Somewhere Safe to Go
Roleplaying Log: Somewhere Safe to Go
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

"I'm going home. I'll decide if I'm coming back later." Spoken as she stormed out of the Triskelion, Agent Merrow did not in fact go home, returning to a safehouse she used with Rachel Grey-Summers during the hell invasion — a safehouse that was in fact owned by Tony Stark. At wit's end, Sloane finally reaches out for help…

Other Characters Referenced: Captain Marvel, Moonstar, Tony McCardboard Stark
IC Date: February 23, 2019
IC Location: A Very Nice Safehouse, NYC
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 23 Feb 2019 14:26
Rating & Warnings: Some coarse language.
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

ALMOST A WEEK AGO

"I'm going home. Tell Coulson to call me if he needs me. I'll decide if I'm coming back later."

After stuffing her phone in her desk, it was not home that Sloane L. Albright returned to; it wasn't far out the door before she started running through a thousand and one possibilities in her mind, starting with and not limited to the idea that her small apartment with the big New York rent attached had been bugged and is probably bugged more now than ever before.

Paranoid? Maybe a little bit. It wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility for SHIELD, given that she's been noisy about her anti-registration stance with pro-registration leadership. ANVIL and Public Safety's plans for handling the deadline lurk hard in the back of her mind.

She also hasn't slept much.

DAYS AGO

The safehouse belonged to Tony, but she still had access to it. After one or two expeditions into the wild of the city, Sloane buried herself in her work, following leads and chiding herself for not seeing the obvious signs ahead of time. Changing bandages and getting a hot shower felt like a luxury given the situation. Most of her food has been instant or otherwise borne from a microwave; a few Chinese take-out boxes sit on the main shelf of the fridge. Jarvis asks her to get some sleep.

Occasionally Dani's reassurances enter the back of her mind, but they're pushed aside in her thoughts almost violently— she's angry, hurt, and doe snot know who to trust anymore. The deadline is almost here. Jarvis is reminding her again to get some sleep.

She's slept even less now that she's talked to Daisy Johnson and learned how SHIELD treated her. Violence erupted at an anti-registration rally. She finally found a lead on how to find one of the women that was there when she—

Everything is fucked. She can't—

Everything is—

'Look, Sloane, I know you're helping people and everything… but don't feel pressured to work for a government that doesn't respect you. You can help people as a civilian, too, and fight back against the other stuff at the same time. You know there's a place waiting for you, right?'

4:39AM

'I know I can get people to listen.'

Sniffling as she types, rubbing the tears out of her eyes, the phone's screen lets out the faux tic-tac of keys being pressed as two texts are put out to Rachel Grey-Summers:

<dragonflood> you were right
<dragonflood> i'm sorry

Wrapped in a blanket and a heavy hoodie, her head tips as she finally seems to pass into the sweet bliss of slumber. It doesn't last long, as she has another nightmare where three feet of re-bar is shoved straight through her gut. It doesn't help that she's watched the video leaked to a few corners of the internet of the attack for part of her research.

NOW

The state of Tony Stark's safehouse this morning: The blinds are drawn. A mess of research done without SHIELD resources, hand-jotted notes, and newspaper printouts or clippings, a map of Manhattan, and a laptop and phone plugged into each other. Sloane is slumped forward, eyes closed again, clutching a pen in one hand and a mess of sleep-jotted notes in the other. On the coffee table is a mug with cold coffee sitting in the bottom, and the pot on an oven mitt right next to it — also long cold.

Sloane herself looks a mess; a pair of tanktops and leggings are the most she's gotten herself into, the skin around her eyes a bit dark and scales are still growing in on the edge of her cheek.

* * *

It's starting to be too much.

FuturePharm, the Brotherhood, the Purifiers, Hydra, and now — thanks to a big request from Warren in turn supported by a concern from Dani — SHIELD. The date of implementation for metahuman registration is now counted in single digits. Everything feels broken; everything needs her attention. For someone with the flame of rebirth in her head and her heart, it's a maddening problem to be left free to gnaw.

Rachel knows this isn't her timeline. Sometimes knowing doesn't mean believing.

