're most...them 'round each other, though that don't help you much on decidin'.” Micah winces slightly at the harsh mental knock from Hive, head tilting slightly at the quieter one from Flicker. “Must've brought somebody with 'em,” he comments, letting Jax's answer through the door stand for both of them. He clicks a few things on his laptop to save them before closing it and setting it aside, moving himself to sit on the edge of the bed with his feet dangling off the side. “What's up, guys?”

Flicker pushes the door open, ushering Hive inside with a hand pressed lightly to the telepath's back. He nudges the door closed again behind them. He glances around the fading imagery in the room, a small curl of smile on his lips. It fades soon, though. "Hive says you got a lead on Matt." His voice is quiet but the edge of strain in his expression is unmistakeable. Possibly because out of all of Geekhaus he'd been closest to Matt before his purported death.

Hive does not, initially, address this topic at all. He glances around the room thoughtfully, and then slumps to lean back against the door. "When they're fighting," he offers his opinion, "but I don't know if that's exactly the impression you're aiming to give."

Jax pulls in a slow breath at Flicker's opening, turning to lean -- with a rather distinct background shiver of pain rippling out from pressure against bruising carried beneath his clothing -- against the edge of his desk. He dabs his brush off against his palette and lowers his palette to the desk, resting his empty hand now against the desk chair. "I don't know. I think it's fair well in line with the impression I want t'give. I ain't tryin' to sugarcoat nothin'. Just show folks like we -- are. Whatever that means for people."

He sucks his lower lip in between his teeth, clicking teeth quickly against a lip ring to wiggle at it. "Ain't a whole lot of lead yet." Thoughts of Vermont rattle in his mind. Cows and maple trees. And hippies. "But he's alive, for sure, an' that's -- somethin'. Still got a ways to go 'fore it's anything we can act on."

"Yeah," Micah answers Flicker simply at first. "That artist as drew the picture that led us t'Horus did another for Matt. Hopefully it's a little more helpful'n Anole's has been so far. But there were some good, solid clues in it. Gotta sic the computer geek squad on it soon...should talk t'Dusk an' see if he can help or knows who's best to. Certainly outside /my/ capabilities." This last he says with a little shake of his head, as if it should be unspokenly-obvious. "Done narrowed it down from 'anywhere in the country' t' 'prob'ly near this library in Vermont', so that's a good deal already." His nose crinkles at the theory of the twins being most themselves while fighting. "Dunno 'bout fightin'. S'a real narrow aspect. Maybe...when they're swimmin' an' just playin' 'round with each other. Or fishin'...or..." His shoulders rise and fall in a shrug, leaving off since Jax has too /many/ things to choose from, not too few.

Hive snaps his fingers at the mention of Anole's drawing, pulling in a sudden breath through his teeth. "Fff. Anole's. I remembered. Where -- the building. In the background. What it is. I sicced Jim on it. To go -- poke around the area, see if he can. Dredge something up." His eyes flick towards Jackson at that ripple of pain, but it's with a small twitch of smile. "-- S'the only time I feel B actually /happy/ to be in his own body. Fighting, hunting -- things he can sink his /teeth/ into."

Flicker sucks his cheeks inward, nodding slowly at the talk of Matt. "Do you think it'll be long? Until we have to --" His eyes lower, hands clasping behind his back. "Until we can move."

Jax's cheeks flush slightly at that glance from Hive, and he reaches up to drop his sunglasses down from the top of his head to sit properly on his eyes. "Yeah, tryin' to figure out what to /dress/ B in in this is gonna be --" He stops, straightening with a small /bounce/. "Wait, what? Where? Where's -- I mean, is it somewhere near, then? Has he found nothin'?"

His brows pull together at Flicker's question. He shakes his head slowly; in his mind there's a ripple of discomfort with the 'we' in question. He looks to Hive and then looks away at the bed. "Kinda depends entire on what the more -- tech-minded folks manage to hunt down. I mean, once we /got/ a location we can start scoutin' it and -- hopefully move quick but." He grimaces. "-- but we don't hardly got much left in the /bank/ for this next one, t'ain't like the past months gave /any/ of us a lotta room for /savin'/ up and -- and even once we got the info it's --" His teeth sink against his lip as he tries to shove down a clawing doubt over how they'll even pull it /off/ this time without Hive. Or Halim. And Flicker handicapped without his usual telepathic guidance. "-- it's gonna take some plannin'."

