2011-03-19: Second Chances


Tabitha_icon.jpg Tony_icon.jpg

Summary: Talk of poor judgment and second chances.

Date: March 19, 2011

Log Title: Second Chances

Rating: PG-13

NYC- Stark Towers

NYC - Stark Towers (Tony Stark's Office)

The evening is wearing on, and in the office of Mr. Stark, all is most certainly not quiet. A certain rat girl lays stretched out on the couch with her hands clasped behind her head, watching a film on the widescreen TV with the sound turned up entirely too loud; it features a woman in very tigh black leather, who seems to be busy opening fire with excessively loud firearms at werewolves. Tabitha herself is dressed in the same jeans and t-shirt that she was wearing when she broke into the warehouse several days ago, though the jacket is in a heap in one of the chairs.

Busy day at the Towers. Many meetings, various conferences held with inernational offices and the like. It is rather late in the evening when Tony enters his office pulling at the knot of his tie to loosen it. Peering over at the television there's a shake of his head for what is playing. Since Tabitha's focus is upon the screen at present he turns the television off apparently without a remote, not that she would see that, and swaggers over to his desk. "Comfortable, much?" The desk chair is turned out from the desk by a lone hand. "I'd offer you refreshments but I'm certain you've already combed the place and found the mini fridge." Now slumped down in his chair Tony undoes the buttons of his black suit jacket and pulls on the crimson tie till it hangs loosely draped about his neck.

Tabitha shrugs her shoulders as the TV abruptly turns off. She remains where she is, and more or less continues to stare at the now blank and silent screen. "Dad was right," she observes, at last. "Satellite TV is not worth it — hundreds of channels and still nothing to watch." The rat girl shrugs her shoulders, and her tail twitches lazily. "Seen that movie before anyway. Guys like it more — something about Kate Beckinsale and tight leather." Her lips quirk upwards in a brief smirk. "Maybe I should try it. Anyway, your… servant… friend, messenger, employee… dude, whatever, showed up and told me you wanted to see me, but that was like… five hours ago, so I've just been chillin'. Hope you don't mind." The glass on the coffee table might indicate taht she did indeed find the mini fridge — and the bottle of rum sitting next to it that has less in it than before might give a few things away, too. At least she doesn't seem drunk.

Tony sighs as Tabitha babbles about the leather clad woman from a terrible movie that shouldn't have spawned several more films. It must be all of the money that is being paid by men who want to drool over the female lead. Go figure. "Happy, his name is Happy." Rising from the chair Stark shrugs off his coat draping it over the arm then comes over to the area where the television is located with the various comfortable chairs. Glancing down at the table he lifts up the bottle of rum, and points it at Tabitha. "And you wonder why you can't be trusted. Last time I checked teenage girls shouldn't be hitting the bottle." How the hell did that get in here in the first place? None too pleased Tony walks to his personal bathroom and pours the remainder of the bottle down the sink leaving the empty vessel behind to lean against the door frame folding his arms across his chest.

Tabitha sits up, and shrugs her shoulders. "Yeah, well… last time I checked, teenage girls shouldn't be practically living on the street, running from people who want to kill them, or reduced to stealing just to get something to eat… But I've had to do all these things lately. What's a little nip of rum gonna matter?" She pitches forwards, and rests her arms on her knees. "Yeah, I know I can't be trusted. What were you expecting? A shining paragon of humanity? I'm a *mutant*. …And a freak to boot."

"Grow up, Patches." Tony tells her as calmly as he possibly can manage. This kid has been getting on his nerves since she unloaded a few clips on him in his own warehouse. "I'm done with the pity party and the excuses. You're in control of what kind of person you want to be. From what I've seen all you care about is crying yourself a river, shooting your mouth off, which will either wind you up in a maximum security prison or dead, and generally giving not only myself but others the general opinion that you're perfectly fine with that outcome." Stalking away from the door Tony heads to the mini fridge to pull out a bottle of water. "I had you brought over to discuss options I felt would help you stay out of trouble, and to get information on who is after you but tell me why I am bothering?" The lid is twisted off the bottle of water and cast aside in a small rubbish bin.

