March 28, 2017:

Departing the SHIELD campus on personal business, Sloane seeks to reconnect with an old friend and find something of her old life to cling on to.

Greenwich Village, NYC


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Phil Coulson


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

'But you're not a prisoner. You haven't done anything wrong.'

Phil Coulson was a little bit government boogeyman when she arrived in the hallowed halls of SHIELD days ago, a little bit friendly figure just looking out for her. It wasn't that she minded it, they're giving her three square, a roof over her head, and training in the means to control her new, unusual powers. She was given a new phone-slash-panic button, too, if she got into trouble, so…

… so there's no problem with leaving for a little bit, right?

Her afternoons are 'her own,' they said. From subway to bus, Sloane L. Albright crosses Manhattan following Google results and tracking a few things down here and there. She does absolutely notice the people that stare at her on the bus and on the train, from either the hushed awe of children to the curious stares of some adults, and of course, the looks of 'what the hell' from a few more.

Arriving at a tall apartment complex full of students, sharp minds, artists and engineers, Sloane waits for someone to leave before pretending the set of keys in her hand works in the front door, catching it before it closes and slipping inside. Tucking them back into her pocket, she makes way for the elevator, clicking the button and riding up in dull silence.

Arriving at this one particular door, she stops and inhales deep. She lifts her hand to knock— then stops. After a bit of hesitation, she moves a few steps from the door, then … comes back, and repeats the process. On the third attempt, however, she stops in front of the door of Rusalka Stojespal… and then she knocks.

One knock, then another, then a one-a-two-three.

Peering through the peephole will only offer an oddly distorted view of someone in a hoodie (with odd peaks on either side of her head) with a tuft of coppery hair covering part of her face, a large set of aviators perched on her nose.

At a little bit of a distance, she may not look that familiar at all— her t-shirt is plain, and her hoodie has the brand of SHIELD's iconic eagle on the left side of the chest, with slim jeans and heavy, cheap sneakers.


Math is a language all its own, and one that a certain blue-eyed Sokovian is all too happy to work with. It's precise. It's clean, it's understandable, and you can't misunderstand without finding what's wrong. It's almost as nice a language as the sound of a supercharged engine, but math is where Rusalka's brain is right now. Homework is important, after all, and she does have to at least look like she's practicing.

It's a nice enough day, at least, even if she's curled up in a rather floofy chair - a light sweater, jeans, and ankle socks make a comfortable enough outfit. Sally sits hunched over her textbooks, eschewing the typical digital calculators or tablets or other such things - she's doing the solutions by hand, rote, and memory. Maybe it's old-fashioned, but it's certainly a way to truly /learn/ the lessons rather than just press button, receive result. Besides, there's something appropriate about the soft classical music in the background, a Debussy album providing music to think by.

And then there's a knock against her door, upsetting the zen-like afternoon. A dark glare from blue eyes, before she stands. "If I ignore you, you won't go away, will you. Lost students…" Ugh, it's probably some stoner or jock with the wrong room, and Sally knows how these conversations end. It doesn't keep her from having her practice rapier by the door, just in case…SHIELD? What the hell?

The door opens before Sloane, the taller girl inside blinking in a lack of recognition. Funky headphones; she thinks, taking in the shape of the hoodie over her visitor's head. Probably some recruit getting sent on a know-nothing chase. But why here? "Uh…can I help you?" She owes the poor kid that much; her family background has made her at least somewhat accepting of the military. And there's something about that hair that's familiar, but it's not like there aren't a ton of redheads; it's a popular look this year. Idiots, Sally thinks; waste your time and money destroying your hair for no reason just to babble about how you look.

She's not outright sneering - but there's definitely a sense of disconnected disdain.


Shit. She's home.

Shit. She's /coming/.

Sloane didn't actually expect this— maybe she could've left a phone number on a post-it note under the door, or … maybe she should've brought a pizza with her? Was the place down the street still open?

She's a little self-conscious about the SHIELD hoodie, too, but it's really all that she's got right now— it's cold, but the weather's okay, but she doesn't have a proper heavy jacket yet, and … the weather isn't bothering her nearly as much as it should, so is there something wrong? — But—

— But—

'Can I help you?'

She turns her body, then her head, a little more square to the door. The shape of her might be a little familiar, and then, /then/, she reaches up and pulls down the sunglasses covering her eyes, slipping them off her face and holding the bridges carefully. Once a vibrant emerald green, her eyes now damn near glow more orange than her hair. Irridescent blue scales line her cheeks and weave across her brow, twining further down her neck and collarbone before disappearing under the shirt. The back of her hands are likewise covered in scale, though much finer and easier for her to move and bend her hands and fingers.

