At the Mistletoe Masquerade
Roleplaying Log: At the Mistletoe Masquerade
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

A volatile mixture of guests meet at the Hellfire Club's annual holiday mixer.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: December 28, 2018
IC Location: Hellfire Club - NYC
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 29 Dec 2018 14:50
Rating & Warnings: G
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

The Hellfire Club's annual holiday event is an affair meant to buck the tiring, selfless goodwill of the season. Oh, certainly, there are some similarities to other swanky parties that may fall in the same window of time.

Expensive wine and whiskey flows like water into glasses and down throats. More than one wealthy socialite will find their way into substances a little less legal and enjoy the stupor and daze to follow. The food is fine, although decidedly better than most places as it comes out of the kitchen where a caterer is busily putting the final touches on passed hors d'oeuvres all drawing inspiration from the twelve days of Christmas. Pastry swans with a filling nestled between their wings. Chocolate ganache squares with a tiny chocolate ring on each side: five in total. Most of others are a little more abstract.

In one of the parlors, an Egyptian tabla ensemble plays. In another, a flute ensemble. The other rooms, however, have mostly forgettable classical music piped in through subtly placed speakers.

The place is a bit crowded tonight and the air a little thick with a myriad of smells - tobacco smoke, perfume and cologne, food, and drink - with embers milling around the various rooms available with masquerade masks in place, some playing the anonymity up more than others. There also what seems to be half of the Rockette's backup roster in attendance, dressed in green corsets, fishnets, and tapered skirts made of nothing more than a few layers of gathered up red and green tulle, helping to pass out the evening's refreshments.

Security is a little tighter than usual, perhaps due to the number of guests coming through on members' arms.

Normally this is the kind of party that Danny Rand is expected to attend, but avoids if at all possible. He has certain engagements he's not allowed to skip as per his arrangements with the Meachums, but the Hellfire Club is not on that list. No, in this case, he came of his own accord. That doesn't have anything to do with his research into his father's archeological pursuits back in the day and what the older members might know about that, nope.

He's wearing a nice suit, though nothing that particularly stands out. It's green silk with a bit of a reflective quality to it, overtop a matching waistcoat, over a cream shirt. The pocket square is coordinated cream, and his shoes are brown wing tips. He's clearly been taking someone's fashion advice. He's been here for about twenty minutes and he's doing his best to just kind of…watch the room. Unlike the other billionaires at the party, he didn't come with anyone on his arm.

The invitation that had been offered at the door is yellowed with age and practically disintegrating at the edges, the words penned in iron gall ink full of excessive and extravagant curves and embellishments, bearing the seal of the Hellfire Club's London branch, wax-stamped from a time when such things were considered part of the trend and flaunting of one's wealthy standing. The name the invitation admits is for a dowager of some standing or another and a guest, the family name itself an old one. The scent of perfume accompanies it, as well as an underlying staleness that one might perhaps best associate with decay.

There's a chill that passes along with it, but no distinct recollection of those who had given it, and indeed a headcount would reveal at face value two less. Surely nothing to worry about!

Unseen but always and ever dressed for a formal social, the Gentleman Ghost threads his way through the gathered guests, the cold that follows in his wake perhaps welcome reprieve from the general warmth that otherwise builds up with such heavily packed functions.

"I suppose even centuries old tradition must bend to modern times in some ways," he comments to the equally transparent woman at his side, her arm hooked around his, her gown much more befitting the late nineteenth century as they had both had last lived.

Pietro Maximoff had, truth be told, not given the Hellfire Club much thought after the initial few meetings with Shaw and Frost. It was an atmosphere and world so far removed from the one in which he had grown up that the ceremony and decadence had seemed practically alien to him; and besides, that arena was not truly his domain, but another's.

The old staid traditions, to a one, all tried his patience to the bone. So when word had arrived of an evening event to come in the following week, Pietro had barely glanced at the invitation.

And then, Shaw had mentioned offhand, I wanted the swan, but I shall settle for seeing if the cygnet flies on his own.
And then, Wanda had placed her hand on Pietro's arm and looked up at him, and that had settled the matter.

