|File This Under D for Done, or Divorce|
|What: After running into Bethany as Anya, a worried Spider-Girl goes to make sure she's not about to lose her nerve, catching up with Bethany as Sebastian Shaw is taking her home.|
All right, so seeing Dazzler hadn't gone /quite/ how Anya had expected... but it's okay. She got to say hello and then flee from the sea of Awkward and Crazy that had rapidly overtaken the proceedings -- rich people, she is now certain, are all lunatics. At least she'd lingered just long enough to hear where Cravat Guy and Ms. Cabe were headed.
Spider-Girl does not often come to this part of town, but it's not like it's hard to find the embassies. She's not inside -- no appointment and she doesn't want to get shot or something -- but she's perched in a tree close to Sebastian and Bethany's destination, making no effort to hide herself. While she waits, she's poking at her phone and whistling a tune to pass the time.
Bethany is quiet during the limousine ride, caught between irritated with herself and apprehensive about her choice to return to the Embassy. She loathes being uncertain like this, but if she's going to apologize, now if the time to do so. Thank God she and Alex had a private dining room when she lost her temper.
Of course, their argument was in large part about the man sitting next to her and her theoretical affair. How odd and frustrating that she kept getting paired up with men she'd never date. Even more maddening that she'd never cheat on Alex, not in this lifetime, anyway. So hard not to take it personally when he made those accusations.
"Apologies for my... well... for everything, I suppose," she says as she sees the Embassy ahead. "I appreciate the ride." She didn't have a thing on her. Not her phone, not her earbud... calling for a ride would have been too humiliating.
Shaw, unsurprisingly, left Bethany to her thoughts on the way, and only now speaks up that she's talking to him. He knows when conversation is called for and when it is not. "It's no trouble, Bethany," he assures her, pushing the car door open and standing to let her out. Shaw doesn't seem to be the sort to have his driver waiting on him beyond taking care of the driving itself, and he's not above holding a door for a lady. "I would ask if you require further support, but I get the feeling it would not be terribly helpful."
Aha. Car! Spider-Girl tucks her phone back into its little hidey hole on the back of her glove while Shaw is busy being all gentlemanly, but she stays in the tree for now. She just, you know, shifts to perch on the /underside/ of a sturdy branch instead. Much more noticeable that way.
"Thank you." Bethany takes Shaw's hand and lets him help her out of the car. "The only thing you could do would be to stop being so incredibly powerful and handsome that you drive other men mad with jealousy--but I think the world needs you the way you are." She gives Shaw a genuinely sweet smile. "I'll be fine, you've been quite helpful tonight and I appreciate it."
Shaw makes a noise that is equal parts 'ahha' and amused. "If it helps, I find it as ludicrous as you likely do." He glances about, and then nods towards the spider-tree. "Friend of yours, or another admirer. You really must be less likeable, Bethany, or there will be no end to the rumor-mongering." He's joking. He's well aware that there IS no end to the pathetic rumor mills of the insignificant.
"I wouldn't worry. The papers like talking about the other webhead more than me," Spider-Girl notes impishly, holding onto the branch with one hand while she unfolds and drops lightly onto her feet. "I'm not exciting enough, I guess."
"I think Spider-Man might do well to copy your look," Bethany says, laughing quietly. "It's good to see you again. This is, indeed, a friend of mine, Sebastian." No need to introduce them to each other--they're both public figures. For all Bethany knows, they're already acquainted. "If you'd like to talk, Spider-Girl, there's a garden I can meet you in at the back."
Shaw is semi-aware of her existence, but these days, people in costumes are everywhere. Still, it gets her a polite enough nod, and he can work out the rest. friends with Bethany elevates her somewhat on his radar, anyway. "Well. Lest I encourage an impromptu and untoward scene developing, I believe I may well retire al leave you ladies to it. If you think it will help, Bethany, feel free to tell however you like that I find the notion of a torrid affair quite hilarious at this point in time. I'm sure you are imaginative enough to construct a proper feeling of utterly derisive and perhaps even mocking laughter should it be warranted."
Spider-Girl nods to Bethany, grinning and looking over her shoulder at the embassy. "The garden sounds good. I won't have security goons trying to kick me for going back?" she asks, before she flashes Shaw a grin. "I'll help her draft one up. It'll be fun," she says confidently.
"I don't think so, especially not once I get out there. You can go around by..." Bethany points up to one building to the right and another toward the back. "There's a gap just between the fountain and the largest oak tree where the cameras don't quite meet. I've pointed it out," she adds with some exasperation.
