Shock and Awwww

Characters: Jean Grey Luciana Gutierrez
Rated: PG-13 (Language)
Summary: The Gutierrez twins find one of their former teachers hiding in plain sight, giving Luciana an opportunity to confront them honestly and demonstrate how much she and her sister have grown.
OOC Date: February 5th, 2018 (IC: January 28th, 2018)
IC Date: January 28th, 2018
Where: Breakstone Lake, Westchester County, New York


It took 'til evening for the skies to fully clear, giving a view of the stars that can't be matched in the city. This may be why a coat and jeans-clad Jean Grey's stretched out along Breakstone's dock with her hands laced behind her head and eyes pulsing with magenta light fixed upon the night sky despite ostensibly being holed up in a weird, old mansion in Greenwich Village. The eyes suggest her answer to the quandary: sidestepping it entirely by wiping herself from a home full of students and loved ones while she spends the weekend meeting with Henry regarding her health; encountering oddly familiar, guilt-inducing fans; nesting in the attic; and occasionally wandering the grounds.

Of course, said eyes shouldn't be visible at all, but thanks to a handful of near-brushes over the past few days - moments when Lucy may well have caught a fleeting glimpse of red hair or green eyes before blinking - the twins' conjoined minds have built up something of an immunity to the telepath's trickery: not only is she plainly visible, a faint column of magenta light shoots up from the dock, throwing up a weird beacon for Lucy's eyes only as the clock approaches seven.

The twins have been very confused, and irked, as they have tried to adjust and adapt to spotting things only intermittently which leave them convinced others are missing something. Everyone says there's nothing to see, but they've been sure. Sure, but unable to prove it. Hence their displeasure.

Luciana is of course the twin everyone knows best; she's the one who looks human, the one on the outside most of the time when they are together. Isabella is the elder twin, if only by a few hours. She's also the liquid metal woman living inside her own sister, except in rare cases when she peeks out one way or the other.

Together, they are Gemini.

The column of light brings the twins outside despite the cold - not that it bothers them overmuch - and wandering across the grounds towards the dock. Spotting again that red hair together with the magenta light, Luci does not tap the watch she wears that would alert the security system of an intrusion. Instead she just walks out onto the dock, not even trying to hide her approach at this point. The wooden planks groan a bit - together, the twins weigh a bit over three hundred pounds, despite looking like a woman of perhaps one-fifty. "You know, given how concerned we have been about you, you could actually come to the front door, ring the bell, and be welcomed instead of skulking about and trying to scatter our minds to keep us from noticing you." Her tone is gentle, but firm; she's not the shy thirteen-year-old lower class hispanic catholic girl she once was, now a pretty confident member of the X-Men and the school's nurse. "Enjoying the view?" Lucy queries.

Even with wood groaning beneath preternatural weight, Jean doesn't register that she isn't alone - joined by someone aware of her presence rather than another mind who's merely gotten close enough to warrant occluding - until Lucy speaks, chiding yanking her upright with a wide-eyed gasp. Magenta light dims, leaving a few lingering motes; eventually, her heart will begin to draw back from its jackhammer pace. Swallowing, she pushes hair back from her face with one hand while twisting her upper body towards the approaching women, only to lower her gaze and her head at the question.

Somewhere in the back of her mind, she wonders if, perhaps, she should have snuck in a little bit of Danger Room time; hindsight…

"I know," she murmurs while standing, quietly contrite. "I'm sorry— I'd planned on coming, doing tests with Hank; doing, if we're being honest," she turns so she can make proper, apologetic eye contact with Luciana, "a moderate amount of skulking about, and then leaving— and then, just, coming back for good, ASAP, once it was definitely established that I wasn't gonna imminently die, or explode, or something."

Her cheeks puff with a slowly released breath as her eyes once again fall.

"Kind of," she tacks on in a quieter voice regarding the view, before finally budging to approach her fellow mutants with arms outstretched to offer a hug. "I should've called, I just— didn't— want to jump any guns." After half a beat, she adds, "I was feeling selfish," softer still.

Luciana wraps her arms around Jean, hugging firmly - but not so firmly as to dislocate anything. She can, but does not. That'd be rude! "Well, you're entitled to some selfishness. You've been through a lot, and none of us fail to get that." She smiles a bit more warmly. "Just remember that you are much loved, and have been much missed, here. That are you 'back', but not here, not with us who love you, has been hard for many at one level or another." No lecturing, really. It's not Lucy's style. But she leads with her heart, pretty fearlessly. Jean is senior enough to be quite capable of telling her to shut her yap and she'd do it, but unless ordered she's going to have her say.

