4637/Another You: Clean Cut Doesn't Cut It

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Another You: Clean Cut Doesn't Cut It
Date of Scene: 07 January 2021
Location: Cafe Lalo
Synopsis: Prim and proper Lois Lane, doppleganger to the mouthy, crass, relentless real-world Lois Lane, finds herself cornered by Vorpal and Daytripper. Her only way out? A promise she knows she can't keep.
Cast of Characters: Lois Lane, Amanda Sefton, Terry O'Neil

Lois Lane has posed:
While Lois Lane normally hangs out in Metropolis, *this* Lois is still trying to figure out the best way to slip into that life. It means that New York is a far safer spot to work and plan than her normal stomping ground. She's just finished an interview with a prominent businessman for the society column and is standing up, shaking his hand formally with a glowing, neat smile. "It was a real pleasure, sir. People like you keep this country running." And then she's escorting him to the door before giving a little wave.

Once he's gone, she has none of her characteristic eye rolling or quiet cursing that would come with being stuck on an article like this. She's smiling an heads back towards her seat where her half drank skinny latte` is waiting as well as a barely nibbled upon scone. She sits neatly, smoothing her pencil skirt beneath her. Today, she's in a well tailored dark suit and a button up blue silk shirt which is secured nearly to her throat. Her hair is freshly washed and in a neat bun at the base of her throat. She looks bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Amanda Sefton has posed:
Which means Lois may be just about unrecognizable to the sorceress who has met her all of once -- at an illicit, underground club in Tribeca only a week or two ago. Then again, Amanda Sefton, herself, looks considerably different than she did that night -- garbed in a neat, designer pantsuit in dove grey with a pale blue blouse and a camel coloured car length jacket over it all. Her blonde hair falls loosely about her shoulders and she digs through her purse as she enters the coffee shop, looking for her phone, since its case also holds her debit card.

Almost supernaturally aware of her surroundings, she neatly sidesteps that same prominent businessman as he slips out, narrowly missing Lois as well as the reporter retreats. Her eyes come up, clocking the retreating brunette briefly. But with the woman's face turned away, there's no immediate recognition. Why would there be? The Lois Lane she met was never so put-together.

Thus, the witch makes her way to the counter to order a strong cup of tea and a light sandwich. Lunch on the go, as they say. She pays for it, collects the food and the cup, and steps away from the counter to scan the room for a table. A brow arches as, seeing the brunette from a different angle, Amanda is almost sure she recognizes the reporter among the others sitting there. Her head cants curiously, and she approaches slowly. They're not so familiar -- for all that Lois crashed on her couch -- that she's willing to interrupt the woman unduly. But... Damn, she cleans up nicely.

"Ms Lane?" she says curiously, pausing by the table. A pale brow arches. "I'm surprised to see you here. I thought you'd gone back to Metropolis." Even so, she offers an easy smile, even if she does let it linger more on the polite side of ettiquette than the familiar.

Terry O'Neil has posed:
And then, there's the scent of chaos in the air. Terry O'Neil may not /look/ like the Cheshire Cat when he's in his human form, but he certainly /feels/ like a sheer node of chaos magic to those who have the particular senses to feel those things. There is certainly nothing about the young man's appearance that suggests anything out of the ordinary, especially now that the weight of mourning and grief have taken a toll on his face, making him look pale and haggard.

A woman walks in behind him and she rubs his shoulder affectionately. Right away it's evident that this is mother and son. She has an expression of commiseration, and the way that she speaks to him makes it clear that she is aware of some tragedy that has befallen him. Perhaps this outing is a way to ease his grief... or make sure he's eating, because that's what mothers do.

No sooner are they seated , the red-headed woman frowns and pulls out a phone that had been ringing for a few seconds. There's a hushed conversation and then she is saying something to her son. He speaks a little louder than her, so it's easier to hear him.

"It's ok, mom. I can just have something quick here and I'll see you back at the house for dessert..." they hug goodbye, and then she is gone in a sweep of an elegant coat and a storm of red hair.

Terry O'Neil sighs and looks at the menu. Being a private investigator wasn't too different from being a superhero- except that, on the whole, you wore less spandex and you got shot at less on average, but the unexpected departures when a lead got hot was something they both shared in common.

He smiles a little. Like mother, like son, right?

Having no conversation partner, he decides to look at the menu even though he knows it by heart, before looking at the clientele.

And then he becomes a statue when his eyes fall upon Lois Lane.

But it's not /his/ Lois Lane. Lois Lane wears bell bottoms and- not this.

Last time, he had fled. But Gar was alive then, not ruthlessly murdered by a Doppelganger. He clenches his fists for a second, and then takes a deep breath. Slowly, he starts to get up- and then a woman pauses by the table. He decides to wait for a moment, and see what this interaction will be like. This woman knows Lois... will she notice something is amiss?

Lois Lane has posed:
As someone else speaks her name, Lois' head snaps up with a look of surprise and perhaps a moment of guilt, but it's easily swept aside beneath a genuine, friendly smile and a twinkle in her too-awake eyes. Maybe she's gone clean for the new year? "Oh, hello!" You. Woman. Whom she totally doesn't know. Maybe recognized from back home, but not really and a name isn't pinging in her mind. So she keeps her smile in place as warm as possible and doesn't dare even try at the name she can't remember. "Oh, I just had an assignment out this way. I've been thinking of taking a bit more work in New York these days... it *is* the biggest city in the world, after all! Maybe it's time I moved up in life, you know?" Even more strange, as Lois is normally quite dedicated to Metropolis, but Amanda probably doesn't know that.