"I'll make sure anyone appropriate knows how ludicrous it is, Sebastian." Bethany squeezes his arm gently as she steps away. "You'd think people who talk about us so much would know us better, wouldn't you?"
"Hardly," Sebastian says with a full-on sneer for the people in question. "If they were the sorts to know us, they'd have better things to do than gossip about absurdities," he notes. "Until next time, Bethany." A polite nod to Spider-Girl. "Miss," he adds, and retires to the back of the car, which doesn't pause long before pulling away.
One day, Spider-Girl will fully appreciate the strangeness of finding Sebastian Shaw the least-crazy rich person she's ever met. One day. She returns his nod with a jaunty salute, then she's slipping off herself to slip in through that little gap Bethany oh-so-helpfully pointed out. How she feels less out of place in a garden like this than she did in Rockefeller Center is anybody's guess. The mask probably helps a lot.
Bethany passes all the usual checks with no difficulty but only because the staff know her so well. She heads through the Embassy and out the back to the garden. No, Alex hasn't returned. No, no one's heard from him or his driver, Conrad. Out back, she goes to the fountain and starts looking for Spider-Girl.
"People never look up, either," Spider-Girl notes from her spot just above one of the security cameras. "Which is ridiculous, in a city like this, am I right?" She totally is. She shrugs and gestures towards Bethany, tilting her head. "Call me nosey, but -- did you lose your ring?" A beat. "I follow Stark on Instagram, sue me."
"I see. You have sharp eyes." Bethany takes a seat by the fountain. "I didn't so much lose it as left a divot in my husband's cheek with it. I think both the engagement and wedding rings ended up in his vichyssoise. That's where I was aiming, anyway." She gives Spider-Girl a thin smile. "That's one of the perks of a private room, you know. Date night can turn into a horrendous fight and no one knows."
Spider-Girl does not know what a vichysooziwuzzis is, but she bets "Ouch." is still an appropriate response. That's enough to get her to walk down the wall in order to come join Bethany near the fountain, and she even sits like a normal person, to boot. Crazy. She leans closer to give her a once-over. "Well... it doesn't /look/ like he landed a counter-swing this time," she murmurs approvingly. "Still. Are you alright?"
"I don't know." Bethany shrugs one shoulder. "To be honest, I stopped wearing the rings most of the time... more than a week ago. I was talking to someone and I realized that it was getting dangerous." She rubs her finger where she usually wears her rings. "And then Tony Stark... He said something tonight that made me feel like I was just giving up. Just going for the convenient way out. Here I am again. I don't want to get a divorce." She blinks away tears. "I want to be married to someone who loves me and is proud of me and I want it to be the person who promised he'd do that."
This, at least, is a less uncomfortable awkward than before. Which is really saying something. She may be a full decade younger, but Spider-Girl still scoots closer so she can sling a supportive arm around Bethany's shoulders. "Oh, honey. I know you do. Do you think he can really live up to that promise?" she asks, and she is genuinely curious. It matters.
"I used to, but not now. I'm afraid he's done something to his mind." Bethany wipes under her eyes and shakes her head. "The cocaine, the alcohol, all the things he's done took a toll. And the meth changes everything, you know. He's paranoid and careless. He's not a young man anymore, he's forty-two. He's been at this more than twenty years. Drinking nearly thirty. I don't think there's any coming back from that. And I think he hates me now. So, no."
Several of these things give Spider-Girl pause. Actually, all of them so, separately. Her mouth actually moves without sound coming out for a moment while she tries to figure out which to respond to first. "...that is a lot of drugs," she says intelligently. "And if he's been doing them for /that long/... I don't think any /sane/ person would accuse you of giving up if you did file for divorce. He's the one who has given up," she notes, giving her shoulders a squeeze. "You're... what, not even thirty yet?" she says, trying very hard to make it sound like a guess. "You are in your prime. You deserve better than a strung-out addict who likes to hit you. Everybody does."
"I lost my parents because I married Alex." Bethany tries not to think of it that way, but it's true on some level. "They were angry at me so they went to Bali instead of us going on our usual vacation. They died there. And all I had left was Alex. I really believed in all of the romance. And I thought seventeen was so grown up. I was so sure. I'd known Alex for years. He was the most wonderful person I'd ever met. Of course I married him when he asked."
"And then he started to change," Spider-Girl hazards, raising her eyebrows behind the mask. She's not going to opinionate. She's just going to listen and let Bethany talk it through -- she gets the feeling that she doesn't get to do that very often, and besides, this stuff /is/ a little outside her area of expertise. Give her a dude to punch, though, and it's /on/.
