Logs:So Much More
|So Much More|
"It's not -- like the eulogy's actually for him."
<PRV> Black House - Ridgewood
This stately townhouse has a cheerful yellow brick exterior, its front entrance spectacularly inaccessible but affording residents a commanding view of the quiet street below. Inside it's bright and airy and almost entirely empty of furniture. It has the pristine, sterile look that comes with professional renovation, but here and there the obvious custom touches -- whether from the previous residents or at the new owner's request -- shine through.
The first floor is expansive, with a longish open floor plan that's quickly falling out of fashion. One entire wall of the living room consists of tessellated geometric mirrors, reflecting the truly massive and functional fireplace and even larger mosaic stone hearth. Beyond this the dining room and kitchen are conjoined; the space left for the as yet absent dining table looks vast and strange. A small half bath is tucked at the rear of this space, beside which the back door leads down into a small backyard with a patio sheltered by a quaint little pavilion and a strip of a garden along one side.
It's dark out, not extremely late by uprising standards, but it is on the late side for supper. It's quite early, though, for Steve to be asleep. Yet asleep he is, curled on the comfortable couch in the living room. Someone has draped a gray blanket over him, soft and light as a cloud, but part of his t-shirt -- black, with the album cover for Brighter screenprinted on the chest -- is still visible. For a little while, at least, he seems to doze peacefully enough, but he's been stirring the last few minutes through what must be unquiet dreams, though the noises he makes are muted. When he finally wakes it's not with a dramatic start, but a soft gasp. He flutters his eyes open, and for a moment looks profoundly lost. Yet when he stretches out his hand it goes straight to where he'd left his shield leaning against the side of the couch, and he levers himself up slowly, blinking the sleep from his eyes.
"Hey, s'cool, you can sit. It's just me." Whatever his earlier outfits of the day, Ryan now is looking just comfortable -- soft pajama pants, an apron over his black undershirt that reads "Praise Seitan" superimposed over a pentagram made out of forks. He has oven mitts on and a glass baking dish in hand that he's setting down on some small jacks-like tumble trivets on the coffee table. "Careful," in case the oven mitts didn't give it away, the steam still rising from the baked mashed potato crusting on top of his shepherd's pie probably does, "s'hot. You need a drink?"
Jax is just trudging down the stairs, hair still damp from a shower, freshly changed into black and rainbow kilt, a bright yellow tee with the Little Miss Sunshine cartoon character emblazoned big across it, a soft black hoodie with purple lace accents and lining, eyepatch held in one hand, his phone in the other and his face scrunched up in displeasure. He sinks onto the couch beside Steve, looking up from his phone screen to the pie to transfer his frown that way. It's another few moments before he remembers to unscrew-up his face and object plaintively, "We ate this morning already."
"Oh gosh...I'm sorry." Steve slowly, perhaps reluctantly, pulls the blanket off of himself and folds it loosely to drape over the arm of the couch. "Didn't mean to fall asleep. Thank you -- for cooking. I think it's probably a good idea to eat more than once a day. But I suppose my perspective is a bit skewed." His eyes skip down to Jax's phone, then up to his face. "Did something happen while I was out?"
"Yeah it's one of those annoying things that we just have to keep doing. Multiple times a day if you can swing it." Ryan tugs his oven mitts off. "Tomorrow-Jax will probably thank you if you don't go to bed hungry." He glances to Jax's phone as well, head shaking before he starts back toward the kitchen. "If there's news I do not want to know. I'm gonna grab y'all some water. Maybe -- forks."
"It's real poor design is what it is. When I'm president I'm gonna make some changes to this system." Jax shakes his head, looking up from his phone. "Nothin', really. Nevada's still holding out on us. Trump's just declaring himself winner on Twitter. The usual." He leans forward, setting the phone aside on the coffee table. "Gosh but this week's already felt like an eternity. How we're gonna make it clear through the weekend I don't even know."
Steve bites his lower lip. Shakes his head. "Has Twitter just gotten tired of taking down his tweets, finally?" He inhales, deep and slow, looking down at the shederd's pie with a faint pleased curl at the corner of his lip. "It has been a long week." He frowns faintly. "That might be the most sleep I've gotten since the last weekend. I'm having a hard time thinking my way thrugh the rest of this week" His pale blue eyes widen slightly at nothing at all, then flick back up to Jax. "There's just so much happening. I hope you don't need to go back out tonight, at least?"
