15313/Welcome to the Devonshire Club

From United Heroes MUSH
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Welcome to the Devonshire Club
Date of Scene: 07 July 2023
Location: The Continental Gotham, East Park Side
Synopsis: Betsy Braddock goes where no woman has gone before, and has an offer that Warren Worthington can't refuse
Cast of Characters: Archangel, Psylocke
Tinyplot: Shadow Prophecy

Archangel has posed:
The original Devonshire Club was a London Gentleman's Club that dated back to 1874. However, it ran into some financial trouble near its centennial, leading to it closing its doors, and its members being absorbed by the East India Club. Or so the public believes.

In actuality, the DC simply went further underground, in an effort to accentuate its exclusivity. It relocated to a new location in London, with multiple hidden entrances. Sometime after that, Jamie Braddock spearheaded a new branch across the pond, before his unfortunate accident.

To this day, a portrait of him remains, bright and bold in his McLaren uniform, hanging above the fireplace in the main room, fresh from his third consecutive Formula 1 victory.

Due to its nature of being underground, and catering to the ultra wealthy, the club featured facilities that had all been built out of existing buildings, or hollowed out of the Earth. There was a pool, racquetball courts, a gym, library, restaurant, conference rooms, main hall, reception area, dance hall, showers, and anything else someone might want.

Each room had the feel as if it were centuries old, with forest greens, nice browns, and golden fixtures. There were paintings of former members, important events, and even a few 'windows'. Except, these windows were not windows at all, but sophisticated television screens, which were broadcasting time delayed images of the original branch.

When one looked out a window at 4:15 PM in New York, they would see what was going on at 4:15 PM in London the previous day.

And on this day, Warren was dressed for the racquetball courts, wearing a royal blue t-shirt with white accents, and mirrored white shorts with royal blue accents below. He was sitting in a burgundy leather chair, reading the Financial Times, and waiting for his partner. Except the man, Reginald Reynolds, was running late. Warren would be phoning him soon to see if had to back out at the last minute.
Psylocke has posed:
For the most part, Betsy Braddock stays out of the family businesses and investments. Some of that is just sensibility -- she doesn't really have a head for business, nor an interest in it -- but also sometimes it's better for her own mental health just not to know the sort of things that said investments get up to.

There's only so much she can do, and she has other priorities.

Yet here she is tonight, dressed in an elegant emerald dress with pleated skirt, two inch purple heels -- making her even more tall -- with emerald earrings and necklace. The bag she carries matches the shade of her heels by no coincidence. Anyone looking at her can tell at a glance she comes from money, but it's not the things she wears, it's the way she carries herself -- with surety, with confidence.

A Japanese woman walking boldly into a gentleman's club like she belongs there.

It takes a moment for the young man who was meant to be manning the door to realize what's happening, because his brain first defaults to admiring, then puzzled, then panic when he realizes it's his job to keep this sort of person out.

Women, that is.

A tough job for a young man still coming into his own. "Excuse me, miss? You can't... this is... men's... only." His words stop, and slow entirely when Betsy pauses to look at him, giving him her most stunning smile. "Indeed it is. Started by my brother. Thank you for reminding me." She reaches up to pet his cheek, affectionately, and it doesn't even need any psychic push to leave the poor man baffled and stunned.

Before he recovers, she walks on, the tap of her heels softened by the carpet underfoot.

"How pedestrian," comments the woman in a honeyed voice as she regards Warren, his outfit, and his reading material. "Come have a cognac with me?" Betsy invites, with a glimmer of a smile, as she sways past him, headed for the club proper.
Archangel has posed:
Reggie was thus far a no show, while Betsy did appear, she was dressed like that, and she was inviting Warren for cognac. Honestly, she didn't have to even bother finishing her sentence. The Japanese looking, British accented woman said 'come', and he immediately thought . o O ( Yes, of course )

He was dressed down, for this club, but not the only one, and he was waiting for his partner. If Reggie had showed on time, they might have changed at the same time, but he did it as a means of passive aggressively reminding his friend of his tardiness, or so the thought went.

For Betsy on the other hand, well, she illicted an entirely different response. He was suddenly feeling underdressed. He did have his regular clothes in his locker, hung up and ready to be changed into, but what he had on would have to suffice.

Setting the newspaper down for anyone else who might want to peruse it, he rose to his feet, slightly shorter than her, thanks to the two inch heels she wore, but he wasn't complaining. She was already ahead of him, swaying as she walked, which made him admire the emerald dress, and the pleated skirt.

