ArchivedLogs:Independence Day

From X-Men: rEvolution
Independence Day
Dramatis Personae

Autumn, DD, Dusk, Hive, Matt

2015-07-04


"Tell me they're not up there twirling a mustache about grinding the city to a halt." (Part of the Buzzkill TP.)

Location

<NYC> Tessier Residence - Greenwich Village, <NYC> Little Fuzhou - Lower East Side


Understated opulence claims this spacious and well-kept townhome, the decor throughout the whole of it of the highest quality and carefully chosen. The front door opens onto the entrance hall, a closet close at hand to receive coats and shoes -- the pale hardwood floors gleam underfoot, unsullied by tracked-in mess from outside. The living room beyond the entrance is all dark woods and pale earth tones, comfortable couches and armchairs and a thick soft rug laid down beneath. Two large and painstakingly aquascaped aquariums flank the entrance to the dining room, with several brightly coloured species of fish within. Most of the rest of the wall space, notably, is taken up with shelves -- shelves crammed with books of every subject and genre.

A study branching off of the main hall is cozy, small, done in pale blues and lined with books as well around the large computer desk and smaller futon, though these rarer books are cased behind glass. Another securely locked door leads to the basement, and another to the full bathroom downstairs. The kitchen connects to the living room; in contrast, it is sleek and modern and well-appointed, stocked by someone who takes their cooking seriously. And takes their alcohol equally seriously -- to one side of the kitchen there is a fully-stocked bar. The back door to the kitchen looks out on a small well-kept garden.

It's a cloudy, balmy day outside, pleasant in its mildness. The muted bustle of a Saturday afternoon is punctuated here and there by the distant pop and thud of illicit fireworks. Matt is sprawled across the couch with an arm thrown over his eyes, napping. His hair, though lately trimmed, looks a complete mess. His dark green shirt features cartoon renderings of the Hogwarts house mascots, and his faded blue jeans are worn through at the cuffs where they drag on the ground. There is a cup of tea cooling on the end table near his head and a hardbound copy of /Imago/ by Octavia Butler clasped over his heart.

<< Knock knock knock. >> There's a rather /loud/ mental intrusion into Matt's quiet napping, an abrasive mind pushing up against the slumbering one. Out on the doorstep, Hive is leaning up against Dusk like a crutch. All skeletal-bony limbs and shaggy choppy hair, recently shorn too short for ponytail again but too long still now to be properly /neat/. He's in jeans, scuffed old workboots, a plain white tee underneath a light denim shirt unbuttoned with sleeves rolled up over his elbows. << Why are you /sleeping/ don't you know you should be blowing shit up? Don't you love America? >>

Out on the doorstep (in camo cargo shorts, Vans sneakers, a plain black wrap shirt, a messenger bag of his own), Dusk just presses knuckles against his lips, stifling a smirk. His wing (shimmering in dusty silver laid over a backing of deep leafy green) curls around Hive's shoulders, an evidently languid drape that is really far more supportive than it /looks/. He doesn't add any physical knocking to the mental. Just waits.

<< Wait, am I required to love America? >> Matt's mental reply is just this side of grumpy as he stirs awake and hauls himself upright. He lifts the tea to his lips and sips, looking and feeling somewhat betrayed as soon as he remembers it will in no way chase away the drowsiness. When the door opens a moment later, confusion finally percolates its way into his thoughts. "What...?" He blinks in the afternoon light, cloud-filtered as it is. He's still holding the book like a small child with a teddy bear. "Desole...uh...come in, please."

<< Thought that was mandatory today. >> Hive doesn't sound particularly committed to this idea, admittedly. He doesn't enter when the door opens. He takes a step back, head shaking to toss hair back from his eyes. << {No, you come out.} >> This time in French; in either language his words have just much of an unplaceable bastardized accent. << We've gotta fix that tea. >> Dusk's other wing stretches out, wrapping around Matt in a gentle hug. "Got work to do," he agrees cheerfully with Hive. "... unless you Canucks /did/ have some misplaced patriotism planned, in which case I'll leave you to it."

The mention of tea seems to wake Matt up the rest of the way. "You know how to fix it?" He doesn't wait for an answer, doesn't even /think/ to ask how precisely he might assist. Squeezing Dusk back, he quickly extricates himself and retrieves brown sandals and a Blue Suns messenger bag. "Patriotism!" He guffaws, hopping on one foot as he tugs a sandal onto the other, already half-way out the door. "Lucien is too busy dying of withdrawal out in the garden even if we had any intention of celebrating. Now, where to?"

