...And then what?
Roleplaying Log: …And then what?
IC Details

Warren Worthington and Emma Frost talk about the telepath kidnapping. And they don't kill each other. Miracles do happen!

Other Characters Referenced: Tony Stark, Emery Papsworth, Sebastian Shaw, The Hellfire Club
IC Date: August 06, 2019
IC Location: Emma Frost's Penthouse - NYC
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 07 Aug 2019 07:18
Rating & Warnings: G
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

Some decorous amount of time was allowed to pass, after the incident at Kenai, before Warren Worthington had his people start to send out feelers towards Emma Frost's people. Which tends to be how people like them talk, at least at first; not directly, not face-to-face, but primarily through the cilia of their surrounding support staff. That's what you have a support staff for, after all.

There are extra reasons, too, for Worthington and Frost to be a little… chilly with one another. So to speak.

In the end, it was inevitable that there would be a not-insignificant amount of jousting over, among other things, 1) the necessity of even meeting at all 2) the location at which to meet, if such a meeting was deemed necessary 3) the particulars of what would be discussed, which obviously involve some sort of cover story about a business dealing of some kind. Crazy telepath kidnapping experiments are not great fodder for casual conversation over unsecure channels, after all. Fortunately Kiff, Warren's assistant, is an old hat at handling such double-meaning conversations — he's known about the whole X-Men business for a long time.

Warren, via his proxy, offered Emma Frost a Tuesday afternoon at one location: a certain luxury hotel on Fifth Avenue, which boasts a lovely little restaurant in its atrium that is rather famous for its afternoon teas. "I'm not even asking her to go to the roof," he had remarked to Kiff askance, notably while Kiff was on the phone trying to get actual work done. "It's on the ground floor. This is an incredible concession."

Kiff, perhaps wanting to temper Warren's expectations, returned dryly that he expected a counter-offer to come in, so Warren better get his ass ready. "Whatever," Warren had handwaved. "If it does, then that's just the dance. The woman always gets their way in the end. It's all very archaic if you ask me." Which no one did.

It is an incredible concession… If Emma Frost was in the mood to take the concession.

After so long in captivity, and after what surely must have followed, she has rather had enough of making concessions. And she's not in any way, shape, or form convinced that the idea of meeting is a good one for her.

Notoriously opaque, the telepath concedes to meet… on her turf, though her assistant—one Tasha Beaumont—who has made an art form of apologizing for her employer's more difficult personality traits without actually ever saying the words. It must be Miss Frost's residence, she calmly insists. Nothing less. Frost, too, will make a grand concession: outside, in the open, on the woman's far more comfortable furniture. And Warren Worthington will be given the great honor of being trusted to choose the afternoon's wine.

"If you give that man an inch, he'll be certain he has the upper hand," Frost quietly mutters. And even if he does, Emma will be damned if she admits it.

Emma Frost makes a very true statement: Warren Worthington cannot be given a single inch. If he is, his ego will run entirely out of control, and it's already incredibly out of control as it is. That is perhaps why in the end everyone involved in this particular transaction, perhaps even Warren Worthington himself, is ultimately amenable to him not getting his way, this time.

"You know, she was just stuck in a tube for a month, so she might be in an extra resistant mood, ground floors or no," Kiff had ultimately pointed out, which — combined with the fact Emma's counteroffer made a concession of its own towards his own tastes — had triggered Warren's pity circuits just enough for him to signal his agreement. There was also the fact that Emma setting the location at her own place was practically a dare. Are you scared to come face me? Warren, being a grand overly-courageous idiot, decided this was just the sort of tacit challenge he should fly into headlong.

And so, Tasha and Kiff — who probably have a psychic rapport of their own going beneath their polite and calm exchange on the phone, a rapport called 'your boss is high maintenance too?' — sealed the deal. And then Kiff called Alison to let her know, too.

Warren being Warren, however, has also decided he'll be damned if he arrives in any way except the way he pleases, and the way which she has left open to him by the choice of venue. Thus it is that she won't have long to wait before there's an aerial figure swooping down towards her terrace from the cloudless sky — diving out of the sun to make it impossible to visually see him coming — pulling up at the last moment to alight in a rather windy landing on the parapet girdling the open-air space.

