|I Can Adapt|
|What: Bethany calls on the one person she knows who might have a real clue about weird people and weird powers.|
To: Professor Charles Xavier || From: Bethany Cabe
You may not remember me, we met at a charity event at the Met last year. I'm co-owner of Cabe-McPherson Security and when you found I was open to hiring agents with unusual talents you generously offered to consult if there were any pressing problems with those talents. It was very kind of you. I have hired some people with minor mutant powers and all has gone well. However, this email is regarding myself.
Recently, upon returning to New York, I had two unsettling experiences in succession. I would like to speak to you about them as I'm unable to resolve the questions I have to my satisfaction and I am concerned about changes I may need to make to accommodate this new interference. If I could speak to you at your earliest opportunity, I'd be most grateful.
Best Regards, Bethany Cabe
The address Bethany gives Charles is for her main office, in the northwest corner of Hell's Kitchen. It's a grim neighborhood, close to the docks. Not necessarily dangerous, just commercial, big auto businesses. The building at the address is no different. As they approach, the steel door in the front of the building rolls up so that the limousine can pull right in.
Inside, the headquarters is equally utilitarian. A handful of CMS agents, dressed much like the average law-enforcement officer with whom Charles is familiar, are waiting in the large, open room where the limousine stops. There's the young red-headed woman he remembers, too, waiting. Charles has been to far worse places in his life than Hell's Kitchen. It's likely why he looks so comfortable as he exits the limo, easing his chair down the short ramp that extended whisper-quiet from inside, and why the smile he offers towards Bethany comes so warmly and easily to his features.
"Miss Cabe. It's lovely to see you again," Charles says, coming to a halt close enough to extend a hand for a shake. "Though I do wish that the circumstances were different. You're all right?"
"I am, thank you. Now, I am. And it's Bethany." Bethany shakes his hand. "It's very good to see you again. Would you like to come upstairs? We can talk in private there." She gestures toward an elevator that an agent is holding open for them.
"Of course." Charles got the distinct impression from the e-mail that this was not something to be discussed with an audience. He pauses on the way into the elevator only long enough to offer a smile and a polite 'thank you' to the agent holding the door; otherwise, he's not inclined to make Bethany wait too long for her private talk.
On the third floor, Bethany leads him to a small studio apartment. It's spartan but definitely hers, not just a guest room. "We can talk in here." She closes the door behind her. "First, do you know of a mutant who goes by the name of Thor? Costume and hammer and everything. He flies, has exceptional strength."
Charles' brow furrows slightly in thought. "I can't say that I do. Not that I'm aware of, at least," he clarifies, though after a moment's pause, he can't help a wry smile. "Though I get the feeling that I would know if I had ever met them, if he's left enough of an impression to have you call me."
"I believe he thinks he is who he says he is. He's civil enough. He has a brother he calls Loki, I met them together. The brother did some magic trick. Turned some kids into butterflies, but then he turned them back." Bethany heads for the side board. "That kind of interference with average humans isn't something I take lightly--I don't think it was a hallucination, the others who saw it thought it was a magic trick. Can I offer you something to drink?"
"Tea, if you have it," Charles replies, his tone somewhat distracted. She has him thinking, now, his lips pursed as he rolls her retelling around in his mind. He doesn't doubt that she saw what she claims to have seen -- there's no reason for him to doubt her word.
"Mutation is a possibility," Charles allows, lightly stroking his chin as he thinks. "It is not out of the question for the X-Gene to manifest in such a way that one is granted abilities that might resemble magic, and there is no reason why it wouldn't manifest in a pair of brothers. If they are brothers. They could just be rather enthusiastic fans of Norse mythology."
Here, he hesitates, but only briefly. "Or," Charles adds, watching Bethany carefully, "They might be precisely who they claim to be."
"I asked if he was the same Thor who came to the Vikings and he said yes. I don't know if he's a -God- but he's someone. He's got the hammer and everything." Bethany pops a pod of Earl Grey into the beverage brewer and produces a mug of hot tea. "I'm willing to go with him being something special. And the brother, well. He..." Bethany brings the tea over. "...he said he was going to come back to see me again. And that? That's not the unnerving part. Do you need milk or sugar?"
Charles shakes his head in response to the question, reaching up to accept the mug. "Thank you -- I can understand why you're concerned. Either he *is* who he says he is, in which case, you have a trickster who has taken notice of you. Or you have someone who wishes he was." He can't help but frown. "I'm not entirely certain which would be more troubling. But that isn't the unnerving part?" It isn't easy to surprise a telepath, but Bethany appears to have managed. "What is?"