Sleep is a precious thing that Rachel takes very seriously. She knows what long-term deprivation feels like and is eager to never face such a thing again, even in little slivers. Getting back to the mansion past midnight last night means that she's up sometime between nine and ten, depending on what level of wakefulness one defines as up. Lounging under body-warmed blankets away from the chill of the room is a gift that balances the day she has before her.

Eventually, enough of Rachel's mind is left conscious and idle to wonder what has appeared on her phone while she slept. The psychic need not break her cocoon to find out: rolling over and reaching out is enough when she can make her phone float over to her waiting hand.

Rachel makes her way leisurely through the notifications. There's several social apps to go through, and then of course just the regular old texts…

For a moment, she doesn't breathe.

<phoenix_EX> are you okay?
<phoenix_EX> do you want to talk?

Rachel stares at the screen for moments longer, waiting for a response. Her gaze flicks up toward the ceiling above her. For now, she tries to stop her imagination from generating too many possibilities.

* * *

There has been quite a few things going on with Stark lately. Quite a few maddening changes. Not to mention the unwelcome clown-based assault over the last week. In fact it could be very easy to deduce that with all that is happening, one Tony Stark isn't even aware that the safe house is occupied. That he has more on his mind than a freeloader that he doesn't mind.

…and that is where people forget that Tony Stark's true power is multi-tasking.

"JARVIS, updates?" Stark's works are quick and sharp as always as he sits in a upper room at the Mansion. Now where he makes his hope in NYC since his Tower is under new management. The inventor's eyes half closed, head laid back on on the rest of a very plush and very comfortable chair. His eyes are close as the AI starts listing the various things that are besieging him.

The usual is passed over quickly enough. Hydra. Doom. Skrulls. A dragon. That is normal. He has things to deal with them each in turn, he has plans for them as they say. So that is set to the back of his mind. Meetings in Metropolis is next on the list and he hardly bats an eye. No he needs something else to distract him, something more…actionable. Spider Man's new suit. A hyper efficient electric car. Pepper and Bart's legal work…

"I believe Miss Albright has finally gotten some sleep, though I'm fairly sure it wasn't her idea." JARVIS sounds oh so vagely worried and disapproving. She should take better care of herself.

Stark cracks one eye at that. "Huh." A longer pause. "Pizza. Order it. I'll pick it up on the way over. I /probobly/ should talk to my intern."
"You are aware she is not your intern, sir?"
"Of course, but she doesn't know that I know that she isn't."
JARVIS just has to sigh. "…yes, sir."

* * *

Two texts, at 4:39 AM — and then nothing. No follow-ups, no jokes, no emojis, just — two cryptic texts, no punctuation in the fun and meaningful way.

'Lord gimmie that fire!' the phone bellows as the reply texts spool in.

Sloane jolts awake, the pen and papers spilling from her hands in a clattering mess. Her senses are blurred; like her vision and reflexes are disjointed by a second or so — and with her bandaged hand lifting, a bucket of water set tactically between herself and the door wobbles as a loose spike of water lifts up from the bucket.

Breathing fast and eyes wide, she blinks a few times, then pulls the water back into the bucket, picking up the phone.

<dragonflood> no
<dragonflood> everyth ings fucked
<dragonflood> can't
<dragonflood> i don't know
<dragonflood> fucking everyone it
<dragonflood> help
<dragonflood> cantsleep got to fin d them
<dragonflood> youwere right shield is

The texts come at rapid pace, whether or not Rachel replies in the middle of the string or not. The faster she goes, the more the text starts mangling. A bit of lingering pain in her wrist stunts her ability to focus on the task at hand, which is now 'get something to drink.'

Partially stumbling out of her blankets, she looks down and makes the most haphazard attempt to pick up the paperwork off the floor and set at least some of it on the sofa, pacing to the kitchen and getting a glass of water — not even using her powers, this time.

She has no idea Tony's coming with hot food and his mentorship, either. She tries again:

<dragonflood> brotherhood attacked me
<dragonflood> was in hospital. found them. one. i think
<dragonflood> can't take this shit it hurts

* * *

The replies roll in. Rachel looks sharply down to her phone when she sees motion — it's still on silent from her sleep since she doesn't let anything other than the Excalibur and X-Men danger signals have the chance to wake her.

She doesn't respond. She does, actually, but it is only to stare in empathic horror at Sloane's implied state hidden behind her mangled words.

