1963-12-31 - Skating in Central Park
Summary: Jean-Philippe, Betsy Braddock, and Rogue enjoy a morning skate in Central Park.
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Theme Song: None
fantomex psylocke rogue 

It's New Year's Eve in New York, and most people are busy preparing for the party that will take place this evening. As a result, Central Park is unusually empty. Most everyone else has things to do and places to be. This is why Jean-Philippe had invited Betsy to join him in the park. He had brought ice skates for himself, and for her, though he had no idea if she knew how to skate. He wore a charcoal grey suit, with a black shirt, and a striped black and grey tie. Over this, he had a white overcoat. The bag with the skates and few other items was slung over his shoulder, and as always, he wore the mask. Curiously, the outdoor skating rink seemed to be empty. "So, Betsy, do you know how to skate?"

Psylocke had been working all week, even if it was a holiday week she preferred work over idle worthless and useless time wasted. But today, she'd been forced out of the workplace and… found herself here in the park, responding to Fantomex's invitation. She stood off to the side of the ice rink, a tall Asian beauty in a dark purple long coat with her hands stuffed into the side pockets. Her dark purple hair was blowing gently in the wind behind her and she was eyeing the ice rink and then the man in the suit with the skates.

"I do not know how to skate. I do not see the point of it. Why strap knives on our feet and slide around on ice. Ice is annoying. It melts in my drink too quickly and it makes cars fly off of roads." She stared at him, judging expression on her pretty face. "Knives are for killing, and cutting up deli meats. Not for footwear."

"Then you are most fortunate to have an excellent teacher," replied the faux Frenchman as he set the bag down on a bench and pulled out a lovely pair of dark purple skates, women's skates, with black and purple striped laces, and light purple accents. They were Betsy's size. He also had a pair of white men's skates, with some silver laces and accents.

"And, we do it because it requires skill, timing, balance, coordination, and there is a certain thrill to it, once you become proficient. It's not easy. Most people will fall, repeatedly. But, I think you're up for it." He was challenging her, hoping to engage her in some physical activity. Then he picked up the purple skates and knelt down in front of the bench near her, "may I change your shoes?" He asked, looking up at her.

The holidays are dimmer by far with half of the world fearful of an invasion by aliens any day now, and others suspecting danger will drop from the stars. Christmas eked out a bit of cheer, but the idea of partying when no one's even sure 1964 will show up takes a special brand of mental fortitude not even every New Yorker can muster. Those who join the revelry probably have something of a desperate air to them, a devil may care attitude shown in every excessive drink, dance, and jibe thrown between they who party. The long-legged bohemian in their midst partakes of little of it, though she emerges from an impromptu demonstration of waltzing by giddy NYU and Columbia students trying to stay upright. Cheap bottles of white wine stacked up in a box attest to the excessive state of drunkenness going on there, and she glides past them, headed for the heart of the park instead of those clustered near one of the eastern entrances. Not dressed at all for the chilly weather, the girl in a mini dress stands out in Satsuma orange; for another, she's gazing over a textbook in one hand, steering around any dangers like ice or a stationary bench near the skating rink or actual benched skaters themselves.

"Pardon," she murmurs, barely looking up, her jade gaze locked on a span of language that isn't written in English. Or Roman letters, for that matter.

Psylocke listened to everything that he said and then she looked up and looked around at the other people all over the place. "Too many." She muttered quietly, exhaling heavily causing a puff of white steam to poof out of her mouth and wildly disperse in the breeze.

She looked back down at him as he crouched near the bench, wanting her to sit down. She narrowed her eyes at him. "I do not want to bow down to your weird foot fetish." She said in her soft voice that was laced with a Japanese accent. "I put them on, I do it myself." She liked the colors of the skates, but she didn't want to tell him that.

Sitting down in a huff, Psylocke adjusted her coat and then glanced at the college girl who was nearby and talking… Psylocke had no idea who she was or why she was dressed like that. "Maybe she let you put things on her feet." Psy said to Fanto with a little smirk, while moving to put the skates on her feet.