Eternally showy, he balances there a moment in a light-footed perch, stretching out his wings with a shake of the feathers, before letting them fold neatly and stepping down. "Miss Frost," is his greeting. "Truly an occasion. I can't recall the last time you were so kind as to allow other tastes to make the wine selections."

"Don't make me regret it, Mister Worthington. If it's too cloying, I will never extend the offer again." Perhaps, if he is just keen enough of eye, he'll spy the sprinkler heads that look less like garden sprinklers and more like lasers. But, in the same span, he'll notice that they don't seem to register his arrival at all.

It's a wary trust she offers, deactivating her ungodly security system, installed courtesy of one Sebastian Hiram Shaw. A bravery of a different sort.

The garden terrace is immaculately kept—as one should rightfully expect—and the white wicker furniture dressed in thick cushions of pale blue and tan stripes. She lounges on one of the love seats with an arm draping over the wide arm of her own perch, dressed in a surprisingly modest knit lace caftan with draping sleeves and a comfortable ankle-length knit slip dress beneath.

Emery Papsworth's deft hand can be seen in the details of things, although he's surely gone now. The tray of cheeses and fruit and chocolate and pastries filled to overflowing, and the wine set out at just the perfect temperature with a pair of glasses with its foil and cork still securely in place. A hand sweeps out to indicate it all, albeit airily. "Shall I open for us?" She's a feeling that they'll both appreciate a bracing dose of something as they go through the opening motions of a particularly uncomfortable conversation.

Warren registered the security systems when he was still several minutes out from her terrace. There are many benefits to eyes which can read an open book from two miles off. He also registered that they were deactivated. The trust being extended here from both sides is thin indeed, but there is just enough of it to go around.

Nonetheless, as Warren draws closer and the landscape of his thoughts draws more easily within her range, she will find that familiar sensation common to so many of the X-Men, particularly those who learned at Xavier's knee the longest: a certain hardening of the mind that makes the casual surface-skimming so beloved of telepaths a somewhat more difficult endeavor. To a mind like Emma's, of course, it's only a thin veil, which she could push aside if she truly wanted… but it's just enough that a brush along his mental landscape yields only the shapes of things rather than anything explicit.

Sentiments, mostly. He does not like her, and the grudge is eight years old, and she would not need her telepathy to know why.

There is zero reflection of that dislike in his outward demeanor, which remains almost courtly as he steps to a seat opposite her and takes it, letting his wings drape over the wicker. One might expect someone of his reputation to take a look, despite her modest dress, but he does not: whether because of the dislike, or because of respect for Tony, or otherwise. "No fear of that," is Warren's amused rejoinder to her warning about the wine. "When I do drink wine, I don't do sweet."

The wine he selected is a Sforzato di Valtellina, aggressively red, dry and strong and astringent. Perhaps to be expected of a man whose usual preferences run to spirits rather than wines. Emma's offer to pour yields an inclination of the head, a mingled acceptance and preemptive thanks. "Let's get to it," he says, the courtesy thinning a little in favor of bluntness. "I'll presume it's secure to speak up here. You seem well after your ordeal, but the situation is not one I am content to simply let end on this note."

Thoughts are hidden away, schooled from casual observations, and Warren Worthington likely doesn't even notice the way that Emma restrains herself. The way that, despite the fact that they have no shortage of bad blood between them, she keeps her mind's natural ability and tendency wrapped up and contained with every bit the care as his own wings. If she recognizes the signs of a grudge, of the lack of consideration he gives her for Tony or hatred's sake, she makes no mention of it. She operates under no pretense there; she was a priority for Stark. She was not a priority for X-Men with memories nearly as sharp and long as hers.

The blonde telepath allows the blond angel to move as he will, in both the physical world and the conversation, as she bravely moves to free the vintage despite her white clothes. She watches the bottle, not her fellow blue blood, as he makes his suppositions and commentary. "I'm very well," she lies smoothly, her hands moving to pour as she inwardly sighs a thought of gratitude that he isn't about to start interviewing the neighbors. "And this is likely as secure as you're about to find, so," she tells him with as her gaze lands solidly on him in appraisal of her own, extending the first-poured glass out to him on perfectly manicured (if still a little too-thin) fingers, "out with it."

