|Location||Offices - X-Factor Solutions|
|Summary||Richard brings Jeremy a job for X-Factor.|
| A set of stairs leading up from the lounge opens into a narrow L-shaped hall flanked by what are generously labeled X-Factor's offices. There are eight in total, which means that most of them serve as shared space that tends to be dedicated to particular projects or jobs rather than individuals. The furthest is kept for administration, and is where X-Factor's paperwork, such as it is, takes place.
Each office is furnished with an eclectic array of salvaged furniture; some contain several desks pushed against walls, while others hold large worktables or the occasional couch. A handful of portable holoprojectors tend to travel between offices according to need, causing no small amount of strife when they can't be found or are all in use.|
It's kind of a toss-up sometimes if Richard is seeking Jeremy out at the offices for business or -- personal reasons. Sometimes it's business! Really!! He's loosened his scarf and unbuttoned his coat, but his hair is still looking windswept and his skin a little frost-nipped. He kind of nudges his toe up against Jeremy's door and knocks quietly at it. It's probably open or something because Jeremy.
The door is open, and Jeremy is inside. He's eating a sandwich and fries. The fries are huge and thick-cut and have made the entire office smell potatoey. He's also working busily on his computer. He's gotten ketchup on his shirt (a T-shirt). It's probably inevitable. He looks frazzled, like he's been here a little too long for a Saturday and may be regretting his life choices, or at least his bookkeeping software choices. "Yeah," he says without looking up from the screen.
Well, now I want some of those fries. Richard watches Jeremy a brief moment with something wry and weary in the set of his mouth. "Hey," he greets him, clearly expecting perhaps a more attentive greeting once Jeremy realizes who his visitor is. "You have a second?"
Me too. Jeremy gestures with a fry and then puts it in his mouth. "Sure," he says, reaching for a napkin as though it's actually going to accomplish anything at this late date. "I was just trying to do payroll. You hungry?"
"Oh, well, maybe I shouldn't interrupt you if I want to get paid." Richard's smile twitches. He steps inside nevertheless, closing the door behind him. "A little," he admits, taking a seat in the chair across from Jeremy. "I have a -- job. I think."
Jeremy turns out his takeout box as he slides it across the desk, which still has a good portion of fries and about half of an epically huge sandwich in it. This is because I can't eat things right now, probably. He says, "You think, huh? What are we talking about on the uncertainty level here?"
"Well, I'm certain I could give it to you. I'm not certain if you want it," Richard says, selecting his words carefully. Despite his admittance of hunger, he doesn't move to grab a fry. Instead, a faint furrow lingers in his brow.
"Is it sketchy?" Jeremy asks. He nudges the takeout box, just in case the reason Richard hasn't taken any food is he hasn't noticed it's there. "Are there thugs?"
"It's not--" Richard considers for a few moments, during which he reaches without thinking to take a fry and eat it. "My brother Robbie -- Robert -- is a quantum physicist. I mean, I think that's -- what he calls it. I don't understand what he does at all; he's about a billion times smarter than me. He works out in Glen Haven now." His gaze flits across Jeremy's face to see if years with Xavier made him aware of the significance.
Jeremy's eyebrows tick up. He leans forward, elbows bracing against the desk and hands twining loosely together beneath his chin. "I think I've heard a little something about that," he says. "Unofficially, of course. That shit is top secret."
"Well. I mean, Robbie was always going to end up somewhere with crazy, cutting-edge science, but after I got lost he--" Richard hesitates. "Well. I guess he wanted to find me." His gaze slides off as his next words seem to catch a bit on his tongue.
"Makes sense." Jeremy frowns just a little as he finds himself barricaded behind the desk where he can't cuddle Richard conveniently in reaction to this. "I can think of worse motivations to get started in a career."
"Didn't even get to make a difference in the end," Richard says, smile going taut. "Wonder if that bothers him." He scrubs a hand through his hair. "Two Riders going through top secret government agencies. Kind of funny." He looks back to Jeremy. "Anyways. He gave me a call. They're trying to transport -- something, I don't even know, he can't tell me -- from here out to Colorado. Can't fly it, I guess. They want it done quietly, but they're worried about -- interference on the way. Honestly, it probably would've been an X-Force gig back in the day."
