|Summary||Richard and Vega actually meet for real.|
| The front entrance to X-Factor Solutions has been kept meticulously clean, with neat white walls and a floor that's polished regularly by a tiny robotic housekeeper (when it's not broken down). Despite that, the place looks run down. A crack runs from one corner of the ceiling nearly to the center light fixture, and several of the floor tiles have chipped corners. A pair of red vinyl wing chairs sit to one side just in front of a pair of doors that lead to a small gym and a conference room. The receptionist's desk, which is more often unmanned than not, is a tall, black thing with scuff marks suggesting it was bought used. Even the old-fashioned bell resting atop it with a 'ring for service' sign is dented, and the door behind that opens into the staff lounge hangs a little crooked on its hinge.
This is a building that's seen more than a few long years; the only new thing about it is the hand-painted sign across the storefront's glass, declaring in neat black lettering, 'X-FACTOR SOLUTIONS', and below that, 'Mutants for hire.'|
| It is a winter night. The weather is cold and overcast.|
The little robotic housekeeper, who is so often trying to escape out the front door, is not polishing the floor late Thursday afternoon. Instead it is sitting belly up on the receptionist desk with its casing base removed and its innards exposed like some dire beetle - except for that fact that it lacks frantically kicking legs - with a large pink bird staring down at it. Her pink hair freely falling down her shoulders, Vega stares down into its metallic innards and gently adjusts something with a screwdriver. A dust cloth sits next to her, liberally coated, along with a tablet which appears to have contained her actual attempt to work before she got distracted.
Richard has a tendency to look windswept whether it's windy out or not, and today is no exception; his dark curls are a bit of a mess as he makes his way inside, hand already loosening at the scarf around his neck. He seems ready to move right past the receptionist desk -- it's not usually manned anyways -- when he has to stop and pause. "Hey..." he starts to say, his voice a bit wary about this person who has apparently kidnapped their robovacuum. Then "/Hey/" as something approaching shocked recognition begins to hit him.
If it weren't for the cotton candy hair, she'd be easy to miss. Her slender shoulders are bowed, the thick knit of a dark sweater covering her except where it has been rolled up to the elbows. Vega doesn't immediately look up, her focus and fingertips on the tiny robot in front of her. "Hey yourself?" She replies distractedly. It's the second /Hey/ that captures her attention, causing her to look up with a blink. Brows lifting she says, "Hey Speedy."
"Hey, Jumper," Richard says before he can stop himself. "Wow. I didn't know you--" Existed in Mutant Town? Who knows. He kind of runs out of words for a second.
"I...?" Vega prompts with a lift of a her brows and a slight smile. Go On? Her smile curves crookedly before she asks in turn. "Are you here on a job or part of Wallace's crew?"
"The jobs don't /usually/ occur inside the office," Richard says with a faint smile as he slowly relaxes. "But I guess you could -- say that. That I'm part of -- ah. Jeremy's 'crew.'"
"I was honestly thinking more of the noir sort," Vega admits wryly, tucking a strand of hair back behind her ear. "You're here to see the man about a man who done you wrong." She...doesn't even try to do the breathy voice. Probably for the best. "Cool. I guess I could say that about myself now as well." It's still a little odd.
"Oh. I mean, Jeremy might get a kick out of me trying." Richard looks briefly thoughtful. Maybe he will try that. "Huh," he says, considering Vega a little more closely. Somewhat ruefully, he says, "I guess we're not going to get around knowing each other's names now, huh."
"Make sure you wear a trench coat. I understand that's /essential/," Vega quips, dark eyes bright with mirth that just barely touches her smile. Do it and do it well. Setting down her screwdriver, she nudges a bolt over with her fingertip as she watches him. The edges of her mouth twisting a little, rueful and a little regretful. "Probably not. My situation's changed enough that.. it doesn't matter as much anymore." A bright smile flickers over her lips, replacing her darkened expression. "Unless you /really/ want to keep the mystery going." That will get spoiled for them eventually though.
For some entirely unknown reason, Richard's face flushes the tiniest bit. WHO KNOWS WHY. It eases once they move on from talk of film noir. "I feel like we'd start having to really working at it," he says. "Keeping the mystery going. It'd be a lot of effort, really."
