The Kid's Not Alright

September 07, 2018:

Quentin Quire goes looking for peace and quiet. The result is…sub-optimal.

Hangar - X-Men Base - New York City

This room is one hundred yards long and has dark metal floors with pale blue lights that run down the center of it, side by side one another. The walls of the room are a reflecting dark metal that curve inward and go up a good distance high off of the floor.

The hangar is accessed via a metallic door with the standard 'X' shape metal frame found in its center… and the same design is found at the far end of the hangar in a much much larger fashion, it spanning from the floor all the way to the high ceiling, this massive hangar door 'can' be opened, but only is in emergencies and it gives access to the outside world through the side of a cliff-face, known as 'The Devil's Rock'.

There is an alternate exit route for the vehicles here that is an elevator system that can lift the vehicles up and out of the hangar through a 'roof door' that is located in the backyard of the mansion grounds.

In the center of the hangar is where the main attraction of this room is kept, parked quietly the SR-71 'Blackbird' is an elegantly designed transpiration aircraft that has a long central fuselage and two giant thrust engines that sit at its aft between forward-arcing wings. The aircraft is quite large and fits perfectly inside the hangar, its dark metallic hull shining majestically beneath the pale blue lights, both above and below it.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Scott Summers, Stepford Cuckoos, Bishop, Charles Xavier,

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It was that early hour, not quite afternoon, and not yet night, and the hangar was quiet, though not still as a tomb, for there was always that hum of lights and electricity, so low one never tended to notice it except in its absence. And just that much louder than the hum was the sound of soft footsteps which seemed to originate in the area of the Blackbird. Black, boot-clad feet were just visible under the belly of the beast, traveling upward, along the plane from the rear towards the wing.’

Why was Quire skulking about in the sub-basement today? Well, some weird elf person had been occupying his normal "get away", a once empty room in the upper floors of the mansion. Now he needs to find another place where he can just go and get out of his head, and out of the heads of the other students, while maintaining his "bad boy" image and fueling the scandalous rumors that always seem to run rampant about him. Drugs. Trysts with other students. Trysts with teachers. All of them might get said.

-

But none of them are really true.

The young, pink haired telepath slips into the hangar bay without a care in the world for stealth as he firmly believes that he's going to be all alone down here. His eyes are even closed behind the yellow tinted lenses of his glasses. A pair of earbuds in his ears just faintly allow the sounds of hardcore punk music to bleed out into the area around him. His attire consists of a leather jacket adorned with spikes on the shoulders and an assortment of various pins stuck to the lapel. A magenta hued shirt, with a drawn image that clearly depicts mild mannered Henry McCoy in human form, glasses and all, with the words "In the Streets", and another image of McCoy as a snarling Beast and the words "In the Sheets" scrawled in dark purple across the front. A pair of skinny jeans, torn at the knees cling to twiggy legs, and clunky combat boots with pink laces clod along with every bouncing step he takes. Apparently, he hasn't yet noticed that Sage, or anyone else, might be present.

-

It's been a weird few days.

Of course, Rachel Summers has always felt a strange awkwardness following throwing herself into a huge problem. She has thought long and hard as to why. The obvious answer is that it's all natural. Who wouldn't feel disoriented after devoting near every waking moment to some consuming task, only to be cut free? It would be stranger not to feel that way.

But then there's the whispers. This is how it was back in the kennels. Hunt, then rest for the next. Hunt, then restless uselessness. Hunt, then wait for master's voice. The memories call. As long as she remembers, they will call.

Suffice to say that Rachel is taking her restlessness with a dish of lemon sorbet. It's light and fluffy and colorful. Don't judge.

Rachel's current loop of keeping busy is currently taking her toward the hangar to check in on the Blackbird. It's needless, but technically everything is. The others were eager to jump after the loose ends of her investigation after she spent so much of herself pushing things to that point. Of course the Blackbird is going to be fully repaired from its combat insertion, but why not check? It's something to do.

The hangar gets an alert to Rachel's presence in the form of the Stark Trek doors wooshing open. (Knowing Meggan has ensured that Rachel will think of these as Star Trek doors forever.) As someone who doesn't qquite grasp the meaning of casual clothing, Rachel is dressed in a red bandeau top with a pair of skinny jeans and square-heeled zip-up boots. They're new; she's breaking them in.