"Oh they don't take any of 'em down they just flag 'em with a 'why you always lying' notice." Jax's nose wrinkles, and he turns sideways on the couch, slumping sideways against its back and eying Steve with a frown. "Oh gosh I ain't, I'm already beat. Are you? Even you probably need more sleep than -- just about none, right?" His teeth scrape against his lip after this, catching against one lip ring. "I'm -- trying to slow down for a hot minute, anyway. Give some actual time to -- well, if I'm gonna say some words about Dawson later on I feel like he deserves better than somethin I cobbled together last-minute in between class and protests an' tryna whip up Spence's favorite meals in hopes he eats somethin proper."
Steve nods, his chuckle dry and humorless. "Oh -- yeah, that's what I meant. About as close as they'll come to actually holding him accountable to their policies, and frankly I was surprised they did even that as often as they have this week." He turns to face Jax, folding one of his legs up onto the couch -- his movements still unusually sluggish by his standards. "Had planned to, but I guess I'm more tired than I thought. Might be the better part of valor to slow down a bit, myself, though of course I haven't got nearly as much to juggle as you." Rests his bandaged right hand on Jax's shoulder, squeezes gently. "I'm glad you're taking some time. Even if you didn't need it to preprare for --" He swallows hard, his hand tightening. "-- for his funeral, this fight isn't going to be over when he's laid to rest. Or when all the ballots are counted, no matter which shade of fascism wins." He blushes, here. "...not that you needed me reminding you that."
"Whaaat." Ryan is just returning, sans apron, carrying several empty dinner plates on which he's balanced three glasses of water and some silverware. "I thought once all the votes were counted we were packing up, going home, activism over. I've planned a solid year of nothing but brunch." He crouches to carefully unload and distribute the glasses and dinnerware, fixing his attention on the table rather than the others. "I'm just bracing for the gaggle of angry Mormons complaining we shouldn't be politicizing his death, like it'd even be possible to talk about his life otherwise."
"I can make you so much great brunch in between actions. Can't riot on an empty stomach. 'least I wouldn't advise it." Jax shifts just a little closer to Steve at that squeeze. He reaches for one of the water glasses, grimacing before he takes a gulp. "Lord but we had no end of crying bout that already, downtown. Like there ain't nothing political about being killed by the robots the poilce bought to murder you more efficiently in the middle of a manhunt for an undocumented immigrant. But --" He hesitates, bowing his head with a small frown. "There was so much more to him than just the fight. I don't even know how to begin to fit it all in."
"Thank you." There's fury and grief and bone-deep exhaustion beneath Steve's quiet gratitude. He leans just a little harder on Jax when he shifts closer, but his hand relaxes, at least. "Seems to me they ought to aim their anger at the system that murdered him, not those who loved and supported and fought alongside him." His head shakes, his jaw setting tight. "Don't think it's possible to fit any man's life into his eulogy, to say nothing of a man who did so much in so many different -- directions. But you won't be doing it alone. Might be between everyone who speaks, folks can piece together a glimpse of his joy and his rage, the work of his hands and his heart." His voice grows a little shaky but does not break. "Might be some of the folks getting angry about the politicizing will come away with some understanding."
"Might be." Ryan starts to slice wedges out of the baking dish and onto plates -- a very generous portion for Steve, a rather small one for Jax. "Might be that the city's already got plans to have a brigade of cops out just to harass everyone outside the temple. Even odds on who the no-politics crowd will blame for that." He folds himself down cross-legged on the floor, leaning back and bracing one hand behind him. "At least his family relented on even having it here at all." Though now he frowns over at Jax with a sudden uncertainty. "Shit, you think his sister's going to want to -- I don't know. Say something?"
"Ain't just the cops who pledged their harassment." Jax sounds mostly unbothered by this. "Got folks lined up to wall off the crew of bigots ready to tell us all how God loves killing gay freaks." He quiets a moment, bowing his head over his food, but looks up soon enough with a quirk of an eyebrow. Dubiously, "Can't imagine anyone'd stop her if she did have a mind to."
Steve is quiet a moment, head bowed over his own plate. Digs into it immediately after, ravenous and appreciative. Then somewhat self-consciously slows down, picking up his glass for a drink. "This is amazing, Ryan. The fact there's folks who make a whole life of show up at funerals to say such things should demonstrate at least somewhat how some peoples' lives, at least, are inevitably political." His eyes dart between the two other men. "She hadn't seen him since -- they were children, right?" Though half a beat later he adds what he had perhaps meant to say to begin with, "Since they kicked him out."
