Cold; Comfort

Characters: Kitty Pryde Jean Grey
Rated: PG
Summary: Jean Grey and Kitty Pryde check in with one another, sharing a warm moment on a cold day.
OOC Date: January 19th, 2018
IC Date: January 19th, 2018
Where: Hudson River Park

The Sanctum Sanctorum does not admit visitors. Thus, once Ororo made Jean's whereabouts known and Jean in turn felt comfortable with reaching out to Westchester, moving on to face time meant doing a little bit of planning: with a school full of flammable teenagers, a headquarters full of priceless/volatile equipment, and a spooky, anti-guest house, finding meeting places where public risk could be managed was the order of the day. This may be why Jean has, in fact, stuck primarily to phone calls and texting after an initial park meet-up. That, or the lingering guilt of having kind of, sort of burned some semi-innocent doctors alive; maybe it's an A-B thing.

Regardless: Kitty received an invitation to walk around Hudson River Park, trusting in evening hours and temperatures that even Jean wasn't wild about being in to keep the crowd sparse. For added insurance, anyone who gets within about twenty feet of the pair would find themselves fascinated with anything, literally anything else at all in the opposite direction, just to give Kitty a little bit of a 'grapple and phase' buffer should something unspeakable happen. She's got a long, heavy black coat, red scarf, slouching black cap, black gloves, and black boots to help stay warm, and once she's gotten the tactical small-talk - the grabbing, the phasing, the timing of it all - out of the way, she slides her hands into her pockets and manages to flash a broad smile Kitty's way.

"So," she says, "How are you— how've you been? How's everyone been? Ororo tells me stuff, but: different perspectives, and all."

Kitty seems pleased enough, all things considered, to meeting with Jean. It's not hard to read her, a mixture of barely contained excitement, nervousness, and, more than a little worry. Kitty never was good at really hiding her emotions, or bottling them up, always riding on the surface instead.

"Ororo does have a very unique perspective," agrees Kitty, without missing a beat, but this is affirmed in a positive tone. She bites her lower lip thoughtfully, "Things have been quiet. Naturally, everyone's worried about you. And, we're looking into the hospital. Things — ," she frowns, shaking her head, "— something's off. But we can't figure out what. Everything looks squeaky clean on the surface. But it's like they over-cleaned. I dunno."

She pauses, switching subjects suddenly, "Everyone is doing okay, though. It's been mostly quiet. Which is good. School's going well, the kids are being kids," she laughs, causally.

She shoves her hands into her coat pockets, shivering a little. She adds, "I told Logan," her voice quiet. "Got him to promise he wouldn't come raging across earth to find you. So, that's a plus, right?"

Relief escapes Jean's lungs once it's clear that she won't have to field at least one stubborn Wolverine, but her posture is otherwise stiff thanks to the hospital reference.

"I still," she contritely murmurs, "haven't tried reaching out to him yet. He's got so much on his plate right now— I guess I just keep telling myself he doesn't need even more to think about." The redhead averts her gaze as a wince punctuates her excuse. "But I'm glad things have been peaceful - how often does that happen? Even if…"

The last two words are quieter than the others, and for a beat or two it seems as if they're going to just be left there to drift away— until she pushes another breath out through her nostrils and rolls her head so she's looking towards Kitty again with a furrowed brow.

"How long is it gonna last?" she finally wonders. "How far up is the shoe gonna fall from?" Her gaze returns to the pavement, head shaking. "Sorry, I know that's so, so cynical, but that place" she softly says, remorse creeping back into her tone as her eyes slide shut, "I— I know I didn't mention it, but: that clinic, the one I— woke up in? They have a Manhattan branch, bigger— I think older? And ever since that first night, I'd - every now and again, I'd go and try to 'look' inside, get some insight into what it even is— what kinds of people run it. Only I can't. It's like trying to think my way into a hall of mirrors in a snowstorm: something is there, I'm sure of it. But I can't make it out, on any level, and it's exhausting to even try."

