Time Isn't On Our Side
Roleplaying Log: Time Isn't On Our Side
IC Details

Dani visits Warren and Alison and comes away not feeling much better for either of them.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: September 23, 2019
IC Location:
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 29 Sep 2019 15:23
Rating & Warnings:
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

The situation with Warren, over the past week, has been torturously slow… his prognosis largely unchanging, save for that steady slow deterioration of his wings. When circumstances do change, as often happens in matters like these, these change abruptly, overnight, within a tiny window of a few short hours.

Sometime in the early hours of the morning, Dani gets a call from Warren's personal assistant. Kiff doesn't usually interface directly with Warren's X-Men business unless he really has to, which makes the mere fact that he's calling unnerving enough; his tone of voice, once Dani picks up, doesn't help with the sense of unease.

He sounds exhausted and wrung out, where she's never heard him be anything but calm and collected.

"He crashed, hard. He was dying, so Hodge took off his wings. Well — so he says. You guys should know," he concluded, "and I don't know when he will get around to telling you himself."

He advised that if Dani wanted to see Warren, she'd have to leave the city. Warren wasn't at any of his usual haunts. He'd returned to his family estate out on Long Island, out where the environs start to look like a time capsule back to the wealthy, decadent old days of the Gilded Age. A bit of a lengthy commute for a normal person, but not much of one if you have a flying horse.

Not that that advantage would make it any easier to find Warren, on her arrival. The estate — perched on a promontory overlooking Long Island Sound — is a sprawling, extravagant affair, circled by well-kept grounds and gardens, and there are a baffling number of buildings whose purposes are not immediately apparent. It's probably a safe bet, though, that the main manor house is a decent place to start looking.

Mornings typically find Danielle Moonstar on the job, but this particular morning has her scheduled off.

Which in itself is a blessing in disguise.

As such, when Kiff calls Dani is readily available to answer. Upon seeing who it is her cellphone was definitely snatched up as quickly as humanly possible and brought to her ear.

Her greeting is brisk, rushed, knowing the news likely isn't going to be good, "What's going on?"

Then when Kiff speaks all Dani can do is listen. With each word Kiff says horror rises up in Dani. Shock, anger, even denial are there as well, but it's primarily horror that radiates through her whole being. For a long moment Moonstar can't find words, any words, but eventually some common sense asserts itself. "I'll be there shortly."

"Thank you for calling, Kiff."

She tosses her phone aside and just runs for the front doors. As soon as she's out on the front lawn of the mansion Moonstar opens her mouth to shout, "Brightwind!", but the winged pegasus is already there. Their bond echoed with those terrible emotions and the Asgardian warhorse knew.

Knew his rider needed him.

Moonstar vaults herself onto Brightwind's back, "Go!", comes her shout and with very little fanfare the horse rises quickly into the morning sky. Then the two fly - they fly fast and it doesn't take long for the two to arrive above the Worthington estate.

And while there are many buildings to choose from Moonstar points at the main house. "There. Land there."

Brightwind takes very little time to land and before he's even fully upon the ground Moonstar jumps to the ground.

Once sure-footed the Cheyenne hurriedly jogs to the front door.


"I think he will need you guys," are Kiff's succinct parting words, before he hangs up the call.

The estate, when Dani arrives, is deathly quiet for a place of such size and grandeur. One would expect a place like this to be humming with life — caretakers, administrators, errant family members come to stay for the season — but there's no one around so far as Dani can see, and the place has an abandoned and derelict air. Its already-anachronistic properties make the impression even stronger… as if the place were an unearthed castle that once housed lords in bygone ages.

Which — it kind of is. The 19th and 20th century version of that, at least.

As such, Dani has to wait a few moments at the front doors before anyone turns up to answer them, where once the answer would have been instantaneous and solicitous. Her reception turns out to be an older woman, grey-haired and looking in her late sixties, sad-eyed and wan but still quite professional. "You must be Danielle," she says. "Kiff called ahead to let me know you would be here. I'm Laurie."

Laurie carries herself with calm familiarity, as if she is a fixture of the place: as much a part of the foundations of Warren's home as the stones. She nods westward. "Warren's in the west garden, with Alison. He told me not to let anyone in, but…" She tilts her head back and forth. "You're not coming in the house, so I'm not exactly letting you in, am I?"

