Reaching Out

Summary:
December 1, 2014: Kate visits X-Men Red to ask for their cooperation with her new outreach program.

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.


Characters

NPCs

  • Simon

Mood Music:
[*<http://insert.video.or.music.link.here>]


It's mid-afternoon, getting close to dinner time. Certainly not a normal meeting time. But then, Kate's not exactly a business meeting, either. She's got a way with talking her way into things, out of things, and around things, and she's been working it on whoever sets the appointments for the red team. Because she has an agenda, see. And like the red team, she hasn't been particularly careful about her identity. It's not strictly secret, but she hasn't published or announced it either. And, of course, she's been here. Once. It ended poorly for some people.


Roberto da Costa is still hovering around the Red Team headquarters, which he pretty much always does during business hours. The rest of the team have mutant abilities applicable to corporate contracts in all sorts of ways. Throwing city buses to the moon has fewer practical applications, so his management skills see a lot more use.

He's in the middle of checking on travel arrangements for a trip he's been trying to arrange when his assistant notifies him that Kate Bishop is in the waiting room, working her charms on the receptionist. It's only a few seconds later that he strides through the doors to personally invite her inside. "Kate!" he calls brightly, waving and giving her a grin. "I haven't seen you here since the whole Upstarts thing." From his manner, it's obvious that Sunspot isn't the type to hold a grudge over who happened to be around when somebody's penthouse got demolished. He's been on the other end of that too many times.


"I figured you might be busy cleaning up the mess," Kate laughs, turning away from the desk and holding out a hand toward Roberto. "Glad to see it hasn't crimped your style, though. The place looks good," she adds, looking around the lobby. "Business must be going well. Which is…nice, actually."


Roberto laughs and returns the handshake. "Aw, it didn't take that long to fix up. I've got people. C'mon, I'll give you the dollar tour."

He leads her back into the heart of the headquarters, pointing out the guest quarters, offices, and various bits of equipment whose outlandish expense makes him particularly proud. Eventually, they end up by the wall of windows that looks out over the city.

"So, yeah, things are going really well, by startup standards. We haven't recouped the initial investment, but we're already breaking even on day to day operations," he tells her, his pride in the operation evident. "I was actually just trying to see about getting my pai up here from Brazil to look over it. I think even he might be impressed"


"He ought to be," Kate opines, impressed herself. "It's a lot, and you built it up quickly. If he's anything like my dad, though, I wouldn't hold my breath," she adds with a rueful smirk. "No point in trying to live up to someone else. Have to live your own life. Which is part of what I wanted to talk to you about, actually. If you don't mind a little business on the side," she grins.


"Hey, Berto!" Doug calls out, eyes on his tablet, walking in. "The prototype's doing well enough in the crash tests that we should be ready to go into a broader live test, get to Milestone C in the testings."

Fidgeting with his tablet, it's not until there's the sensation that there's -someone- in the way that Doug comes to a stop, eyes widening. "Oh, um, hi. Didn't realize we had company. Name's Doug Ramsey, I'm an old classmate of Berto's."


"An old classmate and a valued team member," Roberto says with a wry smile, interceding to guide Doug away from colliding with their guest. "Doug, this is Kate Bishop. Kate, Doug. He's our linguist." Cypher's reputation may precede him, but if not, he's happy to bridge the gap.

Turning back to Kate, he continues with a grin, "If I do convince Pai to come up here, they should meet. From what I hear, they would have a lot in common." The Brazilian turns to lean back against the window railing. "I have no objections to a bit of business on the side, but you realize that means we'll eventually have to discuss what it's on the side of, certo?" Roberto asks Kate, arching one brow in a teasing expression.


"Hawkeye," Kate adds to the introduction with an easy smile. "Nice to meet you, Cypher. I've been wishing I spoke a few more languages lately myself, actually." Roberto's tease gets a laugh and a wry smile of her own as she shakes her head. "I make a habit of making friends with people, personally. Which is part of what I want to talk about in terms of business, actually."


"Hawkeye…?" Now Doug's eyebrows light up. "That's awesome." Doug offers an hand enthusically, before pausing. "Wait, is this a team meeting thing, and not a business meeting, or are we just going to do something for her and…" Running a hand through his hair, Doug looks sheepish. "I'm not sure which team you're a member of, actually."