The doors woosh close behind Rachel. She lingers at the threshold, looking across the way toward the Blackbird. It's about this time that Quentin comes in from another entrance, going wherever it is teens go to sulk. Rachel furrows her brow while polishing off another spoonful of the sorbet. Satisfied, she sets the dish aside — it hovers there midair, waiting — and takes a step that sends her floating silently across the hangar to land near Quentin, hands on her hips to affect that teacher look.

(She is only sometimes a teacher when Jean needs a TA.)

"Are you moping? This area's cleared for military-grade moping only."

-

The green haired mutant was coming out of the locker rooms beside the Danger Room when she'd noticed one pink haired telepath heading toward the hangar. A quirk of her green eyebrow and Lorna carefully trailed along behind him at a distance, curiosity as to what he was up to moving her booted feet from their intended path back up the stairs and out of the basement. Long, curling, green hair hung damp around her shoulders, a clear marker of her time showering after her time spent training.

With a fresh pair of rather un-holy jeans, and a light blue tank-top on, the change in style had gone on remarked by Scott and a few others for its lack of her previous punk-rocker vibe. She shoved her hands into her pockets, glancing side long at Rachel with a twitch of her lips. "More or less what I was about to ask, hey Rache." She nodded her head toward the redheaded Summers, and glanced toward Quentin in question, her head tilting faintly to the side.

Jean Grey has been restless ever since she and Illyana had a 'brisk talk' with the man recovered from the raid on the Extremis beta site, for reasons she has certainly not discussed. Fortunately there was the beginning of the school year to help take her mind off things, at least temporarily.

Evenings like this however, with the students all accounted for and the classes all nailed down, Jean finds her steps taking her back down to the hangar. She has no clear intention of anything she desires to do down there, but sitting by the Blackbird and listening to it hum sometimes has a calming effect. It reminds her of simpler times. Hard times, too — but simpler.

Of course, today she isn't alone, a fact she notices more through her senses than with her physical eyes. She is not in line of sight of the three younger people gathered up in the hangar yet, and seems content with that for the time being. Arms folding across her chest, she holds her silence, perhaps aware that her presence will have a chilling effect the moment it becomes known.

It doesn't seem like too long ago that she was the child, skulking around the Institute.

-

By the time Sage makes it from the wing of the plane, and around to the side there's very nearly a full house. Whether or not the woman expected it, indeed if she was either elated or disgruntled by it, was not at all clear from her face, which is entirely stoic. She does remain at the side of the plane, in full view at least, the hand on the nose of the Blackbird bare, the glove tucked into her belt. The other still gloved, slipped into a pocket of her jacket. She was dressed entirely in black, from the matte black bodysuit to the boots, to the jacket. The only bit of colour was a pair of rose-tinted sunglasses. Rather than offering any sort of greeting, or even an alert to her presence, she simply waiting, quietly observing the gathering crowd.

-

Quentin Quire's attention seems to be focused on the screen of his phone, the light of the screen illuminating his face in pale shades of white-blue light,and reflecting off of his glasses. Twitter, apparently, from the looks of it. His finger frantically swipes across the digital keyboard at the bottom of his screen, conjuring forth the words that he sends out across the ether(net):

Rednecks with IQs under 80 don't need to register to own the pistol they shoot their sisterwives with, but I need gov't approval to exist. #MPASSEXTINCTION

It's about that time that the infamous Kid Omega walks right smack into Rachel, sending his phone falling towards the floor and ripping his earbuds out in the process. His blue eyes go wide, and he reaches out his hand like he's trying to grab hold of something… anything at all… for dear life before he himself falls backwards onto his arse. A flash of pink light saves the phone, holding it aloft by the power of his mind and saving him several hundred dollars in the process. His tailbone, on the other hand? It doesn't fare so well. He lands hard.

"God DAMMIT!!" Quire spits out instinctively, throwing his hands up and then just letting them drop in a dramatic fashion.

"Can't you at least have the decency to psychically buzz someone before just interjecting yourself into their line of…"

Looking up at Rachel, and then at Lorna, Quire just sighs and lets it go. He pushes himself back up to a stand, brushing off his rear and wincing in the process. That definitely hurt. The phone rises back to his hand, and is slid into the pocket of his jacket.

"OMEGA level moping, I'll have you know. It's part of my daily routine. Breakfast. Yard time. Back to the cell (aka the classroom) for "education", then more yard time… if I'm lucky I might get to shank someone, and not get shanked, and then it's my time to secretly whisk myself off to my special place for my moping session. Just wait until you peek under the poster of Big Barda I have plastered to my wall…"

His eyes turn from Rachel to Lorna, giving her a once over. His brows furrow, and there is just the most faint hint of a curl at the corner of his lips as he asks, "A… are you stalking me now? I mean, I'm flattered, really, but I'm not looking at being the rebound fling for a maybe-divorcee, and if I'm gonna go the whole Mrs. Robinson route?"

