Safe Space

May 05, 2018:

Emma Frost and the Maximoff Twins discuss her intended next steps with regard to registration, reaching a tenuous accord about her newest pet project.


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

The breaking news was not good. Registration efforts, defying expectations, were moving forward. While futures were far from set, they were certainly troubling.

Even the high and hidden in their ivory-filled towers of glass and steel, structures made into jagged and glittering daggers which stab at the heavens that elevated gods for ants to persecute and enslave to their own common purposes, can be made uncomfortable. Can be made nervous.

Collars and legislation, and the tally of trusted human allies is down one large mark in the wake of Phil Coulson’s death.

Other humans would try to control their superiors, tame them like pedigree dogs.

The mutant telepath who has fiercely guarded her genetics, Emma Frost, makes contact with infamous twins who have done no such thing. This time she sets the place at a gazebo in a privately maintained botanical garden just outside the city.

Her driver waits in the car outside its gates, enjoying a cigarette as he keeps a casual eye on his employer while she enjoys a glass of chilled Pinot Grigio in the warm spring breeze. The rest of the bottle chills in a steel bucket filled with ice, and two glasses stand by empty.

She wears a ruched sleeveless dress, a sweater, pearls, a wide brimmed straw hat, and a pair of enormous pitch black sunglasses with gold arms. One might be confused into thinking it’s June.

Emma’s languid ease certainly is more appropriate to summer.

The recent developments regarding metahuman registration legislation had, to say the least, put the young terrorist known as Quicksilver into a black mood as of late. The assignation of blame for the legislation to the only ones assiduously fighting it, combined with the staunch refusal of anyone else to do anything concrete about it, had kept him up many a restless night, pacing back and forth while reading obsessively about the individuals responsible for pushing the bill to the floor.

How long will the world actively conspire to see his sister burned for being what she is?

The matter of the collars was, at the least, being dealt with. The matter of the genophage, also. When the missive to meet from Emma Frost was received, Pietro dared to hope the subject might be some progress on either matter. Perhaps why an assent to meet was sent back so quickly.

The location — outside the city — might have presented some bother to someone else. Quicksilver, true to his name, makes the trip out in a few minutes, bearing his sister in his arms. In deference to Emma's continued close guard of her secret — much as he might personally disapprove of her hiding her nature, he disapproves even more of outing another mutant — he ceases active use of his powers long before they come into range of anyone who might see. Emma's driver included.

Such it is that the Twins walk up to the gazebo at a normal pace, brother having given his sister his arm to help her pick her way through the park. He hands Wanda to her seat patiently, not immediately sitting himself.

"Miss Frost," is his terse greeting, still visibly guarded: but much more cordial than either of their previous two encounters.

The Scarlet Witch, on the other hand, has no need to read.

Closing herself in a darkened room for hours, cross-legged and closed-eyed, levitating inches off the ground, and framed in her nascent hex-light, Wanda senses, feels, and sees.

The news always comes to her this way — delivered through a country's living, circulatory system of act, emotion, and life — and she gleans it all in a running scan. The stoking hatred among humanity, fed to them through media and policy. The fear among so many disparate groups, and no longer just mutants now: metahumans among them, gifted in their own ways, and trying more now than ever to hide their differences.

A circling storm over America, building and stewing, and not yet releasing the first rain to change its climate forever.

These meditations are necessary for both Maximoff twins to understand their world, but Wanda always comes free of them with tears streaking her face.

She is just as sombre upon arrival, quiet in Pietro's arms, one hand curled around the back of his neck. Let down under the canopy of the park, she is everpresent at his side, the twins always hand-in-hand. Wanda, for her part, dresses in her customary black, like every day is her witness to a funeral. She wears a brimmed hat of her own to hide her features, and with a glance back, and twitch of her fingers —

— sends a bolt of red light behind her, which maps up into a shimmering, translucent sphere of scarlet, fading after a moment into nothing. A glamour hex, of a sort, to hide this meeting and their faces from unwanted passerbys.

Wanda obediently takes her seat, not immediately letting go of Pietro's hand. Her eyes, blue, look across the table to Emma. The witch looks tired around the edges, holding herself a little more neatly together than needed. "Nice to see you again," she says, always more eloquent where her brother is blunt. "We hope you are faring well in these times."

"Well is a term of some subjectivity," Emma retorts airily, a hand flitting with the same dismissive mask, "although I appreciate the sentiment, certainly."

That hand then moves to pour a portion of this afternoon's selection, Pietro's proper measure and Wanda's lessened one in keeping with the behavior seen prior. The bottle is set between them for the Maximoffs to adjust their portions at their leisure. "I mean, really now," she continues as she leans back in her seat and goes back to laying her hand across her lap. "Can anyone be said to be doing well when the world is looking to collar mutants like dogs and bring them to heel? I dare say no."