<< Dusk's been flying out to the wastelands every day for his fix, bastard. >> Which might explain the vampire's cheer. Hive's eyes just stay narrowed and he stays leaning up against Dusk's side as Matt joins them outside. He curls an arm around Dusk's waist, turning to start away down the sidewalk; it isn't till a ways down the block that he bothers to add: << No idea how to fix it. You're gonna help us figure that out. >>

"Never thought I'd have a reason to go to gorram Staten Island," Dusk grumbles. He is extricating a tablet from one of his oversized cargo pockets once Matt has joined them, tapping fingers against the screen to pull up a map. "C'mon. I'll get us in the neighborhood, but then you two are going to do the /real/ work."


<NYC> Little Fuzhou - Lower East Side

Here the historically Jewish neighborhoods off of East Broadway meet the newer southern Chinese ones. Tiny Fujianese grocers and pungent apothecaries share crowded blocks with bialy bakers and synagogues. This area does not attract quite so many tourists and local visitors as its more famous neighbors, but there is considerable foot traffic right now despite Shabbat.

Matt cranes his neck to peer into a sliver of a tea shop as they pass. It is with a sigh and a deliberate will that he turns his attention back to his companions. "We'd have to get *pretty* close before I can directly pick up on the person or people responsible." He peers at Dusk's tablet, mouth pulling to one side, a touch skeptical. "Is that updating live?"

Hive doesn't look at Dusk's tablet. He's looking a little distant -- but then, he has on a lot of the trip over here, eyes slightly unfocused, mind largely quiet. His lips do twitch, slightly. He reaches into a pocket, pulls out a pack of cigarettes; though he tucks one between his lips, he doesn't light it. There's a rustle up against the others' minds, a soft shivering jumble of overlapping thoughts, feelings, voices, sensations. The sizzle-pop of a lit sparkler and a simmering frustration of being stuck in a traffic jam; the clink of fork against plate and smell of scrambled eggs and waffles rubbing up against the charring smell of steaks on a grill; someone in a dimly-lit kitchen yelling angrily, someone in a brightly-lit coffeeshop grumbling in annoyance. Many more, swirling together indistinctly.

From somewhere in the mess Hive unthreads one feeling; the brighter energetic buzz of actually /working/ caffeine, and feeds it to the other two. Almost teasing, in how soon it vanishes again. He's drifting out of the safety of Dusk's wing, trailing fingers absently against the side of a parked car as he moves forward down the sidewalk. << Live, >> he affirms, << we're keeping track of -- a lot. >>

A small frown pulls at Dusk's brow. He glances up at Hive, wings tightening in against his back, and blows out a short sharp breath. "Yeah. I met a guy at Evolve. Coworker of Jax. Teaches CS at the school. He helped refine what I was doing with this. Used to only update every half hour and I couldn't work out the calculations to make it figure the center. But working with him --" One wing shrugs. "I'm feeling pretty hopeful now." Hive may not be looking at the map with his /own/ two eyes, but he's clearly not steering /wrong/; Dusk is following after the telepath down the street. "How close is close? I'll just fly you in passes over the neighborhood if that's what it takes to get you tingling."

Matt shivers, as much at the sheer bulk of telepathic information as the buzz of caffeine. The look he darts at Dusk speaks his question as loudly as the stray inward wondering, << This can’t be good for him? >> Still, he keeps step with the other two, fingers plucking at a stray seam on the strap of his bag. “Thirty feet, give or take. We should definitely try canvassing on foot first, streets and alleys and wherever we can get.” He tilts his head back to look up at the snarl of fire escapes and signs protruding from the old buildings. “Flying is going to attract a *lot* of attention, especially if we’re flying low enough or near enough to buildings for it to be any kind of effective.”

<< We're fine. >> The answer drifts back quietly to Matt in a whispering chorus of voices. << Best get to walking, then. >>

"Oh. Right. Other people aren't used to the staring." Dusk's shimmery silver-green wings shiver out behind him, briefly. The smile he flashes to Matt is sharp and fangy. It contrasts heavily with the worry and doubt in his mind at Hive's assertion of /fine/. << ... hasn't /been/ fine in a while... >> "/I/ sweep neighborhoods like that regularly just for the sake of layering my fields nicely."

