Hand in Hand

March 06, 2016:

Fury summons Psylocke, Phoenix, and X-Man to a meet.

Some fine diner.

Characters

NPCs: Nick Fury

Mentions: Scott Summers

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Best Waffle House in New York
At least that is what the poster out front declares.
Currently the Waffle House sits vacant aside from the waitress, cooks and a black clad man seated near the front row of windows. It is an older structure that still has that vintage diner set up the insides all red, tans and whites with it's very own jukebox. A light drizzle of rain pelts the building adding the only music anyone inside will hear.
Yes this is the location Xavier's email to Jean specified. It's obvious what it is about even if the message was brief. The Professor himself back in Ibiza again.

Nick Fury is of course the man in black seated at his own empty table, casually eating away at a stack of Belgium waffles drenched in syrup and a side of eggs.


No rest for the wicked it seems, the email pinged upon her secure phone as she rolls out of bed with a tired grunt and a dragging of ass. Shower, preen and promp, ponytail, jeans, boots, lets just say that she's dressed like a regular lady who's hitting the town in search of that location she was directed to. Of course, the call went out to at least two others, the sole purpose of the meeting, her cellphone produced to pull up the email once more, looking up towards the building to make sure the location was correct before she steps inside by the ring of the bell.

There was really no one else present, the food smelled good and Nick Fury had the high profile that anyone would recognize his face. Maybe in the need to know, that is.

So she approaches, hands out of her pocket, phone immediately shut down and off as hands soon fold in front of her with a dip of her head.

"Room for another, Sir?"


Betsy happens to be in the city when she gets the text from Jean. Unlike certain redheads, Betsy rolls out of bed every morning and dresses as if she expects to get a drive-by from the paparazzi. Long wool-knit tunic, leggings, ankle boots and a scarf to keep her hair in order.

She emerges from the black towncar that pulls up outside, the drive opening the door for her. Sunglasses cover half her face, and her forearm hangs to the side, supporting a designer purse by the straps.

Betsy breezes into the Waffle House and moves to the seat next to Jean, sitting in it rather primly and setting her purse near her feet. One ankle crosses behind the other and she lifts her sunglasses, putting them atop intricately braided coils of purple-dyed hair. Her features are quite hard to read, save for the the calculating look in her amethyst eyes. Even knowing nothing else about her, a career spymaster like Nick would have little effort pegging her as what she is: a killer.

"Is this purely a business meeting, or are we all eating, too?" she inquires, hands neatly folded atop her thigh.


Fury pushes his coffee mug away as Jean and Betsy approach as to get comfortable in his seat while sizing both of them up with that one eye. A black trench neatly folded up beside him what he wears is an all black turtleneck, fatigues and combat boots. He looks like he just hopped out of an Expendables movie.
"Room for a couple. Sit, eat, lets have a little talk." A motion towards a waitress, "Mercy bring us the whole pot please."
"Sure thing." The attractive brunette replies before setting down two extra menus. "This all of you?"
Fury is smiling but it's hard to read what his eye is saying. It's also just in general hard to read here and by that telepathy seems a bit fuzzy. Once the past the threshold in to the Waffle House the concept of mind reading or even telepathic scans became a muddy struggle or perhaps just simple didn't seem like an idea they would have normally.
"You ladies like crepes? They have those here. It's my normal but I felt today was just a bit different." Hence the Belgium waffles.


Nate just got back from a couple days off grid when he received Jean's psychic summoning. Not even time to shave? Fine. He is scruffier than ever when he walks into the waffle place. Pausing at the door to give the whole area a visual and psychic scan, and at spotting Jean, he heads for the table. "Morning," he greets, Jean, Betsy… hmm, who is your friend?"


Jean takes her spot upon the outer edges of the table, her back to the window, yet a clear view of the door upon her left as one leg crosses over the other with a lean. Jean doesn't try to read, through every inch within her is screaming for her to take a look. The secrets that this man could hold would be interesting to pick out of his brain, but she refrains because of the whole 'good ol' girl' nature that she possesses. But she was all smiles as she reaches forward, fingers pressing upon the menu to drag it closer to her. "Crepes sound good." She looks up towards Betsy. "We wouldn't want to be rude." The menu was picked up, picked through briefly. "Crepes. Eggs benedict, and a bowl of fruit?" The menu was closed and pushed forward, a smile gone towards Fury. "You're buying right?"

He better.

As Nate approaches, Jean's smile falls just a little, gesturing towards the open seat. "Have a seat, Nathaniel." She'll leave introductions to the two men themselves.


