2019-04-28 - No No No No No No


Scott explains Rachel Summers to Zee.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sun Apr 28 04:18:15 2019
Location: Shadowcrest - Interior

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Shadowcrest Manor. It's the same kind of dignified, stately old mansion that Xavier's own is, and yet, beyond those shared qualities, one could not be any further different from the other. Xavier's is a place where technology and youth converge to breathe constantly shifting, new life into old bones, where Shadowcrest seems like a museum, nostalgic for a more elegant and artful past while only giving a nod to the modern and new. As Scott Summers stands just inside the front door, awaiting his hostess, this comparison is what is running through his mind.

He kind of wishes more of the antique feeling of Xavier's had been preserved.

Having been summoned by the Lady of the house, Scott had managed to sneak away after classes let out, forgoing his typical routine of grading papers and workbooks, followed by an evening run, and instead had hopped on the bike for the short jaunt over here. He did dress nice, though. His leather jacket is draped over a green and white Western style shirt with mother of pearl buttons and a thin, red tie. Khaki pants. Brown leather brogues. It's not Zatanna nice, or anything, but when compared to his typical flannels and jeans look, it's a step up. It shows effort, if nothing else.

"COMING! I'll be right down!" comes Zatanna's voice from the second floor of the house, down one of the many winding corridors that seem to make up the place. Then a door next to Scott in the other direction opens, and Zatanna steps through. She's in a black blouse, black choker, black jeans, black boots. She grins brightly and moves to hug her houseguest (among other things).

"Hey, you! I feel like it's been forever!" Zatanna lingers in the hug while she talks. "I feel like I've lost a week, or something… I can't even explain it all. Faeries, pantheons, helping out superheroes… It's wild." She lets go. "I mean… thanks for coming. It's really great to see you not-just-in-my-phone."

Scott doesn't seem eager to escape that embrace, or anything. His long arms surround Zee, drawing her in close, and he turns his cheek to rest it against the top of her head as she speaks. His lips curl up into a smile, and he nods his head, before lifting it and arching his back so that he can easily look down into her eyes. "It really does feel like it's been forever. I know things have been kind of crazy, so… I get it. I'm… Really happy to see you, too. Not just in my phone."

Only then, does Scott take a step back, until they're standing just at arm's length from one another, with his fingertips trailing from her hips to fall back to his sides. "So… yeah. Uh… It's definitely been a ride. You're free to tell me all about it, if you want. Or if you don't want to, that's fine too, I mean, I'm not gonna try to make you talk about anything or not talk about anything."

A beat. He breathes in deep.

"I'm just really, really glad to see you."

Right as Scott finishes saying that, Zatanna leans up — she's mastered the art of tip-toeing in heels, somehow — and grabs the sides of his face, at his jawline, nowhere near the glasses, to put a kiss on his lips.

"Sorry. Had to get it out of my system," she grins, before letting him go. "C'mon in. I feel like a bad hostess making you stand around in my foyer." Zatanna slips her arm into Scott's and starts walking, though she can only get very far if he allows it. She grins. "This is Shadowcrest. The ancestral Zatara family home. Well, ancestral for like, two generations? I know it kinda looks like a museum, but… it's a big house, I can only live in so much of it," she laughs.

"So there's some kind of… theistic war going on, with the Norse gods being particularly tied up in it. I'm still trying to figure out the particulars, but Jean… I dunno if you've seen Jean lately, but she got a little mixed up in it, too." Zatanna silently swallows like she wants to clear her throat. "So I'm trying to help out there. And then there's this like, incursion into our realm by the Fair Folk, so I've been opening the library up to try and find stuff that'll help out there… I mean, I wish I could tell you all kinds of cool tales of adventure and combat, but mostly it's just me drinking black coffee in my library, translating ancient manuscripts."

