1963-09-02 - Eye of the Storm
Summary: After botching the reveal of the sign, Reed attempts to abate a Storm.
Related: A Giant Target
Theme Song: None
sue reed 

Making Sue angry is the easy part. Especially for Reed, despite his best efforts not to. Now for the hard part.

Dr. Richards has yet to work out the math that determines just how long someone should be left alone with their thoughts after an emotional outburst. So he's left, like most of us, to make a best guess. He is pretty sure that the upper boundary on time alone is around 20 minutes or so, though. Long enough for the worst of the Storm-storm to rage itself out, not long enough to cause another one by not caring enough.

And so, precisely twenty minutes after Sue left him poured out on the sidewalk outside, Dr. Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic himself… stops peering at his watch like an anxious hawk and crosses to Sue's door. He frowns thinly for a moment, takes a deep breath, and raises his hand to knock.

He doesn't wait for an answer, just calls mildly through the impassive gateway of certain doom. "If you don't want to talk to me right now, I'll understand."


There's a pause on the other side of the door, and Reed can all but see Sue's hesitation. But then, she meant what she said. They need a united front.

She puts her hand over the receiver of the phone and calls back to the door. "Come in — just… on the phone. Wrapping up a call — "

She clears her throat, and lowers her hand from the receiver, "Right. So think of it as a symbol of hope for those who see it. We want people to know we're here, that we want to help, and we want to make a difference," her eyebrows draw together, not quite believing what she's spinning, "to the community where we live. That's why it matters. We are here. We're present. And we're taking care of the people around us." There's another pause as Sue listens to the voice on the other end, "Excellent. Thank you. We can talk more in person next time. Goodbye."

The phone is returned to the receiver, and Sue finally stands from the small sitting area at the front of the room. Her arms cross over her chest and she issues Reed a tight-lipped smile that never meets her eyes. "I called the paper." Her eyes turn downwards, and she spins on her heel, "We needed to release a statement."


Well. To be honest, he'd have preferred standing in the door while she opened it and glared daggers at him. Instead she's cleaning up after what she's determined is his mess. Which it is. He stands, just inside the room, hands stuffed in his pockets and his shoulders slightly hunched. This is awful. Well, carry on, forge ahead, right?

Reed spent most of the twenty minutes he gave her coming up with a plan. A dozen plans, actually, for how he was going to approach this conversation. And all of those plans are totally ruined when his next words just kind of tumble from his mouth instead of ANY of his mentally-rehearsed approaches.

"I didn't think you were too busy," he admits. What? …dammit.


Sue falls into a different mode. As Reed stands there, contrite and deflated, she relies on a different part of her personality. She presses her lips together and treads towards the coffee pot sitting on the counter. Her fingers curl around it and as she's about to offer him a cup in a bid to be professional; she'd managed it on the phone. Sue is nothing if not diplomatic.

But then Reed speaks.

Her jaw tightens and her head snaps towards Reed at his admission. As she watches him, that professional demeanour cracks. She releases the pot, leaving it to the counter, and slides back to the chair she'd just assumed to press her face into her hands. The hurt writ over her expression is only hidden by the small shield that her hands provide. She can't, however, easily conceal it from her tone when she squeaks, "Why didn't you talk to me? Do you not trust me? I've been trying so hard…"

She drops her hands from her face, exposing the very apparent hurt that lingers there. She blinks hard, fighting agains the sting in her eyes, and she issues him a nearly even expression, righting herself as much as she's able, "I… can't get a read on you. One minute," she lifts a single hand, "you're suggesting I should remain CFO if we incorporate. The next, you're making decisions like I don't even matter… I don't know if you respect me or just think I'll cow to whatever scheme you've thought up. I can't tell if you only keep me around to smooth over all the decisions…I…" her voice cracks.


Reed really, really wants to interrupt her before she gets a full head of steam going on this, because it's like getting stabbed repeatedly by knives. Too much hurt in her voice. His fault. Again. He causes this too much. Far too much. He lets her run down, and there's a long pause while he examines his shoes, because meeting her gaze is a little too much to bear.

