The Institute called Ian and left a message reminding him that he had an appointment at 2pm ‘tomorrow’. Which is now today. Try as he might, Ian can’t remember making an appointment, and it’s certainly not in his digital calendar.
It being the middle of the day on a weekday, the Institute is full of people many of which are returning from a late lunch. The extensive campus can be something of a maze to navigate if you haven’t spent a lot of time there, and the portion of it that Ian’s been directed to isn’t the usual biolabs, classrooms or even where they field the ‘X-Teams’ they fund out of. This portion works more on mutant adoptions and outreach.
Jericho has a lot of reason to be at the Institute. He has friends and contacts there and he’s occasionally called upon to fix computers and sometimes give lessons in hand to hand combat. Not usually full courses, mind but there’s a particular instructor that likes to use him to remind people that just because someone isn’t a mutant doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous.
Today he’s here for other reasons. It’s been observed before by telepaths who know him well that he’s very, very… intense. Actually even non telepaths like a certain biochemist know this fairly well. That intensity can go unhealthy places and lately even he’s noticed a certain lack of… stability.
Well, there’s been a lot of stress lately. Anyway he had an appointment. Now he’s over in the outreach wing to catch the latest on news from overseas.
For purely personal reasons. Not that he would ever go there inviolation of international law to bring people back, also inviolation of international law. And definitely not that he’s planning on doing such a thing soon.
There might be one or two people who came with him. Possibly – ahem – strongly recommended that he see the telepath-shrink to begin with.
The appointment reminder is a confusing thing that Ian’s been trying to recall even as he makes his way through the campus. Not that it’s a difficult thing for him to be here and make, seeing as how he works in the library, or rather the hidden stacks beneath levels. Still, it makes him worry that maybe the nanites have affected his memory on top of other things. Not something he wants to add to the growing list of concerns.
He’s at least come to know his way around the campus, although more areas are still at best, vaguely familiar, but he’s been pretty good at following directions from maps. This area in question that he’s apparently got an appointment for is one such, in that he’s had no reason to go there, but he knows where it is. It makes him wonder even more why on earth he’s scheduled to do so, although as he goes he’s quite positive it’s not something he was aware of after all.
Well, that’s worrying.
With the base on Wrangel Island approved Kaylee’s been busy, busier is probably more correct, but the Institute still needs her services. It’s the day she usually sees the younger mutants for their ‘check ups’. Something she rather looks forward to – not that she’ll let anyone know that. It was just coincidental that it coincided with Jericho’s appointment.
No. Really. It was.
She’s walking with him as they enter the enter, eyeing him carefully. She certainly hasn’t asked how his consult went. “Hello Ian …”
Jericho and Kaylee can easily spot Ian as he approaches the reception desk and they’re certainly close enough to hear the woman behind the desk as she greets him. “Mr. Owenshire! Thank you so much for coming in. Melissa will be right ou–”
Said receptionist breaks off as there is the sound of raised voices. One of them rather loud. And rather angry while the other is trying so very hard to be soothing. For Jericho and Kaylee? It’s a voice they recognize, holding a familiar Russian burr to it. “I said no! Do I need to repeat myself in Russian? Nyet!”
“But Anastasia, please, just take a few moments and meet–Ian! See? He’s here!” Presumably Melissa appears in the wake of a certain stomping Blonde. Her stomping is helped by the heavy boots she wears that buckles up to her knees. She’s wearing her ‘working’ uniform, mostly black with some white accents and a half-skirt sort of affair that trails behind her but leaves her legs free. It’s her usual attire when working with the Institutes teams.
Melissa picks up her pace to get around Anastasia so she can approach Ian. “Thank goodness you’re on time…”
“Hey Melissa. What’s-” He’s about to ask what she seems to have wanted Ian so urgently for when… well… that.
Jericho knows that angry Russian voice. He heard ALMOST those exact words first in Russia itself. Only it was in Russian, naturally, and she was repeating herself in English.
That seems like half a lifetime ago, some days.
“Uh oh.” Jericho murmurs to Kaylee. He instantly has a fairly good idea of what Ian might have been called here for and it might – just might – be a good thing he’s here.
And no. He hasn’t mentioned how his consult went. He was quite pensive when he came out of it, actually.
Rather than greet Anastasia or Ian just yet the hacker – perhaps wisely – hangs back to see what is going to transpire.
“Kaylee. Jericho… Hey?”
