Cora's Condition

Summary:
August 29 2014: Betsy Braddock comes to see Fenris and Inara about Cora. Things go wrong from there.

Fenris and Inara's House

A very nice house with a yard near the Bronx Zoo


Characters

NPCs

  • Ingrid the Mage Hunter

Mood Music:
[* None]


Fenris is making lunch. It's a light lunch, just cream cheese and salami sandwiches and cut up vegetables. It's not the sort of thing you'd expect a god-wolf to eat but then… you wouldn't expect a god-wolf to be posing as a human, or have taken a human wife, or have adopted a were-hyena daughter. Speaking of which, he had a phone call from the Institute today that he should expect a representative. It's not settled in his mind that this will be the best place for Cora, but nothing is gained by not discussing it. So, here he is.

*

Inara is doing her best to try and get Cora presentable for the representative. If not for her aura of calm around animals and animal-touched humans, getting the girl dressed would be next to impossible. Currently, she is trying to brush the girl's wild mane of hair.

"Bird!" says Cora as she points out the window. "Not today," responds the animal Whisperer. "Bird!" says Cora, stomping a foot as she insists. "Not today," repeats her mother. Cora folds her arms over her chest and pouts. "Bird." "Maybe after the teacher leaves," compromises Inara.

*

Briefcase, check. Coffee almost gone, check. Bundle of nerves, check!

Betsy does not do these things, but for the good of the school, she puts aside all evil and angry candor in favor of meeting the best and the brightest, no matter how small or tall. However, she does sit in her car for half a second before she gets out, already failing in the job as a representative by wearing jeans and a sports coat that she possibly borrowed from Scotts closet. And washed.

Many times over.

It was a quick stride towards the door and a knock was soon issued, three bangs upon the wood, all sweet like.

*

The man who answers is tall and lean faced. He's got a rather intense gaze and there's the unshakeable feeling of something predatory about him. It's altogether vaguely uncomfortable. Especially when he smiles and greets Betsy politely. "Hello. You must be Miss Braddock? Please, come in. Inara and Cora are in the living room."

The door shuts behind her as she enters. "Can I get you anything to eat or drink?"

*

Cora is sitting on the couch, swinging her legs. The girl couldn't be older then 7, though she might be younger. Inara stands up to greet Miss Braddock, the Persian woman dipping her head in a bow. "Thank you so much for coming and meeting with us. Can we offer you something to eat? Drink?" Inara gestures to the living area of the quaint home here in the Bronx, so close to the Bronx zoo.

As they walk into the living room, Cora has stuck her head out of the living room window and is howling and barking loudly. "Cora! You can play with your friends after. Please!" Inara looks over to Fenris, shaking her head. There is no way these people would be able to handle their feral child.

*

Betsy takes a step back to stare up towards the man with a lowering of her brow, his visage indeed sets her off, however, the young girl inside was her main priority for now. She forces a smile, her head dipping and silently stepping into the house, the brief case set upon the floor near the door as hands soon clasp about her front. "Thank you.." She murmurs towards Fenris, then steps into the living room just so.

As Inara greets her, she forsakes the bow in favor of a handshake, attempting to portray business before everything else. "No thank you my Darling.." She murmurs quietly, violet eyes soon darting towards the little girl who howls and barks like mad. A little twitch forms in that right eye of hers, along with the need to turn heel and scoot-boogie out of the place with no intentions of looking back. But, like the rest of the mindless drones, anything for the Professor.

*

Fenris, or as he would have been mentioned to her 'Jeremiah Wolfson' gestures for Miss Braddock to make herself comfortable as he sits down in a chair near Cora and calls to her. "Come now, little one. Up here with 'Miah." Maybe that'll help.

"As you can see Miss Braddock, Cora has some unusual needs. We have considered home schooling her of course and it makes sense considering, but it was brought to our attention that your school may be able to help. There were soem specific things we wished to discuss though. Inara, you had a few in mind did you not?"

*

Cora turns her head to look at the guest. She may have proper clothing on, her hair and teeth may be brushed, but there is no mistaking the wild, feral look of the girl. There is a sense of freedom about the girl, as if nothing could ever truly cage her. She hops down from the window and walks over, sniffing at Betsy. Inara rushes over and shakes her head. "You're in person form, love. You greet her like a *person*."

