Tuesday, 19 May, 2020
"You might want to calm down, now." (Part of Future Past TP.)
<NYC> Tessier Residence - Basement - Greenwich Village
The lowest level of this home is always kept securely locked, and from the bottom of the staircase it is clear that this floor is nothing like the ones above it. The decor is dark and severe, the room outfitted in black and steel. One wall is fairly lined with whips and paddles and crops and canes of all sorts. Against another, a large St. Andrew's Cross; to either side of it there are a pair of very sturdy cages, one taller and narrower, one shorter and squatter. The king-sized bed is constructed of black steel as well, its frame punctuated with restraint hoops, perfect for attaching chains or handcuffs to. In one corner there is another free-standing frame; most often there is a sling or swing of one sort or another attached, but with a liberal number of connection hooks its purposes are versatile. Along with some cabinets and drawers, assorted other pieces of furniture are arranged around the room: a pair of coffins, a steel bondage chair, a restraint bench, among others; but they all leave little question as to their general purpose.
A few doors lead to other rooms: a smaller stark white room in back, with faux-medical decor, a sumptuously decorated room with comfortable couches and a very large wardrobe of clothing and costumes, a large bathroom, a spacious storage room stocked full of a wide assortment of toys; a plush bedroom that seems downright /normal/ compared to the rest, with adjacent sitting room. It has a door leading out to the side of the house and another one leading into a tiny kitchenette. Incongruously, a final door leads to a quite tame and well-stocked wine cellar: with many expensive, exquisite and hard-to-obtain vintages of wine and other liquors, it is perhaps the real reason Lucien keeps his basement locked tight.
Upstairs there are people. Food. Activity. Conversations, some in hushed voices. Probably a lot of antsiness. Jax is avoiding Dinner, though; avoiding People, avoiding Conversations. He has sequestered himself down in the basement room, currently perched on the edge of the large black bed with his knees pulled up to his chest and his arms curled around them. His eyes are closed, his fingers turning at a small dotted silver ring around one finger.
The din of conversation upstairs grows briefly louder, then muted again as a door opens and closes. It is Matt who comes padding barefoot down the stairs wearing a dark green t-shirt with anthropomorphic cartoon interpretations of the Hogwarts mascots and blue jean shorts, his soft brown hair tousled. He carries a somewhat asymmetrical ceramic mug painted with more enthusiasm than skill in bright abstract strokes of blue, green, purple, and pink. Though he looks very much as though he *wants* to say something, he just offers the mug, which is full of a liquid probably more milk than tea.
Matt is followed soon after by his brother; Lucien's hands are laden with a still-steaming bowl of soup. He doesn't offer it /to/ Jax, though he does set it down on the nightstand by the bed. "I suppose you shall all be returning, soon." His voice is somewhat flat, with this. "Your telepath is making preparations. Though I do not have the first idea what time travel /requires/."
Jax looks up, eye a little wide (and a little bright) as he looks to the Tessiers. He lowers his hands to his lap, then lifts them again to claim the mug with a very quiet, "Thanks." His fingers clench around the mug, eye locking down onto it to stare at the tea. "I s'pose we are." This comes with a hard swallow. He lifts the mug -- then lowers it again. "... y'all gonna be alright? Here? I don't s'pose Osborn's gonna be too happy with you -- jus' right now."
"Not sure about alright, but I'll take my chances out here over another stint in a lab any day." Matt sits down beside Jax, shoulders slumping and hands lacing together. "Osborn's about to have much bigger problems than us, anyway."
"Oh, I plan to make Osborn a good deal unhappier before this week is through." There is a quiet grim satisfaction in Lucien's tone. He leans up against one of the posts at the corner of the bed, shoulder hitched up against it and his arms loosely crossed over his chest. "I am not sure how to even quantify alright, at this point. If we still /have/ a world after you return to reroute things in yours --" He hesitates, eyes lowering and his breath pushed slowly out. "I have a good chance at starting it down a different path."
Jax cringes, head dipping and his shoulders tensing up. "Guess that'll hafta do." He lifts the cup again; his teeth click against its rim. He still doesn't actually drink, though, lowering it once more without sipping. "S'what we done come for, ain't it. A chance at a different path..." His tone is a little distant. Maybe musing as much to himself as to the others. "'Different', huh. Not 'better'?"
"I believe in the multiverse. If you succeed, off you go down that timeline." Matt untwists his hands from each other and explores the edges of his singular ring absently. "Actually, I suspect that happens constantly. Every moment. There's a timeline where I'm standing and not sitting right now. Dozens, probably. Anyway, with or without time travel, causality doesn't owe us anything. 'Better' is just hope..." His eyes flick up to meet his brother's. "...or hubris."
