2011-02-23: Conversation By A Lake

Players: Connor and Magneto

Connor_icon.jpg Magneto_icon.jpg

Summary: Magneto has wondered how Connor has been doing, post-Africa. He finds out.

Date: February 23, 2011

Log Title: Conversation By A Lake

Rating: G

NYC - Central Park Lake

Bethesda fountain sits at the edge of the lake with a large terrace for people to hang out and relax. Benches sit under the trees creating a peaceful atmosphere. A dock stretches out into the lake for people to rent row boats to enjoy the entire lake. In the distance Bow Bridge can be scene crossing the man make lake.

Watching from the shadows under a tree, Connor's hood hides the smirk on his face from watching the three beaten muggers being hauled off by a policeman to a vehicle. Drawing back up, and snugging the heavy and faded russian military coat closer to himself, he eventually draws the hood back and tucks it back under the thing. Turning and walking back towards the benches by the lake, the young man seats himself, rubbing his leather-gloved hands together for a moment for a little warmth, and then proceeds to take a map of the park out and marking a fresh X on it, adding to a circuit of them around the central-part of the park near all the bridges and other points that muggers and rapists tended to stray.

The traffic by the park is steady to slow, even so late at night: such is life in the big city. A long black limousine is crawling from block to block, making its way from the long blocks of international embassies back toward Mutant Town. Within the car, Magneto sits back in his seat, listening as a secretary reads off notes regarding the evening. It's been a long, productive day.

And it may be a productive evening. As they cruise near the lake, the man in the car senses the warp of magnetic energy. It's faint, but he knows that signal, the way he knows the way someone walks, or the way they sign their name.

"Open the roof," says the Master of Magnetism, and a moment later, a figure in crimson and purple armor soars up and out, toward the lake.

Connor's next step after marking the map, is that he takes out a small notepad and he begins to write down the badge number, the name, the rank, and the weapon held by the officer. There's a small list of them there, at least a dozen because of his nightly activity. The notes however, are written in Russian, meaning casually those looking will not recognize it immediately. Once his latest is done, he sits back, and rifles through his pockets until he has a handwarmer. Cracked and shaken, he starts to warm up while doing an easy lap around the lake, walking carefully as eyes watch with a wolf-like sense of alertness.

…But does he look up? Magneto comes down on Connor's position from directly overhead, his cloak billowing in a wide circle around him. "Mr. Blake. What an interesting place for you to be. I did not know that you liked to come to this place, nor at this time."

Give the boy credit for his reflexes, but when his name is out, before the sentence is done, Connor has turned and aimed his left hand at Magneto… using a grip similiar to Dazzler's, two fingers as a 'barrel', with a small marble-sized orb of blue-green prepared to fire. Two more steps back, and Connor drops the powerfully compact and intense field, and his hands go back into his pockets, "I usually land in Central Park when I portal in from the school… so I like to know the territory. And… New York's where a lot of the capes and tights crowd seems to cut their teeth. May as well do what I can while I'm here." The excuse rings hollow to some degree, as eyes that despite the glow, hold within them some ghost of pain still lurking, "I hope you're not here for the boat rentals… they closed about six hours ago."

Magneto doesn't so much as twitch at Connor's 'gun'. He doesn't think the young man will fire, and if he does? That would be extremely interesting. He'll land in a swash of cloak, gathering it in both hands. "How very proactive of you. Considering the number of capes and cowls in this city, however, I do sometimes wonder how any of the lower class sorts of criminals think to bother. They might get away with one event, or another, but then someone like you appears." He makes no comment regarding the believeablity of the excuse. Connor already knows all about it. "As for the boats… I never rent, when I can build."

Crossing his arms over his chest, there's a moment of antagonistic body language there, until finally he just let's it slump, and with a deep sigh Connor says, "I never thanked you for coming… I know you did it for personal reasons, and I know… I know I did it for the best of wrong reasons… but still. You're not a axe to only be taken out when there's a fire to bust down doors. You're a person… and deserve the respect of one."

