|Where We Were|
|Location||Alexandra and Ciel's Apartment - Avenue B Apartments|
|Summary||...and where we are now. Talk of Mutant Town and India and things.|
There's nothing quite like alcohol and a dance floor and a tinge of uncertainty to heat up the night. By the time Ciel gets Kade into her bedroom, she's eager and anxious, with hands and lips that waste absolutely no time in finding bare skin. It takes quite a while for things to cool down. In the aftermath, she sprawls flushed and breathless against Kade's side, with her head tucked into the crook of his shoulder and her hand flattened against the warmth of his chest.
Kade's ego is a funny thing. For as big as it is, it's fairly easy to bruise, even with well-meaning comments about how difficult it is for qualified mutants (like him) to get by in this city. So he really wanted to prove how awesome he was tonight, perhaps more to himself than her. But his ego is also pretty easy to pump up again, with signs one is having a good time with him either on the dance floor in bed. So he's pretty contented as he lays next to Ciel, stretched out languidly, big smile on his face. His eyes lazily open and close, like he's flirting with the idea of sleep, though he's still more or less conscious. "Mmmm."
Ciel, on the other hand, seems nowhere near sleep. If anything, she's a bit more wired now than she was previously, although bonelessly, drapingly so. She rolls enough to brace herself up against Kade's chest, peering down at him and the lazy flicker of his eyes. She stretches up for a slow kiss, lingering, but not heated. "Hey," she says when she pulls back to break. "You want anything? Water? Whiskey? Girl scout cookies?"
Kade kisses Ciel back long and lazy. Like he could linger in that kiss for hours, if he had a mind to. He sinks back on the pillow with another "Mmmm" after a moment, though. "Water'd be good. I think whiskey might be a bad idea for me right now. Tired old man that I am." He chuckles. Then adds, interested, "Girl Scout cookies?"
"Thin mints, samoas," Ciel offers, grinning as she pushes up to slide off the bed. She leans in to press another quick kiss to his temple, then grabs a robe from the back of her door in recognition of the fact that Lexie and/or Maxim may have appeared at some point during the festivities. She shrugs into it, then fingercombs her hair into some semblance of order.
"Oh my god Thin Mints!" Kade is enthusiastic. "I love those things. Used to get crates of them when the kid was still doing the Girl Scout thing." He yawns, staying sprawled and warm and comfortable while awaiting food and drink. His head rolls to watch Ciel fiddle with her robe and hair, sleepy smile stretching across his lips.
Ciel gives Kade a lazy salute (something she definitely did not learn in X-Force) and disappears for a handful of minutes. When she returns, she's bearing two glasses and an entire sleeve of thin mints, which she deposits atop Kade's belly before crawling back into bed, robe and all. She tucks up next to him again, eagerly seeking touch. "Were you ever here," she wonders after a moment's settling, "before this was actually Mutant Town?"
"Nah," Kade says, promptly getting himself a Thin Mint. He eats, getting crumbs on Ciel's bed with impunity, before adding anything else. "Never lived in New York at all before now. Came into the city a few times when I was at the X-School, out in Westchester, but just for like day trips. Sierra wasn't registered when she first moved here, after we split. She and Nina set up in Queens. I didn't venture much beyond there when I used to visit. The drive from here to DC isn't /that/ far, but it's too far to leave you much room to do much if you're just here for a day." He rests his off-hand, the one not occupied with cookies, on Ciel's bare skin. Fingers running slowly down her until they find a spot on her midsection they seem to like.
"It feels like it's always been here," Ciel says, twisting a little so she can sort of sprawl on his chest in the dangerzone of crumbs and look up at him. "I mean, how long does it take things to start falling apart, you know? How much neglect does it take? But not that much, I guess. I've seen pictures of the place in the thirties. Can you imagine coming back a decade later and finding this shit hole?"
"What gets me..." Kade says. Slowly. Like he's considering how he wants to phrase this. It has the sound of something he's thought about a lot, but rarely puts into words. "...is how much like every other place like this it looks. Like, there are ghettos like this all over the country, in East LA where Sierra's from, or the Southside of Chicago where my mom came up. They don't all have mutants in them, but it's the same shit. Has been forever. And what's really fucked up is...like, you'd think we'd know better by now. You know? Society is ever progressive, blah blah blah. But it's like, the only lesson anybody learned is how to throw the people they don't want into places like this even quicker, so a nice spot can turn into this in just ten years."