"So you think I shouldn't want to take it because I don't know what the cargo is?" Jeremy rubs hand thoughtfully over his mouth and across the line of his jaw.
"I don't know, Jeremy," Richard says on something of a sigh. "They clearly think there might be dangerous interest in whatever it is, which means it could be a dangerous job. But I told Robbie I'd try to figure something out. And I'd go if you took it."
"Okay." Jeremy works his shoulders, lifting his hand to scrub at the back of his neck as he blows out his breath in his own turn. "I'm assuming we're talking reasonable compensation here."
"Yeah. Yeah, that much is good." Richard studies Jeremy's face, his gaze following the scrub of his hand against his neck. "You don't have to say yes."
"I'm not in the habit of looking a gift horse in the mouth," Jeremy says with a crooked smile. "You seem more worried about this than I am. Think we can't handle it?"
"I don't love the idea of working for the government again, even by proxy and maybe a few steps removed," Richard admits. "I still haven't gotten the sour taste out of my mouth."
"Ahhh, well," Jeremy says, "I find it just a little delicious. Let them come begging. Let them come begging again and again." He smiles widely, and picks up a couple of french fries to gesture with. "You don't think it's nice to be needed?"
"I wouldn't really constitute this as begging," Richard says in a dry voice. "My brother's not the one who shut us down."
"No." Jeremy raises his eyebrows. "So we're helping your brother, not the government."
"He just happens to work for them." Richard spreads his hands, smile a little helpless. "It's not the most rational feeling."
Jeremy pulls himself up out of the chair and ambles around to the other side of the desk, wiping his hands o the ass of his jeans before he comes around to drop them on Richard's shoulders from behind. "So do you want me to take it or not take it?"
Richard exhales slow and soft when he feels Jeremy's hands on his shoulders. He's silent for a long moment, then: "I want you to take it. I'll make sure no one gets hurt."
Jeremy leans down and presses a kiss to the top of Richard's forehead. It's totally professional. "Okay," he says, thumbs gliding along his shoulders and the back of his neck. "I could use a vacation."
"I feel like you could choose something more relaxing than a multi-day road trip to Colorado," Richard responds, dry but not wholly unaffectionate. His head tips down just a touch at the glide of Jeremy's thumbs across the back of his neck.
"I could, but not that I'd get paid to do," Jeremy says philosophically. He works a little at the tension of Richard's shoulders, casual and assumptive as the warmth of touch becomes the warmth of more concerted effort. He's very touchy.
"I guess that's true." Richard slowly, reluctantly relaxes under the touch of Jeremy's fingers. He's quiet several moments longer before he says, "I found a grey hair. I'm going grey. I'm greying."
Jeremy laughs a little on his next breath. He peels Richard's unbuttoned coat back off his shoulders and then puts his hands back to his neck and shoulders again, fingers working in a harder pressure as he works to unknot some of the tension he finds through the layers of fabric. "Just one? One grey hair?"
"Why, have you noticed others?" Richard says, twisting his head back around to try and look at Jeremy in a way that is totally unconducive to shoulder rubs.
"No," Jeremy says. "Let's see." He cards his fingers through the thickness of Richard's hair, making like he's hunting for more silvery threads in amidst the black.
"Ugh, don't /look/ for them," Richard complains, although he doesn't pull away. "Definitely don't /tell/ me if you find them." After a pause, he says on a sigh, "/When/ you find them."
"You are gorgeous and sexy," Jeremy tells him, and this time his kiss is planted on the top of Richard's head, "and I hope you keep your hair, regardless of color."
Richard makes a somewhat pained noise. "God. I hope I keep my hair, too. That's like all I have to recommend me."
"Oh please." Jeremy laughs again, and wraps both his arms in a loose fold around Richard's chest and shoulders from behind, leaning in close as he noses at his ear and jaw. "That's just ridiculous."
"Hey, you were the one just saying /you/ hope I keep my hair," Richard points out stubbornly. "Clearly that means you'd be super sad if I lost it."
