15563/Stay Strong

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Stay Strong
Date of Scene: 05 September 2023
Location: Gym - X-Men Base
Synopsis: Scott Summers and Betsy Braddock meet in the gym. They have a surprising night of revelations, deep talks, and the meaning of worth.
Cast of Characters: Cyclops, Psylocke

Cyclops has posed:



The X-Men Base was nearly quiet, the metallic high-tech hallways are deafened except for the sound of activity in the gym, the low-hum of machinery keeping the space feeling lived in and alive, but the loudest noise? The Gym. If one were to enter the facility, the X-shaped doors part to reveal Scott Summers in the corner of the room, sweating from his forehead as his hands grip a metal bar with weights on the ends of them.

He's benching double his body weight.

He wears a tanktop with a trail of sweat around the neckline, a pair of shorts, some tennis shoes, and his casual red shades. He seems to be gritting his teeth in effort. His reps are /slow/.

A focus on control rather than outright slanging weight.
Psylocke has posed:
The gym is too well lit for Psylocke to step through the shadows here. But that doesn't mean she can't sneak up on someone, especially when they're focused on their current work out.

There are distinct benefits to being trained as a ninja.

"If you saw anyone else doing this, you would rightfully yell at them for being unsafe. Having a deathwish, if you will." Betsy sounds amused, perhaps. He'll be able to see her -- somewhat -- from his angle, the way she circles where he works out, taking in all the angles.

She's dressed in her close-fitting ninja outfit, feet silent.
Cyclops has posed:

Scott exerts a grunt of effort just in time for Psylocke to make her appearance! Her words make him huff.

"A poor excuse would be 'do as I say, not as I do.'" He lifts that bar one more time better setting it back on a metal stand, allowing him to sit up and take a towel to his forehead. He notes her attire and looks at her eyes.

"You look like you've been busy."
Psylocke has posed:
"A poor excuse indeed."

It could be judgemental, but Betsy's voice is too warm for it to be that. An observation then. She's not judging, just pointing out the inconsistently. "I imagine that is why you do it at such a late hour. Unfortunately for you, I find myself unable to sleep so you now have a witness."

His observation is met with a faint noise of acknowledgement, a murmur without purpose other than to give her time to consider a response. "You could say that."

A beat. "Viper's body disappeared from where I stored it not three days after I brought it back." Not Betsy's biggest problem, but the easiest one to bring up.
Cyclops has posed:
Scott smirks softly as Betsy proves why you should listen to instinct and that nobody is perfect. Scott takes a moment to pant, his arm lifting to bring his wrist to eye level as a watch tell him his bpm. 92. Not bad.

"Lucky me." Not said in disrespect or with bite, but strangely enough with an affectionate tone. He frowns when she reports about Viper. "Told you she escapes death regularly. But X-Force is operational and we proved the reach. That's what matters. She still doesn't know where we are or where we put our feet up."

Hd keeps his eyes on her.

"But something tells me you have more on your plate."
Psylocke has posed:
Not at all a coincidence that, as Scott sits up, Betsy ends up behind him, so he's forced to turn if he wants to look at the ninja or get a measure of her expression. "Is that what matters?"

A beat. "You're wrong on that, Scott. If they wanted to find us, they would. Believe me. No place is safe from the Hand." It is not fear speaking, but experience. "They have other goals. Other desires. Those they are focused on. If you want to make us their number one focus, they will. But to what purpose?"

She recognizes his observation for what it is: a bid for information. But Betsy is not a sharer by default, so her question is a reversal. A bid for sharing in turn.
Cyclops has posed:
"You're being a bit more stealthy than usual." Scott informs of Betsy, not that he wasn't approving of a cat and mouse questioning/report situation, but as he stands up to his feet, she asks him if that's what matters. He frowns softly for a moment, looking Psylocke's way. "It was one of the points of the mission." Scott admits. "And to take Viper off of the board enough to make the Hand realize we can hit them."

