ArchivedLogs:Why We Fight

From X-Men: rEvolution
Why We Fight
Dramatis Personae

Hive, Jackson, Peter

2013-02-18


Peter is the eagerest superhero. Hive and Jax less so. (Part of Prometheus TP.)

Location

<NYC> 303 {Holland} - Village Lofts - East Village


This apartment is cheerful, in its way -- bright and airy, its floor plan open and a plethora of windows providing it with an abundance of light. The tiny entrance hall opens into a living room, small, though its sparse furniture and lack of clutter give it a more open feel. The decor is subdued and minimalist; black and white is the dominant theme, with occasional splashes of deep crimson to offset the monochrome, though of late bright coloured sealife has made its way into being painted on the wall. The couch and armchair are upholstered in black corduroy, the low wide coffee table central is black wood and glass-topped, and a few large pillowy beanbags provide additional seating by the large windows that dominate the back wall. Towards the back, a couple of doors lead off into bedrooms and bathroom, and to the right, the kitchen's tile is separated from the living room's dark hardwood floors by black countertops. Above the bedroom to one side, there is higher space; a ladder climbs up to a lofted area looking down on the living room. Standing in front of the partition between living and cooking area is a large fish tank: one lone Betta, blood-red, swims regally among several species of black and silver fish. A hallway beyond the kitchen leads further into the apartment. Another bathroom stands just into the hall and the farthest door leads to the apartment's final bedroom, the door usually kept shut to hold in the acrid fumes of turpentine and paints from within.

It's afternoon Monday by the time Hive gets back to his apartment. Or, well, Ryan's apartment, courtesy of a brief mental check on the way up. He has retrieved Jackson from Ryan's bed -- okay, joined Jackson /in/ Ryan's bed, for a while, but only to stay long enough to discuss with the both of them the current state of Plans for their upcoming demise. Raid. Whatever. It's perhaps because of this discussion that he's a little long in the face as they head back to Jackson's apartment. "Everyone's setting themselves up for death lately," he says. /Cheerily/. Slumping down on /Jax's/ bed, now, instead. "Clinic's ready to break ground. Want to start a betting pool on how long till the first assassination attempt?"

"I'd -- rather not." Jackson's nose wrinkles, and he drops down to sit on the stand at his easel, scrubbing a hand against his cheek. << We'll have death enough already without tempting fate. >> The easel has a new painting beginning, though these initial washed-out layers of oil paint are too vague to tell what the painting might be in the end. "That's good though, right? I mean, the clinic -- you worked hard -- /he/ worked --" But there's images in his mind that don't quite back up /good/. Iolaus getting shot. The clinic getting bombed. Riots.

"It's good," Hive says, though his grim tone doesn't really back this /up/. "Flicker got ticketed yesterday." He says this offhand. Hands lacing behind his head. Eyes staring up at the ceiling. "Taxi made an illegal left turn. Nearly clipped him. Jumped. Ticket."

"Ticket more or less than his medical bills woulda been if he'd got hit by a car?" Jackson's smile at this, it must be said, does not hold a great deal of amusement. He stares at his easel like it's /wronged/ him, then gets up to wander over and drop down onto his bed beside Hive, smoothing his skirt down into place. He doesn't say anything. But there's worries, percolating. Not just the raid, though that features heavily. The kids. What the world will do to them if -- "With Rilla dead and Josh -- gone, I -- the kids --" Jackson presses his palm to his eye. "I don't know what's going to happen to them if I die." << The school, maybe, >> is his undercurrent of thought, followed by a slightly bitter, << Probably do better by them anyway. >>

Hive's eyebrows raise. He does not attempt to contest the possibility of death but he does protest, frowning, "The fuck are you talking about? You've done great by them. Shane's come a million years from when we first --" He shrugs. Then turns, to curl an arm around Jax, pull him close. Kind of /forcibly/ tuck the other man's head against his shoulder. "The school would take them," he says, slowly, "if me or Ryan or -- there's a lot of people who care about them."

