Regrets and Renewal of a Friendship

December 15, 2016:

Betsy and Laura meet up now that she's returned to the mansion.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Storm

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Shopping.

It's arguably Betsy's raison d'etre. It's what she does when she's happy, sad, bored, or stressed. Few people have the stamina to keep up with the Brit on a bender, even despite the stiletto-heeled boots she smashes through the New York snowbanks in, never missing a beat.

Eight department stores, twelve bags of clothes, and the haul of goodies is stashed with a valet prior to the return trip to Westchester, leaving Laura and Betsy relatively unencumbered for a quick stop at a lunch in midtown. The second-floor restaurant overlooks the snow battering silently at the glass and the people hurrying from A to B to shake off the intense winter chill that's gripped the eastern seaboard.

"It's not too late to go back to Bergdorff's," Betsy reminds Laura. She opens her menu, eying the entrees— she folds her legs to the side so water doesn't cling to the leather as the dry. "The blue skirt, that would be a good look for you," she advises the petite little warrior.


Shopping.

Not exactly Laura's forte. In fact, while she would never admit it out loud, she finds missions far easier for her to handle and deal with. It also doesn't help that Betsy is a powerhouse when it comes to shopping.

But, unlike others, Laura definitely has the physical stamina to keep up, thanks to her healing factor. The mental stamina? That's a little different. There were definite times where her expression shut completely down and went blank; as she too powered through the shopping excursion.

Finally though, the two have settled for something to eat and while Laura isn't always happy to eat in restaurants, there's perhaps a tinge of relief floating around her mental space. Of course, that relief turns to wariness when Betsy mentions Bergdorff's. Green eyes will turn back to Betsy now, when the purple-haired ninja suggests such a course. "No." Is what she says, before adding in the same monotone, "Thank you."

And then she falls silent again, as her gaze skirts around the area, looking at the various wait staff and customers found within. It's only as her gaze finds Betsy again, that the slim assassin will say flatly. "I do not understand the need for all of the clothes. There were items you purchased that did not seem practical for battle."


Betsy glances over her menu at Laura— she's usually content to let silence reign for as long as the slender killer needs it. It's a peculiar sort of affection she expresses, giving Laura the space to just … be human, without having to interact with people, which is arguably more stressful than fighting them.

The waiter comes over and Betsy flashes a charming smile. "Two cups of tea, and two measures of Cointreau on the side," she says— and then when he goes, the fake smile vanishes and she focuses on Laura, setting her menu aside and interlacing her fingers with prim ease on the table.

"You could consider it a different sort of battle, Laura," Betsy says, taking a tact she hopes will make some dividens. "Not all warfare is fought face to face. Diplomacy, for instance, is the continuation of war by other means, according to Machiavelli."

"Clothing expresses many nuances in mood. It is a language, in its own way. Some speak it better than others. Some tones and patterns are… angry, bold, outstated, some can be sensual, some are good for expressing professonalism, and some are better than others for trying to pick up someone in a bar," she says, with a quiet, wry humor.

The tea arrives and Betsy offers Laura her choice of teas before pouring water, then getting her own to steep, electing a heady bergamot.


Laura's own menu resides upon the tabletop. The dark-haired young woman did glance at it, for a second, and in that brief period of time made her decision on what to eat. Very little perusal went into that decision.

As for Betsy words, or lesson if you will, the young woman will consider the elder woman's words carefully. While Laura doesn't necessarily express gratitude at Betsy's ability to allow her all the quiet time she needs, it is appreciated on some level from the assassin. In fact, silence reigns for nearly five minutes, as Laura continues to mull over the topic of clothes and various forms of battle.

"I believe I understand." he states, in that typically flat voice of hers. "It can be a way to show power or dominance in a situation. Or hide what you truly are." She offers a singular nod at that, "I have done similar. Approached a target disguised as something else, to get close to them."

And while she falls silent once more, it's again a considering silence, then after that careful consideration the young woman asks, "Who is your target for the outfits you bought?"

As for tea, Laura will consider the options before her, before she copies Betsy's choice.


"Or to express who I wish to be," Betsy says— and she just lets that mild correction sit and stew for a moment. The woman does seem to enjoy throwing Laura cryptic musings once in a while, a practice she'd explained as being akin to a zen koan.

