Star Witness
Roleplaying Log: Star Witness
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Matt Murdock listens to Sloane Albright's story, and makes a pitch.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: September 19, 2019
IC Location: Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 29 Sep 2019 20:07
Rating & Warnings: PG-13
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

For the first time this year, it feels like Fall. The breeze is gentler here in Westchester than it is in Manhattan's grid of wind tunnels; the air is pleasant and crisp. It's still too early for the inevitable changes in foliage, so every lush leaf in the stately trees that appoint the Xavier Institute grounds is perfectly in place, though they still sway and flutter with the cool autumnal breeze.

Matt Murdock rarely leaves his beloved island. He has little conception of greenery beyond what you'd find in Central Park, and to him, Westchester might as well be Ithaca. He loves his city dearly. He's parochial to his core. But he's enough of a sensualist to to enjoy a change of scene now and then. See the bespectacled, over-coated man sitting on one of the benches near a cobblestone walkway on the school grounds, with his red cane propped up on the bench beside him. His hands are clasped, his chin tipped upward, his eyes shut behind the red lenses as he listens to sounds only he can hear.

He's not merely enjoying the nice breeze, though. He's waiting, having left word with the front office that he'd like to speak with a certain Sloane Albright if she's available, and saying where he could be found.

—-

To be honest, it takes her a few minutes.

A fixture in the music room when the opportunity provides, Sloane gives the equipment there quite the workout; from guitars to drum kits and other instruments. Microphones and audio inputs are plugged in to catch her playing as well as her singing, and it's given her a chance to really cut loose and be free with the things she loves. Sure, there's certainly meta-business to handle, but … she feels good.

It's like having the Shakedown back, even if she doesn't have the audience.

But, she's paged, leading her to pack up her laptop, shut off equipment and gather some of her things and head out to the winding stone paths. Her approach is … oddly silent. Her breath is so subtle that it begs the question if she is breathing; her heartbeat working in an equal and odd sort of rhythm. Swaths of scale shift and move along her skin in an odd, of-it's-own harmony.

For her part, SHIELD training kicks in: The on-again, off-again Agent takes in the man with the cane and glasses, running her own form of a tactical assessment: Blind? Dressed decently, handsome, and alert. Unshouldering her guitar case and setting it on the ground with a *thunk*, she doesn't make the mistake of thrusting out a hand, instead folding her hands atop the hard case and smiling. "Hi, I'm Sloane Albright. How can I help you?"


Matt hears that distant music stop, and some minutes later, his head tilts a fraction of an inch as a strange new heartbeat emerges on the periphery of his senses. He's spent enough time with metahumans now that he's accustomed to variation. Kinsey Sheridan's metal footfalls, that unplaceable feeling of density and weight that was Luke Cage, the way the air crackled with electric charge whenever Danny Rand got his glowing fist going.

Which is all to say that a little light breathing won't put him off. He gives a close-lipped smile when she offers a greeting. "Hi, Sloane," he says, remaining seated, but extending his own hand in the general direction of that voice. "Matt Murdock. It's good to meet you."

The question prompts another little twitch at his lips. "I'm working on a legal matter with some of the people at the Institute," Murdock says, with a little nod over to the grand manor behind him. He shifts the cane over so that she can take a seat on the bench if she'd like. "And it has me on a, ah — fact finding mission, I guess you could call it."


With the hand offered, now Sloane reaches out to take it, giving a firm shake. Her skin is cool without being clammy, and her scales are quite smooth to the touch. She nods, not wanting to linger on the grip too long. "Hi," she adds, not quite sure what to say.

"So you're — like, a lawyer?" she asks, orange eyes squinting a little. "Okay, I … guess." Maybe Warren called him…? Shifting the guitar case, she sinks down onto the bench with a little more weight than what belies her frame; certainly not like some people he knows, but the physical signs are there.

"So uh … what can I do for you? I don't have any speeding tickets or anything like that."


Matt's grip is sure and strong, the shake businesslike. He doesn't bat a single blind eye when he feels those cool scales under his palm.

Though his shoulders will shake in a silent laugh when she talks about speeding tickets. "No, nothing like that," he says, putting up a staying hand.

