Natural Class
Roleplaying Log: Natural Class
IC Details

Doug and Warren have a conversation which illuminates a few similarities.

Other Characters Referenced: Jean Grey, Alison Blaire, Illyana Rasputin, Roberto da Costa, Carol Danvers
IC Date: March 04, 2019
IC Location: Xavier Institute, Westchester
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 05 Mar 2019 15:06
Rating & Warnings:
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

It's about 8:00 PM and Doug has come into the kitchen for that time-honored X-Men tradition of scrounging and probably eating somebody else's food. He shuffles into the kitchen, and then stops - and turns, very slowly, and finds himself face to face with an enormous pile of crusty dishes in the sink and conquering the counter.

"You've got to be kidding." He walks over to the dishes and picks up a plate with a fork on it, turns it over, and watches the fork defy gravity by refusing to budge. "You've GOT to be kidding."

He makes a face. He could just leave them. He SHOULD just leave them, he's not a student anymore. But there are *no more bowls* and this X-Man wants his golden grahams. So, with a sigh, our hero pulls on an apron and a pair of rubber gloves. He takes out his handy dandy little music player, turns it on, and begins to fill the sink with soapy water.

'Oh oh, doin' it baby!'

Doug leans over the sink, as the Humpty Dance makes the speakers go *boom*, and he starts to put his booty into it, while he pre-scrubs.

8:00 PM in New York is, as it happens, about 9:00 AM in Tokyo, Japan.

This factoid will become relevant quite soon.

This relatively late in the evening, the few students that still linger on at the Institute are either hanging out in Salem Center or studying, which means Doug has the kitchen essentially all to himself. This is possibly part of why he feels bold enough to take over and turn up some music; or, well, maybe he would be bold enough to do that anyway even if he was certain to eventually attract an audience.

To speak of that — he is not alone for long.

Eventually, he may become aware of another sound mixing in with the sound of the Humpty Dance. It is an understated, somewhat monotone sound, which is probably why it doesn't distinguish itself from the music earlier, but eventually it gets close enough Doug would become aware of it. Someone is speaking Japanese behind him, the brisk gentle-cadenced language peeking through occasionally when rest beats punctuate the music. Of course, Doug's talents will parse it instantly: business Japanese, formal and littered with honorifics, and clearly indicative of a superior speaking to an inferior.

Turning around yields the sight of Warren Worthington leaned in the doorframe, finishing his call, his somewhat amused gaze suggesting he has seen everything.

"Gokurosama," he tells whoever is on the other end, and ends his call. To Doug: "Should I take this to mean the dishwasher is out of commission again? I swear I've called a service at least twice in as many months."

"Pre-wash." Doug says, "Otherwise the dishwasher's not going to have the stuff to handle this." He considers something, and then walks over to the dishwasher and opens it to reveal that it too is full of crusty dishes that nobody bothered to wash — and a pair of underpants. He grabs a steak fork, and picks up the drawers, before he holds them out to Warren. "These yours?" He says.

"I'd *swear* we weren't so boneheaded when I was a teenager but I mustn't tell lies." He turns, swinging the underwear around. "And let THIS be our battle standard!" He calls, holding them up, "Which we shall carry to victory!"

There is a brief, silent moment where Warren politely tries to look like he knows anything about the proper usage of a dishwasher. It is broken only by Doug's inquiry about the underpants.

"Wouldn't be caught dead in those," is Warren's equanimous response. "And it's been a very long time since I've misplaced anything of mine of that nature, anyway."

He glances back down at his phone, gaze shading beneath long lashes. "Boneheadedness is universal to the teenage experience," he remarks. "What was different back then was more staff, for more students, to forestall this before it got out of hand. I'm going to have to check on how regularly the grounds are being seen to, if this is what we can expect," he says, absently typing out a message. " — Mind your standard, it looks damp."

His gaze lifts afterwards, and there's a studying aspect to his eyes hidden under the outward aplomb. "I take this to mean you're feeling better."

"No, I'm still a complete hot mess." Doug admits. He looks at the underpants, and then says, "Want to know how to make these someone else's problem?" He then proceeds to toss them up onto the ceiling fan, where they hang from one of the blades. "Now they're the problem of the first person who comes in here and looks up who's not us. We'll see how many weeks they're up there before somebody gets them down."

