Shiva

BY : Nemain
Category: X-Men - Animated Series (all) > General
Dragon prints: 5097
Disclaimer: I do not own X-Men Evolution, or any of the characters from it. I make no money from from the writing of this story.







SHIVA—CHAPTER 16 (NC-17)

Standard disclaimers apply

 

 

A/N Foxfeather is nifty and groovy and all that such for
beta’ing her heart out on my butchered German and odd typos. Go read and review her fic to thank her
properly! Now! Okay….now that you’re back…Thanks to all who
reviewed! Big, wet, sloppy kisses for
all of ya (unless you don’t go that way, in which case you get a firm handshake
and a hearty pat on the back). Just to
warn, this chapter is more violent than the others. Esp. the end. I don’t
want any complaints about scarring your little virgin minds so if violence and
a violent death bother you (don’t you DARE read ahead, you bad monkeys!), don’t
read this chapter.

 

 

 

The lights
were off in all but one room of the boardinghouse. Tabitha stood in the small circle of yellow light cast by the
kitchen fixture hurriedly stuffing what little edible food she could find into
a plastic grocery sack. Lance is a light
sleeper…he’ll kill me before I can turn around if he catches me here! For
what was probably the first time in her short life, Tabitha was scared. In the weeks since she had been hiding out,
she bounced from women’s shelter to the local Y to several youth hostels in
Manhattan, sleeping on the streets once or twice. A run-in with Manhattan’s finest after she got caught picking a
priest’s pocket encouraged her to return to Bayville. Tabitha had lurked on the outskirts of town, sleeping in empty
storerooms and movie theatres until she felt secure enough to return to the
boardinghouse. It was past midnight and
the guys appeared to be asleep. A grunt
from Blob’s room had frozen her in her tracks as she gathered meager belongings
from her old room, but other than that, the house was silent. Tucking the last semi-soft apple into the
sack and paused to consider the cookie jar.
I wonder if there’s any money left…Bills had been due the week
before and that usually meant the boardinghouse was strapped for cash until the
end of the month. On silent feet,
Tabitha crossed the kitchen and gently removed the lid to the chipped canister,
one eye on the kitchen door as she plumbed it’s crumby depths. A wet, sharp slap on her wrist made her
scream aloud, flinging the cookie jar at her assailant. “Toad!”


“What you
doin’ here, yo?” Todd Tolensky
retracted his tongue and rubbed his eyes clear of sleep.

“Fuck off,
Todd. Go back to bed.” Tabitha was
hyper-aware now, sure Lance was going to appear from the dark hallway beyond
the short boy.

Todd
followed her gaze and smirked. “He ain’t here…gone to stay at the Freak
Hut. Where you been?”

“Out. Recon…” she lied. “He’s gone? He didn’t
tell you guys why or what happened…?”
Tabitha eased herself into a wooden chair, still alert but slowly
becoming more at ease.

“Yeah…sure…just
want to hear it from you, yo.” Todd
hopped once and was crouched across the room on the counter before Tabitha had
a chance to track his movements.
Upstairs, she could hear Pietro (Blob can’t move that quickly) in
his room, moving about. Todd made a
soft snorting noise and Tabitha returned her attention to him.

“If he’s
already told you, you don’t need to hear it from me.” She produced a small energy ball between her fingers and brandished
it at Todd. “:Right?”

Todd, made
bold by his few days in a position of quasi-power, second to Pietro now that
Lance was gone, snarled and spit a wad of green goo at Tabitha. She squealed in disgust, madly flinging her
slimed hand in a vain attempt to clear it of goop. Instead, she succeeded in throwing her ammunition into the
hallway. Todd leapt from the counter
and followed the glowing ball. Tabitha
was still to concerned with her dirty skin to detonate the charge so he picked
up the glowing ball and flung it out the front door. “Tolensky!” she
bellowed. He ducked as the charge
exploded, sending dirt and debris flying from the yard through the front
door. Tabitha thundered down the hall
as he careened himself off the wall and into the den, landing on the back of
the couch. Contrary to popular belief,
Todd was quite graceful and smart when he had to be. He knew Tabitha’s style—a go in blasting, “Kill ‘em all, let God
sort ‘em out”[1]
mentality. True to form, Tabitha had a
handful of charges ready to fling at him when he caromed from the far wall
towards her head, feet extended to make contact. Tabitha’s eyes widened for a split second before she swung into
action. Her hands shot up and grabbed
his ankles just as his feet brushed her skin.
She fell back, lessening his impact but still receiving a glancing
blow. Todd pitched forward as he
landed, thrown off balance by Tabitha’s unexpected move. She rolled out from under him as he fell
heavily on his chin, splitting the sallow skin and spraying blood all over the
dirty wood floor. He groaned softly as
he rolled himself to his feet, facing Tabitha where she stood in the doorway
between the den and the hall. “Lissen
up, Toad—Lance is gone, I’m back.
Check your attitude at the door, buddy cuz Boom Boom ain’t gonna take
it!” Todd narrowed his eyes and all but
growled at her. He could wait—he had
before. Tabby was up to no good, he
knew. Lance’s absence was felt but not
total. He would come by tomorrow, Todd
knew, to check if Tabby had been back. What
she don’t know… Without a word to
the girl and a feral grin to himself, Todd hop-walked up the steps to his
room. Pietro was still banging around
in his own quarters but Todd forwent a bitch-session and instead went to his
own moldering room to sulk. Sulk and
plan…

