Logs:A Cut Above
|A Cut Above|
"I can take it easy." (Shortly after DJ and Steve's doomed attack on Castle Doom)
Latveria is a small country -- so small even its capital and largest city probably looks quaint to a New Yorker. The streets are paved in white and the houses favor glazed terracotta roofs. Though there is plenty of foot and bicycle traffic, there are relatively few motorized vehicles to slow the progress of the supply truck wending its steady way up to Castle Doom, the seat of the Latverian government.
Castle Doom looks a lot more like a fairytale palace than its name might lead one to expect. Its beautiful airy halls and chambers lack nothing for luxury, but this particular room, though spacious enough, does not look quite right appointed in rich baroque furnishings. Despite the improvements, it is quite obviously a dungeon cell. The ancient stones fit together almost seamlessly, heavy rings solidly bolted in at regular intervals.
Some of this hardware of horror has been pressed into service holding up tapestries and paintings and drapes for nonexistent windows. A suit of Victor von Doom's armor looms impressively in one corner -- or is it a robot? Or Doom himself? It hasn't moved, anyway. A sumptuous central Asian carpet covers much of the cold, hard floor, a writing desk sits before the imaginary window, and a long sideboard by the door offers water, brandy, and a plate of sausages and cheeses. There is, notably, only one bed, though it is quite large.
On aforementioned bed Steve had been dumped some time ago in an unconscious heap, still wearing his armored tactical suit though his weapons -- including the shield -- were confiscated and his helmet removed. The black and purple bruises blooming on his neck look frightful, the injury that caused them violent enough to kill most humans. Not being most humans, Steve is stirring now, his breath speeding and his left hand reaching for a pistol that isn't there before his eyes even open. But open they do, a decision he evidently regrets at once, to judge by as the pained gasp he sucks in.
DJ has been sitting by the bedside; he looks a good bit more comfortable than Steve, tired but evidently uninjured. He has a Kindle in his hand but sets it aside as Steve stirs, putting it down on his chair. He gets up to fetch a folded washcloth from a bowl of ice on the sideboard (several other cloths are already there, crumpled and damp and set aside.) "Might want to take that easy for now. Not really --" He gestures around them, gently squeezing the cloth out before returning to lay it against Steve's neck. "-- much of anywhere to rush off to."
Even though his eyes don't seem to be focusing quite right just yet Steve turns toward DJ's voice. He makes a soft, strangled noise. "Fli --" It's hard to say whether he cuts off because of pain or recognition. Either way, he subsides back down and lets DJ tend to him. "Thank you." This is quiet, breathy, his eyes starting to flutter shut before they fix with abrupt alarm on the Doomarmorrobot in the corner. He sits bolt upright but then clutches his head, biting back a cry. "Wha --" It's not Steve's morning for finishing words. The fog seems to clear a bit and he eases himself back down, still eyeing the armor suspiciously. Not having apparently learned anything from aggravating his injuries so far, he turns to DJ again (only flinching minutely this time). "Are you hurt? Did they..." His gaze flicks over the other man in quick appraisal. Then to the jarringly decorated walls. Back to DJ. "They -- turned your power off?"
DJ flinches as well, if less so, a small twitch in one eye and a slight clench of his jaw at the truncated name. His hand is still gentle where he presses the iced cloth lightly to Steve's bruises. "I'm fine. Can you swallow?" His eyes skip away to the walls, skimming over them quick and cursory. "Do you think we'd be here if I could have moved?"
Steve swallows experimentally. Winces. Starts to nod and winces again. "Yeah, I think so." He blushes. "Thought it might just be --" His brows furrow faintly as he studies the apparent lack of window behind the curtain, then the heavily reinforced door. "Right. Sorry." He breathes out slow. "I can take it easy." This sounds, only ever so faintly, doubtful. Less doubtfully, "I heal pretty fast."
The small breath DJ chuffs out is skeptical, but he doesn't contradict Steve. He does go to the sideboard to get a cup of water, hesitating at the edge of the bed before offering it to Steve. He perches carefully on the edge of the bed after this, offering the other man a careful hand in sitting up. "As prison goes, probably this is on the better end for taking it easy." He sounds a little wry, here. "Certainly a cut above the ones I've been in. Still not sure we wouldn't have been better off leaving the billionaires here to languish in luxury."
Steve takes the water with a quiet "thanks", and is already trying to sit up when DJ offers his hand. He accepts help the readily enough -- his grip likewise careful -- and sips at the water. "Feels like I've been hit by a fucking train." This comes out so matter-of-fact that it does not sound much like a complaint, even when accompanied by a sidelong glare at the Doom armor. "This is probably intolerably austere to the robber barons." He takes another drink, too quickly this time, and cringes as he swallows. "But definitely plush compared to every other jail I've been in, too." His eyes scan the room -- again -- and he blushes without quite looking back at DJ. "Most of them did give us enough cots, though sometimes we were better off on the floor, and that's saying something."
"I probably should have stayed for more of a briefing -- did they tell us that Latveria's king was a dozen robots in a trenchcoat? I feel like that was an important point to gloss over." DJ's eyes have tracked to the armor as well. He looks back at Steve soon after, a flush rising to his cheeks, too. "Floor's comfortable enough here. Nice carpet. Clean." He sucks his cheeks inward, gnawing briefly at their insides as he looks at the bed. Ultimately he doesn't say anything else, just gets up, picking up the damp washcloth he'd brought earlier to return it to its bed of ice.
