From X-Men: rEvolution
Dramatis Personae

Hive, Hulk, Shane, Horus


"You are not a food."


<NYC> Harbor Commons - Courtyard - Lower East Side

This courtyard is the lush central hub of the surrounding Harbor Commons, bound in on three sides by rows of duplexes and triplexes, cutting upward at the sky with the sharp thrift of a minimalist's style, neat lines and bountiful windows, boldened with accents in wood towards the upper stories, stone towards the base, the whole of the compound sealed in by a low stoneworked wall that opens entrance gates to the streets beyond at its two far corners, smaller gates at building back doors.

The fourth side of the courtyard is open to the East River, the ground forming a slight decline, controlled on one side by micro-retaining walls to form wide steps where picnic tables sit beneath the nominative shelter of a trio of dogwood trees, accessible by ramp. The other side is allowed to slope at its natural angle, a wide open yard space, until its cut off at the river's edge, where a massive pair of oak trees stand, a staircase leading away up one of their thick trunks.

The yard itself is carpeted in an organic flow of emerald grass swirled through with wending channels of smooth-paved cement walkways, flowing naturally away from the building's front entrances, where some are arced by trellis, some flanked by hosta plants, fern and lilies, a few laid in gentle switch-backing ramps for wheelchair access, before forking off at matching angles to sites of small garden installments. Bird feeders and baths suspended from the necks of small lamp posts, a rock-lined koi pond, a sleek gazebo tucked to one side in simplistic varnished wood, its southern side overgrown with a mass of thriving grapevine and a caged-in barbecue pit under its sheltering roof. A play area and proper garden are within sight off another branch, until finally all paths spiral in like wheel spokes to a shared common house at the center of all traffic flow.

It is warm -- ish. Kind of grey. Like the sky is giving very serious consideration to raining. It's not raining just /yet/, though. Just at the moment it is dry enough, and a large -- very large -- spread of food has been set out on a blanket in the yard by the oak trees that hold the tree house, nearby the riverbank. A large papaya salad, pickled bamboo shoots, a large pile of crispy fried fishcakes with a bowl of dipping sauce beside, an enormous bowl of tofu larb.

And Hive, sprawled out on his stomach at the edge of the blanket, fingers tapping at the keys of a (very shiny /new/ looking) red laptop. He's barefoot, in jeans frayed and scuffed at the hems, a plain white sleeveless ribbed undershirt worn underneath a plain black denim shirt.

A massive and vibrantly green man sits up against the tree, cross-legged. He wears only a pair of purple spandex shorts, and is currently engaged in upending a bowl of food--a mix of the various dishes laid out--into his mouth. The landscape of his mind is devoid of clutter, his only thoughts at present the formless pleasure of delicious food. "HULK LIKE THIS!" he booms, already beginning to refill his bowl with tofu larb. Huge green eyes snap to Hive. Huge green hands stop moving. "You not eat?" He wonders at this with no clear notion of how much food Hive may need or want, but only a vast and intense desire for his friend to feel as happy as he does with his meal. Thick bushy brows lift up in sudden comprehension. "YOU NEED TEA?"

Footsteps sound quickly down one of the paths through the courtyard; Shane is hastening in from the outside gates, a faint frown on his face. He's in dark slacks, polished Oxfords, a pale green button-down, his leather MMMC vest worn over top, still carrying a violin case in one hand and with a messenger bag slung across one shoulder. His other hand bears a large cardboard carrier with to-go coffee cups. "-- Yo, {sorry}, my bus was --" There's a hesitation in his words, filled in very briefly and inadvertently by a flash of imagery, getting shoved back to the sidewalk by one man boarding in front of him, a bus door sliding closed in his face. "-- late."

His chin jerks upward to the Hulk as he sheds his bag, sheds his vest, sets his case of coffee down on the blanket. "Yo." His black eyes have opened a little wider, gills fluttering slightly as he tilts his head to the side to take in the enormous man. Now the flickers in his mind are shaky phone footage, police shooting in Central Park. << Christ, hope no pigs followed him /here/ not like /he's/ recognizable or anything. >> Aloud: "Hive's a good cook, huh? I'm Shane. I desperately need those cakes is there shrimp in them oh man." He leans forward, extending one fist outward to the Hulk for knuckletapping.

