|Foundation-Laying: Luke Cage|
|What: Emma, seeking staff for her new school, visits Luke Cage.|
It's Monday night and Luke has finally been released from his momma's house. He loves his momma more than he'd ever admit to anyone under penalty of death, but even so, the Monday nights of Jeopardy and tea can be stressful. Has he met anyone? How's his business going? How's his friend Rand? Alice from next door saw him on the news and is he eating enough? Where did those giant bugs come from?
She's chatty, but he loves her. And now he's free and sitting on the hood of his car, lighting a cigarette and just... taking a moment. Nice night too. Only a little cold on the October evening, so he's not bothering with a jacket, either.
How did Emma Frost find Momma Cage's house? The world may never know. She finds lots of things, this being one of them. Harlem is not the sort of place tall blonde ladies visit wearing good Armani. It's not the sort of place one usually finds sleek silver Maserati coupes prowling the streets, either. Yet this is exactly the vehicle that purrs to a stop in front of the house. Shirley Bassey's rendition of 'My Way' blasts out of the car when Emma slides to her feet from the vehicle's driver side, cutting off again when the door closes and the car finishes shutting off.
"Don't bother," Emma informs the first local to approach before he even gets his mouth open, and she sweeps around the front of the car towards Luke, a pair of white Chuck Taylor All-Star's crunching lightly on the asphalt. She is not one for beating around the bush, either. "Mr. Cage," she says, offering a hand. "Emma Frost. Are you busy?" She glances breifly at the car he's been leaning on, and raises an eyebrow a quarter of an inch or so.
Luke stands up straight, relieving his big sedan of his weight, and smiling liking a lecher as his eyes run over the Maserati's curves. Sorry Emma, car wins. He takes a long moment to admire the car, and then finally drags his gaze back to meet Emma's. He moves his cigarette to his left hand, blows the smoke off to the side, and smiles. "Nice ta meetcha, Ms. Frost. You did good work the other night."
Emma's smile is teasing and her eyes are a little challenging. She doesn't seem to mind that he's spending more time oogling the car than her. It's a nice change of pace. "Why thank you. You boys were... quite entertaining as well," she notes mildly. "But I'm actually more interested in the other sorts of work you've been doing, as it happens. You have quite a way with the youth, I understand."
Luke shrugs, taking a drag on his cig and glancing up and down the street, noting how /nobody/ feels like being the nosy neighbor tonight. Emma can tell pretty easily that he finds that a little queer. An odd coincidence. Oh well. "Yeah, I do ok I guess. They just... they need someone other than the jerks running around out here, you know?" He's trying to play it down, but really, not many people have contributed to Harlem's youth on the scale he has. He's also worked just as hard at keeping that under wraps.
Emma, for her part, keeps it to the point-- though she does indulge his curiousity when she notices him glancing around. "Before the neighborhood disinterest concerns you, Mr. Cage, I am a telepath, and I like my private conversations kept that way. I am, of course, not digging around in your head." With that said, she moves on. "I'm here because I'm seeking quality staff for a new endeavour. A school for the gifted, for the exceptional. I have a feeling, based on what I've heard, that you might take an interest in such a thing."
Luke only takes a moment to absorb the telepath bit. He remembers her performance with the giant bugs and it all comes together. Finally he shrugs, because he's come to terms a long time ago with the fact that telepaths pretty much all have the upper hand on him. If she says she isn't rootin' around inside, well, he'll just have to take her word for it. Or put on an aluminium foil hat. And that's just not happening. He rubs at his jaw and says, "That's flattering, Ms. Frost, but so far it seems to me the 'gifted' and the 'exceptional' got all the help they can stand. Got it coming out their ears, actually. I need to stay focused on the people who don't have anyone in their corner, you know?" He gestures up and down his momma's street.
Frost gives him an amused look, and glances pointedly down the street. "I don't believe gifts are only handed out in Manhattan, Luke," she notes pointedly. "What do you suppose the chances are there's a mutant, or a genius, or a meta or a piano prodigy on this block? Better than people expect, I should think." She shrugs a shoulder. "I don't believe in privilege. My family disowned me-- I didn't get where I am that way. And we live in a world where the gifted of any stripe are becoming feared and pursued. They deserve to have their chance to grow, wherever they came from."