"I'd ask if you really should be in here, but we both know, you have no problem going where you're... not supposed to be. In fact, I think you rather enjoy it, don't you?" He smiled at a thought to past experiences.
Psylocke has posed:
It wasn't always like this. Betsy undermining his self confidence in subtle but nevertheless deliberate ways: that's Kwannon's influence, one of the reasons -- many complex reasons -- they broke up the last time. It's not a coincidence she's arrived, elegantly dressed, just as he's underdressed, in the same way it's not a coincidence that Reginald is late.

Kwannon doesn't believe in coincidences for a reason.

He might be able to hear the smile in her response, and if so, that's all Betsy, amused haughtiness: "Oh, probably not," she replies. "But I figured it was a safe place to talk." Safe for /what/, she doesn't explain.

The moment she steps into the larger room that serves a gathering place -- with a mix of comfortable leather chairs and tables in a variety of configurations for the different groups of men here -- she gets noticed. It's impossible that she's not, from her brilliant purple hair, to her alluring beauty, to her elegance and expensive couture. She's exactly the sort of woman these sort of men would admire on the street, maybe dare to ask out, but here? Here, she doesn't belong.

"Two cognacs," Betsy requests with unfailing confidence to one of the waiters, before she sways towards a table with a grouping of two chairs. She sets her purse down on the table, and eases into a seat, crossing her legs neatly.

They're getting looks from the other members: disdainful, appalled. Many are looking at Warren like they expect /him/ to do something. Betsy ignores all of them. The waiter disappears into the kitchen, whether to get their drinks or escalate to someone being paid more than him isn't clear.
Archangel has posed:
Subtle but nevertheless deliberate efforts were the norm among the members of the Devonshire Club. Many would pretend not to be bothered by them. Betsy knew better. Warren was not bothered by them. Betsy knew that too. Warren's confidence was as solid as a rock, in almost all circumstances. Almost.

He had his weak spots. Everyone did. Betsy knew those too. Conversations could be amusing if she were to dip into the surface thoughts of those around her. She says safe place to talk and he immediately thinks . o O ( safe for what? )

Warren was not bothered by the looks that Betsy was attracting. He was used to them. Though in the past, the looks were slightly different, more envy, than the envy and confusion that was taking place today. He continued to follow after her, listening to the order placed, and to the table with the chairs.

He sat across from her, leaving his legs slightly parted. He relaxed into the upholstery, just as any other man would, despite the wings currently bound to his back.

Some of the members begin to approach them, but before they get too close, Warren raised a hand, subtle and deliberate, waving them off. Most had the good sense not to venture too close. You didn't get to be a member of this club if you didn't have sense. That said, someone might be a 'hero'.

For now, they were alone, with the cognacs delivered and set on coasters. Warren took his, bringing the glass towards his nose, to inhale the aroma. He shook it around, watching it glint in the crystal. "I'd like to say that I forgot how forceful you can be, Betts, but I'd be lying, and I make a point of never lying to you..." His blue eyes made strong contact with her violet ones, "I've missed you." And a few moments after saying that, he took a sip of his cognac, eyes darting back to her own.
Psylocke has posed:
If Betsy's using her telepathy, either on those around them, or on him, it's hard to know. Her expression is serene enough to perhaps suggest not, given the level of misogyny, outrage and/or desire that's probably coming from those around them.

It's Warren's response -- that lift of hand -- that makes her eyes narrow for just a moment. Ill-pleased with the necessity for him to intervene, it does at least assure them of being left alone -- for now. She stays silent until after their drinks have arrived, and she echoes his gesture, unintentionally: just one of those hallmarks of good breeding, to enjoy the finer things in life. She moves the liquid, breathes it in, and takes the smallest, appreciative sip, visibly savoring it.

"...we both know it'd be a waste of time to lie to me," Betsy says in a tone that could be read as friendly warning. She is, however, smiling just a little -- at least until he meets her gaze and says that last. Her breath spills out in a contained sigh, and she glances away across the room. They're still being watched, her more than him, and the shift of her gaze seems to catch a few looking, holding and challenging, and moving on.

"I'm not here for... that. Us." The words are quiet, but they do contain a note that seems almost apologetic. "Nothing's really changed since the last time. Just time." Her smile is back, as she finally brings her gaze back to his. "We're still the same broken pieces we were the last time we left each other."

A slight pause. "But I do need... you. A friend. Someone I can trust."
Archangel has posed:
He had not anticipated that response. He gave word to what he had long sensed, that he missed her, that he wanted her in his life. Her smile faded, she breathed out a contained sigh, and she broke eye contact, all telltale signs that his feelings were not reciprocated.

