26 November 2013
Who's to blame for the zombie apocalypse, and what do we do about it now? (Part of Infected TP.)
<NYC> Village Lofts - Rooftop - East Village
It tends to be windy, up here, but the presence of plastic table and folding chairs suggests that nevertheless building residents occasionally make their way out to this rooftop. With a good view of Tompkins Square Park less than a block away it's a good spot for city-watching. There's a railing around the edge, though it might be possible (if /unwise/) to climb over it to the narrow concrete ledges beyond and from there to the fire escape. Centrally, someone has broken down crates and constructed a small raised-bed garden up here, barren in winter but filled in three other seasons with a small assortment of herbs and vegetables.
The concrete wall that rings the roof has been decorated, painted in vivid bright shades by some artistic hand to add colourful cheer to the rooftop. The mural shifts in terrain One wall sports a beach, flecked with grass and seashells and driftwood and shore birds. Beach transitions into meadow, colourful with wildflowers and butterflies and dragonflies; meadow shifts into snow-capped mountains, subsides into piedmont and sprouts into a verdant forest on the fourth, alive with animals.
Though the end of quarantine might be a boost to New York's mood, the weather hasn't been informed of the cheer. It's been hovering around freezing, alternating between drizzly and snowing through most of the day, but by nightfall it's quieted down to /dry/ weather even if it's still frigid.
Jackson's had a full day, classes in the morning -- the classwork for his baking class has been mostly delivered to the XS kitchens, fresh pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes -- then a few hours of Westchester zombie patrol before heading back into the city to pick up Lucien and his family. First stop Lucien's house, to salvage what remaining things can be salvaged and do a more thorough assessment of what damage even /needs/ repairing, but now the children have been settled downstairs into Lighthaus, pending getting them an apartment of their own.
And Jackson is bringing Lucien up /here/, to fresh air; he has a small shopping bag slung over his arm, with a large thermal carafe in it and a small tupperware with a few of the leftover cupcakes. He isn't dressed much like a zombie hunter, purple skinny jeans and knee-high black boots, silvery jacket zipped up and mismatched bright-coloured armwarmers on his arms, a rainbow knit cap on his head. "-- play chauffeur any time if I get to drive /that/," he's telling Lucien cheerfully.
Lucien just huffs, in answer to this. He's looking more like his usual self, neatly /groomed/, black corduroys tailored to fit, warm leather jacket. Gloves. Hat. "It may take another apocalypse before you do again," he answers with mild amusement, though his words are slower than usual, somewhat halting. His steps are, too, though not out of any apparent weakness so much as disorientation; he doesn't /lean/ on Jackson so much as keep hold of one arm for guidance.
Micah has been working on the settling in of the children downstairs, who now have their items temporarily stowed and snacks and a movie entertaining them. He has switched over to his green puffy coat to join the others outdoors, because there has been /snow/, for goodness sake. This is accompanied by his orange Jayne hat and green gradient-striped gloves. Beneath is a Batsignal hoodie zipped up over a Reading Rainbow-dash T-shirt, rainbow-patched jeans, and a pair of hiking boots. He steps through the door just in time to hear Lucien's reply. "What are we needin' another apocalypse for now? Because we already had t'have the discussion on the appropriate plural form of the word, an' it's just unseemly, really."
Jim's finally been off compulsively hovering around the Lofts, since Hive has been moved to the clinic and vanished into the bowels of the city farther below. Though they're practically catacombs now. He's grubby, his clothes spattered, considerably underdressed for the weather in a Hawaiian shirt and fraying kilt, thong sandals, but the harsh treebark layer of skin gnarling over his skin's surface area doesn't seem terribly afflicted - possibly his /frown/ is from the cold. Possibly other things. The door thunks when he shoves through it onto the roof, shoving a cigarette into his mouth with eyes fixed blankly at the cityscape horizon. Then they blink and move to the other men standing here. "Well hey." Look what we have here. He strides off towards the garden box, where the plants are growing absurdly green for the weather.