“Most of the staring I get is related to being seen in public with a famously beautiful and talented brother.” Matt shrugs, putting his hands into his pockets and then taking them right back out for ease of fidgeting. << Fixing the coffee is a noble enough aim, I guess, but surely you could use a vacation? >> This time the thought is deliberate and clear. “How small an area were you able to narrow down, anyway?” He turns his head left and right to peer into dimly-lit storefronts, as if it would help him find his mark.

<< Vacation? >> Hive's answer comes back sounding somewhat puzzled. Turning over this concept like he's not quite sure what Matt could mean. << Do you take vacation from being yourself? >> He stops, leaning heavily now against the post of a No Parking sign until Dusk catches up, at which point he transfers his leaning to the other man, slumping heavily against his roommate's side. As an afterthought: << He's certainly got talent. >>

"People get too hung up on the famous part. We've got plenty enough beautiful and talented Tessier right here." Dusk is focused downward on his screen rather than up at Matt, kind of offhand with this comment. As is: "Few square blocks. I think you /are/ taking a vacation from being yourself, man. Sometimes might be good to find you again is all."

“Flatterer.” Though Matt does not particularly displeased with the flattery. “I can’t know what it’s like for you, but I /can/ give you some quiet time from other minds when you want it.” << Trouble might be knowing if you want it. >> Then his mind adds, unbidden, << Like Luci. >> He bites his lower lip and just shakes his head, almost imperceptibly. “The effect is stronger here, though I’m not sure I would have noticed if I were just walking through, and it’s definitely not obvious enough for me to play warmer-cooler with it.”

<< What we want... >> Hive echoes this, quiet and confused again. A healthy dose of puzzled this time on the concept of /want/. A jumble of desires that may not in the strictest sense be his own.

<< You could know. What it's like. >> A soft mental touch curls up against Matt's mind. The jumble of other voices and other feelings grows clearer, more /present/. The minds in it are shifting, though, even as Hive folds Matt in. Large swaths of feeling vanishing, other new sparks of identity growing. A man passing by on the sidewalk shoots them a look only this time it comes with a rather clearly transmitted feeling of nervous worry as she skirts around Dusk's wings. Another woman passing by in the other direction only has a sense of /annoyance/ for how much room they're taking up. Hive just curls in closer against Dusk, not walking anymore and not showing much inclination to move.

<< (Warmer/cooler?) >> Not words so much as a questioning concept, surfacing in Matt's mind as though it were his own thought. << (Can you feel?) Which part of us is (working)? >>

"Just honest. Anyway, it's your talent we need." The worry hasn't left Dusk's mind. Whatever Hive might want, there's certainly a large part of /him/ that wishes Hive would take some quiet time. His wing wraps snug around the thinner man's shoulders. "-- You okay, man?"

Matt blinks, rubs his eyes, and blinks again like one walking out of a dark room into bright light. He ceases to strain the edge of his perception for mutants, which at the moment only registers himself, Dusk, and Hive anyway. “{My gods, there are so many, but…}” << (Yes.) >> His mind lacks the skills to isolate or locate what he has perceived, but they are, at the moment, no less Hive’s perceptions than his own.

Out of the roiling sea of consciousness, a few unique currents gradually emerge. Three of them are clustered together on a corner--but they're the seekers, not the sought. Another down the street is unloading an illegally parked truck. He is weary but proud, carrying more than twice the weight any of his coworkers can. Two are in the same apartment on the other side of the block: one quietly bearing her father's beratement, her anger buried deep, the other asleep and dreaming troubled dreams. The last flickers in and out, conscious of her powers and nervous--how many times can she cheat before someone suspects?

Hive's eyes close, his breathing slowing as he sags in against Dusk. << Many? No. It's only us. >> And then there is quiet. His mind feels along the paths that Matt's locates, tracing the threads there with a delicate touch.

When his eyes open again it isn't out on the street. Just his consciousness through someone else's eyes, taking brief stock of the apartment as his mind takes stock of --

<< ... across the block. >> It seems like a struggle when he straightens, pulling wearily upright away from Dusk. Only at a delay remembering to open /these/ eyes again. << That building -- come on. >>

Through the worry there's a flicker in Dusk's mind of /impressed/. He glances down at his tablet again, but then tucks it back into his pocket. "Kinda admit we didn't really think past this part. How exactly do introductions go, here. Hey, you don't know us but we'd like our caffeine back? What'd you get off them, anyway? Tell me they're not up there twirling a mustache about grinding the city to a halt."