"Oh, I'll eat. Just waiting for -- yoooo." Hive rolls up into a seated position, folding his legs lotus-style beneath him. He folds his laptop closed and sets it -- rather far out of the way. His jaw tightens briefly when Shane speaks, but he doesn't answer. Leans in, starts unpacking the coffees from their container. "Shane, Hulk, Hulk, Shane. And I need /coffee/. It's like tea, but -- not like tea. At all. Even slightly."

The Hulk looks up at Shane's approach, his hunger forgotten in favor of curiosity. "HIVE COOKS GOOD!" his enthusiastic agreement comes at a decibel level that most humans can only achieve by shouting, though /he/ clearly is not doing so. That he does not comprehend knuckletapping will seem readily apparent even without telepathy, since he responds by trying to deliver the entire plate of fish cakes to Shane's outstretched hand. "Hulk LIKE tea..." He studies the coffee, his mind trying--and failing--to parse Hive's comparison of the two beverages. "Maybe also like coffee?"

"Tea's pretty excellent but so is coffee. Oh -- oh shit naw naw you do like this, aright?" Shane does take the plate of fishcakes, though he sets them aside immediately after and curls his fingers back into a fist. He reaches for Hulk's hand with his other hand, his fingers touching lightly to the huge green knuckles. "See. Fist up like this. Then bump. It's like a handshake, right? But, you know, less -- formal. And coffee's nothing like tea, don't listen to Hive. Coffee's like coffee and tea's like tea. Toootally different beasts."

Hive pops the lid on one of the coffees, peering at it first and then setting it down in front of Hulk. "Well. Can try it and find out. And it's like this, see --" He stretches out a bony arm, his own fist curled to tap up against Shane's lightly. "Coffee and tea are both hot and caffeinated. Brewed drinks. Totally similar."

Hulk tilts his massive head and watches Shane's hands, then tilts it in the other direction when Hive demonstrates. He doesn't really know what handshake is, either, and he hasn't quite gotten around to considering why one would do either of those things. Finally, he makes a fist with his own hand and bumps Shane's, the difference in size between them jarring to the point of comical. He picks up the cup of coffee and upends it into his mouth without ceremony, flinching as he gulps it down. A wrinkle develops between his huge, bushy brows, but then he grins. "HULK LIKE COFFEE!"

"Bam!" Shane's grin is broad and toothy at this fistbump, his own hand pulling away with fingers spreading and mimed explosion sound. He flops down onto his side, plucking up a fishcake to chomp into it hungrily. "I own a store. Sells lots of coffee. Tea, too, actually. I'd be half fucking dead without coffee, keeps me going through class and work and --" Shrug. "What do you like when you're not having lunch?"

Hive smiles. Quick. Small. Watches the fistbump with a faintly approving nod, then reaches for a bowl of his own to serve some salad up into it. "Tenderizing pork," he offers lightly. His eyes flick upwards towards the sky, brows briefly furrowing.

A very large bird-shape is incoming, fluttering down to alight first by the riverbank, then a few hops closer, then taking off to swoop up into a lower branch of the oak tree. Horus's feathers today have been highlit in a very dark metallic black, a subtle rainbow sheen to the coloring. He peers down from the tree, head tilting one way then another. His beak clicks against the stylus around his neck repeatedly, though he drops it again without actually writing anything on his tablet. Just stares -- first at Hulk then at the /food/. His feathers rustle up bigger.

"BAM!" Hulk imitates Shane, clumsily. He has started back in on his own food, but stops again. "You die without coffee?" His concern is immediate and all-consuming, and he plucks up a cup of coffee between thumb and forefinger--it looks like a shot glass in his hand--to set in front of Shane much as Hive had done for him. He turns to track Horus's flight path, craning his head back. "Pretty bird!"

