From X-Men: rEvolution
Dramatis Personae

Melinda, Jax, Micah, Eridani

9 January 2015



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

Bright and sunny-light, this house lives up to its name. With a plethora of enormous windows flooding the place with light and an open layout, the ground floor feels more spacious than it is.

The small entryway has a closet space for shoes and coats, and doors at either side leading to the neighboring apartments. Past this it opens straight into the living room, a wide expanse of space bordered on one side by a curved set of stairs leading up (with colourful glass tiling on the risers between each stair) and next to these, the half-wall into the kitchen. Cool pale tile underfoot and many dark cabinets with a small walk-in pantry, plentiful custom granite countertops, black and speckled faintly with rainbowy flecks, lots of hanging space overhead for cookware, a large double-oven. There's a strip of rather detailed mosaic-work in the kitchen backsplash, colourful glass tiling depicting strange fantastical herbs and small faeries and firelizards darting among them. In back of the kitchen, a door opens up to a small sunroom, wide and two-stories high with a balcony overlook from the second floor; two of the windows here have cushioned windowseats, and there's a wealth of herbs growing in hanging pots and small window-boxes.

The back wall of the living room is nearly entirely dominated by windows, huge and allowing a view of the river beyond with bench windowseats lining the sills. There are plentiful paintings on the wall, surreal and fantasy-inspired, mostly in shades of blacks greys with bright bursts of colour that are mirrored in the decor -- monochrome upholstery on the couch and armchair but colourful throw-pillows, black and white huge corduroy beanbags (and one large red doggie-bed,) soft throw rugs also in mostly black and white with splashes of rainbow woven in. The hand-built furniture -- tall chairs by the kitchen/living room counter, dining table and chairs in the kitchen, low coffeetable in the living room -- has been hand-painted as well, black with bursts of colourful abstract designs.

Along the living room's other wall, doors branch off to a full bathroom -- in white and deep blue with one wall of the shower done in colourful intricate mosaic too, an underwater scene full of strange mythical water-creatures; tiny water-sprites have been interspersed at random points in the rest of the wall tiles, as well. There's a small studio space beside the bathroom, large windows as well and a gratuitous amount of shelving and cabinets along the walls; this room has very /little/ colour in it, just white walls and black furnishing.

It is closer to eight by the time Melinda has gotten off work and home again, to spend a few short minutes with her daughter and roommate before packing up some things. She then trudges through the cold night air and meager precipitation that still remains on the ground. It doesn't take her long to get to Workhaus and to the door of Lighthaus a few minutes later. She knocks lightly and starts to unbutton her slate blue peacoat. She has a large lump across her back and another bundle in her hand. She's wearing argyle socks over fleece lined tights under a navy sweater dress, her hair braided over one shoulder.

Jax is at the door shortly. He doesn't actually offer Melinda a greeting when he pulls it open, just -- pulls it open, waving her inside quietly. He's far too pale, dark shadows under his eyes, muted not just in volume but in colour, black yoga pants and a rainbow colour-blocked sweatshirt but no makeup to add colour to his pallor. Off in the back Obie is whining in answer to the knock, pawing unhappily at the door of the sunroom where he's been shut up inside, again. Leaving the door open, Jax pads in socked feet back over to the kitchen, still silent as he returns to chopping garlic, dinner-prep evidently underway.

Micah has taken up residence on one of the couches, back tucked into the crux of the couch-arm and couch-back and legs spread out over the the cushions. He is dressed for ongoing Cold in layered Firefly hoodie, technologically upgraded Darwin finch tee, cream henley, and lined jeans. His lap is lined with a large knit blanket in multicoulour Avatar element symbol design, a wriggling Eri sandwiched between that and the smaller red Toothless tail-sail baby blanket that is wrapped over them loosely. Micah dangles his Chewelry necklace, a green triskelion pendant on a sturdy string removed from his neck for the purpose, for Eri to attempt batting at. Occasionally they bite at it instead. The redhead looks tired, haggard, mussed-haired and rumpled more than usual, expression under-slept and a little worry-lined. His lips do twitch into a tired almost-smile whenever Eri manages to contact the pendant. When Mel arrives, the smile he tugs on looks slightly more smile-like. Slightly. "Hi, hon," he does greet her, if simply.

