[identity profile] x-hawkeye.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] xp_logs
Out for a jog, Clint and Matt are surprised to see a delivery man lurking outside the front gate.

Clint knocked his pace down a few pegs as he and Matt approached the Mansion's front gate. He'd challenged his brother to jog the estate's entire perimeter with him, which meant they'd been following the wall from one corner to the other for the last couple miles.

Something on the opposite side of the gate itself caught his eye and he slowed even further. "Hey, you hear anything weird? I see somebody or something over there by the gate. Can't tell what's going on, the angle's wrong, but it seems fishy -- he's just standing there." Which probably meant they were gonna be swamped with X-Men any minute now, but it couldn't hurt to check for themselves, too.

"A person," Matt replied, "Slightly winded, a little sweaty, they've been outside a while. And a slight heart murmur," really, whomever it was, they were definitely not from the school and not nervous or any other worrisome emotion. "Nothing strikes me as odd other than them simply being here," but then, this was also a working school that got deliveries and whatnot all the time. Surely there was some sort of procedure for deliveries and the drivers and such.

​"Right?" Brain traveling along the same pathways as his brother's, Clint continued, "I mean, every time ​Tasha sent me a package last year, I totally just picked it up in the mailroom, so there's gotta be like. I dunno. A delivery entrance or something..." Still, as they continued walking forward, he shrugged and said, "Maybe the dude's just lost?"

"Be a good minion and get him unlost?" Matt suggested, "You give better directions," mostly because he could see and used visual landmarks, unlike Matt did. "And I wouldn't trust anything Tasha sent. The woman is devious."

"That woman has excellent taste in both liquor and candy," Clint corrected. "And a twisted yet hilarious sense of humor. It's part of why we get along." Reaching the gate, he tipped his head to the side and said, "Hey there, USPS delivery friend. Think you're in the wrong place. Where're you headed? I might be able to help you out with some directions." Despite the curiosity now halfway eating his brain, Clint didn't actually open the gate for the man.

Okay, Matt would grant the liquor. The candy...he could take or leave. And the humor was definitely twisted. "This explains so much," he agreed.

"I'm looking for Xavier's School?" the delivery man said, staring at the two men in front of him, then the package and the sign on the fence. The address and everything matched.

Clint noticed something weird with the delivery guy's eyes, but he couldn't quite figure out what. Since he couldn't figure out quite what was going on with the dude's irises, he just shrugged and said, "Well, that's here, I guess. How much stuff do you have to drop off?"

"Just this," he replied, holding up the box in his hands.

​"No name?" Clint asked, shrugging as he walked forward to look at the box.

"No," the man said. "Just this." He waved the box through the air.

Reaching his hand through the gate, Clint took the package.

"It's POD," the delivery man said.

"Well, crap," Clint muttered. "Matt, you got any cash on you?"

"Uh...." he patted his pockets, coming up with his room key and his iPod with headset and some change. Checking it, he held it out in his hand, "87 cents. You?"

"My last Twizzler," Clint said, jokingly extending his hand with the candy in it. "Hey, guy. I got a Twizzler, will that do?"

"Yes," the delivery man said. He reached out and snatched the Twizzler away from Clint.

"Uh?" Clint responded, blinking. "What?"

He didn't have time for any further comment, though, as the man shoved the long, thin box through the gate's bars. Clint caught it before it could hit the ground and just watched, mildly bewildered, as the guy did an about face and practically frog marched himself back to his truck.

"Matt?" Clint said. "That was weird, right? I mean, that was really weird."

"Even for this place and you, yes," Matt agreed, sniffing again experimentally. "I still don't smell or hear anything. I vote we go get someone who is not us to help."

Clint hefted the box in his hands, then said, "It's not ridiculously heavy or anything." Then he jiggled it from side to side. "I didn't hear anything rattling around, did you?"

"Nothing," Matt agreed. "But I still don't trust it."

"I'm pretty suspicious, myself. Okay, you call Kyle. I'll call Ev," Clint said, nodding as he tucked the box under one arm and reached for his phone with his free hand. "We can meet up in the library. Between the four of us, we should be able to figure this out. Or at least figure out where we ought to send it."

Reinforcements having arrived, the group sets about trying to figure out what's up with the mysterious box. They get a bit more than they bargained for.

"You lot do realize this is library, not a clubhouse, right?"

Topaz's immediate reaction, upon once again finding four grown men in the back of her library, was to wonder why. It was a fair reaction, she thought. She closed the textbook she'd been reading as she walked along and approached the men, noticing they were all bending over a table looking at something.

