"Luci's definitely a whole-ass kind of person."
Tessier Residence, Greenwich Village
The upper floor of this apartment holds the bedrooms; one master bedroom and three smaller ones. One has been converted to a lounge, couches and more books and a large desk by its window. The other two smaller bedrooms upstairs, in strange departure from the rest of the house's style, seem decorated more with younger occupants in mind. One of them, styled largely in purples and blues with a strong butterfly motif, has a lofted twin bed and an antique writing desk. The other is very green, its bedspread green-and-black striped; the walls are covered with a host of movie posters. Between the two bedrooms stands a bathroom, cheerfully decorated with colourful mosaic fish in its tiles.
The master bedroom, in contrast to the paler, earthy scheme outside, is warm and rich, decorated in deep reds. The exquisitely crafted furniture is dark, with reddish undertones to the mahogany wood. The king-sized bed is stocked with an overabundance of pillows, and more cushions rest in the windowseat. One wall holds a spacious walk-in closet. A table, low to the ground, sits on a thick rug between the bed and the entrance, the right height for kneeling rather than chairs; the checked pattern carved into its surface marks it as a chessboard, though the pieces are not in evidence. The master bathroom adjoins the bedroom; it is large, done in black marble, with an overly spacious glass-walled shower and a similarly large jacuzzi bathtub.
The Tessier house is full of bustle and noise tonight. Cheerful music, endless chatter. A wealth of bright and garish valentine's themed decorations strew the house and garden alike, cutesy cherub mobiles and glittery hearts and twinkling pink and red lights. The food and drink are abundant, and a steady stream of well wishers have been coming by to deliver birthday greetings, presents, stay and chat or play games.
In some cases, stay and gawk, with varying degrees of subtlety or politeness. Some day, maybe, Ryan's notoriety will fade into a more respectable fame, but just two days out from his dramatic announcement the stares and questions carry over even into what should be his personal life. And so (despite his smiles and breezy conversation), for the moment he has been ushered upstairs by one brightly colourful young man with iridescent peacock-hued hair and makeup to match, black skinny jeans with metallic red and pink hearts embroidered down the sides, a tight fitting purple t-shirt reading "Y'all means ALL", the 'all' in rainbow text, a black FreakAngels messenger bag slung over a shoulder, enormous red heart-shaped sunglasses.
In the very tidy designated quiet-room (normally Desi's bedroom), Jax presses a plate of food and chilled rose cider into Ryan's hands. "At least eat a little somethin'," maaaybe doesn't quite encompass how heavily he's piled the plate.
"A little," Ryan echoes, brows lifting and a twitch on his lips. He's more muted than Jax, black button-down (sleeves rolled to his elbow), grey jeans, though an ostentatiousy colorful party hat perches askew on his head. He takes the plate, though, setting it on his lap once he's pulled himself up to perch on a large piratey-looking wooden chest bound with iron bands. Takes the cider, too. He gives Jax a long look -- hesitates -- swallows whatever he was about to say in a long gulp of cider. "Don't really have to twist my arm, they do not half-ass the spread here."
To the casual observer, Steve has been wandering casually through the house, exchanging polite greetings and playing supplemental host. To the observant or sensitive, he's been patrolling the party in a state of barely contained hypervigilance and sensory overload. Now he's come upstairs, perhaps on his way to the guest room, but hesitates in the hallway when he spots Ryan, his face lighting up with relief and recognition. Dressed in plain but impeccably fitted white t-shirt and blue jeans, he doesn't actually come in yet, just leans against the door frame. "Hey," he says softly, maybe taking the 'quiet' in quiet room a bit literally. "You alright here? Can I get you anything?"
Jax perches himself on a large purple therapy ball, hair flopping down over his face as he bounce-rolls his way back over to Ryan's side. Dropping his bag down beside the trunk, he retrieves a sketchbook and pencil from it, though doesn't open the pad. Instead, he reaches to pluck some sort of oniony puff pastry off the plate. "No, Luci's definitely a whole-ass kind of person." Munch munch. He tries to swallow hastily when Steve appears in the door, flutters a hand in a wave instead. "This is a no-autograph zone." Cheery but firm once his mouth is clear.
Ryan is shoveling food into his mouth hungrily, but stops short at the glimpse of motion by the door, ducking his head and half-covering his full mouth with one hand. He drops the hand a moment later, swallowing and nodding to Steve. "Nah he's alright." There's a warmth in his words the contradicts the careless wave of his hand that dismisses Jax's protectiveness. "Just quiet, and I got that. You want some, uh. Truffle fries? Fancy -- small... tart things?" He's squinting at some heart-shaped curried mushroom pastries on his plate uncertainly. "Teeny avocado toasts, if you really want to fit in with our generation?"
