1964-06-17 - Crystal and the Seven Questions
Summary: Vesper needs to know a few things about the future.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
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vesper crystal 


Arrangements are simple, really. A bit of New York University letter head, a typed message to the tune of a meeting at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Vesper Mezieres, researcher and not a doctor, signs off and posts it to the only really obvious place. A mansion under construction can receive mail still. Two days later, she stands in the tropical conservatory. Here the air is so heavily oxygenated it makes her dizzy and forces her to sit on a bench under serveral very large rubber plants and palms. Water drips occasionally onto her nose, and she doesn't care. Being able to breathe is remarkable.


Crystal hears things. And as one of the more practical organizing elements at the mansion, she of course receives the mail. When she arrives at the gardens, she looks as she ever does - more like a young housewife than a princess, but with a bit more certainty than most. And here? Here she can finally breathe, despite being surrounded by the city and its pollution. She's met Vesper before, enough to recognize her face, and offers a friendly smile as she approaches the other woman.


The tension is still in Vesper's chest. The tight band around her throat never leaves. But it loosens and that means much for someone of lifelong delicate constitution. She stops watching some tiny orange bird fetch berries and wing among the foliage eventually. Sunglasses perched on her nose add to the classic French sophistication worn naturally. The cottony folds of her scarf cling to her shoulders. Swallowing quietly, she gives Crystal a nod rather than anything of a wave. Gallic pride and all. "Bonsoir. I am not sure how you want me to call you."


"Crystal is fine," the young woman assures with a small smile, brushing a hand over her skirts as she steps up to the bench. "Do you mind if I sit?" she asks with a gesture. Whatever Vesper may have been told about Inhumans or the royal family, Crystal at least seems to be normal enough.


"Of course." Vesper's English education tells in the way she says certain things. Like that. The bench is wide enough for two but she slides a little further to make room for Crystal. "Crystal, then. Please call me Vesper." No need for formality even if it may be called for. She folds her hands over her knees to present a modest and informal presence. Habit, more than anything. For an Inhuman she is the most innocuous. Easy to be without terrigen in any way awakening the mess of her DNA. "I am glad you came. When we first met, I was not so cordial as you deserved."


Crystal laughs, smoothing her skirts out of the way as she settles onto the bench. "I've been out in the world for a long time. Believe me, you were more than sufficiently polite. We are…" She leans back a bit, looking around the gardens. "We are out in the world. It is up to us to adjust to the world, not for the world to adjust to us. I will confess, I was somewhat surprised to hear from you."


That ineffable Gallic shrug says everything. A petite adjustment that doesn't even afflict itself upon Vesper's attire. Her dress is simple, black, and therefore the height of elegance when not paired to a white lab coat. "The world changed much for me since then. I think you may be a better party than some for a few questions." Her gaze rises over the rims of her sunglasses, brown as the finest coffee. Dark and doe-like, that look. "Understandable if you would rather not say anything of them."


"Ah, well. In truth, I'm likely the best to speak with, yes." Crystal sets one arm along the back of the bench, propping her chin up in one hand as she looks to the other woman. "Most of my people seem to be of the mind that as much as possible should remain secret. Personally, from what I see in the world, secrecy is a losing battle. Better that we step forward, that we control how we emerge and how we are seen."


Habit brings Vesper's hand up to cover her mouth. Toxins still in the system bring out an unproductive cough, the tremble of her shoulders hinting at the force. Not much she can do save clear her throat, apology writ on the pallor of her face. Hands go back into her lap. Her posture is proper and straight to the very bitter end. "Your people show great interest in me. The… Maximus. Monsieur Petragon. Monsieur Oculai." They are named off as suspects in a line. Her voice is more tired than suspicious. "This seems maybe to be my secret now. Reason would support I am not human. It is nothing I confirm myself. How do your — that is, the Inhuman people — handle those born outside? Those who do not know anything?"


"Generally speaking, we don't," Crystal admits, pausing politely for the cough. Usually she's the one hacking up a lung in the middle of others' conversations, so at least she's used to it. "We've been extremely isolated for a very long time. Thousands of years. Instances of those who've left Attilan and ever been seen again are vanishingly rare. Though it certainly isn't impossible to imagine that people have left and survived. We did, after all. And without- Well. For the most part, they would never know who or what they are."