By his expression it’s clear that Ian hadn’t expected to be running into the two here, despite the fact that he seems to run into them just about everywhere else. Ian glances over at the receptionist, apparently extremely puzzled about whatever’s going on. “Er, right-” he starts, but with the woman getting interrupted there’s certainly no time for him to get his own questions in as the voices rise from nearby.
Frowning a moment, Ian’s eyes widen a bit as he hears the voice. It sounds familiar… He glances to the two he -does- know, wondering if they’ve any idea what’s happening here. Jericho’s response doesn’t exactly set him at ease.
When the two come within view, it’s to the blond that Ian’s eyes are drawn to. Oh. That’s why she sounded familiar. Now he just looks confused again as he watches their approach, although he does look to Melissa when she addresses him, blinking. “Uh…well I like to be punctual,” he replies, scratching the back of his head, pale eyes flicking back towards the one referred to as Anastasia.
“So would someone please tell me why I’m here at an appointment I’m pretty sure I never made..?”
Jericho can feel Kaylee stop as Anastasia’s voice floats towards them. She even glances to the door like she’s considering leaving. “I … yeah, uh oh.” the words are muttered to Jericho as she hangs back as well. She’s thankful it’s not her doing whatever Melissa is doing.
“You had an appointment, Ian?” That’s strange. This area … well, Ian will find out what it’s for shortly, she’s certain.
“Everything alright, Melissa?” Like with most of the Institute, Kaylee has passing acquaintance with the woman. And it’s a professional courtesy, isn’t it?
Anastasia Rasputina’s heavy stride slows as Melissa darts around the blonde sorceress and finally comes to a stop as she sees Ian, Jericho and Kaylee. Thin lips press into a frown as Melissa continues speaking in that rather rushed manner. There’s the sense she’s been working hard to talk to Anastasia and the blonde has just been talking over her.
“Oh, hello Kaylee.” Melissa gives the biochem a strained smile. “Yes, yes, everything’s fine…” Her eyes are showing a bit too much white, and it’s clear that she’s more than a little unsettled on top of being stressed. Anastasia does tend to have that sort of effect on people. Clearing her throat, she turns her attention back to Ian. “I’m Melissa Long, with the Institute’s Family Planning division. Both yourself and Ms. Rasputin have–”
“Rasputina.” The blonde corrects.
Which gets a confused look over from Melissa. “I’m sorry?”
“Rasputina. Rasputin is my brother’s last name.” Anastasia puts a hand on her hip giving a long-suffering sigh.
“Uhm. Yes.” Melissa says, deciding that’s not the hill she wants to die on and then turning back to Ian. “Have both been flagged as genetically compatible and neither of you have been noted as having any children yet..” At which point Melissa starts into what’s clearly her Pitch. About the responsibility of mutants to have children to ensure the continuation of the species.
Behind Melissa, Anastasia tilts her head back to look at the ceiling and says something in Russian that sounds annoyed. Or frustrated. Or maybe she’s imploring God for help. Or casting a curse on Melissa.
Jericho folds his arms over his chest, places one hand over his mouth and just sort of rubs a little. He is not concealing a smile or suppressing a laugh. He’s not. This is serious. Ish. Ahem.
He feels like he’s just swallowed a gallon of air.
This… happens. Mutants are, after all, being cloned to repopulate and part of that is… er… yes. No one is forced to of course, that would be cruel, but they are encouraged to do so. And sometimes incentivized to do so.
The TALK is something all the single mutants go through, really. This… is that.
The Russian gets a short, involuntary snort. The hacker is right now pointedly not directly looking at anyone.
“Apparently,” Ian murmurs to Kaylee, his attention still on Melissa. Okay, so even with Anastasia here, this doesn’t seem to be her doing. …wait. “-so this is the Anastasia you two have mentioned..?” he asks as he makes the connection, looking back at the biochem and hacker. There’s something to his tone that hints that he’s run into her before.
When Melissa tries to take control of the conversation once again, Ian holds back his own sigh as he looks back over at her. His eyes narrow just a touch because there’s already something Very Wrong implied in that first sentence of introduction.
“…and neither of you have been noted as having any children yet..” There’s practically a record scratch then.
Ian stares at Melissa as though she’s just spoken in some foreign language herself, and that he’s just found out that he can interpret it. Only he wishes he hadn’t.
