A Conversation

June 06, 2018:

Jean Grey visits Mutant Town for a dual purpose: to speak to the denizens about the Institute, but also to attract the attention of a certain Joanna Cargill to try to open a dialogue — and do a little reconnaissance.

Mutant Town


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Scott Summers, Magneto, Xavier, Pietro and Wanda Maximoff

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Mutant Town may be the province of the Brotherhood nowadays, but that does not mean that anyone is strictly barred from entering it. Not even the X-Men, though the tension between the two groups is palpable. It is maintained as a safe place for all mutants to go, regardless of their affilitation… so long as they do not cause trouble.

Still, there are certain personages that draw more attention than others when they make an appearance, and Doctor Jean Grey would certainly qualify. Not that Doctor Jean Grey is currently doing anything particularly untoward.

Seated at an outdoor table of a small cafe that has seen better days, the redhead is lost in conversation with a few of the more obvious mutants who live in the neighborhood. It is a low conversation, but assuredly she is there to canvass sentiment among the denizens about the current atmosphere… and perhaps to speak to them of the school, and opportunities there for children who wish to come and learn.

The conversation seems to be drawing to a close, as she slides over a few pamphlets, and the people make ready to leave.

There are eyes and ears everywhere and especially within Mutant Town. Nothing happens (for the most part) without someone's awareness of it.

Especially when it comes to a personage as notable as Jean Grey.

As such, word passed upon the streets and all the eyes and all the ears focused upon the red-head's movements. It's only after she's settled within that cafe that burner phones appeared in various hands and an all important status update was sent.

From those texts someone new arrives. A familiar figure to those that live within Mutant Town, the towering figure of Jo Cargill aka Frenzy. She's across the street, casually leaning against the side of a dilapidated building. She stays there for as long as Jean Grey has company and only as the conversation comes to a close does Frenzy straighten. Then she walks across the street and into the open area of the cafe. While some might try to move covertly Joanna doesn't. Instead she moves with apparent confidence as she steps close to Jean's table. Her rather large shadow precedes her as she focuses upon the red-head.

"It won't work, you know." Comes the Bruiser's opening gambit.

Just as the world around Jean is aware of her, Jean is aware of the world. She knows the whispers that go running through the streets of Mutant Town, and she has a very good guess — even before her telepathy — of where they will terminate.

Thus it is that Frenzy's arrival does not surprise Jean in the least, nor disturb her outward composure. Even as the larger woman towers closer, making her gruff opening remark, Doctor Grey does not look up from what is revealed to be a small pot, and a gently steaming cup of tea.

It won't work, you know.

"We have a habit of trying anyway," Jean finally says, lifting her head with a slight smile. The chair opposite her pushes out, seemingly of its own accord, no outward indication at all of that small flex of telekinetic power beyond its ultimate effect upon the world. "Certainly success is not guaranteed, but that is where 'hope' comes into the equation."

Her green eyes lower peacefully to her cup. "Will you sit a moment, Joanna?"

"Habit." Scoffs Frenzy, as she watches the woman who sits so peacefully at the table. "Sure - if by habit you mean trying to continue to steal those few you deem useful for the school."

And while Frenzy was content to simply stand there, when that chair is pushed invisibly outward the woman glances downward. She considers that offer of a seat for a silent moment before one hand reaches for the chair. Gently, because Jo understands just how fragile the world is compared to herself, the Acolyte lowers herself into the seat.

Her expression freezes at Jean's seemingly casual use of her first name. Nostrils likewise flare with the tall woman's nearly silent outrage, "No, you don't get to call me Joanna. Not after your fearless leader -" Meaning Scott, of course, "- attacked without provocation. Frenzy will do."

And while typically Frenzy wouldn't be able to say such a thing with any kind of straight face this time it's actually true. They truly did only want to talk with Scott that fateful evening.

"Everyone receives a choice to come to the school," Jean corrects amicably. "After they are given the information to make that choice."

