1963-10-02 - Best Laid Plans
Summary: Sue shows up at Victor's door. Reed and Johnny go looking for her. Nothing turns out as expected.
Related: Pandemic Panic Pandemonium Plot
Theme Song: None
sue reed johnny doom 

The ride to the Latverian Embassy had been rather uneventful save for another sneezing fit from Seo that gave her waves of varying visibility. Currently, she's visible again, dressed in one of Ben's (old) oversized sweaters and a barely visible black dress that peeks out beneath the grey. Beads of sweat have formed along her brow, and her face is unusually flushed with fever. Chills shiver down her spine as she literally walked up to the embassy sans appointment, seeking out the newest resident.

She'd managed to get entrance into a sitting lounge of sorts, awaiting the man she seeks. The sniffling mess that is Sue Storm begs questions as to whether she should be anywhere, let alone here. She straightens on the couch, crosses her ankles, and clasps her hands in her lap. Surely this is a good ida. Surely.


Wherever Sue should be, she is not expected here. Victor is not a man to pass up a flicker of good luck, however faint, and it is only a matter of minutes before he emerges from the lavishly gilded double doors of an elegantly appointed elevator.

Victor is the image of the modern man: silk ascot in black, hand-stitched Egyptian cotton dress shirt in white, Italian cashmere blazer in crimson, charcoal gabardine slacks, polished black leather shoes. He cruises out to the lounge, sending aides and guests alike fluttering in his wake.

"Miss Storm." At the very least, he's good at feigning delight. He offers Sue his hand. "I apologize for keeping you waiting. Would you please come up?"


"Doctor Von Doom," Seo's throat scratches around the words. Her puffy red eyes, sniffling nose, and foggy brain do little to recommend herself to this space. The greeting and offered hand have her hesitating for a moment. She slides to the edge of the couch and accepts the offered hand. Blinking hard, she clears her throat and rises to her feet.

"I…" her eyes flit towards the elevator. "…wasn't intending to…" why is she here again? "…just quick… I'm fighting a bug…" of course, she's easy to coax anywhere at the moment thanks to the brain fog that continues to settle over her mind.


"Not to be unchivalrous, but you look quite unwell." Victor tucks her up against his side and whisks her into the elevator which offers a delightfully soft bench for sitting, especially handy for settling unsteady young female guests. "Please, allow me to call my personal physician," he offers.

When Sue sniffles again, Victor pulls out a lovely handkerchief and gives it a shake, then offers it to her.

"Here you are. Whoever let you out in this state?" he croons, smoothing sweaty hair back from her forehead. "Nevermind, you're here now, and that's all that matters."


"I am," Seo agrees softly. She actually sits upon the bench in the elevator to steady her balance. Sick or not, the comment about people letting her out earns a wry smile, "I let myself. We've been through this, doctor. I," she sniffles loudly, "see to my own," she presses a hand to her forehead, "machinations. No one lets me do anything… I mean. I let myself do things. I don't need permissions…" She has a headache. Is the world spinning?

The handkerchief is accepted and she sneezes, causing her to slip back into invisibility again — without her permission. "I was intending to go home after here. To rest. I just needed to tell you something."


"Of course." Victor is having a good day. "You can tell me anything you like once we're upstairs. And, then, I will have my own car return you home. If, that is, you still want to go."

The elevator ride is nearly imperceptible. It wouldn't do to jostle or disrupt the diplomats and dignitaries of the Latverian embassy. The elevator car, tended by a wizened man in a lavish uniform, purrs to a halt on an upper floor. The doors slide open to let the occupants out into a shamelessly ostentatious office. It's like the Vatican itself threw up in here.

Victor escorts Sue out and toward a large leather chaise set to overlook this part of the city. "I'm sorry I couldn't find you at the conference," Victor says pleasantly, as though she hadn't been avoiding him in the first place. He seats Sue on the chaise and then stands in front of her, hands clasped behind his back. If he looms, well, that's simply accidental, surely. "You had something to say to me, I believe?"


The nothing that wears Ben's sweater floats through the air without Sue's permission, but she doesn't even notice as her invisibility takes over every inch of her. The sweater lifts as Seo lifts her hand to say something, only to roll her eyes. Not again. She sniffles, and draws the handkerchief back to her nose.