“If it *is* one of those two,” Matt’s reply comes quiet, careful that he speaks both aloud and in English, “this might turn out fairly awkward whether they’re doing it on purpose or not. They’re children.” Fragments of a different childhood, now past, flit through his mind: a man yelling, lifting his hand to strike again, and a boy stopping him short with a touch. His footfalls slow as they pass the truck, and he meets the eyes of the strong man, half a head shorter than himself and skinny to boot. << I didn’t notice any mustache-twirling. >>

Up in the apartment, the father has finished his tirade. He has laid down the law--his daughter /will/ find a job, not just mill around all summer like a delinquent. He sends her to her room, for which she is grateful. She pulls the smuggled copy of 'No Exit' out from under her mattress and sits down beside the other bed where her brother sleeps fitfully.

Getting into the building isn't difficult, as the door leading directly from the street to the cramped, dark stairwell isn't even locked. The stairs are concrete, crumbling in some places and uneven throughout. The door to the apartment on the third floor is dingy, cracked red paint peeling off in sheets from the edges. The apartment number (3C) hangs from one nail, and there isn't an obvious doorbell or knocker.

<< Too young. No mustache. >> Though Hive shivers, faintly, as he heads across towards the building. << Just -- >> An echoed touch of nervousness comes through in lieu of further words. The cigarette still hangs unlit from his lips. He finally pulls out a lighter, flicks at it restlessly several times. Watches the flame without actually touching it to the stick.

Upstairs in 3C, the man living there, done with his tirade, is very suddenly getting ready to go out. Strong craving, waking up in his mind. Whatever his plans for the afternoon /were/, he's suddenly instead been very strongly taken with the urge to get out of the house and settle in at a cafe down the street. Order a coffee -- or three.

Outside, Hive continues flicking at his lighter until the door to the building opens. Dispenses one gentleman off on a quest for useless coffee. Closes again. Only once the man has been shipped off does he continue inside, leaning against the wall for support as he climbs the stairs to the third floor.

"Kid. That's -- what I was worried about," Dusk admits, with a small frown. He is hesitant, following slowly after Hive. His wings press tightly against his back, an edge of uncertainty << ... should probably wait outside? even other freaks tend to -- freak. >> lingering in his mind. "If they're just -- young. This is probably more up Jax's alley than ours, really." Even so, he takes a deep breath, folds his wings tighter (not that it really /stops/ the large clawed tips from spiking kind of dramatically sharp overhead) and knocks on the apartment door.

The girl starts, reflexively goes to hide her book before realizing that her father would not be knocking on his own door. She looks down at the sleeping child, hides the book anyway, slinks out of the bedroom to answer the door. Half-way across the cluttered living room, she hesitates. That odd feeling, familiar, but she can't place it.

Though the door remains shut, the girl's unease finds its way through Hive's consciousness. And then, not all at once but still quite rapidly, Hive and Matt's respective styles of extrasensory perception expand exponentially, spilling out across the city and even into the surrounding states, fluctuating wildly for a moment before settling down.

Matt’s mouth drops open, and his hand comes up to stifle a cry that never makes it out. If suddenly sensing every mutant in the greater New York area doesn’t overwhelm, then suddenly sensing every mind in the northeast through Hive and plunging fully into the vast consciousness that currently *is* Hive certainly does. He half turns from the (still closed) door as if that would somehow stem the tide of senses, thoughts, and emotions, then sways and reaches out blindly for support before toppling over unconscious.

Hive pulls in a breath, sharp and shaky. His teeth clench down, grinding in against the still-unlit cigarette held between them. There's not much by way of sound from him. Just color draining from his face and his knees starting to buckle beneath him.

"... shit." It's kind of hissed out under Dusk's breath. He's just started to knock again -- one, two -- but the third knock is aborted this time. Instead he curls his wings out to catch the other two; he cradles Hive against his side, slowly lowering to ease Matt more /gently/ down to the floor. << Hive, bro, you still with me? We need to run? >> His muscles are tensed, bracing, his mind already preparing for a fight. << (attack or accident?) >>

The girl takes another step toward the door, then suddenly turns on her heel and flees into her room. The panic in her mind drowns out any of her rationale even if anyone is still cognizant enough to listen in. The expanded reach of Hive's telepathy fades as quickly as it came, and with as little warning. She shoves a chair under the door handle and retrieves book /and/ backpack from under her bed. Her brother wakes as she's donning her shoes, and she silences him with an urgent finger to her lips. She kneels in front of him and puts on his shoes with shaking hands. "Remember what I told you? They're here, we have to go."

