|A Meeting of Minds|
|What: Remy invites himself over to Emma's place. They talk about the future, the past, and the time that lies between.|
Emma's Manhattan penthouse is NOT hard to find. For someone as enigmatic as she is, she is awfully public. Just one of the many strange apparent paradoxes surrounding the so-called White Queen. It's in every way the kind of location one would expect from someone in her position-- the building is across the street from Central Park's northeast section, and a dedicated elevator feeds the penthouse floors. The place itself is all modern chic-- a broad patio overlooks the city and houses a few lounging chairs with a shade awning overhead and a largish swimming pool. A curved wall seperates the patio from the kitchen/dining/living area with floor-to-ceiling glass windows. There's a bedroom off of the main room, and a thin spiral staircase up to a loft above the kitchen. The main room is decorated in a clean, moderns style with lots of plush white in the furnishing and carpet, accented with shiney bits of metal and glass. There's a flatscreen TV that doesn't seem to get a lot of use, and bookcases recessed into most of the walls, with neat rows of books in an eclectic collection.
Security-wise, things are somewhat strange. There is no doubt the place has been set up-- there's cameras in the hallway outside the entry and on the patio... and clearly there are sturdy locks going on. But aside from a doorbell there is precious little interface to find. The front door doesn't have so much as a keyhole, and there's no thumb scanner or card reader or keypad or retinal scanner in evidence. Just a door handle and a sturdy box that no-doubt houses a deadbolt lock. The patio is similarly mystifying, though the sliding door there has a much more apparent bolting mechanism set into the floor.
Normally, the place is clean, bordering on sterile. Not so today, as Emma has been working. The coffee and kitchen tables are strewn with large sheets of paper covered in floorplans and elevations, there's several books laid open on various surfaces, and even what look like concept renders strung up on strings across the room, not unlike photos drying in a darkroom. Emma herself is not presently in evidence, but is in fact rummaging in the back room for who-knows what, a tablet and a laptop left running on the coffee table next to a sheet of paper that has a long list of variations of "Metropolis Academy" listed out, many of them scratched out.
Remy has been over every inch of this building. Every. Single. Inch. Most of the security measures are standard-issue, and laughable by his standards. The penthouse, though... That's a different matter.
The patio is too exposed. It's not the climb that bothers him, it's the thought of landing with nothing but a few panes of glass for cover. The roof is no good. He managed to get up there, with much sweating, grunting, and cursing, only to find that this building doesn't *have* standard roof access. Even the sub-ceiling was no good. The only convenient exits Remy could find kept dumping him back in the same hallway where he started.
He's currently examining the front door from afar using a tiny fiber-optic camera that just barely peeps around a corner. "Merde," he mutters under his breath. "Why couldn't you live in a house?"
Time to handle things the old-fashioned way. He clears his throat, tucks away his camera, and rounds the corner at a brisk walk. When he reaches the door, he reaches out and gives the bell two quick presses. He's retained his favorite coat, which is slung over one arm, but is otherwise dressed well. For him, at least. Grey slacks, a matching tie, and a subtly striped shirt, along with the tinted glasses that he normally wears when he's out and about.
And the place just gets that much more strange. There's a very short pause before the sound of a medium-grade bolt slides free to unlock the door, which swings inward. The strange part about this is that the tall blonde woman inside is clear across the room, fussing with one of the larger sheets of blueprint.
"You're a little sooner than expected," Emma Frost says in greeting. "But it's a pleasant enough surprise. Come in, Remy." The tone of voice is warm enough. Perhaps slightly amused as if at an unspoken joke... and a touch challenging. Instead of her usual full suit, she's wearing a pair of white slacks and an ice-blue blouse with the top couple of buttons left undone, and a pair of matching blue sneakers.
"I... What?" Remy's caught off-guard by this. He's the one who slipped in through a service entrance, climbed up a really, *really* long shaft to avoid the elevator cameras, and has generally been sneaking around all day.
He recovers quickly, at least. A small smile tugs at his lips as he follows his hostess inside. "De pleasure's mine, Miss Frost," he replies, along with a cordial nod. "I figured it was about time we meet. Nice place you got here. Impressive security, too. You been having a problem with break-ins all the way up on de top floor?"