Tabitha
smiled to herself. Lance is off with
miss hotsy-to I g I guess. Who
cares? He’s gone and those X-geeks
won’t let him come after me. I can just
hear it now---Summers will say something noble and stupid like “No! Her guilt is punishment enough!” and Lance
will go all meek and dopey and run back to the mansion and get laid by Kitty
and Amara, all the while moping about not be able to get me. And here I’ll sit. Todd is an upstart and easy to keep down. Blob…hell, he ain’t going anywhere…Pietro is
gonna be a problem. He’s got an ego
worse than Mystique…Tabitha had gathered her belongings from the kitchen
and was in search of a decent room.
Mystique’s was trashed—That’ll teach her to make the door so easy to
kick down—and her old room had a strange smell that she did not want to
investigate. That left…Ugh. Lance
was always a neat freak. The room
smelled of Lysol and something lemony, despite the overall grunge that cluing
to the very paint and wallpaper like a cancer.
Tabitha kicked the bed frame with one booted foot and nodded in
satisfaction when no bugs flew up and it remained standing. “I think this will work just fine…” her
voice lilted through the emptiness. No
school to slow me down…I can so do this Brotherhood thing.

 

Rogue could
not sleep. She had tried everything
from counting sheep to warm milk to self-gratification. The later made her pleasantly buzzed but not
tired enough to fall asleep. Can’t
say it was a total loss…she smirked to herself as she settled onto the
garden bench. It was near midnight and
the air was still cool enough despite the approaching summer to make her thin
sweatshirt a necessity rather than an affectation. A night bird called to its mate from somewhere in the garden,
making her jump a little before settling into self-deprecating patter. Way
to go, Roguey. Goth Princess, Queen of
Detached Cool, and a birdy makes you twitchy.
I need to get out more. Sheesh. The smell of rosemary teased her nostrils
and she sighed, stretching her legs to lie down on the bench. Maybe I can skip class. Ugh.
I really can’t see any of the adults writing a note to excuse me from
school because I had insomnia one night. Maybe I can convince Logan that I’m
bleeding heavy or something. Yeah, right. He could smell that. Damn it.
I’ll just have to suck it up and be sleepy. The bird called again and this time Rogue was prepared. She was surprised to feel a pang of jealousy
when the bird’s mate answered. Even
birds have someone. Why is nature conspiring
against me? I can’t touch, how can I
mate? Even Pietro’s touches aren’t
enough, really. I want love. I want lust. I want human fucking contact with emphasis on the fucking part…Shaking
her head, Rogue stared up at the stars and felt very small. I wonder if I could count them to make
myself sleep…She extended one pale finger and tried to mark each star with
her print, knowing logically how futile such a thing was but feeling a strange
comfort in this childish gesture. I
wish I were a kid again. Before I knew
I was a mutant. Before I was
cursed. But I was always cursed, wasn’t
I? Rogue snorted then at a memory
of her late girlhood. When Mama
talked about getting the Curse, this sure as Hell wasn’t what I’d imagined![2] I’d much rather have a continuous bout
of that damned Curse than this
mutation. A soft rustle of leaves
made her sit up, but she saw no intruder to her silent reverie. Must be a mole or something. Damned things always getting into the
garden. Storm will have a fit if they
eat her veggies again. Rogue felt
charitable so she stood and headed into the vegetable garden, clapping her
hands softly. “Hey! Scat!
Gitonouttaheah!”[3]
The rustle sounded again and she whirled to face it, fully expecting a small
mammal of some kind but finding Pietro.
“Hey!”

“Sorry—didn’t
mean to scare you.”

“You
didn’t.” she lied. Inside, her heart
was pounding a mile a minute. She hoped
her pale skin would not show the heat she felt rising from the pit of her
stomach. Pietro cocked his head at her
and smiled, making her stop caring about the blush. “What’re you doing here?”

He
shrugged. “Couldn’t sleep.”

“How’d you
know I’d be out here? For all you know,
I could have bin bin bed.” She
half-smiled at him and turned, setting off at a slow walk through the rows of
carrots and rutabagas. Pietro sighed
and paced her, feeling antsy at the lack of speed. “Well?”