"I'm not that naive anymore." Bethany gives Spider-Girl a little smile. "He was already like that, I just didn't get the scandal rags where I was going to school. Cocaine, alcohol, fights, car wrecks, prostitutes. When I finally looked, it was a punch in the gut. It was so obvious that he wasn't well. Of course... when you're fifteen or sixteen, it's flattering when a grown man courting you. When you look back on it in your twenties, it keeps you up at night wondering what you were thinking. No. He didn't change. I did."
Okay. Now she /has/ to ask. "So why stay?" Spider-Girl's tone isn't accusatory or confused, it just... is. "Honoring a commitment is all well and good, but marriage takes two, right? Or, it should."
"Because I hate losing," Bethany says tightly. "And because I want it to work so badly. I love being Alex's wife... except for the parts with Alex in them--except for when he's the Alex I know. And it's stupid, I know it is, but I can take it." She turns to Spider-Girl. "Nothing he's ever done to me comes close to what's happened to me at work. I felt like I could deal with it. But risk assessment is my business and my gut tells me that now, if I don't go... and then damn Stark made me feel so petty and small and guilty for leaving."
"Then I shall find Stark and web his shoes together," Spider-Girl says wisely. She shifts so that she can lay her hands on Bethany's shoulders and look her in the eye, which... would probably work better if her own eyes were visible through the mask. Whatever. Work with her, here. "Your home is supposed to be a safe haven," she says firmly. "And family are supposed to love you and protect you and keep you safe. They should not be /slightly less/ dangerous than running off into war zones. This would not be giving up, or losing, or anything of the sort. Okay?"
"I know that's how it should be for most people. The way I live, though, it is not... for people where I come from, it's normal. I don't mean the country, really, I mean the class. Being who I am when I'm not at work is my other calling. It's who I am in that world. And I was raised to be good at it." Bethany gives Anya a sad smile. "I can't imagine quitting CMS, either. But I know when to get out. I'm just sorry I behaved badly tonight. I'm the one in control, I shouldn't have gotten angry."
"So who /are/ you, when you're not at work?" Spider-Girl asks, dropping her hands back into her lap. "What does she do that you wouldn't be able to do if you left?"
"You mean when I'm not at CMS?" Bethany thinks about it. "I could do it alone, but no one would really have much to do with me anymore. I'd lose my friends, the places I've vacationed since I was a teenager. No more charity events, no more parties, no more planning and interviewing caterers. No flying to Africa for the right flowers. No more shopping for wedding gifts and shower gifts, no more making sure the Ambassador's staff aren't skimming off the top. I'm sure it sounds tedious but it's really a lot of fun."
"If they'd stop having anything to do with you because you divorced this guy, they're not your friends," Spider-Girl says bluntly, giving her head a slow shake. "They're hangers-on. Aside from the staff stuff, you could easily do the rest on your own, you know."
"Well, yes. Friends isn't really it. My social circle. That's really all irrelevant, though, isn't it?" Bethany exhales slowly. "Even if I lived in a cardboard box and no one ever spoke to me again, it's better than making the papers because something terrible happened, isn't it? I'm past the point of being able to tell myself that I'm helping Alex by being with him. I don't even think being a better wife would help. Leaving is the only option, I just have to... do what I said I never would."
"You don't have to do it alone." And possibly shouldn't try to. Spider-Girl offers Bethany what she hopes is a reassuring smile. "I can give you a lift back to CMS for tonight so you can come back tomorrow with a friend or two, if you want. Or I can come inside with you right now."
"Do you have a phone?" Bethany gestures to herself. "I haven't got mine, Alex took it and threw it in the champagne chiller. But the Embassy has an arrangement with the Plaza for certain emergencies and I think this counts. I don't want to go back to CMS tonight because they're expecting me to stay here and... uselessly, I have my pride."
Spider-Girl does not point out that pride contributed to the mess poor Bethany is in right now. Instead, she nods and plucks her phone from its hiding space on her glove, and she offers it without a second thought. "No snooping on my contact list," she teases.
Oh, Bethany is fully aware that her pride goeth before MANY long falls. She makes a quick call to one of Alex's assistants--who will arrange to send over a few things--and then to the Plaza to make sure she gets the room she wants. "Thanks so much. If you'd like to head over that way with me, you're welcome to it. The room service is great."
"I'll at least give you a lift," Spider-Girl grins, tucking the phone away again once Bethany is finished. Then she hops to her feet and offers an arm. "You liked slingin' last time. If you're willing to do it in that dress, I see no reason not to offer you another go."
"What the hell." Bethany stands up and slides her arm around Anya's shoulder. A swing through the city will clear her head. "No one ever looks up, right?"