When he's grabbed, Scott tenses up, though he relents to the guidance, drawing him in. His lips meet hers for that kiss, though his breath is caught in his throat. His hands lift up, hovering next to her shoulders, as if unsure of what to do with themselves. And just as he thinks to settle them on her arms, and hold in, she breaks away, and he's left standing there breathless until she's finished her apology. Only then does he remember to breathe.

"Yeah," is all he can say in response to her urging him to follow. She takes his arm, and he walks alongside her, gently shifting his weight to the side so that his shoulder bumps her own. As she gives her small introduction to the home, he can only nod his head as he takes it in. "Yeah, I can't even imagine if I had the full run of Xavier's all to myself. I cannot occuupy that much space, no matter how hard I might try."

Hearing about the conflict with the Asgardians, Scott nods knowingly, and lifts his chin. "She's got that mark. She decided to run off without me, to help this old guy named Hod or something. And some Egyptian god branded her."

The darkness and strain in Scott's voice makes it clear that it's something that actually affects him very deeply. Hits him to the bottom of his soul. Jean had come to him for help, but in the end, when the time came, she didn't call on him. And she was… marked. He didn't even know really what it meant. He just knows that she shouldn't have had to do that without him there to protect her. He would gladly bear that brand in her place.

"Thank you… for helping her out. I'm really glad that you both are such good friends."

Even if that does have a tendency to make things more awkward for him. More awkward than he could have ever imagined being.

"Hey, researching and planning are the backbone of any good strategy. Wars aren't won on the battlefield. They're won at the table, they're won by gathering the right intelligence and formulating the proper strategy to exploit the weaknesses of the opponent. And no one can ever say that sitting in a library, fueled only by coffee, and doing intense study isn't hard work. Mental exhaustion is a real thing and it's a real killer."

Zatanna grins. "Well, having my phone buzz every so often to remind me that I have a life outside musty old tomes is definitely a booster when I need it." She looks over, and winks. "I think I have Jean's problem figured out, too. When she has a chance, I'll get her over here. Uh, girls only, since there might be some spreading of salves." Is she teasing Scott? Who can tell?

The 'walking tour' of Shadowcrest involves turning down corridors that don't actually make sense. Scott, of all people, would pick up on this: the geometry of the house from the outside isn't at all matching what they're doing inside. There's a window looking out to a spot in the yard where no window is visible from the outside, among other strange details. The artwork on display is varied in form and content, from sculptures on endtables to paintings hung between doorways — looking like a lifetime's worth of dedicated art collecting.

"Last time I spoke to her, she had this… Rachel girl with her. What's the deal with her?" Zee says it very matter-of-factly. If she has any cards, they're waaay up her sleeve, out of sight.

Scott's excitement when Zee mentions that she has Jean's problem figured out is only quelled by his disappointment after she proclaims the act a "girls only" affair. The spreading of salves, though, has him lifting up an eyebrow from behind his ruby red shades. "Uh… why would that be… I mean…"



He might be turning as red as his glasses, when he reaches up to scratch the back of his head, almost wincing as he tries to shove mental images back down into the deepest darkest parts of his subconscious. Thankfully, this discomfort lessens the other discomfort that Scott feels as they navigate the home that makes no sense. His instinctual geometric sense is ill at ease with the dimensions of the home not aligning with scientific reality. He knows, of course. He expects that if he wanders into a place of magic, everything that he thinks he knows is to be thrown out the window and that he won't be able to make much sense of it. But man, it's like a slug, sliming away on the back of his brain. Just an uneasy feeling.

"Rachel," Scott repeats the name as if it were venom on his lips. He has been trying to avoid "Rachel" and her "brother", known as "Nate". He shakes his head, and pinches the bridge of his nose.

"That's my own weirdness. Rachel claims to be from the future. She is also claiming to be my daughter. With Jean. I don't buy it. Not for a second. I think that she's a plant, meant to get past our guard to… do something. Get at me. I think she's a clone. A clone made by a very, very evil man. Sinister, even."