“Didn’t. Just got lucky…” Pietro sounded rueful at the turn of phrase but did not offer
further comment.

“What would
you have done if I wasn’t out here?”
Rogue toed the ground at the end of the row of vegetables, not looking
up to meet the eyes she knew were staring at her.

“Honestly?” Pietro’s voice was soft, something Rogue was
not used to. She was used to and
comfortable with strident tones, boasting, even arguing. Softness was alien to her.

“No. Lie to me.
I like it.”

“Rogue…look
at me.” She did lift her head then,
keeping her expression carefully guarded.
“I would have sat outside your window and stared at it until I couldn’t
stand it anymore, then run home and got myself off in the shower.”

‘Um. Ew.
Flattering, but ew.” Rogue felt
a thrill in the pit of her stomach. He
wants me.

“Well, you
asked…” He was embarrassed but was not
about to let Rogue know it. The false
front of bravado, his devil-may-care attitude were all he had at the
moment.

“Yeah, I
did…Still. Flattering.” Rogue offered
him a smile then, one that made most of the males at Bayville make incoherent
“woofing” noises when she did it at school.
“So…”

“Yeah….so…” Pietro floundered for something to say,
finally coming up with “Come out here a lot?”

She
snorted. “Just about every day. I live here.”

“I
mean…like this. At night. It’s very….peaceful. Beautiful, even.” Even Pietro was not sure if he was referring to the scenery or
the girl.

“Yeah…I
guess.” Keep cool, Rogue. Keep cool.
Just because he’s in your head doesn’t mean you can drop your guard.

“Mmmm. Well…look, I just wanted to see you. To, um, to know you were still here, I
guess.” Pietro ducked his head then and seemed to be very interested in a
clod of dirt near the toe of his shoe.

“I’m
here. So is Lance, you know…” Keep him talking, keep him here…

“Yeah…he
said something about that when he came back by after school yesterday. Um, why exactly is he here, do you know?”

Rogue knew,
from the bits of him she had inside herself, that he would be hating Lance
right now, that he would see the defection to the Institute as a betrayal of the
highest order. This confused her
somewhat—How can he want me and hate what I believe in? “He’s been here almost all the time
since Amara…” Rogue cut herself off, not sure how much Pietro knew about the
situation.

“Since she
what?” he asked suspiciously.

“Nothing.” Rogue stepped over the row of carrots and
headed back towards the bench, letting her fingers brush against the row of
pole beans[4].

“Bushitshit!” he snapped from behind her.
“What’s going on? I thought he
was just having a poke at her, but there’s something else, isn’t there? He popped her cherry and now he’s moving
in? She knocked up?”

Rogue felt
a well of anger in her chest. “No,” she
answered honestly, “she’s not pregnant.”
Her arms closed over her torso in unconscious protection and she kept
her back to Pietro. “What did Lance
tell you?”

“Just that
he’d been over here a lot because he thinks he has a good thing with
Amara. Thought he meant the
fucking. Then the other day he just
comes and gets a lot of his stuff and says he’s gonna be here for a while. A long while.” He was at Rogue’s side before she heard him move. “What’s going on here? Did that rat-bastard ditch us again?” Pietro took Rogue by her upper arm and spun
her to face him, sucking in his breath sharply at the look of fury on her
face.

She twisted
from his grasp and pushed her finger against his chest hard enough to leave a
bruise he would see the next morning.
“You listen and you listen good, buddy—I don’t like Amara. I don’t like Lance. I don’t like them together or apart. But I will not stand here and let you
badmouth somebody who’s now part of this team.
You want to talk shit, you do it to their face. Don’t be a pussy and bitch at me when your
beef is with Lance. It’s not a
betrayal. He’s just finding his place,
damn it!” Rogue spat this last out,
regurgitating the Professor’s “welcome to the Institute” speech he gave Lance
at dinner that night. Lance had snorted
something about remembering it from the last time, but a well-placed kick from
Kitty silenced him for the rest of the meal.


“Rogue, you
going soft on me?” Pietro tried to
inject humor into this question but failed.


“Pietro, go
home.” Rogue was very tired now,
sleepiness and fatigue hitting her like a truck rolling down hill.

“What? I mean, we can’t…” Their strange ritual of
barely-touching had become addictive to Pietro, something he looked forward to
each night as darkness fell. On the
nights when they did not do their dance around each other, he felt almost
frantic with need. Gotta get laid
more, man…his mind whispered even as his heart hammered in his chest. His voice came out a strangled whisper. “Are you mad at me?”

“Do I need
to be?” Rogue’s voice was hard with
anger.

“No…I just
said what I felt, what I meant.”

