Keeping Clear
Roleplaying Log: Keeping Clear
IC Details

A wandering Sloane returns to the Xavier Institute after a series of unnerving conversations about the problems with SHIELD, and is found by Warren.

Other Characters Referenced: Peggy Carter, Phil Coulson, Dani Moonstar
IC Date: March 13, 2019
IC Location: Xavier Institute, Westchester
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 14 Mar 2019 04:56
Rating & Warnings:
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

The return to the institute from the far side of town is a quiet one; she really could've taken a car, but going to and from the Institute right now on foot felt like the better option. It gives her time to walk, clear her head, and think.

Unfortunately, she gets almost no thinking done by the time she returns to the Institute, hands shoved into the pockets of her overcoat and a hood drawn up over her head that does far too little to hide the shape or peaks of her ears.

Sloane left earlier in the afternoon and returns later, returning more or less the same way that she had left — trying to not draw too much attention, or to cause too much fuss. She was allowed to leave anyway, right?

Shedding the charcoal overcoat and unzipping the hoodie while letting her head and hair free of the garment, she sighs, thumbing through her texts to delete a single particular text message, passing students and staff. Standing at the far end of the foyer and somewhere between offices and faculty rooms, the sort-of-Agent, sort-of-vagabond of a metahuman leans her shoulder into a wall, orange eyes closing so she can pinch the bridge of her nose with a bandaged hand.

"I'm gonna have to tell someone," she mutters to herself.

Sloane may not be trying to draw attention, but there is at least one person around with very, very good eyes, who is especially prone to notice movement of the furtive variety. She was noticed by said person while she was on her way across the grounds, partially because he had the rather unfair advantage of being several hundred feet in the air at the time, riding back to the Institute on a desultory current of wind.

"Hm," Warren said to himself and a passing flock of birds, and banked into a descent.

A few minutes after Sloane gets back into the Institute herself, and conveniently enough a few seconds after she says she's 'going to have to tell someone,' Someone appears in the Institute's front entry, his wings still half-open, and his entire aspect about as windswept as one might expect from someone who just arrived via a very brisk and bracing flight. He shakes out his ruffled feathers, the rattling motion straightening most of them, before he pushes his hand through his hair to try to put that in some semblance of order too.

"Did you conclude your business, Agent?" he asks lightly, as he approaches.

The hoodie — a plain black track-style jacket with a huge white star on the center of the back — shifts as she's cramming the phone into the pocket, glancing up and to the side. Maybe a trip to the gym is in order — she may have re-hurt her right hand again (again), but if she sticks to left hand jabs and kicks, that's fine, right?

Deliberations are interrupted to the sound of Warren's voice behind her, only briefly preceeded by the door opening. Before she can fully turn she's got sight of those wings preening and shaking about to get straightened up, and it's still a sight she hasn't quite gotten used to yet.

Pushing off from the wall, Sloane rolls her eyes and shakes her head with a shallow groan, shifting her coat over her arm. "Yeah. I wish I could say my trip to the city went better, and my trip to town went better."

"I really do want to be straight with you, Mister Worthington, so, like, for the moment I'm still technically a SHIELD Agent." Sloane's face flattens a bit, lifting a bandaged hand to pantomime air quotes. "'Technically.'"

Her arms then cross, coat shifting. "Officially, I've been given a long-term assignment now to monitor the X-Men for the forseeable future. Unofficially…"

Sloane looks up, expression grave. "Like I said, something's going on. But … it's getting bad, I think. My boss wants me as far away as possible from the Triskelion."

There's always this sense that Warren just takes up space. Much more space than your average six-foot man. It's the wings, really, especially when he's preening them out, as he has a tendency to do after a flight. The feathers rattle gently as he shakes them out, the gesture functionally identical to a bird's — except writ way, way too large. They're probably the first thing she even sees of him as she turns, because it's hard to see anything else for all the gleaming whiteness.

