ArchivedLogs:Questionable Judgment

From X-Men: rEvolution
Questionable Judgment
Dramatis Personae

Lucien, Matt, Steve

2017-08-28


"There are precious few at ease with moral ambiguities, so we act as though they don't exist!"

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.

It's just around suppertime, and Matt is actually cooking. Or at least he is tending to a pot in the kitchen, and the house smells pleasant and savory. He's wearing brown cargo shorts and a moss green t-shirt with a lighter green snake covering most of the chest, its sinuous coils suggestive of cursive letters as it sneaks up on an unsuspecting songbird. There is about a #3 clipper guard's worth of hair on his head, oddly soft and fuzzy, and he generally looks healthier than he has for the better part of two weeks. His /pitch/ has not improved, but this does not, unfortunately, dissuade him from singing along to the sound system. "Is one a crusader, or ruthless invader? It's all in which label..." He trails off to taste the--stew? Gravy? Then picks back up in an entirely different key, "There are precious few at ease with moral ambiguities, so we act as though they don't exist!"

Lucien /is/ in fact cooking, or has been, a dusting of flour on his arms as he tucks a pair of loaf pans into the oven and returns to check on the stew that Matt tends. He looks comfortable for his (nominal; he's still been rather tethered to his phone) day off, jeans and a soft leaf-green henley. "They call me wonderful, so I am wonderful -- in fact, it's so much who I am, it's part of my name." Considerably more on-key than his brother, his rich voice carries easily through the lower floor, filling it as he dusts his hands off and slips out of the kitchen to answer the doorbell with a sweeping arm of invitation, a somewhat roguish: "And with my help, you can be the same!"

Steve, for reasons no one could possibly comprehend, didn't seem to expect such a musical greeting, his pale blue eyes going quite wide. Yet as he steps through the door he picks up the next verse on cue, "At long, long last receive your due, long overdue. Elphaba..." He's dressed down today in a blue t-shirt adorned with a winged antique copper hourglass above the words 'Old-fashioned Time Traveler' in ornate script, and faded, much-mended blue jeans. He looks rather pale and unhealthy, by most people's standards, to say nothing of his own.

As usual, he has his shield across his back. Only slightly less usual is the white gauze bandages on his neck. Over one shoulder he carries a New Leash on Life tote which he now hands to Lucien (it contains a still somewhat cold bottle of Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling, a tupperware container of citrus cookies, and a bag of dog treats labelled 'Dinosaur Meat, Basically') "The most celebrated are the rehabilitated," he demonstrates his excellent lung capacity by continuing to sing even as he stoops to remove his boots. "There'll be such a whoop-de-do! A celebration throughout Oz that's all to do...with you!"

There's a scrabble of excited claws on the kitchen floor, and a moment later Flèche tears into the room, wild-eyed and panting hard, as though she has just come in from doing laps in the back yard. She makes a beeline to Steve and drops down into a perfect sit /on/ one of his feet, muzzle lifted up to solicit petting, tail thrashing the floor in staccato strokes. Matt follows her out, much slower and concluding with a less frenetic greeting, rising onto tip-toes to wrap Steve in a hug.

Lucien quiets when Steve takes over, his smile smaller -- warm, if a bit reserved as he takes the tote bag and locks the door. His eyes drift to the bandaging, then higher to Steve's pale face. "{So it's you we've to thank, then. Ion stopped by with a delivery for Matt.}" A very faint pause, a very faint frown. "{Rather late last night. One day, perhaps, someone might teach that man about doorbells.}" It's exceedingly mild. Lucien is taking /Steve's/ delivery off to the kitchen. And starting tea.