It's not hard to find the west garden, especially after Laurie points out the path. Under other circumstances it would have been a lovely, tree-shaded walk, perfumed by the cultivated flowers that line the path — the entire estate is masterfully planned and laid out for aesthetic impact — and a novel walk, to boot. Warren has very rarely before let X-Men cross far enough into his personal life to come out here, if only because he felt this place represented a rather low, unevolved part of him that had nothing to do with his higher-souled work with the X-Men at all.

That is probably a telling hint why he chose, of all the places he could have gone, to come here.

Eventually the path takes Dani to a spot at the northern edge of the gardens, where it meets manicured lawns which slope down towards Long Island Sound. Among the planted white chrysanthemums, a strange man sits slumped in a chair, golden head bowed, looking at his hands in his lap.

A closer look reveals that the strange man is Warren, looking diminished and unrecognizable without the beautiful white span of his wings.

On a normal day Brightwind might nose at the grass and eat some, or go off and do whatever Asgardian winged-horses do, but this morning he stands at attention.

Watchful of Dani and the land about him.

For Moonstar, there might be a question of how long she would have waited before she possibly tried just opening the door. Or went to another building, or another area, but thankfully none of that has a chance to happen as Laurie finally arrives.

Relief might briefly be seen in Dani's expression before her features settle into their typical look. "No, you're not letting me in." Agrees the Cheyenne woman, "Thank you, Laurie."

And with that direction given Moonstar steps away from the front door and makes her way to the garden path. She has a few moments to truly marvel at the Worthington estates and maybe feel a touch ridiculous that she and Domino joked about Warren's various houses, manors and estates, but only for a few minutes as finally Moonstar comes to the end of that path.

Her gaze tracks across the expanse of greenery, taking in the flowers, the various plants and the man that sits in the chair. She actually looks *past* Warren twice before a terrible thought enters her head -

That thought brings her eyes back over to the man in the chair and for a long second Moonstar's brain battles against what her eyes see.

That Warren Worthington is in the garden and is indeed the man in the chair.

It is one thing to be told Warren no longer has his wings. It is another entirely to see it. Without the great span of them, all the grandeur of his appearance is gone. Though his features and form remain as breath-stoppingly beautiful as before, his wings were what took his looks beyond human, and made him into something unearthly.

Without them, he looks… generic. Small. Mortal. Beautiful, certainly, but otherwise not much different than any other human man out there.

Without them, Dani almost walks right past him. She certainly looks right past him. There's nothing left about him to immediately catch the eye, not the way his wide wings once did. When she finally sees him… it is hard for her eyes to reconcile what she sees, with her memory of what he was.

It is doubly jarring because of the slump of his posture, the broken aspect to his body language. He has never held himself like this before, that she has ever seen. After walking through all that wealth, extravagance, and finery, it is disorienting to come to the man who is master of all of it — and to find someone who looks so desperately, despairingly unhappy. A man on the brink of no longer wanting to live.

His head lifts, after a few moments, though he doesn't look around.

"Who told you?" His voice rasps with disuse. It is listless, but an edge haunts it which suggests the risk of a sudden rage if the wrong thing is said. "Who let you in here?"


He looks so human to her eyes and it is jarring.

It leaves her feeling as if she were in an episode of the Twilight Zone. Where things are almost the same, but several key truths are no longer absolute.

It's enough to keep her rooted to the spot for those few moments of confused unseeing.

However, his words bring her right out of that inaction on her part. Her expression settles into hardcore *stoicism* and all that can be seen upon her face is a calmness that she doesn't necessarily feel.

Slowly, with heavy feet, Danielle Moonstar walks closer and as she moves she considers how best to answer Warren's question. She hears that edge to his words and carefully now, the woman tries to navigate this conversation. "I would have found out either way."

She's not giving up names, it seems, but now comes the next consideration. What to say next. 'How're you' is definitely bad. So is 'what happened'. One suppose she could say 'what can I do to help', but that seems terrible too.

So, for now, Dani just waits to see how Warren reacts to her non-answer.

