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2046-12-08 To XFS Mailbox: PLEASE READ

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To the XFS General Mailbox:

Heads up, you all.

Some feds showed up at Open Hands tonight, and they left some of their people here on guard duty. I don't think it's related to our recent portal-based adventures, but it might be just as bad. Most of you all probably remember Echo. Those who don't, she's an insane psionic who uses water to control people's minds. She was taken into custody after the last time we tangled with her, but apparently she's broken out. Or was broken out. I'm not exactly clear at the moment/.

Ainsworth did some memory-reading tricks. He said the feds think Echo was taken by the same folks who nabbed Will Hunt and that barista, Misty, from Oddball a few days back. No idea who that might be, or why they were taken.

No more details, but I'll keep my eyes open and update if we learn anything more.

- Kade Caruthers


2046-12-08 To Ciel

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Hey.

Wanted to get this to you before I sent out the blast to X-Factor. Echo's out. Some feds turned up at Open Hands tonight sniffing around about it. Ainsworth did enough memory-sifting to confirm it wasn't bullshit. Thinks it's connected to those people who disappeared from Oddball a few days back. This might be bad. I'm going to hang at Open Hands for awhile tonight.

Might want to touch base with Christian. I don't know how up he is on all this, or what happened with Echo before.

See you soon.

I love you.

- Kade


To Jacque Hart

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Hey,

We don't know each other well, but I knew Mikhail Leshin. Or I think I did. I wish I'd had time to know him better.

Luka Zdravkovic contacted Vega Zhang recently, and she showed me his letter. This isn't about him. I know he's trying to manipulate her, assuage his own conscience. None of us have any intention of contacting him.

But he mentioned in his letter that there are digitized files of his notes on Mikhail, and Mikhail's notes on his own abilities. We were wondering if there was anything there that might give us a lead on contacting Mikhail's people. His family, back in Russia. Or to let us know if he would've even wanted us to. His last days were so troubled, I'm not sure what he would've wanted. But if there's anything there that could tell us how to do right by him, I'd like you to look for it.

I'd understand if you just don't want to get involved in this, but I'd be grateful if you looked. I'd offer to do it myself, but I don't know that I've any right to. I just feel like I owe it to Mikhail to at least ask.

Thank you,

Kade Caruthers


2046-09-19 TO: Jeremy

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Yo J,

Good idea. I can commit a few hours on the weekends to hand-to-hand and firearms. It'll be sweet to have this going on the regular. I'll try to drop in on stuff other folks are running, to work out my rust.

- Kade


OOC: Playlist Meme

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Yay I get to talk about my stupid playlist.


  • How do you build a playlist? What's your process?

I usually have music on when I RP. It started as kind of a timing mechanism back in my college days, with my Napster/Winamp library of music files (I am old). I used to take a long-ass time to pose, so I forced myself to write SOMETHING before a song ended. That grew into putting on vaguely appropriate 'mood' music for a scene, and char playlists dove-tailed well into that.

I build pretty randomly, starting with stupidly obvious songs (Ring of Fire was the base of Kade's) and just adding things over time that seem appropriate and sometimes taking stuff off I don't want anymore for random reasons. It's one of those silly RP things I have a stupid amount of fun tinkering with.


  • Is your playlist in an order? What is it?

Kade's is more coherent than most of mine, in that I've actually tried to structure it in an order of sorts. It goes sort-of chronological order with random shippy stuff in the middle:

Young California Kade ---> X-Force Kade ---> Post-XF Collapse Depressive Kade ---> Sierra/Kade ---> Ciel/Kade ---> Nina (who needs more songs) ---> Present XFS Kade/Mutant Town

I'd probably need a separate 'shipper list, but Ciel Player made one that I <3, so I just use it and just include a few tracks.

I also try to cull the songs that are purely fire puns into their own playlist that I'm vaguely ashamed of, but am linking here anyway: https://open.spotify.com/user/smreyno/playlist/5RhGMTs9DrGu7x6FlmaiOR


  • If you had to pick one song to best represent your character, what would it be and why?

