Tended Secrets

March 02, 2018:

Emma comes to visit Scott at Charles Xavier's Mansion for a chat behind closed doors.

X-Mansion

Characters

NPCs: A unnamed group of Xavier's students.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Xavier's School for the Gifted…

With the snowfall lifting up students have been returning, some of course never left but those are few in number, there are always permanent and semi-permanent residents at the school proper. Mostly the faculty that double as X-Men or auxiliary support for them. It's over the years a rotational select, academic side of things handled by Jean Grey who, unlike Scott Summers is not a public mutant, the man himself, he oversees the X-Men team, logistics, much of the organization and gym, for the time being. It's routine, cookie cutter as many of them have heard from their 'kin' on the opposite side of the fence, the Brotherhood.

A chill enough day a coat is necessary but not so horrid that bundles are required, the school itself always welcoming, an old world pleasantry to it that's upheld by Charles Xavier's tastes, further reflected in many of his students now aged.

There is no armed security only a gate, telepathic scanning, mystic wardings and advanced technology surveillance, weapon systems exist but they're generally non-lethal, just in case they're accidentally tripped. The most lethal things in this school? The students and the teachers.

Scott Summers is inside finishing up a gym class for an impressive total of five students. Basketball, despite his height he's never been a huge fan of it. It's but it's not quite like Hockey or Football, but then, competition, strategy any sport of challenge he's in, whether a true fan or not. His father Christopher, the man had a competitive side, it exists in his boys…

Side zipped black sports pants and a grey tank top consist of the man's attire, sneakers squeaking on the gymnasium floor as he performs a jump shoot, it bounds off the backboard, swirls around the rim and falls through the hoop. That pong sound of the ball hiking up and down echoing throughout the expansive room.

"Have a good day Mister Summers!" A child with long curled ears shouts out rushing through the doors, waving frantically as youngsters do with that too much excessive energy. Only behind this kind streamers flow, rainbow colors that display imagery inside. Likely off to immerse in a day full of video games in the rec lounge.

Yes, the cookie cutter lifestyles of the X-Men, they're not entirely far off as the team does its very best to try and emulate natural human lifestyle.

Emma, really, has done her level best to steer clear of the facility in recent weeks. The optics of distance are helpful on numerous levels, and the White Queen does so pride herself on the subject of optics.

Case in point, the woman CEO makes her way onto Xavier’s campus with her black sedan and chauffeur. He is the one who lets the woman out, and she enters the chilled air from the warm interior of her car wrapped in a snowy knee-length fur coat. She’s pearls and soft ivory wool slacks, designer stiletto boots and blonde hair tamed into a neat chignon at the nape of her neck.

Although she could, possibly, she makes no secret of her presence on campus in the psychic air. Instead, she simply lets herself in. Because why shouldn’t she? Lets herself in, and gets directions from anyone she passes who knows where Summers has hidden himself away. Eventually, she finds a student willing to show her where she needs to go.

Her heels click clack in a sharp, even rhythm against the floor. She hovers respectfully—maybe, respectfully, anyway—at the edge of the gymnasium and wordlessly waits to be noticed.

The very presence of Emma Frost on school grounds is inviting another living beacon of psychic power in to close proximity with so many others, the mental pressure the untrained feel is near physical, yet, it's what they're here for. It's who they are.
Scott Summers lacks any sort of telepathic or psychic ability of his own, his mind,
however, encased in a bulwark that is unique, a permanent defense against people like Emma, yet, it's not indomitable, it's a reactive thing and practiced, memory muscle.

Impressive as it is, someone like the White Queen given the desire and time could rend it shreds and then some. Perhaps thats why she along with several others here are so absolutely terrifying, reasons this school exists.

The ball bounces, once, twice and Scott knows she is there, he's not looking up yet, just studying the in motion orb, letting it pop up and down in continued lazy dribbling.

It's a fourth bounce before Emma will feel him looking at her, crimson lenses reflecting light with the lift of his head. "Stunning as usual. You have amazing timing, I just got back in from Alaska." The ball rolls up his hip and tucks under one arm, hand palming it. "I was going to text you later on today. Nothing serious, just a social thing."

The thrum of other minds—of unrealized potential and burgeoning talent—gives the foreign telepath no discomfort. They will find they know she’s there, but the presence lacks in substance. She knows the untrained, and she locks the reality of herself and her thoughts away from them.

While she waits for Scott to notice her, Emma’s coat is unbuttoned to reveal the top beneath, silk camisole layered under a decadent Battenburg lace. At the compliment, her garnet-hued lips twist upwards wryly. “A social thing, hm?” she asks.

