|I Just Wanna Go Home (Let Me Go Home)|
|What: Forced to teleport, Tanya Li ends up in the middle of S.T.A.R. Labs, and only Doctor Bruce Banner can help her get back out again.|
She'd been cornered by some god damned anti-mutant bastards. A few wouldn't have been so bad, but there was some--frat party, maybe, or a post-game celebration. Either way. Tanya had been at a bar in Hell's Gate, trying to relax with a beer or three when it started. She ended up running--and getting cornered in the restroom. This wasn't supposed to happen in Metropolis! That's why she went there in the first place! She concentrated, and just before she was grabbed, she disappeared in a puff of mist.
Meanwhile, it's another busy night at S.T.A.R. Labs. The higher-profile employees have gone home for the night, leaving the lower-echelon people. And security. Oh, /boy/, and security. The ones on the main floor don't know why they've been beefed up, but they patrol in greater numbers. The scientists won't say, and the guards have been working here long enough to know better than to ask.
Suddenly, near the ceiling, a large puff of neon-pink mist appears--and a woman falls out. She falls to the floor with a curse cut short, and rolls over onto her back as she brings a hand up to wipe blood from her mouth. Just bloody gr--oh guns.
The guards are, of course, not stupid, so react instantly. And so does Tanya. She's on her feet and running like hell, though she doesn't know where she's going.
It was a shame the young magician was in a panic, for if she was looking clearly, she would have noticed one of the scientists in front of her. And she wouldn't have crashed into him.
And bam! Down both of them go, and a thud. The woman wouldn't be any worse for wear, for her fall was broken by the scientist. But the man isn't feeling all that well. It wasn't anything he was new to, though. In fact, he was more shocked than anything else.
And so Bruce Banner came around, finally grasping the situation. He was shocked when he saw this young girl appear out of nowhere. A mutant? A meta? An alien? There have been quite a few here. But he push those aside, and focused on the young girl.
"Hey, are you alright?" He asks her as he starts to get up, helping her as well. He didn't know if she liked to be touched, especially by a stranger. But he didn't forget his manners.
Guns guns guns... Tanya is /not/ naïve enough to think she can take on so many guards at once. She's a magician, sure, and a good one if she says so herself--but she can't just start blasting wildly. Most of her magic takes time to "charge", and while the times vary--none of them charge quicker than a bullet (or whatever their weapons would throw at her) could hit her.
She's got her head turned to look over her shoulder--when she's suddenly going heinie-over-tea kettle and taking some poor soul with her. Her night is just getting better.
"Sh--!" she exclaims, the curse cut short by the floor. Again. This time only her sunglasses fell off, and as the man helps her up, she grabs them. "Yeah, I guess," she says in response to his question. She keeps ahold of his hand, however, and starts to run once more. "I don't suppose there's a way out of here!" she asks, giving him an attempt at a smile--but that's kind of hard to do when very, very large men in security outfits are running after her.
Bruce decides to run with her, if only to still be in talking distance. "Well, I can help you with that!" The girl is in a panic, so she probably won't be listening to anything other than the way out. So, Bruce decides to play along.
"Head into that corridor, and make a left first!" This may not be a good idea, but she doesn't seem like a bad kid. And yet she seems very scared. Wherever she came from, she must have left in a hurry.
"Corridor, first left..." repeats Tanya, heading right in that direction. She's trusting the good scientist, here, though he does seem like a good sort. Not many people would be run into by someone like her and be fine with it. Especially since she--accidentally!--invaded wherever she is.
When she gets to the corridor, she skids on the floor, barely managing to keep her balance. As she tries to ignore the thundering boots behind her that are only getting closer (she's not a slow runner, but she /is/ wearing motorcycle boots...), she exclaims, "First left, coming up! Where to, then, doc?" At least she didn't ask him what was up.
"A right, and then a left, and then the first door!" This was kind of fun, actually. Bruce could hear the security guards rushing behind them, but they were making good time. He remembered back when, having to use an inhaler for moving half as much as he is now. My, how things change...
At the end of the instructions Bruce gave leads them to a room that seems empty, save for the other door, with a console next to it. Someone with clearance will need to use it. Bruce has clearance, amazingly enough. But the punky magician may or may not even consider that. To her, it might just be a dead end.
Right, left, first door. Tanya's got it, and she wastes no time following his instructions. She skids around the corners, the last one helped by grabbing onto the wall corner as she does so. She's--been chased before. Often. This much is rather obvious.
