Your Gates Were Just The Start

September 4, 2014: Lorna Dane returns to the X-Mansion and runs into Jean Grey.

Xavier's Institute - New York City

Xavier's Institute grounds are located on 1407 Graymalkin Lane in Westchester County between Graymalkin Lane itself and Breakstone Lake (30 miles outside of NYC itself). A large portion of this is acres upon acres of woodland forest. To the farthest eastern portion of the Institute's grounds there is a stretch of low foothils.

Upon entering the Institute grounds immediately past the heavy gated entrance one finds themselves on a carefully paved road that splices in two directions, west and east.

The west leads to the School for Higher Learning where gifted youngsters are educated and taught to use their unique talents. Here almost year around children and teachers are housed.

To the east miles away lies Xavier's Mansion where Professor Xavier himself and some faculty members of the school live. These "special" individuals are those aware of Xavier's more clandestine operations, the adminstration and training of the X-Men.

Beyond the neatly walled mansion's yard in those foothills is an obscure landing strip that leads to a hangar complex and a subtly hidden facility. A facility that houses underground sublevels, a danger room, Cerebro and the training halls of one of the most advanced mutant fighting teams in the world.

An underground monorail connects the School for Higher Learning with the Charles Xavier's Mansion and the X-Men's Hidden Complex. Security is tight in this region, by means of limited magical warding, advanced future tech security systems and telepathic sweeps. Tread carefully.



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Mood Music:

It's just before lunchtime when a cab pulls up to the intimidating gates that divide the Xavier Institute from the more mundane world outside its walls. "You sure this is the place?" The cab driver sounds a little dubious as he looks in his rear view mirror at the woman occupying the rear of his vehicle. A wry, knowing smile settles on the woman's lips as she glances out the side window, as if making sure, but her answer is given firmly and with complete confidence. "I'm sure." Settling the cab fare without further ado and retrieving her bags from the trunk, the woman gives the cabbie a wave as he drives off, and then turns to face those big, impressive gates. Green eyes set in a face that's been tanned by the New Mexico sun slide across to the intercom panel for a moment, before a sneaky smile tugs at her lips. "Guess I'd better find out whether they remember me." Lorna Dane says to herself, raising a hand to brush some errant strands of bright green hair out of her eyes, before reaching down to pick up her bags. A battered rucksack is slung over one shoulder, and a larger kitbag is hefted in one hand as she walks toward the gates, ignoring the intercom.
For her, the gates open seemingly of their own accord, unlocking and smoothly moving aside far enough to admit her, then closing just as neatly behind her and re-locking. With a small smile of satisfaction as she hears the lock engage, Lorna walks up the road toward the Mansion. In jeans and hiking boots, not to mention sporting that green hair, it's hardly a wonder that the cabbie thought she was in the wrong place.

For Lorna - the first thing she might actually 'hear', won't be a vocalization coming from someone moving to greet her. Rather, it'll be a faint tone in her head, that offers a gentle, but teasing. » Who are you, again? « The tone is familiar in scope, enough that Lorna would at least recognize who it was that so casually telepathically 'spoke' to the green haired woman. A few minutes later, and a leggy red-head will appear from the institute herself, the door closing behind her, as her long legs move to greet Lorna more properly.

Jean's current outfit consists of a pair of comfortable flats, tight red jeans, and half-shirt of floral black and red. She's quick to close the distance between herself, and Lorna, as a telekinetic hand will gently lift what appears to be the heaviest bag off of Lorna's hands, and draw towards the red-head as easily as you please. "Here, let me help."

As soon as the bag is within Jean's hands, the red-head has finally closed the distance and is proceeding to do as an old friend that happens to be Jean Grey, does, pull Lorna into a quick embrace. "How're you doing, Lorna?"