Quentin thumbs at Rachel, while his deep, bright blue eyes narrow slyly, and he looks off to one side, before clearing his throat, and speaking up in a clearly theater voice, "She's way more my speed… but even then, as hot as the young chick might be, the old hen is hotter still."

Just then, Quire notices Sage. The sneer that serves as his smile fades instantly. Sage. Honestly? Sage and Quire both have brains that function on a higher level than most peoples. Similar in form and function. You might think that he'd feel some sort of potential comaraderie in that fact. Want to bond with her on some level. In practice? She gives him the heebs something fierce. Moments like right now illustrate exactly why. "Seriously. Like… she's just going to stand there and watch us. It's creepy. She's like Michael Myers or something."

-

"Hey, Lor," says Rachel. She finishes floating down the last few smidges to firmly put her weight on her feet again. It is the infamous Kid Omega's grave misfortune that the Marvel Girl had time to see this collision coming, which means she's telekinetically reinforced for bumping into. It's a good thing he didn't successfully grab onto anything while falling, because she's about the only thing around.

The next few moments involve Quentin Quire going through fast-talk regarding his terrible life in mansion-prison, whether or not he fancies divorcees or teachers more, and finally Michael Myers related creeping topics. Through this, Rachel gives Lorna a few 'are you hearing this' kinds of looks.

In the middle of parting her lips to respond, Rachel's attention is apparently seized by something else because she aborts the attempt to instead turn to look over her shoulder at a stack of crates. Her look lingers for a moment, but eventually she discards it, taking a step away from Quire's falling-recovery zone while she studies the woman dressed in all black with some admittedly pretty cool sunglasses.

"Watch your step next time, Quire, there's lot of sharp edges down here."

Rachel tilts her head up slightly as she raises her voice across the hangar toward the Blackbird. "Hey, what's up? Everything good?"

Her bowl of lemon sorbet quietly floats over to hang out next to Jean.

-

Lorna folded her arms, watching Quentin as he crashed into Rachel (almost) and ended up taking a tumble before continuing on in his own Quentin Quire way. Her green eyed gaze matched Rachel's, a twitch of her eyebrows giving way just how annoyed she was with the comment of 'maybe-divorce'. A snap of her fingers as she let loose a tiny electro-magnetic pulse aimed at temporarily turning off the young man's cellphone. She wasn't that mean to fry it.. yet. "Mind your own business, Quire. And try to be less of a creep, yeah?"

An exhale followed and further sarcastic comment rose to her lips only to become distracted at Jean's arrival. A blink, and a faint smile followed, along with a wave of her hand. "Hey Jean," She hadn't noticed Sage yet, lurking none too far away. She wasn't trying to focus on the presence of various electro-magnetic fields that living creates gave off..in which case, Sage went unremarked until upon. At least until Quire whirled around and addressed her. She glanced toward Sage, arching a brow briefly. "Like anything you do is any less creepy..?" She shot back.

As hot as the young chick might be, the old hen is hotter still.

There is a distinct pause, from the general direction of the shadows into which Quentin peers. In the space of this pause, Rachel and Lorna make their responses, and the bowl of lemon sorbet slowly drifts telekinetically in the direction of said dark corner.

A hand reaches out and snares it out of mid-air. The slow click of heels against the hangar floor follows, each sound heavy with portent.

"I'm flattered you think I've still got it, Quire," says Jean, as she emerges into view. "You might want to try a different tactic if you want to score in your own age range, though."

She takes a bite of the sorbet, coming to stand next to Lorna with a nod when greeted. This draws her attention towards Sage, who is now in her line of sight, though she doesn't immediately comment — instead, she simply looks a little troubled, her psychic presence closing up a bit.

-

Sage turned her attention from the group at large, to Quire specifically, watching the tumble, the fall of the phone, the teenager's recovery. All without comment, though she might well be remaining silent simply because she knew it rubbed him the wrong way. She did finally step away from the Blackbird, reaching down to retrieve her glove, slipping it back into her hand, before that too disappeared back into a pocket. The banter between Quire, well, was it between or really just at the others with him brought just the slightest tip of her head, before her attention slipped to Rachel.