Unconscious or not, the cacophony of minds in Matt's very /abruptly/ quiets, some inner barriers slamming sharply back into place in Hive's mind once the noise fades -- this time to wall off /all/ feeling transferred from him to the other man. He still doesn't straighten, though, somewhat trembly as he leans into Dusk. << Not. An attack. >> His mind nudges uncertainly at Matt's, pushing slowly in a cautious testing for response.

His teeth grind, fingers clenching down against his knees. It takes a concerted effort for him to lift one hand, knock again at the door. This time it comes with psionic contact, too. The first thought that surfaces in the girl's mind -- /feels/ like her own rather than like one that's been placed there from outside, not any words but a rising knowledge struggling up through the panic that the people at the door are not, in fact, The Enemy.

It's only after this that Hive's voice comes through, quiet and rather exhausted even in the shared mental space. << We're not going to chase you, but please don't go. We just want to talk. >>

Dusk just stays kneeling outside the door where he is. His wing rubs gently against Matt's back, the low growl that had been threatening to come out of him subsiding again with Hive's reassurance. << (what happened) >> << (they okay?) >> "-- S'he okay," he allows himself to give voice to /this/, at least, looking down at Matt with no small level of worry.

Whether from Hive’s prodding or Dusk’s, Matt stirs, one hand going to his forehead. “Merde.” This seems to be the whole of his opinion on anything at the moment. But he gathers himself and grips Dusk’s wing for balance as he rolls into a crouch. “She’s...a bit like me, I think. So probably the other child...maybe...” He’s still rubbing the side of his head with the heel of one hand. “Ouch.”

The girl freezes in the act of bundling her brother out onto the fire escape, and looks back over her shoulder at the barricaded door. "Did you hear that?" she asks him quietly. The younger child looks up at her with blank, bleary eyes and shakes his head. "Telepathy," she mutters. << But how do I know they don't work /for/ Prometheus? >>

"Prometheus." It's a quiet half-growled word from Hive, this time, a shudder of discomfort rippling across Matt and Dusk's minds. It doesn't touch the feeling still burrowing into the girl's thoughts that the people outside are not here to hurt them.

<< You watch the news at all? >> There's flickers of old news reports that surface together with this question -- back from when Dusk and Jax were in jail, accused of terrorism, back when the stories about Prometheus first /surfaced/ together with all the myriad testimony from ex-Prometheans about how their team liberated the labrats. << You followed that shit, you'll /know/ my friend doesn't work for them. And I'd take a bullet to my own gorram brain before helping any of those monsters. I don't have a wikipedia article to prove that, though. Just the scars they gave me. >>

Slowly, he's pulling himself back to his feet, using Dusk for support as he does. "Bit overloaded. It passed."

The girl looks over her shoulder again, though she knows full well no one is standing there. "You were there?" Her voice trembles, and her thoughts start racing. << Could just be saying that. >> And yet she's tugging her brother back in the window and heading to the door. << But then, dad would have just let them in. Or they'd beat down the door. Or /make/ me open it. >> "Stay here," she whispers, sitting her brother down on the bed and slipping back out into the living room to open the front door.

The girl who stands before them, where not hidden by the filthy red door, is maybe sixteen years old. Her hair is cropped just below her ears, and she wears an ancient white Macross 7 t-shirt over even more ancient blue jeans. Her dark brown eyes shoot straight to Dusk and stay there for quite some time before flicking to Matt, then Hive. She says nothing, but the jumble of questions in her mind come so fast they hardly make any sense even to her.

Matt grits his teeth as the word 'Prometheus' and the sensation it evokes roll over him. His answer is fury and guilt, and then a deep, dull ache. He closes his eyes and wrinkles his brows in concentration, stretching out his ability not to dampen *hers*, but to adjust his own and Hive's in compensation to avoid the unpleasant side effect of her proximity. "Hi." He waves, still leaning on Dusk. "I'm Matt."

Hive straightens -- shakily -- still far too pale and far too unsteady when he pulls away from the bracing support of Dusk's side. "We were all there. Once. We --" He stops, catches himself, corrects: "I'm Hive. Dusk -- you might recognize." His voice is slow and a little scratchy.

"We didn't mean to scare you." Dusk's silvered-over wing curls gently around Matt. He resists the urge to curl the other around Hive when the telepath pulls away. "We just wanted to talk and it was kind of -- hard to know the best way to just. Come say hi, you know? But can we? Talk?"