After a time, Rachel at least thinks to sit up and swing her legs off the bed. This is a now kind of activity. Absently, she runs herself through an ultra-fine telekinetic pressure washer in preparation for skipping a shower. She learned that one after being stranded in one too many dimensions without reliable access to water or hygienic products.

<phoenix_EX> where are you?

Rachel shuts her eyes. She knows already. Where else would Sloane go?

<phoenix_EX> safehouse, right?
<phoenix_EX> i'm omw
<phoenix_EX> i'm going to protect you, okay?
<phoenix_EX> i'm going to fix everything
<phoenix_EX> trust me

The psychic glances toward the window and, through it, the cheerful morning sun. She doesn't know what she's going to fix. Still, she knows she will.

This thing she can solve.

Moments later, a fiery shape arcs into the sky over the mansion and streaks toward the city.

* * *

As Stark strolls out of the room and towards the motor pool the man hrmms for a moment. "Mmm. She prolly doesn't want everyone to know where she is. I'll take something a little less obvious than my car." See. He's helping.

"…sir, don't forget Mister Rogers and the others said there was to be an Avengers meeting today."
"Eh don't worry, I've sent a stand in."

/SMASH CUT TO AVENGERS MEETING ROOM/

Standing in place of Tony's usual chair is a card board cutout of Tony Stark himself. It is a very good cardboard cutout. Since it was a gift and all.

JARVIS just sighs once more. "…of course, sir. I am sure they will hardly notice."
"Exaclty! Man that is the best gift ever."

Moment later the motorpool rumbles with the sound of a high performance engine as Stark streaks out of the Mansion(never mind he's only going a few blocks) on a motorcycle that looks more appropriate as something out of a Tron movie than something that was actually scientifically sound.

Stark never was one to listen to convention.

…at least it /is/ slightly less obvious than his usual supercars?

* * *

Some part of her is screaming to tell her to stop, don't come — but even she recognizes that she needs some help, as much as she's fighting against it. Practically pounding the glass of water like some drink liquor, her cheeks puff for a moment as the back of her hand holds her mouth shut while she swallows, setting the glass back down and staring at the screen again.

'i'm going to protect you, okay?'

Wiping tears from her eyes, Sloane sits down on the edge of the sofa before the pain in her side reasserts itself; she slips down to her knees before shifting to a sitting position on the floor amongst the mess of papers and notes and the laptop screen.

'trust me'

From one side, a blazing streak of light, and from the other, the roar of a high-performance two-wheel wonder.

When either of them arrive, Sloane does not look happy or vibrant or fun, she doesn't look strong or mighty or ready to play them music. She looks like she's on the razor's edge, surrounded by regret, exhaustion, and angry obsession.

* * *

During the demon invasion, it was a familiar sight: the red glow coming to the balcony, signaling the return of the woman called Phoenix. Sometimes Sloane saw it from the other end, carried alongside Rachel in a telekinetic cradle whose touch was almost imperceptible.

Rachel alights upon the landing and her flames twinkle into nothingness. She reaches out to put her hand on the balcony door's handle, waits for her handprint to clear, and prepares herself with a gentle exhale. She needs to be strong now. Stronger than she has been, recently.

"Sloane?"

Rachel's workboots clunk on the hardwood floor. Somewhere along the way she TK'd herself up more appropriate clothing. For Rachel, this means a black denim miniskirt and matching jacket with spike-studded shoulders, a white halter top, fingerless gloves, and thigh-high striped stockings. These things come to her mind easily, for better or worse.

The psychic walks in enough to catch sight of Sloane on the floor. She freezes, resisting her initial urge to rush over and touch. She knows that when she's feeling like Sloane is feeling — and Rachel can taste the razors in the air — she often wants space.

"You're hurt," she says, just so that she can say something.

* * *

Flying /is/ faster of course, even if Rachel has longer to travel. She can go as the crow, or the phoenix, flies and doesn't have to obey traffic laws. I mean. Not that Tony Stark obeys those either but hey just saying he has to deal with it. And she doesn't have to stop to get food either.

Which means he doesn't beat Rachel in the least.

However as she starts to open said door, starts to push her way into the safehouse there /is/ a familiar voice from near the stairs.

"I bet she's hungry too."

