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Dramatis Personae

Ivan, Jackson




<XS> Gardens

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.

Morning already? It seems that way. Xavier School's gardens have yet to wake up, the morning chill still barely on its way out and barely anyone having passed it in more than a few hours, with a large part of the student body yet to rise, let alone walk places. Even the bees in the beehives at the far end of the garden are asleep, adding to the silence of the place.

But there is something that does not belong, under the noises of early birds and occasional sounds of the school very slowly coming back to life. Half curled up in the grass, tucked away behind one of the bee hives and in the drawn out shadows of nearby trees... lies an Ivan, eyes closed. Head resting on his tattered black backpack, dressed in a grey blue plaid button-down shirt, jeans and converse sneakers, he sleeps. Hair sort of a mess, grass stain streaks across his sleeves. And a few hundred bees perched and asleep on his side, legs, shoulder and face.

Some old habits die hard, and years of city living have not shorn Jackson of his farmer's tendency to rise early. Though his class is not for a while yet his habits tend to bring him to Xavier's early-early, enough for a long swim and breakfast and plenty of caffeine before the first bell rings. He has yet to achieve any of these but the latter, right now, a travel mug in his hand as he slips out into the gardens. He's blandly dressed -- a black IWW shirt ('An injury to one is an injury to all'), a pair of lightweight black cargo pants. No makeup. Black hair streaked with red.

He is quiet as he circles the gardens, heading towards the back. He carries a plate of food in his hands. Breakfast-food, clearly freshly grabbed from the kitchens -- at this hour, he probably caught the cook while she was setting it out. Potatoes, eggs, a few links of sausage. A small glass of orange juice precariously balanced on the plate edge (probably collecting a little eggs at its base.) He moves over near the hives, sinking down to rest the plate on the ground a short distance away, and sink down to sit beside it. And watch the sleeping -- bees. Boy. Both. "... Ivan?" It's a quiet call.

It is not the boy who wakes first, but the bees. They stir in waves, waking slowly after several uncertain communcative undulations, starting to rise off the still slumbering student and into the air one by one, either to start their daily work or to find a hive to crawl back into.

Ivan takes slightly longer to wake, eyelids twitch-a-twitching momentarily before he, too, begins to stir. Ever so slowly, dragging a hand across the grass to shield his face from the morning light. Hhnnhh. His eyes open halfway, but almost press shut again shortly afterwards. " { Nnoo. Few more minutes... }"

Then, catching sight of Jax, his eyes open /wide/. Without warning, the remaining bees on him suddenly come to life all at once, taking to the air in unison to fly in agitated circles around the boy who now scrambles to sit himself up in the grass, kicking a sneaker into the soil to push himself away from Jackson-- but stops halfway. OH. Oh. He says nothing, sitting perfectly still with his hands dug into the grass, one leg kicked out, and dark circles under his eyes. The bees, they BUZZ, low around his shoulders and occasionally clumsily flyng into his face to tumble to the ground. Thk. Thk. Stare.

Jackson is very still as the bees lift off into the air. For a moment, he just watches, waiting, perhaps, for the bulk of them to fly off. But then his focus returns to Ivan, watching the teenager and then picking up the plate to offer it out. "I brought breakfast. Have you been here all night?"

Though it takes several seconds of yet more staring, the bees-- lower. Onto the ground first, calm, before dispersing seemingly of their own accord. Ivan sits still until- finally, one hand lifts to rub at his face, a stray blade of grass still clinging to it. "... Thank you. Yes." He clears his throat, voice hoarse, before finally relaxing somewhat. Scooting somewhat awkwardly closer - close enough to accept the breakfast, carefully, stomach giving an audible growl, before blinking sheepishly at the ground. Brain-- still waking up.

Jackson pulls a fork out of his pocket, leaning forward to set it on the plate after Ivan has taken it. "It's still early yet," he assures Ivan. "You get breakfast fresher than anybody." He looks at the hives for a while, watching the bees that have just taken off. "How are you feeling?" His tone could be casual, just pleasant morning small talk, but something in the serious cast of his expression certainly isn't.

It's the expression that seems to hit Ivan more than anything, bringing his shoulders up as he stares toward Jackson while oh-so-gently lowers the plate back onto the grass to grab the glass with both hands and brings it up to his face. Into it and still staring over its rim, he mumbles meekly, "I am fine."

The boy's expression doesn't hint at much else, beyond slight discomfort brought on by-- he's not sure. Awaiting a verdict from a superior? Being faced with what may be undue worry? Perhaps just the aftermath of his slumber. Or all of the above. Whatever it is, sipping orange juice gets priority over verbally specifying for now.

"Really? Cuz, I mean, if my best friend was --" Jackson shrugs, glancing down at his hands. They rest on his knees, squeezing down for a moment. "They listen to you even while you're sleeping?" He glances at the bees again. "I mean, they was sleeping with you? -- Because of you?" He doesn't sound entirely certain of this one.

Ivan's gaze drops down to the floor, eyebrows lowering at the mention of best friends. Nearly half the glass of orange juice is gulped down in response at once. He shakes his head, then. "-- /Because/. I think. I do not..." Englishing. It is hard. He takes a breath, looks back to up to the bee hives, then to Jackson. "We were cold. Both." More quietly, he adds down to the breakfast beside him, "I did not know how to help this time." That's. Probably not about the bees.