Steve crouches down and scratches vigorously behind Flèche's ears. "Yes, /you/," he informs the dog very solemnly, "are wonderful, too." Straightens up again. "{Thank me for...ah.}" He sucks in a deep breath, the muscles of his jaw working visibly even if the grind of his teeth is too quiet to hear. "{He -- he is...}" Shakes his head, winces. "{Hopefully getting enough to live on, going forward. Ion, he -- yes, I tried to talk him out of it, but I was not the most effective at anything, at the time.}" He's following Lucien ponderously. "{Could I offer you a hand with the cooking? It smells delightful.}"

Flèche seems to agree with Steve's assessment, her entire rear half swaying with the sheer force of her wagging. She follows close at Steve's heel when he goes, her steps light and more akin to prancing than walking as such. Matt wraps his arms around himself, biting his bottom lip--evidently at Steve's decision /not/ to go into detail about Dusk's condition. "{Gods willing--and donors. Ion...} He hesitates. "{...is Ion. I'm afraid he rather surprised me, when he dropped in.}"

"{That will be a risky proposition. What Ion chances each time --}" The shake of Lucien's head is small. "{It will hopefully not be for too much longer, at the least. Tian-shin has been working tirelessly. One of those appeals is due to be heard.}" There's a soft confidence in his voice, less hopeful and more assurance. It melts into a quiet laugh, a shake of head. "There is still so much to do, yes. You can start, though, with sitting down, taking some tea, and telling me how the Worthington gala went last week. I hear General Conroy, at least, is quite a --" There's a beat of pause as Lucien plucks up the steeper to neatly decant the tea, eyes ticking down over Steve. "Fan of yours."

"{Ion isn't in the habit of avoiding risk,}" Steve's reply is soft, fond. "{Even it's just for something he just felt like doing on a whim, to say nothing of his friends' lives.}" He eyes Matt, brows wrinkling. "Are you alright? Is /Ion/?" Once in the kitchen, he looks over the meal in progress, but still sits when Lucien instructs him to, the movement both reluctant and relieved. "Oh, the gala was...frankly somewhat boring, on the whole." He shrugs out of his shield harness gingerly and lowers the whole thing to the floor. "{Most of the people I talked to were profoundly out of touch with the world the rest of us lived in. And I /didn't/ punch even a single one of them.}" He's eying the cookies with an air of indecision as he adds, "General Conroy was -- solicitous? But not /that/ more awkward than most contemporary military men. I was polite." This last slightly defensively.

Matt sits down beside Steve, his slouching more languid than exhausted. "{It is exceptionally risky,}" he agrees, "{but even if Dusk didn't need such visits to survive, he certainly needs them to be in any kind of state to attend his own hearing.}" He looks down, not exactly shrinking from Steve's gaze but something like. "{I shocked him--quite badly, though without doing him lasting harm.}" Reaching over, he slides the container of cookies over and opens it in Steve's direction. "I'm sure you frustrate them with your stubborn insistence on being a man rather than an icon." Then, a beat later, with a tip of his head. "And an unavailable one, that that--or at least they almost assuredly /think/, not that this has historically dissuaded men from their suits."

"{A shame. I'm sure it would have livened the evening up considerably if you had.} And I never doubt your manners." Lucien's eyes close, a brief moment, his fingers tighter around the handle of Steve's mug of tea. They open again as he sets it down with odd delicacy in front of Steve. "Matthieu takes some liberties with the truth. {He was quite careful with Ion, actually. I -- regrettably, am somewhat more rash when startled.}"

Steve's laugh is short and breathy, but there is real amusement in it. "{I cannot say I wasn't tempted, but...}" He glances at Lucien appraisingly. "{Well. If I hauled off and punched everyone I felt like punching, people might stop inviting me to parties.}" His head swivels -- too fast, as evidenced by his wince -- to Matt. And then back to Lucien. He pulls his tea closer. "{Thank you. But, forgive me, I don't understand. You mean 'shocked' -- with your powers, no? Or /his/, presumably.}" This to Matt, and then, glancing over to the other Tessier. "{Did you.../hit/ him?}" Eyebrows raising. "That man can roll with a punch."

Matt takes a cookie for himself and nibbles on its edges. Silent for a moment. "{I didn't shock him,}" he admits, at last, "{and Luci didn't hit him.}" His powers burrow deeper into his brother's, bracing and firm. "{But we /did/ hurt him.}"

"Do you really think so? {People seem remarkably able to forgive you quite a lot.} Or. Well. Forgive Captain America quite a lot, at least. I'm sure I could pass it off as an endearing quirk." For all the light amusement in Lucien's voice, his mind has curled in tighter, tensed and carefully guarded. He slides a second mug of tea across to Matt, his head shaking. "{We,}" he scoffs, quiet. "{Failing to stop me from hurting him does not quite put you at fault.}" He leans back, elbows bracing against the countertop and his eyes lowering. One hand turns over, fingers flexing slowly. "It was late, I was -- a little bit tired. My abilities can be unpleasant, at times. I should have been more careful."