"Another apocalypse 'fore Luci lets me drive that /gorgeous/ car'a his again," Jackson explains cheerfully, guiding Lucien over to a chair and dusting it dry of its light powdering of snow before he settles the other man into it. "I mean oh my gosh have you seen her? S'parked in the garage down the street now." He sets his bag on the table, removing the carafe first and a few mugs second. "Howdy, Jim. Y'want cocoa? I have cocoa. An' cupcakes though they're kinda, um, student-cupcakes. Pumpkiny, though -- oh gosh is there squash in there, can there be squash in there?" He looks hopefully towards the garden box.
Lucien doesn't really look around at the others; he focuses down on the empty mug in front of him, instead. "Cocoa sounds delicious." For the moment the rest of the talk seems to wash around him. He wraps his gloved fingers around the mug, closing his eyes and relaxing fractionally once they are closed. "Though I think we've had enough for. Quite some time of --" He trails off here, though, not actually finishing his sentence.
"Oh, right. Shiny," Micah replies with a teasing lopsided grin. "I /have/ seen her and I'm glad y'put her in a garage because anybody else seein' her 'round in the current environment wouldn't be good news t'her stayin' put an' in one piece." He eyes the carafe and its advertised /warm/ contents. "Ohgosh, cocoa. Best thing ever. Also, hello, Jim!" Despite it not being a surprise by any stretch of the imagination, Lucien's confused-reply earns a furrowing of his brow (though this is mostly hidden by /hat/). Micah walks over to the other man, rubbing a gloved hand over his back as he stands at his side. "We've definitely had enough apocalypse for a good while. I'd say a forever-while but I'm only /so/ hopeless an optimist, most days."
"Uuh," Jim is hunkered over a tomato vine, his gnarly mismatched hands fisted up in the leaves as they fast-motion wilt and collapse under the delicate snow. Kind of /guiltily/ looking up at Jackson like a raccoon caught raiding a trashcan. OUM NOM... NOM? He then roves a furrowed, searching gaze over the plant box. "Which one's..." The unlit cigarette hanging out of his mouth bobs as he mutters this, dead leaves wilting up and falling to the soil as he hovers a hand around over some of the other plants. Where his hand hovers, the plants perk up, push up towards his palm, shake loose their white jackets of snow like a miniature spring. SNAP PEAS, JAX? DID YOU WANT THOSE? "Yo, Mikey. He a'right?" Not looking up while asking.
"I /might/." Jim ADDS. Regarding cocoa. Like it's a /threat/.
"Whatever our next apocalypse is, I hope it smells better." Jackson opens the carafe, pouring Lucien a cup first. "Okay," he murmurs, quiet, "you've got cocoa now, honey-honey, s'in the mug in your hands but it's still real hot so careful." Two more mugs, next; he offers one to Micah but takes the third over towards the garden. "This'n's squash," he points the toe of his boot at one leafy plant. "Winter squash, though I usually harvest it in September or October. It /normally/ don't love the frost none." He offers the cup of cocoa out to Jim. "-- Car was doin' way better'n his house was, 'least. Weren't much real /use/ to havin' cars afore, though I suspect now the quarantine's through they'll be a good target again."
"She was in a garage before. Too. Out of sight --" Lucien tips forward, drawing in a slow breath of cocoa-steam. And then lapsing back into silence; his back tenses under Micah's hand, and then relaxes again. "Who alright?" His brows furrow, puzzled.
“He's askin' about you, honey,” Micah explains to Lucien. “Luci's mendin'. Just gotta be patient if things need a little more explanation than usual.” His hand continues moving in a circular pattern on Lucien's back, attempting to be reassuring through reminding of his presence. “Are you makin' magical produce over there, Jim? Faery godmother style?” He peers over at the garden box but doesn't leave his current position.
OH. "Tsk," Jim kneels further over, thrusting his hands into the dirt around the roots of the plant Jackson toes. The far side of his mouth curls up, very slightly, twisting the scar to that side, "Heh." Not a really /jolly/ sound, more a flat grunt, but then - it's Jim, "Bippity boppity boo, huh?" Rather /timely/ how swells of squash suddenly erupt out and begin to swell up on the vine with this. Sans any pretty glittering or waving of wands, natch. He frowns down at the dirt, "...his house got hit, huh? He uh." He opens a free hand along the side of his head, crumbs of dirt falling off his fingers, and gestures over the side of his head, looking up questioningly at Jackson. "Been busy, huh?"