Her slender shoulders shrug, the movement nearly lost beneath the bulk of rabbit pelt.

“That could be disastrous, given the results of my last attempt to be social with you lot.”

Pale, crystalline eyes watch the X-Men’s illustrious leader as he toys at the sport at hand with a certain languidness.

“But, the timing? Psychic, you know.” A play on the word, likely unappreciated, coaxes a half-formed laugh of self-amusement from her throat and a ‘spooky’ wiggle of her long fingers.

"A social thing." Scott repeats, "One of those awkwardly danced around things others pull off with ease while I… insult unintentionally or miss every single possible queue in the book."

His recently shaved smooth jaw lifts up, the attire, hers, always so much detail in to it where he is a contrast, function, basic comfort, rarely showy. "I suppose I have been avoiding you since Christmas. That is not right of me, you've helped me a lot."

The ball circles his waist, rolling one hand to another, a distraction for himself, it lets him peel his focus away from Emma's leisurely predatory demeanor.

"Right, psychic. Well aware." Scott states. "Do I need to outright apologize to you for the kiss, the insults or have I humbled myself enough?" A brow inches upwards from behind one lens.

The ball is bounces high, is caught and then spins on a fingertip between them, only to fall off and roll towards her heeled feet.

“I suppose that depends on why you think you need to apologize,” Emma replies as her smile evaporates, tone carefully neutral. Her gaze drops to the rolling ball, and then her booted foot lifts to rest squarely atop it and hold the sphere captive.

“I told you that we could just forget the kiss, and I don’t suppose you said anything untrue. I’m not a saint. I’ve not pretended otherwise, I don’t think.”

With a small forward push of her foot, the telepath sends the basketball back in Scott’s direction.

An eyebrow pricks up to match the one that’s sitting on the other face, looking back at her. “But if you need it to feel better, absolution granted.”

"Misreading you. The kiss? Nah, it happened. I felt no guilt for that, I thought it through, I left that night and have since been wondering where I stumbled, made things terse, atmospheric change. Doesn't take a telepath or an emp to read the not-so-subtle."

Annoyance flashes through Scott, a flicker that also squares his shoulders and tightens his spine up. "No, nevermind, I question myself enough without feeling the need to every single time I look at you, Miss Frost. We're fine. Absolution unnecessary." Confusion bred that moment. Pride curbs it and he snatches the ball out of the air turning and hurling it a tad roughly at the backboard, it bounces high and arcs off to the center of the gymnasium.

His back to her Scott watches the open court and that rolling retreat of the basketball to the mats opposite side of the room.

"Anyways, you're here, we should probably catch up unless you came here for something specific?” He looks back at Emma wearing what might pass for a smile. It’s a genuine action. Gear shift and all.

Emma’s lower lids twitch, her eyes narrowing a slim degree as she listens. As she watches. Whatever she observes in that moment, however, she keeps to herself in the court of her own counsel.

It appears briefly uncertain, but surely that can’t be right. But transparency is hardly her forté.

He smiles. She smiles back, although hers is the cooler iteration by far.

“I did,” she confesses, eyes lifting briefly to the gymnasium ceiling. “But it can wait.” She shrugs again, and then she tries the smile again. “Nothing wrong with putting the pleasure first.”

Scott makes a noise, one that comes from his throat and walks over near her to pull a towel up from beside the benches, rubbing it over his forehead, under his glasses while eyes carefully close then to hang around his neck, turning to drop himself and sit, elbows finding purchase on knees.

The smile, Emma's smile, it's tweaked his own from half-assed to full-assed. "The pleasure, huh… you're just always a pleasure though." Scott teases, "It's been nice since the storm cleared, you likely wouldn't have made it up here. Another plus, I suppose." Dry tone. He’s mechanical sounding often those familiar with him have long since learned to expect it or should.

His left leg is bouncing, jumping up and down unconsciously, it's either the man has energy or she makes him anxious, maybe both.

"You've missed the fun. We're quiet here now, I can't show you off to any of the students we normally have or introduce you to some of our new recruits." Bear season apparently scared them away or had parents pulling them out. Scott cannot fault them.

“Eh, likely for the best,” Emma offers with a chuckle. She leans in, conspiratorial. “I’m a terrible influence. Excellent taste, mind you, but mostly when it comes to vices.” And it certainly has nothing to do with her general reticence when it comes to the idea of being around students.

