Roleplaying Log: Resonance
IC Details

Warren and Rachel discuss investigating SHIELD, based on Dani's information. He also attempts, gently, to coax her out of her shell. A glimpse of COSMIC DESPAIR is had.

Other Characters Referenced: Alison Blaire, Jean Grey, Danielle Moonstar
IC Date: February 21, 2019
IC Location: Worthington Tower, NYC
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 21 Feb 2019 06:25
Rating & Warnings:
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

Warren went back to New York about as soon as he was told he was cleared to do so. That was several days ago, now; the injury he suffered was very grievous, but the healing properties of his blood turned "a healing process of months, to potentially only regain half his wing's original strength" into "a full recovery of function within a week." Secondary mutations can be very nice, at times.

There were reasons for his urgency. The attack precipitated a stirring of media outrage varying from "outrage at the blatant lynch mob violence," to "I don't care, just not in my backyard," to "It's about time that that creature got taken down a peg, flaunting his deformity like that." Warren has read a great deal of it. The first step to managing PR disasters is knowing what everyone is saying and which way the wind is blowing, even if that appears to be "in all directions" right now.

There are other matters that are swimming back to the forefront of his mind now that he's clear-minded enough to recall them, and as it happens he's thinking about Rachel Summers right at the moment, because one of those matters pertains to her.

He considers his phone, but doesn't pick it up quite yet. Perhaps because he isn't sure if Rachel would be nearby. He's currently at Worthington Tower, ensconced in his office, which is as of late an increasingly common place for him to be. It conveniently enough is a space specifically designed for aerial entry by people capable of unaided flight; all the floor-to-ceiling windows which take up the majority of two walls hinge to open, and the sloping ceiling has a skylight which is, frankly, the primary way Warren comes and goes from the place.

It is also commonly left open even when he's just working, because he likes the air and the sight of the open sky. It is open now, even though it's February and it's still cold as hell.

That was several days ago.

Before those several days, Warren was still receiving a limited amount of visitors. Rachel knows that she could have gotten in to see him. They're not exactly close, but they could be. If she had asked, and especially if she had asked Jean to intercede for her, Rachel could have seen Warren.

She didn't. Instead she threw herself into the goal-achieving mania that defines her anxiety. As sick as it makes her feel in quiet moments, she feels better when she's hunting something. Or, at very least, preparing for the worst. That can be fine in its own way.

There is not a lack of activities waiting for her. Rachel has days to sacrifice to chasing down the Purifiers, keeping tabs on the Brotherhood, making sure Mutant Town remains safe, and also fortifying the mansion in case Kitty's old friend comes jogging in with an army of Hydra chasing him. On top of all that, she does have a normal life she's trying to enjoy.

So that was more than several days ago. This, on the other hand, is today. This is the day that Rachel Anne Grey-Summers is going to be brave.

tnk tnk tnk

There's a Rachel at Warren's office window, knocking on the glass with one knuckle. She wears a slightly apologetic expression and is dressed casually — though casually for her fashion sense includes a red leather miniskirt with shiny silver side zippers, a latticed hoop belt, a sleek black moto jacket, and a crop-top shirt with a messy band logo design that features both cheerleaders covered in blood (they appear to be otherwise fine) and the words LOCAL LADY KILLERS CLUB.

She waves. It's a trick to seem like you have awkward posture while you're floating, but Rachel is somehow pulling it off.

Warren is not really accustomed to other people using his aerial entrances, so the subtle tnk tnk tnk brings him to jump. For him, startlement appears to involve a flaring of his wings and a puffed ruffling of his feathers, which leads one to wonder; how did he manage for all those years when he had to physically bind his wings down tight to his back? How did it feel to suppress those sorts of natural responses, day in and day out?

Painful, Warren usually relates dryly, when asked.

At the least, the reaction shows that his left wing is healthy again — and his startlement doesn't last long, because his gaze swings up and finds Rachel a moment later. There is a moment of hesitation — always is, with him — as his blue eyes focus on her features: a flicker of recognition for another woman that isn't her, which passes as quickly as it comes, and leaves behind only the faint taste of nostalgia. She looks like Jean the last time he saw her, before she died. "Come in, Rachel," he invites, with an abstracted run of his hand through his hair as he considers his catastrophe of a desk. He closes the lid of his laptop, as if that helps. "You'll excuse that I was not prepared for company."

