OK, You Have a Brother

January 30, 2016:

Caitlin calls Carol, and wants to talk about her recent contact with her brother.

Caitlin's Room - Lakehouse -- Metropolis

A temporary room for your use!

Prior log

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Alex Fairchild, Peabody

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

The call to Carol's cell had come not from Caitlin's phone, but from the Lakehouse land line. The conversation was a bit awkward and terse— Caitlin was clearly quite stressed about something, but unwilling to discuss any details over the phone. "Just please meet me at the Lakehouse, as soon as you can. Please?" she'd said, and hung up.

So Caitlin sits and waits for Carol to get free of whatever obligations she's committed to, slumped on the edge of her bed with her forearms trapped between her knees and one bare heel of her foot thumping against the ground in agitated impatience, eyes vaguely focused on the floor as she tries to think of what she'll tell Carol.


Carol doesn't bother to explain what she's up to, since Caitlin seems to be out of sorts from the beginning of the call; why waste time? There are some hints, as she makes soft grunts, or there may be the signs of explosions and gunfire. But despite the rather active scenario in which she is engaged, Captain Marvel is paying attention; she wouldn't bother to answer the phone otherwise. That's what voicemail is for, after all. When Caitlin ends the call, a little abruptly, Carol doesn't bother acknowledging. Instead, she just puts more effort into ending her situation as quickly as possible. There just might be a bit more property destruction than strictly necessary, as Carol stops holding back quite so much and instead throws herself into ending this scuffle as quickly and decisively as possible. She doesn't quite give her statement to law enforcement at tongue-blurring speeds, but she doesn't mince words or add fluff either. In and out as quickly as possible is her driving force.

Soon enough, the Lake House systems start commenting aloud, notifying those there that Captain Marvel has been detected inbound, and that clearance has been granted to her flight profile, which is also noted to be just at the edge of allowable and legal flight speeds for the area - just a mere fifty MPH below Mach 1. It's only twenty minutes from the time of Caitlin's phone call when the now jeans-clad Carol Danvers comes marching in from the lake shore doors and scans the building, looking for either signs of a redhead in distress, or signs of trouble. She follows the lack of those signs eventually to Caitlin's door, and knocks. "Cait. It's Carol. I'm here." Redundancy, thy name is Carol Danvers.


Caitlin pops to her feet when she hears the 'incoming flier' alert from the League itself, looking out her window. Spotting Carol making her approach, she smooths her hair nervously, palms a bit damper than she'd care to admit, and waits near the door for the sound of Carol's footsteps outside. The door's open before Carol even gets there, and she smiles, a wan, weak expression. "Hey Carol. I know. I… kinda have a problem and I need your help."

She shuts the door, nervously, and follows Carol into the room. She moves to the edge of her bed and settles onto it, knees together and heels kicked awkwardly apart. She hugs her shins, palms rubbing, and tries to look for a place to start.

"My brother Alex, he… got a hold of me yesterday," Caitlin says, fumbling a bit. Despite having just sat, she stands up and picks up one of the photographs on her small desk. It's a pipsqueak, pre-transformation Caitlin, shyly avoiding the camera while the tall, athletic fellow with much darker skin in the picture hugs her shoulders and enthusiastically mugs for the camera.

"After my daddy passed, I was adopted by William Peabody. …Well.. okay, I mean, I thought that he did, but Alex said… I mean…" She rubs her palms against her forehead. "This all sounds so impossible, now that I'm saying it out loud it just sounds double nutburgers. I've gotta be crazy."


Carol walks forward and takes hold of Caitlin's shoulders, looking up into those misted emerald eyes. "Caitlin, honey. Telepathy is not one of my gifts. You're going to have to finish some sentences before I'm going to have any idea what's going on, or how I can help. OK? Now, take a deep breath, then another, and another. Relax. Remember, we went to a hellplanet together, and we made it home. Doesn't matter what this is, we can get through it. Just take another breath, order the words and thoughts in your head, and then speak. OK?"


Caitlin makes a distressed sound, but nods, worry creasing her forehead. "Okay. I… okay." She closes her eyes and touches her forehead.

"After my daddy died, William Peabody— Uncle Will, my daddy's best friend, he… he showed up for the funeral. We were talking and he said he owed daddy for something that happened during the war. He'd make a lot of money in investments and he… well, he arranged to legally adopt me," she explains. "I was seventeen, no living relatives, no family… it'd just been me and daddy forever. Uncle Will flew me out to New York and I've lived here ever since."