Once his sister is seated, Pietro finally seats himself. He lets her continue to hold his hand throughout, moving with an ease that speaks of many years of maneuvering around her attachment to him. Leaning back in his own chair and crossing an ankle over his opposite knee, he drapes his arm over the seat's rest so Wanda can continue to hang onto his hand in comfort.

His brows lift, a little, when Emma so generously pours them measures of wine — and in exact accordance with the amounts she observed them to pour themselves prior. Perhaps that little gesture of thoughtfulness directed towards his sister is enough to loosen him up even more around Miss Emma Frost, even after the… animosity with which they began their mutual relationship.

The wine is white, of course, but you can't win them all.

"Mutants," he agrees, "and eventually more than just mutants. I guarantee it. The endgame is to control anything that is not garden-variety homo sapiens." He picks up his glass, swirls the wine within briefly, and drinks. He always drinks first, between the two. "It's funny how many metahumans suddenly start to care when my sister and I frame it in such terms, to them."

He sets the glass aside again. "We've shared the collar technology with more than just Stark." His expression quirks with humor. "We sent one to the X-Men, in fact. But assuredly, the technology will evolve."

And Wanda seems more than content to keep hanging onto her twin brother's hand.

It's a fair constant to witness in terms of the Maximoffs — their long-lived interdependence on each other — but on the sister's end, it is amplified in the hours after her meditation. Perhaps needing a physical anchor to tether her after too far, and sometimes too frightening, an astral search.

She is watchful on the way Emma deigns to pour them both wine, surprised and curious both at the act of propriety. Her head bows in a single nod of thank-you, and her gaze crosses to her brother. Wanda does not touch her own glass until he permits it.

The Scarlet Witch, deferring to her sheltered life of many fetters, and very content not to reach beyond Pietro's authority. But as she defers in many, physical ways, there are others she sits as a twins' equal partnership, taking in the conversation with a tilted head.

Though they do not need to, Pietro informs Emma of the Brotherhood's last steps. A peace-offering on their end, or an act of faith, because there are few gifts like that of intelligence.

"We admit we are curious what your next step will be, Miss Frost." Wanda's mouth curves humourlessly at the corners, her thumb idly running her brother's knuckles. "Certainly not similar to how we do things, we know. From your position, you may be able to offer a better insight on Trask's business. Who his partners are. Who funds him. Where he keeps his money. Which politicians are gifting him changed legislation."

It won't stop with mutants, Pietro foretells. "Agreed," Emma offers as her rejoinder. "And I probably could, Miss Maximoff. I might." She sips lightly from her cup, considers the condensation that forms on its glassy exterior, and then offers a similar gift: "But for the moment? Why, I intend to do as I've always done. Hide what I am and watch as the humans show themselves to be as impossibly ignorant and intolerant as they've always been." Another sip. "There are exceptions, of course. Always are. But not a sufficient number to matter in the end."

Emma's head tilts to one side, as comfortable as the summer breeze. "Of course, that's not enough. It's a waste of my influence, that. I can do better."

Leaning forward over the small table between them, her long manicured fingers sprawl over the stone surface as though covering a portion of a war map. "Neutral territory in Mutant Town. A fully funded safehouse. A place for mutants to get medical attention without going through hospitals. To get access to legal representation that will actually represent them if it comes to it. Papers for jobs. They can try to register us all they like. Inventory us like livestock. Count us, study us, use as their bloody lab rats. Those things could follow, should registration pass. But they do need find us first for that to work, and New York City is rather heavily populated. We can nary afford to sound any sort of retreat just yet, hm?" Not that she hasn't funded that as well. Plans. Contingencies.

Her hand holds its ground over the space of stone like a sheltering mother bird’s wing, and her pale eyes narrow in assessment as her head tilts the other way. "But the thing about neutral territory is that all parties must agree to the neutrality of them. Otherwise…" Her hand lifts at last, miming a puff of smoke as she mouths a single word: Poof.

That interdependence between the Twins is more than just physical. Though by nature Pietro takes the lead in most cases — his powers and personality alike both lend themselves to that — the watchful little sister at his side is no less a force to be reckoned with, in the duality that is the Maximoffs.

Often, what he begins… she finishes. That is evident even in something so simple as this conversation with Emma Frost, where Pietro's introduction into their recent acts and firmly-held beliefs is followed by his sister's prompts on what Miss Frost might or might not be doing on her end… and what she might be willing to do.

The White Queen quite generously elucidates on that point. Pietro considers the proposal with tilted head. "You want to give our kind a stronger foothold to fight back on home ground," he summarizes slowly. "Access to resources, with which to make lives for themselves, that do not rely on humans."

He contemplates that. And he — laughs.

His gaze slants over to his sister. "I like it better than running away," he says frankly, though he watches for her reaction. "Of course, the end goal is full integration into society and an end to bigotry. But to be able to at least make a livelihood, in our own chosen country, is the first step towards that path, is it not?" His mouth twists bitterly. "Wanda and I came to America on that hope."

