Coming Home

March 02, 2016:

Nate and X-23 convince Rachel to finally come home to the X-Men Bunker.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Pizza went well enough. Sure, X-23 was mostly silent through the majority of the conversation, but that doesn't mean she wasn't paying attention. In fact, she was. Likely memorizing every word the two siblings said to one another. At least, the words she could 'hear'. Either way, once Nate ran off to do what Nate's do, X-23 would find herself turning to Ray now.

"Do you know Betsy Braddock." Comes her curiously flat question, with the question only being denoted by the slightest uptick to the last name of Betsy's.

"I believe she wishes to meet you." Will be added, after a thought. Laura is trying to become somewhat better with her conversationalist skills. Really.


Considering what Rachel's been eating since she arrived, pizza was a treat for her. And it didn't hurt that Nate was paying, either. It was still an odd experience, sharing a meal with a man who she's met all of twice and insists he's her brother, not to mention a younger woman who's definitely not Wolverine's daughter. But despite that, it was probably the best evening she's had so far, even if it didn't do a great deal to stop her worrying about Nate, and specifically his gun-happy and apparently pyromaniac girlfriend. Rachel's looking thoughtfully off in the direction Nate disappeared when Laura's question is posed, and it catches her by surprise.

"Betsy? Yes." The reply is automatic and accompanied by a smile that vanishes as soon as she thinks about what she just said. "No." She amends, then winces. "It's complicated. I knew her where I came from. And she might know me. But I haven't met her yet." Rachel shakes her head at the tangled mess her life has become, caught between despondency and dark amusement.

It takes a moment for the other thing Laura said to register, and she gets a hopeful look for a moment or two before it shades into regret. "I'd like that, but it's not a good idea. I might not have done it yet, but I've caused enough trouble for the Institute."


+MEET: Nate Grey has arrived via +meet.

Laura listens to all of what Rachel has to say, even seeing that smile that blossomed upon her face for a moment. When it wipes away and those last words of hers are said, Laura will simply look at her a moment. If Ray were to take a peek in her mind, she'll see Laura trying to figure out what to say exactly. Finally, however, the dark-haired assassin says, "The trouble is not yours. You are innocent."

And with those words, Laura will take a step in the general direction of Westchester. It doesn't seem to matter that Rachel seems reluctant to go to the Mansion as Laura seems just as intent on getting her there.

"Come." She'll call over her shoulder, should the red-head not be following at her side.


The subject of Rose and the burnt cottage has been avoided by Nate by the expedited method of ignoring questions and instead asking Rachel about her homeworld. And the pizzas pretty much finished all his pocket money, which is all the money Nate carries nowadays. He will have to raid Xavier's cafeteria if he wants to eat before Friday.

Or steal food. That works too.

Regardless, he had to slip away for five minutes for telepathic chatting. He made a lame excuse, but now he is coming back bringing coffee mugs. Of course he brings the -other- Rachel favorite blend. He also made a wild guess with Laura's tastes. "Chill, Laura. Here, mocha for you. Yeah, Ray needs to visit the school, but lets go slowly about it. Jean first, I think."


Rachel's starting to appreciate talking to Laura. The younger woman might not exactly be talkative, but so far she's taken everything that Rachel's told her at face value and neither laughed nor told her that she's crazy. Considering how tied in knots Rachel got just trying to explain whether she knew Betsy, that's quite a talent.

As is Laura's ability to cut right to the heart of the matter in as few words as possible. Rachel opens her mouth to protest, pauses, and grimaces. She's sure it's good sense to stay at a distance, but good sense is losing the battle to Laura's flat honesty. "That's not…" Rachel begins, and realises that Laura's already turned away. Which leaves her with the choice of watching her walk off, or…

"Damn it." Rachel says under her breath, and jogs after the shorter woman. "All right, I'm coming." She says, in an annoyed tone, when Laura summons her. "This still isn't a good idea." She says, once she's caught up and dropped back to a walking pace. "The people who think I DID do it aren't likely to take my word for it." She hesitates, but by that point Nate's back, distributing coffee, and ganging up on her.

"Thanks." She says as she takes the coffee, but stops dead when Jean is mentioned. "Wait, that's not…" For a moment she looks like she might dig her heels in, but then she starts walking again. "Fine." She says under her breath, expression grim. Someone has issues about their other self having already disappointed their parents, clearly.


Laura could offer platitudes to Rachel's worries, or her half-formed and half-said worries, but she doesn't. That's just not in her nature right now. Instead, the shorter woman will simply listen to what Rachel tries to say. Before, however, Laura can offer anything to those half formed fears, Nate reappears.

The coffee cup that's thrust at her is given a look and there's a slight flare of nostrils. Then there's the faintest crinkle to X-23's nose. "I do not want that." She states in all honesty, as she keeps her hands at her sides.

