ArchivedLogs:In the Balance

From X-Men: rEvolution
In the Balance
Dramatis Personae

Hive, Jax, Matt


"There should be consequences." (Later the same night as getting mugged.)


<NYC> {Geekhaus} - Harbor Commons - Lower East Side

There's an open airy feel to the floorplan of this unit. The door opens up into a wide expanse of common space that is not so much divided up into rooms as it is simply multipurposed.

Ash-grey resin flooring underfoot runs up against the paler grey of the exposed stone in the walls; between the stone support there are wide floor-to-ceiling windows looking out at the river on one side of the home and the Commons' central yard on the other. Half of the space has a ceiling at one-floor height, though half of the space is left open with a balcony up on the second floor overlooking the living space below. A slatted stairway heads up to the second floor balcony; on the other side of the room, a fireman's pole running straight down to the basement provides a quicker way /down/.

The wide open space here is combination living and dining room; in a recessed pit near the windows there are a pair of couches and large armchair around a wide coffeetable; further off a steel-and-glass dining table is surrounded by eight tall black chairs. A full bathroom behind the stairway is done up in dark granite; the glass-doored bathtub/shower is rather expansively large.

The kitchen is tucked off in back, beneath the half-height ceiling; in here the appliances and cabinets and shelving recessed into the wall are in brushed steel, wide grey sweeps of tempered glass countertops running around the edge of the room and a large central island holding stoves and oven and deep double sink.

Adjacent to the kitchen, beneath the ceiling as well, is a sitting area structured largely around the enormous television against one wall, a wealth of video games for a number of consoles held on the shelves around the television. Crates and beanbags and one low futon folded against the floor are arranged in good viewing distance; opposite the television, a sturdy large pen built out of wood shrines a couch amid a sea of brightly colorful playpen balls. A door in one wall opens up to the apartment next door; a door opposite leads down to the basement.

Late Saturday night -- likely a lot of the city is out on the town. Drinking and dancing and partying -- here in Geekhaus it's a wild night for sure. The smell of popcorn (spicy and sweet -- tossed with curry and maple syrup rather than any movie-theatre-standard butter-and-salt), music (Simon and Garfunkel) playing throughout the... mostly empty house. At the dining room table, Hive is slumped, elbow propped against the table and his eyes narrowed down at a spread of colorful goblins neatly stacked on cards in front of him. "Fff." This appears, currently, to be his only comment on the situation at hand. He reaches for his nearby mug of coffee. But not before another, sharper: "/Fff/."

Sitting across from Hive with his chin propped up in one palm and a boyish smile on his face, Matt seems rather pleased with *his* goblin army, at least. He wears a black t-shirt with the silhouette of a man clutching a book to his chest, engulfed in abstract orange flames, and overlong blue jeans badly fraying at the cuffs. "The Ancient clan is tricky, no?" His tone is teasing, and he hides the broadening of his smile behind a mug of tea.

Jax is easy to feel, long before he actually arrives. There's a chaos of /stress/ and anger and unhappiness coming from next door -- considerably earlier than he should be home, really, due for a shift at Evolve after bodyguarding tonight -- and though his mind is as obscured as ever beneath a practiced haze of brightly kaleidoscoping colours, it's taking more than his usual dose of concentration /not/ to bleed all the thoughts below into Hive's mental space. More than his usual concentration, too, to keep in check the fierce storm of energy hoarded up inside him. /This/ does bleed out, in a churn of shifting shadow that he brings with him into Geekhaus when he finally does enter. He's in socked feet, black skinny jeans, a tight-fitting black t-shirt crisscrossed with bands of silver, his dripping-wet hair mostly black with only a fringe of dark purple at its tips, large dark glasses still speckled with rain from outside. He heads straight for the dining table, pulling out a chair beside Matt to drop into it heavily and drag the bowl of popcorn close.

