The Door Will Be Open

January 13, 2016:

After the attempt to kidnap Beverly Sunderland, Scott, Betsy and Kitty visit to discuss opportunities at the Institute.

Beverly Sunderland's Home


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Beast, Phoenix

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Beverly intended to call the Institute, as Scott suggested. She really did. But life is, you know, busy. And so it's been a couple of days, and she hasn't had the time to get in touch — that and, at some point, is sort of slipped her mind. She's sorry!

But when she gets the phone call, everything snaps back into place. She apologizes for not calling herself, and invites Scott and his compatriots to come to her house, say, seven-ish? Directions are given. The Boys are informed that they are having guests and they are to be on their very best behavior.

The smell of expensive coffee infuses the air that escapes the front door when Bev opens it to let her guests in. From behind her, two dogs bark, once each. The blonde woman is smiling brightly, clad in jeans and a sweatshirt that features herself, with the 'Powered Up!' logo across her belly. "Scott, thanks so much for calling. Please, all of you, come in! It's cold out!"

Scott has been all over the news as a terrorist. Probably not the best way to set a first impression, even if Beverly saw him display a hint of power. Maybe. Which is why he roped in a couple of helpers for the first meeting with Beverly. Betsy was the easy choice. With Jean out - again - she's handling student affairs at the Institute. As for Kitty? Well, she's young enough to have been a fan of Bev's show - it was an educated guess. On the way to the meeting, Scott shared what he knew, but most of it is common knowledge, she's a mutant, she was on a television show. She's a known activist, having admitted to being a mutant on a national talk show. He also shares what he saw of her powers; mostly solid light projection.

Dressed for a meeting, Scott at least made sure to wear a shirt and tie with a pair of khaki trousers. To be honest, it was the same thing he was wearing to teach classes earlier in the day. Adjusting the ruby glasses on his nose, he offers a slight smile. "Miss Sunderland, thank you for seeing me. This is Miss Braddock and Miss Pryde. Miss Braddock is temporarily in charge of student affairs. I would have brought Doctor Grey, but she had to go out of town for a meeting. Miss Pryde is in charge of our core computer courses." he offers by way of introduction, stepping aside for the two young women with him.

Betsy follows along, though more a part of the procession than trailing in Slim's purposeful wake. Togged out in a bold black-and-grey chevroned that drapes asymmetrically over her leggings and a skirt-length knit tunic, she looks like she could have just come from a photo shoot. Her face is stoic and perfectly composed, not showing a lick of her thoughts one way or another as Scott fills them in on the situation.

When the door opens, she inclines her head a few degrees in a cool nod. "Miss Sunderland," Betsy says, in reply to the greeting. She moves a few paces inside the apartment and surveills it with her unusual amethyst eyes, seemingly not missing a beat. The two boys get a flat stare and then she turns back to the superheroine.

"I am glad you were able to make the time for us," she says in a cultured British tone. "We shan't take up too much of your time."

Last to enter the room is Kitty Pryde. She could, of course, have entered without an invitation. But, not only is that not polite, it's not what she tends to do to strangers and those with which they have important meetings. Dressed in her school teacher attire - button down shirt, pencil skirt, thick tights, hair left loose instead of in a ponytail at the top of her head - she quickly steps in out of the cold. A nice, small, purse is slung over her shoulder, but her usual little purple companion is nowhere to be seen. "Thank you Ms. Sunderland," she replies, face red from the wind and the winter.

Whether she does or does not remember Beverly from Powered Up! is yet to be seen. She does not tend to be star-struck often. That may come later. With a friendly smile, she hops into the house and rubs her arms. "Ooooh, are those dogs? And is that coffee? This is shaping up to be a great meeting already."

"Please," says Beverly, raising a hand. "Just call me Bev. It's a pleasure to meet you." She's grown up with everybody calling her Beverly or Bev. 'Miss Sunderland' sounds so incredibly formal to her ears. "Can I get anybody coffee? Tea?"

At Betsy's flat stare, one of the dogs, the English bulldog, tilts his head, tongue lolling. The other, an elderly French bulldog, gives a small snort but wanders toward Kitty. Yes, he is a dog, and he knows when somebody does (or doesn't) like dogs.

