"So that was like a rhetorical can we talk."
<NYC> Creative Little Garden - Lower East Side
It's not a big park, really. A small secluded garden in the Lower East Side, quite close to Tompkins Square. The trees stretch overhead to both sides of the mulched paths, forming a leafy canopy through which New York's murky city-sky is visible. Between the paths the grounds spill over with an abundance of flowers, hedges, community-tended, in here. The paths all wind together into the small central clearing, a little circular retreat with fountain and benches.
It's been too quiet at home lately, with one roommate mostly-absent physically and one mostly-absent mentally. Too hectic too, though, with new temporary houseguests to look after and a glut of traumatized and unstable rescuees around the neighboring Lofts apartments. Not the /most/ conducive environment to getting actual work done. Which might be why Flicker is here, at a small wrought iron picnic table near the back of the garden. He's dressed in khakis, pale blue button-down, plain matte black prosthetic arm. For a while he's /been/ focused intently on his laptop, but his attention has kind of drifted. Sleepless shadowed eyes wandering off to track the path of a small black and blue warbler flitting through the nearby sumac.
Jax has a large canvas bag (it has a pair of cartoon alien-looking creatures blowing bubbles printed on it with the words 'PROHIBIT ANXIETIES' written among the bubbles) hung over one arm, a lime green sleeveless fishnet shirt over a purple tank, green and black checked jean shorts, bright Chuck Taylors (sparkling rainbow on one side, glittering black on the other, laced with sparkling silver laces in a complicated pattern.) Glittery silver and purple makeup, his hair a rainbow ombre and his enormous sunglasses framed in metallic purple. The one-eyed beagle that trots along on a leash at his side is slow, stubborn, currently more interested in lying down every few moments than taking a proper walk. The dog's pace seems just fine to Jax, really, moving slow and with a small but noticeable favoring of one leg, until he eventually makes it as far as Flicker's table, nodding to an open seat. "Y'mind if we join you, honey-honey?" Obie is already doing so, slinking under the table and whumping his head down onto Flicker's foot as if Flicker will /spare/ him more exercise.
Flicker's eyes open wider and he sits up straight. Blinks at Jax. At a delay, smiles, small but warm. "Oh. Right. Yeah. I kind of. Stopped working anyway. At least with an /actual/ distraction around I'll feel justified." He nods to the empty chair. Bends down, paling slightly with the effort, to scratch between Obie's ears. "Plus he seems like he could use a break. Monster. Made him walk what? Two whole blocks?"
"And a half," Jax adds. Earnest! Without a /shred/ of shame for his cruelty. He takes his seat, setting the bag down on the table and unloading it. Tupperware of cookies /first/ (crackly zesty citrus glitters), then a large thermos, then glass snap-top containers filled with cold peanut noodles, barbecue tofu strips. He lays forks down atop each. "Some folks was by lookin' for you. Church people?" His pierced brows lift. "I'm guessin' they'll try back."
Flicker continues scrunching at Obie's ears. Running one of them through his fingers, his head resting against the edge of the table. It keeps his expression largely hidden as Jax sets out the food. As he speaks, too. "Oh, they /always/ try back, don't worry about it." His voice is kind of flat, but when he finally pushes himself up straight again his smile hasn't budged. "You came prepared." He reaches for the thermos, first, giving Jax a questioning look as he lifts it.
"Limeade," Jax explains. "And I figured you probably ain't et your whole shift, so. Maybe me an' Obie could have some lunch with you." /His/ first pick is the cookies. He pries the lid off, takes a pair of them and munches down the first one in two quick bites. He's swiping crumbs carefully off his purple lips with the tip of his tongue, leaning back in his chair just a little to look up into the trees overhead. "They said you ain't been by church in a bit. I don't actually know what that means for you," he admits with a soft chuckle, "could mean you missed a meeting yesterday, could mean it's been two weeks." He's slower with the second cookie. Lightly licks at the glittery sugar crystals atop it, without actually taking a bite.