Jean-Philippe chuckled at the suggestion that he had a foot fetish. It was nothing of the sort. He was just behaving as a gentleman. But sadly, Betsy didn't seem to like the gentlemanly approach. "As you wish," he said, setting the skates down on the bench, and rising to his feet. He dusted off the knee he had knelt on, making sure that there were no marks on his beautiful white overcoat or the darker suit he wore.

He sat down on the bench, leaving enough room for her to sit and change her shoes. When he did it, it was with practice precision. He was quick, having done this many times over. The skates he wore were of a professional quality, as were the ones he had bought for her, but he was used to it. Once he had tightened the laces, he pulled his pants back down over the top of them and stood to get a better view of the woman, who was not dressed for this weather.

"Curious. It's a nice dress. But she should be freezing her bottom off in this weather." It wasn't snowing, but there was definitely a chill on the wind. It was actually quite lovely in the morning, the way the amber sun lit up the park like a painting. Walking on the skates, but careful to remain on the rubber walkway, Jean-Philippe called out to her. "Miss, are you all right?" See, he was showing a concern for his fellow man, or woman, in this case. He could be a decent guy. He was making the attempt to reform and to, care about people who would in no way benefit him. Such a bizarre concept. It troubled him.

By anyone's local standards, the mini dress is something a bit out of this world, if not found in one of the mod magazines smuggled over from the United Kingdom by eager fashionistas trying to discover what all the sartorial fuss is about. Scarlett hasn't done much other than throw a drifting scarf around her neck and a pair of thin opaque leggings to yield off the cold. A rustle of paper marks a flip of the page, her gaze skimming down the block of printed text, and lifting anew to measure the frosted white oval flanking her path.

Taking in a breath, she halts near one of the plywood boards hemming in the rink, a convenient place for athletes of less than superlative skill to crash honourably. From the looks of the grey scrapes and scratches, it's frequently used for braking — or breaking egos, for that matter. The redhead closes the book, secreting it in the excessive cream drift of her scarf. A question can only go to so many targets, and the fading reverb of Jean-Philippe's inquiry snares her from that contemplation of the empty ice and rough foliage beyond. "Yes, I think so." Her accent suggests somewhere in western Europe, possibly caught between Sutherland and Savannah, mellifluous in tone and polished by academia or some level of economic status. "Out for a stroll, no more. You have the ice quite to yourself."

Psylocke went about removing her black tall boots that went up to below her knees, she sat them aside softly. "Anyone try to steal my boots. I will end them." She muttered while Fanto was talking to the bohemian girl. She slipped her feet into the skates and wiggled her toes inside of them. "Mm… strange." She muttered to herself and then went about lacing them up, tugging on the black and purple laces to make them tight. She wasn't an idiot about the concept of ice skating, she knew the skates would need to be tight to function properly.

Psy's dark purple eyes looked at Fanto and the Bohemian girl while she finished lacing her skates. She stood up then and huffed an exhale. "I am ready for the Olympics." She announced, one hundred percent confident that she would walk onto the ice rink and completely conquer this ice skating thing.

She did not wait for Fantomex, she did not need the help of some 'man'. So, Psylocke marched toward the open rink doorway and she placed her gloved hands on either sides of the door and put her right foot on the ice. She stepped out and pushed off and glided silently onto the rink.

"Exactly." She huffed out. "Precisely as I expec—-" SLIP FALL! pile of purple/black human body ten feet out onto the rink from the door.

When the girl in the mini dress said that she was fine, and that they seemed to have the ice to themselves, Jean-Philippe returned his attention to his… friend. At least he hoped he could call her that. He really didn't know. If someone says they want to drop you into the middle of an active volcano, but then accepts a visit to Central Park a few days later, is that a friend?

To his credit, Jean-Philippe did not laugh at Betsy when she fell. He didn't react at all. He was beginning to suspect that the Betsy was more Japanese than English, and so he had tried to be less funny, less aggressive, and more reserved. He calmly skated out onto the ice, and offered twp hands to assist her in getting up. "As in many things, skating appears to be easier than it is."

He had the balance and strength to pull her to her feet, and once she was secure, he loosened the pressure, but kept his hands in hers. "Skating is different from walking. You have to find your balance first, and then make gentle steps. Tilting your feet towards the centre, gently, will stop you gradually. As you get better, you will learn there are faster ways to stop. But it takes time." He was giving her instructions, trying to help her so that she might actually enjoy herself, eventually, and learn that perhaps he did know something that she did not.

