|Location||Madcap Coffee - Greenwich Village|
|Summary||Maxim and Irene bump into each other getting coffee and discuss being human shields.|
| Close enough to campus to be a popular study location, Madcap is also a favorite with locals looking for a place for a quiet, informal meeting or a comfortable chair to read the morning news over a latte. Its atmosphere is low-key and mellow, with exposed brick behind the bar and a mix of comfortable seating, tables, and booths. Its large front window provides an excellent view of Washington Square Park. The music is low enough to fade into comfortable white noise, and the air is warmed with the scent of fresh-brewed coffee and baked goods. At lunch, they offer a simple menu of soups and sandwiches.
Madcap is the sort of place where a patron can sit and read or watch the latest episodes with the privacy of their Eyes and Ears. It's common to find patrons camped out at a table with work in front of them for several hours.|
| It is a fall evening. The weather is freezing and clear.|
It's freezing out, which means that Maxim has on a long-sleeved henley instead of his usual t-shirt; he holds the door open for the person leaving as he steps into the coffee shop, looking around as if meeting someone. It's outside of Mutant Town, but the Village isn't that far -- just far enough that his size draws a few more eyes than usual. It's a good place to meet up, though, if you want to talk to someone about, oh, escalating violence in the neighborhood.
It's been a hell of a day, weather-wise. Not long ago it was cold and raining, now the temperature has dipped even lower. Standing in the line of those waiting for their order to be ready, Irene was not dressed for /freezing/ weather when she left her house, her t-shirt still a little spotted with drying rain droplets. So even for her, being indoors where there is coffee is nice.
"I must be lucky to have missed rain," rumbles Maxim as he steps in line behind Irene, smiling down in a friendly-like manner. "I am lucky to see you here, I think. How have you been?"
Irene turns, just a bit quickly at first, then looks up at Maxim--because everyone has to look up at him. "I don't know about lucky," she says, one corner of her mouth quirking upwards in an elusive smile. "Maybe about the rain," she continues, brushing off her shoulders though the droplets have long soaked into her shirt. "I guess it's been awhile," she says, like she doesn't know. It's been months. She basically vanished. "Fine. How are you?" A beat, then more seriously. "How are things?"
"Tschh." Maxim makes a very Russian noise, shrugging his (wide) shoulders, "Tense, in the neighborhood." Mutant Town. "It makes me nervous to leave our friends there to go home to my own place. But I think it would not go so well for me to sit on stoop waiting for trouble."
"Yeah, I bet," says Irene quietly, not smiling anymore. She considers the situation for a moment in silence. "...for you or for them?" She wonders, eying Maxim.
"For me," Maxim grunts and shakes his head, "It is frowned on for me to punch all problems, and my girl, she does not need my --" He frowns for a moment, searching for the word before coming up with, "Protectiveness."
"In fairness, it's frowned upon for anyone to punch all problems," Irene remarks with a tile of her head. "Although I'm not sure I blame you for wanting to." She probably wisely does not remark on Lexie directly, just says vaguely, "Everyone needs help sometimes."
"Da, this is true. Including reclusive former police officers, I think," Maxim arches an eyebrow and then smiles, eyes crinkling, "I hear rumors there will be self-defense classes. I think this is good idea."
"Hm, well," Irene says, which sounds like the beginning of an explanation, except nothing follows it and she breaks eye contact instead. It isn't until a second or so after the mention of self-defense classes that she glances back, "Rumors?" A beat. "Yeah, probably. Given...everything."
"I can offer help, if it is welcomed," Maxim folds his arms, waiting patiently for his turn in line, then leans down a little to add, "I am good punching bag, if nothing else."
"I..." Irene is briefly distracted, picking up her coffee as one appears on the counter with her name on it. She does not wait to drink it even though it is scalding hot. "I'm not really running classes. As far as I know." Maybe that's only 'yet'. "But I wouldn't turn down help, no," she continues, then snorts a short laugh. "I bet," she asides with amusement. "I wonder if you're better or worse than I am." At being a punching bag.
"Well, there is only one way to find out," Maxim grins again, broadly, and orders a vat of coffee and half the pastry case. "We should try some time."
"...That all for you?" It's probably rude to ask. Irene doesn't seem to even consider that, but she also doesn't appear to be boggling, so much as mildly curious. Her brows lift, but not for Maxim's massive order. "And here I half expected you to be the kind of guy who'd claim to never hit a lady," she says in a dry tease. But ultimately her answer is, "Alright."
"Do you want...?" Maxim holds out his tray as an offering; there's an assortment. "I only hit people who hit back -- or hit first. This, I think, is fair."
