Now It's All About Control

August 28, 2015:

Loki is a total jerk.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It's been days since she's last ran into the X-Men; or at least parts of them, some of them managing to reach her in their times of need which was her time of need as well. It was all.. just rather confusing. There were glimpses here and there in her dreams, often times those glimpses would come when dealing with the brown haired woman, Meyers, and part of that when she sees some of the team upon the prowl and roaming with their heroics.

It's brought her back to Westchester, Salem Center most likely, the tallest building perched upon as she watches Xavier institute from afar, remaining upon the edge of a knife in a blade with the means to approach and the many reasons not to.

She thinks they mean to kill her. But not in the traditional sense. For somewhere in there; she believes that she really is Mackenzie Green. A woman torn asunder with self hatred and loathing, wanting to put an end to the mutant menace and soon after, herself. But.. they continued to call her Jean. And that building held the answers. That building also possibly held the man with the wonderful, calming smile and brown eyes. Did he lead her there?

Her hand grasps at the back of her neck as the collar delivers a row of pain that she's used to, as well as a dose of barbiturates to keep the brain in a lull, her shoulders immediately lighting a flame which sparks a light in a slightly dark spot, a beacon that burns the tall brick-masoned building just enough to char the stones.

She hasn't eaten, she hasn't slept. And she was getting highly irritable.

Television is a fascinating thing. One isn't reliant on one particular person to deliver news that they have seen across the Universe…or rather, this particular realm. Instead, one can merely press a button and watch what is happening nearby or far away.

Some of the programs have proven to be quite interesting.

He's figured out, fairly easily, which are false and which are true…the false ones he has little time for, but the real…now those are interesting. Those are worth watching.

Those have given him an idea.

He's been waiting for this 'Master Darque' to get back to him for far too long. It's time to take things into his own hands. So Loki, Prince of Asgard and Prince of Chaos and Lies, has sought out one who has intrigued him. Somehow, he has managed to get to the rooftop that Jean…nee Mackenzie is perched on and strides easily to her side to look out at the Institute as well.

"It's peaceful, isn't it? Imposing, yet…welcoming. A strange sort of dichotomy one rarely sees in this Realm."

His sceptre is twirled easily in his hand once before he rests one foot on the lip of the roof. "Makes one wonder just -what- goes on in there, doesn't it? Like it's holding these secrets…"

**

XAVIER INSTITUTE

"Our psychic rapport does seem strengthened by the Cerebro device, but I find the telepathic strain is relieved, only to be replaced by one of a more, uh… umm…"

Pulling the recording device away, Scott sighs. He's alone in his office, well after sundown, and has found himself lost in his explanation. He walks to his window, looking out over the grounds for a moment or two, until the word finally comes to him.

"'Physical' nature. Not quite a migraine, but…" He grimaces. "… but bad enough. Still, I believe it to be better than the…"

Slowly, Scott lowers the recording device and turns back to the window. He peers out at the countryside, and a quiet gasp comes to his lips. That voice, coming through his mind-link with Jean… it wasn't hers.

The recording device is exchanged with the X-Communicator on his desk. "Kurt, would you join me in my office, please?"

Kurt Wagner appears in Scott's office in a matter of seconds. He had been in the study, stacking a few books on the top shelf and enjoying, for them, a certain amount of quiet. It had been days since anyone had tried to kill him, one might begin to feel like a functional person again if things continued that way. So, of course, they obviously couldn't.

Kurt arrives balanced on the back of one of the chairs in Scott's office, his feet wrapping around the top of it as he cocks his head, "O Hauptman, mein Hauptman, you called?"

The appearance of the man was missed, but even as she burned away she did not move at the sound of his voice. Her eyes narrow over the thick of her jacket that remains intact, staring into the building as her eyes slowly cant in his direction, arms soon dropping to press her hands against the ledge. "Yes." She admits, her jaw tensing and quirking as she slowly pushes herself upright, both hands held outright to keep her balance as she turns ever so slightly to face him. Her hair was starting to lift, the fire catching them as bloodshot eyes draw downward.

"Like the light in a dark place. A beacon of hope.." She.. didn't know where those words came from, and it gives her pause. "Something like that doesn't belong in this world."