"Oh!" Micah's eyes light at the mention of Hive's lead on Anole. "Where? S'it in New York? S'Jim found anythin'?" His questions practically blend into Jax's. His husband's blush brings a faint answering one to dust in over his own cheeks. "Jax. Honey...I don't think /fundin's/ gonna be your biggest concern on this one. Y'don't think Luci's gonna help out t'get /Matt/ back? Y'got enough t'worry about without /that/ part. We can just speak with 'im on it. The rest of the findin' an' the...strategisin's gonna be the stick."

Flicker shakes his head with a small wince, settling back to sit down on the floor, leaning up against the wall by the door. "I'm sure Lucien will help with getting Matt /out/. The majority of our expenses tend to come /afterwards/, though."

Hive winces at this. "Yeah. We kind of end up with a few dozen utterly useless jobless clueless people, most of who can't do shit to take care of /themselves/ for a while at least. Keeping everyone fed and sheltered and clothed and finding them new goddamn /lives/ --" His hands spread in front of himself.

"The whole team has an account just to save for all those expenses but -- I mean." Flicker's cheeks color faintly now, too. "On our best days there's only so many of us with steady jobs anyway. Taking care of a few dozen new refugees on /top/ of trying to pay rent gets --"

"-- pretty much like fucking hell," Hive says with a thin smile, "and that was in the pre-apocalypse days when everyone had steadier jobs and I didn't have hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills looming on the horizon."

Flicker bows his head further, a flash of guilt crossing his expression.

Hive just /snorts/ at it. "Dude, the fucking city collapsed, it's not really your /fault/ work's been hard to find lately." His eyes shift back to Micah. "S'an old armory in the Bronx. Jim hasn't found anything yet but he's looking." His arms cross slowly against his chest, hands pulling back into his sleeves. His eyes shift back to their default half-lidded state, gaze turning back to Jax as he adds almost casually to the end of this: "-- and I'm still /coming/."

Jax just turns his hand outward to indicate the other men's explanation. "I mean, we /could/ just leave everyone on their own when we get them out. Tell them to go live in the /sewers/." He grimaces at this, though. "But spending weeks or -- sometimes more getting everyone /back/ on their feet really -- adds up."

His brows shoot upwards, Hive's last statement wiping the rest of the thoughts of Anole from his mind. "What." His voice is just flat, at first. "Hive, we don't even know when -- it could be weeks 'fore we're even ready to do /anything/ an' by then you --" His brows pull back /down/, now, knitting together behind his glasses. "I mean, how long's it going to be 'fore you hafta go in for surgery because recovery's gonna be -- you jus' need t'focus on your own health for a bit. We'll work this out." He -- /sounds/ confident about this, at least, though with a cheating telepath in the room it's impossible to hide the sick twist of doubt in his mind.

"Oh, the /after/ part's what you're worryin' about? That's what credit's for." Micah waves a hand almost dismissively at that concern. "We got what everybody's been able t'scrape t'gether an' I been able t'put a little away since I started consultin', too. Y'let me handle that part, okay?" Sliding down off the bed, he moves to wrap an arm around Jax, pressing a light kiss to the back of his neck. "Like I said, y'got enough t'worry about. Pass off the simple-practical things. If it comes down to it, I know folks who'll lend for a bit, too. Don't let that be the hindrance." Hive's particular concern does earn a furrowing of Micah's brow. "Medical expenses are another matter altogether. Have y'done anythin' about insurance? S'mandatory now, an' they can't exclude you on the pre-existin' condition thing anymore." He tenses as Hive insists that he's going on the raid, but lets Jax handle /that/ part. Finances are one thing. Staffing prison breaks is another altogether.

"Insurance is tricky." Flicker's frown deepens, a deeply uneasy tension to his posture. "Hive's immigration status is still --"

"Rocky," Hive says, drily. "And probably not about to get any less rocky with registration."

"At best he'll qualify for some subsidized insurance -- /if/ we get his visa properly ironed out." Flicker chews at the inside of his lip, fingers curling in around his knees. "But that's --"

"-- something to worry about fucking /later/," Hive interrupts with a scowl. He is looking considerably less steady on his feet, now; slowly he sinks down against the door to join Flicker in sitting on the floor. "You going to tell me exactly how you plan to work it out? You need me. You need /Flicker/ and he needs me. You take everyone out there down /both/ of us and I'll be fucking surprised if /any/ of you make it back home." His teeth grind, slowly, at the mention of surgery. "I'm not getting it yet," he answers finally, jaw tightening. "We get through this next raid and /then/ I'll get my brain cut into. -- And jesus are we not even thinking about the /other/ two places I dug up to get you out of jail? Because there's people dying in them too."

