Freeze Frame?

January 12, 2016:

Another evening at the Institute and a couple of X-Reds catch up…

Xavier Institute - New York


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Who remembers that Bobby plays guitar? Well, he plays guitar. And tonight he's playing it for the kids at the Institute. He's nearing the end of his set, strumming on a twelve string with steels and singing as his ice 'unfolds' across the room forming shapes in rather in the fashion of effects over a panning scene on a disney film… but real.

There's a firefly loose tonight. Better catch it 'fore it burns this place down. And I'll lie if I don't feel so right. But the world looks better through your eyes…

The closest Wanda had been to the Institute before today was when she came to see her brother…when he couldn't remember her. And now? Who knows where he is. The Maximoffs tend to get their hearts broken easily and Pietro's reaction was to run away. And he could certainly run.

Wanda has spent the last hour looking about the room her brother used to live in. Sitting on his bed and trying to find a trace of him to latch onto but she's lucky they've left any trace of him at all. Eventually she drags herself out to watch the icecapades, leaning against the wall and smiling softly at Bobby's singing.

Sitting on a couch, back against a corner, Brin's holding one of the younger children who has been allowed to stay up for Bobby's visit. By holding we mean, the child clamboured into the brunettes lap and laid her head against Brins shoulder, refusing to be moved or let go.

Even though she's obviously enjoying Bobby's singing, encouraging the moppet to join in and pointing out the ice as it unfolds, there's a haunted launch behind Brins eyes … something that adds to just how tired and drawn she appears.

Seeing Wanda come in, Brin raises her chin, encouraging her teammate to come sit on the couch with her.

The song winds down and the kids are quiet. For once. Bobby stretches and rolls his shoulder. "And with that it's time to go to bed kids. See you next week."

The kids, with some protest, get up and head on up the stairs leaving Bobby alone with his two team mates. "Aaaaand I'm parched. Shall we move to the kitchen and chat some?"

Wanda was heading for the couch when suddenly the show was over. She steps back from the kids as they grumble their way off to bed. The wall suddenly seems very interesting as she avoids the eyes of any curious student. No one wants gypsies near childen…it's always been the way. When she is finally free of any possible interaction with kids she nods to Bobby's suggestion. "Sure…if they have replenished their food after Pietro was here" she smiles before looking at Brin with concern in her eyes. "Are you okay?"

It takes some doing to disentangle the moppet on her lap, but finally the girl is on her feet and hugging Wanda's legs before being swept off to bed by one of the older students.

Reaching down and picking up her bag, Brin gestures to the kitchen "I'm ok, Wanda. Just some things that need to be dealt with. Come on, let's talk." Following Bobby into the kitchen, she raids the fridge "Seems to be well stocked, Wanda." she murmurs as she starts to pass some cold cuts and left overs out - Wanda is always hungry! - and drinks for the three of them.

There does seem to be plenty of food. No alcoholic drinks but really only Piotr is likely to find that objectionable. And, probably, Illyana. Or something. Some members of the adult staff get down on folks drinking in front of, around or within ten miles of the kids. Bobby isn't one of them… but he doesn't drink a lot to begin with and comes here even less so he's not going to complain. He can rock with OJ.

"Nice of you two to come out and help me entertain the kids. How are you both doing?" There's a beat and Bobby glances to Brin and then to Wanda. "Are, uh, have you been okay Wanda? You've been out a lot, we've noticed."

Ooh…food! Wanda finds a seat at the kitchen table, checking to make sure there are no children around her legs first, and discretely starts dragging plates of food closer to herself. She gently retrieves some cold cuts before stuffing them in her mouth, chewing quickly because no one will notice her chipmunk cheeks if she does that. Water will do her for now.

A shrug is her first response to Bobby's question but it does take a bit away from her appetite. "I have been doing a lot of thinking" she finally admits softly. "I am trying to decide what to do with my power. I thought it would be easy. I thought I could make the world a better place but it seems to be getting worse. And if I do try and help people then the people I help don't like it." She pushes away the plates. "I went to Iraq. There are bad people there and I wanted to help the good people there but they did not want me. They said I was interfering. That I was just as bad as the bad people because I just wanted to make my world and not help them make theirs." She sighs and stares out the window at the world outside. "Things are too hard…too much happening. Sometimes I wish I could be as single minded as Partisan…even though she has a cruel mind."

The fact that Wanda had been in Iraq is news to Brin and she sort of just stares for a moment, before looking to Bobby and shrugging - don't ask her, she just handles contract assignments.

"I'm uh, sure you'll work it out, Wanda." It's the only encouragement Brin can give the woman. She certainly hopes so, before Wanda remakes the world into … yeah Brins imagination stutters at that.

"I'm ok, Bobby." They haven't had a lot of chance to catch up recently. "I'm concerned about the device we recovered the other day and…" here she pauses, catching her breath "received a concerning letter recently, that the team should know about I think."

Right. The meta scanner. The small meta scanner. Even if its range was only a hundred feet, devices that small could be hidden in a lot more places than the previous version and used to identify mutants outside of the obvious places. The ones who hide and just want to be left alone.

The vulnerable ones.

"Iraq Wanda? And… oh, right. Soldiers. Don't… don't take it too much to heart Wanda. You'll find your place. I know you will." He hopes that place is with the team but he will ultimately respect what ever the scarlet woman decides. She is, after all, his friend. "But if you want a good place to start we have some things going down locally that are… problematic."

