ArchivedLogs:Little Lives

From X-Men: rEvolution
Little Lives
Dramatis Personae

Lucien, Matt, Steve

2016-06-29


"{It doesn't take a catastrophe to break a heart.}"

Location

<NYC> Firehaus - Harbor Commons - Lower East Side


The sunset ombre walls are the most striking feature of the room by far. A deep, dark purple - almost blue - starts at the ceiling and devolves in even, shaded spreads into a healthy violet, a spunky pink, a sunny yellow, a warm orange, and finally to the namesake: a firehouse red. The common room is fairly open, with the kitchen off to the right of the entryway. A long custom bar with both chairs and backless stools separates the kitchen from the living room, the doors to Steve and Savannah's rooms set on either side just beyond it.

An antique maple-wood coffee table sits squarely in the center of the room, beside a purple corduroy futon couch flanked by matched end tables, one in pale wood and the other dark, each decorated with abstract flame-like mosaic patterns. Two tall bookcases line the wall across from the couch and coffee table, occupying the space that would enshrine a television in many houses. By the window are two plush red chairs, one a recliner and the other rigid but convertible to a backless chair, with a matching ottoman. Plenty of lamps are sprinkled throughout on various surfaces.

The rain has cooled the night outside, and a pleasant breeze laden with petrichor stirs the curtain drawn across the open window of Steve's room. At his drafting table, Steve is wearing blue jeans and a white A-shirt, his face buried in one hand such that he certainly cannot see the paper underneath his other. His pencil is still now, and he hasn't gotten far with the sketch: just the rough outline of a sturdy old treetrunk. A bottle of whiskey sits on the table, still mostly full, though the glass beside it is empty. Zenobia is curled up on the beanbag, dozing peacefully, her enormous paws twitching now and again.

Quitting the Gamenight festivities uncommonly early, Matt has braved several dozen steps of rainy courtyard to call upon Firehaus. Despite the proximity of his destination, he deployed an elegant black umbrella with a glowing white shaft, though he held it more to cover his companion than himself. By the time they arrive, his dark green t-shirt (emblazoned with cartoon versions of the the Hogwarts mascots) and khaki cargo shorts are both much splattered on one side from the rain. He folds the umbrella without extinguishing its light and holds it like a cane while he knocks on the door and waits for a reply.

Lucien has, for once, actually been gaming, though he leaves the Commonhaus with Matt after his bout of /Funemployed/ has ended. He sticks close to Matt's side, lips pressed into a very slight frown even though he stays under the shelter of the umbrella. His own clothing is dryer -- neatly pressed dove-grey slacks, a salmon pink dress shirt. He has a canvas shopping bag over one shoulder; his other hand lifts to absently flick a stray droplet of water from the end of a dark lock of his brother's hair.

Zenobia wakes even before the knock comes, lifting her head drowsily to stare at the outer wall. Steve straightens up at once, though he rises more sluggishly, pulling on the t-shirt (heather red, with a bright yellow star on the chest) that had been hanging on the back of the chair and grabbing his shield from the hook on the wall. He goes to answer the door, blinking somewhat nonplussed at his guests. "Oh! Ah...{good evening.}" His eyes are a bit red, and his posture unusually slumped. "{Come in, please.} Has the gaming wound down already?"

The look of pensive distance on Matt's face resolves into a bright smile a split second before the door opens for them. /His/ "{Good evening!}" comes out somewhat less hesitant. "No, the games are still afoot." He props his umbrella by the doorframe in the hallway and steps inside to wrap Steve in a half-damp hug. "And given that /someone/ decided to break out /Android/, this Gamenight might well last until next Tuesday."

Lucien's smile is less bright but no less warm, his head inclining in greeting. "{Good evening, Steve.}" He steps inside after Matt, flicking a glance to Steve's shield and then up to his face. "Some of us have work before then. It seemed risky to get drawn in."

Steve accepts the embrace a bit stiffly, though his arms settle down around Matt's shoulders after just a brief hitch. "/Android/... I don't think I've played that, but it's a...murder mystery?" Zenobia has finally roused herself and come out to greet the guests, her whiplike tail lashing the air even while she stretches. Steve closes the door behind Lucien. "Would either of your like something to drink? Or a snack? I suppose there was plenty at gamenight."

