X:4:X Loose Ends

Summary:
February 21, 2015: Jean and Scott pay a visit to the Baxter Building

The Baxter Building

The headquarters for the Fantastic Four


Characters

NPCs

  • <Name of NPC or "None">
  • <Use same pattern for all npcs>

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


The Baxter Building gleams in the midday sun a stark white to the darker colored, drab buildings that surround it on all sides. Its top comes to a crest, causing it to resemble a crystal poking the clouds.

A crystal emblazoned with a 4, of course.

Inside the labs on the 32nd floor, Reed Richards is at a workbench not unlike a comic book artist might use, but the surface is a computer interface and the work upon it is something to do with quarks.

"Do you remember that party we went to after that first set of finals? What was it you said to that poor girl that night?" Reed rubs at his eye, but is clearly talking to the man back over his shoulder, his best friend Ben Grimm.

Approaching the lab are Scott Summers and Jean Grey, senior members of the X-Men. The team's leader still seems to be functioning just fine without his glasses of ruby quartz, revealing brown eyes ensconced in leathery lids, permanently damaged from so many years of abuse.

"Knock, knock," he says on approach, a smile upon his face that somehow straddles smug and heartfelt with absolute equality. "We brought gifts."

From beneath his arm, Scott hefts a case of Weinhenstephaner Hefe Weissbier.

And in her hands? A pan of Baklava and Napoleans. All freshly made of course. Nothing store bought, Jean spent an entire work day in the kitchen, making deserts. It's anyones guess where Scott had gotten the imported beer. Someones a wild one!

"I hope we aren't interrupting?" She asks, still marveling at the appearance of the labs. Perhaps for the reason of Hank's ire was how gorgeous it looked on the inside. What many things anyone can dissect with the too…

"If we are, we can come back later."

SOME TIME AGO

"… which is why I was thinkin' you an' me could go back ta my dorm…" Ben Grimm loudly slurs, arm draped instently across Brittney Marchonne's shoulder. Beer #20 just barely dangles in a plastic cup between his fingers. "… an' you an' me could find some instruments ta' fiddle with— "

*SLAP!*

Ben's beer splashes all over his shirt as Brittney twists away and storms off.

"Iiii, uh," Ben mumbles, baby blues cast firmly to the ground as what he remembers of the night plays back. "I was a dumb kid— no point'n dwellin' on all'a that now, right?"

Before Ben gets stuck spending too long rubbing the back of his pebbly neck and, well, dwelling, Scott and Jean arrive; his head snaps up at the first 'knock' and he wheels around to face them. "Interruptin'? 'course not! Stretch'n me were just talkin' about— " Beat. "— pilotin'," he adds, deflating a little. His eyes briefly shift between Reed and the mutants before he just walks away to search for chairs or chair-robots.

"Welcome!"

SOME TIME AGO

"… which is why I was thinkin' you an' me could go back ta my dorm…" Ben Grimm loudly slurs, arm draped instently across Brittney Marchonne's shoulder. Beer #20 just barely dangles in a plastic cup between his fingers. "… an' you an' me could find some instruments ta' fiddle with— "

*SLAP!*

Ben's beer splashes all over his shirt as Brittney twists away and storms off.

NOW

"Iiii, uh," Ben mumbles, baby blues cast firmly to the ground as what he remembers of the night plays back. "I was a dumb kid— no point'n dwellin' on all'a that now, right?"

Before Ben gets stuck spending too long rubbing the back of his pebbly neck and, well, dwelling, Scott and Jean arrive; his head snaps up at the first 'knock' and he wheels around to face them. "Interruptin'? 'course not! Stretch'n me were just talkin' about— " Beat. "— pilotin'," he adds, deflating a little. His eyes briefly shift between Reed and the mutants before he just walks away to search for chairs or chair-robots.

"Welcome!"

"Yes, of course." Reed looks up towards the ceiling as the memory comes back to him, causing him to grin fondly. "My night went just as poorly in a different way, of course."

BEFORE

"REED REED REED REED REED!" The crowd cheers for a mussy haired boy in glasses who looks surely like he is spending his first evening behind the bottle. Two large fraternity boys lift him and dip him grasping his legs as his hands make it onto the keg. There's a momentary reach for his glasses before, in his drunken state, he finds he doesn't care much if they get crushed. The tap goes into the young man's mouth and a co-ed depresses the valve.

NOW

"I'm not sure I've been as sick since." Reed swivels on his white stool as Jean and Scott enter. His eyebrows raise and he smiles to them before giving them a nod, "You brought beer. How thoughtful."

