Domiciles and Dual Citizenship
Roleplaying Log: Domiciles and Dual Citizenship
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Betsy Braddock consults Matt Murdock about registration

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: February 04, 2019
IC Location: The Law Offices of Nelson & Murdock, Hell's Kitchen, New York
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 07 Feb 2019 16:46
Rating & Warnings:
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

The offices of Nelson & Murdock are bursting at the seams, awkward in many of the same ways a child is when it has hit a sudden growth spurt. What was once a two-man shop has hired a set of new associates and clerks, some of whom are camped out in the small conference-room-slash-law-library just off the foyer, some of whom are conversing in the kitchenette on the opposite side. The copier is in constant use, and there's the sounds of four different cell-phones ringing. They've struck an agreement with the landlord to rent the office across the hall, and it can't be ready soon enough.

The far wall of the foyer is lined with chairs for waiting guests. Several of them are filled: a harried mother and a toddler; an elderly couple speaking in hushed tones, a young man with a green faux hawk and earbuds.

In short: it's about as far from the sleek, steel-and-glass law office you might expect from a mildly-famous Manhattan law firm as you can imagine.

But for all that it isn't pretty, it's prompt. When it's time for Betsy's appointment the office manager — a woman in her mid-thirties, brisk and efficient — will guide her to the door to Mr. Murdock's office, and swing it open.

More chaos, if of the calculated kind. There are papers everywhere, all of them with scatterings of raised bumps. There's a cooling cup of coffee on the table that dominates the space. And behind it is Matt Murdock, bespectacled, slightly shaggy-haired, in a slim-cut grey suit and a half-loosened tie. He pushes himself to a rise as soon as he hears the door open — his smile slight but affable.

"Ms. Braddock," he says with a gesture to the seat across the desk from him. "Thanks for waiting. Please, have a seat, and tell me what we can do for you."

—-

There is the sound of heels against floor that heralds her arrival, as Betsy steps in. The scent of her skin - subtle and faint, slightly oriental in nature, will follow once the door is closed. Purple hair is loose, the makeup perfect to suit her professional call. The dress is high end, a silk blend that might be heard sliding against pampered model skin.

"Solicitor Murdock. I'm acquainted with Mister Worthington, who is a big fan of yours, of course." She will being before she sinks into a chair, crossing bent legs at the ankle like a lady. "I understand you are doing some legal work for him, and he recommended you highly. I wish to sue the state of New York, Mister Murdock, to be bold and blunt. I am a dual citizen of the United States, and the United Kingdom, you see. I am based mostly out of London and New York, though I travel frequently."

Betsy will sit back, shaking hair away from her face. "It is necessary for one of my profession. But this entire registration business is absurd, and I believe it needs to be challenged. Legally."

—-

One thing about this leviathan that Matt and Foggy are tackling, it has them meeting all kinds of rarefied people outside of their usual social circle of working-class Hell's Kitchen types and assorted misfits.

When Matt set up a shingle in Hell's Kitchen, he never thought he would be acquainted with anyone like 'Warren Worthington III', much less count him as an admirer. Or get walk-ins from international models.

The whole thing brings a twitch to one corner of his lips. He eases back down into his leather chair only after he hears the subtle creak of her own when she sits.

And then he listens. Even blind, without all the basic cues of eye contact, he registers as attentive. More than just attentive. Focusedon every syllable. There's a beat of quiet when she finishes.

"I understand the predicament," Matt says, leaning back in his chair, chin angled slightly upward. "It's one facing a lot of people right now. Tell me, when you say you split your time between London and New York. About how much time do you spend in each?"

—-

There's a faint eyebrow arch at the twitch to his mouth. "Are you amused, Mister Murdock?" The purr of her voice indicates she may be. If only the good lawyer knew, really, all he had in common with the woman sitting in front of him.

"It's not a predicament to my way of thinking, so much as the first step in fascism. See, in Britain, there are a lot of the old, shelled buildings left from World War II. Here, in America.. I do not think it is taught as .. deeply. It's very much still part of our world, across the pond. It infuriates me that the country that touts its freedoms would take them away for a genetic difference."

