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Fiery Debate

Posted on Sun Jul 7th, 2024 @ 12:22 by Jonathan Monroe & Claire Cavendish

Chapter: Besieged
Location: Avalon Institute: Claire's Study
Timeline: 27th January
1786 words - 3.6 OF Standard Post Measure

It was becoming a sort-of regular tradition for Jonathan and Claire to meet and share thoughts during times of particular challenge. With everything taking place on the political spectrum, this evening was no different. The gentle crackle of the fireplace and the warmth it provided seemed to be the centrepiece of their meeting; typically shared over a glass of scotch. This evening, however, Jonathan had chosen not to drink. He was too troubled.

"The students have been asking all sorts of questions," he sighed. "What registration will mean. Whether the school will shut down. Whether any of them are going to be locked up." His statements were followed by a pregnant pause. He looked over at Claire; for a long time his sounding board and confidante, just as he hoped he was for her. "I want to tell them that none of that will happen. But at the same time...I just don't know."

"There's so much up in the air still, at the moment." Claire and the people she knew from the wider community had been pouring over the law and subsequent information released by the ministry. They had deviously rolled it into the public health portfolio and in the public eye were now trying to sway opinion by pointing out the additional funding that would flow into the NHS as a result of this legislation. "There's nothing in the law forbidding educational institutions like our own. Though some of the language can be twisted to or expanded upon to try and break up larger communities, which I'm sure we'd be viewed as." It was a whole different ballgame this time, and it was hard to tell what her father and his idiotic shortsided friends were concocting. "Though I'm sure they won't be too pleased when the Head Teacher of the most prominent mutant institute publicly refuses registration."

"So you made up your mind then?" He asked, surprised. "You're going public?" She didn't need to answer that. His brow furrowed, weighing up her words silently before responding. "Claire...are you-" He hesitated. "Are you sure that's the right thing to do?"

Claire slowly nodded at that, "I think I might have." There was no certainty on the matter, and there was no certainty in her voice. It was the decision she made, knowing what it could do for her community. "People have to stand up to them. It's the right thing to do. We need to show the world that this isn't the way. That not everybody thinks this way." She carefully sipped her tea, though at the moment a tumbler would've fit her hand much better, Jon had declined and she wasn't one for drinking alone anymore, "I must."

He swallowed, feeling almost guilty as he looked over at her. Claire had always been a source of wisdom and strength. To disagree with her almost felt like was letting her down. "I must too," he said softly. He turned to face her, his expression uncertain despite his resolution to make a decision being much more firm. It almost felt like he was breaking up with her, that's how hard it was to speak it out loud. "Claire, I'm...I'm going to do it. I'm going to register."

There was a pause. Claire had always advocated personal liberty and choice, and it was odd to feel almost betrayed by someone making a choice. She frowned, the only sign of her contemplation over what he had just shared with her. "Why?" There were much better ways to express her support and interest, but it was the most prominent question that shot through her mind, and as it bought her some more time to contemplate further.

"Because..." He had to control himself in that moment. His hand tightened into a ball, lest the faint blue hued flames be visible. "Because I burned down an entire house. Because...because when I was just a kid I left a young girl scarred for the rest of her life...because..." It was difficult for him to fully express how he was feeling about it. Partly because he already knew she knew how he felt and he wanted to soften that blow. "Because I'm dangerous. And it would be wrong for me to hide that away from people."

Claire's expression softened, the inner struggle of Jonathan was something she would never be able to understand. Her abilities all turned inward. It got her bullied, even physically, but she would never have to be afraid that she'd maim someone by losing her cool. Halloween showed that at worst she dumped people in a Loch. Or in the case of Jonathan, in the house of an anti-mutant member of the house of lords. "The house burning down was not your fault, and nobody got hurt." She wanted to add that nothing of value was lost either, but that seemed too overtly vengeful. On some nights it had made her wonder if she had subconsciously dropped that specific group of people there knowing what chaos and damage it might cause. "I can never know what it's like to have that weigh on your conscience. Do you truly believe that registering will lighten that load?"