The redhead in the mini dress folds her arms over the edge of the wall, the book propped under the delicate cross drawn by her avian wrists. Sloping forward from the waist, her torso draws a neat line while her weight rests upon her right leg, the left extended in the beginnings of a yoga asana or simply a good stretch. All suggests a contemplative regard for the skaters, a happy audience of one considering the dance about to be performed on a most unforgiving stage.

Doubly unforgiving when one considers the total absence of solid footing, and the madness entailed by sticking boots on a pair of blunt steel shafts, and trying to use these to propel oneself around a relatively flat surface without any sort of handholds whatsoever.

Naturally, her brazen eyebrows crinkle and her eyes narrow when Betsy steps out with such confidence and ends up clearing a fresh path with her coat all the way out to the ice. Limbs akimbo and skates flashing give reason for her to lean forward, adjusting her posture with intent to hop over as need be. "Are you all right, madame?" The question flits between the boards and drops, a golden note upon a messy scene.

At least there's someone there to bring the Japanese-British woman to her feet, or at least halfway competent to skating. Scarlett hovers on the point of stepping out there, but Jean-Philippe seems to have the matter in hand, so she withholds any further assistance for now. Embarrassment and pride have their place, after all.

Psylocke rose up to her knees on the ice and she was muttering something in Japanese. She was not entirely 'that mind' it was simply the most dominant of the two personalities inside of her head that were constantly clashing… Betsy Braddock was still there, but she was outmatched by the other personality, most of the time.

running her purple-gloved hands through her dark hair she glared up at Fantomex. "You brought me out here to make me look like fool." She said at him in an annoyed tone. She did not take his help to rise up, she did not need i— SLIP FALL. JAPANSESE CURSE WORDS!

Psy immediately slapped both of her gloved hands down onto the ice. "Knives are not for walking on!" She shouted in English and then angrily got back up with a focus on balance and safety from falling. She had heard what Fantomex had suggested and she was employing some of it… Her purple eyes went over to the Bohemian woman off to the side of the rink. "I am fine. Thank you." She said to her, trying to remain calm… trying hard to remain calm… as she glided to thed rink's wall about 10-feet from Scarlet's place.

Slowly, Psylocke went to turn around on the skates… her arms held out on either side of her for balance's sake. She turned until she faced Fantomex. "This is humans have evolved minds, to stay off of i—-"


Psylocke's left arm went out this time and a sudden GROWL of energy shot fort, a bright gleaming violet blade launched out of her arm and it seared through the wall of the rink as she had reflexively tried to hold herself up with her psi-sword, but… all it did was go right through the wall like a knife through butter!

The strange glowing sword-blade growled… as Betsy laid on the ice and groaned.

Jean-Philippe knew there would be some falls. It was to be expected. But skating was supposed to be romantic, especially on a day like today, and he thought that she would enjoy it, eventually. But with the curses that were flying, he was worried that she wouldn't give it enough time to develop an interest in the sport.

"I brought you out here because I thought that you would enjoy it, once you got the hang of it." Jean-Philippe was still wearing his mask, as he always did. He tried to follow along her, seeming to be an expert at skating as he was doing it effortlessly. And after one particular long curse in Japanese, he says, "I don't believe that's an anatomical possibility." He spoke English, but he seemed to understand her Japanese.

He did have to do something of a somersault, though his was more of a sideways somersault, almost like a particularly acrobatic figure skater might try, to avoid the glowing violet blade. He didn't think it was meant for him, but, more of an anger response. Seeing the damage she had done to the wall, he decided to take drastic matters.

For a moment, he looked around, pleased that Rogue seemed to be one of the few people in attendance. He was thankful for the recent threats against the park, and how quiet it was this morning. Because as he knelt down on the ice beside Betsy, he did something that shocked even him.

He removed his mask. He didn't just pull it up. He didn't just show off his mouth, nose, or even his eyes. He actually took it off. And he was fine. He was normal looking. He stared into Betsy's eyes, as he reached out to place his arms around her shoulders. "Betsy, you are a telepath… and you can see into my minds." Curious wording, plural. "Learn to skate. It's okay. I… I… I want you to do this." It was an incredible gesture on his part, knowing his hang-ups about telepaths. But with his luck, she'd probably think it was just him, trying to get into her pants again.

