1964-01-15 - Now We Both Know Things About Each Other
Summary: Jean Grey meets a stranger sent to the school by one of the Institute's close allies.
Related: Firewalking
Theme Song: None
jean natasha 

The woman known as the Black Widow approaches Xavier's Institute as the sun sets, unannounced. Despite the chill in the air, she does so on foot with a black overcoat, grey scarf, black gloves, and black knit cap for warmth; despite the hour, the mansion is reflected in Jackie O shades. Smoke and breath mingle, one hand kept busy with a Parliament while the other clutches the flap of the large messenger bag slung over her shoulder as if she expects muggers to melt out of the foliage surrounding the path from street to outer gates at any moment.

Now and again, her eyes dart over a shoulder. One can never be too careful.

Upon reaching the gates, she takes a moment to breathe in, cradling her hand over the intercom. A smile grows. Not too big; remember the bag. She toggles the intercom:

"Hi, ah, excuse me, I'm— Dr. MacTaggert told me that you might be able to help me? Is— anyone…? My name is Miss Johannsen, sorry…" she immediately transmits.


For those few weeks in Rio, Jean has witnessed many things. Many things that allowed her to 'wake up' to the present; to realize certain facts and things that nearly made her blood boil and practically decimated a forest. So know the true thoughts of man and how they look upon those who do not look like them, as well as the joys that music could bring and dance, and the way the feet and hips move when a beat is perfected along with a para of maraccas to bring the emotion.

And food. So much glorious foods and strange fruits. Yet all of that was missed as she finally returned home to the mansion a few days ago.

It was a quiet return. No, honey I'm home. No, hey guys! What's shaking! Or, I have a story to tell you! Quiet. Business as usual. Dishes were washed and put away. Beds were made and floors were swept. Smiles were exchanged and quiet waves given, the quiet, ghostly redhead floated from room to room to gather books left and returned them to the library.

The main foyer was her point of attack now. Mop bucket dragged along the wooden floor as she dips it into and begins to squeeze it out with but a thought. The wood grasped with her hand and slopped against the wood as she hears the buzz of the bell, her gaze falling upon it to stare towards the intercom with furrowed brows. MacTaggert. How could she forget? Close to two months ago she made a promise to talk to her but never.. once..

"Be right there." Jean said with a press of the button, a throw from the couch gripped, heavy bunny slippers (which she named Thing Left and Thing Right) still upon her feet as she made her way outside, leaving the door ajar to greet the chill of the night. It was a long walk, down the stairs, onto the sidewalk, into the driveway which winds, and possibly four minutes later.. she is at the gate. Brow raised and a light smile given. "What can I do for you, Miss Johannsen?"


Gloved fingers wind around the gate, the stranger leaning nearer to meet Jean's approach. The shades are gone by the time they're in speaking range and a fresh cigarette hangs from her lips, dark and waiting. The smile is returned, but not without a visible measure of pain about the eyes as her hand falls - almost unconsciously - to momentarily clutch the bag again.

"Well," she exhales around the filter, eyes flicking briefly sideways. "It's somewhat complicated— do you think we could take a walk?" Her chin tips past the other redhead's shoulder. "Maybe around the grounds? We work together, see? Dr. MacTaggert and I— not together-together, but under the same roof."

She catches the bars again and hauls herself close enough to drop her voice nearly to a whisper:

"Up north, with Mr. Colcord," she concludes.


Jean was as effective at reading people as she was reading the room. Most people around the school know of her untimely outbursts and her horrible social cues, so even though green eyes scan Miss Johannsen, she could not quite pick up upon the visible measure of pain without a few tricks at her disposal. Which she was kept back not to be rude, just that there were so many children within that house it was damn hard to filter out what was what. And yet? Johannsen presented herself as a sort of beacon, so with the tiniest bit of effort, she opened a small measure of that mental and empathic gate to allow the tiniest shred of -something- in.

Chances are, she'd pick up a cold fox looking for food in the distance.

Still, she held her silence, kept a straight face until her brows shot up at the mention of a walk, the glance back towards the house was given, a quiet nudge which allowed the door to swing shut and it was back towards the woman again, her shoulders lifting in a high shrug. "Alright.." She says warily, her hands shifting into her pants pocket to retrieve a set of keys, those filtered through for the now as her gaze looks up once again at the mention of 'Mr. Colcord.' The quiet whisper of the name meant something. Secrecy? Was she supposed to be surprised? Maybe?

