A Bit of a Predicament

July 07, 2017:

A young telepath's cries for help wake Emma Frost in the dead of night.

New York City

Characters

NPCs: Various, emitted by Kingpin.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

1 AM.

A powerful, untrained mind is a dangerous thing.

To itself. And to others.

Somewhere in the New York City dark, one has awoken. It makes itself known in wild, panicked flashes of thought that might well intrude on deep thoughts, recreational activities, or beauty sleep. Pushing. Imposing. Demanding to be heard, whether the sender intends it or not. Knows it or not.

Flicker, flash.

What did you -do-, Eric? Mindvoice. Female. Ringing, direct.

Gone.

Then…fade in. Light. Sound. Too much light. Too much sound.

The cut of feminine vocals, the pound of a baseline. Heard. In and out, projected, in and out of reception:

~My seams are breaking, it’s not as fun as it sounds.~

Male voice, laughing, swirling with sound. A glimpse of a face. Dirty blonde hair. Fratboy grin.

Just added a little Special K, baby, nothing to worry about, it’ll take you right to outer space…

Echoing. Outer space…outer space…outer space…

Music again.

~What if I’m empty? What if there’s nothing left?~

Panic. Rising. Get off me! Let me go!

Pulsing rage. Projected. Stumbling. Everyone’s fighting. Why is everyone fighting? Falling. Thoughts crowding in. Loud. Soft. Loud. All enraged, all frightened.

Oh god, it’s too much, it’s too much, make it stop, make it stop, makeitstopmakeitstopmakeitstopmakeitstop! SOMEONE HELP ME!

~Bigger than you ever know, can’t hold back forever though…~

1:04 AM.

A powerful, trained mind can also be a dangerous thing. Especially when its owner is cranky.

“Ugh.”

Pale blue eyes open into draconic slits and peer unhappily at the clock on the nearby nightstand. A pale hand reaches upwards and rubs a thumb harshly against a temple that threatens to begin throbbing. Too much wine, it complains. Not enough sleep.

It’s been almost a half hour since Emma Frost has gone to bed, and her obnoxiously expensive Egyptian cotton sheets have only just recently warmed with the heat of her sleeping form.

In the dim light that pours in from her sitting room through the crack in her bedroom door, she can see just well enough to pull closer the carafe of water by her bedside. And, pulling the sheets up with her, she sits up so she can pour out a measure and drink. A few red-coated pills are pulled out of a small box and swallowed down, too, to fight the headache.

Now, what was that?

A club, likely. Or, more importantly, a body in a club?

A plea for help wouldn’t get her attention, normally. She prefers the lofty and spacious penthouse properties for a reason beside the luxury and optics of them: she doesn’t like sharing brainspace as she sleeps. She likes the quiet and ignores what she can.

But this? Is different. It has the scent of potential written on it. Maybe.

The telepath takes another sip, sets down her cup, and then lets the sheets go so she might be free of them when she stands. Crossing the soft Oriental rug towards a pair of French doors that lead out onto the patio, she grabs a short silk robe from the back of her vanity chair along the way to pull on over her diaphanous negligee and cinch it about her waist before stepping out into the sticky air of the Manhattan summer evening.

And then, that frighteningly powerful brain of hers sets to work, trying to find that connection point once more.

«I hear you,» she projects, her own thoughts suffused with a reassuring and unhurried calm. «Where are you?»


At first it’s all reeling panic and disoriented fury, with no coherent voice. And then the mind sort of latches on like she’s just found a lifeline, like she’s finally realized that this voice is different from all the scattered ones she’s hearing. And she’s busy hearing about 40 of them, all at once, with no clue how to handle any of it.

But realizing that ratchets down the panic.

NYU. The Delta Kappa Epsilon House. Everyone’s fighting!

More dizziness and disorientation as her own emotions feed into the loop even more. It’s palpable. Empathy and telepathy winding in a dangerous spiral, all kicked into high gear by some drug she never, ever meant to take, never wanted in her body. The drug is complicating things as much as anything else, making her feel like the proverbial Alice.