Grave, it seems.. but she hops down from her ledge to shove her hands into her pocket, concentrating as best as she could to get the fires to quell. "It does make one wonder. But I also know that I'm not going to find out, nor want to. There are children in there. If it were any other instance then.. yes." She points a finger towards the building. "If you have any designs for those inside I'm going to have to respectfully deny you this. So begone, strange one. I'm leaving as well."

*

"I'm sorry," is offered with a smile and a chuckle, "I'm not so easily dismissed." Loki steps to block her way. His eyes flicker to the Institute before he looks back to the woman, "No, I have no plans for that place," now. He looks at her for a long moment before a hand lifts to move towards the collar, "That's an interesting piece of jewelry…" is offered before his eyes then go to the fires, "Oh, you needn't hold anything in for me. I seriously doubt you could cause me harm. You can let it go if it will help."

***

Turning at the telltale BAMF of Kurt's arrival, Scott can't help but smile, albeit it somewhat pained. "Kurt. Hey. Jean… is here."

Its a bomb to be dropped, but Scott is afraid there's no time to explain. He turns back toward his window, beckoning for Kurt to join him. He's been wearing the tactical visor around the clock, given Hank's modifications that serve to link it with Cerebro. "Jean and I share a psychic rapport. A sort of mind link. I'm not sure if your eyes are keen enough to see it, but there…" He points. "On the distant horizon, some of Salem Center's taller buildings are barely visible. With my visor, I can enhance the magnification setting…" He does so, with a touch to his wristwatch. ".. and see her clearly. She is like a light in a dark place. A beacon of…"

He pauses, and a mirthful look spreads across his face.

"… of hope."

The smile fades. "But she doesn't see it that way. Not with what they've done to her. Kurt…" He glances toward his fellow mutant, the worry and concern drawing new lines upon his aging face. "I… don't believe she holds any ill will toward the Institute, but…" But she's here. Not only within their grasp, but close enough that… should the Phoenix rear its ugly head, the X-Men may not have the strength to defend against it.

Scott Summers, fearless leader, is uncertain.

*

Kurt Wagner nods, "After the encounter Brinley and I had…I thought it was only a matter of time before she came. She was clearly back to herself, to some degree, although how much of herself and how well she's feeling…that is another matter entirely," he says.

"I don't - won't - believe that Jean, when truly in control of herself, would hurt us. But the Phoenix, as you said, is another matter entire and she is vulnerable in ways she is not normally. But we cannot seize her or try to force anything on her. Jean is the only one who can truly win this war - we must support her, yes, but she does not need us to rescue her - she just needs us to show her that there is somewhere to be and someone who cares about her when she rescues herself."

Jean stops as she was intercepted, her fingers curling into a fist as she takes a little breath inward, eyes closing as she focuses. The fire slowly lessens until his mention of the jewelry has one eye opening, a hand lifting to try to smack away his own as she takes a step backwards. "Don't touch it." She snaps out, her head shaking very slightly. Sure, she could let it out, bring on the pain.. be the beacon.. but.. there was true fear there if she did.

"I can't do that.." She admits honestly, turning to face the building yet again. "..it's like a call." She glances up towards the sky. "..If I let everything go, let it all out, she'll come.." The fire in the sky, the eater of suns, the newborn of the galaxy.

"And we don't have the strength to defend against it.."

What? Who was we?

***

"We?" is asked although Loki doesn't move away. He doesn't touch the collar, yet, but he does glance up as she does. "Ah. I see." The scepter twirls about as he slowly paces around Jean/Mackenzie. He pauses behind her and leans in to whisper into her ear:

"What if I could help you with Her? So that you don't have to be the Beacon. So you can let yourself go…be who you should be…"

It's like a lover's soft murmurs.

"You help me, and I stop her."

**

Kurt imparts important wisdom where Scott is lacking it. "That must be why the Professor insisted that I remain in constant contact with her," he answers. "I'm no telepath, but the mind link she established, it seems, goes both ways. He can be so damned vague sometimes."

Its not as if Scott and Professor Xavier are at odds, but Scott bears a distinct sense that the Professor hasn't been in approval of some recent decisions he's made regarding the X-Men. Their friendship has become, shall we say, strained.

"She wouldn't, no. And I keep reminding her of that." Scott draws a long breath, releasing it cooly. All things considered, he has maintained his composure given the constant battering his mental presence is taking.

That being said, his composure freezes, and his jaw works into a sharp grind. "Someone else is with her." He touches the control on his wristwatch again, his face barely moving as he studies what he can see through his visor's magnifications. "A man. Dark hair, tall. Holding a staff - a scepter? He's tempting her." Scott steps forward, pressing a hand to the glass. "Jean, no. This burden is ours. Not his."