Five months, a few weeks, a couple of days, and an hour ago, she was on her way to a musical symposium in a nice red dress borrowed from the Sokovian's closet, then she disappeared in the Terrigen Bomb incident.

No clues, no leads, and a shitload of missing persons flyers.

Sloane's brow scrunches with worry. "H… Hey, Sally."


Well, it isn't as if Rusalka is the kind of girl to spend her afternoon carousing. Unless it's Track Day with the Lotus, that is…but not on a weekday. So of course she's home, being the good little student, much to Sloane's chagrin. But maybe it's to her benefit as well, since it's a meeting that would come sooner or later.

When the redhead turns, there's something about it that's familiar - and then the hoodie and sunglasses come off, and Sloane goes from 'dressing for Unabomber tryouts' to more normal attire. Normal enough that it makes recognition almost instantaneous, despite the strange shift in her eyes and the odd markings on her skin. Five months, a few weeks, a couple days, and an hour ago Rusalka had waved goodbye to a friend…

…and finds her once more. The 'Hey Sally' is said, except squished against her shoulder, as the apartment's resident practically clamps onto her long lost friend and drags her inside. The door's errantly nudged closed with a toe, as Rusalka pulls the other girl in - and starts swearing in the sing-song Sokovian-accented Russian. There's a catch in her throat after a few choice words, and she just holds Sloane at arm's length after the intense hug.

For Sally, it had been several weeks of driving around to all the known hangouts, arguing with Sloane's parents, arguing a lot with the NYPD, and never finding a lead in that time. "You…I was looking for you for weeks! Posters, driving around, trying to ask anyone, it's like…you just flat out disappeared!" Swallow. And in that swallow, she finally /sees/ everything that's happened. The eyes, the scales on her skin, the sloppy outfit…

Sally falls back into a chair, though there's others available. "I…what is this? What happened to you, and what's with the Cirque du Soleil makeup?" Wait…that didn't smudge or come off at all. IS it makeup? Rusalka just waves a hand, foot tapping in a sudden burst of nervous energy. "Okay sit. What /happened/ to you all this time? My god, I was afraid you were going to be found washed up on Coney Island…"


This was not the reaction she was expecting. "Oompf!!"

Suddenly, she's inside the apartment, the door closed behind them. The hug isn't an unwelcome thing; SHIELD's personnel have largely been very professional rather than 'huggers,' and this is the first bit of extended contact she's had with anyone other than a handshake or a bit of encouragement from her trainer. It's … nice. Her head tilts forward, mouth pulled into a flat line as her eyes closed as the squeeze is probably a little tighter than normal.

"I'm so sorry," she says, frowning.

She's released, and Sally is right back into a chair. Settling down into another seat, she sits with her elbows on her knees, facing the hard questions— what is this? What happened? Where has she been? She takes a deep, deep breath before exhaling a cheek-inflating sigh, shaking her head.

"So for your second question…" she starts, then straightens up enough that she can pull back her hood. Her ears are longer than before, pointed outward, and the tops and backs are covered in swaths of blue scale. "… it's… not makeup."

Sloane sucks in a breath, then slants her head. "God, this sounds so stupid, but… So I was sitting in the lecture hall and the presentation was going on. And … I mean, it was a lecture, so of course it was boring. So then this weird fog suddenly starts rolling through the building, and… I couldn't get away. Everyone started to panic, and then the next thing I knew I was in this … this… thing. A coccoon. Apparently I have the right genes to have this… I don't know. I got turned into this."

"I came out of it last week. SHIELD found me wandering around in the streets."


When Sloane's head tilts forward, Sally just supports her - that kind of physical contact may not be a common expression of the Stojespal girl, but it is something that happens from time to time. And Sloane's earned a bit of a backlog as it is. And then there's an apology.

For a moment Sally wants to light into her and chew her out for ditching everyone for so long - but that's just the immediate reaction to the invite of the words 'I'm so sorry.' Instead she bites back on her first thought, and just tries to get her mind to settle.

Clair de Lune helps, as the soft piano piece comes on in the background.

And then there's a moment of giddy, unexpected laughter from Rusalka. "You and your puffy cheeks. You always did that, and you still do!" Yup, aside from the hair, the voice, and the rest, that proves it's Sloane. True and in the flesh, and no mere ghost or anything. There's a momentary flick of her eyes at a little stalk of wheat kept in the apartment's kitchen.