There was no room to read as she begins the quick shuffle of keys, trying one after the other, her hands shaking in the process. It wasn't that she was nervous, it was just that she was damn cold and yet that could play into the urgent seeming she didn't think to put on at that name. "Is she well? Dr.MacTaggert?"


One gate opens and Jean's consciousness meets Miss Johannsen's gossamer emotions: a web of reticence, fear, hope, and disgust fills her psyche, at once unambiguous and fleeting. The echo of a burden tugs at the mutant's left arm, easily ignored and dismissed as what it is.

Somewhere, deep within, anticipation lies coiled, hungry, tucked away in dark recesses that the astral crack Jean has opened may or may not reveal.

When the second gate swings, the stranger steps through and offers her right hand in greeting after taking a beat to reach over and adjust the bag. Green eyes flicker across Jean's features all the while, searching for signs of recognition or bemusement.

"She's working hard, as always," Johannsen replies. After the greeting - whether or not it's rebuffed - she'll start down the path while continuing, "It's a big job, of course, and she's got all sorts of responsibilities on her shoulders. Lots of people depending on her." Her hand disappears into her coat as she turns another small smile Jean's way. "Sorry to drop by so late— I hope I'm not interrupting anything important." She then withdraws a pack of Parliaments and flips the lid open to let Jean take a peace offering, should she so desire.


It happened when Miss Johannsen stepped through the gate; the passing of emotions like a torch from one person to the next. Time had passed enough for her to bear with the weight of it, to not see this nights meal come up with it, and to not react rash and with as much feeling that was pulled into her and soon poured out by quick words. For inviting a stranger onto the grounds was a dangerous thing. But not too many people actively knew that Moira had ties within these walls.

So the gate was closed with a soft, yet noticible clang, Jean quickly locking it back with a glance out into the roads of Westchester, keys placed within her pocket and throw that was stolen from the couch tugged tight upon her shoulders in search of warmth. Even though that warmth that she seeks could come easy. Though her hand peeks through the tight curtain that she created for herself, a light grasp given to the hand of the woman, a brief lift of an up and down before she lets go, the thought of her actually -thinking- 'up' and 'down' as she does it drawing a slight grin to her face.

'Up' and 'down'. Grasp light, not tight.

And then the stroll commenses, Miss Johannsen's pace was easily matched, Jean's eyes upon 'Thing Left' and 'Thing Right' as she tries to match the stride that the woman takes. Confident. Easy. Settled and confortable in the skin. And yet, there was a certain heaviness to her gait. Whenever those doors opened, the weight of the cosmic hand presses down upon the shoulders with idle curiosity, the need to peek, which draws out a slump, a quietly little groan and a twisting, roll of her shoulders to compensate for the phantom weight.

That produces a smile as a cover, even as her neck rolls to readjust and accomidate, her head soon shaking there after as she draws the throw upright to wave in the air as if she pardoned Miss Johannsen for her late visit. "I'm very, very glad to hear that she's doing well. She's been missed here, for certain." She states. "Though, you weren't interrupting anything but late night cleaning and possibly the need to raid the fridge just to have something else to focus on." At least it was the truth. The offer of Parliaments was denied; her nose wrinkling but not in disgust, but in thought if she should take 'candy' from such a stranger as she.

"No thank you, Miss Johannsen, I'm trying to quit." Her tone was light, it was obviously a joke! Even told by her laughing just a touch with a lift of her hand to lightly dab at her nose. "I hope you don't mind, it's a bit cold. What is the reason for your visit? If Dr. MacTaggert is doing well.. I'm supposing there's a message from her? Or a concern about her?"


Miss Johannsen's eyebrow arched slightly at Jean's initial Parliament-reaction, but the pack went back in its pocket without comment or hesitation, her own being lit right afterwards.

Since the light shrug that followed Jean's refusal, her shoulders have remained low and tight. Her gaze is raised - unlike the other woman's - but it still spends as little time roving Jeanwards as possible. The path ahead gets most of her attention; after that, it's the black strap where a little loop of thread is gradually growing into an unsightly blemish thanks to the absent-minded scraping of her thumbnail.

After that, it's the little point of flame that draws a little closer to her skin with each breath.

"It's— well, it's complicated— really, I guess I'm meant to be looking for the man who owns this place, Professor Xavier? There are some— " Her voice falls, inaudible beyond 'casual walking companion' range.

"— well, I'm not really sure how to say it, exactly, but— materials that we thought he, or someone here might be interested in going over. Things from our job that might cross over with his studies, and what you do here, if that makes sense? It's all very technical - way outside of my field - but it's… important, I know that much." Her eyes finally shift towards Jean, flicking downwards before finding the other redhead's face.