Ten feet tall one minute. Tiny the next. Floating above the din. Spinning and spinning, dizzy and wild. Her power ebbs and flows with it, lashing out and snapping back inside of her, sending out thoughts and receiving them, a feedback loop of action and reaction, a whirlwind sea in which Emma’s own mental touch becomes the only stable point.

To say that Emma has some passing familiarity with illicit substances is probably a fairly impressive exercise in understatement. Hedonism. It’s a thing. A wonderful thing.

That doesn’t stop her, however, from feeling downright nauseated as a girl’s experience mingles with Frost’s own battle with a hangover.

In the outside world, she makes a face and then turns to abandon the suddenly too-warm air. She begins stripping down once inside, so that she can start getting dressed.

«You are going to be alright,» she continues to assure as she picks out a bandeau top and a pair of capris from the closet, despite the fact that she honestly has no way to actually guarantee that. The lie comes easily. After that, she can promise something more concrete. «I’m coming for you, dear. But, first, you need to focus. Focus on my thoughts. What’s your name?»

Focus. Focus on her thoughts.

Somewhere, the music track changes. It’s something that’s screaming in German now, snarling and pounding. The perfect counterpoint for the sickening thud of landed punches and screams.

Focus.

Gina, whispers the young telepath. I’m Gina Kwan. She seems to believe Emma, at least. A coherent, simple voice that seems to mean to be there, strong and pure. Not flashes of rage or…

(Male) always been such a DICK to me

(Female) took him away from me!

(Male) …mine mine mine mine…

(Male) Oh god hurts, I think something’s broken

(Female) Oh Jesus did he just grab a knife?

A mental sob as she forcefully tries to shove it all away, only for it to all come flooding back in twice as badly as before. Oh god, are you still there? Who are you?

«Someone who can help,» comes Emma’s reply, once the girl is able to actually focus on the task at hand.

By now, she’s strapped on a pair of strappy stiletto sandals and is grabbing her purse on her way to the front door and elevator.

«But you can call me Miss Frost. Just find an out of the way place, and stay calm as best you can. I’m on my way.»

Down the elevator, and to the security guard’s desk she goes. There’s no time to get her driver here. A cab will have to do, and she sends him to flag one down to get her to the college greek house.

What on earth is going on down there?

And for a moment, Emma tries to answer that question. Is it the girl’s drugged perception? She uses her like a thumb tack on a map, and then sets her proverbial gaze to the wider area.

«Hold on, dear.»

Getting out of the influenced brain is a momentary relief, so she only needs to deal with her own less-than-wholly-sober state. Her mind searches the area immediately around Gina, for other thoughts.

Do other people hear and see as she does?

—-

Certainly nobody else is having a telepathic out of body experience, but she’s right.

They are all fighting. Two girls are screaming and yanking at each other’s hair. Four boys have dog-piled onto one another; meaty punches fly. A young man lunges at a young woman with a knife while she tries to fend him off with a frying pan.

The music keeps right on pounding away.

It’s sheer bedlam. A frat house turned upside down by sudden violence all around.

Outside of Gina’s head it’s possible to see the girl herself. She would most likely be the one edging around the room, a pretty Asian girl of 19 or 20 dressed in jeans, a ruffly green top, and sandals. The tips of her black hair are dyed green, and it’s cut in a rather punky pixie fashion. She has on a pair of green rimmed glasses in the exact same shade. She looks terrified, hands pressed to the wall, and rather like she might have to puke at any moment…

But she’s following Emma’s instructions, simply trying to dodge everyone’s efforts to beat one another into paste as she follows her own, singular thought. Door. Door. Door. Door. Door.

—-

“…”

There’s a long moment of silence, as the blonde in her condo building waits blocks away and observes an utter breakdown of order at the university. She could, one supposes, call the university security and get a speedier response, particularly with the whole knife and pan scenario happening.