Wait, it's not makeup? Then… Rusalka remains silent while her friend speaks, trying to clear her mind and /listen./ The Terrigen bombing incident, the gassing of New York - and other places, in the end - was something she'd lived through in a different way.

There's a grump of dissatisfaction as she mentions SHIELD's intervention. "So SHIELD got you…what kind of restrictions are they putting on you?" A glance at the door, wondering if she's going to get a special delivery from lots of black-clad men with guns. "You didn't run away or anything from them, did you? No," Sally adds, following the logic chain before Sloane can answer. "Not wearing their outfits you didn't.

"So. The gas did this, these scales and such. Because genetics?" Okay, even Sally knows the basics of college biology and whatnot. "That's…oh to hell with it all, Sloane. SHIELD, Terrigen, whatever, I don't care." Those blue eyes, almost unnaturally rich in color, stare into equally bright orange. "You're back. And I don't need to keep looking for you."


'You still do!' Sloane can't help but laugh just a little— it's good to know that in some cases, no matter what changes, things /can/ still stay the same. She starts asking questions, not judging. She starts feeling a little more comfortable, too, leading to her shrugging off the hoodie into the back of the chair, revealing her arms: What skin is visible, the scales continue broad-swath across the outside of her arms, down and almost all the way around her wrists, and onto the backs of her hands.

What restrictions…

"From eight to noon in the morning on weekdays, I see a trainer. They're teaching me how to control my powers better." Her back straightens, fingers fanning out, "… I forgot to mention, I have powers now, too. The rest of the day is basically mine."

Sloane's hands lift again, this time in a more reassuring way. "They're not keeping me prisoner, Sally. They gave me a place to stay, and they're calling Mom and Dad. I've got this, but that's about it," she says, pulling a smartphone out of her pocket and setting it on the table. "It's got a panic button if I need it. They were very clear I'm allowed to leave whenever I want."

The girl laughs. "Hell, they're even squaring me up with school so I can come back. I guess I'm not the first person they've been helping out since everything… y'know. Happened."

Because genetics? "Because genetics."

Slumping back in her seat, there's an honest sign of relief in her face— in her posture. "I'm really sorry, Sally. I didn't mean for you to worry."


The laugh is a good sign, and it echoes from Sally. And then Sloane strips off the hoodie, and Sally takes a gasp - she hadn't realized how extensive the scales were. "It doesn't hurt, does it…?" Scales on the skin, sliding back and forth like that…it doesn't seem to, but she can't help the worry for her friend. Granted it's not the kindest thing to ask but well, file under special circumstances and lock it in the classified files.

The mention of having powers gets blue eyes widened. "Alright, get the stupid question out of the way…what can you do?" The smartphone gets a glance, the little silver eagle of SHIELD a logo on the back of it like an iPhone's apple. Cute, she thinks. Sloane mentions her parents, and Sally snorts. "They were impossible to talk to. I only saw them once when they were gathering up your things, they left…a lot behind. Matter of fact…"

Sally stands, gliding into the apartment's bedroom for a moment before returning, dragging a large plastic tub behind her. In it, a couple stored instruments and music books. "Your dad took most of the stuff home, but insisted on leaving these. I grabbed them before anyone could say anything, but…they were pretty broken up at the time." Unfortunately there's not much in the way of clothes that she salvaged; Sloane's mother had gathered most of that.

"Well. Far be it from me, the daughter of a baroness and born to blue blood, to complain about genetic compatibility." A wry grin crosses her face. "Worry? Good lord, how much did I. But…oh the hell with it. You're here now, I don't care anymore. 'Each season only lasts so long, any winter can be endured.'" Yay for old sayings.

She glances at the smartphone, then at the outfit that her friend has on, with a little disdain. "I suppose secondhand army athletic gear is all SHIELD can spare? Shame. Look…" She glances up, taking in Sloane's face and shoulders and arms again. "If you want to get changed, like…put real clothes on, you know my closet's yours."


It doesn't hurt, does it?

Seemingly dodging the question, Sloane pinches the bridge of her nose, sighing. "Shit. I need to talk to them pretty soon. They assigned me a case worker, she's… she's preparin' them for all of this shit and I, uh. … they're gonna be in town… soon. I think. Mom usually has a lid on it but she's gonna freak."

Standing, the ginger Inhuman moves quickly to help out, but can't even make it that far fast enough. The tub is tugged out, some of her belongings unearthed from her dorm room. Lowering down to her knees, the young Inhuman draws in a breath, fingers slipping across books, a flute case— things she thought she wouldn't get a chance to see again anytime soon. It's a real, tangible link to how things used to be.