How to answer that question?

Dani picks one way.

There is a brief, harrowing silence.

Warren starts to rise from his chair.

Veiled under the garden canopy, and stepped just out of sight, Alison Blaire takes a phone call.

A phone call meant for Warren Worthington, but the same kind he's been wilfully ignoring since the loss of his wings. A phone call she will gladly assume — as he is healing, as he is traumatized, as he is grieving — and take in his stead.

There is not much Alison finds she can do. She can't bring back Warren's lost wings. She can't miraculously cure his devastation to be without a pair of limbs that were as integral to him as the loss of her own arms. But she can work. She can give him as much time and space he needs to focus on himself, without worrying about a single extraneous obligation.

Thankful for her own ten years' experience in business, Alison reviews talk on tax expenses for the Institution — until a familiar voice crests over the greenery. She turns her head, localizing it — and her field hums with its familiar tones. It's Warren. It's Warren sounding upset.

Alison ends the call.

And, perhaps through the grace of God, she steps into sight a beat after Warren stands up. Alison holds a moment of silence, surprised to see Dani, surprised to see Warren facing off like —

This is bad.

"Dani," she says, quickly, desperately intervening, accidentally on purpose slipping herself in between the two. She chooses Warren to approach, her body language gentle, yielding, laying a careful hand to his shoulder. "What a lovely surprise; it's nice to see you."

There are things to be expected when a person loses a limb.

Sadness, loss, grief, frustration and even anger.

Was Dani expecting similar? Of course. But expectation and experience are two different things. As such, much like seeing him without his wings, Dani is once more struck by this abnormal new reality. Especially as Warren rises from that chair with anger. Or does his movements hold more menance?

There's enough there that Moonstar senses something and automatically the Cheyenne woman slightly shifts her weight in anticipation.

Only, before it might possibly go terribly bad, Alison arrives. Her arrival causes Dani's attention to shift for a moment, as she looks away from Warren and focuses upon Alison. "Ali."

There's possibly a note of relief hidden in that greeting of Moonstar's, before she adds reflexively, "It's good to see you too."

With those words of greeting spoken Moonstar turns a wary gaze back upon Warren.

Is it anger? Is it menace? When Warren turns to face Dani, the look on his face suggests that not even he knows what it is, or why the fuck he even stood up. It suggests that he simply felt — something — so goddamned strongly that he could no longer sit still, no matter what that something was.

Before he can figure anything out, fortunately, Alison hurries onto the scene and defuses any potential situations before they can arise.

Warren gentles immediately to her touch, his eyes turning towards her as he seems to find a visible comfort in her presence. Enough to admit this, in response to Dani's initial non-answer, "Yeah… I guess you would have. It'll be the talk of the 24-hour news cycle, soon enough." His tone makes clear how much he looks forward to that.

He finally looks back up, at Dani. The wary look in her eyes, as she regards him, seems to strike a deep chord with him, and he stammers half a syllable — impossible to even guess at what word it might have been trying to form — and looks down. Warren — who has always been eloquent, who has rarely ever fumbled speaking in his life.

Whatever it is, tonally, it sounds like guilt. How did he get to the point of the people close to him looking at him like that?

"Thank you for coming," he says eventually, his voice thin.

Without hesitation, Alison gravitates to that look Warren gives her, happy to reflect it with one that speaks of endless patience and endless love. It seems whatever little it is she can do for him in a time like this, she will do in spades.

She leans down to leave a kiss on his temple; Alison, who is usually far more reserved with intimate contact in the presence of others.

Glancing back up, she meets Dani's greeting with a wan smile. Alison doesn't communicate much with her eyes — no secretly slipped apologetic looks, or silent pronouncements on how bad it is, doing so aside of Warren feels disrespectful — but there's a well of strain beneath her features.

Enough to communicate: there is grief going on here.

There is a clear elephant in the room — or in the garden, to be precise — that Dani has come here, obviously, to visit with Warren, be with him, on the loss of his wings. At the same time, there's the very real prospect he doesn't want to talk about it, even if it is all he is thinking about…

And Alison in the middle now, not wanting to play pretend around the point, and act like this is some familial Sunday tea gathering, but at the same time…

Her hand tightens comfortingly on Warren's shoulder. No need to feel guilty. "Did you two want… some space to talk?" Alison requests, voice gentle, not wanting to disturb what is an important visit, but also — not feeling, herself, too inclined to leave him alone.