And possibly get a telepathic co-ed in a whole brand new world of trouble.

No, Emma decides, this is best handled quietly if she can.

But she can’t do anything from so far away for anyone. With a mixture of relief for the speed of a New York cabbie’s response and dread for the particular stench of his car’s interior—sweat, Chinese takeout, chemicals from cleaning up puke in the rug, aging vinyl, and too much cologne—the woman swiftly thanks the watchman, folds herself into the car and onto the seat, and let’s the door close behind her.

The cross-streets nearest the troublesome student housing are politely murmured, but the telepath is swift to put a little extra urgency behind their reception. Faster is also best.

Once that is all done, the blonde shrugs into a sweater that she’d nabbed on the way out… although it's so gauzy as to hardly matter. Her makeup is checked next. If one is going to barge into a frat party, might as well look immaculate.

For Gina, there’s more encouragement, wrapped in a healthy measure of bravado.

«Be there before you know it.»

—-

Okay, Gina says, trying to be brave too, but there’s a wild mental shriek. Someone has just lunged for her.

The contact breaks for a moment as she scrambles out of the way. When it returns it’s all wild, panting adrenaline and darting about. Doordoordoorgottagetoutgottagetoutgottaget

And then the feeling of cool night air on a face, of falling to hands and knees in the grass, of scrambling up again…only to turn around and find that someone is stumbling after her, shouting her name. A face swims in her consciousness…the very one who sparked all this by adding “Special K” to the punch…the one who spooked her and provoked a violent response that spiralled into so many others.

He’s pissed, he’s pissed at her, and he’s found the only target that he’s interested in. Probably because he’s sopping wet. Gina had responded to his aggressive advances by grabbing a beer bottle and breaking it over his head.

—-

So close. She’s so close.

Emma can feel the thrum of that psionic signature. Even if she didn’t know the streets the driver races down to get her where she needs to go, she’d feel the distance between them closing in.

Feel her headache getting worse.

By the time they’re pulling up to their destination in the atrocious yellow cab, Frost is a breath away from muttering curses. She pushes a twenty through the window between them, and then slides out of the vehicle to see with her own eyes the lay of the land.

She vaguely remembers parts of the college’s confusing sprawl from a visit or two during her ESU days, and with a bump from the veritable psionic alarms wailing in her head, she’s closing in.
She puts her game face on, hard and stern. And as she walks, her pace brisk and sharp over the sidewalks, she walks through the options.

Option 1: Psionically sedate the girl. Likely kill the empathic contagion and get the gathering free of it. Let the greenhorn sleep it off.

Option 2: Get a certain measure of revenge on K Boy for being stupid.

Option 3: …….Combine options one and two, feel better all around.

It seems like a no-brainer really.

—-

When Emma closes in he’ll find K-Boy slamming Gina into a tree. He’s yelling a bunch of rather incoherent things at her. She sort of shuts down, too frightened to lash out with a power she doesn’t understand a second time, completely devoid of handy dandy beer bottles to hit him with, and beyond overwhelmed as the contagion continues to rage through her head.

Eric is at least twice her size, and seems poised to break bones if he keeps it up.

The sounds of multiple things breaking sounds inside. There is no more music, probably because the stereo system comes sailing through the window. A really good stereo system too. A sheer waste.

The house is an old two story green and white building with a huge fenced lawn. A little sidewalk leads up to a porch, the kind where anyone other than frat boys might put some rocking chairs so they can sit for awhile. Instead it’s covered with old red plastic beer cups, beer bottles, and cigarette butts. These kids aren’t known for their hygiene, apparently.

—-

For shame,” Emma hisses, her gaze every bit as cold as her tone. She approaches Eric and Gina with her concern safely tucked up away from view. She puts guards up around her own thoughts, lest the fledgling accidentally stumble into a new application of her abilities. “Hasn’t anyone ever told you that gentlemen don’t hit ladies?”

