Early morning. Late enough for people to be up, but far too early for the teenagers the house is peopled with. Outside, it clearly froze over night, the world slick and pale with ice.
Rohan is awake, and standing in the common room (chilly now, before the rest of the place wakes), staring at a tablet that displays feeds from Open Hands' security cams. He wears thick socks (wearing thin at the heels), worn sweat pants, and an equally worn hoodie over a t-shirt. His hair is rumpled, his face unshaven and generally it looks far more like a sleep outfit than anything else. Other than the stinger strapped prominently to his hip. A fluffy calico cat has apparently taken up residence in the front of his hoodie. She also watches the tablet with interest
Samad doesn't speak at first. "Shehehshshshshh." He comes shuffling down from the second floor, having gotten back into the city sometime in the night -- no doubt something that Rohan, in his state of hypervigilance, is already aware. He continues hissing against the cold, rubbing his arms with both hands for warmth. Already packed for a business trip, he didn't go back to his apartment. His pajama pants are silken black with cherry blossoms floating up the side of one leg. He is in a constant state of pulling the matching robe closed after it drifts open.
With heavy bags under his jetlagged eyes, he makes a beeline for the thermostat.
The contrast between their sleeping attire is probably hilarious. If anyone could see them. Rohan looks up from his security cams. "This is an old building," he points out. "Not the warmest place." Especially when the heat's not on.
"My bodily fluids activate heat-pain receptors. ...you'd think that'd be good for something," Samad complains dryly. He twitches his nose, adjusting his Eye-glasses to focus in on the thermostat. /Because maybe Rohan didn't/. Finding no issue with it, he shuffles his woolen-sock clad feet to the cabinets. "Did you get any sleep at all." It isn't really a question. It's a statement, spoken in a softer tone that Samad is unaccustomed to using. It's Samad-bot for, 'I know that you didn't get any sleep and I am being considerate of that fact.' He gets out the secret French press.
"Not much," says Rohan in the dismissive tone that really means 'none at all.' He clears his throat. "That's the secret reason I have a cuddly cat," he says, with an awkward lightness. "Better than a heater." He checks his cams again. "It was a quiet night," he reports. "Well. Petey had a nightmare and a cat started wailing at 3am--but other than that."
"It probably heard me coming in," Samad murmurs as he bumps around in the cabinets. He stops, sighing woefully as he turns to look at Rohan. The bag of coffee grounds in one hand and empty kettle in the other, he lifts them both. He is dead inside. "I assume that you are having a cup." He turns back to fill the kettle with water.
"That's very kind of you." Rohan is awake enough to be polite. Wonders. He runs a hand through his rumpled hair, and glances at the time on his security cams, and winces. "I can get some breakfast started," he offers, standing up. He winces again, and this time leans over--careful of the cat--and rubs one of his knees.
"Getting old," Samad huffs at the knee-creaking. That huff builds up into a little yawn which he tries to politely cover with the back of his hand out of instinct. "You should see my knees the day after fight training." Leave it to Samad not to be able to identify a sex injury.
Rohan turns toward the kitchen, and then pauses. He extracts Holly from his hoodie and sets her down on his chair. One wonders whether he would have bothered to remove the cat before cooking if Samad hadn't been around. "Been shot in that knee twice," he says. "Had some very expensive surgery in India after the first one, but it's never been quite right since. It's always bad on cold mornings." Whether or not it was aggravated by sex is something he remains quiet on. "Beginning to feel about a million years old on winter mornings."
"Just don't make it a third, I imagine. I fell off of those aerial-runways once. The kind that hover? That wasn't easy on the knees /or/ the legs." Seriously, Samad doesn't even suspect that Rohan specifically hurt himself carrying out torrid sexcapades on a kitchen counter similar to this very counter. "We've really got to get someone out here to look at things," Samad mumbles in a non-reaction, "Don't know where the money for that will come from."
"I'll put a sign on it," says Rohan, looking into the fridge, his voice a little muffled. "Next time I go into combat. It'll say 'please do not shoot here.' I'm sure the people trying to kill us will oblige." He withdraws from the fridge. "Eggs, bacon and toast okay, or should I be making eggs white omelettes or breakfast sushi or something?" He looks to Samad more seriously for a moment. "I spend every Friday going through a list of potential new donors. Don't have much luck, most weeks. And I didn't really realize how much it needs looking at until I spend the night in one of the rooms. It seems warmer and more intact when everyone's moving."
"Jian and I have an event coming up at the Gagosian. Work by this Spanish impressionist that the both of us love is going on display," Samad interjects his own statement to wince, adding, "Vegetarian. Ohh, and we're off gluten. Eggs would be lovely, though. Dealer's choice." -- "Maybe I'll have luck drumming up support there."
"Is this impressionist like to have fans who are liberal-minded and also wealthy?" asks Rohan, sticking his head back into the fridge (which concealed his sigh at Samad's restrictions). "That's what we need. Mutants aren't currently a pet cause even for woo woo Hollywood types right now?" He rummages in the fridge. "Cheese okay? Onions? I can make you an omelette."
"It's going to be a bunch of beautiful, myopic, and incredibly vain, gay, New York professionals," Samad closes his eyes, already clearly not looking forward to the experience. He takes the kettle off before it fully whistles and begins fixing the coffee. "So, I suppose you could say it could go either way.
He stops. He stops everything, staring vacantly out into the darkened black yard. "I do deserve cheese, today." He deserves it, Rohan.