Lifting her brows, a hint of laughter hides in the corners of Vega's mouth as Richard flushes a little. Cute. "Are we that committed to it?" She questions, lifting her hand like the tipping of a scale. "You're probably not escaping the nickname regardless."
"I don't think I am," Richard admits, his voice mild with apology. "It'd involve trying to wrangle too many other people not to spill. But I don't mind if you call me Speedy. It's not the only nickname I've got following me around."
"It would also sound ridiculous if we were ever on a job together," Vega says practically, waving away the mild apology. "That's good." She was probably going to anyways. "Any good ones in that batch?" She wonders, flashing him a brief smile. After a moment she stands, wiping her hands on the cloth before offering him one. "Vega Zhang."
"Nothing too exciting," he demurs, before reaching out to clasp her hand firmly. "Richard Rider. Nice to, uh. Meet you. Officially."
"Too bad." Richard's firm clasp is met with one in kind, Vega's slim hands stronger than might be initially assumed. Her smile is broad and genuine though. "Definitely." Real names and everything. "So have you been with this whole thing..." X-Factor. "Long?"
"A -- couple months, I guess," Richard says vaguely as he tries to recall. "Not from the get-go. Took me a while to come around to it."
Tipping her head, Vega nods. "I wasn't under the impression the organization had been around for terribly long."
"No," Richard says, tipping his head. "That part's true." His gaze drops again to the poor exposed roomba. "So are you -- fixing it?" he wonders hesitantly.
Following his gaze downward to the little robot, Vega lifts her brows a little at that hesitance before nodding. "Yeah. I couldn't listen to him seizing up anymore, so I figured I'd clean him up." Her fingertips settle on the little robot, gaze narrowing at a bit of his interior. "He's just about done. Just need to put the paneling on and he'll be better than new."
"I didn't even notice it was broken," Richard said, frowning a touch guiltily, like he is somehow responsible for the robot's health. "That's, uh -- cool you can just open it up and fix it up, though. I wouldn't know where to start."
"You probably wouldn't have?" Vega says, setting her dark gaze on him. "Unless you do more than fly?" She smiles gently and shakes her head. "He was breaking, but wasn't broken yet... So it would have been a week or two till anyone noticed anything." But she can't help herself or wait. "I'm tempted to go at the crooked door next, but it's kind of... character giving-ish." Crooked doors and all. "I'm trying not to be a menace though
"I fly fast?" Richard offers. (It is a skill unrelated to engineering.) "How did you notice before it happened? Is that your--" Thing? Thing.
"I am going to believe that one when I see it," Vega teases. She's seen it a little, but it was dark. "Kinda. Broken stuff is like a discordant note playing, it pulls my attention. Technology is my thing. Technopathy if we're being really specific." She struggles a little to put it into words, gaze dipping down to to robot shyly.
"What, me flying fast? Did I never make a speedy enough exit after one of our rooftop visits?" Richard muses. "It's not much to look at, I hear. Because it's mostly me not being there." MAN HE'S HILARIOUS. His interest is quickly caught as she describes her mutation. "That's fascinating," he murmurs. "I knew--" he starts to say, and then he stops. Something slowly shutters in his expression. "I knew a technopath once. He was -- fairly limited. But. He'd've loved talking to you." He forces a smile, but there's a clear pain behind it.
"I recall it being vaguely pigeon-ish," Vega recalls in turn, tapping her chin with a finger as she watches him from beneath her brows. And then he isn't there. ZOOM. "I don't think I saw much of you flying away. It was mostly at night." It's dark at night. Her fingers strum a scale along the table, lashes low as she looks down at her components. They linger as she looks up at him through them, shadows falling against her cheeks. "Yeah? I imagine we would have had a fair bit in common then in regards to limitations." A shoulder lifts in a shrug, features softening at the sight of his pain. "Sorry."
"I go very fast. It is definitely nothing like a /pigeon/." How could you say that, Vega. How could you. Richard shakes his head, smile still forced, in quiet dismissal of her apology. "Is that -- how you made your boots?" he wonders.