Cut to the night of. The Maximoffs never make an appearance; Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are the sort you shoot on sight. Instead, coming through the receiving line, are a pair of unfamiliar faces. The young man is radiantly blond, that much is plain, though his actual features are for the moment obscured by a rather fanciful leonine mask. His suit is a dark and rather conservative charcoal, but the tie he wears is a dark red slash down his front fastened by a gold tie bar.

"I finally get the joke," Pietro remarks to his sister, in a brief moment of thorough amusement.

The ghostly spectral pair make their way into the press of bodies without so much as a fight. A London invitation draws an eye, but nothing more. Indeed, all the woman at the door can think to do is to consider the paper with a turn back and forth and then comment quietly to the other woman beside her, "Look at this! How much do you think London spent on the invitations this year?"

And Emma Frost, too, has made her appearance at some point. Although she has her own way of doing it: emerging from a back parlor in Shaw's wake. It's undoubtedly him, for he waits until he's several strides into the hall before setting his dark mask back onto his face, plunging a hand in his pocket, and then strolling off at a leisurely pace to see what has become of certain colleagues.

That leaves the blonde finally free of him, the Venetian lace mask upon her face doing very little, really, to obscure her identity. It drips strands of pearls and crystals down her cheeks, a subtle suggestion of horns at her temples, and the lacy implication of a crystal-studded tiara upon the smooth surface of her brow. It drips more pearl from the ribbons that tie it upon her face, dressing a cascade of half-pulled back blonde curls. Her dress is - in a way of looking at it - simpler. A silk crepe de chine number that swags low in both front and back from a woven quartet of thin satin straps, and bares her tall stiletto heels with every step by way of the two high slits that cut the front of her gown.

Pietro and Wanda will no doubt feel her arrival before they see her, as she senses them even among the crowd and uses her particular abilities to brush past their awareness, even as she moves to collect one of the passed cocktails designed for the fancy theme soiree. Her little way of saying hello, one might suppose.

A masquerade. Exactly the sort of function a certain investigative reporter could slip into without attracting too much attention… but not without effort.

Here's how it went down.

Councilman J. A. Penton was not only one of the signators of the MRSPA ("Mrs. Pennsylvania?" Lois had muttered when she saw the name of the Act), he was one of its major pushers. He's not The Reason the Act passed, but he's definitely on the list. He's also a member of the Hellfire Club, or so Lois's sources told her… her sources specifically including a disgruntled former office assistant who was canned without references. Finding that out was one thing. The club isn't really well known, but when you follow the scent of corruption in Metropolis, you might get the occasional whiff from NYC.

So. That's how she found out the party was happening. That was the easy part. Getting in? Harder. Admittedly, Lois COULD very well have bluffed her way through the front door. She's done it before, and even most intensely private clubs in the city will let someone in who seems to know where she's going, especially if she's dressed right, and most especially on a night with so many guests of members. Still, best not to chance it if she could help it, and as it happened, she didn't have to.

"Linz," she said not twenty-four hours ago, "that party you're going to tomorrow night? Can I ask a… teensy favor?"

Linz. Lindsay. She just happens to be one of the Rockettes, and Lois happens to know her from way back. They did a few favors. Made friends. Linz broke her foot, and Lois had a walking boot to lend her. Lois liked Linz's lip gloss and Linz gave her the tube, saying she couldn't stand the taste. Not bosom companions, but friendly. Linz knows people. Linz gets around. Linz's sister also happens to be a stockbroker in a big firm on Wall Street, and she knew a guy whose great-uncle…

It went on from there, but in the end, Lois ended up on the arm of a rather decrepit 90-something financier whose eyesight is good enough to see what he needs of the fit and attractive woman he's escorting. As it's a masquerade ball, Lois is in costume. As she's an internationally known journalist (though much more recognizable by name than face; who reads newspapers these days?), she's wearing a mask and a wig. The mask is a lovely ice blue trimmed with silver; the wig is a mass of white curls reminiscent of an artfully tousled 18th century French courtesan's hairdo. Her cheeks are streaked with glitter. There's a little beauty mark in the shape of a star on one cheek, and her lips are painted the same glittery ice-blue as her mask. Her dress — all in similar colors but cut to show off glitter-painted gams in high heels in front with a bustle and petticoats at the back — looks pretty theatrical because it is, as is everything else she's wearing. Lois knows people, and one of those people is a wardrobe manager off Broadway.