"Not the most opportune hour for calling upon the headmaster, I know. But I didn't want to keep her waiting any longer than I already had." After a beat spent studying the bare foliage, she looks to Jean again to offer a small, sheepish smile and an apologetic, "All of this and it didn't even occur to me to— who do I have to thank for sparing a few minutes for me, tonight…?"


"He's out." Whether or not the words were meant to be clipped or spoken hastily, but it was a quick statement that could have been displayed as true or not. The sham that she wears over her shoulders is tightened just a little, a slow breath exhaled and inhaled, the notion of heat was just a thought that floats through her very skin, at home within her soul.

"Pardon, I didn't mean to say it that way. Usually when someone comes here asking to see the Professor almost immediately, due to his works, we take a defensive stance and would like to vet out that person before we allow them to meet him. That's not to say that I do not believe you, you've already spoken and claim to work with Dr. MacTaggert, which I feel is honest.." Without revealing herself.

"But, the technical nature of the documents you want him to go over, I don't mind looking at in his stead. With his current works and recent accomplisments I somewhat feel that his plate is full and I seek to lighten the load, as it were." Where in the world has this particular Jean been? Speaking of..

"I'm Jean. Jean Grey. It's a pleasure to meet you." Where she would offer another hand in greeting, she extends her hand, gesturing forth the path to keep the conversation and the small walk moving. Besides, she was minimally dressed, in a pair of slippers and a blanket stolen from the couch. It was getting a little bit cold. "If you could give the brief basis of the research that's being conducted? I could possibly offer any insights.."


After a brief, light handshake and an, "It's a pleasure to meet you, Jean," Johannsen's eyes return to the ground, where they've finally sunk and remained since Jean made her offer.

And somewhere entirely removed from the woman that the world sees, the name - 'Jean' - plucks a chord that creates a reverberant moment of curiosity. Questions and loose connections flit between the silk streamers of her psyche for cover before finding a corner to retreat to for later consideration.

"It's— "

She shifts the bag, its weight almost too much to be borne any longer.

"— about controlling mutants, ultimately. In an absolute sense: first their bodies and actions; now, the concept of mutation itself."

By the time the last word leaves her lips, she's no longer moving, and—


— the bag leaves her shoulder just after that.

"It's," she snags the strap before it hits the ground, using it to haul the thing up and offer it over to Jean, "not all here - nothing here is about the second phase, in fact - but you might be interested in having a look behind the curtain at what they were up to before they were exposed, the first time— before they decided to dream even bigger."

Inside, Jean will find binders of lab notes and extensive patient records from Weapon X's Coney Island facility. Some of these materials would be readily understood by a layperson, if perhaps dry; others are technical to the point of absolutely requiring a geneticist to make any headway in them.

At least one of the records describes a young woman who presented with significant and diverse psionic abilities, but the records aren't big on names; why bother naming a tool or a specimen, after all?

"I understand that you have a history with… this," she'll quietly add whenever the bag is taken, each word weighted with sadness. "And I'm sorry for that— it's nothing short of monstrous, and that," her chin tips towards the bag as her arms fold tightly, "is only the tip of it."


There was a little smile that touches her lips as her hand was withdrawn, intent on carrying on with the path, her fingers clutching the sham closer to her shoulders once again, the smile fading as the words continue and her own feet.. stop.

The controlling of mutants. This strikes a chord. An uncontrollable chord that allows that little bit of a slip, where one green eye burns a circular red, much like the Eye of Sauron but a little bit more contained. It was soon seen as she turns to face Miss Johannsen, her fingers soon a white knuckled grip as everything seemingly stops.

As the bag leaves her shoulders, Jean nearly reaches out to try to catch it, and yet she takes a slight step back, her hand reaching out to accept the bag, heavy as it was, yet held up by a little bit of her own power near the bottom. "O..oh.." She murmurs quietly, drawing the bag in as she fumbles with the sham which soon falls away to leave one shoulder covered and the other left to fight with the elements. With a clearing of her throat, she pulls the fabric away to lay idle upon her forearm, the bag brought up in a slight messy bundle and held against her chest.

There was a slight mourning in her actions, her movements weighed down, her shoulders at a slight hunch as she lowers her chin, her mouth working at a slight twitch of worry. "It's.. yes.." She quietly confirms, her thumb striking out to lightly scratch at the edges of her burning eye, closing and opening so that the green eyes were revealed once more..

"Thank you.." She quietly murmurs. "..you were never here."