It pulls the wrong strings, tethered to the still-sore patches of her non-existent heart.

“Another time, perhaps,” she continues. “Another season.” Her thumbs slip down to hook lightly at the edges of the false pockets in her trousers, her head tilting to side. “You’ll just have to entertain me all alone. So terrible.”

Awkwardness isn’t a problem, right? “Besides. I want to hear the unvarnished State of Things, and that’s more difficult, I’d imagine, with the raging bundles of hormones and bad decisions running around.” A pause, and then she realizes that she may have just put her own foot in her mouth as she quickly moves to recovers: “The students. I’m talking about the students.”

Cue the inward wince that fails to surface on her features.

She laughs and smiles more instead.

"Perhaps." Scott says as shes leaning, his shoulders tilting closest to her rising up as if it gives him a vantage to look down at her, even seated as he is. It's a tall guy thing.

"According to the Professor, you have an open invite." His fingers thread together, flexing and clenching popping a knuckle, "Entertain you alone, hrm, you get the joy of walking with me to fetch a water bottle then. Thrilling, huh?"

The hormones and bad decisions comment doesn't visibly get a response but she can feel it, that unspoken pang. "Students? Riiight, I was going to accuse of projecting… no, I am accusing you of projecting. That is ok though, Emma, you had your chance on Christmas. Windows closed now." The laughter is graced with a smirk while he thrusts up from his knees.

"Coffee?" He asks, the side door being approached swung open and revealing a tiny nook outside the gym, water bottles, gatorade, a vending machine and a running coffee pot. He takes a bottled water, uncaps and starts to drink.

There. A healthy distance seems to be regained, although talk of closed windows earns Scott an amused twitch at the corner of Emma’s mouth. Disbelief, perhaps, that windows stay closed forever. “Mm.”

She feels that pang, yes. And a dark something in her gaze stirs for its presence.

But it’s all about the subtleties with her, veiled glances and nuanced turns of phrase. The heart worn on a sleeve, is the one easily lost or damaged. By all indication, that will never be her.

But she watches the X-Man as he goes, swaying in stride alongside. Past, once the door is opened. “Coffee would be divine, thank you,” she says, inwardly hoping it’s better than the last one they shared in Genosha. Another thought to push past.

“But anyway, Charles is kind enough, but there are open invitations and there are open invitations. It’s… It’s complicated.”

Even while Scott is squeezing that bottled water into his mouth he's watching Emma, finally pulling it away from his lips to brush his wrist along his jaw, wiping it. Lips set in a smile. The 'mm' noise actually making him swallow an unneeded extra.

Plastic bottle set down and he's filling a styrofoam cup for her, offering it over and a small tray of creamers and sugar. Inwardly he is thankful he can distract himself with getting her the coffee.

Once free of his hands arms fold over his chest and he leans one sports pants clad hip against the nook's counter, "If the Professor gives an invite, its always open." Ever the dutiful soldier, Scotts loyalty to Charles is near faultless
.
"You are welcome here anytime, that's been said to you. Anytime at all. It’s nice a times, comforting to be around your own kind." A shrug and he lets that trail off, not wanting to preach or judge more than he typically does.

“Except for when it’s not,” Emma challenges, although it’s a heatless sort. Immediately after, she is murmuring thanks as she takes the cup from his hands and draws strength from the ability to hide behind it.

Courage found behind and protected by a foam cup. That’s how frail her courage is.

She shrugs. “I do things. Out there. I’m not doing nothing.”

"We can go around and around on this one." Scott doesn't mean to but he blurts out a short laugh, a head shake follows. "Emma, your humanity is showing. Might want to tuck it back in."

Scott brushes past her, his elbow lifting up to give her a nudge as he is moving once more down the hall, taking a left.

"What sort of things are you doing? I mean, I know you have a lot of rich socialite friends with high aims… " The man puts it very nicely, both of his hands rising up to grip each end of the towel hanging off of his neck.

Long legged strides are matching a gait alongside her.

And the polite phrasing of it earns Scott another prick of a flaxen eyebrow and a sideways glance. Emma frowns at the accusation as she snorts and lifts her chin a degree. “Apologies, Scott, dear. Thank you for the reminder.”

“But I’ve funneled money to this and that. Kept an eye to make certain unfortunate histories don’t repeat themselves. Whispered in ears that matter about things that matter.” Drunk and drugged herself into countless stupors in glorious self-medication. You know, the good stuff of heroes. “Even got an empath away and hidden from where human authorities would find her. Doing what I’m good at.”