"Besides, means we could spend more time together, right?" She's guessing at how close they are, probably overreaching in that guess, but she says it in such a sweet voice it's hard to deny.

Then she feels eyes on her. Pale eyes flicker across Amanda's shoulder to catch the staring, chaotic gaze of the man she met in the Planet's coffee shop. Her smile warms again and a little, almost cute wave is given in his direction. "Have you two met? Seems the whole family is out in New York these days!" Lois' tone is practically perky about it, as if she were excited two of her old friends are finally getting to meet.

And, if they introduce themselves, then she'll have their names. Exciting days.

Amanda Sefton has posed:
Amanda arches a brow, her head canting at Lois' veritably wholesome reaction. Well, the bit about New York, anyway. The sorceress has yet to face an interdimensional interloper from the beleaguered universe where a psychic, tentacled space monster took over the world and ruled it into ruin over the course of forty years. But she's not unaware of the phenomena -- mainly because she's been seeking dark portals for several weeks now in Tribeca.

Still, she's only met Lois once. And while this does seem out of character for the woman (did we mention unusually wholesome?)... who is she to really know? Of course, it doesn't help that there's that air of chaos tingling through the space, a spike of... not magic specifically, but distracting energy, at any rate. Absently, she reaches up to smooth down the small hairs standing up on the nape of her neck.

"Let me guess," she says with casual amusement, "you were just *that* inspired by my appartment?" She seriously doubts that's the case. And... spending more time together? Lois didn't strike her as the clingy type. A one night stand? Totally... Grabbing the keys to the uhaul? Not so much...

She follows the reporter's gaze to the young man who watches them. Her ears rise, almost catlike, and her eyes narrow. She can all but smell the chaotic energy shivering off of him. Her weight shifts and she rocks back on her heels. "I can't say we have..." she says slowly. Cautiously.

Something is very wrong here. She's just not sure what.

Terry O'Neil has posed:
Terry slowly gets up, "I'm afraid we haven't, no." The other woman is glancing at him with an expression he can't quite place. He feels like he's being laid bare, and he hasn't the slightest clue as to why he should feel that way... but that was not important. What was important was to find out once and for all.

He walks over to Lois' table and smiles at Amanda, "I'm Alan Lane. Lois and I are distant cousins. I'm taking a semester off from college so I'm working at the Planet as an intern." If Amanda as any truth-telling magic, huge red 'Pants On Fire' alerts would be going off... but otherwise, Terry carries off the lie quite well. He smiles at Lois, "She's been incredibly patient with me. My boyfriend absolutely adores her."

Lois Lane has posed:
"I mean... your apartment was definitely a selling point. If I get more high level interviews like that last one, maybe I can even start doing work for the Wall Street Journal. There's the money for a place like this city." Then she blinks back to Alan, realizing she MAY have stuck her foot in it, especially if he was her intern. Her blue eyes go a bit wider, "Of course, I'd never leave the Planet while YOU'RE still there. It's been so lovely getting to work with family." Not a blink to the lie. Not a look of confusion. She's bought it hook, line, and sinker.

"Why don't we all sit? I'll get us the next round. Never can have enough caffiene, right? Not in a city like this! On me. Really. Whatever you want." But she's so damn nice. She's got the sort of charisma of a well liked cheerleader or head of the PTA, something that just sets people at ease and makes you want to taste her home made bread. It's a distinctly different charisma to what she showed before, the sort that makes one like Lois Lane in SPITE of herself.

Amanda Sefton has posed:
Amanda gives 'Alan' a polite smile and, after tucking her napkin-wrapped sandwich into the crux of the arm that also holds her cup of tea, she extends a hand to him. "Amanda Sefton," she says, as she realizes Lois doesn't seem to have any intention of supplying names. "A pleasure, Mr. Lane. I'm just a party planner." Not strictly true. But not a lie. He's a complete stranger to her. So she's no cause to doubt his word, or the offer of his name. That said, she doesn't quite swallow ALL of it. "I had no idea Lois was such a team player," she tells him. She glances to the reporter, her blue eyes gleaming."She was pretty single-minded when she and I met." She keeps her voice light. It's *almost* teasing. She's watching to see how each of them responds.

Nevertheless, as Lois invites them to join her, she smiles. "I'm good," she says, with regard to another round. "But, sure... let's sit." She moves to join the reporter, shifting a chair so that her cousin can be as comfortable, and setting her cup and sandwich on the table.

Her eyes glitter a little as unwraps the sandwich and glances to between the two for a moment. Not much in the way of family resemblance. But he did say they were *distant* cousins. She flashes Lois a speculative grin. "So, tell me... what inspired you most about the apartment?"

It's just possible the young man, between the quality of her handshake (if he is sensitive to magic) and her conversation, may begin to realize that Amanda Sefton is more than she seems.

Terry O'Neil has posed:
"Oh, she usually isn't. Believe you me, I was surprised as anyone else," Terry quips to Amanda's observations about Lois, smiling. The smile is somewhat incongruent with his worn expression and his puffy, red eyes, but maybe Lois wasn't the only one doing the hard life before her rebirth.

"I'm all in for coffee. I could fancy a capuccino right now, in fact. It's a pleasure to meet you, Amanda"

Terry hasn't interacted with as many magic users as he otherwise might- they mostly stayed far away from Raven if they could. Nevertheless, he notices something about the handshake that he simply can't... shake. He looks thoughtful as he sits down, but fortunately the slack in conversation is picked up by Amanda who asks a question that he very much wants to hear answered, as well. "Do tell, 'couz. I had never heard of interior design as spiritual revelation, but in New York... I'm inclined to believe it."