Then, quietly, "…it was supposed to be a surprise. I thought you and Johnny would like it." Somewhere in that simple statement is the phrase 'and I am obviously an idiot' gone unspoken. "…and then I could go over all the other reasons it was a good idea and take the two of you to dinner," he adds lamely. There's another pause, during which he removes a hand to pull on his ear, which of course stretches farther than it should before regaining is resting shape. "…I'm sorry." He tried. Maybe not a gold star effort, though.


Sue can feel the disappointment and hurt bubbling. Her lips part to give it a more stable voice, but then Reed speaks. Her shoulders draw downwards. Her lips follow suit, and the hurt begins to drain from her face while her mouth draws into a tight, very round circle. Oh.

She nods slightly, rubs her eyes lightly and inhales a sharp breath. A faint nod reflects semblance of understanding and her eyes hone in on a spot on the floor. "It was kind of a big decision," she suggests to the floor, but the confession actually does seem to do at least part of its job; the hurt drains slowly from her face.

Finally, with another very quick breath, she slides to the edge of the chair to reach out and give Reed's shoulder a squeeze. It's not exactly okay, but there's something reassuring as she states, "I just want us to be a team. I don't always know where we stand," as a team, clearly, "but I like…" to be included? To have a voice? To know her status? "…to be able to get ahead of these things," she settles on.


It's enough. At her touch, she meets her gaze and… he's not tearing up, and he's not hurt… but the shame of the obvious mistake is there. He gives her a thin smile and covers her hand to squeeze it, and slides into a seat… nearby. Companionable but not invasive. She can move closer if she decides she'd like to. his arm, unsurprisingly, stretches so she can keep his hand if she wants.

"It was," he agrees. "And you're right. You usually are," he offers, with a small, wary, lopsided smile. He's not completely hopeless, he heard the unspoken alternatives in her tone. There's a pause, during which she can probably tell he has something to add, and it's just a matter of a few moments' thought before it presents itself. "I don't like the thought that I've made you doubt yourself. Unintentionally or not."


When Reed sits, Sue slides closer to him, maintaining the touch with his hand. His thin smile, mirrors on Sue's face, and her eyebrows actually tick upwards when he acknowledges that she's usually right. The last, however, prompts her chin to drop and gaze to meet the floor.

Her throat clears and she forces pervasion upwards. "I feel — " she starts only to shake her head, silencing whatever thought she'd nearly spoken. "Maybe I'm too sensitive sometimes," there's a small cant of her head and she emits a soft sigh. "A person can only be mistaken for the secretary so many times before they start to feel something about it. I have more to offer than that. I know I do."Her gaze turns towards the window, and her thoughts move with it, "We're in a transition time. I can feel that. Things are changing. I just want to know where we stand." Her lips twist to the side thoughtfully.


Reed gets the feeling she means more than where she stands on the team and where the team stands. He gives her hand another, supportive squeeze, leaning toward her a bit. "You are no secretary," he says firmly. "I can't do this without you." What can't he do without her? Take your freakin' pick, there's bunches of things. He tilts his head in the vague direction of the logo now adorning the building. "And I shouldn't have done that without you, whatever the intentions. I'll try to keep to smaller surprises in the future."


Reed has reconnected.


There's a small nod of Sue's head. "I know I'm not a secretary." The thin smile that follows the words, however, speaks volumes as she reasons, "It's the rest of the world that doesn't." She finally releases Reed's hand and allows her own to drop to her lap. Another tight smile draws her features upwards. Presumed value, at least gives some credence to her role on the team. "That's because while science is your forte, managing our day-to-day lives continues to be mine. Which reminds me, you need to eat something. Especially if you go back to the lab." She shoots him a somewhat easier smile. "I think the press release will do what it's intended to." She motions towards the side of the building, "I tried to sell it as a symbol of hope." She shrugs, it's not her best sell, but certainly not her worst. "I think you'll be… pleased." It's a good word to settle on. Her expression flattens some, "Also, I'm worried about Ben. At the lawyer's office, he sounded sad on the phone. Not himself. Maybe his aunt isn't doing well — or, maybe I'm reading too much into it."