"I'm--" The girl shrinks farther behind the door. "I'm Autumn." Her eyes snap back to Dusk's gleaming wings, not in fear but in wonder. "I saw you on TV," she mutters. << But why are you here? Are you going to take D away? >> "Sure, we can talk..." She looks back at her tiny living room. "I'd invite you in, but my dad might come back any time, and he'd--." << Kill me. >> "--be angry."

“I’m pretty sure your dad is going to be occupied for a while.” Matt says this easily and cheerfully enough, but Hive, at least, can tell exactly how little regard he has for said father even through the haze of his unformed thoughts about a certain class of parents. “But...this isn’t *totally* random, as you’ve probably guessed.”

"Your dad has a stack of coffees to get through. We'll be good." Hive shakes his head, a small frown creasing his brow at Autumn's thoughts. "We don't want to take your brother away. Or you. Was -- mostly actually just really hoping you could help us get our coffee back."

"Seems like kind of a silly thing to come seek you out to ask about," Dusk admits with a sheepish half-smile and a hand lifting to scrub at the back of his neck. "But it's seriously not /just/ because I'm jonesing. It's been affecting -- a whole lot of things, kind of seriously. And if there's some /reason/ it needs to be gone, maybe we can help? Find a different solution?"

"Your...coffee?" Autumn cocks her head to one side. "You're the second person to ask me about that this week. I don't really know how I can help with that." It doesn't take a telepath to sense her nervousness, but telepathy helps to pick up on her suspicion that her brother is responsible for the caffeine crisis. All the same, she opens the door the rest of the way and bows, sweeping an arm to invite the three in. "Can I get you something to drink? A snack?"

“Our tea, too, ideally,” Matt adds, running a hand through his messy brown hair as he steps inside. “I should explain, first, that I can sense and modify the abilities of other mutants.” He meets her eyes and holds them for a moment. “Like you.” << Think it's already been clear what I do. >> Hive steps hesitantly inside, returning to leaning against Dusk's side once they are in. "Anything with sugar. Would be nice." His eyes close, posture slipping into a tired sort of slump against his roommate; the weary stance belies the sharply alert reach of his mind, flicking in absent curiosity not only over Autumn's mind but past it, to the little brother out of sight in the next room.

"I'm not going to tell you you're wrong to be nervous. This world's fucking horrible sometimes, God knows we all know that. And there's terrible people out there for sure -- but there's people out there who'll help, too. Safe spaces. And if there's a chance your little brother's manifesting --" Hive trails off here, frowning. Leaning a little closer to Dusk. His mind reaches out to his two companions. No words to properly /articulate/ his request so much as nebulous concept: << (help?) >> << (you both)(have)(/tact/) >>

The concept comes, too, with slightly less nebulous thoughts. Sera, exhausted and worsening. Spencer flickering unsteadily and vanishing. The young (too young) face of the boy in the next room.

"I -- tracked the center of the caffeine problem to right around this neighborhood. And then Matt -- can pick up on mutant powers, and Hive reads minds, and -- it kind of brought us straight to your door." Dusk presses his wing closer to his back as he slips into the small apartment, the other one wrapping, now, back around Hive. "And if it's something you haven't even known about before then it -- it's probably even /more/ important to get the right help. It can be -- pretty important for mutant kids to get the care they need. Regular doctors won't understand so much? Not to mention how hard it can be just learning to understand and stay safe with powers you're just growing." His mind, though, is just thinking back at Hive: << ... godfuckingdammit, we /should've/ brought Jax. >>

Autumn opens the refrigerator and comes out with two-liter bottle of Apple Sidra, then takes down three glasses from a cabinet, all different. "Anyone else want some? It's...sweet." She shrugs, glancing back at the bedroom door. << His favorite, anyway. >> Her hands are shaking again as she fills a glass with the golden soda. "My brother is sick...you think it's because...because he manifested?" << Not because of coffee? >> She holds the cup out to Hive, slender black brows knitting together. "Hey, you don't look so good."

“Oh!” Matt blinks at the soda as if not fully comprehending the concept. “Sure, I’ll take some, thank you.” He also glances at the bedroom door. << It’s definitely him, but the range...that’s her. >> “When people manifest really young, it...it can be tough on them. My little sister.” His smile is wan and pale. “You’d love her, she’s great. But she’s sick, too. We can help you find the right care for your brother.”