She swallows. "So his son— Alex— he's… okay, he does some shady stuff on the side," she admits, eyes shifting. "I don't talk about it much. But he's a good guy, and he's always looked out for me. Last night he picked me up on my way to work and… Carol, he had this safehouse under a little duplex not far from the Baxter Building. Like… this three story deep concrete bunker. And he…" she sniffles, the topic visibly distressing her. "He started telling me this totally insane story, and I just don't know if I should believe it or not."


Carol Danvers listens, without interrupting. Knowing Carol, she probably has a thousand questions, but she asks none of them right now. For now, she just lets Caitlin tell her story, however feels natural to her. The rest can wait. "OK. Tell me his insane story. We'll try to figure this out together." she prompts, gently, when Caitlin runs out of a little steam.


Caitlin nods a bit weakly, eyes flickering as she searches her memory for the words. "Okay. I… this is what's crazy," she exhales, covering her face for a moment. "I remember being at daddy's funeral four years ago. I was seventeen, it was in Iowa, there were… you know, a few people there, but I only remember Uncly Will and Alex," she admits.

"Alex said my daddy died -ten- years ago. And it wasn't cancer… he said daddy got killed doing some kind of crazy, off-the-books black-ops mission for the army, or something. Dad was a mechanic in the Army during the Gulf War, but… I mean, he didn't even really see combat," Caitlin tells Carol, shaking her head. "But Alex said… he… said that …" her brow furrows, and she winces, as if the act of recalling specifics is paining her. "He said that my last few years before my senior year of high school, I was really… sick, like crazy or something, and they did something to my head so Uncle Will stood in for daddy in my memories. Which doesn't make -sense- and it's just… it's crazy, Carol, it's gotta be crazy, but Alex doesn't just come up with stories for no reason. Why would he make this up? Am I insane?"


Carol considers this, and finds herself just more confused than she was to start with. This isn't working. "OK. Let's try this another way. Before we start trying to figure out what Alex means, whether he's right, let's take it back to the beginning. Tell me what /you/ remember of your childhood. You've never talked much about it, and I'm not sure how to put any of this in context."


Caitlin's wide shoulders move up and down in an awkward shrug. "I mean, y'know, what does anyone remember about being a kid?" she asks Carol, her tone a bit uncertain. "It's all kind of vague. I had a stutter in grade school and I lived in a really small town, so I didn't really have a lot of friends my age or anything. I mostly just spent time studying or getting tutored. We lived outside a small town that was a ways from a city so it's not like there was a school or anything. Daddy sold concrete, so I remember… I mean… he was gone a lot, he was travelling, so it was mostly just … well, no, I wasn't alone all the time, because I remember him teaching me how to drive a car in the field behind the property, and um, y'know, I read a LOT of books," she says, eyes darting around rapidly. "And oh, y'know, he taught me some stuff he learned in the army! Like how to set a bone and use a nasopharygeal airway, and to shoot, and uh, like how to do all kinds of stuff."


Carol Danvers listens to Caitlin's tale, and cannot help the scrunching up in her face as she tries to lay all of this out and make some sense of it. The first thing that is occurring to her is that this just doesn't sound right. Small towns still have schools. Or bus routes that take country kids to schools. Home schooling can happen, sure, but it's usually a decision made by parents who stay constantly involved, and their reasons for that choice become readily apparent in the narrative of that child's life. Then, there's the lack of other memories. Best friends. Pets. A lack of explanation about how she took care of herself while the father figure concrete salesman was out of town. And what the man taught his daughter? Possible, sure, but just off.

"OK. That explains what you remember. Now. I want you to try to explain to me, in as much concrete detail as you can, what Alex had to say. What he said happened. What he said is going on." Carol offers. Again, she stays quiet and listens. She's here to help, not to command.


Caitlin screws her eyes shut. It's not a headache— she's thinking /really hard/.

"He… okay. First he asked me what I rmemebered about growing up. I remember… some things. Like the time he and I took apart this Camaro that our dads had been talking about working on forever, and never got around to. Then um he said… a bunch of stuff was out of order," she says, eyes opening to green slits in focus. "Like the memories are real but… like, not in sync. Then he said that he'd been looking after me for like, ten years. Which doesn't make sense, 'cause I mean, he lived in New York, and I was in Iowa."

