Mr. Nice Dude

Characters: Jean Grey, Dick Grayson
Rated: PG-13 (Language)
Summary: Days removed from a fiery return to life, Jean Grey seeks shelter in Richard Grayson's suite by any means.
OOC Date: March 11th, 2018 (IC: November 16th, 2017)
IC Date: November 16th, 2017 (backscened)
Where: A Lavish Suite - Park Centre Hotel - New York

Dick Grayson is, for once- maybe- sorta- taking a vacation. He doesn't have the Nightwing suit with him in the hotel suite, anyway. It is Dick Grayson, and Dick Grayson alone who is occupying /this/ suite. He has a case he needs to wait on, and that means laying low. Laying low means… pretending to be a normal rich young, twentysomething with every oppurtunity in the world.

So, it's November and seasonal decorations and Hamilton tickets bring him to New York.

Ah, to be the kind of person who can just /get/ Hamilton tickets- picked up at his hotel's front desk when he checked in, possibly watched by unseen - or unnoticed eyes. Between that, his suite, and the impeccable grey wool coat and scarf he has on over equally expensive clothing- he's a mark if there ever was one.

Days ago, on her first night back on Earth, Jean Grey accidentally, on purpose torched a clinic and its staff.

After a couple nights of roughing it, she let desperation stifle her pride - if not the fear that keeps her from reaching out to her once-fellow models for peaceful co-existence - enough to consider alternatives, ultimately bringing her somewhere where nobody ought to miss much of anything she might happen to need to hold her over 'til she figures out a way forward.

Thus, a hotel lobby, where a clerk hands a man some of the hottest tickets in town.

And the food foraged from the remnants of room service feasts, always with a minimum of residual crumbs.

And the bed made of spare towels over marble or porcelain.

And the extra garment here or there missing from luggage; the spare bills lifted from an unattended wallet by phantom fingers; the sticky note IOUs in the bathroom; the long hours spent staring at and gently studying the living, breathing person feet — inches — away who she didn't dare touch with her stained hands.

After a week of hiding between the folds of his perception - of misplaced books with fresh dog-ears and the odd fallen towel; of a subtle tile of distortion gradually spreading from a corner of the bathroom mirror to cover the whole - a woman with red hair climb's the suite's spiral staircase with a languid stretch in the early evening.

"How many drinks does it take you to figure out the girl you're buying them for is, just, not gonna bite?" wonders D'arcy, who is just the sort of free-spirited college pal a man looking to sell the image of a rich, young twentysomething out to have a good time in the greatest city in the world might bring along to provide an extra alibi in a pinch. "Like, hypothetically," she gestures around, "I'm sure all the girls you buy drinks for definitely bite." After a beat, she lets a reflex honed over countless hours spent around teenage boys fire: "For starters," is tacked on with a teasing wink. She's wearing an Italian sweater and aggressively belted slacks that she definitely brought along in her own luggage, which Dick would definitely find peeking out from under a pile of her stuff, in a corner of a spacious closet. If for some wild reason, Dick brought sandals, she's wearing them; otherwise, well. She's probably been working on a story about how it is she lost her shoes.

"I'm not saying I'm drunk, or anything, but I'm also definitely not saying I'd drive you anywhere, because I do not want to go to jail— what's up with you?! How was your day?"

Dick wasn't sure when it was he'd invited this D'arcy girl to stay with him,- maybe she'd needed a place to crash? or…? Huh, funny, that he can't quite… pin it down.
But- hey, she's /fun/, and fun gave him cover.

"Honestly? I don't bring that many women up. I let people think what they want to about me, but-" he shrugs. "I don't take the parties home with me. Give or take an exception here or there," he says, with a playful, warm smile.

"Ah, c'mon," D'arcy jabs, hopping up the last step, then pausing for a moment so she can just— stand there for a second with a too-wide grin, hands on hips. Steadying.

Finally, all those nights of listening to Hank talk about the neurochemical effects of ethanol are paying off.