"The day before that. Two days ago... it's taken me a while to piece this together." Bethany goes back and makes herself a coffee. "As far as I can tell, one of the house staff brought in some chocolate from somewhere, left it in the kitchen. I was getting ready to go to a luncheon with Alexander--you remember my husband. Anyway, being me, I couldn't pass that up. That's all I remember before I was somewhere else entirely. Some bizarre alien arena, strapped into a seat between a young masked man with injuries and a ridiculous looking fat man in a tuxedo. I wasn't sleeping or, that I can tell, drugged."
That actually gives Charles pause. Considering one of his X-Men is recently returned from the dead and is playing host to an alien intelligence known as the Phoenix Force, it is an impressive feat. He takes a sip of his tea to help order his thoughts.
"If you actually were taken from this place to some... bizarre alien arena, as you say... perhaps your disappearance was captured on film," Charles suggests, glancing around. "If this is the last place you remember being, perhaps your security cameras caught a glimpse of what happened. It would at least help you figure out if it was a hallucination or not."
"I'm waiting on permission to view the tapes. We don't own the apartment, the German government does. This isn't where I was, I was in the home I share with Alexander." Bethany brings her coffee over and sinks down in a chair. "There was some kind of competition going on in the arena. Some of the people were human, others weren't. There was an announcer. I was working on escaping with the other spectators, none of us wanted to be there, but I remember some of the names. Deadpool--he stood out, he was loud and red. Some Martian something. Green guy. Wild... Beast, maybe. A guy with three arms. One of the people running it was a woman with six arms. And there was some immense man on a silver bed. Mojo, maybe."
Not 'at home.' The home she shares with Alexander. Charles isn't entirely certain why the phrasing is sticking out to him, but he silently files it away to be concerned with another time. There is a rather more quantifiable concern right in front of the both of them. "Now, Deadpool, I'm familiar with. Regrettably." He pinches the bridge of his nose. "...I wish that I recognized any of the others. Then, simply contacting them to ask if they remembered this happening would be an option."
"The others I was with. The fat man squawked a lot. He was like a penguin, it would have been hilarious if I wasn't so unnerved. The boy in the mask looked like he should have been in hospital. There were two other young women there. The boy knew one of them. She had a gag on her and we managed to get it off her. She said a few weird words and then I was back where I started, with my shoes in pieces--I keep tools in them--and my whole afternoon long gone." Pain flickers across her face. "I can't afford to have that happen to me. Both of these problems could affect my work if they happen again."
"A penguin?" Something like recognition flashes in Charles' eyes, though it's difficult to tell just how happy he is about it. Still... he regards Bethany for a long moment, quiet and thoughtful, before he smiles slightly to himself. She's capable of handling herself. "There is a club in Gotham City known as the Iceberg Lounge," he says, reaching over to lightly touch her shoulder. "See if you can find a photograph of its owner online. If you recognize him from whatever this was, then you will at least have somewhere to start."
"Iceberg?" Beth grabs for a tablet on the table. "I can look it up. But you believe me? I thought that I'd been hypnotized or something awful. I have to admit that... I know this is going to sound terrible but I can take tanks, IEDs, kidnappings, sociopaths and psychopaths, even dealing with torturers. But people with these powers who don't see others as anything but amusement. That frightens me in a way I can't explain. I've never encountered it before. I feel like I can't protect myself, much less anyone else, if I don't get a handle on this."
"That's nothing to be ashamed of, Bethany," Charles notes, offering her a small smile. "I'd honestly be more concerned if the things you've been describing *didn't* rattle you, at least a little. They certainly rattle me. It's difficult to react to the unknown with wonder or curiosity when your first real encounters with it are genuinely frightening."
"I don't want to be scared of people just because they have some powers I don't have, anymore than I want someone on the street to be scared of me because I have the skill to break their neck or because I carry a gun. It's not right." Bethany sits back down with the tablet and taps the screen. "But this stuff does freak me out." She stops and looks at Charles. "I don't freak out, Professor. Can I... can I call you if this happens again, any of it?"
"Noone is completely together all of the time, and we all need to ask for help once in a while," Charles says gently, smiling across at Bethany. "Noone should think any less of you for it, least of all yourself. I certainly don't." At her question, he nods and sets his tea aside, freeing up his hands to gesture for the tablet. "I'll give you my personal line. You can call it anytime you need to, and I'll do whatever I can to help."
"Thank you. That's very reassuring." Bethany passes the tablet over. "I know you must be incredibly busy. If there's anything I can do for you in return, whether there's someone you know who needs a chance at employment or if you need access to any of our services, please let me know. I'd be happy to make things easier for you somehow. I really appreciate you coming today. I feel a lot better. I can adapt."