Did she mean to make Warren feetl guilty? Not at all.

And upon hearing that sound of guilt from him, Dani can't help but feel a similar emotion rise up in her.

Alongside shame.

Here Warren is barely out of his death bed and without his wings and Moonstar just made him feel guilty. It's enough to cause her to momentarily look away from the couple as she strives to tuck her own feelings behind a mask.

After all, this isn't about her and whatever she may be feeling shouldn't be pushed upon either of them.

When she can look back at Warren and Alison, it's with that calmness back in place over her features.

Warren's thin words of thanks immediately causes Dani to say, "Of course."

Alison's wan smile is returned as Dani offers her own faint smile, "I just wanted to make sure you two knew I'm here."

"For both of you -"

More was about to be said, but then Alison says those last distubring words, implying she can leave and Dani raises a hand, "I'm fine with you staying."

A questioning look turns to Warren now, "Though I'm good with whatever everyone wants."

Warren quiets further to Alison's kiss. If he still had his wings, they would have ruffled up and then resettled in peaceable pleasure. Their absence is only accentuated in these moments when it is so easy to remember what they would have done; a bit of pain crosses Warren's features, possibly because he instinctively tried to move them, only to agitate the still-raw wounds where his wings used to attach.

Did you two want some space to talk? Alison asks.

"No," Warren says, a little too quickly, in tandem with Dani's own demurral. He looks at Dani, and then looks away again, ashamed at how quickly Dani, too, objected to being alone with him. His hand tightens on Alison's almost clinging, before he forces himself to let go. "It's fine."

He is silent a few moments, absorbing what Dani has to say — that she just wanted them to know that she was there. For them both.

"Take care of Ali," he says, cryptic.

He holds his silence a few more moments, before he says, "I apologize for acting like it was your fault. I just…"

Warren says nothing for a long few moments. "I don't know," he says. "I don't know what I am now." He punctuates the statement with a laugh, which is probably the worst part.

Alison does not miss that flicker of pain off Warren, who keeps trying to use limbs no longer there, whose reflex memory has the weight of a lifetime against this nightmare of a few days.

How long does it take for the brain to reorganize itself? How long does it take the body to realize it's less now than it was before? How long will it be just for him to get through the shock?

She has no idea. Even with her hand on him, trying to let that point of contact be both a soothe and an anchor, Alison has never felt so helpless. There is nothing in her own experience to even come close to understanding what he's going through.

So she does all she can do: complies, without pause, to whatever he asks of her. Her thumb runs his knuckles when his hand squeezes hers.

He doesn't want her to go? Alison isn't going anywhere. She finds her empty spot beside his, easing down, here to stay. "Take a load off, Dani," she offers to the woman, looking up with kind eyes — appreciative that she's here. She gestures to this clearing in the garden: there's a lot of manmade seating, where the handcarved stone reliefs provide ornate benches, their legs vined with climbing greenery.

She glances over at Warren's request of Dani, her eyes creased with concern. "I'm fine," Alison says, "I promise. Though I appreciate that offer, Dani."

However, when Warren makes his apology, Alison goes quiet, respectful of it not to interrupt. Her hands fold together, her fingers picking absently at her own cuticles. She stays that way, at least until Warren's shaky laugh, and that remark —

"You're Warren Worthington," she must answer, gentle. "As for the rest, it can be figured out with time."

While playing buffer isn't always the funnest of things to do, in thise case Dani is grateful that Alison does.

When Warren speaks again and asks that Dani make sure to take care of Alison, Dani automatically says. "Whatever is needed."

Though even with that agreement given it doesn't stop Moonstar from sliding a quick look to the other woman. There might be a question there, but that silent question doesn't stay long. Not when Warren picks up the thread of conversation again to apologize.