Always be thankful for the little things. For a girl deliberately poisoned for the last decade and a half, these things will be appreciated in retrospect. Her slightly tight, small smile speaks to it. Vesper listens attentively to Crystal's reply. Certain details make for a difficult translation without context. She seems to follow along. "I expect a bias against those ignorant and outside the refuge. Like colonists and the mother country. But is there a risk? My parents may have no idea of what they are. What I might be. Knowing what to expect if this proves right would help." Somewhere, Gorgon is probably stamping and grabbing a spear. Vital clues are missing enough. "What happens if it's true, I have barely wrapped my head around."


"Very little needs to happen." Crystal is cautious, reserved. There's something she's not saying. "There's nothing in your life that must change, save that it's best that you not use your own genetic material for exploration and experimentation. If nothing else, you'll find it rather skews the science," she notes, a wry smile curving. "What could happen is another matter, of course. Depending on a few factors."


Many things unsaid: the title of a painting with Crystal and anyone else. Vesper nods again and glances down. Her shoes are spotless. Everything is in order. The ground gets scrutiny worthy of an antiquarian evaluating a tablet from a Dead Sea cave. "Others speak as though a return to Attilan is inevitable. Maybe some kind of presentation so I am known to whomever must know of me." She allows that much without a sigh, her voice soft. "The genetic material is already flawed and fundamentally different than anything else seen in my research. Or anyone publicly. I am at least in a good place to know that much." No pride there, no lauding or bandying of credentials.


"Flawed, no," Crystal shakes her head. "But certainly different from any other you'll have collected, that much is true. There are parties in Attilan which are very interested in meeting you," she agrees. "But we're not going to kidnap you, or hold you prisoner. I can at least offer some advice, in terms of dealing with the pollution sickness. Though I doubt you'll care much for it. I know research facilities are rarely located in pleasant, bucolic settings when there's a bustling, filthy city available."


"Mr. Oculai told me to take a week at a time in the country." The grimace is audible instead of anything visible on Vesper's expression. A faint shake of her head follows. "Even were it possible financially my work does not allow for it. Experiments run for weeks. No one else tends them or can. So something must give, as you say?" Her hands grip her knees a little tighter. There are so many things to say that go unsaid in turn. "I try to go out to places like this. Or Long Island, it is quieter by the shore. Other advice I will not neglect to hear."


"Places like this can help," Crystal nods. "Long Island is…all right. If you can get out to sea, it's better. The water is usually able to mitigate the effects somewhat. Avoid crowded areas, the subway, trains. Wash your hands regularly. They're small things, I'm afraid. I have an advantage with my abilities, and yet I still fall ill fairly regularly myself."


"Trains." A shudder runs through Vesper and she nods a bit too firmly. "Non, I do not wish to use them unless necessary. It is helpful my lab is sterile and the hygiene very good. This is good to know. As to the others…" Oh, the loaded questions. Her hesitation plain, she speaks slowly. "What is it that Maximus and Monsieur Petragon actually do? I do not know their interest except I may be one of your people."


"Mmmm." Crystal rubs a hand over her face at the question, looking back with a weary smile afterwards. "That is somewhat complicated. Gorgon is in security, that much is relatively simple. Maximus…Well. At heart, Maximus is a scientist. An engineer, more than anything else."


"A scientist makes sense, yes. And security should not be for me," says the brunette. Her smile is tentative and equally exhausted. Those sunglasses removed would show the bruises from a lack of sleep under her eyes. Vesper's running on a lot of fumes and ideas. "Do you feel they have a good idea for what should happen in the future? They are in my life now. I suppose I am trying to feel my way forward."


Crystal is quiet for a moment, a slight line in her brow as she frowns. "What, exactly, did they tell you?" she asks, rather than offer any concrete explanation just yet.


"A good many things are…" A little pause. She needs the right word translated into English. "Contingent if I am one of your people. That your society has many roles. I do not know what mine would be. A small population with many needs comes into the bigger world. Reasonable I am asked how I can help, non?" Vesper dodges another fat drop of moisture running off a serrated leaf, and it hits the bench between them. "How your people come into the public view is really what is a mystery to me."


"We aren't really," Crystal smiles faintly. "There are some who know of us. But the public at large is not aware that we exist, and for now, that is how our people would prefer to keep it. Personally, I think that we could do more good by being more public. But the decision is not mine to make alone. There are others I must convince still."


If there's some relief, it shows subtly. "Thank you, Crystal. I am not sure what to expect, but that helps me. More, I think, than I understand now. With some sleep and time, I should be on better footing." Vesper tucks her hands to her sides and stands up from the bench. "I should not keep you too long tonight. And the lab calls, I am afraid."


"Call me any time." Crystal reaches into her purse, pulling out a business card with a number on it. "If you have questions, if you need help. If you just need a place to be where the air is a little cleaner. I'm happy to help however I can."


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