"I haven't decided yet. You never know who your adversary will be, so best to be prepared for most eventualities." Betsy pours the Cointreau into her tea and offers the other shoter of liquer to Laura. "Perhaps try a little bit, first," she murmurs as a suggestion.

Cupping the tea in both hands, she rests her elbows on the table and looks out the window, contemplating. "The suit for a business engagement, of course. The jeans are for more casual wear. The red dress, well—" Betsy gives Laura a subtle, sidelong look, a smile quirking one corner of her mouth. "I haven't figured out who my target is yet, but I'll work that out later. I /like/ that dress," she mutters into her tea, before looking at the falling snow again.


That mild correction doesn't necessarily cause an outward reaction from Laura. The only thing that can be seen is the flare of nostrils, as Laura scents the air between the two of them. Inwardly, however, is another story. She's once more mulling those words of Betsy's within her very structured and ordered mind.

Expression of who she wishes to be.

It's only when that shooter is offered to her that the slim assassin's attention returns to Betsy, the table and the restaurant. Hearing the words of caution from Betsy, about the shooter, causes Laura to scent the air. Liquor. Something she doesn't necessarily have issues with, but, from that warning the young woman will simply set it next to her tea cup. For now, at least.

The talk of what each outfit is for is listened to, even as Laura's hands tuck themselves back in her lap. Her gaze travels the circuit of the restaurant, even as she continues to listen, and it's with the mention of the red dress, that Laura finally looks back to Betsy. The slightest of furrows will bring Laura's eyebrows closer together, as she considers what to say to that. Finally, hesitantly, the young assassin will say, "It looked pretty on you." And while that statement wasn't necessarily a question, there's the slightest uptick to Laura's voice, as she looks to see if what she said is received well.


The praise is small and unsure, but the response is one of Betsy's best, most sincere smiles. Not the polite flirty expression she uses with devastating effect on waiters and boys at the bar, but the real deal, uninhibited and expressing genuine pleasure. Perhaps it's even a bit of her psychic talent leaking through, because her approval radiates a bit like sunshine.

"Thank you, Laura," she says, graciously. The waiter comes around and Betsy places her order— chicken cordon bleu, with a side salad. Heavy on the fats and proteins, light on carbs.

"We'll make one stop after lunch at Lulamon," Betsy offers Laura, after the waiter departs again. "For you. Leggings and athletic shirts, in all the shades of grey you like," she says— functional, practical, and comfortable attire for the fashion-uncaring assassin.


Laura's order is likewise simple as she orders a steak with a side of roasted vegetables.

Not that she really has to worry about carbs, calories, or even fat for that matter. It's good to have a healing factor; if only she realized how to properly indulge.

The smile from Betsy, as well as that sense of approval, allows the young's expression to smooth from that cautious eyebrow pinch. In fact, while there isn't necessarily a smile upon her features, there's a relaxation of the tension around eyes and mouth, and even shoulders. Clearly, she's picked up on what Betsy is broadcasting.

Still, the mention of another store causes Laura's expression to dim slightly, but again, upon hearing what they sell, there's another easing of tension from the girl. Again, she'll offer a tid-bit of more personal information, with that current of hesitancy brushing her words. "I like red too." Which might be why she clings religiously to her battered red leather jacket.

And while the small talk could have likely continued, which would probably be better for Laura, to allow her skills to grow, the slim assassin switches topics. Perhaps suddenly for someone like Laura. "I am sorry for leaving suddenly. I had to go." She ends with; obviously talking about when she left the school for some months to persue all the leads for The Facility.


Betsy nods her head at Laura. Understanding. A smile— a hand upturned, palm up, and she smiles. It's an effort to emote as clearly as she does, given her preference for being relatively inscrutable, but it obviously helps Laura better read Betsy's demeanour.

"I am not upset. You are forgiven," Betsy assures Laura. "School is a place for some answers, but no school contains all the answers. I was more worried for your safety, than anything else," Betsy admits. "It's dangerous to go alone, even for you."

"Is the Facility a topic you feel able to discuss?" she inquires, lifting a curious brow at Laura. "If it is evoking unpleasant feelings, we can discuss it another time— maybe during meditation, when you feel most calm."


Forgiveness.

That's something people rarely gave to Laura. Well, the people of The Facility. Any error from the girl was typically punished harshly. So, when she returned she was uncertain of what sort of welcome she would receive.