Well. His reputation for an easy quickness on his feet and raw charm seems deserved. The static hashing across him scrambling her telepathy is interesting, too. Unsurprising noone seems to have noticed it in the information she dug up.
Emma smiles, and offers a hand, bent downward at the wrist with the back facing him. "Not as such, but a rich single woman in New York must take precautions," she replies smoothly. The door behind him closes with a quiet electric whirring noise and a heavy click. She may have only met the Girls recently, but it seems she has plenty in common with them. Testing him. At this point, it isn't even that subtle. But then again, that too is a test.
The offered hand is accepted and Remy bends low over it, but his lips hover a hair's breadth away from making contact. He only looks down for a moment, and he's smiling wider when he straightens from his bow. "Especially one with assets like yours," he replies evenly. "Speaking of, I come bearing gifts. I thought of wine, but you strike me more as de cognac type."
The bottle comes from the depths of his coat, as so many other unlikely items tend to. It's unique, obviously very old, and has no label. "I'm told it's a family vintage from World War Two," he explains as he presents it. "It's de least I could do for coming without an invitation."
Remy finally gets a genuine smile out of the reserved and collected Ms. Frost at the gesture. It might be where he finds her resembling her clones the most-- when a genuine smile hits her eyes. "Charming *and* polite," she murmurs in appreciation. "How delightful." She accepts the bottle, heading for the kitchenette and her cabinette full of glasses. "Truth to tell, you've already provided a sufficient gift to make up for the intrusion, Remy. So do feel free to relax somewhat. I assume a man with your background would like a share of your excellent host-gift?" She asks, pulling a pair of cognac glasses onto the counter.
"Like you wouldn't believe," Remy responds, breaking out a crooked grin that looks comfortable and familiar on him. While Emma's back is turned, he lowers his glasses and peers over them for a few seconds. Not at her, surprisingly. At the blueprints, the sketches, the notes and scribbles and bits of research. By the time she's facing him again, his lenses are back in place and he's not staring nearly as obviously. He does arch an eyebrow and gesture to her work, though. "I hope I didn't catch you at a bad time, mimi."
Emma returns, a filled glass in each hand, and offers Remy one of the fine crystal vessels. "Oh? all of this?" she asks, running an eye around the room. "Not at all. A current project, soon to become quite public anyway. In any case, it is actually a quite welcome diversion. I wanted to get a chance to thank you," she confides.
Remy's eyebrow arches a little higher at the generous measure of cognac poured out for each of them, and at the obvious value of the crystal he's holding. As a man who loves his pleasures and his fine things, he nods approvingly and lifts the glass in a small salute. "Very nice," he says. "And I must confess, I already hear about de school. Dis part of why I come to see you. But we put a pin in dat for now. You want to thank me? For what?"
Emma returns the salute with her own glass, and then her mood sobers, like a race car slamming on the brakes to hit a hairpin. "Sophie, Esme and Phoebe. ...and Minde and Celeste. I am aware of what you've done for them. I don't pretend to lay claim to them as such, but... it is what it is. I have a responsibility, even if I also had no willing hand in bringing them into the world. I am grateful that you've helped them stay safe and gain some measure of a normal life. It's something I'm hoping they will allow us both to do." Despite herself, she becomes somewhat more subdued when she starts talking about it, and it may take a moment to notice, but the apartment's lighting actually dims noticeably.
A quick glance is spared for the lights, but Remy doesn't comment on them. Instead, he takes a small sip from his glass and rolls the liquor over his tongue, savoring it's sweetness and warmth. "You're welcome," he says, his brash tones slightly diminished. "Dey been good to me, too. You might not have raised 'em, but de girls come from good stock." It's a compliment, albeit a subtle one. "I thought of bringing dem along, but I wanted a chance to talk to you. See things for myself, y'know?"
