AoA: Finding Oneself

October 17, 2017:

Lorna, in search of the woman who could tell her where her AoA counterpart might be, inquires with one person well-equipped to find those who don't want to be found: military intelligence director, James Barnes.

AoA Triskelion


NPCs: None.

Mentions: AoA Scott Summers, Jean Grey

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Downtime, in a world like this, is rarely truly 'downtime' in the sense that it's never particularly relaxing. The Triskelion, in particular, is a hectic place to be, what with all the events that have been unfolding as of late. The buzz of activity is neverending, and it's hard to get from Point A to Point B sometimes what with all the people rushing about handling various crises of various stripes.

Recently, there was even more buzz in the Triskelion's halls. Something about the development of a new fighting force, about the recovery of an artifact thought lost for nearly sixty years, and the reinstatement of titles which have lain unused for as long.

The name of the Director of Military Intelligence — James Barnes — usually comes up in association with these conversations, so it might be presumed he's too busy to do plebeian things like hang out in break rooms, getting coffee. Up until he is doing just that. This dimension might be a Godforsaken nuclear wasteland, but before He forsook it, God wasn't so cruel as to obliterate coffeemakers from existence. So here in a kitchen of the Triskelion can be found the illustrious Director, in his uniform — making himself a cup of coffee.

An aide approaches him, telling him that sir, really, he could have gotten that cup for him. Barnes gives him a withering look, and the aide vanishes.

Lorna had nothing but downtime. Considering the few mishaps that had happened when she'd gone out on her own—getting into a fight with Emma Frost and destroying part of a city street, it was understandable. Of course that hadn't stopped Magneto from sending her out with Jean Grey, it seemed like Jean could, as always do no wrong and everyone loved her.

Not that she resented her friend, but it was frustrating to be the trouble maker all of a sudden.

The green haired mutant had more or less kept to herself otherwise. But after Jean had been given the go-ahead to work with prisoners in the Vault.. Lorna had time to kill. And that meant investigating who might know how to find this world's version of herself. That line of questioning had her going to seek out one James Barnes.

A man she'd never interacted with in her world, but then again, she'd never had a reason to. Lorna approached, clearing her throat as she knocked on the door frame to the room as she'd been directed. "Uh, hate to interupt a man with his coffee.. but can I talk to you?"

If anyone could commiserate with being the troublemaker friend of that one person everyone loves… it would be James Barnes. Not that he would admit such a thing aloud. No variety of Bucky, this world or next, would ever admit resentment of Steve Rogers, even unto death. With Steve being dead in this world — so far as Barnes knows — he has even less reason to say or feel anything negative at all.

His mind, as of late, has been on other things: primarily on how he can possibly live up to Steve's legacy, but also on the investigation and monitoring of the foreign mutants which have appeared. Their powers, their this-world counterparts, their motives, their personalities. He has been aware of Lorna and the rest, aware of what each of them respectively seek, and that informs the way he turns to her as she approaches, offering half a quirked smile with easy recognition.

"Saves me time," he says, beckoning her closer. He lifts his brows in a silent question if she wants a cup, too, and will pour her one in the event of an affirmative answer. "I was about to send someone to find you, Miss Dane. I've heard there is someone you are looking for."

It would be a bit creepy, him leading with that much knowledge, if he were not the known spymaster of what's left of America's government.

Lorna glanced at the coffee pot and shrugged. "Sure." She hadn't had coffee since she'd gotten to this world, though she'd raided Magneto's private stashes whenever she could of booze. That she wasn't sorry for in the least. And doubtlessly the man knew it. There were only so many ways to lock a magnokinetic out of a cabinet after all.

Still, she arched a brow as she glanced back toward Bucky Barnes, her lips pursing together briefly. At least it would save her time asking. "Would it be weird to say that I'm trying to find myself and not mean it in some kind of spirit quest thing?" A million other questions were on the tip of her tongue, but the green haired mutant held them in check. Barely.

"Cause I thought I was at least being somewhat less than obvious to people that weren't telepaths."

The hand Barnes uses to pass the cup over to her is the left. The metal rings strongly in her magnokinetic senses. It's composed, at its core, mostly of titanium, which isn't that magnetic, but there's more than enough steel sheathing its exterior to cancel that out. It probably says a great deal he uses it so obviously in front of Lorna. Maybe it's some wordless implication. He's a spy, right? A thousand meanings to every gesture.

Or maybe it's just because his right hand is already holding his own coffee, and he doesn't want to let it go.

Humor flickers across his features at her quip. "No more weird than it would be for me to explain how I find things out," he says, something self-deprecatingly self-aware in his eyes. "I think in a situation like this, it's… natural to want to find yourself." He seems about to say something else, his gaze pensive, but ultimately decides against it.

Instead he simply tilts his head, a wordless request for her to walk with him. He lets her leave before him, holding the door, a force of habit carried over across the decades from more chivalrous days.