"The exterior seems to be holding up, though I think I might look into seeing if I can tweak the outboard sensors. I'll know more once I've had a chance to run a systems diagnostic. Trying to work remotely never works as well as being on the ground."

There might just be a hint of a curl at the edge of her lips there, or simply a trick of the light. There was no hint of the woman's own telepathic abilities, no attempt on her part to probe anyone, "The roster has changed quite a bit since I was last here." She stops as soon as she's within a more comfortable conversational range.

-

"Yeah, like all those broken The Cure CDs that you cut yourself with at night?" Quire shoots back at Rachel with a sour look on his face. He's about to turn back to his phone when it shuts off. Eyes roll so hard that he should be able to see his own tonsils, and he shoves it once again back into his pocket. He shoots daggers at Lorna. Daggers.

"I was minding my own business. I'm the one whose being put upon here. I'm just trying to find a nice quiet place to plot a little mayhem, but I've got Hot Topic here knocking me down and you, the Jolly Green Goth following me around like I watched your cursed video seven nights ago. And you have the audacity to call me a creep?"

Why are there so many people here right now? He can never just escape in this place. They're just always there. Incessant. Buzzing. Chipping away at him. Trying to belittle him.

"Why would I ever try to score within my own age range? Have you seen the other kids around this place? I mean… Sophie might have something between her ears, but she's so bound up in her vapid sisters that approaching her is like trying to navigate the minotaur's labyrinth…"

And yet, for some reason, with all of this, Quire closes in as the group starts to migrate closer to Sage. Even if it gives him the chills. The talk about the Blackbird has him looking the jet over. He could probably fine tune the sensors for them, if he had a few minutes to look over the systems and hardware. But why? It's not like it'd DO anything. It'd still be "Creepy Quire" this and "Watch out for sharp edges" that. But the look on his face is clear. He's interested, even if he wouldn't admit it to himself.

-

Even though Rachel isn't looking at Quentin right now, she raises her hand and extends her pointer finger to show that she's aware of the snipe and has a moment to respond. Let's listen in:

"Wow, The Cure. Spotify playlists have been real kind to your tastemaking, Quentin."

Thrilling.

Rachel does a spare look for Jean, giving the other woman a sly little smile. Good sorbet, right? Sometimes telepathy isn't needed.

"Well," says Rachel, nearing Sage because it's more polite than continuing to carry on cross the hangar. "You know how X-Men are. Rosters every which way."

Rachel lets a moment of silence stretch on, though not enough to cede her turn in saying mysterious things.

"Sooo, adding your name in? I think Scott's printing the new one Monday morning, so you'd better sign up fast."

-

The greenette flashed Jean a smile as she came to stand by her, a curious little glance toward the sorbet, but stopped short of asking for a taste. Jean worked with teenagers. She deserved as much of the stuff as she wanted. "Oh, that reminds me, Bishop stopped by earlier. He said he left files for Scott in his mailbox." She reached up, dragging a hand through damp curls of green as her gaze flickered toward Sage.

"If it helps, I have no idea if I'm even on a roster or not half the time. So, you're not alone?" She smiled faintly, even as Quentin was.. just his pleasant self.

The comment about the Cuckoos earning a loft of her eyebrow, and she slowly shook her head. Considering the girls had been talking about redoing the curtains the other night, she had serious issues believing that any of the sisters would be interested in the pink haired mutant. The clash of fashion tastes alone would be amusing though.

Rachel's comment earned a hint of a laugh though, amusement laced through her sigh as she tried to hide it and failed.

-

For all the outward snark of her rejoinder to him, Jean is watching Quentin rather closely as he makes his reply, and as he moves along with the group despite doing his very best to alienate every single member of it along the way. There's perhaps something rather knowing about the way she watches him — but then, Jean has been working with young people for many years, now.

Why would he ever try to score in his own age range? "People might surprise you, Quentin," she remarks, a little 'teaching moment' disguised as an offhand remark and made even more offhand by the fact she keeps on with the sorbet.

Rachel's sidelong glance — good, huh? — earns a confirming smile back, conspiratorial, the looks similar enough that for a moment they appear like sisters rather than mother and daughter. She does notice Lorna's interest, however, and after a moment she tilts the bowl over in her direction, a tacit 'go for it if you want it.'

"Did he?" she says, of the news that Bishop stopped by. "I'll have to excavate Scott from wherever he's calcified himself to go have a look, though knowing him he's already been through them all."