"No… wait," she frowns. "He said that… he said I never -was- in Iowa. Then he started telling me that it's been ten years, and oh! Oh!" Caitlin's eyes flicker open, startled. "That's right, he gave me a buncha papers."

She dives for her desk and pulls it open, producing a sheaf of folded, crinkled paperwork. It's all very heavily redacted, and stamped with various admin codes that a miliatry office would recognize as for a whitelist Top Secret code. It's all alphabet soup, acroynms and shorthand, with 'Alex Peabody' and 'Alex Fairchild' with a lot of transitive verbs but nothing substantial. Plenty of them are stamped DoD, Army, and the rest have had agency markings obliterated entirely. One has IO partially standing out— then Storm—— and plenty more partial references.

"I don't know what any of this stuff is. Does it make sense to you?"


Carol eyes Caitlin speculatively. Caitlin has an excellent memory for details; this kind of vaguary doesn't make sense at all. But she doesn't interrupt. She listens, carefully, analyzing everything. When handed the papers, she looks them over very carefully, with a critical eye. Jess might be the PI and a lot more of a spy than she is, but she still knows how to read through a dossier and analyze intelligence.

"OK. I can tell you this much: as weird as all of this is, these are real documents. Or copies of them. There's no way someone just wanting to create a cover story would know these names, operations codes. If they did, you would never hear from them. Trust me." There's an ominous tone to Carol's voice as she explains this. "It also means I might be able to learn more. But the question becomes: Do you wane me to learn more? You have a good life. You've been really happy. Do you want to rock that boat? Does it matter to you to know what this all really means, enough that you'd risk all of that?"


Caitlin looks a little bewildered. Certainly lost. She shrugs, the gesture a small, almost pitiful thing. "I … I don't know what it means," she says, softly. "Alex asked me the same thing. He said that if I started looking, I wouldn't ever get to stop— that there is someone really, really dangerous who's I guess kind of on my side, but he's not the sort of person who wants to be found. Alex made it sound like he was already looking for -me-."

"I know someone's been … I don't know, sort of looking over my shoulder," Caitlin admits. "There's been some scholarships I -know- I didn't apply for, and when I got sick my freshman year, boom suddenly I had this legacy insurance from daddy that covered the entire cost of two weeks in the ER. I just thought, y'know, maybe he'd set a trust up for me, but…" She looks at Carol with red-rimmed eyes. "I don't know," she admits, sobbing a bit. "I don't know if I should just leave this alone, or if I even can. I know this is going to keep me up nights if I don't find out what's really going on, if… if Alex Fairchild was even really my daddy, or if it's all some sort of big sick joke or lie." She twists her fingers into knots, fretting at them. "I don't know what I should do. Alex… Alex said that I can't tell anyone about this, but I told him I had to at least talk to you. He said the stuff that's happening, people could get killed over. He said people who could even hurt -you-." Caitlin sounds simultaneously doubtful and terrified at the same time.

"What do I do?"


Carol cares. Her heart is in her eyes, easy to see. But when finally asked to speak, her first words aren't those deepest in her heart. She wants to hug the other woman and comfort her. But she feels compelled to be very clear. So she starts there.

"Caitlin … here's the first thing." Carol almost grimaces before she says what she thinks needs saying. "This isn't a field situation. I'm not in command. And I'm not giving orders. I'm not in charge, here. You are. So what you do is up to you. Not me. You."

But all is not lost, and Carol isn't booting the redhead out on her rump. "That being said, you want my advice, and I'll give it to you." And she starts by giving the confused young woman a hug, because as much as Carol is not a hugger, she can tell Caitlin needs one. "You have to do what feels right to you. Part of you feels compelled to pursue this. And given what I already know about you, I don't think you'll be able to let this go. As hard as what you find may be, I think you'll only find some measure of peace when you know that you know the truth. And I'm willing to face the possible dangers of that with you. I'm not afraid to deal with these threats."

Yep. Carol is pretty fearless. But she's not stupid. She knows there are people out there who can actually hurt her, if not kill her. "Is Alex going to be OK? If we go digging into this, is he going to be able to stay safe? I'm sure neither of us wants all of this to get /him/ hurt or killed." Civilian safety is always the priority for any hero. Right?


