ArchivedLogs:Baby Its Cold Outside

From X-Men: rEvolution
Baby Its Cold Outside
Dramatis Personae

Cage, Jackson

2013-11-15


Cage drops off some supplies at the clinic. (Part of Infected TP.)

Location

<NYC> The Mendel Clinic - Lower East Side


With its sharp crystalline edges and sleek lines knifing up into the sky, this building is one of the most /distinctive/ new additions to the neighborhood. An angular structure in glass and steel, the tall tower has a deceptively slender look to it that is belied by the heavy security as soon as you enter the doors. The front doors are frosted with the Clinic's logo -- a rising sun over a rod of Asclepius -- a motif echoed in many places throughout the building.

Visitors to the clinic must first pass through a small mantrap, guarded by some of the Clinic's security guards; once they make it through the metal detector and airlock's double doors they emerge into the much more hospitable lobby. With dark wood floors underneath and comfortable black and red couches at its edges, the high windows give the room an airy feel. A bank of elevators to one side carry visitors to the many destination floors, while the wide welcome desk at the other side is manned by a security guard ready to help point visitors in the right direction.

Luke Cage's approach is not surreptitious, and the man looks more than a little worse for wear. The sleeves are torn off his pea coat, making it more of a vest really, and all of his clothes look heavily singed. His right pant leg is burned off to the mid-thigh, and the sole of the tan work boot on that leg looks pretty much melted off, making the big man limp in his uneven shoes as he makes his way down the middle of the street. Likewise, the sweater under his pea coat must have been some kind of synthetic material because it looks blistered and semi-melted where it's exposed, burnt through to skin in several places, and almost completely gone on that right side again. Also, his eyebrows and goatee are completely gone, giving him a perpetually surprised expression, and coincidentally making him look younger than even just his thirty years or so.

In front of him, he pushes a box dolly, loaded with several large, ragged looking cardboard boxes with labels like Doritos, Slim Jim, and some generic toilet paper brand. He pauses as he approaches the clinic. A couple of biters have taken notice of his passage, and are shambling out into the street to greet him. Wearily, he sets the dolly to stand up on its own, and draws the big knife tucked into the back of his pants, waiting for them to approach.

Jackson is a little more surreptitious, largely by dint of being currently invisible as he slips out the clinic's front door. The door opens just enough to let him through, closing again quietly behind him. There are footsteps approaching from behind Cage, but they are quiet as well beneath the shuffling groaning sounds of the dead.

The next sign of his presence is the sudden searing rays of light that shoot out from some point a little behind and to the left of Cage, boring neat sizzling holes through each zombie's skull.

Jackson only appears once they have dropped. He doesn't look much better than Cage, too-pale, too-thin, fresh helpings of scars peppered across his skin. His dark cargo pants are fraying and dirty, his sweatshirt torn, and the one circular scar right in the center of his forehead looks strikingly like a bullet wound.

His eyepatch rather incongruously bears a cheerful smiling sun in its center. Jax isn't smiling so much as just looking tired, gaze skipping from the cart up to Cage's face. "You get cold?" He asks first. "Got some hot cocoa inside. My kid has this new mission in life to make sure we don't all forget about the /happy/ things. Like cocoa, 'pparently."

Luke flinches when the twin beams flash out, and the biters drop, but he's no ninja. He doesn't whip around in a 'ready fighting crouch'. He drops his shoulders from the flinch, and turns slowly. His expression relaxes marginally when he sees Jax, and pushes his coat out of the way to re-sheathe his knife at the small of his back. Then his face actually cracks into, if not a smile exactly, at least an un-frown. "Shit yeah, brother, I'm fuckin' freezing." It's not angry or defensive cussing though. It's more the language of someone who spent the last few months on his best behavior, and is finally able to relax into his usual mode of speech. Not to mention the deep fatigue visible in his eyes. He's just run out of 'Giving a Shit' when it comes to manners.

"Hot cocoa… sounds fuckin' great, actually. Where did you…" Luke trails off. No one wants to tell stories about where they found things these days. Instead, he turns and pats the boxes. "Ran across a gas station. It was swarmed, you know, so people hadn't been in to scavenge yet. Figured you all could use some extra shit, doing what you're doing here." Luke furrows his non-existent eyebrows and nods to himself, remembering. "I ran into Lucien, and Sebastian the other day. They said this is where you were working on the treatment. I uh… Well I don't know shit about chemistry, but I know people need food. The gas station had half a case of TP left too." He nudges the box of toilet paper with the toe of his boot to reinforce what means. "It's just one-ply, but I figure it beats magazine pages, right?" He shrugs and glances around the street for any more movement, a learned reflex at this point.

Jax's eye is sweeping the street around them, too. There are more figures, off some blocks distant, moving slowly down the street. "Wait, you saw --" He stops, rubbing his knuckles against his eye, and turns for the door, badging into the building and gesturing Cage in after him. The metal detector has been turned off, though it still takes a moment to get through the double doors of the mantrap. Only once in the lobby proper does he turn back to Cage: "You saw Bastian? When? Where? /Alive/, he was alright, what was he doing?" Whatever else there might be to talk about is eclipsed for now by this deluge of worry, Jax's voice shakier with each successive question.

