A Job Offer

September 22, 2018:

Emma Frost has a job offer for Lorna Dane, one that involves the making of a contingency plan.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

The meeting invitation was a quiet one. As per Emma Frost's wont, it arrived as a simple and understated envelope of fine paper of unremarkable color and addressed in the woman's immaculate hand. Inside, an address and a time and a date.

And nothing else.

And then, in a mostly empty apartment building in Mutant Town, Emma Frost waits and drinks wine alone in a spacious suite on the main floor in a white sleeveless cocktail dress, beaded stilettos, and a lace bolero while seated at a small table with only a pair of chairs arranged at it.

The building is not terribly fancy on the outside, although the common brick facade has a few fancy tricks here ant there to add visual interest. And the concrete steps are a little wider than most, a little shorter, and with a slightly fancier concrete rail.

Inside, however, the halls of the lower floor are decidedly fancy in Old Style New York type marble mosaic, with rich aubergine colored walls and tasteful lobby art. The apartments themselves are more neutral, but the quality is there to set it a notch above with their hardwood floors and crown moulding and closet space.

There was no telling in Lorna's life who or what or why she was getting rather well made, unstated invitations to places. Not with those she knew over the years. Though this was by far one of the strangest to lead to Mutant Town. Still, she didn't go running off to tell others about it either. The green haired woman had taken to upping her style, such as it was, funded by an endless credit card without any clear instructions on what to do with it.

A well simple grey toned blazer, and matching pants, high heels and a soft teal blouse completed the look of vaguely business in some degree. Though she walked with lighter steps than most it was entirely due to the magnetic currents that lifted most her weight up into the air and off her feet, leaving her steps quieter as she mounted the steps and made her way inside. The decor inside caught her eye and left her with a raised brow of consideration. It was almost a reminder of her father's choice of decorations in The Spire. Just that much more understated and comfortable with itself. This was a place that valued art and looks more than just the display of power it could project, though the wealth in the materials alone did just that.

With the invitation in hand, flipped between her fingers idly, Lorna made her way inward, not entirely sure where she was going or why. Green eyes flickering around as if to find someone or something that might give her a greater hint as to what was going on.

« Ah, there you are. Do come in, dear. »

The voice fills the space of Lorna's mind in the way that telepaths' disembodied voices do, and the young woman will feel herself with the gently placed knowledge of precisely where to go.

The blonde begins to pour a second cup of wine - a beautiful private vintage labeled simply with a silver metallic label that reads Victorian Red in a calligraphic script - well before Lorna finds the proper doorway. It's a graceful motion, well aware of the art of such things even if no one is immediately around to see it. Frost never really stops being aware of it, catering to the practice.

Once the glass is poured for her guest, Emma tucks it back into the sleeve that chills it to just the right temperature for its characteristics and sets it as a cool refreshment on a warm evening.

In many ways she was used to telepathy. Xavier's had a large variety of telepaths differing levels and abilities. Lorna was used to communications through psy-links and the benefits of mental communication. But even still, she didn't even know who was on the other side this time. Didn't know the mental voice automatically, or the feel of the placement of information in her mind's eye. It sat poorly with her and the green haired woman bristled at the action of it. Her discomfort and displeasure at the situation growing with a similar temperament to her other familial relations.

She did not like people in her head uninvited.

Still, she moved with purpose and didn't entirely lose what patience she had. And in fact, she picked up her steps, now that she was aware of the where at least. She didn't bother to use her hand to open the door that led the way to the rather refined solar that she found herself in, instead relying on her powers to turn the knob and nudge the door open before her. Her hands kept carefully at her sides as she peered into the room with more than a little wariness. Her green eyebrows furrowed as she peered inside to catch sight of the blonde reclining at the table before a two glasses of wine so perfectly perched and placed in her line of sight. Her steps halted as her gaze swept the room and back to settle more firmly on Emma. It took time to place the woman, with vague memories of another reality version from over a year ago, and comparisons with a handful of other blonde telepaths wrestling for dominance in her mind's eye.

Emma is not plagued by those other memories of other worlds; she is firmly rooted in this one. If she's bothered by Lorna's discomfort - and surely she must sense it - there is no outward sign.

Emma sips with one manicured hand, as she indicates the other chair with her other. Now that she doesn't need to bellow like a heathen, she expertly transitions back to her speaking voice. "Thank you for making the trip. Do sit down, won't you?"

The room is, save the table and the two chairs at it, and the one additional chair tucked in a corner, entirely empty. It is them and them alone, and there's really not much in the way to even look threatening. With the space so open, it would be hard to imagine anything trying to sneak up on her.

"I would have come to Charles's home, but this is a conversation best held here."