But Sage's appearance, for whatever reason, dampens Jean's mood. Her telepathic presence withdraws a little, like a touched starfish. "It has," she says, of the changed roster. "I suppose that's the thing about a school. Some of the children stay, and some do not." The statement seems to mean more than it says on the surface. It also suggests Jean knows a little more than she is letting on. "Are you staying for a while, then?"

-

Sage tracked Quire's approach, though, perhaps thankfully for both of them, he did not come within anything even close to a comfortable distance. They were not, quite, two magnets repelling each other, but it was probably a close thing. "I would think the trick is looking for places in the mansion where people do not wish to go. This is…suboptimal." See? She's being helpful and everything. Her next question though, was aimed at Jean, as she looked towards the woman, "Is he cleared for the Blackbird's systems?"

"I do. Like bulbs on a stage. When one goes out, they just put in a new one and hope it shines as brightly. But I think that if you were to add my name, I would, as they say, 'lower the tone'. Sage sounds fair enough in practice. Once it's down on paper, it's a steep climb to get back out of the hole. At best, I occasionally merit a mention in the footnote of the appendix to the roster."

The comment from Lorna shifts that attention, and it would seem Sage never quite did everything at half measure. If she was looking at you, you really couldn't miss it. You might almost be able to feel the weight of it. And, that, at least, had been enough for Quire to comment on it, "There is freedom in having a loose leash." Jean's question once again brings that shift in focus, and for a wonder, she actually answers in something approaching normal, "Scott put in the summons. I came back as soon as I could arrange transport." She doesn't say call. Call would imply one has the option to refuse.

-

"Ah. I'm betting you're more of a Morrisey kind of girl. I get that. I can see it. It's like all of the emo, none of the fun, and infuse everything with a healthy overdose of pretentiousness," Quire remarks to Rachel. "That's okay, though. I was trying to be kind and not take it all the way to From Autumn to Ashes, which has GOT to be the most emo name for a band in the history of emo band names."

Quire gives Lorna a glance. A quizzical look, even, with a lopsided smirk and a lift of one of his thin dark brows. He tucks in his chin and peers at her over the top of his glasses, and asks, "Might your questionable X-status be a matter of mercurial allegiances to them and your father? I mean, I'm just saying, Princess…"

Shifting gears, perhaps, rather than pressing on that point with Lorna, Quentin diverts his attention back to Jean. His lips momentarily become a thin, bloodless line, and his jaw tenses and for a moment, he looks down. But it's just a flicker. A flash in the pan. And then he's wearing that snide grin once more. Tapping his temple, he remarks, "I'm an Omega level telepath, Miss Grey. People don't surprise me."

A pause.

"They only disappoint," he mutters quietly, as he idly ducks under the sleek black jet, as if examining something of great interest. Jeans commentary about some kids staying and some leaving only seems to make him scrunch up his nose like he just sucked on a lemon.

"Sure. I mean… some go. When they've been sufficiently defanged and spayed and neutered to please Bob Barker out on the street. Then they're free to leave. When do the ones who dare to think for themselves get to go? What happens to a student who dares to have a dream that doesn't coincide with that of Our Lord and Xavier?"

He ducks back out from under the jet, flashing an incredulous look at Sage. "You'd be surprised at just how secluded this place really is. It's not often that a bevy of mutant supermodels decide to congregate over sorbet under the wing of the world's most advanced stealth recon jet. Pretty much it's graveyard central around here…"

-

The running spar between Quentin and Rachel continues between moments where Rachel is trying to make sense of all the implications in Sage's response. The necessity of putting in another rejoinder gives Rachel some additional time to muse.

The redhead spins around on her heels, makes a show of studying Quire's face, and then points at him with both hands. "You're the kind of person who takes a hit and just starts swinging wildly, aren't you? It's okay. Plenty of guys do."

She's going to leave cleanup on the rest of that X-manifesto to Jean. It just seems like the logical way to divvy things up. Rachel gives the older woman another look, but this one is bemused. 'Scott?' she mouths wordlessly, apparently heedless that others can see her do this.

"My memories get mixed up and lost sometimes, but I don't think we've met," says Rachel, returning her attention to Sage. She risks crossing into the proximity danger zone of being able to extend her hand for a friendly shake. "I'm Rachel. You're… some kind of grimdark covert ops person? I'm just guessing from context."

-

Lorna just assumed that people she'd met in passing or had heard of in the past few years just came and went as often as she or Rogue did. Sage, though Lorna really didn't know her, knew her vaguely.. Still, even then, the woman's stare was just a little disconcerting. More so than even her father's when he was in a mood. Those she could predict fairly easily.. Sage was an unknown factor entirely. But she met the other woman's gaze evenly, and offered a nod in regards to her comments on freedom.