"Yeah, and most all of them might be dead when we're through. It -- it could be better," Jackson says, welcoming the contact, curling in readily against Hive's shoulder. "Hive, I can't -- you know Shane brought that cop home again this weekend. He and Shelby were at out the clubs, high as kites, I -- I don't have any idea what I'm doing. They need -- they need someone else."

"Better if you're /dead/, fuck that shit." There's a sharp edge of anger in Hive's voice, his arm curling tighter around Jax's shoulders. "Maybe, /maybe/ you need more /support/, dude, raising kids is fucking hard. But you start going down that bullshit road and you won't be doing anyone any favors. Not them. Not you. Not the rest of us who're really going to need you to be on your fucking game if we're doing this."

Jackson quiets. Externally, at least. Internally he's /fretting/, as per usual. About what happens to the kids if he dies. About what happens to the kids if he /doesn't/. About what happens to everyone /else/ if he is, in fact, not on his game. "It's just a lot," he whispers, and where his face presses against Hive's shirt it leaves dampness behind. "I feel like I'm just up to me ears in all this stuff I can't -- actually handle. I'm not really sure how to stop, though." << Stop caring, I guess. >>

"You, stop caring? Good luck with that." Hive is unbothered by the tears. He turns his head, lips pressing against Jackson's hair; it's not /quite/ a kiss, the contact just sort of lingers. "It's not shit anyone should have to handle. You do pretty fucking well for all of it. I think we just need to find --" But here he stops, perhaps at a loss. He squeezes Jax a little closer, and shifts to tug the pillow more firmly under both their heads. "I mean, we're not the only ones. There's other people. Jim's going to help look into -- and Doug and -- the more people that help out the less weight they each gotta carry, right?"

"Yeah. I guess. But there's a /lot/ more, uh, weight, than there is of us. And it's like for every new person that might help we just lose --" There's images, here, that spring to Jax's head. Josh. Halim. Eli. Maybe dead? And before that a whole host of /actually/-dead, lost in the facilities or lost trying to break people /out/ of them. These mental images come with visual ones, too, ghostly-hazy and half-formed figures that hover at the bedroom's periphery. "You ever just -- want to leave? I mean, we could. Go out -- somewhere. Far. The farm. Somewhere a world away from all of this and just be normal people." He's burrowing. Into Hive. Into his pillow. He even makes a halfhearted attempt at pulling up bedsheets, but gives up soon with a slight shudder.

Peter's thoughts are usually like a non-stop tornado, just *spinning* with ideas that never seem to slow--his brain runs a mile a minute. But right now, he's *forcing* himself to stay focused--mentally hammering each step into place. Trying to stay focused. Trying to keep himself slow and paced and *normal*.

He knocks at the door. New, for him--but he's trying to behave normally. The rapping is slow, and steady, and persistent, and is soon followed by a muffled voice--familiar, but too calm to *really* sound like Peter. "Mr. Jackson...? Are you home? I need to... talk to you."

Hive tenses, a moment even before the knock sounds, and there's a slight /pressure/ against Peter's mind, brief and then gone again. "Some kid," he says, with a slight frown, "is it /the/ kid?" He doesn't, actually, move. He stays in bed, fingers still absently stroking against Jax's colorful hair, like waiting for the other man to move first.

"Oh -- oh." Jackson is slow to move, too. "Yeah. Yeah, probably -- probably." He curls in tighter against Hive, for a moment. He does get up eventually, though, scrubbing knuckles fiercely against his eye. He stands, smoothing his skirt (purple plaid, over black fishnets that are layered over purple tights) down into place, smoothing out his shirt, too (black, with a pentacle drawn in forks; it says PRAISE SEITAN superimposed over the star) and then heading for the door. He grabs his sunglasses on the way, putting them on; this is soon followed by the appearance of a faint dusting of shimmery purple makeup, a complete vanishing of the telltale blotchy redness of his face, and last a quick easy smile, bright and cheerful that he wears as he finally opens the door. "Hey," he greets, light and easy, stepping back to wave Peter inside. "Just Jax is fine. What's up?"