"No!" Comes the immediately response from Dani, while not yelled, it's definitely said emphatically, "Don't apologize. There's no need for you to apologize"

"It was -" She catches herself before she can finish that thought, or rather her voice breaks on those words and she can't quite finish her thoughts. And while she tries to muster those words up again, to say her own apology, Warren speaks again.

Then he laughs and it's the laugh that cuts the deepest.

For a few heartbeats Moonstar's composure falters and that offers a glimpse of the guilt that was hidden away. Of the sense of responsibility felt by Dani, of the terrible remorse.

Thank god, Alison is there to answer immediately and by the time the other woman finishes affirming just who Warren is, Dani finds some semblance of *something* to pull back over her features. "Yes." She agrees roughly, "And friend. Family."

At the least, Warren isn't chasing either of them away. Alison offers Dani to sit a while, and though Warren glances up briefly, he eventually allows it via the silent aversion of his eyes.

His hand only twitches a little in Alison's when she insists she's fine. It feels like a 'bullshit' twitch.

That he's allowing Dani to stay comes with an implicit implication… one which Warren makes explicit a moment later with his brief apology. Ultimately, he does not blame her for what happened to him, though it was the specter of her past which wound up dealing him the fatal injury. That no matter how he acted, he knows it was not her fault that things have come to this.

Her insistence he not apologize brings half a wan smile, but it lasts only a moment before he's gone again, back into that dull-eyed silence. A silence which he only breaks with that remark, and an accompanying bleak laugh.

He sees the terrible guilt that crosses Dani's features after. How could he not? His eyes are unhurt. They are still as sharp as ever. He lets it go, though; he has said his piece, and he does not have the emotional reserves to help Dani out of her own guilt any more than that.

His head turns slightly to Alison's answer, though. "Time," he says. "A long 'rest of my life' to never fly again."

Alison just answers that minute hand-twitch by covering Warren's hand with her own. It feels like a disservice to him to be anything but perfectly strong. She doesn't think she's had a lot of practice in her life embodying strength, but she knows she can do it.

She has to, really. How else will his entire life be managed? Who else can she trust to do it? Cameron Hodge? Never again.

Pulled from her thoughts, neither does it escape Alison to witness Dani's guilt. It strikes her hard, something like a surprise — she hadn't realized, even though it makes complete sense, of course Moonstar would take personally the ramifications of the Demon Bear that haunted her life. The Bear did this to Warren, so in short, Danielle Moonstar did this —

It's not true at all, Alison knows, but even she comes short of knowing what to say. How to alleviate that guilt without inadvertently playing down Warren's grief? "Family," Alison confirms back to Dani, voice too-soft. There's no blame here. An open place for her to sit, always.

There, perhaps riding on that hope, she directs an answer on Warren's too-familiar self-doubt… only to stumble visibly, palpably on what he says back.

What he says is true, valid, and heartwrenching. Unable to argue, Alison lowers her eyes. She struggles transparently with what to say — right, Alison, because any magical words you got is going to fix this on the spot. "You'll always be Warren Worthington," she still tries, unwilling to let him see her defeated — see himself defeated, either. "You're all your choices… every path you took."

That offer to sit is finally acted upon by Moonstar and in the normalcy of sitting down, Moonstar finds the strength to bring the mask of calmness back over her features.

Only after she finds the strength to cover what she feels does the Cheyenne return her gaze to Alison and Warren.

When Alison echoes back that mention of family, Dani offers the smallest of smiles, but that smile disappears when Warren speaks again.

There's not much she can say to his words. In fact her brain goes blank for a moment as she considers what she can say and almost, almost!, she takes the easy way out by staying quiet, but she doesn't. N Not when Alison so visibly struggles with what to say. Not when the songstress tries to answer in something of a positive manner.

It's what causes Dani to add quietly, "Alison is right." And here, Moonstar strives to meet both of their eyes, "And we'll help you on whatever path you take."

Her hands clasp together tightly, enough that her knuckles stand out in stark relief for a moment, and while she tries to say something more all she can end (again) with is, "We're family."

One supposes she could ask what she could do to help, but Dani will not put that burden upon Warren or Alison. She will simply be here for both of them.

The two women struggle with what to say to him. And Warren just looks up at them and lets them struggle. He watches dispassionately, offering neither help nor exemption from the awkwardness of the moment.

