2011-03-16: A Learning Experience


Magneto_icon.jpg SophieD_icon.jpg

Summary: Magneto intervenes against bullying, and Sophie learns something new about herself.

Log Title: A Learning Experience

Rating: PG-13

Westchester - The Road Less Traveled

Far along Mills Road, a small, overgrown dirt path breaks off from the road, leading through the woods toward an old, abandoned cemetery.


It's early evening, and the sky is just beginning to darken from the oranges and pinks of sunset. The air is cool but not cold, and lacking any wind to give it bite. The sound of birdsong is peaceful and soothing. Amongst the tranquility, it then becomes easy to pick out the discordant note; somewhere along the path, the sound of heated voices can be heard, each trying to outdo one another, though unless one is close it is hard to tell what motivates the disagreement.

Magneto hovers among the trees, his senses stretched outward, probing the earth beneath him. There is a knot of metal several feet down, and more spread in a long tail, the results of an explosion some years back. His perception crawls along the trail, identifying, assessing. Hmm.
He notes the argument and pulls part of his attention out of his search. Who? What? How many? And does it matter if he pays any attention whatsoever?

" — Out of here!" comes the sound of an angry voice. "Yeah, get lost," adds a second, with a third saying something unidentifiable; all three male. "Stop it! Please, leave me alone," comes a fourth voice; this one belonging to a girl. "I have done nothing to — " "Get out of here, mutant! You're sick, and we — " the rest is unintelligable, from that voice. " — don't like your kind here — " comes the first voice once more, before a breeze picks up and obscures the voices for the moment.

Magneto drifts out of the trees and onto the path, directly at the voices. He considers several possible choices for actions, and ends up standing on the path. A gesture and his clothing changes to a comfortable-looking tweed, including patches on the elbows and a walking stick. A flat cap pulled low, and then he's striding toward the voices. As soon as they come into sight: "GENTLEMEN." His voice isn't raised, but it is pitched to carry. "Is there a problem?"

Three young men, around their early twenties, are busy standing around a single person. The hapless individual in the middle is Sophie DeCosta, busy trying to ward off harm against foes she cannot see, by keeping her hands up as she cringes and shies away from the aggressive men around her, while a book lies on the ground, seemingly blank pages fluttering in the breeze. One of the men has Sophie's cane, and tosses it into the bushes just as Magneto makes his appearance. "Don't like your kind around here Mutant," growls one of the boys. His hand pushes past Sophie's rather easily, planting on the glow under her chest and shoving her roughly backwards. The blind girl gasps loudly as she goes over backwards, and lands hard on her backside. "No! Stop, please! I have done nothing to hurt anyone!"
The man who tossed her cane into the bushes turns to face Magneto, and at first all he sees is… well, a man wearin tweed. "Yeah, there's a problem," he sneers, "There's a mutant in our way. Are you part of the problem or part of the solution?"
While the sneering young man is speaking, Sophie is busy raising her hands to shield herself, holding them palms-out; and unnoticed by the three men who have all turned to face Erik Lensherr, both of the blind girl's palms are adopting a roiling, angry seeming white glow.

Magneto's eyes narrow and one corner of his mouth curls up. Hard to tell at this distance if it's a smile or a sneer, though. "That would depend, young sir, on what my goals are. Yours, of course, are clear to me from your actions." He steps forward, walking stick thumping. "Tell me, boy." The stick comes up to point at each man in turn. "One, two, three. Three against one. Men against a girl. The sighted against the blind." He snorts. "How … admirable." He does smile then, all teeth. It's a challenge, plain and simple. What are they gonna do about it?
He does have an eye on Sophie. White light… interesting. Very interesting, indeed. Does she even know what she's doing? And does she know what will happen?