Peter isn't wearing his mask. He's a slightly goofy looking boy--just a sprinkle of acne, an oddly pointy chin, and Buddy Holly glasses. Tussled brown hair that looks like it's trying to fly away. A black hoodie--with a Batman Zombie t-shirt underneath. School-bag. He peers up at Jackson, bites on his bottom lip, steps inside, and... Hive can *feel* the tangle of his thoughts--like some furious, hard knot. Mixed up. A confused jumble--but as Peter steps into the apartment--as he looks back to Jackson--the knot is starting to unravel, step by step, coming loose. Turning into a clear, *unbending* line. He's determined. And he's been making... preparations.

Peter sucks in a low, steady breath, and then lets it all out: "You're going to go after the guys who took your friends. Try to get them back. And..." Peter shuffles awkwardly in his sneakers: "...I'm gonna go with you. To help."

Hive follows out of the bedroom, when Jackson gets up. Slower, stopping at the end of the hall to lean a shoulder up against the wall and look out towards the door in silence. His eyebrows raise questioningly, eyes skipping over to Jackson after he looks Peter over. "How old are you, kid?" he asks, bluntly.

This same question has been raised immediately in Jax's mind at Peter's declaration. He scrubs a hand through bright purple-and-red hair, and looks Peter over as well, long and thoughtful. << Not old /enough/, >> Jackson answers Hive, though this is immediately followed by a grim unintentional, << Not like any of us are. >> He lets out a slow breath as he closes the door behind Peter. "Look," he says, slowly, "I really appreciate everything you've done already. Like, /really/. But this is -- the people we're going up against -- people die. They won't hesitate to kill you. Or worse. I can't just -- You've already gotten into trouble over this and this would be like that times a million."

Another deep breath, looking over to Hive. Inside his skull, his brain is *flailing*. It's taking every ounce of will-power he can muster to just stay *still*. The thing in his head that wants to just *fly* jerks against its bindings--its chains creaking and jostling. Peter keeps it under control. "Fifteen," he tells him. And then, he turns to Jackson:

"I know. I mean, I don't know. But I *know* that I don't know. I know that if I get involved I might die. Or, like, *way* worse. I might..." For a moment, there's flashes of images in Peter's head. Not experiences, just words. Things Jackson has said--things Shane has said--Peter's imagination runs with them. Cages. Needles. Darkness. Screaming things. He bottles it up as quickly as he can.

"I know, and I don't care. If you don't *let* me come, I'll just follow you. I'm *faster* than you," Peter tells him, and then he adds--voice slightly meeker: "I'll do whatever you say. I promise. You're in charge. But--I can *dodge* those things. I *have* dodged them." An image, then--of green buzzing machines. Explosions. A view from Peter's perspective--of metal bars, concrete, steps, buildings--all of it flying past him as he just *moves* past three of those things, tailing him all the way to the abandoned liquor store.

"Twins were younger than that when they came," Hive says, kind of offhand as he looks from Peter up to the ceiling. Less offhand is the sudden /hammer/ of mental energy that batters at Peter's mind; it comes not with words but with a flood of images of its own. In this the concrete cells have blood on the walls, streaked in clawing finger-marks. The needles are joined by knives, bonesaws, people's heads being cut open, /things/ being shoved inside. People being dismembered just to /see/ what another mutant's power would do to them. Shane's teeth pried out to see if they'd grow back. Jackson's eye dug out with a scalpel.

The screaming's still the same, though. Hive's arms are crossing against his chest. He's watching Peter thoughtfully. "You couldn't follow us, kid, if I didn't want you to. You might be fast, but you still think. And if you think, I'll hear you. And if I can hear you, I can tell you to go home. And you'll go home. You ever done anything like this before? I don't mean the drones. I mean actually working with people. People who might die if you fuck up."