Clearly Vega doesn't mean it by the grin she flashes him, a soft bark of laughter escaping her. She's a bit of a shit. "Alright, some other bird. Dove?" She doesn't continue on that avenue of conversation at Richard's shake of his head. "Ah... no. I told you, the boots are Payless," she says, moving to step out from behind the desk. She is still wearing the same combat boots he's ever seen her in. "I built something a bit bigger..." Reaching down, she tugs at the edge of her pant leg until it reveals the clean metal of her prosthesis with its futuristic lines and angles.
"You're killing me, Jumps," Richard sighs. His gaze drops as she tugs her pant leg up, and then his brows arch. "Well look at that," he says, and then the facts of what he's seeing hits him. He looks back at her eyes. "Your legs--" he starts to say.
Grin lingering, Vega shakes her head at his sigh. "I could probably go on..." She won't though. Instead, she pulls up the leg of her pant without a hint of the awkwardness that coloured her mutational admissions. The roll of fabric sharply contrasted against the metal which hints of biological curves before sliding into the leather of her boot. Glancing up at him, her mouth quirks wryly as she says softly, almost coaxingly, "Yeah. Not so much." It's fine.
"You've certainly managed," Richard murmurs, gaze dropping again as he examines the curved lines of them for another several moments before he seems to get self-conscious about spending this long scoping out a woman's legs. "Ah -- sorry."
There is nothing particularly gendered to them which might make it easy for Richard to forget. Shaking her head, Vega says mildly, "Nothing to apologize for. It's not a usual sight." Bending down, she rolls down her pant leg and tucks it back in her boot.
"No, it's not," Richard agrees. He smiles faintly at her. "It's rude to stare, though. They're pretty remarkable."
"They get the job done," Vega agrees with a little fondness, patting her mid thigh. "And just a little more."
"I'd say considerably more than the average pair of legs," Richard says with a snort. "How long did it take you to build them?"
"Just a bit," Vega admits sounding a little shy and a little proud all at once. "Terrible on metal detectors though. I did a lot of setting off the station." Considering his question, she tips her head. "This current generation had about four or five months of build work on top of the previous builds. I'm constantly tinkering though."
That catches his attention: Richard's gaze flits and fixes on her face, expression curious. "The station?" he echoes, as if looking for confirmation.
"Ah." A small sigh escapes Vega at her slip; her dismissal from the force isn't so far in the past that it doesn't catch her at times. "Police station," she clarifies. "Not really a problem any longer."
"Ah," Richard says in quiet, unconscious echo. "Right. I get that." There's a moment where an expression of frustration crosses his face before he glances away. "I was in the same place, once upon a time. And now -- did you work with Kaylee? Thompson?"
"Yeah?" Dark eyes fixing on Richard, Vega looks at him for a moment like he is a puzzle she is trying to sort. "What year? I don't think we ever crossed paths... if you were NYPD." He could have been anything, after all. At the mention of Kaylee's name, her mouth twists with a wry kind of humor. "Yeah. I did. Before she was fired and after for a bit there, but neither for long."
"Uh," Richard says, smile a little wry and helpless. He tips his head, considering, and then he says, "2010."
Vega blinks. Then she repeats, "2010?" As if repeating the date is going to clarify what he said. "Did you win the genetic lottery on aging?" He doesn't look that old.
"It's -- a long story," Richard says, scrubbing a hand through his hair. "I was ESU. Whatever the story, I got kicked out for my genetic status. So."
"Maybe sometime you'll share it over a beer," Vega offers with a slight tip of her head. Maybe. A low whistle is blown out over his former position. "Know a few of those. Didn't even find a place there myself." Her shoulders slant in a half shrug. "Mutational status wasn't quite what got me canned, but it is a killer."
"Well. Good reflexes," Richie says in mildly modest demurral of her whistle. His smile twists a little sad. "Yeah. Listen, I've gotta run -- I've actually got stuff I have to do while I'm here -- but it was -- good to see you. And meet you, I guess."
"Likewise," Vega says, settling her hand down on the receptionist table. She glances back at the little robot and smiles. "I've got some stuff to finish up as well. I'll... see you around or above, I guess."
"I guess so." Richard smiles again, this one quiet in its farewell. "See you around, Jumper," he says, humor light on the words, before he moves to continue his way into the offices."Later, Speedy." Lifting in a hand in goodbye, Vega drops back into the receptionist chair with a thunk. She'll be done her work and out the door before he finishes up.