Best at Crashing

August 10, 2014: Sam comes to take a look at the progress on Red Team HQ, and Roberto makes a pitch.

Headquarters: X-Men Red Team

Accessible primarily by a dedicated express elevator, the two-floor headquarters of the X-Men Red Team combines the amenities of an ultramodern office with the homey, communal quality of a college dormitory. A small, well-appointed waiting room gives way to a grand, two-story central hub. There, the team can meet for briefings at a ring-shaped conference table with built-in computer consoles and a central holographic display. There are also smaller tables, couches, and armchairs scattered through the room, easy to reposition for meals, close conversations, or movie nights. One entire wall of the hub is lined with windows, offering a view toward Central Park.

The other walls of the hub are split into two levels, with the upper accessible by a U- shaped walkway and two grand staircases. Above the waiting room, one can find a bullpen with dedicated work stations, offering the latest software for a whole host of productive tasks. A patio balcony off to one side offers a taste of the outdoors, as well as a small landing pad for fliers or one-person vehicles. Living quarters line both floors: full- fledged apartments offering balcony views and a decent level of privacy. The X-Men also have a private underground motor pool, kept separate from the garage for the rest of the building's occupants.



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Mood Music:

Contractors and architects are busy all around Roberto da Costa as he surveys their progress on the refurbishing of the area that will be the headquarters for a new X-Men team. They've knocked out a large two-story space in the middle of the building, and the apartments that line the sides are already basically finished. Electricians are putting in the last of the wiring for the extensive computer needs he has specified, after which a bit of carpeting and some paint will have the place ready for business.

Behind Roberto, a bank of elevators. Ahead of him, a grand view of Central Park, framed by brick high-rises — and, metaphorically, a lot of work.


"Y'have a receptionist in mind, yet?" Sam Guthrie stands beside his friend, amid all the contracted bustle, with a slick grin on his face. "Yer gonna need a receptionist. Y'know that, right?"

This entire project is very exciting for Sam, even though he isn't entirely part of it. His time as a New Mutant was very important to him, and knowing that the gang is getting back together in a new way makes him all warm inside. And it shows. "I mean, you've got a pretty voice and all, but I hear too much of it already."


"Samuel Guthrie, are you accusing me of talking too much?" Roberto replies, slapping his own chest with an air of mock offense. "I was considering hiring you as the receptionist, as a matter of fact, but never mind that. Clearly a man this out of touch with reality can't be trusted, even if all the lady clients do find his homespun blue-eyed drawl irresistible." He socks his friend playfully on the arm, following up with a big grin. "Seriously, though? Maybe we could offer the front desk as an internship for a student at the school. Make it an essay contest or something, so the teachers don't think we're just helping some poor soul play hooky from another one of Hank's biology lectures."


Sam's eyes go half-lidded. His lips press together. One hand flaps open and shut like some half-retarded duck. Does Roberto talk too much? No way. Never.

His arm sufficiently socked, Sam breaks out into gentle laughter and drops his mocking arm. "Y'know that ain't half a bad a idea, 'Berto. Means you won't be able to sexually harrass her, though." He pauses a moment to scratch his chin. "Then again, it'll do wonders for your character." Wink.


"I'll have you know that those charges were dropped," Roberto says with a dignified sniff. Then he laughs. "Okay, seriously, I've only dated one receptionist, ever, and she had already left to work somewhere else. At least give me credit for being smart enough to avoid lawsuits! I even wear shorts when I sunbathe at the office, now."

This is in reference to a few awkward moments back in their years at Xavier's, when Roberto was still getting used to snacking on sunlight and not used to the low levels of privacy at a boarding school. "And you complain now, but you know that without my talkativeness, y'all would never have learned proper English."


"You prude!" Sam nearly shouts in mock shock at the mention of shorts. Some things - even Roberto's Brazilian beachwear - should never change.

"And seriously, 'Berto, try goin' where Ah'm from and tellin' them 'ya'll' ain't proper English. With that and your mocha skin, you'll get run outta town." Sam chuckles and turns from his friend to gaze out at Central Park. "If Ah'm bein' really, actually serious, though, I'm glad you're gettin' this goin', 'Berto. Real excitin' stuff."