Her dad… yeah, this sounds about right.

Touching a bit of wetness at the corner of her eyes, she exhales another sigh. She's doing that a lot, just trying to shed off all that excess weight; the worries of the last few days, the fear, the baggage. "Water," she finally says. "I can … make water do stuff."

"They… uh… don't hurt." she says, after a moment, trying to keep a steady hold on her voice. She lifts up her hand at Rusalka, scales turned outward, then reaches out to touch the Sokovian's hand with the back of her own. Firm, smooth, and cool to the touch, each seems to flow almost seamlessly into the next. "I mean… when I finally realized what was going on, I got scared and it felt like I could feel every single one. But now… I dunno, I don't even notice."

Looking down at the hoodie, she tugs on it a bit. "It's actually pretty comfortable. And warm. Though, uh… I don't suppose you still have my James Barnes Classica jacket?"


Hmpf. /Parents./ "And your dad's gonna be his stoic self…mrf. Uh, look, I can skip a day outside of the ME lab, I've worked ahead a bit ahead. I'll go with you if you want, like, moral support." Sally shrugs, her attendance is more than good enough. Worst case, she'll just spend a night awake, switching to coffee for a bit.

She hunches down, balancing on her toes as Sloane goes through the tub of things. The flute especially is a link between them; the redhead had been tootling away really well that day on the quad when she'd randomly, snarkily, suggested playing something complex. Sloane had obliged, and frankly…Rusalka had been impressed. That flute brought them together; that it should be present for reuniting them is only appropriate.

"I grabbed your homework assignments from back then, but…well, it kinda stacked up some and I figured it didn't matter after the semester. So I guess you'll have a lot to work on for catchup, but." Grin. At least she has that opportunity, Sally thinks. And then, seeing her friend's emotional turmoil, reaches out a hand to settle on Sloane's shoulder.

The scales, she realizes, are cool under her touch, and almost soft. Like touching a snake, maybe, though a bit harder. When Sloane presses her hand against Sally's own, she grips - fingers wrapping around to explore a little bit, comparing the difference between soft warm skin and cool firm scale. "It's like a little suit of armor, kinda. The way they all slide evenly…"

She's impressed with the engineering, at least. Of course she is, and it's probably wide on her face.

Then Sloane brings up the doofiest thing she could. Rusalka's eyes widen a little bit, and her eyebrows pucker slightly. "That beat up old thing? Pff. Your parents didn't even notice it, I thought they were just gonna throw it out as some old hobo's clothes you found. It's hanging in the closet in the hall; first left - oh hell, you've been here countless times." She'd know where it is.

"Hey, look…ugh. You know me and tradition crap, but we Stojespal have a thing. When the dead are given back to us," she goes on, quoting her great grandmother, "one must always celebrate. I'll get the samovar going and make you some tea, okay?"


"I'll see. I don't know if… ugh, it's… it's just complicated. I've got a keycard and a lanyard and everything and I can basically open like three doors in the /entire building/ and there's sign-ins and… it's stupid and governmental," Sloane says, shaking her head. "Huge pool. Xbox in the lounge. The food's kind of bland. The guy that handled my interview was nice. — I mean, when I woke up, just— like. I'm not working for them."

She just needs to get on her feet. Seeing a friend definitely helps.

Genetic engineering leads to amazing things. She offered her hand to Sally, reaffirming squeeze on her shoulder or not, letting her poke and prod and manhandle her fingers. Everything seems to move the same, even if now the scales are so evenly distributed, packed just so— down her knuckles and first digits, across the back of her hand, over her wrist, and flowing to the larger scales versus small and fine, especially at the joints. "I've got 'em all over. Back, sides, belly… right down to my feet. They don't run on petrol, by the way," she adds with a smirk. Motorhead.

When she can reclaim her arm, she stands up and paces toward the closet. "Hey, this thing is /vintage/. I hunted for this thing for days," she calls back, not returning until it's slipped on. It's like a familiar hug from a friend— a nice feeling, weight, and smells of a familiar life, even if it's spent five months in a closet. Sliding it back off and slouching down on the floor next to the box, the Inhuman slants her head again. Tea? "Yeah. I'd like that, thanks."

Clutching the jacket a little tighter, the young woman's head lifts. "So uh— about your dress, I uh— um."

"It's kind of in a … lab… getting… analyzed… 'cause I was wearing it when I came out… so it's kind of covered in slime and they're studying it, and I don't know if I'm ever gonna get it back?"


