1963-09-08 - What's In A Name?
Summary: A self-proclaimed vigilante drops by the Baxter Building to seek Reed Richards' help in getting to the bottom of a travesty.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
natasha reed 

It was not difficult to get an audience with Reed. the Four have a publicly-listed front desk number, The person on that phone was more than happy to arrange a visit, and once it became evident it was not just tourism or similar, she'd found herself escorted to the common room on the residence floor with an assurance Dr. Richards would be with her soon.

And he is, in not more than two minutes or so, hustling just a touch on his way down the stairs along the back wall, cleaning his hands on a shop towel. "Sorry to keep you waiting, Ms…" He pauses a moment, then continues walking. "I'm sorry, I was told your name, but I was in the middle of something. I'm Reed Richards." He glances at his hands, offers the cleaner of the pair with a smile.


"That's alright," says the woman who showed up in a trenchcoat, Jackie O sunglasses, and a dark purple headscarf. When Reed arrives, she hops up from her couch, reaches for the scarf, and tugs just so. As red hair begins to spill free, she then takes the offered hand in a firm grip.

"It wasn't really mine anyway." Red lips twist up as she shakes Reed's hand and gives her head a bit of a toss. "You can call me Black Widow. It's my, ah— super-name?" Her smiles slips into something a bit more self-conscious for a moment, there, before falling away entirely as she takes her hand away. Reed may or may not remember that whoever she said she was on the phone, she'd claimed to be a member of the press, rather than a vigilante of some kind.

There is a satchel hanging from her shoulder, and it's the first place her hand goes when it drops, resting taut against the flap. "Thank you for meeting me. I know how precious your time must be."


Reed absorbs all of this in stride with a thoughtful purse of his lips, and nods. "Fair enough. Time is valuable, but a valuable easy to part with. And you can call me Reed— it's convenient. I understand you are looking for a consult," he muses, lip curling with a touch of humor. "Though I presume not for a news story after all."


"I'm not sure who would print it, frankly."

Black Widow lingers for several moments spent peering silently into Reed's eyes, nakedly weighing him with her own. Her weight shifts from foot to foot as if she's contemplating the door, her jaw grinds, and her fingers gently drum against the satchel.

"I need you to tell me how you feel about mutants," she finally murmurs. "Those people with the— well. You know who I'm talking about, I'm sure; you're you."


Reed arches an eyebrow, and splays his hands. "You mean people with even less choice in the matter than I have? I think that probably speaks for itself. I haven't taken a public stance, but I also haven't been asked." he shrugs. "But you know, I did this" he gestures at himself "to myself. These people were just born with a… possibly unfortunate genetic sequence. We don't ostracise people with heterochromia." A frown. "But then there's racism, so…"

He shakes his head. "Nevermind, I'm running on. Science doesn't judge— Mutants just are, you can accept it or not but it doesn't change anything. The first homo sapien was technically, also a mutant." He could clearly talk for some time on this topic if he was of a mind.


The Widow listens for about as long as it takes to confirm that Reed isn't a wacky waving arm-flailing racist before sliding her fingers and unfastening the satchel. The unmarked black binder she pulls from within is promptly offered out to Reed before he can slip too deeply into Pontification Mode, and then she takes a step back to watch him.

Inside are extensive genetic records for a sizable number of individuals— all of whom have significant gene-level aberrations. It's all incredibly technical; it wouldn't take more than a glance to see why she might have been moved to seek a consult.

Once he's had a few seconds to look, she will explain:

"Some time ago, someone built their own vision of Hell beneath Coney Island, Mr. Richards," she begins in a low, hard voice. "I don't believe that it was the first of its kind; I know that it won't be the last. They call themselves 'Weapon X', because evil is never creative: they're experimenting on kidnapped mutants, and I believe that they're actively working to weaponize them, to boot. I had the opportunity to meet with several of the inmates before the facility was raided by other mutants. At least three of them were children. I need to know more about what they are doing, and what they will do, but most of what I managed to take from them…" She gestures towards the binder.

"I'm not a scientist. They need to be shut down. Can you help me?"


Reed is quick to take the offered binder, and begins flipping through it. He… is listening, but also engrossed in the material inside, slowly sliding into one of the armchairs in the sitting area and he flips pages, absorbing data silently. For a while. She definitely picked a good choice, since he seems to be sucking down an entire page of data at a time.

After a while. "It's brilliant," he murmurs. "A complete horror show, but impressive on an objective level." A pause, and he looks up at Widow. "Yes, I can help you. Though I daresay I'm not quite the geneticist you need to make full sense of the gravity of this data," he notes. "I do, however, have a colleague upstate who would be ideal…" he muses, patting himself down for a pen and paper. Which is in the lab coat he isn't wearing, of course.


