"I apologize for crashing your party, Mister Tessier." (Set just after S.H.I.E.L.D. gives up on playing coy.)
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.
In the study, door shut against the festivities outside, a middle-aged white man in a neat but unfashionable black suit sits on the futon. He looks a little bit uncomfortable and a lot out of place, a paper plate with a slice of birthday cake -- both heavy on pink hearts -- balanced in his lap. "I'm Agent Phil Coulson, with the Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate." As he speaks, he pulls a black wallet from the inner pocket of his jacket and displays a Very Official Looking ID card bearing his name, photograph, a stylized eagle seal, and the acronym S.H.I.E.L.D. printed in a yellow band across the top. "I apologize for crashing your party, Mister Tessier, and wish you a very happy birthday."
Lucien sits by the desk its chair pulled out from behind it. He is neat and composed where he sits in it, hands folded in his lap, the fit and style both of his clothing speaking to careful tailoring and an attentiveness to fashion. He replies before his brother, his soft-spoken words mirroring the quiet calm in his expression. "Luckily, we had cake to spare, Agent Coulson."
Matt has perched himself on an arm of the futon, one leg dangling and the other folded beneath himself, a celadon mug clasped in one hand. He wears a green t-shirt almost completely occupied by a paler green snake gazing at an oblivious songbird whose tortuous coils look almost like cursive letters, ancient faded blue jeans frayed at the cuffs and wearing through at the knees, and an ostentatious party hat covered with glittery pink and red hearts and trailing holographic streamers. "Thank you!" he pipes cheerfully. "And call me Matt, if you please. While I'm indisputably a 'Mister Tessier', that can get confusing around here. Besides, I might reflexively start trying to educate you." He takes a sip of his tea. "So, Agent, I imagine you didn't just stop by for cake."
Coulson has, meanwhile, started in on his cake. He seem a touch hesitant at first, perhaps only taking a bite out of politeness, but gets over that pretty quickly. "It's delicious, thank you." He sets the shiny pink plastic fork back down on the plate. "You've probably figured out that I am here about Captain Rogers. On behalf of S.H.I.E.L.D., I would like to extend my apologies for the deception these past couple of days." He pauses, brows wrinkling slightly as he considers. "And for the insult to your intelligence. But even if our approach was...misguided, our concern is very real, and very well-founded. We truly appreciate your generosity to him so far, but hope that you recognize he needs more support than you are able to provide."
"Goodness, I should imagine so. I require more support than my family is equipped to provide. My siblings all do as well. Humans are complex and the idea that we must be reliant on a small handful of individuals for our needs is one of the greatest fallacies of our society." Lucien turns his hand upward, spreads his fingers slightly. "Thankfully, we live in a bustling metropolis with numerous social services available." He curls his fingers back inward loosely, turning a brief regard to his neatly manicured fingernails. "And you're doubtless correct. I must imagine several days of dedicated gaslighting as to his sanity has left Captain Rogers feeling the need for such support more acutely than before."
"Steve has made it clear he's not interested in your brand of 'support'." Matt adds an air quote with his unoccupied hand. "If he changes his mind..." He gives a dismissive shrug. "...he knows where to find you."
If Coulson is much bothered by the brush-off or the scathing indictment, he does not show it, working steadily on his cake while his hosts speak. "I understand your disdain, but we would not have resorted to such methods if we didn't think it necessary." He shifts slightly so that he can address Matt without turning his head. "The truth is, Captain Rogers is in grave danger. So are you -- and everyone else who gets involved with his life, especially those who are mutants -- but not from him." He leans forward, intent. "S.H.I.E.L.D. is not the only organization interested in him."
Lucien's brows pull together. He reaches without looking for Matt's mug, takes it for a slow sip. "Given your persistent interest, I'm presuming his story is true. I can imagine he is of interest to a number of --" His lips press together, a bit pinched. "Tortuously acronym'd agencies. We wished only to see that he had a quiet place to get his bearings and decide for himself how to tackle a --" He gives a small shake of his head, a distinct concern lacing his voice. "Much-changed world."
Matt surrenders his mug, also without looking. "You know, the fact that other agencies are also after him does not in any way suggest that he is safe with you." His bright green eyes are fixed on Coulson with keen, almost predatory interest. "If you're angling to cast yourselves as the least of many evils, you're going to have to demonstrate a lot more good will than just beating all the other to give dire warnings."
Coulson heaves a long, heavy sigh. "I can neither confirm nor deny whatever Captain Rogers has told you," he say in somewhat perfunctory manner. "But I hope the fact that we allowed him to leave at all, and are not using force to get him back, tells you something about us. The other organization -- won't be so nice." He breaks eye contact with Matt, on the pretext of pushing a red fondant heart around his plate. "We can give him the time and the space he needs to adjust, keep him safe in the meantime, and provide him expert healthcare -- mental and physical." He looks back up, from one Tessier to the other. "Can you claim the same? How long can you even afford to feed him?"
"We've had a steady parade of teenagers under this roof for years." Lucien takes another sip of the tea and hands the mug back to his brother. "It has not yet bankrupted us." His hands fold carefully back into his lap, and his green eyes fix thoughtfully on Coulson. There's a slight tension in his jaw, that was not there before. "Am I to understand that you think not kidnapping or imprisoning a man who has done no wrong but exist is laudable?"
Matt touches fingertips to his lips, as if to stop himself from speaking. His powers reach out and coil around Lucien's, but do not quite take hold of them. Even without drawing any real effect from his brother's abilities, he seems visibly more steady after this. "My gods, but you do have an peculiar idea of 'good will.'"
Coulson holds up both hands, a gesture either of surrender or appeasement. "I'm not trying to claim the moral high ground, but I do think it suggests we are not hostile to him, or to you." He puts his hands back down, bows his head slightly. "I don't necessarily agree with the decisions that were made about keeping information from Captain Rogers, but I do believe they were made with his best interests at heart. I still believe that everyone will be safer if he comes back to us, at least for a time, but I appreciate why he might not be willing to trust us at this juncture." He steeples his fingers, tapping their tips together meditatively. "Is there anything you would recommend we might do to help him now?"
"I think you might turn over to him his legal documentation. In our current society, holding it from him is in itself a form of coercion." Lucien's mind has coiled itself, tense and poised against his brother's. "I do not doubt you when you say he is in danger. I expect in so very many ways you are far better positioned than we to navigate him through it. But whatever traumas he has been through, Captain Rogers is a grown man capable of making his own choices, for good or for ill. Accepting your assistance under duress -- whether it be from deception or from a imposed inability to take control of his own life -- he may well turn to you, but he will hardly trust you. I should think you would prefer both, if you truly want to help him."
"I believe that you admire him and care for both his physical and emotional welfare," Matt picks up where his brother leaves off. His voice is full of gentle entreaty, though Lucien can still sense the tightness that bespeaks his anger. "Make sure he has the documentation necessary for his independence and also put his mind at ease as to the truth of his identity and origin." He settles his mug against his knee. "Ideal, of course, if those two can be one and the same. But if not -- then find another way. You owe him that much."
Coulson is silent for a long moment after the brothers stop speaking. He finishes the last of his cake, save for the red fondant heart. "You're right," he says at last, not specifying which of them is right on which particulars. "This won't be straightforward, but I'll see what I can do."
There's a brief ripple across the surface of Lucien's mind that soon fades back into stillness. His head inclines slightly as he rises, and tips a hand toward the door. "Shall I see you out?"