"Somehow, I have a difficult time imagining you keeping your head down." (Following the attack.)
Tessier Residence - Backyard - Greenwich Village
Living in the heart of Manhattan means space is precious, and as such, the yard behind this house is small. It is as exquisitely well-kept as the rest of the place, though; all available space has been meticulously cultivated and transformed into a lush retreat from the concrete and asphalt of the city. The borders of the garden are lined in a wealth of flowers, the selection chosen to provide a panoply of color in all seasons save winter. A grassy rock-bordered pathway separates these from the raised-bed vegetable garden that dominates its center. The far left corner of the garden plays host to a tiny rock-lined pond, goldfish and a pair of turtles living in its burbling water. To one side of the pond is a garden table and set of chairs and presiding over the pond, a large oak tree with a hammock underneath, its branches spreading out over the tall brick wall that screens the entire area off from the city outside.
It's a mild and clear afternoon, a perfect start to spring. Out in the backyard garden a large flat rock by the pond has been set up with a plate of bread and marbled brown tea eggs, a glass bowl of water in which a wealth of pastel flower petals have been carefully laid in a concentric circular design, and a wealth of seeds sitting in their own small colorful ceramic ramekins. Several of Lucien's gardening tools are nearby -- as is Lucien himself, though he is, at the moment, paying no attention at all to this arrangement.
Instead, he sits cross-legged in the grass, in white linen pants, a pale green long-sleeved tee, light jacket over top, a phone held in one hand and his fingers rubbing restlessly at a smooth rock plucked from the water. There's a tiny earpiece hooked onto his ear, blue light lit, and presumably it is this that he is currently talking to. "-- not going to be giving any interviews from his /hospital/ bed," he is telling the phone a bit crossly. Then, a moment later: "Certainly not till tomorrow at the least." Even as he speaks he is swiping out a rapid message on the phone screen.
Matt is lying on his belly beside his brother, chin propped up in one hand and a book--N.K. Jemisin's /The Shadowed Sun/--propped open in the other. He's wearing a soft loosely knit gray sweater and moss green linen pants, and still has white gauze wrapped around his arm, though his use of it does not appear much impaired by this. Their dog is dozing on Lucien's other side, but presently perks up and thumps her tail lightly against the ground. Then gets up, stretches, and trots to the door that leads to the kitchen, ears perked expectantly.
It's a good ten more minutes before Flèche's expectant wagging is finally answered. Steve steps outside wearing a green-and-white plaid flannel over a white undershirt, blue jeans and no shoes beneath. He carries his shield slung on a harness over his right shoulder, and a tray with a celadon teapot and three matching cups in his hands. He is, to very observant eyes, ever so slightly favoring his left side.
By the time ten minutes has passed, Lucien has gotten off of one phone call and on to another. He looks up, brows knitting, when Steve arrives. His eyes sweep the other man critically. "-- I appreciate your understanding. We'll be in touch. I hear tell," this part comes with no discernible /pause/ between one statement and the next, though his crisp politeness shifts smoothly into a softer tone, "that you were quite heroic, this morning."
Matt closes his book as the door opens and rolls onto his side, waving at Steve. "Welcome back." He takes his time getting up, still being a bit ginger with his right arm after all. "Are you all patched up?"
"If that qualifies as heroism..." Steve shakes his head. "Well, I sure made a hash of it. But I am patched up." He starts toward the table to set down the tea, but hesitates upon seeing the items laid out. "Am I interrupting...something?" He does not sound /particularly/ troubled by this, though he does look at somewhat of a loss about what to do with the tray in his hands. "Sorry, this just...seems to be what's /done/ around here." He looks down at the tea.
"Ryan and Flicker have a different opinion of the matter. They both seemed well grateful for your aid." Lucien unclips the earpiece, slipping it into his pocket and muting his phone before pocketing it, as well. "We had long since paused. My phone has been rather demanding." There is a softening of his expression, a touch of warmth that chases some of the tension from his face. "I sometimes worry after how you are adjusting, but on this at least you seem one of us already. Please." He gestures to the table, pushing himself up and offering Matt a hand to his feet as well.
"There seems to be a general consensus that more people would have been injured without your intervention, if not worse." Matt accepts his brother's assistance--left-handed--and dusts himself off once returned to his feet. "This is, indeed, what is done," he reassures Steve with a fond smile, shifting aside some of the witchery to make room on the table for tea. "Merci beacoup. Are you sure /you/ wouldn't like something else?" His bright green eyes flick appraisingly over Steve. "Coffee, or alcohol, or food?"