There is a pause, hair being calmly tucked behind an ear. "Currently, I am in New York for the forseeable future, with my schedules. The designers I am contracted to, the shoots, that sort of thing. I likely will not return to London for months. I tend to prefer New York when not working abroad. "

—-

"I think you're preaching to the choir, Ms. Braddock," Matt says, clasping his hands on his stomach. His voice is quiet, careful, and in this case, sincere. "And I really don't disagree with anything you just said. You won't find many fans of MRPSA in this office."

He brings up a thumb and forefinger to fix his red-lensed glasses. "Anyway, the reason I ask about how you split your time is that this new law applies only to people who are domiciled in the state of New York," Matt goes on. "That's a little difference than residence, though for most people they're the same."

But for international jet-setters?

"A domicile isn't just the place where you are currently residing. It's the place where you intend to remain. Permanently or indefinitely. It's the place where you exercise your political rights."

He smiles a little, almost apologetically. "This is probably boring you," he says. "But it points to a potential avenue for you to essentially opt-out of registration."

There's a beat. And it's almost surely prelude to caveats, exceptions, and exceptions to exceptions. The man may dress up in a devil suit on his night hours, but he's still a lawyer.

"Potential. Questions of domicile are fact specific. It depends on your situation. Whether you have homes in one city or the other. Whether you spend more than fifty percent of your time in one place or the other. Where you're registered to vote. Where you go to church, if you have a church. The address on your passport — all these little external clues the courts use to determine something that's all too internal — where we consider home."

—-

"I have a year lease on a townhouse here in Manhattan. I have been considering enrolling in university, here in the States. Nothing as ambitious as law, but never the less." Betsy's chin lifts ever so sloghtly. "I had been preparing to move more permanently stateside. I have not much family left in England, anymore, but a good deal of adopted family here in New York and the area."

"I understand your pointing out of differences, Mister Murdock, and please, call me Betsy. But the fact is, I can stand against registration, and still have somewhere to /go/ if it all goes terribly awry. Not everyone else has that option, not like I do. I understand that a lot people may think many things about someone like me, someone born to money, working globally. I want to use those resources to try and strike a legal blow against this act for those who don't have them. People without the option to move out of state or country. People with families and businesses, children in school, people who can barely save two cents after they pay their bills, if they can save even that."

There is a slow, deep breath as she puts her thoughts in order. "I did register here, but not in time for the last election. As I said, I had been making plans to live here more full time. I do not go to church, currently. I had submitted for my passport to be changed to the U.S.. " Her hands fold in her lap as she watches him. "Becoming a dual citizen isn't easy, Mister Murdock, so I know some of what you speak of." She will pause, just a beat. "But you haven't asked the question everyone asks."

—-

Matt listens carefully as Ms. Braddock — Betsy — describe her situation, his head tilted ever-so-slightly to the right. He puts himself in the shoes of a judge looking at those self-same facts. In the face of those facts, silence.

That's in part because, despite all she's said, he still doesn't have enough information. That will require a deep dive; hours of due diligence. But it's also because she doesn't just stop there with her own circumstances. She says a great deal more.

"How you can fight registration and how you can avoid registering are two very different questions with two very different answers, Betsy," Matt says, flickering a brief smile as he concedes to her request for informality. "I have some thoughts on the first question, although they seem, ah, a little inappropriate for an intake interview."

His brow knits. "But I guess tell me what question I'm missing, before we go there."

—-

"I want to take a stand, Mister Murdock. I can afford to. If I out myself, and lose every job I have, which admittedly is not likely in my industry, I can survive it. I will not be evicted, I will not go hungry. I can protect myself if I am hunted or harrassed. Please, be inappropriate. I may have the title Lady in the U.K., but this is not a time for propriety. People are in danger, with this act looming."

There is a short laugh, a soft and cultured thing. "What is the mutation that I would need to be registered for, of course."

It's the question he suspected, and her confirmation smooths out the furrows in his careworn brow and summons a close-lipped, rueful half-smile.

—-

"It's really none of my business, Betsy," he says simply, with a roll of one shoulder. "At least, not unless your abilities pertain to your case. We're trying to protect people's privacy here."

And then he circles back to her invitation. Be inappropriate, she tells him. He purses his lips a bit, weighing it, and then barrels forward.