All in all, it's a Look, and she's pretty happy that no one she knows is going to be here. Except Linz, but since the tall, slim, leggy Linz is currently laughing the loudest at the joke of some guy in most of a pinstripe suit, Lois is probably safe. At the moment. From her.

And on the arm of the man with the lion's mask is a woman, dressed in a paired royal red-and-gold, her gown a formal thing, long-sleeved and high-collared, paired with a sash that runs its gilded veil down her long back. Though it, and the gold she wears, seems a pale mimic to the colour of her hair: just as blond as he is, that vibrant amber of a setting sun, arranged in elaborate knotwork.

Murmurings amongst other members have them quickly named — Aleksandr Vadim, and his new bride, Katerina. Oligarch money out of Russia, and asserting power after a long winter of waiting — investments poured to maintain foreign systemic corruption.

An elaborate story veiled in scarlet.

Scarlet Emma Frost's astral sight would see, with a long look in on the Maximoffs, their images flickering back-and-forth between truth and artifice.

Katerina's green eyes — and Wanda's blue — turn distantly to feel Emma Frost's presence. She smiles to herself, though same is for the White Queen as well. Good evening to the Court.

"The joke becomes you," answers Wanda to Pietro, entertained, as she brushes one of his lapels. "Enjoy yourself, foremost. You rarely do, these days."

The Twins are disguised against outright identification and so too is Joanna Cargill.

Tonight her tall figure is shrouded in the petite form of a young woman. Her short hair is now long and the light brown strands are woven into a complex and delicate looking braid. Her pale eyes are set in a face that is far more round than lean, having lost the inherent strength that Frenzy's typical features hold.

And while the illusion of such a physically weak person covers her form, that (thankfully) doesn't stop Frenzy from staying near the Twins; to guarantee their safety.

As such instead of a looming shadow, Frenzy finds herself something far more meek and quiet. A mousey shadow.

Her newly minted features are likewise covered with a mask. An airy thing depicting the orange and black wings of a Monarch Butterfly. For her dress she wears a simple suit of black to tie into the whole butterfly motif.

It's only her eyes that betray some of what she is, as they move sharply around the room. She sizes up all those who come near Pietro and Wanda and even those that don't, as she considers the risk to her charges.

Ah the Masqued Ball. A wonderful event where people conceal their identity and mingle with each other in relative anonymity. A ancient pastime where people pretend they don't know each other and live can go on. Yes. A fine old tradition…

…that is entirely lost on some people.

Slipping in the door is a figure that, though not tall in physical stature, exerts more influence on those around him than he likely gives credit to. He's wearing a suit of course, a fitted tuxedo in a dark maroon color that actually fits well. One that he wears well. One that he knows he wears well.

The mask though…

The red and gold set is made of exquisite laser cut metal, almost thin as paper. Contoured to the wearers head but the lower part cut to reveal the mouth and jawline(covering the mouth makes drinking difficult!). The smooth metallic mask glimmers in the light, just enough shimmer to be eye catching. Not enough to be blinding.

However the style? The slit eyes. The metallic luster of the top of the faceplate. The red and gold color scheme.

…oh yeah. That is Iron Man.

It doesn't help that Tony Stark has somehow managed holographically recreate googly eyes over the normal eye slits. Why you may ask?

…why not! That would be the answer.

"Sir?" JARVIS' voice chimes in his ears. "I am afraid Miss Frost might physically harm you for this."

"Come on, buddy. Relax. Its a party!"