"No, thank you. Carbs," Betsy says, as if that one word explains it all. "Bacon, eggs, sausage for me, thank you," she tells the waitress that Nick beckons over.

She settles back into her seat and waits with a positively panther-like patience for the subject matter at hand to get brought around. She doesn't seem uncomfortable, or even in a hurry, eyes flickering towards Nate as Jean's son/not-son arrives to join the little assembly. "Hullo Nate," she offers, fingers flexing in a suggestion of a wave.


The waitress smiles as politely as she can manage and takes up their orders.
"Why not. You made the drive out here." A nod is given to Nate and he waits the young man to sit down before proceeding. "If any of you start bitching about Gluten this meeting is over. That sort of unAmerican nonsense won't be tolerated. " A joke of sorts. Just the one and it is probably all they'll be getting.
"Who wants to play their hand first? I imagine you're all curious about just how much SHIELD knows about you." Fury isn't talking quiet. The diner itself is open enough if you don't speak with an inside voice it carries. Maybe he doesn't care or just maybe this place is a front anyways. It isn't unlike quasi-super spy agencies to do that sort of thing after all. If they also pay attention the closed signs are all up. They were that way when they got here.


Nate hrms, picking a seat and asking for a mug of coffee to the waitress before she leaves. He has never seen Fury and has no idea who he is, but at the mention of SHIELD, he becomes somewhat more attentive. Almost enough to distract him from the food.

"I have been away for the past couple days, so not me," he notes. In fact, he has no idea what this meeting is about. So he pokes Jean psychically for a summary.


Jean's eyes lift, it was typical Betsy so it was shrugged off as she stands up halfway to reach for the coffee pot to bring it front and center. She pours her own drink, hand upon the top to keep it closed, carefully setting it aside to keep the liquid hot black and particularly nasty enough to wake her up completely. "Gluten and carbs are technically the same thing right? Well close to the same thing. All sugar or something. Whatever." Jean was rambling a bit, and a wave of her hand dismisses it all as they get right down to the nitty gritty of it.

Nate would feel that her mind was a null, walled off and shelled just in case. For as soon as she walked in, she realized that she couldn't even read the mind of the waittress, let alone gleam any feeling from the woman at hand. Her intuition was off. They must have a dampener.

Smart.

"I'm pretty sure that SHIELD has a lot of information on us. A recent conversation has alluded us to the fact. Originally, I wasn't the one who was meant to set up this meeting but loose ties need cinched and plus you've already had your eyes on us before we were able to get word." She smiles a little. "Cyclops, was supposed to meet you. I'm Jean Grey. I'll leave the others to be forthcoming."

Yeah, Jean Grey. Pretty sure SHIELD had a kill list on her in case of implosion. But nevermind that.

"I'm here to talk to you about X-Black." Cards laid.


"Thank god for dual citizenship, then," Betsy says, quite primly in her cultured British tonals. "Ketogenics are the wave of the future, Director Fury. You wait and see."

"And I am, quite certain, SHIELD has a fairly extensive file on my person. I know some rather urgent lengths were taken during my recovery from Southeast Asia last year," she says, referring quite delicately to her… metamorphosis. "Fortunately, your senior agents seem to have taken sincere pains to guard my personal identity and segregate it from my nom de guerre, for which I suppose I am…" she purses her lips. "Grateful."


"I'll take your word for it, Miss Braddock." A chuckle escapes Nick before he speaks, "Designation X-Force, X-Black? Yes. That would be the one and the reason I scheduled this little powwow in. See, you X-Men for a long time have run under the radar up there in Westchester. Nice clean guerrilla work and then you got that public team of younger kids. It's all fairly good work. We know where everything started going sideways though? Somewhere between HYDRA and a no longer active Black Operation." An intake of coffee and he carries on, "Yes, we've made sure to keep a lot of your clandestine activities under wrap which is something I was meant to discuss in length with Summers before that clusterfuck with Hershing."
"As you may or may not be aware I've got a vested interest in superhumans. It has proven to be a lot of legwork, headache and gray hairs." A glance around as if to stay stop looking at my baldass head is given before he proceeds, "Problem is, now-a-days I am not the only person empowered to keep up on you mutants and your activities. I've long wanted you all to be assets but that ain't going to happen now, not in the capacity I anticipated. Ever since Bush Jr. and his campaign relations with the US and UN have become a little rough. You can imagine what that does to a patriot like me? On top of that we got a whole new blockade in the name of the Department of Metahuman Affairs, Gyrich and the DEO. I'm sure you've heard of all these by now."


