Looking Ahead

July 31, 2017:

Emma and Nate raid Xavier's booze and chat. Because that's what responsible adults do.

Xavier's Institute

Xavier's Institute grounds are located on 1407 Graymalkin Lane in Westchester County between Graymalkin Lane itself and Breakstone Lake (30 miles outside of NYC itself). A large portion of this is acres upon acres of woodland forest. To the farthest eastern portion of the Institute's grounds there is a stretch of low foothills.

Upon entering the Institute grounds immediately past the heavy gated entrance one finds themselves on a carefully paved road that splices in two directions, west and east.

The west leads to the School for Higher Learning where gifted youngsters are educated and taught to use their unique talents. Here almost year around children and teachers are housed.

To the east miles away lies Xavier's Mansion where Professor Xavier himself and some faculty members of the school live. These "special" individuals are those aware of Xavier's more clandestine operations, the administration and training of the X-Men.

Beyond the neatly walled mansion's yard in those foothills is an obscure landing strip that leads to a hangar complex and a subtly hidden facility. A facility that houses underground sub-levels, a danger room, Cerebro and the training halls of one of the most advanced mutant fighting teams in the world.

An underground monorail connects the School for Higher Learning with the Charles Xavier's Mansion and the X-Men's Hidden Complex. Security is tight in this region, by means of limited magical warding, advanced future tech security systems and telepathic sweeps. Tread carefully.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Charles Xavier, Scott Summer

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

The last few weeks at Xavier school have had little to do learning or schooling. Which ironically is the reason why Nate is spending so much time here. Most days he, and many other X-Men, spends several hours in the Danger Room, training endlessly for the conflict with Genosha. Much of the rest of the time is for studying maps and technology. The scarce spare time is for sleeping, although for those who sleep too little the rec room and the outside pool also options. Since today it is raining, Nate is in the rec room, killing time by pool… table. He is not good at the game.

Usually he would be checking Mutant Town, but he has only two hours to kill before an appointment with the school nurse. Not looking forward to it, since nurse Anne Ghazikhanian always finds some reasons to yell at him for his latest stupid stunt. He thinks he has been rather smart lately, but no doubt she will disagree.

Despite being (supposedly) concentrated in the game, Nate is hardly focused. He keeps his psychic senses open, which is something he usually only does in places where most people has training to keep thoughts guarded and that is relatively away from large population centers. It allows him to ‘spot’ Emma and send her a telepathic greeting.

—-

Meanwhile, Emma is… around. It's a strange feeling still, like some strange sort of bizarro universe, being here. And she still doesn't feel entirely comfortable being in the building for overly long. It makes her uncommonly edgy.

And she doesn't like being edgy.

And so, having actually driven herself for once, she has some time to kill. And so she kills it, outside. In wedge espadrilles and a strappy white sundress and coppery Bvlgara sunglasses nearly as big as her face, she's presently wandering the grounds in what would be considered by some to be a fairly suspicious manner if they knew her by reputation alone. She knows, however, that she's not entirely left to her own devices. A thought confirmed when she's hailed by the S.S. Nate Grey, pinging against the fortifications of her thoughts. Her tone is warm enough through the psychic air as she greets him back with a simple and uncomplicated « Hello. »

—-

Nate's mind wears thin shields today, which makes its power even more obvious to those with psychic senses. So much it is barely contained and controlled, and it is only because there is something alien and hungry dampening it. « Yes. Hello. Remembering what never happened? » He asks, his psychic voice 'sounding' curious and vaguely frustrated. He drops the cue stick with a sigh. Never going to win a game against Scott, he decides.

« Some folks do. I have seen a couple cases of double memories. Maddening. For others, just… like deja vu. » He heads out, phasing through the outer wall of the mansion with a grunt of effort. Those are seriously reinforced walls, and he forgot. At least it is not raining anymore. Where is Emma? There. The sunglasses make him smirk.

—-

The air is thick and damp with the recent pause of that rain that was caging mutants inside, and Emma would normally be cooling herself off inside with the air conditioning. Possibly with an early afternoon something from a secret cabinet in one of the many cubbies that she's strategically located around her own premises to ensure a fairly undisturbed supply when needed.

As Nate draws near, she feels it. And her head tilts. Behind those enormous lenses, her eyes squint a degree at that curious, dampening force. But, then, there's a question, and she releases her curiosity for the most part in order to pursue conversation with a leisurely tone. «Not so much,» she tells him, and the thought rings with truth's purity. «I suppose it's for the best. Been mad before. Briefly. Don't recommend it. I'm not in a big hurry to repeat it.»