The ring of fire drew a sharp gasp from the stranger that left her mouth slightly ajar. Her soft, scoffing response comes after long moments spent rapidly scanning over every inch of Jean with a newly analytical - critical - rigor and subtly shifting her stance for flight— or, if pushed to it, the other, less advisable side of the coin.

It's only after she speaks that her muscles begin to unclench and she allows herself to breathe again— to set the cigarette between her teeth to crackling, loudly.

A couple beats later, the smoke escapes her lungs along with loud, shaking, hacking laughter. Empty fist meets sternum a couple times, and with a brisk wave of that hand she sputters, "I'm sorry, I— " Bubbling mirth begins to recede as composure finds its reins. "— wasn't expecting— "

Another puff; her fist finally opens.

"— your secret is safe with me," she then swears, rallying ably to find her solemnity. "But— respectfully— I want to come back. I want to help."

She's suddenly a step closer to Jean, eyes alight with the righteous anger of a woman who has had months to contemplate the contents of that bag.

"You need me to help, and so does Moira— you don't think that she told me about this place on a lark, do you?" she lowly wonders. "That we met by coincidence? She's put herself in a dangerous position, on behalf of this school. And it's admirable, and necessary, because they've stolen so much of her work to build the abomination they're working on now. But she can't keep doing it alone— and there's only so much that I can do if I'm not in touch with the people she's in touch with."

She finally breaks away from eye contact - or attempted eye contact, perhaps - to roll her head back and let out a heavy sigh before stepping back and bringing her eyes back to the— student? Faculty member? Who she's just blown her pitch on.

Whoever she is, she offered herself in Xavier's stead; maybe that's enough reason for openness.

"You can call me the Black Widow," she murmurs after a brisk drag. "I'm a costumed crime-fighter— kind of like like Captain America, only I'm very good at getting into places where I'm not wanted, instead of hitting things with a shield." Another uncomfortable smile touches her lips.

"Now we both know things about each other."


Perhaps the lack of reaction from Jean as the woman uncurls her fist after the laugh was issued, her jaw clenching ever so slightly as she allows herself a moment to relax, her shoulders slumping, a full breath of air escaping from her lungs that really makes her -wish- she took the offered smoke to calm her own quiet nerves. "Moira shouldn't have done that.." Jean states, taking a step back to ease the distance in between them. "..she can barely walk on her own and she just put herself and us right on the front lines of a war that we can barely even keep up with, let alone fight."

She nearly wanted to move away, to begin to march towards the castle, but she doesn't. Revenge kept her feet still, justice made her grow rigid, injustice made her grow up a few weeks before she finally touched down into New York yet again. But Moira wasn't going to be alone forever, if Jean has to form her own goddamned X-Squad (or hit-squad, for the more dangerous of tropes), she'd do it.

"She's not going to be alone in this." Jean states with a sort of finality that would make anyone on the losing side think that they'd win. There was no longer a chill in the air around the woman as she revealed herself as such, and the little surprises keeps coming in the form of a brief flame that ignites upon her arms that only touches the outer, and not the inner where the sham and the bag still reside. At least she was warmer now, though if you ask her about her ankles she'd just settle for a shrug.

"Black Widow." Jean offers officially, her head nodding, her own hand reaching out to press against her own chest as she takes upon her mantle of duality with faith. "The Phoenix." (Around the world, many fan-girls/boys would probably hurl with as much cheese she put on that line.) "I can probably put you in touch with the people here. No. I will." She nods her head in thought, glancing towards the mansion. "If you want a meeting with Charles then you'll get it. If you want to speak with Erik, fine. But you're going to have me and maybe a few rogue X-Men and probably others at your back, so I'm all in. You got me. And by extension, them."


"I think that the pressure may be getting to her," the Widow tries to reassure. "Once she knew that we were on the same side… I don't know. She may've been desperate."

Shoulders still tight in the wake of having drawn back a veil, she puts the cigarette to her lips and winds up nearly crushing it when Jean ignites herself.

There's no shift in preparation for violence this time, but unleashed power is difficult to ignore entirely when it's accompanied by the little hints of indignation in the other woman's bearing.

"Thank you," she quietly says once Jean makes her promise. The cigarette leaves her lips to be brought back and stubbed against a sole so that she can pocket it. "For giving me a chance— " Her hands reach for one of Jean's to deliver a firm squeeze as venom bleeds into her voice: "I want to expose what they're doing, get to the bottom of it… but no matter what, they have to burn, to the last cinder."