The girl’s defenses against the larger boy are nearly useless. And Emma doesn’t want to get into a fist fight.

“Now, Miss Kwan, do forgive me, but… you both need to sleep this off.”

The woman in white presses two fingers to her temple to center herself, and then she stretches out one hand towards the pair of co-ends under that tree. Stretches her mind out towards them, with but a single, pressing command.

«Sleep.»

—-

Eric falls over first. Unlike Gina, he doesn’t even have fledgling defenses. He falls over with his butt in the air and drool oozing out of his mouth.

Gina’s mind tries to construct some sort of defense, even if it’s not a defense she really wants to offer. It just happens, the way a flailing toddler might accidentally kick at someone while in the grips of a tantrum. She, however, slides neatly down the tree, bark sticking to her hair. There are big handprints on her arms where Eric was squeezing her.

Inside, everything stops for a moment, like the whole frat house is holding its breath. Kids start disentangling from their sudden violence. The more naturally gentle ones first. A few hold outs keep at it.

Then someone screams. “Oh my god, Rowan’s been knifed!”

They seem poised to enter an entirely different kind of panic now as they begin taking stock of injuries, breakages, and the very real consequences of a sudden fight breaking out in the middle of a party.

“Someone call 911!”

“No don’t! We’ll all get hauled in, man!”

“You asshole! Rowena’s got a knife sticking out of her!”

—-

With a rough push of her foot and a grunt of disgust, Emma shoves Eric safely onto his side. Dropping her mental defenses, she pinches at the bridge of her nose.

Any guilt she might have felt about not calling in security evaporates entirely as she hears the sounds of students’ sensibilities returning. The possible death? Unfortunate. It would have only been compounded, however, by a security man with a gun.

As far as she’s concerned, she made the right call.

But that does leave the matter of Gina to deal with. The experienced telepath frowns and tilts her head to one side. And then she pulls her phone out of her purse, and dials the familiar number for her driver.

“Hello, Alex, darling,” she coos into the phone, responding to the groggy sound of a man who probably only crawled into bed a half hour ago.

She knows that feeling.

“I need you to come pick me up from NYU.”

She pivots in place, trying to find a safe place to drag Kwan’s unconscious body to until he can come for her. At least they’re near the frat house. It can’t be that unfamiliar a sight… right?

—-

It is not. In fact, cars drive by without much of a care. There is a nice safe spot on the side of the house with thick bushes.

Well. “Nice,” is probably…not the right word. The fact that it’s strewn with old condoms pretty much makes the common purpose of the little nook perfectly, disgustingly clear. But…it does keep them out of sight while various college students bail, call security guards, call 911, bail, and argue there in the building.

Alex pulls up in about 20 minutes…just ahead of the police, whose minds Emma can feel approaching. Mostly they have not caught on to the fact that there’s a real emergency in there. Their thought patterns indicate that this particular fraternity has a dangerously insane party quite often, gets kicked off campus quite often, and somehow ends up right back in this frat house…

Again, quite often.

They feel pretty much done with life as a result…but that does work to Emma’s advantage.

—-

And Emma will certainly take the advantages wherever they will come. A place to hide, a driver who can help haul the girl the longer distance into the car.

Because kidnapping? Who cares about kidnapping? This isn’t really kidnapping anyway, right? Gina asked for help!

Yeah, let’s go with that.

Regardless of rationale, there is now an unconscious Asian girl in the backseat of Emma’s sedan, a crime scene in her wake, a couple police squad cars on the way, and every reason to leave.

There’s just the pesky question of where to go.

Once they’re safely in the car, Emma slumps heavily against the back of her seat. Her head lolls backwards as her driver asks her the next place on her itinerary, and she hesitates.

Not the Club, too many questions. Not Xavier’s, too many questions. Questions she’s not prepared to answer for anyone, herself included.

Not her place because… Because, well, no.

