Baby Steps

October 25, 2014:

Hank works on the data given to him by SHIELD when Kitty comes down to visit and they talk about identities and consequences.

Xavier's Institute - NYC

Xavier's Institute grounds are located on 1407 Graymalkin Lane in Westchester
County between Graymalkin Lane itself and Breakstone Lake (30 miles outside
of NYC itself). A large portion of this is acres upon acres of woodland
forest. To the farthest eastern portion of the Institute's grounds there is a
stretch of low foothils.
Upon entering the Institute grounds immediately past the heavy gated entrance
one finds themselves on a carefully paved road that splices in two
directions, west and east.

The west leads to the School for Higher Learning where gifted youngsters are
educated and taught to use their unique talents. Here almost year around
children and teachers are housed.

To the east miles away lies Xavier's Mansion where Professor Xavier himself
and some faculty members of the school live. These "special" individuals are
those aware of Xavier's more clandestine operations, the adminstration and
training of the X-Men.
Beyond the neatly walled mansion's yard in those foothills is an obscure
landing strip that leads to a hangar complex and a subtly hidden facility. A
facility that houses underground sublevels, a danger room, Cerebro and the
training halls of one of the most advanced mutant fighting teams in the
world.

An underground monorail connects the School for Higher Learning with the
Charles Xavier's Mansion and the X-Men's Hidden Complex. Security is tight in
this region, by means of limited magical warding, advanced future tech
security systems and telepathic sweeps. Tread carefully.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

After being handed the information from SHIELD, Hank took it into his lab to begin working on it. As always, when he has this sort of project, he doesn't shirk his teaching duties, but he pretty much disappears into the lab for the rest of the time. Students are, of course, welcome to come in provided that they knock first. As usual.

Inside, he's bent over one of the computers, analyzing the data.

While not a student, Kitty does know Hank and knows how he works. The young mutant has been dealing with her own personal things before she goes to visit Dr. McCoy at his Institute Lab. It seems to be the only way she's able to find him to talk to him about what's going on. Steeling herself, she knocks.

"Come in," is offered absently as Hank continues to look over the computer screen. A hand presses against his mouth as he continues to read, taking in what the screen tells him until he catches a familiar scent on the air. It's only then that he turns away from the screen and to the one stepping into his lab. "Ms. Pryde. Can I help you?" Definitely formal.

Kitty enters and shuts the door behind her, studying both the computer screen and Hank. At this distance, it would be hard to read anything he has there, but it's a glowing distraction from the man sitting there in front of it. She gives him something of a nervous smile. "Hey Hank. I wanted to check in on you. You've kind of disappeared down here." While he's being formal, she doesn't fall into that.

Beast changes the computer screen to something less detailed before he blinks his golden eyes at the younger woman. "In case you don't remember, SHIELD shoved information at me. Since I'd rather not have them track me here and compromise the entire school, I suppose I had better do as they ask. Besides, maybe they'll forget what I look like if I'm out of sight long enough." Although he's pretty sure that won't happen. Ever.

Kitty frowns and moves forward. "I was there," she says softly. The Shadowcat folds her arms in front of her and tilts her head. "Hank…the school's been compromised already. I'm pretty sure those giant things a few months ago weren't attacking the school because they were angry about SAT scores." She gives a bit of a sigh. "And, that information you have? It's going to lead us to find people who were enslaved."

"Yes, the school's been compromised and I have my suspicions as to who did it…" but he's not pointing fingers just yet. "Until Ch…Xavier is ready to reveal us to the world, I think we can all agree that we continue to lay as low as possible to protect the kids here. For some of them, we're all they have. I don't need it on my conscience that I was a reason why a mutant child was bullied and persecuted." He glances back at the computer, "How do you know they were enslaved?" Golden eyes look back at Kitty, "What do you know about all of this?"

"Well, I don't know about it," Kitty tells him with a frown, though she also has a few guesses, considering what she was doing at the time. "Yes, the kids' safety is most important but…Hank…the Professor is housing a team of people who are fighting crime here. It's more than just bullying that's going to become a problem. Sooner or later, something's going to be coming after one of the teams and depending on who it is, it's not going to care that there are children here." It troubles her, clearly. And it's why she's glad the Red Team works out of 'Berto's offices. "The best we can do is just make sure we're helping, not hurting." And there's a note in her voice that says that they shouldn't just be hiding away.

As for the slavery, she frowns. "I read the reports. And Bobby saw it. They're kidnapping metahumans," which are practically mutants, "and they're using them somehow. The people they recovered? There were only five of them - and there's evidence that there's more of them out there - but none of them have woken up from the comas they were put in. Something bad is happening."