"Do you think you can get her out safely?" Jean asks honestly, "I.. don't want what happened the last time to happen and to have her right there in the middle where we can't find her." The glance happened in good time as she watches the Widow, her brows forrowing slightly, looking down towards her arms in a little bit of shame and back towards the woman helplessly. "I'm cold.." An explanation, an honest one, she wasn't showing power, she was freezing! But she was careful, for the offered hand that was struck out towards her, Jean shakes out her own, disappearing the flame with a swath of wind as her own, now hot hand reaches to grasp the womans.

Though, whatever innocent guise that Jean had laid on upon Natasha, it melted away into a look of seriousness. A look that promises revenge, loss of morality be damned. There were things that she did those nights that she still can't recover from. Mayhap this would allow her to sleep at night.

"How can I find you?" Jean asks quietly, the grip that she has upon the woman tightening, her eye brightening again as she .. no. She doesn't scan her mind exactly, just the imprint. What makes her unique so that she could pick that particular mind out from a crowd. But that's only if it was allowed, if anything, Natasha would feel a slight irritated from the juncture at best.


"Here, I— "

The gossamer - now composed of determination and rage and camaraderie, among other strands - of the Widow's psyche is dense, all-encompassing, a maze perpetuating endlessly unto itself with walls at once sturdy but endlessly mutable— an ideal environment to hide something. Someone. Some woman.

Phantom digits graze across Jean's consciousness.

Amidst the strands, she finds flashes of pale limbs gliding effortlessly, tracing broad designs that send fresh strands spooling out to be knotted into the labyrinth— or bring its walls crashing down so that they may be rebuilt entirely.

In those flash, they can be counted, and though they are far too numerous for any one person to possess, they all lead inevitably to one point at the heart the labyrinth— to a woman twirling endlessly in cold, bitter darkness as eight arms spin their tales.

Twirling endlessly until she halts, abruptly, to fix green eyes to Jean.

"— yaah!" the Widow exclaims as Jean gets a lock on her imprint, features twisting in outraged shock. The card she was in the process of pulling from her coat - plain white with a phone number and nothing else - goes flying. Back straightening, she stares Jean down for a long moment before finally letting out a breath and asking, "What'd you— do?" in a taut voice. "Just now." After a beat, she softens some and adds, "Warning— or permission. Please."


The real interpretation of Angel's would be the mental respresentation on fire; it could be two faces, both Jean's, flitting along the maze of Natasha's mind with tiny wings made aflame, or it could be a battering wheel, made of flesh and blinking green and fire red eyes that roll through, tiny wings the same..

But one thing that was the same in each effigy she chooses to put, the eight legged dancing woman gets a little shock of a vision, for brows raise in surprise and Jean herself murmurs..

"Oh! Pretty!"

There was a bit of a quick snap away from the mind of the woman, her own hand reaching up to lightly rub away at the bridge of her nose, eyes that flutter near constantly as she tries to fix her gaze back upon the proper woman before her. Her hand reaches out into the air as it wavers before her hand, and upon the wind or whatever that was there floats into her finger tips to look, read, and stuff into her bosom like a proper and womanly purse it was. "Uh.."

What did she do? It was a little hard to explain.

"Yes Ma'am.." She finally states, bowing her head slightly in an apologetic nature, a little smile growing there as she aims to take another walk. "I.. was looking for -you-. The you that makes you unique among a sea of a million.. or.." Her eyes close faintly, "..17.59 mill.." Her hand lifts, then smiles. "17.6 million people in New York City alone. A little light was born an hour ago. I think it's a girl." She looks happy about that, then finally opens her eyes. "But.. I'll call. Unless … I can't. Then I will really call." If she understood what that meant, then Jean would need no further explanation.

"Ah.." Awkward now, her free hand lifts to rub at the back of her neck as she looks to the mansion, and to the gates. "I need to get back inside.. wou.. would you like hot chocolate before you go? Or, if you need a place to sleep.." Weirdo.


It takes a while - time spent squinting and peering warily as Jean talks about little lights and newborns, making connections - before the Widow finally begins to relax, thawed perhaps by the promise of hot chocolate.

Perhaps. Even then, she tilts her head towards the gate, visibly contemplative, neck rolling around her shoulders slightly, before—

"— alright," is finally murmured. A hand slides up over her brow, nudging the cap aside to reveal a little bit of red hair, which her fingers tangle in as they briefly massage her scalp. Her eyes shut and she breathes in.

"Okay," she reiterates while tugging the cap back into place and slowly beginning to walk towards the mansion. "Yes— thank you, that'd be nice. Long way back to the city, after all."

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