Scott doesn't know that for certain, but he does know what his gut tells him.

Kurt Wagner can't see what Scott is seeing and so cannot speak directly to Loki or what Loki is doing or saying, "A man holding a scepter? Is Jean at a Renaissance Faire?" he asks, then sighs, "No, I'm certain it is some manner of villain who has declared themselves Lord or King or Prince or some other manner of royalty, as if this wasn't the twenty first century and royalty were anything but fodder for tabloids or characters on our television programs. I would prefer a Khaleesi, if it comes to that," he sighs.

"If she can hear you, remind her of her strength and of the love she has, from all of us. And, if she needs us, we can be there in two BAMFs of a mutant's tail."
***

The fire was gone, gone with a clench of her fist which was soon lifted towards her mouth for her to bite upon. She doesn't draw blood, she didn't have the will to in that moment, that sheer power of will to cause due harm to oneself that others would seem to possess. She jerks at the sound of his voice, her eyes lifting up towards the sky again, the temptation was real.. and it called to both personalities that were locked in that struggle. "The noose.." She murmurs quietly..

"I can't let you do that.. the burden is ours, not yours." She shakes her head and takes a step forward, her hand drawn down and dropped at her side. Mackenzie wanted to be free of it all. Free to be herself, free to reclaim the holes in her memory. Free to be and free to know just who this person was she was being mistaken as..

While Jean.. she just wanted to go home. There was a mournful pit within her stomach as she clutches, feeling that pain, the sorrow.. would allowing this Mackenzie the right to be herself, giving her the satisfaction of peace allow her the same?

"How?"

*

"You know nothing of burdens, Mackenzie…" he'll use that name since that yearning is first. Loki continues his circle around her until he's facing her once again, "I have my ways. It will be of no harm to you…but instead, you'll be free." Of a sort. He'll just take control of that little collar and the brainwashing. "I am used to such burdens…oh, if you knew what I have carried over the millenia…" he drawls before he cants his head slightly at her.

"The choice is your's. To stay in this Hellish existence or to be free…"

***

"He certainly carries himself with one of those… 'that' kind of swagger."

Scott maintains his watch, looking on through the magnification of his visor. Kurt's words are carried through his psychic rapport, letting Jean's core being know that not only is Kurt with them, but that his own words are spoken, passed through the mind link for Jean to witness.

"She knows," he tells Kurt. "She can hear us. Deep down, at least. Beneath all of that brainwashing. She… wants to come home, but it's still too dangerous-"

The last word is cut short. Scott seems to be focused on something. "He's dangling a carrot. If she bites, we need to get there."

***

Kurt Wagner keeps himself at the ready, "Then be there we shall be," he says, "Although I will need some guidance as to precisely where to teleport, should the time come for it," he says.

"And 'swagger' can only get you so far, and largely counts only in athletics and hip-hop," he says. Hopefully she's not being seduced by Jay-Z's evil alter ego.

He does what he always does in these situations - he prays, quietly and to himself, asking God for guidance, protection and help, for himself, for Jean, for all of them. Sometimes, that's the only option available.

Temptation. Many often bow down in the face of it; whether it be just that last pull of the cigarette that you've promised your love ones to quit, just because Mary Sue rubbed you the wrong way when in fact, she really didn't. That kiss from an old crush while there's a ring upon the finger and that last piece of cheesecake that you're sure that you didn't need. Most back down from it, but..

This man was dangling the biggest cheesecake of them all, and she nearly trembled to take it.

But then it hits her, that overwhelming feeling of not being alone. On both fronts. That mindlink was treasured with a phantom hug that Scott and possibly Kurt could feel, the rush of air that hits her face allows her hair to fly and tears to fall as a smile draws upon her features.. which were harsh, tired.. now gentle and .. peaceful.

"Oh my god.." She bursts out, her hands touching her flush cheeks, tears immediately falling as she begins to laugh. It was a joyful laugh. Somewhere.. someone out there loved her. Someones.. she couldn't see it before, couldn't feel it. While it wasn't forced on her, she wasn't looking like she was now.