Emma Frost nods, smiles a little, and manages a quiet 'Thank you' for the compliment. Then she closes her eyes, takes a breath, and when she opens them back up, she's gotten her smile re-attached and the lights back on full. Figuratively and literally. "I think that was wise. We're... complicated, still. It would have been too many variables at once," she says, voice back to cool competance. "I had much the same thought myself, but you are somewhat more difficult to find than I am," she notes with a sort of wry humor and a quirk of a grin at one corner of her mouth, before she downs her own glass in one not-so-refined shot. The alcohol provides the last bit of steel needed, and she flashes him a teasing, challenging smile. "And is it everything you dared dream?"
The Cajun tips his head a fraction to the side and returns the smile. After a few seconds of eye contact, he nods deeply, almost an abbreviated bow. "De cognac is lovely, too."
He still hasn't taken a seat. His long, spidery fingers trail along the back of a couch, a counter top, and the edge of a framed painting before they come to rest on the blueprint Emma had been fussing with when he arrived. "About dis school of yours. I see many kids... special ones. Dey don't know what to do. Dey scared. Sometimes alone. I grew up like dat. S'not good. Not for people like us."
Though it's likely he has few secrets left at this point, Remy makes a very deliberate statement when he removes his glasses and reveals his eyes. "We deserve better. Dey deserve to know who dey are, and dat it isn't bad or wrong to be different. Is dis what you do? You build a place for special people?"
Emma chuckles at his response, and then settles into a more serious expression as he asks about the school. She moves aside, the barest of gestures inviting him to follow. She sets her empty glass lightly on the couter top in passing and goes for the pile of sheets on the kitchen table.
"That," she confirms. "And more besides. I think there are more than just people like us out there that need such help. Mutants... metas, mutates-- the so-called 'powered' people are the most obvious of course and I do want us to help those kids. In a highly public fashion. But I think there are more gifts to nurture than telepathy or the ability to blow the side off a building or left a truck. We'll nurture the geniuses, the prodigies, the virtuosos and master artists out there, too. Who is to say they're any more human than we are?"
"You speak very well," Remy murmurs. He seems... somehow smaller. His normally powerful presence is subdued as he studies the information laid out in front of him. Some of it makes sense, some of it doesn't. Enough does that, along with Emma's explanation, he's able to put the pieces together.
"Your passion, it's inspiring. Admirable." Uncharacteristically direct words, coming from him. When he looks his hostess in the eye again, the reason for his change in demeanor is more visible. He's daring to hope. "You really think you can do dis?"
Emma fixes his eyes with her own. She's back in full cry, whatever hidden thoughts about her relationship with the Cuckoos pulled her into a withdrawl earlier. This is the Emma that Clawed her way through school without her father's money and built an empire. With one exception-- Emma no longer actually NEEDS her telepathy to be successful. It is a tool, not a crutch. "Remy. I was born into money, but I did not use it to get where I am. I built Frost International from nothing but seed capital and a clever investment with whatever tools I had to hand." She pauses, and smiles a little more warmly than that declaration would suggest. "When I was a girl, I wanted to be a teacher. In some ways, unexpectedly, I find myself a mother of sorts. I dare anyone on this earth to stop me."
There's a reason that Remy isn't wearing gloves today. He takes a deep breath, holds it for a couple of seconds, and lets it out slowly. Then again, and once more after that. He shakes his hands at the wrists, as if to limber up his fingers. This has nothing to do with his physical state, though.
"I only ever try dis with de girls. I don't know if it'll work. But if you want, I let you in." His words are difficult to misinterpret. "Not all de way. But enough. We see what each other really think about all dis."
Now he's the one presenting a challenge. Defiant, heedless of the risk, he holds his hand up with his palm facing Emma. "Care to dance, mimi?"
Emma looks a touch surprised, but she places fingers against his palm lightly, a slight nudge of her fingertips guiding the hand around to face upwards instead, and lays her digits on his, like she's actually taking a hand in ballroom. He did ask if she wanted to dance. "Just relax."
Emma's mind, as it slides through the offered opening, is experienced, elegant. She's a powerful telepath even without the advantages of a gestalt, and has years and years of real-world experience to draw on. She's gentle as she glides in, and while Remy can feel the mental touch when she makes it through, there's a hesitation.
