Much Needed Repair

March 09, 2019:

Caitlin comes to Betsy's rescue when a simulation terminal has been damaged by someone who definitely was NOT Betsy.

X Mansion

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Hulk

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It's a small family, the metahuman community. Caitlin's been around long enough to have heard of the Westchester-base Xavier Institute for the Gifted. A safe place for metahumans to study and live well away from the bustle of New York.

But when some of the learning lab equipment breaks, it creates a little conundrum. The equipment is proprietary *and* expensive. Who is at the intersection of the knowledge necessary to fix it, the authority to do so, and the trustworthiness to show up at the reclusive school?

Enter Caitlin Fairchild. A League-issue Javelin enters the airspace about five miles out and drops to a low and near-inaudible hover as Caitlin refrains from blowing out the windows below. Her pilot instructor gives her a thumbs up as the vehicle lands and she dismounts with a duffel bag over her shoulder. The athletic ginger is in jeans, low wedges, and a lightweight Columbia hoodie in blue. She waves him off and starts walking towards the front door with her heavy canvas toolkit on her shoulder. Once there, she knocks twice and waits for someone to fetch her before proceeding.

It's not uncommon for the lab to blow up downstairs. It's also not uncommon for a Hulk to blow up on the lab, either. Banner does a great job of fixing the necessary lab equipment, but he has little time for repairs in the learning and simulation labs. So Betsy Braddock was waiting when the Javelin entered the school's airspace. Having been forewarned ahead of time, she awaits the arrival of Caitlin to greet her face to face, instead of offering a telepathic welcome when she entered the airspace.

Betsy opens the front door to the visitor, gesturing with a beckoning hand to welcome her. "Hello, Caitlin, I presume? I'm Elizabeth Braddock. Well, just about everyone calls me Betsy. Welcome, and thanks for coming. I trust you didn't have any trouble along the way?" She looks dressed more for a night on the town than a visitor at the school. A long-sleeved, painted-on black jacquard dress that comes down to mid-thigh has a diamond-shaped cutout below the nape of her neck in back, and her deep plum hair is pulled up into an updo with curls cascading down from the top of a twist. Black patent heels complete the ensemble. "Please, do come in and make yourself at home. Anything I can get you?"

"Hi oh *wow* that is quite the outfit," Caitlin says. She pinks as her mouth gets out ahead of her brain and she facepalms. "Gah. Sorry. Mouth and brain disconnect. Yes, hi!" she says, starting over. "That's me, Caitlin Fairchild, everyone calls me Caitlin though," she assures Betsy. The towering ginger follows the telepath into the building and looks around, impressed. "Golly. This place is posh," she remarks. "Love all this hardwood and … wow, it's *real wood*," she remarks, looking at the floor. She stamps a foot once, relatively gently.

"I hope I'm not here at a bad time?" she asks of Betsy, giving her glammed-up appearance a look of wary concern. "If you're just stepping out somewhere, you don't have to stick around. I'm sure someone can keep an eye on me, I was briefed on the privacy rules before coming here," she assures Betsy. "Where are we headed?"

Betsy smiles warmly and shakes her head. "Not worry, Caitlin. I'm not stepping out someplace. I just stepped back in from a photo shoot. I've set aside the day to help you however I can. There is a simulation laboratory, akin to our danger room, on the second floor. Some of the equipment there has been malfunctioning, and I'd thought to have someone good - well, one of the best - take a look at it. And here you are. Would you like some coffee? Tea? Have you eaten? No sense in going to work before you've been welcomed properly, after all. I just appreciate your willingness to make the trip.

Caitlin hesitates. On the one hand, she doesn't want to be a bother. On the other hand… food. For a telepath of Betsy's capability, it'd be near-impossible to miss her reflexive welcome of the suggestion.

"Ah, y'know, some coffee and snackies would be wonderful. Only if it's not too much trouble," she amends, hastily. "But let me get settled in first and see how bad the damage is."

She tries to be discreet about it, but Betsy's outfit gets an envious look. "So I thought it was mostly teachers around here, but I guess other folks stay here during the year?" she inquires. "And you're a … supermodel?" she hazards. "That's so cool. I've had a couple friends who do it," she explains. "Do you like the work?"

