From X-Men: rEvolution
Dramatis Personae

Flicker, Hive, Jamie, Lucien


"They seem to be settling in well."


<PRV> VL 403 {Geekhaus} - East Village

There's kind of a college-dorm feel to this place, chronically untidy and without much thought given to Decor. Entering the apartment finds visitors greeted by the chaos of the 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.

The door to Hive and Flicker's room has been closed for some time. Aside from a short stretch two hours ago, Hive has been alone with his guest. He's finally coming out, though, absently smoothing out his rumpled dark red tee (the Greek letters Theta and Tau printed on the front in gold.) "{-- Can I get you some lemonade? Lunch? Something?}" he's calling back over his shoulder. Already rummaging in the fridge, frowning at its contents.

Lucien is slower to emerge from the bedroom. He looks a little flushed, steps somewhat sluggish. He's leafing through a sizable stack of bills before slipping them back into their red and gold envelope, tucking them into an inside pocket of his very well tailored grey jacket. The normally tranquil surface of his mind is unsteady, rippling, intermittent snatches of exhaustion and worry leaking from him as he tries to return it to its polished calm. "{Lemonade would be lovely, if it is not much trouble.}"

Flicker has been curled up on the couch, in pajamas still. Dead Like Me is on the television, but though his eyes are fixed on the screen it's clear his mind isn't much on his comfort-food choice of show. The melange of stress and worry and lost hopeless despair that rattle loudly in his mind is, at least, by now quite familiar. He only barely looks up at the others. Watches Lucien counting his payment with a sudden sharp (and sharply curious) tug that he shoves fiercely back down.

Jamie has for the most part been slumped on the other end of the couch from Flicker, his attention flitting between the show and the well-worn copy of China Mieville's Perdido Street Station open in his lap. He's wearing a soft blue t-shirt with Captain America's shield on the chest and cut-off jeans, both loose on his too-skinny frame. His eyes dart furtively to the closed bedroom door every so often, and though he managed to keep his power to himself while Lucien and Hive were sequestered, it unfurls now. His curiosity at Lucien's power when he finds it but cannot interpret what it is doing is a rare spot of brightness in his mind, almost always crowded with anxiety and helplessness. He looks up from his book to study the visitor, trying and failing to parse what the two men are saying.

"You all want lemonade?" Hive asks, this time in English, looking over the counter towards Flicker and Jamie. "Or uh. I think there's some coconut curry, when did you two last eat?" He gets out a couple mismatched glasses, pours one full of lemonade. He brings it over to Lucien, a small frown on his face. "{You should sit, you're kind of. Cracking.} Matt would fucking kill me if I don't return you in once piece."

Lucien takes the glass with a slight tip of his head. He crosses the room -- starts to perch himself in the squashy beaten-up armchair -- doesn't quite sit down before Cat jumps up to curl up in the seat he was about to take. His lips press together, one brow hitching up. He looks down at Cat; the huge calico stares back up at him. After a pause, he takes a seat instead on a milk crate. "You are," he admits mildly, "a touch more exhausting than many of my clients."

"I don't -- remember, I think I had dinner?" Last night, but who's counting. Flicker struggles a little bit more upright. A trace of amusement slips across his face at the standoff with ghee cat, soon pushed aside by curiosity. "Really? I always imagined --" Though he stops very abruptly short here, cheeks flooding deeply. "No, wait, I don't mean I imagined -- you -- just that it seems like it might be -- tiring?" He shifts a little in his seat, looking down at his hand. "Curry would be great."

Jamie blinks, casting about with some difficulty for his last meal, settling on a hazy recollection of cereal that he may or may not have eaten that particular morning. "I had breakfast." He only sounds a little uncertain, then adds. "I'd like some curry, thank you." His eyes skate back to Lucien as Hive speaks, his curiosity developing a slight, cautious edge. << Common enough name. >> He glances at Flicker, cocking his head slightly, blushing in sympathy. << Two hours? I bet it is, unless fancy whores get to take it easy. >> He winces, trying to reel his thoughts back in as he slowly closes his book. "Hi," he hazards, studying Lucien, "I didn't get your name earlier. I'm Jamie."

Hive's eyes skate to Jamie, his mouth twitching slightly. He pours two more lemonades, going to set them down on the table in front of the couch. "I don't think 'take it easy' is in his vocabulary." He heads back to the kitchen, getting out bowls to fill with curry. "You can just boot that little tyrant, you know. Guess you'd get fur all over your --" He waves a spoon in Lucien's direction.

Lucien raises an eyebrow. "Do you mean me? I relax. Mondays are for relaxing." He does not boot the cat from the seat, though he does scoot the milk crate back to stretch his hand out toward it, earning a brief disdainful flick of tail for his overture. "Lucien," he replies with a small tilt of head. The chaos in his mind -- to Hive's senses, at least -- is slowly starting to level back out to its usual quiet as his brain works overtime setting itself back in order. There's a small crinkle at the corner of his eyes, a lighter amusement lifting his tone. "You're allowed to imagine. To be honest, it's not always tiring in the ways people expect. Many of my clients are dreadfully dull. Feigning an evening's worth of interest is far more draining than anything else they want."

"Relaxing." Flicker looks Lucien over, studying his flushed and worn expression. "Is that what this is?" His thanks is wordless, a warm rush of gratitude in his mind as he takes the lemonade. Settles back in his seat. His own cheeks darken furiously; he's now trying Extremely Hard not to imagine Lucien working, with very little success. "Luci has been helping people, um, get..." His brows furrow. "Their lives in order, I guess. Sort out identification or -- whatever other paperwork needs handling."