Ryan's brows scrunch, and the look he gives Jax is a little skeptical. "Gay freaks is a little redundant, isn't it? How many heterosexual mutants do you know? Someone ought to do a study on if the X-Gene makes you gay." He huffs quiet, shakes his head. "Yeah, not in -- a decade or more. Not sure what to think there. I get she was a kid when it happened, but they've been adults a whole lotta years since." His shrug is small, and he scoots nearer the base of the couch, dropping his head against Jax's knee. "When I was little I used to be really jealous of people with siblings, but seeing so many people's family drama maybe I dodged a bullet. Much more sensible to just pick one once you're old enough to make sure they're solid."
Jax snorts, eye tipping up to search the ceiling. "I'm sure I know like one or... one. Hive used to be pretty straight!" His objection to this theory doesn't sound very strenuous. "Used to think Flicker was Pretty Straight too. But that's mostly my list." His expression softens after this; he drops a hand to squeeze Ryan's shoulder, brief. "Hey. Sugar, you forgot to fix your own plate." Though he's leaning forward now to do just that for Ryan.
Steve had just started back in on his shepherd's pie, and fortunately the laugh surprises him before he's actually taken another bite. "Really? I -- admit I had thought about it before, but I know far fewer mutants than either of you." His breath hitches suddenly at the sudden wash of ripping pain, and he lowers his fork to the plate slowly. "Sorry. I ah -- picked my brother well before I was old enough to know, but...he still turned out pretty solid anyway." He blinks rapidly, draw a shaky breath. The grief eases, though, when he looks over at Jax and Ryan. The grim line of his mouth curves up into a sad smile. "Think you both did pretty well for yourselves there, too."
"Solid fact. Name a single heterosexual mutant, I bet you can't. And one hundred percent of prominent mutants in entertainment are bisexual, is that a coincidence?" Ryan's tipped his head back to look up at the others, his eyes wide. He swivels around when Jax starts making him a plate, leaning against the table instead. For a moment he studies Steve's expression before asking, abrupt: "What would you have said about him?"
"I feel like you got some small problems with sample size on that one." Jax is biting his lip to stifle a laugh of his own. Ryan's question pulls him back into silence, just a curious look turned to Steve. He picks his plate up, starting slowly in on it.
Steve's brows furrow. "I -- hm. I suppose I...cannot?" He looks and feels extremely thoughtful about this, though. Then his eyes flick back to Ryan, startled. "Who?" But almost immediately his expression tightens. "What would I have said about...do you -- mean...Bucky?"
"Yeah, Bucky." Ryan is balancing his plate on his knees, though not actually eating, yet. "We've lost a lot of people, man, but we've lost them -- here. With each other. Buried them properly. Losing your brother at war and then --" He glances toward the shield, then back to Steve. "You just -- you never really talk about him, but he meant so much to you."
Jax sets his spoon back down as Ryan talks, looking first at Steve and then the floor. "We're going to bury Flicker soon and plenty of us will have a chance to --" One of his hands flutters in the air. "It's not -- like the eulogy's actually for him. Pretty sure it's for all of us still here to have a place to put all these feelings. But if you didn't never get to do that --" His glance back to Steve is quick. "What would you have said?"
Steve doesn't answer at once, misery rolling off of him in almost palpable waves. He draws a deep breath and lets it back out. "He --" Licks his lips. "He was observant, and loyal, and kind. Didn't like to let that on, though." His smile is a fleeting twitch, but happy. "He never liked to fight, but he learned to do it because he loved me, and I was always getting into fights. Eventually the fights got -- a whole lot bigger than us. I loved him, so, so much and -- he's gone." He looks down at his supper. "Don't think that would have made a great eulogy. I don't know if I would have done a better job than that, if I'd...if I'd had a chance to see him buried, but..." He lifts his eyes, bright and wondering, to the other two men. "...I met some folks who helped me figure out how to live without him. Even when I didn't have the words." His voice is small and quiet, here. "I thank God every day for knowing you."
"What makes a great eulogy? I don't know if the words matter so much as the feeling behind them and that -- seems solid. I'm glad you had him." A very small twitch curls at Ryan's mouth. "And glad you have us." Here his eyes widen, bigger and very earnest with his follow-up: "Okay but if we were scoring eulogies what would be metrics be? Do you get points for sentiment? Veracity? Diction?"
Jax has leaned in, shoulder bumping up against Steve's now and his hand squeezing the other man's knee. "I think those are words a friend would be glad to have from you." He presses his knuckles to his mouth after that, stifling a small laugh. "Oh no if we're gamifying his funeral -- well." His brows hike up. "For once he's left the rest of us a chance at winning."