"I haven't heard the pitch myself, yet," Roberto tells Doug. "I guess we'll figure out what kind of meeting this is then." He tilts his head to one side and gives Kate an inquisitive look. "Although I admit I'm pretty curious, too. Making friends?" He shrugs and slips his hands into his hip pockets. "I'm a friendly guy, but I didn't know there was a business application. Let's hear it."


"Ah. Well." Kate's smile turns a bit sheepish at Doug's comment, and she reaches up to rub a hand at the back of her neck. "I'm sort of joining the whole, new, Justice League, SHIELD initiative thing. And I'm good friends with the Titans. Which covers a few angles. But yours, the mutant angle, is the biggest one, honestly." She hesitates for a moment, then finds a table to hop up onto, sitting on the edge as she looks between the others. "There are a lot of young people out there coming into powers. Mutants, some of them. Kids who ran into something strange. Mages. And a few who just refuse to believe they can't handle it on the playing field," she adds with a self-deprecating smile. "But right now, they're by and large on their own. Some of them find mentors. Some get picked up by big names. But a lot are left trying to find out how to do what they know they should do, with no one to show them how."


"Ahhh. Yeah, I know how that would be… we've been there." Glancing over to Roberto, Doug nods slowly. "We went to a school that handled that sort of thing. But that's not what you're really suggesting, right…? You want a big brother big sister kind of program?"


"So, like… a sch—?" Roberto starts to say, before squinting at the ceiling and then glancing over at Doug. He clears his throat, then turns back to Kate with a tight smile. "Just a moment."

He whirls on Doug and switches to rapid Portuguese. "Doug, it's a public record that we went to the Xavier Institute. You can't say we attended a superhero school without blowing their cover."

He pauses, looks at the floor, and then turns back to Kate, all smiles and all English again. "Sorry, just a minor issue I just remembered I needed a communications expert to look at. Sorry about the language switch — trade secrets, and all."


Kate quirks a brow, smile tugging at one corner of her lips. "You should probably confirm that I don't speak the language before you use it for cover then," she suggests. "I don't, by the way." She leans forward, elbows on her knees and hands lightly clasped. "Big brothers and big sisters is sort of it, yeah," she nods to Doug. "But outreach is important. Being available is important. Just putting it out there that there are people they can reach out to? That can be huge. I've been starting small. I've got a private burner line, a phone account. When I run into someone, I hand it out. But I'm only one person, and not always in a position to be someone people can trust."


"Sorry, Berto," Doug grimaces, as he slaps his head and answers in Portuguese. "I just got a little… distracted." Especially around women. Which is something Berto shouldn't be entirely unfamiliar with.

Switching back to English, Doug grins sheepishly. "Having been duely chastened, that's a good idea, but once the phone account's compromised, you've got a problem because you'll end up burning out people who haven't gotten in touch with you yet."

Tapping his chin, Doug tilts his head as he considers the situation. "There -is- a way, though… a version of 911, maybe. But you'd need someone with huge international connections… oh."


For a moment, Roberto's smile freezes in horror as he ransacks his mind for reasons Kate might know Portuguese. When she assures him she doesn't, he takes a deep breath and nearly collapses back onto the window in relief. When his words come back to him and his pulse is back under control, he says wryly, "Yeah, okay, if I see our rich brat landlord, I'll run it by him." If the man can talk, he can snark. "I'm pretty sure he'll look on it favorably, though," he continues, glancing upward. "A mentorship program could be a really powerful, visible outreach effort. Helping kids is basically the only thing that's still uncontroversial in this country. And since Red Team does non-combat stuff, we don't have to worry as much about bringing them out with us."


"Or someone with some impressive network skills," Kate adds with a flash of a smile toward Doug. No harm in greasing the wheels a little bit, right? "I'm not looking to go too large scale just yet," she cautions. "We don't have the infrastructure to man enough telephone lines for as many people as I expect there are under the surface. And I don't expect everyone to want to give away all of their own group's secrets. I'm not asking anyone to tell me theirs. Hell, better if they don't. Then I can't be compromised. But one step at a time, you know? If one of you runs into someone who's on the edge, hand them a card. Let them know they're not alone, and there are people who care. When they're ready, they'll reach out."