Steve's mouth pulls to one side. "{It's true. So, I should just to start attending this soirees in full uniform, then.}" He looks from one brother to the other, listening, until his eyes finally settle on Lucien. "/Abilities./ You -- you mean that you have..." He pauses, weighing his words, perhaps. Then, much more quietly. "{Sorry, I don't mean to derail you, I just -- do you mean that you're a mutant, too?}"

"You'd be an absolute /hit/," Matt assures Steve as he lifts his own tea for a careful sip. His eyes slide shut. His powers ply gently at Lucien's, but do not soothe away the tension, which his own mind mirrors. "{It's not so much that I didn't stop him -- I almost /did/ attack him myself, and though I stopped my abilities, as you know, can augment those of others around me. I am /quite/ proficient with Luci's.}"

"{You do cut such a figure in a tux, though.}" Now Lucien's fingers lace together, resting lightly against his stomach. He draws in a slow breath, lifts his eyes to Steve's. "{I am.}"

Steve lets go of the mug. Sits up straighter. His face is impassive -- he almost even succeeds in making it look unaffected. It's a few long seconds before he replies, with exactly zero eloquence, "Oh." Then, immediately after this. "{Your faith in my manners might have been misplaced. I'm not really sure the proper...etiquette for this situation.}" He licks his lips. "{But I do appreciate the immense amount of trust that it took to tell me that. You can count on my absolute discretion -- and my friendship. In case you were in any doubt of either.}"

Matt remains silent while Steve struggles through this, his powers subtly expanding the range of Lucien's. He does not reach for Steve, though his desire to do so is plain enough to his brother. Instead he just sips his tea and crops away at the edge of his cookie. After Steve finishes, he says, mildly, "{Not flying into a violent rage is an acceptable first step. As is keeping the knowledge in confidence.}"

Very faintly, Lucien's fingers tighten against each other when Matt's powers reach to unfurl his own. Very faint, too, is the slight breath he pulls in, the slight tense of his jaw.

Just as subtle, soft, the flutter of his mind, threading quiet through Steve's. Silent in its observation, through those few long seconds; silent as these feelings are echoed to Matt.

"{I don't think there is an etiquette book on this kind of thing.}" Lucien's eyes don't leave Steve's. "{If there were a road map, perhaps I, too, would have a more graceful way of disclosing it to my friends. I've -- not,}" the soft breath that he exhales is only the barest of laugh, "{yet had much practice.}"

Steve nods, settling his hands back down onto his mug, though he doesn't actually pick it up. "{Even if you had such a guide, though...there are so many reasons /not/ to disclose -- many more than I know about, I'm sure.}" He looks down into his tea. The hurt in him is subsiding slowly, replaced by a different -- subtler -- pain and by a low, seething anger. "{Being human, I will never truly understand what it's like to be in that position. Of always knowing that the recognition of your very personhood is contingent on that secret.}" He shakes his head. Winces again. The physical pain of his injury is stark and bright to the Tessiers. "{Is there anything I should know that might be relevant to your safety? Or mine? I know some people who produce...unintentional side effects.}"

"{There are a lot of reasons /to/ disclose, as well,}" Matt allows, making a sweeping gesture with his half-eaten cookie. "{But yes, it is often a difficult choice to make, and the stakes can be very high indeed.}" His smile is thin but warm. "{You will never understand, no. But you /are/ aware, and you change how you act based on that awareness. That is not nothing.}" Softer. "{It's quite a lot, really.}"

"{I admit it a strange line to walk. Given the company I keep, not disclosing often feels --}" Lucien's eyes lower, his jaw tensing and a slow swallow rolling down his throat. His head shakes, quickly. "{My safety,}" he says with a soft laugh, "{I have long since given up for more or less a gamble, with my particular gifts. But yours should not be in danger. Your comfort, on the other hand --}" When his gaze lifts back to Steve, his mind stretches out again, flexing through the expanded connection where his brother's powers augment his own. Feeling out the bright sharp edges of that physical hurt, it is immediately noticeable to Steve, the receding of the pain, the cool soothing wash of relief that follows. The mingled /emotional/ hurt, he does not touch.