He sighs, goes back to his scrubbing. "I'm controlling my language, angling for coherence." Doug says, as he works on getting egg yolk off a plate, "But the truth is… I don't know if I'll ever be right, per say." He rests his elbows on the edge of the sink, before he rinses and stacks. "Being brainwashed and used by a cabal of fascist terrorists is one hell of a thing to have to get over. But… I do it day by day. Finding things to do helps. But I have had my moments of going completely to pieces. A couple of days ago I went to my old house and stared up at what used to be my bedroom window for an hour. Just… stared."

"Most people don't look up," Warren says dryly, as the offending garment makes its new home on the fan. "I've made a career out of that."

He steps more fully into the kitchen, seating himself at the kitchen island. The backless stools are a lot easier on his wings, which fold neatly at his back with a rustle as the feathers sleek down. He is a good listener, at the least, though it's likely best not to contemplate how much work was done on his personality before he got to the point of being one.

Feeling better isn't necessarily exclusive with feeling like a hot mess," he observes. His demeanor colors with the markers of personal experience. "You're up, walking around, talking, not brainwashed by a cabal of terorists anymore, that's a step in the right direction. 'Being right' is a difficult state to achieve around here, anyway, with what we do and what we have had to face — and will face."

His eyes flick up towards Doug as he makes mention of having gone to his home. There is a flinch to his expression that quickly passes. "You were… not the first casualty that was sustained. Though we seem to have a good track record on them coming back, so far."

Doug exhales, and then says, "I heard - secondhand - about what happened to you." He steps aside. "How about I wash and you dry." He says, gesturing to a towel — and another pair of gloves.

"I don't claim to be any sort of guru, or a master detective, but I imagine the way you look has always caused a certain kind of person to react a certain sort of way." He grimaces. "Which just goes to show how little people know about their own religion. I used to hang out with Magik on the regular. I've seen plenty of demons, and none of them are as terrifying as the descriptions of angels. 'I saw, and behold, there was a stormy wind coming from the north, a great cloud with flashing fire and a brilliance surrounding it; and from its midst, like the color of electrum from the midst of the fire… Ezekiel one four."

For a moment, something crosses Warren's features, rather easily readable if Doug looks at him: the older man was not thinking of himself when talking about casualties, and is surprised to be reminded that he was one. It is consistent with his record with the X-Men; even when he was at his youngest and most obnoxious, the core of his personality was always to jump into things for others first, and think of himself last — if at all. It was an uncommon trait to find in a young man of his particular privilege and upbringing… and quite possibly one that might have been smothered out if he'd continued on his life path without the X-Men to ground him.

Of course, it could also be explained by the simple fact that Warren Worthington III, age eighteen, was brashly and completely unaware the world could possibly fail to oblige him in any way. Warren Worthington III, age thirty, now knows much better.

Offered a towel, a pair of gloves, and the prospect of menial labor, Warren looks bemused a moment, before he steps forward with the air of a tourist doing 'something really, rather quaint.' He works with the particular unnecessary care and slowness of someone too unaccustomed to a task to have become cavalier in its doing.

The topic of discussion draws a slight flick of his wings more fully closed, feathers lifting slightly before folding down smooth. It's not human body language, but Doug's eyes should learn avian body language quickly enough. Tension, recollection, worry. "Let's say I haven't been to church in fifteen years," is his first remark, the cavalier off-handedness of his quip a stark contrast with the physical cues. "It's awkward, people get upset…" He hesitates. "Maybe they do know their religion well enough; the reaction is usually fear — or anger."

His blue eyes shadow under his lashes. "I tend to prefer Hebrews 1:14, myself, if I'm looking for scripture to guide myself by." He pauses again. "People tend to make it hard — make me have to pull out the flip side of it too often. Though I don't imagine that surprises you. You have seen the worst of them, yourself."