"These are my Boys," Bev explains, crouching to give the old Frenchie a scritch behind the ears as he passes. "This is Sebastian, and the big guy is Hercules. Don't mind them. They're harmless." Usually. She straightens quickly, leading the way into the living room. "Please, make yourselves comfortable. I'll go get the coffee." She's in the presence of X-Men (or, at least one X-Man). She's practiced at not fangirling — otherwise she'd have fainted when she met Channing Tatum. But there's still a part of her going 'squeeee!!!' in the area of her diaphragm.

Who or what she is, Scott doesn't readily admit to. It's not his place. Most of the time, he just tries to be 'just a guy'. Which is really the whole point of Xavier's dream, right. "Bev. Right, like you said the first time we met." he admits with a hint of a chagrined look. "I wanted to thank you again for your assistance in rescuing Kevin. He was supposed to have left the premises, but it seems that he was a bit smitten with you." he sighs, a shake of his head given. "That was quite an impressive display you gave." As he allows the two women pass, he waits for them to take a seat before he claims his own. And there's a glance towards Betsy as he allows he a peek into what happened at the autograph session that allowed Bev to see Scott's abilities in action. It wasn't something that could be terribly helped at the time.

Betsy remains absolutely unreadable, neatly crossing her legs at the knee and settling into the low-backed chair with all the regal poise of a queen. "Cream for me, no sugar," Betsy tells Bev when she vanishes to get the drinks. The kunoichi exchanges a look with Scott and nods slightly, then faces Bev again when the woman returns.

"The Institute is, of course, not just a school for children," Betsy says, getting right to it. "It's a home. A refuge for many mutants, where we can develop our talents in peace and relative safety. It's rather communal in design, of course, everyone teaches, or maintains the grounds, or contributes in some fashion or another." She turns her fingertips upwards in a flickering gesture. "It's a bit of a tradeoff- independence for community."

As the old French Bulldog lumbers his way toward her, Kitty beams and crouches down to give him a good pat. "Hiii Sebastian. Or were you Hercules? Sebastules. Herculian?" She was paying too close attention to the dogs to actually learn their names. Oops. "Coffee'd be great," she tells Bev as she gives more attention to her dog, ruffling his ears and making funny faces at him.

At the moment, Kitty certainly doesn't look like an X-Men who is there to defend the rights of mutants and protect others who might be in danger. She looks like a silly kid playing with an adorable French Bulldog. Seeing that the others have started to talk about legitimate business, she looks up - a bit sheepishly as she still is still rather eagerly playing with the elderly dog in front of her.

Coughing a big to try and get herself to seem more serious, she adds, "The school is there as a safety net and a place where we can learn what we were born with in safety. Those who might otherwise use their abilities in fear or in anger due to ignorance are helped there. It's important."

"Thank you," Bev calls over her shoulder from the kitchen. "But I wasn't about to let a kid get hurt — they're my primary demographic!" She utters a light laugh. "It was pretty clear that he had a crush, yes." Particularly when she was webbed to the boy, not that she's saying that aloud. She comes back into the living room with a large tray. Coffee in one pot, hot water in another, two small pitchers, one with skim milk, the other with half-and-half. A sugar bowl, a ceramic box with an assortment of sweeteners, and another with a variety of tea bags. Four coffee mugs.

Bev has a tendency to go overboard.

She sets the tray on the coffee table, then settles on the couch and begins to pour coffee, her eyes going to Betsy and Kitty in turn as they speak. "He's Sebastian," she tells Kitty briefly, before slipping a dog biscuit to Hercules — who shows every intention of trying to go rub his head on Betsy's leg. She suspects the woman would not appreciate that so much. "Are you asking me to come live at the Institute? I know how much good you do there. I considered contacting you when I was younger — but my career was taking off, and I had… a fair idea of how to keep myself safe. I glow pretty much constantly, but it's very hard to see unless it's completely dark." And she hates the dark. Hates it.

Sebastian clearly appreciates Kitty's attention. His stubby tail wags quickly — if somewhat arthriticly. When her face comes close to his, he licks her nose.

And this is why Scott brought Kitty with them. While Betsy is cold and regal and gets results, Kitty keeps the constant reminder that they're human and they're dreamers, in the grand scheme of things. An Institute Yin and Yang, as it were. "There was plenty of help on hand, though I am glad that you were not taken." he comments as he considers what Betsy and Kitty say and he gets just a flicker of a smile.

"Professor Xavier founded the school on a dream. A dream that human and mutant could coexist peacefully in the world, and that we would be as accepted as brothers and sisters in life." the first X-Man offers. "What you did a few years back was a very brave step to take. There are times where I wonder if I would have the same fortitude that you showed on that night." Reaching to pour himself a mug of coffee, he keeps it black. Betsy can make her own.