"Thank you." Jamie reaches for his lemonade, blushing as Hive gives voice to his thought. << Not the whole thought. >> His thanks for that is also wordless, if unintentional -- a cool wash of relief. "Nice to meet you." He hesitates. "Your -- clients actually want to have conversations with you?" << Maybe I could go back to doing that. >> His thoughts pull reflexively toward Flicker at that, but the complex knot of longing and shame is displaced by abject confusion. He looks over at Flicker. "Who's Lucy?" A heartbeat later, he looks at Lucien, eyebrows rising. << Oh! But then...wait, maybe he's not a hooker? >> His cheeks grow redder and he seriously contemplates fleeing the conversation, both hands tightening on the glass.

"That's Luci." Hive shoves the bowls into the microwave, nodding towards Lucien once he starts it and turns back around. "He wears a lot of hats. Kind of a wizard when it comes to navigating bureaucracy. If there's any of that you want to take care of, I'm sure he'd help out. He's been a fuckton of help getting people some kind of life together, for a few years now when we bring folks out of that hell." He leans against the counter, arms folding atop it. << ...do you want to go back to doing that? >> In Jamie's head, his voice is a heavy sledgehammer thud.

"I have lemonade." Lucien lifts his glass solemnly. "I find that quite restful." He sips at the lemonade, cupping it gently in his hands as he lowers it. His eyes lift to Hive, briefly. "My clients want all manner of things. For some of them I feel as though the sex is almost secondary to acting as a rather overpaid therapist when their masculinity stands in the way of seeing a real one." His gaze drifts to the television, somewhat idly. "My brother got out of the labs some time ago. After seeing how difficult that transition could be -- it is the least I can do."

"That's Luci," Flicker says in tandem with Hive. "I don't think we could've done nearly so much as we do without him. Getting home can be --" The panic that rises in him is abrupt, keen. For a moment, he forgets to breathe. "... can be a lot," he finally finishes, softer.

Jamie nods, impressed. "Yeah, that would be super helpful." As soon as the words are out of his mouth, a wave of terror follows. << Do I need to pay him? I don't have any money, and that doesn't seem cheap. If I get official paperwork, will Prometheus track me down? >> He pales, then cringes hard at Hive's mental voice. His reply is careful, << Not...really? But I haven't really thought of anything I actually want to do. Well. Nothing that would pay. >> His eyebrows hike up at Lucien's explanation. "Huh." << Jesus. This guy is in a totally different league. Or is that just how New York is? >> His eyes track aside to Flicker again, worried. His guilt he buries forcefully, swallowing. "Thank you. Um." He just manages to bites back 'sorry.' "I hope...your brother is doing okay." << Huh. >> He tries to conjure up a mental image of Matt, but can only come up with how his power feels, quiet and slippery. And those green, green eyes. << I'll just ask Flicker later, >> he resolves, bristling at how ready he is to be angry. "It is...a lot."

<< There's plenty of strolls here. He is just in a totally different league. >> Hive's voice doesn't get any softer with time. << But he doesn't charge for the work he does to help us out. And it hasn't been long. You'll figure it out. >> He stands back up when the microwave dings, grabbing some paper towels and pulling the bowls out. Sticking a spoon into each. Heading back to the living room, he sets these down on the table as well. "In total honesty, Prometheus will probably track you down anyway. They keep a lot of us under surveillance. We just try to make sure we keep tabs on everyone we've gotten out, too, so if anyone runs into trouble -- well. We have a legal team now. Prometheus doesn't usually risk just -- grabbing people back." He sits down on the arm of the couch, draping an arm around Flicker's shoulders.

"We can sit down soon, if you like. Talk through what you need. What you'd like to do from here." Lucien's bright green eyes shift to Jamie, studying the other man thoughtfully. He takes another sip of lemonade, following it with a quiet: "I believe you met Matthieu, the night of your escape."

Flicker's breathing comes more rapid, more shallow. He leans into Hive's side, cheek pressing hard until his shirt. The conversation isn't much registering in his mind; he just focuses on the feel of Hive's arm around his shoulder, the rhythm of his breathing. << Sorry, >> rises abruptly in his mind, << I can't -- I need to -- >> He leaves the curry where it is, holding the lemonade tight as he blinks back into his bedroom.

Jamie doesn't have a coherent reply to mind, but when he looks up at Hive a complicated twist of emotions -- relief again, resentment, gratitude, jealousy, and shame yet again -- plays through him. "Thank you," he mumbles again, but doesn't reach for the food. "I -- you mean -- they might already --" He curls harder into the corner of the couch, trying to argue with the freefall sensation in his stomach, Doctor Messer's soft, soothing voice in his mind. << Please, I'm not that important. It's not like I'm -- >> His eyes are wide and wild when they snap back to Lucien. "Matt Tessier." The fury comes a moment later. << Fuck that guy -- but he's not his brother -- I have to get over that -- it doesn't even make any sense -- >> But the anger remains, fierce and hot. "Yeah, I met him," he says stiffly. "We didn't really --" He jumps when Flicker vanishes. His power stretches out reflexively to check that the man is still near, but that reassurance does nothing to curb the hollowness or the distinct sense of being outnumbered...or the slow, ensuing rise of his panic, which still somehow fails to banish his rage. "Excuse me," he blurts, fleeing to Dusk's room and slamming the door behind him.

Hive exhales sharply. The creak of his grinding teeth is audible, as his eyes fix on the bowls of food abandoned on the table.

"Mmm." Lucien flicks a droplet of condensation lightly from his fingertip. "They seem to be settling in well."