"What's that?"

"A mysterious package handed to me by a USPS dude named Chad. He didn't even stick around for the actual cash, just took my Twizzler when I offered it and booked it," Clint answered, chewing meditatively on his last Twizzler as he stared at the box. "I think we should open it."

"Famous last words," Ev offered sagely. His eyes emitted a faint multicolored glow, synched with Clint to get as detailed an examination of the package as he could. "Don't we normally run mail through X-ray or mass spec here? Just in case something gets through? Look, I'm not paranoid if they really are out to get me."

"Between our powers, we kinda don't need it," Matt pointed out, "It's not ticking. Smells normal. No funny anthrax or whatever. Does it look weird? Or like a normal package?" Really, if it smelled like a duck and quacked like a duck, Matt was inclined to think it was a duck until it stopped acting like a duck.

"Hate to be like, the voice of reason here but Clint, are you feeling weird or anything? I mean, this dude just handed you this for candy?" Kyle waved a hand at Clint. "I mean, this isn't something from..." he glanced at Topaz, and then at Clint and Ev. "That guy, who did the thing, in Alaska?"

"What? No," Clint said, shaking his head absentmindedly. "Nanocreeper is no more and -- "

"You...do realize it's just a box, right?" Topaz asked, looking between them. This was what happened when you put two spies, a lawyer, and a former superhero in a room together, she supposed.

"Wait. How come you know it's just a box?" Clint asked, raising his eyebrows as he briefly glanced away from the box. He still had the most insidious urge to open the damn thing, though.

"Because it's clearly not a dog?" Topaz said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "Now granted I don't get too many packages, the only people who deliver anything to me are from Amazon. But it looks like a box to me." She flipped open her textbook again to keep reading. "Anyways there's nothing magically wrong with it and you're not going to find any x-ray machines in my library. And no, Kyle, there's no nano-weirdness going on." She said that last part with absolute certainty.

Though he remained dubious, Ev nodded and stepped back, and the glow in his eyes faded as the world returned to low-resolution color. "I agree with Kyle, though, it's suspicious," he offered. "Unless you got the world's worst postman. Which maybe isn't too unlikely."

"Just going on record as saying this is weird though." Kyle said with a shrug. "But if you guys don't see anything and it doesn't smell funky to me, and Topaz says it's not on her magic radar, I guess.."

"It's weird," Matt agreed, "but, yeah. I got nothing. So...open it," he held up his hands, "Not it."

"I basically already called dibs," Clint muttered, reaching toward one end of the box so he could pick the packing tape off. He got one corner up easily enough, then gripped it and pulled the whole piece off with one long yank. He paused for a moment to look at the box. "Nothing's exploded," he said. "Should somebody be cameraphoning this? I feel like we should document what we're doing..."

Blimey, Clint clearly got mail less than she did, Topaz thought. Still, she made a show of pulling out her phone, tucking her textbook under her arm and hitting record. "Alright, we'll have this momentous occasion saved forever. Or until I delete it to make room for more pictures of my cat."

After shooting Topaz and her cameraphone a thumbs up, Clint reached for the end he'd just untaped and pulled the pieces apart. The end of a Styrofoam container appeared and he made a face. "Ugh, I hate these." Already reaching for the Styrofoam, Clint wedged his fingers into the corners to see if he could get a grip on it. Once he had, he wiggled it a little, then swung the other end -- slowly -- toward Kyle. "A little help?"

Claws made short work of Styrofoam - Kyle dug his fingers in, wincing at the nerve-grating squeaks as the packing material loosened it's grip on the cardboard. "Man, top five worst noises, go." He said under his breath. "This, this, this, this and man, this."

"Blech," Clint said after giving Kyle a grin. He pulled the Styrofoam coffin out of the box, then sat it on the table and pulled out his pocket knife so he could slice through the tape holding the coffin together. "This is ridiculous," he muttered, finally getting to the end. Prying it open was no problem after that. Keeping his jaw from hitting the table next to the disassembled package was another thing entirely. "G, you sure this thing isn't magic? Cause... it kinda looks magic."

Topaz ended the recording on her phone, storing it away. Clint's list of nicknames for her was just getting longer. "What qualifies as looking magic?" She asked as she walked closer to take a look. "....Okay it kind of looks magic. I don't feel anything off about it though. And if it was dangerous Amanda's wards would have pinged and she'd already be here slapping you."