"Bobby's one of my suspects, to be honest," Beast points out. He looks about the lab for a moment before returning to look to Kitty, "It's not my rule. It's his. We're to remain hidden for as long as we can and we aren't going to let one attack change that. They didn't make it inside, so there's that, at least." It's something he's trying to hold onto. "How can we be hurting these kids by giving them an education and supporting them? Teaching them how to use the powers they have and not to lose their humanity?"

He shakes his head a moment, "Something bad is always happening."

"Bobby?" Kitty gives Hank an incredulous look at that accusation. "He'd never do that." At least, she doubts that he would. She doesn't know the ice slinger all that well, now that she thinks of it. But, that's besides the point right now. "Yeah, they didn't, but I doubt that's going to be the last time something tries to get in here. Us giving these kids an education isn't a bad thing, nor is giving them a safe space to be themselves. But, this school…" she frowns. She's a teacher her, she loves Xavier's. It's been the only place that is truly home to her for quite some time. "…I wouldn't take a team out of here, because they need protection. But, just one team being here also puts them in danger. I know it's not up to you, but you're an incredibly gifted scientist, Hank. You're the smartest person I know and other people know it, too. IF you thought that people with connections wouldn't want you to help them, then you're insane. If I needed help, I'd be searching you out just like they did."

"Maybe not on purpose, but what else has he been up to? What about the rest of the Red Team?" The Gold Team is the one who is mostly at the Institute…most likely for a reason. "I know what you're trying to say, but these kids aren't ready to be out in the world. Maybe some…who can blend in, like you, but for the others…people can be cruel."

There's another shake of his head and a roll of his shoulders, "And if the scientific community finds out that I look like this now…if the public links me to 'Beast' then I'll be linked to this school and all secrets will be nullified. Are you saying I should disassociate myself from the school?"

"I'm not saying the school, Hank. Just because you're here doesn't suddenly mean everyone will assume the whole place is full of mutants. This school is private property. Anyone that wanted to come in here and search the place would need a damn good reason to try." Kitty tilts her head slightly and frowns. "And even if people did know this place allowed mutants in, we wouldn't let anyone on school grounds that would bully them. You know the Professor wouldn't allow that."

She sighs, gesturing behind her. "You're making a leap. You are not the school and you being here doesn't put anyone in danger. Who cares if you can't blend in? The Professor obviously doesn't. You don't have to hide away in here because someone saw you out of context."

Beast presses fingers to his forhead, "Kitty. Kitty, this is a very simple linear thing here." He then uses his hands as if to illustrate, "Here is Hank McCoy, scientist. Hank McCoy is a mutant. He works at the Xavier School. Do you see where I'm going? Whether or not they come in here with a warrant, it's enough to bring about suspicion. It's enough to get people to want to investigate or to accost any students or known teachers outside of the school." He shakes his head, "It's not about me."

At least, that's what he keeps telling himself. "Of course, now SHIELD knows, so who knows how long it'll take for them to be knocking on the doors."

Kitty moves forward and attempts to put a hand on his arm. "No. I don't see where you're going. SHIELD knows who I am. And they've worked with Scott, before, too. And no one has come knocking on doors." This is the part that she almost winces to say, because she cares about Hank and doesn't want this to come off the wrong way, but she's pretty sure it will. "You keep saying it's not about you, but you clearly think it is. You have to get over that, Hank." Her voice is as soft and as gentle as she can make it, despite the harsh words. "You're a published and brilliant scientist, people will go to lengths to find you. You're Good Will Hunting yourself and you don't need to. Think about all the good you could do if people could actually come to you for your scientific help."

"You and Scott," Hank starts out but then pauses as some of Kitty's words manage to sink into his thick skull. Maybe it got thicker with the mutation…it might explain a few things. After a moment's pause, golden eyes turn to Kitty, "Good Will Hunting myself? I've seen the movie, but I think you'll have to explain that metaphor." There's another pause in which he gives a sigh, "I don't want the kids hurt because of me. I don't want them attacked or exposed because of me."

Kitty smiles. "You're brilliant and you know it. You've written papers and published them, meaning that people will try and find you to talk about them or to help them. It's like Will solving the math equation on the chalkboard. Either he couldn't help himself or he did want to be found out. Either way, it's a shame to hide it away when you could really make an impact." The smile, of course, fades when he talks of the kids and their vulnerability.

"I know. I don't want that either. But, hiding yourself away isn't going to keep them from being attacked or exposed." She sighs. "There's only so much we can do. And I can't just not help people when they need it. Doesn't mean I'm going to give away the combination to the safe, but I'm also not going to sit it out."

"A lot of my papers are about genetic mutations. I'm half afraid they'll be used against us although there's nothing in them that could harm us. At least, I don't believe there is, but everything can be twisted." It all depends on who is doing the twisting. Hank doesn't seem to be smiling or terribly amused, not even at the compliments. "Hiding myself means that people can't trace me back to the kids. But I know it's not really the best way to show the kids to be proud of who they are."