Doug raises an eyebrow. Scrub, rinse, dry, stack. Scrub, rinse, dry, stack. There's a rhythm to it that's easy enough to get into. The music helps — dry to the beat. Doug considers, and then says, "I don't know if I believe in God at all. I certainly don't remember an afterlife. I um. I was raised LDS. Mormon. But my parents were never very serious about it, so I um. I had pretty much given it up long before I came to the school. I just—had other things to think about, though I witnessed classmates struggle with their faith… or their own perceived certainty of damnation."

He flicks his gaze up to Warren, and then says, "I hate them. I'd like nothing better than to burn myself to a cinder trying to make them pay for what they did to me — what they made *me* do to other people. But I think… that'd still be giving Hydra a measure of control over them that I don't want them to have. I *will* devote my life to fighting them… but not that way, I think."

Doug is quiet for a time. "…What do you think of the Registration Act?"

Warren laughs at mention of God, though the sound isn't particularly humored. "He has never spoken to me, despite me looking just the part to expect to be spoken to, so I wouldn't know either. You might have gotten closer to Him than I ever have, having died. That you don't remember much says a lot — though perhaps the memory of it is just taken from you when you come back. But Jeannie saw — things. Maybe more felt things? I haven't asked much about it."

He's slowly getting more fluent with the whole drying thing, though he might need to be corrected as to proper stacking technique. Warren Worthington is maybe 95 percent decorative, and 5 percent real-world functionality. "For me it was more of a… a blood requirement to be Episcopalian, as it was a requirement to go to Exeter and then Harvard and then moulder away in a Manhattan highrise. I never really paid much attention to religion until it started coming out of my shoulderblades."

He puts aside another dish. "I know other students here were far more invested in their faith," he says. "Mostly when I was not here, which is perhaps for the best. Most already struggle with the idea that their mutations are a sort of sin. The discomfort when they look at me…" He shrugs. "I see it."

As far as Hydra? True to his earlier statement on how he chooses to carry himself, Warren is a nonjudgmental presence, his wings opening unconsciously to drape open in a more relaxed fashion. "I think the best retribution," he says eventually, "is to live the second life you've been given. Yes. Devoting it all to revenge would be giving it right back to them. There's a balance to fighting something without being consumed by it. That's why the school has always been, and remains, such a large part of things here."

As for the Registration Act?

Warren's gaze averts out the window. "It's a product of fear," he says. "And that we're still faced with its eventuality after so many years of outreach is exhausting to contemplate."

Doug grins. "I'm… putting together a plan to launch a digital radio station. I need to sell Jean on it, and right now, I'm still on thin ice. But I'm… thinking about it. Collecting information. The technical aspects of it aren't any problem. I'm pretty sure I can manage sexy radio voice. Call it 'Radio X', a station for the disenfranchised everywhere, a reminder that they're not alone."

Then Doug wrinkles his nose. "I was raised to, as a rule, be courteous, polite, and respectful, Warren—" Then he says, "…But I think, if I ever meet Captain Marvel, I'm going to moon her. Just so she understands beyond a shadow of a doubt what *this* mutant thinks of her, and her fascist principles."

Warren's brows raise with interest as Doug speaks about his plan for a digital radio station. It's a function of his being to be interested; Worthington Industries began as a media company, way back in the 19th century when media meant newspapers and physical magazines, and most things communications draw his attention. He turns a glance towards Doug, his blue eyes considering. "I don't think Jean would object. I certainly don't," he says. There is an undercurrent beneath what he says that suggests he thinks it would also be beneficial to Doug's own mental rehabilitation. A thing to occupy his mind — to focus him away from the trauma of what was done to him — as Doug himself mentioned earlier.

He puts aside another dish. "If you pursue it, come talk to me if you need anything for the startup. Capital, connections…" He shrugs, a broad catch-all for 'whatever.' It is nice to have a billionaire on staff. "Alison and I have started a charitable foundation to be the face of our public outreach, and an affiliation might make sense." One wing flicks in a gesture that reads like amusement. "Maybe an appearance by the Dazzler on the station, at some point."

