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Dramatis Personae

Lucien, Matt, Steve


"--that's what my favorite holiday is really about."


<PRV> Tessier Residence, Halloween Edition - Backyard - Greenwich Village

The spookification of the backyard is at once more whimsical and more genuinely creepy than the rest of the property. There are ghostly (fake) cobwebs, to be sure, and smallish cocoons of the same material dangling from the branches of the oak tree. An eclectic little fairy village has cropped up on the far shore of the koi pond from the patio set, but there are no fairies to be seen. The empty houses range from simple toadstool shacks to an elegant manor house constructed from a broken tea pot partly re-assembled with gold mortar, and at least one dwelling that appears to be made of real animal bones. Improbable glowing flowers have sprouted among the more prosaic ones in the garden, and soft balls of light can be seen faintly amongst the bushier plants like Will-o'-the-wisps.

It's a cloudy night, but mild; even this late it's still pleasant enough to sit outside and risk getting whisked off by fairies. By this hour of the day Lucien is starting to look a bit frayed around the edges. He's recently showered and changed into soft heather-grey long sleeved henley, dark jeans, and is now kind of melted into the hammock in the back garden, fully ignoring the tea and mini-quiches he'd set out on the table. He's humming quietly under his breath, the opening bars of "Hello, Dolly!" and looking up at the currently starless sky.

The door from the kitchen opens, spilling first Flèche and then Matt out into a night neither cool nor dark except by juxtaposition. The man, in a blue tee shirt featuring Captain America's shield above the words "I can do this all day" and black cargo shorts, drifts up to the table and starts decanting the tea. The dog, meanwhile, only bounds up to Lucien to snuffle at him briefly before, reassured, perhaps, that he is not going anywhere, dashes back to escort their guest out.

Probably this particular guest did not need much in the way of escorting. Then again, Steve looks like he has not slept in a week. Tonight's over-tight t-shirt is sunny yellow, with a field of wildflowers -- in riotous bloom -- and the word 'shelter' written across the sky above them, and paired with his softest, most comfortable pair of jeans. He unslings the shield from his shoulder and looks like he's about to set it down as he fetches up against a chair at the table when his eyes find Lucien. "Gosh, you look -- well, I'm sure you are exhausted." He bows his head slightly. "I should really have waited 'til Sunday." He's not making any move to leave, but he also seems to have forgotten about sitting down.

Lucien drops a hand over the edge of the hammock, scruffing at Flèche's head before she darts away again. "The quiches," he informs Steve, quite earnestly, "would have been stale by Sunday. -- Goodness." He's rolled very slightly to the side, brow quirking up as he looks over at Steve. "Stones, glass houses -- this sleep deficit seems to be at epidemic proportions."

Flèche is circling the table now, tail flagging high and nose uplifted to sniff--only sniff!--at the treats on offer. "It is fortunate I'm logging some extra sleep for you both, no?" Matt does, in fact, look reasonably well-rested, if only by his admittedly dubious standards. "Please do sit, darling," he urges softly as he sets a mug of tea in front of the chair Steve is not sitting in, and brings another to his brother.

Steve looks down at the plate of quiches. Looks back up at Lucien. "I get a feeling more would have materialized, somehow." He does finally settle his shield beside the table and sink down into the chair. "Merci." He gathers the mug to him but only laces his fingers around it for now. "Guilty as charged, but I am a supersoldier. You only play one on stage."

"Merci," Lucien murmurs quietly as he takes the tea, and -- also to his brother and not directly to Steve, "Do we imagine that to be a defense? I sing and dance, he saves lives, which of these, do we think, is more grueling." He lifts the tea for a small sip. Lowers it to rest against his belly, holding it carefully until the hammock ceases its rocking. "Now if only rest were transferable we would truly be set, here."

Matt taps his chin thoughtfully with the tip of one finger. "Mm, probably him for the nonce. Now, if we were talking about Lost!, that might be a more difficult question to answer." For all that, the smile he offers Steve is warm and fond as he goes to claim a mug for himself. "You do realize your powers aren't a 'get out of having needs' card?" The structure of his question may skew toward the rhetorical, but his dry tone suggests he doubts if Steve realizes anything of the sort.

Steve raises his eyebrows. "Think it's an open question which of us has the more exhausting job, given you have half a dozen to my one. But I meant I can take a lot more punishment than just a few sleepless nights, and I know," he tells Matt indignantly, "that I'm still only flesh and blood." As if to underline his firm grasp of his mortality, he starts in on one of the quiches. It's probably not difficult for either of his hosts to see he is eating with far more determination than relish.

"Mmm," is all Lucien says to this. He sips at his tea again, and very carefully rolls his legs to the side, planting his feet on the ground with a minimum of teetering in his hammock. He watches Steve over the rim of his cup, a small furrow creasing his brow. He waits. Sips his tea, patiently.

Matt pulls out a chair and drapes himself down into it kind of bonelessly. He takes a sip of his tea, props one elbow on the table and then props his chin in the palm of the that hand, bright green eyes fixed stead and appraising on Steve. His mouth opens, but he checks himself before anything comes out. The flick of his eyes toward his brother is quick, easy to miss, but the frank concern written into his frown stays.

It takes Steve -- probably longer than he was expecting to finish his food. Long enough for him to feel awkward about it, probably, because his cheeks are flushing by the time he washes down the last bite with some tea. "It's delicious,," he tells Lucien hastily. "I just -- it's been --" His head shakes, quick. "Just haven't been sleeping well. I'll live."

"Mmm," Lucien says again. His brows tick upward, a touch expectant. He takes another sip of his tea. "Well, clearly, if whatever is bothering you won't kill you we oughtn't trouble ourselves to care. That is how friendship works, yes?" He glances to his brother once more for confirmation.