And then they get to the room. She releases the scientist's hand and goes to the other door to lightly pound a fist on it, then turns around to lean back against it and eye the man warily. Blank, pink eyes narrow a little as she considers him. Had she made the wrong decision? He seemed so nice. "So--so now what...?" she asks him, panting from the exertion. Ugh, she hopes she didn't make a mistake. All that running means even a basic spell will take longer to whip out.
"Now, it's my turn." Bruce goes to the console near the door that they just got into, and pressed a few keys. The door shuts, and Bruce enters a few more to make sure it doesn't open from the outside. Only been here a few days, and yet he's got the hang of the security. Sometimes it pays to be one of the smartest people on the planet.
"This is the elevator room. I didn't know if you could fly, but I do know you want out. This is the best way." Bruce moves over to the console near the other door, and uses his key card while entering a password. "Unfortunately, this place is very secured, considering it is S.T.A.R. Labs." Bruce then looks up to her. "Oh, yes, by the way, I'm Doc- Bruce. Bruce Banner." He hands out his arm, and shows a kind smile.
She won't fully relax, not until there's that soft *ka-chunk* and the elevator starts to rise. When he introduces himself and holds out his hand, Tanya arches one pink brow and extends her own, shaking the man's hand properly. "Li. Tanya Li," she tells him, visibly starting to relax a little more.
Then the metaphorical light bulb clicks on over her head. She was in a bar in Hell's Kitchen, watching the news because the bartender refused to change the channel. Doctor Bruce Banner--physician, scientist. The Hulk.
"Holy shit!" she exclaims, brows shooting up as she wags a finger at the man. "You're the--the guy. The guy that becomes the Hulk!" she says excitedly, though not /as/ fearfully. He /is/ helping her get out of here, after all. "And let me guess, they were keeping you locked up in here, weren't they?"
"Well, if they are, then they have yet to tell me, since I work here." 'Even though this would be the place to keep me,' Bruce thought. S.T.A.R. Labs, Metropolis division, is well known for keeping the most notorious and powerful criminals around, and constantly work on the study of keeping them contained. It would be the best place to help Bruce with his cure, considering all the research they have.
"And yes, I'm not exactly safe, but I have been able to keep the big guy in his place. So I hope I don't scare you too much." And with that comes the ding, and the door opens, leading to the room in the elevator. "Now, I would suggest we move, before they bypass the firewalls I put up." He motions Tanya into the elevator, with him following.
"I'd agree," says Tanya, glancing behind him to check on the security guards before stepping into the elevator. They appear around the corner just as the elevator doors close, and when they close fully there'll be a few loud THUNKS from the men hitting the door with their fists.
"Still can't believe you actually work here," she says as she goes to lean against the far wall. When the elevator starts descending, she arches that brow again in thoughtful curiosity. "How big is this S.T.A.R. Labs place, anyway?" It might not be surprising that she isn't really familiar with the name. She's probably heard it here and there, but not enough to really get a sense of who they are and what they do.
"I believe... close to 50 floors up, and several floors below level. We were on the 41st." Bruce thinks a bit. "I don't have full access, not officially, anyway." He nods to her in acknowledgement. "And to be honest, I'm still trying to get my head around it myself. Started working here a few days ago. So I'm still trying to get used to the area."
He watches as the elevator goes down, with the numbers reducing on the screen. "Well, young lady, you seem to know a bit more about me than I do about yourself. So who are you?"
Crossing her arms loosely, Tanya crosses her legs at the ankle as she listens to him. When he says how high up they are, both brows shoot up in surprise. That's--really, really high up there. She clucks her tongue once and shakes her head, then she looks back to him. "Who am I? Well--it's probably easier to show, rather than tell."
Unfolding her arms, she brings her hands together, as if cupping something. A beat, and her eyes, hands, and the flame tattoo on her right lower leg all start to glow pink. A small ball of fire appears in her hands--then she closes them, extinguishing the fire with a soft hiss. "Something of a reality-mucker-arounder, you could say," she says, then, giving the man a grin. I'm one of those who can sort of tell physics what to go do with itself."
"Huh. I got some colleagues who'd scoff at that. None that work here, however." Bruce smiles a bit. Magic was still something as a mystery to him. He seen too much to be skeptical of it, however. "So... would that make you a magician, or a witch? I'm afraid I don't know much of the lingo among magic users, not being one myself."