Several second pass before he can feel Emma's mental presence shift slightly, as if reaching for a door he's opened and gently closing it before the presence vanishes, having triggered his abilities to close the gap he's offered her. "Apologies. Upon thinking about it... I do not require a scan to know you can be trusted, Remy. I appreciate the offer." Truth to tell... it's the girls. They're so much like her in so many ways. Harder than she was at that age, and more lost in the world. She knows herself well enough to know them, and it's enough to render Remy's offer needless. "They trust you and I trust them. It is good enough. As for me, I will simply ask you to trust that I mean what I say and that I say nothing lightly."
This is never an easy experience for Remy. To him, it feels as if a great deal of time has passed. He's perspiring; faint beads of moisture are visible near his hairline. Conversely, his mouth feels dry and sticky. The tip of his tongue snakes out to moisten his lips and he looks into Emma's eyes. "Interesting," he says, his voice a touch on the rough side.
He stands up and crosses the room to refill his glass, then downs the contents in a single, practiced gulp and pours himself another measure. When he turns around again, he seems more settled. There's a curious curl to his eyebrow and a tilting of his head as he watches Emma, studying her unabashedly. "Well. I think your school is a good idea, Ms. Frost."
Emma, as it happens, is a little withdrawn again, slightly distracted with whatever made her change her mind about diving into his mind. She takes her hand back, and steps away, like the needs a little distance. "It's... something from when I was a child. I try not to think about it. I realize what you were attempting to do, and I appreciate it-- I do. But I won't put them in that position. For myself as much as them." She shakes herself, working on regaining her equilibrium. Twice she's lost her balance in front of him. Unfortunate. Can't be helped. "Regardless. You've already proven you can bring somethng to this endeavor. You've spoken eloquently and convincingly about your feeling where the children we intend to help are concerned. You have skills, experience... knowledge of what happens when things go wrong. I'm sure you have troubles, low points, regrets, secrets. We all do. This isn't about those. This is about tomorrow. That's why I've chosen Metropolis."
"What... Dis a job offer? You want me to be a teacher?" Remy lets out a low chuckle at the thought and swirls his cognac around in his glass. He lets his first two questions hang in the air for a long moment before he continues. "'bout de only thing I'm qualified to teach at a real school is Phys Ed. I could maybe be a sub. For afternoon classes. I don't really do... math. Or science. Or anything like dat." The last bit is tacked on quickly as he raises his cup again. This time he holds it up to the light and peers through it like an amber-hued lens. Then, without further ado, he drinks down what's inside.
"A school for the exceptional requires exceptional classes," Emma clarifies. "To be sure, math, sciences.. those will be involved. But I believe in practical educations. These students need to learn to use their gifts-- whattever they are. They need to learn when to use them, and when not to use them. They must learn to be judicous, make good decisions. They must learn what it's like on the streets. They must learn the consequences of who they are from those that have lived it. Many of them will want to go out and be heroes, I'm sure. That requires specialized training and learning that what may be necessary is not always pleasant. Some will want to live under the radar. They, too, will require the skills and knowledge to do so. I want them well-equippped for the life they will lead outside of school, whatever their goals and talents are. That goes for every single student. They will all be different. They should all be able to suceeed, whatever that means. I believe with those goals in mind, you bring unique qualifications." She straightens, and looks his way. "Don't answer now. Think it over. Talk with whoever you must. It will be a while before we need answers."
"It'll be a while before you get 'em," Remy responds, nodding agreeably. "I come back in a day or two, maybe. I have someone I want you to meet. Friend of a friend. If anyone needs de kind of help you're offering, she does. And my place is getting crowded."
A small smile tugs at his lips and he touches two fingers to his forelock in an old-fashioned salute. "For now, I go. Think things over, like you say. Have a good night, Ms. Frost."
Emma bobs her head, once. She gestures vaguely, and the door unlocks and swings open. "You know where to find me, Remy. If you see the girls before I do, say hello for me." There's a good chance of it. "I'll help however I can. That is what this is all about, finished or not. Good night, Remy. Thank you for coming." She clearly means that last one, as awkward as it got in places.