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Revision as of 00:49, 8 September 2019

Between Us
Dramatis Personae

Jamie, Hive

2019-09-06


"He's a whole-ass kind of guy."

Location

<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.

It's late enough that Friday night revellers are beginning to stream out of the bars up and down Avenue A, piling into taxis and ride shares or stumbling towards the subway. Though the rain has long since stopped, the sky is still overcast, and the air unseasonably chilly. Jamie is sitting out on the fire escape, bare feet dangling off, shoulders slouched, chin resting on arms folded across the lower rung of the railing. He's shivering -- only distantly registering this as something he should perhaps remedy -- in a faded heather gray Les Misérables t-shirt and black pajama pants, both too large for his skinny frame. His thoughts are rambling and disorganized with exhaustion, currently trying to sort through the fragments of the dream that had woken him up and left him unable to return to sleep.

Some time later the window slides open again. Hive is in pajamas, too, and a thick crimson Theta Tau sweatshirt, a fleecy soft blanket draped over his bony shoulders. He has a pair of mugs in hand, the cocoa steaming inside them smelling spiced and coconutty. Silent, he offers one of the mugs to Jamie.

Jamie flinches when the window begins to open behind him, his power unfurling and then quickly withdrawing once he's identified the source of the noise. He turns and looks up at Hive, accepts the mug, his whispered "thank you" swallowed up by the din of the last call exodus in the street below. << Hope I didn't wake you. >> His mental voice, when he actually intends to communicate with it, is soft and even.

Hive shrugs off the blanket, draping it loosely down over Jamie's shivering shoulders. He doesn't sit, just leans up against the railing, cupping his own mug and looking down at the stumbling raucous tangle of people below. "I wasn't sleeping." His voice is clear and steady. He takes a sip of the cocoa -- thick and rich, with a coconut milk base, it's been mixed with thai tea, galangal, cinnamon, just a hint of cardamom and clove and star anise. "Have melatonin, if you need it. Or something stronger."

Jamie sips carefully at the cocoa, then almost immediatley again, startled by its pleasant complexity. << Oh, wow! >> He looks up again when Hive deposits the blanket on him, wrestling down the sharp-edged suspicion that threatens to bubble up. << Maybe he's just a nice person. >> His free hand tugs a segment of the blanket around to cover his legs. "Maybe I'll try some melatonin," he says aloud, though raising his voice high enough to be heard over the noise from below makes him intensely anxious. His next words are quieter again, almost reflexively, "Actual sleep meds usually make me hallucinate or sleep walk." << Why did I tell him that? He didn't even ask... >>

"I'm not that nice." Hive takes a sip of his own cocoa, his brows pulling in together. "... I didn't mean that I'm -- I just. You don't have to be that nice to give someone a blanket when they're cold. You live here. It's kind of bare fucking minimum. Besides..." The 'besides' never comes. He slouches onto his elbows against the rail, knobbly fingers tightening on his mug. His jaw tightens, works slowly, its slow creaking grind mostly lost in the noise. "I don't know about actual sleep meds. Think we've got some weed chocolate around. Probably some oxy. Guess it's best to start with the melatonin."

Jamie wraps both of his hands around the mug. "That's...a good point." << But doing that for someone you got good reason to dislike? Guess that's not nice, either. But it's something. >> He waits for Hive to finish the sentence, curious. Sips at the cocoa. "Yeah, I wanna be real careful with mind-altering stuff for a while. Not sure about my tolerance for anything anymore." << Especially with this many mutants around, that could be a real bad time. >>

Hive stares down at the street, taking another swallow of the chocolate. His shoulders hunch in, teeth still grinding. "I'd do anything for that man," he finally says, slow and heavy, "and you're surprised by a gorram blanket."

Jamie frowns, considering this for a long moment, nursing his cocoa. The shivering gradually stops. "It's isn't like --" He hunches up his shoulders, though not from the cold, now. Sighs. "I'm just not used to..." << People being nice to me? People loving each other enough to do things they don't want to do? >> He stares down into the shadowed depths of his half-empty mug. Reluctant, uncertain, "Do you think I'm bad for him?"

Hive bows his head, exhaling heavily. Then slumps down the rest of the way, sinking to sit against the farther corner of the fire escape, over by the window, one leg up against his chest and the other stretched out before him. "Fuck." He gulps at his drink, thumps his head back. "Man, I think --" His teeth click shut, grind again. "I think that ship has fucking sailed." He runs his hand up against the side of his head, fingers curling into his hair. "I think he loves you. I know he cares about you a whole fucking lot. I think however bad you've been for him, it'd be a whole lot worse now if --" He shakes his head, resting the cocoa on his knee. "I don't think you'd do him any favors by taking off, if that's what you want to know."

Jamie turns slightly so he can continue facing Hive, hooking an arm over the railing and pulling one leg up onto the platform. He's not surprised by much that Hive says, but hearing it still stirs up a haze of self-loathing and a sharper flash of anger, both of which he determinedly ignores. He drinks his cocoa and waits for his breathing to return to something like normal. "I guess that's part of why I asked," he admits. "But not all. If I were hurting him -- maybe I can change that." << Get a job? Go to therapy? Make friends? >> "I'd do anything for him, too." Suddenly, a hyper-vivid recollection of Dr. Messer's smile, promising safety and comfort and fulfillment in her elusive approval. He squeezes his eyes shut and tries to keep his breathing even. "I just don't know what to do. "

Hive snorts, gaze tipping up towards the dark and overcast night sky. "Could try all three of those?" His voice is dry. "But it's a little more complicated than -- shit." His eyes scrunch shut tight. "I wish you could just change something and stop hurting him. But he's got so much of his own shit to figure out too, you know? You can't do that for him. He loves you, and he sure as hell wasn't ready to deal with that on top of being back in the labs and that fucking guard and --" His teeth snap shut once more. He draws in a ragged breath. "Just all of it."