"You're obviously rather set up and have your own life - I'm not sure if asking you to give all this up to come to the Institute to live would be very helpful. And you are rather old to be a student.." he gives a slight smile. "Though we're always learning, in a way. However, there is an opening for a drama and fine arts instructor for our students. And it's not quite an offer - I'll let Betsy explain further." He only opens the door a crack, he's trusting Betsy's feelers as well as his own gut saying that she's got a good spirit.

Betsy gives Hercules a pointed look before he can even make that last, hopeful-faced, slobberpotamus step towards her. He stops in his tracks.

"Sit," she orders.

Hercules sits.

Betsy leans forward and pours a few measures of cream into a coffee cup and takes the mug and platter into her hand, stirring the milk into brown foam with a few quick flicks of the spoon.

"Think of it something more like an interview," Betsy suggests. "Above all else, we're family at the Institute. We live together, we take meals, we travel. Relationships form, for good or for bad. Some people are simply not good fits— not that they are bad people. Just that our lifestyle is incompatible with theirs."

"The mission is always first," she clarifies. "Taking care of mutants. We don't have room for self-indulgence or thoughtlessness. No one's perfect," she says. "We don't expect perfection. Just hard work and dedication to something that at times is a great deal more abstract than concrete."

Bev is nodding in agreement as Scott suggests that asking her to leave the life she's made for herself is not the best tack to take, perhaps. Not that living at the institute doesn't have its appeal. She's about to offer her own thoughts on the matter when the words 'drama and fine arts instructor' are spoken. This causes her brows to rise, and her eyes to turn to Betsy when she's indicated.

"I am very much in favor of taking care of mutants, of course," she says. "That's one of the reasons I revealed that I was one. That and there was somebody threatening me with blackmail. Never did find out just who." She grimaces at this, but pushes on all the same, eyes falling to watch Hercules sitting there so obediently. She smiles. He's a good dog. They both are.

"The thing is, if you did expect me to come live at the Institute, were the position offered and accepted, I worry about how that would look. I would be very happy to work with your students — and with all of you, in whatever capacity is desired. But I think I do a lot for the mutant community by being here, a familiar face who lives out in the open. And who kids from ten to twenty-two tend to know and love." This is added with a wry smile. "Even the adults liked the Christmas album."

"That's a worry that is taken seriously. The Institute could become a target, as your autograph session proved. I suppose the best way to put this position is that it's a part time gig. Something to work with on the side - like community theatre, just in house." Scott says with a little smirk. "After all, how many schools can claim that they're Christmas production was directed by Bev Sunderland, music used with permission." It's just a hint of a tease in his voice, though at the mention of the blackmail, his brow raises.

Don't get involved, his brain screams at him, she's obviously got it under control, and it's not his place. If Betsy wants to go digging, that's on her as he lifts his mug to take a draw from it.

"I understand. Believe me," Betsy says, a bit wryly. Cosmo's 2012 covergirl, right here. "It's difficult enough to have talents such as ours. Doubling down by working as a vigilante only complicates things more. Most of us have little to no personal life. The rest of us are otherwise relatively intolerable."

"You are, however, welcome to visit the Institute under more incognito circumstances. And if you're interested in expanding the use of your talents, we train exhaustively in the safest possible environment."

"The Institute has already been a target," Kitty says, looking up from ruffling Sebastian's ears with enthusiasm. Eschewing the chairs, she crosses her legs on the floor and leans against the comfortable chair meant for her. Snapping her fingers just softly, she eggs Sebastian into her lap and then rubs under his chin and at his belly. She's used to a stubborn dragon, stubborn French Bulldogs are nothing.

Despite the adorable bundle of bristly fur in her lap, she looks up at Bev with a serious expression. "As long as we are there, no one will ever hurt the children there. No matter what anyone else attempts." It's a promise and a warning - just in case. She may know Bev from TV, but she doesn't know her as an actual person. "So, if you're worried your presence ups the security risk, I wouldn't. If you're more worried about what the press will say about you showing up there without cause, well, I've got just about a dozen cover stories and pages to put up at a moments notice. My favorite right now isa good fan story about how you are fulfilling a student's grandest wish. Then, you become good friends and keep visiting. It's practically PR gold."

