1963-12-07 - Ready or Not
Summary: Old friends, in the flesh.
Related: N/A
Theme Song: Oh My My - Ruelle
blackagar wanda 


Where does a girl go to escape her own nightmares? She seeks the comfort of space in an overcrowded city. An illusion for that can be found in the denuded woodlands of Central Park, calling her to its asphalt paths. She sits for the moment on a bench, capturing that prime real estate only because there is no viewpoint to admire the skyline or patterns of frost on the pond behind her. She carries her Thermos of tea, and it's at this spot she chooses to take her liquid breakfast. No food to speak of; the black tea shot by lavender is most she partakes of at this hour.

Not much activity surrounds the brunette, contained largely to a man sketching on a canvas, and a woman pushing her toddler on a morning stroll. There are more picturesque corners. There are most certainly busier ones. Here in the depths of the park towards its Northwest side, shoppers will soon start the engines of commerce humming, the fancy penthouses have their own personal dramas, and the common man fears what Lyndon Johnson fears: is the world falling apart?

Wanda Maximoff watches the branches and dry leaves blown about, and reads vagaries of fate in the flap of a pigeon's wing.


Escape is the key word. Blackagar has tried various attempts to escape of late in various forms, each of them resulting in a worse backfire than the last, at least in his perspective. Now the latest attempt at some kind of escape has led him to depart the building that the Inhumans have claimed and to make his way to the only area that doesn't make him completely sick, Central Park. Even still, the pollution in this spot is enough to cause him to cough occasionally and to pull his jacket tighter about him against a cold that normally does not seep his bones.

He is a man wrapped up in his own problems, so much so that he does not even notice that his path is bringing him past the bench of one of his only friends.


Sunlight struggles to peep through the overcast skies, lining certain clouds in brighter silvered pearl. Such days have an odd way of muffling excess sounds, dampening conversation at a distance, making the quacking mallards or honking geese flapping their way east to Long Island wintering grounds oddly hollow.

Anything bright or garish stands out, then. Wanda's deep claret leather coat blazes in a fading autumn flame against incoming winter, her dark hair and sun-kissed complexion a beacon for warmer lands recalled only in memory. She raises the green plastic Thermos cup to her lips, dredging the flavour of morning and diesel fumes from her lungs by submerging herself in a powerful, caffeinated tea guaranteeing a kick so badly needed. Leaning back slightly against the bench, her coat pulls taut, hidden laces denying the supple leather freedom to part, melting it to her corseted torso. Gold glints at her throat and she strums her finger unconsciously along the chain, casting a look towards movement. Any movement gathers a check from the paranoid girl.

What she sees usually ends up dismissed to the periphery. Not this time. Immediately she sits up.


Another shrug of his coat and Blackagar pulls it about him as he pauses after passing a tree. It was at the side of his vision, a movement of color that was offset against the white and green of the park. A brilliant color that could easily be passed for decoration, in fact it was initially until the movement occurred. Stopping in his tracks, the man turns slowly and his head tilts to the side as he realizes he is standing there, staring at a woman on a bench that is far more familiar looking than he can truly comprehend at that moment.

The looks of confusion, surprise, and uncertainty all rest upon his features as he stands silently (no surprise there) staring at the woman on the bench. If it was a lookalike, it is incredible, or perhaps his mind was simply upon this person to begin with. Either way, there is a tentative step taken forward, the movement in itself questioning reality.


Were fate kinder, warning would ring from the Inhuman king. Blackagar's courtiers ought to dress him with a belled collar for all the little ignorant human birds, sending forth peals so he cannot sneak up on them by walking past, like any other citizen, hands in his pockets and ponderous thoughts engaging his mind.

Wanda's honey-brown eyes might be forgotten, considering the wake of her astral form capturing the dying rays of the summer sun in her gaze. The rest of her is little different. Sleek chestnut locks pulled back from her brow by a tangled skein of ruby threads allow no hiding behind her hair, and the exaggerated symmetry of her facial features allow no escape. Fey eyes widen in circumspect regard. Recognition may come to him faster than her, but she does not ease back from her alert posture.