"I'm going to, anyway." Jamie's tone is defensive, but beneath it is just a kind of free-falling terror that he's grown almost comfortable with by now. << But. Maybe I should get on that sooner than later. >> His shoulder hunch in tight again. "I know. It's just -- he helped me so much, but it fucked up his entire life." << I told him not to come for me. >> Here a dizzying jumble of guilt and gratitude and baffled tenderness. He blinks rapidly, looking up, trying to ignore the sense that the sky is physically crushing him. "Bad enough I can't seem do anything for him in return. Not even just -- being okay so he can stop worrying about me." << I'm glad he has you. I'm sorry about the...making out. Though. I guess you were him at the time. >>

"Being -- more stable will come with time. Getting his fucking life back together, that --" Hive's breath comes out hard through his teeth. He shakes his head, drains most of the rest of his cocoa. Color rises to his cheeks, and he clutches the cup to his chest. "I'm -- sorry too. You didn't ask for..." He pulls his other leg up toward his chest, wrapping an arm around his shins. "Gotta admit it was a pretty -- weird feeling. He was just hurting and I --" He swallows, opens his eyes, stares up at the sky. "Fuck, man. I don't know what to do for him, either. I'm supposed to know."

Jamie runs a hand through his black hair, grown out enough now to stick awkwardly out over his ears. "I feel like...the way his life was before -- I mean, you'd know better than me, but maybe it wasn't so great for him, either." He looks down, clutches the blanket closer. "It's fine. Might have sucked a lot more if I couldn't tell what happened, but..." He shrugs. << I've done way more with people I wanted less. >> "At least I'm gay. You're --" He frowns. << Is he straight? >> Shakes his head sharply, blushing. "Anyway, the point is -- it was just a weird situation and he. Needed you." He cringes at the stab of jealousy he knew was coming, and knew Hive would feel. Perhaps he might have dwelt on it, but sobers at Hive's words, pulling his other leg up under the blanket and turning to lean back against the railing. "That's...pretty scary." He's quiet for a moment, sipping his cocoa -- still delicious even if not so hot anymore. "You could probably get his school to let him back, right? If he was willing to go back."

"He's been juggling way too much for way too long." Hive's arm tightens, his shoulders hunching. "I'm --" The red in his cheeks deepens. "I'm not sure it really matters what I am. We're together so often and he's --" He scruffs his hand against his head again, fingers scrunching the dark hair into his fist. "I'm straight, when I'm me. When we're us, it's different. And he needed me." It's a little more gruffly muttered, his addition: "... just gotta get used to him needing me like that." He drops his hand into his lap, face screwed up in a grimace. "I could get his school to do whatever the fuck. When he's ready. S'... gotta be better than sitting at home all day. But going back to all the fucking stress he was under before, that'd be a mess, too. Maybe if we can convince him it's okay to half-ass things once in a while."

Jamie's eyebrows go up slightly, his thoughts flashing briefly to Lucien. << Whatever, it's none of my business. >> "I think your comfort matters to him, and it doesn't seem like he needs help finding more things to feel guilty about." He studies Hive's miserable, closed-in posture. << This is gonna sound so corny, but... >> Quieter again, "Matters to me, too. I not sure I know how to figure out consent, when you're...um. Y'all." He hunches around his cocoa. "Guess I was sort of hoping it wasn't new territory some way or another for everyone involved." He finishes the rest of his cocoa, licking his lips. "Probably gonna be a hard sell, he's a whole-ass kind of guy, but -- yeah." He blushes faintly, un-used to the feeling of being included with any respect to his own agency. << Maybe between us. >>

Hive laughs, quick and rough, the tension in his posture unfurling slightly. "OK, I know it's the standard-ass cliché, but I really do pay him for his time. I'm sure he's fantastic for his other clients but the man is a goddamn wizard at helping sort --" The beat of hesitation here is extremely brief. "-- your life out. Even if I were into dudes, I don't really --" His blush is fading as his teeth grind again. "Consent is hard to figure out when I might just become my partner, you know? Easier to avoid all of that." He knocks back the last of his cocoa in a quick swallow. Rests his chin on his knees. "For both of us." His gaze is, for a moment, distant and unfocused past the bars of the fire escape. He blinks, shakes his head as he gets to his feet. He holds a hand out, beckoning toward Jamie's empty cup. "It'll be a hard sell. But maybe between us..."

Jamie's skepticism is almost reflexive, but then he considers Hive's utter nonchalance at sitting Lucien down in his living room while the man talked about his work. << There's way weirder shit in the world than hiring a hooker to be your life coach. >> "Maybe he could help Flicker. Sort his life out." He tilts his head at Hive. "I can keep you from becoming me," he points out, almost shyly. "Or...anyone else. You know, temporarily." He hands the mug to Hive. "Thanks." He's not just talking about the cocoa, though he certainly appreciates that, too. "I think I'll come inside, too."