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Moving House

Posted on Sun Dec 24th, 2023 @ 2:15 by Matteo Beneventi & Phoebe Hunter

Chapter: Winter's Crest Festival
Location: Matt's New Place, just outside of New Cresthill
3307 words - 6.6 OF Standard Post Measure

Phoebe grinned as the bike followed behind her at a steady pace as she turned into what she was going to hope was a familiar route. She parked the car slightly to the left of the parking area to allow the man who owned the place better access. It took a moment to regather herself and get out of the car to offer a smile to the man and look at the house he now owned. She had offered to help him move his stuff into the new house in exchange for his help in building some of the booths with William next weekend. “So how does it feel to be an actual grown-up with a house?” She wondered leaning across her car to speak to him as he got off the bike.

"Like I don't own nearly enough furniture."

Of all the concerns Matt currently had, it was one of the more superficial and yet perhaps the most immediately impactful. There had been some luck in that the original owners had been willing to sell some of the whitegoods with the property, as well as the custom-built dining table and chairs that had been designed around the space it occupied, but he was acutely aware of how empty the rest of the place was going to look until he figured out what to fill it with. Chief concern would eventually be the bedrooms, though Matt himself was very used to making do with just a bedroll. It didn't seem a very inviting prospect for potential guests, however.

Moving to open the door, he paused as it swung open and took a moment to consider how surreal the moment felt. All his earthly possessions had fit into a couple of boxes in the boot of Phoebe's car, and yet now he had an entire house to occupy and somehow turn into a home. Reaching up to scratch the back of his head, he hesitated awkwardly, unsure how he was meant to feel. If he was honest, he didn't feel much of anything yet. His concept of home was difficult to pin down and since it had always relied more on people than places, he suspected he wouldn't really form any kind of attachment to the house until Leo had placed his stamp on it. With a deep breath, he stepped over the threshold and stopped in the practically-empty front room.

The woman stayed watching the expressions on his face before he turned away and opened the door. She knew he was going to be happy but she knew it would take time. Phoebe took a moment to consider him before she moved up behind him and wrapped an arm around his stomach and squeezed him. “You will eventually. Give yourself time.” She breathed not at all ready to let him go yet.

It took a moment for Matt to drag himself from his introspection to lay both hands atop hers. Though the pair of them had disclosed enough about their powers for him to have some notion that her reassurances came with an ounce of gravitas, Matt never really thought in those terms, as doomed to forget the potential to draw too much comfort from her gift as the rest of the world was when it came to remembering his name. Whilst it left no margin for him to consider exploiting her in any way, it remained a slightly goofy oversight. He was grateful nonetheless for her belief, since it filled in the gaps left by his own lack of confidence. "One thing at a time, I guess. Don't even have any groceries in the house yet."

“Yes you do.” She squeezed him once more time and disappeared off to her car returning with 2 bags full of groceries. It was the same thing that she would do for anyone moving in somewhere. She would be practically and assist that way. “Go on, Matt, time to go inside.” She promoted smiling reassuringly at him knowing he needed the support.

"You didn't have to do that."

It was a feeble protest, mostly because it wasn't an argument Matt thought he'd ever win, even if he was inclined to push the point. A strange mixture of gratitude and embarrassment saw him wander through the mostly-empty house towards the kitchen, having at least some sort of purpose now to guide his direction. It was times like this where the imbalance in their experiences worried him, where it too-often felt like he was relying on her for far too many relatively mundane things whilst offering very little in return. The fretfulness was enough to make him bury his hesitation, and he pulled open the fridge to make sure it was adequately clean before reaching around to turn it on. The kitchen had a sunny aspect, and a beautiful view of the back paddocks. His view now. He'd never really stayed in one place long enough to admire the scenery in the past.

"I'll go grab my bags," he murmured, a quick kiss to her temple leaving Phoebe a moment's solitude. It would barely take two trips to unpack, most of anything he owned had rolled back into the swag he'd need to use until he managed to source furniture. The time of year was making deliveries an awkward thing to schedule but he'd slept rougher. Of more concern was not even having a chair to offer, let alone anything to put his tiny television on.

Phoebe smiled at the kiss on her temple and watched him leave. It left her by herself for a moment and she moved into the kitchen to look out the window and admire the view. It was beautiful and she could see how the changing seasons would effect it’s beauty. “Want me to pop the oven on to cook the pizza?” She offered hearing his foot steps returning.

"If you like." It was an agreeable response, for all it was typically non-committal. Having stood for a few minutes in what would eventually be his bedroom, staring at the empty space with a sudden lack of concept for what was supposed to go in it, Matt took very little coaxing to return to the kitchen with the small box that contained an electric kettle and the very basic cutlery and crockery he'd picked up locally. At least, with the dining table and chairs remaining, they could enjoy some semblance of a meal, even if it would wind up in a far too formal setting for what he actually had to offer. "Tea? Coffee?"