"C'moooon— no? Really?" The grin shrinks as she begins to stride his way, gradually picking up in speed and only wobbling a little. She sounds more surprised than dismayed as she tacks on a, soft "Huh," and, inevitably tries to throw an arm over the acrobat's shoulders. Wherever she came from, whenever, exactly, it was that Dick invited her along, she's certainly friendly.

"Well, whatever!" she quickly declares. "More drinks for you, then, right? And maybe me, plus or minus the freebies I'm hella a magnet for." This is punctuated with a wink.

He's quick to catch her in his arms to steady her when she touches his shoulder "IIIII think, D'arcy, that you've had enough of those drinks for the night, and that you need to lie down, and get some rest," he insists, guiding her toward the freshly-made bed, pillow mint and all. "You can order whatever you want to eat from room service - with some gatorade, if they have it," he tells her.

Very very drunk girl. Drunk on his dime, so his responsibility. Keep her in the hotel room so she'll be safe, get some food into her, and hydrate her, try to prevent a hangover…. he's going in to Alfred Mode.

D'arcy doesn't weigh much, slumping against Dick as she's guided through a spinning suite— not for a former Boy Wonder, certainly.

"Well I think," she immediately says as her knees hit the edge of the mattress and she drops like a stone into sitting.

Magenta irises - contacts? metaphysiology? - bob around the room for a moment before fixing up on Dick. Once they do, that boozy smile grows; for a second or two, it takes on a more genuinely appreciative cast before a low giggle bubbles up, sneaking out of her nostrils at first before spilling from her lips.

A few seconds into it, she collapses back, spreads her arms wide— freezes for a tick— shimmies up the mattress to tuck her whole self onto it, and eventually lets out a sigh.

"God, dude… 's a really good thing you are such a nice… non-partying… dude," she murmurs. Another, much briefer giggle as she returns to her back and sits up on her elbows with her increasingly messy sibilance and shrunken grin somewhere between sloshed and sheepish "'cause I am fuuuuuuucked up." The ruefulness in her voice comes from a fairly real, 'whoops, maybe I paid exactly as much attention to Hank as I thought I did' place.

"'m fine, though, c'mon… c'mon, just sit'n chill, huh? I wanna know more about Mr. Nice Du— Mr. Non-P— Di— "

The quiet groan and self-conscious crinkling of her features as she drops back onto the pillow with another small giggle are also real. Once she's down, those weirdly colored, now-curious eyes roll his way and stay there.

There's a little bit of awkwardness at her rambling- it's always a little weird to be complimented on meeting the base requirement of human decency. He lets the breaking seal of an overpriced water bottle break the silence as he sits down. "Mister Grayson," he supplies- it wouldn't be the first time he's had someone forget his surname. He sits down, holding the bottle out to her. "I don't know- what can I tell you that you can't Google?" he asks her. "Consider me an open book, ask away," he adds.

"Was gonna be a nickname," D'arcy mumbles, rolling as she must to turn her eyes straight up towards Dick, "but it got a l'il fucked up too." She regards the water for a moment before taking and gulping from it. It was expensive, after all; she wouldn't want to be a rude freeloader.

"Fuck," she hisses beneath her breath as the bottle is eventually set on the bedside table, two-thirds full. "Uhhhhhhh," she then murmurs a bit louder, squinting up at the billionaire's ward.

Another, "Uh," comes after after a couple beats of thoughtfully contorting features. "'kay, so," with a sharp hairtoss and a grin as she sits up, she swings an arm up to level her index finger on him, "if you didn't have all'a…" She makes sweeping gestures around the luxurious suite, getting progressively more pensive as she goes. "… I mean… if you were jus' some nice guy who had to work… what would you do, if you could? Who would you be?"

The smell of chalk dust. The roar of the crowd. Piped music. And over all of it, the glorious, rushing thrill of the half-second of weightlessness when your hands let go and trust lets you defy gravity. To a telepath, the sense-memories are vivid enough to taste the kettle corn. Even with the ghost of a calliope playing in the back of his head, he takes a careful, thoughtful pause.

"Oh, I don't know- something 9-to-5, I guess? I'm told I look pretty good in a suit. What about you- what did you want to be when you grew up?"