Similarly, a choice is now offered to Joanna Cargill. The woman transparently contemplates a few moments, and Jean waits with the patience of falling snow, with no indication of whether acceptance or refusal would make any difference in her demeanor.

It doesn't, once Frenzy opts to take the seat. Jean smiles on, and pours tea, and addresses the other woman —

And hits a nerve. "Frenzy," Jean acquiesces, with a dip of her head. There is no indication whether she is genuinely remorseful for the unwanted level of intimacy, or whether she fully meant to dare the more personal touch even in full knowledge it would nettle the Acolyte.

Her demeanor sobers at mention of Scott and the unfortunate altercation of weeks ago. "Scott keenly remembers the sins of the father," Jean says, in a careful balance of acknowledgement, and defense of her leader. "In his view, he sees a cycle repeating. I know a little something about cycles."

She glances up. "So I suppose I'm here to try to understand whether that may be true. Scott did not talk that night. I will."

Choice. That brings a look from Frenzy again, something full of derision and spite.

Of anger.

It's only at the mention of a father's sins that the Bruiser of the Brotherhood looks away. It's brief, that lack of watchfulness on her part, and when Frenzy's gaze returns to Jean there's an even harsher look within them.

"Cycles." Breathes the woman, "We all know some of that." Though not to the same extent that Jean obviously does, "Talk then - tell me how you're going to break the cycles now. How your school way up high on that hill of theirs will be able to fix everything. To stop us from repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Where nothing changes for the better, only the worst. Where we continue to die every day without anyone caring."

"Talk." She repeats again, leaving the onus now upon Jean Grey, Headmistress of Xavier's School. "And know that I've found two who have those answers you lack. That all the leaders within our communicty have lacked."

The look of derision and spite draws Jean's eye. She could reach out, could take the meaning behind that look, could peel Frenzy's mind apart and core her soul down to its truth. It would be simpler, to burn the woman down to her most elemental cinders, and have a look at the shape they form…

She drinks her tea instead, mulling over the answer Frenzy delivers her. Her hands cradle the cup, warming themselves on its radiating heat.

Talk, the Bruiser finally concludes. And know that I've found two who have the answers everyone else has lacked…

"I was hoping for more of a two-way conversation, Frenzy," Jean admits, a little wry, carefully putting her cup down. "Understanding doesn't come from me giving a lecture on what you already know I will say, and what you already know we will do. I cannot tell you that our methods will be different, because our principles have not changed. We will build our bridges. We will protect those of us who are vulnerable. And we will burn away ignorance." She smiles, a little sadly. "It will not be more violence and more hatred which mend the rift that widens between us all."

She studies Frenzy. "You have faith in them," she murmurs. "I worry that means they are their father, come again. And yet they came to Scott to speak to him." Magneto never merely came to 'speak' to anyone. "Perhaps they are not wholly their father's children."

Jean is silent a moment. "Do you feel the same? It must create a conflict for you."

A soft snort is offered at the admission that Jean was hoping for a two way conversation here.

And while Jean's words were fueling that righteous anger within Frenzy, enough that she opens her mouth to perhaps lecture the red-head, those words of the Bruiser's pause.

In fact, they stall thanks to those last words of Jean Grey's. Conflict. That word brings a conflict within Frenzy, though perhaps that struggle isn't necessarily what most might think is occurring.

It's not the struggle of a former Acolyte for her former Master, that was put to rest weeks ago if not more, no instead it's the struggle of the devout trying to reign in the flood of ideology. It bubbles upward, the absolute faith she has invested within the Twins. It shines brighter than whatever Magneto had instilled within her. Those beliefs of hers shine within her brown eyes, as they once again lift to meet the green. That light, however, is tempered somewhat with the understanding that she must be careful with what she reveals.