Lorna was wondering who'd get to her first - you don't just walk up to the Xavier Institute, open the gates magnetically, and stroll right through without expecting to be challenged sooner rather than later! She knows how good the X-Men's security is, after all. Still, her little test answered the question she'd posed herself in the way she'd hoped - they must still remember her, or she wouldn't have gotten a half-dozen steps past the gate!

The voice that slips into her head is familiar, and Lorna stifles a quick grin, half at Jean's teasing, half at herself for jumping a bit when the voice spoke into her thoughts. It's been a while since a telepath was in her head, but the contact's not unwelcome. « Magneto, and your gates were just the start. Better give up now! » There's laughter in Lorna's thoughts as she directs the words toward the presence that she knows is still lurking in the back of her mind, waiting for her to reply. Shifting her rucksack to a more comfortable place on her shoulder, Lorna picks up her pace, no longer strolling but walking with a purpose.

As Lorna crosses the last few yards to the institute and the door opens to reveal Jean, Lorna's expression breaks into an easy grin and she lifts her free hand to offer a cheerful wave. She looks down in a bit of surprise as her bigger bag is invisibly tugged away from her, but she relinquishes her grip without a fight. "Thanks, I feel like I've got one arm longer than the other already." She jokes, which is all she has time for before Jean's pulling her into a hug. "Ooof!" She says, for effect, quickly returning the embrace. "Hi Jean. Been a while." She steps back, rescuing her rucksack before it can fall off her shoulder. "Pretty good. Finally got my Master's and…" She shrugs, shaking her head and setting her green tresses swaying, "…no idea at all what to do next! How about you? You look good, still enjoying the school life?" There's a bit of a teasing light in Lorna's eyes, she knows there's a lot more to that 'school life' than is apparent on the surface.

As Jean steps back from Lorna, the bag still hovering close to Jean's hands, her head tilts towards the staircase leading up to the guest rooms. "C'mon up, I'll get you settled into a guest room, for now. How long are you able to stay? Should I see about getting you a full room?" As Jean speaks, the bag hovers lightly about her, before starting to lift up towards the stairs, Jean following with slow steps.

Though she can't resist a quiet, » In the immortal words of Galaxy Quest, even to Magneto himself, never give up, never surrender! « The tone is filled with laughter, light and easy as Jean continues the steps up into the mansions guest quarters.

As she does, Jean's voice calls back to Lorna's questions. "Oh yes, quite enjoying the school life, after all, how could I miss the fun of first days of school, when students complain endlessly that it's still nice out, and they're stuck doing work?"

As soon as the landing is reached, Jean heads towards the first unoccupied room, there to part open the door and gently lie the bag down, her keen emerald eyes scanning the interior with a practiced ease. "Well, looks like it needs a bit of dusting, but it'll do for now." She bobs her head once, before turning to let Lorna inside. "Congratulations on getting your degree, by the way. Oh and the tan looks great on you, always was jealous of your skin, Lorna. As a red-head, if I try to get a tan, I just freckle."

Lorna follows Jean's gaze toward the staircase, and a soft smile touches her lips. There's expecting, even knowing, that you'll be welcome… and then there's actually coming 'home' and /being/ welcome. It's a nice feeling, and Lorna doesn't try to hide her appreciation of it. "Thanks." She says simply, first, as she begins to follow Jean - and then bursts out laughing at the words that arrive in her mind. "And that's why he never wins, huh?" She suggests, eyes gleaming, but then tries to field Jean's questions, "A guest room's fine! I'm just glad you didn't send me off to find a motel for the night!" She clearly wasn't worried that was a real danger, but she pauses a couple of steps up, her hand resting on the banister as she gives Jean's question a bit of serious thought. "Maybe?" She says, a shade tentatively. "I wasn't kidding, before." She tilts her head to one side, green hair falling over her shoulder, and smirks up at Jean. "Think you could put up with me hanging around for a while?"

Resuming her climb to the upper floor, Lorna snickers at bit at Jean's sarcasm. "Now I get why you're letting me stay, you want to palm some classes off on me. Is it too late to check into that motel?" Despite her words, Lorna's steps don't slow, let alone reverse. Even the threat of having to teach a class isn't enough to scare her off - but then she hasn't met the students yet.