No harm, and it does work, especially from the female Hawkeye. "Seems to fit in pretty well with what we're about, anyway, but you knew that, right?" Doug had to hand it to her, the woman did have brains. "We don't need phone lines, though…"

Cracking his knuckles, Doug glances at Berto. "I mean, we just need one phone number, but we can hook it up to a whole number of IP addresses and routers, and then filter it through, uh… something we haven't set up yet, but we can probably do it. Sort of like a Super-Skype, yeah? We can call it Skynet or something…"


"Skynet? Doug. Camarada. Please." Roberto gives the blond a disbelieving look, then waves over his assistant. "Simon, get Doug some coffee before he gets any more confused and takes a header of the side of the building."

He turns to shake his head at Kate. "We lose so many linguists that way." Returning to business, he bounces himself off the railing and starts to pace. "If you need a call center staffed, I can fund that through X-Red. In-house or outsourced, depending on which setup you feel would be more secure. I don't think we would need any special information on the other teams, beyond a simple private contact line that we could burn as necessary." He shrugs. "On the other hand, I like the idea of keeping it small and scaling up as necessary. Mentorship is a personal thing, and it won't work if our support structure isn't designed for that."


"Maybe not Skynet," Kate grins at Doug. "What with the whole Terminator connotation. And no call center full of people," she shakes her head to Roberto. "That's not going to help. Especially if they're not people who've been here, who've done this. It's got to be real, and if that means it's small for a little bit, then it's small. One step at a time." She pauses, then tilts her head. "Though it wouldn't be a bad thing to have some therapists to refer them to. Professional help is underrated sometimes."


"Don't bother, I already had three cups of espresso," Doug waves a hand dismissively, turning his attention back to Kate. "No, I don't mean a call center, I mean just have one person handling all the skype accounts, it's easy enough. Should be easy enough to filter a bunch of calls through, and it's not like they're going to be calling -all- the time, if you're going to be picky about it. Plus, it'd make it easy to switch out accounts and phone numbers if we need to burn them… I'm kinda thirsty, mind if I use that coffee machine of yours, Berto?"


Bobby raises one eyebrow at Doug. Fortunately, his assistant-slash-barista didn't get far in the time it took Cypher to change his mind. "Simon, spike the coffee with an Aderall. Or a sedative. I'm not sure which Doug needs more at the moment, but I trust your medical opinion."

He gives his teammate a wry look before turning back to Kate. "So, okay, Red has an open line that anyone can call, which you should feel free to hand out to mutants whether they want to stay closeted or not. You want us to refer everybody else to your number, or just certain ones, with other teams specializing as well?"


"Actually, I came to you guys first," Kate admits, smile crooked. "Most of the people showing up with powers are mutants, and you guys are more organized than most groups. I'll talk to the Titans next. They cover a lot of unusual bases, but they're not quite so organized. On the other hand, they've got a lot of heart, which is all a lot of these kids need. And I'll talk to the League and SHIELD after that. That one's going to be…a little more prickly," she admits. "SHIELD's international, but they're still government. That's going to mean a lot of distrust. Not just from people referred, but…I want to see what they're doing first-hand before I go connecting them to new kids, you know?"


"Uh… maybe not the sedative. Sorry. I've been up a while," Doug responds, running a hand through his hair. "And definitely not adderall. I'll hit the sack in a few hours, I promise. I just need to stop thinking for a bit. But uh…"

Nodding to Kate, Doug tilts his head. "Do you really think it's a good idea to bring in SHIELD or the League? They'd just want to monitor them, not necessarily mentor. I mean, keeping them appraised makes sense, but…"


"Certo. I don't think SHIELD when I think of wholesome after-school programs, either," Roberto agrees, his expression wry. "I've worked with them, which has been a generally positive experience, but I still wouldn't send at-risk teens to their doorstep. Are you sure you want to include them at all?" He's not as familiar with the League, so he won't pass judgment there, at least.


"That's why they're last," Kate agrees with both. "I don't know. They've been pretty decent to me, but I'm a baseline human, and one who's pretty well connected to one of their own. But like I said, not everyone has the same needs. Some people might just fit better there. So I won't rule it out, but I'm not going into it to start."