Reed has partially disconnected.


It is probably no surprise that Reed adopts one of his listening-and-absorbing-while-thinking postures as she moves on into a more… normal tone. He flashes her a grin when she explains the spin she took on it. Will he be pleased? "Oh, I should think so, since that's one of the things on my list when I planned how I was going to tell you why it was such a great surprise," he muses, tone self-deprecating since they both know how royally he screwed that plan up. "You're right about it being a target, by the way. But where we live is going to be easy for anyone to find— the incorporation filing, insurance forms, Johnny coming and going, whatever ELSE we manage to think up…" He shrugs. "If someone's going to come looking for us, I'd hope they find the giant Four more compelling to shoot at than the 27th floor apartments." He waves the comment off a little. She doesn't need reasons to feel bad about her totally justified reaction and there's a more important topic raised.

"Ben." Reed frowns thinly. That's his best friend and the one of them having the hardestliterally and otherwise time with the last two years. There's enormous guilt and only the smallest fraction shows through. He nods. "I'm not sure there's anything we can do until he gets back. I'll make sure to talk with him when he does, maybe he'll share." It's hard to say.

He drums fingers on the arm of the chair. "As for my eating habits…" Reed flashes a grin. "You're probably right. I *do* still have these reservations for a nice sit-down restaurant in an hour, though…"


Instinctively, nurturing comes all to easily for Sue. "He'll be okay," she reassures. "Just… good to know where the land mines are now and then. When we can instead of setting them off in quick succession. I'll urge Johnny to his best behaviour." She plucks an elastic from the table with the phone and finger combs her dark hair into a ponytail, "I did already in the meeting, but I'll do it again. Sometimes reminders keep people in check."

The ponytail is tightened, and adjusted accordingly. Her eyes narrow slightly and her smile turns nearly feline at the assertion of reservations, "Oh?" Her chin lifts and there's a flicker of a smile, "Is that an invitation?" A glance is given towards the door, "I think Johnny miiiight be picking up Chinese… or he got lost because of a pretty face again," Sue's eye roll finds its way into her tone, but an fond smile accompanies the words.


Reed raises his fingers to make a quotation gesture. "'Going out, don't wait up', he said. I gather he…" a pause as he rethinks the rest of that sentence "…didn't want to be a distraction when we needed to talk." That is much better than 'didn't want to be anywhere near ground zero'.

He takes her interest as an opening, and stands, one hand behind his back and offers the other to help her to her feet. "It *would* be a shame to waste the table," he notes. Plus there's really nice view of the Baxter Building from the restaurant he'd selected and maybe seeing the sunset glint off the new addition would finish thawing her towards the whole affair. "I'd ask if you need some time to get ready, Ms. Storm, but I can't imagine you looking better than you already do." Okay so he's laying it on a little thick. Sue him.


Sue hums quietly. The hand receives a gentle squeeze as Sue rises to her feet. The chuckle and shake of Sue's head that follow the remark about her appearance are less telling then the faint glimmer of colour that rises on her cheeks, "You're far too generous in your praise. Evidently lack of sleep," thanks to the mess with the insurance, "looks good on me."

More seriously, her chin drops and assesses her current outfit. "I can go," she finally levels back, as she tries to catch his gaze, only to look away moments later. Her throat clears, and her eyebrows draw together, "We can bring the work for the conference — that presentation needs to be finalized if we're going to have any success with it," she reaches for her black file folder that sits next to the phone. She sucks on the inside of her cheek, "And we still need to get things in order." Her lips purse. "I've been told Latveria is likely to have representation…"


In all honesty… Reed would be happy to just be out to dinner with her. But he's also just… far too susceptible to getting engaged in Needful Discussion and Solving Problems. He waits for her to gather what she needs and offers an arm. "We'll draw a crowd. It won't entirely be science and tech peers, either…" Latveria? Hmmm. "Maybe some special safety measures are in order…"

Dinner is on, the Storm abates, peace returns to the House of Richards. For a while, anyway.

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