This feels a little like a genteel platitude, because the rest of the (very nice) office is spotless, and he's in most of a charcoal suit; though to be fair, the jacket has long since gone over the chair's back, and the tie is loose. It is likely he had a meeting earlier in the day.

He crosses the room, moving away from the desk and all its implied formality, gesturing her to join him at some more casual seating around a glass-topped coffee table. The furniture is all white. "I was just thinking about you, in fact. Have you been doing all right? We have missed you, lately, though God knows there is enough work to be doing."

Rachel presses her lips thin during the bit of physical comedy with the wings ruffling and puffling. It may register to a viewer as a tension in her face, and that's because it is, but the reason is novel: she wants to smile. The gesture is just so… Warren.

The both of them remember younger days at the same time.

Rachel gets Warren's invitation to come in through the glass, through a combination of lip reading, telekinetic receptiveness to the vibrations made in the air, and empathic intuition. She nods and holds a finger up, and then rises upward out of sight. A moment later she's coming down through the skylight, landing on glossy red below-the-knee heeled boots.

"Hey," she says, and then adds for his ask of an excuse: "Oh, it's fine."

She's still shaking off the last of the awkward energy as she follows Warren over to the sitting area. She selects a chair rather than a coach space, sitting closer to one armrest so she can lean up against it.

"I should be the one asking if you're alright." Rachel glances away for a moment, and then allows herself a small smile. "I guess I get caught up in work. Everything's so much busier in the meta community here, compared to the U.K. I feel like the months are twice as long."

A set of distinct avian mannerisms are a certain commonality, it seems, between the Warrens of time and space. It might help Rachel feel a little more connected to this one, even though he's not really hers. Her Warren used to talk with his wings in much the same way as this one does, the appendages animated with an expressiveness to accompany his speech in the way most people think of 'talking with their hands.' He would drape one over her in comfort when she needed it, and it would be everything one would imagine the phrase 'being taken under a wing' to embody.

Those were younger days, though. Of course. Younger days, and another world entirely.

This one has the same grace and sense of gentleness about him, but without the years of history to dispel the slight awkwardness that is her resemblance to a woman he loved, when she looked much the age Rachel does now. He is too well-bred — too thoroughly trained — to betray much of that awkwardness, but it shows once in a while in the way his gazes occasionally linger, sidelong, contemplative and a little wistful. She is a glimpse of the natural progression of a relationship which, in this life, none of them ever got to see; that in itself is bittersweet.

The awkwardness is gone by the time he has them settled. Of the many useless(?) skills Warren had bred into his blue blood, being an accomodating host is one (he inquires if she wants anything to drink along the way, even), and he is quick to take up the conversation and direct it harmlessly into the kind of small talk which neatly bridges to real business.

He is quite fine with taking the couch if Rachel does not. He enjoys having the space for his wings.

To speak of real business, however — his blue eyes shade a little distant at her remark. "I'm fine, though sad to say it's primarily because what happened doesn't — surprise me, per se," he says. "I knew I was making myself a target — I made myself a target on purpose — and when people have targeted me in the past, there's only ever been one thing they've wanted to go for. People derive such a base pleasure from ripping the wings off things, I notice." He pauses. "I only regret that it put the rest of you in danger to come after me. Better care will be taken in the future."

He drifts into silence as she speaks of work. "Well," he says, with a rather self-aware laugh as he gestures at their environs, "I know the feeling, obviously. I can't speak to the climate in the U.K., I haven't been in so long, but I know America quite well, and in particular New York. It's the kind of place that will leave you far behind if you pause for even a day."

One of his hands drifts to absently preen a few feathers back into place. "That said… as much as I would like to be able to admonish you to take a break from working so hard, there's some things I've heard recently that could probably use your touch."

A younger Rachel needed those gestures. She was the daughter of two of the X-Men's greatest students, but in truth she was raised by the team. Her parents traveled so often. The professor was an admirable godfather, but he was a pedagogical man and distant in more than a few ways. It took a village — or a mansion, as the case was.

It was difficult, she remembers, being so visible and having so many expectations shouldered on her, especially when her powers failed to develop year after year. It helped to hide under a wing when it all felt too much. It was difficult, she remembers, standing over Jean's grave… it helped to… hide under…

Rachel threads her fingers together and clenches her hands tight. Her knuckles whiten. Save for the hair, the fashion sense, and perhaps a greater interest in athletic pursuits, the only thing stopping her from being Jean is her mannerisms.