Jackson is, thankfully, spared from these mental images; not that it /matters/ much, his mind is supplying its own host of horrors. Largely centered around the twins, and the other kids they've dragged out of there. His palm scrubs against his cheek, fingers pressing up beneath his sunglasses. "The twins grew up there. They knew what --" More nightmare-images flicker through his mind. /People who might die if you fuck up/ echoes through his mind over. And over. He slumps against the wall and tries Really Hard not to think of the people who /have/ died.

Because he fucked up. "Why do you want to come? You know the cops are already after you, right? Eric was saying you should go talk to the NYPD before the FBI gets you. /He/ doesn't think you're a terrorist, anyway. But they do."

Peter *buckles*. It's the first time he's felt anyone's presence in his brain. He's heard about it--he's even met Hive once, although he's yet to bring that fact up--but he's never felt something inside of his head that wasn't *him*. And when it comes, it comes like a jackhammer, cracking through the shell and pouring in an endless torrent of presents. Except the presents are covered in blood and utterly fucking terrifying.

Peter drops to one knee, clutching at his head. "OhGod," he mutters, and he immediately looks like he's about to throw up. "Agh, ohGod, please stop," and it's a strangled, weak sound, like an animal. When it *does* stop, Peter sniffles. And shakes his head.

"I... okay you could *make* me not go but please, please, please don't do that. I have to go. I have to... I," he looks up at Jackson, blinking black wetness in his eyes, staring up at him as if he just asked the silliest thing in the world: "Because they need *help*!" he says, voice cracking. "Because I *can* help them! Because I'm really fast and really strong and what's the *fucking* point of having those things if you don't use them to *help* people?"

And then, in the next instant, he straightens, eyes widening: "OhGod, I--I'm sorry I cursed, I wasn't thinking, it just came out..."

"I curse all the fucking time, dude," is what Hive elects to answer first, his mouth twisting up at one corner. He doesn't, exactly, look /apologetic/ about the brainhammering. But he does straighten, heading to the kitchen to pour a glass of juice and offer it to Peter. "You'll see worse, if you come with us. Thought you should know. << Fucking do-gooders, >> is his grumbled aside to Jax.

<< You're coming with us. What does that make you? >> Jackson stoops, when Peter drops to a knee, tentatively reaching a hand to the boy's shoulder. "Hey -- hey. It's --" << /Hive/, >> is kind of chiding. Peter's answer just makes his face sink further. Mooostly because it, well, sounds so much like his own. "I know that feeling," he says, quiet, "I think it's what drives a lot of us. But you're -- you're only just adjusting to these powers. You are going to have so much time in life to help people and do really amazing things. But it /takes/ time. Practice. Training. Have you had anyone who can work with you -- help you really hone your abilities?"

The imagery bounces about in Peter's head like pin-balls smothered in toxic waste, splattering their poison all over his mind, spreading, eating away at his thoughts. Memories of getting pushed around--spat on--rocks thrown at him. Cafeteria time spent, day after day, looking for a place to hide. All of that pales to the image Hive offers him--of cages, of knives, of blood splattered walls and screaming, writhing bodies. Of vivisection and fear. And the more he compares *that* horror to what trifles *he* went through--that hard, unwavering line--that determination--just gets harder and harder.

He sniffles again when Jackson touches his shoulder--then shakes his head at the question. "No," he says. "I've been--just, uh, figuring it out on my own. Doing... stunts. Just stupid stuff," he admits, and saying that aloud almost brings him to a fit of tears. "Not important stuff. Like *this*." Then: "I know, I need training, all that stuff, and I'll do it, I'll get it," <<--if I live-->> "but they're in trouble *now* and I'm fast and strong *now*."