Another puff of warm air leaves her lips as she sighs, and then they're forced upwards - if only slightly - as she glances sidelong towards her one-time teammate.

"Sorry," she sheepishly says, "I swear I didn't call just to dump on your good news."

Impulsively, Kitty takes a few steps forwards arms snaking out and hugging Jean before the redhead can react, tightly. She smiles, stepping back once, twice, then she nods, "No, you didn't. I know that, Jean," she says, easily enough. Everything is forgiven, it would seem. At least, with this friend. "Bobby's excited to get to see you again too," she mentions.

She pauses, "Look, Jean. It's not the place. It's what the place -represents-. Hope. Hope, for a utopia. A chance for us to - be accepted. Be normal. A chance to make a positive change in the world. Because of that, we're a threat to some folks."

As she says this, she gently puts a hand on Jean's arm, squeezing, affectionately. Her smile lessons back into that thoughtful stare as Jean further talks about the hospital. She asks, then, "Something's blocking you? Look. We found - through a -lot- of digging, that there's a guy that gets called in on special cases, but he's not on the payroll, or on the employee roster, anywhere. We're digging into his name more to see if we can find anything, but, really no other leads yet."

Action and intent hit Jean near-simultaneously, securing her in an embrace which she readily returns. The smile's nowhere near as forced by the time they separate, still taut around the edges.

"I know, I know," she murmurs sans-exasperation when encouragement is offered. "It, just, it gets— nnh, no, you're right." What red is visible swishes as she tries to shake the pessimism free afterwards, and then she squeezes Kitty's shoulder. Lips pursing, she slips her hands back into her pockets, begins to nod, then winds up canting her head curiously.

"Advanced anti-psi tech, probably," she suggests with a subconscious shiver. "There was some kind of— I dunno, scar tissue? All over a stretch of local astral space in Queens." Eyebrows knitting, she continues, "'A guy'? That for sure doesn't sound shady, so I'm glad you're on it." She pauses for a beat as her teeth graze across her bottom lip. After a slow sigh, she murmurs, "Look, I— I mean, obviously, if there's anything I can do— even if it's just research. This isn't— just your problem, after all."

"No," agrees Kitty quite agreeably, "It's not just my problem. That's why Ororo, Wanda, Luci, and a few others are on it, too. But when I was looking through the computer files, it looked to me like it was some form of bleached up Weapon X program. If they are doing this, they either have government backing, or someoone really, really, really, really really, really, really rich." Like Xavier.

Her hands are thrust back into her pockets as she shivers just a little. Her mouth twists, "Are you okay?"

"There was a definite concentration on the study of mutants," Jean quietly replies as her hands burrow deeper and her shoulders hunch, "but whatever happened before the fire, I get the sense that— I— wasn't super interested in investigation? Because all I've got from that night is the odd name, the gist of what they were into, and the smell— "

A puff of air wobbles past the shivering redhead's lips. Her head tilts back and her hands leave her pockets long enough for a brisk facescrub.

"— no, yeah," she offers once she's dropped her chin and returned her gaze to Kitty. Cheeks puff and twist as sighing is wrenched into a tight-lipped smile. "I'm, I'm fine, seriously! Sorry. I haven't— I don't do a whole lot of, uh, talking. About that night. Which is obviously gonna have to change!"

The smile shrinks, but doesn't quite vanish when she turns her eyes back to the path. "How much data do we even have on Weapon X's personnel? Not to mention its resources, where they might've ended up over the years; it'd only really take one mind, one piece of research to spawn an awful lot of horror…"

"I'm going to see if we can't find out who this 'outside' guy they call in is, and track him down. Maybe get Logan in on this with me." Because if anyone knows about shady figures involved in Weapon X, Logan is certainly going to be her go-to in that field.