"What's it look like?" Matt asked, curious. He had a general idea, but there was a big difference sometimes between what his senses told him what it actually looked like. Especially if magic was involved.

"It looks magical," Ev answered, finding that to be the best description. "Or someone figures Clint for a LARPer. It's a rod. Like a steel shillelagh. Four feet long, metal is threaded over it, some sort of writing on it?" He leaned over, peering as close as he could without touching it. "Nothing I recognize, though."

Topaz examined it for a moment, frowning. "Maybe we should call Amanda." She wasn't completely sure it was magical, but better safe than sorry.

"Yeah, probably a good idea," Clint said, leaning over to check out the writing Ev'd mentioned. "Ev, can you give Wanda a call, too? They know about Norse stuff. Maybe get Mols on the line. Cause I'm pretty sure that writing there looks Norse. Ish. I think." He straightened up, hand moving to point at the symbols he wanted to investigate.

It wasn't that he meant to touch the staff, per se. His spatial awareness was far too good for that kind of rookie mistake. Rather, it was that while he was trying to pick out the patterns on the wood and the metal that swirled around it like it'd been wrapped around the staff still-hot, he didn't think to not touch it. So Clint's finger brushed over the etched wood and he felt a jolt like electricity race through the tendons in his hand and up his wrist. Then, instead of backing away as quickly as he could, he watched his fingers curl around the wood as light flowed into him and lit his skin from the inside out with runes.

Combat instincts took over and Ev stepped in front of Topaz to shield her. He knew she was more than capable of handling herself, he'd seen it first hand, but this clearly was a magic thing and he would cover for her while she worked out a solution. He would apologize for her wounded pride later.

Fuck all the magic. Definitely. Matt back-flipped from the chair he had sprawled in to his feet, immediately going on defense and grabbing at his brother, trying to get him to release the rod, the electric jolt coursing through his hand, up his arm and into his body as he touched rod himself. Growling, he felt trapped in a cage. Not a good idea to keep a devil in a cage! Immediately, he attacked the closest person to him so he could get free. Unfortunately, that was Clint.

Dodging the grab as well as the one-handed attack, Clint attempted to wrench the staff away from his brother. He'd never felt anything like this -- so much rage. It felt like his skin was going to burn and curl up off of his muscles and bones, like he was losing his mind and he was so mad about it -- about everything. Clenching his jaw hard enough that he heard his jaw creak in protest, Clint tapped the violent emotion to fuel his strength as he wheeled the staff around over his head, then used the momentum to fling Matt off the end.

"Fuck!" Was all Kyle had time to get out before rolling under Matt as he was flung aside. It was obvious - quickly, terrifyingly obvious that whatever the hell was in that box, it was affecting Clint and Matt. The room reeked already of anger. Sweat and adrenaline rolled off both men and assaulted Kyle's nose.

"What the--" Topaz didn't have time for much else before all hell broke loose, and she was ducking away, trying to ignore the sudden surge of overwhelming anger that threatened to break through her usually solid shields. "Christ" She gathered energy to throw her hand out, putting a shield up in front of Clint to try and stop him.

Using the staff, Clint whirled around in a circle toward the most obvious threat -- Ev. Ev was the most obvious threat. Only there was something there, something between him and Ev and Topaz. Topaz did magic -- why did she have to do magic right now? It was so inconvenient; he was livid about it. The staff twirled through his fingers on the follow-through of his body's movement and Clint angled it so that one end struck the slight shimmer he could make out in the air, shattering it.

Ev's aura flared to life, casting him in its rainbow haze as it reached out to synchronize with the most aggressive mutation available, Kyle's. The aura pulsed, taking a lycanthrope shape around Ev as he ducked under Clint's next attack and slashed with glowing claws of energy. "We have to stop meeting like this, Agent Barton," he castigated his friend. "Drop the rod now."

With a roar, Matt charged at Kyle, shoulder making solid contact with his stomach into shelves of books. That was a start, but Matt wanted more, he liked the way this felt, so free. Like he could do anything. Break anything. Destroy anything. And he wanted to make sure it all was razed to the ground, starting with these people right here. He wanted nothing more than to pound them with his fists, kick them with his feet and feel their bones break, the metallic tinge of blood all around, he wanted it so no one could identify them other than fingerprints.

"Don't touch!" Kyle took stomp to the ribs while he was trying to get out of the pile of broken shelves and books. "The stick!" Which was super obvious advice, but it was super obvious what had happened. He twisted to grab for Matt's knees, and took another kick for his troubles.