Uptown Funk is Kade's theme song. For better or worse. Here is the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPf0YbXqDm0

It's not his most character-appropriate song at any given moment, but I feel like it's the one he most often plays in the back of his own brain. I can imagine him psyching himself up with it when he enters a room, and it always gets me in the mood to play him.


  • Do any songs represent events in your character's life? Which ones, and what do they represent?

California Dreamin is obviously young Kade in sunny LA. The bittersweetness of this always felt right to me. He remembers this time in his life in an almost unreal way, not so much the place as a time in his life before he started setting things on fire, when things were simpler, that he can never really get back. He doesn't really want to, because it's not him anymore, but there's something beguiling and beautiful about the Life Not Lived of it that he flips back through sometimes.

BURNITUP! "I'ma dance all night and I don't care who's out there watching us Just give me that fire and I'ma show you how to burn it up." Of all the fire pun songs, this is maybe my favorite. Both for its energy (it's a great ACTION song) and I think it captures how good it feels for Kade when he gets to use his powers. Which is a little terrifying, as they're potentially horribly destructive and he spends a lot of time keeping them in check, but when he finds a way to channel them I think he finds it exhilarating.

Skyfall is the Staten Island Day song. I love that it's on so many ex-XFer playlists. I feel like every character has processed the shattering of that part of their life differently, but the event itself is a touchstone.

Reflection is one of the other initial songs on the list that I kept around. "In you I put all my faith and trust. Right before my eyes. My world had turned to dust." Kade works hard to keep his bitterness off the surface, but it's a core part of him that comes up now and then, sometimes in ways that surprise me.

I And Love And You: There are a handful of Ciel songs on the playlist (and a whole other playlist) but I like this one in particular, because it touches on a lot of other things going on with Kade. His flight north to New York to escape the non-life he'd developed in DC, the fact that he's kind of a mess as well as he hides it sometimes, his yearning for something new and better. And... "Three words that became hard to say. I and love and you. What you were then, I am today. Look at the things I do."

Dear Theodosia: Mainly me searching for a way to put a Hamilton song on the playlist. But this speaks to the hopes Kade had for the world his daughter would inherit. Which, in many ways, are shaken now. As he feels like she's entering a worse and harsher place than he grew up in, but he still wants to find a way to make something better for her. (Hopefully she won't die in a duel, though it's certainly plausible).

"If we lay a strong enough foundation. We'll pass it on to you, we'll give the world to you And you'll blow us all away...Someday, someday. Yeah, you'll blow us all away. Someday, someday."

The Long and Winding Road. I really wanted an Aretha Franklin song on Kade's playlist after Jer and Kade sang her while smoking up. This is a great cover, and it speaks to what Kade is looking for in New York and at this stage in his life.

"Many times I've been alone and many times I've cried Anyway you'll never know the many ways I've tried, but Still they lead me back to the long and winding road You left me standing here a long, long time ago Don't leave me waiting here, lead me to you door"


  • Do any songs represent people or relationships in your character's life? Which ones, and who do they represent?

Yes, and I've talked too much about them. Imma stop myself before I go through every song on his stupid list.


  • Would your character listen to this playlist? What song would be their favorite?

Yeah, these are Kade Jams as well as Kade Songs.


2046-07-04 Promises

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I promised Nina I’d be home by her birthday the last time I talked to her, before I went off with Gamora to rescue Richard Rider. I didn’t give it a second thought. It’s what I fucking do.

July 23. I haven’t missed her birthday in five years. But I might’ve already broken that promise, two or three or a dozen times over, for all I know. I don’t know if it’s been 20 minutes or 20 years on that side, since I left New York.

I tell myself another day, another week, doesn’t matter. She has her mom. She has my folks and Trix, who’ll make sure she’s provided for. And I’ve broken a lot of promises about being home for her birthday in sixteen years. It’s also what I fucking do.

I hope it’s been 20 minutes, not 20 years. I hope Atwell got home to her son and he didn’t even notice she was gone.

I promised Ciel I’d help her look out for Christian. I thought it was over. We’d won, and we were all safe. But now he might be dying out there, in yet another weird-ass side-ways universe. Frozen. If there’s a chance my going might save him, I have to try. I can’t live with not trying.