"Oh, I'm not -- looking for an --" Steve breaks off, blushing. "I mean to say, his music is great -- what I've heard so far..." For a moment it looks as though he might be too flustered to say more, but then plunges on, still in a low voice, "I just don't know too many other people at this shindig." He finally does enter at Ryan's offer of food. "Thank you, but I've eaten and you look hungry. I'm Steve Rogers." The last part he offers to Jax with a nod, then pulls the chair away from the vanity, settling (carefully) down into it backwards. His eyes keep straying back to Jax, but briefly enough it's hard to tell what exactly he's trying not to stare at. "Congratulations, by the way, on your awards and on successfully...how did you put it? 'Fucking up your life'?" He frowns suddenly. "Of course, I understand if you'd rather not discuss that."
"Yeah, he's amazing." Jax returns to his bouncing when Ryan relaxes. "I'm Jax. Don't let Ryan fool you, his life was already a total trash fire. What's a few death threats on top?"
"Or a few hundred." Glib. Ryan returns readily to eating, if more decorously than before. "'least before I disconnected my phone, deleted all my social media. It's, uh, it's been good though. Barely had time to sleep for interviews and I have a bodyguard when I'm out in public now but --" He swishes his bottle absently and then takes a small swallow. "Got a whole lot of positive messages too, before I shut that shit off and let Luci handle it." He lowers the bottle to the trunk beside him, keeping a hand on it. "Enjoying the party? It's kind of a lot."
"A pleasure to meet you." Steve smiles at Jax. "I saw you on the television broadcast, too." At Ryan's casual estimate of death threats received, his pale blue eyes go wide. "A few hundred!" he echoes. The incredulity gives away quickly to anger, then to concern. "That's awful. Have there been attempts?" He darts a quick glance of the door as a wave of cheering reaches them from downstairs. "It ah...sure is something else. Folks have been very friendly, but they keep asking me questions I can't answer." He spreads his hands before him, flashes a self-deprecating smile. "Really, I'm lucky if I can even figure out what they're asking."
"Oh you watched it! Did you see him perform, I'm not sure he was my favorite of the night but I think it was one of his better performances. I just like flashy, though." Jax curls his legs up into a pretzel on top of the giant ball, teetering wildly and readjusting his position. "It's fine if you don't know an answer just make up something silly. If you say it with a party hat on --" Jax points a finger to his own head, which, abruptly, sprouts a very glittery ribbon-festooned conical hat decorated with bright hearts and oddly uncanny not-particularly-angelic looking cherubs, bright colored but eerie and fey, "nothing counts anyway. Like, how do you know Matt?"
"Janelle Monáe was there, I was not gonna be the best." Ryan says this with a distinctly self conscious fidget. He reaches out a foot unthinking, resting against the side of the purple ball to steady Jax's wobbling. "Matt and I actually met when I took this ski trip up north once. I was not prepared for the angry moose on the slopes but thankfully these days they issue all Canadians special moose whistles just for emergencies like that. Probably would've been a goddamn pancake if he hadn't been nearby."
"I did!" Steve sounds -- surprisingly proud of this. "Gosh, it was amazing. Granted, there was a lot of amazing. I've never seen such a spectacle, not even on Broadway." He starts visibly when the party hat appears on top of Jax's head. Looks quickly to Ryan, then back to Jax. "Sorry, I just -- you are doing that, right?" His apprehension fades fairly quickly, and he blushes again. "I guess I should have gotten myself a party hat, because while that was one of the few questions I could answer, it would have been a whole lot more interesting if I'd done it your way." He's looking at the party hat more thoughtfully now, and his addendum sounds faintly distracted, "And less awkward, probably."
"You like theatre? You seen Luci's show yet, that's a spectacle." Jax settles himself more securely once the ball stops wobbling. "Huh? Doing wh-- oh, this." His smile brightens -- literally, a brief flutter of glow suffusing the space around him. He lifts his hand, flicks lightly at the hat on his head. It arcs up off his head, somersaulting in exaggerated cartoonish fashion (complete with a fading trail of hearts in the air behind it) through the air to "land" weightlessly atop Steve's head instead. Jax nods toward the vanity mirror. "See? Your turn. How 'bout --" Bounce, bounce, bounce, while he considers. He takes his phone out of his pocket before asking this question, setting it to record: "Best memory you got with Matt."
"Oh, man, you really should go when you get a chance. Stage magic these days is --" Ryan shakes his head, smothering a laugh in another gulp of his drink at the cartoon hat-transfer. "Oh man how do you even pick those? Between the that time we were undercover in the circus together or that whole shark-wrestling fiasco --" He shakes his head, turning to Steve for answer.
"I adore theatre." Steve's smile goes wide with unconcealed wonder. "I haven't seen 'Lost' yet, but I'm looking forward to it. They've played the music for me." Jax's light show is greeted with a mixture of relief and amazement. "Wow! That's -- that's remarkable. How are you --" He shakes his head. "That's a power, right? Or some kind of technology?" He twists around to look in the mirror, reaching up gingerly to touch the hat. When he turns back, he's looking even more thoughtful. "Well, there was that time we train-hopped down to Miami just to spend a warm day at the beach." His eyes land on Jax's sketchbook. "Say, are you an artist?"