"Oh... Okay. Hi." Melinda steps in when bidden and moves to remove her shoes near the door. She sets her bundles down and starts to remove her outer layers, hanging them up, before heading further into the apartment with the things she's brought. "I..." She inhales deeply and then follows silently, wetting her lips as she drops off the baby things on a couch. She turns when she hears Micah, blinking for a moment before smiling. "Hey. How're you... two." She pauses, then offers, "Three?" She glances back toward the kitchen.

"Well, Spence is upstairs." Jax's voice is quiet, his tone rather listless. He doesn't look up from his chopping with this reply, steady and mechanical in his work. Scraping garlic into a pan, beginning on mushrooms. "But three. I guess. That's Goblin." Not that he points or anything. But probably not too hard to figure out he's referring to the wriggling gargoyle-creature.

"Four, all-told. But yeah. Spence is nose deep in a book. Or was an hour ago," Micah clarifies. Eri's claws accidentally meet with his hand instead of the pendant on a swipe and they decide that's interesting enough for now, nails scritch-scritching against the tough fabric of his bite glove. "Thank you, sugar." He nods to the box to indicate the hand-me-downs. "We' This is Eridani Perl. Been callin' 'em Eri 'cause the whole thing's kinda a mouthful." He chews at his lip, eyes drawn over to Jax by the stove through the kitchen entryway, then back. "If y'wanna get within arm's reach of 'em, I'd recommend puttin' on a pair of bite gloves. We got 'em stashed all over the house. Should be a set in the end table drawer there." Another nod indicates the location. "S'bitey. Better with some bite redirection toys now, but still bitey."

"You guys look like... well." Melinda purses her lips for a moment and shakes her head. "You look like death warmed over." Her lips remain pressed firmly together as she steps forward and kneels down near Micah's knee, carefully out of range of the little on in his lap. "Hello, Eridani." She studies the little one before glancing back up at Micah. "Did I look this thrashed when Tola was only a week old?" She shifts backward and drops into a sitting position.

Jax's eyes lift, and slowly a faint note of the tension in him eases off as he watches Melinda kneeling in front of Eridani. He gives his head a small shake, looking back down to his pan. "Tola wasn't eating you. And you hadn't --" But this breaks off, his lips pressing together as he fills a pot with water.

"No, y'didn't. But also...yeah. Eri drinks blood an' kinda pumps us fulla chemicals. I'm workin' on a way for them t'eat from an inanimate source, but it's takin' some doin' t'get right. I'm hopin' t'have a first workin' model t'test maybe t'morrow if all goes well." Micah's free hand rubs at each eye gently, then scruffs through his hair. "There's some unique concerns. S'wintertime so there's not much sun. An' Eri's photosensitive so we can't really have 'em an' sunlamps or open windows in the same room, either." Eri's head swivels in attempt to regard Mel, a little boggle-eyed. One of their claws swipes half-heartedly in her direction as if in some part aware that it won't quite reach. Nope, no contact. They wriggle-squirm a bit more instead. "An' the twins ain't talkin' to us no more, so that's... Stressful." Micah's nose crinkles a little, that word really /not/ covering it.

"That child sucks things from my body every day, but it's not blood, so I can see the difference." Melinda draws in a deep breath and sighs, her brows furrowing as she glances between them. "Must be strong chemicals." She leans back and braces her hands against the floor behind her. She glances in the two different directions, pursing her lips once more. "Okay, I have to ask: have you tried a bottle? Did Eridani destroy the nipple immediately or did they just not have any interest in the smell and taste of blood? Looks like a little swaddling might be in order too."

"Don't really have a nursin' instinct. Kinda /chews/ 'stead'a suckin'. An' chews through a regular nipple pretty quick." Jax shrugs again, returning to looking at his cooking instead of the others. He flinches slightly at the mention of Eridani being photosensitive. "... can't be happy around my own kid."