There is no pretense on her part; there is no pretense on his. His remark that she seems well is not made out of genuine interest in her health. It comes out like boilerplate, the language of a gentleman bred into him so deeply that it emerges simply as part of the flow of the conversation. The X-Men would not have left her to her fate even had Tony not specifically requested she be a priority, but just as the team is renowned for saving even those who hate them… they are also renowned for saving those who they personally hate as well.

They just kind of save everyone, because it's the right thing to do.

Not that Warren seems interested in holding that over her head — right now. He just accepts the glass when it's proffered, leaning back and regarding her. The flippant demeanor switches off in favor of business. "This entire thing was a front for someone to perform grotesque experiments on telepaths," he says eventually. "The suppressor technology was the cover — and a nice side benefit. The dead were being sent somewhere. I don't suppose you had any conception of where, or why, or who was behind those mutants we encountered."

His gaze lowers to the deep red wine in his glass. "There's also Mutivac. The fact it was taken from the scene is concerning, I think, to all of us. A psi dampener of that strength…?"

Emma is content to pour herself a glass as Warren speaks. She lets her attention fall once more to the work of her own hands while he does. Until, of course, he mentions Mutivac.

That brings her attention up quickly, and her blue eyes narrow a slim degree.

"Mutivac," she tells him as she finishes pouring her glass a little overfull and setting the bottle back down before settling gingerly back against her couch, pulling her bare feet up beside her, and being careful to not come off too snappish as her pride rushes in, "is not a psi dampener. It's an amplifier that those pathetic little apes nearly ruined, using it to power their tinker toys and trying to…" She staves off the increasingly voluminous flow of venom with a sharp stop and a sharp sniff. "Well," she begins anew, reluctantly conceding, "I don't know precisely what they got from what they did to it, in the end."

There's a long pause, and then she lifts her eyes to the clear blue afternoon sky. "But you needn't worry about its location." Glossy lips frown as Frost turns her wary, pale gaze back to Worthington, setting her powers of observation to the task of monitoring his mood and sentiment. "It's secure."

Warren cocks his head slightly at Emma's sharp reaction, his blue eyes unblinking. The motion is birdlike, attentive, and a definite indication he's caught wind of something there from her swift venom. Not that he comments on it aloud. "Ah," he is all he says at first. "Well, that would explain then why it was reverse-engineered into psi dampener technology. Which seems to have been their purpose in taking the machine. No telling what their actual purpose was with you and the other telepaths — the dampeners did not seem like all there was to the op."

You needn't worry about its location. It's secure.

Emma Frost's powers of observation would have no difficulty in discerning that Warren Worthington does not find this cause for "not worrying" in the slightest. The slight twitch of one fine brow would have been tell enough, even if she couldn't skim the spike of dismay and deep suspicion from him at her words. "You will forgive me if that doesn't fill me with confidence," he says dryly, "given your associations, which rank only marginally higher in my estimation than the — ah — 'pathetic little apes,' or the DPS, or Trask, or the Purifiers… et cetera." He shrugs. While the X-Men and Hellfire Club might not always be at odds… they usually are, and their ideologies certainly never match up.

He takes a long, bracing drink from his glass. "At the least, I will assume from your statement that it's in mutant hands, if not directly in your own. Which I'll be content to leave alone — until it starts being used against humans. There are benign purposes for an amplifier, I'll grant, but enough malicious uses to make me… wary."

He swirls the wine in his glass idly. "Malicious uses like vengeance, for example. You're not the sort to let this kind of thing go, Miss Frost. Much as I dislike you, I would rather be in parallel on the pursuit of the 'pathetic apes' behind this — " his brows lift, " — than at cross purposes. May we agree on that?" An infinitely dry smile. "Let's say, for the sake of the regard we both share for Tony Stark."

"And that is supposed to do, what, precisely? My regard? Perhaps the bet way to do that is to not lead the effort with hurling insults at me. Glass houses can be tremendously dangerous things. Particularly to little birds." Her light eyebrows bounce once over her insulted frown. "Just think," she muses around a sip of wine, "what they must be for larger ones. All that self-righteousness, sharp enough to cut."