"Fff," Hive answers, helpfully. This time he looks /up/ to say it, though. With a very exaggerated scowl across at Matt. He's just plucking a card out of his hand when Jax gets home -- instead he folds his hand down onto the table, glancing over towards Lighthaus with a frown. Rather than playing, he just sips at his coffee again. He leans back in his chair, brows lifting as Jax sits down. "Shouldn't you be at work? Giving me a fucking migraine, dude."

Matt does not pick up on Jax's arrival next door as quickly as Hive does, but when he does he mirrors the telepath's glance *and* his frown. He wraps his hands around his tea and considers their game half-heartedly, his worries a quiet susurrus in the back of his mind. He looks up again when Jax enters to join them. "Hey. What's going on?" Peeling one hand away from the warmth of the mug, he reaches to lay it on Jax's shoulder. "You want help with that?" He punctuates 'that' with a very gentle suppression of the photokinetic's ability, focused on the the energy reserve he struggles to contain. Though, at a casual glance, one could also suppose he means the popcorn, as he then reaches out to pluck a small handful from the bowl.

Jax's shoulder is fiercely warm beneath Matt's hand, as is his cheek when he tips his head to the side to press it against the back of Matt's hand. His eye closes, a sudden surge of longing flaring bright in his mind. He pushes it back down, sucking in a quick breath. "-- Oh. Please," he answers Matt, lifting his head quickly again and popping some of the popcorn into his mouth. "Got mugged," he finally answers.

"/You/?" The initial lift of Hive's brows is very skeptical, but it's leveled out soon enough into a worried frown. "Mugged like -- fucking /mugged/? But -- you -- are --" There's a faint probing at Jax's mind, reaching mental fingers pressing in lightly in quiet testing. "But /who/ could... You okay?"

Gradually, the roar of Jax's confined light quiets (at least to Matt's synesthetic perception) down to a dull background hum of potential. All the while, he is flicking popcorn into his mouth, one piece at a time. He leans in again with a sharp inhale and an abrupt spike of concern, though, at Jax's reply. << I'd have imagined him just giving them what they want, but... >> The stray thought isn't really addressed to Hive, but he makes no particular effort to silence it, either. "Are you..." Trailing off, he tosses his head lightly in Hive's direction. What he said.

"Thank you." The words come out in something of a mumble. Jax leans forward, elbow propped on the table and his face dropping into his hand. His mind clenches up, hard and reflexive, at that probing. << -- Don't -- >> He shakes his head quickly. "Not hurt," he assures quickly. "I didn't -- I mean, I gave 'em my wallet, but they." His jaw clenches. "I was workin', you know? Supposed to be lookin' after..." Here there is briefly a sharper flare of anger. "After Io. When they stopped us."

The mental touch pulls back. Hive's head ducks, shoulders tightening and a whisper of apology flickering against Jax's mind. "... is /Io/ okay?"

"Bienvenue," Matt murmurs, distracted, then adds, "welcome." He looks away at the mention of Iolaus, but he muffles the memory that gives distance to his gaze. Then turns back, nodding. "Imagine someone's mind will be blown when they actually *look* in your wallet. Do you want some coffee? Tea? Cocoa?"

"They recognized me, actually. Um. Once they'd already gotten our -- I think just realizing who I was scared them, though. They took off pretty..." Jax shakes his head, hooking one leg up onto the chair to crook his knee towards his chest. "I don't even know how I'm going to get a new ID." This is a lower mutter before he goes on to add: "Io's fine. I -- we went to see your brother's play," he tells Matt with a warm and short-lived smile. "He's /fantastic/, by the way." His palm rubs against his face. "Io was -- was going with Dr. Toure. They're -- good friends, you know. Spend a lot of time --" His eye scrunches closed. "Together. It was some other /mutants/ who attacked us. They were -- going to hurt Dr. Toure." Some of the chaotic swirl of colour in his mind clears, allows flickers of memory to fold through. Rasheed flying into a wall, a host of knife-like shards of ice hovering in midair in front of him.

