6706/Someone's been busy.

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Someone's been busy.
Date of Scene: 26 June 2021
Location: Hope House, Bushwick
Synopsis: Nicolai makes his intentions known, Clarice throws a tantrum and Betsy proves the point: Nicolai doesn't need to belong to the Brotherhood to know that people have his back.
Cast of Characters: Nicolai Codona, Clarice Ferguson, Betsy Braddock

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    The doors of Hope House are always open. Not much has been changed to the layout of the lobby of this old office building, there's still an information desk to the right of the door. This desk is manned 24/7 by an employee or volunteer. Efforts have been made to spruce up the place. Fresh paint, new carpet, new furniture, all in shades of blues from light to dark. The furniture consists of comfortable chairs and couches set up around light oak coffee and end tables to encourage people to gather and socialize. There is always food available, buffet style, at the bar to the left. The fare is nothing fancy, but always meal appropriate from donuts, coffee and juice in the morning to lunch meat and sandwich fixings around noon and finally, a hot meal of some sort in the evening. A storage room in the back has been transformed into a food pantry, no one ever pays for what they need from that room.

    Directly across from the door, an old but serviceable elevator provides access to the five floors above that used to be home to offices of varying businesses when the area was prosperous. These days each office on the first four floors has been transformed into sleeping rooms for the homeless.

    Yes, in little over a week, this is what Nicolai has managed to pull together. This is what money and determination can do.

    There is still work going on, painters painting, carpenters carpentering, just a general hub-bub of minor last minute construction.

    ...but this is where Nicolai told Clarice to meet him when she called. He also asked her to bring his violin and his tone might have sounded a little like that wasn't going to be the last of his belongings he would be asking her to bring down.

Clarice Ferguson has posed:
    Clarice appears on the street outside the building looking at it, for the moment, like she expects it might bite. She manages to slide a more neutral expression on her features before she makes her way into the building, holding a violin case by its handle in one hand. Her gaze goes to the desk in the lobby, and she approaches - stopping several feet back as she asks the figure seated there a simple question. "Nicolai?"
    Her gaze only rests on the volunteer for a moment, before she turns to take in the rest of the lobby. This isn't the first she's learned of the activity going on here - her involvement with the patrols has kept her well informed of the the goings on in the neighborhood. It's the first time she's gone anywhere near it, though. Deliberately.

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    The woman, a mutant with webbed fingers and gill like slits in her neck, gestures toward a man on a ladder that, once pointed out, is obviously Nicolai. He's ditched his usual designer duds for a pair of painter's coveralls.

    When he hears his name in Clarice's voice, for a moment he tenses. This probably isn't going to go well. But he turns and calls out, "Over here!" He has little smudges of light blue paint on his face, they go well with the aqua blue of his eyes. He leaps down off the ladder, it isn't all that tall, and wanders over.

    "Hey, so... been a little busy," he offers quietly.

Clarice Ferguson has posed:
    "So I've heard," Clarice confirms, lifting her hand to hold the violin case out towards him.
    She waits for him to take it before she continues. "It's good work, though. Needed. So..." She gives a shrug of her shoulders, trying and mostly failing at her efforts to slide a smile into place. Instead, she just comes across as stiff and uneasy.

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    Nicolai takes the violin case and then holds it up as he calls over to the mutant behind the desk. "Angie, can you run this up to my loft for me?" Loft... so...

    Angie slides out from behind the desk. Her demeanor is meek and subdued, it's obvious she's probably been through a lot. "Of course Mister Co... uh... I'm sorry, I mean Nix." She takes the case and heads straight for the elevator, head down.

    "Stop apologizing when you've done nothing wrong, Angie!" he calls out after her, his tone is a fond sort of flustered and it sounds like he tells the poor girl that on the daily, sometimes five times a day.

    His attention focuses back on Clarice. He decides it's best to just cut to it. "I've ... decided that my place is down here, Clarice. This is where I'm needed, not on some rock floating in space. *This* is where my people need me." On the ground, in the middle of it, providing them with the barest necessities that they've often gone without.

