Defying Gravity
Roleplaying Log: Defying Gravity
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Cypher and Shadowcat, part the second. Things are not easy between two stubborn, challenging people, but they are better.

Other Characters Referenced: Rachel Summers, Cannonball, Moonstar, Magik, The Guardians of the Galaxy, The Collector
IC Date: March 11, 2019
IC Location: Xavier's School, the Gymnasium
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 16 Mar 2019 01:41
Rating & Warnings:
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

* OOC Time: Mon Mar 11 19:36:28 2019 *

* * *

It's amazing, how *elusive* Doug can be these days. In some ways he's like the… ghost of a nerd. Probably not that funny, but it's always 'Oh, he was here just a minute ago' or 'He helped me carry a box' or 'He took a book out of the library I really want to read' - always just where he's been… never him actually there.

But today he's in the gym, the very modern but still not the Danger Room gym, and he's trying to go through a Martial Arts form on a striking dummy, but frequently stopping and shaking his head, before he tries again. He's dressed in sneakers and sweats, with a pair of earbuds in, the cord vanishing into the collar of his shirt and then down into his pocket.

"No," He says, as he tries again, "No, no, *no*…"

* * *

Kitty Pryde knows something about being a ghost. Her mutant ability practically turns her into one. She's heard rumors, she's talked to Rachel a bit, and for the most part, she's left Doug to his own devices. She's let him go about his business here, in fact, she has almost gone out of her way to ensure that if he doesn't want to see her, he doesn't have to do so.

Today, though, she's already dressed for the gym. A towel is draped around her neck. She's wearing sweat pants and a grey shirt that she has cut the sleeves off of which has flourished script on it that asks, "How do you want to do this?"

Stopping, she debates backing out of the room to, again, give him space. However, she steps forward a few steps, trying to not startle him with his headphones in. "You okay?"

* * *

Doug pauses, and stiffens, and then reaches up to take his headphones out. "I have good days and I have bad days. I recognized an irrational anger in my language when I sat and thought about it, so I admit, I've been avoiding you — really mature, huh?" He rubs the back of his neck.

"I wish I knew some magic turn of phrase, you know… some language that would banish your doubts so everything would be all right. I looked for it. But—no." He shakes his head.

"Right now, I am trying to reinvent my physical language. Keniuchio Harada, the Silver Samurai, taught me that my mutant power is a great advantage in a fight — but he also taught me that since I would be fighting people who were stronger, faster, and had more endurance than I do, I would need to couple it with absolute viciousness. Find the weak points in the language of my enemy's movements, and *take them apart*. Every fight is life-or-death. Mine, or theirs. But that's not true. So I have to, as Yoda said, *unlearn* what I have learned."

"This would be a lot easier if I had access to the Danger Room, but I don't dare ask."

Then he adds, "Ah. I'm sorry, about not coming back. I was *going* to come back — that's a bit of a story. As for your friends… they were very vigilant, and… nice people, for space pirates. It's not on them. My powers are just very very *useful* for helping me pick the moment. I was claustrophobic… I just wanted to go for a walk."

* * *

"There is no magic turn of phrase,' Kitty tells Doug, though she doesn't sound angry. "Maybe Illyana knows it, but that wouldn't be an answer. There's nothing magic about trust." She sighs. "Either you earn it or you lose it. I didn't mean to set you up with a shibboleth, but you sort of just…did it."

Hearing that he has been avoiding her? She nods. "I know. I've been trying to stay out of your way. I didn't want to make anything harder on you." She sighs and shakes her head. "They are. And it's not about them. You left. You could have talked to me. Instead you left again. And then we didn't talk. I figured you'd told me your point and who could help you and who couldn't. I didn't want to stand in the way of you getting better."

Shaking her shoulders, she laughs. "I just wanted to help you, Doug. That's all I wanted from the start of this."

* * *

"Yes. Well, I can explain that." Doug says, "Explanations, not excuses." Doug drops into a sit, and pats the mat next to him.

"Do you know how before I died, I was starting to pick up on things? Nuance. Human body language. Things like that. Well… that…" He makes an exploding gesture at his temples, "Pfoom. Exploded. Creation is an unfolding pattern, Kitty, an endless puzzle, and I can see all the little ways it's put together. I wish I could show you what the world LOOKS like to me. What you look like, to me. All the little things that make you… you. The funny part is, even when emotional language is easy to read people are STILL a mystery."