Hive quiets, here. His gaze snaps back up to lock on Jax. There's a long breath. Then another. More level than before: "Is Rasheed okay?"

Matt's hand returns to Jax's shoulder, fingers splaying out to rub his back. "There's people who can make you a...backup, without involving the DMV or anyone else. I imagine it's easier if you have an otherwise legit identity." His own smile is wan. "Luci? He is, but he'll like to hear that from you." The fury that Rasheed's name conjures is far too intense for him to cover up, though its very intensity also masks its source in his mind. He grits his teeth and his hand clenches around a fistful of Jax's shirt. Sucks in a deep breath. Lets it out. He does not speak. He suspects he will say something awful if he does.

"It's my job." Jax's voice has dropped to a rough whisper. The anger in his mind is twisted up with a thick knot of guilt. "He's fine. I --" His shoulders tense, hand pushing up to scrunch fingers tightly into his hair. His palm presses down against his eye. His head shakes hard. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

"Sorry?" Hive's brows lift. There's another psionic press, digging up this time against Jax and Matt's minds both. His eyes flick between Jax and Matt. Back to Jax. "It's your job. And everyone got out okay. That's not -- something you gotta /apologize/ for."

"You'd have protected them anyway," Matt says, finally, shakily. "Job or no. Because you're a good person and..." << ...because the children need them. >> His hand relaxes, smoothes over the fabric he had rumbled, though he seems reluctant to break contact now. "I'd never fault you for that." When he looks over at Hive again there is a kind of weariness in his eyes and thoughts. The anger bleeds away and he make no attempt to guard against the probe. Only, << You might wish you hadn't found out. I certainly did. >> The memory belongs to an older and sadder Matt, sitting in the basement bedroom of the Tessier residence, holding onto Jax as if he expects him to vanish into smoke. << "I wish it weren't so, but Rasheed...was the mastermind behind Prometheus." >>

"Probably." Jax's thoughts have strayed, for a moment, back to his house next door, Spencer asleep in his bedroom. He leans to the side, head dropping in against Matt's shoulder. His arm lowers, curling around his shin. "Every time I have a shift I think I can't do it anymore, you know? Can't work for a place that -- but I ain't even talked to Io yet. I don't know what I'd say. Do you think he /knows/, he can't..." He swallows, shivering. "Sorry," he mumbles again, this time to Hive. "I should've told folks long time ago. I just. With the kids and now..." The guilt in his mind spikes, more, thinking in more pragmatic terms about Micah packing up his things, about what the loss of the /income/ from the Clinic would mean for him right now. "But I should've... Rasheed -- made. Prometheus. An' all this time he's been..." Here he just trails off again. His fingers curl tightly against his jeans.

From Hive there is continued silence. Those questing mental fingers work their way in deeper, pressing through the anger and guilt and memories to curl tight into the other men's minds. Close firmly there, a briefly uncomfortable mental pressure that eases as his mind fits itself more comfortably into theirs. Externally -- just quiet. His hand lifts, slowly, scrunching through his hair as well, fingers tracing a familiar path along the side of his head. His gaze has shifted -- less focused, eyes looking more /through/ the other two than at them, now.

Matt drapes his arm around Jax and closes his eyes. "I haven't breathed a word of it to anyone because of Sera, and others in her situation. Even the possibilty that he is using his patients for further research..." He shakes his head, unwilling to contemplate that possibility further. Perhaps by reflex, he adjusts Hive's entry into their minds, lessening the discomfort. "I would not be very surprised if Io knew," he replies, very softly, remembering the Iolaus of the future, the feverish intensity in his eyes.

A small strangled noise sounds in Jax's throat at the mention of the possibility of using patients for research. His shoulders tighten beneath Matt's arm, face pressing in against the other man's shoulder as Hive pushes into their minds. His arm curls around Matt; for a moment his fingers rest at the small of Matt's back before curling the rest of the way around his waist. << He's using /you/. >> The thought feels kind of sickened in his mind. "I should. I should talk to Io. I should..." But here there's just uncertainty, stress. "I can't jus' keep goin' in there an' pretendin' like it's. Fine." He looks up, frowning deeply at Hive's expression. "... you still with us?"