So far, it's all been good, from Nate Grey, Storm and now Betsy. Truth be told, Nate and Betsy were the ones she worried about the most.

Not that, that particular worry was necessarily seen from the young woman.

"Thank you." She says, head dropping momentarily to hide her face with a bit of shadow. That relief she felt washes through her quickly and then, just like that, it's put neatly into a box. With the emotion tucked away, the girl will raise her head back up, her expression holding the typical flat note to it. "I am able to discuss The Facility." She says, voice completely devoid of any emotion, which might tell Betsy the real truth of whether she can or cannot, "But .. I did not state the apology to open a discussion about them." And this is where her words fall back to that uncertainty, "I wished to make sure you were not mad. And you are not." Which her nose tells her, as well as her eyes, as she flicks a look towards Betsy once more.


Betsy eyes Laura, then shakes her wealth of purple hair to the side and pulls it back over her shoulder, lips quirking. "I've been trying to be very honest with you, Laura, because I know that you're trying to learn new skills when it comes to your feelings." An amethyst nail clicks a slow rhythm on the teacup.

My feelings are… complicated. I am not so angry that I want you to think I'm not your friend," she says, speaking slowly and clearly so Laura can pick apart the nuances between her words. "I was hurt that you left. Scared for you— and feeling sad that you didn't want my help. It's hard not to feel upset, and hurt, and sad, without feeling some resentment," Betsy says— very carefully marshalling her emotions. "I don't feel anger anymore, of course. But I want you to understand why I was upset. Because someone I care about was at risk, and I couldn't help her."


All of what Betsy said is heard and for the first few minutes, all Laura can offer is silence and that terribly blank expression of hers.

Eventually, as her brain parses through all of what Betsy has to say, her expression makes a subtle shift.

Her nostrils flare, as she takes in the scents from the area around the two women, and her pupils widen slightly.

Should Betsy extend her senses outwards, she'll be able to tell that Laura definitely understands what the other woman had to say, but now she's struggling with dealing with the fallout from her /own/ emotions now.

Disappointment. That was always a bad thing at The Facility, and that's what's causing Laura to react now.

Her brain struggles for a few minutes longer, which shows in the tension that lines her body. She's trying to corral those emotions off, putting a wall between herself, and those feelings. Which isn't necessarily the best decision for Laura to do, but it's what she does when things are overwhelming her. "I will do better." She says, voice sounding far more robotic than typical.

And while her reactions might seem bad, in reality, for Laura at least, it's actually good. It shows she's invested something within this relationship, this friendship, between the two former assassins.


Betsy's fingernails dance through the air in a hypnotic gesture. Up, down. Up, down. The rhythms of meditative breathing, giving Laura something to focus on, a gesture to track and follow with her eyes as she senses Laura's profound emotional distress behind that high wall of robotic discipline.

"That's all anyone can expect of our friends," Betsy says, as soothingly as possible. "No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. All that we can do is apologize when we do, and promise to do better." Her voice is a low, nuturing croon, trying to help soften Laura's emotional frazzle.

"I know the feelings are … strong. It's okay. Let them out just a little bit— open the door a crack," she tells Laura, coaxingly. "No one's going to punish you for making a mistake— I need you to acknowledge that."


Outwardly, to the people within this establishment, it probably looks as if Betsy and Laura are like anyone else. Two woman enjoying the respite from the cold weather outside.

Inwardly, however, is a completely different story.

While she doesn't know what to call all that she's feeling, for Laura, she's actually having an anxiety attack. All of those rolling emotions are causing her brain to misfire and kick up her fight or flight response, and Laura, is never one to flee. Well, typically.

Thankfully, that movement from Betsy is seen, and Laura's green eyes will automatically focus upon that movement. And while it may seem like it doesn't seem to help, Laura's ever logical brain picks up on the pattern; the rhythm of it. It's a lifeline that she grasps upon, as she struggles with those emotions rolling inside her head and really, whole body.

For a moment there, it might have looked bad to Betsy. And really, for a moment there, Laura did teeter on a dangerous edge, one that would have been bad, had she fallen over, but that teetering eased. Laura didn't fall over the edge and it was in part due to the presence of Betsy, but also, remembering to breathe and finally, the small kernel of truth that the Mansion has instilled in Laura. That they don't hurt people.

Not like The Facility.