Topaz would freely admit that she didn't have the best reaction time. When all hell broke loose she'd momentarily frozen, shielded behind Everett as her mind tried to catch up with what had happened.

Then she saw one of the bookshelves topple over, and her brain caught up with time.

"No, really?!" She snapped at Kyle as she threw a hand out, aiming at the staff clutched in Clint's hands. A bubble formed around it, ripping it out of Clint's grip and sending it floating harmlessly into the air. There was enough anger and fury in the room to easily absorb, and her hand swung around to Matt, blasting him with a solid surge of energy and sending him flying away from Kyle - into another bookshelf.

"God fucking damn it," she hissed.

Hitting Kyle had been one thing since he had lessened Matt's impact with the shelves. Hitting them full on without body armor was another. It wasn't enough to stop him, but he certainly felt it. He wasn't a super spy or X-Man or whatever, but he was Daredevil and it showed in how he moved, even if no one had seen him spar with Clint before. Using the momentum from Topaz he went for her next.

The rage in his chest stopped growing -- it didn't go away, but Clint felt it stabilize into something more usable. After dodging Ev's rainbow claws, Clint leapt atop a set of bookshelves from the table where they'd all been hunched over to look at the staff. He wasn't specifically going after the thing in its floaty bubble, but if he happened to be able to swipe it while he avoided Kyle, Ev, and Matt -- well, that'd be a happy coincidence, wouldn't it?

Bookshelf to floor to a full body tackle into Matt before he could get close enough to Topaz to touch her. Kyle was going to have so many bruises. There was a small part of him counting them up - hip, elbow, butt, every rib on his right side hurt, because he hadn't expected to even be a target in the first place, definitely hadn't been thinking he was going to have to then tackle one of his "hot sauce is the worst, bro" bros into the floor to keep him from going all 28-Days-Later on people. "Guys what the FUCK?"

With Clint up on a shelf staying out of the fray for the moment and Matt being tackled into a bookshelf, Topaz had a moment to step back and try to figure out what was going on. She dared to let down her shields just a little - not enough to drown in the overwhelming fury that was emanating off of Matt and Clint, but enough to feel the intensity.

"Something's fucking with their emotions," she reported to Everett, the only person left standing who was also not currently going insane with anger. "I might be able to fix it but I can't do both at the same time and definitely not when they're trying to kill me."

"Magic stuff, vaguely Norse writing, uncontrolled rage and violence." Ev sighed, although synched to Kyle, it came out almost as a growl. He stepped back, maintaining his position between Topaz and the two berserkers. "Typical Asgardian nonsense. You have an effect on emotions, too, right? I'll take Clint and you handle Matt. Just show me what to do."

"You want the CliffsNotes version on empathy?" Topaz balked. "Focus really hard on making them feel what you want them to feel and try not to drown in their emotions."

She focused in on Matt, who was an absolute horror to read due to his powers, and of course trying to pick him out from Clint was its own special challenge. Then came the fight to squash down the anger overwhelming Matt's mind.

The problem for Matt was that he liked the anger, the calmer emotions that he was getting from Topaz made him want to stop and he didn't like that. "No!" he yelled, refusing to accept anything else and going after Kyle with a mixture of different martial arts moves. He hadn't quite twigged that the emotional manipulation came from Topaz, though he knew that the staff had made him rage. He just didn't care.

Crouching down as he fought the bitter urge to attack Ev immediately, hand-to-hand and head-to-head, Clint grabbed the first substantial item that came to hand and flung it at his friend. "Oh," he commented upon realizing there was an entire row of books on each side of him that he could easily reach and throw. With a feral grin, the archer began backing away from the others slowly as he picked up books and tossed them with pin-point accuracy.

Ev wasn't the only person whose face was fated to meet the spine of a hardback that day, though. Clint shared that joy around. The volume he chucked at the back of Kyle's head was actually a book Clint had read, once -- Eragon.

Kyle heard the book swish just before it clunked him in the head. It was just enough distraction that he missed Matt going for a brutal headbutt, and then a knee to his chest as he instinctively reeled back from the blossom of pain in his bleeding nose. He grabbed at Matt's leg, got a handful of khaki pants, and shoved with all his strength trying to drive the fury-ridden lawyer to the ground.

Ignoring her pointed tone, Ev had dropped his synch with Kyle and shifted to Topaz instead. His aura lost shape and dimmed as it focused inward to open his mind to the psychic cacophony of thoughtless emotions. Despite his experiences with psionics, he was was unprepared for the overwhelming mania and stumbled back a couple steps, barely but fortuitously avoiding the first of Clint's projectiles. He batted away the second and third books before they smacked him in the face, and then directed his borrowed powers at his friend.