Jackson leans in against Micah, focusing on breathing slowly as the other man's arm curls around him. "Okay," he says, in soft acceptance, head nodding once. "It might come down to it, these things get --" He draws in another slow breath. "OK. Okay, you handle -- okay." His hand lifts, fingertips pressing to his temple. "There's /always/ gonna be more people dying." Something inside him roils hard and sickened even as he says this. "We don't need /you/ killin' yourself on their account."

"Didn't we have plans t'marry you off to a legal citizen at one point? Whatever happened t'that?" Micah tries to joke, even offering a little lopsided grin with the reminder. "Hive, honey, I love you an' I hate t'say it...but you're havin' trouble rememberin' /words/ an' /standin'/ right now. Don't know how much safer it'd be havin' the whole team rely on you directin' things the way y'were doin' before. What happens if y'suddenly can't communicate durin' the middle of it or...somethin' worse? There's gotta be other ways. Just gotta work it out somehow." His teeth dig into his lower lip at the mention of the other two facilities, his arm squeezing tighter around Jax.

"You offering?" Hive snorts quietly at the mention of marriage. "Don't need to stand to do what I do. Don't even need words. That's the good thing about brain-speak," he says with a thin sliver of smile, "it's /real/ fucking easy to get my point across with or without words. Especially when other people's minds are tethered straight to each other. For all the bullshit going wrong with my brain, it's not bullshit that gets in the way of what I need to do."

Flicker is staring down at his hands, his fingers clenching and unclenching against his knees. "Can you do it, without us?" His eyes slowly tear away to look up at Jax with this direct question.

Jax's mind is skating back over previous raids, treating Hive inadvertently to a whole slideshow of horror-images flitting through his mind, all the many ways people have been killed on these ventures in the past. How very many more /would/ have been without Hive's oversight, without the clear instant communication, without Flicker's rapidfire ability to circumvent /doors/ and get everyone out in a hurry.

And he's thinking of Hive strong and healthy, the out on the rocks the summer before last, lean muscles flexing in the sun as he pulls himself easily up a 5.12 that Flicker and Jax had struggled with. And he's thinking of Hive now, wasted away to near-skeletal, limbs too unsteady to conquer his own meals.

And somewhere Lucien's quiet voice is saying, 'eighty-three percent' inside his head, and though he doesn't really notice it himself the skin on his face is starting to tear and fall away to leave his jaw bloody-mangled-blown-/off/ like a bullet has just torn half of it away.

He sags back heavily against Micah, and -- his /silence/ after Flicker's question is probably answer enough.

"The very minute they legalise plural marriages. In the meantime, need t'find yourself somebody /single/," Micah answers quickly, shooting for teasing-playful, trying to lighten...something. His eyes rest on Jax at Flicker's question. And promptly widen at the unintended illusion taking over his husband's face. Sick-horrified, both arms encircle Jax and curl in tight. "Stop. Jax, stop. Stop." He loosens one arm just enough to reach his hand up, fingertips tracing along Jax's jaw.

Hive bows his head slowly, teeth grinding and eyes scrunching up hard against the images flitting through Jax's mind. A little paler, a little more sickened in expression, he ultimately just nods in heavy acceptance. "There's things we can do. To mitigate the damage if I'm putting off treatment. Start -- spiking my coffee every morning with Dusk's gorram blood, that'll probably go a ways towards helping it -- at least not get too much /worse/. Maybe even a little better, his healing is pretty tough. And when all this shit is /through/ I'll go get my brain sliced into."

Flicker is silent. His fingers still clench and unclench against his knees, and his bright green eyes are brighter still, here, glistening wet. He lifts them slowly, watching the transformation of Jax's face in continuing silence. Just a slow shaky breath, a slow compression of lips.

Through Jax's mind now just runs the faces of all the other teammates they've lost, and a heavy sick weight of what decisions he could have made differently that would have prevented it. Something in the back of his mind is futilely trying to /weigh/ Hive's life against those of the entire rest of the team, against those of all the people still in the lab (-- no, the /three/ labs) needing to be freed. And then shuddering and rebelling against the thought of even trying to make this comparison.

