A Cold Shade of Winter
Roleplaying Log: A Cold Shade of Winter
IC Details

Doug Ramsey comes back from the dead and warns Kitty about the things that may be coming.

Other Characters Referenced: Illyana Rasputin, Roberto De Costa, Danielle Moonstar, Madame Hydra .
IC Date: January 24, 2019
IC Location: Central Park
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 25 Jan 2019 05:20
Rating & Warnings: G
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

It's just after sunset, when Kitty's phone rings. <UNIDENTIFIED CALLER>

There is a good minute of silence, but someone is breathing quietly, unsure as if to speak.

Finally, a voice run through a light distorter. "Kitty Pryde. If you want answers about the graveyard, come to Central Park. Meet me at the Wisteria Pergola." Nobody's going to be there in the dead of winter. "Come *alone*. I will be too. …Two hours from now." Silence, again.

* * *

Kitty doesn't trust unidentified callers, especially not these days. However, she is also - much like her nickname may suggest - a curious person by nature. The phone rings a few times as she looks at the name flashing as 'unidentified' debating whether she should pick this up or not.

Even as she debates, her finger is already moving to swipe upward to accept the call. She knows she can't let something like this pass her by without trying to find out who this is. "I swear if this is someone asking me about my internet service or Rocket making a prank call from Mars I am gonna lose it," she mutters to herself as she answers.

The breathing quietly is met with a quick frown. "I swear, if you're a creeper I'm going to backward trace this call and shove this phone down your throat, jerk." And then a distorter, her name, a place to meet. Her eyes narrow.

The grenade, her friend's grave. If this is the perpetrator…

"Alright, you cryptic creepazoid. I'll be there, but just because I'm alone doesn't mean you're not in for it." And then, without even waiting, she hangs up the phone, angry and flushed at the thought of someone doing this.

Flash forward two hours and she is there, waiting under the Wisteria Pergola. She has a warm jacket, wool hat, gloves, a scarf, she's well prepared for the cold, much like someone from rural Illinois knows waiting outside in the cold only lets it seep further in. Not only that, she is geared up for a fight, for a reveal, for something sketchy to happen as she surveys all available means of approach.

* * *

…The man — and it is a man — is already there. He's in a full ski mask, the kind with no mouth, and he's only a couple of inches taller than Kitty, but he's broad and stocky and strong. He's perched on a bench, sitting on the top of it, browsing a phone, and his posture is hunched and tense, as his gloved fingertips slide over the screen.

The crunch of Kitty's boots in the snow makes him look up and across the deserted garden, and his blue eyes are as hard and cold as sapphires. Steam fogs his breath through the mask, and when he steps down, he shakes his shoulders out.

"Overconfident, much?" He says. The distorter's in his mask, it's still muffling his voice. "This could've been a trap. But that's not why I'm here." He pins Kitty with a stare. "Doug Ramsey. Samuel Guthrie. Roberto DaCosta. Danielle Moonstar. Illyana Rasputina. …Kitty Pryde. The common thread connecting all of you is Charles Xavier and his school. But there's something *more*. What is it. *Tell me*." There's a faint edge of desperation, of *need* in his voice.

"You answer my question, and give me an answer that satisfies me, and I'll answer yours." He stands, waiting.

* * *

Most of Kitty's face is covered by the scarf she has wrapped around her face. It's not a mask so much as practical, but it does the job. Focusing on the person she was told to meet here, she straightens and her own blue eyes narrow to see him there.

"Is there a reason I shouldn't be?" Overconfident, that is. When confronted with something she needs and wants to puzzle out, she will puff herself up. "You're the one that wanted me here. As far as I see it, I'm the one holding the cards. You wanted to tell me something about the graveyard."

His direct question is met with a frown, though it's impossible to see behind her scarf. The tinge of desperation is heard in his voice and a moment of sympathy rises up unbidden. "Are you…are you in trouble? Do you know something and need some help? Look, I don't take threats well. I don't know anyone who does. You should reconsider your negotiation plans. Are you trying to hid from registration? I can help you, if that's what it is."

* * *

"I'm not — threatening you. I would *never*—" There is a pause, and then the stranger huffs out a breath. "And I'm not hiding from anyone. Something familiar about his eyes, though they're hard and cold. A little taller, but not too much — broader in the shoulder though. Squarer.