He doesn’t even need to look at Jericho to guess at what the hacker’s reaction is to all this, a glare preemptively shot in the man’s direction with no glasses to soften it. Then the librarian looks back towards Melissa, taking in a deep breath. No words follow, he’s just…drawn a blank as to what he could possibly say about this. Part of him is still having trouble processing that those words have actually been spoken to him.
So he turns. And looks very well like he intends to just walk right back out like this never happened.
“You know Anastasia?” Kaylee gives Ian a curious look. It might be mixed with something like sympathy. Kaylee’s relationship with the blonde mutant is … interesting. More because Kaylee doesn’t know how to take the Russian woman. And because … of those traces.
“They have?” Kaylee can’t help the slightly loud exclamation as Melissa explains. Biting her lip hard so she doesn’t say or do more, turning slightly rosy as the implications hit her.
The biochem really is an artifact of fifty years ago where such a thing was just unheard of.
But, Melissa is right. It’s important. “I take it, Anastasia that you’re not keen on children?”
“But! We’ve flagged some compatible interests in addition to the preliminary genetic profiling!” Melissa says, trying to duck around to put herself in Ian’s way so that he can’t just walk right out. Dealing with Ian is much more preferable to trying to deal with Anastasia. The woman pulls up her tablet, turning it so that Ian can see all the lovely datapoints on how they’d make wonderful children together!
Anastasia gives a soft snort and shakes her head. “You’re wasting your time.” She calls over. “He has a boyfriend that tastes of Death.” Turning her attention over to Kaylee and Jericho since Ian has taken Melissa’s attention (thank the dark lords of the abyss), she opens her mouth to reply to Kaylee and then narrows her eyes at Jericho and his trying-not-to-snicker expression. “Shut up.” Then she turns back to Kaylee and shakes her head. “Why would I invite my demons to attack me? Pregnant women are easy targets.”
“Oh yeah. Soup guy… there were two actually. Unclear to me if both were boyfriends…” Jericho is, er, aware of Ian’s ‘relationship’ with the recently missing Soup Gang. Which means he is trolling both Melissa and Ian a bit. A lot. This is a very Jericho thing to do, anyone who knows him will say pretty quickly.
It takes a bit of effort for the hacker to train his expression away from trying not to laugh to a more vaguely amused one. Try as he might he just cannot get the amusement off his face anymore than that.
The data points are no doubt very scientific. Kaylee would be able to corroborate some of them. They may not be horribly RELEVANT but you know. Science!
“Ahem. Sorry.” He says finally in response to Nastya’s ‘shut up’. He’s… kind of sorry.
“She’s got rather unique… issues with regards to many things, Kaylee. Also, you know of the place she spends a lot of time. Even if it weren’t for demons I doubt the… ambiance would be good for a kid.” He’s putting that as delicately as he can for the present company.
“We’ve…crossed paths a couple of times,” Ian admits to Kaylee, throwing a wary glance back at Anastasia, perhaps looking for a certain ring. …no, not that kind of ring.
He stops and rolls his eyes as Melissa manages slipping in front of him, lifting a hand to nudge that tablet down because no, he does not have any interest in fancified punnet squares.
Anastasia’s comment has him turning again, giving her a flat look. “One, I’m not into that sort of thing, two…” He hesitates a moment. Well, no, he supposes it doesn’t count if he’s never asked her out, even if he did get invited to her place, but that was all of one time. “-I’m single.” Beat. “Shut up, Jericho,” he adds, near simultaneously (and completely unintentionally!) with Anastasia.
With Melissa blocking off his route of egress he turns about to face the rest of his acquaintances again, arms folding. Perhaps plotting a better moment to try and slip away.
“Boyfriend? Death?” Kaylee looks at Ian and blinks. “What does she mean?” Rolling her eyes slightly as Melissa continues her sales pitch. “I think she found you a harem, Ian.” Yes, she’s trying to not laugh.
“Who says you have to carry the child, Anastasia? Certainly many women would prefer to but we have cloning and incubation facilities, maybe we should investigate that as possibility.”
She’s poking at the Russian mutant.
“Very Brave New World, don’t you think Jericho? I’m sure Ian would make a wonderful stay at home Dad.”
“Two? I only saw the one in his bedroom.” Anastasia muses. HOW or WHY she saw Ian’s bedroom she conveniently doesn’t mention.
Anastasia happens to wear quite a few rings or varying types, but all are silver. Save one. It looks almost like glass with a dark strand held suspended within.