"Mm," is the soft noise she makes when Warren mentions that one recurring target. Rachel bows her head, perhaps in thought. She remains silent as Warren continues to explain. Her hands do not loosen.

"I have some free time," she says. Her tone is fractionally quieter, fractionally softer than it was a moment ago. "What is it?"

A moment passes. Rachel lifts her face to return her eerily-familiar gaze to Warren.

"I… we put ourselves in danger because you made yourself a target." She furrows her brow and glances away, but immediately forces herself to look back. "I mean, you made yourself a target to protect people. We put ourselves in danger to protect you. We'd all do it again. You shouldn't face things alone."

Says the woman with a known history of running off by herself.

There were reasons enough that the Warren Rachel knew was close to the girl who became his de facto niece. The most obvious was, of course, that he was one of the best friends of her parents, and so naturally positioned to assume such an avuncular — sometimes even surrogate paternal — role, but there were other reasons that ran deeper than that. Understanding the weight of expectations, for one; understanding the loneliness that is being rather mundane amongst so many bright figures with flashy powers, for another.

Year after year, Rachel failed to show powers, and year after year a sheltering white wing would be there when she needed it. It was there when her mother died.

There came a day, years later, when it was no longer there, and would never be again, because —

Warren Worthington, no matter the universe, has raptor-sharp eyes. Perhaps one of the strongest of his limited suite of gifts. He can pick out text from two miles distant; seeing the way Rachel's hands knot when he mentions his wings being a recurring target is not difficult, though he cannot guess at the reason. He pauses, tilts his head in another gesture that reads birdlike. "Ah," he says, "I shouldn't be so cavalier about it. It is rather graphic." He is somber a moment, before he continues dryly, "I have been told, and repeatedly, I have a bad habit of martyring myself alone. I unfortunately can't do much about the martyring — I meant to step up so people would look at me, and not at others or what more productive things they might be doing — but I promise," a rueful, flashed smile, "to be more mindful about the 'alone' part — if certain people with similar habits will also promise."

He is silent a moment. Here and now, in perhaps one of the closest interactions they have had since she fell into this world, it is easy to see Warren both is and is not the figure from her memories. He is younger, certainly — that's the most obvious difference — and still possessed of all that sharp, unearthly beauty which, in her time, had gentled a little with age into something more burnished and time-worn. Many other things are not different at all, however; one of those is the way he looks at her, knowing something is not all right, prepared to face and fight off whatever it might be.

He's socially canny enough not to press it right away. "Dani came to talk to Alison and me," he says instead. "She's received intelligence that SHIELD is not internally stable. She can't say what, but the situation smells of the potential for significant upheaval and friendly fire within the ranks. So far it sounds like SHIELD is being undermined by third parties — there was talk of moles, of potential Hydra influence — but no one can say how far up it goes or who is involved."

His blue eyes are distant under half-lidded, long lashes. "It's unlikely to directly impact us, but given that we have this… connection established with certain elements of SHIELD, I'm now doubly concerned about the integrity of any information we trade with them." His head dips. "Alison and I thought Dani will need backup if she means to try to unravel this."

Those raptor-sharp eyes may find another easy tell: he talks about martyring himself alone, and a ripple of tension moves through Rachel's body as she yet again glances away — and this time doesn't correct herself to look back.

There's a pattern here. Considering what the X-Men know about Rachel's history, with the broad strokes of the terror having been related during her breathless arrival years ago, the nature of the things that are causing her discomfort may become disconcertingly relevant.

"I don't have a great track record with promises," says Rachel, breathing the words out with a breath in a way that makes her sound wry. "But I'm getting better."

The silence goes on. Rachel's curiosity gets the better of her and she looks up to see what Warren is doing. The look on his face — she knows it. Or, something much like it. The two watch each other for a passing few heartbeats, Rachel wide-eyed and studious.

But then Dani and SHIELD come up and Rachel adjusts her posture to sit up straight. She finally relaxes her hands, though she still leaves them clasped together in her lap.

"Hydra again, huh." Rachel purses her lips in brief thought. "What kind of backup are we talking about? Does Dani need me to do some readings for her, or what?"

Warren watches Rachel's responses to what he says, albeit largely through eyes mostly shaded by his lashes. He learned, a long time ago, that his full direct stare when he's perusing something tends to be discomfiting. Something about how it feels like he's focusing way harder than most people, which is on some level true. Her reactions start to form a picture, sure enough.