Cora pouts, thrusting out her hand. "Cora," she states and then looks to Miss Braddock expectantly until Jeremiah calls her over. Elizabeth is forgotten as she goes to climb into her 'father's' lap.

Inara sits down and gets straight to the point. "She has lived all her life until we found her as her animal. She has only the concepts we have tried to teach her. I am concerned that your students or teachers won't understand when she gets a little… wild. She still likes to hunt and eat her kills. And she can be very disruptive." Inara has that look that parents always have. Her child is 'special'. More special then any that the Institute has dealt with before.

*

Betsy has been silent the entire time, just observing the girl. Lord how she wished Scott was here with her, the proper representative, but she had to step up the only way she knew how.

With that inner resolve taken care of, she drew in a breath and let it free, her shoulders slumping someone then straightening as she takes a step to the side to have a seat. Thankfully, she wore clothing comfortable enough so that she could cut loose if need be. Child included. Cause food fights were bad ass.

Even though her silence could have been seen as apprehension or that she may have been ignoring them, her mind was open to their words and processed, even though she didn't make a move to take the child’s hands or reply. Her jaw tensed, attempting to figure out the words that she could say that would put the parents at ease, but honestly? There were none. At least not that Betsy could provide tactfully.

"Our school is well equipped to handle problem children. There -are- in fact many teachers there with gifts that could ease a broken mind such as hers.." If it was even broken at all. Elizabeth didn't check. Not yet.

"All in all, regardless of how you find her, and how you personally perceive her, she.. to the teachers for all intents and purposes is nothing but a blank canvas. That's not to say that her hunting and killing of animals will be disregarded, but they will be erased and re-taught, re-honed so that there are safer and more humane methods put into place. As humane as it could be."

Her eyes never left the child, her lips pursing as she swallowed the bit of moisture that gathered upon her tongue. "We will rebuild her.." Her hand lifts to wave off the words that would have came. "Besides. Kids will be kids. You cannot keep an eye upon them every second of their lives. She'll get hurt. She'll cry. She'll get angry, she'll get wild as all young ones do. But, she will live." Unless the school is under attack and poor Cora is stuck underneath some rubble or squashed to death by a big mechanical foot. "And she'll learn."

*

That… does draw a quirked eyebrow from 'Jeremiah'. "Rebuild…" He mouths the word slowly, considering it along with words like erase and blank canvas. "Is it the habit of your Institute to 'rebuild' the children sent there?" The question is asked in that mild tone of someone intensely curious about what the answer will be.

*

Inara keeps her words to herself, her mind speaking in her native language of Farsi. Cora's mind is as wild as she is, her thoughts flitting from here to there and all over the place, never sitting still. Reading the child's mind is like trying to read the thoughts of a psychotic on a sugar high coupled with caffeine.

Inara's lips tighten. Perhaps calling the over-protective new mother's child broken or a problem child were not the best terms to use. "I don't believe she needs to be erased. Her past, while rough, is a part of her. To erase it, ignore it, denies the person she is now, the strength she had to survive on her own until this point."

*

Betsy's brow raises as she hears Jeremiah's question, her head slightly tilted to the side, not skipping a beat in her wording. "Yes." Blunt and to the point. "Indirectly." She crosses one jean clad thigh over the other as she leans forward just a little, hands draped over her knee which soon taps a cadence in code that only she knew. "Children adapt to their surroundings. They adapt to the people they are near. You put five young children into a class, they are bound to be friends or at least converse. They all are bound to know something that the other didn't know, and they are bound to be fascinated by something that the other can do and cannot do. They start off as blank canvases, and they adapt." A hand lifts to rub slightly at her chin, her thoughts soon lost and yet returning, to put a personal spin on her explanation.

"When I was younger, I only knew of the best music that my parents instilled in me. Classical; pianos that led an entire orchestra keyed by the most talented. It was until that I ventured out into the world, gained friends and loved ones, took interest in what they favored and learned that.. I actually enjoy a bit of rock with a slight dosing of Pop."

Really Elizabeth? Pop music?