Somewhere in there, much more subtly, his gaze tracks to the bandage on Sloane's hand, but it's a passing observation which he does not comment on.

Eventually straightening up, Warren steps closer as Sloane pushes away from the wall to his arrival, though he doesn't quite fold his wings back behind himself. They stay half-open, and after a moment it might become plain it's an instinctive gesture to screen for a little token privacy for their conversation. Her comments on how she wishes her trip went better draw an arch of his brow, though he doesn't interrupt until she's finished.

"It's advisable to be straight with me," is his eventual reply, which is said lightly, but probably meant quite seriously. No doubt he has said it across enough boardroom tables. "Especially as, well — here you are, monitoring us."

Around them, the Institute drones on quietly, nothing but students going about their business.

As she continues, his expression cools, his head lifting. "Come along," he says rather abruptly, turning to walk off. One of those wings curves in around her and starts to shepherd her along with him: not unlike a guiding arm thrown about the shoulders, except much too big. The destination is one of the deserted faculty offices. More private. "I take it your resignation wasn't accepted?"

Her eyes drift from side to side as the wings act as a means to get them a little more space, noting the distance between them and students milling around the foyer, wondering just how many times Warren had done something like this before that it's so… normal. Normal's a word she hasn't thought of for a long time.

Especially as she's monitoring them, he comments, leading to her tilting her head with a frown. As the conversation turns increasingly serious, the inhuman's feet turn and she walks with the winged X-Man, noting the wing so casually pulled around her shoulders. Cautiously, quietly, with the covert training of a true badass espionage agent and spy and metahuman, and without taking her eyes away from looking straight forward as Warren guides them on…

… she touches a feather.

she has to, ok??

Inside the office, Sloane throws her coat over one of the chairs, crossing further inside and standing near a window, but notably staying away from being /right/ in front of it.

"Not in the least. That trip to the city was a total mess: I submitted it to the Agent in charge, and she was… she was polite, but she wasn't giving me many choices," Sloane says, eyes drifting down. "She suggested that if I left, certain parties would try to use me as a scapegoat to push the registration agenda even harder. That it would drag scrutiny on the Institute, my family, basically anyone I ever had contact with for more than five seconds. I know she was playing some mind games with me, but … I know she was also telling the truth. She just asked me to think about it, because something is going on."

Her gaze lifts, pulling a thumb in the direction of town. "And that was my SO. That talk was worse."

The students, indeed, seem incredibly accustomed to Warren doing bird things around the mansion. No one really looks twice as he sweeps his wings out, and uses one like an extra arm to usher Sloane off. Well, except maybe the girls (and some guys) who are sneaking surreptitious second glances at him and his receding form. Using his wings in this expressive manner seems extremely normal for Warren, too. It's not surprising, if one thinks about it; they're natural parts of his body, and why wouldn't he use them as fluently as anyone else uses their hands and arms?

…It also seems normal for people to fall to temptation and touch his feathers, once the wings get close enough to them. At the least, Warren doesn't seem to care. Hard to say if he even noticed — up until one looks at him and catches the barest hint of a knowing smile pulling at the corner of his mouth. He knows you can't resist, fish.

His feather is extremely soft and well-kept.

The trip is short, and once within the office, Warren closes the door. He leans his hip against the desk and folds his arms, flicking his wings to a neat fold behind him as he listens. Again, he does not interrupt until she is finished.

"Why does that fail to surprise me?" he eventually observes. "Try to quit, and they go straight to the 'blackbagging of everyone you ever loved.'" A sardonic smile flickers across his features. "I suppose at least she was up-front about the blackbagging. Though is staying under such duress truly better than just making the full effort to cut the cord once and for all?" He shrugs. "The Institute, at least, is used to scrutiny — and equipped to deflect it. I wouldn't worry about us, in the equation."

But again, talk of 'something going on,' and that something being worse. "What does he know that he wanted you far away? Was this assignment his way of keeping you clear?"

Sloane's finger retracts quickly. "Shut up."