A pursed of her lips and Lorna stepped further into the room, and Emma's words were enough that to linger in the doorway would and could only be dubbed 'rude'. She made her way over, letting her weight settle more firmly on the ground with a the sharp click of heels. She settled on the edge of her chair, her hands folding and set on her crossed knees with her shoulders rolling back. Green eyes alighted on Emma's figure and remained sharply focused, as if she stared long enough and hard enough she'd understand something more.

A green eyebrow lifted upwards finally, as Lorna sat there. "And you were confident that I'd show up here." It wasn't stated as a question, rather her voice was dry and carefully flat. Though millions of questions thundered in her green eyes and in her mind. It was obvious what she wanted to know. Why me? What is this place? What conversation? How do you know the Professor exactly?

But Lorna held her tongue for all the good it did when in the presence of a telepath.

And you were confident that I'd show up here.

"I wouldn't say confident so much as reasonably assured. There is a mile of difference between the two." Emma's attention is a soft thing. It rests lightly and does not make itself obvious. She is, at the opposite end of a spectrum, calm and unhurried. Her arm drapes languidly across her lap, letting her empty hand spill casually over the side.

She hears the questions as they roll around, but she doesn't answer them immediately. Instead, the CEO simply smiles a Mona Lisa smile. "Now, you might not know me if you don't pay attention to the business papers or the society pages. My name is Miss Emma Frost. Less known is that I am a mutant. I very much prefer it that way. Given the present… timbre of the public discourse, I don't think it's a terribly uncommon sentiment."

The calmness that the other woman projected, the room, and the simply given responses left Lorna's tension feeling awkward and out of place. There was a power dynamic at play, and she lacked the most basic of information. Though Emma volunteering her name set off the 'ah-ha' moment. She had heard of the woman, and she had run into the woman in another reality. Another version of the woman, but the elegance was the same as the blond hue of her hair. A blink, and a shift in her seat, as Lorna settled back a bit more firmly in the chair, though she made no move for the wine. Rich and aromatic as it seemed.

"I've heard of you before.." She offered, cautious written in the lines of her body as much as it was in her voice and in her mind. It didn't take telepathy to know how Lorna felt about the situation.

"And you're speaking to me. Someone who is very well known as a mutant…" She let the sentence trail, an unasked question that she assumed would be addressed, assumed had to be addressed. After all, why else was she here?

"Very astute," Emma says, only a little condescending as she narrows her eyes a little and ducks her head. "And here we are, in a very mutant neighborhood. I do 'heart' New York, as the tee shirts say."

Sipping her wine, the telepath considers it with the same surface-deep laziness that has governed her movements thus far, her head lolling to one side. "What do you think of the building, hm? It's lovely, isn't it? Ready to begin housing tenants any day now."

A furrow of green eyebrows follows Emma's movements and slow sip of her wine. Lorna shifted in her seat, recrossing her legs and fighting the urge to do the same with her arms. Instead, she smoothed her hands out over the fabric of her pants. An idle gesture born out of the awkwardness of the unknown. She had a million questions, and it was clear to her, that the telepath would answer them in her own time, and as it suited her.

The question about the building threw her off, and Lorna threw her glance around with a flicker of her senses and her gaze. Her lips pursed together in a thin line of consideration. "It's nice. Too nice for the neighborhood. It stands out. Not a place for blending in or keeping a low profile. It's got good structural supports. Not particularly defensible though from the street…" She returned her gaze back to Emma, tilting her head as she jumped from point to point, trying to figure out what it was she was missing.

"Of course, all it'll take is a few pissed off street kids with some actual power and it won't look quite so nice."

"Of course," Emma continues, effortlessly hooking into that final statement. "That's why I'm hoping that you'll watch over it." Her eyes light a mischievous spark, and her lips turn in a wicked, knowing curve as she continues to watch Lorna now as she explains with her wine glass floating in ethereal emphasis. "You see, here's the thing. I have it on very good authority that you would be precisely the right woman to care for my investment. And I would see you well paid to do it."

It took a moment, a beat, as Lorna blinked once, twice and a third time as Emma's words registered exactly what the woman was offering her. She stared, her legs uncrossing as she leaned forward in her seat, a look of disbelief crossing her features. Her eyes tracking the movement of the wine glass in an idle manner, before it flickered back to the blonde. A frown tugged at the corners of her lips, her eyebrows held high. "You want me to watch your building? Why?" She couldn't stop the question from bursting from her lips. It would seem her patience on the whole mystery was running short.