"Complicated? Sloane, you've been turned into … someone new," she decides, mind churning through all the options. "At least, new on the outside. Congratulations, you spent five months in the body and fender shop and turned out pretty cool." She smirks, then nods. "It sounds like a student dorm, doesn't it?" Sally gives the keys hanging on the hook by the door a glance. "Just enough to get you indoors, and everything else…" Shrug. "Authorized personnel only."

There's a nod when Sloane mentions she's literally only under SHIELD's wing, rather than an agent or anything crazy like that. "Phew. Good, okay, at least /that/ is normal enough. Huge pool and water powers, huh." Eyebrow raise. "And I'm the one that ended up with the name!" Yes, Sloane's heard Sally gripe about that before, probably plenty of times.

"Vintage? Hah! You're lucky I didn't charge that leather disaster rent." The voice is playful, though, as she continues. "Or maybe held it hostage for that Givenchy. Bah, don't worry about it." She raises one hand, then shudders as Sloane mentions the slime component of things. "They're welcome to it. Or you are, I guess. I mean…" Shrug. She was never a big fan of bright red dresses, even if it was scandalously short against her legs. And with that, the dress is entirely forgotten - it's Sloane's if she wants it…that is, if SHIELD ever gives it back.

Meanwhile, she's standing at the silver tea service - pure of course. It doesn't take long to get the thing going, and Sally turns back to look at her friend's new outfit.

"Y'know…that's not bad. My cousin Yvette-Regine would love that sideways cut on the front, I think." Sally settles down on the floor next to the box and her friend, and gives her hairband a slight adjustment before giving an impish smirk. "So…you can control water, then, like…you have a superhero name yet? Firehose, or The Splash, or something?"


The naming scheme. Sloane laughs, rubbing at the back of her neck, letting her head bob one way and the other. And, she's become someone new! "Oh eat me," she says, letting out a sound halfway between a laugh and a scoff, a middle finger flipped up while Sally's on her way to the kitchen.

Rusalka— the longform version of Sally's name, and something that had to do with mermaids, she remembers. "Yeah, it's pretty nice. They have me doing training and exercises every day. It's only been a few days, but it's pretty cool. The trainer I have is nice. Pretty patient with me even if I screw up a lot harder than I have any right to. I'm supposed to be doing some physical training, too, 'cause I can lift stuff, I guess. Not a ton— I mean, maybe. Ugh… it's so screwed up. I keep getting freaked out I'm gonna break something touching it."

"I'll find a way to pay you back. Or replace it, or — something!"

She has to pick a superhero name. Sloane laughs, tilting her head from side to side in deep consideration. "Ah, come on… I'm not a hero or anything like that. That said, uh… I don't know yet. I haven't really picked anything. I don't know what I'm even gonna do— once I get settled back in I might try to finish up school. There's a lot I wanna get done."

Rustling through the box of her things, her voice picks up a bit while Sally's at the kitchen. "I'm guessing Dad took my guitar home, too. Ugh…"

A pause, then a thoughtful frown. Shit, her dad better not have found the dimebag under her bed.

"And if you call me Firehose I swear I'm gonna make like, a puddle or … or rain, or something, like, in your car!"


Well, not that new, and Sally laughs at the gesture and comment. "Yeah, just be glad you didn't get saddled with it! And of course it has to be on all the forms," Sally gripes as she assembles elements for the samovar. "So there's no getting around that, thank you Baba for retaining the barony." The last part is only slightly exasperated; she knows what benefits her aristocratic background gets.

It doesn't take long with the tea, as Sloane explains, and she sets the samovar to brewing the concentrate. "You take…a third of a cup, cut, with strawberry jam right?" It's been a while since she's made it, but thinks that was the typical favorite.

Brown eyebrows raise when she hears of the physical strength. "Wait, so like…super-strength and water powers then? That's kinda awesome. Useful, certainly, but well." Sally shrugs. "Whatever breaks, I'll fix it." It's a cast-aside comment, just a brushing away of worry, but at the same time there's a determined truth there. The Girl Who Isn't Firehose would know that slight hardness of tone.

"Replace it? Pfft." Sally crosses her arms, and stares at her friend. "You already did. You came back. The books are in order," she adds dismissively. Besides, it's not like she can't afford a few dozen more. Maybe something that isn't cut quite so high, next time.