"I wasn't sure if our dalliance in the Negative Zone was going to be our last meeting. I'm glad you two stopped by."

"Don't let her fool you." Scott offers the beer to Ben with a stronger grin, one that spreads well into his eyes. "The beer was her idea. I was gonna bring X-branded jerseys but…" He sizes Ben up. "…don't think we have all the right sizes."

Grabbing a seat, Scott sits down, adding, "Dad was a pilot. That's why I decided to learn. Gotta have sharp eyes."

Scott's attention turns then to Reed. "May have been a bit rough around the edges, but, promising. The operation stretched my team; far as I'm concerned that's a plus. Just glad we made it home in one piece." Then, he arches an eyebrow. "Any postpartum depression?"

Thats definitely a smirk.

"What? I believe in baking deserts for people who helped us out in a time of need when they really didn't have to." That and she couldn't sleep, and actually developed an affinity to baking due to not sleeping. Double edged sword; some had benefits and some did not. Hopefully their stomachs would be happy with the treats.

The trays of food were soon set down, a chair grabbed for herself as she lets the men talk. Until Scott breaks out with a joke, one that had her rolling her eyes and leaning forward within her chair. "So I have to know, did you manage to take one home with you? One of your babies." Yeah, Reed's got kids now. Negative zone born and bred.

THAT OTHER PARTY

Victor von Doom sulks in a corner while his fellow students engage in primitive social rituals, sipping red wine from the only stemware in the room.

THIS ONE

"Didn't bring nothin' back— made sure'a that," Ben answers for Reed, lugging a him-sized chair on his shoulder as he returns to the group. He sets it down with a heavy thump, but before he can sit, something crosses his mind.

"… right?" he double-checks, squinting towards Reed.

After about a second of scrutiny, he drops into his chair and leans forward to snag himself a beer. "Did some time in the service, myself," he remarks with a glance towards Scott. "Saw some action, even; nothin' ta brag about." With that, he pops the tab; before drinking it, he momentarily raises the can towards Jean.

"I most certainly did not bring any back with me, no," Reed says with a grin. "But I will be going back to investigate them, that's for sure." He reaches an extremely long arm over to grab a beer from the case, and immediately pulls it back. "I am glad we were able to come back with no casualties. Our mission saved a great many lives. It was definitely worth the trouble."

Grabbing a beer for himself, Scott pops the cap before raising it in a toast. "To the millions," he offers, before knocking back a celebratory swig.

The X-Man can't help but find it interesting how Ben seems to keep Reed in check. In many ways, it reflected his friendship with Hank. Hank, who clearly didn't enjoy certain aspects of the operation.

"I should apologize if any members of my team rubbed you the wrong way. Many of us have known each other for a long time, and it isn't often that we work so closely — well, no. So intentionally. With another team."

Jean couldn't help but grin at Ben's unsureness, but to ease the poor mans spirits, her hand lifts as the Baklava begins to separate itself into nicely cut squares. Even the Napoleans take on the same fashion, plates that were drawin from beneath the trays soon settle in front of Ben so that he could have a helping heat of her home-made desserts. Instead of raising a beer, she draws herself out of the chair, crossing the way to near towards the large man, a wry grin upon her face. "I just wanted to say thank you, personally." As personal as it can get; she leans over to give the best hug she could possibly give to the rock fellow.

Sadly enough? She was still hot to the touch.

Drawing away from the hug she gives, she lets out a little sigh. "They're a little guarded. And for good reason, mutants are targetted all over the world just for being what they are. And there's only so much we can do to help. As we currently are."

Reed gets A Look before Ben reaches for the conveniently positioned pastries; it says 'I'm not going back to that hell-hole for your stupid nerd crap, goddamnit'.

His hand is halfway to a floating Napolean when Jean ambushes him with gratitude. The pebbled giant tenses immediately; he was expecting, at most, a handshake when Jean got up from her seat.

"Er, yeah," he mumbles once the initial shock fades. "Yeah— yeah, of course." Just before she pulls away, he brings his outstretched hand down to awkwardly pat her back. "All, uh, part'a the job."

Once she's gone he just lets that arm sink to his lap, leans back and takes a gulp of beer. "Glad we could help; one'a you guys runs the deli a couple blocks away," he then adds once the can comes down. "Would'a been a shame, 'cause I'm pretty sure he's got super-curin' powers." Another quick sip is taken, and then he adds, "Tell ya what, though, it sounds like you guys need better press— an agent, mebbe."

After that suggestion, he remarks to Scott, "Anyone asks, we'll make sure ta' give ya good references. Even the kid with the black fire crap everywhere."

