ArchivedLogs:Off Cue

From X-Men: rEvolution
Off Cue
Dramatis Personae

Lucien, Matt

2016-11-29


"{Laying about flashing coquettish smiles over the top of my book isn't easy, you know.}"

Location

<NYC> Tessier Residence - Greenwich Village


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.

The house is quiet, ish. There's very soft classical music playing in the kitchen, where at the moment Lucien -- pajama-clad, this late at night -- is just transferring the contents of a large pot of stew into Tupperware containers for freezing. He is slightly droopy, leaning against the counter as he scrapes the last of the stew from the side of the pot. A few remnants of the night's cooking are still in the sink waiting to be washed, though not many, largely cleaned through the process and tucked away on the drying rack. He leaves the two open Tupperwares on the counter, moving over to the sink to stow the pot. For a moment he just slumps there, posture slightly wilting, hand lifting to scuff through his inky-black hair. At his feet, Flèche is sitting. Patiently. Tail giving an occasional thump as she watches the countertop (then the floor, then the countertop, then the floor) with very intent eyes. /Just/ in case -- though so far there has been nothing spilled, alas.

Matt descends the stairs, freshly showered, damp hair sticking up in every direction. He wears his Ace of Hearts t-shirt and black pajama pants covered with tiny red hearts, cradling an ancient, battered paperback copy of Neil Gaiman's /Neverwhere/ against his chest. His powers stretch out ahead of him, feeling for Lucien's mind before he even enters the kitchen. Dropping one hand to scruff at Flèche's head, he watches his brother for a moment before setting the book down and going to him. "{I told you to leave me the washing,}" he says quietly, without any real reproach. He lays a hand against Lucien's back, shifting him gently aside.

Lucien is straightening already at the sound of Matt's footsteps, posture pulling more firmly upright. There may be no reproach in Matt's words, but nevertheless a flicker of guilt stirs, its flutter felt where Matt's mind touches up against Lucien's. Lucien's head dips, a quiet huff pushed out through his nose. "{It is second nature by now,}" he demurs, his tone light and lightly tinged with amusement, "{to handle those tasks I do better than you.}" He offers no resistance to Matt commandeering the chore, though, moving instead to take out a pair of mugs, fill the kettle and put it on the stove.

"{That doesn't leave /much./}" Matt dumps the soapy water from a measuring cup and a mixing bowl into the pot and commences scrubbing. "But fair is fair. {Laying about flashing coquettish smiles over the top of my book isn't easy, you know.}" His powers reach down deeper into Lucien, taking up any process that feels strained or uneven. He casts a long look over his shoulder at his brother, his smile fading a touch and his brows gathering slightly.

Lucien clicks his tongue against his teeth, head giving one shake. He is moving aside to peruse the tea cabinet, rocking back onto a heel as he looks over the selection. "{A practiced art, to be sure,}" he agrees. "You should count yourself lucky I've not yet put my mind to practicing it."

"I shouldn't mind ceding that chore to you." Matt closes his eyes, inhaling as though inspecting the tea cabinet by scent alone. "Long jing," he declares confidently. "{We're a bit low, here, but it's a good night for it.}" He resumes his scrubbing, and does not speak for a moment. There's a tightness in his jaw that he deliberately relaxes.

Lucien reaches up to pluck the tin from its shelf almost without looking, at Matt's declaration. "{No? Well. For you I would gladly lie about and look as coquettish as you wish.}" He's methodical as he goes about his tea preparations, steady and quiet though he keeps an eye on Matt out of the corner of his eye, a small furrow in his brow.

Matt's smile returns, faint but pleased, and he gives a small hum of approval. "{I will have to inspect your form, of course.}" He sounds quite serious about this. "{It's very important work.}" His attention returns to the sink, where he begins rinsing off the cookware and utensils. This done, he dries his hands and turns to watch Lucien, leaning back against the counter. At length, he says, "Talk to me."

"{If you feel it necessary,}" Lucien accedes. He glances up at this last, eyes just faintly wider. His head inclines faintly. Quiet, watching the beginnings of steam start to rise from the kettle -- nabbing it just at the very start of its whistle: "What would you have me say?"

Matt's still smiling faintly, but his shoulders hunch in a little, and his fingers play over the edge of the counter restlessly. He looks small, all of a sudden, and tired. "What's on your mind. What's in your heart." His head cants slightly. "What's going on with you."