Totally Betsy was flim-flamming her words, but it was okay. All she had to do was invade their minds and erase the last five minutes of when she shot off her mouth and possibly insulted the masses. She was doing a horrible job, but what did most expect? She was a frickin ninja.

"Yes. While you're right, it's not going to be who she is once she becomes an adult."

*

Jeremiah nods, considering. "I do appreciate your candor, Miss Braddock." He says with a small smile. "So let me refine the question. Is your school in the habit of using behavior modification techniques or telepathic tampering on the children entrusted to their care." There is, of course, a time and a place for those things. But Fenris, as might be expected if you know his background, will… strenuously object to their application. "If the answer is yes, I fear we may have wasted your time. There is growing up, and then there is tampering. Well intentioned tampering perhaps but I've been around long enough to recognize that it can almost never by justified."

*

Cora has decided that sitting in 'Miah's' lap is boring. She slips down and quietly slips out of the room while the grown ups talk about boring stuff.

Inara sighs softly. "But that isn't erasing what you already knew, what you already appreciated. It added to it. I understand that your school has a remarkable history with children with powers and I know I speak from an over-protective mother hen viewpoint, but I want what is best for *her*. What magical protections do you have at the school?"

When Jeremiah mentions telepathic tampering, Inara's eyes go wide with horror. She looks to Betsy as if to ask her that this isn't the case.

*

Elizabeth just looks at Jeremiah. Really looks at him. Her face was a blank canvas, much like the children they possibly imagined when she spoke of it. Her mouth hung upon briefly then snapped shut, her shoulders slumped just a touch as her hands dropped from her knee, tapping halted. The blank canvas devolved into features that were indescribable; was he serious? Did he -really- just ask her, a telepath who actually COULD make someone’s brains mashed perterters that? She looked almost offended really, that stiff upper lip was almost dropped for something that was less becoming of a woman.

Keyword: Almost.

Her hand lifts as fingers curl to pinch at the bridge of her nose, her eyes closing and opening to catch the gaze from Inara and..

*Gahh…*

Fuckin hell.

She stood from her seat then, tugging down her borrowed coat at the hem, then hands placed upon her hips as she was ready to give 'Jeremiah' the business. She stops herself however, a sweet smile growing upon her face as she glances towards Inara. "Can you excuse us a moment? I would like to have a little chat with Jeremiah in private."

Shit was about to get real.

*

At this point the lean, predatory man rises and gestures to the kitchen. "As you wish Miss Braddock. Inara, perhaps Cora would like to go out back?" It’s only a suggestion and it should afford them some privacy. Turning back, Jeremiah walks into the kitchen and pours himself a glass of water as if everything were going perfectly fine. Well, possible to him it is.

*

Inara is about to say something in regards to Betsy excusing herself to talk to her husband. SOmething about anything that she wants to say to Jeremiah could be said in front of her. But when the God-Wolf asks her to look after Cora, she graciously rises from her couch, thoughts of crows eating Betsy's flesh flashing through her mind. "Of course. If you'll excuse me."

From the kitchen, Inara can be seen with Cora as the girl hops and digs and barks.

*

Betsy turns to follow Jeremiah at his six, her hands soon dropping back and behind her as her chin lowers, watching her feet make its way as the floor beneath her changes from one set of textures to the next. As he pours himself a glass, she moves towards the closest counter top she could find to take a lean, one foot kicking over the other, heel then toe pointed to the ground, arms folded about her chest as she looks non-plussed. If not for the fact that he could potentially be intimidating, but for the question that was asked almost moments ago.

Her gaze flits towards Inara and Cora, her jaw tensing as she draws in a breath. And then it starts. It could be possible foot in mouth, but Betsy always took a stance of truth, even if it could get her ghosted. "Look."

Oh Betsy, don't do it!

Just kidding.

"I understand your concern, and frankly what I'm about to say just may or possibly may not have offended your wife’s good nature. So I'm going to put it to you plainly, and only as I know how. I'm not good at this, never was, never understood why I was chosen to represent the school because.. hell. They could have done way better than me." Storm, perhaps. The dark beauty, she would have had them eating out of her hand. Scott even, diplomacy, they would have been pounding chest in brother/sisterhood and laying down their lives for each other even though they weren't official. But Betsy? She was a bitch, through and through.