She tells him that no place is safe from the Hand and Scott nods. "True." and that they have other desires, and they can't become the Hand's number one focus. Betsy wants information.

"I want to know how their resurrection works." Scott remarks to her softly. Yet, he doesn't tell her /why/.
Psylocke has posed:
"Am I?" Betsy sounds amused. Betsy /looks/ amused. "I did not realize there was levels to my steathiness, nor that you tracked them so closely." A little unlikely; she's very aware how closely Scott monitors the X-Men inside the base and mansion.

All of her teasing, warm amusement vanishes in an instantly when Scott admits what he wants.

"No." The voice is cold. It could be mistaken for Kwannon's. But it is not, surprisingly. This is Betsy. The single word though tells him /she/ knows.
Cyclops has posed:

Scott tells her regarding her stealth. "You always have things on your mind when you avoid my eyesight. Either you're concerned that I might slip and blast you, or you're trying to play a game. Most likely for information." Betsy is one of the X-Men who knows most about Scott's analytical habits. Though Betsy seems to turn dark and not-quite hostile when he reveals he wishes to learn how the Hand had discovered hte secret to resurrection.

"Tell me."

Scott tells her. "Tell me why you're afraid. Does it destroy the soul?"
Psylocke has posed:
"I am never concerned you will hurt me, Scott." Which might suggest her true intentions by eliminating one of his choices.

Betsy's head turns, just slightly. Checking the room: looking for shadows. Contemplating, for a moment, a way out. But her body stays stiff, still. There are many things she has never divulged about her time in the Hand, or about the memories and thoughts that belong to Kwannon. Nothing, certainly, that she has shared with Scott, or really anyone else. It is a scar on her soul that is worn and displayed, but one she does not willingly open.

But for Scott?

"Have a drink with me," Betsy says, quietly. "Have a drink, because we will both need it if I tell you. And then you will tell me why you are asking."

Her counter-offer is made, her violet gaze steadily returning to him.
Cyclops has posed:
Good, then she trusts him.

Say what you will about Cyclops's methods and intentions, but never has he ever intended to sacrifice his teammates. He desires their trust in him. They don't need to like him, he /does/ hope for their trust and their faith. He hasn't failed them yet.

God willing, he never will.

She looks for a way out. Her body stays stiff. It's a scar on her and it's something that Scott intends to break through to her. She has to let it go. She has to willingly open.


Scott approaches Psylocke, meeting her eyes, his hand reaching to rest on her shoulder. "Come on, I have some old vintage. Tell me what you feel comfortable with." Which is ironic, considering she doesn't feel comfortable AT ALL.
Psylocke has posed:
Interestingly, there is not tension felt when Scott touches Betsy's shoulder. Just a readiness, like a preparation for battle, alert. Wordlessly, she falls into step with Scott, letting him guide the way. Her slippers make no sound even on the gleaming floors of the base. She is a ghost beside him.

"Whatever you have that is strongest." It's a telling choice. Normally Betsy Braddock's tastes, understandably given her background, run to high-price, old liquors and wines. But not tonight. Tonight she asks for something strong, like she thinks she -- they -- will need it.
Cyclops has posed:
No tension? Strange. Betsy seems to tense up with contact when it's anyone but seemingly Warren, at least from what Scott's seen. Betsy is like a warrior. She's ready for the war to come calling, waiting for orders. A weapon by most people's standards. But Betsy was far more than that. She was a person. Intelligent, capable, and independent. Together, they founded X-Force. Under Scott's preference and order, Betsy leads the team against the X-Men's enemies. The ones who won't back down.

There are few people Scott would trust more.

His hand falls from her shoulder and he leads them towards what is essentially a sitting room. He gestures to the table. "Have a seat." He tells her as he approaches a cabinet, opening it to reveal a bottle of Bruichladdich Whisky. Strong firewater, well-aged in four separate casks.