"I'm not doing it just to make myself feel a bit less guilty..." he replied, brow furrowed slightly. "A few weeks back, there was a moment - at Gabriella's bakery. Some asshole anti-mutant jock. He wasn't even the worst of them, but I could just...feel it inside me; I could have really hurt that asshole if I wanted to. I could have..." He shook his head. "What's to stop me - stop any of us - from really hurting someone?"

"Let me premise this by saying that I will respect whatever decision you make on this topic, and I'll support you and anyone wanting to make that step." Claire took a moment to organise her thoughts, "what makes you think that registering would stop you, or anyone, from really hurting anyone?"

Jonathan shrugged. "Maybe it wouldn't. Not me, anyway. But if there were a way to properly catalogue and create some sort of awareness of the more dangerous mutants out there - making sure they were safe, and other people were, too, surely that would be worth it? With formal registration, with a proper and recognised organisation backing it, so many mutants could be protected. Eventually they could be taught to control their more dangerous abilities." He was aware in his mind that it was probably a little more idealistic than the world would allow for. But it was the way he felt; had there been something in place to help him when he was that young, perhaps more people would have been protected.

"What of the people that are harmless but would rather remain unknown. We've known a few of those. We've lost quite a few of them when I held that press conference after the Sentinel attack." She thought back on the colleagues, students, and friends that had chosen their own personal safety, and that of their friends and family, over standing with Avalon in dire times. It was understandable, and she had certainly made the same decision in the past. Which is also perhaps why she was so sternly taking a stand now, to the point where she was asking he new P.E. teacher to increase the time dedicated to self defence.

"But Claire-" Jonathan stopped before he could declare his counter-point. This was turning into a more fierce debate than he had expected, and if there was one thing he had vowed to do it was to keep those strongest and most passionate emotions in check. So he stopped, slowing himself down. "I know it's not the way you want things to go. And I hope it doesn't break our friendship. I'll always have your back, even if we disagree on this. It's's just something I feel I have to do."

"It will never affect our friendship, Jon, don't worry about that. I just want to make sure you're making this decision for the right reasons." Claire smiled at him, she felt strongly about this topic and knew she could come off very sternly when it came to matters like that. In the end though, she knew who Jonathan was, why he was making his decision, and it didn't change anything about the way she viewed him. "There will always be a bed for you in Avalon."

Another pregnant pause. "And...the Knights?" Jonathan asked cautiously. If there was anything else he feared from this aside from losing Claire's trust it was that he wouldn't be able to commit to the promise he'd made long ago to help her build a team that would protect those who couldn't protect themselves. Being benched from the Knights would feel like the first step in breaking that.

"You may need to wear a mask." With people getting fully registered and identified by the government the need to obscure their identities became more important. The link between the Knights and the Institute was already very strong, but they had enjoyed the obscurity of their legal identities. Claire was sure people know who they were, it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out, but from a legal perspective they had to keep plausible deniability. "We're going to need you, now more than ever." She knew what was heading their way, and with that prospect she could ill afford to sideline anyone, least of all someone with his particular power-set.

"A mask is a small price to pay," he murmured. "Thank you. I mean it - I know not everyone will understand, but I'm glad you're one of the few that will." He wanted to hug her in that moment. That was how much it meant to him that Claire remained his friend though all of this: that he would willingly trust himself to physically embrace her. But he held himself short of doing so.

There was a moment where subconsciously Claire felt like she should open her arms for an embrace. When nothing came to follow through she was just left with an odd sensation of a missed opportunity. "I try." There had been a big hurdle for her to clear to come to a place where she could understand where he was coming from, and she had hoped he hadn't overly seen her having to clear that. "And if there's ever anything you wanted to discuss, please don't hesitate to reach out. That's also what I'm here for."

"I know." Jonathan nodded. He hoped, deep down, that she always would be, as he struggled to contemplate a world where that wasn't possible.


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