"Have you had your tests, then? Or have I interrupted, while you were waiting for results?" Of course, as the nurse Luciana is often called upon to assist with such things, but it seems Henry decided to do these all on his own. Not that she can blame him for that. "If you really want more alone time, I've had my hug. I can go away and give you more." She doesn't want that, but she will give it. More of that respect.

To her credit, Jean's at least made a habit of reaching out more generally since Ororo took the step of revealing her continued existence— albeit via calls and texts, primarily, thanks to her aforementioned spontaneous explosion concerns; it's something, if nowhere near the same as face to face interaction. This may be why she accepts the non-lecture without a hint of protest, chewing on her bottom lip and nodding along as she embraces without restraint; she, after all, doesn't have to worry much about breaking either of the involved parties.

"I…" Jean murmurs, holding the syllable a little longer than needed, "… finished them on Friday, but I got caught up in something, accidentally met a new— well, person, Rachel? The telepath with the leather. At this point, I'm just… getting caught, I guess." Stepping back from the embrace - given without restraint, as she doesn't have to worry about breaking any of the involved parties - she rubs the back of her neck while willing herself not to look away from the taller woman. "I dunno why Hank didn't bring you in, but I wouldn't be surprised if Ororo framed it in a way that made him feel like he should keep things close, when she first set things up," she offers with a few bare gestures from her other hand. Both arms eventually fall so she can fold them low.

"It's good to see you again, even if I wish it was under less shitty circumstances." Perhaps paradoxically, being alone doesn't remotely appeal; Lucy may have even heard a hitch in her breathing and heartbeat both at the suggestion. "You don't have to go; how are you?" Her eyes shift just so; the older sibling may not be visible, but Jean means to include her in the question just the same.

Seeing how Jean is opening up uncertainly, feeling her way towards a connection despite her inner confusions, Lucy motions towards the bench on the dock and then takes a seat, making sure she's sitting right over one of the vertical supports just in case. "Rachel? Yes, we've met. She is a challenging one. Doubly so for you, I imagine." After all, Rachel's last name is the same - Grey - and she purports to be Jean's own daughter. Tough one, that, given Jean didn't have any children before she died.

"I — We've been alright. I finished my Masters in Nursing since you left us." She doesn't say 'since you died', but the effect is the same. "Izzy is still 'finding herself', though she's settled pretty firmly on art. Sculpture, of course, as a medium, though she's also working on art history. We're full members of the team, of course." They were probies before Jean left. "All things considered, we've been good." Not perfect, mind, but these two have never been ones to complain much, even as teenagers.

"Yeah, I mean," Jean murmurs, shaking her head. Legs clothed in torn denim borrowed from the lost telepath's wardrobe and black leggings draw up until her arms are wrapped around them and her feet are planted on the bench Lucy's guided them to. "I guess she, like— heard of me? Enough to be extremely disappointed about me not being here when she first showed up. She's part of why I'm still here, she seemed…"

Green eyes slide shut and memories drift; a shudder enters the night air a beat later.

"… hurt," is what she goes with when her eyes partly open and shift towards the women beside her. "Lonely, even here— I couldn't leave her, y'know? She seems nice, all in all."

Once that's said, she reaches over to squeeze Luciana's shoulder while offering a warm smile. "I'm glad you guys are flourishing, settling into who you want to be; we just need to make sure I see some of Izzy's new stuff in person, sometime.

Lucy nods, clearly understanding about Rachel. SHe is also guessing that there is more to it; there always is, right? But what Jean has said is enough, and there's no need to belabor the point. "I know. I understand."

Lucy sits, listening, and on the back of her hand some silver liquid metal starts to seep out of the pores of her skin slowly. More and more seeps out, as the metal moves on its own, shaping, twisting. Within a few minutes, as they sit and talk about Rachel and how she feels and Jean's need to be with her and not leave her alone, the metal comes into focus as a perfectly sculpted and formed ballerina in mid-twirl, positioned perfectly on the back of Lucy's hand.

Because Izzy heard that.

"Rachel has seemed very nice, to me. A bit … well. As you said, wounded. But I think being here has been good for her." Lucy offers.