—-

Walking closer, Nate rubs his eyes and builds up some sturdier psychic walls. So hiding both strength and weakness. He left his sunglasses with his jacket, in the rec room. Why does the sun seem brighter just after raining? He is close enough to talk to Emma now, anyway.
"No. It is way worse for a telepath," because he knows what she is talking about, apparently. "What brings you to the school for mutant superheroes, Miss Frost? Or the outskirts, rather. Not coming in? They have coffee." Assuming -he- left any coffee the last time he raided the kitchen. But well, he can make more.

—-

"Shamelessly spying," she replies in a deadpan with a spark of amusement buried deep beneath it in the subtle tone that bleeds into the words' telepathic resonance, Emma's arms crossed a little tighter under her breasts. At least, they are until she uncrosses them in order to check her watch. "It's nearly three o'clock. The time for coffee has passed and I think we're well into Happy Hour."

Of all the first words to throw into the open air… Claims of espionage. No wonder she's so beloved by all.

—-

Nate blinks slowly, then chuckles. "You… do have a sense of humor," he states, mock-shocked. "What have you done with the real Emma Frost? I should have known you couldn't be her when I saw the goofy sunglasses," he decides, a half-smirk in his lips. And the sundress, it is weird to see her so normal-ish. Betrayed, maybe, only by mind-shields that feel to him like a polished ice wall.

Despite the spying claim and coffee-heresy (the time for coffee is -always- in Nate's world) he glances back to the mansion and tilts his head. "We can raid Xavier's cabinet. He is not around. And I will meet you halfway making my coffee the Irish kind."

—-

A sense of humor? She shrugs, but just a little more wry amusement is teased upwards, to a place just beneath the glassy facade of her otherwise bored expression. Fortunately, for most people, it is hidden well from those who can't feel that ever-so-slight empathic brightening. "Deal," Emma compromises, proving that she is capable of it. Or, perhaps more accurately, that's never really been her problem.

"But these glasses aren't goofy looking," she continues flatly as she takes a couple of steps forwards to close the distance, looking over their uppermost edges to send the chill of her pale gaze in his direction. "They cost more than a month's salary for approximately seventy-one percent of the world's population."

—-

"After four years living in this 'wonderful' capitalistic society," replies Nate, offering Emma his arm to lead her to the mansion, "I have discovered that most times expensive means just that, expensive, not really better or more beautiful. Do you really like those glasses? That matters to me. Ah, sure you are going to impress some people that think money is all-important, or the same as power, but not many of those here. With a couple exceptions, folks here are poor and often powerful."

To clarify, however, he adds. "I am not complaining. Quasi-democratic, capitalistic America is still better than most of the alternatives. I like this place, and the people here lives pretty good lives. I am just an extreme case of… anti-materialism? Or something alike. But I am a war survivor a very powerful nomad. I have odd opinons." Although thinking the glasses are goofy is probably not an odd one!

—-

Threading her arm delicately around the one offered to her, Emma falls into an easy enough stride beside him. "They're exceptionally comfortable," she states, sliding the glasses back up. "And they're large because I like the way they block all of the light when I've got a hangover. And I am an unabashed materialist, so, in some things, I am fairly certain we are doomed to always disagree."

—-

"I am going to have to agree there," replies Nate, offering a genuine smile. "And also will agree that comfortable beats any… goofy factor," and that Emma deals with hangovers, if she has one now, much better than most people, himself included.

"Speaking of unabashed materialistic," mentions Nate, hesitant to turn the conversation serious. He pauses a few seconds, enough for them to reach the mansion main door and to push it open telekinetically. "Have you heard of a company called Cyberdata?"

—-

The display of telekinesis is the sort that were they another breed of person might be amazing and disconcerting. Here, it simply is. "Should I know them?" Emma asks, her smile a politely curious variety. She doesn't, at least by name, and it makes answering the question with a question very simple.

As they pass through the door, she waits until she's several strides in before she lifts her sunglasses to the top of her head. There's a brief squint of one eye… a sign, perhaps, that a hangover is indeed hanging over her like a cloud. But she blinks, breathes, and pretends her way through the appearance that it isn't.

—-

Familiar with the signs of hangover, Nate will avoid mentioning it. Emma already half-admitted it and that is a degree of openness he values in a woman like her. Or rather like he had judged her, he is again reminded not to trust past impressions. Everything could be different after Alfie.

"I think… yes, you definitely know them. Although perhaps not under that label," he explains. "They deal with cybernetics and advanced electronics. Human and also mutant argumentation. Possibly they far more influential in East Asian than in America. Definitely Black Market, high-tech crime, but probably also many legal, legitimate business. They are not as blatant as Hydra, but pretty much the same goals. But they have wide access to alien tech."

—-

There's a dubious, sidelong glance now naked and exposed without the shield of sunglasses that slides in Nate's direction and for a fleeting moment dark sentiment oozes through the mind witch's typical reserve as she follows beside him. Soon after, a quiet snort of disdain escapes Emma's nostrils to give it voice. Cybernetic augmentation, it derides. Ugh. "Why do you ask?"