And it's with that, that the boil of emotions eases just enough for the young woman to regain some of the balance she always has. Her gaze will flick from Betsy's hand, to her face now. It's another minute or two, before the slim assassin finally admits less robotically, "I do not like disappointing people." And then, even slower then her previous words, she adds in the quietest of voices, "You will not hurt me."

You. That's the important part there.


"No I will not," Betsy confirms crisply— and she makes it as absolute a statement as a sunrise. She waits until Laura's got her breathing and endocrine system under control, recognizing well the fluttering hallmarks of an anxiety attack, and mentally unclenches the immense bolt of psionic energy she'd been preparing, like trying untension a bow. If Laura had snapped, very little could have been done to slow her down beyond simply knocking her catatonic.

And Betsy did not wish to do that. Disguising relief as calm elation with Laura's emotional balance, Betsy upends the Cointreau into Laura's tea. "Have a drink with me," she invites the little ninja. "I find a bit of alcohol helps take the edge off when I'm having an emotional day. Just don't overdo it," she advises her, wryly.


The tide is definitely turning and while the lights still seem a touch too harsh to Laura's eyes, as well as the sounds, it's enough that her wild-eyes turn more somber.

More controlled.

More Laura.

"You will not." She says, a small thread of actual surety behind those flat words of hers. It's a milestone Laura just achieved, to be certain.

When the alcohol is upended in her team, Laura will take a second to reach for it, but reach for it she does. "My healing factor handles alcohol." She states matter-of-factly, but that doesn't stop her from pulling the mug of 'infused' tea towards herself. She'll sniff it (an automatic gesture) before she takes a cautious sip. Yes, her healing factor can handle most alcohols, but that doesn't mean Laura's tastebuds can.


"It might still help relax you a little," Betsy suggests. "Even if you can't get properly knackered, you'll at least calm down a little. My father used to give me a bit of brandy as a girl, if I got overexcited," she admits.

The Cointreau is warm and soothing, a hint of citrus and orange that mostly buries the sharp acrid of the alcohol itself. Betsy sips her tea and the food arrives— she digs in with a will, politely making use of knife and fork, elbows in and with impeccable posture. Ever the example for Laura— manners, emotions, diction, expressions, she never misses a chance to help Laura see an example of what to do if the woman is searching for a pattern to emulate.

"Would you care to try some of the chicken? It's baked around cheese and ham— one of my personal favorites," Betsy says, slicing a morsel from her plate, and offering to offload it to Laura's.


It has yet to enter Laura's brain to emulate someone, but, should that notion ever come to the forefront of her brain, Betsy will likely be the one to emulate.

For everything. Wouldn't that be interesting.

Still, the cup of tea is given that cautious sip and while the alcohol is tasted, it doesn't seem to bother the young woman. A second small sip will be taken whereas then her cup will be set back upon the table.

While Laura doesn't necessarily show impeccable manners, like Betsy, she isn't so rough as to be an eyesore. She'll use, knife, fork, and spoon, when required, but she's not necessarily a dainty eater.

When Betsy offers that bit of chicken towards her plate, Laura will cant her head to the side. She was just about to say no, when she stops, green eyes lifting to Betsy's face. This almost feels like a test (even if it's not) and so, Laura will pick up her plate and bring it closer to Betsy, so she can offload that bite of chicken. "Thank you." She says, still monotone. And when she puts her plate back down in front of her, the slim assassin will pause again. Gaze dropping to her food now, then back to Betsy. "Would you care to try some steak." She states, echoing Betsy's words perfectly (just not the inflection). As for the steak, it's rare, note quite 'mooing', but it's definitely rare versus medium-rare.


"I would -love- some steak," Betsy says. She deftly slices off a small corner of the beefy flank and deposits on her plate, taking a smaller cut and chewing on it happily. "Mmm. That is just /bliss/," she mutters, once the food's swallowed.

"Do you need anything for your room, while we're out? Some books, or… a plant? Plants are good for meditation," she advises Laura. "I used to put posters up on my wall when I was younger." Nevermind that Betsy's only a few years older than Laura, physically speaking. "Bands that I liked, people I thought were cute, pictures of places I wanted to visit."


Again, she watches Betsy.

And like the purple-haired woman, Laura will try to the chicken cordon bleu.

While she doesn't quite offer the same emotional cues as Betsy, Laura does take a second bite of it, which speaks volumes perhaps, to how she likes it.