Clarice Ferguson has posed:
    Clarice nods her head, her weight shifting subtly onto her left foot as she leans back towards it, her arms resting acros her middle now that her hands are free of the violin. It felt awkward - just standing there talking in the middle of lobby, but she had the feeling Nicolai intended to get right back to work in a moment.
    Besides, if she was being completely honest with herself, this conversation would be awkward no matter where it happened.
    "You could do that, and still be part of the Brotherhood," she suggests - even though from her expression, that's not how she expects this to go down.

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    "Yeah," Nicolai begins softly. "...I just don't think, I guess I'm not a 'joiner'? Look, I'll always be there if you need me, if they need me I suppose, but..."

    It's not often that he struggles for words, but this is one of those times. He runs one hand back through his mop of loose curls, a few paint specks fall out. "Tell me something, if Magneto has the funds to run an *asteroid*, why the hell isn't he doing ... this?" He gestures broadly with one hand to indicate the 'this' of it. "None of it makes sense to me."

Clarice Ferguson has posed:
    Clarice shrugs her shoulders helplessly. "Why aren't the X-Men?" she counters back. It's a flippant answer. It isn't the one he's looking for.
    Her gaze drops to the floor for a moment, then after a few moment's consideration, rises back up to meet Nicolai's once more. "Because change happens slowly. This... wasn't who were, or what we do. But I've been trying to change that, and they're finally starting to listen. And the more people I have - inside the Brotherhood, working //with// me, helping to change things and make //this// what we do..." Her right arm grips tightly to her left as she trails off. Why is she still fighting this, when he just pulls away, every step of the way?
    Her gaze drops again. "Anyways... It's- it's a good place, that you've build here."

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    "Slowly?" Nicolai looks around at the work being done, the work already finished. "Not even two weeks, Clarice." He shakes his head, nose wrinkling a little bit. "No, uh-uh, there's no excuse for sitting around with thumbs up their asses and watching people suffer and sending nothing but 'patrols'. On either side, no... sorry but just fuck that."

    His hands clench into fists and relax at his sides a few times. A breath in, one out. "Both sides are giving nothing but lip service, Clarice. While living on their asteroids or in their mansions..."

Clarice Ferguson has posed:
    "I meant that the //Brotherhood// changes slowly," Clarice counters - trying to sound anything other than sullen. Her efforts are rather hampered by the way her gaze is locked down on the floor. "This isn't the sort of work we're used to. And I've had my hands rather full with the patrols, and trying to track down those enslaved mutants, and Dyani..."
    Her gaze lifts to meet Nicolai's again, frustration, and hurt - and even a little anger flashing in her gaze. "We have been working hard. We have been helping mutants. If this is the sort of thing you want the Brotherhood to be doing - then you could be the one to make sure that it //does// instead of running away from us. But don't you dare say we haven't been doing any good."

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    "And when Mystique decides I'm doing it 'wrong'?" Nicolai asks, one eyebrow shooting up with the question. "When she starts making me 'run things past her' before I do them? That's not the way I operate. I see what needs done and I do it."

    That fact is pretty evident with what he's already accomplished. It only took him setting his mind to it. "These people can't wait for you all to pull your shit together and take action. They need food, housing, clothes, help finding jobs... their needs are immediate not... 'when we decide we're ready'."

Clarice Ferguson has posed:
    "Well - you've made up your mind. I shouldn't have asked you to stay," Clarice says simply. She starts to turn away from Nicolai - back towards the door of the building - but she doesn't start to stride off. Not yet anyways.
    "Mystique found a mutant who can produce ectoplasm, and she agreed to- we're going to see if there's a way to store it. Or if we can- if it would be possible to do a direct transfusion, if it can't be stored. Whether you're a member of the Brotherhood or not - you're still our brother, and you still need help."

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    "That's all fine and good, Clarice, and I'll get around to being around for testing things out when I have time. It's just not high on my list of priorities right now. I've survived this long doing the things I do." Nicolai's tone isn't harsh or nasty, it's just matter of fact - he does appreciate the efforts. He just has more important things on his plate.

    "You're welcome here any time, hang out, help out, whatever. But this really is just where I need to be."