"No. That's the answer. My first initial reaction would be to say, 'what is the fun in that?', however, it would have been taken very wrongly. So I'm going to ask you this. Had this been another school, a normal school, and your child was a normal child who still held the same tendacies as now, what in the sam hill would you expect?" She looked as if she were going to wait for an answer, but she just keeps on going.

"You may think that -that- baby out there is some special snowflake, but every one of those children in that school has suffered hard times and possibly worse than what she has gone through. And you know what? It will never, ever stop, my darling. Never. She's not special. But she is alive, she is her own person, she's living, breathing, not something that you could control because she doesn't know any bet'a. She's going to grow into her own, have her own personality, and contrary to popular belief, she will be brilliant in doing so. But not unless you keep her locked up because she cannot act like a proper child. Cause really, there is no such thing as a proper child."

She huffs, then pushes herself upright, hands tucked into her pockets. "Put her into the school if you wish, or do not. Shelter her if you wish, or not. Treat her like some special snowflake and don't allow her to grow. By all means, my darling. By all means."

*

Jeremiah just looks…, kind of amused by the rant. "Are you sure I cannot get you some refreshment Miss Braddock?" He waits for a moment, offering as appropriate.

"I understand your frustration so allow me to clarify. I am attempting to divine if your school is able to help a very, very unusual child. I do not know what you think you know of her, but what she is, is very rare. She has a triune magical nature in very precarious balance on top of being possessed of mutant abilities. She is not unique, no, but in - pay close attention here - two thousand years on this world I have seem exactly five such creatures. She will be, and already has been, beset by danger. At the moment things are quiet because there is not a predator around here that is bigger and nastier than I am. Should that protection be withdrawn, or her internal balance upset by, say, well meaning but frankly stupid and unethical telepathic tampering, the result would be quite horrific."

"Miss Braddock I wish only the best for my child. If your school is able to cope with Cora's frankly unusual needs I think it would be a good place for her based on what I hear, but assuming she is anything like anything you have dealt with before will get people killed." By Fenris, in some cases.

*

As Cora is digging in the backyard, she decides that this would be much easier with proper claws. Fingernails just don't have that good hard purchase. And so, she shifts to her animal form. Inara laughs happily, having to stay human because she only has the one form, but helps her daughter dig all the same. Once the hole is sufficient for the hyena child, she starts licking at her mom's face amongst more laughter.

*

Betsy listened to Jeremiah as much as he listened to her. She was attentive, even nodding a few but still.

"I died and came back to life. She'll be fine." A hand was waved dismissively, and a quick boost of her backside against the counter to put her at a full stand was given as she shakes her head towards the offer of a drink yet again.

"Your child’s unusual needs are damn near comparable to a peanut allergy, my darling. Especially in that school. We have a woman who will never know what it feels like to be touched. And that same woman will defend your daughters life to the death if it is to be. That same woman would also teach and nurture your child as if she were her own. She will be safe, cared for, loved and protected to the best of their abilities." She was preparing to leave, her hand gesturing outward so that Jeremiah could show her the way out. This school crap was hard. She didn't even like children.

"People die every day Jeremiah. If it was meant to be, it was meant to be. And hell, if they're lucky, they'll get a second shot at it." Living proof, she was still a little pissed at that.

*

Fenris shakes his head sadly. Miss Braddock's reaction tells him more about the school than any amount of questions and answers. It is, in his mind, unlikely in the extreme that she understands what she's dealing with either in him or in Cora. He politely takes her to the door. "I'm sorry to have wasted your time, Miss Braddock. Have a good day." It's not insincere, at least. He expected this much and frankly after two thousand years it is difficult to disappoint him.

*

Inara and Cora are still playing in the backyard when there is a shimmering in the air. The hyena's hackles rise, stepping sidelong closer to Inara in something that is both protective and seeking protection. Inara stands, looking wary. As the shimmering solidifies, an older woman dressed all in white and silver stands there, proud and certain. She holds out her hand to the child, talking to the girl and woman both. Inara, frowning, steps in front of the girl.

