|World Keeps Turning|
|Summary||Jens comes to see what X-Factor has to offer. He and Kade reconnect.|
| The front entrance to X-Factor Solutions has been kept meticulously clean, with neat white walls and a floor that's polished regularly by a tiny robotic housekeeper (when it's not broken down). Despite that, the place looks run down. A crack runs from one corner of the ceiling nearly to the center light fixture, and several of the floor tiles have chipped corners. A pair of red vinyl wing chairs sit to one side just in front of a pair of doors that lead to a small gym and a conference room. The receptionist's desk, which is more often unmanned than not, is a tall, black thing with scuff marks suggesting it was bought used. Even the old-fashioned bell resting atop it with a 'ring for service' sign is dented, and the door behind that opens into the staff lounge hangs a little crooked on its hinge.
This is a building that's seen more than a few long years; the only new thing about it is the hand-painted sign across the storefront's glass, declaring in neat black lettering, 'X-FACTOR SOLUTIONS', and below that, 'Mutants for hire.'|
| It is a winter night. The weather is cold and fair.|
The door opened with a lightly squeaking hingle, drawing a wry and rather rueful look from Jens as the newcomer stepped into the building. Red vinyl chairs and hand-painted sign are taken in with a slow inhale as he glances around the vacant.. not-quite-foyer. "Whelp, he we are," Jens mumbles under his breath, raising one brow in a way that draws deep lines across his forehead. Raising his deep voice, he wonders aloud in a North Jersey drawl, "Anybody home?"
It's mid-afternoon on a Friday and Kade is knocking around the X-Factor building. Doing some work on an outstanding job, checking for postings about new work that's come in, reading over messages in the group inbox. All that jazz. He's been upstairs in the offices, but is coming down now, footfalls heavy on the stairs. The slight overlay of light rings over his pupils indicates he's got his Eyes in and is surfing something on the Net only he can see. And the way he's bobbing his head indicates he probably has music going in his Ears as well. So Jens' Jersey drawl isn't heard immediately. But Kade's headed toward the front desk, so he'll run into the fellow soon enough.
Jens steps up to the unattended receptionist's desk, with another side-to-side glance. he picks up the dented 'Ring for service' sign, idly feeling the depth of the dent with a thumbtip, before glancing up, and setting the sign back down as Kade's footfalls down the stairs announce the other's arrival. A crooked grin tugs briefly at his lip. "It's pretty damned rude," Jens grouses, affecting a thinly veiled edge or irritation. "You always getting into places right before me."
Kade isn't so into whatever pop music is playing in his head that he misses the presence of somebody else in the lobby entirely. A blink clicks his Ears silent and his Eyes off, so he can pay this person actual attention. When he spots Jens, his blue eyes widen with surprise. He's surprised enough that it takes him a second to summon up any other reaction but, when he gets there, he reacts a lot. A big, wide grin splitting his face. "Brother Tin Man! Oh my God! What the fuck!?" It's a happy 'what the fuck', as he's striding over to close the distance between them. For hugs. Kade is a hugger.
Jens lets his crooked grin back out for a bit as Kade's eyes widen and the other steps up for a hug. "How the hell are you, Kade?" he returns, speaking mostly out of one side of his mouth. His right arm goes wide to clap a hand around the back of the shorter Kade's shoulder. "If I'd known you was here, I never would have signed up. Think there's time to get back out?" A wry glance around, "I doubt there's too much of a legal department around here, might be able to get away with it."
Kade's hug is a bro-y thing, and involves a lot of warm shoulder-clapping and back-slapping. Once he's done with that he steps back, still all smiles. "What can I say, dude? They take all kinds, even my disreputable ass. Don't think I've seen anyone get turned away yet." He sounds, perhaps, dubious of this open-door policy. But he doesn't rag on it beyond that vague dubiousness. "So what the fuck? You're in New York now? I thought you went back to..." Pause. He does not exactly know where Jens has been keeping himself these last years. He has not kept the best track of his old comrades. "...was it Jersey?"
"Nah, I haven't been back to Trenton in awhile," Jens answers the last first, his grin hanging on despite stubborn habit trying to drive it off. "Been in New York for a couple years, now. Only just rolled back into Alphabet City, though," he chooses the formal name for the borough. "What about you? Last I heard you were riding some big fancy desk in Baltimore, how long you been a 'mutant for hire'?" he asks, a sardonic note coloring the company's byline.
"Not quite Baltimore. I never strayed too far from DC, outside a few months I spent in California with my family. I was in quality assurance for a military contractor a few miles outside the capitol, on the Maryland side." At the 'fancy' part, Kade snorts. "It was not particularly fulfilling work. I've been in the city for about six months now. Got a couple of part-time jobs, plus the X-Factor stuff. Keeps the rent paid without draining my savings, so good enough. I've got an apartmentin Brooklyn." A pause and he says, more than a little awkwardly, "If I'd known you were in New York, I'd have looked you up."
"Thought it was Baltimore," Jens mutters under his breath, grin slipping in favor of the frown he gets when second-guessing memory. He lets the issue slide as Kade goes on, giving a token chuckle at the question of 'fulfilling work'. "Let's not get started on that, alright? That way lies madness." Kade's last awkward admission is met with a short shake of Jens' head, "Forget it. Everybody has their own way, I know." A big breath drawn in, "So! You gonna show me around here or am I supposed to believe you've got more important things to be doing?"