"I do, very much so," Betsy replies as she leads Caitlin to the elevator so that she doesn't have to carry her equipment to the second floor. "But I do teach here, as well. It's rewarding work, but it's hard to turn down the money, when it comes down to it. Besides, it allows me a public face." She doesn't add that it helps to disguise her role as an X-Man.

Once on the second floor, she leads Caitlin into a large white room with a handful of complex terminal interfaces. One of these is heavily dented and marred with scorch marks. "This one still works, but malfunctions, and a malfunctioning simulation device is a good place to get a student hurt." There is already a table and a chair at the terminal for tools, and to allow Caitlin to sit if she so desires.

Caitlin winces at the battle damage to the machine. "Oh mercy, you poor baby," Caitlin murmurs at the device. She sets her heavy bag aside and settles into the chair. Fingers flex and start rapid-firing on the keyboard to boot through a hidden diagnostic program built right into the BIOS. Most people aren't even aware of it.

"Ok, it looks salvageable," she says over her shoulders. Green eyes remain glued to the screen. "I think you've got some damaged circuit boards. Nothing I can't fix as long as it's not one of the motherboard components. Worst case I've got my microsoldering kit with me and I can try to reintegrated some parts or bypass the broken assemblies. Most of these are built with a redundant bypass system."

She stands, moves to the side panel, and pulls the chassis cover off the terminal. "What happened in here? Was there like, a fire or something?" she asks of Betsy, before sticking her head into the machine's guts.

"Oh, just some mischief in an advanced self-defense class. Someone got a bright idea to bring their own "toys" and the thing got attacked in an accident, when the 'battle,' so to speak, got too close to the terminal. It's my understanding that it took place before the class began, and before the instructor arrived. Youth these days are getting more and more headstrong, and we've implemented some new rules in regard to how the classes are held."

It is then that there's a knock at the door, and Betsy goes to it to let in a server pushing a cart. Coffee, tea, lemonade, and an assortment of pastries and finger sandwiches are piled on the cart, which is left in Betsy's hands, as the server gives a quick if silent bow and excuses himself. After the door closes, Betsy pushes the cart closer and gestures to it. There's no explanation offered as to how or why the food arrived, as Betsy has not visibly or audibly made a request for the cart, but it's there now, all the same. "Feel free to have whatever you wish. It's the least I can do to thank you for your prompts arrival and assistance. Well, that, and pay for your services, of course." Betsy smiles and turns over one of the teacups, pouring Earl Grey into a cup and sipping it.

"Well, this one's on the house," Caitlin hedges. She sticks her head out long enough to fetch a sandwich and takes a few bites, then crawls her upper half back into the guts of the terminal.

"I mean, I'm here on the League's dime, not mine," she amends, hastily. "I guess someone here knows someone there, something something courtesy call, didn't want to do a warranty claim?" She peers under her arm at Betsy. The snack disappears in two bites and she lays on her back and starts wiggling under the terminal, muttering under her breath as her hair gets caught on something. "Consarnit," she swears, softly, and bundles it up with a pencil to get it out of her way.

"Can you please get in my duffel and pull out my microvolt reader? It's the green thingy that looks like a TV remote had a head-on collision with a pair of alligator clips," she requests, wiggling a hand blindly at Betsy.

Betsy reaches into the duffel bag with an offhanded "Of course." She pilfers for a moment until she finds the exact reader that was described, and hands it down to Caitlin's blindly wiggling hand. "Well, courtesies are nice, but I would be willing, of course, to cover any expenses that have not been covered, one way or another." She tilts her head as she watches the disembodied parts of Caitlin that are not currently being eaten by the terminal. "You have tremendous muscle structure. Athletics, or just working out? There's no way you don't work to maintain that."

"I work out like *crazy*," Caitlin confirms. Her voice echoes quietly. "Two hours in the morning, an hour every evening, usually something mid-day, too. But—" she hooks leads up, twisting awkwardly for balance in the tight confines of the access point. "Fortunately, the Justice League's gym is pretty stellar. And it helps when Diana's spotting me," she says. A laugh echoes from inside the bulkhead. "She's good at digging out the motivation to finish a lifting set."

