X-Men: Mending Scars

Summary:
September 19, 2014: Three X-Men discuss recent events while mending scars both physical and emotional.

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.


Characters

NPCs

  • None

Mood Music:
"Talk" by Coldplay


Repairs to the Xavier Institute's grounds have become something of an 'all hands on deck' affair. Almost everyone has been involved in fixing up the damage done by the X-Men's front-line run in with HYDRA. The effort is good for the staff, the students, the X-Men alike; an effort at building camaraderie while celebrating a victory, and remembering the severity of what took place.

Scott has been working feverishly for the better part of the day on the trench he'd dug with his optic blast. He would have argued until blue in the face that it was a strategically sound decision, and there's no way he'd have let an enemy breach the front door. However, the damage was severe. Truckload after truckload of fresh dirt has already been hauled in and dumped, but now comes the sweat equity involved in flattening it all out, preparing it for a dusting of grass and hay. Though it would be cold soon, and though the damaged area would need to be seeded again in the fall, there were a few precious weeks to get some greenery growing again.

Scott pauses, resting upon his shovel to take a break. His jeans are dirty, an old pair of athletic shoes all but ruined, and his t-shirt rolled up in spite of the cool air that blows over the grounds on this fair afternoon.

-

Dr. Hank McCoy isn't above helping. In fact, he's been using it as a way to teach about physics, chemistry, botany, Environmental science, Geometry…anything, really, that fits in with the class -and- helping out. As he's been outside with the classes and doing work along with them, he's dressed in work clothes of cargo shorts and a t-shirt…something most don't usually see him in. Barefoot, he's got quite a bit of dirt and dust caught in some of his fur, but the important part is the helping.

Once the students have retired to their homework or socializing or whatever they do, he's back outside, helping with whatever he can. While he's been scaling the gates to work on repairs there, he's now made his way over to the trench. A shovel is grabbed and he starts in on filling it. "It was a good idea, you know. Classic tactic that still works."

-

Hank's arrival draws a tired smile to Scott's face. He wipes some more sweat from his brow, then pauses to crack his knuckles and stretch out a few sore limbs. "Yeah," he agrees. "And, I think - I hope - it sets a precedent for the students. To know that we will protect them, at all costs." He turns to look up and down the length of the damage done. Many of the HYDRA soldiers had been injured by the shrapnel, but the important part was, none of them had been killed.

"Still, it feels… wrong. In a way. Not strategically, but." He pauses, choosing the words as they mingle together from raw feelings. "Like a scar has been left here. A reminder that we've still got a lot of work to do."

He finally picks up the shovel and resumes tamping down dirt, trying to even it out with the undamaged grass lining the trench.

-

Beast nods as he shovels, "I think they understand that. I spent the first couple of days having to answer questions about it all. The one they asked the most was 'How did they find us?' and I'd like to know the same. It's not like we're leaking this secret…" unless some folks previously involved somehow leaked information. He's trying to think that they wouldn't do such a thing.

"Scars are funny things. They're always there to remind us, but they're also proof that we're strong enough to beat whatever gave us the scar in the first place. With the right tending, I bet it won't even be noticed by next Summer."

-

A frown comes over Scott's face at the first question Hank voices. It had been in the back of his mind, too. No doubt everyone has wondered the same thing. He's glad for a change of subject, however brief, and the frown is broken by a sideward grin. "Considering the types of people we've got around here?" Those who can control weather, those who can manipulate the earth, control vegetation… Hank's certainly right about that.

Scott tamps more dirt, then moves down to another section, a particularly troublesome knot caused by a few heavy clumps of clay. "There might be something I can do about that," he offers, going back to the subject of secrets being leaked. "There's a man. Jericho. We ran into him in Gaza, and he was here, helping us fight. I'm not quite sure of his allegiances, but he's helped us before, and he seemed pretty hell bent on putting an end to this threat." He glances up at Hank between shovelfuls. "Maybe he can help us figure out exactly how this happened."

"Then again," he says, looking back down to resume his work. "It might have been sheer coincidence. HYDRA was targetting areas of high mutant concentration."

-

Beast pauses and frowns at the mention of Jericho, "I'd rather not. Honestly, I think he might be one of the leaks, albeit unintentionally. He's the one who mentioned all this HYDRA stuff in the first place and he was partially involved in that HYDRA raid and massacre." The one before Nancy left them. "I don't trust him and I don't want to give him access to our security." Which is one of the only ways to trace the information.

"How did they know we had a high concentration of mutants here? It's not advertised as such. It's not like we parade about the school, shooting off our powers. If they have devices to divine those areas…" then they'll have to figure out how to beat them.

-

It's a question that, surprisingly, Scott hadn't yet thought of. To his knowledge, Cerebro was the only device capable of locating mutants on such a broad scale, and there were only two people who had access to that device. Two people whom he trusted more than anyone; Charles Xavier and Jean Grey.