It is one of those moments where it is palpable there is no right answer, and he is simply incuriously watching them to see what platitudes they will come out with next.

When they finally speak, Warren… laughs. Or at least, something that sounds like a laugh. It's more the auditory version of an eyeroll. He takes his hand back, and rises to a stand slowly and carefully; he's still trying to regain a sense of kinesthetic balance, with two of his limbs amputated from his body. He sways a little, steadies his stance, and looks automatically skyward. His upturned eyes beg for the open sky, with a longing so palpable he almost strains upwards towards it.

For a moment, he really does look like a grounded bird, useless wings open, stretching upwards but unable to fly.

"Every path I took led me to this," he says, staring upwards. "Maybe I should have stayed home. Stayed out of the whole X-Men business. Safer, right? I'd have had to hide, but I'd at least have kept my wings."

There is a brief silence.

Maybe he realizes exactly what he just said. Maybe he doesn't, but just needs to get away anyway. "Excuse me," he says, before he turns and walks away, slowly making his way down the tended lawn towards the distant glitter where the sound laps against the shore.

Alison's hand lingers on Warren's even as he stands, afraid of his minute sways, until he steps one pace too far and separates them. She looks after him, clearly concerned by that humourless laugh, her eyes on his face as his turn up only for the open skies — so close and now forever out of reach.

She looks a moment like she may say more, perhaps apologize — until Warren speaks. And when he does, this time, there is nothing for her to say at all.

It is like hearing every doubt in her mind, every self-loathing thought she's ever intimated, fiercely confirmed aloud. Alison feels her insides twist. When her eyes lower again, this time they stay that way.

She doesn't argue him. Because he's right. Because she deserves this.

So Alison takes it as silently and passively as she took every time her father bore down on her and told her it was her fault her mother left, or every time her label blamed her album's twenty million dollar shortfall because she was wearing too many clothes on the cover, or every time Roman Nekobah blamed a lapsed attraction for her on the ten pounds she gained, saying he was ashamed she let herself go.

She lets Warren go without any resistance. She just sits there, hating herself for never having the right words to say. She's going to lose Warren, Alison thinks.

Some moments later, she seems to remember Dani's there. Alison looks up, and that instant of shock is replaced by a gracious, apologetic smile. "I'm sorry, Dani, I just realized the trip you took. Is there anything I can get you to eat?"

here is equal silence from Moonstar as she listens to that laugh and watches Warren look to the sky.

His words cause her to drop her gaze much quicker and for a moment, all the woman can do is look at the ground.

Only when Warren excuses himself and leaves does Moonstar rise to her feet, politeness in that movement. A gesture to see that leaving person off, not that this house is her own, but for Moonstar there's something almost final in Warren's retreat. Something that makes her stand up and watch him leaves.

When Alison speaks up, Dani's gaze automatically switches over to her and there's a second or two where Dani can't quite parse what Ali just said.


"No." Now Moonstar steps over to Alison. "How are you?" She asks and then follows it with, "What can I get you?"

And while there is the urge to ask Alison for her opinion on how Warren is really doing, Moonstar doesn't ask the question. Not when she can see how well he's doing and neither does she want to put that burden on Alison.

There's a look to Alison's face like any prospective questions about Warren are probably off the table — that is, and the way she just breezily brushes off whatever that was thirty seconds ago, getting back into the business of civil pleasantries.

Everything is all right!, announces every inch and ounce of the Dazzler.

"Me?" asks Alison, with a humoured intonation in her voice, care of thirty years of perfect practice in hiding the way she's dying inside. "I'm cared for well here. It apparently does pay to have billions of dollars at beck and call."

She wipes slightly at her blouse sleeve, and surveys Warren's distant figure with a glance, perhaps with an undertow of fear he may do something to himself so close to the water.

"There is something you can do," Alison eventually says — requests, really. Everything about her is exceedingly gentle. "Be an extra pair of eyes and ears with the team. With the students. I don't want anyone falling through the cracks."

Everything is alright.

Dani has seen that before and it's enough to cause the beginnings of a frown.