"I call myself a mage, but it actually depends on who you ask," replies Tanya, settling back against the wall once more and crossing her arms loosely. "Some say a witch is a female mage, some say it's sex-neutral; then others would say I'd be a sorceress, but then others say other things..." A shake of her head as the corner of her mouth quirks in a smile. "Even the spirits themselves don't fully agree, really, so it's almost up to whatever you'd want to call yourself--as long as you'd be prepared for the long conversations."
Now that she's got a chance to calm down, her attention is vied for. "No," she says suddenly, as if answering a question or comment. "It really doesn't matter what name someone goes by." Interestingly, that's directed to her left arm, but then she looks back to Doctor Banner as if nothing were wrong.
"I see. Mage it is then." Bruce nods knowingly, seeing Tanya look at her arm. He says nothing about it, as he knows what it is to have secrets. Not that much of it matters now. What matters is taking care of his own issues, and getting this young girl to safety.
And pretty soon, the elevator comes to a complete stop. "Ah, we've arrived." Bruce then looks to her. "I'm afraid this next part is going to be a bit tricky. So, no matter what, just follow my lead." His voice was light, yet serious.
It only occurs to Tanya just then how much of a bad idea showing off like that with the little ball of fire might have been. Ugh. She's ready for this night to be over. Hopefully S.T.A.R. Labs doesn't have any mystics on the payroll...
When the elevator slows to a stop, she nods to the man, then unfolds her hands so she can give a firm tug on each glove. "No, that's probably a good idea," she says--but it's obviously not to Doctor Banner. "Of course I'll tell him. Jeeze." And true to her word, she looks to Doctor Banner as the doors open. "If it starts to hit the fan, I have one trick up my sleeve that will buy us a lot of room and not kill anyone in the process. If you see that glow again? Get as close to me as possible." And with that, she'll go to follow him, looking around carefully as she goes.
Bruce nods to Tanya. "I see. Good, but I need you to hold off of using that, if you can. I can't force you not to, so I won't try. But just trust me." He winked, and said no more as the doors opened.
The two walked out, into a large lobby. This is where the door to the entrance/exit was, and where Tanya could get to. And where dozens of security guards were at, with guns and billy clubs and all kinds of weaponry were at, pointing at the two.
"Oh, there are less people here than I thought," Bruce says a bit sarcastically.
When they leave the elevator and she sees how many guards there are, Tanya whistles lowly. She really hopes Doctor Banner knows what he's doing. She falls into step behind and beside him, stopping when he does. A glance around the lobby, and she--slowly--reaches up to slip off her sunglasses. The stems closed, and she slips them into an inner pocket of her jacket. So far, no glow, but as her hands settle at her sides once again, they flex like a gunfighter about to draw. On the other hand, she doesn't have any guns, and nothing she can do is an immediately-occurring sort of spell.
"Maybe, but I think we can trust him," she whispers without moving her lips very much, a slight turn of the head toward her right shoulder. "Think we can still--yeah, that's what I thought." Her nervousness starts to grow, but for the moment, she keeps a handle on it. For the moment.
"Just remember, I'm here," Bruce says. He remained calm, or at least that's how he looks.
One of the security guards in the group steps forward, obviously one of authority. He's a bit shorter than the others, but his face is gruff, and scarred. But he moves with authority, and isn't afraid of facing the Hulk. "BANNER! What the hell is going on here?!" (Only he doesn't say hell...) He moves right up to the scientist, not enough to get in his face. That would just make the height difference all the more apparent. "First we have THIS unofficial entry!" He, of course, is referring to the mage. "And we have YOU helping her leave?! Just because SHIELD asked us to put you on staff here doesn't give you the full reign of MY building!" Security guards can get very personal.
"I apologize for any disruption, Captain Kilner," Bruce says in addressing the lead guard. He knew how best to talk to him; won't make this any easier. "My... new friend here just got lost. She isn't a threat, and if she was, she'd be doing it all wrong." Bruce turns to her and nods.
As the guard approaches, Tanya doesn't take her eyes off him. She won't let him intimidate her like that, though she does know that he is--as yet--not trying to go after her, specifically.