Orianne made it out of that fucking alien hive safe, at least. And that girl with four arms, Beckah, got through that firefight in Kylin without a scratch. They should both be back in New York by now. They did well out there, insane as that situation was. I keep thinking they would’ve made good X-Force recruits. Or done well with the X-Men. I wasn’t any older than them when I was thrown into the bullshit with al-Sahra. I had months of training, though, and senior agents to watch my back. Maybe they got what they needed at Knowhere, and we did right by them in the field. Maybe it was enough.

Maybe they were just lucky.

There’s good luck and bad luck.

I wonder what Mikhail would’ve thought of a place like Knowhere. A place where our powers were celebrated. Where they won a war.

I think about Lexie, in my apartment, listening to me promise I’d find way to resolve things that kept him safe.

I close my eyes and his face runs together with Christian’s in my head. Just kids. Who everybody keeps failing.

Maybe I can stop it this time. Maybe we can still find him.

Even if I can’t seem to keep my promises.


2046-06-06 Journal

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"Take me somewhere safe?"

I keep thinking about the unidirectional nature of time, as Hot Sauce put it. Samad. We're all civilians now. Maybe he can still find a way to save a little piece of the world, through Open Hands. That's not what I am anymore, though. If it ever was.

"You felt like a good bet."

Not so much, kid, it turns out.

My brain keeps going back there, to that apartment, to all the blood and that darkness like something straight out of hell, to swallow your soul. That swallowed Mikhail's soul. I'm there again when I sleep some nights. When I'm awake, I just think of everything before that I could've done different by him. Should've done different.

I go back in time and I'm fourteen again, setting my mattress on fire. I think I can control it. But I can't control a damn thing, least of all myself. I'm fifteen and my fantasy world of sets and lights where I get to pretend to be something I'm not is going up in smoke, people screaming all around me.

I'm sixteen and a place in Westchester has saved my lives. And probably other lives. Taught me control. Taught me not to be a monster. What would I be, without it?

Is it still in me?

"I am afraid you will get hurt again. Lexie already thinks I will hurt her. I" … "I cannot if you were— I do not want to /hurt/ you. Or Lexie."

I'm twenty-eight, a grown man, in full control of what I am. It's a tool. It helps people. I'm a motherfucking hero. We're chasing a real monster. I feel her psionic tendrils snaking into my brain. She's just a girl, she isn't strong enough to take us all. It rattles me, though, and I burn her thralls. One of them has wooden skin, and she goes up like a torch. There's a way people scream, when they're burned, that's always the same. No matter who they are. That pain always sounds the same.

Ten years later, the monster that got away is back. God knows how many people she hurt between now and then, not just the ones I saw. Ainsworth, those kids at Open Hands.

Luka.

Was it Echo fucking with your mind that made you lose it? Was it the kid, making you slip? Was it the X-Men, all those years ago? Or was it always in you? Waiting.

"{It hurts,}" … "{Please…}"

"{It will all be over soon.}"

I replay it a thousand times in my mind, and again in my dreams. Words in Russian I don't understand, pleading. So much blood. Those blacks eyes, and that darkness, and then…gone. Right in front of me, and I let it happen.

Lexie was right. It was my fault. I thought I could help Mikhail, but I wasn't what he needed. I wasn't enough. Just like I wasn't enough to stop Echo. Or at Staten Island, when the world needed a real hero.

This isn't the movies. I'm not that. I never was.


2046-05-15 RE: Mikhail

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To: Luka Zdravkovic

CC: Irene Atwell, Jeremy Wallace

Subject: RE: Mikhail

I found Mikhail.

I tracked him down at the 18th Street fights. Managed to talk him into coming back to my place in Brooklyn. I can do that for a few days, but it's not a permanent solution.

He says he doesn't want to hurt anyone else. I believe he means that, but he clearly can't control that sometimes.

He needs someone who can work with him on his powers full-time. Preferably someone who can take him out of Mutant Town for awhile. I've been going through my old XF contacts to see if I can find someone both willing and who'd be able to handle him.

Somebody from the X-School might be better, anyway. Jeremy, I'm hoping you might know a guy or gal.

He can't go on like he is now.

I don't know what else to do.