"{Who else knows?}" Steve frowns, his perplexity rising slow and unsure, soon overshadowed by worry amidst the pinball tumble of other emotions. But outwardly he just gives a thin smile. "{You do realize I'm dating Jax, right? I'm more than equal to dealing with uncomfortable side effects -- or dangerous ones, for that matter. But I haven't /noticed/ any particular discomfort in your presence, so either I'm incredibly oblivious, or your abilities are incredibly --}" He blinks, hand rising toward but not quite touching the gauze on his neck. "-- subtle..." His eyebrows raise up. "{You're a...healer?}" His gaze snaps aside to Matt with a small upwelling a hope and more confusion to match.

Matt finishes off his cookie and washes it down with a swallow of tea. "{There are those who can do a lot of good by coming out; you arguably do good by /not/ coming out. Though you do not see it that way, it is also a sacrifice.}" This time his well-time raising of his mug makes it impossible to see whether or not he is suppressing a smile at Steve, but Lucien can sense the flutter of amusement in him. "{You are not oblivious, and his powers are only subtle by dint of hard work and long practice.}" He pauses a beat, sets his tea down. "{But no, he is not a healer /as such/.}"

"{Aside from my siblings? Jackson knows. Hive. I suspect Flicker, by now, but I make no presumptions about what counsel Hive chooses to keep. Joshua, of course.}" Lucien's brows furrow faintly. "{Dr. Banner.}" His hand turns upward, fingers spreading in a languid outward flick. "{You flatter me, Matthieu. I certainly do /myself/ good, though, that is for sure. /Lost/ has been thriving when far better shows have failed this season. I dare say coming out would have made us crash and burn more spectacularly than /Great Comet/ even did.}" The upward curve of his mouth is small, green eyes warming at the lift of Steve's brows. "Regrettably, no. {My healing prowess extends no farther than a good cup of tea and a practiced hand at nursing. But I am not terrible when it comes to easing pain.}" A slow push of elbows bears him away from the counter, a faint grimace on his face as he shifts over to check the -- slightly burning stew, stir it hard to scrape the singing bottom of the pot. "Just be glad you did not know me in high school. He is not kidding about the practice."

"{Dr. Banner,}" Steve echoes, frowning. "{Hive's friend, Bruce?}" A fresh surge of confusion, here, and something else less easily pinned down. Something like surprise, but quieter and more...fond? "Regardless, that's -- not a lot of people." At the mention of the failing show, he winces sympathetically. "{That show deserved better. So do /you./ And thank you -- it's not so bad, I just keep forgetting about the wound and irritating it.}" The jumble in his head sorts itself out some as he ruminates. Then, finally, "I was no stranger to pain in my own school days. I would have been honored to be your friend -- both of you -- no less than I am now."

Matt rolls his eyes, but does not argue. "{Dr. Banner knowing was a matter of practical necessity.}" His eyebrows scrunch down briefly, thoughtful. "{And Hive is--well, Hive. I don't think you'll find any of those people inclined to bring it up, anyway.}" More brightly. "{He's selling himself short, but you should know by now that is his modus operandi. And you might well have enjoyed his friendship as a teen, but /mine/...}" His mouth twists harshly to one side and he looks down at his tea. "{Well. You'd have been lucky to be spared it--and spared any kind attention from me at all, frankly.}"

"In your school days," Lucien echoes, glib. "{As compared to your adult life, which has been such smooth sailing, then and now.}" Just as glib: "{Come, now, everyone adored you in high school. But then, many teenagers do have questionable judgement.}" He's getting out a cutting board, onions, garlic, fresh vegetables from the fridge. "I believe I was promised a sous chef?"

Steve laughs aloud with a surge of bittersweet warmth. "{/My/ judgement as a child was patently awful.}" Then, thoughtfully, "{I suppose it hasn't actually /improved/ much. In a way, it's gotten /worse./}" He takes a big gulp of tea before setting the mug aside, rising to go wash his hands. "{Of course!} My word is my bond, and /your/ word my command."