Popping the cap of the thermos, Flicker delays answering with a slow sip of limeade. "It's only been -- a little while," he hedges uncertainly, his brows furrowing. "But they get kind of --" His head shakes quickly. "Thanks for letting me know." He looks down at the thermos, setting it back on the table heavily. "School's just been hectic." His tone is determinedly light. "You know how it gets."
Jax's nose crinkles up, and he gives his head a small shake. "Me? Psh. I got summer break now. Nothin' but easy roads ahead. Luxuriatin' in the sun, /lazing/ around, I'm gonna be taking it easy for three straight months. Living that teacher high life." He nibbles an edge of the cookie, hitching a knee up to rest it against the edge of the table. His other leg stretches slowly and carefully out in front of him. "Usually takes an awful lot 'fore church falls off your priority list, though." A touch of pink darkens his cheeks. "I mean, you /been/ through an awful lot. Lately. I'm just worried. S'good to still have things in your day that ain't all -- work an' stress an' more work, you know? Y'ain't been 'round Chimaera, y'ain't going to church, I'm just not sure what time you're taking for /you/ since we got back."
"Taking it easy? You?" Flicker's brows lift skeptically, a quick grin brightening his expression. He gestures out towards the spread of food on the table. "Was all this your idea of a lazy morning?" The smile fades. He tips his head back, squinting up at the sky. "School's just been hectic," he repeats, a little bit more tersely.
"How are you gonna relax proper on an empty stomach?" Jax pops the rest of his cookie into his mouth. He opens up the other containers after, picking up the fork to stab at a piece of tofu. "I don't doubt it." Jax bites down on his lip, his fingers tracing against the wavy pattern of the metal tabletop. He pops the tofu into his mouth, chewing it over slowly. "I know it's been a nightmare for you schedule-wise. I just -- 'tween that stress and last week and just. Everything. That's kind of when you /most/ need the things that keep you goin', ain't it?"
Flicker's eyes stay turned upward. His hard black fingertips scrape against the table, and his nod is slow to follow. "I don't know," doesn't exactly /match/ with the nod. "I mean, it's fine. I've just been keeping busy. We got through it, people are fine, they're getting better, I don't -- know what else you --" This time, his head shakes harder. His smile returns. A little more crooked than before. "I'll just be glad if I can get through this next year without failing, right? But I'm good. I just need more sleep, probably." He takes the noodles, takes a large bite.
Jax wiggles at a lip ring with the tip of his tongue as he studies Flicker. "All of them ain't the only ones what need support after..." His brows crease. "And I know Hive ain't gonna be much himself for a bit yet, either. Can't make it no easier." He toys briefly with his fork. Hesitates, then ventures more carefully: "Can we talk about --"
"No." Flicker cuts in here. Swift, sharper than before.
Jax's fidgeting stops, and he sets the fork down in its container. His chin lifts, slightly; his brows lift, high. His lips press mildly together, and he just watches the other man steadily.
"Oh." One of Flicker's eyes twitches. He looks down and away, fingers clenching tight around the handle of his fork. "So that was like a rhetorical can we talk." He taps the tines of the fork rapidly against the glass container, finally looking back at Jax. "We left that person there. I don't know what you want me to say."
"I don't /want/ you to say anything. I --" Jax shakes his head, his palm pressing against the edge of the table. "It was terrible. It was a terrible situation, and terrible for you in particular, and I want. To make sure we... we almost lost you there, too. If I'm being honest, I'm kinda still worried we're going to."
"I was kind of running on empty. It just -- it brought up some things, and I --" It's Flicker's turn to hesitate. He stops his jittering with the fork, sits very still in his chair. "It was hard to think clearly. I made the wrong call. He didn't /want/ to come, there wasn't much else..." One shoulder lifts in a small twitch of motion. "I'm not /fine/. But staying busy is good, right?" He picks up the fork again. "Come on. You made all this good stuff. If you want me to take time to enjoy things, we could start with this."
"Sweetie..." Jax bites at his lip, clearly hesitating on the verge of saying more. He ultimately just exhales, reaches over to squeeze Flicker's hand for a moment. Then picks his own fork back up. "Yeah," he agrees quietly. "This is a start."