"The only conflict I have is with the amount of time I wasted trying ways similar to your own." States Frenzy, her tone absolute, "To try the same /methods/ over and over again. To see them fail over and over again. You and Scott are stuck, you're stuck trying the same shit over and over again. You both illustrate the definition of insanity every day and see nothing wrong with it. Open your eyes. See how the real world is. See that something different has to happen to change it all. To help our people, to stop the dying."

"That is what the Twins offer. That is what their combined vision will do. That is why they reached out to Scott."

Jean does not need telepathy to read something into that brief hesitation that pauses Frenzy before she can speak. Years of matching outward expressions and body language to what her powers tell her is truly transpiring, have made her an excellent hand at identifying unspoken thoughts even without needing to reach into someone's mind.

She can smell pure fanaticism well enough, by now. She has seen enough iterations of it over the years, in the eyes of so many people who clung to so many different creeds.

That she sees it so strongly, now, in the eyes of Joanna Cargill puts a note of concern in Jean's green eyes. She purses her lips, but does not speak to whatever those concerns might be. Not here and not now.

"The dying won't stop," she says instead. "You would simply have it all up front, instead. You would have us become the Other that the people so fear, and confirm all their terror." She tilts back her head, sneaking a brief glance at the sky. "We do not have the endings we want with the first step, nor the second. They may not even come with the fiftieth. Each brick laid of a bridge is individually a failure. Alone, it does not cross the river. But one day, the final one is laid."

She is briefly silent. "I wonder… what is their 'something different?' I see the violence of their father. I see his pain repeated." She closes her eyes. "If the chance has not passed, I would like to hear what it was they had to say to Scott. Will you convey that message?"

For all her fanaticism the mention of death sobers Frenzy's expression. She understands death, having seen it for many years now, as both Acolyte and Mercenary.

"Perhaps you enjoy the long game, Ms. Grey, but I'm tired of it. You, Scott, Xavier and Magneto, you've all toiled years against those that would destroy us and where has that gotten us?" She asks, and while the heavy hand of fanaticism lingers still within her voice there's also weariness now. "No where." She states, "Actually that's not true - backwards. We've gone backwards. Registration is all but upon us, violence against mutants is escalating and technology is currently being created to defeat us. The Brotherhood has already struck out against the collars, the violence and in some regards to registration as well - can you and Scott say the same thing?"

"All I see is the lot of you hiding in that Mansion of yours. Occasionally opening your doors to some. Come back to me when you've given all of Mutant Town a blanket invitation to that house of yours." Contempt is once again upon Frenzy's features and that emotion only deepens with the mention the violence of a father and the repeated pain as well.

"You see nothing." Joanna Cargill says icily, "You think you know what drives them, what's shaped them, but you don't. You assume just like everyone else does, much like Scott did. And those assumptions of yours are wrong." And here Jo rises from her seat, "I'll bring your message to the Twins and if they wish to meet you they'll be in contact."

For all the two women sit in both literal and metaphorical opposition, there is still empathy to be seen flickering in Jean's eyes at the sobered weariness in Frenzy's voice. More than anything, she understands how the long fight wears on the soul. How She's fought, herself, in some shape or form since she was very young. She understands. She also understands that Frenzy likely wouldn't appreciate hearing 'I understand' right about now.

"We work in our ways," she says instead, when confronted with the assertion the Brotherhood has done much and more against the collars and registration — and questioned on what exactly the X-Men have done. "Through education, through due process, through appeal to the better natures of man. These methods don't have the flash and drama that destruction has, but they leave fewer bodies in their wake, I think.

"And… we have provided an example that not all mutants feel free to exercise their power at will to bypass law and order. A continued shred of hope, for those who still believe in coexistence. Perhaps the fear would not have ridden high enough to bring these troubles back to light," she says, her green eyes growing stern, "if mutants had not proven so willing to abuse their powers in such deadly ways."

She sighs. "But of course, we could do more. We all can always do more. I would be content to begin with a conversation." She inclines her head, and moves to rise. "Please do convey my message."

Her green eyes are shadowed beneath half-lowered lashes. "If I am wrong… then I would like to know the truth."

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