And all this after she disapproved of his efforts to protect her from members of the club. She didn't need protection, that was obvious, and yet still, he felt protective of her. In truth, he hadn't really understood why things fell apart the last time, so her saying that the reasons were still in place, well, that failed to shed any light. Still, she had made her feelings known through that crippling and savage body language. Subtle, and yet deliberate. She could wield it as a surgeon would a scalpel.

When her smile returned, he couldn't help but wonder if this one was forced. At least she could bear to look at him again. And then she asked for a friend. "You have it, on both counts."
Psylocke has posed:
His answer is a relief to Betsy. And that, too, is telling: that maybe she'd braced herself for a no, just in case, and the yes brings out a heartfelt smile, too achingly familiar to him, that can't be anything but genuine. She's glad for his answer. Maybe glad for /him/, as well.

"I've had... visions." This is not a surprise; while Betsy's precognitive visions aren't frequent, they have in the past spared them pain, both physical and emotional, for whatever kind of warning they granted. Like many such visions though they've never been immediately clear, wholly open to interpretation, and thus, sometimes more dangerous to act on than not.

What might be more a surprise is what she adds: "...for the last two years."

She takes the time to sip more of the cognac. Maybe a subtle indication for him to do the same. Most of the other members of the club are studiously trying to pretend like there isn't a beautiful woman sitting in their midst, in their safe space.

"I've spent the last two years traveling the world. Seeking guidance. Talking to those with a similar gift, or that might have insight into what I've been seeing. And it's all bad, Warren. It's," Betsy trails off, fingertips pressing into the glass a little tighter; subtle, but enough to turn her fingernails whiter for a moment, "Bad," she just breathes out, repeats. It's less the word and more the unspoken that conveys just how shaken up she is by whatever she's learned, or suspects.

Her voice is soft: "What we've been doing with the X-Men is good work, needful. But I... I feel it deep in my bones that that's not enough. That we need to take more risks, make harder decisions." Betsy hesitates, but her gaze steadies on Warren's blue eyes. The coolness steals into her voice: he recognizes it, in a way, as Kwannon's influence. "We might need to make the choice to do things the Professor would not approve of. Break laws. Kill, if needed."

Her eyes hold, but something in her manner softens. "I want you to think on this for a few days before you commit to anything, Warren. I mean it. This will lead down a dark, and painful road that we might not see the end of." Is that what her vision is telling her? Or is it the part of her that loved -- loves? -- him, giving him an out, because she owes him that much?
Archangel has posed:
Warren observed Betsy's body language, listened to what she said, nodding his head when appropriate, so as to denote understanding, without diverting her from her rhythm. He did raise a single eyebrow, his right, at the suggestion that she has been having visions for two years. He assumed she meant something similar, as opposed to multiple unrelated visions, as that was part for the course for those with such powers.

He mirrored her actions, reaching for his own cognac to take a sip as she did. It was amazing how easily they fit back in unison, sharing interests, and even mannerisms. As far as he was concerned, the club ceased to exist the minute she walked into his field of view, and would continue to reside in limbo until she departed it.

He continued to regard her, even after she seemed to have finished speaking. He hadn't interrupted her. He let her say her bit. "A few days, a few years, a few lifetimes, the answer is, as it always has, and it always be, yes. Whenever, wherever, and however you need me, I will be there." Whether or not she had opened her mind to peak at his thoughts, she already knew that he was speaking with conviction. When she called out to the heavens, they would always be answered by an Angel.
Psylocke has posed:
"Warren," Betsy says, reproachfully, frowning as he immediately disregards her advice and says yes. It's what she expected -- why she asked him to think on it first. "I don't want this to be... I don't want you to resent me for this choice. That you felt you had no choice to say yes because it was me." She's too aware, painfully aware, because of her psychic abilities, of how much influence she has on him, even when she doesn't intend it.

She feels the yes in his mind. Feels his conviction. And all she can feel is guilt. It stifles her to silence for what feels an like uncomfortably long moment.

The guilt, though, gives way to relief. Because whatever friction or tension might have existed between them, he always answered her call. Was always there for her. Sometimes even when she didn't want him to be.

"All right," Betsy finally says, with a sigh of acceptance, and one of those too-familiar though rare smiles of warmth that probably feels like it's reserved just for him. Especially when she leans forward, hand reaching out so that her fingers brush over his where he holds his glass. "Thank you."

She straightens, dropping that contact. "Before I left... there was a place I was scoping out. It needs some work. Security, fitting out, all of that. Can you look at it and let me know if you think it'll work as a base for a team of, mm, let's say six for now?"
Archangel has posed:
"Betsy," Warren said, joyfully, still mirroring her, except this one was inversed, as she frowned, and he was smiling. They both knew he was going to disregard her advice. Okay, technically he regarded it, he knew it was good, he knew it was the right thing, and he knew it was from the heart. Thing is, when it comes to Betsy Braddock, no is temporarily suspended from his vocabulary.