Lois Lane has posed:
If this Lois is good at anything, it's not letting things throw her. After all, she knew she'd be coming into an entirely different world and there would be challenges. Her smile softens a little at Amanda's question and she gives a throaty, warm laugh, "How in the world do you pick one thing? I mean... the whole place was stellar. But, I guess, that couch. I could sleep on that every night if I needed to. It's an excellent couch." Lois offers without giving any details about it what so ever, but her praise seems genuine. "A *rest inspiring* couch!"

then she's looking back to 'Alan', a glint of concern crossing her features as she studies him a little closer. "You know, if you need a few days off, I can talk to the boss. Catch up on some sleep, take care of yourself and the boyfriend... You're looking a little piqued and no one did good reporting on a bad night's sleep." That's maybe the most alarming, non-Lois statement she's made yet.

Amanda Sefton has posed:
Amanda actually arches a brow in clear surprise at Lois' words. Oh, not about the couch, though that's amusing enough. No. It's the whole 'no one did good reporting on a bad night's sleep' thing. "Right. Where's Lois Lane, and what did you do with her?" the sorceress demands. There's an odd expression on her face -- torn between amusement and genuine bemusement.

"The last time I saw you, you were running on two hours sleep and a bourbon buzz strong enough to fuel an elthanol-powered highway hauler."

She doesn't bother to mention the other chemical stimulants she suspects were in her system.

She gives Alan a glance. "Let me guess," she says. "She's more a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do sort of mentor?"

Terry O'Neil has posed:
"I guess she really is," Terry says, his eyes suddenly very, very serious. "Considering she essentially almost comitted insurance fraud to make sure I was still getting my paychecks, even though I was essentially presumed dead or missing after the Warzoon invasion." He reaches over and takes a napkin, starting to fold it into an arrangement with some skill, "isn't that right, cousin? Look!"

He lifts the napkin, "I made a kitty."

Lois Lane has posed:
The demand of where she is makes her eyes go just a little wider. Another laugh comes, warmer than before, sounding genuinely amused at Amanda's question, "Oh goodness, that was so last year. It's a new year, a new leaf, I just... Decided to clean up my act a bit, you know! I'm not getting any younger and bourbon is no way to survive. I'm hoping I can find friends and family to support me on my journey to a new, healthier life." Her smile is practically beatific now. Like Stepford Wife beatific.

Then she turns hopeful, gentle eyes on Terry. Somehow, she gets the hint he's the one she needs to convince more than anything. "I... know I probably shouldn't have, but it was your job and you take care of family, right? I'd do it again, if I had to, but hopefully you get some more rest and recovery soon." The napkin is given an arched brow, a little confused at his showing off, but then her fingertips reach for it to pet the thing gently, "It's a very cute kitty. Alan, you really are talented."

Amanda Sefton has posed:
Amanda gives Alan a bit of a lopsided smile, her own eyes faintly troubled. But, again, she doesn't know Lois. Still, his response is telling -- the seriousness in his eyes. "Now, see... *that* sounds more like the woman I met." A beat. She looks at Lois. "At the Moveable Feast."

Does Alan know what that is? He might. It's a floating New York City underground club where, it's rumoured, you can get *anything* for the right price. It's frequented by people of various 'alternative lifestyles' ranging from LGBTQ+ to connoiseurs of the latest experimental mind altering substances to various magic types of all stripes. A chaotic, neutral meeting ground for people who'd rather not attract the attention of 'The Man', so to speak. In either the human or shadow realms.

Now, Lois could insist she was under cover, but... would either of them believe it?

Nevertheless, she smiles at the reporter. "But, hey. If you want to turn over a new leaf, I'm happy to help." Surprised, mind. But still happy to help... The woman she met did seem a little self-destructive. Useful. Unexpectedly cooperative. But self-destructive.

Terry O'Neil has posed:
"Oh, I am /very/ talented. You've been seeing my talent all over, right now." His mouth is dry, so he takes a sip from the water glass in front of him . When Amanda brings up the Moveable Feast, Terry shows no sign of recognition... as a mostly closeted teen during his Catholic Highschool days, there are a /lot/ of things he never heard about. Being the Cheshire Cat for only seven months, he also has a lot of catching up to do.

"Alright, while I am more than happy to play Nonsense and Sensibility the whole day long, there are things I need to do. The way I see it, we can have this two ways, Lois..." Terry says, putting down his glass. "We can either have a nice, quiet conversation where you tell us all about your plan to usurp Lois Lane's identity and no punches are exchanged, and we find some sort of peaceful resolution because you do seem kind of nice and as far as I know you have /yet/ to kill anyone, or..." he tilts his head, "We can have an all-out brawl right here and now when you reveal that part of your other world's training includes ballet and how to muder a man with a demi-tasse spoon... in which case I'd really appreciate it if we took this outside because this is my mom's favorite place and she'd have /kittens/ if we wrecked it."

He daintily daps at the corners of his mouth, and his facial expression grows increasingly more feral as he speaks "I am your intern.... but I am not your cousin. I am Terry O'Neil. Vorpal. Of /The Titans/. And my boyfriend, Gar Logan, the love of my life, was just murdered by a /Doppelganger/ so it really would be in your best interests /not to fuck with me./"

The absolute rawness of emotion that comes through suddenly subsides, and he glances at Amanda with an apologetic look. "Sorry about the cursing."

Lois Lane has posed:
The other Lois is about to respond to Amanda, her practiced smile both thankful and a bit sentimental, when Terry goes off. She's dead silent and still for several heartbeats, considering how she should play this. Her eyes narrow a bit more on him and then flicker back to Amanda, weighing both of them and who might be on her side. Finally, she speaks.