The apparent leader of the group snorts loudly. "That? *That* is not human. It has no place in this country. America is for *people.* The man shrugs his shoulders, and takes a step forwards. "And we're gonna deal with the problem, so it don't come back, right? And you're going to keep your beaky nose out of it, or it's gonna finish up a different shape." The young man perks an eyebrow, as if he imagines that such words will settle the matter.
Meanwhile, one of the other two turns to round back on Sophie. He stops to pick up the book, and flings it through the air at her. "Take that and get out of here, Mutant," he sneers as the book whallops the young girl in the stomach. "Once we're through with—"
He never gets to finish. A brilliant flash of energy erupts from each of Sophie's palms, accompanied by a loud crack, like thunder on a small scale. One blast goes wide, and sets fire to a tree; the other hits her assailant straight in the chest. He shrieks in surprise, and the air
and the air is tinged by the smell of burnt cloth and skin.

Magneto just laughs. "I should say it would, boy. Let me be clear." He leans on the walking stick. "You will apologize to the young lady. Then you will apologize to me. Then you will go home, and apologize to your parents for being such execrable examples to their upbringing. If you do these things, I will not humiliate you. If you do not…" He shrugs.
Then Sophie fires, and he barks a laugh. "Or she will!"

The boy burned by Sophie's blast shrieks, and falls on his back in his surprise. He doesn't need telling twice; he's on his feet in a second, and runs straight into the bushes, whimpering and clutching at his chest. Of the remaining two, the leader sneers back at Magneto; at least until his backup follows into the bushes. "Pussies!" he shouts after them. At first, he advances a step toawrds the old man; and then he glances over his shoulder, and looks back at Magneto. The turning of the wheels is palpable, for all of four seconds before he, too, exits stage left.

Sophie, meanwhile, is sitting sprawled in the firt, holding her hands up in front of her as if they might bite. "I'm sorry," she gasps. Her eyebrows are snapped upwards, and her chest heaves quickly as she breathes. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I don't… I don't understand… what did I… how… I'm sorry, I'm sorry!"

Magneto snorts as the boys leave. "Cowards," he comments. Then he steps forward, walking stick thumping. It should give Sophie a good audible cue as to where he is compared to her. "Miss DeCosta. Good evening, such as it is. Are you well? Did those cretins harm you?" He stops near her, though not in front of her; she evidently is not used to this ability, and some caution is therefore wise. "They have all run away, so you do not have to worry about them." A sideways smirk. "It is them who should have been worried about you."

Sophie's attention piques, and she shakes her head quickly. "P-Professor Lensherr? I-I thought I heard you, but, everything was just…" She pauses to suck in a deep breath, and let it out slowly. "No… just bruised a bit, I think, and scraped my hands." As she brushes her hands over her skirt, they leave a couple of little reddish marks. "I, I don't know what… what just happened? Did I do that? I thought all I did was heal people." She sits up slowly, and shifts to a kneel. She reaches down in front of her and pats the ground. A gasp escapes her lips, and she bends forwards on hands and knees, fervently exploring the ground around her. "My cane! Where is my cane? They didn't take it, did they? Please, my cane, where is it?"

Magneto tuts. "If you heal, you likely move energy from one place to another. It is a small step to moving it the way you just did." He is calm about it — this is normal. It is natural. Sophie has no need to be afraid of what has happened.
"Ah, your cane. One of the ruffians tossed it into the bushes. Here, take this one." The walking stick twists and reforms. By the time he taps it against the outside of one of Sophie's arms, it looks exactly like her old cane.

The blind girl's fingers close around the offered cane, and she sighs heavily. Her cheeks glisten when next she tilts her head upwards; she shifts the cane to hold it properly in her right hand, as she finally gets up to her feet. "Thank you," she breathes, and brushes her fingertips through her mildly dishevelled hair. "I think I am lost," she murmurs, as she taps the ground around herself. "I did not mean to be here… I was trying to get to the church." The end of her replacement cane taps the abused book, and she prods it for a moment before kneeling down to pick it up. She holds it against her chest as she straightens, beneath the now somewhat dimmed light coming from her chest; 'Beowulf' it says on the front, with the title repeated in braille. "Thank you," she murmurs, still flustered. "I should not have come alone."