When Ian announces he’s single, Anastasia points over at Melissa. “That is NOT an invitation to continue this ridiculous argument! I’m not having his childre-” She breaks off as Kaylee makes her oh-so-helpful suggestions. Which brings the blonde’s sub-zero narrowed gaze over to the biochem and says something slowly, suggestively threatening in Russian.
Now being summarily ignored by both of her targets, Melissa slides over to Kaylee. “Well, yes, we can. But that’s.. really very expensive and the facilities are usually being used elsewhere but, Kaylee, you understand how compelling the data is!” She tries to get her tablet in front of Kaylee’s face so she can see the lovely, compelling data! Kaylee might even allow that, as it would hide her from Anastasia’s attention.
Jericho glances from Kaylee to Anastasia as the blonde sorceress says something in Russian with the cadence he’s often heard her use to do magic. The completion of the phrase makes him puff his cheeks out briefly suppressing a bark of a laugh. “Well. That’ll be interesting.”
If it gets followed through on… it will INDEED be interesting.
Tellingly, Jericho doesn’t ask why Anastasia was in Ian’s bedroom. It’s not something he really considers important. Anastasia gets into lots of places. Not that he tells anyone that.
“Are we sure that Ian doesn’t have any nanites in his…” Jericho pauses to choose his next words very carefully. “… genetic source material? The last thing we need is a half sentinel raised where Anastasia comes from.”
This is of course an argument to perhaps excuse the pair from this, ahem, exercise. Of course it might not be heard if Melissa persists or other people make it worse.
Ian might wonder, though, at the answer to Jericho’s question.
Even Kaylee gets a bit of a glare at her jest. Not. Helping. Refraining from comment there, Ian sighs as Anastasia brings up the first incident. “Funny, considering that Francisco was the one entertaining strange ideas between you and me when we found you in there,” he mutters. His attention shifts very slightly towards her hand, and while he’d felt uneasy about the whole matter when the blond-haired woman had created the ring in front of him, just seeing that she still has it refreshes that feeling.
He tries to shut Melissa’s chatter out, but at least she’s ceased talking to him. And while he’s not sure what Anastasia says just then in response to Kaylee, he feels a chill go down his spine at the mere tone. Feeling the need to groan, Ian however does not as he instead begins to turn again.
Even if he walks off, he wonders that they’ll just be continually badgered about this. He shoots Jericho a look, closing his eyes then as he pinches the bridge of his nose. If a Sentinel were to attack right at this moment he might not object to it.
“What did she say?” Kaylee winces, drawing back from Anastasia but her neural implants fire as she memorizes the sounds and inflection as best she can. Odds are good, she’ll be repeating that into a translator later. And hopefully not blushing too hard or worrying her head off.
“If the data is that compelling, Melissa, I’m sure accommodation could be made …” Kaylee does indeed turn her attention to the tablet. “But why don’t you bring up that modelling program, the one that shows potential offspring. I’m led to believe that’s often good at swaying reluctant couples.”
“Ohhhh, yes. There are so many compatibility points. But Jericho, you’ve missed my point – the child wouldn’t need to be raised there, it could be raised here, by Ian.” The librarian gets a wink from the biochem “And Anastasia could have visiting rights but she’d probably have to pay child support to Ian.” Does that sort of thing even exist now?
It’s a good question that Jericho raises and Kaylee’s brows rise – forgetting Anastasia’s curse of not moments ago. “That’s easy to test, actually. Melissa, you could run a standard fertility on Ian and we’ll see what his genetic material carries…” Sadly, Kaylee may not be joking.
“Oh! You’ve already been uhm, intimate? This is fabulous! This new algoithm is even better than I thought…” Melissa says when she overhears somethingsomething Anastasia in Ian’s bedroom somethingsomething. And then Kaylee comes up with a *great* idea. “Oh! Yes, of course!” Melissa bends her head over her tablet to work on pulling up an entirely different app. “You know Kaylee, we could really use you in the department. Your background would add some needed credibility to our work. You’ve no idea how difficult it is to convince young mutants to have children before they get older and move into higher risk categories…”
“Nyet!” Anastasia says, stalking over to Jericho and poking him in the chest. “We aren’t entertaining this idea!” Ian gets a short glare. Humans need to learn to listen to that little voice in the back of their head that says to run from Anastasia. Her demons do, and she likes it so much better that way. Dumb humans. “Don’t tempt me, boy. You’d make a pretty pet.” She gives him what is likely supposed to be a grin, but it’s way too aggressive and full of teeth.