The rat girl's eyes watch Tony as he does to the fridge and opens the water. She brushes her fingers across her face, before her arms drop back to her knees and she hangs her head once more. Tabitha stares at her knees for a long time. Finally the uncomfortable silence is broken. "I'm sorry," she murmurs. "You've been ridiculously kind to me when you could've just slapped me in jail, and I've been a bitch-cake in return." She sucks in her breath, and taps her fingertips together. "I'm just… tired, and scared, and trying very hard to be tough enough to take it… and… and I guess I just didn't believe it was real. You and Quicksilver being good to me, I mean. I know that's lame and retarded. Like I said… I'm sorry."

Tony waves a hand as if to mean that whatever that has happened is of no consquence. Sipping from the bottle of water Tony crosses over to sit down in one of the lone chairs that face the couch where Patches is still sitting. "You've summed it pretty well. What I need to know is what's driven you to this state. I can't very well do my job if I've got nothing to work with."

Tabitha looks up, and brushes her fingers through her hair to push a few errant locks behind her ears. She swallows noisily, and licks her lips before looking back down. "It's complicated," she mumbles. "And… okay, well, what do you want to know? Like… everything?" She sighs heavily. "Yeah, I know, dumb question, right?"

The latter question was certainly a rhetorical one. Tony gives Patches a moment then sets his bottle of water down on the glass table between the two piece of furniture. "I'm not asking for your life story just the pertinent pieces of information such as your real name for starters. As clever as Patches may be I doubt that it's your given name." He offers her a hint of a smile to hopefully change the mood in the room. "I need to know who is after you and why. Had you just been a poor unfortunate kid looking for a place to call home I would have already expressed several options available to you. Unfortunately your case is a bit more complex than that."

"…Patches *is* my real name," she protests, albeit only with mild enthusiasm. "Or at least, it might as well be. That's what mutants do, isn't it? Choose another name to describe themselves? Like your buddy Quicksilver." She shrugs her shoulders emphatically. "But I used to be… Tabitha. …Jones." She splays her fingers out on her knees, continuing to stare intently down at them as she talks. "Okay, so… you have to understand. My Dad and I, we were like… real close, right? Mom used to say that he really wanted a son, so he turned me into a tomboy or something. Just as good, right? He took me camping and fishing and stuff all the time, taught me how to shoot and look after a gun, put me in kung fu classes and stuff." She twiddles her thumbs nervously, and swallows. "And, he always taught me to be real careful about mutants. 'Cause they ain't human, right? They're not safe, they're dangerous, can't be trusted, they shouldn't be around real people, and all that."

Tony doesn't interrupt her as she beings speaking. He's prone to interrupting anyone and everyone but with such sensitive matters he's capable of not being a complete ass. IF he wants to be. The more she speaks of her relationship with her father the more Tony shakes his head in dismay. The moment where she pauses in her telling he literally plants face to palm and leans heavily against the arm of the chair he's sitting in. "I can already get the jist of how this is going but don't let me stop you. What happened?"

The rat girl holds out her hands, and wiggles her fingers for emphasis. "THIS happened," she replies. "I used to be pretty, you know. Could've had any guy I wanted." She shrugs her shoulders dismissively. "We were… out. Got into a fight with a mutant, and… and well, it…" she pauses, and bites her bottom lip. "…She ripped my chest and throat open. I passed out… thought I was dead, right? But then I woke up again, and I looked like this." She hugs her arms around herself, and tilts her head to look away. "Afterwards, Dad talked to me less and less… friend of his was trying to figure out some way to cure me, thought the mutant did it to me. Eventually, like… I just… wanted attention, right? I couldn't go outside, Dad told everyone I was sick. But he wouldn't hardly do anything. I even went and smashed all the mirrors in the house, partly 'cause I didn't wanna look at them and… and I just wanted him to get mad at me. Do *something*. Punish me, take away the TV, spank me, I didn't care. But he didn't do anything, just… just cleaned up and went back to sitting on his bed."

Tony rubs his hand across his face then sits back in his chair crossing one leg over the other. "Out…" Meaning something entirely different than the word used. This continuing escalation of poor judgement was heading exactly where Tony expected it was. "So he turns on you, or attempts to in some form. You some how manage to get away from that and that leads to.." There have been many in similar situations to what Patches had been in. A deep breath is exhaled as he slides his fingers through his mess of dark brown uncombed hair. "Not that I'm deliberately cutting you off, dear. It's alright to skip over …events. If you do not want to speak of it."