But in the office, her attitude resumes being all business, more than what it should be for someone her age. She should be attending classes, not to the affairs of a spy agency. "I had a feeling you'd say that. I mean, it's a school full of people with metahuman abilities, but," she says, throwing her hand up in a vague gesture.

"She made a hard sell about me giving up my clearance, too. Resources, visas, all of that. That if people like me leave, it just leaves the people that want to push meta-registration." Sloane's jaw sets, then she sighs.

"My SO's — like," she starts, then stalls out.

Her eyes lift back up to Warren. "I gotta make this clear: I know you're not ever supposed to trust anyone in a spy agency, but he really /is/ one of the good ones. The /best/. After my family …" Her mouth bends into a small frown, looking down for just a tick, her face returning to some resolve. "… Look, when he tells me something is going on, I believe him."

"He doesn't expect me to actually report to him, and it's not safe for me anywhere near the Triskelion, or near /any/ SHIELD agents, and that it was barely safe for him to talk to me. He also said to not touch my bank account unless it was someone swipin' the card way the hell away from where I am, and to try to get overseas to a friend of mine if things get too hot."

"There's traitors in SHIELD, Mister Worthington. Dani needs to watch herself."

We've been fighting off weird stuff for a long time," is all Warren has to say about the trials and tribulations of the X-Men and their Institute. Left unsaid is that they are also very accustomed to defending their children against the sniffing of SHIELD and its like, though the implication is not hard to pick up.

As far as Sloane leaving 'not doing any good?' "There's fighting something from within," Warren says, eyes narrowed, "and then there's recognizing that sometimes you frankly can do much more good if you just pack up, leave, and fight it head-on. SHIELD isn't the only way to get resources. And what if it just leaves the people who want to push meta-registration? That's fine. It'll make them all easy to spot, in one place." …Warren was always kind of the brash one of the original X-Men crew.

He shrugs. "Besides, when people stay, they're kind of contributing to the optics that everyone's… okay with what's going on."

His wings lift, ruffling a bit in what is rapidly becoming obvious is an expression of irritation. "…I mean, it's ultimately your choice," he reminds himself. "Just my thought, when I hear all that."

As for her SO? Warren studies Sloane's face as she talks about Phil Coulson. Whatever he sees there seems to satisfy him as to her veracity, though it certainly doesn't make him feel any better about the situation. "And what does he intend? This is serious. If SHIELD is this far gone, something has to be done before they get access to a database listing all the metas in New York…"

His folded arms tighten, as he thinks out loud. "There's only so much even I can do. The kind of pressure I can put on situations like this to induce any outside investigations is much too slow." He pauses. "Mostly legitimate pressure, anyway." Illegitimate pressure, of course, is Sending in the X-Men with their Dumb Superpowers, which it seems about time to do.

Her final remark draws his eye. "Warren," he corrects, a little absently. Apparently she's finally gotten the upgrade from Mr. Worthington. "Do you know if Dani is extracting also? Knowing her, she's staying in like the brave fool she is."

Bringing up contributions to the optics of a situation draws raised eyebrows from the scaled young woman. "Don't I know that one," she murmurs under her breath, folding her arms; her mind trails off momentarily to remember her notes on the Brotherhood agent that attacked her are stowed in one of her bags.

What about their plans…? "Bluntly, he's ready to stop this or go down swinging. The Agent in charge is of a similar mindset, but I don't know if the two of them have talked to each other yet. I don't have a way to contact him right now, either, he called me earlier through a burner."

Her face scrunches briefly, a bit frustrated. "SHIELD threw 'em my data for compliance with the law. I'm on that list, too."

'Warren,' right. The last question leads to Sloane puffing out her cheeks with a briefly held breath. "Buahh… uh… I honestly have no idea. We talked recently; she came up to check on me after I settled in up here. We were on different teams, so I don't know what she's actually tangled up in right now. Me calling her is probably a bad idea, I've done what I could to keep the phone I have now off the books."