"Kinda chilly at night. Do they keep you warm?" Jackson's expression relaxes, at this last. Not particularly happy, but less serious and more just -- quiet. Thoughtful. His brow creases slightly. "That's -- the hardest part sometimes, I think. Not knowing. Not being able to /do/ something. I think," he says, slowly, "that when Peter gets back you can do a lot to help. I think he'll -- probably kinda need his best friend. A lot."

Ivan nods, in response to the first question. The talk does little to alleviate his mood, however, eyebrows lowering still. The fork is picked up, and hovered somewhat indecisively over the breakfast he was brought. "If Peter is alive." Not cynical back-talking so much as idle pondering, though the fact that it takes priority over optimism may say enough. A potato is speared, then somewhat solemnly shoved into his mouth. At the very least, he has a healthy appetite.

"Peter is alive." Jackson says this not -- with any hopeful optimism either but with a quiet /confidence/. It's not exactly a happy one. Just sure.

Ivan's eyes narrow at his advisor. Like it may help him open Jackson's thoughts up like a /book/. Eating ceases. He says nothing, but the expectant stare is hard to miss. Is he, now.

Jackson's head dips. "He is. I kinda feel like you should -- know. Before --" He hesitates, hand dropping to pick at the grass. Not plucking it so much as just restlessly running it through his fingers. "He's been through a lot. It might be -- difficult. For a while."

Ivan, in an attempt to set the orange juice down in the grass, fails to. It tips over as soon as his fingers leave it, what's left of the drink pouring down next to him. His eyes stay locked on Jackson's face, expression sinking into a look of disappointment blending with anger. It's almost foreign-looking on his otherwise usually passive features, soon joined by an equally uncharacteristic raised volume when he speaks, in Russian. "{Yes. I /should/ know.}"

He breathes out sharply in frustration, the same moment the inside of the beehives nearby seem to bristle with an increase of activity. Bzz. "{I can't believe--... how long have... fuck.}" Different language or not, profanities are generally easy enough to pick out by tone of voice alone. He promptly stands, expectant look still very much present, "Where is he?"

"Sit down, Ivan." Jackson doesn't raise his voice, but there's a distinct /firmness/ to it all the same: not a suggestion. He doesn't look away this time, but his head tilts slightly at the sound of the buzzing. "And calm down." Still firm, though it mellows into tiredness afterwards: "As much as you can, anyway."

He pulls his knees towards his chest, fingers scuffing through his hair. "We only just found them. Still have to -- go. Bring them. It's -- probably should be up to them how much to tell you about it."

There isn't much to indicate Ivan /will/ sit down, upon being told to do so. His shoulders are pushed back and muscles in his jawline tense, but-- his anger comes in bursts, and already it's showing signs of waning. The bzzing persists, but stays /in/ the hives.

When he speaks again, it is not with anger, but /persistence/. Pent up energy with nowhere else to go ends up causing his eyes to water, with a defeated sort of twitch of his brow. "I will go with you-- I can stay back, safe, I can /help/." A pause, then. "'Them'?"

"My sons are missing, too," Jackson offers in gentle reminder. Gentle in voice, at least, even if there's a slight /tremble/ to it; his fingers are clenching hard into the grass. "But we're getting them back." His shoulders are tense; one arm curls around his shins, pulling his knee in closer. "But when we do, /you'll/ need --" His teeth sink into his lip, his gaze dropping to the ground. "... I don't actually know," he admits. "What -- Peter might need. After going through a lot of terrible. You know him -- better'n I do."

There's no sign Ivan /doesn't/ already know Shane and Sebastian are missing, but frustration builds up all the same when the confirmation comes that they're apparently being held up in the same place. An apparently terrible place. The bees inside the hives seem to refuse growing quieter, their steady droning instead growing louder and louder until--

Thmp. Ivan sits, as he was told. But not in his spot from before- next to Jackson now. Similarly pulling his knees up to his chest, glaring off over them and at the spilled drink, a blink sending two otherwise unacknowledged tears down his cheeks. Hfh. The bees are quiet. "... I want to help /now/."

Jackson exhales at this, and it's slow and kind of shaky. His eye scrunches shut, tight. "Yeah," is kind of a /small/-voiced word, "I do, too." Tentatively, his arm lifts to curl around Ivan's shoulder. "Took everything in me not to go break the doors down when I heard. But there's -- I ain't -- what I do ain't --" There is a faint tremor in his hand, and it quiets as he does, silent a long moment. "Doing it the wrong way just /might/ get them killed. And there's people who can do this much better'n --" He swallows. "But the waiting and the not being able to -- to -- it's the hardest part."

The arm around Ivan's shoulder is not immediately responded to, or even recognised for what it is. The boy sits deathly still, glaring at that breakfast as if Jackson's kind act of bringing it over is to blame for it all. Damn it, food.

It's inevitable, though; Ivan's lean sideways is sudden and almost /violent/ in nature, arms wrapping around Jackson and hugging as tight as his admittedly unimpressive muscles manage. HNGH. Barely audible, under his breath, he mutters, "I am sorry."

Jackson's arms wrap back around Ivan in return, tight and somewhat fiercer for the uncomfortably /warm/ temperature his body is currently carrying. "Me, too." It's soft and kind of tired, and then there is quiet. The droning of bees. The quiet background noises of the school waking up. But, mostly, quiet.