She glances at Scott again and then her coffee-bearing arm swings wide as she puts herself on effortless display. “Look at me,” she encourages in open invitation of appraisal, expression and tone obscured to veil meaning.“Doing so much good. A veritable fount of benevolence.”

She knows herself well enough to mock herself. She hopes Summers doesn’t see through it as plainly as she does. It’s painfully common.

But then she changes, subtly. A small shift of a deep current in the icy lake of her demeanor.

There is a sigh, and then she continues. “If you need me, I will come. It isn’t that I’m not grateful for the assistance I was given…For the opportunity…”

Stopping her course, she turns to face her fellow mutant. fully. He may be tall, but her towering heels set her not too shy of that impressive height as she looks up at him. “But I don’t belong anywhere, Scott. It may have been a glass or two in, but you… you agreed that I am not the same as the rest of you here. And we both know what happened to the last set of students entrusted to my care. It didn’t end well.

There’s a pause, and then another disgusted snort as the blonde immediately regrets her choice and looks to the side furthest from her commandeered host. “My god, just… just forget I said any of that, please. Ugh, I want to be violently ill from the wallowing self-pity of it, and I’m the one who said it.”

"Less whispering, less money, we're in the same boat, just differing shores." Scott says. "A lot less money and… my phrasing, always wrong with you, same cargo, not same boat. Our little secret that you're tending. Heh." A hand rises up to rub his neck, discomfort, guilt but part of their choices together, their agreement.

It's as the invite to witness display that his head cants, to the side as if he wants to peer around the glasses he is wearing, around those rims at her, "I do nothing but look at you, Emma. If anything, I'm on my best attempts of self discipline at not staring at you. You're an incredibly gorgeous woman with a mind like a trap. " Possibly literally. "Also, there is more to you, a lot more. Something the Professor sees and keeps insisting at. Something that I'm… “He doesn’t finish that.

”I am cautious. It is my nature."

The full face stare is met, Scott stares at the heel assisted Emma. "You're wrong. I am…. " A pause, "… was wrong. I forget the very reason of the X-Men when I enter that mindframe, that protective overdrive, you're exactly the sort of person we need. That we are. Like Logan, a weapon of a different sort that is still wounded, in need and very much one of us."

A hand rises up and the man dares to reach over and place it on Emma's shoulder, long strong fingers curling into it, thumb squeezing at the front, near collarbone. "It's not self pity. If anything, you're just proving me wrong and the Professor right, more and more."

"Besides, I like the way your nose crinkled up when you made that noise. That, dare I say it? Snort? Emma Frost, snorting… Very cute." Scott mocks knowing words as weapons like 'very cute' towards the White Queen are some of the absolute most vicious in his arsenal.

Mention of their secret - of her wounds and needs - draws nothing from the telepath, aside from an upwards prick of her eyebrow and a sudden inability to even draw up a smile to mask the discomfort of it, although she does look back to regard her fellow mutant. She has no desire to rehash any of those things.

But neither does she have words to deflect them. So she does her best to ignore them, moving instead to recognize the shallower and elsewhere pointing bits of his conversation. Emma, for her part, meets the compliments to her appearance with an utter lack of humility in her smile… moments before she perfectly adopts a look of horror and disdain. “‘Cute’ is a word you ascribe to things like beagle puppies. Please don’t compare me to a beagle.”

The barb back is a shallow one, paired with the sort of piercing gaze that Mister Summers - for all of his experience with psychics and telepaths - is no doubt accustomed. It sees and sees through, although there is no prickle of her presence. It would seem she’s chosen to not rummage through his thoughts, although she is certainly considering them from the outside.

The touch on her shoulder draws her lower lids up, narrowing her eyes in an expression of uncertainty. Subdued, but there. “But… there’s nothing wrong with a healthy measure of caution. The world in general would be better off if it gave caution it’s due.” A pause follows, and then Emma frowns and rolls her eyes. “Or at least had a better sense of when to abandon it.”

When her gaze returns, her head tilts. “That is to say, some caution is warranted.”

"It is." Scott matter-of-factly agrees about the Beagles. The rest is glossed over, evaded in a turn to start walking again, although his hand has slid down and he's helped himself to hooking an elbow around hers, forearm looping around that limb only to carry on the walk through the manner hall.

She can feel him, his mind at least forming a resistance, drawing in as if he's trying to contain overflowing thoughts. It's a reflexive thing for him after so many years coexisting around telepaths, facing them or living with them.

