Welcome Back

April 11, 2016:

The difficulties amongst the team seem to have been resolved. Despite the fracture lines, Emma Frost has returned to the Institute. And Betsy wants her to know she's welcome.

Private Suite - Xavier Institute

Several interior walls have been knocked down to form a close but comfortable living space for three people, turning the one-person dorm rooms into a suite with a common area. The common area has a small dining table near the kitchenette, atop tile floor, and a big bay window in the kitchen to let light pour into the room. A living room of sorts includes a sofa, high-backed reading chair, and a massive beanbag chair all turned to face one another with a television pushed into the corner.

One bedroom is decorated with a tasteful if Spartan view, a combination of baroque British Imperialism and sparse Japanese aestheticism wrangled into a relatively pleasing juxtaposition.

The northmost bedroom looks more like a study, with a large desk and computer station against one wall and a rumbled queen bed against the other. Books are everywhere, from novels to reference materials, and it's obviously someone's workspace.

The third bedroom is divided precisely in half like a cheap photo trick. One full half of it is done all in steel and glass, looking precisely like a high-rise corporate office complete with workstation. The other half sports white carpet, a four-poster bed with white sheets, and white furniture that costs as much as a midsize sedan. The room is surprisingly well noise-insulated, too.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Jean Grey

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Just as Emma disappeared from the Institute with no warning and almost no explanation, she has reappeared there with similar sbruptness. The stripped-bare wrecks of her rooms, closets and office have all been restored, as if her disappearance never even happened. All of that happened earlier in the day, though it took hours of work by the professionals to make it so. They started at eight that morning, and continued until well after noon, before finally vacuuming carpets and wiping down the furniture and then disappearing just as abruptly as they appeared. And still, no sign or word of Emma herself.

Finally, as darkness has fallen a gleaming white limousine comes through the gates of the Institute and pulls up out front, idling in all its glory, complete with that personalized license plate: FROST03.

The white-liveried driver comes around and opens the rear passenger door. From within emerges the platinum-tressed glory of Emma Frost. "Thank you, Andrew. If you would be so kind, please, take the car back to the city. I will call when I need you again."

Then Emma climbs the stairs to the porch and opens the door, stepping foot within the precincts of Xavier's for the first time in over a month.


Betsy of course knew that Emma would be returning. But there's a difference between knowing that she'll be coming back and then being faced with the reality that one of her two best friends in the world will be coming -home-.

So she's wearing a cute linen shirt, but not one that's -too- cute, and jeans, but not her best designer pair. Her hair's done and her makeup applied, she's found a very self-conscious balance between being dressed up and overplaying the part.

Of course, Emma will probably see right through it, but that's because Emma is Emma.

Kneeling on her meditation pillow in her room, Betsy's eyes flicker open when she senses Emma on the suite's level, and by the time the White Queen reaches the front door of their shared room, Betsy's standing in her smart, white-leather wedges and facing the door, trying hard to sublimate her apprehension and excitement.


Emma opens the door and knows she will find Betsy inside, and not Jean; she has already felt it, just as Betsy has felt her coming. Emma is dressed in one of her usual thousand-dollar women's skirtsuits, briefcase in hand. Of course, she does her best to appear as if this is just any other day, with nothing at all unusual about it.

"Good evening, Elizabeth." Emma offers, as she steps inside and closes the door. "I apologize if I interrupted anything." she offers politely, stepping out of the way of the door as if she expects that Betsy was just heading out when the door was suddenly monopolized by her entrance or something. "How was your day?" See? Nothing to see here. Nothing at all. No misting of the eyes. No tightening of the throat. There will be no indulgent wallowing in emotion. None, you hear!


Betsy is just as absolutely cool as Emma. Perhaps a bit betrayed by a softening of the eyes, or a tug of her throat swallowing. "N-no, not at all," Betsy lies smoothly, brushing down the hem of her linen shirt. "Welcome home." There's something a bit disappointed there— Emma's resolute caution Betsy's visible excitement at her return.

"Welcome back." She flexes her fingers sternly against one another, checking a desire to reach out and offer Emma a hug. "My day was… quite good, thank you. I'll… well, I'll let you get settled."

Betsy flashes a tight, fitful smile at Emma, and steps out of the way with a fidget, as awkwardly as she's ever done, anything, leaving Emma a path to her room.

The door's left ajar, pointedly against Emma's orders to the contractors. Some leggy ninja must have broken in. And on Emma's bed is a teddy bear, wearing a ninja's scarf and headband, and giving her big, soulful eyes as only inanimate objects can.