    Nicolai and Clarice are standing in the middle of the lobby of an old office building in Bushwick. The hub-bub of last minute construction is happening around them, the place smells of fresh paint. A reception desk to the right of the door is occupied by a little mutant woman with webbed fingers and gill slits in her neck. Welcome to... Hope House.

Clarice Ferguson has posed:
    Clarice currently stands partly turned away from Nicolai, her arms across her middle, her expression a muddled mix of hurt and frustration. At his words, she scoffs quietly. "How much good are you going to accomplish when you get yourself killed, Nicolai, from having no one at your back? No viable medical care? Why are //you// the one pushing //us// away?" she asks, as she finally starts towards the door.
    "I'll send down your things," she adds simply.

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    "Because I'm not going to have my life *controlled* by Mystique, Clarice." Nicolai's pretty much already made that point a thousand times, so he leaves it at a thousand and one. To the rest of it, "I've done all right so far, dealing with the immediate needs of Bushwick is my main concern right now, I'll deal with my shit later. I always manage to find someone that has my back *without* telling me what to do in return." Really, seriously, that whole personal freedom thing is a Big Honking Deal with him.

Betsy Braddock has posed:
Betsy Braddock had promised to meet Nicolai, after all that missed attempts to get together for lunch or dinner. When he'd told her to meet him down here to see something he was working on, she'd agreed immediately. After all, he'd shown up in support of her, it's her turn. The purple haired model is in a lightweight summer dress in watercolors hues of purples and blues, paired with a pair of low heeled gladiator sandals. A small little chain strap purse is pressed close as she presses her way through the door and into the lobby.
     She will get a few steps inside before she will lay eyes on paint splattered Nicolai, and Clarice. She will take further, measured steps inside. "Am I interuppting?" Her face has a remote expression, violet eyes flicking from Nicolai to rest on Clarice, her brow arching at the young woman curiously.

Clarice Ferguson has posed:
    "She isn't trying to control your fucking life!" Clarice shoots back, her head turning as she shoots a glare at Nicolai. "But //fine//. Keep telling yourself that that's what the Brotherhood is all about."
    Her gaze shoots to Betsy next as she adds a frustrated, "No. There's nothing to interrupt." Rather than waiting for a reply - there simply isn't anyone to reply to as the young woman simply blinks away surrounded by the purple haze of her teleportation energies.
    And a moment later - things start to blink into existance in the lobby. A guitar first, and then framed sheet music. More things will continue appearing as Blink works her way from the entrance of Nicolai's quarters on the Asteroid, and into his bedroom.

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    Normally Nicolai would be right on over, the whole *cheek kiss* routine played out all smiles and charm. Not today. "Bets," he greets, his tone *is* fond and there is a ghost of a smile there. But his attention returns immediately to Clarice. "Why don't you tell Betsy why you had to bail on me at Harry's that day?!" Unsure if she can even hear him anymore, but it needs to be said.

    Oh, he did not just go there, but yes he did! "When people control your circle, Clarice, when they keep you from associating with other *good* people, then the number that have your back dwindles to only them and only them. It's usually then that they stab you in it."

    He does shoot Betsy an apologetic glance along with spreading his hands in a little helpless gesture before he does finally approach and kiss her cheek. "Sorry about that," he murmurs. "I figured it wouldn't go well, but... held out a little hope that it might."

Betsy Braddock has posed:
She will return the cheek kiss without thought, a hand lifting to rest on his shoulder. "Why did she vanish that day?" She's a little stiff from the mention of controlling your circle, but those are her ghosts, and ones Nico can't see. She's watching things start to appear in the lobby, brows lifting.
     "Well, someone is certainly having a fit of pique, no? I mean, I could try to reach her telepathically to ask her to stop with.." A hand gestures to the things appearing. "Up to you."

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    At this point, Nicolai has no reason to not be honest with Betsy and every reason to not care what Mystique thinks so, "Because Mystique was afraid you'd get into her head, see her secrets."

    When all his shit starts being literally 'dumped' into a corner, of course he's going to hurry over to see if he can keep stuff from breaking. Some of that stuff, particularly one picture and the weapons that hold a lot of sentimental value. "Clarice STOP IT!" he bellows, still not sure if she can hear him or not.