Jean can't help but watch as the ballerina's spun into existence after creative focus twirls through her consciousness. Red eyebrows progressively rise as she and Luciana discuss the newcomer, until she finally can't help but punctuate a point with several brisk, abrupt claps.

"Well, I didn't mean now, but…" she trails with an appreciative grin, leaning in for a spell to get a closer look at the sculpture. "The detail is incredible, not that I'm surprised…"

A few seconds of squinting later, she straightens while tucking hair behind an ear and suggests, "I think that once Rachel's had enough time to settle into the fact that she isn't— wherever she was before here— I, well, I hope she'll be able to relax, a little, but I guess I didn't see what she was like a month or so ago; maybe she has been," without taking her eyes off of the ballerina.

Izzy makes the ballerina actually twirl and spin, and then dance and move, very much alive, as a playful demonstration for Jean, real proof that Izzy is just as thrilled to see her again as Lucy is. The curtsy has to be the cutest part, done directly towards Jean as the audience.

"Rachel hasn't relaxed much while she's been here, though it has begun, a little bit." Lucy opines. "My hope is that with you about a bit - assuming you will be - that might improve. My instinct is that she will bond with you, and your presence will ground her in a way she hasn't been able to do on her own yet."

The curtsy definitely gets a brief applause break. Jean is plenty happy to play audience, which very well may be down to her slipping back into a familiar role that's gone unplayed for too long.

The suggestion that she, specifically, might be able to give Rachel the grounding she needs to truly settle into her new reality is what it takes to pull her attention from the show, an overwhelmed sort of bemusement playing over her features. "I mean, we'll see - we've got a common powerset to bond over," she replies, tentative even as she tries to pull a confident smile on. "But I've never had a— fan? Before; I don't wanna let her down, or anything, but, also, I don't really… know her? And I'm definitely not feeling all that role model-y, so part of me feels like she'll be lucky if I can manage to inspire her not to get more withdrawn and uncomfortable."

Her eyes fall from both of the twins for a beat after that. In rising, they linger on the ballerina for another moment as magenta flickers at their corners; by the time she's making eye contact again, the ballerina's been accentuated with a tiny bouquet of roses in the girls' minds' eyes and Izzy's received an accompanying sense of gratitude.

Fan? Lucy's eyes widen slightly at that choice of words. She says nothing, does not dare try poking at Jean about this, but clearly she has some of her own thoughts on the issue. She would never characterize Rachel as a mere 'fan'. Lucy herself would be more of that by comparison. "I think that is the point, Jean: to open up and let her get to know you, and you her in turn. That, I think, will do the best that can be done to help her center and ground herself. I don't think she is seeking a role model. She's seeking an identity." Nothing more; even this much may have been too much.

Jean will be able to perceive the joy and pleasure of both of the twins at her display, her mental overlay of the reality of the silvery sculpture. Lucy smiles for both of them. "So. You got your results. Are you still feeling unstable? Have you had any further incidents?" Nurse, medical practicioner. She's doing her best to help, which begins with understanding.

Jean doesn't seem to register the surprise at her phrasing. Her shoulder rolls a little as Lucy speaks and her chin idly bobs. "Yeah, I mean," she murmurs in reply, "I'm gonna try, obviously…"

A 'but' very nearly slips in there before the twofold joy flickering in her consciousness suppresses pessimism for the moment. She falls into silence, letting Luciana and her questions fill the breach; her eyes fall partway through, but manage to make it back to taller woman's by the end.

"I haven't burned anyone else to death, no," she quietly says while grimacing. Despite the choice of words, there's no defensive edge to them. "I hadn't made much use of my powers - there was a bank robbery a while ago, and another little incident here or there - before Friday. They've been— well, different; starting with the, y'know. Immolation. But Hank wanted to do a stress test…" She takes a moment to breathe in afterwards, seemingly collecting herself before a small smile begins to spread and her eyes turn starwards.

"I felt like I was wearing lead soles on the Autobahn after spiking the Super Bowl-winning touchdown into William Stryker's face, Lucy…" The sigh that follows shakes a bit with self-conscious laughter, then green eyes meet brown once again. "He mentioned something about a peer at Four Freedoms Plaza, but he seemed pretty confident that I'm not dying. I feel— stability doesn't feel like the right spectrum to think on, but I feel functional."

While the telepath tries to fit a dizzying experience and frame of mind into words that inform without alarming, her heart races with a mixture of excitement and fear that no amount of lexical caution could hope to mask from biometal-enhanced senses.