"Ohmygosh you're amazin', Jim. Jus' need to get you a tiara an' a sparkly gown." In fact, a glittery tiara /appears/ on Jim's head with this statement, Jackson's smile brightening in time with it. He stands on the wooden edge of the garden bed, hands glowing warm where they're cupped around Jim's cocoa mug. "Busy, I'd say. This whole thing actually /woulda/ been an apocalypse without the work he put in on curin' it." His brows knit together, teeth scraping against his lower lip, clicking against his liprings with the motion. "This whole thing --" But he stops there with a shake of his head, and offers Jim the hot cocoa again.
Lucien's eyes stay closed. He lifts the mug slowly, taking a sip but then wincing at the heat and putting it back down. "Squash." He's finally caught up with /that/ part of the conversation, maybe. "I could cook that." He looks lost again at 'bippity boppity boo', though, just frowning and slowly turning his head to look over towards Jim. "Wh --" Blink, blink. He looks back down at his cup. "Everyone. Has been busy."
“Don't know what we would've done without 'im,” Micah agrees with a nod. “Or...maybe I do an' would rather not think about it.” The faery godmother act timed with the addition of the illusory tiara has him giggling, however. He reaches for his own mug of cocoa, wrapping his gloved fingers around it to let the heat slowly seep into them. Lucien's mention of /cooking/ so close to demonstrating obvious confusion and scalding his tongue is troubling. “Maybe should let us cook for you a little while longer, Luci. Just 'til your attention span builds back up enough not t'be worrisome with hot things.”
"Christ alive." HURF. Going cross-eyed and angling gaze upward to try and /look/ up at his tiara, Jim smacks his hands against his kilted thighs to knock loose the majority of the dirt, standing up fully again. "Well. G'wan, where's a rest of it." He makes a 'BRING IT ON' gesture with his hands, both apparently inviting the cocoa into his custody (absent grabby hand) as well as just kind of jerking a chin at Jackson, gesturing down at his body. "Let's go, sunshine. Whole... godmother... gown. Fucking... wand shit, bring it on." He DARES you. Though when he takes his cocoa, he closes a hard hand over Jackson's, finishing for him, "/This/ whole thing -- is getting solved. " He jerks a chin towards Micah and Lucien, "How'd he get sucked into all this. That treatment like, siphoned out his /head/ or something?" No. Seriously, he looks like he wouldn't bat an eye if he was told 'yes'.
Jackson's lips twitch upwards, and the sparkly silver-and-diamond tiara is soon joined by a puffy pink gown, gauzy cap--sleeves and studded with diamonds itself. Dainty heeled silver shoes. A long wand capped with a silver star that trails slightly glowing dust in its wake. Jax's small smile grows into a larger one. "Oh oh oh and you can even turn our pumpkins into -- well, okay, just larger pumpkins but right about now that's /way/ better'n any carriage anyhow."
His gaze drops to Jim's hand against his overly hot one with the cocoa exchange, smile fading as his shoulders square up. "Getting solved," he echoes this like reminding himself. "Just it wouldn't have even if not for --" He exhales a frosty cloud of breath. There's a quick hitch-pause before he continues, a little lighter: "-- whole lotta work from some real impressive people. Pretty much pulled outta his head, yeah. He an' Parley worked down at the Clinic with -- I don't even know how they pulled it off so fast. Kinda did a number on Luci, though."
"I enjoy cooking," is Lucien's quiet answer to this. He's still staring down at his cocoa, watching the steam rise off of it. The flickers of colour at the edge of his vision draw his gaze that way; for a long time he stares at Jim with blank uncomprehension. "What." Just flat. His brow furrows again at the talk of getting sucked into this. "Jackson," he explains slowly. "Sucked. Me."
Warmth is one thing, but /funny/ is another. Micah spares one of his hands to press his fingers over his lips, only half-hiding an amused grin and series of chuckles at Jim's transformation. "Oh, roasted pumpkin seeds! Things were already gettin' t'be a mess around Halloween, we never pumpkined it up right." He nods at Jax's assurance that things are being solved. "Luci's brain is kinda amazin'. It's been slowly repairin' the damage that was done by him over-workin' 'imself comin' up with the cure. His sister took ill like half of everybody an' he got pulled into all the testin' work." His teeth worry at his lower lip with Lucien's answer. "I know y'like t'cook, hon. Y'can do all kindsa cookin' after y'get a little better, okay?" He brings his fingers back over his mouth at the unfortunate phrasing of Lucien's explanation, not contributing as he already offered his own explanation of Lucien's involvement.