In all fairness, ten spiral steel bones assure the sorceress cannot sag that far. Her boots clap together at the soles, knees bent with military rigor. Finding her voice comes a moment later, disturbing their silence with an eddy of her mezzo-soprano voice. "Blackagar?"


The recognizing tilt of his head comes with the barest nod of acknowledgement. He certainly looks surprised to have come across her in this place and as such isn't with his normal writing tools in which to communicate; after all it was only meant to be a private walk alone in the park. Seeing Wanda however he steps forward, then stops. There is an awkward uncertainty about how to proceed so he ends up standing, with hands in his pockets looking at her.

After a time, a smile touches his lips and grows up into his blue eyes as he weighs the woman in front of him. Seeing her is not the same as he normally sees her, perhaps he's grown accustomed to the spirit more than the body as he glances around, gestures a bit with his shoulder and expresses a shrug of questioning.


The spirit reflects the body, to some capacity. Not the way that spacy thinkers trying to sell the latest diet fad mean, but one reflects the health of the other, and the diminished state of someone's wellbeing can often be read in their assumed spiritual body. The young woman's posture eases slightly, confirming what she well knows; anyone else might have opened their mouth, kept walking, or told her off in classic New Yorker fashion. They're the only people ruder than Muscovites or renegade twins wrapped up in rebellion.

Wanda slides down on the bench, her berry leather coat flowing around the steel canteen snug against her thigh and the silver pentacle coming out of eclipse. Her cup she drains in a sip, glancing down to the leaves accumulated at the bottom. Something to be washed out later. Her tacit offer for him to sit may or may not be taken, which she may be well with. "Morning." In English, her accent is infinitely more audible than in thoughts. "You decide still what path to take? So many choices." The inviting snarl of paved routes and those trekked through the grass by dogs, squirrels, and disrespectful humans form a kind of knotwork assiduously mapped by the city and amateurs alike.


His eyes look over the bench, the sliding of Wanda and there is a moment of hesitation accompanied by thought before he finally moves over to where she sits and settles himself in, adjusting the coat about him to bundle it. For a man who walked the highest mountains in the world in just a shirt and pants, to be garbed as such is a departure from before.

At the question, he produces the gesture so common for humans, the swaying of head and shoulders, showing the hemming and hawing thought process that claims some decisions have been made but that they are in flux. He looks straight ahead but does glance to his side at her in a peripheral sort of way, watching for reaction to his body language. The toughest conversations are those made in silence but that is where he must be in this realm.


He gained a wardrobe worthy of his status in New York, and Wanda apparently owns nothing but black pants or leggings, and a deceptively well-cut trenchcoat, plus a supply of leather corsets. Her closet undoubtedly counts as one of the least innovative, exciting places in the state. No paper dresses for her any time soon. Her hands wrap around her knees while awaiting his response, elevating the arch of her spine, and the way every person is examined through guarded, dark lashes. Then without warning, she slides off the bench as he has finished speaking without words. "Stay, please. Important."

Then she crosses the grass towards the artist with the canvas, a man too engrossed in capturing the lines of dark branches tangled together to bother with a few pedestrian activities like talking, walking, or picnicking. Their conversation is brief. He mostly scowls at the young woman, who glares back at him. Gestures are made to a sketchpad. He shakes his head, and she holds out a few coins. Money speaks volumes, regardless of language, intent registered plain. One HB pencil and three pages of torn out sketchbook paper, she comes back in mixed triumph. A look over her shoulder measures his engrossed state with his paints, and she snaps her fingers in a click. Few will notice the red sparkles that follow. However, his paints are bound to prove inevitably more tricky today.

They'll be cause for his canvas ending up a slurry mess in about four hours, when he goes to unpack it in his workshop, discovering the whole contents of his box are ruined. Perhaps a bit much for being ornery, but fate decrees what it will.

Wanda puts the paper and pencil down on the bench between them. Before she sits, another cup of tea is poured from the Thermos in response to the gnawing sensation in her stomach. Fragrant steam rises up, and she settles down with her mug. "You can run yet. They might follow, but lots of spots to stay out of sight. I know a few."