"How about you? What sort of workouts do models do? Or are you just one of those people who can eat ten burgers a day and not gain any bulk?"

"Oh no, definitely not," Betsy says with a quick shake of her head. "I prefer Brazilian cuisine, actually. Must grilled lean meat and vegetables. Luckily, I'm not a fan of heavier foods, anyway. But I work out a great deal, and I've had a lot of training." She tilts her head sideways to peer into the terminal, because well, she's talking to a pair of legs. "Anything else I can get for you in there? This…bitey thing that looks like a vicious chip clip?"

"Ooh, I *love* Brazilian food," Caitlin agrees. She's on her back and cramped up in the machine from Betsy's view, but doesn't look terribly uncomfortable. She doesn't seem to need a wrench, either, using a pocket screwdriver for screws and her bare fingers for a few stubborn nuts and bolts.

"Almost… *there*," she grunts, and pulls a circuit board out. The computer flickers, burbles, beeps twice, and boots cleanly.

"Is it starting up normally now?" she calls to Betsy.

Betsy observes the terminal and utters a thoughtful "Mhmmm." She tappitys a few buttons, and it seems clean and fully loaded. "Well it looks as though you've worked some magic, Caitlin. I wish I had a tenth of your talent. They don't let me touch the insides of anything, because I break them." Well, first she gets frustrated, then the assassin takes over. Hence: Broken.

She puts the angry chip clip away and tilts sideways again. "Looks like you've got it running good as new."

Caitlin wriggles out from under the terminal keyboard and dusts herself off before rising to her feet. "Not quite. I need to run some diagnostics on that," she tells Betsy. SHe nods at the chipset. "We designed these to be modular. I actually helped develop it when I was at Starr labs," she says, tapping on the chip and the laser-etched logo. "Because it's pushing soooo much voltage they burn out if they get hit with any magnetic or electrical shock. Doesn't happen often, we ground these pretty well, but nothing's unbreakable."

She sits down at a desk and starts hooking diagnostic equipment up to the chip, then drops a pair of jeweler's goggles over her eyes and hunches her heavy shoulders over the workpiece. "Fortunately, I brought some spare capacitors for this model and I think I can fix it here. I just need to do some soldering."

"Y'know I wish I'd gone to a high school like this," Caitlin says, a little wistfully. Smoke curls from her soldering tool as she starts disassembling the chipset with a remarkable amount of dexterity. "Someplace where I could flex myself a bit. I didn't get my powers until I was out of college. Didn't even realize what to *do* with them for like, a year afterwards."

Betsy nods, watching Caitlin intently. "We try to provide education and discipline to those who are gifted, of course. And it helps that some of us know what it is like to have to cope with powers." She arches a brow, watching the wisps of smoke curl upward into drafty upward spirals.

"I think a lot of us need that in the community. I keep thinking about going back to grad school, but…" Caitlin shrugs a shoulder. There's a *click* as she dislodges something and sets aside a maimed caapcitor, then reaches for her duffel bag and some carefully packaged parts. She finds a replacement and starts soldering it into place with that same sure-handed effort.

"If you guys ever need some more tech help though, I'm happy to come by," she tells Betsy. Ther's a flicker of blue light and the soldering stops. Caitlin removes her goggles. "I could probably put on a tech demonstration or something for a science class, too," she offers, helpfully, and moves to sit on the floor and wriggle under the computer again.

"That would be fantastic," Betsy replies enthusiastically. "And as far as grad school, I think it's something you should definitely consider. Education is never a waste, even if you /might/ seem to know more than most of the professors." Betsy laughs softly and nods. "I admire your ability to know what the hell yer doin' there." Her speech pattern has altered slightly, perhaps nothing more than becoming more comfortable with the guest. "But I'd like to see you aroud here more often. You've got a gift, clearly, not unlike many of the students here. Or the teachers."