"Y'want bigger pumpkins, I got a /different/ wand I use. -- Gross." Jim states at Lucien. Just casually on reflex. In his pretty dress, even with his overgrown hair, his body type and scarring, jaw structure and flat-out FURROW between his brows, are sadly mismatched. The overheated temperature doesn't seem to even pull his attention - there is no soft nerve pads to his fingers, had as wood to click softly on the cup's outer surface and he'll turn a bemused deadpan circle, watching his skirt flow around him while sipping at his beverage, giving Lucien's poor brain a show. It requires he tuck his cigarette behind an ear. The flesh around his eyes tightens for the news about Lucien's sister, then eases again, listening to the rest of the conversation but to which /parts/ specifically is anyone's guess.
And he lets out a swath of air, in the end, shrugging to Jackson, "Yeah." Just said bluntly. "We /all/ fucked this dog, Jackie. Any one of us that was helping it was someone /not/ stopping it. This?" He sweeps out his wand towards the eerily quiet city. "We all did this." He sniffs hard enough he might be working up a loogie, and fits his cigarette back into his mouth. And raises his eyebrows hopefully? At Jackson? "Got a light, laser-lips?"
"Oh -- ohgosh," Jackson's fierce blushing briefly derails his thoughts; it puts an oddly disjointed stiltedness to Jim's skirts, swishing only on a strange /delay/ from Jim's actual turning and then settling slowly back into more natural motion. "I've -- always got a light." Though his hands are shaking when he peels back his armwarmer to fold it down against his wrist, turning his fingers upwards as they start to glow fiercer, bright-hot when he holds a hand up by Jim. "Yeah. I guess -- we all -- but in the end I --" The fabric of Jim's illusion-dress stops moving again, as Jax's gaze turns out towards the city. "-- Once we started figurin' out that this thing was messin' with brains, I sent Luci down Clinic-ways. Is what he means. There was no, um. Sucking. Involved."
Lucien is back to watching his cocoa instead of Jim, /shuddering/ faintly at the shift of gown and locking his eyes downward. He's silent, for a time, fingers clenching and unclenching around his mug. He takes another very slow sip, and lowers his mug back to the table. "The responsibility. Does fall on the one --" He trails off again, hand lifting to press gloved fingertips to his temple. "Though falling on your sword will hardly -- un. Do."
Micah's fingers creep up until they're covering his face with the accumulation of just...everything in this conversation. And clearly he's just rosy-cheeked because it's /freezing/ out, right? He finally peeks back out for the purpose of mouthing 'laser-lips?' in Jax's general direction. "I think...um...he meant that figuratively," he adds feebly. And then sips from his cocoa mug because that's a better thing to be doing with his mouth. "An' can we all stop tryin' t'blame ourselves for all of this? It ain't the least bit constructive an'...really the one t'blame's the damned government an' we already have our hands full with them so /that/ doesn't get us too far, either." This last observation is half-grumped at his cocoa. Beverage needed a /lecture/.
The side of Jim's mouth twitches up. Then sets back down again, pulling a light off Jackson's finger. Again listening, more keenly if the focus of his eyes indicates anything. But what he says aloud is: "Your fucking hands are shaking." /Thump/. He pats Jackson's back, perhaps a little less firmly than he would other times. "Save me some squash for later huh? I wanna get some of this--," he holds up a hand, and long rapid curlicues of squash plant spiral up out of his sleeve and entwine blindly around his fingers, "Down in the tunnels while I still got it fresh. Mickey. Luc'." That right there? Is his EXIT commentary. He turns then and, pulling in a deep drag, he exhales and heads towards the door. Flicking said coffin nail aside before he heads through the door. Wasteful, yes. Maybe he's been scrounging in abandoned corner stores for extra cartons. Off he goes.