Luke looks like he has a quick response all loaded up and ready to fire and then swallows it back down. It finally clicked. She's not talking about /that/ kind of gifted. He takes a deep breath, and he's already interested. He's just trying not to show it. "You're talking about a school for mutants? Well, I guess that's different, but uh... I guess I should tell you, I'm not really a mutant. Just got 'lucky' with a mad scientist." He clears his throat, and laughs at his own joke before taking another drag. "And that's 'lucky' as in, didn't die a horrible death in a vat of goo."
Emma chuckles. "Oh, nothing so exclusive, dear," she replies with a grin. "Mutants are certainly included, to be sure. But sequestering has never worked as a tactic. Nothing makes a mutant more or less gifted than a genius-- perhaps super-intelligence, as people call it, is it's own kind of special power. Who is to say a musical prodigy isn't a superhero of sorts? Or--" she smirks in a sort of teasing way, looking at him-- "that a science experiment doesn't need help learning not to crush puppies? We're discussing a much broader ambition than a school for simple mutations, here." Inddeed, it seems she has a grand scope in mind, beyond even simple definitions of 'powered' individuals.
"Well, this just sounds better and better. I like the inclusive bit. And from what you said, I doubt you're saving all the seats for the wealthy. But I do wish someone had been there for me to help sort through my changes." He flicks his cigarette to the ground and crushes it under his boot heel. "What would you want me to do? I barely finished my GED, so I'm not totally sure I'd know how to help."
"We are ensuring that there are generous scholarships for those who need it," Emma confirms. "Those who do not... well, tuition is not going to be a problem for them, one supposes." She gives him an odd smile. "Unusual gifts require unusual methods, Mr. Cage. It is not enough to teach standard subjects, though those are of course important. I believe in practical lessons traditional schools do not teach. Many of these students may feel the call of a life in costume. It's important that they understand what it is like on the streets. How to deal with people. We need teacher that know how to use gifts well. Success, of course, is important. But there are many kinds. I think you have a valuable perspective to share. We can work out the details over time."
"Well shit." Cage says, contemplating Emma's words sagely. He's sort of out of arguments. "I'm sort of out of arguments, here. I assume it's a paid gig, what you're talking about? Would it be a conflict to keep my business going as well?"
Emma grins. "Hardly. You wouldn't expect me to abandon mine, would you?" she chuckles. "We work out an amenable schedule and provide reliable transportation. Truth to tell, I rather think that your other endeavours may be an asset. Internships and work-study, if you will," she muses. "Feild trips, if you prefer. I think we can rely on you to keep small groups of teens safe-- I can think of few people with a better track record for exactly that. We don't want these kids hidden away. We want them where people can see them trying, improving, helping. As much or more than any so-called normal person does."
"Yeah, well, that sounds like something I could get behind." Luke shifts and rests back on the hood of his generic car again. "Those are all the reasons I can't support wearing masks. I'm not pro-registration either, but masks just breed distrust. Doesn't make sense." He rubs at the back of his neck, and says, "Count me in, Ms. Frost. This just might work out."
Emma grins, and after a moments thought, raises a fist to offer it. It's ridiculous, but somehow... somehow Emma is just so self-possessed and confident the idea is not as patently ludicrous as it should be. I guess once you've been stuck parading around in your underwear for a while you can bring anything dignity. "Then I think we have the beginnings of something extraordinary, here."
"Right on, girl," Luke says, connecting the dap as gently as he can. He has no idea how tough she might be, so, better safe than sorry. But still. A momentous occasion. "I'm glad you came by."
Frost smiles, nods. "Likewise. I will drop by to let you know when we've broken ground. I'm till selecting a site," she says, heading back for her car. *Now* the neighbors are getting curious. Emma must have let her little go-away bubble fold. "Say hello to your mother for me. She's quite something," she quips in parting as she sinks into the car. It purrs back to life with the low growl of an impeccably-tuned V8, and pulls away from the curb into the night.