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Revision as of 19:50, 12 September 2019

Just Be
Dramatis Personae

Flicker, Lucien, Matt, Steve

2019-09-09


"{This future of yours is full of things I could never imagine before.}"

Location

<PRV> Tessier Residence - Greenwich Village


Understated opulence claims this spacious and well-kept townhome, the decor throughout the whole of it of the highest quality and carefully chosen. The front door opens onto the entrance hall, a closet close at hand to receive coats and shoes -- the pale hardwood floors gleam underfoot, unsullied by tracked-in mess from outside. The living room beyond the entrance is all dark woods and pale earth tones, comfortable couches and armchairs and a thick soft rug laid down beneath. Two large and painstakingly aquascaped aquariums flank the entrance to the dining room, with several brightly coloured species of fish within. Most of the rest of the wall space, notably, is taken up with shelves -- shelves crammed with books of every subject and genre.

A study branching off of the main hall is cozy, small, done in pale blues and lined with books as well around the large computer desk and smaller futon, though these rarer books are cased behind glass. Another securely locked door leads to the basement, and another to the full bathroom downstairs. The kitchen connects to the living room; in contrast, it is sleek and modern and well-appointed, stocked by someone who takes their cooking seriously. And takes their alcohol equally seriously -- to one side of the kitchen there is a fully-stocked bar. The back door to the kitchen looks out on a small well-kept garden.

The house smells warm, herby, citrusy, concentrated in the kitchen where Lucien is putting the finishing touches on dinner but drifting out through the rest of the home. Flèche is lying on the kitchen floor staring up mournfully at him, head on her paws and her enormous eyes suggesting that she has never in her life been fed and might immediately perish if she does not get some of the glazed chicken that Lucien is setting in a bed of fusilli and garlicky herb roasted vegetables. "{Those eyes might work better on someone who hadn't just fed you.}" He peels off his apron -- beneath he has a simple green button-down and well-tailored jeans -- and hangs it on the oven door, starting to carry the food out to the garden.

Out in the garden it is a glorious summer evening, just riding the edge between warm and cool. Plenty of vegetables in the raised bed are ripe for the harvest--indeed, some have been harvested already, by birds or squirrels or the Tessiers themselves. Matt is seated at the table in a pale green t-shirt with a huge white whale curled across the front beneath an eight-pointed star and grey cargo shorts, his bare feet propped up on an unoccupied chair. "...other than that, though," he concludes breezily, sipping his tea, "it seems like an auspicious start to the term." When his brother emerges from the kitchen, he sits up and starts clearing away the spread of cheese and crackers to make way for supper.

Steve is sitting across from Matt, listening with an expression of vague horror. "Auspicious," he echoes, all skepticism. He's wearing a plain heather blue t-shirt, dark gray jeans, and no shoes. "If you say so." He stands up when Lucien comes outside. "{Can I give you a hand with anything?}"

Flicker's arrival is sensible to Matt before the rest of them, a brightly strobing pulse through the neighborhood that draws nearer and drops down lightly into the garden. He looks neat, in his dark grey polo and crisp khakis and wood-grain arm -- if just a touch startled. Cheeks flushing bright. Eyes darting rapidly between the other men, fingers curling tight against the edges of the Wingspan box under his arm. "Oh! Did I -- am I -- you said six thirty, right?"

"Trust me," Lucien interjects lightly, "if all the teachers are leaving with all their limbs attached, it has been a good first week." This is only coincidentally timed with Flicker's arrival. "{And there is garlic bread and lemonade in the kitchen, still, if it wouldn't be a trouble.}" His head inclines just a touch towards Flicker. "{You are perfectly on time. Please, sit. Shall I bring that in?}" He nods to the game. "{I need to fetch the plates, regardless.}"

"Indeed, and nobody has needed serious medical attention at all, so far." Matt brightens with Flicker's arrival. "{Welcome! You're fine, dear. Come, sit.}" He indicates the chair beside him even as he hands off the heavily depopulated cheese plate to Steve. Flèche, having followed Lucien out, trots over Flicker with a wagging tail, quietly demanding pets--and, perhaps, hopeful the new arrival will take some pity and put an end to her starvation.