- Kade


2046-05-02 PLEASE READ: Dangerous Mind-Controller On the Loose

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Sent to the XFS general mailbox.

Hey,

Some of you might've heard about a kid launching a mutant pollen attack on the Oddball yesterday. My apartment was broken into the same day. The people who did this were under the influence of mind control from a psionic calling herself Echo.

She's been posing as a volunteer at Open Hands as a way to find people she can manipulate into being her thralls. I've seen something similar to this before. Someone being controlled with exhibit 'ripples' in their eyes if you look closely. The psionic I dealt with previously needed water as a trigger for her control.

If she's got ahold of someone's mind, their will is totally subsumed, and they can't be reasoned with. A hit from something like a Stinger will put them back in their right mind. Jeremy or one of us at X-Factor can show you the basics of using one if you need. Use it for your own defense or defense of someone else. These people are being victimized. They don't have any control over their actions. If they can be taken to a safe place some other way, that's ideal. Other psionics may be able to help break the control but we don't have a good method for getting someone free of this yet.

Irene Atwell, Vega Zhang, Ciel Kane, and myself have encountered this type of controller before, so give one of us a call if you see any traces of this thing, or people she's controlling. Don't engage if you can. This thing is extremely dangerous. We'll forward any further information we get to you all, and I encourage anyone who knows anything to send tips to XFS. Be safe.

- Kade


OOC: Question Meme!

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Ask me questions about my characters and I will answer. The meme is entirely OOC, questions and answers both. Use it as a fun time to find about about characters' choices, motivations, feelings, actions, or anything else you've been wondering.

ASK ME ABOUT: Kade


2016-02-28 Songmeme

Imma try this meme thing. I think this is the first I have done ever, so swat me if it's posted entirely incorrectly. >.>

Do you ever listen to a song and just think "Gosh, that reminds me so much of _____"? (And then you totally forget to tell _____).

Do you totally already have playlists for your character? Or do you just want to know what reminds people of your character? Or let them know what reminds you of theirs?

Then this Meme is for You! Open for: Kade

RULES: Post this into your feed. Commenters can then leave comments with links to songs (spotify preferred) that remind them of your character. Bonus points for explaining why. THE END


2046-02-13 RE RE: School Runaway

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I talked to my daughter Nina about Ms. Vogel-Yi, to see if she knew anything that might help you all who are working the missing girl case. Can't tell if any of this will be useful to you all looking, but I will translate from teenager-speak as best I can.

Nina said this girl had a rep for sneaking off-campus into town and hanging around Westchester Community College. 'Everybody' assumed she was seeing a guy there. Maybe a student, maybe just a townie who hung around the area. The college also has a little computer/tech lab, so if this runaway is a technopath, maybe she had an interest in that. There were rumors she might've been into 'other' stuff too - sounds like drugs - but Nina wouldn't get specific. J-Bomb tells me Ms. Kitty Pryde at the X-School thinks this girl might've bolted to try and deal with an unplanned pregnancy by herself, but Nina wouldn't get specific about that, either.

All in all it's quite terrifying to contemplate and I hope you all turn up something soon. If somebody's got a power that stops kids from aging, I would be very interested in it.


2046-02-10 RE: School Runaway

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TO: X-Factor Solutions

I'm not on this atm, but my kid might know the girl, or one of the girl's friends. Looks like they're close to the same age. I can give her a call, see if she knows anything that might help you all.

- Kade


TO: X-Factor Solutions

I would like to volunteer my help in locating Ms. Vogel-Yi to anyone currently working her case. I feel that I could be of unique use.

Please feel free to contact me for an assist in regards to this.

--Huruma


204602-06 Journal

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I don't even remember what I dreamed about last night. So I'm not even using this journal as prescribed anymore. I'm a grown-ass man who writes in a diary now. This is what I've been reduced to.

Dr. V says I have made "great progress." I have zero idea what that means. Potentially that I've wasted a lot of money on a shrink who doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about. So it goes.

Back home now, or as much home as Brooklyn is. More than any place has been for awhile. I spent the weekend in DC, and I was surprised by how happy I was to drive away from it again. I'm not sure how much I ever liked the place. Some folks call it Los Angeles for Ugly People, and that is right. You get the same social-climbing, image-obsessed assholes, but none of the good stuff. And instead of just meaningless bullshit, the stuff they power-play for can actually hurt normal people.