"Pretty strong, an' pretty constant that we're taken' 'em in," Micah agrees, elaborating with a hint of a sigh. "Bottle's a chokin' hazard. They'll chew on it just to chew, but then there's nipple bits that might get swallowed. They don't do milk, so nursin' don't make sense." His head shakes at the swaddling recommendation. "If y'wrap 'em loose, they just wriggle out. If y'wrap 'em tight, they get frustrated an' fight it an' then agitated an' it's...messy. Pretty much hafta feed 'em t'calm 'em down after that." He dangles the pendant again for the infant to swat at. "Likes the scent of blood, but don't really /feed/ 'less it's warm an' pulsey an' skin-like. I'm designin' a doll...s'kinda comin' out a hedgehog for lack of a better shape. Underbelly's made from part of a venipuncture trainin' kit. Incorporated a storage compartment for the bags of blood to attach to the vein tubin'. Got a heartbeat pillow kinda gutted an' reattached t'the top t'make it have a bit of a pulse an' the purrin' noisemaker out of a novelty Tribble t'make it soothin'. Hopefully heatin' the blood an' addin' it t'all that'll cover all the bases." The recitation carries some of the frustration that the trial and error of crafting has brought as an undertone.

"I'm tryin' t'figure if the photosensitivity s'just their eyes, or if it's more. If it's just the eyes we can /prob'ly/ modify a pair of infant glasses with sunglass lenses. For now, at least. Fortunately thos're /made/ t'withstand kids tryin' t'get out of 'em an' destroy 'em, so... Just'll hafta replace 'em frequently, I'm guessin'. Maybe make it so's we can have more light in the house." It might be that adaptive equipment is Micah's go-to answer for complicated situations.

"I... am going to stop asking questions and just hope you're discussing all of this with your doctors." Melinda inhales sharply as she gets to her feet and heads over to the aforementioned glove storage and pulls a pair out. She then starts pulling them on to her hands. "Okay. Look. You're scaring me. A lot. I'm going to offer right here and now to babysit for the weekend. While I think what I'm going to say next is probably going to negate all that, I have to say it. Micah. Take Jax to a doctor, please."

"I don't. Care about light in the -- /house/ I don't know. How I'm supposed to -- d'you know how it feels t'know that /you/ --" Jax quiets again, scraping the mushrooms and onions and garlic into a pot of tomato sauce. He adds salts and oil to the boiling water before putting pasta /in/ and setting the timer on the oven. "Don't need a doctor." This is a lower toneless denial. "An' you can't babysit, Goblin ain't exactly. A normal." His lips press together again.

"We are. But the doctors're kinda scratchin' their heads on this one. Got nothin' t'/compare/ to. There's no 'What To Expect' for baby gargoyles." Micah chews on his lower lip a little. "I can tell you most of what the docs would say without makin' 'em say it. Sleep more. Eat more. Drink more. Take iron supplements an' try to avoid any more blood loss. Stop takin' in venom-chemicals. Get more sunlight. Try some stress reduction techniques. An' talk to a psychiatrist, possibly with some prescriptions involved there." Eri snags the pendant again, this time settling in for a good gnaw, eyes lidding slightly. Their tail-tip sways back and forth hypnotically. "Lights...if they work would're in the house, too, sugar. An' it'd work for goin' outside, too. Just. Any light. S'the goal." Micah's eyes press closed tight, a deep breath taken before he opens them again. "Oh. Mel, hon. Bless you for offerin', but y'honestly can't just yet. Not more'n an hour or two. As soon as Eri needs t'eat again, one of us two s'gotta be there. Once we can get 'em weaned t'the blood-doll, maybe. But I also wouldn't be comfortable with Tola an' Eri bein' 'round each other, neither." One gloved hand reaches over to pet at the top of Eri's head, drawing a soft purr from the infant. "Prob'ly we should both make a point of gettin' to our psych. appointments next week," he allows finally.

Melinda is silent for a while, her jaw clenching. She blinks and starts to scrub at the back of her head, her gloves messing up her hair. She shakes her head. "If you live that long. If this state you're in doesn't cause you to do harm to your child yourself." She turns her attention first on Micah and then to Jax. "I get that you want to love this child and you want to care for this child, but you are absolutely not taking care of yourselves and you cannot raise a child in that position. You need help. Yes. Eridani is not normal. That does not mean I cannot babysit."

"That's not the --" Jax starts, looking up at Micah, but then trails off with a tightening of shoulders, a defeated bow of head. There is silence, after this. Quiet as he continues through seasoning the sauce, eye fixed downward and his motions still mechanical and slow.

