From X-Men: rEvolution
Dramatis Personae

Hive, Lucien, Matt

Saturday, May 9, 2020

"If you want my help hold your tongue or I may start to think it isn't worth my while." Part of Future Past TP.


<NYC> Tessier Residence - Backyard - Greenwich Village

Living in the heart of Manhattan means space is precious, and as such, the yard behind this house is small. It is as exquisitely well-kept as the rest of the place, though; all available space has been meticulously cultivated and transformed into a lush retreat from the concrete and asphalt of the city. The borders of the garden are lined in a wealth of flowers, the selection chosen to provide a panoply of color in all seasons save winter. A grassy rock-bordered pathway separates these from the raised-bed vegetable garden that dominates its center. The far left corner of the garden plays host to a tiny rock-lined pond, goldfish and a pair of turtles living in its burbling water. To one side of the pond is a garden table and set of chairs and presiding over the pond, a large oak tree with a hammock underneath, its branches spreading out over the tall brick wall that screens the entire area off from the city outside.

The city might be at war. Parts of it rubble, parts of it bomb-scarred, parts of it hiding hurt and starving refugees, most all of it patrolled by militant armed robots. These things are all true, certainly.

Out there.

Out there, bleak and dismal, dangerous and damaged. In here, though, there is only quiet; the burble of water over rocks in the pond, the rustle of a small breeze through the oak tree's leaves. There is colour, bright and vivid, phlox and lilies and irises, Dutchman's breeches and lilacs and roses and bloodroot and hellebore.

Less colourful: Lucien, in dark jeans and grey button-down, currently emerging from the house with a tray quite laden with food, lemonade, tea, in hand.

Matt, on the other hand, is fairly colorful, though not necessarily coordinating with the riot of spring blooms. He wears a royal blue t-shirt with a cartoon person reading beneath an arch of books, bracketed by the words 'Best Time Machine EVER!' /His/ jeans are pale blue and soft with age, torn at the cuffs where they drag on the ground about his unshod feet. He's ambling through the garden, touching blossoms and leaves with the tips of his fingers as if to assure himself of their reality. The arrival of TEA, however, draws him back to the table where he has left the immaculate new copy of /House of Leaves/ with a glossy piece of jet sitting in the center of the labyrinthine blueprint on its cover.

"I could argue against that." Was Hive in their garden a minute ago? Probably not. Almost certainly not. He hasn't been in their garden before today, anyway. And yet. There definitely is one gaunt sharp-faced telepath leaning against the oak tree now, sunken-shadowed eyes half-lidded but fixed, at the moment, on Matt's t-shirt. One of his arms is folded across his chest, bony fingers resting in the crook of the opposite elbow. Despite the day's warmth he wears an oversized canvas jacket together with his faded brown corduroys and heavy workboots, lank hair tied back into a ponytail. His words are spoken -- it /sounds/ like they're spoken, his mouth is definitely moving -- but there is a vaguely odd echoed sense to them that feels like they are projected as much psionically as they are audibly heard. "I got a better one."

Alas, was Matt looking forward to tea? The sudden /voice/ where there was previously not even a person has turned tea very rapidly into ex-tea, Lucien's abrupt startled tensing tipping the tray in his hands to spill dishes to the grass with a clatter and crash.

It says something, perhaps, about the state the world has come to that he does not seem to lament the spilled tea much. Does not seem to /notice/ the spilled tea much; even as his eyes have snapped to Sudden Intruder his hand has reached to the small of his back to draw a gun. By the time he has identified Hive, though, he just /frowns/, lips compressing, and /now/ looks down at the spilled food with displeasure. "{... Better by what metrics, precisely.}" He has, notably, not actually yet lowered the pistol.

Matt, though also startled, confines his reaction to a single step toward Lucien, keeping him in arm's reach as if fearing to be bodily snatched away. Again. Perhaps not the most far-fetched fear he could have. But recognition of their visitor seems to come more rapidly to him, signified by a sudden wash of wistful joy. He does not, however, bound over to embrace Hive as his first impulse dictates. He looks at the gun in his brother's hand, brows creasing beneath a fringe of soft-shaggy brown hair. "Hive." It's not outwardly clear whether he means this as a greeting or some sort of reminder to Lucien, but inwardly it's neither so much as a mild admonishment for the spilled tea. "You've got a better...what now, /shirt/? No way."