Jean's offer of the sorbet earned a warmer smile though, and the greenette stole a spoonful with a wave of her hand, "Yeah, Bishop said it was just updates. Nothing critical." She sighed, "This stuff is good, we definitely need more." She added, passing the spoon back to Jean with a flick of her wrist.

Quentin's comments however drew a sharp eyed glower from the green haired woman, particular the 'princess' comment and her questionable activities. Memories flashed of her time on Genosha. Of Fabian Cortez and his incessant calling of her as 'Princess'. Of his threats toward Marcos. Of her trying to brutally kill him via molten iron for trying to harm her husband, then boyfriend.

She shook herself mentally, and ground her teeth together in irritation, letting Rachel make her comebacks instead.

-

Jean doesn't pay the interchanges between Quentin, Rachel, and Lorna much mind; she knows them to be quite capable of holding their own. Some squabbles you don't really bother to break up.

Her attention is on Quentin, and she isn't blinking. Especially not when that passing flicker of Something haunts and then exorcises from his face, all within the space of a second. Perhaps she didn't even see it at all.

"Hmm," she muses. "They still surprise me, on occasion." Her voice, the cadence of it, treads along with the sort of patience which has watched the slow spinning death of a star in the dead of space… and which has wrangled several generations of mutant children through their formative years of school. One was more harrowing an experience than the other. As for the questions, rhetorical or not? "All of them are free to go," Jean says, with that same unflappable patience. "This is a school and a place of refuge, not an indoctrination ward. Those who disagree find their own path."

As for Rachel's unspoken query? Jean returns her glance, one of those 'your father doesn't tell me everything' looks, before her gaze routes back to Sage. Like bulbs on a stage, the other woman says. When one goes out, they just put in a new one and hope it shines as brightly.

There are a few seconds where Jean says nothing at all.

She only speaks again at Sage's inquiry about Quentin and the Blackbird. Jean studies Quire a moment, before she lets the bowl drift off on a telekinetic wind to perch on a crate. Open season.

"Yes," she says, "I think so, if he would be of assistance to you," she says. She turns, squeezing Lorna's shoulder in mute reassurance. "Now, if you will all excuse me… I will see about these files."

-

Sage did not look away from Lorna, though the weight of her gaze lessened, as she studied the reaction and response held at bay. "I believe I recall seeing this young woman surprise you. In fact, I seem to recall her appearance resulting in you ending up on your ass, asking why she did not 'knock first'. Psychically speaking." Sage turned her head, as Quire came back around the jet towards herself and the group, "I am never surprised. Only…disappointed when actions lead to their inevitable end." She waits, until Jean has spoken, to continue, "As for remaining here…there have never been any bars on the doors to the Mansion," she offers a nod of her head as if to say, 'as she said'..The only prisons here, save one, are the prisons you make for yourself. Well, the holding cells, true. But you seem to have avoided those up to this point."

As Rachel approached, Sage stepped forward to offer her hand, "I believe that about covers it. There are some roads the X-men do not walk. Are not mean to walk. Those are mine. On occasion, they come close enough that I can provide some assistance. Now appears to be one of those times."

-

"And you're the kind of person who thinks they can maybe read the first sentence in the instruction booklet and think that they're the IKEA God," Quire replies to Rachel, peering out of the corner of his eyes at her. "I'm a bit more complex than all that, and you don't have one of those tiny Allen wrenches for me."

Jean's talk about being free to leave only has him scoffing openly. Of all the people here, Quentin obviously pays the most deference to her, but he really can't help himself at that last little comment. Not an indoctrination ward? "With all due respect, Miss Grey, maybe you don't see it as an indoctrination ward because you've already gone full kool-aid. This place is meant to literally shape the hearts and minds of the student body. That's what a school does. This place's entire purpose is to turn them into soldiers or proselytizers and spread the dream of some utopian co-existence with people who will never not want to crush our throats under their boots."

While his outlook is exceedingly cynical, it isn't like there isn't merit to it, and when he says those words, it's without all the piss and vinegar that accompanies his clear baiting for the likes of Rachel and Lorna. But he shakes his head, sighing as he stuffs his hands into the pockets of his jacket. As Sage speaks about his surprise, Quentin shakes his head. "Being startled is one thing. Being surprised by human nature is another. It's disingenuous to try to compare the two and we both know that."