"I'm not hiding from anything. I" He clenches his hands into fists. "This was a mistake. You're not going to tell me anything. You're too SMART to tell me anything! You were always too SMART — I should've chosen a different avenue of approach. Da Costa, maybe" He narrows his eyes, and then stands there, in a relaxed posture.

"You want to know why I dropped that grenade on Doug Ramsey's grave? …Well, I just watched Marie Kondo's special on Netflix and she says that you should get rid of things that belong to you that don't bring you joy." …Did he just make a joke? Pretty sick joke, right? Wait…

He watches Kitty, his shoulders tensing up, slightly, no sound but his breath.

* * *

"You're not threatening me?" Kitty raises an eyebrow and studies the man under the pergola. "You're using a voice modifier and telling me to meet you in Central Park in two hours alone! You've got your entire face covered. How is that not hiding?" Moving closer, the eyebrows start to narrow. His frame and eyes…there's something there that strikes at her memory.

Even more than that, the names he knows, the fact that he seems to know her. Quickly, she's moving forward. The joke about Marie Kondo makes the wheels turn even quicker. Unable to help herself, she reaches forward to grab at the mask. This time it's her turn to sound almost desperate in her need to get answers. "No. That's not…"

* * *

He doesn't move. Kitty pulls the mask up. First the jawline, the chin, then his eyes, and the blond hair, mussed from the mask but still with that thick flip evident. Older. Unshaven. With hard, angry eyes.

"What's wrong, Pryde? You look like you've just seen a ghost." He inhales, and maybe then it becomes apparent that he's holding back tears.

"Looking at you is a knife in my guts, a cold knife… stabbing me over and over. It shouldn't be, but it is. I shouldn't be here at all, but I have to warn you. Get the others and anybody else you care about and get them out of New York, Kitty. Take them to the School, they'll be safe there." He looks down, and then says, quietly, "…I know you won't listen to me, but I— *Please* listen to me."

* * *

The mask is pushed upward and Kitty holds it there. Blinking a few times, she's frozen. Through the scarf she's wrapped about her face, beneath the brightly covered wool hat she wears down to her ears, she remains there for a few moments unable to process this new information.

"Doug." The name is breathed out in a moment of disbelief and also sudden elation. She can see the hardness in his eyes, the anger. But it's the bad jokes that makes her back up and immediately try and wrap him in a hug. "Doug!" Tears prick at the corners of her eyes. "You're alive! How—-where have you been?"

There is danger here, she knows it. Doug wouldn't have stayed away for this long if he was able to return. "No, it's okay. I'll take you back. We'll take you back to the school and it'll be all okay. You have to come back with me." The thought of getting everyone out of New York is pushed to the side for now.

* * *

When she hugs him, Doug doesn't seem to know what to do at first. His hands are on her back, then Kitty's arms, and they're shaking. He takes a half-step back. "No. Whatever… whatever my life was before, that's over now, Kitty. I'm an agent of Hydra now. Mankind's hopeless without a strong hand to rule it and masters to command it." His mouth tightens into a grim line. "But I'll make sure there's a place for you in the New Order—"

Then he backs up another step. "Stop it." He says to Kitty, grabbing for his mask and trying to pull it back on. "Please. I've already risked *so much* by coming here… I can't fail this test. I can't fail Madame Hydra."

Viper. Whatever this is, Viper is behind it.

* * *

"It's not." Kitty doesn't try and hook Doug into a hug he cannot leave. As he backs away out of that hug, she lets her arms fall down. As he he talks, though, she matches every step back with a step forward.

"Hydra." The word is harsh as she studies Doug. "You're working with Nazis now?" Shaking her head, she knows there must be something that happened, a reason he is talking like this. "You expect me to want a place in a New Order that's populated with Nazis, Doug?"

Reaching forward, she doesn't attempt to put him in a hug, doesn't try and do anything other than grab his hand and stop him from putting that mask up. "You called me for a reason. I know you did. Did you think I would ever - in a million years - agree to standby and let an organization that would gladly kill me and my family rise up? You knew that."

Madame Hydra is quickly logged away. "Doug, please."