Tabitha shrugs her shoulders. "Doesn't matter, it's fine," she murmurs. "I read my Dad's diary while he was out. Found out that I'm a mutant, and I copied the other mutant's physical attributes and her powers when my own powers manifested… permanently. Sorta wish I'd picked a more… I dunno, badass mutant to break my teeth on, and preferably one that didn't look like this. Anyway. Dad was gonna be all nice about it and do it while I was asleep, right in the side of my head with his Anaconda. The revolver I mean, not the snake." She shrugs her shoulders. "So I left him a personal note in my diary, which I knew he'd read, took the glocks he gave me for my birthday a couple years ago, stole his wallet, got on my Ninja and left. Not sure why I decided to come to New York."

I am not the person she should be talking to. Tony can't help but think that anyone else in this position would be better to help Tabitha than himself. Not might, or maybe but definitely would be better than him. "Not that I'm trying to be an insensitive ass here," for he will come off that way. "Your father had a hate on for those who are different. Teaching you that similar hate, arming you with weapons and attacking others…not the best start to life Patches." How did he keep getting himself into these situations? "I don't mean to come down on, no I meant it, sorry. I'll spare you my personal opinion and the multiple lectures I could give. It might be best to tell me what happened when you arrived here."

In response to that, Tabitha could well have lost her temper; she could have shouted, or snapped, or just plain got up and walked out. She doesn't; instead, she just looks down again, though the glisten of a tear on each cheek is plain to see. "I know," she mumbles. "And when Mom got hurt real bad in a car accident caused by a mutant, that didn't help either, I actually slugged another girl in school because she dyed her hair and I thought she was a mutant." She shrugs her shoulders. "Anyway, doesn't matter. How do you deal with it when you spend your whole life hating and fearing a monster, and then you look in the mirror and suddenly *you* are the monster?" The rat girl bites her lip, and pauses as she rubs at her eyes. "So I got here, and like… I got this apartment I guess. Sort of. But I spent half the money in Dad's wallet already, and… and I didn't think anyone would hire me for anything. So I started hanging out in bad places 'cause I didn't know what else to do. I dunno. Maybe I did hope someone would just shoot me and get it done with, but they didn't, and I wound up talking to these two guys, right?"

"Let me stop you right there," Tony says leaning forward so that his elbows rest to his knees and the fingers of his hands thread together. "Mutants are not monsters. You are most definitely not a monster. Monsters are those people I truly hope you never have to meet and it doesn't matter what gene's they may have been born with." Tony does feel remorse for hurting the teens feelings and he's attempting to do the best that he can so he doesn't further upset Tabitha. "Where were you when you were finding all of the less than stellar locals in the city? Do you remember their names?"

Tabitha looks up, and nods her head slowly. "Yeah," she replies. "Yeah, well, all I ever wanted to be was a tomboyish girl, into target shooting and kung fu, be part of a choir, and… and hang out with my girl friends and check out the boys and stuff, right?" She shrugs her shoulders helplessly. "Well, whatever, Mick Jagger says you can't always get what you want. But you can get what you need, apparently. Anyway, I really, really needed to have someone look at me and not curl their lip up or something, and when I was hanging around the Bronx I met these two guys. They… I dunno, I can't remember everything, but they both wore trenchcoats and one of 'em had a bunch of piercings. They said they were part of a gang called the Scorpions, but that might all just've been made up anyhow. They were just using me, right? I needed something and they offered it to me so I'd… steal your stuff for them. Probably would've turned up face down in the river with my brain leaking out a hole or two if you hadn't come along and stopped me, right?"

Tony presses his lips together so that the lower seems to cover the upper. "I understand what's lead you to falling in with the sort that sent you on a no-win situation. You're concerned that they will come after you then?" By all appearances Tony seems to be listening quite intently but in truth he was already searching up information on the Scorpions via the NYPD records, and several other datbases that he could easily hack into. "They claimed that whatever you were after belonged to them? I'm not surprised. I've taken back various things that have wound up in the hands of criminals who purchased them illegally." Unfolding his hands he points a lone finger her way. "And you're lucky you wound up with me. Had you opened fire on one of the guards you would be rotting in a jail cell."