Magneto lifts a brow as he listens, but he does not speak until he is sure Connor has finished. "Do I? Am I? Mr. Blake, I am Magneto. I am a reputation, as much a weapon as I am a person, and as a weapon, I have pointed myself at my targets for a very long time." He will smile, thin and cold. "You did what you felt you had to. You chose me as a weapon because you felt I would work best to achieve the results you wanted. You made that very clear." His attention sharpens. "Never apologize for a decision that you made with your eyes open. Especially if it worked out in your favor."

There's a slightly pained smile that comes from Connor in reply, "Yeah… I did. And I don't know what haunts me more…" It vanishes in a long exhale of breath as he fishes the chemical warmer out from an inside pocket, and rubs his hands with it once more, "Yes… yes, I think you do deserve the respect. That's the fine line between being like Nero, and being something better. People were not people to him, they were things, were animals. Not something to respect, but to use or manipulate." Turning away for a moment, he looks out on the lake, "It wasn't that you wanted to put everyone in danger with the rally… it's that you had no choice… it was either give them the biggest target you could and draw them into a trap… or let them continue to bite at the edges of things and always be too elusive to corner." Shaking his head though, the young man adds, "Collateral was inevitable… but you knew that… you didn't want it, but you accepted it."

Magneto regards Connor for a long moment. "If you plan just for the battle, Mr. Blake, you will never win the war… because it is planning for the war that lets you choose your battles." He lets go of his cloak and flicks the folds straight. "Nero wasn't human, as you or I would like to define that word. I doubt the man had any concept of human that either of us would recognize. My greatest regret for the whole matter is that I did not know about him earlier." He crosses his arms and turns to look out over the lake. "And yes, you have my thinking exactly, regarding the Mutant Town incident. To have shied away from it… that would have meant fighting battles. Lots and lots of little, annoying battles, the attrition of which would drag mutant morale into the mud and grind it in. Or one big battle, to finish that war." He tips his chin down to glare at the water. "There will be other wars, however. There are always other wars."

Connor looks up at the Master of Magnetism, "I didn't understand at the time… because I hadn't had a stake in it. I don't think of myself in the terms of mutant versus human… or whatever lines would be drawn in the sand." A small globe of icewater floats up from the lake and starts towards him, pausing in the air as it expands and contracts slowly, "Back in Africa, I killed a man… he might have been going for us, but I could have done any one of a dozen disabling moves. I know enough, and I know enough about my own power… but I instead cut his throat open. He might have been the pet of the monster, but that doesn't change that…" Another pause and the bubble pops and splashes on the cement, "Two nights ago, I watched a cop die because I was being angry and stupid… I was playing powerhouse because I'm getting sick of seeing corruption and darkness all around me. Maybe I'm just trying to balance it all out."

Magneto watches the globe of water rise and lets his senses tell him where and how much and what there it to know about it. "You do not think of yourself as a mutant against humans, but there is no guarantee that the humans will not think of you that way, and act accordingly. It is possible to be painfully surprised by that, and I think you may have discovered that for yourself, two nights ago." He turns away from the lake to face Connor. "You killed a man in Africa, and now you think you might not have had to. Know this, young Mr. Blake: I killed a man in Africa, too, with a length of wire and my own two hands." He raises them in demonstration. "I didn't plan on doing it. I didn't want to do it. But the cost to me and to the people I had come to assist would have been greater had I not done so than if I had, so I did it." He lets his hands fall. "I chose for the victims, in that moment. I chose for mutants. I even chose for you… because if by that action I helped you? I would do it again. And again, and again."