"I think this will do it." He grabs two glasses and he approaches the table, pouring her a glass and sliding it over to her.

"Give that a try."
Psylocke has posed:
Betsy doesn't sit, not immediately. The room pulls her interest, looking around, examining the contents of the cabinet when he opens it. When she seats herself, it's with the grace and posture of a British-born aristocrat, so at odds with her appearance, her attire, and her location.

Few things are rarely as they appear, with Betsy Braddock.

The purple-haired ninja is silent has he pours her a glass, reaching out with perfectly manicured fingers to claim it, sipping slowly with the kind of considering savoring palate probably used to the most rarified drinks. This though, is about the strength of it. It burns, as it goes down, and Betsy nods her approval.

It warms her voice, too, when she finally speaks, "The Hand is not... simply a group of ninja. They worship and serve the demonic creature they call the Beast." Mostly, Betsy is not looking at Scott, but somewhere in the middle distance, as if pulling up old memories. She picks her words deliberately. "The elixir used to resurrect a person is, I have been told, made of the crushed bones of a dragon and the blood of humans -- unwilling, of course. They are combined, and then anointed on, and fed to, a dead body. As part of the process of the resurrection, they are bound to Beast," she turns the glass, looks at it, lifts it, "-and thus to the Hand." Then she drinks. Not slow and savoring, but like she's trying to brace herself.
Cyclops has posed:
Only after is he certain that Betsy is taken care of as his guest does Scott pour a glass for himself and sits down across from her, taking a slow sip of his drink. He turns to look at her even as she doesn't dare look at him right back. She's bracing herself. Waiting for the angry retort? Awaiting a darkness of Scott Summers to show it's face?

Yet, he hears of how the Hand achieves ressurection. They aren ot simply ninjas bent on world domination - they serve the Beast, a demonic entity that gifts it's followers ressurection by using a mixture of dragon bones and human blood. The resurrectee simply becomes a tool of the hand, binding them to the Beast and thus to the Hand as a whole.

"I see."

A slow gulp of whiskey as he shakes his head. "Then the Hand's methods will not be acceptable." He sighs softly, looking down at the table. "Tell me more." He asks her.
Psylocke has posed:
"You don't," Betsy says, sharply, when he says he sees. When he asks for more, her violet eyes lift to regard him. For a moment it seems like she won't speak, but finally, the words come. "Whether it is the process of the resurrection itself, or the binding with the Beast I cannot guess. But with absolute certainty, I can say that after the process, a person is irrevocably changed. The darkest parts of themselves become predominant. Kind, gentle souls become creatures of rage, of jealousy, all goodness stripped from them. The strongest thing they know is their devotion to the Beast."

"I have... seen..." she falters, here.

When has Betsy never not been completely composed, a master of what others see of her? Rare, indeed. She takes another sip, her eyes closed. And there's a change, subtle but present, in the way she speaks thereafter. /Us,/ and /we,/ like it's a present, current thing. Like she has to live the memory through that moment like it is now.

"There was a man was our enemy, whose body was brought back to join us after his untimely demise. Before, I knew him to be dedicated to his purpose of eradicating the Hand, determined, fearless, but never ruled by his emotions. After, I saw him cut down his own, young son -- his flesh and blood, his face full of fury. I saw him carve out his ten year old child's heart, roast it, and eat it, claiming the Beast assured him he would grow stronger from the destruction of his child's soul. We celebrated that our brother had joined us that night."

Betsy has always had a soft spot for children. It is no wonder she braces herself, no wonder she loses her composure, forced to recall the horrific detail of that memory, and that she did nothing to stop it; it's probably understandable, her want to immediately drown it in alcohol: which she does. She drains the rest of her glass, turning her face away to try and compose herself as the alcohol burns it way down her throat and into her gut.
Cyclops has posed:
Despite Betsy's sharp reply, Scott doesn't react. He keeps his talons to himself. He knows this is hard for her to talk about, that he's knocking down a lot of walls today. The way her voice dances between emotions and experiences them raw and unimpeded. He meets her eyes when they lift to him, his own guarded by red lenses.