Quentin looks towards the doors that lead out of the hangar, as if they were the very doors that lead out of the school. He shakes his head. "Not all bars are steel, but they can imprison you just as firmly. That doesn't mean that they're only prisons of our own making. Do you really think I'd still be here if I had any say so in the matter?"

Yes.

"I mean… REALLY?"

-

"That sounds incredibly spooky and I want to hear everything about it," says Rachel, shaking Sage's hand. She disentangles herself and regards the other woman with more ease now that the situation has sorted itself out. "I mean… can you tell me? If Scott was running something on the side, I mean — well, why did he call you now?"

In the background, Quentin Quire. Rachel closes her eyes. She keeps them closed as he continues. Her lips compress into a thin line.

"Excuse me a moment."

That was said quietly. This next part gets loud.

Rachel turns around to face Quentin once more, but this time the framing is all new. Her eyes are wider, her posture more aggressive. She takes a step closer, her heel clacking with jarring loudness on the smooth hangar floor.

"With all due respect, Kid Omega, this school is full of people with wildly different motivations. We've got starry-eyed idealists trying to shift the cosmic balance toward justice with jam sessions in the front yard, and we've got people arguing for off-the-books assassination and torture missions that would make the CIA and the Brotherhood blush! Magneto's Brotherhood! I don't know where the hell Xavier is these days, but that woman you just accused of running an indoctrination ward has devoted her entire life to trying to make people understand that society and the universe are a lot bigger and more complicated than understood by anyone who has a hard-on for thinking they've got it all figured out and all they need is a sharp enough knife!"

Rachel stares at Quentin through a moment of tense nothingness. She happened to stop her advance in a place where the Blackbird's wing casts a shadow over her face, leaving her eyes unnaturally bright. The shading passes when she straights her poise up, after which her tone quiets. It doesn't sound any less firm.

"I know because a few years ago when I was your age, I decided to stop whining and blow up the Hellfire Club. It wasn't a good idea. Maybe take some classes and catch up. Or decide you want to leave so that Jean can cancel your tuition. Either one."

Rachel begins to turn back to Sage, but stops halfway and looks back to Quentin, gesturing.

"Also, no, I don't, because you're the one with the tiny Allen wrench."

Rachel opens her hand and wiggles her fingers to mimic an explosion.

-

Lorna looked particularly sad to hear that Jean had to return her various duties and the alike. The squeeze on her shoulder earned a raised hand that clutched at the redhead's hand briefly in return and a wave at her departure. For all that Lorna had her issues, the two had known each other for years and Jean had Lorna's absolute trust when it came down to what was truly important. Even if that was just sharing sorbet.

Sage and Rachel's interaction was half listened to, as green eyes flickered over Quentin continuing his… rant against the school and metaphorical prisons. Her brows furrowed, her lips parting and—

Rachel lost it on the pink haired mutant. Lorna blinked, watching in stunned amazement as the redhead, following the verbal sparring as anything she was going to say was completely and utterly lost to her. How could she even manage to rile anything in comparison to that? Geeze.

Her mouth open and shut once, twice. And she decided to just leave it.

-

"Shall I show you the door, then, Quentin? The Blackbird will still be here when I return." Sage had allowed all of the quarreling to flow around her like water, as though she had chosen to address one small portion of the interaction, and not all of it. Perhaps it was a bit like finding that single thread that would unravel a Gorgon's knot. And so, she turned, momentarily away from both Rachel and Lorna, to address the teenager in their midst. "I might even be able to find a few lesser known passageways, so that you might have a final thrill before the last Howrah."

-

When Rachel turns to approach him, Quire stands his ground, and only raises one eyebrow in response. He doesn't need to be a telepathic genius wunderkind to know what is about to happen. He folds his arms across his chest, shifting on his feet so that his hip is slightly cocked to one side. It's closed off body language. Defensive. His lips only quiver at one corner, barely curled upwards in an expression of disdainful amusement. Everyone knows that look. That look when you're really ripping into someone and they are just waiting for you to get it out of your system.

"I bet that felt really good for you. You really put me in my place, didn't you?" He asks, after Rachel is done with her tirade. "You might not agree with what I have to say, Rachel, but that doesn't mean that it shouldn't be said. But this just goes to prove my point. Dissenting opinions are shot down. Free thought discouraged. Violently so. I look around here and all I see these kids being taught is how to be lapdogs. Taught to defend themselves, but then conditioned to roll over and die. All I'm trying to stress is that maybe instead of trying to teach people what to think, maybe the focus should be on teaching people how to think for themselves."