A smile touches his lips, what would be a chuckle were he able to make noises and he nods in gratitude at the paper being brought to him. He takes a few moments to think then begins to write, taking his time to do it. «I could run, and I may still, but not until what has been set in motion is completed. I have decided, despite my reservations, it is necessary to retake the Inhuman homeland from my brother. From there, I will see what the path I weave is. But with the chaos of this world, leaving him in power is an additional variable I cannot risk.» As always he sets it before Wanda to let her read it, while watching her as she does for reactions to the words.

At the bottom he had scribed an additional note, «I do not want to run away again, much less alone.»


Her expression rarely alters when reading, the usual responses suppressed. Hers has been a life full of penalties for revealing herself too freely; Wanda schools her expressions unconsciously, now, a reflex built into her regular existence as much as he knows not to talk. Sometimes she falters. Doubtful Blackagar does. Stilled discipline leaves her scrutinizing the words as they appear in the graphite element, and English letters are a great deal easier than vocal words.

The faint gritting sound just happens to be her molars rubbing against one another, jaw shifted laterally on a small scale. "Your brother does not want you to die," she says quietly. "His allies do not have to kill to do harm to you."

Her shaken head sends the sepia veil of her hair off her shoulder, dragged back from the golden chain and pomegranate collar, leaving a swathe of golden skin bare. Tipping her head back, she stares to the sky rather than him, composing her thoughts. "You know about risk. You do not know he wants you out of the way. His allies may use different means. He thinks I am his stiletto. Cut you away, take the heart of resistance out. I have not yet made him think otherwise."


He writes gently now, the style of writing meant to reflect the tone of words. «Do not underestimate him or place yourself in danger. He will seek his allies, for he believes a war is coming. It is. But not the war he suspects.» There is a small soft smile from Blackagar as he finishes that statement then he looks at Wanda and writes a bit more. «They may try to harm me, to remove me from the equation. But they cannot. This is, what will be.»

Looking at her, it is impossible to resist, a hand reaches up as he places the paper before her and he touches the hair that fell away. A gesture of familiarity that perhaps may be forward but after the years and times together having been upon the astral plane, it is almost a check to see that she is real. Reaching over, he adds upon the paper. «I felt he would come to you, the mages, for help.»


The response takes longer to write, parse, and respond to than anything else. Wanda is a patient individual, doing nothing to rush Blackagar along. She picks up her discarded cup, set aside before she clasped her knees, and the cooling tea is swallowed in several small, quick tastes. The comfort in the powerful brew, overwhelming to a less educated palate, keeps her locked in contemplation.

Tea, the ultimate Christmas present and panacea for all that ails one. Her eyes grow heavy-lidded and dreamy, softened at their corners, while she waits for the scratching of the pencil to cease and note, on a subtle level, Blackagar is quite done. Or paused.

Her gaze shifts towards his borrowed paper, the high quality sketchpad giving an excellent space for him to pencil in thoughts and doodles.

"What war then?" The question lingers at a murmur. Eyebrows arch in chocolate lines, the query settling in as its repercussions settle. Another long moment requires her to reorder her thoughts and words, so they correspond to what he wrote.

Motion at the periphery of her vision produces an instant reaction.

She jerks upright, flattening the paper to her thigh before it slides off onto the ground in an origami crackle. The pentacle swings and bounces against the narrowed vee notch of her coat, and she skims her left shoulder up to protect the sensitive line of her neck from an assault of any manner. Her weight rocks onto her right hip, her left knee rising several inches until her foot clears the ground, angled almost defensively to the twist of her torso, executed with all the elegance of an emotive Hellenistic statue. Kore fleeing Hades. Calliope before Hermes. The Idyll Interrupted.

A sharp intake of breath speaks to something, the fiery reaction of nerve endings coalescing into an explosive reaction of fireworks sprinkled liberally across the surface of her being. For good reason, the fine trails of her hair lay minute vibrations over her skin and pull away, soft as silk, equally as tormenting as a perceived touch.

Framed against black jersey and buttery claret leather, the irregular row of lilac blots smudge her sun-copper skin, droplets from a painter's brush. Her fingertips rise to run over her shoulder tenderly, skimming beneath the collar and stealing further, splayed digits applied a balm of memory with care.

"It was foreign magic. He has another mystic, not like us." She worries her lower lip between her teeth. "Strange magic is safe, but this is something terrible. He wants me to imprison you for a time."