The mention of her room and plants, causes Laura to consider that silent for a moment. In fact, she was about to shake her head no, until Betsy brings up the idea of posters. The mention of posters on the walls brings her green eyes back up to Betsy's purple ones.

"I do not have posters on my wall." She begins, her tone still even and flat, "But I have put up all the pictures and articles and leads that I have found on The Facility. It covers one full wall of my room."

And it really does. There's even connecting strings to various points that Laura wants to stay aware of.

And beyond that, perhaps, Laura deems this along the same lines of appropriate room decoration. "If you would like to see it you may stop by my room." She intones and while her tone isn't necessarily welcoming, there's perhaps a tinge of that from her mindscape.


"If it is not too intrusive, I shall do so— briefly," Betsy assures Laura, flashing an understanding smile. "I don't wish to intrude into your quiet space."

She scratches at her forehead, managing to avoid palming her brow in consternation. Two steps forward, one step back— having A Beautiful Mind web of conspiracy theories and evidential leads is probably not the /best/ thing for Laura's mental wellness, but… baby steps.

Electing not to tilt that particular windmill, Betsy smiles at Laura reassuringly. "And, if you like, you can see my room sometime, too," she tells Laura. Which is a rare exception to the rule about students in the instructor wing. "I'll walk you up and you can see if you like it."


There's a singular nod from Laura, at all of what Betsy has to say, at least about visiting her own room and the wall of most wanted.

And yes, two steps forward, one step back.

The mention of seeing Betsy's room causes the young woman to cant her head to the side again. She considers that offer, before she nods again, saying, "Yes. I will visit as well."

It's only after she finishes a few more bites of steak and the majority of her roasted vegetables, that Laura will set her fork down. Her hands will be tucked in her lap now, as she glances around the room once more. In all that emotional turmoil she dropped her look-out duties, now, she returns to her naturally observant state. It's only as the circuit is completed and Laura's gaze is back to Betsy, that the slim assassin will speak again. "Storm states that the school will be going public." And again, while the words are devoid of most cues, there's that slightest uptick to her voice. That uptick is asking for Betsy's opinion upon those words of hers.


"A contentious decision," Betsy admits. "One we did not arrive at lightly," she assures Laura. "The school is not going public in the explicit sense. Merely… announcing our true nature to the world. Many already know, so this is a way of dispelling some of the myths," she explains.

"Your name will be secret— no one will be allowed to photograph us, or come on campus, or see our school directory. But the hope is that we can help more mutants by opening our doors to them, instead of the rare case where we find someone and invite them. And we won't have to lie about our people fighting for the mutant rights issue— we won't pretend that we don't exist, as X-men."


While a portion of her question was in concern to her hidden identity, as it were, that wasn't the full basis of her question. The real issue for Laura comes to light with her next statement, "What preparations will be taken to safeguard the school." Again, the slightest raise to her voice at the end of those words of hers, to denote the question.

And while she normally wouldn't say such a thing, perhaps, thanks to some of those opening of her emotions, she can see beyond just her little bubble of missions, preparations and life and death, as she adds painfully flat, "It is good that the school will be able to help more. There is much suffering everywhere." Some of it seen firsthand by Laura.


"We can discuss that somewhere safer, dear," Betsy tells Laura, eyes flickering around, a bit pointedly— the cafe is perhaps not the most secure spot to discuss sensitive security measures. She smiles to take the sting out of her reprimand and finishes her food with a few quick, genteel bites, then wipes her plate clean with the last slice of letture and sets the entire tray aside.

"Shall we be off, then? One stop, then we can head home to Westchester," she offers, reaching for her credit card to pay the bill


"Yes. Of course." Laura states, obviously taking Betsy's meaning. Really, she should have thought of it herself, but, being so focused on the details doesn't always let you see the big picture at times.

Then she'll wait for Betsy to finish and when the other woman does, Laura turn her attention towards the door. She didn't forget about their last stop, but at the mention of it, there might be the slightest of slumps to her shoulders. Sure, it's for her, but somehow after seeing Betsy shop like a possessed woman, she knows their quick stop might turn into something lengthier.

Still. It's no harder than waiting during a mission and so, Laura brings her shoulders back up and resumes her normal rigid posture. "I am ready." She states, sounding almost like she's saying; once more unto the breach.

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