It was an easy electric oven that turned on easily which pleased Phoebe as she closed the door to allow it to warm up. She could hear the soft sounds of the man moving around and smiled a little wondering what he was thinking. “Cup of tea would be lovely.” She agreed.

A slow nod was the only response, the act of brewing a pot being simple enough that it was almost a comfort. At the very least, it was something he could do, something he had control over, which seemed a ridiculous thing to covet but no less poignant for it.

“Are you okay?” She asked gently as he passed over the cup of tea.

If he felt even the slightest bit surprised, Matt realised with a half-smile that he really shouldn't. There were times when it still didn't feel like it had truly sunk in, Phoebe's intuition and the fact that she seemed to barely struggle at all in maintaining him as a focal point. In many ways, it was the simplicity of just being remembered that kept Matt from pondering the greater implications of the pre-cog's powers, which weren't something Phoebe liked to talk about in any case and he wasn't one to push. In this particular instance, it only really mattered that she cared enough to be there and maintained the presence of mind to make it possible. "I'll be fine," he reassured quietly, setting aside his own mug to hoist himself up onto the kitchen bench. Squinting a little, he turned his head to peer out of the window and permitted a quiet sigh. "Just...feeling a bit like a fraud, if I'm honest."

Phoebe said nothing for a long moment before she shifted and stood in front of him and gently put her hands on his thigh. “It does fade. I moved out on my own at 17 for university from my guardians care, it was surreal to have my own space.” She said gently trying to reassure him that it was an okay feeling to feel.

"It just seems, of all the things to worry about, owning a house shouldn't be so close to the top of the list." Anchoring to one place was an alien concept and, from his unique perspective, it posed a challenge to Matt that many others didn't have to contend with but he wasn't comfortable with the preoccupation. There were bigger things at play, things that had been even more on his mind since the head mistress had stopped by the pub, and his mounting frustration at feeling impotent to assist wasn't helping matters. "It's been a weird few months." Reaching out, he settled his palms either side of her neck. "For both of us."

Phoebe choked back laughter and shook her head. “This is not my strangest couple of months.” She admitted. “London is weird.” She said, not at all ready to reveal her second profession to him yet. “I once had… yeah you do not need to know the weird but just know this is nice and I really like the here and now.”

Though his features were as placid as always, Matt looked at the woman in front of him with gentle introspection for a moment before offering her a faint half-smile. "You do that a lot, you know." And, even though she was clairvoyant, he consented to explain himself rather than make her guess. "Get halfway into telling me something and then just brush right over it." It was a fragile topic to broach, one that he'd never really known how to point out in the past because it wasn't as if he felt entitled to her secrets, only that he worried she felt she couldn't trust him with them. Matt was more than aware he wasn't particularly good at interpersonal connection but it bothered him to consider that he wasn't fit for confiding in.

Busted - Phoebe realised as she had been caught out and nodded in agreement. If this was going to go anywhere he needed to know at least something about her that made her special other than she had a really unique ability. There had to be something to make her trained enough to take on the bad guys of the world. "You are right... I just have not always been a teacher and well... I am trying to change. This ... me and you, it is nice and I do not want to spoil it." She was not even bending any type of truth with her words.

"You're not the only one with a past you might prefer to leave well behind them," Matt reminded her. If anyone understood the difficulty of fessing up to previous mistakes, it was him. Did he really want her to know how many people he'd swindled over the years? How many meaningless hook-ups there had been because it was so easy to walk away and not leave any trace? Whatever she had done, there was no escaping that he had been a common criminal for much of his teenage years and wasn't so far removed from that life that he could claim any moral high ground. "But not talking about things doesn't mean they didn't happen. I'd rather you hear things from me than find out in other ways." Reaching up, he tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "And I'd rather hear from you than read it in some tabloid one day."

He had a point but she hoped that nothing in her past ever got into the News of the World or the Sun. That would be a lot of explaining to do for a lot of people and she did not think her former guardian would be too pleased either. “I have not always been a teacher. I was once military.” She said knowing she could only give so much away because of the official secretes act. “I can’t go into anything else without breaking laws.” She explained stepping back to put the pizza on a tray and into the oven.

"Yeah, probably best only one of us remain an expert on that." In many ways, Matt didn't find his upbringing all that remarkable. From dead parents, to a disinterested aunt and loving but ailing grandmother, he'd come close enough to homeless over the years before the foster system had stepped in and made things arguably worse. Landing a long-term placement with a cop who had dealt with him numerous times, who was already in the process of raising a mutant infant and saw in Leo Matt's best chance for focus, had been a rocky affair at first but it had eventually paid off. It had never been perfect and Matt didn't consider himself far enough removed from his lone-wolf days to be a completely changed man but coming to Scotland, seeking an actual education for his brother, forcing himself to stay in one place...they were all the start of an attempt, at least, to do better.