"As for being a lawyer," Matt says wryly, "Yeah, guilty as charged. My partner and I have a little firm in Manhattan." He leans forward at the waist, planting his elbows on his knees and clasping his calloused hands together in the middle.

He can sense her uncertainty. That lingering air of, What am I doing here? There's another twitch of a half-smile before he lays it out: "Look, Sloane. In a couple days, we're going to be filing suit on behalf of — well, a lot of people. Some of them live in this school. We're going to sue to stop Registration. To force the courts to throw the law right out as if it had never even been passed."

They're going to —

"Oh."

Sloane lets it hang there for a moment, but it's not for Matt's benefit. Her head tilts forward, gaze cast down to the ground as she shifts her position on the bench. Her arms cross, and so do her legs. Finally, she adds, "That's going to be one hell of a suit."

The ginger's voice is pensive and worried even if she's outwardly trying to keep herself levelled out — SHIELD training got her that far, even if most of the time she had the worst poker face in the entire spy organization. Sorting through things in her mind, one hand breaks from the fold in a nebulous gesture. "Okay, so … you came to me, by name. Is it because of my past, or because I've got big pointy ears and scales?"


She surprises him into a smile; this one shows rows of white teeth. That's going to be one hell of a suit. "Yeah, yeah it will be," he says with a healthy dose of gallows humor, paired with a little nod of his head.

Then she's asking him, point blank, why he's asked to see her. It's a more than fair question. "Well, for what it's worth," Matt offers, deadpan, "I didn't know you had big pointy ears, Ms. Albright."

A beat. "But the reason I came to see you… is because of the video," Matt adds, and this time that mellow humor is entirely absent from his soft-spoken voice. "And because of what they say happened after it."

There's something apologetic in his aspect: there in the way that careworn brow of his is knitted, or how his lips are pressed ever-so-slightly together. "Any trial is just an exercise in storytelling," Matt confides in his soft-spoken wont. "The side that tells the story that rings most true wins. I'm collecting a lot of small stories in an attempt to tell one big one: how this society shuts out, shuts up, exploits, and abuses those who fall outside of the median."

After all that, Matt purses his lips. "You seem like you might have an interesting story," he adds quietly. "Maybe even a helpful one. And I guess I wanted to see if you'd be interested in sharing it with me."


'I didn't know you had big pointy ears.' "Oh, right. Sorry."

He's here because of the video. Her heart sinks thinking about which one: The interview, or the video leaked to the internet after the Brotherhood had lured her to a vacant lot? The interview played on the news really well in favor of Registration, and the latter … Warren tried his hardest to scrub that video from the internet, but … it's out there.

Daisy let her know as much, too.

"Uh… yeah, sure," she says, after a moment, letting her arms cross again. Sloane gathers her thoughts — her feelings — for a moment, letting her mouth pull into a thin line. She was a mess for a couple of weeks after that beating. Sure, it's a distant memory now, but … memories have a bad habit of lingering when you want to forget them the most.

Clearing her throat, she tries to present herself again as being a little more comfortable and professional. "Where do you want to start? The beginning, the middle, the meta…?"


Matt can hear that hesitation, the conflict, the nerves. He could probably sense it even without all his powers. It's never easy, testifying in front of strangers. That's true whether it's a jury in a courtroom, or a single lawyer on a bench in a picturesque, perfectly manicured Westchester garden. He presses his lips together when she assents, a microexpression of equal parts gratitude and sympathy.

The lawyer mulls the question she chooses to voice for a moment. "Why don't you start with the meta?" Matt suggests with a roll of one shoulder.

Meaning, presumably, the very beginning.


Sloane blows a sigh. "It's been a few years now, but … I was a student at Columbia University. Music department. I was good. I, uh … I went to a symposium with one of my professors and a couple of classmates. It was going good until there was some kind of chemical weapon attack," she says, careful on her wording.

"I woke up a month later covered in scales, my eyes are weird, and — like I said, big ears. SHIELD had found me and took care of me during that time. Gave me training, helped me adjust to how my body changed. They offered me a few options, too, like job placements or trying to get me back into school. I decided to stay with SHIELD because I wanted to help people like they helped me," Sloane says with a small shrug and a stare off into the middle distance.