Once her caustic quip is out, Emma Frost cuts off any chance of rejoinder as her face steels. "I didn't do anything this time, Worthington," she hisses angrily. "They wouldn't have gotten it if I hadn't told them precisely where to find it. And I wouldn't have told them where to find it, except they started offing the children. I would think that having already compromised my interests would earn something from you, but apparently I was mistaken. I don't need any more judgment from you."

Rising slowly to her feet in the way that speaks to a still-healing body despite the sumptuous drapes of lace, she moves to set the glass down and gesture airily at the sky as she starts to turn. "I assume you know the way out. You have the degree of your choice, and you can take the bottle."

Warren listens throughout Emma's insulted retorts. His expression is calm, controlled in the way public figures learn to control their outward emotions from an early age, but Emma would not have a difficult time picking up the surge of temper beneath the outward aplomb.

"This time," he says, very lowly.

And what precisely has his mention of their shared association with Tony to do with anything? "Perhaps it was supposed to appeal to your better nature. Tony has poor judgments about some things, but not always about people. You clearly have one somewhere, as you've just explained angrily at length to me. It earned you 'me coming here to even talk to you,' despite a woman I loved dying for the indiscretions of you and yours, eight years ago. I would have imagined you would appreciate my honesty with regards to my sentiments on the matter, given the ease with which you see through lies. After the amount of artifice I deal with on a daily basis, it tends to be what I prefer."

He puts aside his glass. "But we can do this instead."

Rising smoothly, his wings fold tightly at his back. "Whoever was behind killing those children in the first place," he says, "I'm going to find out. With or without you."

Every last thing he levels at her—every last one—is put aside as it really comes down to the only thing that matters to her in the whole sordid affair. "And then what?" Emma stops to ask, looking over her lace-wrapped shoulder. Her expression is changed, more than she likely has any real awareness of because she'd be appalled at the exposed vulnerability there. It's softer. Her tone more tentative. "You find them, and then what?"

Warren pauses in his own turn away. His wings, which had started to open, hesitate. The feathers fan a little, before the limbs settle into a looser fold than they had been in previously. He glances askance over his shoulder at her, his sharp eyes reading her expression.

"I don't know," he says, and the weave of his mind reads with a cold honesty at the answer. It is a rather heavy thing for someone raised by Charles Xavier to say, but Warren never was as good at 'forgive and forget' as his friends were. Hurt people he's taken into his charge, and he'll start to express the 'avenging' part of the angelic image, and God help if no one is around to restrain him. "A lot depends on what exactly I find."

He turns away again. "Ideally, we'll put them away for the rest of time," and that statement? That one's the right one for a disciple of Xavier to say, but it rings more hollow in his saying of it.

That is the sort of honesty that Emma can appreciate. Warren's not wrong in that their echelon deals every day in the profitable and comfortable lie, but silence is not lying. She doesn't need him to tell her what she already knows when he thinks and feels it so loudly that it thrums against her senses to demand recognition.

She doesn't need him to give voice to his judgment and moral superiority, where he's confident and so sure.

She needs him to give voice to his mortal doubts.

And when he does, her lips purse in consideration and she slowly turns back to face him more fully with her arms crossing loosely in an subconscious mirroring of Warren's own posture. "That's a decent enough place to start, I suppose."

Warren's feathers lift slightly as the nuclear standoff cools back down to mere nuclear deterrence. A pulse of discomfort comes and goes in his demeanor to go with the body language. It's probably discomfort at him and Emma suddenly not being at one another's throats, which is a decidedly surreal experience after so many years of bad blood.

Warren should be blaming the current climate, in which monsters have arisen which are so bad as to make even old enemies into allies against things which are much worse. But somehow, Warren is still going to blame this on Tony Stark.

"Then, if that is all," he finally says, stepping back up onto the parapet, his wings open, "we'll be in touch on what we know. Because I will not let this go unanswered."

"Enough for now," Emma acquiesces, equally swift to take the opportunity to take some distance and gain her own composure back. She's still off-balance, feeling like she still trying to get her feet back under her, and she doesn't like it.

She doesn't like it any more than Warren does, the need for a truce. But her resistance to the idea has far more to deal with the personal awareness that she let his needling get to her, and she doesn't like that one bit. Especially in the light of a prospect of dealing with him more.

"So, yes. Do. And I'll fill in what I can."

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