The abrupt reaction at the near touch of reassurance has Blackagar's hand closing rapidly and balling up, retreating back towards him. Had he so terribly misread things? The probability was quite high. He had avoided other beings his entire life, why would he ever presume to be able to anticipate or predict their inclinations? The barest raise of chest in a sigh occurs and then he reaches out to respond upon the paper with a writing that is slightly more hastened, perhaps to move the topic along and avoid any potential embarrassment afforded to him in that moment.

«Imprison me? Interesting. His idea of for a time most likely means a generation or two, enough for him to solidify himself further in his mind. I know of his contacting mystics, my cousins brought word of this upon its inception. Are they strong enough to be of a concern? A variable I must account for?»


Rapid breaths exchange oxygen in a hurried, shallow cycle, her chest falling and rising too quickly. Wanda slowly lowers her foot back to the ground when her synapses no longer fire discordant bursts of information that deluges her, and leaves her prey to her physical reactions. A low, shuddering sigh glitters upon the air as she rotates on the bench, the hard wood biting into her legs as she rolls off her hip. Teeth groove a sharp bite into her lower lip, force sufficient to leave a bruise rising in coming hours. Her feet anchored on the ground again, the witch still keeps her arm wrapped about her midsection and the paper, wherever it landed beside her, is at no risk from the tea on her opposite side. Thank goodness for lids.

"Yes. They are enough he spied on me several times." Her voice is still high and unusually rich, the mezzo-soprano quaver ascending the higher. She never laughs. But the temptation is there, still feeling the ghostly melody playing on her skin. "You take the news well. That he wants me to hold you out of place. I will not do it."


He writes as he does in his flowing fashion. «I would not think you to. For who you are as a person it does not align with Maximus' goals or mind. His is one that will appeal to those looking for their own power as well. The thirst for something more is a part of some people's natural state. Those are who he appeals to and who will oppose me.» Blackagar ponders for a bit before writing a bit. «Thank you for this information however. It will help me to prepare and be aware of the threats that we will face in retaking the city.»

Gently he reaches out to place the writing in front of Wanda before diverting his crystal blue eyes to looking in a direction that is anywhere but at her.


Let the unease prevail, even as she tugs at the chain of her necklace. The pentacle tumbles over the rim of her leather coat, a joyous pendulum bounced about. The brunette rakes her nails through her dusky hair, leaving a tumble of shadows down her back and a few pieces awash in front of her face. Eventually she has to turn and read what Blackagar wrote, leaning slightly forward to see it. "I do not care about power. Not like that. I do not need that crown." The shape of it is vaguely outlined with her hands, which might cause no little concern in that she happens to know what it looks like. "I would expect this, yes, resistance. Trouble. What do you mean to do about them? Your cousins gave you a warning. Will they bring a way to prevent harm to you?" Her gaze flickers into the grey smoke of the sky, and then she clutches for the empty teacup. No help there.

The last of the tea in the Thermos is poured out, and she drinks it down as though she happened to stumble out of a desert onto a lush green oasis.


«I do not expect to leave this encounter unharmed. It is the way of such things. The goal is not for me to win, the goal is to unseat Maximus from the throne.» Blackagar writes after having gone through some thought. He still has not brought his eyes back, not since that awkward moment and thus he keeps his focus forward. «I will do what I must to see this done. Any who stand opposed to this goal, who stand with Maximus, then I will have to deal with I suppose. And if I fail, I fail, but at least I have tried to set things right after having let it go for such a time.» He places the pad now in front of Wanda, slowly gathering himself as to push up, and get his feet under him for walking once again.


She listens. And for a good long while, Wanda sips her tea down to the dregs. Then she remains very quiet indeed.

"You are a good leader. Better than many, to be willing to do this." She thumbs the gemstones glistening on the pendant, still holding tightly onto the cup. "I know many bad leaders. I see men gaining by power. They make their nation a bank, soldiers to fight their own problems. The man is the crown, is the crown the man?" Waxing uncharacteristically philosophical for someone reduced to simple language in English much of the time, she looks over towards him. "What help do you need?"