<< He should go to the school, >> Hive says, grimacing at the images of Peter's previous School Experience. "There's people who'll teach you. You know, have you checked the news lately? There's /no/ shortage of freaks in trouble. The world's pretty set on making more trouble for us, too. You're going to have plenty of time to help people, and you'll be able to do that /better/ if you /take/ the time to learn how to do it right. You know, the first time we, uh." He looks away, for a moment, off towards the window. His jaw tightens. "Decided to break into one of these places we had no idea what the fuck we were doing." There's clearly /more/, here, that he was going to say, but he doesn't say it. His brusque tone falters, his arms tightening around his chest.

Jackson's hand rubs against his cheek again. His other squeezes gently at Peter's shoulder. His mental images fill in all the things Hive does not say, and it takes a moment before he voices them aloud. "We kinda just rushed into this, this first time. We thought the same thing. We could do so much between us and there were people that needed help /right then/ and -- and we should've taken time to plan better. Work things out better. I mean, we got /in/ -- but they noticed the break-in too early. Locked the place down. Started --" He hesitates, too, swallowing heavily. "Started just killing all the prisoners they had. Destroying -- evidence. We -- barely got our team out. /Didn't/," he adds, softer, "get our whole team out. A couple of others. Dozens killed for it. I --" He's pulling his knees up, towards his chest, curling his free arm around them. "I think you can help. But I think you'll help a lot better if you take the time to practice all this before rushing in."

Peter blinks back through the tears, listening to Hive. But as he speaks, Peter starts to rise--and again, the tangled knot in his head grows thinner and thinner, tighter and tighter. "But you *did* it," he responds to Hive. "And you're gonna do it again. And I'm--" A moment of hesitation, a quiver of uncertainty in his mind; Hive can see he's *terrified* of angering him or Jackson, living in dread of their rejection--"I'm willing to bet you don't exactly know what you're doing this time, either. Maybe you know a little better now, but you're still pretty sure you might make some mistakes and get people hurt, or killed, or worse, and--and--you're *still* gonna do it because it's *right* and they're *wrong* and it's just that simple, and you can't just sit around and let them *hurt* people, not when there's some chance you can *stop* them." The whole time, Peter's voice has been getting more and more stable; the sniffling has stopped--he's standing, now, fists clenched. He sounds... angry.

When Jackson curls his hand around his knees, though, Peter immediately softens--reverting back to that unsure little kid: "I... I'm *so* sorry Mr. Jackson. I--please let me help," he tells him. "I'll practice. Anything. I'm *really* fast. So fast. Like, crazy-fast. We can save your friends and you won't have to be sad anymore, okay?"

"Did it and got so many people killed cuz we were /fucking stupid/," Hive says, scruffing a hand quickly through his hair, fingers tracing a curve against the side of his skull. "And yeah, we still don't know. There's a lot we don't know. But kid, do you know how long people work at getting /good/ at what they do before just -- I know you want to help. I know it cuz we want to help and waiting is hard as /shit/. But sometimes waiting /is/ the right thing to do."

"Just Jax," Jackson says, soft and reflexive. "Hey, you know, there's -- my kids go to a school. I went there. For people like us. I mean, they teach normal school things /too/. But they also work with you to get better at what you do. I think it might be a good place to check out. You seem really serious about helping and that's good. They can help you on that path."

"Yeah, but--but--" Peter clenches his teeth, fists clenching, eyebrows squeezing together. That 'chained beast' in his head is gnashing at its manacles, temporarily subdued by Peter's confused rage. "But you're not gonna make those mistakes *this* time, right? And--and I'll do whatever you tell me to do. Whatever mistakes you make this time, *I* won't make any extra ones," he says.

And then he's thinking, peering at Jackson, fists clenched and full of anger and it's *bouncing* around in his head with absolutely no where to go. He's so angry that he could *punch* something! And there's nothing he considers punchable in range. But then: "I'll do it if you take me, Mist--Jax," he corrects himself, grimacing, as if calling Jackson by this informal name actually caused him pain.