"So. I went out. Went to a bar. Met a pretty girl. *Didn't* remember to get her number, and I'm still kicking myself about that. Then, as I was on my way *back*… I noticed something. The way the wind blew the trash, the way the rats were avoiding a certain location, the way people hunkered down just *so* when they passed by an abandoned building. I was curious, so I checked it out."

Doug huffs out his cheeks and blows out a slow breath. "Turned out, it was the Earth node for a teleporter nexus run by a group of *smugglers*. I uh… tripped and fell into the teleporter, and trying to navigate the nodes to get home, I wound up in a den of scum and villainy on the other side of the galaxy called Knowhere."

"Long story short… I found out that a group of humans had been kidnapped by some guy who calls himself the Collector." Doug gestures. "Soooooooooo… I mean, I couldn't just *leave* them there—"

* * *

Kitty listens to this. She does not yet take a seat by Doug, but she listens. "What are you trying to tell me, Doug? Is this how you became involved with Hydra? Or is this recent events?"

Frowning, she raises an eyebrow. "Telling me you fell in with Nazis because of a pretty face does not exactly equal an explanation to me, just for our record. Saving people is more on the agenda that I know."

* * *

"Oh no, this is recent." Doug says, "This is why I didn't come back to the ship." Doug holds up his hand. "Excuse me."

His shoulders tense, and then he says, "You know, you haven't asked me how I feel about that? It would really help if you did, I think. I can wait."

"But anyway… long story short, I wasn't the only one with that idea. There was a confrontation… I may have flung a takeout container of Qagh in the Collector's face" He grimaces, "But he deserved it. What a *douche* that guy is. Like calling yourself 'The Collector' somehow dresses up being a thief and a kidnapper. And I was going to EAT those serpent-worms"

"But anyway, it occurred to me, on the way back, that I had a unique opportunity to get to the school without Hydra being able to locate and track me before I got there, so I effectively fell off their grid. Even if they did guess that I somehow made my way here, they wouldn't risk it—like all Nazis, they're cowards, and this place? It *terrifies* them."

Then he runs his hand through his hair, and gets back up. "How I got involved with Hydra? That's an older story, and I don't remember all of it. Somebody found me, and sold me to Viper. I was half-nuts, starving, scared, and my me memory was bad already."

"They have a hypnotist, Kitty, a MASTER of Neurolinguistic Programming. He calls himself Doctor Faustus. He's not a meta, and he could've taught the Professor a thing or two about messing with somebody's head. If you ever meet him, *punch him in the neck* before he can start to talk to you."

* * *

Kitty closes her eyes. "Doug, I'm sorry. Maybe I should have asked about your past. But…truthfully? I don't want to hear about what you may have done. I only care about when I met you now. And you've continually run away from me. What am I supposed to do with that?" She sighs. "I tried to help you. I put you with people I would trust with my life, who have taught me just as much, if not more, than the X-Men. I put you with them because I trusted them and I trusted you. You leaving and ignoring me? How do you think that made me feel? Did the hypnotist tell you to ignore my attempts to keep you safe?"

* * *

"And when I did reach out for you, you pushed my hand away. Which was understandable, but it still hurt." Doug says, "So here we are, two old strangers, staring at each other from across the room at one another, sitting here."

He looks up, and then says, "…Is that what this is? You're mad at me because you couldn't keep me in the playpen until you could figure out what to do with me?" His mouth tightens, and he points his finger up, as if he's about to say something… but then he just… lets it go. "…I think you're missing the point. Beating that sort of mind-screw? It's *hard*. It's *so hard*. It leaves you with tangled-up wiring and conflicting desires and almost no meaningful sense of *self*." Then he gets to his feet, and looks at the training dummy, before he turns, and snap-kicks it in the head, knocking it sprawling. Then he grimaces, and clutches his thigh. "Ow. Cramp. Should've *stretched* before I tried that, ow, ow, ow…"

"I have always had my own mind and my own will." He says, grimacing.

"…No, that was mostly me, being an idiot, a combination of a nasty, anarchistic Ego-construct running my head, and my own obstinate desire to save MYSELF, princess, and not just be put in the *playpen* until you decided what to do with me. But… that's us X-Babies, huh? Don't know what's good for us."

* * *

"Playpen? What do you think I would do to you?" Kitty looks to Doug with a raised eyebrow. "I am pissed at you because you wanted my help, then you left, then you asked for my help again and when I gave it to you, you left."