"Ok. Good luck with that!" Taking a deep breath, Doug pokes at his tablet, before seating himself at one of the chairs. "It's a good idea, but you know… if you're going to hand out the number to people who needs help, wouldn't having a therapist or something on hand be a good idea for some people who don't need mentoring as much as they just need -help-?"


Roberto nods at Kate, smiling. "I trust your judgment. You're more experienced with them than I am, certainly." He tilts his head and raises his eyebrows, then asks, "Oh, and I suppose I should ask: you said most of the kids you have talked to are mutants. Is there anyone you're already hoping we can help?"

He glances over at Doug as Simon brings him… an orange juice. With his usual efficiency, the PA has made a masterful move in an ongoing game of figuring out which of Roberto's requests are outlandish enough to ignore. "I know a couple of therapists we could refer people to," Roberto says with a shrug. "I don't really think we would need one on call, though."


Kate looks at Doug, then quirks a brow at 'Berto. She said that, right? "Yep," she answers Doug slowly. "That'd be a good thing for everyone to have, honestly. We can handle referrals, though. There are actually a few who work out of the shelter who would probably be willing to work with kids in our situation, too." Looking back to 'Berto, she shrugs, rueful. "They've got a tendency to rabbit when the fight's over. It's why I've been sticking to the cards. Gives them a chance to reach out when they feel like they're in a safe place, not threatened."


Sighing, Doug reconsiders his thinking. Shifting away from looking at Kate and concentrating on Berto, Doug takes a deep breath. "How about I just skip trying to communicate in business and psychology and stick with tech support for now? Just tell me what you guys want and I'll make it happen."


Roberto answers Kate's glance with a helpless shrug. When Doug gets like this, it's best to just roll with it and let him catch up when he catches up. It's probably the Brazilian's fault for pushing to get to Milestone C ahead of schedule, anyway.

"Yeah, that's a good point," he tells her before glancing back at his assistant. "Hey, Simon? Can you get Kate a pack of my business cards? The X-Red ones, not the DCI ones. And get a new set printed with something on them about 'we can help, total confidentiality,' et cetera."

As the ever-suffering assistant heads away yet again, Roberto turns back to Kate, smiling. "Now you'll at least have some on hand in case they 'rabbit.' We've got all kinds of resources. Including a shelter of sorts." He inclines his head toward the unoccupied guest quarters lining one wall of the hub.


"Perfect," Kate grins, turning the expression on Doug as well. "That's all we need to start with." She lets her legs swing, looking between the pair with a cheerful expression. "Which concludes the business part of the meeting, I think. Thanks, guys," she adds, sincere. "It means a lot to have you on-board with this."


"Um, no problem," Doug says, glancing back towards Kate, then offering a smile in return, abashedly. And deciding it's wiser to just let Berto do the rest of the talking to Kate, while he figures out where the best place to go bang his head against the wall will be.


"It's a good idea, and you gave a solid pitch," Roberto replies with a lopsided smile and a one-shouldered shrug. "No thanks necessary. We would have been dumb not to listen to you."

He watches as Doug heads away, wearing an expression of mild concern. "Drink your orange juice!" he calls after him, like a worrying aunt. "It's got vitamins in it," he adds in a quieter aside to Kate. "Honestly, sometimes I feel more like a babysitter than anything else."


"You and me both, buddy," Kate says ruefully to 'Berto, shaking her head. "I love the Titans, but sometimes I just want to…" She makes a shaking motion with both hands. "Same goes for Clint, though." She peers after Doug. "I hope he's okay, though. Seems like maybe he needs a little more sleep or something."


"He's fine. He gets like that all the time," Roberto reassures her. He's too kind to bring up a few notable reasons, but does add, "He might just have been working too hard. His skills are really useful in this sort of venture." He raises one dark eyebrow at Kate and asks, "So, if you're not even really a Titan, how did you end up playing team mom? If you don't mind my asking."


Kate shrugs to that question. "They're my friends," she answers simply. "If they need something, I'm there for them. And they asked me to join," she admits. "A couple times. I just…" She trails off, lips pursing as she tries to choose her words. "It wasn't the right fit. For me. Right now. And I might be sort of used to it, with Clint," she adds, rueful.