"That too," Beverly agrees. She takes a swallow of her own coffee. "Though, if I remember correctly, didn't the guy who tried to kidnap me catch one of your friends just… This morning? Or was it last night? Those events are at your doorstep already." Pause. "Though I'd love to see an all-mutant holiday show. If we put together something good, I could probably get television promotion. A good thing for all of us." Her mind is starting to go in the wrong direction. She forces herself to stop thinking on that concept (are there any telekinetic Jewish mutants, something about cheating with dreidels, Bev, stop, later, think on it later).

She nods to Betsy in understanding. "Of course," she says. "I'm hardly the only one in that sort of position — and I've done a bit of…. vigilantee-ing? Is that a word? I can deal with lack of personal life. You've been there. Paparazzi at your doorstep every morning, Justin trying to convince you to go out with him when Selena's got a tummy ache." Nose wrinkle. Justin is a twit.

"I'd be more than happy to come see the institute, to help out however I can, like I said, and… yes, I know my powers, but I can always use more training. I've had little in the way of anything formal."

When Kitty speaks, Bev listens, and nods seriously in response. "I would never hurt a child," she notes. "Webbing incidents to the contrary. I don't think Kevin was complaining, mind. My concern is less about the security risk — your school is already a target, regardless of whether or not I'm there. It's more that… I'm a visible representative of the mutant people. I live out in public, among humans, not behind school walls, or in a neighborhood where my neighbors are mostly mutants. Which is not to suggest that there's anything wrong with doing those things! But people know me. They've been watching me since I was a little girl. Their kids love me. If I were to suddenly move away from humans, how might they react?

"Visiting is totally cool, and I'm there. Moving there, I think, hurts us more than it helps."

"Doctor McCoy's disappearance is still under the investigation of the local authorities." Scott says, reaching up to rub a hand slowly over his face in thought. He had warned the Doctor that something didn't feel right about the invitation. And despite the fact that the Netherlands Ambassador called with apologies and concern.

"As Betsy said, if you ever want to visit or train with your powers, the door's will be opened for you." He finishes his coffee, looking towards the two women to get their read on the situation.

"Indeed. You're welcome in any capacity, Bev." Betsy takes another sip of her coffee- largely untouched- and rises smoothly, draping her purse over her forearm. "I think we've taken enough of your time up. Do please come visit soon. And don't be surprised if you get periodic visitors. We like to be sure our friends are safe and in good health."

The mention of Hank's disappearance brings a distinct frown to Kitty's face. She ruffles Sebastian's ears and simply listens in on the others as they make plans as to how Beverly will continue in her capacity as a mutant with the Institute. "As long as you bring your dogs," she tells Beverly, eyes flicking upward with a smirk to show that she's joking. However, she still does wish Hercules and Sebastian to visit. Good dogs like these are hard to find.

"You are all always welcome here," says Bev, rising in turn. "And I am sure that Sebastian will be very happy to come visit you." The dog clearly loves the attention he's getting from Kitty — for all that Bev spoils her dogs, they love new people. She's trained them that way, people dogs. Or had them trained that way, to be fair.

She does feel somewhat bad for bringing up Dr. McCoy's disappearance. It's clearly worrying at least two of the three, and she suspects it's worrying Betsy as well. It's just that the former supermodel is very good at concealing her own emotions. "Can I get you a travel mug for that?" she asks Betsy. After all, she did request it a particular way.

Rising to his feet, Scott sets down the emptied mug. "And if you find yourself in a situation that you may need some assistance with, the door will be open for you as well, Bev." he adds as he offers a smile and a shake of her hand, before he moves to open the door for Kitty and Betsy.

"No, thank you." Betsy nods civilly at Bev. "Thank you again. Shall we, Kitty?" And with that, she breezes out the door.

Reluctantly, Kitty leads Sebastian out of her lap and she pushes herself up off the floor. Grinning at Bev, she brushes off her hands and readjusts her purse over her shoulder. "I hope we'll see you soon," she replies. To Betsy, she grins and nods, following after her. "Let's."

Bev sees the trio to the door. "Have a good night," she calls after them, waving. When their vehicle is out of sight she closes the door, then turns back to her dogs. "You are such a little slut," she informs Sebastian, smirking at the dog. "Not that Ms. Pryde seemed to mind, of course. And you were a good dog, Herc." She pets both of the dogs, gives each a treat, and then moves to take the coffee tray back into the kitchen.

"I wonder if they've got somebody who'd make a good Santa Claus," she murmurs to herself, falling back into production mode once more.

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