"Pfft." Hive doesn't seem to pay much attention -- to the crash of dishes, to the spilled tea, to the admonishment. Not even to the gun. His eyes, still droopily half-lidded, don't leave the shirt. "{Hell fucking no. You were dead when I bought you that shirt, did you know that? I still knew it was the perfect goddamn shirt for you.}" Perhaps there is some emotion or other behind these words. Likely a telepath could tell. Hive's expression doesn't change and his words just come out low and gruff as ever. "{S'not your future I'm looking at, now, though. Just your past.}"

"{Hardly a trick. We've all seen that already.}" Lucien's weight eases onto his back foot, shifting a half-step closer to Matt as well. His hand still doesn't lower, eyes fixed steadily on Hive. "{Your better half was here already. Peddling this talk of the future. Or the past. As if this world is not already beyond saving.}" For a moment, very faintly, his lips curl upwards. "{Though he always was rather an idealist.}"

"{I wasn't /dead/, but it wouldn't be the first time someone bought a gift for an absent friend.}" Matt is actually growing agitated about the gun now. "And it /is/ the perfect shirt. Thank you." The frown he had aimed at his brother morphs, one eyebrow lifting and the other lowering. "Don't you mean his /worse/ half or...oh wait, you mean Flicker." He blushes and crosses his arms, hugging himself. "{Look, maybe we should leave off the future and the past and worry about the present, no? With less pointing of either fingers or guns, preferably.}"

"{You were dead. Far as it counted to any of us, you were. Until a dream told us...}" Hive shakes his head. Briefly -- very briefly -- there's a mental flash that ripples through the others' minds, a feeling of many minds abruptly snuffed out. Oddly, this psionic projection does not come with any feeling Matt can detect by way of pinging Hive /using/ his powers -- there isn't, in fact, any feel to Hive at all that should accompany a mutant standing within detectable range.

Hive reaches down into a pocket to pull out a pack of cigarettes, tap one out, slip it between his lips. "{I /am/ worrying about the damn present. S'pretty fucking bleak, if you hadn't noticed. Only getting worse. Or did you have a plan to fix it before they exterminate us all?}"

Lucien exhales, sharp and heavy through his nose. His jaw clenches further, but he lowers the gun, tucking it back in its holster beneath his shirt. "Flicker," he acknowledges to Matt, "{stopped by. Some months back. He wanted my assistance -- to help some time travellers change the past.}" His expression shifts into a grimace. "{Which, even if we accept they have the capability, may or may not change our present. We have no assurance.}"

Matt flinches at the flash and hugs himself tighter, sidling up to lean on his brother. "{Time travel,}" He mouths the phrase under his breath as if trying it out before voicing it more properly. "{/Time travel./ Okay. Right. I can foresee some catastrophic problems with that.} Because I'm a nerd. {But if you and your time travelers have already thought those through?}" His gaze shifts from Hive to Lucien. "{Even if there's only a /chance/ it'll work? We have to try. We /don't/ have a better plan, and there's no time left to come up with one. We know what assurance Io's research gives.}"

"{There are so many things wrong with time travel,}" Hive answers unhelpfully. "But there's a whole lot wrong with goddamn genocide, too." He dips his head to light his cigarette off a lighter that seems to have abruptly appeared in his hands. "{There's a chance. Might be a chance. Way I figure, these fucking machines. Way back when, they were built, right. Supposedly to protect us. Supposed to be safer for our privacy than potentially-bigoted people, hold on to every-damn-body's information, keep records of all the shit they see. Means there's probably a goddamn /trove/ of information somewhere in Oscorp on all the shit they've seen, started this whole thing.}"

This time the mental flash across their minds is just an explosion, searing and bright and hot before it flutters off into quiet darkness. "{But getting my people in there to find what they need, getting them back home alive with it, /that's/ gonna take some fucking help. Like, say, someone who pulls half the damn strings at Oscorp? Someone who can fool the fucking murderbots into thinking freaks are flatscans?}"