On a day like today: the last day in a year beset by tragedy, the loss of a president, the assassination of a god, the wrath of said god's family, invasion by giants, aliens claiming Earth as their stomping grounds… What, exactly, will the romance commemorate but perhaps the hope the Ice Age will once again descend and turn the planet into a giant snowball like the pre-Cambrian epoch.

Curses put the purple bow on a very peculiar present. She may not understand Japanese fluently, but even Scarlett can read from the tone and the body-language of the sprawled model what she might generally seem to say. "Don't put anything beyond possibility. It has been a strange year," she offers as a helpful rebuttal to Jean-Philippe. His insistence something cannot happen seems to inspire her to encourage Betsy, in some fashion.

Maybe it will be enough for the woman to rise off the ice like some vengeful banshee, and show him wrong by a triple Salchow, demonstrating she's secretly Britain's pairs bronze medallist for 1962, and hopefully headed to the next winter games. Right?

Whatever else they want to say about the bohemian, they can speak to either her uncanny reflexes or penchant for trouble. When the electrified brilliance of a psi-knife plunging towards the boards perilously close to her threatens to test the permeability of her boots, Scarlett's standing jump puts her atop the board instead. Her book is tucked to her breast, her mini dress none the worse for wear, thanks to the stability of an ibex on a razor-thin ledge. Her toes do curl slightly to maintain a perfect platform.

If they even notice.

Psylocke was well aware of where Fantomex was and where Scarlett was, she was a highly trained and experienced killer… she knew where the people around her always were… even if she may not be the best choice to send out onto the ice for a skating contest.

When Jean-Phillipe offered his knowledge, Betsy's dark purple eyes shot to him and she reached her right hand up and out and extended her fingers at his face! A little spot on the front centre of her forehead began to glow and she invaded Fantomex's mind with her telepathy ability! This was not something she would've normally done, but she was angry right now… angry and embarrassed… two things Psylocke didn't deal well with.

Her other hand, with the glowing-purple-sword came around and the tip of the sword aimed right at Fantomex's face where she was pulling his thoughts from his head… it might look like she was about to run him through with that magical sword, but a second later she would drop both of her hands, the psi-sword would retract back into her arm and completely vanish.

Psylocke moved to stand up then, looking up to Scarlett who was standing above, and then over to Fantomex. "I do not want romance." She quietly said as she started to skate, moving like a pro now, at a casual gliding pace.

Jean-Philippe did not have a normal mind. For one, his consciousness was formed from three separate brains. Where ordinary people had two hemispheres, he effectively had six. And he had some defences too. He had learned to defend his mind against some, basic psychic attacks.

It was obvious that he had the ability to fight, not win, but delay things. And he was trying, desperately, to allow her into his mind. But his mind was at war with itself. Part of him wanted her to know, part of him didn't want anyone in there. But the part that wanted her to know won out, and it was relatively easy for her to pick out the knowledge he was offering.

He had shared an intensely personal, and unusually private thing with her. Betsy took the information, and all she said was that she did not want him. It would be enough to depress most men. But Jean-Philippe was not most men. He replaced his mask, putting his own armour back on, and calmly got up. But it was clear that it had affected him far more than her.

As he skated, like a pro, his face, he seemed, somehow sad. It had been a gamble, and he had lost. For the moment, Rogue was forgotten as he skated towards an empty side of the rink, enjoying it as much as he could, but he was saddened by the ordeal. He hung his head low, the smile that had been beneath the mask was gone, replaced by a far more stoic expression. He would occasionally try to force a smile, but it didn't work.

Tipping her head slightly, Scarlett brushes away her elaborate plaits from her face, rearranging the knot work that licks down her shoulders and settles in the arch of her spine. "Or subtlety, it seems," she adds, a mildly warm tone preventing the statement from coming down too harshly. It isn't likely to register so. No one in their right mind looks at a girl dressed like what she is — a bohemian on the cutting edge of counterculture — as a threat. Largely because she isn't one.