——

Wanda's admonishment draws her brother's eye. Pietro glances sidewise at his twin, even as he takes a glass of red from a passing server and gives it to her. "There's always work to be done," he says, making excuse, snaring another glass for himself. His eyes hold hers, more than long enough to reinforce their cover story. "But I enjoy more than well enough the times I do find, in between. I think it compensates for the rarity."

A cool, familiar sense glossed across their paired senses turns his eye. His eyes find Emma Frost soon enough, and a far more cordial greeting than they might have previously exchanged transpires: Pietro lifts his glass in her direction with an ironic tilt of a salute. The Court may convene — later.

An older man slides into their orbit and cuts off sight of Frost. A financier interested in making some new connections in Russian money. A good thing for their cover story that Pietro is fluent; he makes conversation enough to be believable, before the man sees someone else he knows and drifts off.

Attention returning to his companions, Pietro starts to think about taking another glass of wine for Frenzy, but then remembers and refrains. His gaze flickers over their companion's glamour with some humor. He's not accustomed to looking down to find Joanna Cargill's eyes. "This is a new vantage point," he observes. "How is it treating you?" A pause. He might get punched, but — "You do look nice."

His restless gaze is rarely still, though, his eyes taking in arrivals as they sweep through the door. Did they just let in a pair of ghosts and a nonagenarian with a woman a third his age? "High society, I suppose," he observes, the sneer audible in his voice. "I'm bored already. How long are we staying, again?"

And then Pietro sees Tony. His arm tightens perceptibly under Wanda's hand. "He looks… entirely too well," Pietro says, in the understatement of the year. He can still remember what Stark's blood felt like under his nails — and yet — "Shall we pay our respects to the miraculous recovery?" For once he doesn't make the decision. His gaze turns to his twin.

There are so many people, but only occasionally there is a comment to inquire if anyone else feels the draft or ask if someone opened a window. That is the only real acknowledgment for now that the Gentleman Ghost is noticed at all as he makes his way as he will. A model demands her escort's jacket for her bare shoulders. An older man complains about the chill and his arthritis.

Probably more disconcerting to most of the attendees would be the reporter who's managed to sneak into the party, lest she end up being able to name one. One man in particular comes to offer the powder-wigged Lois a drink and the opportunity to swap her present arm to hang on his instead. Or, at least, to think about a private after party once this has would down hours in the future. His place, he assures, is close.

Emma is cutting her way towards the "newlyweds", slipping through the tight confines of a hallway. She raises her glass through the doorway, and then disappears from view as she's swept along. There's a bit of a hubbub in the entry, because Tony's mask has become a polarizing force among the membership. There are those who are glaring and despising Stark's ostentatious bucking of the spirit of the party. There are those ready to slap him on the back and cheer him on because… well, this is a class of people who often enjoy making their own rules. What's one more self-made rule to the list?

They don't call Tony Stark a subtle genius for nothing.

In fact, they don't call Tony Stark subtle at all.

The sooner Lois is off the old man's arm, the better. He to put a hand on her thigh in the car ride up here, and she was forced to spill a bottle of water on him. She has no intention of dealing with that crap again. So, with the promise that she'll absolutely find him a glass of port and a cigar, Lois ditches her date and breathes a sigh of relief.

Cat Grant, she reflects, would give her eyeteeth to be here. Lois vaguely wonders what eyeteeth actually are and makes a mental note to look it up once she gets home. She might have to catch her own ride tonight. But she does direct one of the everpresent servers toward The Hon. Whatsisnuts IV of the Long Island Whatsisnuts so that the wretch gets his booze and smokes.

She's just spotted Councilman Penton and has begun her amble his way when she's waylaid by a young man with an offer of drinks and — an after party, you say?

"You know, I might just take you up on that," she murmurs, lowering her voice an octave. A little more Marlene Dietrich than Amy Archer. "Give me your number? And then as soon as I'm… free… maybe we can hook up. Mind if I bring a friend along?"

Yeah. Not that that's likely, but it might get him to slime off in search of other fresh meat.