Jericho coughs slightly. “Ahem. Sorry.”
He’s a bit more sorry this time. Not a whole lot more, mind, but he knows Anastasia well enough not to push the matter toooo much further. Though he’s not horribly worried for himself. If the blonde sorceress wanted to do horrible things to him, well, she knows where he lives.
He also knows Anastasia well enough to know that the bit about being a pretty pet might not entirely be a joke. He’s pretty sure she wouldn’t do that. But he’s been pretty sure about lots of things that he turned out to be pretty wrong about. So Ian gets a look over the blonde’s shoulder that says ‘step carefully’.
“She, uh, cursed your underwear, Kaylee.” He says in slightly distracted answer to the brunette. He’s got a sorceress poking him in the chest so he might be forgiven for not ENTIRELY accurately conveying the curse. Then again, he might have done that deliberately.
Because he’s a troll.
“Melissa I, um, think your time might be better spent on other prospects.” Beat. “I’m sure Kaylee’s happy to help you model prospective pair’s genomes though.” Because why not volunteer her?
Oh he’s going to hear about this later. Either from Kaylee herself or from one or both of two blondes.
“Why are you even still talking about this??” Ian asks exasperatedly, throwing an incredulous look back at Melissa and Kaylee. “We’re not talking about this!” Again, almost simultaneously with Anastasia’s, if differently worded.
Of course, then Anastasia’s focus is turned towards him again, and at the glare he looks surprised and perhaps even slightly offended at being blamed for something he’s had no say in.
He opens his mouth to say something, hesitates, perhaps catching that glance from Jericho out of his peripheral. Another nice thing about contacts. Ian closes his mouth again, swallowing quietly. That is…not a pleasant grin, but he’s figured early on that this is not exactly a very pleasant woman.
“My background won’t sway young mutants into having children, Melissa and nor should it.” Kaylee sobers quickly having heard Anastasia’s tone and words to Ian. She swallows, going very, very pale as the word ‘pet’ is mentioned – her own experience with Anastasia etched forever in her memory. “Uh, I think you should find other candidates….”
It’s gone far enough, it seems. “You know I’m available for consultation if I’m able…”
“Cursed my … underwear…” She sounds like she doesn’t believe it as she stares at the Hacker. How the hell does that work? Maybe Christine-like underwear? No, she won’t think on it. Just … no.
Anastasia Rasputina gives a soft sniff of disdain before looking over to Melissa. “Tell Alan I’ll be by to collect payment. I’m quite sure that I’ve stayed much longer than he bargained with me for.” Jericho and Kaylee might be the only ones to guess that when the demon princess says ‘payment’, it’s not likely to be money.
Turning towards Ian, she gives him a long, slow, entirely too thorough once-over before meeting his eyes with those chilly blue ones of her own. “Some of her points were valid.” Anastasia gives her not-so-potential-baby-daddy a smirk and then she steps back and away from the group as a circle of light appears at her feet and moves upward in a rush before winking out. And just like that, Anastasia is gone.
Melissa sighs. “Well damn.” She starts back towards her office, calling out to Ian as she goes. “Don’t worry, Mr. Owenshire, I’ll keep looking for someone for you!”
Jericho sighs. Cursed underwear. Love by line graph. Offspring modeling.
The hacker runs his hand through his hair and looks around. He looks at Ian. He looks at Kaylee. He looks at Melissa. Then he turns and heads back the way he came.
“Uh, Jericho?” Melissa looks up at the hacker’s retreating back. “Where are you going?”
“To get in another hour with my shrink!” He calls back over his shoulder.
If her earlier comment (threat?) hadn’t been unsettling enough, the appraisal he’s given certainly does the job. Once again prompted to comment and with full intention to do so, Ian doesn’t get the chance as Anastasia vanishes in that tricky way that she seems notorious for. Okay, so he’s seen her do it once, but still. It’s quite an exit. Also, RE: Unsettling.
Sighing himself, Ian grants Melissa a withering look. “Do me a favor and don’t contact me again,” he says, shaking his head before catching the glance from Jericho. He watches the hacker go off, and it seems he’s got the right idea, at last by way of getting out of this office.
Ian follows shortly after. Not to the psychiatrist, although any longer in here and he thinks he might need one. But no. He’s going to have a very long coffee break. And maybe call it a short day and go home to make sure there aren’t any demons under the bed.
Ian finds himself in an awkward position between one Anastasia Rasputina and overeager matchmakers.
November 28, 2051