As Doug's cramping happens, she frowns and watches. "Here, have a water bottle, that will help." She passes it along. "But, yes, stretching always helps."

"I have no say in what happens to you, Doug. I just worried about you as a person. That's why I put you with the Guardians. Hydra is less likely to attack a ship that loves explosives. I have no playpen for you. I just wanted to help you. You're the one that left. I put you with the Guardians because I trusted you." '

* * *

Doug raises an eyebrow at Kitty, and then he says, "…I can tell that you really believe that. But—" He says, before he looks Kitty in the eye, "Yes. Yes, I left. Be as mad at me as long as you need to, for being stubborn and *difficult*. You. Kitty Pryde. Are mad at me. For being stubborn."

He frowns, and then takes a slug off the water bottle. "And I'm mad at you, because I'm trying. I'm reaching out, and you *keep shutting me out*. I'm *sorry*, all right? I'm sorry. But what was your plan to *help* me, exactly? What were you going to do to help me put my coconut back together?" He taps the side of his head.

"You don't need to explain yourself. I understand why you did what you did. What I don't understand…" He shakes his head, and sighs, "Is why we're sitting here hurting each other over it. That was why I was avoiding you."

* * *

There's a laugh. Kitty raises an eyebrow. "You want to get moral about it? You want to tell me what I believe? Really? You want to argue Nazis with me? Really?"

Kitty shakes her head. "You are the one that left, Doug. Multiple times. I reached out to you. I came to you in the Central Park, I came to you in the hotel room, I gave you a place to stay with the people I love. You keep leaving me, Doug. If you feel guilty, that is the reason why. I don't know why you're mad at me, but I have reached out to you at every turn and you've turned me away and ran away from me. That's why I've given you space."

What was she supposed to do? She laughs. "I wanted to help you. I reached out to you, too, and you took my reaching out and ran away from it. Rachel is my best friend. I could have protected you. I put you with the Guardians to protect you, too. You're the one that seems to be dismissing all the help I tried to give you."
f

* * *

"We're going round and round about this." Doug says, "And it's killing me. You think I'm OKAY with what happened to me? That I just walked into Hydra HQ and signed on the bottom line with Monocle Man and Doctor Mindbender? Do you really think that? Because you sure seem to be implying that I was on board with the whole thing. I'm looking ahead, going forward. Because the alternative is—" He shakes his head again, and tightens his mouth. "The alternative might as well be suicide."

"Maybe I'll go help Captain Marvel put her boots on in the morning before she goes to step on the collective face of Mutantkind, that might be a good job for me."

He stalks to the door of the gym, and puts a hand on it, and pauses, his head bowed. He wants to say something, but he seems to be holding it in.

* * *

"I'm angry about afterward," Kitty tells Doug. She gives a look. "I am not okay with what happened to you. I'm not okay with suicide and how dare you suggest that I would be okay with you committing suicide." She closes her eyes tightly.

"What do you want to me to say, Doug? I wanted to help you, but I remained wary. People I have cared about have been used against me to hurt the people around me. I don't think you're on board with it, I still tried to help you, though. I don't have the ability to read your mind or to immediately understand your language. I only have your actions and all of them were running away from me. That's why I gave you your distance. Do you still want to be my friend? That's what I am trying to dance around, Doug. You seem to not want my help or my care. Just…just tell me and I'll keep out of oyur way."

* * *

"Yes, well, I won't lie and say I didn't *think* about it but thinking about what it would do to you and Sam and Dani…" Doug shakes his head, slightly. "No, I'd never choose to put you through that."

"You did try to help me. And I screwed up. I want your help, pal, and all I've wanted since this mess began was a hug."

"I have been, more or less, on my own among *monsters* for four years, Kitty. They are monsters who wagered away their souls for the most negligible gains, and they very nearly made me one of them."

"I need my friend… I need her to help me pick up the pieces and then bandage me up when I try to glue them together with gold. I need her to cheer me on when I moon that fascist Captain Marvel, because it's on my bucket list. I need her to help keep me oriented on justice, not *vengeance* when I finally get out of here and get my shot at making Viper PAY for what she did to me."

His hand drops off of the doorknob. "Kitty… if I wasn't your friend I don't think I'd be anybody at all."