"It's not your fault," Sue replies. "It was busy. There were lots of…participants." Her thoughts grow ever hazier. She shifts on the chaise, not finding comforts as she tries to make herself increasingly comfortable. "I meant to tell you I'm seeing Reed. Just so you know." Because he ought to know. "Er. Doctor Richards. Reed." Because calling him Doctor Richards seems downright strange. "I just thought you should know."

Ah-choo! And she's visible again.

"Also, why are you here?" Because sick Sue has no filter.


Johnny arrives from Midtown.


Johnny has arrived.


"Well," Victor says thoughtfully. A vein in his temple throbs thoughtfully as well. "I'm certain that a constant presence in each other's lives makes such a thing inevitable." He bends to be on Sue's level. "I assure you. It is not. Is news of a poor decision on your part intended to detract from your other qualities?" Victor snorts softly, then straightens and turns away.

"I'll get you something cold to drink. You may stay as long as you need to — I don't think you should be out on the streets as you are." At the bar, he puts ice and water and seltzer tablets in a tall, crystal tumbler. "Nothing is written in stone, my dear. Perhaps, if you and I spent more time together, you might discover that you prefer my company to his."

Victor returns to present the frothy, cold, citrusy drink to Sue with a flourish. "I wait on no one, but for you? An exception. I can always make an exception for you."


Reed has arrived.


The drink is accepted and Seo's nose wrinkles as her fingers curl around the crystal tumbler. This isn't going according to plan. "I thought I would go home, not the streets. I — " Ah-choo! Another sneeze causes her to vanish again. " — would be at home, you see. Not the street." She sniffles again and sips the drink.

The comment about spending more time with Victor has her squinting, although, it's impossible to see while she's invisible. Rather impulsively she states in a raspy voice, "It's not like that, Victor. I love Reed. That's not going to just go away." Plain and simple. "Besides all of that, you have no interest in me. You want to see Reed unhappy," her opinions become less filtered by the second. "We both know that." She sips the drink.


Victor fails to stifle an exasperated sigh. "You think you love him," he says, sliding into place beside her, slipping an arm around her as best he can, by feel and memory and the boundaries of that execrable sweater. "And that's understandable, you haven't been allowed a life of your own. Can't you see I'm concerned about you, Sue?"

"I could do so much more to make Reed unhappy than exclude him from your life, Sue." Victor gestures out at the city, a wave that might even encompass the world. "You're just one of dozens of things that could have Reed's attention at any time. You would have all my consideration, first and foremost. Your absence plagues me even though we've barely spent a moment together. How many years did he not even notice you were there? Don't do me the disservice of thinking this is about a petty rivalry with a man who only thinks he's my equal. This is about you — who could be."


Outside, Reed Richards is frowning thinly, well away fromt he grounds. He's carrying a bukly, jury-rigged device with a vigorously-spinning antenna Making urgent beeping noises, while he maintains an extremely unhappy expression in regards to where the device is pointing him. Of course. Why didn't he just come here in the first place.

He sighs, and hands the device over to the man standing next to him. "Johnny," Reed murmurs, "Destroy it. Be thorough. I don't want Victor even being aware such a thing could exist," he notes quietly, buttoning his shirt up all the way, adjusting his tie, and removing his gloves to a pocket before he turns the sleeves on the shirt all the way down. Let's just not give Doom any indication of a Four uniform to latch onto. This is going to be tricky enough as it is.


The expression on Johnny's face is a less-restrained mirror of Reed's. Of course this is where she is. Why wouldn't this be where she is? With a sigh, he takes the gadget from Reed in both hands and, almost before he's been given his orders, the metal begins glowing red-hot as he begins to melt it with his bare hands. "Don't need to give him any bright ideas," he agrees lowly, rolling his eyes.

Hopefully noone will be able to get anything useful from a little puddle of rapidly-cooling metal on the sidewalk.

Johnny has no tie to adjust — t-shirt and jeans, perfect attire for visiting Embassy Row — and doesn't even bother fixing his hair before he falls into step with Reed. "So. This won't be awkward at all."