This cannot be goodbye? The thought rings in her head, and practically lies upon her features, for all the dram of ticklish ease shines through her. "Blackagar." There lies a certain note under there, and she reaches into her pocket, the teacup ignored for the moment. Something snaps, tugged on, threads giving way. "Take this. I will come when you call. You are my friend. I have so few of them. Do not go to war without a shield. Take this, and break it." It — a ceramic disk, no larger than a coin, bears the embossed shape of upwards pointed triangles staggered atop one another, against a lotus background. It wouldn't be hard to shatter, not for a strong man. "It tells me where you are. I will come. And if you burn it," she draws a breath, composition of so many words demanding care. "If it burns, you need the cavalry. Your destiny is not so writ in stone we cannot edit it."


Blackagar looks at the disc in his hand, turning it over back and forth a couple of times before looking up at Wanda. Is that it? That is goodbye? The years and the distances are rather great. Still he hesitates and looks it over before nodding slowly. Looking up towards the witch, the man wears a small smile and simply nods to her. He reaches up and taps his chest, then fingers to lips and outwards, the signal for thank you. The writing utensils already having been left on the bench.


He takes it, and he has lost his paper. With that, Wanda stands up. "You owe me tea on…" A quick measurement of the date shows up. "Monday. Yes? You stay somewhere. Your war, if you will go without me, starts sometime. You can tell me the story. Come back dead and I will have your ghost to talk to." The sorceress lets her eyes start to glow, filling by a pomegranate shade to make a point she is no mere child playing at adult's games, but a small power of her own right.


That does make him stop mid step, turn and look at Wanda with an upturned eyebrow. There is amusement in Blackagar's expression along with questioning. He folds his arms over and while looking at Wanda has the patient expression of someone delivering the sentiment of «Oh Really?» in the teasing, incredulous way. She may not be a mere child playing at games, but he is amused either way and is not afraid to express it.


Oh really indeed.

"Blackagar, I warn you not to treat this friendship as a thing gone to yesterday." She bends then to pick up the papers and the Thermos, tucking it under her arm. The cup screwed back on top gives the brunette witch an appearance of trotting off from a picnic. "I mean it. Your brother thinks me like to pull you out of space. That I do not mean to, not without saving you. But I need know," she holds out the paper, in case the Inhuman King wishes to take it, "when will happen? What is too much to ask, I think. Maybe not. You can leave written word at O'Riley's Tea House. I go there often. My house is not just one place."


He writes on the paper, hastily for Wanda, «Before the New Year begins.» as far as time, it is vague but only because he himself doesn't know for certain when this will happen. He pauses then and looks up at her, managing to think before writing once again. «It is good to know that even after all these years, I am still as poor a communicator as I was in Tibet.»


Tibetan lilts across her tongue, easier than English in some ways. "«Throw a rock at the mountain, monk.»" It's an old statement wrought in a rare trace of irony and humour, her eyes glittering. "You have the cavalry. You have me. We will not fail you. These dangers are not only yours." A shift of the thermos is equivalent to wiggling her finger at him. Would he even tolerate it from her? Possibly and possibly not. Resting on her heel, she adopts a rather casual stance that could easily turn aggressive or defensive as need be. The pause harbours potential, and he might realize sooner or later she managed to get him to look back at her. Ha!


The look upon Blackagar's face is one that is weighing, between being amused or being put out it flashes back and forth as he stands there staring at the witch until finally his arms unfold and he takes a step towards her, reaching up with his hand to bat at the thermos some that had been wriggling at him in such a way. Reaching out he snags some paper and scribbles quickly, «Not only mine, but mine only to face.» He turns it to show Wanda, eyebrow quirking in a manner. Arrogance perhaps, but the burden of 'self' and martyrdom definitely the greatest of motivators.


"He thinks he is pretty. Too pretty." No, the brunette knows better than to argue on that front; there is no point to undermining a man's resolve to go marching up the mountain by himself and have one on one combat with his brother. The mind-controller versus the world-breaker, all the universe needs those two having a sibling's quarrel. Truths are deeper than writ in pencil or expression, anyways; for they probably near enough share the same stubborn, unyielding temperament when not get right down to it. The correction to the Thermos sets her aback only a moment, and then she manages a quirked half-smile. "Your right to choose. I will watch, and remember the mystics. They do not play fair."

Like she will.

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