"If they're going to twist them, they're going to twist them," Kitty frowns. "You can't hold yourself responsible for the actions of others. The people who are going to try and hurt children are the people the X-Men are specifically made to stop. And they would hurt them whether or not you are in your lab or out on the street." The young phaser sighs and shakes her head. "No, it's not. We're trying to teach them that they don't have to be afraid of who they are. The people who would use the information of who we are against you and us…I don't think anonymity will stop them. And I don't think we should let them dictate how we live our lives."

Kitty removes her hand and crosses her arms. "If you're down here because it's your choice to stay here and you don't want to put yourself out there, then that's one thing. But, if you're using a shadowy threat as your excuse, then that's a different thing. You're letting them rule what you do."

"No, you're right in that," Beast offers, a hand going to press at the bridge of his nose before he readjusts his spectacles. "We can't control them. To do so would be just what they seem to -think- that we wish to do to them. All we want is…integration, I suppose. A chance to live our lives, be who we are, without stigma." There's another pause then.

"I'm not exactly the most extroverted of people in the first place. I don't know that it's the shadowy threat that's my excuse."

At Hank's last statement, it's hard for Kitty not to break out in a smile. "I know. I'm not pressuring you to go out to the clubs. Though, I must say I find the idea of you doing the disco a good one." While this is a serious conversation, and she knows it, it's hard for Kitty to not try and lighten the mood when she can. "I know. But, I'm also here to make sure you don't just waste away in the lab." The smile is still there, but this time she's back to reassuring. "Yeah, I know. We can't control them. So, we just have to do what's best for ourselves."

After a short pause, she adds, "We're okay, right?" Meaning, the two of them, their friendship.

Beast gives something between a chuff and a snort, "I've been to clubs. Calvin and Kurt have dragged me. Apparently there's some sort of mutant fetishist club and for some reason, Cal thought I'd have fun there." Women looking at him strangely because he's a mutant…it was rather bizarre. I like a good beer as much as anyone, but all that loud music and stares…" There's a chortle then, "Even before I wasn't into clubs."

He makes sure to look directly at Kitty at her question, "We're ok. I appreciate your concern. I'll…try to be more aware and get out more. It's just…I'm trying to change my thinking."

"…I wasn't talking about a fetishist club…" Kitty tells Hank, eyes widening at the very thought. "…that's a thing? I didn't even—you know, I was actually fine not knowing that." She shakes her head as if clearing it of the very bizarre images that are now running through it. "I meant a dance club, Hank," she says, suddenly laughing at the sudden turn the conversation took. It takes her a few moments to control herself and then she smiles. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't laugh, but that was the last thing I'd ever thought I'd hear you say."

The smile turns more fond as she nods. "Good, I'm glad. I don't want to fight with you. We'll go out for a beer sometime, then. Change things one step at a time. Baby steps, even."

"It was not a place I ever thought to find myself. I have a feeling Cal thought it might help with being more willing to be seen out and about. It's one thing for people to be open and accepting but another to be stared at as some sort of sexual object. I can only imagine…" he doesn't go on from there. Hank just shakes his head. "I'm not interested in that kind of attention."

Kitty's offer of getting a beer sometime gets him to almost smile some, "All right. I'll do that. I'm trying. I guess…I'm forseeing lashback that may or may not happen."

"I promise you we won't be going to a bar like that," Kitty grins. "I mean, there may be a few swings out, but it'll be because it's a hipster bar in Williamsburg. But, yeah, I can imagine. That's not really something I'm into." She pauses and quickly clarifies with a blush, "I mean, I'm not really into fetish clubs in general, but I don't find the idea of people being into me only because I can phase through things all that appealing, either."

Finally seeing some more humor on Hank's face, she smiles again. "Don't worry about that. I mean, I know easy to say and hard to do, but hopefully it won't come to it."

"They wouldn't know," Beast points out, "About your phasing. That's the difference and it shouldn't be. A lot of that is my fault and what I'm projecting. However, those women in that club…I've never felt more like a piece of meat. It was incredibly disconcerting." He's still not sure he should be drinking alcohol with a former student, but he'll work on that as well. "I hope it won't come to that either. I just wonder…well. I'll try to live more in the present. Maybe that will help."

"I guess they wouldn't unless I purposefully showed it," Kitty agrees. "But, you're not a piece of meat, you're right." There's a frown. "So, we won't go there. We'll just go to a regular bar." She clearly doesn't mind the idea of going out for drinks with someone who used to be her teacher. They've moved beyond a teacher/student relationship with each other. "Yes, it's always good to live in the present." Her eyes again drift to the computer she interrupted Hank at before. "I should probably head upstairs and let you get back to work." Despite the fact that she just told him he shouldn't be down here working all the time. "Let me know if I can help with any of this."

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