"Look at this absolutely splendid pup!" Matt kneels to scruff at Zenobia's head and neck, though in truth he needn't have stooped so far to do so. "I daresay she has gotten /more/ excellent since last we met." He looks up at Steve. "Murder mystery...that's one way of putting it. It's kind of /almost/ a roleplaying game, and you don't have to solve the mystery at all." Giving Zenobia one last scritch under the chin and a kiss on her head, he rises again. "Tea would be great! Or lemonade or soda. But Luci has snacks covered."

"She is definitely quite a marvelous example of puphood." Lucien's agreement comes very solemnly. He doesn't stoop, really -- just lowers his hand, dropping it to rest atop Zenobia's head for a brief scritch. "{I brought pie. Apple.} I had some scones as well," he admits, "but I had to sacrifice them to the ravening hordes to make sure the pie made it to you intact."

"I have tea -- good tea, most of it is from /you/, or the Huas." Steve opens a kitchen cabinet to show off Firehaus's small but diverse caffeine collection. "I'm just not so confident of my brewing skills." Still, he fills the bright red kettle and puts it on the stove to heat. Zenobia returns Matt's kiss with a much sloppier one on his cheek, and licks at Lucien's hand, as well. Steve's reply comes at a slight delay. "{Oh, thank you. That's my favorite.}" His words ring incongruously dull, and his brows knit faintly as with some intense effort.

Matt follows Steve into the kitchen and lays a hand on the bigger man's arm. "I can do the brewing. Go -- sit, eat." He studies the tea cabinet, tapping on his chin thoughtfully. Finally, he pulls out the white cermaic teapot decorated with blooming plum trees and a tin labelled 'Hualian Pouchong' in Tag's distinctive not-handwriting.

Lucien remains, for a moment, giving another pat to Zenobia before toeing off his shoes to line them neatly by the door and continue further in. "I can leave the pie," he's pulling it out of the shopping bag to set the pie plate down on the counter, "if you'd rather enjoy it on your own. We have no desire to intrude. I only thought --" There's a brief pause, his eyes lifting to Steve's face again. "That perhaps, tonight, you could do with some -- pie. Company is optional."

Steve does not immediately retreat from the kitchen, though he does not stand in Matt's way, either. "Oh...I..." His frown deepens. "I might /want/ the company but..." He leaves the kitchen but does not quite settle down in the living room. Just stands by the bar as though lost in his own house. "Well, I don't think /I'm/ going to be very good company tonight."

Matt preps the teapot and settles his elbows on the counter, chin propped in one palm as he watches Steve. "You're not required to be any /kind/ of company. We can just hang out, chat, read--whatever." He looks past the other two men and at the windows. "It's a good night for that sort of thing."

"Oh, we're certainly not expecting you to entertain us. We have your delightful monster of a dog for /that/." Lucien goes to retrieve plates, forks, a knife, from Steve's kitchen, but only sets these things down beside the pie without actually cutting any. He moves the pie and dishes to the bar counter, taking a seat on one of the stools. His gaze roves over the bottles on the shelves, lips pressing together thoughtfully. "It is a good night for a book and a whiskey skin. Perhaps an apple toddy. If you want company without the -- company."

Steve finally sets his shield down and sits beside Lucien at the bar. He leans on it heavily, as if too tired to hold himself up even when seated. "And here I was just drinking Tullamore Dew straight." He gives a dry huff of a laugh, humorless. "But...yes, pie and a drink and a good book. Sounds good." Zenobia follows Steve over to the bar and sits down, snuffling at the shield and the lifting her head to sniff at the pie, out of her reach.

"Ooh, apple toddy!" Matt perks up, green eyes bright, as he wanders out into the living room to peruse the shelves. "Zen doesn't have to entertain us, either. We have your...very eclectic library. Not a criticism, mind you." The kettle starts to whistle, and he scrambles back to the kitchen to turn off the fire.

"Was that a request?" Lucien is already sliding off his stool regardless, slipping behind the bar to start taking bottles down. "-- You do have lemons, I hope." Not that he's waiting for an answer here /either/, just slipping off to Steve's kitchen to warm three glasses and forage for Citrus. "Certainly for drinking neat you could do far worse. But a night like this could use some warmth, non?"