Perhaps he caught the flash of movement in his peripheral vision, for even as Flicker appears Steve drops his weight low and starts to wind back the empty plate that once held the crackers. He manages to stop himself from hurl the plate, but not from blushing furiously. The smile that blooms on his face a split second later doesn't look awkward or forced, though he does dart a perplexed glance at Matt even as he accepts the other plate. "{Hey there,}" he offers Flicker, then answers Lucien with a nod. Ducks inside to return a moment later with a platter of fragrant bread and a glass pitcher.

"{I -- Matt had wanted to play it, I thought maybe after...}" Flicker turns the game over to Lucien, still a touch off balance as he stares at Steve not-throwing the plate. Ducks his head, rubs at the back of his neck as he flits over to drop into a seat at the table. "{Hey. Sorry, I didn't mean to -- surprise you. Medical attention? Did something happen?}" Given the atmosphere in the garden its more a curious question than an urgent one. He leans forward, scruffing at Flèche's neck with a soft cooing. "{You're still just the cutest, aren't you?}"

"{I'm sure we can make time for this. I have heard such excellent reviews and -- I do think my brother sorely misses your Tuesday night gaming. It was always a bright spot in the week.}" Lucien whisks the game off inside, returning in short order with a tray of dishes, silverware, glasses, napkins, that he starts to set out on the table. "{She will lie to you terribly, but please do not fall for it. She has had her supper, and ought not be fed from the table.}" Though Flicker is the one currently lavishing attention on the pup, Lucien's eyes fix straight on Matt with this admonishment.

"{That would be lovely,}" Matt chirps earnestly. "{My siblings have been bearing the full force of my gaming addiction with such grace.}" He leans conspiratorially toward Flicker while the others are in transit, not actually lowering his voice enough to stop them overhearing, "{No pressure, but I'd certainly not argue if you felt like easing back into Game Night, on whatever sort of scale.}" He straightens back up to excess at Lucien's explanation, and touches his chest with the tips of his fingers, his expression all wounded innocence. To Flicker's question, though, his reply is casual. "{Oh, just new students finding their feet. My classroom caught a little bit on fire today.}"

"{It's nothing to worry about. I startle too easily.}" Steve fills the glasses as Lucien sets them out before seating himself. "{I don't know that game, but I'm willing to give it a try if the rest of you want to play after supper.}" His eyebrows pull together, equal parts concern and confusion written in them. "{Are your students just unusually violent, or... Oh!}" His brows raise up high, his eyes wide. "Are they -- mutants, too?"

"{I -- wasn't sure anyone would want to...}" Flicker blushes, tipping his head down to rest against Flèche's. "{Maybe I should start it back up. I've certainly got the time again.}" His nose wrinkles at the lick his new posture earns him. "Only a little? {Good first week.}" He sounds amused as he straightens back up. "Jax and I went there," he volunteers with a small crooked smile. "{I guess that kind of does count as unusually violent.}"

"{I have heard it is full of picturesque birds.}" Lucien sets the tray underneath his chair once the table is set, and takes his seat. "{I gather there are very sound reasons to enjoy it aside from the art, but --}" He turns his hand palm up in a shrug. His fingers curl in loosely before he drops his hand back to the table. "Were I a teacher, I should count myself lucky to have students as consistently conscientious as the two of you. {Besides,}" his lips twitch slightly, eyes darting to his brother as he starts serving up the food, "{I happen to know some of the teachers have similar proclivities.}"

"{I can't speak for anyone else--}" Matt narrows his eyes and taps his cheek with a finger, reconsidering. "{Oh, what nonsense. I can and will speak for the whole crew: we'd collectively love to start invading your house weekly again.}" His eyes sparkle with excitement. "{I can come straight from school and help you set up.}" He salutes Steve with his lemonade and flashes a smile at Lucien as his plate is filled. "{Thank you both. You have it from an alumnus! Most of the faculty and students are mutants, and we do have our share of violent tendencies, but not generally towards each other.}" He inclines his head at Steve and adds, just a touch sheepishly, "I ought to have specified earlier, all of that was accidental."

"{Are young mutants required to go to segregated schools?}" Steve's brows furrow, his eyes darting between Lucien and Matt. "{Violent proclivities?}" He's clearly struggling to keep the incredulity out of his voice, and not succeeding. Then he looks at Flicker, his frown turning more thoughtful now than confused. "Is he also fighting in that war?"