"Well. It's going to be a bit yet before we even /go/. We've got to plan for it right. We've got a guy looking into figuring out their security. Shifts. All that shit. There's some time, yeah?" Hive shrugs a shoulder, leaning back against the wall. "Also, kid, you really need to chill. There's a lot to get angry about in the world. But you kinda need to --" Here his smile is /wry/. "I guess you are trying to target it."

"I'll take you to the school. You free tonight? I gotta go back there anyway to bring the kids. Or some time this week." Jackson shrugs, slowly straightening to go get himself a glass of water. His own thoughts are not so much angry as heavy, tired. Protective. Too many kids and too much danger. "I mean, assuming you're interested. I'm sure you've got a school of your own already. But sometimes it's helpful when you start developing these things to -- have some guidance for it."

He's trying to mask that relief, but he's not very good at it. Suddenly, he's slumping on a chair, backpack and all, just looking *exhausted*. "Oh... oh, okay," he says, half-mumbled. Then, to Hive's comment: "I, um... I'm... yeah, I don't... I don't know a lot of people," Peter half-mumbles, << or have friends--not that these people are my friends I hardly even KNOW anyone here wait he can't hear this can he-- >> "and I kinda get--um. Look, I was always a kind of a spaz, even before *this* stuff happened, and nobody liked me, and when I got powers I thought maybe *that* would make people like me, but then I found out people don't like you even if you *have* powers in fact sometimes that makes them like you even *less* which is really weird and maybe I'm taking this all really personally I don't know I'm sorry it's kind of new to m..." He takes a breath. That 'unchained beast' in his head seems to have picked the locks and slipped free without Peter knowing. Then, he looks to Jax, slightly wide-eyed. "You'd... you would? I mean--oh. Oh, but my Uncle--my aunt and uncle--they don't know... that I, uh. They just think I'm... a little special." Shifty-eyed.

"I'm pretty sure they got experience with kids whose parents don't know. You look at all the brochures, it's just this swank prep school." Hive shrugs. "But it's a good road to check out, if you want to --" His smile is /definitely/ crooked, "-- be a superhero. Or go to Harvard, I guess. Either way." He shrugs, sidling over to bump a shoulder up against Jax. << Kid might help. Some day. Maybe the school'll distract him from suicide. >> There's a wry undertone to that, too. Given that they're throwing /themselves/ into it regardless.

"Yeah, they can deal with the parent thing. /Is/ it something you'd be interested in? Cuz yeah, I would. I think it'd be good. You're bright, it's a good /school/ even without the mutant thing. And having someone to help hone your abilities -- well. I know for me at least," Jackson says, leeeeaning up into that press of shoulder, "was a lifesaver. I couldn't do a tenth of what I can do today without it. So you wanna come with? I could take you over with the kids. Let you look around. Talk to them about whether it's a good fit for you." << Heeee seems pretty good at distracting /himself/. From everything. But this superhero kick needs, uh, focus. >>

The face of Peter's uncle and aunt float into his mind; two older people, smiling affectionately. Peter's trying to imagine those faces angry with him--displeased with him. He can't. Those faces--there's nothing but warmth and kindness surrounding them; a loving, warm glow that just *swells* around Peter. They're so good to him that it's almost *sappy*. But there's a lance of worry, there, too--they don't know how to *deal* with him. And he knows it. And they know he knows. And they're struggling, really hard, but neither of them understand each other. But Peter *loves* them, in a stupid, doggedly puppy-like way.

"I... I, yeah, I guess, I mean... I, uh..." And then, something seems to occur to Peter--fluttering over his mind. He *is* a bright kid--but it's more than just a brightness. It's part of his mutant power. His brain works in *overdrive*, and he already seems to catch on where this is going. His eyes narrow--his back lifts, as he peers at the two of them:

"You didn't say yes," he suddenly tells Jax. "You're gonna take me there and hope I forget. I'm *not* forgetting. And if you go without me, I'll--I'll--I'll" Peter is at a loss for what he'd *do* in that case. "--I'm only going if you say yes."