Tony Stark's very familiar voice is slightly muffled by a stacked series of pizza boxes as he peers around them towards the open door and the lady Phoenix there.

…of course. His voice can be easily heard inside the room as well.

Suprise?

* * *

Even if it was hell on Earth, it was impossible for Sloane to hide how much she actually enjoyed the telekinetic ride. There, even in the worst, she was able to find some small sliver of happiness.

The flare of orange-red dies away, and the balcony door opens up. Sloane's head turns to only the smallest degree, catching her breath as the stinging pain in her side starts to die off. Arm curling around her side tighter, the scaled young woman lifts her other arm up to the sofa and anchors herself enough to stand and start facing Rachel, advancing a few steps closer. Her eyes showing that lack of sleep, carefully breathing — swallowing — as she tries to get her center.

Her mind is a mess; thoughts fragmenting through sleep deprivation and the nagging pain of in her side. "I-I don't — just —"

'I bet she's hungry, too.'

Sloane's head turns, her arm extending as though she were about to turn the full fury of her hydrokinetics against the intruder, then stops when the not-called-for delivery man turns out to be…

"Tony… I-I— I'm sorry, I — I just didn't know where else to go, I — SHIELD's — the Brotherhood, and the law and I tried… and … all of this shit, and —"

Shifting, lowering her arm, the scaled Inhuman looks like everything's caught up with her all at once, barely keeping herself upright and the worst parts of her mind reminding her that the food smells good and that she hasn't eaten much this week, either.

"Help," she finally says, voice hoarse. "I don't know where to go anymore."

* * *

Rachel tries not to pry into other minds. Not without good reason, anyway. It's something that both her mother and her godfather were keen to instill into her. She would have a power, one day, and she needed to become a person who people would trust with that power.

Discounting several years of her life, Rachel has more or less succeeded.

But sometimes things are too loud — people push things out of themselves too strongly. Sloane is radiating hurt both emotional and physical in a way that Rachel cannot ignore. Even with psi-shielding, she is aware of it just outside her defenses, like a storm on her roof.

With wide eyes she watches the other woman come closer. Her foot moves slightly, preparing to catch her should she stumble.

Tony steps in. This is one for his books: he snuck up on Rachel cleanly, and it's easy to tell with the way her gaze snaps to him and her expression briefly slackens. Her gaze returns quickly to Sloane — coping with Tony's pizza infiltration can happen later, helping Sloane needs to happen now.

Caution leaves Rachel as she takes two quick steps forward to put her arms around Sloane's waist and shoulders. She holds the other woman close to her, hoping to secure a brace before that unsteady swaying turns into a tumble. Technically Rachel could use telekinesis to do this (and small nudges are already helping), but it just felt right to… be here.

"It's okay," she says, her voice calm and strong and even all at once. Tony has heard this voice before, but from Jean. The nearness is eerie. "We're here now. We're all going to figure this out one step at a time, okay?"

Rachel glances over Sloane's shoulder to Tony. Her words, however, continue to be directed to Sloane.

"Is it okay to use telepathy on you? I want to help control your pain levels and help you relax. Is that alright?"

* * *

"First off, its fine. Who do you think told JARVIS to take care of you? Second off yes. The Brotherhood are jackasses. Third off and before anyone else asks I'm not here to lecture anyone back into the fold or anything dumb like that. Cause that is just dumb. And I am only dumb on occasion not all the time."

Stark rattles off the works in a rapid fire assault, smirking at Rachel's surprise. He is…well…horrible at times. And sneaking up to people while distracted is pretty horrible but…

At least he brought food.

That is something right.

He steps in, slipping the pizzas onto the table as he starts to unstack them all. See. He's helping. There is a glance towards Rachel as she steps forwards to steady Sloane. No judgement from him, he won't say no to something like that.

There /is/ a tilt of his head at Rachel's words though. Curious. That tone is…so…familiar…

* * *

Tony /asked/ JARVIS to keep an eye on her? That — makes sense, really, even if she insisted on being left alone. And here she thought he was just being a bit annoying — that is, for a computer. A ludicrously advanced computer, but.