The horrors she's witnessed.

A man once noble and honorable form low, brought back to slay his own son and...devouring his heart to gain strength. If only that were true. The Hand celebrated.


Scott looks at the table then and as Betsy tries to regain her composure, she may yet feel the warmth of Scott's hand on hers, a comforting touch if she allows. Yet he says nothing. He wishes to learn more. To hear of her past and her trauma.

She can let him help her bear that weight.
Psylocke has posed:
For a little while, Betsy is still. She doesn't try to move the hand he places over hers, but neither does she acknowledge it. Her voice, when it finally continues, is rough from the alcohol, or maybe the emotion, maybe both.

"The way I broke free of my conditioning was... unusual. My abilities, and Logan's abilities to withstand it... not really a thing to be replicated for most. I had heard rumors that there were some who managed to overcome the conditioning of the resurrection process, though. But even then, they are... forever altered. Broken, dark and twisted versions of who they were. They are not /them/ any longer."

Now, Betsy shifts her hand free of that attempted comfort. That or she really, just really needs a refill. It's possible that's just an excuse, however, as she splashes more of the liquid into her glass.

Betsy doesn't look at him again yet. Not even after she's done drinking down another half of the glass.

Her voice is soft: "Tell me why you wanted to know, Scott."
Cyclops has posed:
The exception, not the rule.

"You we're lucky." Scott tells her. "That you didn't lose yourself. But you're two in one now...but scars always remain. That people can escape it at all gives me hope for anyone under the Hand's thumb." Yet, when she shifts away from him, his hand returns to his glass to bring it to his lips to sup it carefully. He doesn't look at her either, merely...merely begins to explain.

"There's so few of us in the world...and still they hung us. I want to give mutantkind a miracle. A way to defeat death without sacrificing the soul. I have...a few methods, but now that I know the Hand is far more cruel than expected...I can't trust their process. I want to give mutantkind a gift...but...that is a far ways away."
Psylocke has posed:
The twitch of Betsy's mouth speaks to a faint amusement as he says she was lucky. "I did lose myself, Scott. I am not the same person I was before. I know you perceive that I am... I know Warren does. But I am not." A pause. "Such a situation, I would, even with my experiences, suggest never to hope. I fully recognize that I am not wholly free of their clutches. Kwannon believes, and I agree, that they choose to wait for me to die. That they will take my body and resurrect me and bring me back into the Hand, when the time is right."

A beat, as her weighted, violet gaze watches him drink. "...I think I would like to ask of you a promise that you will never allow that to happen.. That you will destroy my body rather than let the Hand reclaim it, should I die."

His answer -- why he wanted to know -- appears to take Betsy aback. Certainly, she seems to need a moment to consider what he's saying, what he's suggesting.

"Scott... death is a part of life. And I say that, knowing it for the irony it is, since I was brought back to life. I am not a magician, and I do not have the knowledge my brother does. But I know this to be true: any such trade has a cost. A cost to you, or to the one you bring back. Rarely is that cost worth the price."
Cyclops has posed:
"No, you're not."

Cyclops admits it, Psylocke isn't the same flirtatious former-model who was on the team, the same one who they all had amazing days and witty battles with. She's different. She's a trained assassin now, a far better telepath and telekinetic than she ever was, and shown a different, darker perspective that's helped her become a full, whole person, even if Kwannon often has her own things to say about it. "In a way, it's helped you realize that you're...different. And if the Hand ever tried to take you away, I'd turn you to ash and let a strong wind take you away by ocean breeze and place a marker there, so nobody forgets Betsy Braddock...or Kwannon, for that matter."