"{Maybe I will. I -- Jamie's staying with us, though, and I don't know if he'd like the whole --}" Flicker's gesture is kind of vague. "{Required? No. But it can be hard finding a school that's safe to go to.}" He murmurs a soft thanks to Lucien as the food is served. His mouth just opens at Steve's question, eyes darting between the two brothers. In lieu of answer he takes his plate, bowing his head silently over it for a moment.

"{Not by law, certainly. I imagine it still gets difficult to integrate when faced with persistent violence from your peers and authority figures alike.}" Lucien settles back once he has finished serving up everyone's plates. "{And I think many end up in that battle whether they wish it or no, just by finding themselves inside a cage. Matthieu has elected to take on a more proactive role in liberating others, though. My biggest solace is knowing he has such very capable teammates at his side.}"

Matt gives a quiet snort that is almost, but not quite, a laugh. "{I sometimes wonder if they wouldn't be so required, if this country were inclined to ever spend money on education. But no, and Xavier's isn't publicly known as such, so I pray you will exercise some discretion.}" He presses one hand to his cheek, eyebrows ticking up fractionally. "Goodness. I suppose I am, no? But then--" He nods at Lucien. "--a lot of us and our loved ones are, in all manner of ways."

His bright green eyes return to Flicker, the fey gleam in them softening. "{At least discuss it with him, and offer some alternatives. He might like the option to dip his toe in and retreat when it proves overwhelming, or there can be a quieter get-together at one of the other labrats'.}" He drops his hand to Flicker's arm and gives it a gentle squeeze. "{But I don't think it'll do either of you any favors--especially him--if you remain his sole social contact, and suspect he will be more amenable to your suggestion than anyone else's.}"

Steve looks back at Matt, his eyes wide. Then blushes. "Gosh, I really ought to know better than to judge anyone's willingness or ability to fight based on..." The blush intensifies. "...appearances." He gives his head a small shake. Clasps his hands together, too, lips moving rapidly through his blessing without any evident discomfort doing so at the table of notorious witches. "{This is a...friend of yours? From ah --}" Picks up his napkin. Frowns. "{I'm sorry, would you prefer not to speak of the place at all, given your respective experiences?}"

Flicker looks back up at Lucien appraisingly, cheeks sucked slightly in and his brows dipping inward. "{Sometimes,}" he admits cautiously, "{I really can't tell if you're serious or you're just...}" He shakes his head, dropping his eyes to his food. "{I just haven't felt all that capable. All I've done lately is make a lot of trouble for...}" The next shake of his head is harder. "{But there are some really solid people on our team. That's true.}" His brows pull further together at Matt's touch. "{Yeah. Maybe he would -- I mean, it'd definitely be good to. Have other friends, that's true.}" His cheeks burn deeply red at Steve's question, but despite it he seems much less hesitant with his reply: "{I don't mind. Talking about it. But I can't imagine that's pleasant dinner conversation for you. But yes. He was my -- cellmate.}"

Lucien's bright green eyes meet Flicker's steadily once the other man's prayer has concluded. "{I am always exceptionally serious.}" He picks up his fork and knife, careful and methodical about the small pieces he begins dicing his chicken into. "{Most especially when it comes to humour. I intended no jest here, though. However --}" He pauses a beat, his head inclining slightly, "{-- ill-advised your recent decisions when it comes to Jamie, there can be no question of the lives you have saved. Your team members included.}" He looks back up, his eyes flicking between Matt and Steve. There is no discernible change in his mild tone or quietly neutral expression as he continues, "It is quite a common misperception, but there is, in fact, no correlation between a man's ability to handle a weapon and his ability to take one up the ass."

"{I think that you have generally been one of the most solid,}" Matt adds, still smiling though more sober than before, "{and if you have grown shakier of late it is in great part because the team has been leaning too hard on you.}" He picks up his knife and fork as well, though he does not yet start in on his meal, his gaze drifting aside with knowing bemusement toward his brother. His addendum is marginally less dry. "It is true that I am quite capable in that respect, but I actually prefer to top."

"{I have no intention of interrogating you,}" Steve assures Flicker, "{but I am glad to speak of it and not around it, when it comes up.}" He is quick to tuck into his food, but doesn't get past the first bite before choking on it -- only momentarily, followed by a short burst of coughing and a flush in his cheeks. "I recognize my mistake."

