Whatever the fuck he was planning on, it went somewhere ugly.
Village Lofts 403 - East Village
There's kind of a college-dorm feel to this place, though some of its occupants have left college behind. Entering the apartment finds visitors greeted by the perpetually messy living room, a mismatched assortment of couches and chairs (and milk crates) surrounding the wide table in the center. The wall holds a range of posters; some political, some sporty, some from video games, and a string of white lights strung over the kitchen doorway might be a holdover from Christmas. A widescreen television stands against the wall opposite the couch, shelving beside it holding a host of video games from different consoles. More shelving beside the windows on the far wall carries stacks of board games, as well as sourcebooks from various RPGs.
The kitchen adjacent is just as cluttered, its table unfit for eating due to its perpetual covering of books, papers, cereal boxes, projects; the fridge is usually sparsely populated. Ketchup. Beer. Not a lot of food. There are two bedrooms here and one bathroom situated between them, split between the three people who live here.
It's a blistering summer day outside, the sounds of laughter and music and traffic drifting in through the window. In here, though, it's quiet. Matt has been slumped on the couch for hours now, moving only to gulp down tea or, occasionally, visit the bathroom. His hair is tousled to an almost caricaturish degree, his face is pale, and there are dark shadows under his bloodshot eyes. His black t-shirt has the blue outline of a house on it, a staircase spiraling deep into the ground below, and his gray cargo shorts are ancient and threadbare. The others Hive roused before losing coherence can feel Matt's power busily at work, painstakingly releasing one mind after another from the thousands that had been swept up in that single panicked moment, the vast majority of them never the wiser.
Jax looks calm enough -- possibly because the apartment has been absorbing all his externalized fretting. In the intervening hours, the apartment has been tidied and scrubbed; there are fresh raspberry crumb bars on the counter, a pot of hoppin' john simmering on the stove, muffins in the oven. Dressed in soft black corduroy bellbottom overalls and a Black Lives Matter tee, he is currently pouring out a new cup of tea to go deliver it to the couch. His hand touches lightly at Matt's, his mind pressing to the other man's gently to redirect his attention. << (break time.) >>
Dusk is sprawled across the couch, his head in Matt's lap and his wings (back to their natural near-black color, now) kind of splayed -- one flopped over the back of the couch, one spread out across the floor. He's still just wearing the black jean shorts he came in with last night, and possibly at one point he was helping on Matt-sitting duty but. Since Jax's arrival to take over the fussing, now he's just sleeping.
Sarah approaches the apartment door from out in the hallway, an assortment of tupperware containers in her arms. Her jeans seem to consist more of holes and bumblebee patches than actual denim; her t-shirt, at least, is whole - it has a repeating pattern of little quartz crystals and reads, 'Crystal Queer'. Her hair is its own state of organized mess, streaks of flour giving her temporary highlights. It takes a moment of juggling and balancing to be actually /knock/ on Geekhaus' door, but she manages in the end.
Matt is slow to stir from his task, and even then only inwardly, at first. The weight of his attention is strange, ponderous--at once like and unlike Hive's. << We're resting. We've been resting. >> His focus realigns briefly to Dusk, to the few other team members who've managed to get back to sleep. Even so, he accepts the tea and takes an uncareful sip, the aroma and flavor of the brew--plus the attendant pleasure and solace--drawing him more fully back into himself. He gives a soft hum of appreciation, then freezes in sudden alarm, head tilting as if to listen well before the knock actually comes. << I don't know that one. >> By " that one" Jax can tell he means the mind and the power attached to it approaching down the hallway, rendered in their collective consciousness in the surreal clarity of Matt's hypervigilance.
<< You've been zoning out. S'different. >> This consciously offered-up thought comes simultaneously with overlapping qualifications that surface in Jax's mind. << (dangerous) >> mingled with a vivid mental image of Hive's skinny frame, glassy-eyed and unmoving in bed. He slumps to sit on the floor right where he is, curled up against the base of the couch with his cheek pressing to the soft fuzz of Dusk's wing. The knock rouses him from this, mind rather than eye training on the door with no hint of recognition. He pulls himself to his feet, padding over to peek out the peephole. Then pull the door open, managing to pull a very wan smile very briefly onto his face. "Oh! Sarah. Hey. M'sorry, if you're lookin' for the nerdbros they're mostly --" The sting of worry that this summons up in his mind is brief but acute. "Indisposed."
On the couch, one of said nerdbros just shifts. Dusk pulls his wing closer in to rub absently at Matt's knee. Nuzzles a scruffy cheek against the other man's thigh as he curls up a little closer.
<<Something's wrong.>> Sarah has only met Jax once, but her... particular upbringing taught her to read a room. The /feeling/ coming out of the room behind Jax is all kinds of heavy. For a moment, she's nothing but confused, worried. "Hey, Jax. Yeah, I - Flicker asked me to come feed the pets?" she explains, brow furrowed. "And a roommate. He said he would be out of town for a few days."
The tea continues to work its magic on Matt, who watches Jax answer the door with a wary tension that coils through them both, the touch of his own power hovering in readiness to assist his friend--or hinder any potential threat. He finally relaxes at the recognition of the visitor, though he adds a disgruntled and sluggish, "I'm.../partially/ disposed." His free hand drops to caress Dusk's hair, sliding down to settle between where the wings sprout from his back. His attention snaps back to Sarah, though, at her words. "When...when did he ask you this?"