"Are you sure that's an party," asks Rohan, "and not the ninth circle of Hell?" He moves to the oven to begin making Samad's omelette first. "You do," he says sagely. "We all deserve cheese right now, at the very least. I won't tell anyone. Ssh."
"God help me, /Ainsworth/ is my coconspirator," Samad tells the coffee. "It's my husband's friends. ...from our... gay ...parenting ...class." That sentence was the most painful thing that Samad has ever had to overcome in his entire life ...and he once had to infiltrate a subterranean mutant society for seven full days and nights. In the Sewer.
"I'm a great coconspirator," insists Rohan, airily flipping the omelette. He /can/ flip an omelette without it falling into pieces. He has cooking skillz "I'm very discreet." He glances over his shoulder at Samad. "Oh, I see. Ninth circle of helll, then."
"I did something in a past life, that much has become abundantly clear." Samad hehs, moving around Rohan with instinctive ease as he procures two mugs. "Space or Staten Island Memorial?" He holds them up. One looks like a mug. One looks like a crazy alien thing from Knowhere.
"Possibly you abandoned a small child in a past life and are now being punished for it," murmurs Rohan, sliding the omelette--beautifully golden and leaking cheese--onto a plate, and sliding it toward Samad before continuing on to fry some bacon for himself. "Space," he says. "I feel rather like a alien this morning."
Samad takes a moment to stare down at the empty Staten Island mug for a moment before switching it out. Cows. Cows will do. "I'm sure I had good reason." There is an audible trickle of liquid as he pours the coffees. The smell fills the room. Midway through, he starts to yawn. With no free hands to cover his mouth, he makes a long, whiney, yawny sound.
"Look on the bright side," says Rohan, arranging his own breakfast--bacon and eggs and toast--on his plate. "It's a mundane sort of evil next to what we're looking at here at the moment." A pause. "I'm not sure that was the bright side."
"It never ceases to amaze me," Samad shuffles about for a spoon. "How determined the universe is to remind me of my powerlessness and wanting." He stirs a bit of sugar into his coffee. Clink. Clink. Clink. "Cream? Sugar?"
"It's very good at that," Rohan says, rather darkly. His gaze wanders to the window, and the dark yard beyond. "Splash of cream," he says. "No sugar."
Samad gives Rohan's mug a splash, as instructed, before putting the creamer away. He sets it out for the other man before scooping up his own breakfast and moving to settle at the kitchen table. "I was X-Force, you know. When they first fought her."
"Oh," is Rohan's articulate reply. He settles into at the kitchen table with his coffee and his breakfast. "I didn't realize that," he says. "Although--that makes sense, now that I think of it."
"I wasn't there, with Comet, Psy, and Ember. I was running training simulations with Toro." His brow furrows over the rim of his glasses, "I was still .../deeply/ in denial about my sexuality. And had a crush." Insert self-abasing eyeroll. "So, I volunteered to stay behind."
Rohan's forehead furrows as he tries to track the code names. He takes a sip of coffee, in hopes that'll make them make more sense. "So," he says, "you stayed behind." His voice is easy at that; no judgment on the reason. "That was lucky for you," he says quietly. "But perhaps doesn't feel that way."
"The things she made people do. Ember burnt that woman up so bad..." Samad hisses, shaking his head as he cups both hands around his mug for warmth. He brings it to his lips as she shakes his head. "There are monsters in this world. And she ...she is truly one of them. So help me, if I so much as glimpse her near this building I am going to melt the flesh right off of her face." He lowers his forehead into shadow.
"She took over my mind and walked me around like a puppet." It's a simple, flat statement. Rohan doesn't say anything more, curving his fingers around his mug, and staring at the surface of his coffee.
"You're a psionic?" Samad asks to confirm. They've never talked powers. They've never /talked/, actually. Much of what they both know about one another is peripheral. "I can't imagine what a violation that must have been. Must still be."
"Yes," says Rohan. "I manipulate memories." He rubs his bristled jaw. "That's why--I think--that, unlike the other people she possessed, that I actually _remember_. I was aware through it all."
Samad presses his lips closed, setting the coffee mug gently down. His brown eyes fill with empathy. "I can't touch you. I'm sure, of course, that you don't want to be touched. But... this seems like one of those moments where someone ought to be here to clasp your arm or draw you in for a hug." His brow twitches, "Have you... have you spoken to Jacque about any of this? Or one of her colleagues, perhaps?"
Rohan stares at his plate, and pushes his eggs around. "It's all right," he says. "I got a hug yesterday." His voice is carefully light, all fragile defensiveness." He pushes his eggs around further. "No." A pause. "I did talk to a telepath with some knowledge of mind control."
"Well," Samad forks his own eggs, mixing them some before digging in, "I think you should consider seeing a therapist, someone who might be able to give you tools. That's an incredibly traumatic experience. This... this alone is nothing short of a /re-traumatization/." So many cats, bro.
Rohan swallows. He continues to push his eggs around without eating them. "I get by," he replies, brusquely, voice thick. He didn't sleep last night.
Samad finally takes a bite, shifting the conversation as he actually begins to eat. "The Christmas tree is a nice touch." He clears his throat somewhat, "Not necessarily very inclusive, but a nice touch." He continues on for a little bit about Vega, and how weird it is that she is his cousin-in-law(?). When it's time to clean up, he washes the dishes and let's Rohan get back to his ...state.
"It's not a Christmas tree," insists Rohan. "It's a generic winter holiday tree." That looks like a Christmas tree. He doesn't say much, however, seeming to take some refuge in Samad's chatter. At the end, he eats about half his breakfast, washes his dishes, and heads off to double check the cams and the windows, in his patrol pyjamas.