I spent 18 years of my life there, and I think I only put up with it because I was almost never home.

I like New York more than I thought I would. It reminds me of LA in good ways. You can go to a different part of the city and see totally different kinds of people, most of them her\e for dreams that probably will not come true. Places like that break your heart, but you don't get bored.

I think back on the last four years, and it all just blurs together in this mass of gray. Day after day behind that desk. Afraid that was all I was good for anymore. That I was just going to fade away to nothing.

'Better than nothing' is the watchword. Even if I'm not nothing, I still don't know what the hell I am now.

There are days when I wake up and still check my phone for a message from Northrup. Five years, and I'm still waiting for a call that's never going to come again.

I wonder if J-Bomb still waits for calls from Professor Xavier. Sometimes I expect the old man to turn up on TV, talking mutant rights, trying to make us an equal part of this world.

Xavier's dead and the X-Men gave up. Northrup's gone, scattered to the winds like the rest of my old X-Force crew after they threw us away. Maybe it's really over now, and we are just about scraping by on odd jobs, in what's left of the world they failed. That we failed, by not doing better when we had our shot.

Maybe not. I expected J-Bomb's operation to fold inside a month. It hasn't, though. None of us are getting rich. Maybe we aren't saving the world, maybe we don't even have anything in common outside the gigs we work. But I feel like, at least, we're all looking for something better than what we've got.

Something beats nothing.

Rider says there wasn't anything more we could've done. At Staten Island. I almost want to believe he's wrong. If we fucked up, then at least what happened wasn't the best case scenario. Too much was lost. Too many people died. And that was the best we could've done?

He thinks we hate him, and I don't think he just means old X-Force. Maybe the whole city, or all the mutants who had something invested in us proving we could do our bit for this country. But I don't. Mostly, I want it to have been worth it. He says it wasn't. I want to him to be wrong. For him, and for myself.

I keep thinking about Ciel. Part of me's still afraid what she wants is the guy I was back then. Or the guy I tried to make everybody think I was. That she's going to realize how far away I ever was from that. I like myself when I'm with her, though. It feels good, even if I don't know what I want it to be.

Something.

Jesus Christ. What I am doing? I AM twelve years old. Diaries are stupid.


2045-12-20 TO: Ciel

TO: Ciel Kane

FROM: Kade Caruthers

Subject: RE: RE: RE: RE: Re Dragons


That's good.

That you're fine, I mean. And not amplified or nullified, obviously. Neither of those are good states.

We'll talk later, OK?

- K


TO: Kade Caruthers

FROM: Ciel Kane

SUBJECT: RE: RE: RE: Re: dragons

No Russians in my immediate vicinity. Neither amplified nor nullified.

I'm fine.

- C


2045-12-19 TO: Ciel

TO: Ciel Kane

FROM: Kade Caruthers

Subject: RE: RE: Re Dragons


Hey you.

I'm OK.

The amplifier lit me up pretty hard. Thank God nobody got hurt. Except him, and I'm not exactly crying about that. I was pretty spent after the whole thing, but I just need 12 hours of sleep and a ton of Gatorade, and I'll be right as rain.

Are you OK?


RE:

TO: Kade Caruthers

FROM: Ciel Kane

SUBJECT: RE: Re Dragons

Are you okay?


2045-12-19 To the XFS Mailbox RE Dragons

This message was sent from Kade Caruthers personal address to the X-Factor Solutions general mailbox, which he presumes everyone has access to and can read if they want.

Hello X-Factor Crew,

There are a lot of weird rumors going around about what went down at The Sloppy Pony the other night. The weirder ones are true. Here's the deal.

I heard from an old acquaintance that the Russian gang that's been so preoccupying lately might make some trouble at the Pony, so I staked it out, along with Talya Rasputin. It was pretty quiet until a couple hours after last call. Then that telekinetic, Kitty Konstantinova, came rolling around, along with Andrei, the power amplifier. The teke threw a mailbox through one of the windows, which prompted an altercation.