* * *

"I"m still your friend," Kitty tells Doug immediately. "What I worried about is that you didn't care about being friends with me." As for monsters, she nods. She will give no sympathy to Hydra.

"I'm not a nurse, but I will help you against fascists. For sure." A hand reaches out to take Doug's. "I can't say what I'll always want is justice. You know that. But, I'll always tell you what I think."

* * *

Doug reaches out, and squeezes Kitty's hand. He trembles, and lets out a slow sigh. "The reason why I came back here was because I was done running. From anyone."

"…It wasn't that I didn't care." Doug says, "…I'm sorry you thought I didn't care."

* * *

"You ran from me." Kitty looks at him. "That's why I thought that. I want you to think you can talk to me. What I care about is knowing that I can trust you."

The hand is squeezed back. "No, I know. It's…I don't know. Why did you come to me then? It feels like you were taunting me. You know how I feel about all this." Hydra, Nazis, friends she thought she lost.

* * *

Doug looks at Kitty, and then says, "Learning to trust me again is something we're both having to work on. Why did I come to you? That's — if I had a good answer, I'd give it to you. This?" Doug points to his temple, "Is a mess. A couple weeks ago I went back to my old house and just *stared* up at my old bedroom window for an hour. A new family lives there, now… really nice. They gave me a cup of tea when I told them I used to live there."

"And now, I have to figure out how to clean up my reputation and make a life for myself in the face of Captain Marvel's ugly baby…" He wrinkles his nose, "And I really do not want to reveal the full extent of what I'm capable of. It's kind of frightening, Kitty. But I'm not going to run away, either."

* * *

The mention of Captain Marvel and SHIELD is met with a wrinkle of her nose. Kitty has made no attempt to hide her disdain for SHIELD and their stance on mutant rights. "Then don't, Doug. This law is abominable and they have no right to force us. Does SHIELD know about you? If not, then we'll simply keep you here. I'm not registering and I'd like to see them make me."

As to what Doug is capable of? She frowns. "The things you did…that wasn't you."

* * *

Doug considers something, and then turns to Kitty. "Prepare a strike." He says. "Don't throw it… just fixate it in your mind and prepare to throw it." He stands there, neutrally, watching her.

* * *

Kitty raises an eyebrow. "Are we in the Matrix right now? I'm not about to tell you I know Kung Fu."

However, after a moment, she thinks through a few things and then keeps the thought of the strike in her head. Preparing it, she takes a small step backward. "This isn't really how I fight, though. And I feel like just knowing that I'm changing stances is cheating."

* * *

"The Silver Samurai put me through Aikido forms, though he didn't think much of O Sensei's philosophy. I'm coming to that later." He studies Kitty, and then says, "Abdominal strike, leading into a kubi-higishi neck hold. So no, not Kung Fu… Judo. In response, physical language would dictate that I block the abdominal strike and then headbutt you, but knowing you I'd go right through you, so I'd startle you by doing just that, then I'd run like hell."

"Physical cues are plain language to me… and not only do I know how to read them, I know instinctively how I ought to *respond* to them. It can give me a huge advantage in a fight, though maybe not as much as being able to phase or cave the front of a car with a punch."

* * *

"Close enough, though I think I would have chased." Kitty tilts her head. "Just because you know what someone else might do doesn't mean you're capable of horrible things. Ask Jean or Rachel. They can't read movement, but they can read minds. It's similar." She frowns. "What do you want from me, Doug? Do you want me to be scared? Of you? For you? I'm glad you're back and that you're free of Hydra, truly I am, but I won't be scared of you, if that's what you want."

* * *

"No," Doug says, "I just want you to understand that my powers, if misused, are dangerous—the one saving grace I had in Hydra is that all its leaders are supremely overconfident and they thought they had me outsmarted at every turn. *I was holding out on them*. I had told myself it was to get rid of them, eventually…" He quirks his mouth. "After all, they're just a bunch of disgusting nazis and opportunists."

"I don't want to be in put in a position where others try to misuse my abilities again… or try to kill me for having them. I may not have a choice. That includes SHIELD and the U.S. Government as much as it does Hydra."

"But at the same time, somebody has to hold Captain Marvel accountable. If she wants to force Mutants to sign up on her list, by default she's taking responsibility for their freedom and their safety, and someone has to start shouting to make sure she doesn't *dare* abdicate it."

Doug rubs the back of his neck. "…Talking is my super-power."