There's a soft hiss as Reed removes the top to his bottle and reaches his arm out to find the nearest trash receptacle. "To be honest," he says after taking a swig from the beer, "I was confused by your scientist's reaction towards me. Sure, I'm the object of a great amount of scorn through the jealousy of my peers, but I would have thought your blue friend could have put that behind him given the importance of what we were facing."

Reed shrugs his shoulders, "Not to mention that he was very, very wrong about nearly everything he said." Reed chuckles, "Well, I do hope he keeps no hard feelings. I have not got the time to hold a grudge, I am afraid. And I already have several rivals."

Reed chuckles at Ben, "You are not coming, but I do not imagine you will let me go alone, either."

All smirks aside, that was something of a somber moment. Scott smiles with quiet earnest when Jean expresses her gratitude; he was similarly thankful.

"It's possible," he tells Ben, with regard to the mutant at their nearby deli. "Not all X-Gene mutations are about fire and glory."

Another gulp of beer is taken. Scott's posture relaxes, suggesting that he's growing more comfortable being here. "Hank likes to look at all the angles. You might say he's our devil's advocate. It… yeah, it can be annoying sometimes, but he's also good at keeping our asses out of the frying pan." He shrugs, then gestures in a 'what can you do?' sort of way. "Don't let it get to you."

Ben's remark about PR… it gets a look. That sort of thing sure isn't his specialty.

"Now I see why he calls you, 'Stretch'. Are you folks carriers of the X-Gene, or is it something else?"

Nope. No handshakes. A lifesaver gets a hug. Thems the rules. The pat to her back causes her to jump a little, she wasn't expecting that one either. "Well, thank you anyways, Ben." She states, moving away from him now to take a seat. She doesn't partake of the beer, settling for a piece of napolean to quietly munch upon. "I'd offer to return to the Negative Zone with you, but there has to be a way to keep the inverse effects of our powers in check." She really had to muse at Reed though, assuming Hank was jealous. As.. one of the college students said, Hank was just a bag of dicks.

A colorful term that Jean would never use.

"I don't think Scott's team needs the PR. Sunspots team, possibly. We like staying quiet." She nods a little towards Ben, her munching kept to a minimum as she eyes Reed curiously.

"I kinda mean all'a you," Ben says, frowning thanks to Reed's obnoxiously true statement about the N-Zone "There's millions of mutants, an' how many'a you guys?" Beat. "Sunspot's guys," he corrects. "I'm sure they're gettin' plenty'a positive attention, but are those numbers really workin' in your favor? You got a helluva brand ta think about; gotta do whatever you can ta control its identity, even if you can't exactly represent all of 'em."

Ben sips his beer; apparently, he was paying attention during those marketing meetings.

"Mebbe a Twitter account, or somethin'; you'd have to ask Johnny or some other dumb kid about that crap, though."

With that, he takes the Napoleon he was reaching for earlier, eyes turning towards Scott. He starts to answer for Reed again, but— it's kind of a sore subject for him, so he eats the dessert instead.

It's hard to be too sullen with pastry in your mouth.

"Well," Reed says as he takes another sip of his beer. He's somewhat surprised that these 'X-men' have not heard the story. As famous as the Fantastic Four are, their travels have been well chronicled. But then again, this particular team seems to be rather insular—something rather foreign to Ben, Johnny, Reed, and Sue.

"We would best be classified as mutates, I believe. We were originally human, but an accident modified our genetic code. Gave us our powers." The thought of that still makes Reed drink. It's a sore subject for him too, in a way. In a large, orange, rocky way.

"Funny thing," muses Scott, "the Negative Zone didn't affect my mutation, aside from giving me the ability to control it without protective eyewear." The whole affair was still something of a mystery to him.

And yet, while the others converse, Scott takes a pause in sipping his beer only to pinch at the bridge of his nose, eyes squeezed shut. It's the all-too-familiar gesture that comes with the onset of a headache. "Must be the air pressure," he murmurs. A low pressure system has plagued the eastern seaboard, along with its chilling, subzero temperatures.

"Sorry," Scott says, before picking up his drink again. "Well, none of us chose to be this way, so, that's something we all have in common."
Mention of a Twitter account has Scott fighting the urge to roll his eyes. Wasn't his style; doesn't mean it's not an idea with potential. "There's a great deal of disagreement regarding just… how to approach that subject. I mean, historically, you can look at things like… like, the persecution of Christians. Anti-semitism. The LGBT community. People had to stand up and be brave for their rights, but a whole hell of a lotta people have been hurt or killed over it, too. Things like… two diseases, engineered by man, within the past year, targeting mutants? The Smooth epidemic? A lot of our kind are still too scared to really be themselves."