"Seitan portobello stew," Lucien answers lightly, as he sets the tea to steep, "and the incessant chorus of /Green and Growing Things/ reminding me I was not quite on cue tonight." He finally places the lids on the Tupperware, transferring both to the freezer. "{You look so tired, love.}"

"Mmm, {thank you.}" Matt pushes off of the counter behind him to peer at the containers of soup as his brother gets ready to put them away. "{Perhaps I should stop singing your numbers, lest you pick up my timing.}" His half-smile twitches briefly into a lopsided grin. "I hope I have not gotten you off too badly." He slides into one of the stools at the island counter and props his chin up in the palm of one hand, the fingers of the other hand playing idly along the brown fore-edge of his book. "{I can imagine a thousand reasons for it.}"

"I would happily lay the blame for all my off nights at your feet, but I think my distraction was my own fault." Lucien turns back from the freezer, leaning up against the counter and watching the tea leaves unfurling in the steeping water. "{A thousand?}" One brow quirks upward, and though his tone is mild the small downward press of his lips belies concern. His hand turns up, fingers spreading in a gesture of invitation. "{I have time.}"

"/Lying,/" Matt croaks, pitching his voice low enough to rumble. "You much prefer blaming yourself, if the alternative is me. {Why were you distracted, then?}" He straightens up a little, also quirking one eyebrow at his brother now, though the effect is more playful on his face. "{Somehow I can't shake the suspicion that it might have something to do with that thing where I had a psychotic break and shunned you for a week.}"

"I don't recall there being a lying /snake/. Badgers," Lucien will allow as he starts to decant the tea into two mugs, "are moderately catlike." He slides one of the mugs across the counter to his brother. Shakes his head, as he picks up a dish towel to start drying the dishes on the rack. "{What, that? That passes for normal in our lives. I was stressed I had not yet planned the week's cooking. I am growing quite sloppy. How you still put up with me I can hardly fathom.}" His eyes settle on Matt, searching. "{And your exhaustion?}"

"Needs must," Matt relies lightly, spreading his hands, palms up. At least until presented with tea, which he scoops up greedily. "{Thank you. I put up with you when our plans for supper were far more fast and loose.}" His expression softens as he looks up from the mug. "But if planning the menu is causing you so much stress, I can do that." He sips his tea, eyes fluttering shut for a moment.

When Matt's eyes open again there is a strange distance in them. "{You're stronger than I--always have been--but I'm a touch skeptical even you can accept that so easily.}" His hands grip the mug tight. "And you've quite a few other things to distress you, if not a thousand. The show and its reviews, the fallout from the election, the empty SCOTUS seat, Jax and Ryan's detention, Steve's persistent naïveté about social media, your client last Thursday, my exhaustion..." He hunches over his tea, green eyes studying his brother. "{Stop trying to protect me from /you,/ Luci.}"

"{I have you.}" Lucien has turned aside to stow the dishes, expression hidden and voice quiet. "{From that foundation there is much I can accept. I said nothing of easily.}" When he turns back towards Matt it is with a faint smile. "And Steve's tweets are often rather charming." He takes his cup between both hands, slips around the counter to take up a seat beside his brother. "I've seen that client twice since. And you won't speak to me of your exhaustion, so I expect it's not my concern." His eyes lower to his mug. "{Jax and Ryan's detention will be ending, soon. And with it at least one source of my stress.}"

"{You have me,}" Matt agrees evenly. "{And I'm well aware my exhaustion is no less your concern for my reluctance to discuss it, but it's...probably just stress.}" He nurses his tea with undisguised and unaffected pleasure. "{Soon,}" he echoes meditatively. "Good. Excellent." Then, with a very subtle interrogative lift of his tone, "It was the judge." His brows furrow. "Is that why you've been..." He pulls one hand away from his mug and lays it on the counter between himself and Lucien: palm up, fingers half-curled, offering.

"{Just.}" There's a very subtle weight laid on this word -- not quite reproachful, but certainly not approving. "Stress still takes its toll on your body. And your mind." His hands curl -- tighter, tenser -- against his mug. The lift of his head is a subtle thing as well. "It was the judge." He lets out a breath long and slow. "I have done what I must. We have an agreement. I count that a success." When he pries his hand from his mug the motion is stiff and hesitant; his palm is heated fierce from the hot ceramic when he lays it in his brother's. Careful, no stray wisp of feeling spilled across the contact.

"{It does.}" Matt's head tips slightly, conceding. "{It has.}" His hand--also quite warm, for the same reason--closes gently around Lucien's, and some of the tension visibly eases from him. His powers, already at work, keep his /own/ feelings from pouring across in overwhelming force, but he does not block them off altogether. Lucien can feel, if distantly, his weariness, the dull grind of worry, the deep shadow of grief, the bright threads of hope and joy, and a swell of-- "I'm proud of you." The quiet words spill from him as he looks up to meet his brother's eyes. "{And I'm glad it's done, but don't make light of your needs.}" His hand squeezes tighter. "Stress, as you said, takes its toll."

Quiet though they are, the words put a soft catch in Lucien's breath. His shoulders ease, head dipping downward in acknowledgment. Only now does he finally lift his mug, fingers curling snug around it to raise it for a slow sip. "{Right now,}" he murmurs, "{I need this tea. And after that --}" His head shakes, eyes lifting to meet his brother's.

Matt smiles--still faintly--over the edge of his mug as he, too, lifts it to his lips. The surge of pride in him mixes with a steady, profound affection. His grip, both physical and mental, tightens fractionally again. "{After that, we'll sort it out.}"