"… Oh. … thank — you. S-Sorry, I— this was the first place I thought to go…"

Arms slipping around her is surprising but not unwelcome; the presence of someone there — just holding on — is enough that Sloane's shoulders hitch with a small sob, sneaking her arm up to rub at her nose and just stay like that— just stay steady. With the disparity in their height, it's a little easier for her to keep her face buried in Rachel's shoulder.

The question is asked about allowing Rachel to use telepathy to help get her settled down a bit. She nods, voicing only a quiet and unsteady, "Yeah."

"I'm sorry," she repeats again. "I-I didn't want to cause trouble."

* * *

"Oh, Sloane," Rachel says, her voice falling into sentiment. "You're not causing trouble. Other people made trouble for you."

Gently, with warm hands and that same feather-touch telekinesis, Rachel guides Sloane over to the couch. She eases the other woman down first and then sits down next to her. All of the notes and devices float quietly into the air and rearrange themselves in a neatly organized phalanx upon the floor on the other side of the room. The coffee table slides closer in anticipation of Tony bringing pizza over from the kitchen.

"Listen," she says, her voice retaining that soft and low quality, "the important thing right now is to get you recovered. You need your strength so we can solve the other things. This is step one. It's okay to start on step one."

As she speaks, a pleasant kind of feeling seeps into Sloane, both body and mind. It's not a drugged kind of numbness. It's not a medical feeling at all. It's a return to normalcy. Her mind knows that the tiredness, the pain, the shame and anger and fear are all there, but…

…well, are they? Or is it only that she thinks they should be? If she lets them go, will they cease to exist?

Rachel rests her hand on Sloane's nearest hand, atop the other woman's thigh.

"I'm not making you forget, so it helps if you don't fight it. I'm going to stay with you tonight, wherever we end up, so I can help jumpstart your healing and make sure you sleep."

* * *

"It's fine," Stark assures the wounded fish girl. "Seriously. For once in my life I'll be serious. It is seriously fine." The inventor glances between the pair of them having a moment and then before it gets even more awkward just turns away and starts bringing pizza and plates over to the table that has been slid over via nothing more than a woman's pure will.

"And you two can stay here. I mean, like I said. Your two are welcome and JARVIS /is/ keeping an eye out for trouble so its safe."

As safe as most places can be at this point.

A shrug as he transfers pizza to plates. "So yeah. No trouble."

A longer pause.

"So am I gonna eat all this myself?"

* * *

Sloane starts focusing on Rachel's voice as she's led back to sitting down on the sofa, expecting to wince or feel the ripple of healing abdominal muscles and the horrifying itch of scales growing back in over the wound, too. The pain starts to lift; fog being parted and allowing her to breathe easier and focus less on how exhausted she is or isn't.

Her closer hand shifts to hold Rachel's, giving a mild squeeze. She nods empathetically, "Okay."

The relief of the pain makes the relief of the emotions move more smoothly, and also letting the smell of the food again hit her senses even harder. "… I can't remember what I ate last. I think peanut butter." Her eyes lift a little, to the coffee table drawn closer with the cold coffee pot still sitting atop it. She sounds a little more like herself, at least.

'It's fine.' And Tony's being serious for once in his life — that's kind of a serious thing all on it's own. A billionaire serving them pizza is also one of those moments she wished she had a camera for, but that is likely a fleeting thought that's allowed to happen now that she isn't focused on one of three things anymore.

She may be focused on a couple of better things, at least; the presence and subtle weight of Rachel at her side and Tony being there in his own ways.

"I don't know if the Brotherhood is going to come after me again. I don't think they will. They already got what they wanted out of me. SHIELD's … I don't know."

Picking up a slice with her free hand, she takes a small bite, letting a little bit of food do a lot for her mood. "Mpf."

After her defenses, after her pushes that she could do something, after all that /optimism/, and pains both emotional and physical, she finally just says it: "I don't know if I want to go back."

* * *

Rachel keeps a long, lingering look on Sloane for a moment after Tony prompts them to eat. Then, finally, she looks over and her expression breaks into something entirely more Rachel. Her voice, too.

"I haven't had breakfast, yet. Pizza was a smart idea." A wry smile. "That's why you're the genius, right?"

A plate floats over to her waiting hand. She doesn't grab for the pizza immediately. The reason becomes apparent when a shaker of red pepper flakes comes flying in from the kitchen to shake out some heat onto her slice.