Matt's hand rotates to brush knuckles against his chin, stroking a nonexistent beard. "I do think that's about how it goes, though I do not find it particularly convenient." He closes his eyes and sips sedately at his tea. "I rather prefer to render aid while my friends are still alive, even if that is not always in the cards for those who insist they need no aid." His tone is light and easy, but the hand gripping the handle of his mug is much too tight, and when his eyes open there is a disturbingly intense gleam in them.

Steve's jaw sets tight. "I appreciate that you care. I just. Don't see that there's anything you can do about it, and it'll only hurt you more." He glances at Matt when he says this, eyes dropping to the tabletop although he does not focus on it. "It's just a lot of regret and anger. Wish I were as good at moving on as your Steve. Took me so long to do it that..."He drains the rest of his tea in one gulp. "Doesn't matter. There's nothing for it but pushing on ahead. You know how that goes, right?" he asks Lucien, something kind of plaintive in his usually steady voice.

"Goodness, what ever makes you think I know that?" Lucien is getting up from the hammock slowly, transferring into the bench rocker so that he can take one of the quiches for himself. His lips have compressed, just slightly, and this time he doesn't look at his brother, eyes fixed very intently on his food. "-- and what do you think moving on looks like? Outside of the world of song and dance."

Matt draws himself up in his seat, which juxtaposes oddly with the acquiescent softening of his voice. "I had rather hear you, even if it does mean hurting more. There is something to be said for--" His words hitch minutely, and when he continues it's in French, "{--for hurting together.}" He curls his hand around the mug and holds it loosely to his chest. "{And anyhow, you might be surprised what hurts me and what doesn't.}"

"Oh just -- the show must go on?" Steve does not actually sound so terribly confident about that, now. He does not answer immediately, either. After some thought, he offers, "To carry your grief forward instead of letting it drag you back. To know and love the marks someone left on your life without being haunted by them." He sets his empty mug down. "I have so many ghosts that it's hard, sometimes, to really see the living." His voice wavers and he stops. Swallows. Pushes on. "If I'd let myself love Dawson the way he loved me, or had the decency to just end -- whatever we had back when I should have." His voice quiets, his shoulders tighten, the hand he unconsciously clamped to the edge of the table loosing deliberately. "Maybe he'd still be alive."

Lucien lowers his tea to his lap, rocking his bench slowly back and forth. His eyes have fixed somewhere around Steve's empty mug, his forefinger tracing slow circles against his own. "Mmm. There were a hundred and one things that contributed to Dawson's death, and, ultimately, it is only the NYPD who can take that blame. The rest -- the rest is so much maybe. Perhaps you are right, and like as not wrong, but the wondering will poison you if you spend the rest of your life fretting over it, and change nothing."

One of his hands turns elegantly upward, fingers slightly spread. "I know of nobody who has lost who does not carry their dead with them, one way or other. But we are not meant to be graveyards, boxing them up and letting them simply rot within us. What do you have of them you could let grow? Being haunted," he's tipping his head back, now, eyes wandering the eerie faerie garden around them, "is only a weight if you let it be. I think it's simply part of being."

Matt picks up the teapot and refills Steve's mug. His expression does not change--not through Steve's answer or Lucien's commentary on it. "I would lay some of that blame on Prometheus, also, but certainly not you or Leo or anyone else who touched his life and might now wonder at all the things we would have done differently, if only we'd known." He sets the teapot down and pick his own mug back up. "However tempting those what-ifs, I think the real ghosts are often kinder than the ones we conjure from our own regret. And if we can learn to welcome our dead, to revel with the spectre of death, that--" He swallows, raises his eyes to the soft unearthly glow of the full moon beyond the clouds, his breath shaky but his voice sure. "--that's what my favorite holiday is really about."

Steve only nods his thanks this time, gathering the replenished mug between his hands as if to warm fingers that almost certainly need no warming. "I know. I don't actually think I killed him. Not really. Not like..." He trails off and for a moment it seems possible he's going to just leave it there. "So much of Bucky is still with me -- in my art, my tastes, probably my entire sense of self-preservation. I see him everywhere, but I see how I failed him everywhere, too." This comes out kind of flat, matter-of-fact. His hand drops to his side, his fingertips drawing across the smooth, round face of the iconic shield leaning against his chair. "And Howard -- I have so little of him, I was afraid I'd lose what was left if I fell in love again." He flashes Lucien a faint, rueful smile. "The me in the show did alright for himself there, but he has advantages I don't. My dead have made themselves pretty comfortable without being invited in for -- Samhain?"

"Mmm," Lucien replies, once more, softly. "Tethered? Tormenting you? They don't seem comfortable at all from where I sit. But I suppose you are that much closer to them than I." He sips his tea again, rocks back in his seat, closes his eyes. "Still. If I die and you abuse me so, I'm coming back on Samhain just to tell you off properly."

Matt settles his chin in the palm of his hand again. "The you in the show was also a complete dumpster fire until he allowed his friends to help him. Really, the main thing he's got on you is the dancing." He leans forward and drops his voice to a conspiratorial not-whisper, "And you can learn how to dance, too, whether or not you get into the...spirit of Halloween."

Steve considers his tea again, though he does actually smile at Lucien's threat. "As if I would dare cross a powerful witch like that." He tips his cup toward Matt, conciliatory, "I wouldn't cross you, either, but he's a witch and Captain America." Though his eyes do drop briefly to the shield adorning Matt's t-shirt. "Shouldn't cross my best friend and my first love, either. Lucky it's the season for digging up graves." He doesn't sound as flippant as his wording might suggest. "Maybe then, I'll learn how to dance."