"Oh, uh… I mean, there's no *reason* to go back to grad school for engineering," Caitlin clarifies, from within the bowels of the machine. "I'm a PE— professional engineer. It's the equivalent of… I guess a medical residence?" she hazards. "There's really nothing else I need to do for my education in that vein. I'm done. I might go back and pursue a doctorate in physics or something, though. My friend Nadia's super nerdy and into particle physics at the moment. I feel a little dumb trying to keep up with her, but she goes slow for my benefit." Caitlin hooks the board in and reboots the computer. It starts up again, much more quickly, and Caitlin wriggles out from under the machine. "Oh hey! Looks good," she tells Betsy with a dimple-cheeked smile.

Betsy nods. "Still, education's never a waste. We do offer some college level courses up to a Master's program here, if you're ever interested. I'm certain we'd be glad to have you."

She's watching the terminal boot up again, and her brows arch. "I don't think it's e'er come up that fast, d'ye put some nitrous boosters in there or somethin'?" She leans sideways, looking skeptically into the machine.

"Well you probably had a misfiring capacitor for a while. They go bad before they fuse out," Caitlin explains. She hikes a brow at the heavier accent lazily dragging out her polished tonals, but says nothing. "So you end up with paging faults that the computer corrects naturally. Honestly it can run *without* the capacitor but that messes with voltage regulation across the board, blah blah, I fixed it and it'll run faster," she explains.

"Y'know, I'd love to come down sometime and see what I can do to help out," Caitlin tells Betsy. "I've never done any teaching before," she admits. "I'd need some practice before I could like, take a full class over."

"Sounds like a perfect situation, then!" Betsy is more bright and bubbly than before, her accent taking on a decidedly more European lilt as she snags up a cucumber sandwich triangle and nibbles it. But as for all that technical stuff? Nah. The words fly over her head, and what she skims instead is the context and thoughts and meanings behind the words that Caitlin is speaking. She nods, only able to keep up through this psychic skimming, beause those words? They don't mean a damn thing to her.

Caitlin packs up her tools with a fussy sense of neatness. Everything has a clealy marked pocket or place. Even the spare parts are meticulously labelled atop their clear bins. "Well, great! I'd love to come sit in on a class and see how you do things here," she tells Betsy with a brilliant smile. She lacks the Brit's effortless glamour but Caitlin's sincerity shines through like a beacon all its own. "Can I give you my number and y'all can call me? We'll set up a day for an interview, or whatever."

"Absolutely," Betsy replies, and she moves over to another table to fish her card from a briefcase, returning to hand it to Caitlin. "Better yet, call me, when you 'ave the time to discuss it. I'd gladly talk it o'er and make plans. And…than' ye for yer exquisite work on th' terminal. It's amazin' what people like you can do."

Caitlin pinks modestly at the praise but scans Betsy's card into her cell phone with a flickering of the camera light. She hands it back to Betsy after showing her that it's saved on her phone.

"Perfect. I appreciate it. It was really nice to meet you, Betsy," Caitlin tells the woman, and offers her a politely retiring handshake. "I'm looking forward to coming back here again. I just hope I can help out however you guys need!" she assures the leggy model, and pulls the duffel bag onto her shoulder. "Is there anything else I can do while I'm here?"

"Oh…uh." Betsy looks at the table and the two catering trays of sandwiches and pastries. "Take this with ye? An' I'll pour ye a coffee t' go, if y' need to be goin', after all." She pours coffee in a paper cup with a heat sleeve, and caps it with a sipping top, then packages up the two black plastic containers with clear lids that were nested beneath. "If y' have a way t' carry it. If not, I'd be glad to do so m'self."

"Oh, uh… actually that'd be great. I'm starving," Caitlin confesses. She helps Betsy bundle the food up as efficiently as possible and produces a resuable shopping bag to drop it all into. "This'll give me a snack for the flight home." She takes the coffee carefully in her hands and starts drifting towards the exit.

"It was nice meeting you, Betsy. I'm looking forward to coming back!" She bids the model farewell and starts heading towards the idling vehicle sitting quietly on the empty basketball court.

Betsy watches Caitlin, watching to see that she makes it safely to her ride without incident. Finally, offering a friendly wave, Betsy shuts the door and smiles, happy to have the terminal she blew up repaired before Bruce found out about it. And happy to have met such a charming and lovely young woman. She'll definitely have to hope that Caitlin calls.

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