The amplifier was turned ON, so our powers went seroiusly buggy. I think he regretted doing that to a fire-starter. I kind of latched onto him, and lost his taste for the whole thing before any serious heat damage was done to the immediate vicinity. He legged it, with some minor burns.

Talya was also effected by the amplifier, and those portals she's able to summon went kind of crazy. I guess they take her to another Realm? Place where Russian fairytales are real? Fuck me, this isn't my area. Anyway. A dragon came out of one of the portals. Like, an actual dragon. It also did not wreck the block, which is probably as close to a win as you can get with a dragon. It went back into the Other Place, so don't worry about it roaming the streets or anything.

Kitty also got sucked into the Other Place. She fell through one of those portals, before they shut down. Talya says she's alive in there, and will stay that way unless she runs afoul with some fairytale nightmare. Apparently she can't get out on her own, though we might be able to retrieve her. Talya's got ways of searching the place and says she intends to, when she's up for it. We are open to suggestions on how best to resolve this thing.

That's about it. I'm going to keep a low profile in Mutant Town for awhile, for what I hope are obvious reasons.

- Kade Caruthers


2045-11-16 Dream Journal

This thing is stupid. I am not a 13-year-old girl. I will never get comfortable confessing my inner thoughts to a damn diary. Dream journal. Whatever-the-fuck name the shrinks want to give it to make it less embarrassing, it’s still a damn diary.

It’s been almost a year since I wrote in this thing. Ten months, twenty-three days. I thought maybe I was done with this, but Doctor V said these things never go away. You do not repress, you learn to live with it, and make the trauma a part of your inner being. Or whatever-the-fuck. If I wasn’t doing this long-hand, I could just copy-paste. It’s always the same.

It’s always Staten Island.

Change the narrative, Doctor V used to say. Make the nightmare something you control. Give it a different ending. I’ve been reading those early entries, from four years ago. What I can read of them. I was not high on coherency. It was every night, then. I tried to change the ending. Our aim was better. We were faster. The sky closed. Nobody died. We were the heroes we needed to be.

I don’t know why it happened again tonight. Maybe it’s this city. Maybe it’s seeing Comet again on the regular. We haven’t talked about it. Haven’t talked about anything that happened after that day, really. It feels good to remember that guy I used to be. All my James Bond bullshit. It doesn’t feel so hot to think about what I was after it ended.

Was I ever that guy? I remember being a rookie, putting on That Guy in the morning like a suit and tie. Hoping nobody’d see through it. Maybe it just got easier. Maybe I was never That Guy. I sure as hell wasn’t the day it mattered.

Maybe it's this job. If I can even call it a job. Community organizer of Mutant Town, or whatever I’m telling the norms today when somebody asks me what I do. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get my ass stabbed over some ghetto bullshit. Maybe this is a mistake. It’s not X-Force, or what I imagine the X-Men were like. I don’t know what the hell Wallace thinks he’s accomplishing with it.

Feels good, though. To be around people who know what I am. Firebug. Ember. It doesn’t have to be scary. It can be a tool. I can be useful. I want to be useful again. I want to be part of a team again.

Maybe the X-Men were like that, too. Maybe he didn’t know what to do with himself, either, when it was gone. Good a reason as any.

Maybe it’s seeing Richard Rider again. Or whoever the fuck came out of that hole in the sky.

I have so many questions about that day. Do I even want the answers? It won’t change anything. The dream always ends the same, no matter how much I try to imagine a different outcome.

We failed.

I failed.


2045-10-23 A Phone Call

A transcript of a phone call between Kade Caruthers (Ear location: Brooklyn, NY) and Beatrix O'Roarke-Levine (Ear location: Los Angeles, CA). Call Time: 10:34 AM Eastern Daylight Time, October 23, 2045. Duration: 20 minutes.

Beatrix: (*sound of wind, traffic, and Hot Hits of the '20s Satellite Radio as the Ear receiver picks*) Hey, baby brother.

Kade: Hey-hey, Bee-Bee. This a good time?

B: (*snort*) Now's fine, Kareem. I'm hovering on the Angel Loop. Waiting for the sky-way to clear (*air horn blares*). I might as well just start taking the Four-Oh-Five again. There is something uniquely aggravating about an aerial traffic jam.