"Thank fuck, Terry. Here, I thought YOU were the doppleganger and I didn't want to piss YOU off! Of course I know who you are and we are definitely not related, we don't look anything alike! And hell, if you WERE the doppleganger here. I... hell, I sort of hoped Gar was still alive where you're from? Maybe I just wanted nicer things from you? Besides, it's me and Amanda here. WHen I thought you were someone else, there's no WAY we could stand up to you. It was safer to just play along, you know? I swear, swear... PROMISE it's me." Lois is practically begging in those last words, really hoping he'll believe her.

Pale eyes then look back to Amanda, pleading smile more gentle than before, "Tell him it's me. We had a really nice sleep over. You got my back, right?"

Amanda Sefton has posed:
As Alan... *Terry* drops his pretense, Amanda's eyes widen and then narrow. Cheshire Cat? She hasn't had much to do with the Titans but... She leans back in her chair and raises a hand in an unmistakeably arcane gesture, murmuring softly as she does. Around them, the noises of the coffee shop seem to receed to a muted level, as if being heard from underwater, and even the architecture and fixtures take on a somewhat insubstantial, faded look and feel. It's like they've somehow shifted out of time and space. It's not quite the Mirror Dimension, but neither is it quite where they were.

"You saw me defeat a devourer by igniting a small sun in its face," the gypsy says to the reporter, a wisp of eldritch power in her eyes. Her accent, British with a hint of German beneath it, is crisp, if rueful. "And you think I can't handle a youngster such as this?" He's ten years her junior. And she's European. She's not actually trying to denigrade him. And perhaps there's a briefly apologetic look sent his way. Mostly, though, she's following her instincts. And her instincts tell her Lois Lane isn't the turn-over-a-new-leaf-at-new-years sort of woman.

Terry O'Neil has posed:
The redhead raises an eyebrow, and then looks at Amanda. "You're magical! That's cool- Lois, not cool, trying to make me get someone who could light a sun on my face. I'm a ginger. I already fucking combust when I walk outside without sunblock on."

Terry watches the woman who might or might not be his boss plead with him. Terry /likes/ Lois, he respects her. It's hard... it's very hard, seeing someone who looks like... who /is/ a close friend. Like seeing Gar's doppelganger trying to kill him, striking someone who looks like that was heart-wrenching.

But he still beat the living crap out of him.

"Well, then here is one question that only Lois will know. /My/ Lois."

He grabs the butter knife and toys with it. Like a cat with a shiny object. He glances at it and smiles, "Tell me- if you are indeed the Lois I know and not a Doppelganger... what was the gift that Harley Quinn gave me. /The/ gift. And where were you when I mentioned it..." and his eyes look up at her, "And with /whom/?"

The infamous, diamond-encrusted banana hammock that Harley Quinn bought with a credit card from Sebastian Shaw. The episode caused Gar no end of mortification, no end of amusement for Terry and, with the careful application of pliers, a pretty plentiful college fund for Terry for when he decides to take that plunge.

Lois Lane has posed:
For a few moments, Lois actually feels like she might pull it out. She listens to Amanda with a bit of a worried smirk, "I was trying not to get you outed publicly, tha was SUCH a mess..." She states, as if she actually remembers what happened that night in the club. She'll asusme it was a mess, at least.

Then Terry's asking *that* question, one she sure as hell doesn't know and has no chance of guessing. She stares at him with confused, slightly too-rounded eyes that are slowly growing wider as she realizes that the game is up. Then they're glassing over with the most dangerous weapon yet -- Tears.

The perfectly put together, sweet voiced, energetic Lois Lane is very quickly beginning to melt down into tears. Cracked voiced, full throated sobs start from her as she collapses forward on the table, "I...j-just...wanted... A l-life... Life here...I don't want to... die... and now I can't... get anything r-right... and you're going to kill me and..."

Amanda Sefton has posed:
Well. If *that* doesn't cement the fact this Lois Lane isn't the Lois Lane Amanda met at the Feast, nothing will. Tears? The female Hunter S. Thompson Amanda met would never, she's reasonably sure, resort to tears. She eyes Terry sidelong. A) She has no idea what gift he could be referring to. And B) "Is it just me, or do there seem to be a *lot* of dopplegangers about?"

Yeah, that's not concerning. Not at all!

Her eyes glow again. She brings two of her magical talents to bear without even thinking about it. The first is her natural ability to assert her will -- hypnotically, when required, but magically, regardless -- over reality. "Hush, now," she says softly. "No one said anything about killing anyone." Of course, there are fates worse than death.

Regardless, the second talent she brings to bear is the power of invocation. "Let there be only truth among us," she says now. The phrase has an archaic cant to it, despite the gentleness in her tone. It's not a request. It is quite definitely a spell... and a fairly powerful one at that, since it can compell even demons to tell the truth. Usually, it's nothing more than a witches' pact, to keep each other honest during negotiations. In this case... it's insurance. If the crying woman is on the level, Amanda will likely help her. If she's not... well. Her help may not be quite what Lois wants.

In either case, let's just hope it's a spell confined only to they three. Or there could be a few relationships, beyond the little pocket of safety Amanda has created here, skewered by overly honest sharing.

On the bright side? The truth spell affects her as strongly as it does anyone else.

Terry O'Neil has posed:
Here's the thing about Truth- with a capital 'T', like 'Towanda'- it is a thing of order. The reflection of Things As They Are, whereas the Cheshire Cat is the creature of benevolent chaos, Things As You Would Have Them Be. Spells of truth have an interesting effect on him... he does speak the truth. But the effect of the magic is slightly... inebriating. The Romans did say that 'In Vino, Veritas,' and Terry's slightly flushed cheeks seem to betray that truth. He doesn't slur, but his demeanor is a lot more relaxed, rather like someone who has just sat down with friends after a couple of Cosmos and is about to pour /the tea/.