Phoebe was not surprised by the revelation that he had a record. It was not unusual but he must have turned it around enough or he’d be in mutant jail. “So you have a record.” She shrugged as she returned to standing in front of him but allowed him some space to speak more if he chose.

"Actually, no," Matt admitted, ruefully. With a weary hunch of his shoulder, he added, "You need to get caught to rack up one of those." By criminal standards, he could have classified as a mastermind had he any interest whatsoever in egocentric self-promotion. It had never been about that, however, and whatever he'd done, usually theft and trespass, had been purely for the intent of remaining off the radar. "I'm not..." He struggled to put words to the constant gnawing self-doubt. "I don't have a heroic backstory, Fee." It was only one of a handful of times he'd shortened her name affectionately. "Just some unwanted kid who got lucky one time." He smiled. "Well, technically two times now."

“We do not need everyone to be a hero. Mine isn’t heroic, it’s just a dark and twisty path that led to right here and now.” Phoebe very much did not have a hero start in life. She had been forged in pain and sorrow to become a tool for MI13 and then developed herself into a weapon for the greater good, using it for Claire’s cause which was more inclined towards her own viewpoints. “I lost my parents at a young age and came to United Kingdom to live with my only family and then it all went wrong. Some mutants wanted me and they took me and killed my aunt and the rest is how I ended up here.”

Almost immediately, Matt regretted bringing up the subject. As much as he wanted to help, and to shed the constant sensation of being detached to the point of impotence, he didn't want to add to any burden. Both hands settled on her shoulders, his thumbs kneading into her collarbone as a means to offer some comfort. "I guess your powers do place you pretty high on a lot of watchlists, huh?" He wasn't sure about his own skillset, having always been suspicious enough that if the wrong people got wind of them, they'd have a thousand nefarious applications and enough leverage through Leo to force a compromise. For a long time, he'd been arrogant enough to see his powers as a means to their own protection, removed from any attempt at manipulation by the likelihood he could delete himself from the equation before things got spicy. Phoebe herself was proof enough, however, that not everyone on the planet was so easily fooled.

He pulled her forward to plant a kiss on her forehead.

"You know, I can help with that if you'll let me. Any time you need to lay low, anyone you need to duck and weave from." His dark eyes sought hers. "You don't even have to tell me why if you're not allowed to."

The woman closed her eyes at the soft kiss on her forehead and nodded keeping her eyes closed to savour the moment. She knew that intently but it was nice for him to declare it. “At least here I do not have to climb through a window to get in.” She whispered opening to look back at him.

His features softened into a smile at that. "No," Matt reassured, "You'll have your own keys and permission to come and go as you need." He paused and, not for the first time, considered how the acquisition of his own place threatened to change the dynamic they'd settled into considerably. "I'll, um, sort out some furniture in the next week or two. If you want, I can set you up one of the spare bedrooms..." It was an utterly awkward way to broach the subject, and didn't necessarily reflect Matt's own preferences so much as it extended an offer to be okay with whatever she wanted.

Phoebe bit her lip and laughed a little to break the silence that his awkward broaching of a subject that they had not entered into yet brought up. “Wow kicking me into a spare room just cause I snored the night of the power surge.” She teased quietly before she sobered. “Take your time sorting out whatever you need to but I don’t want to be set up in a spare room.”

"I don't want you to be either," Matt was quick to establish. "I know, polite to ask and all." He winked at her then, a rare display of open flirtation that generally indicated she'd succeeded in getting him to relax. It wasn't that he wasn't capable of being charming, more that he'd spent far too long wielding it in unbecoming ways that he'd fallen to overcompensating to prove he was genuine.

He was far too much of gentleman. “You do not always need to be polite. I like you enough to go for dates up mountains and to come to you beaten and bloodied. I want you in my life as my boyfriend and all the things that entails.” She whispered.

Matt opened his mouth to respond and then promptly closed it again. Whilst it was true that he had broken with usual strategy as a means of treating this relationship as something different to any of the fleeting trysts he'd instigated in the past, it had never been an intention of his to swing too far back in the other direction. Life had got in the way of intimacy more than anything else, it was difficult to create moments when one of you lived in a school and the other was crammed into a small space over a pub. Resting his arms looped over her shoulders, he considered the proposition and curbed a desire to grin into a more enigmatic smile.

"Right now, it entails not burning my pizza."

Phoebe glanced at the oven and grinned. “That it does.” She had to concede knowing that the conversation was not over at all but he did have a point about not burning the pizza.


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