Connor begins laughing a bit, and it sounds almost manic, close to an edge as he looks out at the water. Tilting his head back to stare at the fogged night sky, he lowers it back down as the laugh falls, "Do you have any idea how much I want to hate you right now? How much I want someone to hit, and hit, and hit until either this -thing- inside me goes away, or I do… nobility doesn't wash away blood." Turning himself fully to the older man, his hands are stuffed into his pockets, and bunched into fists, "Is this it, from now on? Is this the thing they were hoping we wouldn't see, in the school, away from the world? That for all we want a better world, we're stuck with one that breeds hate and ignorance. I turned eighteen just before the assault on Nero's mansion. My birthday was celebrated in blood and fire. It's been almost a year since I came to Xavier's… and in it I've seen more blood, violence, and insanity than any score of people should experience…"

It tapers off as he grits his teeth, and he almost growls out, "But if I let it change who I am… then I become just more grist for the mill… then I might as well sign up for the fight for good, and hand in my morals for a pair of gaudy tights and a cup of koolaid."

Connor has started to rant. Magneto lets him do it. Ranting is a pressure valve, and it's clear the younger man needs it. However, typical for the young, he's conflating a number of things together — koolaid? This can only mean that the young Connor Blake does not have quite so clear an understanding of what has happened, nor what will happen, as he seems to think he has. "You work well under pressure," the mutant Master of Magnetism says. "You do what has to be done, and then after? You do something like this." A flick of fingers at Connor, indicating park, clothes, and rant. Or maybe indicating Connor himself. "You overthink things, Mr. Blake. You gnaw on them. Worse, you let them gnaw on you, fighting your battles again and again until you wear them thin and juiceless." He pauses, eyes narrowed, studying Connor's face. "Well. If you want to hit me, do so. I should be interested to discover if it does you good."

What comes out is almost a litany, "Anger is a better servant than master." And then after that Connor says, "Hitting you wouldn't make me feel better. And if it did? Then I lost more of myself in African than even I care to admit." The antagonism seeps out of him some and his eyes close, "I obsess. And it's not intentional… the medication helps, but at the end of the day, it's a mountain I have to climb every time something goes wrong. Until I'm more angry at myself than what happened… and I need some place to put it that's not me. So I work out… or I hit the Danger Room… or this. Lately…" Motioning to the trees around the park, "More of this."

Magneto looks with Connor's motion, at the trees, at the park. "You need to do, young Mr. Blake. You need to do, and to achieve, and to fail, and to do all of those things over and over, until you have something like a reasonable understanding of the weight of each of your successes, and each of your failures." He returns his attention to Connor himself. "Right now, you do not have that judgement."

Connor whispers out, "I miss being ignorant. Being safe." Shaking his head he then forces a much more honest, but pained smile, "You're right… I don't. But lacking judgement, at least I have resolve. It was resolve that made me fight, each time… past the fear, and the gut-wrenching want to run away. Because if everyone else is in danger around me, what right do I have to be safe? To take more than my share." There's a shaky inhale before he finally says, "You're the only person who I think understands what I'm about to say… I force myself to stay. All the time. Every argument, every fight, every little thing I'd rather not deal with."

"You stay because you are not ignorant. You fight because ignorance is not safety. You press on because you know that if you turn your back, the problem does not go away, and a magic miracle will not appear unless you work for it to happen. You keep going because if you do not… who will?" Magneto's tone falls to a near-whisper, an intimate sound, just between him and Connor. "When you have the power to end injustice, Connor Blake, it is the crassest, most invidious of actions, to refuse to use it."

Connor's voice goes to the same soft tone, "Genosha. I… wow… I get it. And I don't know why I didn't see it before." And with that he takes step back from the lake and starts walking towards one of the benches, "I still have the gold star by the way… I keep it in the drawer next to my bed, where I have whatever book I'm reading put at the time." Settling down once more in the spot he occupied just before, "I'll be at Rashmi's rally, but not in the crowd. I know her too well… and all the ideals in the world won't stop a well-placed bullet. She's making herself a target. And if she's going to be in the spotlight, someone else needs to stand in the shadows."

Magneto watches Connor talk, and walk. "Yes." He'll let Connor figure out for himself just exactly what it is he's agreeing with. He'll straighten and his voice takes on a more formal tone. "Two nights ago. A policeman. I take it you were in Mutant Town? And that a police car took damage from your presence." He'll pace toward the bench. "I have a notice from the police. They want to speak to me about the incident, seeing as I was the one to kill the man, and damage the car."