"I prefer not to judge, though I will warn you most of the city is likely to panic or shoot you first and ask questions later manifesting that kind of ability." Gesturing lightly towards the string of buildings on the grey staccato skyline of 5th Avenue enforces her point without overt need to underline it.

A flex of her knees and she hops down off the board, leaving it quivering mildly from the sudden loss of her mass. Fluttering neroli scent rolls after her, as distinct a signature as a fingerprint, the whisper of citrus melted into a woodsy bouquet difficult to identify at a distance. "Try to be cautious. Metahumans do not deserve the disgust or fear they encounter here, but alas, minds clouded in fear and uncertainty in these uneasy times."

Whatever warmth solidifies in the lilting tone for their benefit, lending a warning without any sort of force imposed. Her book ends up wrapped up in the tails of her scarf, a few neat gestures forming a knot acting as a pendulum against her back. Odd, but for a lack of pockets, whatever could she possibly do? Levitate it along with her?

Psylocke had come around back toward Scarlett to hear her say these things. She glanced toward Jean-Phil and watched him off on his own. Betsy felt remorse for him, Kwannon wanted to stab him.

Psylocke heard what Scarlett said and she stared at the Bohemian girl, she was a model… she enjoyed clothing that bucked traditions, even if most of her jobs in America had been attempting to get her to wear horribly traditional clothing for this time period.

"I do not know how to interact with him." Psylocke said to Scarlett, reaching out for someone of her same gender for advice it would seem. "He is… infuriating… but, good person. Or good liar, one of the two." She exhaled then and looked directly at Scarlett. "I do not show off my abilities, it was… an unfortunate slip."

The wall that she had sliced up leaned forward and groaned as it sagged on its own weight, apparently agreeing with Psylocke's words.

Skating alone off to the side, Jean-Philippe, or Jean-Phil for short, had not heard what Rogue had to say, or if he did, he wasn't showing any sign of it. Removing the mask had hurt him, badly. He had not removed that mask, except to briefly exchange it for a clean one, since before he escaped. It was his safety net. His ensurance that no one would ever enter his mind, would control him, would deceive him. It was how he knew that this world was real.

For all he knew, he was still on the ice, sitting next to Betsy, and that every moment since was part of a dream, implanted there by one of these damn telepaths. He truly hated them. And yet, he cared for one of them, enough to break his own will, to do something so intensely personal and painful. It was getting to him. He didn't like to show weakness.

He continued to skate, on auto pilot for the most part. He devoted one brain to skating, while the other two tried to focus on how to deal with this. What he had done. And the reaction he had received. She was in his mind, and she still wanted nothing to do with him. She never would. It was hard to accept, but he had to learn to live with that.

As he skated around the rink, he began to slow, until he finally stopped. He dropped to the ice, kneeling down. His head tilted forward. He had his back to them. But he made several quick breaths. He was crying.

The clothing has lines of the like no American designer has mastered, and Mary Quandt would care to know how the hell she pulls off that sort of silhouette without sartorial malfunctions. Secret of the soul-thief, and she's not explaining. All the same, once finished displacing the weight of the small book so it avoids strangling her, Scarlett smartly tugs on her collar and straightens a little.

Only for her impending escape to be cut off by the most reasonable of means. Conversation and discourse come to her as easily as some people throw buildings at problems. "Madame?" Her head tipped in Betsy's direction, the redhead offers the mildest of looks that withholds the burning volatility of her nature behind a far more restrained grip. "Are you curious to how to maintain a friendship without roaming into romantic expectations?" That's one way for her to describe it.

The crescent arc of her smile diffuses moonlight through her pale features, crafting an understanding expression. "It helps to say so, though not in overly harsh terms. Mustn't let someone down too hard, for their ego can crack under the weight. If you enjoy their company, say so, and pursue whatever is mutually interesting. Had I to guess, I would say you are the kind of lady who knows her own mind and preferences well. Expressing it is advantageous."

Scarlett's gaze ticks to the crashed board, and she raises her hand to her mouth to stifle something. Smile, laugh, horrified yelp? It makes a fine punctuation point while Jean-Philippe bends to the weight of his despondency, denied privacy on the ice while he seeks a corner to hide in an oval. Or rather, kneeling, relentlessly pursued by the vivid emerald flare of her spring-leaf gaze.

