"Prometheus has him." (Part of Prometheus TP.)
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.
Evening is coming on fast, and the bustle and life of Tompkins Square Park during these remaining hours of mild golden summer daylight filter up into the the quiet of Geekhaus. The apartment has been cleaned and tidied recently, the animals fed and pampered, though most of the caretakers (for people and pets alike) have departed. Most.
The door to one of the bedrooms stands open. Within, Hive still lies in bed, though someone has shifted him around a bit and tucked cushions under him here and there to distribute the pressure of his weight more evenly. Matt is sitting cross-legged at the far end of his bed, leaning against one wall and staring blankly at the other one. He wears a a black t-shirt with the blue outline of a house, a staircase spiraling deep into the ground beneath it, and gray cargo shorts. His mind is in constant motion, still paring down the (now much reduced) bulk of the Hive's telepathic network using the man's own powers, but also attempting as much as possible to erect around Hive himself the kind of insulation he gives his hivees to keep their minds more or less their own.
The footsteps into the apartment aren't preceded by as much mental noise as might be expected. Joshua's presence is there, but has already been quarantined -- has quarantined itself -- and so it's mostly just the click of the front door's lock and the heavy tread of boots on the floor that announce him. Still dressed in rumpled paramedic uniform, he stops to lean in the doorway and study the others.
To Matt's senses, the slow shuffling, reorganizing, within his mind is more sensible. There's a small snip as he severs himself from the mental connection -- barely detectable within the vast pool of minds but still noticeable in the ping of Joshua's powers working. A slow clockwork grinding somewhere inside him as his mental chemistry shuffles itself, too, tucking away the abilities he's been using and shifting the landscape of his energetic presence to -- one that is nearly identical to Hive. A much smaller, pared-down Hive.
Matt does not take any note initially this approach, either via Hive's powers or his own, and so he starts when he actually hears the man enter, his mind scrambling to identify this person it had somehow ignored, only sluggishly managing it just before Joshua actually appears in the doorway. He's a little quicker to put together what the other man is doing, more or less. << Thank you. >> Soft, many-voiced, exhausted. << We...don't know how much longer we can do this. >>
Joshua doesn't reply. His eyes close as he stretches outward. The sting of pain as his mind stabs itself into Hive's is sensible, too, across their linked cognition. Linked twice-over, now, as the much broader mental network is subsumed into Joshua's more compact one. He takes over seamlessly where Matt had been working, mental walls erected swift and efficient between the (sub)Hivees.
And then, in one clean swoop, the chaff falls away. The connections drop soft and gentle all at once, Hive's mind retreating back into itself at Joshua's compulsion. He leaves only Matt tethered there, the closed-off kernel of Hive's own personality much easier to feel, with only the two of them remaining. Even before he's shucked them from his mental grasp he is straightening, rubbing at his eyes as he turns, pulling his mind back from the other's. "Get some rest, man."
Matt does not cry out--does not need to even stifle a cry, as the pain comes and goes too quickly for his frazzled brain to fully process before it is done. His body jerks once, then relaxes as Joshua lifts away the weight of the powers he had been struggling so hard against. And then he is himself again. The other metamutant accomplishes in an instant what Matt had toiled for the entire day to do, and all he feels now is a numb relief as he subsides against Hive--his Hive. "I will," he manages, a bit breathlessly, as Joshua turns to go. "Be safe." The temptation to just lie down and go to sleep right then is tremendous, but he rouses himself abruptly and leans over instead to shake Hive's shoulder. << Flicker. What happened to Flicker? >>
Even pruned down to just his core, the shaking does not wake Hive. The urgent question, though, puts a spike of fear, of anger, that lances through their mind. For Hive the stab of pain remains even after Joshua has pulled out, a throb of headache that pounds behind his eyes as they start to crack open. << Flicker. >> This echoes, sharp and panicked in his mind. << No -- no -- >> There's a sudden outward press that ripples through their network. Scrabbling claws reaching back out, grasping for whatever minds are in range.
Matt sucks in a harsh breath through his teeth at the telepathic grasp. His power, frayed and faltering as it is, bears down on Hive's, seizing it and none too gently shutting down the renewed attempt at expansion. << Hive, stop. >> His mental voice is firm and calm even against the backdrop of his own terror--even if the grip of his power is tenuous, threatening to fall apart at any moment. << Talk to me. >> He physically gathers the other man into his arms--it might not have been possible, in his current state, if Hive had not dropped so much weight recently--and holds him tight. << Show me. >>
Hive draws in a sharp ragged breath in tandem with Matt. His bony shoulders tense up, his face turning to press against Matt's shirt. His mind continues its background chorus of << No no no -- >> but it is muted, now, just white noise humming below more conscious thoughts. His attempt at conscious thoughts, anyway -- when they do come they're a chaotic jumble. Bright lights and cold bare rooms, the sharp sting of needles in his arm, cold sticky gel on a fuzzy-shorn scalp. A rattling booming hail of gunfire. Smoke and crumbling walls. A heavy blanket of interminable boredom.
His fingers clench against Matt's side. "Prometheus has him."