"Between the two of us," Lucien's eyes meet Matt's, a trace of amusement in his voice, "we have always managed a surplus of both. But I think even I do not have the arrogance to assume I can build a better world. Only --" His eyes lower. Skim over Jax's face, and then drop down. "We have the easier job here, truthfully. It is quite clear at this far point some glaring problems that need shifting. Your path, though --" One hand turns upwards, fingers spreading slightly.
Jax's lips twitch. Just briefly. Almost but not quite a smile. "I've sure owned my share'a both. But now I don't -- know. I don't know that I got either. Mostly just a lotta --" His hands tremble around the mug. The light trembles, around him. "S'tempting just to stay. Here. Or -- or -- or..." This trails off into quiet, a faint shiver of shadowy darkness curling around him.
Matt lifts one hand and rests it on Jax's back. "Traveling through time to take down an evil corporation uses up a lot of hubris. Seeing your own fate kind of sucks the hope out of you." His hand rubs in slow circles. "There's people here who would give a lot to have you back, and gods know we could use your help, but...your family is waiting for you." His voices hitches on the word 'family'. Once he has blinked his eyes clear, he opens his mouth again, but closes it without saying anything more.
"Stay here," Lucien echoes this pensively, lifting his eyes to regard Jax again. "Is that because you do not want to face your time or because you think you can help ours?" His lips twitch. "Or, perhaps, because you think /it/ will help yours. There is its own hubris in that too." He shifts out of his lean against the bed post, hand dropping to Matt's back to rub there gently.
A faint blush spreads up Jax's cheeks and into his ears. "S'pose there is. Just can't help feelin' --" He leans back into Matt's touch, eye squeezing shut. His knuckles lift to rub at it fiercely before he opens it again. "M'sorry," he adds, softly. "Dr. Toure is doin' everything he can for her."
"...responsible?" Matt slides his hand across to Jax's shoulder, tugging the other man up against him. "You're not, but...yeah." There is a palpable tension in his body that relaxes fractionally under Lucien's touch. "It hasn't happened in your world, though, and forewarned is fore...armed... Maybe an unfortunate choice of words." He sucks in a sharp breath at Jax's reassurance, then lets it out slowly, lips pressed into a thin line. "Rasheed. Is probably her best hope." His vivid green eyes search Jax's face, and a faint tremor runs through him. "/You/ don't know. /We/ didn't know, then."
Lucien's teeth clench, hard. His fingers press down a little more firmly against Matt's back. "/Your/ people," he says, terse and stiffer, "made their decisions on that front already. It has happened." His hand slides upward, after this, from back to the back of Matt's neck. A faint wash of soothing comfort slips out from his touch with the small squeeze he gives there. "And if they did," it's not said with any particular censure, no weight given to the words past a mildly thoughtful questioning, "would it help?"
"Hhhhh." It's a sound that almost turns into a laugh before it dies, shivering away as Jax leans up against Matt's side. "Feels like this whole past year's been a long string of deciding between all bad options." His head shakes, sharply, before tipping slightly upwards towards the brothers. "Know what?"
"Maybe not." Matt slumps against Jax, and the clenched muscles of his neck ease beneath Lucien's fingers. "He's still her best hope, and I don't /think/ he would hurt her, but sadly we don't know that. He might have /let/ her die if he stood to learn something in the process." His voice is quiet, perhaps a little artificially calm, but still holds an edge. "Gods know he's done that to plenty of other people; might /still/ be doing it, back then." He meets Jax's eye and holds his gaze. "I wish it weren't so, but Rasheed...was the mastermind behind Prometheus."
Lucien slips into quiet, here. His fingers continue to knead at Matt's neck, the trickle of soothing warmth swelling silently.
There's silence, also, from Jax. His shoulders tense, his breath catching. Against Matt his body is growing suddenly /fiercely/ hotter, rapidly shifting into uncomfortable and then potentially dangerous. The light around the room is brightening, as well. "Wh --" he finally manages. And then a somewhat helpless protesting: "No."
Matt yelps and pulls away from Jax, but even so his palm and forearm come away reddened by the scalding heat. "Somewhere in the last five years, he had a change of heart." He tucks himself against Lucien, flexing his hand experimentally. "If I could believe that had already happened in your time, I wouldn't have told you."
Lucien's posture tenses as the lights brighten. Reflexively there's a wash of numbing, slipping out to ease the mild burning on Matt's arm. He straightens, jaw tightening as he looks down at Jax. "You might," he says, softly, "want to calm down, now."
"I -- but he. He's been so /helpful/. Through /everything/. And Hive, when he was sick, why would he have --" The lights are still brightening. Small wisps of colour -- bright and /hot/ -- dance in the air around them. Jax glances up, grits his teeth, looks back down and away. Takes one deep breath, then another. "Oh -- oh. Oh. Oh gosh. Yeah. I -- he just. No." This time it is small. Kind of defeated.
"I don't know." Matt sighs, dropping his hand to his side and closing his eyes. It may be that the lights are too intense. "I'm sorry."