As for Nate's reprimand? Or seemingly reprimand, Laura will frown slightly, but whatever thoughts are flowing through her head are not said, as she renders herself mute now. Once again, she simply witnesses what the two others now have to chat about.


Nate sighs. "You don't want mocha coffee? C'mon, have you ever tried it?" Because Nate, well, he likes everything. Bad example. "At least the pizza was good, right?" As for the coffee, he can have two. He is not sleeping much lately.

"Fine, Ray? Well… we can delay it a little longer, but sooner or later you have to talk with them. Maybe Xavier too." Also, walking all the way to Westchester will take a day or two. Worst thing? He can see Laura doing it.


Rachel takes the coffee in both hands and raises it to her lips for a cautious sip. It's hot, but not scalding, and she tips her head to one side as she examines the taste. Not bad. Thinking about coffee helps to take her mind off her bigger concerns about what she's doing, and she can't help but smirk a bit when Laura leaves Nate holding two mugs of coffee. The younger woman clearly knows how to say no.

Rachel also sees Laura clam up, too, and Nate gets a light, stealthy elbow in the side from Rachel for being the cause of it. « That was the first time she'd said more than two words all night. » Rachel says into his mind, but then turns to him as if there hadn't been any telepathic byplay.

Honestly, she's torn. She's told herself keeping her distance is smart, but when Laura basically made it an ultimatum, she followed. And now that Nate's offering her a way out, she's not sure she wants it. "It's a terrible idea." Rachel says, like a stuck record, and shakes her head - but in resignation, not denial. "But Laura was right. The facts aren't going to change if I keep hiding." She shrugs. "If we're going to do it, let's do it."


Like a clam, that's X-23 currently. She'll continue to keep pace with the other two and while she's listening to what they both say, her eyes are roving around the area. It's not a terrible neighborhood, no, but when she has nothing else to do she falls back to what she knows. Keeping herself safe, as well as those she walks with, that means looking for any trouble near them.

For the moment, nothing pings off her danger radar as the trio meanders down the street.

It's only when Rachel finally commits to seeing her sorta-kinda-parent that Laura will turn her attention back to Ray. "We will need transportation then." States the young woman in that ever present monotone voice of hers. With those words her gaze will shift to Nate, possibly indicating he should be their transportation.


"I can take you there," admits Nate. Rachel could fly too, but does she know the exact place? Maybe not. Different world and all that. "No one is going to blame you for taking a few days to settle, Ray. But it is also a bit silly to delay the unavoidable, hmm?" He tosses the first (now empty) mug into a trash can and leads the girls to a less frequented street, to create a telekinetic bubble that will fly them to Salem Center in just a few minutes.


Rachel looks between Laura and Nate as the issue of transport comes up. Surely they aren't suggesting… but apparently they are. Rachel slurps down the last of her coffee into the same bin that Nate used, and raises her now free hands in a 'slow down' gesture. "Wait, you're not seriously just going to… fly there and land on the front lawn?" She sounds incredulous, and her surface thoughts are full of conflicting images of the mansion from her youth, and of the burnt-out ruin that it became. It's making it hard to focus, but she needs to make something clear.

"I might have agreed to this, but that's just crazy. Nate, people on BOTH sides of the law have it in for me. Being seen at the Mansion isn't smart, for me or for them. If we're going to do this we need to do it quietly." She looks between the others again. She might still be following them, but her tone is utterly serious. "I'm not bringing trouble to that place."


When Rachel protests how they're going to travel and how they'll be arriving, Laura will consider her response for a few seconds. Then, in that flat voice of hers, she says, "We can land within the wooded areas of the Mansion. They will not be able to easily see us if we use the trees as cover."

Laura will look at Ray first and then Nate, before her gaze settles back upon Ray. "We can wait for evening, as well. " Use the darkness of the evening to cover their trail, she means. The whole cover by night.


"Yeah, the backyard it is," not that he has not landed in the front door plenty of times. There are no other houses in miles and a little telepathy makes it stealthy if needed. "It is not a mansion, it is a school complex. The mansion is where the teachers live… well, you will see. Did they put you in the dorms or in the mansion, Laura?" They are flying fast, although Nate keeps it low to avoid commercial radars.


The sensation of being carried by Nate's powers is… odd. And unsettling. Rachel knows that even if Nate lets go she could catch herself in less than a second and is in absolutely no danger of falling more than a couple of inches, but she doesn't like being transported. It makes her feel out of control. Pushing the feeling away, she concentrates on what Laura is saying, and gives a slow nod. "That makes more sense." The clone of Wolverine who hunted her on her first night in this reality is making the most sense. Rachel should feel more alarmed by that than she does.