"Yeah. We'll save -- yeah." Jim's fairy-godmother getup vanishes as he moves through the door. Jackson moves back towards the table, slumping down at an extra seat. He drags the last empty mug towards himself, overheated hands curling around its cold ceramic. "Won't undo nothin'," he agrees, more softly, with Lucien. "But it'll make it a heck of a lot quieter in my head." He swallows once, hard, tipping his head slightly to look up at Micah. "It's just. It's not over, you know. Not for us. It gets out where this thing done come from an' we're gonna see a whole lot more slaughter. An' that is on me but I don't hardly know what to do about it."
Lucien's lips twitch. Faintly. "I can quiet it. For you." He flexes gloved fingers, but then wraps them around his cup again. "Is he still. Out there. They will need /someone/ to -- crucify. Perhaps," he volunteers, "they'll /give/ you. A sword."
“That's...good, Jim. Good t'know they got you helpin' for supplies.” Micah tries to take his own advice and keep the guilt out of his tone on that, but doesn't entirely succeed. “/Absolutely/ not.” Lucien's hand is /glared/ at at the offer. “You're still mendin'. Y'don't want any setbacks,” is softer, less knee-jerk in reacting. “How about we don't have any swords, please? You're all doin' nothin' but tryin' t'help t'the point of /killin'/ yourselves. An' in the past few weeks I feel like half the conversations I've had have been talkin' people down from thinkin' they're irreparably /bad/ because of things they did related to this. An' ain't a one of 'em been right about that. An'...maybe the government will hand-wave an explanation because people knowin' what happened with this would mean knowin' what /they're/ doin'. So far secrecy's been their best friend.”
Jax's eye stays fixed on Micah, his nose crinkling at the guilt in the other man's tone. The bright heat fades from his hands, and he scoots his chair closer, reaching over to slip his hand into one of Micah's. "We can put t'gether more things for 'em. Send 'em down with Jim." His head just tips forward at the rest of the conversation, though. "M'so --" His lips press together thinly. "M'tryin' not to. S'hard. S'the better part of a million people dead, Micah. I can't even begin to wrap my mind around it. I don't know no way to /get/ that out my head. Not without --" He glances down at Lucien's hands, then looks away.
"No setback," Lucien assures Micah, slow and with a small wince. "/Stopping/ a brain is the easiest --" His fingers flex again. He turns his attention back to his cocoa, taking another slow drink. "Perhaps. Those conversations -- are because they all unleashed --" He waves his coffee mug out towards the city in general. "Eight hundred thousand. Or more. Was it worth it?"
"That's a good plan," Micah says quietly, of gathering supplies for the Morlocks again. "I really don't see how you get t'be the one t'blame for this, Jax. You ordered your team /not/ t'take Vector. Dusk did that explicitly /against/ your orders. Hive was too busy bein' injured an' you were too busy missin' half your /face/ t'do anythin' about that. Then it was my idea t'talk t'Vector about what he wanted. An' /I/ was the one who assured 'im that givin' 'im back t'Prometheus was our /last/ option, after hidin' 'im or killin' 'im. An' strangely enough ain't nobody accused this of bein' all /my/ fault. S'just...some kinda double standard. Somewhere. Dusk says it's his fault. You say it's yours."
Micah shakes his head and stares down at his cocoa again. "When it's /clearly/ Prometheus's fault. Everyone associated with what was /done/ t'Vector. An' /yes/, it was worth it. This is what happened with his ability goin' off /by accident/. Without however much more experimentin' they were gonna do on 'im. Can you /imagine/ what it would've looked like if they got t'use 'im as they wanted? Against whoever they decided was the enemy next? Could've killed off an entire /country/ without hardly thinkin' about it. Might very well've /already/ been workin' on a pathogen that would specifically target the X-gene. Kill off all the mutants an' the carriers. Clean an' easy, no more work for 'em. Plenty of bodies t'experiment on later. Just sweep the genetic mistake under the rug an' move on with life."
Jackson draws in a slow breath, his head dipping in a nod at Micah's words. "No, you're. You're right." He looks back to Lucien's hands, his own squeezing tighter around his mug. "You're right. But knowin' that don't -- stop the --" He breathes out sharply, a quick crooked smile flitting across his face. "-- 'pologies. Should be talkin' to a therapist about this, not you. I don't know that was their end goal, really. Or one'a their end goals. Nice easy way t'get rid of us." A small shudder ripples through him at the question of whether it was worth it. "-- How can y'even measure that? One life for near a million. You woulda killed him." He says this last quiet and simple, without censure in his tone. Just thoughtful.