The sense-memories - likely familiar by now after days of living on the edge of Dick's perceptions - set a smile to spreading across D'arcy's face, even as Dick gives a fairly routine answer. She starts to murmur, "No, yeah, bu— " only for for Dick's question to override her attempt at clarifying.

After a moment of silent tension, the redhead's expression does a hairpin turn as her body sags and her eyes fall. She manages to catch this dispirited shift and put a small, tight smile back on after a second or two.

"Doctor," she quickly, quietly says, "I wanted to be a doctor'n help people, 'cause when I was a kid, I was— uh, sick, bad, super bad, lotsa opinions bad, so… I wanted t' pay it forward, y'know?" After a beat and a swallow, she adds, "But I'mma trouble magnet, so here I am, 'steada doctor school," in a somewhat flat approximation of a joke.

Dropping back onto her side, she lets the pillow hide at least some of her face as it flattens back out. The circus sense memories, if they're there, offer a pleasing distraction, even if more smiles are likely to be slow in coming. "Would you be like a bank guy, or an ins'rance guy, or— ooh, you could'a been a pharma rep, right? You… you got a face." Beat. "Like, a good face, for makin' people wanna buy stuff."

He listens to her, and his face grows a little softer when she reflects, and the flashes of genuine empathy are there when he nods- his mind even forms a picture along with her elaboration, imagining how doctors would have looked in the eyes of a sick child. He wants to tell her he understands that pay-it-forward desire- that his life is prettymuch defined by that- of knowing just how many gifts he's been given, and never feeling like he can ever give enough of himself back.

But she's so quick to deflect on such a touchy subject that he follows her lead, catching the conversation and letting her toss him into the new subject.

"Really? You think I've got the kind of face that could sell drugs? I think that might be the nicest compliment I've had in a while, D'arcy." A beat, and a smile. "You should have a little more of that water. Don't get deydrated on me, alright?"

"'s'mmetrical," D'arcy explains, half-into the pillow. Magenta eyes peer up at him for a second before rolling to the bottle as she takes it for another swig. He and his empathy for this drunk woman he met somewhere, some how earn a broad, if brief smile afterwards.

"Maybe a nurse," she murmurs while setting it aside and propping up on an elbow. "'s not nine'ta five, but you def'nilly seem like the type for helpin' people… you got, like, a charity or somethin', right? Some kinda foundation, maybe?" she wonders with an appraising squint. "You totally don't jus' hang out in fancy suites and see shows all day, I'm bettin'— not that I'm complainin' if you do, 'cause sign me right up for all'a that."

"Yeah, I do what I can. A lot of big novelty checks and speeches. What I lack in actual skill I make up for by being a very, very good poster boy. I like to think I'm making ripples that'll be a wave- money can change lives so quickly, you know?" He says it with such assurance- as if he's seen the exact same grattitude in someone's eyes when he paid their rent money as when he's pulled them from fires or fought off alien invaders. Being pulled from the edge of death always seems to look the same.

"I din't start off like this," he explains "I was a teenager by the time I knew anything like this- I know what I have, and what it's like to be grateful. And," he adds, "what it's like to have your gratitude be a spectacle. I felt like less of a freak in tights than I did giving speeches about how thankful I was. So I try not to put people there- and, you know, it's a lot easier to leave a big tip than to get a hospital wing named after me. Which, admittedly, if I ever get the chance to do, I'm taking- sick people deserve to make fun of my name as much as anyone else."

Guess how /his/ first year of prep school went.

"Aaww, but who'd make fun've a guy named Rich?" D'arcy wonders with some mirth. "'specially one who's 'Coming Soon'."

It slowly bleeds out of her face as she contemplates the acrobat and his assurance afterwards, the latter resulting in a small, tight smile being left behind. Eventually, a corner of her bottom lip finds its way into her mouth, and a moment after it does…

"Does it make you happy? Are you? Happy, I mean," she quietly asks. "D'you feel like… I dunno, like… like you're doin' what you're s'posed t' be? Definitely feuuuh— sounds like you enjoy it, bein' a good guy. Slash poster guy— you think teenager-You woulda been, like, proud'a this-You? Pretty sure teen-Me'd be… confused. Right now." The bottle's grabbed for another sip sans prompting as her eyes fall for a moment.