"And 'good authority'? There's a short list of people out there that would want me to move out of the mansion. And it begins and ends with my various estranged relations. Don't tell me it was my father." Green eyes narrowed further in sudden mistrust as the words left her mouth. Magneto had been attempting to manipulate her since he'd stepped into her life. It made, seemingly, perfect sense to her that he'd meddle further like this. The concept of being paid to watch and defend some fancy building sounded just strange enough to provoke the return of her previous tension.

"The Maximoffs. Among others." The more irritated Lorna becomes, the thinner her patience wears, the more serene Emma becomes in comparison. But after a beat, the woman pushes to her feet and backs away towards one of the windows. Right before she backs into it, she turns to peer out of it. "This is to be a place of neutrality, dear. A safe house. Until the current climate resolves itself and we can trust the humans, or whatever passes for it, we will make certain that we are prepared for them. For the limitless, pointless bigotry. The luxurious surroundings will draw in good prices for the few actually vacant homes there are. There will be some apartments that you would keep vacant unless there is an immediate, intermediate need. There will need to be some capable of fighting, I think. A healer. You'll want someone mechanically inclined. Someone with a green thumb, for the rooftop gardens."

Looking over her shoulder, Emma's smile fades. "And then, should registration pass and the need arise, someone who can secure passage to another state. Or your father's domain, should the need become so desperate."

Emma's response stunned the irritation from her features and posture entirely. As the other woman rose and peered out of the window, Lorna openly fought the urge to gape. "Pietro and Wanda?" How did the twins know this woman? How had they managed to speak with her when they were on the run last she'd heard? Rather than truly getting answers to her questions, it seemed Lorna was gaining more and more.

The green haired mutant fell silent as Emma continued about what the building was supposed to be. A safe house. A massive safe house. A very fancy, well built, and expensive safe house. By far, more than what Lorna had ever thought of when she'd mentioned long ago to Pietro the thought of starting a string of safe houses for mutants. She'd thought of secret rooms, hidden basement, and run down abandoned spaces.. Not this. Not this by far. The fact that it was her siblings, among nameless 'others', had suggested her to this position drew her interest sharply back around. As did the mention of needing specialized people there with her.. Registration.

The mention of it wiped the wonder and interest from Lorna's features to a darkened slightly, though it was clear that Emma had snared her interest regardless. The green haired woman rubbed her features, biting back a sigh as she glanced back to Emma.

"You're not entirely convinced that registration will be a thing then?" She hedged, leaning her weight back against the chair again. "I'm interested. But I have a lot of questions about all of this is supposed to work.." Scott would be pissed if.. or rather at this rate, when she moved out of the mansion.

“More to the point, I’m not convinced it won’t. At least for a time.”

Emma’s blonde head tilts, and that enigmatic smile continues to hold. “Should registration expand beyond its current debated parameters, there need to be contingencies. I happen to consider myself something of an expert in that arena. And I could explain the shell game that is going on to keep the paperwork looking legitimate and unimpressive, but the matter is that if this is to work—if it is to remain a neutral space—then the person who will be responsible for the day to day needs to be accepted by the powers that be. Myself, who you would not tell anyone aside from the few stakeholders that I am concerned with. The Maximoffs. That other party.”

Taking a deep breath, the blonde continues, settling in the further window-seat silsl of one of the window and crossing her legs.

“You wouldn’t even need stay here full time, I don’t think. Or you could, and remain available to your friends at your leisure. There would be ground rules to which you must agree. And, in exchange for your service here, I would pay your room, your board, and a generous stipend… and teach you how to manage this place and to hide a thing in plain sight. An invisible partner, if you will. Because I’m not really the ‘silent’ type.”

Lorna leaned forward, now that Emma remained by the window and slowly the picture of what was going on became apparent. She looked skeptical still, and more than a few snarky comments came to mind but she never gave voice to. Of course, it was a moot point when working with a telepath, but she tried.

“I care less about the money and the paper trail than I probably should. But if I did this, it wouldn’t be a part time thing for me. Mutant Town and this place, what you claim to want it to be doesn’t lend well to part time work.” She drawled lightly, finally reaching for the otherwise untouched glass of wine. She swirled it before her carefully, eyes narrowed faintly in a thoughtful way as the deep red caught against the glass in the light.

“But you want me to be the face of this place and maintain security of it. To help the people here, our people here,” She amended with a flicker of a glance toward Emma. “Because my siblings don’t like a whole lot of people, and for now they’re the heads of the Brotherhood in this area.” She murmured, arching a brow upward.

“You want to be a financier, and have no qualms with telling me what you want, but have no interest in letting it out publicly that you’re funding this. And there is some other party involved that you’re just not going to tell me about..”

“Is that correct? Please, correct me if I’ve missed something.” Her lips pursed together, “So, what are these ‘rules’ you mentioned?” She took a sip of the wine finally, looking at it with an undisguised look of interest.