"Ug," Ciel says, wrinkling her nose with a flash of dark anger in her green eyes. "You know the one slim comfort I have in this shit? That we're taking up a prime piece of fucking Manhattan real estate and they can't quite figure out how to kick us out of it."
"It is wild to come down here and see how different it is, from like Brooklyn or Queens," Kade says. "Like, people just walking around using their powers in broad daylight, nobody freaking out. Just like it's normal. Hard to walk that back, once people are used to it." He reaches out to get his glass and take a drink of water. After swallowing, he admits, "I'm kind of sorry I didn't just get a place here sometimes. God knows it would've been easier. Hell of a lot cheaper, too. I just...I feel like I'm going backwards in too many others way, you know? Housing discrimination is still illegal in this country, even if people want to act like it's not. I should be able to live wherever I damn well want to live."
"I've thought about moving out," Ciel admits, shifting a little as he reaches for his glass. She ends up braced upward on her elbow, facing him. "I mean, if I could even talk Lexie into it, and we could afford it, which we can't. But--" She hitches a bare shoulder upward and exhales. "It feels like its own sort of going backwards, you know? Having to tiptoe around. Having to stealth my portals, if I even dare to use them." Indeed, her portals never have their sparkly flare around Kade's place, unless they're strictly indoors.
"Yeah." Kade can't do much more than agree to that. Letting a little of that tired frustration he so often feels show, without trying to mask it. He rolls his head so he's looking properly at her. "I feel like it was better when I was younger, when I was just starting out as a mutant, but it's hard to tell if that's just nostalgia or not. If I just didn't know better. I don't think there's a /right/ way to live with it, except to find something you can live /with/ day-to-day. I just...I really don't want to be Angry Guy all the time. I feel like that's letting them when." Whoever 'them' is. The world, maybe. He chuckles. "I wonder if that dude actually found inner peace and light over there." 'Over there'. Like he's reluctant to even say 'India' to her.
"I spent most my life wrapped up in people who-- who cherished mutation. You know? Valued it. It's hard to hide. I don't /want/ to hide." Ciel breathes out, slow and long, and then her breath stills in her chest at his question. She turns, dropping down to roll onto her back and stare upward at the ceiling. She's silent for a long beat before she says, "I can't imagine anyone going to India looking for that."
"I didn't really have a choice about hiding it," Kade says. "I was dangerous. When I first manifested, I felt like I was going to burn out of my own skin. And set everything around me up with me. My parents got me off to Xavier's like /that/." He snaps his fingers. "I thought about trying to be 'normal' after I graduated. Went back to Cali. Did the firefighter thing for a couple of years. I actually liked that job, a lot. But you could /not/ be out and keep doing something like that. I didn't want to carry myself like that forever. So, I started looking around for somewhere I could be what I was, and still do something useful with myself." Hence X-Force. He sips some more water, swallowing before looking at her again. "Maybe there are mountain tops with gurus or something, away from everything else. Ciel..." He starts to ask something, but can't seem to find the right way to do it. So he just trails off.
Ciel makes a noncommittal sound, a guttural sort of thing directed at the ceiling before she rolls her head sideways to look at him. In truth, it's mostly a view of his shoulder, which is maybe for the best anyway. "You can ask," she says quietly. "If you want to."
"I feel like you started to say something about it the other night, on top of New York, and then..." Kade gives a one-shouldered shrug, of the one she's not nestled against. "...you don't /have/ to talk about it. But, like, I don't want it to be this thing we /can't/ talk about, either, you know?"
Ciel is silent for a long moment, though she slides her arm across his middle, looping him a little closer. "I don't know," she finally says, her voice soft, her breath warm against his skin. "I never know what to say. It's not-- I'm not proud of it. You know? Or who I was. And-- you know. There's Rohan." Her voice twists a little for his name, rueful.
"I mean, that dude..." Kade does not love talking about Rohan, but that subject lives in a more normal realm of relationship awkwardness. "That's, like, ex-boyfriend drama. I've handled /that/ before." Along with ex-girlfriend drama he's probably provided, not that he tacks that on. "Neither of us are virgins pure, honey. Don't think I'd like it if we were." His fingers drift up to rest on her arm. It's not a touch that asks for anything, or tries to convey much, other than that he's there. "As for the rest of it...the years right after everything came apart, that was like the worst part of my life. And I think about that, and I don't want to take you back there. But I do want to know...you never have to be ashamed with me. About anything. Ever. And it obviously ties you up inside in places and I...I want to know why."