And then Brin gets his attention. "What letter?"

"Is no place a place?" Wanda muses, drifting off a moment before finding herself in the room again. "Local problems? Okay. Let us talk about local problems…though sometimes I think I should try changing everything at once. Restarting the world so it is better, da?" She laughs. "Though I do not think I have the power to do that."

The Witch quirks a worried brow at Brinley. "A letter? On paper? That is odd to start with. What did it say?"

"Bobby and I helped out with a visit to a Purifier recruitment meeting the other day. We found they had a much smaller and more compact version of the mutant scanners that were developed several months ago." A glance to Bobby "We were lucky to get out unscathed, but it's very concerning that they've been able to modify the tech and … well, how are they able to? It takes money to do that sort of thing."

The letter, on paper, is taken from the bag and dropped on the table. The first sheet is just typed words

You've grown up so well

No signoff, just that. The following sheets are printed photo's of Brin, in everyday situations, since she returned to X-Red. The photo's are all taken from a distance but it's clear someone's been watching her.

On the last page, is a photo, taken a number of years ago. It's Brin, in combat gear, in the middle of a fight, cradling a man in her arms …. Wanda might not know where that was but Bobby might, if he's read Brins personnel file.

Bobby was not at the institute then but he's made a point to read up on the files of the people on his team who went there. The picture makes him frown and frown a lot. "That's… that's from your gradutation exercise. The Paragons disaster." She was eighteen. Years ago. "In the middle of it. Who snaps a photo like that in the middle of a running battle?"

No one good, he's sure.

Bobby glances up at Wanda. So yes. Purifiers. Clockwork men still out there. And now… this.

"That is not a very good picture" Wanda offers…but she knows it is not enough. Unfortunately she isn't sure what else to do other than reach out to squeeze her friend's hand gently. "Purifiers…and people like them…will always get support. Some will do it because they believe in the cause too. Some will do it because chaos helps them. Some will do it just to make money. That they have help does not surprise me. Disappoints me…but does not surprise me."

Another long look at the photo and the evident pain it represents. "Who else was there? This 'exercise', it is indoors or outdoors? It might not be a photo, Bobby, it might be a…umm…frame grab? The exercise could have been monitored and this comes from that."

"It wasn't monitored from the School's end…" Bobby frowns and suddenly seems less certain. "At least I don't think so. It'd be good to ask, though, Brin. As for who was there… a lot of them died. Uh… I don't remember the names of the survivors though." There had been a few… but yeah. That'd been a bad read.

Brins over the shock of the letter, at least for the most part. The nightmares are back but she's dealing with them better.

"Nick was there. We were so broken when they extracted us, we couldn't function." This might explain why Brin tends to shutdown in situations of extreme violence "The telepaths in the school had to work with us to bring us through it… it took a very long time."

The questions have her blinking and she looks at Wanda "Outside. It was a routine mission, something we'd practiced a number of times before going live. The Purifiers ambushed us and as Bobby said most of the squad died." She doesn't reference the man in her arms in that photo. "I … uh… didn't think they were monitoring us from the school, but I can ask."

Slowly gathering the pages up, Brin squeezes Wanda's hand in return and offers a gentle smile. "And this on top of everything else. I'm not sure I'm safe to be around at the moment."

Wanda giggles at Brin's concern. "You are around me so I think I can handle being around you" she grins before looking seriously between the two. "I am confused. Was this a graduation mission or a 'real' mission? If it is the former then of course it would be monitored. How can you graduate if you do not know they passed the test?"

Wanda purses her lips in thought for a long moment. A tilt of her head as if she is conversing with herself but quietly for a change. "I wonder if I could…" Realising she has said that out loud she smiles sweetly and changes the subject…sort of. "But you have not been threatened, Brin? You could even take this message as a compliment. The person is glad that you have overcome the bad thing."

"Depends on what the test was…" If it was just making it back… but the truth is Bobby doesn't know. "Brin I want you to stay as close as you can. If you distance yourself you'll just isolate yourself and become an easier target." Beat. "Besides if you stay near Wanda she can turn the next person who threatens you into a rabbit." Or a wallaby. Or a drop bear. Or a dingo. Or something.

Ordinarily Bobby wouldn't 'instruct' like that and they're not orders of any kind to be sure. Bobby doesn't give orders. But he can tell when a friend is thinking of doing something stupid.

"It's fairly… I dunno, stalker-y, Wanda. But I guess you could be right. We'll keep an eye out." Mean time… "Now, I'm going to go fish out the cake I know they're hiding in the garage 'fridge. I'll be back. You two better be here to help me eat it when I get here." He winks and heads on out to the next room.

"It wasn't a test." Or at least as far as Brin understood it. "It was a mission. I can't remember what for though." The whole situation had been so traumatic, her mind had kind of shattered and been patched together by telepaths. "Not threatened, no, Wanda. Unless you consider someone telling you they're watching … " She doesn't take it as a compliment … and it's worrying her.

As Bobby 'instructs', Brin smiles just a little bit "I'll stick close, Bobby." She knows what Wanda could do and then Bobby mentions cake! "Cake! I'll be here … you're my ride back, after all."

"Why is cake in the fridge?" Wanda asks before nodding sagely. "I suppose having pictures taken of you is bad but everyone takes pictures these days." A pause. "Which is not a good thing. You cannot remember the mission? And it was for the people who live here? Why can't you just ask them what it was about? But we can talk about that later. We have cake to eat."

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