"Bitch," Terry says, with accentuated verbal mannerisms, "I didn't say I wanted to kill your crazy ass!- I told you specifically that as long as you don't go killing people around I wasn't going to have to take off my earrings- but if you're not on the level here and you really DON'T want to just settle down somewhere in Kansas with a picket house and two point five cows, we're going to have to take your ass back to your world and while we might not kill you, we're still gonna beat you black and blue if you try to give us shit."

He leans back, crossing his arms over his chest, "And the gift? It was a golden. /Diamond/-encrusted. Banana hammock. Can you fucking /believe/ it?" He suddenly lets out a laugh, "You should've seen Gar's /face/, because the last thing a man expects when his boyfriend gets dressed all special for date night is to find a million-dollar-bling on the sling!" Lois might have actually preferred death, in retrospect. r
He stops for a moment, and suddenly there's a tear running down his cheek "...goddamnit I miss him..." and brushes it away furiously. And that's when he looks at his hand, then looks at Amanda and Lois, and says...

"I think I'm kinna drunk."

Lois Lane has posed:
The tears aren't entirely true. At least, not the big alligator sobs of a damsal in distress she WAS putting on. They cut back as the strange spell falls over them and Lois furrows her brows, frustration painting through her face as she realizes the woman has done something. Something quite unfair to the ploy she was almost getting to work. There's still tears, though. The woman IS scared enough to be in tears. Her home planet is that bad. She's just not making an overdramatic scene of it. "W-what...what'd you do? I...I was being honest, finally...I don't want to go back there. And I know they keep k-killing us here." All those things are true.

Then Terry's confession comes and Lois just *stares* back at him, blinking quietly in shock. The mental image is a lot and she's trying not to be aghast, but is definitely blushing more than a bit. A thing other Lois would never do. "..w-well that's just... Extreme..." She stammers out, a little more uptight than before.

"Look, just... let me get out of here, forget you ever saw me. Please? I won't bother either of YOU ever again. I promise."

Amanda Sefton has posed:
Amanda's brows rise again as Terry's words just tumble out. And the bling sling thing? Oversharing. "You're a chaos spirit," she says, suddenly understanding. "Oh, great Hogarth..." She lets out a sigh, and conjures a handkerchief, setting it gently in front of him.

Then, however, she's listening to the careful words Lois speaks, watches her struggle with the imposition of the spell. Her expression turns thoughtful. "If you can promise us that you hold no ill will or no ill intentions toward anyone in this world, if you can say honestly that you have no desire to steal another's life or soul or possessions -- no matter the form they take, if you can truly attest that you are here as a refugee seeking to build a new life for yourself, honestly and fairly... then, you have nothing to fear from either of us."

Her gaze slides sidelong to the redhead again, but returns to the reporter. "I cannot speak for young Mr. O'Neil, but I am not in the habit of picking a fight with anyone. Nor am I inclined to beat them black and blue merely for a difference of opinion or intention. But I have sworn oaths to protect this world from threats in other dimensions. So, the only way I can in good conscience allow you to walk away is if I am assured that you are no threat to anyone's life, limb, or liberty -- in all senses of the phrase."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
Terry accepts the kerchief and wipes his tears, sniffling a little. This woman understood him. Maybe they could go out drinking together and commiserate.

Wait. He doesn't drink.

"What 'Manda said. I have no beef with you if all you want is to be a refugee here. We've got the beef if you want to murderate and just be a total d-----disagreeable person who don't respect other people's rights and lives about it," he says, making a concession for how ... more prudish this Lois seems to be. " He takes a sip of water, but it won't sober him up. He's loopy on magic. "Look, you wanna lead an honest life? I'll helpya. I know all sorts of people. Like Wonder Woman, you know Wonder Woman? I know Wonder Woman." He manages to leave out the fact that she punched him two nights ago, but in his defense he had turned into a nightmare creature bent on avenging his boyfrend's death and Diana had to smack him to make him come back to his senses before he did something he regretted.

As you do.

"She's got this /awesome/ lasso that does..." he points at Amanda "stuff like what she just did? Makes you tell nothing but the truth. You tell her you mean no harm and you just want to live in peace, she'll help you. Heck, you might even get to go to Themskrir.... Theremin.... Them.... Paradise Island and live with a whole bunch of Amazons. Or maybe she might make you an Ambassadorial press relation- you're /Lois/, you have all sorts of crazy journalistic skills. Get you a new idenity, new life. Maybe dye your hair.... put on glasses, nobody'll be able to identify ya."

He pauses. "Provided, like what 'Mandasefton said, you mean this."

Lois Lane has posed:
There's a bit more panic behind Lois' tearful, reddened eyes, as she looks between them. She's having to do tap dances in her brain to get out of this whole situation. She buries her mouth in a deep drink of her latte as she considers just how to answer that, buying herself a bit of extra thinking time. "Look. I... I have no ill intentions towards this world. I am really just a refugee and...I'll figure it out for myself. I just need to *go*." She moves to stand up now, seeking her out as quickly as possible. All those things she just said were true.

Then she's looking back towards the man and shaking her head quietly, "I...I don't need help. I'll manage this, I just need to get out of here and clear my head and think without this... spell... mucking around in my head. It was... nice meeting you, kid. Good luck with ...things. But I'm going." And, with that, she's moving for the exit.

Amanda Sefton has posed:
This little pocket of reality Amanda has created is harder to escape than the dimensional interloper might have anticipared. As she passes through the door, she'll find herself not truly outside, but in a small field that stretches on toward a white horizon. Amanda rises and follows her, leaving Terry to decide whether or not to follow, himself. But the 'cat should be able to see that magic is at work there.