Despite the ruby-colored lenses that conceal his eyes, Scott's expression is quite clear when he looks up to Hank. Concerned revelation. "Now that's troubling to think about," he admits. He can't help but find himself agreeing with the Doctor's suppositions about Jericho. After all, the man reeked of lone wolf. Mercenary. And mercenaries can never be trusted.

"Red Team has contact with SHIELD," he offers. "I could ask Roberto to sniff around… see what he can find out."

-

"I wouldn't give SHIELD access either…they might be able to get information from us before we even catch it." He and some of the others are good, but SHIELD is an entity unto itself in terms of cyber-information. Hank continues shoveling easily as he holds the conversation…he's not winded quite yet. "I'd like to know how though so that we can safeguard against it potentially happening again."

Golden eyes look over at Scott, "I also hate to suspect Nancy, but she also might have done something that she didn't even realize…there could be other suspects, but the two of them seem to have the most information regarding this HYDRA cell."

-

Everything about SHIELD has Scott concerned, to say the least. "Now that they know about the X-Men, they're going to be curious. A lot of things, both good and bad, can be done in the name of National Security." He doesn't have an answer, to be truthful, and it shows. A deep sigh comes during a pause in his work. "Going public was always going to happen. I'm just worried it's too soon."

Now, when Hank brings up Nancy, Scott stops working and looks up, head tilting somewhat. He wasn't entirely familiar with Nancy's play in all this; honestly, he doesn't even know the young woman that well at all. "Nancy and Jericho?" he asks, seeking clarification. "What do we really know about her?" he asks.

Scott and Hank are armed with shovels, steadily working on evening out fresh dirt that has been hauled in to fill a large trench, carved into the front lawn, by Scott's own optic blasts. It happened during HYDRA's assault on the institute, and the two seem dedicated to making this scar disappear.

-

"The Institute shouldn't be public…not with children still being taught and housed there. It's not fair to their emotional development and their safety. It's hard enough to be away from their family, but then they have to add being a mutant and vilified for it." Hank looks down at his shovel for a moment before he gets some more dirt into the trench with a little more frustration than one might need for such a task.

"Nancy's a scared little girl who thinks she knows everything there is and can't be touched. The latter…is possible, at least by mutant powers. She's young and impressionable and I'm sorry we weren't able to help her the way she seemed to need help."

-

Betsy came in at the tail end of the conversation. A pitcher of iced water that she decided to come out with and three glasses, all set upon a silver tray so that she doesn't have to help the men fill in the holes. There was a thought though; would they even allow her help? Possibly. The times are new and most stood with equality instead of watching women lay back, fan and tan. She had no input what so ever, wordlessly approaching the two from behind and keeping distance, the tray soon lowered to the ground as she settles down to take a seat right in front of it to pour glasses.

-

Scott is, decidedly, taking some time to rest. He doesn't have the physique of Hank, and it certainly shows. He rests upon the shovel once more, taking a moment to send a look of empathy toward Hank. He's not been nearly as vocal about as it might have in his younger days, but he's similarly worried that the X-Men are moving too far, too fast, and putting the students at risk.

Scott reaches up to wipe more sweat from his brow, but his arm is slick and it's no good. The t-shirt is bunched up, drawn up, and used instead. When it flops back down against his torso, and there's Betsy.

Thank God for small miracles, for the look of surprise and the blinking of eyes is mostly concealed by Scott's glasses. Mostly. His mouth is ajar for a moment, and he carries a look that can best be described as deer-in-headlamps. He tries to cover it up by clearing his throat, which of course probably only serves to dig an even deeper hole, pun intended. "Hey Elizabeth. Come to join the lawncare party?"

His voice sounds a bit awkward.

-

Beast looks up as a new figure enters the area but he doesn't pause. The water is certainly appreciated, but he's also not the type to leave anyone out. "You know, I think we have another shovel, Ms. Braddock," is mentioned with a wry twist of his lips. The awkwardness of Scott's greeting, however, causes pause and he glances between the two.

Well, telepaths are rather alluring.

-

There was a moment or two when Betsy stares at Scott, and it was haunting. If one could hollow out their eyes, produce dark circles, protrude cheekbones, that time would be it. "No." She snaps, her hand drawing up to give herself pause, forcing out a smile to keep her own awkwardness at bay. Betsy gets a bit mean, when put in awkward situations.

As McCoy drives that point home, she lets out a little grunt, leaving the full glasses of water upon the tray so that she could stand and lean, picking them up with the tip of slender fingers, nails clinking against the glass just so. "Fine. I'll help." No big deal, right? She's got some aggression to work out, and the lawn was going to be her target.