"Guitar? Oh yeah, he did. I think he wasn't a fan of the flute, it and a few other things kind of got shoved aside. Or they just…didn't want to stay around. I mean, everyone else thought…" Thought that she'd end up as a statistic on a police blotter. "The gas attack…a lot happened that day, I guess. It was a bit of a mess. Mom insisted I return home, but…by then it was already over, and I said I had to look for you - plus I'd lose my scholarship."

She shrugs, finally pouring out the tea and dividing it up the way the two of them always liked. "So it was a little touch and go, until I told her she was going to need to send a commando force for an extraction on friendly territory, and she finally relented. I'm glad…" Grin. "Who knows what would have happened if someone else answered the door, eh?"

And then Sally's eyes go wide at Sloane's threat. "Don't you dare! You do that and I'll…make new seats out of you! Fine, fine," she adds with a wave, "I swear by Honor Unyielding that I'll never call you Firehose. Or any other silly-ass call sign, I guess." She reaches out one hand in a fist, held for a bump. "Sloane, always. Oh, uh…check your inner pocket. I kinda had to stash it when the cops weren't looking."


She keeps forgetting— Rusalka comes from money, from title, like legitimate Sokovian nobility. Her own family is well-off and her grandparents come from Old Money, but she sees so little of them that it's hard to get a good grasp of how far back things go, how things really are in the Albright clan. Fidgeting with the jacket a bit more, she then gets told to check the pockets. Slipping scaled-back fingers inside, she feels around for a moment before she hits—

— "Oh." This is said with a bit of surprise, then slipping her fingers— empty— back out of the pocket. "Probably saved my bacon, there."

Taking the cup of tea, the Inhuman's cheeks puff again, blowing out a long, long, ridiculously long sigh. "Sssssshit. Yeah, they… probably took most of it. Mom and Dad are probably gonna fly right out here or something, and then… I dunno. Like I said, the agent that did my interview and my case worker both said they're gonna talk to them before they see me and get 'em ready for, y'know."

A one-handed gesture to herself while she almost mockingly lifts the teacup with a thrust-out pinky.

"Your Mom's doin' okay? — I mean… I read some stuff on the internet and caught up on some of the news, but … like, what's happened? School, and … y'know, the shit that matters?"


In all honesty, there's times that Rusalka herself cares as much about the Stojespal clan as Sloane does her own. Granted, she has fond memories of the former baroness, her great-grandmother, but that's the case with most little kids. And at least Sloane's parents are both still alive - it was those same family ties and nobility that led to Sally's father becoming a taken pawn in the great game.

Sally, meanwhile, leans back and grins. "Of course I did. Which, of course, is another one you owe me. Just don't do that anywhere near here; I don't need the smell getting a proctor's attention…" Sloane knows, of course, but Sally's careful if she's /anything./

There's a nod when the Inhuman speculates. "They stripped it pretty good, but only took so much…I suppose they weren't thinking all that clearly, I mean." The blue-eyed girl takes a long sip of her tea and gestures to her friend. "They thought you were gone, and were pretty torn up and not thinking all that clearly I guess. Or they ran out of room in the Mercedes," she adds with an amused shrug. And then those blue eyes go back to Sloane, taking in the girl's transformations for a moment.

"So when do we go meet them?" Straightforward, simple, and assuming Rusalka's going to be even permitted to go - but there's no way she's letting her friend face this alone, and she'll shove the black wyvern coat of arms in any face she has to to get her way. Sometimes it /is/ useful having that family after all…

Rusalka nods gently, sipping her own tea. "Yeah, she…heard some of what happened, got pretty insistent but things didn't affect Sokovia much. I mean, not much more than it gets over there, but I suppose the old gods still watch out for the land. Or else we're just too little to give a damn about, but whatever. Uh…there was a short semester while you were gone, in the end; a lot of folks disappeared." Sally thinks back to a few people they'd met here and there, and shrugs.

"Maybe they'll be coming home soon like you did, but…there was a lot of stupid shit afterwards. Blame games, and retribution, and a few assholes who want to just ruin whatever, but New York's Finest took care of that pretty quick. I guess it's back to normal now, which reminds me-" She leans over the table and scribbles a note in her book. "Class meetings, and rescheduling things. So."

Rusalka's eyes twinkle a little in amused joy. "Are we gonna get the chance to get you some proper clothes, and maybe find a replacement for that five cent dead cow you're wearing?" Shopping! …With Sally's budget! …Traveling by Sally's car! …Yay?