Lucien lifts his hand, curling his arm around behind Matt's back to pull his brother in closer against him. His other hand raises too, palm rubbing in a slow drag against his mouth. "Perhaps," he finally answers, "perhaps it will work. Perhaps your time travellers will come -- perhaps they'll find what they need -- perhaps they'll even succeed in returning home and preventing this future from becoming theirs. Very well and good for them. But you want me to compromise my security and my life to help this mission of theirs -- to save /their/ world. To save /their/ future. And if nothing changes for us? If their world is saved, and ours continues? I have little desire to throw away what precarious security I have to help --}"

He shakes his head, slightly. "{My brother was right, earlier. This plan is well and good for your chrononauts, but /we/ need to focus on our present. If your army wants our help, we'll need to have theirs, too.}"

Matt turns his face toward Lucien, though flesh and bone cannot shield his eyes from an explosion that happens in their minds. He listens to the other two men and is silent for a time. "{If those time travelers want to return to the past when they've got what they need,}" he says at last, "{it may behoove /them/ to save the present, as well, or they may bring back a lot more than they bargained for.}" It is with an obvious effort that he unburies his face from his brother's shoulder. "We haven't time to dance around this. You know about Io's project? Just take it from my mind if you don't." His body tenses preemptively.

There's a quiet, from Hive. Possibly here Matt /should/ be able to feel psionic powers working, stretching out to investigate his mind -- but there's nothing, the Hive-form in front of them as mentally silent as he is externally, at the moment. At length, though, he takes another drag of cigarette, blows quite real-smelling smoke in a long huff out his nostrils. "{Knew he'd gone off-course. Didn't know quite how far. So. /You're/ the fucking angel of death, huh?}" He slumps back against the oak tree, his eyes closing. "{Virus is made, though, man. Fuck are we gonna do. Not like we can -- what. Kill Io? Destroy it? I'm sure they've made a fuckton of it by now. /You/ should know.}" His tone is just a little bitter as one eye cracks open to look at Lucien. "You gonna hand-deliver that shit to all the camps yourself? How much's Osborn paying you for --"

"More," Lucien cuts in, his voice quiet and cool, expression very neutral despite the sudden sharp spike of rage that flares inside him, spilling across the contact to leak into Matt as well before his mutation tamps it down into calm again, "than you can afford, undoubtedly, so if you want my help hold your tongue or I may start to think it isn't worth my while."

His head tips back. Up. Towards the sky; overhead there's a droning, regular, familiar, a pair of Sentinels -- patrolling, perhaps, perhaps just in transit. They pass over the house and move onward without slowing, paying little attention to the people below. "We can't get easily get rid of the virus. That much is true. I've been tying up its delivery to the camps in bureaucracy for a month now. I can delay it a while more, but not indefinitely. Your friends from the past want the truth. So, I think, do we. Destroying whatever's been created of the virus might buy us some time -- destroying /all/ the Sentinels might buy us some time -- destroying the political capital to continue this massacre, though. For that, we need real ammunition. And a safe window to deploy it. Your time travellers don't get to go home until /we've/ gotten the information they came here for --" His eyes have tracked the disappearing Sentinels, off into the distance until they are too far to see. "-- and they've rid the city of its guards for us."

Matt had just stopped bracing for the harsh telepathic contact that never came when Lucien's anger washes over him. It shows in the furrow of /his/ brows, at least, and in a long exhale through gritted teeth. Maybe the anger isn't all second-hand. He rests a hand on his brother's back, firm and gentle, but pointedly does not look up at the passing Sentinels. "{Try not to collapse all of time while you're at it, eh?}" If he meant for it to sound humorous, no hint of mirth made it to his lips.

In answer to this Hive only barks out a short breath of laughter, startled and sharp. "Get rid of all the fucking murderbots? Is that all? You don't ask for much, do you? I don't suppose you've got an idea how a handful of people can take them /all/ the fuck out?"

For a moment Lucien sinks back, slow and deliberate, into the press of Matt's hand to his back. His eyes close, his weight settling against his brother. Just a moment, and then he pulls away, crouching to finally begin to pick up the ruined remains of their would-be lunch. "As a matter of fact," he replies evenly, "I do."