"I would." Jeremy smiles and squeezes a little tighter in the wrap of his hug. "But if you shaved your head tomorrow I'd still be into you."
"Well." Richard sets a hand lightly on the wrap of Jeremy's arm. "Okay, I guess. I don't have any plans to."
"Good," Jeremy says. He kisses Richard's temple and then begins to ease back. "I've had grey a number of times. I try not to worry about it."
"You're blond," Richard points out, like this is a -- point. He turns the chair around -- it's a spinny chair, right?? -- so that he can face Jeremy. His hands move to frame his hips.
"What, so my grey hairs don't count?" Jeremy raises his eyebrows at him, though he does nothing to block the spin of the chair. Which is of course a spinny chair. If it wasn't before it is now. "I'm older than you, you know."
"They're not as noticeable," Richard replies, just mildly defensive. His fingers curl lightly at his hips. "I dunno, I'm pretty sure I was born before you."
"Only chronologically." It's not the first time he's said so. Jeremy smiles slightly, and then adds, "That must get weird for you."
"My brother's kids are almost my age. And he's my sixty-year-old kid brother. /That's/ weird." Smile softening, Richard looks up at Jeremy almost a touch shyly. "This? Isn't so bad."
Jeremy's smile grows much wider. He says, "I'm glad. I prefer to be weird only in good ways." He leans in close, catching Richard's face by the curve of his hand, and then doesn't close the gap to kiss him. "Hmm," he hums in a tone of sudden realization. "Maybe I should find those breath mints."
Richard laughs, sudden and a little loud, given their proximity. "Sorry," he says a moment later. "I didn't mean to laugh at your implied desire to kiss me."
Jeremy exaggerates his hurt, laying his hand dramatically over his heart.
"Hey," Richard objects with a faint frown. "Hey, no." He lifts his hands from Jeremy's hips so he can reach for his face to tug him back down and close. "No," he says again before tipping his head to press his lips lingeringly to Jeremy's.
Jeremy almost laughs into the kiss. His warmth is enthusiastic; after he breaks the kiss on a rush of breath, he says: "So now your penance is to kiss me before I get the mints out, huh?"
"God, I don't care that you've been eating French fries, Jeremy," Richard says, just mildly exasperated, before kissing him again. Shut up.
Jeremy starts to answer him but Rich shuts him up pretty effectively. Fingers tangling through Richard's hair, he kisses back, aggressively re-rumpling him in the process.
For a moment, maybe two, there's a hunger in the slide of Richard's lips against Jeremy's. His stubble is a sharp rasp against skin before he pulls back. "I probably," he says, "shouldn't make out with you in your office."
"Probably not." Jeremy noses lightly against Richard's cheek in a soft huff of breath, smile pulling at his lips. "It's probably unprofessional," he says, tilting his head to press a kiss to the corner of Richard's mouth. "I've got bookkeeping to do," he adds, kissing the other corner.
"Yeah," Richard agrees to the first, then again -- "Yeah..." -- to the second. "Probably important to pay all of us. With your piles of money I know you're sitting on."
"Mmhmm. Piles." Jeremy grins. "Just like any good sugar daddy." He presses his next kiss full of Richard's lips, and only then begins to draw back.
"Oh my God," Richard says as soon as Jeremy pulls back, which might be complimentary if he didn't follow it with: "Please never call yourself that again."
Jeremy cackles as he wanders back around to his side of the desk.
"Okay." Richard sets his hands on the arms of the chair. "Um. I guess I'll -- get out of your hair." His smile twitches, and then he moves to stand. "I -- thanks. I think."
"I'll catch you later," Jeremy says with game cheer as he folds himself back down in his seat to get back to work. "I mean, we're gonna be riding in a car forever, right?"
"Yeah, get ready to get super sick of me," Richard says with a wry smile. "I'm a terrible road trip buddy." He stands there a moment, like he's figuring out what to say next. "Okay," he ends on, a bit lamely. "I'll -- see you then." He starts to kind of shuffle out."Impossible," Jeremy assures him with a low laugh. It's possible that the days to come will prove him wrong. WE'LL SEE.