As she passes through the portal after Lois, Amanda's appearance shifts. Her clothing blends into the blue coat and red bodice and leather trousers that typically garb Daytripper, the hood pooling across her shoulders rather than concealing her head. "Yeah, you're really not." she tells the woman. "You didn't give me a whole answer."

Of course, now they're isolated from doing harm to New York. So... that makes her feel better. She'd call the 'real' Lois Lane, but something tells her that'd be a bad idea.

Terry O'Neil has posed:
The cat follows Amanda, and in this case it's a literal cat, as Terry mouths The Words while looking at the reflection of his eyes in the butter knife, and voila- Cheshire Cat.

"She really is quite good at the partial answers, isn't she?" Vorpal says, arms crossed over his chest. His fur is cream-colored with red shot through it, and a red mane falls over his shoulders. The civilian clothes are gone, replaced by his uniform. "I'm not sure if she's an actual 'ganger and instead she's one of the fae. Slippery ones they are. Should've seen one the last time they visited the Queen. She kept asking them questions about whether she was a good monarch and they kept answering about some treatise or other on political science. Feh." He waves a hand, and then looks over at Lois. "This isn't 'Carmen', you know- you kinda /are/ obligated to give us a full answer before you sashay into the sunset singing a Habanera."

Lois Lane has posed:
As Lois realizes she's stepped into somewhere else, a flash of anger crosses her features. She turns on the pair, blinking only once as the dude suddenly seems to be a *cat*? But it's Amanda she's really angry with. She must assume the witch is to blame for the strange circumstances around her. "Lady, this is NONE of your business. Whatever happens between me and the reefer head useless twat who calls herself Lois Lane is between us. Not you. Not kitty-kat over there. This is MY LIFE. And I AM LOIS LANE." Well, that is an honest answer. So she's probably not fae, but almost certainly a doppleganger, but she thinks of herself as the real deal.

"Besides, I've seen your Lois. She's a useless addict who's probably bound to OD somewhere in the next few months. Your world could use someone actually competent in her shoes who can make some real change and do good work here! If you really had to weigh lives... Mine would be the one worth saving. Look at us."

Amanda Sefton has posed:
"Lois makes her living with words," Daytripper says calmly to Vorpal, upon noting his observation. "If she wasn't good at manipulating them, I'd be surprised." So, you know... respect to the reporter. Even if she's the wrong reporter.

Even when Lois turns on her, she remains unruffled. "I agree that Ms Lane has a distinct challenge with substance abuse," the witch admits. "But that does not give you license to replace her. Not when we have presented you with a far less murderous alternative." Yeah. The British part of her accent is leaning pretty hard, now. Go figure.

"Giving you a new identity, an opportunity to become the reporter you believe she should be without stealing her life and her choices, is easy to arrange." A bit of a smile touches the corners of her lips, though it doesn't take a way from the fixed, peircing look in her eyes. "But *your life* is *not* in this world. Not as Lois Lane. Your life is in the world of your birth, where, I dare say, they need people of your caliber to hold their leaders to account and help to build a better place. I have seen Ms Lane, inebriated as she may be, still choose to defend the week, to protect the innocent, and to do what needed to be done to keep the darkness from winning. If she can do that, addicted as she is, why can't you -- competent as you are -- in your own world?"

Terry O'Neil has posed:
"That one, I can answer," says the Cheshier cat, as if it were a pop quiz. He tries to adopt a nonchalant posture, but his particular choice requires the hands to be inserted into one's trouser pockets with the thumbs sticking out just so, and unfortunately there are no pockets in tights. He ends up with a modified hands-on-hips pose and tries to make it look intentional. It doesn't succeed.

"She comes from a dystopian world where this Big Nasty Effer brainwashed almost everybody into worshiping it. It's the kind of world that turned Supergirl into a mass murderer and tured my guy... " he grows somber, 'The gentlest, sweetest soul you'd have ever met into a psychotic killer who murdered and /ate/ his other world counterpart so he could impersonate him."

His face is serious now, with a deep-seated expression of sorrow and rage, and a dangerous touch of chaos. "I understand why you can't go back to your world. But Lois is my friend. You can't have her life. You are Lois too. You could have your own life. We could be friends." He shakes his head, "Don't make me condemn you to your death- because we both know that taking you back to your world won't end well for you. But you can't ask me to just turn my head while you kill my friend because you think you'll be better at the job. That's not how things go."

He pauses, and adds, "Besides, Gary is still an intern." Because he can only imagine what unholy terror Gary might be in their world.

Lois Lane has posed:
"He's got it right, there's no going back here. And...I don't think there's living here as someone else, either. A collision of worlds is good for no one. Something's gonna pop. Either I go, or she goes, eventually. Some quantum effects or some mess, I don't really understand but... I am going to take my place here." There's a quiet bit of panic in her eyes as Lois looks between them both, slowly beginning to realize she really isn't going to get out of here if she doesn't play ball. She swallows her heart back down her throat, trying to calm it and keep control.

"...if... it seems like... it won't damage the world for both of us to be here, I... suppose I can... find my own way." She finally stammers out.

Amanda Sefton has posed:
"You'd be surprised," Amanda says, watching that panic rise, "how flexible reality can be. *Any* reality." Yes, there's always a quantum entanglement risk. But, given the number of clones and other alternate reality figures that have already found homes here? She's not certain an implosion is immediately imminent.