His gaze cuts back towards Emma. "Of course, you want to put it in Mutant Town. I suppose the X-Men aren't interested in putting images of the poor on their school brochures? Yet — I admit — it makes sense. It needs to be accessible, and the Institute is not. Not for the target population."

He taps his fingers along the stem of his glass. "Take your neutral piece of Mutant Town, then. But make no mistake — we shall continue to consider the rest our charge."

Eventually, Wanda takes up her own glass of wine, gently and with the ends of her fingers.

White wine is not usually what she's been served over the years, not usually she would choose when the feeling compels her — but this merits an enterprising sip. She drinks it, finding it sharper than she's used to, dry, and — almost secretive, in its way. The notes are far more mild to a full-bodied red, and Wanda cannot discern them as easily. Like the vintage wants to hide itself from her.

Her eyes stare down at her glass, pupils slightly unfocused, appraising the clear liquid with distance.

Only Emma's words — Emma's promise — that she can do better brings back the witch.

The Maximoff sister is an inconsistent creature at best, whose own mind is a constant victim to her great abilities. Some days, she is distracted, withdrawn, and vacant, her head in some other place, some other time, some other plane of existence, and others, hers is a needly focus to rival the first cuts of scalpel blades. The only question is how her roulette spins, and what sort of Wanda is chambered.

She is silent for some time, pensive, before her eyes draw over to meet her brother's glance. The twins communicate in their way.

Wanda's mouth thins briefly. "It's still hiding," she says, with some resignation, with some despair. And isn't that why she stole into the White Queen's office that very first time? Livid and passionate and furious about mutants being forced to hide who they are against a hateful world? Still in hiding, like so much more white wine.

But, there is a concession.

She exhales, and agrees with Pietro. "But, yes. It is better than running away." Her blue eyes hood. "We can see the advantages. If our kind must hide for now, let none of them have to do so alone."

Her brother's order comes with her assent, and a quiet, permitting bow of her head.

An accord is struck, and Emma nods once, albeit shallowly, as a rare mark of her approval.

“I want to see our kind cared for, Maximoff. There’s a difference, subtle but there. I don’t trust the humans to do it. And we can’t rely on the grace of a few. But, to your point: yes. Access is paramount, and the building that is crawling with mostly untrained children nine months of the year is likely not the best.”

Leaning back, she sets down her glass just long enough to produce a small manilla envelope from her bag, the size of a half-page.

It is freely given over like the wine was—a peace offering.

“This is the building I am in the process of acquiring. Please do tell yours to not interfere. Now that we can see a way forward, I will begin looking for someone to manage the operation, probably a healer and an enforcer sort. That will certainly be the more delicate task. If you happen across any likely candidates, please feel free to send them my way. I can promise the right persons will be well compensated.”

Inside the envelope is are several folded sheets. An address for an old, rundown row house and a set of realtor sketches. It boasts a few bedrooms, rooftop access, a basement. There’s also the offer letter for it, from a Tamunt Properties, that includes an addendum for work to begin on it prior to closing. “And I’ll look to our kind for the needed renovation work.”

Pietro lifts his brows as Emma counters his wording on giving mutants a strong base for 'fighting back.' "'Cared for,' then, if it so please you," he says, with a frown that suggests it most certainly does not please him. "But at some point the circumstances that require our kind to be 'cared for,' in hiding in alleys and back rooms, must be removed."

His hand closes around his sister's, transparently sharing her brief frustration and anger. "My sister and I spent a lifetime in hiding, so as not to inconvenience humans who felt privileged to kill us merely for some difference of genetics. I am tired of hiding for the convenience of such people."

He exhales, eyes briefly closing.

They reopen to the envelope, as it is pushed across the table. After a moment, the peace offering is accepted, Pietro pulling it over to the Twins' side of the table.

"No interference," he agrees. "In fact, we will watch over it. From a distance — our close presence will do no favors."

He frowns, considering the matter of who to attach to the project. "One person I might have thought of for this is not in a good position for it," he admits. "She would draw attention to it. It would draw attention to her. Both need low profiles right now, and it would not be safe for either to be in association."

He tucks the envelope away. "If other candidates arise, the names will be forwarded."

“That sounds lovely, Mister Maximoff. I certainly want a personality that is understated and not in the habit of ruffling feathers. Neutralities are hard enough to come by that I’m not willing to jeopardize this one for some showboater with an axe to grind. We can afford to be somewhat patient for the right person.”

Uncrossing her legs and rising to her feet in one nearly seamless motion, Frost carries her glass up with her. But not the bucket or the wine or the other two glasses. Through those outrageously large black lenses, the ferocity of her gaze is easily tamed and is denied the opportunity to compete for sincerity with her Mona Lisa smile.

“You should stay and enjoy the air and sunshine,” she exhorts. “It’s a good day for it. We’ve been waiting a long time for spring. And we may be waiting a while longer yet. But… until we speak again, do have a good day, you two.”

She tips her chin a degree at that and then turns to move towards her waiting car, sipping demurely at the chilled vintage in her hand as she sways along.

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