The X-ers are so good at shoving things beneath the rug, but Dazzler's game is at a much higher level. Seeing that Dani quite stop that frown of worry to start.

"Alison." Starts the Cheyenne woman, intending to say something more, but whatever she might have said doesn't quite make it past her lips. Especially when Alison looks toward the distant figure of Warren. Moonstar automatically turns her gaze to the de-winged man and words fail her.

Which allows Alison to make that gentle request of Dani. The Valkyrie returns her attention back to Alison and upon hearing the request, Moonstar says, "Of course. You don't need to worry about the School."

"I'll handle it."

There are more words to be said, but for Moonstar she can't get them out. They linger heavily upon brain and tongue and all the Cheyenne can add at the end is, "I don't want to keep you long from him, but tomorrow I'll come back if that's ok. To help."

The Dazzler's game is exceptional.

Fooled a world, really, on her unending message of positivity and self-love. Millions found their own footing by the encouragement of her music: the same millions that will live long lives, never realizing their muse is an incomplete, fractured woman, who fears herself so toxic that she'll sicken and kill anyone who stays too close too long.

The Demon Bear made a feast from that fear, making Alison Blaire sing herself into what she truly believes herself to be: life-ending nuclear fire.

Removed a thousand times from that nightmare and its theatrics, she is a picture of holstered self-restraint, smiling gratefully when Dani agrees to help. "I'm not worried," she promises. "And neither should anyone else be… so if you hear any rumours, or concerns about the funding, or its management — I need you to bring them to me. I know a lot of lives can be affected, and I'm going to maintain status quo."

She reaches out to touch Dani's wrist. "Thank you for this."

There are more words to be said, but Alison seems to be in denial that they even exist. Not in her world! She rises from her own seat, brushing stray foliage from her skirt; she doesn't want to tell Dani it's time to leave, but her body language implies it's probably best to cut it short — Warren needs his space. With that in mind, she glances with slightly-lifted eyebrows at Dani's request.

Alison's smile is appreciative, polite, and careful in every way. "Everything will be fine. Perhaps best after a few days… but you're always welcome to visit."

"Of course." Is Dani's immediate response to Ali's request to bring any and all rumors her way. "If I hear anything you'll be the first to know."

And at that touch upon her wrist, Dani touches the other woman's arm, "There is no thanks needed. Family helps family."

Especially since most of the X-Men have very little true family to be named, only those at the School who have become such. And Dani sees both Warren and Alison as definite family.

Alison's response that everything will be fine just prompts Moonstar's expression to freeze, and whatever emotion might have played out upon the Cheyenne's face is tucked carefully away. "I'll visit in a few days." She agrees, "Call if you need anything between now and then, Ali. Day or night, I'll answer." And here she glances one more time at Warren before it's back to Ali. "Take care of yourself too, Ali. I'll talk to you later.

It's clear she can see herself out as Moonstar steps away from the songstress and retraces her steps. Sure she could have called Brightwind but she didn't want the winged horse to be seen. Better to just sneak-fly out and stay under the radar, as it were.

Family helps family, says Dani, and something about that holds Alison's eyes an extra beat, pensive.

Whatever she was thinking, she lets go, and smoothes back into the comfortable default of soft-spoken, gentle, and polite. "I appreciate everything, Dani. The Institute is so lucky to have you."

The promise of a visit is well-received with another one of her smiles — looking forward to it. Then, perhaps unable to entirely play the 'that never happened at all' game, Dani very transparently looks at Warren, and wishes Alison to keep well. It's a loaded remark, fathoms deeper than its skin-deep well-wishing.

Alison brushes it off. "You take care of yourself," she answers affably, voice and bearing steeped with warmth. "You look like you haven't had a proper sleep in a month. Text me that you got home safe."

Lingering, she lets Dani see herself out, signalling farewell with a brief lift of one hand. And, hands twined, Alison remains that way, quiet, standing alone in the garden clearing until she's well out of sight.

Only then, does she let the sustained energy drain out of her, her shoulders lowering. She casts another glance to Warren, and silently eases back down into her chair, prepared to remain there until he returns in the chance he needs her — he originally wanted her to stay, after all.

And so Alison sits, and she waits.

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