Nate looks surprised at Jean for a moment. X-Black was such a big secret. Then again, they have not been deployed since shortly after the Purifier assault on Mutant Town. Their leads on Purifier operations have gone quiet.

"Well, fine. I have no problems with SHIELD. Those DEO folks are a new-ish. I am sure you know New York SRD was rotten. I think Gotham's division was too." And that seems to give DEO a bad start, since they formed from the remains of the SRD and other agencies Nate barely heard about.


Once the food was set upon the table, Jean grips a fork and a knife and begins to dig in. Peach crepes, it was the stuff of gods and the fluff of whipped cream that topped it looked like heaven. Jean really didn't care about saving face. They possibly already know her shoe size and her exercise regimine in the morning. Not to mention, a good way to get in good with a man is to toss aside all inhibitions and dig in like a red-blooded American.

"There's no supposing about it." Jean states with a smile (after she's swallowed). Napkin taken up, lips dabbled, napkin in lap. She wasn't so rude as to not listen, keeping the clinking of the fork to a minimum as she occasionally makes eye contact with Nate, Nick and Elizabeth which soon has that gaze resting upon his.. beard. There was a little grey there.. hah!

"And Mr. Summers long wanted us to be transparent with you and yours but it seems like it's no longer necessary. The need for transparency. You already know our hand and.." Her hand lifts to waffle. "..you're somewhat showing us yours. But we've no dealings with the DMA as of yet, Gyrich and DEO has actually made slight contact with Dr. Xavier and assigned us a representative." She leans back within her chair, thoughtful, her gaze gone towards Nate. She understood that he was surprised, but.. Fury was not.

"As much as I'd like to say that all parts of the government aren't all that bad, we know that there are a few that we need to take care around." She smiles just a tick. "Your cards, Fury. Tell us what you know about the DEO. There was only so much that we were able to gather on short notice."


Betsy focuses on her food as it arrives, eating with precise motions of her fork and knife. She even manages to make managing the bacon look primly correct. Apparently having nothing to contribute to the conversation at this point, she lets Jean take point as things move forward, looking for all the world like she has nothing in life more important to worry about than the meal in front of her.


"SRD was small fries. A heap of stupid concocted up by some dumbass senator in an attempt of putting power back in the people's hands and making himself look good. That whole thing went tits up for good reason. It's buried now. Makes you wonder where all them fanatics went though?" A dismissive wave over that subject and Fury is shaking his empty cup at Mercy who has already placed the X-Men's food and drink at the table. "You shouldn't have any problems with SHIELD. We have been covering up X-Men's asses for years now. Whether you're aware of it or not. I may very well be one of your best friends."

A lazy look from Nate, to Betsy then Jean and he responds, "DEO is bureaucratic high minded bullshit just rolled in to another glossy package but it is bad news. Sure some of them may thing they're about to do some amazing good but it is going to tie the hands of the people actually out there doing the heavy lifting and the real work. People like you and me. That is about all I can safely tell you without getting cryptic and I just ain't going there. I reached out to Charles Xavier as a courtesy, it was pitched to us once to cooperate with a sanctioned X-Men team and information was exchanged. It's been rather low key but now with the pressure of the DEO coming at you and SHIELD on all fronts, I'm pitching it again…"
A swallow off coffee."Damn fine, coffee. Mercy. Damn fine."
"SO, X-Force to work for SHIELD. Full team becomes a SHIELD asset under our protection to carry on neutralizing threats to human and mutantkind. This will take you off the Department of Extranormal Affair's platter."


Nate munches waffles as if there is no tomorrow, but pays attention to what the others are saying. Coffee too, it has been a couple tough days. SRD small fries? They terrorized Mutant Town pretty well. That is no small matter to Nate.

Fury's opinion of the DEO is interesting, though. An organization that aims to obstruct the work of SHIELD and superhero groups. That is as dumb as it is dangerous. "Who is behind the DOE anyway… what? Why?" X-Force to work for SHIELD? How does that even make sense? X-Black was to hit back at mutantkind worst enemies, not to spy around and do law enforcement stuff.


"I remember hearing something small of them when I briefly visited Gotham." Small as in a quick thought gone their way and nothing more. Gotham was a near shit show but walled off from people like her. Thankfully, they had their own people to protect it lest those pillars decide to show again. "There never was really an expected issue from SHIELD, I admit." She smiles slightly. "Though I think that's part and parcel to the work you've already done for us in the shadows and a few collaborations with Mr. Summers. Which we all highly appreciate, by the way. And there are some good people on board that I'm sure most of ours are kindly with." Fork cuts into the eggs Benedict and Jean immediately takes a bite, her cheeks sinking in to take in the flavor and immediately chew, chasing it back with a hint of black coffee and again.