Slowly, she approaches the other woman. She's still being cautious, but she *is* trying to give her the chance to preserve her life without bloodshed. "I cannot guarantee there will be no cosmic repercussions, if you stay and respect your counterpart's right to life. But I can guarantee that there will be if you *don't*."

She glances to the Cat, when he starts explaining about that other world. "I am not in the habit of condemning people to Hell. I am more accustomed to defending people from Hell. There are options for you, Ms Lane. We can help you reinvent yourself. I have contacts in Europe. You don't even have to remain on the same continent as her. But there will be sacrifices required of you. Metropolis will not be your home, any longer. Perhaps New York can stand it, but you may find London or Paris a better fit."

She's giving the woman a chance. But it's a time limited offer.

"But you will need to take a binding oath that you will do her no intentional harm."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
"Yeah, reality is pretty flexible when you come to think about it. Did /you/ ever think you'd find out the Cheshire cat is actually real?"

He smiles and Does The Thing. That is, he vanishes gradually, starting with the til of his tail, until only his smile is left hanging in the air. "People love me at parties," he says, before he fully reappears. "Do the right thing, Lois. And if you do, you'll have a bona fide superhero friend..." he pauses, "who is, you know, actually alive." Because Superman died in that other world, fighting the Big Effer he referred to earlier. "I may not be the man of steel, but I ain't nothing to sneeze at. I can be in Tokyo one second and London in another with a thought, so if you're ever in need..."

Lois Lane has posed:
The intruding 'reporter' wrinkles her nose in a flicker of anger and frustration at Amanda. Terry's offer, and strange showing off of those wild powers, gets a little bit of a look and a small shake of her head, "You really are some goodie two shoes, aren't you? I have no clue how you put up with that other wreck when you're so... Sweet." The way she says the word 'sweet' is like an insult. As if she was disgusted by the sugar syrup kindness. "I don't need your help. I don't need ANYONE'S help." That last bit is said with a look shot at both of them. She's slowly backing up. Trying to figure a way to run.

"...I promise..." She starts with Amanda, a deep sigh behind her voice. "I promise I will not directly, intentionally harm this world's Lois Lane. Fine? Can I go now?" She looks desperate, getting itchy and antsy to be out of this strange, awful trap.

Amanda Sefton has posed:
Amanda considers the promise made. "Directly or *indirectly*," she says to Lois, fixing her with a glowing-eyed stare, beginning to move her hands in arcane arcs and sweeps that create a glowing golden glyph in the air between them. "Swear no harm to her or to this world directly or *indirectly*, and I will release you." And the glyph -- a binding rune -- will go with her, settling as a soulmark on her, invisible to the naked eye, but evident to any with the Sight.

It is the *only* way this Lois Lane will leave this little pocket reality as a free woman. She won't kill her. But, she does know a SHIELD agent who might be happy to take her and put her away some where safe for a long, long time. Or, you know... send her home.

A wry smile touches her lips at the insults, however. "I feel compelled to tell you, though... You are not so different from her as you might imagine."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
"In this world, or that world, Lois is Lois after all..." Vorpal muses, coming to the same conclusion as Amanda. "I really wish you would stop being so self-destructive."

And then he exhales, "Let's get this properly done. I have to help coordinate the search for Beast Boy's body with people who can talk to fish. And I have to prepare enough content for the other Lois so that I can take two or three days falling apart all over again in the event that they find it."

He delivers this as a quiet observation, "We've all got busy lives, and you want to get started on your brand new one as soon as possible, don't you?"

Lois Lane has posed:
The look on Lois' features is physically twitching. She opens her lips, trembling as she tries to figure out how to say it. But she can't. She can't lie right now and she can't say what the woman wants her to. Her voice cracks, another few tears cutting their way down her face. "...I can't... control the world. Butterflies wings, and all. I said what I said. I will not directly harm her... please... take it or leave it." She is genuinely begging there, a woman caught in a trap.

Her eyes flicker over to Terry, looking so painfully like Lois and so desperately in need of help. She needs out of here. This seems to physically hurt her, to be trapped and nearly forced to swear off hurting her other self when that is an all consuming objective right now. "T-terry...please... Please help me. I'll make another life. Just help me out of here. I...want to start, yes."

Amanda Sefton has posed:
The fact the woman won't make that full promise causes Amanda's shoulders to fall and her expression to grow bleak. She's dealt with the fae and with demons. She knows how deadly indirect, sideways attacks can be. "I can't do it," she says to Terry. "You understand that, don't you?" She can't release her.

"I can call SHIELD," she tells him. "But I can't release her any more than I could release a mad fae queen with the same promise."

Lois probably won't want to hear that. But the golden rune disappears from the air as the sorceress drops her hands. The time-limited offer has now expired.

Terry O'Neil has posed:
"Compulsion," Vorpal says, thinking about it. He walks closer to Lois. "Lois, I know you're compelled to tell the truth. You don't need to fight, I only want to know something: this desire to kill your other self. It's overriding everything, even what you would want to do otherwise. But it wasn't /born/ in you, now, wasn't it?"

He frowns, "It's /his/ touch in your mind, pulling you, pushing you, guiding you this way and that?"

He is curious, and he needs to know. He remembers Beast Boy's doppelganger, how driven he had been to take over Gar's life... and it didn't make sense when, with his skills and powers, he could have any life he wanted.

But of course, that was the point. It really wasn't /Gar's/ goal, he hypothesized. Not anymore than it was Lois'. They were merely a conveyance. "I am a friend to Lois, and therefore I am a friend to you, the part of you that is Lois. Don't be afraid to answer me, don't try to rephrase it."