Rachel picks up her slice and folds it in half, right down the middle, and turns it to the side to take a bite. While she chews, she listens to Sloane. The silence after the thought on the Brotherhood is enough for her to finish her own contemplation while swallowing.

Then Sloane says the obvious. Rachel glances down briefly.

"You don't have to decide now, but you know whatever you pick we'll help you make it work. We can go back to the mansion tonight. We demilitarized it, but it's one of the safest places in the state."

* * *

"No, I'm a genius because I can create a clean energy source that powers the greatest powered suit known to mankind." Stark replies as he idily watches the shaker fly into the room. "This." He gestures towards the pizza. "Is why I'm amazing."

Yup. That is pure one hundred percent Stark right there.

He listens though, glancing out of the side of his eye towards her. There is a wince about the Brotherhood. He doesn't say much, but his own experience with them was less than congenial. And he had been trying to play nice the whole time.

There is a slight frown there. A slight shifting. He's fairly sure that after this? He is very done playing nice with the Brotherhood.

…now he just has to figure out /how/ to deal with them.

That though is a problem for future Tony though. Current Tony is getting some pizza.

Stark, the one that /should/ technicly be defending SHIELD just nods once. No judgement. No comment. No pressing her at all. Instead there is just understanding. "Yeah, I get that."

He moved his company out of state over all of this. No comment here.

* * *

"You're so humble, too," Sloane adds. "Don't forget that."

But she speaks her mind while Rachel eats, and the offer is made.

Her 'sick leave' won't last forever. And getting out of the city at least gives her some time to get off of the Brotherhood's radar, even if it means SHIELD's going to be looking for her soon enough. But she's also registered already, so it's —

— a big mess. Everything is just a /big mess/.

Coulson, Sharon Carter, Dani … how will she talk to any of them? How is any of this going to shake out? Her eyes turn to Tony first, considering, then to Rachel, brow creased with worry. "Okay," she finally says. "I'm okay with that. As long as it's safe."

* * *

Rachel snorts at Tony's rejoinder. It's an amused noise, honest.

Another little pulse of worry from Sloane. Rachel, with her astral hands touching the surface of the other woman's mind, cannot help herself from feeling it right alongside her. Her expression softens.

"It will be. The Brotherhood knows better than to come knocking where we're strong. They ambush."

She hesitates, her gaze momentarily flicking away as she considers how to move to this next topic.

"When you're ready, you can talk to Dani. She's SHIELD, but she's an X-Man too. We've had… concerns about SHIELD for a while now."

Rachel looks away from Sloane again, but this time purposefully, to get Tony's attention.

"We all have. I think once we have some conversations with the team, you'll feel better about knowing what to do next."

* * *

"I suppose this is one of those moments where most people would expect me to leap to the defense of the group that my dad was a founding member of." Stark says thoughtfully around a mouthfull of pizza. "But people who think that don't really know me that well, do they?"

There is a flash of a grin towards the pair of metahumans as he leans against the coffee table. "So yeah. There are concerns." A pause. "I'm trying to keep an eye on things but I know I'm too close and too involved to make it easy." The man admits.

There is an undercurrent of annoyance, a just bare touch of anger there hidden under that smile. They used Stark as a posterchild for Registretration. Then he got put in a coma. They used Sloane for the same thing. Brotherhood /again/ attacks.

…why did they need a second opinion on this?!

He shakes the feeling off before it bleeds over worse than it is to focus back on the pair of them. "But yeah, just take your time. Stay here. Stay at the mansion. Just figure it out for yourself. The people that matter? The'll understand."

* * *

Concerns about SHIELD. That drives a little more worry out into the open; thinking about the things that she's learned, what she's seen, and how other metas have been treated by them in recent months.

"Thanks, Tony. I promise I won't make such a mess next time."

Attention returning to Rachel, Sloane gestures with her free hand toward a duffel bag and backpack near the door. "I'm travelling light at the moment so I can go whenever. I know I'm not in the best of conditions right now, but … whenever you want to go, Rach."

Her eyes drift back down to the table, to the laptop, with part of her digging into the Brotherhood still up on the screen, thinking about Mutant Town and the vacant lot.

No. Not now. Closing her eyes, she clears her throat and starts trying to build her confidence back up, even if she's faking it. "And … thank you. I mean it."

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