"Is there anything you wanna be able t' do with all you have, but just… can't, yet?" she wonders when they make it back to him.

"I think I'm doing pretty good," he answers, but the question /does/ make him think- he thinks about the question, and the part of him that's always watching himself shouts that he's /opening up too much/. A need to question his surroundings that starts to chip away at the Don't Look Here signs her telepathy has been putting up, like a child prying apart a radio to see how it works. Don't look /here?/ Why shouldn't I look /here/?

Even if his conscious mind is lulled into a sense of familiarity, his subconscious has started to register the beginings of a threat. Maybe that's why he starts moving towards the door. "I should go," he says. "You're going to be appreciaing silence pretty soon, I think."

Get out, something says. Get out. Is he listening?

'D'arcy' has, by now, managed to stabilize the modulations made to her neurochemistry, so she isn't getting more drunk.

But she's still pretty damn drunk, and there are a wealth of great reasons why she tends to be a very occasional drinker.

Most presently relevant is the unconscious control needed to maintain a reasonable degree of privacy for everyone else around her: ever since she indulged in those circus memories, she's gotten increasingly more receptive to the stray thoughts and emotions boiling on the surface of his thoughts. Getting psychic insight into the former performer isn't new - she glanced through his thoughts plenty over those first days to confirm that she wasn't secretly bunking with a serial killer - but the steady feed of his empathy, his altruism, his pride…

… the trepidition creeping up from the recesses of his thoughts to cast a pall over all of it…

"… y-yeah, okay," the redhead whispers with a nod. Her eyes begin to fall before rolling back up to him— then fall, rise, fall—

"— hey," she eventually continues while just about glancing his way, sitting up on the bed, "this'— it's— " Her mouth snaps shut for a moment, allowing her teeth to find her bottom lip again. "— just, look, can I maybe… have… a hug, first?" she finally hazards once it opens again. Immediately afterwards, her pace begins to ratchet towards the red: "Like, this' super weird so no's super fine, and either way, like, y'know, like, obviously, thanks for takin' care of me an' lettin' me ask you stuff."

It catches him off guard for a second, but the request just sounds so… honest. And alone. More sense-memories, this time with sirens and screaming, and still the cloying smell of cotton candy.

"Yeah. Sure." There's something he recognizes even more than a threat- he recognizes, on some level, that someone is, for the moment, in emotional freefall. He sits on the edge of the bed, and wraps both arms around her- warm, reasssuring and /safe/. "You're gonna be okay, D'arcy," he tells her, under his breath. "Whatever it is, you'll be OK."

Falling is exactly what the redhead does right after sitting up: into waiting arms, letting herself sag against him as cotton candy and screams prickle hidden senses. With her stories about free drinks and bawdy jokes exhausted, she's just a woman with nowhere to be who's managed to carve a moment of safety out of a lie— one who can't keep herself from shivering as soon as she's touched, even if she tries to mitigate it. Swallows down the strained, sad sounds initially summoned by his encouragement.

"Thanks, Dick," she softly says while letting her head fall to his shoulder and wrapping her arms tightly around him. "You're— you're a really good guy'n'm glad I got t' meet you." Given the choice, she'll stay like here for a while - minutes, easily - silent save for deep, shaking breaths.

Beyond any more obvious motivations, this is partly to give her the time she needs to surrepitously slide a hand upwards, until fingers graze his temple, giving her the extra bit of connection she needs to begin precisely unraveling the various little adjustments made to his psyche made over the past week despite her simulated drunkenness.

It won't hit instantly, but once he's left, spent some time elsewhere, and come back… he'll find her bed empty and the mint in its proper place on the pillow; if he ever checks his clothes, he'll find (one of?) his expensive Italian sweater(s?) and black slacks neatly hung, having been telekinetically dewrinkled. Which isn't particularly strange, because this is his room; why would there be anyone else in it?

He's not much for bringing parties home with him, after all, and he's only here undercover.

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