Emma is womanfully striving to be as un-awkward and normal as can be. "Thank you." she offers to Betsy's welcome, only to have it reiterated. She struggles onward, moving gently around Betsy without letting her gaze linger, resolving to show none of her own tightened throat, or any other signs of those emotions betraying her, as she makes for the … unlocked door to her room. There shall be words! Words!

Then Emma stops in the doorway, hand still on the knob, briefcase at her side, as she stares at the room, and the soulful gaze of the teddybear on her bed. "Elizabeth …" Was that a waver in her voice? It must not be! "… Did you forget something?" she questions. Her instincts tell her clearly this is not a gift from Jean. It has 'Betsy' all over it, in a psychic sense. But who would ever leave a stuffed animal on Emma's bed? Seriously?


Betsy's already gone back into her suite, but she leans partially out of her doorway to peer at Emma's backside. Back. Her back. "Hmm? No, that's… that's for you, darling," she says, as if that should be painfully self-evident to the white-clad psychic. "I thought you'd enjoy something to give the room a… personal touch."

She slips back into her room, leaning against the doorframe, out of sight. The leggy kunoichi closes her eyes, hands braced against the wall behind her at the small of her back. She inhales, chest rising sharply, then exhales through purse lips as silently as she's able to breathe away the tension of the moment, and out of Emma's line of sight, allowing herself a disappointed expression at Emma's lack of visible excitement at her return.


Only the carpeting softens the clip of spike heels to nothingness as Emma steps into her room, putting down her briefcase and then moving to the bed to pick up the bear. She comes back and knocks on the door frame to Betsy's room, waiting for the other woman to appear. "Elizabeth, my entire room is custom appointed and decorated. It is all a personal touch." She's holding the bear in both hands in front of her, facing towards the /other/, far less furry ninja. She holds it up towards Betsy. "I think this is meant to be something else."


Betsy gives Emma a thoroughly helpless look when she walks back ove. "I… I don't know," she says, defensively. "Custom isn't personal. It's not…" 'It's not -me-', she seems to be struggling towards, but she doesn't quite get the words out.

"You left, and I know that was between you and Jean," Betsy says, struggling to maintain her aplomb. "It would not have been appropriate for me to intervene. It might happen again," she concedes, the thought an uncomfortable one. "So if… if it happens again, I hoped the bear would remind you of m- of being here," she tells Emma. "I had stuffed teddies forever as a little gel. They always made me feel better during bad days when I needed something to hold."


"Elizabeth …" Emma begins. She clearly intends to address the other woman. The problem is that after she starts … she just has no idea what to say. Gah! Make the feels stop!

"After I became a teenager, all of my stuffed animals were taken away. Just gone. They were a sign of weakness, of being a child, and I could no longer be a child." Emma explains. But she has not thrown the bear away, or even let go of it. She's still holding it … a little tightly, too.

"I never changed my numbers, Elizabeth. I still had my penthouse. My office. You were - you /are/ - welcome there, any time." Hence how the two of them stayed in touch, despite Emma disappearing from the Institute. "I left here, because Jean made it clear that who we were … was no longer welcome here. That we were a danger to the students." And Emma is STILL bitter about that, even if she is back. Even if Jean has sworn on a stack of porterhouse steaks that wasn't want she meant. Because by God, it /is/ what she /said/. Precision of language is vital!

"I left the Institute, Elizabeth. Not you." Emma offers. "Never you." Damn you, emotions!


Betsy's eyes flicker back to Emma's face. Her bare feet shift, drifting unconsciously closer to the blonde psychic as the woman speaks her mind.

"Jean was wrong, and she spoke incorrectly. But this … this isn't about Jean," she says. Fingers rise slowly and slip over Emma's, barely stirring the skin and reaffirming the tight grip that the woman has on the stuffed bear in his hands. She stops when Teddy Ninja brushes against her belly, leaving the two of them separated only by the fuzzy span of a stuffed master of stealth.

"I know things were beyond challenging for you as a gel," Betsy continues, searching out Emma's eyes, a bit uncertainly. "And I want you to know I don't just want you here because you're Emma Frost, with all the remarkable competence that name implies," she says, swallowing.

"I … I genuinely missed you," she gets out, jaw flexing a bit at the blatant admission of emotion. She eyes the shelf where her emergency vodka hides. "I did not care for you leaving, nor for how you left. I just… thought this bear, would…" She clears her throat and looks around at everything but Emma, clearly not able to formulate the words she's looking for.