Flicker picks up his lemonade -- fortunately, it's only partway to his mouth when Lucien finishes speaking. His eyes go wide, his face furiously red. His eyes skip between the two brothers before he decides better of this and looks to Steve inst... no, that's terrible too. He fixes his gaze on his plate, fingers tight around his glass. It's a few long breaths before he trusts himself enough to complete that sip. Swallow. Finally venture with a very crooked smile: "If being queer was a disqualifier, we'd be really out of luck. I don't think Hive could pull it all off on his own."

There is only a small quirk at one corner of Lucien's mouth, his expression otherwise continuing impassive as he spears his own food. Takes a delicate bite. Dabs at his mouth lightly with his napkin. He studies Flicker's face thoughtfully before looking away to the burbling pond. "{I do not doubt it is complicated, but I imagine there is a measure of relief there, too. In speaking of a difficult subject and not around it -- especially in the company of those who care for you.}"

"{In fairness to you, I do perhaps encourage that perception of me in certain directions,}" Matt tells Steve once the coughing has subsided. "{If I must put up with abuse for being as I am, I will certainly damn well reap the benefits.}" Flèche materializes beside his chair with both ears perked up when he starts cutting his chicken, but he studiously ignores her begging. "{Mind, you don't owe coming out, or performing queerness, or even knowing what you want, to the rest of us.}" When he palms a silver of meat to slip to the dog, it's not the least dramatic, easy to miss if you're not looking for it. "{But plenty of us are happy to make those journeys with you, if you so choose.}"

Steve hasn't wholly recovered, his cheeks still pink even though he's smiling now -- sheepishly. He nods at Lucien's words. Takes a long sip of his lemonade. Tilts his head at Matt, perplexed. "{Benefits?}" But as soon as the word is out of his mouth, his gaze shifts to Flicker. "I suppose...I don't have much experience being underestimated, personally," he muses. "{As far as the Army in my day was concerned, it was a disqualifier. But clearly, that was only enforced when expedient. I had,}" he assures his hosts, "{intended to tell you both, and not because I thought it was owed. I'm sure now you knew already.}"

"You could try lopping an arm off," Flicker suggests brightly. "{It's been incredible for being overlooked. -- This,}" he adds, having now had time to try some of the food, "{is amazing, thank you.}" He eats slowly as Steve talks, washes his food down with some lemonade. "{It can be hard. Even when you're sure people will be supportive. But --}" His eyes skip to Steve, drop back to his plate. "{Relief is an understatement. It's good to just -- be.} Not second guess everything I'm saying and wonder if it's too much -- if I'm. Too much." His head ducks, slightly. "I guess I still worry that, just -- on one less axis."

"{Knowing is not the same at all as knowing you are comfortable enough to tell us.} And if being supportive is providing you the space to simply experience your feelings --" Lucien's eyes shift briefly from Steve to Flicker. "{I shall consider it a blessing our job is so easy.}" The set of his shoulders wilts just fractionally, his gaze lowering to his plate and a careful reorganization shifting within his mental landscape when Matt palms his sliver of chicken to slip to Flèche; not in the least dramatic, and easy to miss, as well.

"{I believed that you would have, in your own time. In fact, you just did.}" Matt's shoulders hunch, as well, and he pops the chicken he'd snuck into his own mouth, though Flèche does not abandon her vigil or attempt to hurry him--certain, perhaps, that he will succumb sooner or later. "{True, that kind of space can be hard to find, and harder to ask for. }" His empty hand turns up, elegantly indicating empty air. "{It can also take a lot of shapes, and maybe in time we can make more of that in your everyday lives.}"

Steve ventures into trying his food again -- manages not to inhale it this time! -- and nods his avid agreement to Flicker's praise, his own mouth too full. "{Hard for me to imagine what that would look like,}" he admits when he can finally speak again. "{But this future of yours is full of things I could never imagine before.}" There's a kind of wonder in his smile. "{Like sitting down to supper with...queer friends and just. Being.}"

Flicker's eyes skip between the others -- linger, a few beats longer than the rest, on Steve. The flush of pink in his cheeks isn't quite as pronounced, this time, his smile softer. "{Yeah.}" His voice is soft. "{I guess -- it looks a lot like this.}"