Connor hmphs softly, "Well, for starters it was Hell's kitchen, and you don't seem the type to use a Sig Sauer P226 forty caliber pistol… Nor do you walk around using a bad russian accent." Lips curling up slightly to one side before adding, "I should have realized he'd shoot out the windows, but I didn't think to watch where he was shooting. I don't have the finesse to catch and bend individual bullets."

Magneto waves a hand. Hell's Kitchen, Mutant Town… side-by-side neighborhoods, as far as he's concerned, and the one is as good as the other. "A gun is a gun. I do not need such things. And my Russian, when I exercise it, is not bad." He regards Connor quizzically, one brow lifted. "What happened? I do not think I shall 'sell you out' in my discussion about the matter with the police, but I would like to know the who, the how, and the why of the matter."

Connor leans back for a moment, and once more muses up to the night sky, "I put my foot in it… I was helping out a family who moved here from rural Russia because their son was a mutant, and they didn't want him conscripted to the military under the new regime. Their apartment was one of the few that couldn't be salvaged from the damage of the rally. So I'd been helping them where I could. Anyways… Short story. Rashmi'd given Hooligan some names of cops, and he'd set a trap for them. I stumbled into it along with a Detective Baxter, who'd been helping Rashmi with things. So… not knowing really what was happening, I tried to break up the fight. Then the anti-mutant rhetoric started getting tossed around, and I got mad. So I used my power to turn the patrol cruiser upside down and crunched in the doors. He shot out the doors to get out, and in doing so hit Baxter in the chest. Bled out before I could get him to a hospital. All the while threatening me with crap about a blue-haired mutant woman they had hostage. I took all I got. Names, badges, the car's number… and I gave a copy to Rashmi. Rest is in my head. Perks of a compulsive disorder is that it cultivates good memory retention."

Magneto nods. "The woman they have hostage is named Lil. I believe Rashmi would have told you that." He considers for a long moment, then nods and lets the matter rest. He will be speaking to the police, and Rashmi will be at that rally, and there are actions already taking place elsewhere. No need to belabor this. "As for your Russian friends… what sorts of skills do they have? In the aftermath of the attacks, the shortcomings of a number of buildings in the Mutant Town area have become clear. I raised the Embassy in a night; I can raise an apartment building in the same amount of time. However, it will need finishing on the inside and, of course, caretaking."

Connor starts laughing again, and then replies, "You don't know many Russians, do you. They're more suspicious of charity than you'd believe… if you did that, they'd think you were after their son, or worse… just out to curry favor. All the good works mean nothing in the face of a man who believes the world has already been trying to kill him since birth." Sitting up straight again, he relents slightly, "Sasha works the docks, as a translator and shipping inspector… his wife Lyubov is a bartender for a hotel on the Upper West side. Started there last week, actually. Their son Dimitri is going to art school. He carves wood and stone… his gift gives him perfect sight. Can see fine no matter what. He told me it lets him see the flaws in things, and what needs to be peeled away to show the true beauty hidden in things."

Magneto grumbles, "It would not be charity. It would be hard work." He distrusts charity, too. Disaster relief? He's fine with that, but ongoing assistance? He knows the value of a gift, and the kinds of obligations gifts put on their receivers. There are times and places for the use of such obligations: this is not one. "I will still raise the apartment building, likely on one of the damaged lots in Mutant Town. It will not be fancy. It will be functional, safe, and clean. Send the homeless to the Embassy; they can add their names to a waiting list for an apartment." A smirk. "If you like, do not send your Russian homeless."

"I was helping them move… they'd gotten a place in Hell's Kitchen. It wasn't quite a step up, but most of the tenants are Russian, so they made room." Connor says as he pushes up and walks back towards the man, tilting his head as if studying Magneto in profile, "I'll let them know, just in case. Sasha made the owner of the building do all the stuff to make sure he was allright… could hear him yelling in the hall. He said to the man, 'I will not be treated unfairly because I am Russian. I want the chance to be rejected like everyone else!'."