Need someplace neutral. “The Marlton,” she decides at last, choosing a hotel reasonably nearby that she thinks she’ll be able to quietly get into with a few mind tricks. “Let’s go to The Marlton.”

—-

“Yes ma’am,” comes from the driver’s seat, and away they go.

At the very least, nobody stops them. No sirens. Nobody boxes them in with vans. Phil doesn’t show up to yell “J’accuse!” or something equally goofy. Though it should be noted that if he did do such a thing, he’d be doing it mostly to be a dork.

Gina, of course, doesn’t stir, held in peaceful sleep by Emma’s command.

Now it’s just a matter of getting Gina into a safe room without triggering any trouble.

—-

As the car is pulled to a stop in front of the hotel, Emma looks inside the lobby and then she smiles as she looks down at the girl sleeping with her head resting so peacefully on her lap.

She could just nab a cart and…

Her eyes go back to the lobby. To the security camera tucked fairly discreetly in the corner towards the front entrance.

The smile fades, and turns with some rapidity to an inversion of itself.

Yeah, that plan won’t work. There’s a slow and deep sigh.

Or. Or could it?

The smile returns with a devious light.

“Alex, would you be a dear and go get the bellhop and a cart?”

Herself, Emma opens the door and slips out from beneath Gina’s head and into the humid air. They’ve got this.

She stretches and already begins thinking about the glorious sleep that will be hers soon as her driver returns. Then she turns and looks at the girl sleeping on the backseat.

“Well, I’m dreadfully sorry about this, Miss Kwan,” the blonde says, although her tone is much closer to smugly delighted with herself and her plan than apologetic, “but if you’re going to just lie there like the luggage, I’m afraid I must treat you accordingly.”

And so it is decided. For anyone who comes near, save Alex and herself, Miss Kwan will look precisely as though a beautiful leather-wrapped Louis Vuitton vintage trunk.

—-

The plan works beautifully. The only one who gives the Louis Vuitton trunk any attention at all is a woman in her 40s who stares at it with a bit of undisguised envy. She looks like she’s being put up there on a business trip, and she’s making do with something she pulled off the shelves at Target, something decidedly out of place here.

This entire exercise delivers them unto a room with any specifications Emma chooses in terms of what floor, smoking or non, bed configurations, and the like.

Gina is blissfully unaware of her disguise, of course, and seems rather comfortable no matter where she is uh. Rolled. Or carried, or whatnot. She indeed acts precisely like luggage. But it’s to the good. Color is returning to her cheeks. Breathing, made irregular by the drugs, is starting to smooth and even out.

—-
The night manager who checks them in receives a few polite jokes to get him laughing for the camera. Yes, yes. Anyone seeing the scene over the technology of a camera, which has no mind to lie to its electronic senses, will see only a blonde woman gesturing vaguely to an Asian girl sleeping happily on a luggage cart and—presumably—having a good laugh about it with the hotel staff.

She subtly hides her face as best she can from those horrific, truth-scrying devices.

Nothing to see here at all. Everything’s fine.

She pays upfront. In cash. With a healthy tip.

Emma then takes the keycard and holds it aloft between two fingers, summoning the bellhop to follow behind and gratefully dismissing her faithful driver to drive home and return to his sleep with a wiggle of her fingers.

After that, there’s nothing left to do but roll towards the elevators, the hotel staff now seemingly entirely complicit with her misadventure by virtue of recorded evidence, wheels clacking softly along the marble tile until they reach a stately stretch of plush red carpet.

And up-up they go; Emma keeps her face pointed down.

And they traverse another hall.

To the VIP suite she’d asked for, they go. And Kwan’s wheeled into the middle of the room after the room key grants them entrance.

Does she want the trunk unloaded? In fact, the bellhop’s already moving to do that.

“No, no,” Emma says, stopping him with a stride forward and another bill between her fingertips. “I’ll bring the cart down in a little bit, if that’s alright?”

It is, of course, and the young man departs soon after.