Both glasses were offered up to the men, wriggled and swirled briefly so the ice could mingle and chill, a slight smile drawing upon her lips, gaze avoiding, sights set upon the genius. "After we're done here, I'd like to speak with you." She'd offer up a few words that would possibly get Scott's goat, but hell, it seems as if her being out here is bad enough.

-

If Scott noticed Beast's glancing between the two, he casually ignores it. Instead, he reaches out to take the water, but he's doing so carefully, as if to make damned sure he doesn't touch Betsy's finger in the process. "Thanks," he says drily, and takes a drink. A bit faster than he would, of course, after which he suddenly looks toward the water with a sense of alarm.

His face slowly slides over toward Hank, watching carefully to see if the genius does, indeed drink the water, and also, whether or not he shows any signs of it being something different.

Like gin.

Fortunately, Scott remembers his manners. He waits a moment to let the two of them make their plans, before piping up again. "Hank, do you have any idea who Nancy was closest to during her time here?" he asks.

-

Beast notices the tension between the two and seems about to say something but then just decides that he just doesn't want to know. Some things are best left undisclosed. He gives a nod of thanks as he takes the glass and takes a long sip of it. "Thanks for the water and of course. It's not something we can discuss while shoveling?"

He then looks over at Scott, his expression growing a bit more solemn, "Yes. Me."

-

Once the glasses were taken, she carefully steps away from the tray, making sure not to kick up a bit of dirt into the cool jug of water. "I suppose. But it seems as if your discussion with Scott is more important than what I need from you." Awe, Betsy's so nice. Putting others before herself. For once.

The shovel was soon grabbed and brought close enough for her to lean it against her shoulder, one arm wrapping around as she bends to roll her jogging pants up past the knees. She had just bought that pair, there wasn't a need to get it dirty just -yet-.

Once she fixes herself to get to work, she begins to dig and push, slamming the tip of the shovel down into the dirt and heaving a big chunk of it into place, making good work without looking at either of them. She was patient, really. The conversation seemed important. She's met Nancy only twice and admired her work ethics.

-

Well. There goes that idea. Scott supposes it wouldn't quite be the most tactful thing for Hank to feel out Nancy's loyalties, her tactfulness. Asking her if she divulged anything about the Institute to anyone outside of the circle? That's right out. His lips flatten out, and he nods in resignation to Hank.

Hank, who also doesn't seem to be scoffing at the water, or showing the signs of intoxication. Of course, the man probably has a high tolerance for such things…

… which is why, when Scott resumes drinking, he does so with careful sips. "We were just discussing whether someone may have leaked information about the Institute." His words are clipped, precise. Not exactly as comfortable as before. "Resulting in HYDRA's attack. Looks like that might be a dead end though, unless we're suddenly willing to break our moral code and rip the information from her telepathically."

Okay, Scott. That was a low blow.

Scott sets the glass of water down, unfinished, and takes up his shovel again. A grunt comes as he shoves it into the earth.

-

Golden eyes look between the two again, "Am I going to have to put you two in time-out or are you going to act like mature adults?" Even though he's probably the same age as they are, if not possibly younger. "I've been dealing with kids and teenagers all day. I'd rather not continue that this evening." That said, Hank nods as Scott explains what they were discussing. "She's only one of the potential suspects. I don't think that anyone did this purposefully…I think that would be relatively easy to suss out. But telepathy, drugs, stealing information…there are ways it can be done, sadly."

He finishes off the water before setting the glass back on the tray and returning to his shovel. "I think we need to check our network…see if anything sneaked in there…"

-

"I didn't do anything." Betsy bites out, stopping her shoveling to plant it dead into the ground. Scott's comments about telepathic ripping was noted, not touched upon, not just yet. "If the nature of the institute has been leaked, I highly doubt it's been done on purpose. People do talk to one another, confide in each other. It would be relatively easy for me to tell anyone about my time here in hopes of an unbiased shoulder to lean on." At least, that was her perspective, not that she's close enough to anyone to do such a thing.

The shovel was taken up again as she begins to work, though not as rough this time, not to offend Hank's better nature.

"Of course, we ourselves could be to blame for working with such people." A shoulder shrug as she works, and adding.. "Nothing wrong with asking this person if they did say anything, though. Communication is key."

-

Scott pauses, looking to Hank, then to Betsy… who blatantly ignores Hank's acknowledgement that yeah, he and Betsy seem to be at odds. Still, the words cut him a little. He was acting rather childish, wasn't he? It brings a flush of redness to his cheeks, and he's suddenly quite more aware of just how he's digging.

"I've checked it over and over," he says, "but Jericho had access to the Blackbird's input data node in Gaza. I can't see how he could have possibly hacked through it." After all, it was probably one of, if not the, most secure input nodes in the world. But right now, Scott is feeling a particular bit of paranoia. "Maybe we should go over it again?"