Nate, on the other hand, isn't taking this nearly as seriously as Rachel would like, and she folds her arms tightly even as they rocket through the air. It looks faintly ridiculous but she's in no mood to care. "That's why it matters, Nate. People want to SHOOT me. The school CAN'T be in the middle of that."


As soon as the trio is scooped up by Nate's powers, X-23 will drop to a simple crouch. That seems to be her preferred mode of relaxation when the situation calls for it. It's only when Rachel once again voices her fears that Laura will turn those oddly bright green eyes of hers towards the red head.

Canting her head to the side she'll consider Rachel for a long moment, but finally, she speaks up, "I understand." She states, voice as devoid of inflection as is typical from the girl, but perhaps somewhere deep within those modulated tones, Rachel will hear a core of understanding from the girl.

"You do not wish to bring hurt to innocent people. It is a worry I share." And while to some this might be a normal conversation for a normal person, for Laura this is her way of sharing something very /personal/ to herself.


After she makes her point, Rachel's attention is focused on Nate, as if she wants to be certain that he's taking her seriously, and there's a flicker of anger in her eyes at the thought that he might not be. Yes, she's annoyed with herself for skulking around M-Town and avoiding the issue, but she had a reason! Rose shooting her only underlined it!

It's Laura's voice that snaps Rachel out of it. She hadn't precisely forgotten that she was there - considering her demonstrated skill set, that could easily be lethal - but she's been so quiet that Rachel didn't expect her to speak now. Rachel twists around, mid-air, and looks at her with a surprised expression. She almost interrupts, but some sense, telepathic or otherwise, tells her this is important to the younger woman, so she stays quiet until she's finished. "That's it." She agrees, quietly, and offers Laura a slight smile and a grateful nod.


"The school is also a refuge for reforming criminals, reforming monsters and worse," notes Nate, keeping his eyes in the ground and his mind in the trip. But he goes on, "Rogue was brotherhood, Psylocke was mind-controlled into being a killer, Magneto has visited several times, and that is just what I know. Hell, being a mutant is a crime for a large percentage of the US population. And yeah, you are innocent, anyway."


While Laura doesn't necessarily return Rachel's smile, she does at least nod her head in acknowledgement of their shared understanding. "It is a risk we all must face." Notice the word there - face, not take. The fear of what can happen can almost be just as hard to overcome as seeing your fears come true in real life.

As to Nate's words, Laura will transfer her gaze from Rachel to her brother and while she doesn't normally offer nods during conversations, for this one, she does. There's a singular nod from the dark-haired girl as she says, "He is correct."

With that said her gaze will then drop to the ground to check their progress, to see how close they are to the school.


"And which one of those categories do I fall into?" Rachel asks, a bit sharply, her eyes coming up to look in Nate's direction, even though he's not looking at her. She bites back whatever else she was going to say, and instead unfolds her arms and buries her hands in her hair, leaning her head back and closing her eyes for a moment as she blows out a frustrated breath. "Sorry. Don't answer that." It's so hard. To be offered what you want, but to know the danger in taking it. Laura understands. Nate, she thinks, doesn't. But her self-imposed time-out at least means that she listens to what Nate says without interrupting him. And Laura's simple words reach her too.

Rachel opens her eyes again and lets her arms fall loosely to her sides. "I'm not as innocent as you think I am." She says it quietly, and she's not thinking about what her double's done, here. Instead she's thinking of her own past, what she did in her own world. "But OK. We're doing this, I'll stop arguing about why we shouldn't."


"Bah, who is an innocent now?" Nate lands among the woods, shattering several branches with his telekinetic bubble. "Want to go directly to the X-Men bunker? I am not sure Laura is cleared for it or not, but I really don't care much for silly rules. And that would keep you out of the sight of the kids. Most of them stay near the school buildings anyway. Particularly now weather is so cold."


Rachel doesn't answer Nate's question. She probably wouldn't have even if she'd heard it, but she's just realised where they are, or more precisely, just how close they are. And despite all her protestations, she's leaning forward against Nate's telekinetic bubble, trying to catch a glimpse of the mansion, the school… anything. Anything to prove that it's still standing, that there's still a chance for this world, and maybe for her as well. For a moment she thinks that maybe she sees it, but then they're descending steeply, and a moment later all she can see is trees. And the falling branches that Nate's dislodged with his landing.

As the telekinetic bubble melts away, Rachel takes a cautious step forward onto the soft ground beneath the trees and draws in a deep breath. No smoke, no death. She finds that she's smiling, and it's hard to stop. Whatever happens next, whatever penance she has to pay, coming here now was the right thing to do.

She spins around when she hears Nate speak, she'd been so caught up in the moment she'd almost forgotten he was standing there, waiting for her. Even his reminder - of her own insistence - about staying out of sight isn't enough to dim her smile quite yet. "Makes sense." She agrees, moving back to join him, and reaches out to give his arm a quick squeeze in silent thanks for bringing her here.

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