"Stand the hell down, Agent, you don't want a repeat of last time," he ordered, projecting a zen-like calm to counteract the magically induced rage.

Growling low as Ev batted away the books, Clint narrowed his eyes and let the calm wash over him. It didn't drown out the fury -- the unadulterated rage -- but it left him seeing more than his overwhelming anger had initially allowed as he flicked his eyes over the room to read the situation. Grabbing several more heavy volumes, Clint hissed softly and threw two at once, then another pair in rapid succession. As those hurtled toward their target, he picked up The Complete Works of of William Shakespeare and taunted, "C'mon, SSA Thomas. You forgot a thing." Throwing the book with increased momentum after calculating angles and trajectories, he finished, "You're not hitching a ride off my powers. Cheater cheater, pumpkin eater."

Topaz dove for cover when books started flying, silently promising to kill Clint when all of this was done. The anger might have been unduly influenced by all the bad energy in the room, or it might have been because books were being used as weapons. It didn't really matter.

"If you're going to throw a temper tantrum, then you can go sit in a corner and think about what you've done," she snapped, gathering energy in her hand and aiming at Clint, blasting him off the shelf...

And out the window.


Topaz threw herself out of her hiding spot and hurried to the broken window, calling, "You handle Matt!" over her shoulder to Everett before looking down to see if Clint was still alive.

Topaz's assist could not have come at a better time. Ev's luck had run out, and Clint would have buried him under the barrage of books — books so heavy but thrown with such precision that it was a miracle he did not lose any teeth or break a bone — had he not been lifted from his perch and defenestrated.

Clint looked up at the sky. There were birds. They were far away. It was restful, just watching the birds. "Oh," he said. "Oh, I'm probably better off dying right here than waiting for Topaz to get her revenge for all those books I just threw around. Ow." Finally turning his eyes away from the birds flying overhead, he closed them and tried to sort through everything still churning in his head. He was still angry. He was still so angry, so furious that he felt like his blood was freezing rather than boiling. "Fuck," he hissed.

But moving, Clint knew, was no longer an option. At least not any time soon.

Ev turned his attention then to the other brother. Where Clint attacked like a sniper, Matt was frontal assault. Taming the rage that fueled that was no easier. Ev's own vision started to go red as he pushed against Matt, and he had half a mind to stop with this psychic mumbo jumbo and just throttle the man with his bare hands.

The problem wasn't holding Matt down - it was trying to hold him down in a way that he couldn't hurt himself trying to get out. Normally - normal people not under the influence of some crazy-ass angry-making spear-thing - you could put someone in an arm bar, lock their ankle, dig claws into a nerve bundle and they'd stop because it hurt so fucking much. But under the influence of the staff, rage replaced all sense of self-preservation. If Kyle leg-locked Matt, the lawyer might just dislocate his own knee to get out to take another shot at someone's face.

The best he could do was try to run the other man out of energy and hang on. He wrapped an arm around Matt's neck and hooked his knee around the leg of a table, and held on for dear life.

Topaz ripped herself away from the window, realizing Everett was starting to drown in the fury radiating in the air. She didn't particularly want another super spy going mental in her library. "Sorry Matt," she muttered as she reached out mentally, pushing into Matt's mind.

And she began siphoning off the rage.

The rage did not dissipate all at once, but sort of seemed to flow out of him like jello. Oozing and sludgelike. As it did though, Matt's thoughts began to clear and he didn't struggle against the men holding him down. Finally, he cleared his throat, then said, "Oh, fuck me I think I drank the worm...," because as much as he liked being held down by two men like this, he didn't actually like being held down by two men like this. He did however recognize that it was needed. The rage was still there in its way, but it was a dying ember, just waiting to be rekindled now.

"We good now?" Ev asked through gritted teeth, holding onto the back of a chair to keep his balance, a complex task because the pain of the bruises forming on his face and the nearly overwhelming urge to punch people and break stuff. Even his aura was more red than normal as he held onto Topaz's mutation. "Someone get some gloves and put that thing back in the box."

Topaz's head was throbbing as she looked up at the staff, still floating innocently in a faintly gold bubble. The urge to break the fucking thing seized Topaz, and she shoved it down, forcing herself to separate from the fury as she cast a look around the library instead.

Which honestly didn't help her mood.

"I hate magic sometimes."


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