Hive's eyes stay unfocused. The feel of other-mind bound up to theirs is quietly expanding, a growing swell of consciousnesses trickling in to join their own, mental energy ballooning out past this house to envelop minds outside it as well. "He's using you." Voiced in time with Jax's thought, his voice sounds soft and distant.

"Of course; but I gave him permission." Matt's voice is small and miserable. "This time. I...if you'd prefer, I'll talk to Io with you. I don't work for him, at least. Our relationship is complicated in completely different directions." He shivers when Jax's hand finds the scar over his spine. When he looks up at Hive, following Jax's movement (so closely that the gestures look almost synchronized), *Matt's* eyes lose their focus, too. The perception granted by his power give a strange, almost tactile representation of Hive's expanding reach. And it's that reach that he dampens now, without modifying the rest of the telepath's abilities.

Colour rises into Jax's cheeks at Hive's parroting of his thought. "Maybe. Maybe -- yeah. If you... if that's... if you're gonna be. Okay with that. I just. I can't. I can't -- every time I put that uniform on now I..." A shudder runs through him. He swallows, eye fixing on Hive's face. "... but Hive, y'can't just --" He doesn't finish this sentence either, though. His words trail off into a muddle of conflict, a sense of << why not >> permeating his mind.

A visible /twitch/ shakes Hive's shoulders when the expanding reach of his mind is leashed. His senses strain against Matt's, /tugging/ hard against that dampening. His gaze snaps back to the other men, suddenly focused again, his fingers clenching into fists. Twining through the others' shared minds now is less image and more feeling, bright pings of consciousness winking out one after another after another to leave only darkness behind. Hive's mindvoice has swelled, a jangling dissonant chorus of voices unpleasantly rattling over each other: << Who would fucking mourn? >>

"There should be consequences," Matt says, his voice hardly more than a whisper, "there *must* be." He winces at the sense of vanishing minds, shaking his head. "If you really want to do this, I can't stop you and frankly don't *want* to, but..." He gathers Jax closer, quieting the tremble in his hand by digging his fingers into the other man's side. "There are children whose lives hang in the balance of the work he is doing. There people still detained whose fate he might still be able to influence. He cannot do that, much less answer for his wrongs, if he dies now."

Jax stiffens at that mental feeling, but the tension coiled through his frame eases off slightly when Matt's fingers dig into him. He lets out a quiet breath, eye closing. His thoughts are drifting back, again, to Spencer asleep upstairs -- but then he focuses instead on the feel of Matt's hand squeezing down against him, concentrating on that and not his growing desperate crush of worry. "I would," he finally replies, very quietly; though in his mind there's no sense of concern over /Rasheed/, instead a fierce protectiveness that does not want /Hive/ to add anything else to the cache of horrible memories in his minds.

Hive's teeth grind, slow and hard against each other. Crrrk. The feeling of straining against Matt's dampening effect quiets. He slumps down against the table, disrupting the cards laid out neatly in front of him as his arms fold, head dropping down against them. "Fuck."

"We'll sort this out, somehow." Matt does not sound so much confident as *determined.* "Talking to Io is a start, and a necessary step, but it won't get us justice. All we know about his involvement now comes from the memory of my future self. We need more than that to proceed. But..." His fingers clench harder against Jax's side, enough that even well-trimmed nails will leave marks through the shirt. " thing at a time."

At the harder clenching, Jax draws his breath back in swiftly -- and relaxes further, curling in against Matt's side. For a moment there's another sharp flush across his mind -- longing, desire -- that fades away into just a tired sort of comfort. His cheek presses to Matt's shoulder. He has to swallow hard again before he finds enough voice to echo: "One thing at a time."