    Is it really any wonder when one of the heavier framed pieces from the living area cracks him right in the side of the head? The blow staggers him, but he doesn't fall. Immediately the eerily glowing ectoplasm that serves as his 'blood supply' starts oozing from the spit in his scalp caused by the corner of the picture. At least it wasn't *the* picture? "Son of a bitch!" he snarls, one hand immediately going up to rub at the lump already forming under that gash.

Betsy Braddock has posed:
"Oh really. Well... this will certainly be interesting. She may regret throwing her little tantrum." Then Nicolai is getting cracked in the head, and Betsy will throw a TK shield around him just in case. "Just say the word..." She will move to pull Nicolai by the hand out of the mine field. "In fact... nevermind."
     Betsy will close her eyes a moment a faint fuschia glow forming around her eyes. <<CLARICE!! You just /hit/ him in the head. >> Yes Betsy is angry, and Clarice will know it.

Clarice Ferguson has posed:
    The mind Betsy finds is a whirling mix of confused emotions - as somehow Nicolai has managed to make Clarice feel hurt, betrayed, and insulted. All mixed in with an unhealthy dash of grief, as despite his earlier assurances, their brief conversation hadn't left much sign that friendship still existed between them.
    The news that she'd managed to hit Nicolai with some of the detritus of his life, however, is immediately met with surprise, regret, and guilt - before she clumsily tries to force the presence out of her mind. She has been working with telepaths for the last month or so, after all, to learn how to protect her mind. ...but it was certainly nothing that Betsy couldn't easily overpower if she wished.
    for the moment, though, it seems their goal has been accomplished - nothing else is blinking into existance in the lobby.

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    Normally he would never allow himself to be pulled out of the line of fire, he'd be jumping into it. But, well, Nicolai has ectoplasm running into one eye and that hit just plain *hurt*. It's like when you're leaning over, under a table, and come up and smack your head, only times a thousand because of the pointed edge of the frame.

    Truth be told, he's still seeing stars.

    "Fuck," he mutters, one hand still pressed to that growing lump, the other on his knee when he bends over to keep from falling over. "I think I need stitches," he adds after the moment or two that it takes him to figure out that there are more words than 'fuck' in the human language... they disappeared for a second after being brained by that picture. It's bleeding a LOT, as scalp wounds are known to do.

Betsy Braddock has posed:
Betsy doesn't linger long, just long enough to make sure the message was received. No, the efforts to force her out were not very successful, but once the things stop appearing at random, Clarice will feel that she is truly alone again in her own mind. Betsy is far more interested in helping Nicolai, than to continue to long-distance discuss this behavior with Clarice.
     A hand will slide under Nicolai's arm. "Come on, darling. I won't let you fall." It would take something far heavier than Nicolai to make Betsy's TK even waiver. "Why don't we get you some help and get you cleaned up, hmm?"

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    Through it all, poor Angie behind the desk sat frozen and the workers all looked like they just didn't know what to do.

    Now that he's sure he's not going to puke, sometimes sudden head blows cause that too, Nicolai does straighten up. "I can walk," he assures Betsy. It's not pride either, really he can. The dizziness is still present, but not as bad.

    His left eyes is squeezed shut because he's leaking into it so he makes a vain attempt to wipe the ectoplasm away with the back of his hand.

    He stands a little straighter, not for Betsy's benefit, she can likely sense the lingering pain and wooziness. No, it's for everyone else's benefit. "I'm fine, really... just keep working, yeah? We need to be ready to fully open doors as soon as possible," a beat and he asks Angie, "Ang, can you see if Steven and Andrew can carry this stuff up to the loft for me? Just have them put it anywhere, I'll sort it when I get back."

Clarice Ferguson has posed:
    In a childish coda to Clarice's initial tantrum - she makes her way to Nicolai's bedroom, standing there, and turning a slow, full circle in the room while unheard conversations take place far, far below her. One of her javelins appears in her hand, as she starts opening the drawers to Nicolai's dresser. Finding the one she's looking for, she pulls the drawer out, and flings the contents upwards, before dropping the drawer heavily. The javelin flies, and the airborne clothes all disappear, to reappear in the center of the lobby - a rain of fluttering undergarments dropping everywhere.
    Nothing else will appear.