He wasn't really around when Rachel first arrived. He was off in a civilian life, having just started to recover from Jean being dead, only to then lose both his parents to something so crushingly mundane as murder motivated by greed. He had kept up, vaguely, with what was happening with the X-Men who would always be his adopted family, but the Worthington succession had needed securing, and it took most of his attention. His uncle was jailed for his fraticide, but there were still plenty of vultures left circling.

Still, he had received the briefings like anyone else, when Xavier's disappearance brought him to return. He knows, in broad strokes, the kind of world from which Rachel Summers came. There are a few guesses he can make as to what happened specifically to elicit such responses to the things he says, but right now is not the time to pry. Things which are curled up tight need to be relaxed before they can be prodded. And while Warren may not know Rachel well yet, he knows this: offered work relaxes her. Or, well, at least, focuses her.

So, he talks SHIELD.

"Readings would probably be helpful," he says, grooming his own feathers in an absent sort of way. "Information-gathering in ways they probably won't expect. Dani'd probably have a better idea of how you can pry in and the best angle, but a psychic — a psychometric — is probably a good start for trying to figure out what exactly is going on and who's up to something." He frowns. "I don't think we should invest too much of our strength in involvement," he says, which may or may not be a stance Jean even shares with him. Hard to say. Warren generally likes to be a positive presence in the group, but his background naturally predisposes him to a certain worldly realism about most matters. "But I think it wouldn't hurt to gather some knowledge here. It won't be given to us, and would help us in defending ourselves in the event things go wrong."

Where Rachel once found excuse after excuse to look away from Warren, she now watches the man with canny intent. 'Focuses' is right, at least, even if 'relaxes' remains to be seen. By the time Warren has explained more exactly what he's expecting from the situation, Rachel is leaning forward faintly to listen.

"I've always wondered if SHIELD had enough psychics on the payroll for active defenses," she says. "They're definitely one of the few groups I expect to field psi-blocker tech that's worth anything, but I know my way around that kind of thing."

There's another hesitation there, but for whatever reason Rachel barrels through this one with a press of her lips and short but sincere inhale and exhale.

After all, modern tech for now is hardly modern tech from when she first learned to use her powers. Even if this world seems to be growing up… faster than hers did.

"I think even if SHIELD has some good people in it, we need to watch out just because of what it is. It's one of the first groups that people would want to take over to make big sweeping changes, Hydra or Purifiers or politicians or whoever."

Rachel disentangles her hands and lies them flat on her knees, palms down. She shifts her weight, drums her fingertips once, and then consciously stops fidgeting.

"So, I guess, I'm in. I agree."

"SHIELD employs metas," Warren muses, "as they like to remind us all quite often. But so far as I know they've always been more technologically leaned in how they approach matters. I would expect blocker-tech more than I would expect counter-psions. I don't expect either to be a issue for you." This last is delivered with a faint smile.

It is an expression that evaporates at Rachel's conclusory thoughts on the matter. "That brings me to our biggest concern," Warren says, frowning. "The inevitable registration database, once it's compiled… we have no idea if it will be shared with SHIELD. And if SHIELD is compromised by even any one of those groups…" It's not a sentence that really needs finishing, much less with someone like Rachel Summers. "That's the largest risk to us I foresee, and the reason we should devote at least some of our strength to figuring out what's going on."

He hesitates a moment, a note of frustration in his features, before he says, "It would be something I would do myself, or help more with myself, if I could, but when you decide to go very public…" He shrugs. "It gets hard."

His golden head inclines when she agrees. "It's settled, then. Now one last thing, if I may…"

Warren lifts his head; his wings arrange restlessly at his back once, and go still. "Something bothers you about me, Rachel," he says, and his voice is kind. "I don't know what it is, and I will not pry. Someday, however, I hope you are able to tell me. You're very much like your — your mother, and I confess," he laughs ruefully, "I always had a soft spot for her."

A faint smile for a faint smile. Rachel takes the praise silently and with her only acknowledgment being one of slight humor. At least humility is in the mix somewhere, whatever concoction of emotions lurks inside her.

The psychic nods to Warren's musings on the difficulties of martyr-related fame; the kind of half-absent bob of the head that show she's listening but also thinking at the same time. She shifts her weight in the chair again in preparation for standing up. It seems like the end of the conversation.