"Kid, you say that like you have a bargaining chip here," Hive says, bluntly. "We're not taking a kid with no experience and no training. M'not saying you gotta go here. You can do whatever the fuck you want with your life. But this place will /help you/. If you want to go, go. If you don't want to go, don't go. Saying you'll only go if /we/ do something is cutting off your nose to spite your face, on /top/ of the fact that you don't, actually, have any bargaining. If I think you're not cut out for this shit, you'll be going home and you won't even remember you wanted to argue. We're not taking some kid to get /killed/ if he's not ready for it. It's dangerous to you, dangerous to us, and I don't think your --" There's a brief hesitation, a quick mental grasping, "-- aunt and uncle would be real pleased with it either." Hive shrugs. "Jax is just trying to help /you/ out. Try thinking of it as an entirely separate question from whether you want to commit suicide with us."

"He's right," Jackson says, almost apologetically. "I thought it might be a helpful place for you to check out. You don't need to go. But it's a completely separate issue from the rest of this. One thing might help with another. I just think you could get a lot out of it, especially if you want to make a --" There's something that tightens in his face here, pained; an undercurrent of stress blossoms in his thoughts. Not really wanting to encourage anyone else down the path they're already on. "-- a life out of using your powers to help people. They can teach you how to do that effectively. Better than we could."

If Peter has one weakness, it's his aunt and uncle. No sooner has Hive trotted out that information then is the teenager bolting upright, eyes wide, hands wringing. "How did y--" << Oh crap PSYCHIC >> "--I mean, I--" The thought of them, finding out he got himself killed. Those faces he *can* imagine. The thought makes him squirm in his chair. "Oh man I mean... I mean..." There's the other stuff, too. The fact that he doesn't have a bargaining chip here--and he knows it. But he was hoping... as terrible as it sounds, he was hoping to *guilt* Jackson into taking him. Because Peter is convinced that Jackson and the others will need him. He is *so* sure of it.

He deflates a little more when Jackson hammers in the point that this trick isn't going to work. And then, sounding a bit meeker, he says: "If I go... and... and I get really good with my powers--like, *really* good," Peter adds, and then he's looking up between Jackson and Hive with a hopeful set of puppy-dog eyes. "...like, if I can *show* you that I can do this--will you take me?" At this point, Peter will probably take anything. It's easy to pick up the best he's hoping for--a reluctant 'Maybe'.

"If you go, and you train, and you get good at what you do," Hive says, after a pause, "We'll think about it. It's Jax's call in the end. He kinda runs the show here." He kind of eases, a little bit, after this. Passing the buck is kind of a relief!

Jackson exhales, his palm scrubbing against his face. "Let's take things one step at a time," he says, heavily. "We need all the help we can get. But we need it all," he flashes Hive a thin smile, "at the top of its game. Takes some work. I think it's work you're willing to put in. These just aren't things you can rush, you know? But we'll talk about it."

"O-okay," Peter says, and he sounds like he's finally giving in, just... staring at his sneakers. "Um, okay, then. I'll do it. I--um, if I go I'm pretty sure I'll have to talk to my uncle and aunt about it but they kind of wanted me to go to a private school *anyway*," a flash of a conversation with them and Peter about bullying, awkward and confused with no resolution, "but they can't really afford it, so I don't think they'd say no, and, um," and suddenly, he's *rushing*, up on his feet, and he *is* fast--he's suddenly just *hugging* Jackson, just like that, quick and brief and bashful--and, quite possibly before Jackson knows how to react, he's darting to do the same to Hive. A moment of hesitation--a flash of those previous images in his mind--but he still does it. And quickly darts back to his chair--intent on acting as if he did *not* just do that.

Hive's eyes widen. His return hug is ginger, an awkward patpat on the back and a confused look to Jackson. Maybe Jackson knows more about hugs? Hive is clearly not the Hug Expert in the room. "Uh -- right. One step at a time." His hand scuffs through his hair again, a repetitive habitual flick of motion.