"I know, I know," Roberto answers, nodding with a mournful expression. He flops one arm over his tall friend's shoulder and leans his forehead against it dramatically, as though this development is so painful that he can't even bear to look at the world anymore. "The things I suffer for the family business," he groans, his voice muffled.

Then his head pops back up, he flashes a grin, and he starts to pace around the mostly empty space in the middle of the construction. "I'm glad to hear that, Sam," he says, sounding a bit businesslike, for once. "Because I didn't call you up here just to show off." He stops walking and sucks air in through his nose for a second, then amends, "I mean, certo — 90 percent of it was showing off. But receptioning aside, I did want to ask if you would be a part of this." He stops completely, giving Sam the first truly serious look of the conversation. "It wouldn't be the same without you."


While Roberto moves through the space, Sam stays rooted. It wouldn't be a stretch to say this applies metaphorically as well. It's expressed first in a sigh.

"'Berto, color me impressed and all, but I don't know." Sam lifts his shoulders and turns away from the park, allowing his gaze to fall on and follow his friend. "From what I gather, it'll mean leavin' the school. I know the rest of you found lives outside it, but I didn't. I don't have money or the brains for college. What'll I do when I'm not bein' an X-Man?"


"Well that's just it, Sam — the others haven't found their calling, either. That's the whole point; you can do whatever you're good at, here," Roberto stops and gestures at the unfinished space. "It's not just a team, it's a job. Whatever job you can imagine. Doug is going to work with computers and do translations. Illyana will provide instant transportation. As a team, we can provide security or disaster assistance, that sort of thing."

Roberto sighs and takes a few more steps toward Sam. "I know you have a habit of second-guessing yourself, but you shouldn't. You're ready for this. It's just like being an X-man — heck, you'll still be an X-man — you just get credit and a paycheck for it."


Sam tries to hold Roberto's gaze, but can't, letting his own slip back to the window and the park. His right leg starts bouncing.

"What am I good at though, 'sides crashin' into things? I'm good with the kids. Some of them even look up to me." He smirks and slips his hands into his pockets, where they fidget with fabric lining. "I'm also learnin' a whole lot about my powers, 'Berto. Ah'm just not sure if it's the right move for me. But Ah'm not sayin' no."


Roberto's shoulders slump a little. Sam's reply isn't entirely a surprise, but neither is it what he had hoped to hear. He puts his hands bracingly on both of Sam's shoulders, facing him. "You're not just good at crashing into things, Sam," he tells his friend. "You're the best at crashing into things." The dark-skinned Brazilian grins. "I've never met anyone as good at crashing into things as you are, and I will gladly sign reference letters to that effect."

With that joke hopefully lightening the mood again, he releases Sam and goes back to pacing. "I'll just give you a call whenever we get a group contract, then. No committment necessary, just an invitation to accompany us if you have the time. And of course, you're always welcome to visit."


Sam breaks out into a big smile. Leave it to Roberto to break his spell of insecurity. "Yeah, guess there's no arguing with you on that." He chuckles and takes a deep breath. "Ok, here's the deal, pal. Ah'm goin' to give it some serious mullin' over. There's this thing comin' up that I have to do or Kurt will never forgive me. After that, Ah'll let you know what I decide. Deal?"


"I can ask no more," 'Berto says with a smile, spreading his hands, palms up. "But I hope you know that in my head, I'm totally rooting for you to say yes. It's probably a good thing for everyone's free will that I don't have psychic powers." The dark-skinned boy crosses his arms and gives Sam a curious look. "If you don't mind me asking, what is it that Kurt has asked you to do, though?"


At that last question, Sam winces. "'Berto, I have a hard enough time undertandin' your accent, let alone the blue devil's. When I get the full deets, and if it doesn't kill me, Ah'll fill you in." In other words: It's not you, it's my security clearance.

Pulling his hands from his pockets, Sam lays one on his friend's shoulder. "Thanks for showin' me around, pal. I need to get back to the Institue, but expect a call from me later."


"Alright, alright," Roberto reluctantly agrees. "Maybe I'll ask him about it myself. But if you don't want to sign up, at least consider that reference letter!" He puts his hands up as though inscribing a tagline onto a lit marquee. "'Sam Guthrie,' I'll tell them. 'Now there's a man who knows how to crash with panache!'"

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