"Oh shit, I'm sor- I didn't realize, man…" Cage trundles the delivery in after Jax and sets it down at the side of the hall, sighing in spite of himself at the warmth inside. "Uh, lemme think, it was three or four days ago now? He was pretty ok when I saw him though. He swooped in like some kinda superhero to save these kids holed up in a house that was getting swarmed. I was in the neighborhood, so I stepped in to help. And Lucien went all Robin Hood." Luke rubs at his face, nodding to himself as he remembers. "Everyone walked away. I figured he was coming back here every night though. I wish I could tell you more…"

"I ain't seen him since --" Jax frowns, shaking his head and curling his arms around himself. "Too long. He stopped answering his phone over the weekend and --" Another shake of his head. He gestures Cage after him, crossing the lobby towards the deserted cafeteria. "S'brother's mostly been home with my youngest but B --" He shivers.

In the cafeteria he heads for the kitchen, getting out a pot to put it on the stove. Fill it with water to boil. "Wasn't till all this gone down I even learned Luci was such a crack shot. Weird what you learn about friends times like these, huh? How..." For a moment he trails off, biting down on his lip. "How your folks been holdin' up?"

Luke steps forward when Jax turns to put the pot on, and rests an awkward hand on the man's shoulder. He gives it a brief squeeze, and backs away again. "I feel for you. I… don't have kids yet. I can't even really imagine what this must be like for you. But… my people…" Luke backs up a little more to give himself some room, slips out of his pea coat vest, and starts to peel the crispy, crunchy, half-melted sweater off his body. Underneath is a stained, but bright yellow thermal shirt. Those sleeves are melted too, but the torse looks salvageable. Not so much, for the sweater. He balls up the black fabric and tosses it into the nearest trash can.

"My people are mostly ok. Our secretary went to Jersey before the quarantine. I heard she's not sick. I never caught it either. Alison's ok too. Haven't heard from Tr-... the others in a while though." His expression is grim, even while trying to spare Jax from having to hear the upsetting name. "But uh… My mom… she caught whatever this thing is. It's been hard on her. But I think you probably know all about that." His mouth makes a grim line as he clearly suppresses, by sheer brute force, the urge to choke up and shed a tear. He swallows hard and camoflages wiping at the corner of his eye by scrubbing at his face.

Jax's shoulder is fiercely hot beneath Luke's hand, far moreso than any fever could account for. "S'hard," he agrees quietly, "m'sorry. You been able t'get her down to a shelter for treatment?" One corner of his mouth curls up wryly and he pushes up the sleeve of his sweatshirt; beneath his arm is bruised from its many many needle sticks. "I think I were one'a the earliest t'even get it, an' if this can keep me in one piece it'll hopefully do right by her, too."

He looks down towards the pot, watching the water slowly start to form bubbles at the bottom of the pot. "They're workin' /real/ hard down here to set this thing right, though. I should know, they poke me full'a every new attempt they make. Thanks, by the way. For --" He gestures to the cart of food. "Been harder an' harder to rummage up enough to keep everyone going. Let alone in a fit state to work."

Luke makes a minor flinch at Jax's use of 'sorry' in conversation, but doesn't otherwise mention it. He does wince at Jax's arm though. "Holy shit, brother…" His mouth just hangs open for a moment as the enormity of Jax's guinea pig status sinks in for him. "Holy shit…" he says again. He shakes his head when Jax thanks him. "Naw. No way man. You all are /literally/ saving my mom down here, and every other damn person in this town. If there is /any/thing you need from me, just call." He fishes a business card out of his back pocket, which already has a number written in black pen on the back.

"That's my private cell. You need extra shifts, security, something specific scavenged… you just let me know and it's done." He waves a hand at something indistinct. "No publicity, no Heroes for Hire shit, ok? I'm guessing Heroes is over anyway. I dunno." He looks down at the floor, and then backs up to lean his butt against the counter while Jax preps the water. "I just wanna help."

Jax takes the card. Turns it over in his hands, to look at it a long while in silence. “Oh --” His voice is quiet, a little shaky for the one soft breath. He lifts his hand to press the back of his wrist to his eye. “Oh. Gosh. I’d really appreciate --” He shakes his head, moving aside to grab a tin of cocoa powder out of the cabinet, together with a box of sugar packets. He tips some of the cocoa into the water, and starts tearing open the little single-serving packets to add them, too. “... I don’t even know at this point,” he admits with a shaky smile. “We could use the extra hands on watch, s’been like three of us ‘round the clock an’ that’s just /here/, not even countin’ the other mouths I gotta feed or -- help would be good. Security, here. Whatever food can get scrounged. I keep worryin’ Luci an’ the doctors are gonna keel right over one’a these days.”

"God damn, that smells good," Luke says when Jax start pouring the cocoa powder in. He actually cracks half a grin and shrugs. "I'm built to carry heavy shit. This whole town owes you a debt, Jax. I intend to cover my part at least. And my mom's." He sticks his hand out, and if Jax goes for it, pulls the younger man into a bro-hug, complete with back-pat. "I'm here for you. The clinic. Whatever you need. Just call."

“Hey, a smile.” This prompts a smile from Jax, too, brief and for a moment sunny enough to match the cheery Funshine Bear symbol on his eyepatch. “Guess Shane’s got the right of it. Even now s’some things left t’smile about.” His eye widens for a brief moment after this but he steps in just a little bit to the hug, adding a brief shoulder-pat of his own. “I will,” he says, still smiling, “cuz I know I ain’t the only one on watch ‘round here who’d be glad for more chance t’/sleep/.” But for now there is cocoa to enjoy, which he thickens with just a bit of coconut milk to make it less watery. Cage gets a generous serving -- enough to forget, at least for a few minutes, the cold still waiting outside.