ROLL: Sue +rolls 1d2 for a result of: 1


ROLL: Sue +rolls 1d2 for a result of: 1


While Victor can't see it, Seo's eyes sweep right as his arm slides around her very invisible shoulders. Ben's old sweater is ridiculously scratchy against his touch; it's some wool blend that Sue hadn't let him part with when he turned to a giant rock man — wholly convinced he'd get to wear it again someday. Maybe it'll be effective as Victor repellent. Not likely.

Victor's voiced concern, however, has every muscle in her body tensing. Disbelief colours her expression. She sniffs — whether an objection or just another symptom of her flu is impossible to tell. The sleeve rubs against her face, mopping up the feverish moisture that seems to gather.

"You're right," she agrees too easily. She slowly sips her drink. "Reed does have a lot going on," at least the agreement is qualified. She sighs slowly and allows her chin to lift towards the ceiling, causing her to stare at the odd opulence that is the office. "But…" her voice turns to a whisper, "he did notice me. We… just prioritized everything and everyone else. We. Not him. Not me. Both of us. The team. What we do." Her lips tighten into an invisible smile, "And don't presume that I think I'm some kind of key to anyone's happiness. I'm not."

There's a long pause as she forces herself up to a stand, effectively shrugging off the arm at her shoulders. "And… who would…" she can feel the tickle rising in her nose… you have me be?" The tone is nearly casual. It's not accusatory or even confrontational. But it is punctuated by a series of tight, ridiculously emphatic sneezes, "Ah-choo! Ah-choo! Ah-choooo! AH-CHOO!" Invisible psionic energy soars through the window, causing glass to rain down on the street below. It's fortunate that Sue also rendered herself visible with the last sneeze, allowing Victor to observe the abject horror that writes across her expression. She definitely did not mean to do that.


Victor's expression is surprisingly neutral, in spite of the alarms going off everywhere.

"Well," he says coolly. "If nothing else, I'd have you be in control of yourself. Please, don't destroy anything else while I inform secu— " The office doors slam open and a team of men in black, masked and suited up, rumble in fully armed and ready to fight.

"Security," Victor finishes.

Below, shielding closes over the windows and exits of the embassy, armed guards line up just inside the gates. A siren wails persistently somewhere inside. On the roof, a helicopter starts up, blades thumping the air.


Reed set foot on the sidewalk on the embassy side of the street just as he's finished murmuring to Johnny. "Try to keep your temper. I may say some things while we're in there. Sometimes it's best to be exactly what Victor expects. We'll see how it goes."

Then.. the window explodes. Reed fights down the urge to react, considers and… picks up a little hustle to the now-busy gate gaurds.

"Excuse me gentlemen, we were just on our way home, but… being neighbors, we're naturally concerned. I'm Dr. Richards. Is there anything we can do to help?" It… might work? Or at least get Victor's attention.


"I don't have a temper," Johnny replies to Reed, his eyes fixed on the embassy. At least, until the window explodes. Then his eyes are fixed there and, for an instant, his eyes don't just look fiery. They are.

It's probably good that the shielding closes before he has a chance to do anything else. Johnny's nose wrinkles in irritation and he falls into step alongside Reed, folding his arms tightly across his chest to hide the whites of his knuckles.


The bubble around Seo is relatively unbreakable, not that she intends to keep it up. "I'm not… this is not… " The glass free hand lifts and she takes another step away from Victor. "… I'm sorry. I'm trying…" her face blanches and the invisible barrier she's set around herself remains unpenetrable. "I didn't mean to do that," she finally declares as her eyes flit to the window and her knuckles turn white around the crystal tumbler. "I need… " she looks towards Victor, "I need to go home." Because this is not a safe situation. "Please. I can… I can deal with this at home…" Because at home she can figure out what on earth is going on with her cells. Here? She's a sitting duck.

"Please," her voice rasps. "I just… this was supposed to be quick…" She's already supposed to be home in bed.


"Enough." Victor's voice is enough to bring all his men to attention, and they shoulder their weapons instead of pointing them at Sue. A radio crackles and one of the senior guards, near the back, says something in Latverian. "I see."

"Apparently, someone has come to take you home," he says, returning to Sue's side. "Think nothing of the damage, dear one. You're not well. I have no idea how Richards found you here — unless he intended this."