"I wouldn't die /immediately/. Just slowly and painfully and with a lot of exhaustion if I tried to make it through work /and/ class. Don't you ever just have those days where you're fried to the fucking bone? /That's/ when coffee helps." Shane picks up the coffee cup, his smile undimmed as he takes a gulp. "Yo. Horus. This is Hulk. /That's/ papaya." With his coffee cup, he gestures towards the salad. "You want?"

Up in the tree, Horus puffs up again. Bigger. At Shane's offer he swoops down off the branch, dipping his head to nab a large chunk of papaya from the salad. After this he retreats -- to the edge of the blanket, at least, while he gulps it down. There's a quiet happy warble in his throat as he eats, though it stays low. His eyes stay fixed on Hulk. He inches a little bit closer.

Hive drags a hand against the side of his face, palm curling around to rub against his lips. "Hulk is a friend. Horus is a friend. Eat whatever you want." He's just nibbling at his salad, himself, settling back down onto his stomach on the blanket.

"Hulk not fried to bones." He does not sound or feel as completely confident about this as all that. Being fried in general is not a part of his limited experiences. Dumping his new bowl of mixed foods into his mouth, he chews slowly and watches Horus dart in for papaya, then retreat. "Hulk LIKE friends." This with considerably more confidence. "So many tiny friends." A vague recollection of young Bruce comes to his mind, and with it something like worry, or as close to it as Hulk's mind seems capable. "Hulk protect friends."

The hairless ridge of Shane's brow quirks upward. "Protect us from what? I mean, we're pretty tough, you know." He glances over towards Horus with a quick grin. "Horus, too. The /toughest/."

Horus has been creeping a little bit closer, but at this he stops, pulls back with a small squawk. His head tips, swiping something quickly at his tablet before it announces for him in level monotone: 'Very very tough. Very very gristly. Not tasty Horus at all.'

"BAD PEOPLE!" Hulk raises his voice, his face screwing into a grimace. But he lowers his volume again, out of a vaguely remembered self-admonition not to give Hive a headache. "Bad people with little noisy things that hurt." His memory of the police showdown in Central Park is a blur of pain and fear and rage, peppered with the sharp sting of bullets thudding into his chest. "Hulk not want friends to get hurt." He regards Horus with growing confusion, not at the communication device so much as his explanation of his toughness. "Why it matters if you are tasty? You are not a food."

"S'right. Horus is not a food." For some reason this puts a chuckle in Shane's voice, a bigger grin on his face. He takes a second cake, chomping it down as quickly as the first. "Though /shouldn't/ you be in school this hour? I know I've got class to get back to after lunch." His third cake, he actually dips into its accompanying sauce. He bites into it a little less hastily this time, looking over Hulk with a faint crease developing between his brows. A deeper flash of concern crossing his mind as he thinks over this description. "S'a fuckton of bad people out there in the world," he agrees readily enough. "But, I mean, there's lots of good ones, too. More to life than just -- stressing about protecting everyone, right? Like right now. Right now /you/ just get to relax and enjoy yourself, yeah?"

"A lot of people have tried to eat Horus. Some people aren't very good at treating people like -- you know. People." Hive is picking through his salad very slowly, a faint wince accompanying not the boom of Hulk's voice but the mental image of the sting of bullets and fear and anger in the other man's mind. "Shane's right, though. We have a pretty low tolerance for assholes around here."

Horus, meanwhile, has erupted into a storm of twittering at Hulk's proclamation. He flutters upward -- perching himself right on the enormous green man's shoulder. His head cranes up, beak stretching to press gently against the Hulk's hair and smooth a small portion of it down into place before he settles himself down into a small ball of feathers tucked in against Hulk's neck. His warbling grows quieter, contented.

The effort it takes for Hulk to make sense out of Shane's words appears quite plainly on his face. He has a distinct sense that he /exists/ to protect the little boy who has since grown up into this other man in his mind. He had not really considered how to navigate life for his own sake, and cannot quite comprehend how to go about it. When Horus alights on his shoulder, he smiles an immense smile and takes care not to jostle his new passenger. "Hulk like friends," he agrees at last.