Following along after Jean, she peers around the doorframe of the room Jean chooses, finding the room as familiar as she expected, and looks around at Jean as the other woman speaks. "I can handle dusting." She declares. "You should've seen some of the places we stayed on field trips - when we didn't have to camp!" Stepping inside, she slips her rucksack off her shoulder and finds a temporary home for it in a spare corner before sitting down on the bed - and then flopping back to lie her back flat on it. "I'll take it." She says, still looking at the ceiling, and then sits up, brushing back her hair and then resting her elbows on her knees as she looks up at Jean. "Thanks, I thought I'd never get all the work done in time…" She wrinkles her nose at Jean's complaint, though. "Oh sure, and now you're gonna tell me the guys don't think your freckles are cute, I suppose?" She teases.

With a laugh, Jean draws into the room idly leaning against the dresser a moment, before deciding to take advantage of one of the chairs. Settling into the computer chair with a graceful movement of sitting down, then crossing her legs, left over right, bent at the knee, Jean can't help but first state. "Well, we really could use your educational background, Lorna, and not to mention your field experience is better than almost anyone else."

Planting her hands in her lap, almost ladylike in motion, Jean lets out a soft breath. "And if I'm fully honest, I could use a good friend to talk to." With that, a wry smile makes itself known across the red-head's lips as she shakes her head, auburn locks tumbling about her shoulders by the motion. "Now, I can't talk for Charles, or Scott for that matter - but I can't think of any reason why they'd balk at having you back in the fold." A pause, as Jean lets out a quiet laugh. "At least, if that's what you want. You mentioned you didn't have any idea what you wanted to do next, well.." Jean's hands gesture on each side of her, a wide sweep of her arms in a circle before coming to rest in her lap again. "Once an X-Man, always an X-Man as the saying goes."

Lorna can't quite keep a small smile from curving her lips as Jean settles in and gives her the sales pitch. It's completely not what she had in mind, but… what DID she have in mind, again? "Uh huh. I'm sure the students are breaking down your office door to demand a geophysics course, too?" She offers in an ironic tone, but Jean's next words - disarmingly frank as they are - make Lorna hesitate and consider the idea a little more seriously. If she's going to stay for any length of time she's going to have to maker herself useful… "All right, you've caught me in a moment of weakness. I'll think about it." She says, adopting a resigned and put upon tone for a moment, and then smiling at Jean. "And hey, always. You know that." Her words are honest, and she doesn't say any more.

Lorna's smile becomes a bit rueful as she looks at Jean, poised and unflappable as always, sitting just so in her chair, while Lorna's camped out on the bed looking more than a tad scruffy. For a moment she feels vaguely like she's letting the side down, but then decides that right this minute she doesn't care. And if she doesn't care, she might as well be comfortable. Leaning down, she unlaces her boots and tugs them off, before drawing her legs up to sit tailor-style. "I'll talk to them." Lorna confirms with a nod. "What sort of friend would I be if I stayed here while you went off to save the world, anyway?" She says it lightly, but then hesitates and becomes a bit more serious. "I didn't leave because I don't believe in what the Professor's trying to do. You know that, right? I just…" She waves a hand, trying to explain. "Needed to get out in the world, too."

Victory! If Lorna's going to 'think' about it, then it's almost a done deal. It'll be good to have someone who is, in a sense, grounded to talk to. A fact that Jean's more than happy about. Good friends back into the fold, is, also, a good thing, but sometimes Jean needs to be a bit selfish, and having Lorna about will help Jean as much as it'll help both students and otherwise.
"Oh yeah, we have a ton of students just eager to learn about it, why they're constantly complaining about not having enough education about magnetism, I'm sure they're talking about the Earth's gravitational fields, versus animal magnetism, right?"