"It can be your fault as well," Lucien offers magnanimously to Micah. He sets his cup down, slowly working off one glove and then the other. "I was not -- in that position." His hand turns up, resting palm-up on the table between himself and Jackson.
"Hon, you can talk t'me about this /and/ to a therapist. S'a good idea. I'll hear it, but...y'gotta hear me, too." Micah looks up again, from Jax to Lucien and back. "I think if it would've helped keep somethin' like this or worse from happenin'? Vector would've killed /himself/. Or asked someone t'do it for 'im. But there was no way of knowin' that wouldn't just release /everythin'/ they put in 'im. He was so resigned to...he would rather've died than be /used/ as a weapon. So it wasn't a real choice. For goodness sake. If he'd asked it an' we didn't think it would've killed all of everyone, I'd have helped him with it." He shakes his head at Lucien. "No, actually. It doesn't get t'be. Because I'm bein' /reasonable/ about what actually caused this an' what options we had! Somebody has t'be. Sooner or later, a /lot/ of people were gonna die." He finally gives up on pouring dark looks into his cocoa mug and leaves the poor, abused thing on the table. "If they do start pointin' fingers at whose fault this is though, that would be a good story. Let 'em come at me for it. Confuse the heck out of everyone. Not even a carrier." Micah's voice has gone somewhat twisted with a bitter amusement. He gives Lucien's hand another disapproving look but says nothing more on /that/ topic.
Jackson closes his eye; his breath is a little shaky where it frosts out into the air. When he opens his eye again it is to look down at Lucien's hand; his own shifts towards it, slowly, as Micah speaks. Hovers over Lucien's hand, the heat from his own easily felt in the cold air. But when his hand drops again, it is to fall back to the table, next to Lucien's but not touching it. "I'm hearin' you," he says in a low whisper.
"So you are." A very small smile twitches at Lucien's lips. His fingers curl inward against his palm once Jackson's hand drops, and he tips his head back to look up at Micah. "Someone has to be," he echoes quietly. "And if they do -- let the story out. What do you think --" His brow furrows; for a moment his jaw clenches in mild frustration before he just finishes, inadequately: "What then?"
Micah nods at Jax's whisper, the tension in him relaxing slightly, somehow becoming more apparent as it leaves. "I really don't know. A lot of horrible, prob'ly. Just like most things t'have anything t'do with Prometheus." He leans heavily against the table. "Dusk didn't even /know/ what he was doin' when he took Vector out of there, did y'know that? He had not a clue about all of this. An'...the one thing I /do/ know, if this story gets out, every last bit of the role the government played in this needs t'be the loudest part of it. Because /that/ is where this went wrong. There were options that weren't on a scale of the catastrophic before they did the astronomically stupid, terrible things that they did."
Jackson sits frozen for a moment, but then lifts his hand to circle it around Micah's waist when the other man leans against the table. "Don't think any of us knowed just /quite/ what was -- gonna come'a all this. I mean, Hive told me -- but." He shakes his head, turning his chair slightly so that he can squeeze Micah in against his side. "That much you're definitely right about. I jus' gotta figure -- how t'make sure that part comes loud an' clear an' don't just get hushed up like it always do."
"Like most things in the world," Lucien murmurs, half to himself. He looks back down into his cocoa, starts to lift it to take a sip. But seems to forget halfway to his mouth, and sets the cup back down undrunk. "It's cold." Whether the cocoa or the /weather/ is unclear.
“Let's get you inside. An'...prob'ly oughtta get you /and/ the kids off t'bed. This has been...a very taxin' sort of conversation t'have the minute y'get out of a medical facility.” Micah offers Lucien an arm in escort back to the indoors. Where it is warm. And there are beds.
Jackson tucks his empty mug and the carafe of cocoa back into the shopping bag, picking it up as well as Lucien's half-emptied mug. He stands, squeezing Lucien's shoulder gently and then picking up the other man's gloves to add them to his bag. "Think this conversation mighta been taxing most any time." He heads for the door, to hold it for the others.
Lucien doesn't answer this. He stares at Micah's offered arm a good few moments before figuring out he should /take/ it. And heads inside. Where it is warm.