But she was quiet more. More so that she could focus upon the words and draw her mind back to the brief conversation that Xavier had with her. It wasn't a good one. She felt she had disappointed the man but he reassured her quickly and left everything in her hands.

"And what about the DEO and Gryich?" While that question makes her seem as if she was considering it, a glance was given towards Nate, that question actually made a little bit of sense.


Betsy sets her fork down and gives Nick a flat look. "So you're selling us oversight, outside management, and endless supervision from a bureaucracy that has— thus far— been completely incapable of addressing the threats that we've dealt with. Let alone stopping them."

One purple eyebrow ticks up. "The entire point of our clandestine operations is that entities and threats exist that only mutants are properly equipped to handle. Whether by virtue of the menace of a rogue agent expressing his talents, or a murderous psychotic casually killing our kindred and evading custody. Asking us to fall in line with SHIELD's operations completely undermines our goal. If I wanted to be a government lackey, I wouldn't have returned to the Institute to begin with."


"Gyrich is part of the cabinet of Metahuman Affairs, the cabinet and it's secretary answer directly to the president and they wouldn't have come in to power if Pershing hadn't been assassinated. They are behind DEO and it's inception. You want more information I can get a person to give it to you. A history lesson isn't what I'm here for."
Fury glances again at Betsy, "Incapable and unwilling are two separate things. This is the Cold War all over again, an arms race and what are the most powerful weapons on the planet? Mutants, mutates, extraterrestrials, your kind. I'm in the business. I am familiar with it. You also have me wrong in what I expect out of this relationship, it's already come to my attention your head honcho isn't happy with your team. I'm giving you an alternative. A mutually beneficial one, you act as assets not actual agents of SHIELD. You carry on doing what you do and occasionally I feed you something extra in the name of SHIELD and international interest."
A clink of his spoon in to his coffee cup while he drinks and he speaks on, "If I wanted government lackey's I got programs to make those. I want an independent team that I can call on for dirty missions against threats classified mutant or anti-mutant. I'm not going to beg or try to win you over, this is the cards. They're on the table. You either take 'em or you leave 'em."


Nate hmms. That does make a little sense. "You can't send real SHIELD agents, uh?" He says to Fury, leaving the food aside for a moment. "They are also watching you and you can't shake them off. So you need a group to make some dirty work you can claim are just mutant rogues. If we do that, I'd want to know why and what we are doing and why the targets need the hammer."


The food was well and finished as they spoke. Jean now taking the time to busy herself to make the return of the plate an easy venture, even wiping up a bit of crumbs from the table even though they'll get a good washing as soon as everyone departs. Plate was soon scooted into the middle of the table, Jean's lean back cemented by the twist of her leg to give a masculine rest. Fingers clasp upon her shin as she thumps them considerably, looking to each and every one of them as they impart with their viewpoints. There were drawbacks to consider, and benefits.

Jean was looking at the end game.

"What's our deadline?"


"A quid pro quo," Betsy explains, nodding at Fury. "I see. Not entirely unreasonable. You help us— we help you. Sometimes we help one another." She frowns, manicured fingernails clicking against one another in thought. "An understanding, then, that we accept or decline an offer on its individual merits. Some things we cannot- or will not- be willing to do for SHIELD. And further, no retribution for 'passing' on a request for those reasons. We have our limits, just as anyone else does, Director, both emotional and physical, and we lack the endless finances of SHIELD to throw bodies and resources at a problem until it goes away. We're a surgical blade, but we can be dulled from overuse just as surely as any other knife."


"Wait. I want something else. I want Rachel Grey's name to be forgotten by the US intelligence agencies," states Nate before Fury can leave. That certainly will have him working happily for SHIELD, even though he can't speak for the others.


"Yep, back scratches all around. And yes, you'll be treated more as civilian contractors not my soldiers." Fury replies to Betsy before standing up and pulling his jacket on. "That is mission detail and that sort of thing comes after you discuss this and agree or not. Nathaniel, is it?" Adjusting his cuffs Fury pauses long enough to nod his head towards the trio of X-Men, "No deadline just don't keep me waiting too long, I get antsy when I have to wait too long. Eat what you like, bills on me. Mercy and Francois will take good care of you." Striding out the door he talks without a second glance, "Looking forward to our next chat." But without turning around Fury responds to Nate, "If your team says yes and she is on it. We'll see what we can do. We got our limits even me."

The bell chimes above the Waffle House door and cold air sweeps in. Fury out.

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