"Why should you not? You live here. You are not a criminal. You have done nothing to deserve such an attack, Miss DeCosta, and to bow to the bad behavior of those who are too abased in both ethics and morals that they would attack you for no better reason than that you exist?" Magneto makes a spitting noise.
"However. To more practical matters. You are indeed lost; this road leads out of town, completely away from the church. I do believe the American term is you have zigged when you should have zagged. Would you like me to escort you to Salem? Or back to Xavier's?"

Sophie nods her head quickly. "Please, back to Xavier's," she replies. "I-I think I would prefer to just go back, for this evening, I have had enough adventure for one evening." She coughs softly against her hand. "I had meant to push the panic button on my phone," she adds, "But they took away my book and my cane so quickly, I did not think I would get the chance… I was waiting for an opportunity." She holds her left hand out in the air in front of her — and it seems to be safe for the time being, not glowing. "I will pray for them, this evening; they need it, if they can find no greater glory than to prey on a blind girl, no doubt half the size of any of them."

Magneto smiles. "Indeed. Those three will need your prayers." He spends a moment, sending his senses outward. The three young men haven't gone far — or perhaps the real description is, they haven't gone far enough. A moment, and all three are tagged. He'll find them later. He did, after all, promise them humiliations if they did not apologize.
"Xavier's it is. I will fly us there. Here, take my arm." He'll step close, touching her arm with his own. She can take it in any way that will make her comfortable. Meanwhile, a disk of metal forms beneath them. He thinks having something solid beneath her would be less… disquieting.

Sophie nods her head slowly. "So… Professor…" She blushes softly as she shifts her hand at the touch, and clasps her left hand around Magneto's bicep. "Am I… safe? I'm not going to abruptly… incinerate people by accident, am I?" Her brow furroughs in concern, while the metal disk is forming beneath the two. "Wait… fly?"

Magneto leaves the tweed in place. The armor is for the purpose of intimidation, and the cloak would flap distractingly. "I do believe that you are safe enough," he says, pausing to be sure she has a good grip. The disk takes off with a mild shiver, like being in an elevator — except for the wind in Sophie's face, of course. "You will have to practice this ability in the Danger Room, of course, so that you will know better what it is and what you can do with it. It appears to be energy projection, and the Institute is fully qualified to train you in its use." And then a grin. "Of course, fly. We are doing so now. Can you feel the wind?"

Sophie's fingers clench tightly around Professor Lensherr's arm, and she nods in a manner that suggests she doesn't wish to move. "Yes," she gasps. "I also feel my stomach in my throat." She swallows noisily, and her cane explores the edge of the metal platform. "You are a man of many talents, Professor Lensherr," she adds, as she forces her muscles to relax just a little. "I.. will practice, of course. I will be truthful, and say I… I wish I could only heal. But what I want is irrelevant; reality is upon me, and I must… I must learn control." She pauses, and sighs heavily. "At least I can be thankful that I did not kill him."

The trip is short. Perhaps three minutes — long enough to cause concern, perhaps, but not so long that Sophie should find it unbearable. And the disk is broad — her cane will discover its edge at her greatest extension. Magneto doesn't need to make it that large, he just thinks she'll be reassured by its size.
"An admirable attitude to have. Reality is, whatever one's preferences. Best to deal with it on that level." He pats her hand on his arm. "I do believe that you will find that control will be within your grasp. You strike me as a determined young lady, willing to work toward your goals. That will serve you well in this."

Sophie's eyebrows rise at the compliment. "If I had no determination, I would still be wimpering in the dark," she replies, "Unable to find my way or feed myself or function as a person, as I was in the weeks after I lost my sight. I have already had to learn to face reality once before, and this should be easy by comparison, si?" She shakes her head, and her long hair blows in the wind. "May I ask… do you have any advice for me, Professor Lensherr?"

Magneto considers Sophie for a long moment. "Advice." He turns his head — they are coming down in the courtyard of Xavier's. He slows their descent. "Understand your limits, but do not accept them. If you wish to try something, try it. And if anyone tells you no, ask them, what right do you have to tell me what to do?
"Decide your own life, then live it. The rest will come as it will."

The blind girl purses her lips as she listens, and bows her head against the wind. She taps around hte edge of the metal plate once more, perhaps to remind herself of where it is. "Sage advice," she murmurs. "I shall have to tell the other professors what has happened si? I…" She pauses, and shrugs her shoulders lightly. "What did it look like?"