"Anyway, I uh … spent a few years working for SHIELD, which is kind of public record now, I guess. I couldn't stand for what was going on with Registration, so as soon as I healed up from that incident with the Brotherhood, I … left. I came here." Sloane's arms shift, her fingers weaving and thumbs pressing together. It's not the whole truth, but it's not a lie.

Not really, anyway.

"I'm still trying to do some work with helping metas that stayed in the city, but that Danvers interview made me look pro-Registration. It set my credibility on fire."


"I'm still trying to do some work with helping metas that stayed in the city, but that Danvers interview made me look pro-Registration. It set my credibility on fire."

Matt is an active listener. He's quiet as she recounts her story, but his whole body is engaged, and the weight of his attention is an almost palpable thing. Though aside from a faint tick in his features at the very start — around the talk of a chemical weapon attack — there's little to read on his features aside from mute empathy.

There's a long beat before he speaks. "Thank you very much, Ms. Albright. One question: did Captain Danvers know you were anti-registration when she lifted you up in that interview?"


"No problem," she replies, though a little bit muted. The last few years have been a mix of good and bad — the bad doesn't outweigh or diminish the good, but the bad was …

Bad.

Sloane's head turns slightly, thinking about Matt's question for a moment. "I'm pretty sure not. Not until she visited me in a SHIELD infirmary after I was attacked. I sure as hell spelled it out for her then," she says, scoffing. "And, I haven't talked to Captain Danvers since then."


Matt nods simply, once, when Sloane answers the question. There's not a single trace sign of skepticism in the man. He seems, at least, to take the SHIELD agent's sentiments about Registration at face value.

"I can imagine," he says after a beat. "Captain Danvers tried to use you as a token, a fig leaf. She tried to force a story on you that wasn't yours."

The lawyer draws in a breath that flares his slightly-squat nose. "Ms. Albright, I think your voice would be a powerful one when it came time to go to trial," Matt says finally. "You've seen how security forces are implementing Registration from the inside. You're someone they tried to lift up as a poster-child for 'responsible metahumans' — and ended up putting you in harm's way."

He looks to her. He can't see her, so it must be so that she can see him. "I'd like you to consider testifying," Matt says. "It would give you a chance to reclaim your story. Make your honest, actual views known. And maybe — just maybe — you could help us stop all this madness for good."


It works — she looks straight at him, even if she's reflected in the lenses of his sunglasses. Damn, he's persuasive! Sloane looks down for a moment, the fret writing itself into her face like stone-etching. It goes for her bearing, her pulse, her breathing — she's nervous, for sure.

"I'll — I'll think about it," she says, nodding.

Getting shoved in front of the spotlight again is a little nerve-wracking. And this isn't even for a performance. "I mean — i-if that's all right."


Matt allows himself a smile when she asks him if it's alright to think about it: slight, reassuring. "Yeah, of course," the lawyer says. "These things take time. Even after we file, it could be months before anyone ever actually takes the stand. So — take the time you need, and think about it." He reaches into the breast pocket of his coat and takes out a card.

Nelson & Murdock, LLP, it reads, with an address in Midtown. Below it is braille, presumably saying much the same.

"Let me know if you have any questions, too," he adds. "Or even talk to Worthington or Blair. They're read in on the trial."


Sloane takes the card, feeling the Braille before fiery orange eyes dip down to look at it, nodding. "Thank you," she replies — though she leaves it somewhat ambiguous as to whether or not it's for the card, or his affirmative.

Nelson & Murdock… she's heard that name before, hasn't she?

Sitting upright, shifting as she sits, the ginger-haired Inhuman nods. "Sure thing. I head down to the city a lot, so it's not like it's out of the way." Talk to Worthington or Blair? "I'll be sure to bug them about it."

"Thanks for looping me in on this. Good luck with your case." She smiles, faintly, even if bad memories keep trying to pull her attention away.


Apparently satisfied with where they've landed, Matt sits up straighter himself, pulling back from that forward lean. "Right in Hell's Kitchen," he says, like a shingle in that famously troubled neighborhood is a point of pride. Because, to him, it is.

Good luck with your case, the red-haired woman tells him, and one corner of his lip curls in a smile. "Thanks, Sloane. We're going to need it."

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