Two pats is all it takes for the Widow to pull a golf pencil and notepad from her satchel. This, perhaps, is one of her superpowers.

"Thank you," she exhales while doing so. Despite the brow-quirk that Reed's initial assessment brought on, she sounds relieved. "Thank you so much. Anything you can offer, anything at all. This cannot be allowed to stand; the world is changing too quickly for people to stay trapped in such old thinking." The scarf she let fall from her head is collected once he takes the writing implements.


"Mmm," is Reed's response, as he scribbles on the offered pad and passes it back. "Dr. MacTaggert is probably the best geneticist I can think of. And Mutant genomes are right up her alley. This is her public number— call and arrange a meeting. I'm afraid her present circumstances are such she may not appreciate visitors to her current residence. You may tell her I referred you and said it was vital."

There's a pause, and he guestures with the binder. "Is this a copy I can hold onto? Sue might have some additional input when she has some time. Ah… also, one question—" added as an afterthought.


"I'm going to need copies, yes. I'm guessing that that won't be an issue, though," the Widow says while gesturing vaguely around them. "I'm also going to need you to be discrete about where you got those records. I'm still working an angle with Weapon X, and I don't want to compromise my position. If someone, for some reason needs to speak with me, we can arrange something." As she exhales, she brings the scarf up and begins tying.

"Now. Your question?"


Reed chuckles, pushing himself up. He does in fact have a machine for this making-copies task. "Don't worry, it wouldn't be the first time I've needed to be close-lipped about this sort of thing," he notes, gesturing for her to follow him on his way upstairs. To the lab.

"I'm curious where your interest lies, if I may," he explains, adjusting his glasses. "Your choice of language suggests this is not personal interest as it would be if you counted yourself among the Mutant population. A super-hero name suggests motive, but it's rare for members of the costumed set sporting a moniker as— if you'll pardon the descriptor— utilitarian as 'Black Widow' to be given over to acts of outright altruism." He smiles a little, gesturing as he crosses the main laboratory space to his (patent pending) atomic duplicator. Got to work on that name.


"Not to mention, data like this doesn't come into the possession of someone outside a project like this by simple or strictly legitimate means. So you can understand my curiosity."


Follow the Widow does, finishing her scarf-tying along the way.

"How many costumed vigilantes did you have to survey to settle on that correlation?" she wonders with a sidelong glance and an arched brow. Her arms fold across her chest as she looks away, jaw flexing once again.

"I'm very good at getting into places where I'm not wanted," she murmurs after a few moments. "They think that I'm a shrink." She gently knocks twice on a wall in passing. "I was patroling in Alphabet City, late one night. I happened to see someone being kidnapped— just, dragged right from the lean-to he'd been sleeping under and shoved into a van. I couldn't let it go. Maybe they've got powers, and some of them are dangerous, but they're people. Like you said:"

By now, she's standing a little straighter and the cool, professional tone of earlier has been set ablaze. "They can't help what they are, at least in that respect. So, utilitarian name or not, I decided to use my skills on their behalf. These Weapon X people— they're ready for mutants, waiting for them; me, not so much." Once all that's out, she lets out a sharp, shaky breath and turns her attention towards watching the duplicator like a hawk.


"Fair enough," ends up being Reed's thoughts on her response. As for the duplicator…. Binder sits on a scanner on top, it makes a lot of sciencey noises, and what looks like an exact copy of the binder gets spit out the side after an extended wait. Reed picks up the copy, fans the pages to make sure none are blank, then hands her the original off the top of the machine.

"Generalizations are necessarily general. Apologies that they do not fit your particular case. I was simply explaining why I wished to know— it would not be the first time someone asked my assistance under a flag of false altruism." But he seems to feel her answer sufficient. "I was under the impression you'd appreciate the honesty."


"Fair enough," says the Widow as she follows Reed's example and flips through her binder. Just in case.

Once she's satisfied, she looks up with a small, tight smile and adds, "This isn't the first time I've had a man question my motives in this world. Your intentions are much more wholesome than the average, though; it must be difficult, wanting to help people who you can't necessarily trust." The smile drops off as she solemnly concludes, "Thank you. Again. I appreciate the recommendation."


Reed nods understanding. "Of course." Naturally, he'll call Moira ahead of Nat… probably in the next few minutes. It's only polite to give her a head's up. "If it helps, I would question a man just the same. One does not work with Sue Storm and indulge in chauvinism. Not without great peril, anyway," he reflect.

"In any case, just as you asked my opinion on Mutants to protect their interests… so go my own inquiries. Simply the times we live in, one supposes." He gives a sweeping gesture with his arm, to offer her the trip back downstairs first. Not a sexist, but still a gentleman. Guests go first when they know the way.

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