—-

Nate leads Emma to the rec room, coffee forgotten for now. Now the drinks, he checks bottles studiously. "Because they are our enemies. They regularly kidnap, brainwash and weaponize young mutants, turning them in their foot soldiers. We managed to drive them out of Mutant Town last year, but I am sure they just moved operations to other mutant enclaves."

Cognac or sherry. He will let Emma pic.

"And since they are also a corporation, not really a paramilitary group despite the occasional mercenary black op," he continues, "they are more within your field of expertise than mine."

—-

And, just like that, Emma Frost is once more the proverbial sheet of ice by all psychic observers. Her smile is likewise cooled, even she turns the two bottles. The cognac will serve as fine enough hair of the dog today. She'll unstop the one and wait for a glass. She doesn't need to look in Nate's direction to see him in a way, but she watches him carefully. She doesn't stretch out her mind to explore the recesses of his thoughts; she simply observes. "I can look into it, if you like. You're right enough, I suppose. That does sound like something I should know a little better. Now I feel rather disappointed in myself."

—-

A bit of guilt there. He just turned a light-hearted conversation into something very serious and probably hit a nerve mentioning what Cyberdata does to young mutants. Maybe the cognac will help. He finds a couple glasses and serves a generous amount of liquor.

"I think I can provide you all the X-Men have on them. This is not a matter Scott or Xavier have been investigating," he comments, "it was a small subgroup of X-Men and some associates. The Omega Shift has splintered us. But I doubt it has affected Cyberdata much."

—-

"Things like that rarely go away with a wave of fate's mercurial hand," the blonde agrees, letting her gaze settle on the glass. "And whether or not Scott or Charles are looking into it, I don't want their things without their knowledge." A pause follows, and then a rueful turn of her lips as she turns her attention back up to settle squarely on Nate. "Let me rephrase that. Whether or not Scott or Charles are looking into it, I won't take their things without their knowledge. Specificity can make all the difference when sorting the honest from the liars."

—-

"Not a problem, not their things," replies Nate. Indeed, he can ask Doctor Corben or Timmie for the X-Force files they would want Emma having. Maybe try to get her an interview with Ripclaw. But that is going to have to wait until the war with Genosha is over. "I'll get you the info from independent sources, you can investigate on your own and… maybe we can do something about it after Genosha?" He offers.

—-

"We can evaluate at that point, yes," Emma adjusts, refusing to commit to any to-do items when they're still large and amorphous blobs of effort. "One thing at a time. Who knows? By the end of all of this, you might be very ready to be rid of me." A hand lifts to drape fingertips over her breastbone. "I'm sometimes something of an acquired taste."

—-

Nate finds a seat and leans back, smiling at Emma's words. "Anything could happen, I suppose. I am also kinda troublesome. I have no idea how long Xavier is going to tolerate me here. I am not a man of peace." He sips from his cup. "I am not a teacher. Or much of a student. I am family, I guess, in a strange, strange way. And many of my friends live here."

—-

That particular comment draws a strange look from Emma, an eyebrow lifting in some mixed expression of amusement and disbelief. "There is a group of mutants going down to blow up or otherwise dismantle a not-insignificant part of a foreign power. I don't think any of them can exactly claim to be the heirs of the flower children. Noble, perhaps. But that's not really a shining example of pacifism."

—-

"Which is why I am living here and not in Mutant Town," states Nate, smiling again. "And no… if all goes well I think the idea is Genosha will be reformed with minimum violence. We will have to fight, of course, but it will be relatively painless for most of the Genoshans."

Naturally it is rare plans go perfectly well. But that is also why he will be there. Improvising and surviving against all odds are his best skills.

"Minimum violence is not the same as none at all," Emma says, airily waving her glass-filled hand. "I'm just stating that if they kick you out for a lack of peaceful thinking, then there is rather a measure of hypocrisy at play." She shrugs, then. "And positioning so that violence is required, also not Peace Plan A. I'm not disagreeing with that particular point, I'm just pointing out what I see."

—-

"You are right, of course," replies Nate. "But being men of peace does not mean never fighting. Students here learn to fight better than anything this side a SHIELD agent. Fighting for peace is oxymoronic and yet it looks like is what human beings have done since ever."

This magical minimum fighting for the best, fairest peace. Which Nate wants to understand, but he feels he fails every time. "It is not just the fighting, it is also the killing."

—-

"Killing is also, sometimes a necessary evil. And anyone who says otherwise is naive, a fool, or a liar." Emma takes the cup up and sips from it, and then… uncharacteristically sets it aside, mostly untouched. She swallows, hard, and then takes a deep breath. "But. Anyway, I… I think I'd better be on my way. My spy attempt is entirely ruined, and I'll just have to come back another time when I think no one is paying attention."

The glass is slid gently in Nate's direction. "Another time, perhaps?"

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