"I'm takin' care, hon," Micah assures Mel softly, barely above a whisper. "But only how I /can/ for now. I eat an' I drink an' I take supplements. S'a little sleep deprivation, but not beyond what comes with typical infants. There's nothin' t'be done for the blood loss an' the venom 'til Eri's weaned. S'mostly just...stress for me." His eyes dart over to Jax in the kitchen, full of fret that none of these things is true for Jax. "An' there's not a lot t'do 'bout that when the people y'love the most are..." Falling apart. Refusing to speak to you. Wanting to run away. He doesn't manage to say any of them, fingers just stroking steadily along the top of Eri's fuzzy head. "If you /really/ wanna babysit, we can think about it for the future. But it just ain't possible from a practical standpoint yet. It's not that Eri ain't normal. S'just that they need t'eat every two hours an' right now, food is /us/."

"You're taking care of you, Micah, that's fairly obvious, and you're stumbling along at a maybe manageable pace, but it looks like you're losing every single one of your relationships on the hopes that you can figure out some sort of pseudo-feeding accommodation." Melinda shakes her head. "You know that normal babies cause people to lose their ability to cope, right? You're in a situation that is far more intense. Why are you the only ones who can take care of Eridani?"

Jax switches off the heat under the pasta sauce, glancing over to the oven timer. "M'gonna go get Spence," he says softly. "Can you. Drain the pasta. When this goes off. S'baked tofu to go with. Warmin' in the oven." Head still bowed, he curls his arms across his chest, slipping out of the kitchen to head for the stairs.

Micah nods at Jax's request. "Of course, sugar. No rush, okay?" His eyes squeeze closed again, jaw tensing. "Losin' people ain't got a thing t'do with the feedin'. B was gone 'fore there was even a mouth t'feed. Shane followed as a matter of course. Spence wants t'be with the twins. An' all of that..." He glances again at Jax's back as he moves to the stairs. "Ain't nothin' I can do t'fix it. But I /do/ have t'find a way t'feed m'kid that's sustainable. Which what we're doin' now is not. But it's /necessary/. Eri can't just bite everyone they come in contact with. It ain't good for them an' it ain't good for whatever people they come across. They ain't /got/ Dusk's immune system. S'dangerous. We can't have 'em learnin' that all people are okay t'bite. Even if we had a whole congregation of volunteer donors. An' /eventually/ we won't be physically able t'produce enough blood for 'em so this has t'be done."

"Wait, Jax. Why don't you and Spencer come over to my place for dinner? You can use all of Tola's lights and sort of regenerate. Please, Jax, you're ... you're important to me and I am worried about you. Maybe you just need a couple hours off?" Melinda calls after him, inhaling deeply and turns back Micah. "Really? Micah? There is nothing you can do? Nothing? Last I checked, you are a living, breathing human with the ability to make independent choices of your own. You could learn from the past. You could remember that asking for a little help doesn't mean you're surrendering your child to disease and disorder. That maybe you'd be able to think clearer on the problem in front of you or present it to someone else who has expertise in the same department."

Jax doesn't really answer this. Just a small tightening of shoulders, a lower dip of head. A faint mumble, not very coherent. Maybe "m'fine", it's hard to tell, just before he disappears up the stairs.

Even sounding like 'fine' tenses Micah's shoulders. He doesn't speak again until Jax is up the stairs. "My problem is that m'kids ran off or want to. An' it's killin' m'husband. An' he won't take care of 'imself in no basic way or let nobody do it for 'im." He curls in a little tighter, cradling the now-dozing infant against him. "Dai said the pups wouldn't come back with Eri in the house. I volunteered t'take Eri an' leave. So ev'ryone /else/ could be a family again. Jax said t'go ahead. So I asked the twins if they'd come back. If I took Eri away. But no. Apparently we're such hateful people that it don't matter. They ain't comin' back. An' if they don't come back, it's gonna kill Jax. I told 'em that. They don't care. An' I don't think he does, neither." His jaw tenses, teeth clamped tight, relaxing only enough to speak again. "Can you fix that?"

"I can talk to them." Melinda responds quietly. She slips the gloves off and turns to head for her coat. "I should go. I've been disruptive enough as it is." She starts to slip on her outer gear and turns to look at Micah. "I'm not trying to say this... I want to help. I don't want either of you to..." She shakes her head and buttons up tight. "I'll talk to you later."