Caitlin totally is okay with a hug. And despite the fact she's almost a half a head taller than Carol, she leans heavily against the blonde superheroine, and rests her head on Carol's shoulder while she cries it out a little bit.

Finally, sniffling, she gets herself gathered back up and straightens, reaching for a box of tissue paper and making a mess of her makeup and blowing her nose loudly. "Okay. Okay," she says, visibly centering herself. She forces her shoulders back and lifts her chin, nodding at Carol. "Okay. I…" she clears her throat.

"I wanna do this," she tells Carol. "I have to know. Either my brother's gone insane, or he's been protecting me from something really scary. And… well, Alex is kind of a badass, so anything that spooks him, spooks me," she admits. "So I wanna know what's got him worried. I mean… he was all kinds of hush-hush special operations in the Army. So I think he'll be okay no matter what. But…" Her eyes harden. "I wanna know what people are hiding from me. So I'm gonna text Alex and let him know that I'm ready for the next step. …whatever that is."


"OK. Tradecraft 101. There will be no open texting regarding any of this intel." Carol interjects immediately, cutting off that urge. "If we're going to be dealing with super-secret spy stuff - which I assure you, all of this is - then we need to be taking proper precautions. Sufficient encryption, prior key communications so that even if someone manages to decrypt the message, it is meaningless to them. And you need means to send messages that will not give away either your starting point, or the other person's endpoint." Yes. Carol has been a spy. And she knows how to do this stuff. She may play like she's just a jet jock who loves to punch things, but there's more to that woman.


"O-oh." Caitlin looks a bit taken aback, then chagrined, then irritated, in that order. "I… urg." She stomps theatrically to her nightstand and picks up a chunky and extremely unattractive phone. "So, Alex took my sPhone and chucked it into traffic," she says with a grimace. "He was babbling about security and counterspy stuff, and I was like, 'it's an sPhone, Alex, Tony Stark makes 'em', but…" She eyes the phone in her hands. "He said this is totally untraceable. I looked at it and I think it's running like some crazy ten-k encryption. I guess he was serious," she mutters.


Carol accepts the phone, and then inspects it. She gestures with her off hand towards Caitlin to draw her along, and then heads out of Caitlin's bedroom, heading for one of the computerized labs. She proceeds to run some diagnostics on the piece herself, and checks the results. "It may not be pretty, but he's right. This is very serious hardware, and software. Highly secure. It's built to anonymize the transmissions and buffer them. I won't go as far as to say it is the most secure I've ever seen … but it's close. I think it should be safe to use this to contact him." Clearly, Carol takes this very seriously … and has better technical skills than she usually lets anyone see.

"OK. So, if Alex gave this to you, that would seem to prove he's better prepared than I would have thought." Carol offers. "So. You contact him. And I'll start following up from my end of things, looking for what leads I can find. Then we can compare notes, and work out further communication protocols as we try to follow the leads."


"Be… be careful?" Caitlin tries to tell Carol, but makes it sound more question than instruction. "I mean like, super duper double careful. Alex made it sound like this is some really heavy stuff. You might get in trouble just looking into it. If somone thinks you're actually snooping around, they might decide to just start… what's the word. 'Clearing house'," she supples, helpfully. "I… really don't want you to get hurt."


"I don't want that, either. And I'm far more aware of just how dangerous all of this is than you probably want to know." Carol offers, honestly. "I will be careful. I do know what the risks are, and I know a good bit about the kinds of people and attitudes we may encounter." And she has some really terrible ideas about what they may find, and no idea how to help or protect Caitlin from what she's afraid is coming.


Caitlin nods, trying to supress a worried frown. "Okay. I'll … well. I guess I'll let Alex know I- we're in," she amends. "And then… he'll let me know what the next step is."

She gives Carol another warm, firm hug. "Thanks, Carol. I don't know what I'd do without you," she says, with a brilliant smile.


Carol hugs the big redhead. "I don't know what I'd do without you, Caitlin. Which is why I'm going to help you. You let him know that I'll be looking into things, and we'll pass along anything I can find. Then we can better coordinate our efforts." She smiles up at Caitlin. "Now. You look like you could use a chance to wash your face, and then get something to eat."


Caitlin nods and smiles at Carol. "Okay. Yeah. Lemme, um… lemme splash some water on my face, and then some food would be great." She moves to her bathroom and turns on the taps, then comes out a few seconds later fresh-faced and clean, and follows Carol to wherever she wants to plot Step 2.

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