Tabitha sighs heavily. "I know," she replies. "And I would deserve it, too. But I didn't, and I wouldn't have. You'll remember I made it past all the guards… and if any of them had walked in, I would've just… knocked 'em unconscious. I made sure I had what I needed for that ahead of time. I… My 'power' I guess you call it, is that I copy other mutants. So before I came I copied another mutant so I'd be able to see in the dark, stick to walls, I was stronger… not strong enough to succeed at kicking you in the nuts while you've got your armor though." She shrugs her shoulders, and falls silent for the moment. The Scorpions do indeed seem to be a real gang, and have been involved in weapons deals and the occasional murder. "I guess you better keep my glocks," she murmurs. "At least until you're sure I'm not going to ventilate anyone with them. …I'm not, not unless it was like… last resort or I'm gonna die, but I guess you need to know that. And that's fine, I… I deserve it anyway. Just don't crush them okay?"

The Scorpions are quite a nuisance plaguing the Bronx and they've been known to extend their dealings further than that when it suited them. Tony would certainly have to speak with the precinct in that area if not more than that right off the bat. "Your weapons are locked away where no one but I have access. They will remain there until I'm certain you're not going to do something you'll regret. Not to mention they're illegal until you're 21." Which leaves Tony with the problem of what to do with Miss Jones. "So, wipe the slate clean and consider this. If you were given the option to be able to finish out school, have a home/food, and not have feel on the spot constantly, would you take it?"

"You know, I hate to point this out, but there are people out there who could rip this city in half without breaking much of a sweat… and I *could* easily copy them. Worrying about those glocks is probably a bit… I dunno, silly, isn't it?" She shrugs her shoulders. "But you're right, leave them in your safe for now anyway." She squeezes herself back into the couch, and draws her legs up to hug them against her chest and wrap her armos around her knees. "And… and yes." She nods her head, and rests her chin on her knees. "Yes, I would take it. In a heartbeat. I was interested in locksmithing before… but like, while I was on the run I had to look after my Ninja myself, and I guess I'm pretty interested in engines and stuff, too."

Tony shrugs right back at Patches with a hint of frustration edging out the way his shoulders settle back again. "Do you think me an idiot?" Cause honestly at this point he's a little tired of her way of dealing with things. "The point that you fail to grasp is it's illegal to have guns in your posession when you're clearly not 21. Not to mention they're mod'd which AGAIN is illegal. I could have tossed them over to the police but I kept them because they have sentimental value to you. Worry about your weapons…" Sigh. This wasn't even the first favor he's done since meeting her.
"I deal with people daily who could blow the planet up, alter time so you don't even exist, slaughter villages of people without even blinking, regardless of whether or not they have abilities. I can tell you the last thing I'm worried about are two handguns and your copying someone's powers and going on a rampage. SO, check your 'tude. AGAIN."
Flopping back in his seat, "I'm a man that can make things happen for people, and I'm wondering if you're capable of ever getting your head screwed on straight." Tony sits forward again to pick up his water then sinks back into the seat. "Give me one good reason I shouldn't drop you off at juvenile hall so they can sort out your myriad of problems? Why I should put in a good word for you so that you can have the opportunity to become a locksmith or a mechanic or whatever it is that you would want to be?"

Tabitha shrugs her shoulders. "You should probably drop me off at a juvenile hall," she replies. "It would be the right thing to do. But what would really come of it? I'd get more weapons if I wanted 'em, you know that. I already know where I could buy a pair of glock 18's if I wanted 'em. But I don't. Remember the first thing I said in the warehouse? 'I don't want to hurt you.'" She shrugs her shoulders. And what do you think I'll learn in Juvie? Aside from… where to buy weed, or how to shoot up on heroin or toad juice. Where the best street corners are to sell your body. How to do a proper break and enter. …In short, how to go to a real jail, or get myself killed… or just slum it somewhere high on drugs until my Dad catches up with me and puts me out of my misery for real." Her blue eyes flick upwards, and she watches you over her knees. "Have you… ever wanted a second chance? When you know you didn't deserve it, and you couldn't even prove that you deserved it, but… but you wanted it, you… you needed it. Did you get it? Or did the world just pass you by?" Tabitha sighs heavily. "No, I don't think you're an idiot. I'm an idiot. And I let my Dad turn me into something sick. Didn't I? But honestly… I just… I just wanna be a perfectly ordinary seventeen year old girl."