Lois Lane has posed:
Frantic again, even more so now, as she realizes that there's no getting out of this. Terry's explanation of the situation is far better than she could put to breath and she nods desperately in agreement. That's why she couldn't promise even if she wanted to -- there's some programming rather deeply laid into her head, that she HAS to try, even if it's indirect means. "...you can warn her... protect...I won't do it directly, I won't, but... I don't know if I can stop myself. Please... send me somewhere far. Across the world. Where I can't get back. Warn her, do as you please, but... but don't keep me here. Please."

The woman is still being honest there, but caught in the worst sort of situation. One shaking hand comes up, dragging across her face and trying to push tears away. "You understand why I can't do it either, lady..." She cracks out to Amanda, in response to the woman's question.

Amanda Sefton has posed:
Amanda's eyes narrow. "Programming?" She looks to Terry. "Psychic programming?" A small frown touches her lips. "I... I *do* understand." she admits. She inhales a deep breath. "I *might* be able to help with that..." She regards Lois directly. "I know people -- telepaths -- who may be able to help." She inhales a deep breath. "Frankly, I may be able to effect some sort of protective block for you myself."

She gives a wry, somewhat reluctant smile. "I have the power to control minds through magic. Hypnosis. If I can't undo what has been done to you, or find a way to hold it at bay... I know a woman who most certainly can."

Her name is Jean Grey. And if she can't do it... well, Jean knows Charles Xavier. If *that* doesn't work...

Well, then, Lois Lane is damned. One of them, anyway.

Terry O'Neil has posed:
"Man, eff that... unspeakable monster," Vorpal grumbles and looks at Amanda. "Yeah... Some very powerful programming in there. It'll take something formidable to break through... long-term work with a quality telepath. I can ask around and get someone willing to do the work..." for a moment, he laments the fact that Kian was studying to be a scientist and not a therapist in his world. This seemed like a problem tailor-made for an Akiar. "The Titans worked with the X-Men during the Warzoon nosense and I heard they have a great telepath... it's a start. You check your telepaths, I check mine, we see what we come up with?"

He looks back to Lois. "There's also a place, far from the world, where she could stay temporarily while all of that is settled. It isn't my place to invite her, but... I am friends with one of the princesses. I can't think of a safer place to be at than under the care of the Amazons. Wouldn't you like to stay with the Amazons for a season or two while we round up a way to break that hold? /I/ would die to go over to Themyscira. But I can't because..." he waves his hands in the air, "I'm a guy and they're very much not big into men setting foot on Aphrodite's blessed shore. So..." he shrugs, "I could ask Troia."

Lois Lane has posed:
The woman just looks tired now and a little bit broken. She looks between them and down to the ground, giving up quietly. "... Fine. Whatever... whatever you both think. Fine. Put me somewhere. Give me a drink and... a bed, and a distraction. I can't... I have no clue how to fight this any more. Do what you think. God, you're all such do-gooders. You're... saccharine. It's sickening." And there's that underlayer of grime. The darkness from the other world, evil around the edges of her innocent, straight edge exterior.

Amanda Sefton has posed:
Amanda regards the clearly defeated woman, glancing briefly to Terry. A part of her fears the taint has gone too deep, for too long, for the woman to be truly free of it. So, she draws herself up and traces that golden glyph again in the air. "Very well, Lois Lane," she says, her voice again taking on the tenor of invocation. "I bind thee to thy promise that no direct harm shall befall the Lois Lane of this world, nor this world itself, by thy hand. And I charge thee go with this, the Cheshire Cat, to a place of safety, where you may try to rebuild yourself a well-earned and honourable life here, understanding that should you breach your word, your life here will be forefeit." The glyph flies from her fingers and hovers in the air above Lois, before it settles gently, but inevitably upon her.

The soulmark will bind Amanda to Lois as much as Lois to her word. Because if Lois breaks her word, Amanda will know, and she will be the one to have to return Lois to the other world -- or somewhere else where she can do no harm. (Nothing in that invocation said the sorceress would kill her!)

She relaxes as the invocation seals itself and the magic falls away. Then, she turns to Terry. "I can open a portal to where you need to go, if you tell me where. But she's in your charge now, Vorpal. Don't let her fall to harm, or you and I will have words."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
Vorpal nods slowly, agreeing with Amanda's decision. "Come, Lois... we'll work it out. Saccharine has its uses sometimes, you know." Because he does not for a moment believe that those ungodly concoctions that this Lois drinks are made with real sugar, because otherwise she would be nothing but a perpetual blur of motion, standing still in one place. "The Themysciran Embassy would do nicely, Amanda. Reception area is fine... and we should really talk. Why don't you come over to the big T by Saint Martin's island and we'll chat?"

As the portal begins to open, he nods, "I give you my promise that I will do all I can to keep her from harm," he says. Although the initial drunkenness has abated, he is still in the realm of truth-speaking, "I wish I could guarantee it completely, but I couldnt protect the most important person in my life. All I can do is try," he says, that edge of sadness coming back to his voice, and he stops talking lest it spill out again.

Lois Lane has posed:
When Amanda settles for the 'direct harm' wording, something relaxes in Lois' shoulders. That's enough to give her some wiggle room. Eyes flash up, watching them both thoughtfully, but she finally gives a simple, accepting nod. It will have to do. "Didn't really give me a choice. I guess we're fucking' doing this." Ironically, that statement is the most she's ever sounded like her real world self, and it's the most crass she's ever been this whole time.

She then looks back towards Terry, brows arching as she hears where they are going. She vaguely recognizes the title of the place and makes some mental notes about what she might be able to do there. "Come on, sob story, I'm getting tired of all the sweet stuff. Show me to my hotel." And with that, she steps through whatever portal is made. It's not a good outcome for her, but not all hope is lost.