"It's not the ex-boyfriend drama," Ciel says. She pauses and lifts her head, edging just a bit closer to settle it on the curve of his shoulder, where there is absolutely no chance of her needing to meet his gaze. "It's just hard to talk about any of it without him kind of-- in the middle." She swallows, head shifting against his shoulder, and then says, quietly, "It was the worst part of your life, and you went off and did some boring testing for some company. I-- I mean fuck, Kade. You know what mercenaries are. It's not this little temp agency Wallace is running." A pause, and then she whispers, "There was a lot of violence. For money. And because I was angry."
"I went off and did that stupid testing job because I thought it was all I /could/ do," Kade mutters. Not looking at her, either, and likewise glad to avoid it. Though his fingers do firm a little around the curve of her arm. "I didn't even do that for the first year and change, after things broke apart. I just...fuck. I didn't /do/ anything, except sit around being a wreck. First in DC, then on my parents' couch in Cali for awhile. Until Nina's powers manifested, and then I kind of /had/ to pull myself together. Anyway." He lets out a long breath, pulling himself away from that tangent. "I know what I've read about the situation in India. Fucked up proxy war with China, and all other kinds of people just trying to make money any way they can. But I don't...what happened to you over there?" It's asked soft.
"It wasn't like that," Ciel says, shaking her head with a slight shift against his shoulder. "Nothing /happened/. There was no-- big explosion or dramatic-- anything. I just went and I signed on, and for a while it was assholes shooting assholes, you know? The rich stealing from the other rich. Stealing cars, stealing drugs, stealing-- whatever it was they wanted. Gang wars, turf wars. No point to any of it. And then sometimes-- it wasn't assholes shooting assholes. Sometimes it was me, walking over people who didn't have shit to start with."
Kade moves his head in the barest hint of a nod, as Ciel talks. For the moment he just lets her do that. Talk, while he listens, laying so close to her there's not even light between their bare skin.
Ciel falls silent for a moment, shifting her fingers against the warmth of his skin. Her thumb strokes a small line against the angle of his hip, over and over again. Eventually she says, "The thing is. I didn't care at all. It's not like one day I was looking down the barrel of a gun at some guy with four kids and had an epiphany. I don't know if I would have left at all if-- if Rohan hadn't disappeared."
"Is that why you stayed as long as you did?" Kade asks. "Because of him?" He breathes in and out slow, the feel of her fingers on his hip easing some of the tension out of him. Though there's still some there when he asks, "Do you think you'd still be there, if he hadn't bailed?"
Ciel shrugs, and she lifts her head just slightly. After a pause, she turns, resting her chin on his chest with an upward flick of her eyes toward him. "I don't know," she says honestly. "I don't think so. I mean, it wasn't--" She breaks off, frowning for a beat. "We weren't /together/ the whole time. I mean, not just-- fucking. But literally not together. I'd be here, he'd be there, months apart. It was very on again off again. It was comfortable because we let it be. Because we didn't bother to look too hard at anything." She pauses again, then says with emphasis, "/I/ didn't bother to look too hard at anything. I didn't want to." Her fingers still against his hip for the last question, and she catches her breath before saying, "I don't know. Maybe."
Kade doesn't look down at Ciel. Though it's hard to tell if he's avoiding it or he's just deep in thought. His blue eyes have a look to them as if he's turning something over behind them. He nods a little, as he digests all that. "I'm not going to act like it was the same. But...those years I spent behind that stupid desk, in the last one especially, I got to where I didn't even mind it a lot of days. They just kind of blurred together, and I didn't have to think about the guy I'd been, or what I'd lost. I felt like I was a shadow of who I used to be. But I almost wanted to be, a lot of the time. Thinking about what was gone stung so much I just kind of wanted the old me to disappear."
"Yeah," Ciel says, turning to settle her cheek against his shoulder again. "Except your blurry days didn't get anyone killed."
Kade lets out a low "Heh." He can't argue with that. "At least I've got that going for me, I suppose." His eyes finally tick down at her. "Look. I'm not going to be all 'oh baby it doesn't matter.' I mean, of course it does. You're the one carrying it, and I can't even pretend to know what that's like. But...I'm not going to stop caring about you just because you did some lousy shit. I meant what I said before. Like, maybe if you told me some of those stories, they'd piss me off. But you I don't think I could ever be ashamed of you. And I hope I never make you feel like you should be, for yourself."