<< Thank you. I'll be -- okay. >> Hive takes the cup without opening his eyes, sipping slowly at the soda. << And I don't know. It's still possible caffeine makes him sick -- but maybe that's just a side effect of his power. I'm -- not a doctor. I have no idea. I just know manifesting can be rough on kids. Can be rough on /anyone/ without support through it. >> Quietly, when Matt speaks, his mind reaches out. Touching lightly against the other man's, a soft brush of mental support.

"-- Didn't really know what to expect when we came looking for the source of this," he admits, the words coming slow when he remembers to speak aloud again. "We've got a friend. Probably," he admits with a small huff of laughter, "heard of him too. Jax. Holland. He. Has three kids of his own. And a lot more experience than I do finding resources for people just getting used to their powers. Would you be comfortable if we put him in touch with you?"

"I'm good, thanks." Dusk shakes his head at the offer of soda, though the offer of Something To Drink overall has just summoned up very /keen/ mingled desire in his mind for caffeine or blood. Or perhaps caffeine-laced blood. He pulls in a deep breath, swallows down the sharp tang of hunger. "-- Helping out is kind of his /thing/."

Autumn's eyes go wide at the mention of Jax's name. "Yeah. Jackson Holland is..." She blushes. "...kind of my hero? If you think he'd want to help us, that would be great." She fills another glass and passes it to Matt. "But the thing is, we can't let my dad know. He'll..." She licks her lips and collects herself. "He sent our sister to Prometheus, years ago. I mean, I didn't know that's what it was called, then. I guess she's still with them." << Or dead. >>

The little boy's mind was half asleep again in the next room, but rouses again now. The bedroom door opens and he pads out, scrawny body lost in an overlarge Batman t-shirt and shorts that reach past his knees. "Whao..." This is probably directed at Dusk, as he stares wide-eyed at the visitors. "Cool! Can you /fly?/ "

Matt accepts the glass with a smile and a bob of his head. "Thanks, and yeah, I cannot really imagine that he wouldn't want to, but really...there's a whole community out there. More than you'd probably imagine." Inwardly, he braces against Hive, and that bracing is all that keeps his rage contained now. "I'm so sorry. There's..." He shakes his head, rubbing at the left temple again. "It's possible your dad might come around if an adult talks to him about it, even if that adult says the same exact thing you say. But if not--" He breaks off, though, when the little boy comes into the room, and smiles despite himself. "He is pretty much the coolest, yeah."

"He /sent/ --" Hive's voice is briefly sharper. The psionic touch firms up against Matt's mind, more solid now with a quiet ripple of anger felt shivering underneath the surface of the mental connection. Almost offhand: "You know, that bastard doesn't /have/ to come back from his coffee if you don't want."

He sips at the soda again, a longer pull this time. "He'll help." This is said with confidence, though so is: "But anyway Matt's right. There's a whole lot of us out here. Plenty of support, once you know how to find it." He gives a small twitch of smile to the entering boy. "You think they're cool now, you should see them when they're actually spread out."

A soft growl rumbles in Dusk's chest. << Or dead, >> His reflexive thought unknowingly echoes Autumn's. << Sometimes I almost forget our work isn't done. >> "Lo siento," he murmurs, mirroring this with a rub of fist against heart. "What was her name? How long ago -- I can't promise anything but we know so many people who were in there we might at least be able to start finding out..." He trails off, eyes dipping to the ground with a wash of mingled anger and guilt. << Bet there's plenty of traffic he could step in front of. >>

His expression clears into a crooked sharp-fanged smile when the boy comes in. The top of one wing flexes down in a small wave. "Thanks. I like 'em. And yeah. Flying is pretty much one of my favourite things. I can also," he confides brightly, "take passengers."

Autumn's lips compress into a thin line. << He doesn't have to come back... >> The thought turns over and over in her mind. << Or we could just leave. >> All the plans she'd made flicker through her head, mostly put aside for fear she couldn't care for a sickly child on the run. She stretches out an arm and her brother tucks himself under it, weary despite his excitement. "This shrimp is DD." She indicates the boy with her chin. "And our sister's name is Summer Lin. It was just after fall semester started, 2012." Her voice falters, but she blinks away the tears before they fall. "She turns nineteen this month."

"Do you guys know Summer?" DD's recollection of his absent sister is vague at best, but somewhere in his mind he had classed her as 'cool', not unlike their present guests. It takes him a moment to process what it would mean for Dusk to take passengers, but when he figures it out his face is transfigured with joy. "Ooh! Take me please! I'm not heavy." Suddenly, he looks pensive. "Are we coming back? Cuz if not can I bring my dragons?"