The mind witch waits until he’s gone and the door is shut, before stepping back in front of Gina and crouching. She lays her arms casually across her thighs, considering the other woman.

And then she reaches back into that familiarly sensitive brain, familiarly expressive brain, and quietly murmurs a new thought.

«You wake up whenever you’re feeling ready, darling. You’re safe now.»

If it isn’t immediately, Frost will just go and make herself comfortable in one of the suite’s plush armchairs.

—-

It isn’t, because the young woman is fairly traumatized by the entire event. Emma gets wordless, subconscious gratitude, but it takes about an hour before her eyes finally open.

Her head hurts. Like she’d scalded the inside of it by running too-hot bathwater on every last corner of her brain. But unlike someone who has no idea what’s transpired, she takes it in fairly quickly. Emma’s quiet mind touch did a lot, but also there was the soothing sensation of bellhop minds and hotel staff minds. It’s still an awful lot of minds, but it’s all being recorded in a fairly unconscious fashion now. Enough to fill in the blanks.

And really, she’s just glad to be out of there.

She peers at Emma, biting her lip. Out loud she admits, “I…wasn’t even sure you really existed. I felt like I was going crazy. But you do exist. And you helped me. Thank you.”

It’s a fine relief, to know she didn’t just imagine the soothing presence in her head, didn’t just make up help that promised to come and deliver her.

—-

“Oh, I exist.” Emma’s words sound tired and are followed by a small yawn. Lifting her head from where she’d accidentally dozed off in the chair with her face buried in her hand, the business woman looks towards the carpet-lined cart where Gina was left to method act the part of a trunk.

“And you’re welcome, dear. I’m certain what you’ve been through was hellacious.”

A hand lifts, a finger sweeping under her eyes to be certain that the eyeliner and mascara weren’t smudged during her brief encounter with slumber.

Once that’s done, she lets her head roll forward so she can rub the back of her neck where a crick has formed.

“First time?”

—-

“Yes. No. Maybe?”

Gina herself isn’t sure. She rubs at her head, frowning.

“First time like that,” is what she finally settles on. “I can think of other times when I thought something had happened but then just chalked it up to imagination later? Or coincidence, sometimes, when I’d hear what someone was going to say just before they said it. It’s been happening off and on since I was…fourteen or so I think. I just…kind of tried to ignore it and keep it to myself.”

She has no idea who she’d have spoken to about it anyway.

“It was always just…flashes…before. Nothing I could repeat or predict or…anything.”

—-

“Sounds about right,” Emma replies, tone cool but far from uncaring. “Onset of puberty typically wakes up the effect of a genetic mutation when they occur. Well done, staying beneath the radar this long.” Her head tilts, her jaw nestles back into the support of an upturned hand, and her capri-wrapped legs cross as the woman continues to study Gina.

“Embrace your abilities, and you can learn to control them. With time. You’ve a world of promise ahead of you.”

There’s a pause, and then her nose crinkles with distaste. “What happened back there, by the way, was not your fault. Do you remember much of it?”

—-

“A little. I expected there to be booze in the punch, whatever. I realized it was something else after everything started going haywire in my head.”

She gives Emma’s reassurance on the matter of thought a smile that is wan, but accepting of her expertise. “I was still holding it together up until Eric started trying to take advantage. But when I hit him it was like…I don't know. Like they were all as scared and pissed as I was. And then the more it went on the bigger it all got.”

—-

“Not your fault,” Emma says again, her voice more insistent.

Slowly, she pushes herself up onto her bare feet, her heels lying in a careless heap by the chair. She slips into the bathroom, and the sound of running water follows for a few minutes after. When she crosses the room, crouches again in front of the younger woman, she holds out a damp wash cloth for Gina to take.

“The world is filled with fools. But… that may not stop things from getting complicated.

—-

She takes the washcloth and the firmer declaration on her innocence but nothing but rawest gratitude. She presses it to her forehead, then to the back of her neck. Dark, intelligent eyes rise to meet Emma’s as she finally transfers it back to her forehead, pressing the cloth into the aching spots and breathing a sigh of relief.