* * *

"Knowledge is your super-power, Doug." Kitty tilts her head. "Do you want to be a politician?" She frowns and sighs. "There's other ways to fight. I don't want you do to do what you don't want to do, and if you put your face as a poster child of 'non-registry' they're going to come after you. They'll have to. In two days, this is going to be a law and I will be consciously breaking it by not registering."

She shakes her head. "I don't know what Captain Marvel is thinking. Maybe she thinks a law is a law and doesn't care about the responsibility of it. Either way, I'm not putting the lives of the people I care about into their hands. We have to do what we can, but we also don't have to put ourselves up like sacrificial lambs."

* * *

"No." Doug quirks his mouth. "If I can get this…" He waves his hand. "All of THIS… resolved, somehow, I think I want to start a radio station. Hell, Kitty, a whole media empire! If they want to put me on a list they can't stop me from having a voice, and when I talk, I think I can shake the world to its foundations. I have to make a choice… I don't even have a legal identity anymore, I've been dead for seven years, provably dead. I was *buried*."

"That's just it… they want to steal a Mutant's right to anonymity, they need to be reminded that their brilliant plan is a double-edged sword."

* * *

"Do you think your being legally dead will stop them?" Kitty frowns. "I'm sure you could make a difference, and I get that's what you want. But your double edged sword is also one that could be wielded against the X-Men. Captain America was dead for over seventy years and now he's back and, who knows, maybe registering himself."

* * *

Doug frowns. "Yeah, and that's why this choice isn't an easy one. So what are my choices? They all stink." He looks up to Kitty, and then says, "I don't begrudge you your choice not to sign up, Kitty. I haven't decided one way or another yet. And no, I don't think it will stop them. But I've *lived* a clandestine life for four years, Kitty… I don't want to live like a spy anymore." Doug inhales, and then says, "…I want to go loud. I want to make her feel like a Super-Villain, because as I see it, that's exactly what she is."

* * *

"I know. It's not an easy choice." Kitty shakes her head. "If you want to live your life in the open, I get that. But that would probably mean you wouldn't be able to stay at the Mansion." She sighs. "I don't want you to go any which way. Just, if you want to be a voice, be a voice. Just know what you're doing. It makes you a target again."

* * *

"I know, I need to make my final choice." Doug murmurs, "And that means I'm going to need to work with SHIELD to stick it to Hydra." Doug looks up at Kitty, and then he says, "A long time ago, I made you a promise. I broke it. I'll never break it again. Registration be damned, if you call for me, if you tell me you need me, I'll move Heaven, Hell and the Earth to get back to you."

* * *

Work with SHIELD. The very sentence brings a very dour expression to Kitty's face. "how can you be sure they're not Hydra? What's the difference? They're trying to oppress us, catalogue us, label us. I could go into more detail, however I don't think it bears the thought."

The promise that Doug gives her is met with a smile. "I appreciate that, Doug. Truly."

* * *

"Work with Dani, then." Doug says, "Though unless she's changed a lot from what I remember, I wonder how much longer she's going to put up with that crap." Doug huffs out a breath, and then says, "And then there's Sam… he's getting into politics. He's married. I can *tell* he and his wife are thinking about kids. And I want to help create a world where they can do that without having to run away to the Shi'ar Empire—"

Doug sighs, and pinches the bridge of his nose. "I just want my family back. Damn Hydra, damn SHIELD, damn Captain Marvel… damn it."

* * *

Working with Dani is met with a nod and a laugh. "I see. Well, that is certainly better than working for SHIELD as a whole, I guess. Though, she still does do that."

As for getting his family back, she shrugs her shoulders. "You simply need to be back, Doug and then I think the family will come back to you."

* * *

Doug leans against the side of the door. "I'm trying. I'm gonna have bad days, you know. I keep them to myself." He looks up to Kitty, and then murmurs, "Are we at the hugging stage yet, pal? I could really use one."

* * *

"I know. Me too." As for the hugging stage, Kitty looks at Doug for a moment and hesitates. Then, though, she reaches forward to give Doug a brief but firm hug. "We'll figure it out."

* * *

Doug Ramsey slumps, visibly, when Kitty hugs him, and then he says, "…For the first time in awhile, I have confidence that we will." He says. "This isn't going to be easy. But when are our lives easy?" He puts his hand on the handle of the gym door, behind him. "I need to go make myself useful. …Be seeing you, pal. When I look up at the stars at night, if noplace else."

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