Zatanna stops in her tracks. That might be awkward if Scott keeps going for a pace or two. Zee is rooted to the spot, outside the laundry room where the mystic eeriness of Shadowcrest is cut into somewhat by the plastic basket and bottle of Tide sitting out in plain view. "Wait, I'm sorry, what?"

The look on Zatanna's face makes it clear that she really was NOT expecting the whole 'claims to be his daughter' part. "She what?" See? That would seem to confirm it. Her arms hang by her sides and her eyes are wide, with her jaw tense and her lips kind of pursed, like she's trying to process a LOT at once. "I just meant that she seemed kind of weird, but…"


Scott DOES, in fact, keep walking, with Zee's arm still looped around his. The sudden stop causes him to nearly lose his balance, one leg kicking up high as he overcorrects and almost topple to the floor. Instead, he catches himself, and turns around, stepping forward until he rights himself in front of Zee.

"I figured if you were asking, she probably told you," Scott says, looking confused as he peers into her eyes. "I'm… not going to try to hide anything from you, Zatanna."

Scott shrugs his shoulders, and slides his arm out of Zee's grasp, so that he can stuff his hands deep into the pockets of his leather jacket. He looks away from her, as if that laundry basket might just very well be the most interesting thing he's seen in the house, yet.

"She claims that she came from some future. Her and this Nate guy. I just… I don't believe it. There's this guy… a man that I once… A man who had me in his grasp when I was a child. He experimented on me. He seemed obsessed with me. With my genes, specifically. I don't know why me, or what makes me stand out above any other mutant, as I have got one of the most lame powers on earth… but…"

This is a tangled mess of thoughts to try to sort out. Like a Rat King of darkness and confusion, scuttling around like a ball of writhing horror and chaos inside of his mind.

"Look. I just think that this guy… He knows that I've been in… That I've cared very deeply for Jean for years. I think he made Rachel to look just like Jean, and this Nate guy, to try to… unsettle me. Make me slip up."

Zatanna stands there like her shoes had somehow become fused to the floor. The more Scott explains the situation, the more her eyes seem to get wider and wider. First with confusion, then with… well, much more confusion, a more desperate kind.

"But what if she's NOT?" is all Zatanna asks when Scott finishes. "What if she's not a clone or a hobgoblin or whatever?"

"If it's true? If she's really the… of you and… and she's really from…" Zatanna swallows. She looks away, too, folding her arms under her breasts, not wanting to wipe at her eyes because it'd draw attention to how wet they're getting.

"She didn't even know who I WAS, Scott." Zatanna's voice gets low and a bit weak. She's talking to the floor as much as she is to the man called Cyclops. "If she's telling the truth, and she's never even heard of me…" It's a special talent, to have a mind that picks the most devastating detail of a situaton and zero right in on it.

Scott remains silent, his brows furrowed together over his obfuscated eyes, as he searches Zee's face. Even if she doesn't bring attention, he can clearly see the glistening cellophane shrinkwrapping of tears starting to form there. And then she says that. That Rachel didn't even know who she was. It doesn't take him even a fraction of a second to understand what that implication meant to her. He feels that pain in his chest, as his heart sinks to the bottom of his stomach.

"Zee…" he says, his deep voice hushed and soft. He takes a single step closer, bringing him near enough that his stomach almost touches her shoulder. His hands rise, and for a moment, he hesitates because touching her right now might be too much. He winds up doing so, however, with his hands falling to clasp her shoulders gingerly, and turn her towards him.

"Zee… Listen to me very… very carefully…" he says, his voice taking on a soothing, gentle warmth, despite the grim seriousness etched into his features. "If she's not lying… if, by some extreme stretch of reality, she's telling the absolute truth… do you know what that means?"

He bends forward just enough so that he can be face to face with her, looking up into her eyes, even if she avoids eye contact with him directly.

"It doesn't mean a thing. Not one. If she's not an evil clone bent on ruining my life, then she's a daughter from one… a single one… of an infinite number of possible future timelines… This isn't necessarily the same past as the one that she was spawned from. Or even if it is, right now, it could branch off at any moment to be different. Her just being here means that it's likely different, right?"