*

"You didn't waste my time. It was a learning experience." It was the truth, she had never done this before and she learned a great deal. She lags behind a little bit, thinking of what to say next. How could she rectify the situation or, figure out a way to tell the others that they've lost a potential student. Let downs were a bitch.

Even though Betsy didn't expand her psyche to keep track of what was going on around her, something seemed a little bit off. There was a noticable shift in the air, a second conscious coming into being that hit her subtly, and if she weren't thinking of the family, she possibly would have kept going towards her car for home.

She bends to reach for her briefcase, but thinks better of it, her gaze turning back towards the windows to spy the young woman speaking with Inara and Cora. There was slight hesitation within her actions, but she did stand up straight to turn in their direction, her hands slowly coming together to touch fingertips together and twiddle. Curious.

"Who is that woman."

*

Jeremiah doesn't even bother to close the door, whirling around and bolting for the back. Someone has violated the sanctity of his home. He's a modern god-wolf in a lot of ways but the traditions of hearth and hospitality are not one of those ways. Even as he throws open the door he's changing somehow. By the time he's out into the back yard he's a wolf, five feet tall at the shoulder and twice as long. "Who are you and why should I not end you?!" He snarls.

*

In the time it takes Jeremiah to get to the backyard, the geriatric woman has backhanded Inara and sent her flying with a strength that does not seem possible from the frail old woman. Cora is snarling at the old woman who holds herself with confidence that is better described as arrogance. She looks to Fenris as he runs into the yard, smiling as if she knows something he doesn't. She inhales deeply and sighs. "An Asgardian and a magic battery. This just gets better and better."

*

The measure of Betsy was one of practiced calm. And she was always watchful. The way the man shifted into a large beast was noted, checked and filed away for later, but as he sprung into action she began to take steps forward.

She took her time really, jaw tensing as those hands soon reached up to smooth her hair behind her head, fingers working to knot the long, dark violet tendrils into a practiced bun, her face slowly changing into something akin to menacing with the red scar slowly crawling upon her face in the mark of the Dawn. Hands lower to clasp together with a loud slap, only to pull apart and form a bow of psionic ether.

She wasn't going to move at first, she was just going to watch the display, yet as Inara was effectively bitched slapped into next week, she draws the bow upright, string pushed then pulled to reveal three arrows, lined up in a row.

*THWOCK*

*THUMMM*

The arrows flew through the air towards the two, reckless, yes. But if that beast knew any better, he'd get the hell out of the way. For Betsy didn't stay behind to watch and see if she actually hit her mark, she only walked towards the nearest object that gave any hint of shadow to meld and disappear from view.

*

Fenris notes the arrows, but as they seem to be from someone not shooting at him, he lets it go for now. Regardless of what the woman does he continues to grow. "Stand down now and this will be over quickly. Lay a hand on mine again and your world ends." This is not an empty threat from the god-wolf. He is both capable and quite willing to indiscriminately destroy when sufficiently pushed. Harming his family? Definitely qualifies as pushing.

*

The woman in white waves a hand as the arrows fly towards her and they lodge into some sort of barrier. She looks towards Elizabeth, frowning. "Please, don't insult me with your parlor tricks. Go home. The grown ups are talking."

Inara is trying to sit up, holding her head. The nearby animals can feel her distress. The Bronx Zoo, being just a block away, is close enough that the din of animals in a fury can be heard from here. Birds start to flock and gather on the wires nearby.

The witch crackles with power, older then she appears. "Give me the child and this doesn't have to end badly for you. You are old enough to know that you shouldn't allow yourself to get so attached to women and children. They are a weakness that others will manipulate."

*

The arrows proved to be nothing but a mere distraction, Betsy needed to get outside without being seen, so when the woman actually looks in her direction, Betsy was just not there. She was gone. And it would be in her to leave them all to their own devices. Yet, that would look bad as a member of the Blue team. Sort of. Bunch of drunks they were. Partly.

To fight in the shade as it were is what she planned to do, emerging from an overcropping of bushes as quiet as kept, it was the ninja in her, sneakish silent assassin that carried little needles meant to puncture and disable. It also helped that she expanded herself, attempting to shield the minds from her visage, her body crouched low in preparation to strike at a moments notice, for it would be fast and possibly unseen. No one calls her a child and gets away with it.