“You can try. They won't...not to us. So I can't. Do anythin'.” Micah just holds the little sleeping form closer. “Thank you. For comin'. For the gifts. For talkin'. I don't know.”

"You both sound so defeated." Melinda replies once more, kneeling to tug on her shoes. "Will you do whatever they ask of you, within reason?"

"I offered 'em...pretty much anythin'. B wouldn't even respond. The only thing Shane asked for was t'kill the baby." Micah's shoulders tremble a little, moisture finally escaping his eyes enough to wet his lashes into clumps. "I won't kill 'em. An' I won't let 'em be killed. I was gonna take 'em away. It should've been enough." His head shakes just a little. "If they'll work with you. I don't know."

"Taking the child away is still you choosing the kid over them, Micah." Melinda ties her shoes tight and then stands up again. Despite the footwear, she crosses the room back to Micah and presses a kiss to his forehead. "Don't die, okay?" She turns to leave.

"/Me/. Not Jax. /He/ chose them. I told them that. An' they still wouldn't come back t'Jax. With me /and/ Eri gone. Killin' the baby isn't a reasonable thing t'ask. I was gonna give up ev'rythin' else so they could have their family back. There's nothin' more I can do if they won't take anythin' short of killin' the baby." Micah just closes his eyes at the kiss. "/I/ won't. I'm always the one left when everyone else is gone."

"So you're saying that you don't want them, all you've really wanted was a baby of your own?" Melinda can't help herself. "No wonder they're not talking to you." She draws in a deep breath and shakes her head. "You mean the world to these people and it doesn't seem to sink in at all - but I also feel I should point out that I still had more limbs than you in those stupid future dreams. Maybe you should reevaluate your resiliency."

"You know very well that ain't what I'm sayin' at all! I'm sayin' I draw the line at killin' an innocent child t'get them back. That's a pretty high line." Micah heaves a sigh and leans back against the arm of the couch. "I really don't have the energy to sit an' verbally spar with you. I don't know what you're hopin' t'accomplish other than makin' me feel more like a horrible person than ev'ryone else already has. Thank you."

"Seriously, Micah? I'm telling you what you sound like. I know you well enough to understand when your words don't match your intentions, but I'm also not your hurt teenagers. Do you really think I'm at all suggesting that Eridani needs to die? Do you think I'd consider - at all - taking that suggestion from Shane or B? All I want is to find a way that no one is going through as much pain as you and Jax are. If you thought I cared what the twins thought about babies, I wouldn't have my daughter." Flustered, Melinda crosses her arms over her chest and stares at Micah. "I'm not trying to make you feel like shit. I'm just trying to ... I don't know. I'm trying to help and it's just difficult. I'm going, okay?"

"You an' the twins're the ones who said that keepin' the baby was choosin' the baby over them. /I/ was just sayin' that Jax didn't even choose t'keep the baby. So even usin' that screwed up lack of logic, Jax /didn't/ choose the baby over them. He didn't even choose /me/ over them. An' they're still punishin' him for /no reason/. An' he's gonna /die/ for it. If anybody's doin' /anyone/ wrong in all this it's what they're doin' to Jax. That's all." Micah's head shakes. "I didn't say you were wantin' the baby t'die. Just that that's the only option Shane's been givin' me. An' that I won't do it. /I'm/ not the one sayin' that keepin' the baby at all is choosin' the baby over the twins. It's such an incredible false dichotomy. I never once b'lieved that or I never would've offered to adopt 'em in the first place! This whole thing has been so /eminently/ unreasonable and no one would even talk t'me t'try t'fix anythin'. I feel like I'm gonna be sick." Truth to tell, he looks more than a little green around the gills. He doesn't have the opportunity, however, as the louder talking wakes Eri, who wriggles and makes an irritated clicking sound. "Shh. Shh, sleep sugar. I'm gonna stop talkin'. No more talkin'. Did /so/ much good t'start talkin' t'ev'rybody 'bout this." All this last is in a sing-song whisper, his torso rocking a little in attempt to soothe the infant, a gloved hand provided for chewing.

Melinda listens quietly, raising a highly arched brow when he finishes. "Well. Good night." She turns and heads out.