"You don't live here," Jax dismisses Matt with a quiet huff, opening the door wider. His eye opens wider, too, though, training on Sarah as his hand tightens at the doorknob. His next words come with far more urgency than his tired greeting had: "Out of town? Did he say where he was going?"
"Nooo I live here you don't live here," protests Dusk in a sleepy mumble, his words muffled against Matt's leg. His eyes open -- less in response to the actual conversation and more the feeling of attentiveness that has shot through the other two men.
"No, he didn't." Sarah shakes her head, flour falling out of her hair to sprinkle onto her shoulders. "He just asked me to drop by today or tomorrow... Jax, did something happen?" she nervously asks, heart beating faster in her chest. <<Happen to Flicker?>> She hopes not. She /really/ hopes not. He was nice.
Matt's fingers tighten around the handle of his mug, his face going even paler. An immense fury rises in him, fierce yet oddly detached, though he scrambles to insulate the others from it all the same. << This was planned. Whatever this is, he--knew. >> His hand has curled into a fist at Dusk's back, though he managed not to dig his nails in. << (Did Hive know?) >> He starts to sink back into Hive again, and has to struggle back to himself, pulling in a sharp breath. "Sarah? Hi. I'm--" A beat. An embarrassed flash of a half-smile. "--Matt. Non-resident nerdbro. When did Flicker ask you this? Please?"
Matt's anger is picked up, reflected in Jax's overbright mind, immediately quashed back down. << We don't know what this is. And he said -- >> "He said he was coming back? In a few days?" His brows crease deeply, a faint shiver of pale greenish light fluttering for a moment in the air around him. He swallows, shakes his head as he takes a step back and pulls the door open properly for Sarah. "I don't know. We're trying to figure that out."
"Of course something happened." More awake, now, Dusk's voice is a grumble -- beneath it and simultaneously with his speaking voice, a soft growl rumbles in his chest. He pulls back away from Matt, struggles vaguely upright, tries with less success than Jax to push away the shared flash of anger. In him it is only magnified, flaring strong and red and undergirded with an intense and briefly enveloping hunger. "We just don't know what."
"Wednesday. I saw him at the mailboxes." <<He said he would stop by when he got back.>> Sarah focuses on her steps, one foot in front of the other, to try to keep any anxiety at bay. "I'm sorry, I didn't bring anything vegan," she says absentmindedly to Jax, placing the tupperware containers (One holds slices of homemade pumpernickel, the other turkey salad made with cashews and dried apricots.) on the big table.
Dropping down the closest empty milk crate, Sarah presses her hands to her eyes, tries to remember. Brings the lobby up in her mind. "He was at the mailboxes. I was on the phone with my sister." She's quiet, uncertain around so much upset. Flicker, by the mailboxes, sorting through mail. And then... "I told them don't do anything stupid before hanging up." In her mind, Flicker looks up. Pale. Tense. <<He thought I was talking to him.>> "Flicker got real spooked when I said that. I thought I must have... startled him or something."
"I think...Jax has the vegan cooking handled." Matt's words sound kind of abstract, his attention divided as it is. Even awash in Dusk's wrath--his own neatly tucked away for the moment--he seems calm, now, analytical. The hunger, though, his body picks up, examines, and accepts--yes, we're also that. Then puts that aside, too, intent on relaying Sarah's recollection of her conversation with Flicker to the others. Sharp focus on his reaction. "Don't do anything stupid," he echoes. << Said he was coming back, Sunday, by implication. Probably wouldn't have offered to stop by if that was a lie. >> Skeptical, but determinedly hopeful. << We can go through his belongings and see what he took. >> "You're a good neighbor, Sarah. Thank you."
The shiver of light around Jackson shifts, sliding from green to red. He rubs his knuckles hard against his eyes, swallowing down the feeling of hunger that's burning through him. << Don't do anything stupid. >> He turns this over in their mind. Tries to compare it to what few snippets of conversation he's had with Flicker lately -- all of them too brief, too superficial, too determinedly casual. "He asked Emily to cover his shift at the Clinic tonight," he says slowly. "But he's still on the schedule for Tuesday so --" He's trying not to be too hopeful over this, but. Some part of his mind still clings to the thought of Flicker's relentless attentiveness to his responsibilities.
"Whatever the fuck he was planning on, it went somewhere ugly." Dusk gets to his feet, his wings shivering and folding behind him. "I'll check his shit. You," his attention is turning to Matt, "might want to see if --" His eyes dart towards the bedroom. << I don't know who could help you out with that, >> comes tinged with a shadow-darkened wash of unspoken grief that hits him sudden and blindsided -- now he actually focuses on the hunger, pressing his mind into that feeling to sidestep the sudden wave of anguish, << but you might want to look for backup. >>
Sarah lowers her hands to look at Matt, the small smile she gives him not showing in her eyes. "Do I still need to feed the cat and ferret?" It feels like a ridiculously useless question. There is so much about this conversation-situation that she doesn't understand, other than she can't help.
Matt closes his eyes and take a long pull of his tea, letting Dusk's grief wash over him. "I'll...yes. I think--" He breaks off and continues inwardly. << I have someone in mind. >> "I'm sorry about all this, but you have helped," he assures Sarah distractedly even as he's reaching out through their network of minds, but stops short, slamming back into himself again, ignoring the mental whiplash. His bright green eyes open wide and his free hand flies up to cover his mouth. "Oh, dear! The animals!"