"Nah. Baltimore might've been a step up. I was living in a DC 'burb called Rockville." From Kade's tone, it's precisely as much fun as one would imagine from that name. "I kind of miss that house I was renting in Arlington back in the old days sometimes, but I couldn't afford to keep it by myself after the 'Force folded. And Denise and I split pretty quick after that, so she moved out." His fiance, back in the old days. He tries to maintain some sort of air of neutrality as he speaks about it. And is happy to move on when Jens does. "This is pretty much it, really. There are some office spaces upstairs, and there's usually bad coffee in the lounge, but what you see is kind of what you get."
"Good, I hate smiling and shaking hands," Jens grumps at the lack of things to see and people to meet. "Rough time, KAde. Real sorry to hear it. Least you still got the Lakers, right? They've been- oh, wait. Never mind," he quips with a snicker. "You want to grab some better coffee, just say the word. I was supposed to come in and pick up a packet- hang on," leaning one elbow on the receptionist's empty desk, he glances around the tabletop to spy out the presence of such a packet, "I bet you it's sitting out here, and we can ghost right back out the door..."
Kade waves Jens' 'sorry' off. "No worries, man. It probably saved both her and me a lot of grief. Kind of put some stuff in perspective neither of us had wanted to pay attention to when times were good. At least I'm not going to hit forty twice-divorced." He strolls around the desk, and fiddles with the computer. "I'll just send a contract to your Eyes. J-Bomb's got a form one here. Or I can print it out, if you want a hard copy. All you need to do is sign and, poof, you're spottily employed at whatever comes up." He grins, at the offer of coffee. "We should do that. Or a beer. But maybe not this afternoon. I've got to drive up to Westchester to pick up my kid. She's at Xavier's now, but I am enforcing some quality time on the weekends."
"Saved //her// some grief, anyhow," Jens mutters, trying doggedly to work a weak joke into the exchange about the old broken engagement, before just giving up and nodding to the more efficient option. "Thought it was funny for them to state a hard copy. Figured it was just to make sure I was really in town, or something. Best follow the directions close as I can, yeah? Hard copy will do just fine, thanks." A nod to the eventual promise of a beer, and then Jens smiles with less reservation, "How is Nina doing, these days? Real good call, making time to see her," he notes with a nod. Talk of Westchester draws a wince. "Haven't been out that way since- well, you know. Any familiar faces left?"
Kade prints out a standard X-Factor contract for Jens. "Wallace - the guy who runs this place - checks in here pretty often, so it won't be too long until he sees it's done." He doesn't dwell on his broken engagement, beyond a short "Heh" laugh at snort. "Saved her some grief is probably the truth." It's wry, if maybe not so much a joke as he tries to play it off as. The question about his daughter gets a shrug. "Don't see her as much as I should, actually, but I'm trying to change that. I've had her in the X-School for the past few years, since her powers manifested. She takes after her daddy in the fire department." He does not sound happy about that. "We're going to revisit that situation at the end of the school year, though. With Xavier dead and the state running things...the place is not what it was, man." He leaves it at that, unable to hide a wistful sadness about the changes to the X-School.
"Yeah," Jens grunts with a rueful tone at that last. "Nothing ever is what it was. For better and worse, world keeps turning." The paper is glanced over, a double blink to activate his eye and a quick scan of the page is taken, before he draws a pen out of one pocket, and fills in the necessary blanks. "Funny, I recall hearing a whole lot about how fiery her momma was. Forgone conclusion, really." Name, date, I, the undersigned... blah, blah, blah. "Well, hopefully she doesn't end up burning off the eyebrows of some fella who was totally in the right and didn't deserve her shit." A glance up, with a crooked twist to his lip. "You know. Hypothetically speaking."
"Her mom was only fiery in a 'you need to get your shots afterward' kind of way," Kade says dryly. "Sierra's thing's invisibility. I was hoping Nina would take after her, if she did either of us. Did not work out that way." Shrug. "She's doing OK with it, I think. Has better control than I did at her age. I think she could deal with a regular public school just fine." On the mutant powers front, at least. Jens' comment about burnt eyebrows gets a quick flash a grin. Of the deeply rueful sort. "Did not quite know my own flash in those days, I will admit. I'd apologize for wrecking your good looks, but your face was like that before we even met."
"Ain't that the damn truth," Jens chuckles at the last jab at his looks. The merriment stalls when he has to direct his Eye to bring up his mutant registration number, to continue filling out the contract. "You know, there's more to a kid than her mutation. You never answered: how is she doing? Other than running around the old stomping grounds, //what// is she doing?"
"She's being fifteen," is Kade's answer to that, deeply wry. "Sixteen, almost. Hell if I know. I had lunch with her on Valentine's Day and she kept it short to get back to her busy social schedule. Which I think included a boy." He sighs. "I feel like she was five the last time I blinked. World does indeed keep turning round." He straightens some stuff on the desk, trying to leave it neat for Jeremy, or whoever happens upon it next. "I've got to bounce in not too long, but we should get together for a drink soon. Maybe round up some of the old crew for it. There are a few of us old government workers in Mutant Town right now. I saw Miles Harper tending bar over at my ex-wife's place. Still looks sharp. And Ciel Kane runs half a PI firm around these parts." There's a note of warmth in the way he says the name of that last former colleague of theirs.
"Leave the boy's eyebrows alone, Kade," Jens 'warns' talk of Nina's teenage-ness. A pair of nods to future plans, and a mild look of surprise at the presence of other familiar faces. "That sounds real good. You say when, and I'll be there." Last 'i's dotted and 't's crossed, the standard-issue contract is filled out and left for whatever fate awaits paper copies in the modern world. A breath is drawn in and let out as Jens stands fully upright from his lean on the desk, stretches his back and faces, "Kade. It is damned good to see you again.""Good to see you, too, man." Kade leaves it simply at that, but it sounds heartfelt. With a two-fingered salute, he heads out on that note.