Title: Friend or Foe, Predator or Prey
Saint - February 19, 2012 11:09 PM (GMT)
There were things that Cross was simply not suited for. Years ago, maybe he could have done things that today made him cringe and filled him with a deep-boned regret, but right here, right now, he just couldn't. In the past, this would have been a lot easier. He could have simply told Jeanne that spending time with Erik Lensherr was not a very wise decision, in a lot less words and with a lot less tact, but it was the bluntness of the younger Cross that might have made this easier.
Instead, Cross had to request that Jeanne come to his office one afternoon for a meeting, which undoubtably would be filled with politeness and carefully chosen words and statements that were assembled piece by piece for maximum political correctness. He had half of his argument constructed already, but there was still a tentative part of him that was a little bit against this entire conversation. That part wasn't even rebelling against the ensuing discomfort. It was against something bigger, something even more concerning.
Cross had not made up his mind about Erik. He wasn't judgemental by nature, and by religion he was not one to throw stones. He did not assume things about people from gossip or from other ways of acquiring knowledge, but that did not mean that Cross was not aware of what was said. It was like forgiving someone who had wronged you. You can forgive them, and wipe the slate clean, but you would always remember what had happened and be reminded that it could happen again.
Magneto's slate had been wiped clean by a hand of unknown power, but there was hints of the man he had once been still lying under the surface, pieces of a personality Cross could attribute to the once Master of Magnetism that caused so much harm.
But, Erik wasn't Magneto.
He was a man, filled with human flaws that lurked beneath the surface of mutations and stole beneath the overarching arrogance. He was a man who had been thrust into a strange time where other people were trying to force him to wear a mask that was not his own. Not yet, at least, but Cross couldn't rightfully say that Erik would become Magneto once again, that he would turn his powers and his arrogance into something terrible.
He was just a man, and he deserved to be treated fairly.
But, you could not forget the past.
Cross could do his best to tolerate the hate and anger from Erik Lensherr, but he could not allow the students, the mutants that were under the protection of the X-Men to become close to the other man.
Cross would respect the man who for all intents and purposes looked, sounded, and acted like a snake, and let him live in peace, but he would not let the students get close to the predator. There was never telling when the charm of the Institute and distractions of a past forgotten would wear off and the snake would decide to sink it's fangs into friend or foe.
So, here Cross waited, sitting at his desk in his office, watching the time tick by, anxiously expecting Jeanne's arrival with a split heart. His duty, first and foremost, was to protect others, even if it was from their friends.
Finesse - February 22, 2012 01:01 AM (GMT)
Jeanne Foucault did not like mysteries.
For her, they were not interesting puzzles to be solved, nor ways to exercise her admittedly brilliant intellect. They were simply holes, gaps in her knowledge and that, in so far as she acknowledged any such concept, was an unforgivable sin. For a young mutant who essentially viewed information and the acquisition of ever more of that precious commodity as her one guiding star, how could it ever be any other way? Therefore, whereas some others might quite enjoy a little mystery or might even argue that the world was a more fascinating place with a touch of the unknown to it, she refused to agree. A mystery was there to be ended, as quickly and expeditiously as possible so that she could add the relevant knowledge to her store.
Perhaps, if one was to argue the correct angle, Finesse might admit that a mystery implied there was knowledge to be had, and that was a positive thing. But she would certainly indicate that she would prefer the knowledge. While she had the patience to accept delayed gratification, it was also true that she would rather have it now. Even for an emotionally stunted polymath, there was the inexorable awareness that, if she could have something immediately, then that was more desirable than having it the next day if possible at no greater cost to herself. The skill, as ever, lay in balancing the competing demands of the cost, the reward and the timeframe.
In this particular instance, patience was a virtue that she had been inclined to employ. The X-Man known as Saint, Aiden Cross (who preferred to be called Cross), had told her to come to his office the next day. There had been no reason given, only the instruction to be there at a given time. Most students, perhaps, would have been content with waiting to find out why or would have employed their time in coming up with ever more elaborate conspiracy theories to explain it. Jeanne had contemplated the obvious candidates and rejected those, before effectively moving on to more profitable avenues of thought. She couldn’t predict what he wanted to discuss and had no intention of wasting her time on it in the meantime.
Instead, she simply did him the courtesy of arriving on time at his office, those deceptively innocent big blue eyes of hers immediately focusing on the teacher sat behind his desk through the open door. It was easy to forget how cold blooded Finesse was based on her almost elfin features and her slim figure, and the simple t-shirt, jacket and jeans she wore did not make her look especially formidable. But then who in this school was exactly what they seemed? And, however physically tough or otherwise she might be, the most dangerous weapon Jeanne Foucault possessed hid behind those innocent eyes of hers – the razor sharp blade of her mind.
Knowing that he had seen her arrive, she saw no reason to knock but did so anyway, waiting for an acknowledgement before she stepped inside the room and approached the desk. Her expression was respectful, showing what Jeanne believed to be deferential curiosity, as was appropriate for a student summoned by a teacher for unknown reasons. Especially this teacher. After Ms Braddock’s departure, she had gone to request combat training from him and he had turned her down, politely of course, but it still leant a particular edge to the proceedings. Some might have thought he wished to reconsider. Jeanne did not.
”You wished to see me, Cross?” She asked politely, every inch the perfect student.
Saint - March 1, 2012 02:51 AM (GMT)
There was a need for some sort of mystery in Cross' request. Even though he could have simply told the mutant "I need to talk to you about [insert topic here]" or something along those lines, Cross had been concerned about potential questions that in and of itself might raise. Not that telling Jeanne to meet him in his office at a set time didn't bring up questions - it just said that there was a door there that would be opened in time instead of Cross opening it himself and allowing Jeanne the option of having this unfortunate conversation in public rather than private.