Victor offers Sue his hand, like a gentleman. "I prefer to think that he knew you were coming," he says gently. "Not that he was tracking you somehow, like a lab animal. That would be unworthy even of him, to treat you thus. If you wish to go to him, who am I to interfere? No one, no matter how much I wish I could provide you with the care you deserve."

The guards below are suspicious, chattering among themselves, intermittently gesturing at Reed and Johnny with their weapons. Apparently Reed's name is not unknown, given the flurry of radio activity it generates.

"Stay back," barks an older woman in uniform order. "This is Latverian soil and we are under high alert due to an intruder. Remain where you are, Americans." Somehow, she makes it sound like an insult.


Reed is aware of precisely whee American soil ends and latverian soil begins. And he is also aware that he is equally-precisely toeing that line. Literally, as it happens. He simply clasps his hands behind his back and waits. "Of course. We wouldn't dream of intruding uninvited. That would be in clear opposition to core American values, and we certainly wouldn't oppose such things," he announces, just loud enough for passerby to overhear without it sounding like he intends it. "We merely wanted to offer assistance in the spirit of good, old fashioned American cooperation while we were out looking for our friend." A pause. "You haven't seen her, have you? Korean lady, approximately" he holds a hand over the ground on his side of the line "this tall. She may have appeared confused or disoriented. We are naturally very worried about her. We live nearby so perhaps she wandered past earlier."


"Oh, for pity's — they know who she is," Johnny mutters in Reed's ear, standing tensely next to him and anxiously drumming his fingers against his own arms. "He probably has a photo of her in their break room in a big heart-shaped frame so they can keep an eye out." At least he's saying this quietly. By his standards, his temper is totally in check.

He keeps casting anxious looks past the guards, jaw tight. Windows don't just blow out for no reason. Sue is in there. Victor, almost assuredly, is also in there. Johnny is not a happy camper.


Seo rubs her eyes with the sleeve of the sweater. Ordinarily she'd have the mental and emotional resources to defend everyone, but the throbbing feeling behind her eyes doesn't allow for clear thinking. "N-no…?" it's almost a question as the generally self-assured woman attempts to negotiate the assertion. A chill washes over her, causing her to shrink deeper into the ridiculously oversized sweater. "I.. d-don't… i-it's n-not… I'm s-sorry," she stammers before straightening and looking at the window in question. And then in agreement, she notes, "I'm not well." Clearly.

Her judgment seems to be in question. Carefully, she sets the glass on a coaster no his desk. "Thank you," a glance is given towards the glass. "I should be going. Th-thank you for…" for what exactly? She's not even sure, and so she lands on, "…understanding." Because that is important here. She lifts her hands in the air — an assurance to the many armed guards that line the room — as she trails back towards the elevator, only to reach out the wall as she arrives adjacent to it for some semblance of balance. Her lips tighten into an almost smile. It never meets her eyes.


"I will walk you down." Victor isn't taking no for an answer. He takes Sue's arm to guide her into the elevator. "First floor," he says to the little man at the buttons. "Miss Storm is leaving us, unfortunately."

Outside, a crowd has gathered. Flash bulbs pop as reporters, drawn to the chaos, cluster at the gates. "Hey, is that Reed Richards?""I think that's Johnny Storm!""What you doing he — ""Can we get a statement?""Is Latveria under attack?""Does this have anything to do with Central Park?""Are you here to prevent a terrorist — ""What can you tell us?" The scrum is thwarted slightly by the rumbling arrival of a very expensive limousine that rumbles at the curb, just behind Reed and Johnny.

The guards beyond the gate draw back and the gates open with a soft grinding sound. Victor von Doom emerges with all the solemnity of a man walking his daughter down the aisle but it's a very unwell-looking Sue Storm on his arm.

"An accident," Victor says in a resounding, velvety voice. "Nothing more. And nothing to do with Miss Storm." He carefully, almost lovingly, offers her to Reed.

"She's not well, my friend," he says — loud enough for the pressing reporters to hear. "I can only assume that's why she came to me to explain — no, to protest — that she is in love with you. How odd and inappropriate that she would tell me. I can think of no reason why a young woman would do such a thing of her own accord except that she is very ill. My car will take you all home."