"I can't. I won't. I'm sorry.." She apologizes, sincerely, taking those few steps back to lift upon the ledge, her arms spread out as if she were presenting the world, her world to the tempter. "You can offer me everything.. anything I could ever want.. but you can't give me what I need. But thank you.." It was simple. Find the man with the brown eyes. That would be where her home is.

And there after? She allows herself to fall..

Loki just gives a sigh, "Well, that's really quite a shame." He watches her pose, her radiant smile, her laugh…and even as her arms are outstretched, he lunges forward, grabbing the collar. Even as he holds it, and Jean, close to him, the sceptre raises to touch at her head. Magical energy shimmers about it and envelopes her in a different way than the Phoenix energy might.

"You see, you really didn't have a choice."

With his hand still on the collar, he leans in again, intimately, and whispers into her ear…but the message isn't meant for Jean. It's meant to her friends, listening, on the 'other end'.

"So sorry, boys, but she's mine now."

There's a brighter flash of energy and then the two of them are gone from that rooftop.

**

"Working on that." Of his many talents, Scott Summers is a master geometrician. The optic visor begins feeding him an assortment of data; distance measurements, directional data, which, after a few moments, he brings with him to a laptop computer on his desk. In about twenty seconds, he is able to pinpoint the exact address in Salem Center, where Jean and her tempter are located.

"Right there," he says, tapping the screen. "880 Winston Lane." He's hoping that they won't need to use the information, for a confrontation would have heavy odds of going poorly… for all involved.

And then, Scott freezes in place. He looks back to the window, but between the flash and the message that bleeds through the mind link and into Kurt's brain, he probably doesn't need to say word.

Regardless…

"Kurt! Now!"

He reaches for Nightcrawler's shoulder, preparing for the inevitable disorientation to come. Not to mention the smell.

*

Kurt BAMFs, of course, dragging Scott along with him, but he can already sense that it might be too late…but he carries Scott along, requiring a few quick stops along the way, the two of them suspended for a brief moment in the sky before vanishing again, until they can finally re-emerge onto that rooftop…

Her eyes close as her head tilts back, feeling the weight of the air upon her back.. but it was cut too short by the vicious yank and press of her body against his. Her eyes snap open, her fingers flaring out as she attempts to force a TK blast from both sides that would crush his ribs..

But then there was nothing.

Her hands drop limply to her sides as her eyes flash a bright color green, swirling and mixing.. stars soon shining through her gaze as she keeps her eyes pressed to the clouds. And in her mind? They darken and begin to swirl, where light turns to night and the cloud parts to a column of fire; along with the screech of the phoenix that thunders across the backdrop..

But in reality, her body snaps to, hands clutching upon Loki as they disappear within a flash of light, just in time for Kurt and Scott to arrive upon the rooftop of where they once were.

Of course, being the trickster that he was, allowed them to appear just above the BAMF'ing two, Jean soon dropping down upon the rooftop which damages the building beneath her feet.

'Scott, what's happening?!'

**

The dark-haired man is gone…even though Jean isn't out of his grip. Or is she? Perhaps she's in thrall of another? Even as Jean drops back to the building in front of the two men, a slight woman with long, white-blonde hair steps from behind the taller, red-haired woman.

"Gentlemen…I believe this isn't your fight. Begone, before I call one of my dragons…for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup."

**

The disorientation hits him, no matter how many times Cyclops and Nightcrawler have practiced in the Danger Room; perhaps more so, given how much mental strain it is to maintain his psychic rapport with Jean.

When he alights upon the rooftop, Scott nearly stumbles, but he catches himself on an old ventilation duct.

You don't belong to anyone but yourself, Jean.

Rather than answer her directly, Scott is laying the foundation he hopes will protect her from this trickster. To the blond woman he turns, offering an answer. "You may threaten us, woman, but not the innocent people of this town. Release her at once."

***

Kurt Wagner narrows his yellow eyes at the 'woman' who's been placed before them, "Any fight that Jean fights is our fight, because we are her friends and we will not make her stand alone," he says. "It is you, Fraulein Fake, who should get yourself out of here. We have had quite enough of this tiresome display already," he says.

He keeps himself prepared, knowing he might have to jump in and try to port Jean away if things get too hairy, but hoping that Scott's bravado will be enough - and that Jean has enough about her to keep this stranger at bay, whoever she -really- is…

**

Jean steps back as the woman steps to the front, her eyes darting from Kurt to Scott almost panicked, but settling upon Scott with a stony gaze. He could possibly feel it, that search of a memory, inside that link flashes of pictures go by as her time as Mackenzie, settling upon what she had dreamt of him, her head tilted ever so slightly as she draws herself the other way again. She knows him.. she.. just does.