* * *

Doug shakes his head, and all he says, is a very soft, "Stop it." Then louder, "…Stop it, Kitty! The things you're saying without saying them, it's KILLING me" He puts his hands on his temples, and then squeezes his eyes shut. "I owe Madame Hydra everything. Without her, I'd be nothing. Just a *nobody*, a *cypher*"

"You're all a bunch of half-remembered names and faces haunting my memory and my dreams…" He lets his hands drop. "…I… I have to put you aside. I have a mission, and I've already risked compromising it by warning you. But I couldn't — I couldn't just —"

* * *

"No." Kitty is very firm in that. "It's killing you because you care about us. You know that Hydra's mission is wrong. Hydra is out to kill people. They don't care about anyone, they just want to put themselves on top and get rid of anyone they don't like. You were never a nobody."

Shaking her head, she doesn't let up. While his hands drop, she remains right where she is. "Don't do that, Doug. We're more than that. It's why you're here. You risked things to be here! There's a reason for that."

Pausing, she looks up at him, blue eyes sympathetic but not turning away. "Why do you owe her anything? What did she do for you?"

* * *

Doug closes his eyes, and says, "Cold, alone and scared. Couldn't think, couldn't remember. Gave me food, put me back together, she gave me *purpose*…" She indoctrinated him and broke his mind. Cypher's memory flashes back to Arnim Zola's leering, grinning face on that chest monitor, and he lets out a cry of pain before tamping it back down.

"But *I can't just let you die*" Then his hands tremble. "…I warned you, Kitty and now the rest is on you. Do the smart thing." He tamps down the fear and the hurt, and Discord's cruel mask reasserts itself… with considerable effort.

"…You've been warned." Doug says, his voice a whisper, with a hint of a tremble, blue eyes steeled through anger and pain. "What you do with it is your business. I believe you when you say you want to help me, but my life is not my own anymore. I belong to Hydra." He doesn't pull the mask on, and then says, quietly, "Tell Dani, Sam, and Bobby that I'm—" He pauses, lost in thought. "…Tell them Doug's dead, and Discord's what's left."

* * *

"No. It's not on me." Kitty looks at Doug. "Doug, this isn't on me. This is on you. You came here. You decided to warn me. That's not Hydra. This is you. Giving you the basic needs to survive? You don't owe anyone for that."

Pushing forward, she doesn't reach for him again, instead, she is attempting to get her words to penetrate into his head. It's a harder thing. Pulling off her gloves, she reaches out a hand to try and take his hand. "Hydra doesn't care about you. We do. Can't you see? You worry about Dani and Yana and Berto and I because you know this isn't you. Please Doug." She refuses to call him Discord. Not here.

"I'm warned because you wanted to warn me. Just…come back to see the others. You don't have to stay. Just tell the others what you have to say." Kitty pulls the scarf down and pulls off the hat. Her breath puffs out into the cold in delicate wisps that are dispersed as soon as she speaks. "Doug. You're not dead. You're here. You're right here. I see you. Please. Please."

* * *

Doug turns, and his reaction is to stiffen. "…Do you know what you're really saying to me right now?" He says, turning, slightly, to watch Kitty, the mask bunched up on top of his head. "You're trying to reach me, trying to negotiate with me. You're searching out every emotional vulnerability you *think* I have and leaning on them as hard as you can. It's manipulative… and you know it."

He closes his eyes. "You're not going to let me leave. This is negotiation. If this fails… you'll resort to violence." He remains standing where he is. "Because you love me." He looks up, his eyes steely. "You may not even know you're saying those things, but your body language and the look in your eyes gives it away before you know it. I know everything you're thinking, everything you're going to do, before *you* consciously know it."

"But you know what the worst part is? I can see that if I do leave… I'll rip your heart out. And even though there's so much I can't remember… that'd be the same thing as ripping out mine. I know based on my own emotions, my own language, that in some stupid, childish way…" He tilts his head at Kitty, "…I was in love with you once. Did I do that to people a lot? Fall in love with them, I mean?"

"That's the ultimate *temptation*… I want to know who Doug Ramsey *was*, and the person with all the answers is standing here begging me to stay, and if I *give in* I'll be betraying *everything*!"

* * *

Kitty watches at Doug closes his eyes. "I want to make sure you're okay. I don't want you to go back to Hydra." It's not exactly a concession that she'll use any means necessary to keep him there, but it is not saying that she won't, either.