Scott smiles softly at her. Though she tells him taht death is a part of life. "I know...it's just.." He looks away for a moment, then back. "There's so few of us left now. And still they all hunt us." He takes a long swig of his drink, downing it all in one go. "Sometimes I just want a way to deny them that satisfaction."
Psylocke has posed:
"I don't need to be remembered. There was a time I felt differently about that, but not any more." Another part of the former model that no longer exists -- or exists in a wholly changed way. It's Scott's declaration that he would turn her to ash that, most of all, gets Betsy's steady, grateful graze.

"Thank you, Scott."

Violet eyes remain steady as he explains. As he downs his drink in the same way she did hers, not minutes before. When she faced a dark memory of the past, while Scott? Faces the dark potential of the future. She understands the want; that's self-evident in the supportive warmth of her gaze, in the way her hand reaches out for fingers to close over his where they clasp the now empty glass.

"I get it. But there needs to be lines. And you, most of all, need to be setting them for the rest of us."
Cyclops has posed:
"You'll be remembered by me."

Scott reaches for the bottle to pour himself another glass. Is he going to get *incredibly* drunk tonight? Oh, most *certainly*. With Bets? Probably. Though she thanks him for being willing to completely destroy her corpse should she ever be killed or die of age and Scott nods softly to her. "Of course, Betsy."

He really does care about her.

Perhaps that's what allows him to release his glass and just...hold her hand for a moment, letting his fingers curl around her own as they share a moment together, his eyes closing as he takes a deep breath. "That's why I have you - to keep me sane and make sure I don't do anything too stupid. Sometimes I lose sight of things. Thank you, Betsy, for keeping me on the straight and narrow."


"For the most part."
Psylocke has posed:
Betsy's smile is knowing. She already knows that, that he'll remember her.

Those violet eyes watch him, still, watches the choice he makes to reach for the bottle, to refill his glass. Hers, she nudges closer to invite him to top up her own, as well.

Betsy is silent during that contact. She doesn't break the spell of the pause Scott takes to simply exist in the moment. Her smile, whenever he finally opens his eyes, is easy, warm. When it passes, she takes her hand back, not letting it linger.

"When /I/ am your advisor, something is messed up." Her laugh is brief, though not feigned. "Hank is still around, yes? I haven't caught up with him since I got back. I thought he'd be the one keeping you on your toes. Or watching them, anyway."
Cyclops has posed:
The liquid is placed into his glass, filling it practically to hte brim and Scott moves the bottle to pour into /her/ glass as well, filling it to much the same volume. Then he sets the bottle down and for a moment, he just exists there with Psylocke. Hands are held, a moment of peace washes over him, and he seems to release her hand quite easily when she starts to draw away and as soon as she does so, he takes a long sip of his drink, draining about half of it.

But he turns his eyes to look at her. "Hank tries to, but he's often playing politics or staying in the laboratory. Hard to talk to him when he's in the lab, too focused on too many things all at once. Kind of like me. Impossible to talk to when you really think about it." "But I don't mind you being my advisor. One of the few people I can trust with anything." Others being Jean, Hank, Piotr, and Kurt in that order. He loves Alex, but he's kind of a wild card.

"But...no more talk of my mistakes. Consider the plan in the bin."
Psylocke has posed:
"Politics." Betsy says it with a measure of understanding and thankfulness that it is a role Hank is willing to play. While it could be said Betsy's upbringing and her particular skills would make her uniquely suited for such a role, it's apparent these days she much prefers to live in the shadows. "It feels like that's all Charles does these days."

There are a million things Charles Xavier could choose to focus on. It makes sense that he's looking at the bigger picture, the future of mutantkind. But sometimes -- maybe quiet moments like this -- Betsy does miss the ability to freely share her thoughts, literally, with another telepath she trusts without reservation.

"Good." There's a finality, a relief in her tone at his confirmation he's giving the plan up. Defying death is a temptation for anyone, and Betsy? She is sure that, if it came down to a choice with Jean, that would be a line Scott would cross. Everyone has their weaknesses. Even them.