K: Please do not call me that. Even Mom and Dad are trained by now.

B: Fine, Butt-Face. Don't call me Bee-Bee, then. So. I am assuming this is good news, since you're actually calling me back. Did you get it? Did you, did you, did you…?

K: (*laughs*) Shut up and maybe I'll tell you. Yeah. I got it. I guess they decided you were an acceptable co-signer. I just put my e-signature on the lease. The dude at the office said they just needed yours and it'd be done. There's probably a copy of the final docs in your email box now.

B: Yeah, I think I got it…here we go…I'll just do this…now! Marvel at my productivity.

K: Please do not fall out of the sky on my account.

B: Whatever. I draft press releases in the drive-thru line all the time. This is nothing. Anyway, sent. If those assholes need anything else, they've got my number.

K: I really appreciate this. We're, uh, keeping this on the down-low, right?

B: (*laughs*) I'm not telling Mom and Dad. They don't need to know where the bodies are buried. Just keeps our level of blackmail material in balance, far as I'm concerned. I shouldn't have had to do it, anyway. That was some bullshit. Glad it got sorted out.

K: Yeah. Shit. Federal government paperwork is less of a hassle than renting in New York. Almost makes me get why people live in Mutant Town. Almost. I am not going to let them red-line my ass into the X-gene ghetto.

B: Is it that bad?

K: Parts of it are nasty. Parts of it aren't, but the whole thing's just depressing. I might put up with it if I was younger, but fuck that. I am a grown-ass man with a decent credit score. I should be able to live where I want. I need to be in an OK school district, anyway. Don't know if I want to keep Nina in Xavier's much longer, now that the state's running it.

B: Anyway, happy to co-sign anything for you anytime. If you ever need help with the actual rent…

K: Fuck that. I'm fine. I've got my savings from the good old days, and it's not like I was making poor man's wages at Ares these past few years. I can ride for awhile, even if this mutants-helping-mutant thing tanks.

B: What the hell is it you actually do now, again?

K: I use my powers to make the community a better place. (*snort*) Which seems to involve moving shit, talking down mouthy kids, and working alongside assholes to build sheds.

B: So you're the heroes of the X-gene ghetto? (*laughs*) I think I get why you took this gig, now.

K: (*snort*) Fuck off, Bee-Bee.

B: (*laughs*) Whatever, Mister Action Hero Complex. Just take care of yourself. Your flair for the dramatic doesn't come with government health insurance anymore.

K: I have no idea what you're talking about.

B: Mmm-hmm.

K: What!? I'm Mister Private Sector now. My Action Hero days are over. This is the third act of my life, big sister. That's where the story ends. It's all denouement from here. Maybe I'll change my name again, so I can split it all up clean and correct and settle properly into obscurity.

B: Oh, Christ. I will denouement your ass if you keep talking like that. Well, if you do, pick a real name this time. I still don't know where the hell Kade came from.

K: Lightning bolt of genius inspiration, like every damn thing I do. I'm the creative one, remember?

B: (*sigh*) Lightning bolt of something. Anyway. What kind of people are you working with, Mister Private Sector? You said you knew a few of them from back in the day, right?

K: A few. Some Xavier people just by reputation. A girl I used to run with back in old days is hired on there, too. Seeing her again is a trip.

B: A good trip or a bad trip?

K: Good. Mostly. Ever talk to somebody who makes you feel ten years younger? For like a minute. Then you remember where you're actually at. And it kind of hits you like a kick in the balls. I trust her, though. More than I can say for some of these damn people.

B: I suspect you will make friends. You always do. Somehow. God knows why.

K: Because I'm so damn lovable.

B: So damn insufferable, more like. …Oh, here we go. Fucking finally … Hey, we're moving again, I've got to go.

K: Bye-bye, Bee-bee.

B: Fuck off, Kareem. (*laughs*) I love you, little brother. Be good, be safe. Talk to you soon. And I still want you and your little girl to come out to California for the holidays this year.

K: I can probably swing that. Love you, too. Give my best to Josh and the boys.

B: Will do. Later. (*Ear clicks, call terminated*)