"I've had my people look into all of your counterparts," he begins. "Yours was liberated from the Breeding Pens, some years ago… by a woman by the name of Valerie Cooper."

Lorna noted the metal arm. How could she not? But didn't comment on it, or stare. It wasn't like she needed her eyes to sense the interplay of the metal and wires that made it work. She knew the balance of how much iron was in the steel-alloy. Still, she took the coffee and sipped at it, making a face. "Geeze, it tastes terrible. I take it that sugar and cream are kinda sorta not a common item these days." She drank it anyways.

She walked, moving out the door as he propped it open and she didn't seem to question how he knew things. This world was different, and she kept her expectations set for such.

"Yeah, I know. Scott Summers.. your Scott Summers told me and Jean when we hit the vault." She arched a brow as she glanced up at him. "So, the next obvious question is where is Miss Cooper?"

The answer to his apparent appearance of omniscience is rather less mysterious than Barnes makes it sound, though in the spy business a bit of mystique is always necessary. There are few things that transpire in the Triskelion that escape the notice of its intelligence director, whether noticed via human eyes or electronic, and by necessity he has been in contact with Magneto as regards the foreign mutants — though up until now Magneto has been the one taking point on actually handling them.

It did not stop Barnes from doing some quiet background work, in the ways he knew best.

A smile crosses his features briefly as she remarks on the coffee. "Rationing is a bitch," he says. "And you're lucky to see a cow that doesn't have extra eyes, these days. Reminds me of being back in the War, in fact. The coffee was just as bad then. No flying anything fresh out to the ass end of Italy." He looks briefly wistful.

It doesn't last. Soon enough he's back to business. His mouth thins with thought as Lorna speaks of Scott Summers. "It seems Miss Cooper retired after the war against Apocalypse," he said. "Refugee running gets hard on the soul, after time. I have it from contacts in the Resistance that she now lives in a small farming town called Liberty, in Pennsylvania."

He pauses, eventually, before a closed door. From the name on the front of it, it's his door. "I have a few agents to spare who could show you the way there."

Lorna, for her part, returned the brief smile over the coffee. "Can't say I'll miss rationing when I get back home. Then I can have as much sugar and cream as will get me a case of diabetes or a heart attack." Still, she sipped at the black ooze that had to be coffee if nothing else. At least it should have some caffine in it, right?

Even as the conversation returned to business she nodded along. "Captain Jones has been running refugees, right? I can't imagine that it gets any easier even now." She murmured, falling silent as she considered the news about where Miss Cooper was.

The offer of him sending a few agents down with her had her arching a brow upwards. "What, you haven't already sent someone down there to ask? Color me shocked."

"When you get home," Barnes says, his smile showing an edge of melancholy, "definitely do that. Have all the sugar you want. You're all fortunate to have the world you do, from everything that I hear about it." He might change his mind if he knew how frequently his counterpart in the 'proper' universe has gotten kidnapped or put on trial or nearly executed, but then again maybe not. That kind of stuff he'd think was par for the course, given his past sins.

His gaze briefly unfocuses off her, staring off into some middle distance across the many years he's lived. "I wonder sometimes what you all must think of our world, coming from such a place," he ruminates.

The moment does not last. As if aware of the awkward position it might place Lorna in to entertain a comparing of worlds, he shakes his head, and dismisses the thought. "Yes," he says. "Captain Jones has saved quite a lot of people, in her time as a refugee runner. I'm sorry to have to ask her away from that work, but I think she may be able to do more to end the whole reason we still have refugees, in the new project we have for her."

Called out about why he hasn't already crawled the area with spies and agents, however, he looks transparently amused. "I like to take a bit of a soft touch sometimes, Miss Dane," he says. "Even in my line of work. Valerie Cooper has done tremendous work in saving people from the Pens, and I've felt it best not to disturb her in her retirement with spies and spooks. I think it's for the best you get to ask her, yourself."

He inclines his head, cracking open his door to return to his office. It is a spare, spartan place, as one might expect from a military man. The only real spot of color is the shield itself, its red-white-and-blue faded but still there, sitting in its place of honor beside his desk. "I wish you luck with it," he says. "Don't hesitate to come to me again if you need."

Lorna nodded as she trailed after him, looking not at all awkward about answering his question. "Some things here are better. Some people are better." Her father included, "Others are worse. The world is different but the more things change the more things stay the same. Mostly the lack of good food, entertainment and you know, civilization sucks pretty hard." She was open and honest, lacking any method or interest in sugar coating that much about the differences between their worlds.

Even as he talked about a gentle touch, the green haired mutant arched a brow. "If you mean more like a sledge hammer when she sees me again and has to be clued in on another world bit. Yeah. Totally gentle." She smirked and glanced into the office as he cracked the door open. Her eyes widened slightly at the shield on display. She knew that shield, everyone did. And it too, rang in her senses. Vibranium had a hint of some manner of iron in its composition. Faint though it was.

Her gaze swung back to him though and she offered him a two fingered salute. "Will do Captain," She drawled and turned to wander off.

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