Magneto grunts admiringly. "So tell them about the list for the apartments. Preference is to families with mutants in them — it is Mutant Town. But after that, there are matters of promises to improve the premises. I can raise the shell; I do not do carpets or wallpaper or bedlinens, and the entire building has to pass New York inspections before it can house anyone." A short pause. "Your young artist friend might be a good inspector."

Connor starts laughing again, "Master Of Magnetism… he doesn't do windows." Slapping his leg a few time before it settles, shaking his head a few times as he seems almost in tears!

Magneto says, completely deadpan, "Windows. Yes. Someone else will have to install those."

Connor's laughter seems to be almost cathartic. Tears do begin to flow as it all comes out of him in that, and the laughter lifts something from his shoulders that seems barely perceptible save for those who have seen the guilt before. Ending up wiping at his eyes a few times, he has to bend over and catch his breath before replying, "Okay okay… Sorry…" And after a moment of composition, the red-eyed young man says softly, "Life likes to dose irony in it's gifts to others. Of all the people in the world, not even my parents, my mentors… or my friends… I'm standing here with you. A person that for all his sins, and all the world holds against him, I respect. Not the monster, not the reputation, but the man. Because while it might be things you have seen and heard before… you listen all the same. Thank you."

Magneto dips his head, a silent salute. "Africa was difficult, young Connor. Miss Franklin is still affected. I could not but expect you would be too… and you are not the sort of young man who would find it easy to discuss those sorts of difficulties with anyone… save if that someone was a person you were certain could take no harm from such a discussion."

Connor takes a deep breath, the exhale curling up in a puff of steam, "For now we see in a mirror indirectly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love." He stops, "Corinthians. Bible study was never my strong suit, but the quote before it is used far too often and out of context. Africa showed me the path I could walk, laid it out right before me… a lone wolf in a world where every hand is to be bitten and every heart is to be bled out. It showed me how despite my own problems… I still lived in a better world. But one not good enough. The most telling thing it taught me was…" And he pauses as his lips form a hard line, "You can't always just fix people's problems for them. I can't make what happened to Rashmi go away… but I didn't have a right to take her vengeance away from her either. That was her choice. I had to let her, despite my desire to remove the choice from her hands and spare her what would have come after. Yeah… I love her. But not in the kind of means that comes easily. More like… family. Like she's the big sister I never knew I wanted."

Magneto says, "With great power comes the ability to protect. With the power to protect comes the ability to smother. Miss Franklin is coping. I have spoken to her, and for all of the scars, visible and not, that she will carry from that time, she still has the strength to hold her head up, to look me in the eye, and to compare me to 'hanging in a cage over a lake of fire in Limbo'." He pauses for a moment, just savoring that moment. "And then she ranked me ahead of that experience. I do believe that I am flattered."

Connor grins a bit more broadly, "I think for all that she disagrees with your views, she respects you just the same. It's strange… you've been a teacher to us, more than the school… I don't think you intended for it to be us, but at the same time… it had to be someone. Young enough to still hope, resolute enough to still go forward, and strong enough to understand the burdens that come with it all." Holding his hand out, he begins to generate a portal, showing again much more ease and grace than before, "It's almost four am… I need a nap before class… Mister Guthrie's going to ride us harder with a new student in the team… gotta get the new kid up to speed, and all. And I'm sure you've got what other people think are better things to do than putting a bit of stock into the future."

Magneto snorts. "Mr. Blake. I NEVER have something better to do than to put stock in the future." A faint smile. "After all, I intend to live there." He steps away. "Good night, and sleep well, for as long as you are able." With that, he will rise into the air, magnetism warping around him to negate the pull of the Earth upon him… but not in the area that Connor is forming his portal in. Courtesy demands he not interfere with the young man's transport, after all.

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