That is the terrifying part about Tony Stark. The man knows how to play the game. He knows how to be quiet and subtle. He was raised by two of the creators of SHIELD and some of that had to slip through his willful ignorance. He knows exactly what the rules are.

…and then he finds new and ever more intriguing ways to break them.

There is a wide slash of a grin as he finds himself in the middle of a social skirmish. Yoinking a drink from a passing waitress, laughing at the look of one of the more scandalized visitors. In general making the leadership of the HFC wonder just /why/ they brought him in the first place.

It might be a good thing Emma got sweapt away, he likely would have asked her to dance. If there is dancing. THERE BETTER BE DANCING THIS IS A PARTY.

…but for now the man simply relishes being at the center of things. At least he appears to be doing just that and who is anyone to say otherwise. That /does/ make him a decent target for the newlyweds…I mean it’s not like he can move without half the party knowing where he is.

Katerina Vadim accepts both the glass of red and the glance off her new husband. He owns her entire attention in that moment — as he were the center of her universe.

Newlyweds, seriously.

"Sometimes all too rare, these days," Wanda answers in another's voice, steeped with a distant, pronounced accent, as Russian as her name.

As old money members of the HFC weave in and out, assuaging curiosities and building connections — some even to make loaded boasts of their legacy memberships, like circling dogs establishing pack order — and Wanda lets Pietro speak for both of them. Not the place of Katerina, who is expected to smile mysteriously, turn away her eyes with indifference when conversation goes too deeply into investments, and partake of her wine.

Wanda, beneath the surface, has her attention on other things. Frost, for one, owns much of her curiosity. The woman is a planet in transit, she thinks; soon to make her eclipse on the Maximoffs' lives. Their father spoke fleetingly of her; here and there reflections, inferences, imparted to his daughter during her imprisonment. Her cage, and all its forced education.

But Wanda does not need to remember back on Magneto to sense enough about Emma. Frost will be a major player for the game to come. But to what ends?

For now, she nestles her head close to Pietro's arms, a fond smile on her mouth as she, too, looks on Frenzy. For once in her life, not looking down on her. "Of course she looks lovely. I saved for her my best work. Perhaps next time, a ballerina?"

Poor Frenzy.

"We are staying long enough to see who are in attendance," answers Wanda to Pietro, her voice couched with amusement. That smile on her mouth, oddly enough, lingers even when her eyes land on Tony Stark.

Wanda tilts her head slightly.

«He is more,» she murmurs into her twin brother's head. «I cannot sense how. It is not —»

Her smile twitches at the corners.

How does it feel.

That brings a curl to Frenzy's lip. She could answer that but it'd likely blow her cover.

In fact, when he proceeds to say she looks nice, the woman offers a a sound of such disdain. Low words accompany that slight noise of disgust, "I am not here to look nice."

She's there to keep them safe.

Only that thought stops midway as Wanda speaks of just what next time will reveal. A ballerina. That's enough to cause a flash of horror to appear on Frenzy's features, which thankfully is hidden by her mask. That horror continues up until Tony Stark is seen, then whatever 'lightness' that Frenzy feels is lost.

Immediately a hand fists at her side as she stares hard at the googly-eyed Iron Man. She'd take a step forward, but her cues lie with Pietro and Wanda. So she waits for their response before she commits to anything on her part.

Glasses lift from a tray in passing, no visible fingers upon their fine stems and yet they drift off, lost in the crowd, the odd chill settling within that vicinity as the ghostly pair tuck themselves off to the side.

"Quite the array of guests," Craddock murmurs, studying the distorted revelry through the curved glass. He wonders if his partner for the evening is disappointed. Elegance only goes so deeply for such occasions, nothing at all like the balls he's certain she probably internally comparing it to.

"Come, milady Harris. 'tis not a proper party if we do not mingle." The Gentleman Ghost takes the lady's hand, leading her back into the shifting crowds, slowly becoming visible as though stepping out from the shadows, and in a way, that's just what he's doing. The veil between is so very thin a line.