Briefly, Kitty looks away then looks back to Jean, nodding. "You don't have to talk about it. I just want to see you back, Jean. Having you back? I mean, knowing you're back when we thought —," Kitty doesn't finish her sentence. Instead, she expells her own breath, and the smile she next applies is that infectious one of hers, utterly sincere, warm, and all best-friend or girl-next-door. "It'll be good when you can come back home. And we're going to get you there. Promise."

"We just need to hope that he hasn't gone and holed up in a secure lab somewhere, or a bunker, or something. A back alley Madripoorean clinic— which, actually, would be another one for Logan, I guess, so— fingers crossed," Jean replies, flat until her head thoughtfully bobs and the corners of her mouth twitch towards the end.

Thanks to Kitty, the muted smile gradually intensifies; there's a flash of white when she catches sight of her teammate's warmth before casting her eyes downwards and firmly interjecting, "Soon," in the middle of Kitty's promises and encouragement. Her eyes rise again once that syllable's free. "I dunno exactly when, but— soon. It's been— it's been a while, now, and despite my super cheerful greeting earlier: I haven't really felt… I don't think I'm a threat to anyone, exactly. I'm still not sure about teaching, but…"

Kitty scoots closer to her friend, and squeezes Jean's arm again, "One step at a time. First, come back," she encourages. "The rest will come whenever it does. But I'm glad you found somewhere safe, until you're ready to do that."

Then, she gets a mischevious look in her eyes, "Besides, Jean. When did you know of a secure lab, or even a bunker, that could keep -me- out?" Kitty doesn't seem so worried about it, at the very least. She adds, "We're X-Men," meaning Jean, still, and including her wholly in that without even a moment's hesitation, it's second nature to her. "And we can do anything we set our sights on, as long as we're together. I'll let you know if we find out anything, in the meantime, okay? Even if I have to send carrier pigeons, or something," she jokes.

"You'd maybe wanna just text me instead," Jean suggests while endeavouring to capture Kitty's arm by snaking her own around it a moment after she's squeezed. A toss of her head sends the last signs of darkness fleeing from her expression, at least for now. "I dunno what would happen to any carrier pigeons that tried to fly into the place I've been staying at. It's nice, but, uh. Strange, is maybe the best word for it? Old, strange, probably haunted, and definitely magically warded." All of this is ultimately summed up with an exasperated shrug from the woman still in the first months of her second life.

"Thanks for being so understanding," she adds with a squeeze of her own, "and patient— I shoulda just sucked it up and reached out forever ago, but. Here we are— thank you."

"Here we are," agrees Kitty, echoing Jean's sentiments and with that statement showing with pure earnest there is no ill-will for not having contacted them sooner than Jean did. "And, we're always going to be right here."

She grins, though. "Huh. I thought you were in some kind of magical monestary or something, no technology, no anything fun, head shaved, chanting some latin and eating porridge all day."

"I feel like Ororo would've said something if my head was shaved," Jean teases with arching brows and an incredulous chuckle. "And, also, my head would be shaved."

One thoughtful beat later: "I mean, the mohawk does work for her, so maybe…"

Brisk head-bobbing eventually turns into shaking and more chuckling as she turns her smile groundwards.

"No, it's this— it's an old mansion in Greenwich Village where nobody else really lives. I do eat a fair amount of oatmeal, but that's got more to do with it being cold as hell, and me not entirely trusting a worrying percentage of the kitchen than there being anything ascetic going on." Her nose is wrinkled as her eyes return to Kitty's.

"Mostly, it's just… empty. The mansion's— the mansion is not a normal place, but as good as it's been to be have space to figure things out has been… it'll be nice to be back. Or in the neighborhood, even."

"Good." The word is kind, and approving. She shrugs, pointing out, "If Logan can run off a couple times a year and not come back for weeks, I think you're due for your stint of quiet time too, right? Nothing wrong with that. Just remember. You promised. Soon." Still, the words are friendly enough without a real form of pressure behind them. Kitty just wants Jean back, things to be back - kind of - to the way they used to be.

She bounces on her toes a little bit, "But next time you want to meet, maybe we can rent a dance recital hall or something where it's warm?"

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