"Ryan and his friend...with the wings --" Steve breaks off, shaking his head. "Of course you know all of this already." He sets the tray carefully down on the table and pours out three cups of fragrant rich Earl Grey with a hint of floral sweetness, then nudges the sugar and creamer toward the Tessiers. "De rien. And please don't worry that this incident is going to put me off of coffee -- or working, though I'm sure Mel is unhappy about my breaking the very first rule she laid down." He blushes slightly at Matt's suggestion. "I do want those things, too -- but they can wait. This is..." He runs a hand through his hair, as if frustrated or impatient with the delay of his own words. "I don't know. I'm used to being...with people. After fights like that."
"Ryan and Isra will live. For whatever part you had in assuring that, we are all quite thankful." The soft wash of calm that comes with Lucien's touch seems as much for his own sake as it is for Matt's injury; there's been an unsteady ripple across his mind that pushes itself doggedly back into quiet. A fleeting twitch pulls at a corner of his mouth. "Did Mel direct you not to get stabbed? It seems remarkably prescient of her." He pulls out a chair for Matt before taking his own. "Company we can certainly provide. You'll have to pardon my intermittent interruptions, though; there are a great many people inquiring after Ryan." It's mild, the addition: "And a few who have asked after you."
Though the flash of worry across Matt's features at the mention of his injured friends is genuine enough, he is troubled by no deeper disquiet that his brother can discern. Perhaps it is in answer to Lucien's discomfort, however rigorously managed, that his powers coil tight around the other man's, a solid bolstering presence. His smile returns readily when presented with tea, however, and he sits, pulling one cup to himself and tasting it before meting out additives for both himself and Lucien. "She's just conscientious like that," he says breezily. "But I'm sure that she has far better causes for stress today than your failure to follow instructions. Stabbing aside, how are you feeling?"
"I did what I could, but most of that credit should go to Flicker." Steve pulls out a chair to sit and picks up his own tea, unadulterated. "Mel told me not to fight with the customers -- which these were, on a technicality. And I'd probably have a couple of bullets in me if she hadn't brought this --" He touches the edge of the shield leaning against his chair. "-- to me, at considerable risk to herself. But I'm fine, really. The wound ils hardly anything at all, and to be honest I feel less off-kilter than I have since..." He shakes his head, browse wrinkling as if he is himself surprised by this revelation. "Since I woke up." His brows knit, more perplexed now as he regards Lucien. "Why would anyone be asking after /me/, though?"
"I imagine when the customers come in /looking/ for violence, the rules are a bit changed." Lucien wraps his hands around his mug, pulling it close. "Though we might need to find a more sustainable outlet to help keep you balanced. I do hope this sort of thing does not become a pattern, at your work." He picks up his tea for a long sip, savoring the mouthful before continuing. "I have no doubt Flicker responded adroitly, but the press is rarely keen to credit acts of /mutant/ heroism -- and he has no desire whatsoever to court their attention. I've had several journalists inquire, though, as to who the valiant barista might be who acted so quickly to thwart a potential massacre."
"Even if his mutation were not a factor," Matt adds, "and it most certainly is, Flicker in action can be difficult to film with anything less than professional equipment and skill. And you, well..." An elegant, abbreviated sweep of his hand indicates Steve's impressive physique, as though the subject spoke for itself. "I do not imagine you will have any shortage of challenges to combat, friendly and otherwise, once you are...known."
"I'm not even a barista, yet," Steve says quietly, though it does not sound like a serious objection. "They did always say I filmed well, but I bet even the cheapest mobile phones of this time make better recordings than the professional cameras of mine." He takes a long gulp of his tea. "Is this going to be a problem? We had /plans/ in that general direction, I guess, but not like this. And you are already so busy managing the impact on Ryan. Should I try to...keep my head down?"
"This is not quite -- as we planned, no." Lucien's forefinger taps slowly against the side of his cup. "But it may be a very opportune time to move forward, regardless. If that is still something you want, after today. As a human you will certainly not face nearly the /same/ risk Ryan does, but --" He turns his hand upward. "You will certainly earn your share of enemies if you so much as voice support for the mutant cause, to say nothing of speaking out against the rest of our government's transgressions."