He's dressed the part, Victorian from head to foot with a tall hat, a cravat, suit, gloves and cloak, all in white. A cane is toted by his free hand, a monocle perched before his right eye, or at least one can assume as much. You see, there's no face nor head to be seen at all.

The same can't be said for the lady who accompanies him, her dress just as pale and equally translucent, all the way through in the way that one can see behind her without looking around. Fine lines to mimic the pattern of cobwebs balloon across her billowing skirts, her hair done up in the fashion of old debutant ballroom dancers. The top portion of her face is hidden behind an equally web-themed mask, the lower mostly obscured by the fan she holds to it.

And what is Miss Lane up to, meanwhile?

Don't get her wrong. Whatever Stark is up to is almost certainly bound to be hilarious. And the lady who just clenched her hand with malice aforethought, she's clearly guarding someone. Who? The pair joined at the hip? Because clearly this event has nothing to do with whoever's getting married. It really never does. It's like the participants at the birthday of a two year old in Martha's Vineyard. Nobody gives a crap about the kid.

The canapes, meanwhile, are great: Lois snags one that looks mostly recognizable as food, and if this is how the other half lives, she's going to have to seriously reconsider this whole honest reporter thing. However, as close as she is to Councilman Penton, she's not getting much out of hearing him tell a story about the last time he went on safari. Anyway, the real fun will happen when he leaves.

So Lois's amble and eavesdrop starts aiming a little more toward that pair of what seems to be practically royalty up in here.

Pietro's Russian is brisk, with the thoughtless fluency of a native speaker. A fringe benefit of his gifts. Few would ever guess it was the study of a few accelerated hours. The conversation is blissfully short, which is good, because a few sentences in he's already gritting his jaw internally against the banality of it.

«Lucky,» he sends to his twin, because her only outward occupation here is to drink wine and look pretty. The brief sibling squabble has little bite, however, because he knows well enough who is doing the heavy lifting in terms of what really matters. He can feel Wanda's attention feeling across the room, taking in this new landscape and finally putting into practice the lessons their father taught.

Their father. Pietro's grasp twitches a little tighter on the glass.

Their mutual teasing of Frenzy is a welcome distraction. "A ballerina? Don't do that to her," Pietro chides, though he can't quite repress the smile. She's not here to look nice, Frenzy insists. "Yet you do," he says. "Take the compliment. I hand out so few of them." The things Frenzy puts up with, for her loyalty.

The things Pietro puts up with for his twin, for that matter. She will stay long enough to see who is a player here, Wanda insists, and Pietro sighs heavily. His mood only blackens further on Stark's arrival, and he paws the mask away for a better look. The fact this action gives him a clearer view of the googly eyes causes him to regret his decision. It also gives him a vantage of Lois, whose wandering pattern Pietro watches for a few moments.

Tony Stark has changed, his twin reports. But — «You cannot sense how?» The incredulity in his mental reply says well enough how often this happens. «Next time, I will kill him outright. That will remove the ambiguity.»

Emma Frost had quietly secreted herself away somewhere. The edge of a parlor thick with cigar smoke, speaking in low tones with a man who's dressed himself up in brown and royal blue for the night.

She re-emerges from that parlor agitated from whatever conversation had transpired and on a fairly direct course for what could be a 'baking soda and vinegar' situation. The carmine frown she wears on the way over dissipates partway through her march, however, as she offers plasticine smiles to whoever looks her way. The veneer is a practiced one, and eventually she stops wanting to talk at all and so she buries her presence beneath notice, which is a hell of a trick when she often wishes to do precisely the opposite. Until she's upon the target trio, that is: a secret king and his entourage. "Darlings," she says, voice thick like honey as she wraps her slender bare arm around the one belonging to Frenzy. "Might I borrow this one for a moment? I've an introduction that I would very much like to make." And one that she'd very much like to avoid.