"Sir, I do not know whom you are, but you cannot be left alone to your devices at the moment." She flicks a look to Betsy, shaking her head, and then circles around to the entry point onto the ice. Those boots are not skates. There is no reason whatsoever she could take to the ice and not fall over short of the grace of Gaea, and that's in short supply these days. "Our world is in a terrible state, we may be at war, and I have watched too many souls suffer while standing by helpless. On your feet. Hell's bells, I'm not up for another person miserable. If this year has to end, it's going to end on some kind of moderate to high note, and if not, you can bloody well have the business end of the strongest margarita we can blend up. Pardon, ma'am, you might prefer something different. Sake, had I to guess." Her fingers flicker, and she glides midway towards them. "But get back up. You're not the first person nor the last to have a hard landing, and believe me, you get through it. There's no other choice, put a foot in front of you and find some equilibrium until such time your soul resonates to the sublime joy of another love or crush. No white handkerchiefs, you know? Get up. Friendship can be just as rewarding."

Psylocke watched Jean-Phil where he was crouched, she saw what he was doing and it made her eyes look up toward the sky. She muttered something in Japanese and then heard Scarlett's response and looked over to the Bohemian girl with the European accent enter the rink and move to assist the weeping man.

Psylocke… had no mind for this… even Betsy Braddock would be hard pressed to know what to do, but the asian assassin? She was completely shut-out on how to assist with this. She had screwed up, she knew that, she had made a man who seemed to care for her cry… but she did not know how to help him.

When Scarlett entered the rink surface, Psylocke exited it. She walked back to the bench where her boots were and she knelt down and there was a flash of purple light near her skate laces, they were severed and she stepped out of them. Her boots were grasped and she walked toward a nearby lamp post that was casting a long thin shadow across the ground from the shining sun above…. Psylocke disappeared inside of the shadow.

It had begun as lust. In his heart, his only heart, he had to admit that. But it had grown to become infatuation. Jean-Philippe found Betsy Braddock to be the most fascinating woman that he had ever met. Even her most scornful of remarks was enough to pique his interest. Perhaps he enjoyed the verbal abuse, he wasn't sure, but he knew that he was a moth, drawn to her violet flame.

The stranger's words were not unwelcome, and he practically willed himself to cease his wimpering. It was undignified. He was disgusted with himself. He rose to his feet. His mask was damp around the eyes, just under them, but it wasn't terribly noticeable. The ice shaving of Bety's falls, and when he removed the mask, it had become damp in a few areas. So there was that at least.

"Thank you, miss." He said, a resolve coming over him. He had entered into his assassin mode. It was one way to deal with the pain and hardship of what he had offered, only to be so blatantly rejected. "We have… a complicated." And then he saw her, disappear into the shadow of the lamp pole. "Relationship," he finished. "But thank you for your concern."

Shadow swallows up one of them; the woman steps sideways and simply ceases to be. A fact registered by the redhead settled upon the ice skating rink will be pursued at some other time, though a spark of surprise illuminates those radiant eyes. Knowledge is worth having.

Waves of cream deflect off her shoulders, the book bumping against the small of her spine. Scarlett tugs lightly on the cotton and wool-spun scarf to avoid being entangled, a habit done almost unconsciously. Hers is a profound stillness when she entrusts in that, lingering in a space between melting ice and freezing air, facing the man hunched over, masked and at once unmasked. She's seen him as bare-faced as Betsy has, the witness for their interactions. There is no scorn in her face, her expression wrought to the inimitable lines of ancient marble statues devoted to deities or heroines, personified virtues and idols.

"I can see that," she murmurs in agreement. Jean-Philippe may be shut down; the distance is a familiar if terrifying reflection of the soul-thief's own ability to keep the world at arm's reach. "Counsel from a stranger: time is your ally, not your enemy. Betimes, especially with a culture as hers, a slow and measured approach will win you far more than a rushed one. Honour and trust do not flower overnight."

And that's it, as she spins gently upon her toes, and flows away unless he seeks to stop her. True, not anywhere near as elegantly as if she had blades on her boots, but there is a finessed grace that steel cutting ice would never have. Partly because she's a few atoms above the ice.

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