It takes a moment to click. Then it does, and Warren winces a little. "Yes, you certainly do. On the plus side — " He slips out his phone, opens up something, and flips it around to display to Sloane. It's the YouTube of her attack — or, well, it was. It's a 'video was removed for violating our content guidelines' message now. "They, at least, were very understanding once I got into the mix."

He slips the phone away again with that same long-fingered deftness, and Warren listens soberly as Sloane outlines 'the plan.' "Valiant of them," Warren says, frowning, "But I hope they're more than just two. We should probably step in here, to be frank. Desperate times call for unorthodox measures. The risk is to all of us." His blue eyes shadow under his long lashes, the look in them laconic. "I'm on that list, myself."

And Dani? Warren muses on that a moment, one hand automatically moving to finger his own feathers. A clear habit he indulges when thinking. "Yeah," he agrees. "Don't contact her. You are assuredly being watched and tapped to within an inch of your life. So am I, in all likelihood, though I have my ways of getting around that."

He lets go of his wing and flicks it once, before folding it away. "I'll see if I can check in with her. In the meantime, stay here. It's your official assignment, first of all." His head lifts, a rather lofty smirk crossing his features. "…and second of all, if you're found to be a triple agent all this time, I'll know exactly where to find you." Probably a joke.

Sloane's eyes dip to the phone, waiting for him to proudly display the content violation, giving Warren a small smile. "Thanks."

Warren is on the list, too. She remembers seeing the news stories; the fuss kicked up over his going public, and his registration; it's somewhat reassuring to know that she at least knows a few more people — publically, anyway — that are in the same boat that she is. "I already told my SO that if he needs me, I'm there for him. I'm sure he wouldn't mind a calvalry if the time came."

"I checked everything I brought back with me, and this phone," she says, patting on her hoodie pocket, "is clean. But yeah, I … wouldn't be surprised." A long canine slips visible as she bites on her lip in thought. "I'm gonna have to check everything of mine again, I bet. Laundromat," she says with a snap-point. "Good out-of-the-way spot to do it, I could —"

Her eyes lift back up to Warren, her finger curling back to the rest of her hand and lowering it down. "… Sorry. Paranoid. … Spy mode. Thing."

"Understood. I'll catalogue my record collection while I'm waiting, I guess."

The smile is returned, though Warren's version is far more cavalier. It also looks like it belongs on the cover of Vogue.

It passes on quickly enough, however. Traitors in SHIELD, registration lists… sobering topics even at the best of times. Warren reminds that he registered, too, and so he feels the risks here exceptionally keenly. The reverberations of that are still rippling out through his life, which he has always had to live under the public eye. Plenty are not happy with how the Worthington scion is chairing his corporation, nor with how he is devoting his time and influence in general.

"It's a delicate thing to get involved with," Warren acknowledges, of the web of deceit woven all throughout SHIELD. Much as he'd like to think things can always be solved by storming the castle, he's been in business long enough to know when such blunt-force approaches can make things markedly worse. "Whatever he could tell us that could help us navigate assistance — if I could speak to him myself — "

Warren trails off, shakes his head. "Anyway…" He pushes away from the desk against which he was leaning, and reaches to rest a hand on her shoulder. "Better to be paranoid than dead."

He needs to stop being so damn pretty.

Sloane nods, however, shifting her stance to something a little more relaxed. "My SO is Agent Phil Coulson. He's on edge, Warren— actually angry. SHIELD was his life, and not … just … the spy stuff. The ideal — that we were supposed to be a safeguard, and actually help people. If he questions that you know me, just tell him 'Sloane still hates bland-ass broccoli.'"

Her wrapped hand lifts in a faux-helpless half-shrug. "It's a long story."

The hand settles on her shoulder, and Warren imparts sage advice upon her. "That's what I keep telling myself," the ginger replies, glancing to the side — to make sure her position isn't compromised by office windows.

"Good luck. I hope it helps."

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