“For the most part, correct, yes. I won’t keep the relevant parties a mystery for long, I don’t think.”

For all of the rumours that mill about Emma Frost among those who know her, and even in the face of how she led Lorna in, the woman is mostly polite for the moment and stays out of her thoughts. Save the running tab she’s keeping on the barometer of the other woman’s mood, anyway.

“First, there’s the matter of the others you will need to bring in. You may bring candidates forward for various roles you will need here, but initially I will want the final say in everyone you want to bring into this little project. I have spent no small amount of money on this, and I’ve no intention of watching it go belly up in the first year while you’re getting your feet under you. You’ll need a solid support.”

Sipping her wine, the blonde then continues with an emphatic if neutral smile. “Consider it a perk to have a telepath in on the vetting process. It’s for your safety as much as mine.”

“You understand that this is rather,” She paused as if trying to find a word that more polite rather than ‘bullshit’, “strange, for most business practices..” Lorna trailed off, trying to master her thoughts and some measure of patience as she took the time to sip at the wine. Which was actually quite nice. After all, if she agreed to this, and she was close to more or less doing so.. She would have to work with Emma.. but it was the shadowy ‘other’ that gave her the most pause.

A frown twisted at her lips at the mention of needing Emma’s approval for whoever she brought in. A green eyebrow shot upwards, “And if I say I already have a telepath that I trust and is very good about not going in my head.. Who iis very good at working with me?” Esme of course had that sole honor. The Cuckoos were a packaged deal, sure, but Esme was someone that Lorna worked with, and worked with well.

The fact that she had some rather looser morals and still respected Lorna on some level helped a good deal. Never mind that Lorna was sitting opposite of a woman that looked pretty damn similar.

Maybe it was a blonde thing. Or a red head thing. Honestly, Lorna knew too many damn telepaths.

“I can give you a list of people that I’d be inclined to work with. Rogue, and Gambit for starters. Esme.. they’ve proven that they can handle more than just the typical X-mission. I trust them. And if this is supposed to be neutral ground, they’re less inclined to start shit with people that have more illegal ties.” Of course.. Then there was her husband. Marcos was going to be an issue on this. The man would follow her anywhere, and he was particularly adamant about sticking to Xavier’s ideals.

“Unless you have others in mind currently?” Another sip of her wine, slow and small, a splash of flavor. “And what other ‘rules’ are you planning on? You said that vetting was one.”

“It would be more strange for me to foot the entire bill without any oversight at all,” Emma counters with a lift of one cornsilk eyebrow.

The woman then continues on, “And as those are all X-Men, I would be very careful about weighting it too heavily in that direction. New relationships are to be encouraged.”

Frost, for her part, continues on as evenly as ever, pushing herself to her feet. “I will still be governing the finances. I’ve an accountant I trust who is responsible for dealing with the investment company who keeps this property on paper. I also have a list of occupations that need filling. People who can fill them will be getting their rent subsidized. We’ll have to play with the math a little, find them jobs that pay enough… but not too much. I can help on that front if need be. But we want things to look entirely normal on paper.”

Crossing the room, Emma sits down the cup in her hand and then smoothly moves to pick up her purse from the place she’d left it beside her chair, tucking it under her arm.

“Some mutants live exposed. That has its advantages. It’s disadvantages. They come here, they live their lives. But so does the other side of the coin. So I am risking a great deal in trusting you to a secret. I do not give trust easily, so I am asking that you respect the fact that… for all intents and purposes, you are the one with the advantage in this arrangement.”

A grumble, escaped Lorna, half a mutter and half some nonsensical sound from the back of her throat at Emma’s return comment. She didn’t argue the point however, merely sat back and took one more sip of the wine before carefully setting it aside on the table.

“I’ll completely leave the paperwork to you, but if you want me to handle security, then I’ll need scrap metal. A good deal of it. Discreetly mind you, but the more the merrier.” If she needed to defend a building that wasn’t built over a natural collection of iron alloys, then she’d have to build one herself.

She fell silent however as Emma paused and picked up her purse, tucking it under her arm. The green haired mutant arched a brow, considering as the telepath made to depart. Emma’s parting remarks made her pause, her brows furrowing as she slowly came to realize what it was that the blonde meant.

Polaris, Lorna Dane, was well known by most. For better or worse. Emma Frost however, was not publicly out by any means. Still, the thought hadn’t even occurred to the green haired mutant. Not a once. To out a mutant that was capable of helping their kind? Who was hiding, but able, and willing to do something for Mutant Town?

It was an impossible thought, but could never truly be unthought now that it had been considered.

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