To Stark, there will be a familiar press of thoughts not his own. « Why do they let you dress yourself for these things? »

Tony Stark has no clue someone is looking at him with such malice. No the man seems secure in his own immortality at the moment. Weather that is true or not remains to be seen but right now? Right here? He feels safe enough.

The googly eyes shake as the man laughs, sipping his drink and looking like he is enjoying himself. Hidden behind those comical things though the man scans the room.

New York's rich, powerful, and depraved. All gathered in one room. All masked and ready to party. Stark doesn't even want to know what goes on behind closed doors here. He's learned enough to be wary of most of them.

Electronic noise buzzes about him. Mixing in with the constant background hum of cellphones and personal devices but this bit of it directed towards the one person at the party he would trust.

/JARVIS? Anything going to explode and/or try to assassinate me in the general sense?/ There is a pause as he hears that flutter of thoughts and smirks slightly. /Besides Emma./

/Well sir, several people have brought bodyguards. That young newlywed couple there has been watching you and I believe their butterfly guard doesn't like you very much. Beyond that there is just the usual amount of debauchery./

Stark smirks at that. "Ah," He murmurs. "I love it how you turn a phrase, buddy." Mostly out loud but covered by that glass of his.

«They don't,» Comes the thought back though. «Who’s the married kids? They keep staring. And the bodyguard you just distracted doesn't like me much.»

How can one person be perceptive and clueless all at the same time.

…Stark's answer would be /booze/.

With the alcohol freely flowing perhaps it makes it easier for a pair of ghosts to be lost amongst the rest of the guests. Empty glasses are set upon another tray. Craddock casually makes introductions of the Lady Beatrice Harris who always keeps her face hidden, her head dipping demurely.

Is that a strange echo to the gentleman's tone? My but the man's handshakes are as cold as ice. What did he look like again..?

They sweep on by leaving people to wonder.

"Ah, Mister Stark. Fancy meeting you again," the Gentleman Ghost murmurs as they pause just behind the man, bringing with them the odd chill that's slipped in and out of the throngs of partygoers.

«He is changed,» whispers Wanda, back through the scarlet threads bridging hers and Pietro's minds together. Her astral words knot with uncertainty.

«He should be died. He is scoured with it. The possibility is all over him. His torn heart. You killed him. He is not one. He is many. It is not life. But it has the noise.» Katerina's searching green eyes slip unfocused a moment too long. «Kill him someday. But not so soon.»

And then Wanda Maximoff recedes back into the farce, attention turned as Emma Frost intercedes to steal their poor Frenzy away. Her glamour, blond and masked and unconcerned, meets the bold act with a soft, delighted laugh. "You need not ask," she lilts back, perfect English wrapped in an accent straight from St. Petersburg. "What's mine shall always be yours. Save for one exception —"

Katerina Vadim presses up to that same exception, her loving husband Aleksandr, to run the knuckle of her index finger down the line of his jaw. Her eyes reflect affection that is hardly its own farce, true straight down past the scarlet bewitching and to the Maximoffs beyond.

Poor Emma.

Her smile tilts up; she trusts Frenzy closer to Stark's perimeter. Her eyes look a moment more up into Pietro's, before her gaze cues immediately on another — straight in the face. Lois Lane.

"Do remind us how we know you," declares Mrs. Vadim, her words short and sweet. "Because we would. We're all friends here."

Lois does seem to be drifting through the party like smoke — adjacent to this conversation at one moment, to the other at the next. She's… disgusted. It's the same old shit. How is this precisely different from any other drunken debauch? The booze is a little more impressive; that's all. But at least she's not being shot at or chased by monsters out to kill her. It could be worse.

Her perambulations are bringing her within a clear vantage of the twins, however, and her eyes lock on Pietro's face when his gaze passes over hers.

Oh. Oh. That's…

Nah, she has no idea who that is. But he's clearly important.

« It could be the ridiculous eyes you're wearing, » Emma suggests 'helpfully' to Tony as the reasons for Frenzy's disdain. « Just a thought. Some just take these things so seriously. » She's one of them, typically, but she has other things that she's handling at the moment. Like the Maximoffs devoted bodyguard. She pointedly avoids Stark’s other question. For the best that way.