She leans back, and downs the entirety of the glass, violet eyes bright. It's strong enough to make her eyes water, but there's no hesitation. It's this or a night of dreaming of the Hand, and she knew what she was in for when she insisted this was the price.
Cyclops has posed:

Scott confirms and he looks at the ground, chuckling and shaking his head. "Feel like that's all anyone does nowadays. Makes me miss the original days when the school was barely off the ground and all we had to deal with was Magneto being a terrorist." Magneto still kind of *is* a terrorist. "But no point in 'once upon a time' unless you're trying to teach a lesson." He shrugs a little bit. "But...Charles is looking at the bigger picture, playing the long game. He's a better planner than I am."

He admits softly, shaking his head a moment. If it came down to Jean? Scott would burn the entire world to the ground. But this isn't about Jean.

In the moment, this is about all of them...and how to save their lives to the best of his ability.

He downs the rest of his glass just as she does, swallowing the liquid and he lets out a slow exhale of satisfaction wit hthe drink. "How are you and Warren doing?" Get the thoughts of his foolish plan out of the way. Preferably forever.
Psylocke has posed:
Betsy makes a faint noise at the mention of Magneto. "He's busy. Running around Madripoor and Cairo. Or more accurately, someone -- not me -- appears to have it in for him." She probably doesn't have to put in that disclaimer. She hasn't always seen Magneto's actions as excessive or necessary. "Charles is where he needs to be. I just miss having him here, now and then," Betsy admits, quietly.

Then Scott turns the question onto her... and Warren. They haven't been together in years now; Betsy broke up with Warren long before she left, in a move that probably confused many given the apparent, and possibly enduring, affection between them. Still, she answers with apparent ease: "Warren is good. He... he's learning to work with Sinister," a name Betsy voices with care given who she's talking to. "But there is no Warren and I."
Cyclops has posed:
"I spotted him in Cairo. Jean and I went on a reconnaissance mission to investigate what he's doing. Sabretooth was with him, yet they somehow managed not to get up to violence. I've assigned X-Men to watch Magneto's actions since I was needed elsewhere." Case in point, the recent X-Force operation. Though he seems to nod in agreement with Betsy on the matter of Charles.

"He's always where he needs to be."

But then he frowns softly as she admits that there's no Warren and Betsy at this current moment. "I'm sorry to hear that. I apologize for assuming. You two've always seemed close."

He turns his eyes away from her for a moment, before he clears his throat. "Betsy-" He pauses again, to choose his words. "You know I don't like or trust Sinister. But I'm not going to tear your head off if you work with him. I am uncomfortable with how many of our members seem to be working with him, but you've all made a choice and I'm working with it."
Psylocke has posed:
Little wonder Betsy's expression and manner goes tense at the mention of Sabretooth. He did, after all, take her life. "I'm glad I did not go, then," is all she says, fingers tightening around the glass, empty again.

"Like many things in our life, it's complicated." Betsy smiles, as if to reassure that the apology isn't necessary. "You know why I'm doing what I'm doing. I don't have room for that kind of relationship. He and I... it was all consuming, in the best way. But I need my focus to be on the vision and what it portends."

The telepath falls silent when Scott looks away from her, her gaze on him steady and patient until he finds the words. "I know. And I'm grateful for that trust. But I'm also not unaware it's complicated. All I ask is that you stay honest with me, if you change your mind -- or even if you don't walk to talk about it."

If Sabretooth was the only uncomfortable part of this conversation, likely the violet-haired woman would merely bare it. Followed so closely by talk of her and Warren, and then Sinister -- trust in general -- it might well be no surprise that she rises to her feet. Difficult subjects to navigate, doubly so after all that strong alcohol. She is utterly steady despite the amount of alcohol she's consumed. She has no special powers to process it, so it's not that it's not affecting her -- she's just hiding it well, aside from the slight sway as she stands.

"I should go," is all Betsy says. "Good night, Scott."