"Should be plenty of lemons in a big red bowl with some other fruit, on the counter right next the refrigerator." Obviously distracted, Steve only half-watches the Tessiers as they move about the room. "Savannah and I have very different tastes in books, and I also get a lot of donations from well-meaning folks trying to educate on all that I've missed." His shrug is only a very minute tick of muscular shoulders. "Some warmth, yes..." he murmurs. "Toddy or otherwise -- {surprise me, please.}"

"I'd like an apple toddy--after tea." Matt pours steaming water into the teapot and sets his phone on the counter beside it as a timer. "Oh, I guess I've pushed a few books on you, here and there." His smile is only a /little/ sheepish. "But I swear, I do that to my contemporaries, too."

"He is a relentless enabler. It is a danger to us all. He feeds /my/ literary addictions quite terribly." Lucien is navigating easily around his brother in the kitchen -- slicing a lemon, spooning sugar into two of the cups, nabbing the teakettle to dissolve the sugar in a touch of the hot water. Whiskey, another splash of hot water. Squeezing peels of citrus before dropping them in. He heads back out to the living room with the mugs, setting one of the whiskey skins down in front of Steve. "{A touch of warmth, at least.}"

Steve finally manages a smile, tired and wan. "I don't mind the recommendations. In fact, I could use one now -- nothing on my list is really jumping out at me. Merci." This last to Lucien, as he picks up his drink. "You know, a lot of people are surprised to find that I drink." The corner of his mouth twitches. "I guess they'd be surprised about a lot of things."

"I've been at it since before Luci could /read/--I know, the mind rebels against such thoughts." Matt hums, staring up at the ceiling. "You might be ready for Neal Stephenson, but which one? /Anathem/ or /Cryptonomicon/, I think." His eyes return to Steve, narrowing critically as he considers the man. "I don't suppose it's common knowledge that you're immune to alcohol, so...do they think you too pure and wholesome for booze?"

"Do not slander me. There was never a time. I sprung into this world fully-formed, book in hand." Lucien's fingers curl around his glass, lips pressing together faintly in thought. "Do they simply believe /everyone/ from your age too pure and wholesome for booze? Have they," he wonders pensively, "never /met/ a soldier before. 'Pure' and 'wholesome' are not the first adjectives that leap to mind."

"Neal Stephenson's /Anathem/ and /Crypto/...I'm sure the librarians can tell me, if Google cannot. {Thank you.}" Steve raises his eyebrows at Lucien, and then his glass. "There are stranger things in this world. But, more importantly, /which/ book was it?" He takes a long sip of his drink. Closes his eyes. "This is...a /lot/ better than the hot toddies and such of my childhood." Opening his eyes again, he offers Matt a small shrug. "How my metabolism handles alcohol may not be common knowledge, but I make no secret of it if it's /relevant/ -- as is sometimes the case when so many people insist on buying me drinks. I think they hold me to a different standard from the rest of my generation, or my profession. Conflating the propaganda with the man."

"/Cryptonomicon/," Matt repeats. "I'll email it to you. Along with probably a dozen other titles that will no doubt pop into my head between now and then. Might not help your decision paralysis much." The phone on the counter buzzes and emits an urgent drum cadence, and he reaches out to silence it before decanting his tea into a large black mug with Captain America's shield emblem on it. This done, he circles around to sit with the others. "A lot of people have fairly idealized images of soldiers /in general/, and prefer those to actual soldiers with their inconvenient foibles and needs. The most effective propaganda convinces people of that which they are already primed to believe."

"/Le Petit Prince/," Lucien replies easily, "and it helps to have access to good whiskey." He's sipping very slowly at his own, eyes slipping half-veiled as he downs the first swallow. "... there are worse problems in life to have than a glut of offers of free drink. Though I suppose to less -- direct benefit than you once might have enjoyed. You know," he tips his glass just slightly out towards Steve, "there are people in your acquaintance who could help with that. If you ever felt so inclined." His eyes drift back towards his brother -- only a small upward /twitch/ of lips marking the comment about propaganda.