As the bride makes her claim, all Frost does offer a helpful. "Oh, you're most welcome to the claim; I shan't contest it." For she has no interest in it at all. Her pale gaze turns to Cargill, and her lips turn in a fresh iteration of her smile. "We won't be long." …Just long enough.

A glance is given to Lois, and then Emma smiles. If she wants to throw herself to the wolves, the telepath will certainly do nothing to stop her. "Pardon me," she murmurs, slipping by.

«I had his heart in my hand.» Pietro's mental voice snarls with discontent, with thwarted spite. He parses his twin's cryptic words, as only he can, and understands what would be nonsense to others. «I felt it die. And here he is. What machinery has he put in himself this time to keep his broken body walking?»

Wanda has no immediate answer. But she sees other things with her witch's sight; other possibilities and threads, forking into the mists of the future, which lead her to one sage advisement: Kill him someday. But not so soon. Her brother's mind flints palpably with impatience, but for her he holds it in check.

«When you bid it,» he consents. «I will make it so.»

The Twins' attention turns as a unit, a moment later, to the timely approach of their queen. Their queen, who has a specific desire: the momentary loan of Frenzy. Wanda makes answer for both of them, with words and action alike; Pietro wears his twin's attentions indulgently, half a smile hooking the corner of his mouth as he presses a kiss to her forehead. Newlyweds, after all. "Return her as you found her," he permits, waving them off, though his gaze finds Frenzy's before she goes. Eyes open.

Which leaves — Miss Lois Lane.

"Dorogaya moya," Pietro observes to his twin, his voice cloaked in that affected St. Petersburg accent. "The cat has got her tongue."

Blissfully unaware of the murderous thoughts that are running through the heads of other party guests the inventor and entire center of attention continues to hold court. It is hard to tell which way he's actually looking with those comedic eyeballs bouncing around. If one didn't know better someone would think that Stark planned it like that. But how could he do something like that.

He's Tony Stark. He would never do something like that.

«So you like them then?» Stark replies towards Emma, the humor in his voice an obvious tinge. He knows the answer but it is hard not to tempt fate. «I'll play nice then. Should I introduce myself?» The lack of other answers is noted, not remarked upon but noted.

Still his broken body seems none the worse for wear. In fact it seems…better than it was. Not in the least broken in fact. The man walks with a poise that seems to defy his repeated brushes with death recently. No shaking hands or nervous twitches. He seems vital, alive, even on planes other than the physical.

Still he circles, eyes bouncing as he enjoys the laughter of his peers and the disapproval of the same in equal measure.

Lois's lips quirk up. Under the mask, most everything else is hidden — nose, brow, even the eyes are behind black netting, though they're not invisible. Just indistinct. She does vaguely wonder, though, if the googly eyes have cameras inside them. Wouldn't that be appropriate?

She catches something of what Pietro says. The last bit of that, anyway, the part in English.

"She… has nothing to say."

And that's about the level of courage Lois has right now, not least because her quarry is getting up and wobbling his way to the exit. Time to make her own getaway.

The googly eyes totally have cameras inside them.

Before he can target in on the newlyweds who are in no way plotting his demise a voice from his past gathers his attention. A quirked eyebrow as the engineer turns to find…a strange man. With a strange woman. Bringing with them a strange cold.

"Ah…yeah…good to see you too…" Obviously not good with faces here. "…and I have totally forgot your name I'm pretty sure…J…something?"

But Jim is already swirling off and Stark is already getting distracted by one of the many Rockettes.

…because he's easily distracted!

/JARVIS who was that…/
/Oh he was the dead man, sir./
/Wait, so… party zombies?/
/Ghosts, sir. At least that is the only spirit I remember you meeting lately. The one that helped with the young lady that was phasing./
/Oh! Yeah. That guy…/

Stark tilts his head slightly as he watches the pair swirl off in the crowd and just smirks.

"A party big enough to wake the dead. Emma will love that one."

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