"Oh, thanks." Irene considers her options, and ultimately takes a cinnamony coffee cake piece. Slight sweet, slight spice. "Yeah," she agrees with a small smile, "That seems fair." She takes a sip of her steaming coffee before adding, "I'd certainly hit back."
"Good, good," Maxim sniffs at his coffee and picks a table, setting down his tray and tilting his head toward the table in an invitation, "It would be good practice to work with someone who will not be hurt if I hit." A cloud darkens his eyes for a moment and he looks down. "I do not enjoy hurting."
Irene glances at the band on her arm briefly, then moves to stand by the table. "Mhm," she murmurs, glancing around the coffee shop a little--keeping an eye on surroundings more than a little--then she finally sits down in a seat that doesn't leave her back to the door. There is a moment of silence before she speaks again, watching Maxim carefully. "You can't hurt me." It's a promise, but also a moment of shared understanding.
Maxim is quiet a moment, then nods shortly, wrapping a hand around his coffee and soaking up the heat. "Very good." He glances sideways and then grins slyly, "I bet we could make quite a show."
Irene offers another smile in the quiet moment, though it is not an expression of happiness, just compassion. "Oof," she says then, leaning back in her seat. "I don't do shows. Not publicly."
"Just for friends, then," Maxim offers.
"Uhm." Irene considers her list of friends. Then she considers her list of friends that actually know what she is. It's a very short list. "...maybe some of them."
"There are many in X-Factor who would be well-served by demonstration, I think. They jump into danger without preparation or protection," Maxim sips his coffee, which is dark and very thick.
Oh they are using the term 'friends' very loosely then. "Ugh," Irene groans, looking up at the ceiling. "I know," she says on a heavy sigh. "You can't...train that out of everyone. Some people don't believe how bad it can go until they see it themselves." She looks like she's a dark coffee drinker, but no. There is a great deal of whipped cream on her coffee.
"Some people do not care," Maxim says quietly. "Risks are easy if you do not care what happens to you."
"It's shit for everyone else around, though," Irene says with another heavy sigh, not drinking her coffee as much as rolling the cup between her palms.
"Da, this is true. Very messy. I do not like to clean up," Max. Don't tell lies. You love cleaning. "But someone must stand in door and hold line, yes?"
The satisfaction of getting blood stains out of things is very real. "It's not the clean up I worry about," Irene murmurs, thoughts drifting darkly. "I don't think I have to tell you there's a difference between holding the line and jumping to the front of it."
"No, you do not." Maxim eats a square of baklava and smiles at the combination of sweet and bitter coffee, "But there is no shortage of small squishy people that I like who I can stand in front of in emergency."
It's a small and subtle thing, but Irene does seem vaguely pleased that she doesn't have to explain. "Most of the world is squishy," she says, lips twisting a little because there has to be a better word than that. "Vulnerable. You're different. We're different." That last still sounds a little uneasy to say. "Even you have to be careful. You got a concussion, didn't you?"
"I am not so tough as you, I think, yes. Most bullets do not bother me, but heavy explosions, this kind of thing, it can be problem." Maxim admits, "I was shot by Bratva. But they had extra luck -- it was cheating."
"Well...don't hold /that/ against yourself," Irene replies with a quick, almost embarrassed, smile for all that it's an attempt at a joke. "...yeah," she says slowly. "I remember. Never would've known how tough you were, then. Didn't really get to follow up with you after that." She's not still bitter or anything about losing her job days later.
"It was...unpleasant," Maxim grumbles. This, apparently, he is not prepared to forget. "But at least I was only one hurt. I am more careful now." Liar liar pants on fire.
"I think that's an understatement." But it's not like Irene would personally know. It's his latter comment that gets a swift look. "I was holding Thompson's neck in at the time or we would've had quite the talk," she reminds. "I'm not sure throwing yourself in-between danger and people counts as careful."
Maxim actually flushes a little bit. "I did not say /much/ more careful."
Irene snorts a short laugh and kicks him gently under the table, leaning back in her chair and drinking her coffee. "Fair point. You haven't been shot since."
Maxim doesn't even pretend the kick hurts, smugging a bit, "Da, this is truth. I only got little sunburn from aliens. This is nothing.""You got sunburnt? Tsch." Irene tsks like someone who is about to extol the virtues of sunscreen. She doesn't, though, instead distracted by a beep in her Ear, which sends her digging in her bag for her pair of Eyes--glasses frames not contact lenses. "Alright, I have to go," she states, checking a message and digging through her bag again a moment later while she stands quickly. "Thanks for the pastry. We'll figure out the other thing." Sparring. Demonstrating. Whichever. She gives him her number before she leaves.