One hand drops from her shoulder, cupping his first finger under her chin.

"So it just means that in some universe somewhere, Jean Grey and Scott Summers come together and have children. In another universe, Zatanna Zatara and Scott Summers have a gaggleof kids. In another, Jean, Zatanna and Scott are a happy poly family. In another, Jean and Zee have gotten together and adopted four children from Cambodia. So…"

Zatanna leans against Scott when he gets in close. Her arms stay folded under her chest, but it's more like she's hugging herself than trying to present some kind of strong front. Her head comes to rest on Scott's shoulder, until he lifts her chin up.

Zatanna is quiet for Scott's speech, but despite herself, toward the end she starts to smile, and she has to look away. "Don't make me laugh while I'm being sad and mad and everything all at once," she says, clearly trying to hold back laughter even though she still has tears welling in her eyes. "It's too weird."

Finally, Zatanna stops hugging herself and starts hugging Scott, reaching her arms around to not quite give him a strong squeeze, but definitely wrap her arms there and keep them there. "You're weird," she says, moving to rest her head back on his shoulder. "And I'm really, really glad for it, okay?"

Despite himself, Scott cannot suppress the smile that starts to creep up when he sees Zee's own face starting to light up. Rising back up to his full height when she starts to speak to him, he simply slips his arms around her upper shoulders, pulling her in against his chest. One hand remains pressed square against the center of her back, holding her in, while the other hand moves up to caress the back of her dark hair, and to nimbly massage the back of her neck.

The proclaimation that he's weird only makes him stuffle a chuckle. Breathing in deep, he says, "Yeah, well, I have real, actual, literal brain damage from a childhood accident and to top it all off my brain sits right next to two interdimensional portals to a plane of infinite cosmic energy, which I'm sure can't be good for it. I was bound to be weird."

He leans in, lowering his face to push his lips hard against her forehead, lingering there for a few seconds before breaking the kiss and saying, "So… yeah. This is the kind of weirdness that comes with being around the X-Men. Clones, time travelers, hell dimensions, and even stranger things… sometime I'll have to tell you about the time we had to deal with a literal living island. Let me tell you, that was something else. I wouldn't be surprised if we wound up getting swept up into some adventure in space with aliens sooner rather than later. It seems like its about the only thing left for us to do."

The longer the embrace goes on, and the more Scott talks, the more Zatanna seems to find her level and calm down. Her breathing gets more even, and the gentle squeeze of her embrace gets a little firmer. She even managed to hold back more than just the very beginning of tears.

"I stayed away from all this," Zatanna murmurs. "All the clones and time travelers and hell dimensions. I knew it was all out there and I kept myself away. Somehow Hollywood sounded more normal." She almost kind of maybe laughs at her own joke, but it might be intentional and self-deprecating. "I didn't think I could handle it."

Zatanna squeezes again, then pulls back. She's putting on a brave face. Whether it's truly brave or if she's just forging bravery expertly, that one will have to stay a mystery, but she's very good about seeming sincere. "I think I maybe can, but only if I have you backing me up to handle it with me. Okay?"


There's a certainty to his voice. It's soft, gentle, and warm. Confident. A side of Scott that is often lost somehow with the way she keeps finding new and inventive ways for making Mr. Summers trip all over himself like a clutzy child. This is the Scott that lurks under the surface, waiting to be tested so that he can come out and assert himself. This Scott looks at Zee and offers a one-sided grin. That hand that is massaging the back of her neck slides to a light grip, and he pulls her in, as he leans down to fearlessly crush her lips against his own with a deep, lingering kiss.

"I can tell you one thing, Zatanna Zatara," he says quietly, after breaking the kiss and resting his forehead against hers, with the tip of his nose circling her own. "As long as you want me backing you up, I'm not going anywhere. I might not be able to promise you much, but that… That I can tell you with absolute certainty."

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