"Nah, they won't let us go," she whispers to herself. As if that were in doubt, she continues right on as if she were asked for clarification. "I broke in, even if unintentionally. Nah they--well, /that/, maybe, but I doubt it..." She arches her brow in thought as she studies the man. Her only trick that will help them without seriously hurting people won't be as effective unless all the guards are crowding around. She wonders just what sort of sense of tactics this Captain has.
"Careful where you point those things, little lady," Captain Kilner warned sternly. He had been carefully watching her while addressing Bruce. "I may only be 100 human, but I'm also no fool. Your powers, spells, whatever... won't help you here." Whether that was true or not, his tone was very matter of fact.
"Captain, if you just let me explain-"
"And you!" Kilner turned his attention back to the good doctor. "Do you have any idea what we have been put through?! The Justice League will be here any minute. Don't think your presence here has gone unnoted, Dr. Banner. Things like... THIS," Kilner points to Tanya "Right now, it's just enough to put everyone on edge. I don't care how strong you are. I will protect this place, and things like this CANNOT be tolerated. Do you understand me?"
Bruce nods, very careful not to aggravate the security captain. He was, after all, doing his job. "I would think of you less if you didn't Captain. I just didn't want to alarm the girl. I do understand we have a lot of... sensitive areas here, and I felt it would be best just to move her out as quickly and painlessly as possible."
"Well, that is all well and good," the captain agrees with a nod. "But we can't just put a blind eye on this and let things just go on the way side. We have NO idea who she is, or why she's here, and I suspect neither do you." He then turns and faces the girl. "But it is well known that we do have some... folks that would enjoy opening this place up like a sardine can. So tell me, young lady, who are you, and why are you here? And no lies now." He looks at her, closely, like a parent who caught his daughter stealing from the cookie jar.
The more this jack-off wags his mouth, the more Tanya is tempted to Hadouken him. That would be one of the worst things to do, and she knows it--but that fact doesn't make it any less tempting.
And then she's suddenly the direct focus of the man's attention. His question makes her stare at him a moment, nearly unblinking. She'll hold his gaze for that moment, then finally say, with a good bit of calmness--mostly from the surprise of not just being shot right up, "Alright, you want to know what I'm doing here? I was minding my own business in O'Sullivan's over in Hell's Gate. Why was I in Hell's Gate when I don't even live in Metropolis? Because I wanted /one night/ to myself. One night in the city that's /supposed/ to be such a great place to live that everyone all but sings Kumbaya every sunset. The kind of place where a mutant can relax after a hard day's work with a beer and maybe shoot the shit about cars and sports. What do I get for my trouble? I get a pack of mental midgets who think it's fun to come after me and corner me in the /bathroom/ of all places. I can do a few things decently, but the one thing I can't do well I had to do just to get out. And because I can't control what happens or where I'll end up when I do it, I ended up here. Because I wanted one night to relax." A beat's pause, then, "That's who I am and why I'm here."
She crosses her arms over her chest and narrows her eyes at the man, defiance mixing with annoyance. And yet--it's not like it's not his job to keep the place safe, which is another reason she's able to be calm with him. Mostly. It's not like he went out of his way to attack her randomly or anything, which she does well realize.
"You got quite a mouth on you girl." The captain was not very amused, but was no stranger to telling truth from fiction. "And you got guts. Not every mutant reveals their identity. So, lucky for you, I believe your story." He moved back a bit, giving them some breathing room. "However, at the same time, we are going to have you finger-printed and checked out in the system, just to be sure. You can complain all you want, but I won't allow you to leave til you go through with that."
Without even waiting for her to respond, he turned his attention to the doctor. "And you! You... better not give my boys the run-around again. Do you realize we have to reset the entire security system now, because of your little antics before?!" Bruce does nothing, as he doesn't want to agitate the good captain. "Just do your job here, and we will all get along just fine!"
Bruce nods again. "Yes, Captain. Now... do you mind if I stay with her? We don't want her to get any more nervous than she probably is now."
"I don't see why not..." The captain turned to some of his guards. "Sanchez! Lovitz! See these two to you-know-where and get her stats. The rest of you, back to your posts! And turn off the alarm! I'll talk with the Justice League about this..."
And of course Tanya opens her mouth--but closes it again when the Captain moves away. She's actually fine with being documented et al.--until she realizes that that is not a good thing. Granted, she was found innocent, ultimately, but--yeah. She's in the system, alright, and it's probably best for all concerned if no one--at least, not this Captain--knows it.