The bloody mess of his face doesn't /vanish/; instead it's /joined/ by melting-pitting redness, one entire side of face and neck and arms starting to run back into a blistering freshly acid-burned state. In Micah's arms he is tense; the chaos in his mind is slowly easing into a dull heavy /numbness/. "-- S'your decision, in the end," he finally answers slowly. "What y'do with your own. Life. But you put this off for the sake of these raids --" His mind /twinges/, here, wanting to backtrack and make that /raid/-singular but then just plowing ahead, "-- you work with Dusk, you work with Joshua, you work with any healer you can /find/ to keep this in check s'long as you can."

The remaining conversation is lost on Micah, the threat of a sob cut off in a sharp intake of breath. His teeth dig hard into his lip as his head bows forward, forehead pressed to the back of Jax's neck where he can no longer see. Though his mind is full, regardless, with all the times he's had to watch Jax almost-die. On the street by the sewer entrance, pale and drained. In the back of a raid van, face torn and jaw shattered. On the floor of the Clinic, blood spilling and spilling from a hole in his head. He just holds tightly to the other man, trying to blink back tears that end up dripping warm-wet onto Jax's skin.

Flicker swallows, hard. His eyes fix on Jackson and Micah for a long moment, and his eventual slow blink dislodges tears to spill down his cheeks, too. And then in a sudden ghostly-shimmer of afterimage he is gone.

Hive nods, slow and heavy. His teeth grind hard again, the back of his hand pressing to his mouth. The tight closed squeeze of his eyes does absolutely nothing to shut the imagery out of his mind. "Yeah," he finally says heavily, struggling up to his feet. "Okay." He grips the door handle tight, leaning against it momentarily and then finally tugging the door open to head out.

Jackson's breath shudders out of him heavily, shoulders trembling in Micah's grip. He is still until the bedroom door closes behind Hive; only then does he turn, arms curling fierce and tight around Micah. The illusion still doesn't fade, just at first, but he buries his face against the older man's neck where it can't be /seen/, still; it takes a while for him to lift his head again but when he finally does his looks have returned to whole and normal. His lips press to one of Micah's cheeks and then the other. "I'm sorry," he whispers.

Micah doesn't manage to acknowledge the others leaving before they are gone. His eyes are squeezed shut tight still, unwilling to look up. His head shakes subtly. "No, I just. I can't. I can't." His hands clutch at the fabric of Jax's shirt, gripping it in tight fistfuls.

Jackson's arms stay wrapped tight around Micah. One hand rubs in slow circles against his husband's back; the other slides up to curl fingers into Micah's hair, fingertips pressing against the back of the other man's head. He presses his lips to Micah's forehead, resting his own against Micah's hair afterwards. "I'm sorry," he says again, "I lost control, I --" He swallows, still rubbing at Micah's back. "I'm here. I'm still here. It's going to be okay."

"I can't. Do this again. If y'go, I need t'know you /want/ t'come back. I /need/ you. I need you t'want t'come back." Micah buries his face in the other man's shoulder. "I didn't...keep makin' a fuss after, 'cause I know it's hard for you, but I need you t'go t'the Clinic. And talk with a psychologist. Before y'go. 'Cause y'gotta want t'come back."

Jax's breath catches in a quick small hitch. His fingers stroke against the back of Micah's head, his muscles tensing further as around the room the light shivers unsteadily. It evens out only when he starts breathing again, still rubbing at Micah's back, his cheek resting against the top of the other man's head. "Oh." His voice is very small, fingers kneading in between Micah's shoulderblades. "Micah, I /do/ want -- I mean, things back then were -- I just wasn't in a good --" He presses his lips together, face turning in against Micah's hair.

"Really? 'Cause y'were with me then. An' I lived with you then. An' we had the boys then. An' we'd just gotten engaged then. An' I loved you then." Micah bites down on his lip again. "Please? Can y'do this for me? I just don't want...I can't lose you."

Jax's hands still, though he still holds Micah close against himself. There's a slowly climbing heat to his skin, gradual and, while likely uncomfortable at least not nearing dangerous. His breath comes slow and shaky against Micah's hair. "I just -- I --" He swallows hard, squeezing Micah tighter. "Okay." The word comes out in a quiet breath, barely even a whisper.

“Okay,” Micah repeats, pressing himself into Jax's side.

Jackson says nothing, after this. Just buries his face against Micah's hair, fingers pressing in hard against the other man as though a tight enough grip on him will hold /everything/ together.