Privacy was one thing Cross would not allow to be compromised. It was something that was essentially a part of his personality, and in this particular scenario, it was the protection that allowed the X-Men to save face in front of the younger students whose ideas of who Erik Lensherr was were not carved into stone. Maybe it was because Cross had only been at the Institute for six years, with the X-Men for five. His ideas of the atrocities that Magneto had committed and those that he could commit were unchangeable, but with this concept of a "new" Magneto, the Master of Magnetism moved as close to human as he would probably ever accept, was something that gave Cross the potential for hope.
And with that tiny ember of hope and a bit of faith, Cross would be one of the few who thought that Erik Lensherr could change.
He sighed into the empty room, a gesture of doubt that only God could hear, and looked at a blank space on his wall for a little while. Soon enough, Finesse arrived and broke the controversial nature of Cross' thoughts to bring him back to the present. "Good afternoon, Jeanne. Please sit down." He said courteously, gesturing at the chairs opposing his desk before straigtening up in his own and watching the new mutant carefully. Finesse wasn't one to care about formalities other than the fact that they were a social norm, or at least that was Cross' opinion, so the X-Man continued speaking without worry of offending the girl. "I understand that you've been spending a substantial amount of time with Mr. Lensherr lately."
It was a statement, without any hint of judgement hidden in the words. No, that was saved for Cross' next words, which began a lot more tentatively than the man would have liked but quickly changed into confidence. "It is the opinion of the X-Men that, though interactions with Mr. Lensherr are not discouraged, we would be neglecting the duties to protect the charges of the Xavier Institute by allowing extended contact with Mr. Lensherr." Cross paused, mentally pushing away the overarching sense of guilt and continuing onwards with his responsibility. "Events of the past and his current attitude seem to indicate to the X-Men that there is a possibility of the man relapsing, if you will, to his former tendencies." Cross left the words "back into Magneto" unsaid, as they were fairly obvious. "Until a decision is made by the X-Men - and Professor Xavier, of course - it is suggested that you avoid intimate interactions with Mr. Lensherr."
Finesse - March 2, 2012 09:27 PM (GMT)
Jeanne waited briefly for the invitation, phrased as politely as she would have expected from the man who wished to be called only Cross, and then settled herself into one of the chairs. She sat with her back straight, her shoulders squared, hands resting neatly in her lap, making no particular attempt to disguise that her gaze was settled squarely on him and only him. It had roved briefly over his office, committing the details to her memory, but the main point of interest within it remained him and his reactions. It gave nothing away, as she politely and silently waited for him to get to the point of whatever he had called her here for.
He was watching her too, but there was barely a pause as she took her seat before he resumed speaking. And the topic of the conversation was not any of those that she had considered and nor was it one that she particularly wanted to discuss. But, as he stated rather than asked that she had been spending a ‘substantial’ amount of time with Mister Lehnsherr lately, Jeanne realised that she had apparently no choice in the matter. There did not appear to be any hint of actual opinion in the words, interestingly, although she suspected that there was only one direction the conversation could take. There wouldn’t be any need for a formal chat if he approved.
Her suspicions were confirmed as he went on, cautiously at first but gaining certainty as he spoke, explaining that it was the ‘opinion of the X-Men’ that… and then so on. Jeanne let the words sink in, quickly and efficiently sifting through them to the actual meaning underneath as she listened. While Cross was wasting their time on meaningless chatter, it was fairly clear what his point was. He, and apparently the rest of the teaching staff as well, felt that she was spending too much time with him. They also felt that it needed to stop. That was the point. And Jeanne would have been equally nonchalant had he just said so.
She let him finish. There was some suggestion that this was because they were worried about him relapsing, a logical argument… if she ignored the evidence that they were allowing him to remain in the school, filled with actually defenceless pupils. No, that was not the reason. That was also ignoring the particular inconsistencies in the speech, between not discouraging contact and not allowing extended contact. She remained unimpressed, her expression blank and uninformative as usual when she wanted to be enigmatic. Jeanne even let the silence settle for a moment as she considered her answer thoughtfully.
”Then,” She said, with a sudden, pleasant smile on her face, ”Thank you for the suggestion. I will be sure to bear it in mind.” Jeanne would indeed consider it, although given that it was phrased as a suggestion, she would feel free to ignore it. It seemed the easiest and simplest way to escape the situation as efficiently as possible.
Saint - March 10, 2012 04:38 PM (GMT)
Oh, God help him. If Cross had been meant to be a teacher or an advisor or whatever particular role he was filling at this current moment, surely that would have been his calling at the start, instead of something else. He did not particularly enjoy these conversations with the students, especially Finesse, whose tendencies to merely react to a situation in what could be construed as moderately human way were extremely depressed.
So it was with hesitation Cross spoke and with hesitation he acted, but after all that, he had been expecting more than a curt "I'll keep that in mind" from the mutant. Surely, Finesse had opinions on the subject, but apparently she did not see it fit to share with Cross. As much as that worried Cross - which it definitely did, digging down to his core and reminding him that Finesse's words did not guarantee anything, but instead aptly avoided the issue with a simple acknowledgement of words - he was glad to finish so quickly. This was a conversation that Cross had not been looking forward to having, and thankfully, it was about to be over and done with.
Cross eyed Jeanne for a moment, with a look that hinted on questioning before settling into a neutral gaze. "That was all, Jeanne." That was all Cross had needed to say, but it was certainly not the end of the issue. There were no doubts in his mind that this concern would rise once again, that Jeanne was not likely going to pay any heed to his words. And Cross did not look forward to that day.