"Caution is just a survival instinct, nothing at all wrong with it. Better sense, huh?" Scott's stride, falters, slows a step, "What does your better sense suggest right now or are we still skirting warranted caution levels?" He is not looking at her but forward. It's almost as though he’s concentrating on her presence alone or her words, if he was a telepath himself she would likely think he was trying to read her mind.

No dice. The man is not at all of the psychic persuasion.

“I’m still trying to figure that part out.”

The response is one that comes after an easy fall into a swaying stride beside him, Emma effortlessly wrapping her fur-wrapped arm around his. The volume of her coat obscures the slenderness of that arm.

“Recent… arrangements would suggest I keep my distance a while. The possibility of needing additional solutions would suggest a while more.”

She sips from her styrofoam cup before continuing. “Between you, me, and this coffee, things are not looking particularly inspiring in the national theatre. What I am offering your school is, when required, a continued solution external to it. Not constrained by it.”

She could look to Scott. She fixates on the dark brew in her hand instead, musing on a metaphor hidden there.

“A little distance for safety. Preserve decorum. Protect sensibilities. Feelings.”

A pause. Then Emma’s gaze turns to take in the man beside her. “I’m admittedly fairly poor at caring about others’ feelings, so…”

They don’t typically care back.

“…you should consider yourself fortunate for my rare thoughtfulness.”

"Recent arrangements… " Scott pauses in the hallway, his arm slackening enough to slide his hand down her forearm and release, "Dare I ask?"

"The national theater is something currently I am doing my best to steer clear of, it is not easy as we are rather tethered to it, especially considering our hand is still on the table."

A thoughtful stare, a click sound of his tongue tap-tapping along behind his teeth, "Feelings, the least of my concerns lately. More at stake going on around us then people's sensibilities. The bigger picture is always where I try to keep my focus oriented especially right now… Maybe we understand each other a little more than we let ourselves at admit."

"I lapse at times, like now and with some… massively.." The brunette picks up, "The some tending to be people and their needs or emotions." A weak smile and he is leveling those lens obscured eyes upon Emma again, "You plan on keeping me company? We're going towards the more skirting caution lines and what is or is not better sense intersect."

“I’m not looking to make life more complicated for you, Scott. You have this school’s reputation to consider. You have your X-Men. I don’t know what else—who else—you have in your life, but I’m not looking to complicate that, either.”

A large breath is taken in, and released. And her released arm is taken up and crossed with the other. “I don’t know where that leaves us. I know that it puts us in a place where I know something you don’t, and that you promised not to ask anymore about it.” The mind witch then tilts that primly coiffed head, her lips compressing into a contemplative frown. “I know that I intend to hold you to it.”

And then? Then she chuckles and smiles. “When I said you’re a good man, a good leader, I meant it. And I will do whatever you need for me to do in order to preserve those things. Keep you company. Keep my distance. There’s time enough for us to sort out which is best.”

"The schools reputation falls upon Jean and the Professor. The reveal of us being extranormals here… " Scott uses the DEO coined term for mutants, metas, aliens and other in a sardonic tone. "… didn't ruin us. We've been assaulted by HYDRA, the media, Friends of Humanity, the board of education, a giant devil bear. We exist to stand against such things. We're a safe haven at this point where it is known, if your kid is different, they have place they can go, a place prepared to stand up and even thrive. We are hope. Real hope. It is hard to tarnish that."

"The X-Men, different story, that is my burden and as their leader, I make the critical calls, they sink or fall depending on how high I hold my shoulders. Your presence is one of those critical calls. We may not have full trust, you and I, but we understand and our viewpoints more often than not rather parallel one another." Scott's rubs a splay of fingers along his jawline, to smooth back to his neck and clasp there. "And trust, I say not full but that’s about all you get with anyone."

A chuckle escapes Scott at being called a good many things.

"I would like to think I am those things, I strive to be a good representation of mutants, to uphold the rights of human and mutant kind at least. Everyone needs a purpose after all. My reasons may be selfish, it feels good, I feel good when I do good. I am also very much a man, Emma. Given to the many flaws, weaknesses and desires that come with that package."

"While you sort, then, I suppose you can keep me company." The door behind him is nudged open by his heel after a twist of handle.

“I do like strong men,” Emma says with an airy shrug, breezing past Summers as he opens the door. Because surely that’s what he means by opening it, isn’t it? “And I do like being appreciated,” she tells him over her shoulder as she goes by into whatever room lies beyond.

To talk about a great many more things and plan for the future.

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