'When do we meet them?' — Asked right when Sloane is about halfway through a sip of tea, keeping enough control to yes, choke, but no, not break the cup's handle. "Jesus, Sally, I— I don't even know what they're gonna say. I mean—" Her head slopes forward, frowning as she searches for answers in the cup, her reflection, and the fiery orange eyes that look back at her.

"'Soon,' that's about all I can say. They wanted me to not like. … ugh. I still have this problem where sometimes I make water happen. Like. In the air. Like it rains, or just there's this splash noise and it's happening right around me. They just want me to be able to keep that under control, and … I dunno, like. Just make sure I'm okay first. …"

"… I'm just scared to see them." Fucking terrified, more like.

Staring at the cup's surface for a bit longer, she points her finger down at the liquid, hovering it a good six inches over the steamy beverage. "The last time they saw me I was playing Moonlight Sonata with my eyes closed. And now I'm… like. Doing this."

The water molecules in the tea seem to be responding to her beck and call: Swirling, almost as if she were stirring and swirling a spoon through the cup.

Not much changed. A lot of folks disappeared. Most importantly, (most) things are back to normal. Her cheeks puff one more time, though she doesn't exhale the sigh; the Inhuman just holds it for a few moments before deflating.

"Well, I— ugh. I haven't really thought about it. But," she says, rifling through the pockets of her jeans, "I have this." A SHIELD-issue card. "It's like a discretionary account or something. I've got a limit but I can buy whatever I need. Some clothes probably won't be a problem, not unless I wanna keep wearing like. The cheap stuff they sell at the canteen on the campus."

Sloane's eyes roll from the card to Sally's face, in sudden, creeping horror.

"Oh god, you still have your car."


Rusalka, of course, has perfect timing. At least Sloane doesn't spray it all over the place; as it is it's bad enough she's nearly drowning in tea. "Pinky up. Parallel to the ring finger," she jokes. But then there's a long pause, watching those orange eyes almost glow as they stare into the water. And there's a long, gentle nod.

"Soon. Good enough, and well…I guess once you get that under control, we'll do it." She knows a little about getting things under control, though for the engineer it had been her temper rather than…some sort of hydrokinetic ability. "If it takes a while, it takes a while, we have time. Get yourself together first, get yourself steady. Then we get back on the horse." It's just a way of thinking it, but it isn't as if equestrian activities are rare among aristocrats. Nor is the term all that uncommon even among the proletariat.

She watches, though, entranced a bit as Sloane demonstrates her ability. "Wow…that's…that's a thing alright. And you can just…will it?" There's an intense curiosity in her face, but in Rusalka's defense it IS her first superpower demonstration. "And you can just make water appear? Oh god, you weren't kidding about rain…" Sally makes a quick note to exorcise the very word 'firehose' from her vocabulary.

"So at least, you've got some control over it, then…that's good. That's a good start, right? And well…with SHIELD helping, I suppose…yeah, you'll be fine." She takes a long drink, and watches Sloane deflate. Thoughts turn back to the Terrigen incident, and…well, New York had ridden it out like it did most things. It was a tough city, after all. "I guess maybe a lot of folks will be coming back as well, so that's good. I wonder if the Avengers are going to take applications," she adds with a laugh.

And then Sloane mentions the clothing options she has. "Please, don't even think about that. You shop there, you're going to end up with more eagle logos on you than the Triskelion itself." The teacup, now emptied, gets set on the tray next to the samovar, just so with the silverware next to it. "At least let's get back the Sloane from before all this, right? Maybe you can swing a replacement Givenchy dress on that card of yours, and we'll just bill SHIELD instead." Sally laughs, then stretches - before giving an impish grin.

"The Lotus? Of course I do. I keep that in tens, you know that." Tens, of course, being the perfect grade of function. "But I admit with homework I haven't really had much of a chance to get out and just get some me time behind the wheel…" There's a pregnant pause, as blue eyes glance back to the scaled girl. "And I caught that little 'petrol-powered' comment earlier. Don't you think I am going to let that go by; you and I are going out to eat as well as restore your immediate clothing supply. And incidentals." She gives Sloane a predatory grin and adds, sing-song. "I'll~ drive~."


Sloane draws in a deep breath through her nose. The gestures are absent, but at the same time, there's a certain sense of focus. "Kind of. They've got me training in a pool area so there's plenty of water around. I'm learning how to like, push it back and forth a lot, but I haven't done a lot with like. Spouting. And making it go flying around, and cool stuff like that. Baby steps," she says, the last part said with a little bit of sarcasm. "I can't really get a hold of steam. I don't know what it is, it's just like … I can't /focus/ it like I can water."