As for Captain Marvel and Doug's determination of what she should ever receive from him? Warren chokes back a laugh which seems uncomfortably conscious of his semi-obligation to at least try to be a role model, here. It's very difficult. Where is Scott when you need him to be disapproving? "She would stamp a registration on your presented ass," he surmises. His expression ticks a little more sober, afterwards. "It was a difficult interview to watch. The — the talk about coming to understand us, to get to know us and who we are…"

His hands drift still, his gaze abstracting back to some hopeful memories of years ago. "I thought that was what we were doing. For years. That was the purpose of the Dream. Helping people to understand us, who we are, and that we're not here to replace or hurt them. Makes you feel like no one was listening." He shrugs. "Well, Jean and I agree. If we must take a more assertive tack now to be heard than the Professor ever advised us… then so be it."

His wings rustle, flaring slightly. Nowhere near their full span, but enough to make no secret of their presence. "I bound these things for fifteen years, for their convenience. I won't any longer. They will have to accept it." He grimaces. "Or put a sawblade to them, as the case may be."

Doug raises his eyebrows, and then he says, "I believe she genuinely thinks she's trying to help us. But I also believe that she's wrong, and in need of — how would Xavier have put it? Stern correction. What she's doing is profiling, it's the declaration of guilt before the committing of the crime, and it's wrong." He methodically works his way through the dishes, diminishing the pile in front of him.

"I have — A love-hate relationship with Xavier. I wasn't good enough for his army… he concealed the truth about what I was from me. Ostensibly for my own good — but I had a right to know and then make my own choices about it. I'll never forget that even though I'm here, I'm not one of the chosen."

"I don't question that she believes she is helping," Warren concurs. "It's a shame at best, and dangerous at worst, that she uses her influence to push forward something like this."

There is a brief pause. "I registered. There were some unacceptable risks associated with not registering, to people toward whom I have a duty," he continues. There is a passing moment where his demeanor turns slightly, displaying the 'flip side' he spoke of earlier: the other face of the angel's dichotomy. Sheltering guidance turns over into the hard judgment of a flaming sword, and then back again. "I didn't really have a choice, given my public profile… and that's just the first of the many things that is wrong with this legislation and what it represents."

His expression gets even harder to read when Xavier comes up, though 'harder to read' is a little meaningless as a statement around Doug. In Warren's sharp, cleanly-cut features is the expected defensiveness of the Professor, from a member of the man's very first class… but also a hint of conflict. Xavier was a polarizing man. Everyone struggled with him in some way or another, even as their lives were shaped by him. Warren was affected by him rather less, perhaps, than Scott and Jean, but his mentorship from Xavier still involved a great deal of deconstruction. It was difficult to go from being a modern-day prince to being repeatedly reminded he was the least of a superpowered team.

"The Professor had reasons for most things he did," he settles for saying. "He always believed he was doing what was best for people. Sometimes, he was right." His keen blue eyes gloss with recollection. "He broke down what I was, when I first came to the Institute. I was accustomed to my own importance, and he… disabused me. In the end it was probably something I needed." His wings draw in, cagily restless.

"He was a great man," he finally says, with the sort of tone that gently accepts very little argument on that assessment. However — "But I'd ask yourself what it means to… be 'one of the chosen,' in his eyes." How fortunate is that, really?

"Was it?" Doug says. He looks into Warren's eyes, briefly, and though he doesn't voice it out loud, there's a flash of empathy from the member of the Second Generation who keenly felt his own perceived *uselessness* in the face of his fantastic peers. Whether or not Warren would pause to think about that is up to him. But then, they missed each other, didn't bear witness to one another's struggles firsthand.

"Yeah, he was a great man, there's no disputing that. But there'll always be a part of me that will remmeber that *I*, with my silly super-power, wasn't good enough for the great man." Then he flattens his mouth, and rinses the last plate from the pile, before he hands it to Warren to dry it off. He looks up to Warren, and then says to him, "For what it's worth, based on the conversation we've had just now? If you put together your own team of X-Men, for whatever mission? I'd be honored to be picked. I think you could lead… if you chose to. Maybe Xavier *wasn't* right to disabuse you of that notion in its entirety. If he were here and I were you, I'd ask him why he did."

Was it? asks Doug.