Betsy Braddock has posed:
Betsy Braddock will telekinetically clear away the ectoplasm from Nico's skin and eye, before she's using it to /carefully/ apply pressure to the wound itself. "Let me help you, and quit being a stubborn jackass." She will say softly to him, taking his arm none the less, as if he's escorting her and not the other way around. "Do you have someone that can handle this, or shall I call someone?"
     The appearance of his boxers makes Betsy pause, looking at them, before she looks back to Nicolai. "That young lady is trying to provoke me, I think. I don't believe she understands the vast depths of why she really wouldn't want to do that."

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    "I can go to the clinic down the street," Nicolai replies. ...even though he's not really certain that Betsy will be a fan of Nicolai ending up being treated in a free clinic.

    He glances at the growing pile of clothing and lets out a sigh. "I think she's trying to provoke *me*," he points out. Wait, she's in the bedroom now, obviously.

    He pulls a little away from Betsy and stares up at the ceiling. "Clarice, don't you DARE throw that picture! Don't. You. DARE!" Panic and anger mix to add insult to injury when loose items in the room begin to rattle and shake. Nicolai phases into 'Haunt', the air grows cold. He still isn't sure if she can hear him through those portals or whatever or not.

Betsy Braddock has posed:
"All right." Betsy would have zero issues, so long as he gets taken care of. It will be a good chance to her to see what the clinic would need most, funding wise, as well. "Oh, I told her she hit you in the head. Now she's on thin ice." She will drop the hold on his arm as he phases, a sigh. <<Clarice.>> Betsy will reach out again. << Please leave the rest of his things alone. I am asking nicely.>> Because no one wants her to not be nice, because that can be scary. << I don't understand everything that has transpired, but you need to respect his things. >>

Clarice Ferguson has posed:
    Clarice is no longer in Nicolai's room - she's in her own room, curled up on her bed and hugging tightly to one of her pillows.
    At the repeated intrusion on her mind, the feeling of confused grief quickly gives way to anger as she clumsily tries to force Betsy out of her mind. <<GET OUT OF MY HEAD!>>
    That Betsy can do that from anywhere in the world is more than a little unsettling.

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    Once his shit stops being abused, Nicolai pulls himself together. "Fuck, Mystique is going to ruin that girls life and she doesn't even know it," he mutters under his breath.

    "All right, well, let's go get me sewn back together, yeah?" He says that like he might be asking Betsy on a lunch date. "I'm putting the castle up for sale, by the way," he adds as casually as he can manage. "...that's why I didn't want her to break the picture in the bedroom. Chistian took it." ...and it's all he'll have left of the place and the man after he sells his childhood home. "Have to make sure I have the funds to keep this running now that it's started, I can't let these people down."

    He'll stick close to Betsy as they head for the door, but he doesn't seem to need her support to keep moving forward.

Betsy Braddock has posed:
"You need to tell me what all is going down with that girl and Mystique, and you need to do it, post haste." Betsy will state, and it's certainly not a tone that invites argument.
     There's the loss of momentum for a second. "The castle? Nicolai, you love the castle. You shouldn't need to sell it..." She will fall silent as he tells her why, though there is a certain speculative look in violet eyes. "Let's get you patched up, and then I will take you to get something to eat, and you can lay everything out for me."
     She's ignoring Clarice's yell, though once the girl made the request, she did not linger.

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    It's not that Nicolai doesn't have a /lot/ of money, he does. He could live his life on the interest alone and even live it lavishly if it was just him living his life. But the things he has planned for Bushwick, including Hope House, are more involved than him just living his life.

    "Yeah, I do..." It's his home, no matter where else he is in the world, Romania and that castle are still his home. "But... the people here need hope more than I need a castle."

    He backtracks to Mystique and Clarice. "Clarice thinks the Brotherhood is ... well, she believes they're changing or whatever, but it's more than that. She'd follow Mystique into a crap serving lunch buffet and ask how much she should eat. She's just... blind to it, all of it."