Sloane scratches at her cheek, at the line where scales spread across her cheekbones and where it gives way to skin. "I don't know how I'm making the water appear. Yet. … It'd be nice to know, because I've made things awkward in the cafeteria a few times when suddenly like, water out of nowhere all over their food."

She looks a little embarrassed when she says this.

Finishing the cup of tea, her head tilts. "What, like a superhero team? Haha, yeah— I— I don't know about that. I jus'— I just want to get… like. I wanna see how much of my life I can actually get back. I don't know what I want to do about school and it sounds like there's some other folks like me hanging out with SHIELD. The agent that did my interview told me there's someone else he wants me to meet. Not sure what their deal is, though." Blue-tinted shoulders rise and fall in a shrug.

Rising up from the floor, Sloane slips her little bit of contraband from the jacket down the side of her box of stuff, tossing the SHIELD-branded hoodie on top and slipping on the Barnes vintage jacket. Breathing one more heavy sigh, the Inhuman makes a sweeping gesture for the apartment's entrance before tucking her phone and card back into her pockets. "I guess we'll end up finding out if I'm super durable, too."


Rusalka watches that focus with interest, and a little jealousy. It'd be nice to be able to get that focus on-demand, anytime she really wanted, but…it's difficult for the baroness' daughter to find it anywhere under a hundred miles per hour. "Baby steps," Rusalka echoes - with a smile. "I mean, you've been at this a week. Come on, you're not going to be instantly good with this. Not like I was behind the wheel, after all," she teases, in a voice about as serious as a cat on helium.

"And well, that makes sense. Steam's vaporized; it's ninety-nine point nine-nine-nine-four percent air, and point triple-oh-six water droplets in suspension. I guess it'd be like trying to control scattered sand, instead of a solid rock." Hooray for mechanics! And steam power; that tremendous vaporization makes it so damn useful for pressurized systems. Trust an engineer to cover that sort of detail, Sloane.

Sally waves a hand dismissively. "You'll figure it out. Though," she muses a moment, thinking of the barracks and sudden deluges, "maybe it's a good thing you didn't end up with some kind of flame powers. That could get a little more dangerous, but well…we take what we get." Wink. "I suppose the fact you haven't run away from them means they're not too mad at you, though. Good."

If that were the case, a letter of protest might sail its way up official channels…

Sally nods. "Well, if they introduce you to new folks…networking's important, right? You never know who you might need." She leaves the first part of Sloane's comment alone for a moment, before sighing. "I suppose…I'd be in the same boat. But you're always welcome here?" It's said with honesty, and simplicity. Anytime Sloane needs…this little corner of her life, at least, will still be waiting. "Maybe I'll just make you work off that dress with personal concerts," she adds with a grin.

When Sloane stands, Sally does too, and tucks her feet into shoes. A quick buckle on each, before she gathers up the car keys, wallet, and white racing jacket. "Oh come on, the Lotus is perfectly comfortable. And it's not like I can drive it /that/ hard in city streets, after all." Parking garages are another thing entirely, but that goes unstated. Right? Right. "Besides, it's only 340 horsepower, what's to worry about?"


"Nah, they… I just try to sit away from people, or like, eat somewhere else, or something. Not that I have a lot of options, my card only opens like three freaking doors on the entire campus."

Sally knows way, way too much about this. It makes sense, what with like, steam engines and junk, and knowing your engine history… with engines… and stuff. Certainly, it'd be like trying to explain different types of instruments within the same catergory to the Sokovian… or the difference between one style and another when on the surface they would appear the same.

Thinking about it for a moment, the Inhuman slips her jacket back off, pulling the hoodie back on before adding the extra layer of the jacket over it, picking up the sunglasses and drawing the hood up over her head— an issue of confidence, not with Sally, but against the outside world.

Popping the door open, Sloane stands waiting in the doorway, giving the student an incredulous look What's to worry about?

Visions of terror-inducing driving, among other things.

"… Plenty."

And then she moves quickly down the hall, letting out a melodious laugh.


It's just what she knows; just like Sloane's musical training would make reading sheet music nothing but unintelligible gibberish barcodes to Sally, the mysteries of physics are equally mysterious sometimes. Both of them are magicians, speaking different languages and following different disciplines to achieve their results.

But sometimes, just sometimes, there's a harmony - like the sound of the Lotus's supercharger blending with the shrieking coming from the passenger seat. It's a chord that's just perfect, as Sally dances the dance of a manual transmission.

It says 'welcome back' at the same time as it does 'things are back the way they should be.'

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