He offers nothing more on what Betsy says, though this time, it's not due to whatever awkwardness is taking place between them. He agrees with her on this one, at least.

"It's nothing, Hank," he says quietly, looking toward the blue mutant. "Just…" He glances toward Betsy. "A little misunderstanding."

-

"We didn't know that they were 'such people' at the time, Ms. Braddock. We were hoping to help them…and for them to help us. It's quite possible that they helped themselves to a lot more than we were wanting to offer," Hank points out as he shovels. "We can ask, but I don't want to sound accusatory."

He looks over to Scott and scowls, "He had access to the Blackbird? Seriously?" There's a roll of his eyes, "I would imagine that could very well be our leak. We should go over it, but not even -we- may find if he took information from there. The man's good. He got me top secret virus information from HYDRA. You don't think they're protecting their information?"

There's a shake of his head as he shovels more dirt into the trench — it does seem to be doing a good job as far as an outlet for aggression. At Scott's mention of the misunderstanding, he offers, "So understand already." But then to Betsy, "What was it you wished to speak about?"

-

Betsy wasn't apart of those missions, she was dealing with home.. among other things, so hearing that someone had access to Blackbird was news to her. But she keeps it quiet, Hank already has it covered, she was busy fixing and sussing out her patch of dirt before moving a little bit away from the two men and their talk. "You can ask without sounding that way. Just be nice."

She smiles a little at those words; being nice. She warmed up to everyone and that bitchy side of her? Slowly waned, but the Crimson was still egging at her soul, something that she possibly can't ever, or never will fix. It was always going to be there no matter what.

The thought of this causes her to groan slightly, one hand pressed upon her hip as she stops shoveling to straighten out, gaze falling towards the sky as lips form into a thin line. She looks distant, at least until words were directed in regards to her and at her. "I'm sorry, Scott." Okay? Jesus.

It takes her a moment to actually remember what she sought out Hank for, and while she thinks of this, she digs the shovel deeper into the ground so that it could stand on it's own. "I need a full health workup. Off the books." Plain, simple. Secrets necessary.

-

A sigh escapes Scott's lips next. "I know," he says, understanding and even agreeing with Hank's concerns. "But he was there, with his… strange little dragon. I felt that if I pointed out the input node, he might leave it at that. Otherwise, he might have hacked the whole damn thing." It's a solid strategy… act paranoid, be treated with suspicion. Extend an olive branch and a curious eye may turn away.

He returns to his digging, only to smirk a bit at Betsy. "Don't worry about it, Bets. Apology accepted." Of course, that doesn't make up for the hip hop club that no longer has a roof, or the news articles that are likely to hit the net any day now.

Suddenly, Scoff begins to choke. He drops the shovel, hacking and coughing until he's able to clear it with a solid punch to the chest. "Sorry, I'm sorry. I… think I've over worked myself." This, of course, has nothing to do with Elizabeth's request, in spite of the timing.

-

Beast pauses again at Betsy's statement about needing the health workup. He leans some on the shovel, "All right…if you wish." He doesn't actually have an MD, but he does what needs to be done. Scott's coughing fit pulls his attention, "Are you all right?" The shovel is set down as he moves to check the other…"I suppose we could stop for the night. The trench isn't going anywhere and good progress has been made. We can probably get some kids to help tomorrow as well…earn some brownie points."

As for Jericho and the Blackbird. "I think we should consider that the leak, to be honest. It's the most viable…so we'll need to go over or security and firewalls…revamp them if needed and be prepared that the information is now out there."

-

Violet eyes soon shift towards Scott at his coughing fit, her head tilted slightly towards the side as she glances back towards Hank. A slight nod is given, and then she's right back to shoveling, moving little bits of dirt at a time to not over exert herself. She was already building up a good sweat either way, a shower would soon be in order, but she stops for a moment, planting the shovel again to let out a huff of breath, a stern look gone towards Scott.

"Okay. We can't do this. This." She gestures around. "In front of everyone. Do we need to have a chat, or something?"

-

Once again, Scott leans on his shovel. He's been at this for hours, after all, and it shows. He looks over at Betsy, and shakes his head to the negative. "No. Absolutely not. I'm sorry, Elizabeth, I acted completely out of line." He's about to leave it at that. He's about to take the shovel and go inside. He even goes so far as to lift it, not wishing to leave it behind for someone else to clean up. But then, he stabs it back into the ground and turns toward Betsy again.

"With Hank. I was out of line acting that way in front of Hank." Why, exactly, does he need to clarify this? "And it was out of line for me to get drunk in public. Not that it's wrong, people can do what they want to do, but being teachers, at this school, it's a… it's a greater responsibility." All good points.

So, why is Scott Summers rambling? It's entirely out of character.

He turns his neck, cracking it, then stretches out his arms with a wince. He's probably over exerted himself and pulled something.


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