It isn't. Rachel refocuses her attention when she hears the peculiar wing movement. One of the strongest psychics in who knows how wide an area and she's surprised. Perhaps that's reassuring.

That note of awkward fragility reenters Rachel's bearing. She moves her nearest hand to the armrest she's nearest, and then returns it to her lap. Instead of looking at Warren, her gaze wanders across the room elsewhere.

"I know," is her first reply, quiet compared to Warren's laugh. Rachel chews on her bottom lip.

Finally, after a silence:

"Are you sure about what you're asking? I'm not… what happened to me doesn't belong in this world. I mean, it's not something I want to… um, burden people with. It doesn't seem fair."

The fragility returns. Seeing that sort of look on features that are so dear to him breaks his heart, and that is perhaps why Warren presses when most might have just let it go. Understandably — it is a short while before Rachel answers.

"Life is not fair," is Warren's reply, with a lightness to his tone that does not match the content of their conversation. "Though it took me much longer to learn the truth of that platitude than most. I was eighteen before I heard my first 'no.'" A wry look crosses his features. "It was from Jean. From there, it was a long downward spiral into a discovery of all the ways life could be unfair."

A small pause. "And it seems that in not burdening others, you're burdening yourself."

His gaze averts, tracking up through the skylight. Rachel has her way of drawing in on herself when on uncertain ground; Warren, it seems, always seeks a look at the sky when he wants some form of reassurance. "It's not something I ask for myself," he says. "There is something you are bearing alone, and — well, we just talked about that." His gaze lowers back to her. "It's your choice, of course. Just… think about it. I wouldn't worry about my sanity, if that's a factor. Alison could tell you enough about how you could anchor a planet by my grounded sense of self-centered self-importance, and all that."

Even drawn into herself, with her head turned away, it's very difficult to miss the small, amused noise that Rachel makes when Warren describes his first no. It comes with silence afterward as he makes a more direct point.

Rachel resists the urge to react how she truly wants. She wants to curl up as small as she can make herself, tucked up into a corner of this chair hugging her knees to her chest, as low and invisible as she can manage. She wants to telekinetically hurl herself out of here, to burst through a window and let herself fall upward into space where the warm, starry embrace of the Phoenix will free her from this world.

But she doesn't. Rachel sits, and acts a very human kind of fragile, and she listens.

She doesn't laugh at Warren's last joke. She wishes she could, if only to reassure him that she thought it was cute.

"…okay," she eventually replies. "I'll, um. I'll think about it. I think another time would be best."

Rachel leans forward onto her feet and stands. She steps away from the sitting area, walking toward the skylight to linger beneath it. Now she too looks upward. For her, it isn't the sky she sees, but the potential-laden void beyond. This would be the moment where she says goodbye, but she doesn't. She stands and looks.

"If this was my world, I'd be born soon." In the middle of this office, away from the intimate acoustics of the sitting area, the tones of her voice are stark and cold.

"I lived in or near the mansion until I was fourteen. Everyone knew me. All of mom's friends. Things didn't… end well, for most people. For anyone."

Rachel lowers her head and turns her face away. She reaches up to brush at her eyes.

"I'll talk to Dani. Text me if you need anything, okay? I don't mind playing bodyguard. I can dress nice."

Then, abruptly, Rachel pushes off the ground and disappears upward, into the sky.

Perhaps to Warren, the pain and awkwardness and difficulty of this particular outreach… is all made worth it by that one, small noise of amusement Rachel makes. She seems to make so few.

He doesn't seem surprised that she is not ready to speak right now, however, and doesn't push for more than she wants to give. He doesn't seem offended if she doesn't laugh at his second joke. His silence is meant to provide safety. A long time ago, when his wings first started coming in, he had a small private conceit that if he was going to look like an angel, perhaps he should try to be one to people, and to this day sometimes it informs his choices.

"Another time," he agrees, and afterwards simply listens. It is vague, but the outlines form into a picture that is clear enough, if lacking in the shading of specific details. He can guess what those details might be. The images are not pleasant.

Rachel turns to go, after, and he lets her. "I will," is all he says, when she asks to be texted if she is needed.

Warren is quiet for some time after Rachel takes her leave. He pulls a few of his feathers, absently, straightening them in a preening gesture that is as much an indicator of his mindset as Rachel's fragile tension was; then he gets up, and resumes his work.

It occurs to him he pressed on some wounds that perhaps were not ready to be pressed; but stronger than the vague guilt about that, is the conviction that this is something she needs.

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