There's a brief hesitation on Warren's part, brief but telling. Memories jump to mind, unbidden, of standing aside when Xavier picked Scott to lead — standing aside as Xavier held long conversations with Hank he could barely understand — standing aside as Xavier coached Bobby personally with his powers, assured they would someday become something spectacular. Nothing even needs to be said about Jean. And for him? 'I confess that wings are not the most remarkable mutation I have ever seen… ah, but you have the most natural courage and strength of will, Warren…'

Sometimes Warren thinks it's silly to hold onto a statement like that as much as he does, but he does. As the years went by, it became hard to find any other way to identify the contribution he made.

Little of Douglas Ramsey's own similar issues really made it into the official records on him that are, due to their non-overlapping tenures, most of what Warren knows about the younger man. But he can hear enough that is familiar in what Doug says now. Was it really what he needed, to be dismissed? "He might have been concerned I would turn American Psycho without a serious takedown," Warren says, choosing to skew light — this time. "There was a risk. I still remember how shocked and outraged I was when I realized people could tell me 'no.'"

He sobers a moment later. "I know what you mean, though. Scott suffered in his own way for being picked — but it's nice to be picked."

He takes the last plate, but doesn't immediately do anything with it, his attention given the younger man as he speaks. "Thank you," is his first, automatic response, Warren socially bred from birth to take and give compliments with patrician grace. Afterwards, once the words really register, his expression tempers to something surprised. Not necessarily at what is said — for all his occasional doubts and learning experiences, Warren remains someone without any shortage on ego — but perhaps at the simply-offered sincerity. "I appreciate the vote of confidence," he says. "Maybe I will choose to, someday."

He dries the plate and puts it aside. "Well, I was a monster when I was eighteen, is what he would say," he says, with a laugh. "I didn't quite need more justification that I was the master of the world." His gaze turns to Doug. "I can't explain why he concealed anything from you. Perhaps there was a reason. Perhaps not. Perhaps by that time he was beginning to question putting people in danger unnecessarily. It was…" Around when Jean died. "…a difficult time."

Warren looks pensive. "As you said, you did have a right to know and to choose, however. You have that right now, now that you're freed from Hydra. Once you're fully cleared, whether you stay or go, and what you do with what the world is now, is up to you."

Doug quirks his mouth, and says, "Aw." Then he holds his hands out. "Warren, look at me. As mutant culture emerges, in some ways I'm more privileged than *you*. I have a power that offers me incredible insight and technical skill. I have *no* outward expression of my mutation. Nobody who didn't know I was a Mutant would ever think of it to look at me. I'm blond and blue-eyed and white. I have *incredible* privilege, and I can use it to the benefit of others who lack it.."

Then he reaches up to pat Warren on the shoulder, lightly. "Somehow I don't think you were a monster. Spoiled? Maybe a little cruel? But certainly no worse than Bobby - ah…" He squinches his nose. "…Hot Bobby was." That one took some spitting out, but Warren would immediately default to Cold Bobby.

"In the end, our powers *can't* be the final determinator of our ability to contribute, to be a part of the movement… only our desire. I've had to look inside myself, and if my job shook out to washing dishes and carrying boxes… then I just need to eat my pride and be the best damn dishwasher and box carrier I can be. Right?"

"So… I mean… while I figure out who Best Doug is, who's Best Warren? He seems like a pretty cool guy to me."

Warren looks at Doug. There is a look on his face like it has occurred to him, at times, to be envious of the mutants who can pass perfectly in human society without painfully binding their wings down into tiny triangles — and yet it's still hard for him to let go of the guilt that is being raised in immense privilege in literally every other way.

"You're not wrong," he says, dryly. "I mean, I'm usually the one using the 'I have incredible privilege and I can use it to the benefit of those who don't' line. But in that one respect… no, I'm really not top of the list. Not the worst — but not the best. I was paying off doctors and tailors for years to keep my secrets." His mouth quirks ruefully. "You are free to take the torch on that one."