Then, his facial features shifting, taking on a more serious and thoughtful tone. "I will never resent you and choice was removed long ago. When I let someone in, they are in, forever. Heart, mind, soul, call it what you will. But a part of you is there, and it always will be. I would no sooner say no to you, than I would remove my hand or a lung."

"Of course, this is on me. I don't want you focusing on it, or your influence on me. You have nothing to worry about, no guilt on your conscience, or anything along those lines. I," he puts emphasis on that word, "care for you. It's my choice. My life. My risk."

That smile of warmth was thank you enough for him. The hand, reaching out to brush his fingers, made him think that he now owed her. "I can, though wouldn't Hank," with his technical knowhow, "or Piotr," with his background in construction, "give a better assessment? Still, I'd be happy to check it out with you."
Psylocke has posed:
The words ache. They are, in a way, a confession of his unyielding love for her, that no matter what she does, how far she falls, how much she might break him further, whether intentionally or not -- he'll never turn his back on her. It's a level of trust that the telepath knows in some deep down part of her psyche that she doesn't deserve. It's also a large part of why Betsy chose to leave. Selfless, but also very much selfish. The best and worst reason to make such a choice.

It's obvious Warren's words have an impact on her, and Betsy does her best to hide it. Still, there are subtle signs that he recognizes because he knows her too well: the way her gaze ticks to her glass, and she focuses on drinking the remainder of the contents. The way her chin tilts upwards as she drinks, baring her long neck. Little distractions for both him and her. Attempts at them anyway.

/It's not just your life,/ she wants to say, but she keeps quiet. She didn't come to bring up old arguments.

When he mentions other X-Men, Betsy shakes her head immediately. "We need to keep this quiet, and separate from the X-Men as much as possible. Black ops rules. No talking about this. If I can get time with them we can talk generalities, but it's safer for everyone if they don't know anything. Plausible deniability, as they told us frequently in STRIKE." Her smile is fainter, but still amused.

Her legs uncross, and she rises to her feet after she takes up her purse. Draws more than a passing glance from others nearby. Relief in some, interest in others. Her gaze is only for Warren, however. She opens her purse, takes out a card. It only has a number on it, no name, though there's a purple border to it that makes it distinctive. "My current number." Implying her old one isn't used anymore. She hasn't answered anything there for two years, anyway.
Archangel has posed:
( Mentioning the X-Men and black ops in public? ) O o . he thought. He had been careful to mention them by first name. He might have said Peter instead of Piotr, but there were many Peter's, and if she weren't peeking at his surface thoughts, she might have missed that. o O ( Come to think of it, you may not hear this either? )

A sly smile coming across his face as he thought . o O ( Bananas in pyjamas, are coming down the stairs, bananas in pyjamas, are coming down in pairs, bananas in pyjams, are chasing teddy bears, 'cause on Tuesdays they all try, to catch them unawares. )

If she did hear any of that in her mind, the lyrics to a children's television show, it might make her crack a smile.

He inhaled when she uncrossed her legs and rose. Was he bracing? Or just Warren being Warren. He rose to his feet almost as quickly as she did. He had been raised to stand when a lady enters or leaves one's company. He took the card, reading the numbers, and repeated them in his head a few times, to remember them in case he lost the card. He didn't have his phone on him, or else he would have taken a picture of it and added it to his contacts.

"Do you still have my private number?" He asked, a mixture of hope and curiosity in his voice.
Psylocke has posed:
When one is a telepath, one has to worry less about who will overhear. In the same way Betsy continually shades her psychic presence, when in certain conversations, those within earshot receive subtle nudges not to listen. There can always be some, especially spies trained to it, who ignore the subtle push, but there are endless ways the telepath can deal with that, too.

There's no change in her expression, which might suggest Betsy wasn't in his head. It isn't a line she's usually bothered about crossing, but perhaps his declaration -- whatever she saw of it in his head paired with his words -- was sufficient to make her withdraw. An unsettling thing, perhaps, but also something he could use instead of a children's rhyme, in future, too, if he wanted privacy.

All Betsy sees is the sly smile, and she tilts her head, barely a twitch of her brow in response. A longer beat draws out the answer to his question. "I'm sure I can find it somewhere," she says, with a smile. "I lost my phone somewhere in Nepal. I took it as a sign to start anew."

Or mostly so, anyway.

For a second, she sways towards him, feeling that old pull between them, but she resists. "Have a good night, Warren." And then Betsy Braddock is moving away, that sway in her step just as unconscious as her reflexive telepathic skills.