Magneto says, "Yes, you will have to speak to them. They will have to design the curriculum for your training, after all. Do not make them guess about this." That said, he allows himself to smile at the other question. "It was a bright, white light. You fired beams, one from each hand. I must say, you will require target practice. Only one of your attempts actually hit its target. The other injured a tree."

Sophie flushes fiercely at that. "I wasn't trying to hit anything," she protests. "I had no idea what was going to happen until it did. Professor Lensherr." She pauses, and bites her bottom lip as she thinks. "My abilities have done nothing to replace my eyes. I will only be able to aim based on what I can hear."

Magneto says, "Miss DeCosta. What did I just say? Understand your limits… then refuse to accept them. If you say, 'I cannot', then you will not. If, on the other hand, you say, 'I will try', then the result may surprise you in the best way possible."

A slight nod is Sophie's first response. She sucks in her breath, and sighs softly, as her grip tightens around both her cane and Magneto's arm. "You are correct," she replies. "I will try, Professor Lensherr… and I will not quit, for any reason nor circumstance." She swallows, and probes with her cane to make sure the ground actually is there. "I am not normally so flustered. I suppose I must get used to being… tested, I shall call it, and not just by my teachers or the circumstances of life. Senora Rashmi and a couple others have told me that Xavier's students often face adventure. Perhaps I have just had my first."

Magneto chuckles. "I should say that you have actually faced your first two adventures, Miss DeCosta. The first was facing those miscreants on the road. The second was dealing with flight." He'll pat her hand again, for yes, they are now on the ground again, safe and sound. "I do think that you have faced both adventures with great courage. —We are in Xavier's courtyard. You are currently facing the front door; it is some forty feet directly in front of you."

Sophie's lips quirk upwards at the corners. "Third, then," she replies. "Senor Hosea travelled with me from Mutant Town back here the other day, by teleporting; and that was… quite the experience. The flight was easier to withstand for it, I think. The platform you provided was more stable." She releases her companion's arm, and sweeps the cane around before stepping off the plate. "Have you known someone without their sight before, Professor Lensherr? You give good directions, and I notice you do not raise your voice; most people tend to shout at me when they meet me, thinking that because I cannot see, I also cannot hear." She laughs, and shakes her head. "And then they get all flustered when they slip and talk about 'seeing' something, as if I will be insulted by the notion."

Magneto flicks his fingers as Sophie steps off the plate and it retracts, becoming part of his outfit again. "I have known blind persons before, several times. I have worked with persons injured and in need, including those who require canes. I understand their limits. I do not underestimate their abilities to deal with those limits effectively. As for seeing…." He laughs quietly. "I have known a woman whose sight went further than I knew to follow… and her eyes were not the instruments of her knowing. Who, then, was blind, between the two of us?"

"Neither," comes the immediate reply from Sophie, with perked eyebrow as she turns to face Magneto once more. She holds her cane in front of her, and clasps her hands around it. "That you and she experienced the world in different ways does not mean that one of you invalidated or decreased the other's experience." She smiles softly, and taps her fingertip against the cane. "I am blind; but only in the physical sense in that my eyes do not function. The men we met earlier this evening I would call blind. They looked at me and failed to see a young woman, instead of an easy target, and they have no physical disability to fall back on. That was purely by their own choice."

Magneto bows to Sophie. "An intelligent way of considering the situation, Miss DeCosta. Bravo." He straightens and flicks his fingers again, this time manifesting his costume. Sophie might realize that flapping sound is a cloak blown by the wind. "Now, if you will excuse me. I believe you are home safe, and I have certain things which I wish to accomplish yet, before I return to my own rest."

Sophie bows her head in turn, and is still smiling as she straightens. "Thank you, Professor Lensherr," she replies. "Both for the compliment… and for rescuing me." She pauses, and flicks her cane behind her feet before taking a step back. "Forty feet, si?" She bobs her head once more. "I pray you find good fortune in your endeavours."

~ Fin ~

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