"I'll put the rest on the list and start with those two." Steve has wrapped both hands around his glass, each so large that little of the contents can be seen now. "I don't mind the offers in the abstract, and I do /enjoy/ the taste of a good whiskey independent of its other effects, but it does not make for a relaxing time at the bar." He turns to study Lucien, one brow still slightly uplifted. "I'm sure there are, but I can't imagine who. My imagination is, admittedly, a bit weak in this department."

Matt's smile softens, and he does not despute Lucien's fantastical claim. "I suspect a /relaxing/ time at the bar was never easy to come by, for you." He blows across the surface of his tea and watches the two other men over the brim of his cup. "Joshua could do it," he offers, his voice perfectly casual.

Lucien's head inclines over his own drink, a soft laugh exhaled. "{He does value the medicinal properties of alcohol highly.} And has most excellent stories to share over drinking, if you've the stomach. -- Enough of Dusk in you," he muses, "would do the trick as well. And that is just those around this commune. Not that there are not other ways to relax but some days --" His smile thins, just slightly, his tone slipping wry. "Some days."

"Time was, this much whiskey could put me under the table, if I weren't extremely careful. So, yes, I tended to have an exciting time at bars, even when I didn't get into fights." Steve swishes his drink around meditatively. He does not reply at once, though he sucks in a sharp breath. Lets it back out as a shaky laugh. "Enough of Dusk in me, and I wouldn't /need/ alcohol." He blushes, takes a long pull from his glass. Sighs quietly. "I've had a lot of those days, this past year." He bows his head. Blinks several times rapidly. Then, finally, very evenly, "{Jax and I broke up. It's...hardly a catastrophe, in the grand scheme of things.}"

Matt leans over and drapes his arm around Steve--a maneuver that would have been extremely awkward on a man so much larger if he were not slouched so low. "{I'm sorry.}" His head tips to rest on his friend's shoulder. "{It doesn't take a catastrophe to break a heart.}"

"Things have been rather --" Lucien begins, but trails off at Steve's last declaration. At first he only tips his head in quiet acknowledgment, setting his drink aside. "{Catastrophe. That is relative, mmm? The /grand/ scheme of things is utterly meaningless without --}" His hand tips outward, towards the others, "{The meaning that our, ah, little lives give to it. Besides.}" His voice shifts slightly quieter. "{You are hurting. That matters /enough/.}"

"I'm not saying --" Steve's shoulders hunch further, and he leans ever so slightly into Matt. "{Yes, it hurts, but...how much more he must be hurting.}" His lips press into a thin line. "{And I cannot help him, not even -- in the limited way I could before. But at least --}" His head shakes. "{Sorry. I hadn't meant to bring this up. There's nothing to be done about it, but I'm glad of the company, I am.}"

Matt's hand squeezes down on Steve's shoulder. "{Hey, we're here for you.}" He lifts his tea and takes a sip. "{We'll be there for him, too. A lot of people will be. Not that it makes the situation any better.}" He's quiet for a while, finally lifting his arm from Steve's shoulder. "But for now, there's drinks /and/ pie."

"I spoke to him this morning," Lucien admits mildly. "{You need not apologize. We came here to offer what support we can.}" He turns to the bar, lifting the cover off the pie plate so that he can cut a piece, transfer it to a plate, set it down in front of Steve. "We cannot fix these things, but. We can be here for you."

Steve's shoulders relax under Matt's arm -- just a fraction. He nods, a quick jerk down and then back up. Takes a long gulp of his drink, then sets it down. He signs his thanks instead of speaking it when Lucien presents him with pie, but does not tuck in at once. "He -- how is he?"

Matt's expression is inscrutable behind his mug. His eyes dart to Lucien, then return to Steve, gaze softening as he lowers his tea. "Hurting. Fretting. Acting like nothing is amiss. {You know--}" He inclines his head, fingers of one hand spreading, elegant but helpless. "--being Jax."

Lucien's hand tips toward his brother. "{He is -- Jackson.} I will have a pie for him, as well." His hand reaches out, resting for a moment on Steve's shoulder with a small squeeze. "{Please just know that if you need anything, we are here.}"

Steve is trembling, though the motion is so faint that it would have been imperceptible without physical contact. His breath hitches once, but he straightens up after, picking up his fork as if by an effort of will. "{Thank you. I --}" He nods, blinks his eyes clear again. There's something quieter and more settled in his voice when he speaks again, "{I know.}"