Tony breathes in slow and deep then releases that breath in the same vein. "Why do you feel the need to articulate a wealth of information that is already obvious?" The fact of the matter was he knew exactly how things would turn out if he turned her over to the police department hence she was still sitting on a couch at the Stark Towers instead of cooling her heels in a nine by twelve cell. She'd end up dead or worse before she hit the age of 21.
Tony's fairly certain he has a good read on Tabitha though he's been wrong about people in the past. Draining the last bit of water from the bottle Tony gets up to dispose of the container then circles back via way of his desk to pick up his suit jacket that he pulls on straightening it out one sleeve at a time. "I believe in second chances, Tabitha. What your father did was wrong and he'll have to atone for that at some point in his life if he hasn't already. The fact of the matter is you've got to make the most out of what gets dealt your way and not let it turn you into something you do not want to be."
"You're not an idiot by any means. You've had one hell of a ride to get to this point and this is the moment where you need to decide whether you want to keep traveling down that path your father set out before you or you switch tracks." Coming about his desk he leans back grasping the lip of the desk with both of his hands on either side of himself. "Do you want a chance at being a perfectly intelligent young lady with a future ahead of her or would you rather I turn my back and let you be as you were?"

Tabitha's legs slip back down off the couch, and her feet rest on the floor. She holds her hands up and looks at them, turning them over in front of her. At last they drop back down to her knees, with a soft slap as they land. She stands up, and smooths out her clothes, rumpled and a bit on the dirty side as they are. Slowly, she turns around to face towards the famed Iron Man, and holds her arms almost protectively around herself. The rat girl swallows noisily, and lifts her gaze to meet Tony's, letting him see into her eyes. "I want to be a good person," she whispers at last.

"News flash kiddo," Tony smiles. "You already are. Where it counts." Tapping the center of his chest with the tips of two fingers then he approaches her. "Just less with the dramatics, huh?" If she'll permit him Tony offers a hug. The poor kid could use a hell of a lot more than that but it was a start.

No resistance is offered to the hug; indeed, she embraces the opportunity. The rat girl tucks her head against Tony's chest, and she shudders softly as she sucks in her breath. "Thank you," she whispers, as her eyes clamp shurt. "You should have kids someday, Mr. Stark," she adds. "You'd make a great father."

Bless the numerous Gods of many cultures, and throw in one for Thor on top of that, that Patches can't see Tony's reaction to what's been said. The hug's not awkward at all but Tony's eyes are pained. He's just going to deal with that as he deals with anything that sets off a twinge on the personal radar. "Right!" There's a tightening of the embrace then he rests his hands to her upper arms to set her apart from him a bit. "I need to speak with a few people on your behalf but for the time being I've opened up an unused apartment in the Towers for you. I'll show you the security system and as long as you don't leave the building you're about as safe as you're going to get." There's a pause as if Tony's considering something. "Never mind the occasional attack by x-wannabe super villain. That's pretty standard around these parts."

The rat girl looks up as the embrace ends, having completely missed the pained look, and reaches up to rest her hands on Tony's arms; her cheeks are glistening once again, and she nods her head quickly. "Okay," she replies. "I'll study hard… I used to do well in school, before… well… You know." She reaches up to brush her fingers through her hair, before her hands drop back down to her waist. "And… feel free to tell me off if I get all attitude-ish or anything," she adds. "I don't need to be that way anymore, but… I did for a while. Or at least I thought I did."

Tony nods, "I understand. Everyone has their way of coping with things." It's getting rather late and there are matters that have to be attended to before the day could officially come to an end. "We'll talk shop later because the schools I'm thinking of will be nothing like what you're used to." With a wave of a hand indicating the door the pair leave Tony's office behind for the elevator. "We've got to make a detour to my place before I can give you the grand tour of your temporary place. My puppy is probably exploding or has already exploded. Either way not good." With that Tabitha gets stuck holding the elevator door upstairs, Tony gets Athena and with a brief detour of the roof garden Tabitha is then shown to her place.

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