Jean finishes her pastry, taking a side lean into the chair. The lean itself was moreso aimed at Scott, a little aire of comfortability there, her hand reaching up to lightly press against her temple as her ring finger dances along her lower lip. She even gives the peoples eyebrow, the slender arch drawing up as she studies Reed, Ben, and the slight movement of Scott without even looking. She was quiet as kept. His words however, have her swinging in the chair, facing in his direction as her hand reaches out to lightly touch his hair.

"Are you alright?" There was a worried glance given, perhaps it was almost time for the glasses to come back on just in case. But.. she didn't want to ruin that tiny little freedom, the freedom to see color and things as they truly are, uninhibited.

"Other people're better at talkin' about it than we are, I guess," Ben quietly offers with a glance towards Reed. His voice picks up a little as he then turns his attention towards Cyclops and offers, "We probably got an aspirin around here somewhere," and jerks a frosted thumb towards the depths of the lab. "You guys got my sympathy, that's for sure; it ain't always roses over here - anyone who's been in a check out line could prolly tell ya that - but we ain't got nobody cookin' up diseases or nothin' for us."

Ben empties his bottle after those words of solidarity, and then he amends, "'least, I don't think we do. Anyway— I ain't lookin' ta go back to that place any time soon, but if you guys need some other kinda back-up… y'know where we are." Ben chucks the bottle over his shoulder and into the trash bin, then grabs another. "Can't have much of a future if it's full'a people too scared ta live," he quietly finishes.

Reed's face looks a bit worried as Scott's headache manifests. "If you'd like, I'd be happy to run some tests on you, Cyclops. If it's just a headache, I'd be able to adapt a ibuprofen-style pill directly to your body chemistry type." But there's something about Reed's tone that make it seem as though he is of the belief that this may not actually be just a normal headache.

Reed doesn't touch the topic any further about how he and Ben got their powers. He's happy to let it drop.

"Just a headache." Stubborn, to the last. It doesn't come without a look of quiet affection when Jean shows her concern, but Scott isn't ready to acknowledge that deep fear.

It was just a headache. Like when he was a boy. Before the accident. Before everything went red. Before the times when the screams of strangers accompanied every prying open of tired eyelids.

"Thanks," he says to the offer of aspirin. A nod of his head suggests it might be a good idea. "Same goes for you guys. You need backup, you've got it." He looks between Ben and Reed solemnly. "We may be forever in your debt."

"Please, call me Scott." He grins. "No uniform today." Symbolically, he lifts the beer and slugs back the remainder. At the suggestion of tests, however, Scott looks toward Jean with an unspoken question in his eyes.

"And if you all ever need anyone to talk to, aside from back up. I'll be just a phone call away." Jean assures. Her finger still brushes along her lower lip, a deep breath taken as he head shakes, leaning forward to glance towards Ben, her gaze following the point of his thumb. "I'll get it."

Or not! Reed's option sounds a little bit much better. Something that's tooled to his own physique? Yet.. the tone that Reed held, along with Scott's stubbornness and the look he gave her just then.

She reaches over to grasp his shoulder tightly, a subtle nod given at the approval of the offer.
«Maybe he could find something that Hank could not? It's worth a shot. »

"Probably a good idea, gettin' checked out; could be all kinds'a weird side effects after the crap you all went through over there," Ben says, looking squarely at the still-warm Jean. "Reed's a doctor, he's done this kinda thing before." His eyes shift to the Baklava, and soon as he spots and snatches a tempting piece, he chucks it right into his mouth, then raises his beer the mutants.

"Maybe next time, we can team up for somethin' reasonable, like punchin' Paste Pot Pete fer bein' a racist or somethin'." He takes a swig to seal the sentiment, but it ends up being cut short so that he can quickly amend, "I mean, I dunno if he is one, but, y'know. Supposin' he had some untoward things ta say about you guys."

"I'd be happy to," Reed says, his dark eyes flickering over towards Jean for approval before he gets to his feet. "And it's nice to know your real name, Scott. Of course, please feel free to call me Reed." He stands and moves a couple of paces over towards the computer banks and tool sets. There are syringes. There is the technology, here and now. It's really up to Scott.

Jean's approval is all Scott really needs. "Sure," he decides. "Couple of tests won't hurt." The idea of other strange side effects, admittedly, has his skin crawling. "Stranger than breathing fire?" he hears drily, giving Jean a coy grin.