Jackson is totally a Hug Expert. He does seem a touch startled, but he returns the hug in a quick squeeze, a tiny smile playing on his lips. "Cool. I'll call the school and talk to them. I'm sure they'd be happy to talk to your folks. And their financial aid's, uh," he looks a little sheepish here, "generous, I couldn't no way on earth afford it myself but." He shrugs. "I'm serious about -- the thanks, too," he adds, quieter. "You put yourself through a lotta trouble and it's -- it means a lot. Even if," he adds with a wrinkle of his nose, "you might should talk to the cops before the feds come down on you. Those murderdrones are illegal for /sure/, and that wasn't nothing you did."

Peter gives a sneaky side-glance in one direction than the other. "Uh, I know. I just--I'm not sure, because--maybe, uh, after... you know. With your friends. I don't want to... make any ripples," << Or mistakes. >> "or anything. Besides, it's the *Spider* who they're after, not--uh, me. All I have to do is not wear the mask and bam, he's gone!" Peter raises up his hands and spreads his fingers like this was an extraordinary magic trick. "But... yeah I should probably lay low for a while."

"Probably," Hive says, "or talk to the cops." His expression looks more than a little distasteful at this suggestion. But he makes it anyway. "The FBI doesn't care about breaking and entering. Might be better to clear up that you didn't have shit to do with those killer robots."

"Might be," Jackson agrees, aloud; internally he has nothing but distrust for law enforcement and this shows heavily in his reluctant thoughts. "You got time, hon?" He looks to Peter with this question. "We could grab some dinner 'fore the kids get back. Take you all out to the school. Make sure it's somewhere you'd feel comfortable 'fore they talk to your folks."

Peter's brain is cycling through twenty different thoughts a minute. If he contacts the FBI--they'll know Peter Parker is the Spider, which means they'll know what his power-set is. And then if he has to *help* them... Hive and Jackson. And someone sees him, using his powers... "I think for now I just want to stay off *everybody*'s radar," Peter says, "just for a while. I mean, I'll just dump the outfit and everything," << for now. THE SPIDER SHALL RETURN. OhGod, is that guy listening? >> "and... um, maybe... maybe I'll send them an anonymous letter or something. After I've had time to talk about everything I saw there. And figure it out," Peter adds, before quickly nodding his head to Jackson, several times over. "S--sure! Okay. Um, my name is Peter, by the way. I don't think I--Peter. It's nice to, uh, meet you. I guess. Nice to meet you too," Peter says to Hive. << For the second time...! >>

"Hive," Hive says, by way of introduction. "Is me. Laying low probably can't hurt." He heads for the door, claps Peter on the shoulder, gives Jackson a quick hug. "I'll tell Ryan you've got one extra for the trip out to the school. We'll be in touch, yeah?" he adds, to Peter, and then frowns slightly. "-- How, uh, /do/ we get in touch?"

"Thanks." Jax returns the hug, tight and fierce. "How do you feel about Chinese?" he's adding to Peter, as he goes to get shoes. Jacket. Keys. "Cuz I'm kinda starving."

"Hive. Right. If you need to contact me," Peter produces a receipt slip from his pocket--and a pen from the lining of his coat. Scribbling something down on it, before passing it to Hive. It's a familiar email address--it is, in fact, the same address Peter gave to Hive *before*, when they met in the park. SP1D3RM3N447@gmail.com. Very subtle.

"Chinese? Uh, okay, sure," Peter says, and he follows Jackson. << OhGod, I can't believe I totally *hugged* them, why the hell did I do that. >>

"Right. Sweet. Thanks." Hive pockets the slip. Probably this time he /won't/ just trash it immediately, too! Then he's heading out for the far trek across the hall to Ryan's. Rubbing at his temples as he goes.

Jackson at least is not rubbing at his temples. He's even smiling! A little. Just a little, as he ushers Peter out the door and to Food -- and then school -- beyond.