Jax grins, shutting off the phone and setting it down. "Perfect. I'm makin' him a video, he's gonna love it." He leans over, breaks off half a heart-tart from Ryan's plate to pop into his mouth. "Oh, you're in for a treat if you're seeing it for the first time. You won't even recognize Luci but he dazzles. Honestly one of the most brilliant performances I've seen in a while and I see a lot." His head tips slightly to one side. He nudges his comically large sunglasses a little higher on his nose. "It's a power, yeah." A little more careful, here. "I play with light." The last answer comes with a deep flush of red, a laugh in his voice: "Do I just give off that vibe?"
Ryan picks the sketchbook off Jax's lap and lightly baps him in the back of the head with it. "Dork."
"You're making a video...with your power?" Steve sounds even more amazed here, and not anywhere near as bothered as most people might be at such a prospect. "I guess that makes sense, if you...play with light. But still amazing." He snaps his fingers and points at the notebook when Ryan picks it up. "That was a strong hint, but honestly what made me think it first was..." He gestures at the intangible hat he assumes is still on his head. "This is going come off a bit like a backward shaggy-dog story, but how I actually ended up introduced to the Tessiers was through a couple of fellows I met at a charity art sale in Gairsville last week. They sold me a pastel of the City, populated with delightful grotesques, signed 'Jax H.' Now, 'Jax' isn't that uncommon a name, but then these putti on your hat here seemed to be in much the same style, so..." He trails off, blushing. "But yeah, you also do look like an artist." Here he looks to Ryan for confirmation. "Though I might be off-base on that front?"
"Huh what no I'm making a video with my phone -- what on earth is Gairsville?" Jax scrubs a hand through his hair where he's been bapped, his brows knitting behind the large sunglasses and his blush deepening. "... oh. Right. Like I can keep track of the things I'm -- literally holding." Brighter: "'Grotesque' do sound like me, though. I'm definitely an artist. I teach at Gaétan's high school and do tattoos on -- the side, I guess." His nose crinkles up at that. "Good eye, though. You like art? Do art?"
"Alright but actually when I did meet Matt, he told me a shaggy dog joke that lasted half a fucking hour and I sat through the whole damn thing. Somehow we still ended up friends afterward and he's still alive." Ryan finishes the last of his food and sets the plate aside on the floor. He cradles his drink, curling his leg up underneath himself. "He went to art school and everything. Kinda gotta cultivate the look or they don't let you graduate."
"Gairsville, ah..." Steve gets the blank look of someone who is flailing to explain something they had taken for granted. "Industrial quarter, north side of Brooklyn Heights, between the bridges? Well. Less industrial now." Then, in a sort of mental double-take. "You can make videos on --" He cuts himself off with a sharp shake of his head. "Sorry, I've been out of circulation for a while. But as for art, yes -- to both. I went to art school, too." His smile returns, bright for only an instant before it goes wistful. "Didn't graduate, though." Then the smile brightens again, but different -- lighter. "Guess I didn't get the 'look' quite right."
Jax's brows stay knit. He tips his head up toward Ryan, briefly. "Uh --" Just a momentary pause before, "Yeah, you can make videos on most phone. You ain't never had a smartphone? They do all kinds of things." He sets his sketchbook back in his lap, fingers drumming against its cover. "You could still go back," he encourages. "If you want to spend a ton'a money and no job prospects -- 'least my parents were always horrified at the thought of art school being what I did with my life. I don't hardly regret it, though. And if you love it..." He hitches up one shoulder in a shrug.
"It's called DUMBO now," Ryan supplies, after this explanation. "Must've got your shit from Chimaera. We have an art collective, down there. Has nobody taught you how to use a phone yet? You should get on that, you can learn any damn thing with them. Whole world at your fingers. Or --" He cocks a finger at Jax, "you can make silly video montages to entertain your friends."
"Oh, I just got a phone last week -- also in...DUMBO. Not sure how smart it is..." Steve runs a hand through his hair, looking down at the floor. "I know how to make and take calls, send text messages, play music, and search the Google. Most of the other functions are a bit mysterious to me, but I'll get there." He finishes this gamely, grinning. "Maybe I'll figure out silly video montages first -- then art school."
"The google. That's -- a good place to start." Jax rocks forward on his bouncy-precarious perch to confide (voice dropping conspiratorially lower): "A large part of my time at art school was making silly video montages." He rolls himself down off the ball -- onto his stomach on the floor, first, before he clambers to his feet. "Speakin' of, I gotta go collect more fodder. I bet Desi and Gae have a story or two." The kiss he presses to his fingertips and blows to the room explodes into a shower of tiny metallic confetti-hearts.