Emma feels herself drawn into that closeness, despite all of the lifetime of rules that say she must not be. "I genuinely missed you, Elizabeth. And I missed not being here, with you." She left as she did in no small part to avoid having to face pulling away from Betsy, because she did not feel that she could do that without causing a scene. And Emma could not bear to cause more of a scene.

Emma stands, silently, trying and failing to mask the torrent of emotions swirling just beneath the surface. This close, even Betsy can feel them, despite Emma's tremendous telepathic shields and her iron discipline against emotion. She is trying not to collapse under the weight of it all.

Finally, Emma becomes a few inches shorter, as she steps out of her incredibly expensive heels, her stockinged toes touching Betsy's bare toes, their tummies separated by the soft plush of the ninja bear.


Neither of them quite looking at each other— eyes just slightly averted, amethyst and blue focused in vague directions that pointedly put off the moment that full eye contact might provoke. That neither of them seem able to embrace.

It's hard to say who moves first— perhaps Emma's toes shift just a little against Betsy's pedicured nails. Or Betsy's fingers stop dancing along Emma's knuckles for a moment. The leggy Brit leans forward quite slowly, even temeritously, as if afraid of startling Emma into retreat. Fingers glide up Emma's forearms, skirting over the fine material of her jacket sleeves. Purple paint makes a striking contrast against the snow-driven white of Emma's garb. Betsy leans forward by inches, still not quite looking -at- Emma's face though they're mere inches apart. The same maelstrom of emotion is kept hidden by sturdy, opaque shields, but the pulsing of a vein in Betsy's long neck betrays her heart rate— the sudden shock of her perfume, mixed with the scent of her skin assailing Emma's nose.

Finally, Betsy turns her head just a few degrees and presses her lips against Emma's cheek, almost-but-not-quite brushing the side of her mouth. A perfectly chaste kiss that's very decidedly not. It lingers only a moment, and then Betsy leans back a fractional inch before risking upsetting Emma's equlibrium entirely.


There's a sharp intake of breath as Betsy's lips make contact with Emma. The arctic scent of Emma's almost but not quite scentless perfume can't compare with Betsy's, coursing through her with that inhale, as her hands spasm reflexively, fingertips grabbing hold of Betsy's shirt, holding her if only tenuously, at that closer divide.

Emma holds position there, frozen, feeling like a deer caught in the glare of onrushing headlights. Then, finally, she lets go of Betsy's blouse long enough to instead pull the bear to one hand over the other, and wrap them both around the purple-maned Brit at the small of her back, letting their faces press cheek to cheek.

Damn emotions. Always getting in the way. That's why they're such a bad idea.


Betsy doesn't freeze but she does go rigid at Emma's motion, not immediately reading Emma's intent. Fearing a withdrawal, or worse, a push away. When her fingertips open and slide around Betsy's tautly muscled core, she shivers in relief and presses herself back against Emma in response. Her arms go over Emma's, encircling her shoulders, biceps pressing against Emma's upper arms, and she returns the hug with a surprise that turns to warm and ardent affection. Her eyes screw shut and she almost sags in relief. Palms press against Emma's shoulderblades, hugging her with that deceptive strength, then one slides up and fingers rest against the back of Emma's neck, fingers weaving through her pale, perfectly arranged locks and returning the embrace with uninhibited affection as their fronts mould together.


The Wicked White Witch of Ice and Heartlessness shudders in Betsy's embrace, overcome by the intensity of their unspoken emotion. Her frayed, weakening control is ready to shatter. There may even be tears, the running of mascara. There could even be blubbering. But there are no words. Elizabeth, at least, has the emotional vocabulary to understand these feelings and be able to talk about them, no matter how uncomfortable she might be. Emma? Not so much.


Betsy's only an upcombed hairbrush taller than Emma, but she's got that perfect balance and taut muscles with which she supports the exquisite blonde. Her tones are soft and soothing, murmurings without focus that come from the heart and go to Emma's ears. Soft, loving croonings to assuage the pain that threatens to break Emma's self control.

She strokes the nape of Emma's neck over and over again with the gentlest of motions to go with those words, and even rocks a bit with a twisting of the hips. Betsy controls her emotions with rigid precision but she never denies them or suppresses them, unlike the overwrought woman leaning against her for support. It does give her that insight into the feelings flooding Emma's breast, and mercifully, she makes no effort to break that warm embrace, giving Emma the illusion of privacy so she can let her feelings vent on her face without fear of censure or showing weakness.

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