What was it she was going to do?

Her features showed the internal struggle against mind and magic, her hand slowly lifting.. struggling.. almost as if she didn't want to but it called for it to come.. so much that the air before her hand begins to ripple as if something unseen begins to pass through her very fingertips.

Somewhere.. inside.. Jean was giving Scott and Kurt a means to see the blast before she ejects it.

*

"No, I don't think so. I have uses for her. Besides, now she's free…to be herself. To be her best. And to help me…and who would want more?" It's said with a coy little smile even as a flirtatious look is given to Kurt. He's looked at from head to toe and then back before 'Khaleesi' tosses her hair and looks at the blue mutant through slightly lowered lashed, "I can use you too. Will you come join us?" A delicate hand is held out to Kurt, as if she is offering more than a touch.

As Jean fights the command, she gives another sigh, "Get on with it girl…enough of this! We have places to go and important things to do. Say goodbye to these -strangers-." The last word is emphasized as if to give more meaning to it.

*

So be it.

Knowing what is to come, Scott waits a precious moment, before turning and diving toward Nightcrawler, in an effort to tackle him to the ground. Jean's telepathic bolt will go right over their heads, fizzling through the air enough to make the hairs bristle upon the back of Scott's neck.

Only it isn't a true tackle. Using the momentum, Scott flings Kurt in Jean's direction, and with less than a heartbeat ticking past, he cranes his neck toward 'Khaleesi' and unleashes a blast of concussive energy toward her midsection.

**

Kurt allows himself to be flung, reading the body language of the others. One of the benefits to being among the senior X-men is years and years of working together, facing down threats side by side. It might not be a 'fastball special' or one of the trademark moves they built up in the Danger Room, but it didn't have to be. These heroes knew their business. They were professionals.

So Nightcrawler is flung, grasping at Jean and attempting to entangle her, trying to wrap around enough to BAMF her back with him and behind Scott, knowing that the next step after that is to get them all the flying fudge out of there.

"He will not join us." Jean murmurs out quietly, her fingers soon curling into a fist as she lets out a blast of TK that echoes through the streets.

*THOOM!*

Bits of brick and plaster falls into the streets below, yet thankfully no one was underneath them to be the catcher of that sort of rye. Scott can feel the inward relief of her missing, and then her fighting against the chains in which she was bound, that struggle drawing her to slow her movements as she turns to step towards 'Khaleesi', that same row of TK ready to be aimed at her back.

Until the *BAMF* catches her off guard, an automatic reaction upon her half has her reaching out for his foot to try to grasp his ankle, using her gifts to keep him elevated to throw him right back towards Scott. Surely, he wouldn't be hurt.. right?

But sometimes, extreme free will is a bitch, she pretty much just left Loki high and dry, taking off in a trail blazing speed of fire headed straight towards the X-Manse and behind..

But there was a feeling that she wouldn't be there if they tried to look.. for those feelings, hints and intuitions pointed towards Metropolis..
*

The blast goes through 'Khaleesi'…except she's actually not there. She's really perched on the edge of the building, her eyes now cold as she looks between the two X-Men. "You two are being far too much trouble. I'll return to take care of you later." But for now, she has to go chase after her new 'pet'.

Leaning back, she seems to fall off of the building, only to disappear in another flash of magical energy.

Off to Metropolis!

**

Believing for now that this mysterious woman is defeated, Scott spins around to find Kurt being flung back at him!

Gasping, Scott knows there's no time for a dodge. He moved fast before, but it put a strain on his mind-link, even with the amplifier built into his visor. So, he can only brace for impact, and will roll with Kurt to make sure neither of them end up with any more broken bones. "Since when did you become 'das boomerang'?" he quips.

With Jean flying off toward the mansion, he offers a sigh. It would appear this game of cat and mouse is far from over.

Kurt Wagner finds himself laying atop Scott, the two of them making a small pile, "Better than Das Boot, ja?" he says, pushing himself up and dusting himself off. "Why, oh way, are things never simple with this team. I think life was less colorful with the circus," he says. It should be noted that Kurt, of course, already has a broken bone, although the cast on his arm is smaller than it was last week and offers greater mobility. At least he can move his shoulder now.

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