Lucy wants to do what she can to comfort and reassure Jean, but she's really not sure what that would be. She feels bad about that, but she can't just make it so because she wants it to be. She doesn't flinch when Jean mentions burning others to death, though; she knows about that. But she's also pretty sure - as sure as she can be - that it wasn't Jean's conscious choice. She doesn't think Jean quite knew what she was doing. And she's also convinced there had to be a reason for it, even if it was an overreaction.

"The power is greater and it's addictive." the nurse surmises from what Jean is saying. "And that's something to be expected. Everyone wants the power to change their world. You now have far more of that than you ever have, at the same time feeling horribly helpless and out of control due to the rest of your circumstances." Proof Lucy has grown up while Jean was gone: younger Lucy would never have spoken up to her like this.

"You're going to have to find your center before your powers are going to settle down. You know that, even better than I do." Lucy continues. "You helped teach us that truth. We had to deal with our emotions to stay in control. We had to deal with each other so that we could work together. The same is true for you. The balance and control you fought for before the incident is gone, and you haven't been returned as quite that woman. You have to work at it, all over again, and harder for having once had it and lost it. But the best place for that, in my view, is here amongst family. Here amongst those who understand and can and will help in any way we can."

"And maybe seeing you do so will be the thing that helps Rachel do the same."

Red brows begin to knit and rise. "'Addic— ?'" is tentatively slipped out only to be lost amidst Lucy's analytical stream. Unpainted lips fall, then purse; green eyes narrow, slightly, and semi-denim covered knees tuck tightly.

"I've been trying," Jean murmurs after the mention of centering. Her voice is soft, distant— chastised, it could easily be surmised. Despite the degree to which Lucy does or doesn't intend to lecture, her double-barreled honesty seems to be burrowing towards the redhead's gut with an accuracy that is at once casual, uncanny, and frightening. Anxieties she's only just found the strength to collapse into words come spilling forth so readily that she'd have surely been inspired to ask whether the twins were hiding a telepathic talent, if she were anyone else; as it is, a little part of her still indulges the question, amidst shock.

Pensive green eyes seem anchored to the dock by the time Lucy's tied her thesis together. "I promise," she softly says after letting silence linger and conflicted thoughts subside for a few seconds, "I'll move back ASAP— I am gonna move back, ASAP. That's the plan…" Those eyes close as she breathes in deeply and gloved fingers begin drumming arrhythmically against shins when she exhales.

"I just feel like people are expecting to be with that woman they buried, again," she then whispers in a barely steadied voice, "and that when they realize I'm not— I know they'll say it's not important. That it doesn't matter, because we're family. I know that's what they'll say."

That she's not entirely sure what these hypothetical people in these hypothetical circumstances will truly feel is communicated with a silent meeting of green and brown.

"That can't keep me away, anymore, but it's there— hh— " Her hands rise to rub her face for a brisk moment. "It'll pass— like I said, I'm… trying, with the centering. Remembering what's precious and worth struggling through confusion for…"

"Thank you," she says after trailing off in a momentary thought that spikes her heart rate. As a smile returns, she adds, "Maybe you should try mentoring Rachel some, if you're gonna start doing me to me," in a lightly teasing tone.

Lucy stands there and opens her arms to the redhead, as silvery arms shape themselves out of her armpits and add their offered embrace. "I can't, and won't, speak for anyone else. But I can give you my word, Jean. Yes, I cared deeply for the woman who was. But I am offering my affirmation, support, and caring to the woman who is, no matter what about her may differ from that mentor I once knew. And Izzy agrees with me." That much is declared openly, yes, given the second set of arms, open ready to welcome Jean back.

"I will do all I can to help you, and Rachel. And anyone else who needs it. Just as you, and Ororo, Lexi, and many others have helped us." the hispanic woman offers, smiling warmly. She came by that calm assurance honestly; she learned it from Jean and others who modeled it to her for years.

Looking up, Jean uncoils when the twins' arms extend and stands so she can lean into their offer of support.

"Thanks," she quietly reiterates, embracing without restraint once again, "I appreciate that. I appreciate you." She draws her head back, tries to make eye contact. "Both of you." Given the option, she'll stay in the embrace for a fair while before finally pulling back; regardless of when, exactly, the embrace breaks, however, her immediate response will be the same, given with a curious smile:

"So," she wonders while glancing towards gleaming arms, "D'you think maybe you've got another sculpture or two in you…?"

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