"No, I don't know," she murmurs as the man barks orders to his men around conversing with Doctor Banner. "I really don't want to. Maybe, but that's awfully--yeah, that. About all we can do, really. Okay."
Then Kilner's men are approaching her. She has to make a decision, and make it quick--be detained for questioning because they don't believe she's killed in self-defense, or try and get out. That's really all she wants--out.
"I've got something almost as good," she says, hoping she can convince him to let her go. All she wants is to leave, really. With the classic don't-shoot-me-please method of using only her index and middle fingers, she reaches into her left coat pocket and pulls out--a business card. "Mack and Co. Automotive Repair", it says, listing an address in Manhattan's Harlem. Phone number, e-mail, all that. Then it says, "Tanya Li", and below that, "Restoration Specialist". That gets waved in the air a little. "This is where I work. Call them--they're open twenty-four hours a day. It's not like I'm easy to disguise or anything..."
Please go for it, please go for it, please go for it...
"Captain?" The two guards look at her, and back at the captain. They wait for his approval.
"It's not proper procedure, and I've been getting flack from the higher-ups. Although it's not as bad as working for Luthor..."
"Captain, if I may have a word?" Bruce comes in, gives Tanya a nod, and talks to the Captain discretely, and quietly. "Captain, I understand your position. But remember, she just outed herself as a mutant. I know you don't see such things as bad..."
"Dr. Banner, I understand what you are talking about. But this is a major breech of security. I can't just let this go."
"And I'm not asking you to. But I do need you to understand; if word of this got out, she's going into a firestorm. And I don't mean breaking in... I mean..." Bruce takes a look at the girl, and so does Kilner. Then they look back at each other. "Take this. And whatever happens, you can blame it on me."
There were a few tense moments, and then the captain walked over to Tanya. He swipes the card, and takes a good look at her. "I'm going to call this number, young lady. Now scat." The man starts walking away, taking a stern look at Bruce. He then stops and turns back at the young mutant. "Next time, make an appointment."
Bruce shrugs, and turns to the girl, giving her a smile, then walked over to her. "Lucky for you, the Captain's a family man."
Unfortunately for her, Tanya can't think of a way to let her magic up how to listen in on the conversation. She watches, tense, attention flicking between the two men. Never learned how to read lips, either, damn it. As it is, she's getting antsier.
"What if he doesn't go for it? Are you sure that would do it? No, I don't think that'd be enough--well, maybe that. If we did /that/, then we'd have some kind of a chance..." She carries on this murmured conversation with--nothing and no one as Doctor Banner and Captain Kilner talk quietly to each other. The men near her are probably giving her weird looks, but right then? She doesn't care.
And then the Captain is coming over--call down electricity from the lights in the ceiling? The shower of glass and light bulb-bits would make for a distraction, and she could use a few arcs of electricity to keep them hopping. Or there's the ol' magic bubble trick, but there really aren't enough men nearby; too many wouldn't get hit, but if she--
She focuses on the Captain as he takes the card, trying to read him. Damn. Man is probably ex-military, nearly unreadable. A bead of sweat actually appears at her brow--and then he's telling her to leave.
"Wait," she says as he walks off. If he stops, she'll glance at Doctor Banner then walk up to him and hold out her hand for a rather firm grip. "Thank you. I mean that. Bring in your car and ask for me--you'll get a hell of a discount." That last said with a small, tentative smile.
The Captain just grunts. And walks away.
"Don't mind him, I think he likes you." Bruce gives her a mischievous grin, as he leads her to the door. "But I got to say, Tanya, it's been nice meeting you. Made today pretty exciting. It get's a bit stuffy here. But please, be a bit more careful next time. Don't you know, that's why women never go to the bathroom without another woman?"
And he leaves. Well. Tanya purses her lips and closes her hand, letting it lower again. When Doctor banner comes over, she falls into step with him, not exactly wanting to stick around much longer. "Yeah, no kidding, right?" she tells him with a small but quirked smile. "But hey, thanks. You--helped me a lot and put your butt on the line for me. I appreciate that, and I won't forget it." So she goes to offer /him/ her hand for a firm handshake. "I'd better leave before he decides to change his mind." At least she's on good terms with James Mack, her boss.
"Alright, Tanya, you just take care of yourself." Bruce takes her hand and shakes it. "And be careful, next time. You got a lot ahead of you, be a shame for it to end." He gives her one more smile, and sees her off.