To be honest, Reed would like nothing more than Victor to make a turnaround, even if he knows it's probably never coming. And, to be honest, he just wants to get out of this without an incident. So he is more than happy to put on a smiling face and treat Doom in kind.

"Thank you, old friend," Reed manages with some fair grace, while passing Sue's hand to her brother. He keeps his eyes focused on Victor. "We appreciate the offer, and will gladly accept. Clearly it would be foolish to walk home under the circumstances. Thank you for assisting Ms. Storm when it was needed. It's heartening to see Latveria once again show its commitment to being good neighbors and friends to the American public."

Johnny gets a subtle nudge to usher himself and Sue into the offered car as soon as possible, while he's speaking. "As to your earlier questions, as you know, the Four live in the area. We were passing by when we saw the security measures increase. Since they are our neighbors, we stopped to inquire if assistance was desired, as we are sure any true New Yorker would. But I would remind our fellow neighbors that what occurs at the embassy is Latveria's affair, and such offers should always be made while respecting that fact and remaining outside the grounds."R
Reed holds up a hand at the end of his statement, though he's glancing aside at Victor and offering the other man a hand when he says, "Thank you, friends."


Johnny is doing a remarkably good job of ignoring the cluster of reporters and photographers, though their presence does do a very good job of reminding him to better school his expression. Look. Look how calm he is. Doesn't he look calm?

As soon as his sister comes into view, Johnny straightens up, his eyes darting over her form to check for damage as Doom — who he completely ignored — escorts her their way. He doesn't even wait for Reed, just reaches out to take Sue's hand as soon as she's within reach and slides his other arm around her shoulders. Come away from the mean man, Sue.

While Reed handles Victor and the reporters, Johnny lowers his voice and starts ushering Sue towards the offered car. Even Victor wouldn't be stupid enough to do anything to them publicly. Right? <Seo, are you alright?> he asks in quiet, worried Korean. <What happened with the window?>


Sue Storm doesn't look like herself. And she appears to have worsened rather rapidly over the hours she'd left the Baxter Building. Pale skin glistens as woozily moves with each step. The pale ghost that is Sue Storm gains some colour at Victor's assertion towards Reed. Evidently, she's aware that there's something in the comment to be taken aback by. But her mind can't seem to figure out what it is as her head cants curiously to the side. Besides, it seems that Reed is doing well enough with the gathered crowd. She clutches her brother, when he grasps her hand, and she virtually falls into him. While Johnny always runs hot, his sister's skin to the touch is unusually warm.

Her eyebrows draw together as she spies the crowd and turns her head to look up at the broken window. Her voice comes out as a raspy whisper, <I don't know.> She frowns slightly as the world continues to spin. <I… sneezed.> She's sneezed before and never busted a window as a result.

Her mind dulls more and the colours of the world seem to swirl together into a dizzying blur of colours bleeding together. "Th-thank you, Vi-Victor," she murmurs softly as she's being ushered towards the vehicle. <Can we go home? Now. I need…>


"We are grateful for your concern," Victor says generously, sketching a little bow for Reed. "And we appreciate your understanding. Our apologies if Miss Storm was troubled by the noise. If you'll excuse me, I have a matter to — clean up. I do hope Miss Storm recovers quickly. I am always at her service."

With that, Victor gives a wave to the crowd, ignoring their chattered queries, and steps back so that the gates can close behind Reed. He's very careful not to step off his territory when things are so chaotic.

For a man who's had his office partly destroyed and returned the object of his affections to her present partner, he looks almost victorious.


Reed returns the bow in kind, dipping just a touch lower then Victor does. As the other leaves, he purses his lips, then turns back to the continuing reporter questions.

"What's this about you and the Invisible Woman, Reed?", comes the inevitable yell from the back.

Reed, for his part, flashes a grin on the way to the car. "I thought I was supposed to be the last to know, Janice," he quips, and gets a small chorous of amused chuckles. "Sorry, I know you're just doing your job, but we have other concerns just now. Give us a call, we'll be happy to talk about it later."

Annnnnnd…. car door closed. Reed flops into the seat and leans back with a long exhale. "Glad you're safe, Seo. Let's get home." He's not talking too much in Victor's car, honestly.

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