Roberto nods, drawing one hand across his jawline thoughtfully. "Yeah, I tried a few things that didn't work, when I was younger. Even had myself convinced that I was destined to be a supervillain, at one point," he says with a rueful smirk. "But when it isn't the right fit, you can feel it. Hell, this whole setup?" He encompasses the headquarters around them with a wave of his hand. "It's a lot bigger now, but the seed of the whole thing was just wanting to get the old band back together. What you're used to can be a powerful thing. Or maybe I'm just sentimental."


"Supervillain, huh?" Kate asks, arching a brow and making a show of looking 'Berto up and down. "Eh. I could take you." She winks, then hops off the edge of the table, pacing a few idle steps around the room. "We had opportunities, 'Berto. That means we owe a few opportunities back to the world. That's what my mother always said."


"Back then, you probably could," Roberto agrees readily. "I was kind of an idiot. These days?" He returns the evaluating look, then gives her a knowing smile and waggles one hand indecisively. "We'd have to see." He follows after Kate as she begins to pace. "Normally, I try not to side with an attractive woman's mother about anything. You can get in trouble that way." His brow furrows and he glances upward, continuing to tease: "In this case, though, I'm afraid she has a point."


"I really like what you guys are doing here," Kate adds, looking over with a genuine smile. "For you, and for the world. You're showing people it's okay. It's more than okay, it's…normal. And that there are real, viable, genuine options for people to live their lives and use their talents like any other skill someone might have. That's…that's huge, you know? And you're out there, you're not making a secret out of it, which just adds to the normal."


"I was terrible at keeping a secret identity anyway," Roberto answers in a light, self-deprecating tone, continuing to walk alongside Kate with his hands in his pockets. "This way, I don't have to keep coming up with brilliant ways to walk it back when I let something slip."

He pauses, glancing around the room reflectively, before continuing less flippantly, "I appreciate it, though. I mean, there's always the Friends of Humanity and people like that out there, but the people whose opinions I care about?" He gives Kate a significant look. "They have all been incredibly supportive. Like we're giving people something to believe in."

He goes silent for another second, then returns to the lighthearted banter, as though a little embarrassed of his gravity a moment ago. "At the very least, we've got a hell of a view, right?"


"Definitely," Kate agrees in regard to the view, stopping near a window where she can see it. "And you get to hang out with your friends. I've heard that's usually the really crappy part of any job," she grins, crossing her arms loosely over her chest. "All that being around people you have to get paid to be around. Speaking of." She wrinkles her nose, glancing at her wrist. "I've got to go to that thing for the schools later tonight, and more training in the morning."


"What, your superhero apprenticeship didn't cover long days on no sleep?" Roberto scoffs, giving Kate an exaggerated skeptical look. "Well, I suppose I can't keep you any longer, then. But before you go" — he waves her over to his office door — "it just so happens that I have something for you." He ducks in for a couple of seconds, then returns with a bottle filled with a clear liquid. "On an incredibly trying night, you showed up with a bottle of vodka at the best imaginable time. I owe you one." He extends the vodka toward her with a smile. "This stuff is so organic, the potatoes that went into it got one-on-one math tutoring."


"My superhero apprenticeship covered the importance of actually getting sleep on the rare occasions you get to plan ahead," Kate laughs. "Those of us without superpowers have to stack the deck with everything we can. Sleeping's almost as good as cheating." Her brows rise when he says he has something, though she laughs at what he brings. "Glad I could help," she grins. "Way more fun than most parties anyhow. And if that's the case, well…" She sighs as she takes the bottle. "They probably got better grades than I did," she says sadly. "And now, I get to drink them. Somehow, that might be fitting."


Roberto shrugs, smiles, and replies, "It seems those are the breaks." (Let's just pretend that his gentle accent and stilted diction made that mangled idiom charming rather than just embarrassing.) "Get your sleep, then. It was good seeing you, Kate. Feel free to stop by any time you like."


"I'll keep in touch," Kate promises, stepping back with an easy smile. "And give me a call if you ever need someone without superpowers," she teases, winking.


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