Matt takes an appreciative sip of his tea. "Mmm. Somehow, I have a difficult time imagining you keeping your head down." Only a sliver of his smile is visible over the brim of his cup, but it's clear enough in his voice. "If you do decide to use this incident, you would have to go out of your way to /avoid/ being painted as a supporter of the mutant cause, whether or not that had any bearing whatsoever on your actions."
"I don't had the best record in the sitting down and shutting up department." Steve turns to consider the garden beds for a moment. "I trust your judgment. If you think this is a good time -- then let's do it. I didn't step in because Ryan's a mutant, or famous, or an acquaintance. But if I get to decide what I shout from the soapbox this time around, I'm not mincing words about my opinion of any man who think it's acceptable to kill someone for being different from himself." But now he frowns. "There's something I'd mean to talk to you both about, though, before that happens. I know I'm not going to garner the same amount or kind of attention as Ryan, but I'm guessing the press is still going to turn wherever I'm staying into a madhouse for a while. That's..." He looks around the peaceful garden. "I've disrupted your lives enough as it is. Not fair for me to bring something like that down on your home."
"I think this provides an ideal platform, yes. And the window to capitalize on it is narrow." Lucien turns his gaze out to the garden, as well, sipping slowly at his tea as he looks out to the pond. "I admit," he says finally, carefully, "I also have little desire to court that sort of attention. I value our privacy." He drains his cup, sets it back on the table. "It is a storm we were well aware would be coming, if we went forward with this. But if there were a chance for you to step forward without putting my family under a microscope, it would certainly be far preferable."
Matt is quiet here for a moment. Lucien can sense the tension in the clench of his powers, though he catches himself and relaxes in short order. When he speaks his voice is soft and even. "I appreciate that you considered it -- even when you feel, justifiably, that you haven't many good options. We're not going to throw you out, but if you're amenable we can help you secure someplace temporary, at least."
Steve nods. "I tried looking online," he says, "for housing I could afford, even for a time." He blows out a long breath through his mouth. "I'm sure you can imagine how that went. Some things may never change, but the cost of living here is so different from my time that it's hard for me to..." Shakes his head sharply. "Of course, you must surely know better ways of finding affordable than just typing key words into Google, and I'd appreciate the help. Another option that I've considered -- though I'm not /excited/ about it -- is going back to S.H.I.E.L.D. I'd value your take on just how foolish might be."
"I'm certain S.H.I.E.L.D. will come calling for you again, some time after the news breaks. Even if you do elect to go back, negotiating with them from a position of intent and not merely need seems like far the better course." Lucien leans forward, picking up the teapot to refill all three of their mugs, Matt's first. "I do not know of anywhere in New York that you could afford even in the short term on your current wages -- not without living with other people who would be put in the same precarious position as we are. I do, however, have a small store of savings that would be enough to allow you your own apartment for a month or two. I suspect that your financial difficulties will not last long, once the news breaks, and it should buy you some time to find that stability."
"Before you balk, and I suspect you are about to," Matt holds up his one hand in a forestalling gesture, "you may consider it a loan, and one you are nearly assured to be able to reply. Merci." This last is probably aimed at Lucien for replenishing his tea. "But as for the other option: I wouldn't trust S.H.I.E.L.D. as far as I could throw it, though..." he adds airily, "but that might be a slightly different calculation for you than for most." His eyes flick to Steve's /literal/ shield with a mischievous glint.
Steve had, in fact, opened his mouth to object, but then closes it. He also mutters "Merci" for his tea, and immediately starts in on it again. "I do mean to repay you -- for all of this -- as soon as I am able. But this seems like a /lot/, and..." His mouth quirks to one side, an expression at once bemused and pained. "Well, I'm not going to tell you what you can or cannot spare, because in the end I don't trust S.H.I.E.L.D., either, and I do trust /you/. It's just..." The slight duck of his head behind his teacup as he raises it to drink is /almost/ bashful. "I guess I kind of got used to doing the heavy lifting."
Lucien's eyes press briefly closed as Matt looks toward the shield, his head inclining. "I've no doubt there will be plenty for you to shoulder again, in short order." He takes his phone from his pocket --switches it off, before setting it on the table. "But for the moment, we've tea to drink, and Spring to welcome in. The chaos can wait."