Steve's laugh is little more than a bemused huff. "Well, they gave us maps and weapons. Kept trying to convince me von Doom's technology was potentially more advanced than anything I'd encountered, but couldn't give me any specific examples. Like 'oh by the way he's a dozen robots in a trenchcoat.'" He scrubs one hand over his face, which hasn't quite stopped burning. "Guessing neither of us is new to sleeping on floors, but we don't have to. Even if we don't take shifts, even if I can sleep at all --" He gestures at the vast expanse of the mostly-undisturbed bed. "Think I've lived in apartments smaller than this. I'm not going to ah." His lips press into a thin line, his eyes ticking down to the mattress. "Get fresh."
"Oh. Okay, so, briefings -- totally skippable." DJ returns to settle back into his chair, pulling the Kindle into his lap once more. His eyes lower to its cover, fingers tracing against the edge. "Guess that stuff --" He lifts his hand, gesturing vaguely at the walls around them, "doesn't turn you off, huh?" He glances back to the bruises darkening Steve's neck with a wince. "Kind of a shame, they left a whole bottle of brandy."
Steve actually does laugh this time, the wince beneath it barely perceptible as his eyes survey the walls. "Well. Tapestries aren't my forté, but I do admire the brush work on that --" He nods (winces) at an immense oil painting in a broad, dramatic gold frame, taking up much of one wall. "-- pastoral vision of Latveria watched over from a sunlit promontory by His Majesty astride his black charger." He hasn't actually stopped blushing, but his carriage relaxes. "Brandy always makes me think of France. The good parts." He sets the water aside. "Won't do much to me, but if you actually do want a drink I'll keep you company." Suddenly his eyes widen and his flush deepens. "Not for getting -- I wouldn't take advantage of you -- I mean I wouldn't --" He shuts his mouth very deliberately. Presses thumb and forefinger into his eye sockets, biting back another laugh that nevertheless bleeds into his voice. "Gosh, this is like some kind of fever dream."
"I meant the --" DJ's gaze is skimming back towards the painting, his eyes just a little wider, "-- right, it probably -- doesn't feel like anything to you." His head shakes, hand lifting to rub at the back of his neck. "Wouldn't have crossed my mind you planning to -- take advantage -- if you hadn't, uh. Mentioned that." His cheeks are no less red, either. "The first time I saw you? That felt like a fever dream. This actually feels pretty much like regular life."
Steve blinks. Scans the walls again as if he hadn't been doing it continuously since waking. This time he squints, for all the good it does him. "What doesn't feel like -- what?" He finally does look back at DJ, eyes still wide. "That -- the first time we met -- was why I thought you might -- think --" He shakes his head, quick, impatient with himself. "Don't think I ever apologized. It was a bit of a shock, but still..." His brows furrow. "Is it good, or bad? That this feels like regular life?"
DJ shakes his head apologetically. "I meant the -- suppression field, it's. Weird to remember you just -- can't feel it." He sits up a little straighter, his blush deepening. "Huh? I mean it was really -- startling and I had no idea what was -- I think it was good? I didn't --" He cuts himself off, eyes wider just before his head drops into his hand. "Right, you meant -- gosh." His words are a little muffled behind his palms, now. "I don't know. Makes it easier not to think about if anything is good or bad."
"Haven't worked on me so far." Steve looks down at his hand thoughtfully. "Who knows if this isn't some ultra-strength suppression technology. I don't feel -- depowered? Guess we'll see." He's sizing up the door as if he means to punch his way through it this very moment. Possibly DJ's fumbling reply is all that stops him doing just that. He sucks in an unsteady breath, blinking up at the scarlet satin canopy over the bed. Finally, "I'm glad it was -- maybe good? I'd settle for 'not traumatic.' It wasn't my finest -- oh, Lord." He runs his fingers through his hair. Then, more quiet and less flustered, "It's a lot, and I'm sure plenty of it isn't necessarily...straightforward. I did hope this team would give you something familiar to focus on, but I didn't mean it like this." He sweeps one hand around them. "If you're ready to get out of here -- I'm not hurt that bad."
"Your body just stops working like it's supposed to, I think you'd feel it." DJ's shoulders have tightened a little with this reply, but ease soon enough. His head stays firmly in his hand, eyes fixed downward. "I admit it wasn't exactly the way I usually pictured --" This just cuts off into a sharp inhale, though. His next few breaths are slower, deliberate. It takes several deep breaths before he looks up, not at Steve but the door beyond, red finally fading from his cheeks and his expression clamped firmly down into blankness. "You kidding? Getting locked up by some megalomaniac with a fleet of murderbots because I'm trying to clean up a mess he started? This is the only part of this nonsense that's felt normal." His hand drops back to his knee, fingers drumming against it. "You planning to just punch through the stone? Doesn't seem like the best idea but hey, we've got a bunch of ice left."
Steve is quiet a moment. "Fair, now you put it that way." He shrugs (winces). "Just. I'd also meant to win. Still mean to." He pick the glass back up and drains it. "Punching isn't off the table, but not my first choice." He finally does lever himself out of bed, a bit slower than usual but not quite gingerly. "If it's got with hinges and latches, it's worth a try." Studies the heavy door. Crosses the room. Lines up his charge. Drops into a crouch. Sprints as fast as his superhuman physique can manage in the limited space. Turns aside at the last moment to throw his left shoulder into the door which gives a loud groan of protest and --
-- does not so much as budge.
He manages to shield his head from the impact with the door, but some of the force he'd imparted bunces him back and for all his dexterity -- likely not much helped by his injuries -- he slams his head into the hard stone floor of the dungeon. When he rolls to a stop, he is once again out cold.