There is, in fact, a brief moment of confusion when Doug references Bobby — only to crash into terrible understanding at the important qualifier. "No," he laughs. "No worse than 'Hot Bobby,' I suppose. Lovely young man, of course, but you can really tell they're new to their money…"

He essays a nod when Doug speaks of powers being vastly less important than desire and willingness, however. "That's a lesson I learned early, myself," he says. "In fact, I think these days my contribution weighs most heavily in terms of my fantastic powers at sitting on boards. In this kind of climate it may be the 'unremarkable' and 'technical' powers that come to the fore." Despite the tone of jest, there is a core of seriousness. When your opponents are legislation, politicians, and the rule of law, suddenly 'billionaire' becomes a potent powerset.

As far as that last question? "Oh," Warren says. "I don't know. Probably someone who lives up to whatever image is projected by these." His wings rustle, their long primaries spreading in a demonstrative white fan. "…not the lamb's blood and flaming swords and pillars of salt aspects," he clarifies, "though sometimes I confess abusing that to chase people off."

Doug pauses, and then he regards Warren's wings. "It would be nice to be able to fly, you know. But then, maybe there's someone out there who envies my ability to conjugate verbs in Japanese."

He purses his lips. "…Warren, I have a question." He says. An impish look crosses his face. "Do you have powder down, a preen gland, or both?" His lips purse, "And if you have a preen gland, where is it and how do you get to it?" …Sometimes Doug Ramsey is a little *shit*, in an intellectual sort of way.

"Tonari no hana wa akai," Warren remarks. "Tonari no shibafu wa aoi."

A pause. "We do a lot of business with Japan. Avionics," he explains, almost apologetic. "Though I confess, even with the — the binding, and the fifteen years of hiding, and the complete destruction of my social life… I often think the flying to be worth it… and as I understand it, Rosetta Stone isn't the only application of your abilities."

But Doug has a question. Doug may not know what he is asking for, asking this question in this way.

"D'you want to see it?" Warren has a masterful control over his outward expressions that make it hard, even with abilities, to read past the mask at certain times. This is one. There are no outward cues other than the way Warren turns, leans his hip against the counter, and flicks his left wing out of the way behind his back. His spun-gold hair spills across an eye, when he tilts his head.

Sometimes Warren is a shit, too.

Doug puts his hand over his mouth, covering a laugh. Ahh, ha ha ha ha! "That's worked on most of the women you've ever met. …Bet it didn't work on Jean, though, did it? I bet she laughed."

Then he tilts his head, and says "But *Warren*. Buddy. I'm the terror of Salem Center version 2.0. Like all the townie girls would tell you, Doug Ramsey will just break your heart when he leaves in the morning-you SURE you want to get tangled up with a dangerous man like me?" The self-depreciation is obvious. Though Doug WAS the terror of all those townie girls, back in the day. The Mutant Menace.

"It has worked on ninety-nine percent of them," Warren says, completely without shame about the practiced flirt display. It may actually be impossible to shame Warren Worthington. The smile he flashes probably also worked on ninety-nine percent of them.

"Amazingly, Jean did not want to see my preen gland," Warren says. The sting of rejection is long enough ago that he can laugh about it — now. "She didn't laugh, however. She just said no, and devastated me. A hard woman, Jean Grey." The flirtatious attitude holds for half a moment more, and then just like that — it packs up again, put away in a box like the mask it is. Just one more persona for a man who has had to wear countless masks for different people, over the years. "If you really want to know, I have something like powder down, and thank God. I don't have enough time in the day to oil my feathers all the time."

The follow-up yields a decided smirk. "Oh, were you my successor?" Warren's brows loft in amusement. "All right, I'll steer clear. I'll have to get the sordid details from one of your classmates."

He pushes away from the counter, and flicks his wings fully closed. "That said, I should probably call Tokyo back sometime tonight. If you have any other inquiries about my anatomy, now is the time."

Doug drawls, "Well, other than a vague existential horror at what your caloric intake must be like," He says, "…I think I'm good. Don't be a stranger, Warren. I really enjoyed this talk." And now he's quietly musing at how much he has in *common* with this guy. He's going to finish tidying up the kitchen, for now — not that someone won't blow and it'll be a wreck again in an hour, but he did his part.

And of course, there's a pair of briefs hanging from the ceiling fan - when will somebody notice them to take them down? Let's find out.

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