"I'm not sure how much Worthington told you about the work we're doing here," Matt says, sitting back up from his lean in his chair, resting his elbows and forearms on the desk. "But it's more than just compliance issues. We are building a case to challenge the registration law. And we want to do it right. That means hiring top-notch legal talent, investing the man-hours in research and legwork. It means — financing, frankly. We've set up a legal defense fund to oversee the whole project."

He breathes in, out, a cleansing thing. "Anyway, it is inappropriate to ask incoming clients for donations to something not directly related to their case," he goes on before shrugging both shoulders. "But. Since you clearly do want to help others, and pay it forward — that's one avenue."

—-

"Oh, Warren already told me about that. That's not an issue at all. But I believe in full disclosure, Mister Murdock. At least with my legal representatives." There's a smile there, bright and model perfect. "See, Warren? He has wings, he can fly. What harm is that, really? There are people who have no real powers at all. I, Mister Murdock, am their bump in the night. I am what scares the bigots who dreamed up this law. It matters not if I don't have malicious intent, when I'm a telepath, correct? They would come for the blood in the water, no?"

She shifts in the hair, one leg shifting and letting the other cross atop it, a move considered declasse among the nobility in England. "I have other powers, but that's the one that scares people. I do not want a lawyer who would be afraid of me, you see."

—-

Matt tells her she didn't need to say what she can do, but she tells him anyway. In the interests of — what, he wonders. Actual transparency? Some kind of test? To provoke a reaction?

The disclosure seems perfectly suited to all three. She is a telepath, the sort of people who blithely steal the secret thoughts of others. And Matt Murdock — for all his humble trappings and his working-class, everyman aura — has a lot of secrets.

Maybe he should be afraid of her. But what greets her is just a mild lift of two full, dark eyebrows. "We don't really scare around here, Betsy," says the blind man in his quiet voice, matter-of-fact, absent even a trace of bravado. "But even if you didn't need to tell me about your powers, that information is safe with me. Privileged."

Unless, of course, he runs into an unscrupulous telepath.

"So, what's next?" he says, as if she'd just told him her favorite brand of handbag and not some deep, dark secret that would inspire fear and revulsion in so many. "I'll give you a questionnaire to fill out, you'll send us copies of documents, financials. Then we can work together to see whether you have a legitimate domicile defense." A beat. "As for the other matter — the legal defense fund — we'll send you a range of donation options. Fair?"

If there had been a bad reaction, she would be protected, and she would know to get up and walk out of his office. It was for protection - his and hers.

—-

"It's good to know. I wouldn't think a man who took on the case of the Winter Soldier, and Warren Worthington, would scare easily. I did feel I needed to tell you. Some people will always be terrified of me, Mister Murdock, no matter that I choose to stay /out/ of people's heads. I mean, if there's a serious need for silence or secrecy that would help with survival? Yes. But I have enough thoughts in my own head to not need those of others." She sounds sincere, and every biorythmn her body puts out aligns with the sincerity.

"I brought money for that with me, Mister Murdock. I understand, of course, if you have strict rules about donations, but I find cash far less troublesome." She will rise, opening the tiny purse from her lap.

—-

"Heads can be crowded places enough as is, it's true," Matt says, meeting her explanation with mild humor. And he really should know, both as someone who is forced to absorb the world in greater detail than most — and as the significant other of a woman who has not just one but two consciousnesses crammed her skull. "Anyway, I appreciate the candor."

Matt rises when he hears her get up out of her seat. And then she's — telling him she plans to pay in cash. She begins to open her purse and his eyebrows shoot up — he puts up a staying hand.

"Let's… actually do this by check," he suggests. "Not so much for our sake as for yours. The legal defense fund is a 501c3, and if you pay, ah, under the table, you won't be able to take the tax deduction." He smiles briefly. "Tax law isn't one of our firm's core competencies, but I still have an ethical duty to watch your back. As your attorney."

—-

If he only knew! If she did… ha ha. "You'll probably get too much candor from me, to be honest. I'm a bit too blunt, I've been told." She shrugs.

"Mister Murdock, I am not worried about the tax write off. If you are worried for your accountant's sake, however, I can write a check. I assure you, I watch my own back. But I try to give without a trace for reasons beyond just myself, you know."

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