Following Reed with his eyes, Scott sighs and stands up. "Guess that next beer will have to wait a few," he says. In passing, Ben gets a grin. "You should see how accurate these things can be." He taps his temple. Scott rarely misses his target.

Moving over toward the lab things, he goes through the process of rolling up a sleeve.

And here she was thinking that she had gotten off scott free. Get it! Wait.. woah.. don't get it!

The look from Ben was caught with a little glare, it was harmless of course, but she /almost/ volunteered herself for a battery of tests as well. But she figured that breathing fire and still being hot to the touch was just enough… maybe.

"Breathing fire isn't strange. There's rumors of a mutant in Cambodia who could breathe fire, and possibly a slew of others who could spontaneously combust at will." She doesn't hang on to Scott nor follow as he moves to get tested, she only stands to take up Scott's chair to drag towards Ben for a good view. And a bottle of that fancy beer.

"Don't worry, Scott. Me and Ben will drink enough for the lot of us." The top was cracked and soon the liquor swigged. But she was keeping her defenses up just in case. Scott's eyes were an official wildcard.

Ben doesn't look over when he hears a fresh bottle of beer being popped, but he does clink his bottle to Jean's in short order. "I bet it'll be a helluva show," he allows, grinning up at the Blue Team field leader, "but I'm kinda wonderin' how you'd do after a couple more brews."

An uncertain, questioning look is turned in Jean's direction after that comment. He didn't actually see all that much of her power set; for all he knows, it is fire-breathing and moving stuff with her brain, and the thing in the Negative Zone was just her losing control of the former. Without knowing more, he can't really do much but wonder; eventually, he turns away and sips his beer with a small shrug.

"Name's Ben, by the way," he throws out as he settles in to watch the testing.

The work is done in short order. Reed takes Scott's blood and feeds it into a computer analyzer that makes up the far wall. He spends his time quietly punching numbers into the panel before a robotic female, some five minutes later, announces that the "testing is complete."

Reed's eyes almost bug out of his head as he scans the information. It's a trick he does with his eyes to gather more and more information. Sort of speed reading mutate style.

"Ever hear of point and shoot?" Scott glances Ben's way. "Try look and shoot. I don't get that wasted." Because not many people have witnessed Scott Summers throwing back more than two. Jean gets a -look- and a smirk. He won't need to warn her about what happens when telepaths drink to much where he's involved. The whole institute likely has heard the story of what happened when one Betsy Braddock took him out drinking.

Jean gives a calculated sigh. It was one meant for thought, not out of irritation. "I believe the last time was.." She glances up towards the high ceiling. "A few years ago. I get drunk, and everyone else within a couple of dozen miles feels the effects." She takes a swig of her beer. "Or so I'm told." Or maybe she's lying. One could never tell with her; she had a hell of a poker face.

She could feel the Thing's eyes on her in that moment, her gaze turning sideways towards the pebbled man, her brows lowering in a slight scowl that draws a lick of visible fire in her eyes.

«What are you looking at?» Was transmitted to the large man, then a sudden, warm smile.

"I know your name. He's been saying it a while now. I'm Jean. Jean Grey." She looks towards Scott now, one brow raised, the beer soon placed upon the table in lieu of the thought. Yeah, everyone heard about it. She did too. The roof of a club was blown off due to someone getting punched after they called themselves 'Scott Mutherfucking Summers'.

Reaaal smooth, Slim. Real smooth.

Words echo in Ben's consciousness, and the plated man immediately bolts to his feet with bugged out eyes and a shout of, "What the hell was that?!" The chair tips, but doesn't fall; it still makes a loud sound when it comes down, though.

His eyes dart left, then right, then down towards the smiling redhead; he stares at her for a second or two, alarm melting into embarrassment before he sinks back into his chair.

"Nothin', I guess," he sheepishly mutters. Having the unnecessary introduction pointed out definitely doesn't help, now. «Assumin' you got that fever'a yours under control.»

After quick sip of beer, he tries to deflect towards Reed by saying, "You really gotta make with the eyes while we got company, Stretch?"

"Sorry," Reed says absently as he frowns and moves in front of Scott. He reaches about 15 feet over to grab one of his instruments, some sort of scanner. "Did you suffer bad fall? Probably in your youth? Perhaps by age eight?" He purses his lips and shakes his head, "Scott, I'm not good at these sorts of things, so I can only tell you this the best way I can. Whatever was stemming the tide of the manifestation of your X-gene…it's gone. And your condition will continue as it did before you visited the N-Zone. I'm very sorry."


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