“Complicated?” she asks, with all of the uneasiness one might expect from one who might have some cause to feel like the scene at the frat house was, after all, pretty gosh darn complicated.

And then, “Because of all the reasons why you congratulated me for staying under the radar so long.” It’s a statement, not a question, her mind quickly leaping through possibilities until they hit on puzzle pieces Emma has already given her.

But understanding that does not, in and of itself, give her the more complete picture she seeks.

“What— what do you think could happen?”

—-

“Depends.” It’s not a helpful word, but it’s a truthful one.

“There’s a bit of a mess behind you, dear,” Emma allows with a small shrug of nearly-bare shoulders. “And whenever our kind get caught near messes, it tends to get messier. Humans get scared. People get stupid.

She then smiles. “I’m hoping they’re rather stupid from the get-go. That little terror Eric might not tell the truth, trying to avoid trouble himself. We’ll see.”

A curled finger lightly touches under Gina’s chin in a kind gesture. “Either way, I’ll help as I can. You can trust me.”

Poor Gina, with not a soul around to caution her differently.

The blonde’s smile strains a degree.

—-

Not a soul around, but Gina is looking at Emma like she’s her one and only hero.

Which. In point of fact. She actually is. She chews on her lower lip a few times, then just takes this deep breath. It’s a deep breath that says that she’ll deal with whatever comes, especially with Emma there to guide her. “I do trust you,” she says. “You’ve more than proven I can.”

Which of course, is the statement of a young college kid who hasn’t learned a great good deal about the world, hasn’t learned all the reasons beyond altruism that a rescue might be implemented. All she sees is the time, inconvenience, trouble, risk, and expense that Emma has gone to, and the kindness she’s been shown.

And, of course, whether or not Gina needs that lesson tonight is entirely up to Emma herself, on Emma’s own choices in the matter.

“I’ll probably get a few updates from friends via text in the morning,” she adds. “That might help?”

—-

There’s an uneasy knot in the pit of Emma’s stomach, and it prompts her to push herself back onto her feet. “It might,” she allows, her smile holding its ground valiantly.

“We’ll deal with it as it comes.” A hand reaches down. “In the meantime, you need some more sleep. Let’s get you into bed. I’ll stick around to make sure your mind behaves itself, hm?”

It’s nearly four am, and Frost is desperately craving at least a catnap more herself.

—-

“Alright,” Gina says, more than happy to find her way into a soft bed, instead of the top of a luggage cart. She chooses the one closer to the window, instinctively putting the woman she sees as her protector in the one closer to the door.

She doesn’t need the light off. She doesn’t spend a lot of time tossing and turning. She keeps the cool washcloth on her face, and is out in seconds, her breathing going even, her body burrowing beneath covers without a care for rumpled clothes or smudged make-up. She is exhausted on every level that it’s possible to be exhausted on.

—-

What are you going to do?

It’s a quiet, private thought kept locked deep in the safe confines of the fortress that is Emma Frost’s mind, far away from the reach of the co-ed sleeping so soundly in the beds just beyond the wall that carves the small sitting area out for the suite.

Old habits have put her in a bit of a predicament.

Save the girl. Protect her. Train her. Use her.

Ultimately, get her killed.

It’s not a cycle that Frost particularly cares to repeat.

But, still, there’s the very real problem of what to do with the girl now. Everything’s a precarious balance… a pile of consequences balanced on a choice. And it’s an important choice, which should be made in a good state of mind, not in the sleep-deprived hangover-headache fog where Emma Frost presently is.

”Damn it.”

With one last check on the girl, Emma then sets herself to work. She pulls her sweater off and uses it as a glove of sorts as she slides the luggage cart back out into the hall. They’ll find it eventually.

Then she takes a breath and eases herself back into her chair and begins what promises to be an unfortunately pensive, sleepless vigil.

Ugh.

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