With the twinkle to Jean's eyes, she continues, a soft laugh echoing out as she does so. The smile doesn't wane in the least as Lorna removes her boots, and then states ever so seriously about her beliefs in a dream. Jean's head nods once at that, a deep breath taken in and let out. "I know, Lorna. I, myself, spent all summer with my parents, sister, brother-in-law, and their two children. It was a delightful time, and meant a lot to me. I suppose, we all need to find our way, and figure out what we want with our lives. Occasionally we return, other times we stay away for longer than we thought, but something always brings me back here, at the least. I think, in some ways, it does for everyone."

"Either I've just developed telepathy or you're a terrible poker player." Lorna points out mock-sourly as Jean's expression reveals exactly what she thinks of Lorna staying and taking classes - which Lorna has a horrible feeling is a done deal, whether she intended it to be or not. She can't keep up the pretence very long, however. The idea of being back, spending time with Jean and the others - and maybe saving the world on occasion, if they'll have her - is a strong draw. She's already starting to tell herself that taking the odd class might not be /too/ bad…

Clearly, she's doomed.

Lorna snorts quietly as Jean tries to convince her that her skills will be in demand. "You mean it's not just all the would-be evil mutants?" She inquires, before a thought strikes her and she smiles a little bit evilly. "I can give out detentions for 'Magneto Was Right' tee shirts, can't I?"

As the conversation turns away from education, and toward more serious matters, Lorna listens to Jean talk about her summer with slightly mixed feelings. It sounds like Jean had a great time, and Lorna doesn't begrudge her friend a single moment of time with her family, but - even though she likes hearing about it - it causes a bit of a pang, inside. Her aunt and uncle are great (even if they prefer her as a brunette), but she can't help but miss the parents she never really knew. "It sounds great." She says quietly, and she means it, but then she shakes herself free of such deep waters. "And you're right. I was never going to go anywhere else, once I got my degree. But since I'm back now… how many classes do I have to teach before we can get lunch?" She offers a crooked smirk with the question.

A laugh, rich and hearty and Jean's eyes twinkle with delight at Lorna's very true perception. "Who knows, maybe you are getting ESP, or I clearly need to take more lessons in the art of putting my emotions on my sleeves!"

Rising up from the chair, to gesture towards the hallway, "The lavatory is that way, feel free to freshen up, and we can talk classes, students, life, adventure, and everything in between at Harry's."

Pausing in the doorway, Jean turns around to cast her gaze at Lorna, feeling more than she intended, the green haired woman's feelings of remorse at the loss of her own parents. It wouldn't be Jean if she didn't offer that compassionate smile of warmth and understanding, "Returning to the Institute, we know that regardless of what happens, we're all part of a family, and no one can ever take that from us. I'm going to freshen up, myself, and I'll meet you downstairs in say about a half hour?" With that, Jean moves out of the door and towards her own room.

Lorna's grateful when Jean takes her not terribly subtle hint for two reasons. First, she really is hungry! But more than that, she's too glad to be here to mope about what she doesn't have, and she knows she could, if she lets herself. As Jean directs her to the bathroom, Lorna dips her head in a quick nod. "I remember." She confirms. Unfolding her legs, she drops her socked feet to the floor, not bothering to retrieve her boots, and stands up. She takes a step toward her bags, then glances over at Jean with a small smile, taking in again how neat and pressed the redhead looks. "Yeah. I'd better freshen up." She says quietly to herself, seeming to find some private amusement in saying that.

Shaking her head at herself, Lorna roots around in her bags for the essentials, then straightens up to find Jean still waiting for her, evidently not quite finished. Lorna knows immediately that as bad a poker face as Jean might have, to the telepath she's utterly transparent. She doesn't try to hide from the message in Jean's words, or willfully misunderstand it. She just nods. "Sounds great." She says, agreeably, then adds, just as Jean moves out onto the landing. "Jean? It's good to be back."

Sometimes, no more needs to be said.

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