"You're my friend, Doug. I love you, too." Looking at him, she stuffs her hat into her pocket and brushes the beginnings of tears away from her eyes. "We all did. We all love each other. It's why you care about us now. We're a family. You loved us all. At least, that is how it seemed."

Standing there, she watches him. "What would you be betraying, Doug? A place that holds giving you food and shelter as a reason to love them? Xavier's did that and didn't expect anything from that. Don't you remember Xavier's? We're not a temptation, we're your friends."

* * *

Doug's head drops, and he looks down, his hands clenched into fists. "It's like there's a whole other life that's just out of my *reach*, and now it's closer than ever and I just… I can't touch it. I-" He exhales. "I-"

Then he looks up to Kitty, and says, "…No. I can't let you shake me. This is a test of my loyalty and I will not fail—" Then he lies, through his teeth, "…The emotions you stir up in me are nothing but a distraction, and I am fixated on my goals."

He reaches up, and pulls that black mask back on, though his mouth remains showing. Doug's voice. "…Now are you going let me leave, or is this going to degenerate to the crude language of violence… Katherine?"

* * *

"We can tell you about that life. It's not out of your reach. You just have to ask us." Kitty is determined. It's what she does best, why she is who she is. Though Doug tries to pull back, she doesn't let up on him. "No, I'm shaking you for a reason. We care about you Doug. You called me for a reason. Not Berto, not Illy, not Dani. You called me because you know how I'd talk to you. Just…hold onto that. I'm here for you. Doug. Just…You know my number. Call me."

This time, when he puts the mask up, she doesn't stop him. But she watches him, her cheeks now turning very pink in the cold, snow starting to crust into her hair. She does not attempt to stop anything of that creep. "If you want to leave, Doug, I will let you leave. But I will watch you. And I want you to know that if you need any help, you can still call me. I'm Kitty. And you know that."

* * *

Doug's mouth tightens. "…Discord." He says, his voice as quiet as a whisper. "And it's very hard to watch me unless I feel like being watched. Get out of New York, Kitty. Because by the time I'm done, this city and its twelve million souls will be *past tense*." He turns, his boots crunching in the snow, and walks away, throwing his arms out. "All the leaves are brown… and the sky is gray~"

He stops long enough to look over his shoulder at Kitty one last time. "Hail Hydra." Then he walks off, into the flurrying snow.

* * *

"I'm not leaving, Doug." Kitty stands there, under the pergola, letting the snow fall, letting the cold set in. "I'll be here and so will the others. If you do that, you're going to have to set against us. I think we can fight you, but if we can't, you'll have to burn us down to get what your Madame Hydra wants. You know that and it's why you came to talk to me. You know the X-Men would never let New York City to be past tense."

As Doug says 'hail hydra' she gives him a very pained expression. "This isn't California, Doug."

* * *

Doug pauses. "I just remembered something. …We met in Dance class." He says, his voice far away. "…I was there because I wanted to learn how to dance in order to impress girls. You picked me as your partner because you thought my T-Shirt was funny. What did it say…? I don't remember—"

* * *

Kitty gives him a bit of a smile. "It was a very poorly made shirt that just said 'I can count to potato'. I don't think it would impress girls, but it was a great shirt."

* * *

Doug pauses. "…I loved that shirt."

* * *

"It was a good shirt." Kitty smiles and with that shared moment, she tries to share it with Doug. "And it did well with the ladies. Or, well, as anything did well with them. We could take this conversation to a beer or something." There's a hopeful catch in her throat when makes that offer.

* * *

Doug tilts his head at Kitty, and then he closes his eyes, and says, "If I did, Hydra would find out about it. And then we'd both be in danger. I have my mission, Kitty, and I'm going to carry it out. Even if — even if you're my enemy. Even if you get in my way. …Good-bye, Kitty." He continues walking away, and closes his eyes, to try and will away the tears.

* * *

"This isn't goodbye, Doug. We'll see each other again." This is Kitty Pryde. As he said when they met. She is smart and stubborn. She is going to see this through to the end. And, to her, this is exactly why he contacted her as opposed to anyone else. "You do what you feel like you need to do. But, you're not a Nazi. I know that. We'll see each other again."

* * *

For now, the only response to Kitty is the howl of the wind through the bare trellises and the slow fall of snow.

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