*

Fenris growls and advances on the witch. Either the archer, he thinks he may know who, is gone in which case this fight will be protracted and rather destructive. Or she's still here in which case all he has to be is someone who will murder the witch if she takes her eyes off him for the barest fraction of a second.

He lunges, simply unwilling to give Cora up. "Ingrid isn't it? I remember your scent. If you think for a moment your pathetic order will take what is mine from me… you can explain why when I send you to see my SISTER!" Claws lash out. A solid hit would be nice but right now just wants to batter and destroy her shield.

*

The old woman sighs, her long white hair shimmering as she moves. "Really Fenris? You think that your physical being can break something made of my will? And here I was told you had learned a thing or two of magic." The barrier that is around her shimmers just as the crone's does. "You have no idea what you have with that girl. You would treat her like a child, make her feel normal. It's ridiculous. With proper training, she, like you, could swallow the sun. Isn't that what you want? For your child to follow in your footsteps."

The old woman looks to Cora then, growling fiercely. "Take off that silly mantle, girl." With a sweep of her hand, Cora disappears in a hail of hyena laughter.

*

Betsy takes a step forward, but she stops. No, this wouldn't be the proper time to show herself, she was going to lay in wait.

Why show your hand and put in the effort when someone else physically stronger could do it for you? So she crouches down, that bow still within her hand as she quietly beings to push and string it back. Arrows were added by the threes to the que, held on by sheer force of will and expert control of psionics.

It was made clear that the wolf child was special once her form was revealed, but swallowing the sun? B-a-n-a-yanas.

*

"I'm fairly sure I explained this to the last mage hunter who visited me…" The god-wolf's form begins to shimmer. "You draw distinctions between your form and your will because you must. I don't have that problem." Tendrils of power wash out from him. If he can just disrupt the shield a little. "And you're correct. I have learned 'a thing or two' about magic."

Fenris may not have the aptitude to cast magic on the level of someone like a Loki or a Frigg, but countermagic? That's easy.

The god wolf glares down as his paw presses into the shield about the woman. "Reicerus!" The word a rejection of everything the magic is as his own power floods into the spell, acting like a virus.

*

The old woman in the bubble smiles at Fenris. "Ah, but the child is now in a form more easily tracked by my order. And so much harder for you to find when she is not confined in a building like when you found her. We shall see who gets to her first, Asgardian. And I'll say hello to your sister, or had you forgotten who gave humans the gift of witchcraft?" Just as the wolf presses into the barrier, crushing it, it is uncertain if his doing so is what made the crone vanish or if her vanishing is what caused him to break the barrier. Either way, she is gone as is the child.

Inara stands, blinking as she tries to focus. "What… happened?"

*

That was the in that she needed, that quick crashing of the barrier that drew her fingers to release the many arrows that loaded the bow. It was like a crack of thunder, too little too late towards where the woman once stood and where they now stand.

And it was impossible to recall. For with that much power packed into a simple movement, the kill all or be damned shot, Betsy.. just dropped onto the ground as if the arrows themselves penetrated the skin and killed her on the spot. But she was not dead, only sleeping due to energy horrifically spent. Goddamned witches.

*

Fenris abruptly returns to human form and rushes over to Inara. "She's bolted." He says, meaning Cora. "There's no time. Can you stand?" An oaken rod appears in the god-wolf's fist and he swirls it at Betsy. Wind gathers around the fallen Miss Braddock and floats her over. "Exhausted… she'll live though." After a moment… he decides to take her with them. If she objects when she comes to, he can simply portal her back to wherever she wants to go, but for now it seems safer than leaving her lying here.

*

Inara is most certainly concussed. She nods to Fenris, very suggestible right now. She stands and leans against Fenris. "Find her. If she's in her spirit form… we only have her laughter to go by. The Zoo? Hyowta is there and she loves it there." The healer that is Inara looks to Betsy, stroking her hair. "Thank you," she says to the unconscious woman. "For trying."

*

"I have a few ideas if she's not there, but we need Hyowta anyway." Raising a hand the Old Wolf tears a ragged hole in space and helps Inara to her feet. "I will drown the world in night if they get to her…" He murmurs as it thunders shut behind them.


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