Matt fumbles a notepad and pen out of his bag to scribble down the relevant information. All the while his mind is working furiously to remember if he ever met a Summer Lin in the labs, or for that matter any teenaged girl who resembled these two children, and praying he doesn’t. “There are options. If you’re over 16, you can be emancipated, but...” He eyes dart to DD, then to Hive. << It /would/ be a lot simpler if their father just abandons them, though. >> “Well, there are options. Whatever you decide to do right now,” he assures Autumn, holding up the pad, “we’ll start asking around.”

"If you do want to leave, there's places that can help with that, too." Though to his companions: << ... it /is/ a holiday, s'probably plenty of drunkass people on the roads around here. >> Hive lifts a hand, rubbing at the bridge of his nose. This time his thoughts go to his friends and Autumn, both: << Be plenty easy for me to make him never come home. But it'd be easy for me to do that in a couple days, too, once you have a plan of what to do next. And I can make sure he behaves himself around you guys in the meantime, too. But it's up to you. What you think is going to be safest for you and him, we'll help figure out how to make it happen. >>

Dusk's mind briefly turns over this offer to walk the man under a bus. Slots this image in his brain next to Jax's (bright) (fretting) face. << maybe good we didn't bring him after all, >> drifts idly through his thoughts. Aloud: "Holy shit, you have /dragons/? That's awesome. And I'll totally give you a ride. I come with a seat belt and everything." He pats at his messenger bag, opening its top flap to show the heavy padded harness tucked inside. His mind is turning grimly already to planning for a new raid. Desperately Not Wanting to drag Flicker or Hive or Jax back into it. Kind of having always known they'd end up back there eventually, though. "2012 -- s'after my time there," he says apologetically. "But we know a lot of other people who've come out of there since. We'll -- see what we can. Find out."

Autumn chews on her bottom lip. << We should take a couple of days, actually pack. If dad could leave us alone, that'd be great, but really, I'm only really afraid of him finding out about DD and the caffeine thing. >> "I wish I knew how to help him turn it back down," she says this aloud, "but he doesn't really have control over it. He used to just decaffeinate stuff that was really close by, but a couple of week ago, well...you know all about /that./"

"I have /so/ many dragons!" DD is bouncing up and down in place now. "Monstrous nightmares, gronkles, hideous zipplebacks, night furies, deadly nadders...I even have a stormcutter, it's got four wings. I'll show you, c'mon!" He takes Dusk by a wingspar, not put off by the sharp claw at its tip, though he is comically too small and weak to even budge the massive digit on its own. "Oh! But can we go flying first?"

The prospect of her brother flying doesn't fill Autumn with glee, but she just shrugs. "He's not made of glass...but please don't jostle him around /too/ much?" Then, quietly, "Thank you, I can't even imagine how to repay you." But to herself, she is desperately trying not to get her hopes up about finding her sister.

Matt has tucked away the notepad and returned to his soda. << I don’t think I met any Summers in the labs, >> he directs the thought to his companions. << (Which is good.) >> The rage and guilt that wells up in him somehow conjures Rasheed’s name, but he quickly buries this in other thoughts: << The caffeine thing might be the easiest part of this. I think Joshua will feel strongly motivated to help, but really… >> “I’m pretty sure he’s still only decaffeinating in a small radius, actually. Your ability is what’s giving him the range, and I’m confident in any case we can teach you to control it.”

<< ? >> A faint drift of wordless questioning, pressing light against Matt's mind in reflexive curiosity at Rasheed's name among the more understandable emotions. Hive glances over towards Dusk at DD's excitement, moving away from the other man to lean against a wall instead. He sips again at his soda, slowly. "Dusk does this a lot. He's safe." And then, with a small snort as he answers Matt's unvoiced thought aloud: "Joshua would drop every-damn-thing if he thought it'd get his coffee back. But." He tips his hand out towards Matt. "Think you'll /both/ need some help with control. Thankfully we got people for that, too."

"Holy shit you've got deadly nadders? /Yeah/, we can fly, but /after/ we're totally going to go see the dragons. -- I was a Night Fury for Halloween once." Dusk unshoulders his pack, removing the harness to start strapping it onto himself and adjusting its straps for a smaller passenger. "I'll be careful," he promises Autumn. One wing curls loosely around DD's shoulders. "C'mon, man. The sky is /waiting/."