Ciel exhales a quiet laugh, and this time she pushes up to look down at him more fully, hovering with one arm braced against the bed at his opposite hip. "That's super sweet, Ember," she says, and on her lips, it sounds more endearment than code name. "But I fucking promise you could be ashamed of me." Despite these words, she leans down for a kiss, sweet and short, and then murmurs, "I'm gonna try not to push it, though."
"I think you're harder on yourself than I could be," Kade says, after returning the kiss. One hand reaching up to play with her tangled hair, twining some around his finger. "It's a particular talent you have."
"Maybe you're just not hard enough," Ciel suggests, and though it sounds like it might be a joke, there's a serious edge in her eyes as she watches him.
"I thought we already went over how hard I was earlier tonight," Kade double-entendres. Because of course he does. He flashes her a little grin, but he's still taking enough in from this that he can't be entirely light. He settles back on her bed. "Maybe I'm not. Maybe I just don't want to live in the past. The good parts or the bad parts. In New York you can be a new man, as the poet's say. Whatever else it is, I have been feeling like it's that."
Ciel snorts and drops down, burying her face in the curve of Kade's neck in the face of that joke. "You're terrible," Ciel pronounces against his skin. Her smile curls against him, and she adds, "I kind of love it."
"I think you mean terribly /hilarious/!" Kade says, in praise of his own brilliant sense of humor. He at least doesn't laugh at that joke. He holds Ciel against him, breathing in the smell of her hair and her skin deep. "Thanks for...I know this wasn't easy for you to talk about."
Ciel shifts just enough to put some breathing distance between them. She watches him for a moment, then shakes her head, rolling back to her side of the bed. "It's not--" She pauses, drawing in a deep breath. "You're probably the only person who might understand it."
"Part of it, yeah," Kade says, stretching out next to her, in a position that's more amenable for sleep. "Maybe not other parts. Maybe I can't. Everybody kind of spun off on their own after Staten Island." He sounds a touch guilty about that. "Maybe those years are just things we have to deal with ourselves. I want to try, though."
"That drive to lose yourself," Ciel says, watching the ceiling. "That feeling like-- the parts of you that mattered are gone. And not knowing what's left."
"Yeah." Kade's affirmative to that is barely above a whisper. He watches her, for his part, laying on his side. "I don't feel like that anymore, for what it's worth. At least, not like I did a year and change ago. I kind of just...gave up for awhile. I don't feel like that anymore. Even if I don't know what the hell I'm doing some days."
Ciel turns her head to meet his gaze, and her voice drops quieter as she asks, "No? What do you feel like these days?"
"I feel like, maybe, I can scratch out a life here that I'm OK with," Kade says, propping himself up on one elbow as he regards her. "Even if it's not what I ever planned on. I haven't had anything resembling a plan in five years. Still don't, really. I'm making this whole New York thing up as I go along." He laughs as he says it, a little incredulously. Back in the The Good Old Days, Kade was never without a plan. Mapped out in exhaustive detail. "But it feels like something that makes me want to /try/ again."
Ciel's mouth curves into a lopsided smile, and she lifts a hand to brush her thumb at the corner of his mouth, just because she can. "Good," she says. "Because New York got a whole lot better when you showed up."
"You are one of the things making me want to make a proper try at this, I will admit," Kade says, easing down from balancing on his elbow, back to the pillow, scooting a little closer to her as she touches his face like that. His eyes blink sleepily, though for the moment they stay conscious to rest warmly on hers.
Ciel stares over at Kade for a long moment, her smile lingering, her eyes bright, and then she flops suddenly onto her back and jerks her pillow up over her face. Muffled, she says, "we'd better go to sleep before I say something I'm gonna regret."
"Oh my god," Kade laughs at the antics with the pillow. He can't help himself. "You've got me all curious now." But not curious enough to ask about it in any kind of pressing way, apparently. Maybe he also suspects it might be better if he doesn't, tonight. Instead, he just lets his eyes close and sidles up against her, for spooning purposes.Ciel does not satisfy Kade's curiosity, which is probably for the best. She does sneak another quick kiss, though, and then shifts on her side to snuggle up next to him, tugging his arm around her middle and the blankets up to their chins as they drift off.