That, too, comes with an almost frightening level of serenity and apparent sincerity from the young man, devoid of the boasting attitude that he so commonly puts on. He doesn't shy from that bright gaze, but meets it dead on. Unwavering and unblinking.

"If you took even one small bit of the effort you have taken since I walked in here to beat me down and put me into a little box that you've fashioned for yourself just to put me in… and maybe tried to treat me like I'm a real person, you might understand…"

He takes a deep breath. Holding it in his lungs. He releases it just as slowly. His fists clench tight. Sparks of vibrant pink energy crackle from around them.

"You know… Nevermind."

His shoulders relax and his posture becomes slack. He puts on his best smile. "I don't know why I even bother talking with people like you. It's clear that it's a fruitless endeavor. You don't know the first thing about me, and it's not worth my time trying to show you."

He turns his attention then over to Sage, and says, "Don't you dare patronize me. Like I said before, I came here to be by myself and mind my own business. I was just bullied upon arrival. I'll let you have your little Mean Girls club meeting."

With that, Quire turns and heads out towards the door.

-

Rachel stands there to tank the counter-barrage. Something like this was never going to end cleanly, so it's just good manners to take turns. There's that crackle of energy — and an unnatural quiet weaves through the room, echoes weirdly muted. Rachel is very still and very watchful.

But nothing comes of it. Quentin disengages to head out. Rachel relaxes her posture, staying silent while he's leaving. It's not really over until both parties are out of hearing range.

"Ugh," Rachel announces, closing her eyes rubbing the bridge of her nose. "Funny how two people can make the same free thinking argument right past each other, huh? That mean girls stuff after he came out swinging with hot-or-not rankings was a ballsy finisher."

Rachel gives Lorna a momentary look that is pretty much a visual echo of her first thought — ugh, for the record — and then walks out from under the Blackbird to get in Sage's field of view again. "Are you going to be around more? We can try to talk later. I need to go check up on Jean anyway."

-

The verbal tirades between both Quentin and Rachel left Lorna staring, unsure that she exactly wanted to say anything either way. Her lips twisted, and she shook out her still damp hair. A glance in parting as spared toward Sage, and a polite nod followed. The green haired mutant cast a worried glance over the fierce redhead, and the rather combustible pink haired mutant's departure with a grimace twist her lips.

Once he was gone, she nodded to Rachel. "I can't give him all that much sympathy when he started in with the divorcee and appearance slams either. You can't come in swinging and starting shit and expect people to… ugh.. I dunno… Respect anything you have to say further? You've already put them on the defensive.. It's like, if a Neo-Nazi told me that my family deserved to die in the Holocaust, but why won't I take his physics theories seriously? And isn't life so hard for him?" She snorted and rolled her eyes, shaking her head slowly.

Lorna had strong feelings. It had been nice to let Rachel handle the verbal sparring for a change.

"And I have an appointment at the salon to get to. See you both around." She murmured, making to depart.

"Send pics!" Rachel calls out.

-

"I have no reason to patronize you, Quentin Quire. You have said and done nothing since you opened your mouth, except to rail on about how much you hate being here. The solution to that problem is simple. Occam's Razor. If you truly despise being here so much, all you have to do is find the door and walk through it. The mere fact that you have chosen not to leave says much more about you than it does this school." Sage made no attempt to stop the teenager from leaving, her attention moving back and away from him and returning to the two women remaining in the hangar with her. Rachel, she turned to first, as she was approached, "Yes, I imagine I will be around until I am dismissed." She offered a polite nod to Lorna as well, "I will be in the hangar for a while longer. If you need me, and I am not available here, Scott can contact me through the usual channels."

-

Rachel nods, the kind of slow nod someone does when they're not actually sure. She takes a few steps as if to leave, but then decides to awkwardly wait by Sage until Lorna is also out of hearing range.

"So, just to make sure, you're not, like, one of Scott's exes or anything, right," she says, her voice low.

-

Sage stood still, as though she had expected the redhead to wait until the room was clear. The question though, brought a tilt of her head, "Scott and I have never been romantically involved. Has this become an issue for you or the X-men?"

-

Rachel tries to ease the moment with an apologetic smile. The moment she tries this, she decides it was probably the wrong move to make now that she's alone with the Matrix.

"No, um, I just like to…" she gestures uselessly, "keep track. I guess. It gets complicated. See you later."

And now it's her turn to make for the doors.

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