“So did
I.” She was facing away from him but he
was sure he could detect a note of sadness in her voice.

“Good
night, Rogue.” Pietro sighed his
goodbye, knowing that the evening was shot.

“Night,
Pietro.” She did not even turn around
to see if he was gone. When she heard
the night bird call again, she let one sob wrack her body then ran to the house
full-tilt, unaware that Pietro was still standing in the garden, hands fisted
in needful desperation.

 

Ruth was no
more. She ceased to exist four days after
being taken from the hospital. She
watched Mystique and Magneto come and go, hook her up to this wire, take her
off of that table. She ran the tests
they asked her to, experimented with the mutations awakened by the tortures the
man her grandfather once called a brother of his heart inflicted on her. An image of a dark-haired girl with laughing
eyes flitted across the girl’s brain, making her mewl as her memories tried to
surface against a cloud of pain. She
could hear the man talking behind her, his voice low and almost seductive in
its power. The woman was murmuring but
her tones grated on the girl’s nerves, forcing her to shut out what Mystique
was saying. Time shifted and fractured
and, when next she knew, the girl found herself in a metal room with several
long bars running across the ceiling.
She was flat on her back, strapped to a table and naked again. Soundlessly, the table shifted so that it was
perpendicular to the floor and hovering a little over a foot from it. Magneto did not even look up from the
adjustments he was making behind the thick, clear wall across from his
subject. The lights on the control
board blinked twice then steadied, making his mouth curve in satisfaction. “Ruth?
Can you hear me?” She did not
answer. She was not Ruth. “I do apologize,” he murmured, seemingly
realizing her state of mind, “Can you hear me in there?” She could not nod—her head was strapped as
well as the rest of her body—but she made a noise in her throat that passed for
agreement. “Good…now, I know you’ve
been working very hard these past few days and I just want you to know how much
I—we—appreciate it. You’ve always been
a remarkable child…I knew it from the moment I first saw you when you were but
a day old.” His voice had taken on a
quality of silken reminiscence, making the girl feel strangely afloat, like she
should be remembering something important, like the pilot light was lit and the
gas was running or something else dangerous, but she could not muster enough
caring to let her mind dwell. “Are you
familiar with the name Zyklon B?”[5] A tiny bell of awareness rang in the back of
the girl’s mind—something about her grandfather, the Majdanek[6]
camp. No, not grandfather…a
voice ripped through her mind. She made
a sobbing noise and Magneto looked up sharply, then smiled when he saw that she
knew at least what the use of such a chemical was. She was sweating heavily, her skin raised in painful gooseflesh
against the metal bands. She was too
weak to struggle, digressed too far into a primitive state of awareness to cry
out in supplication or for help.
Instead, twitched and strained in futility as Magneto flipped another
switch, the door to the chamber sliding open.
“I am sure, if you think hard, you can remember being in the hospital
not that long ago. I am also sure that
you can remember what happened when the doctors and nurses there tried to help
you. You made them feel your pain, didn’t
you? You were broken from your flight
off the roof, you were dying, but you made them feel for you. You made them take your pain and your
sadness so you could rest…” Mystique
came in then, shoving a derelict in front of her. The man stank of alcohol and urine and something deeper—fear, truth
be told, but he girl did not name this odor.
He was wild-eyed and dirty, track marks standing out on his arms. No one would miss him when he was gone. Magneto’s voice rang again through the
chamber. “We have one last test to run
before you’re fit to join us in the outside world, my girl.” He sounded mirthful at his turn of
phrase. Mystique, led by some unseen
signal, produced a gas mask from a cabinet along the wall. The derelict did not struggle as she
fastened it securely over his face, so fascinated was he by Mystique’s blue
skin. She did not bother to disguise her appearance for this man—he would not
long remember her. “Your test is
simple. Repel what you feel. Make this…man (and I use the term loosely)
feel your pain, the terror, the death…Give him your all.” Magneto nodded to Mystique who quickly
exited, appearing a moment later beside him inside the control room. The girl wanted to vomit. She knew what was happening, despite her
separation of self. A blue mist began
to drift from the bars in the ceiling, smelling of burned, bitter almonds. The man in his gas mask was oblivious. He fixed his eyes on the girl’s exposed skin
and was reaching for her clumsily, pawing at an arm here, a breast there. The girl felt like she was burning alive,
suffocating as the gas mixed with her blood.
Her eyes felt like they were going to pop and her skin was flushed. Her breath coming in short hitches, lungs
burning like acid, she saw Magneto grit his teeth and press close to the
glass. Her body took over for her mind
then; she pushed the pain away, focused it on the man pawing at her stomach. He was breathing easily behind the mask, his
eyes, mouth and nose well protected from the gas staining the floor blue. She felt a surge of her own power as she
forced all of her pain and sadness and feat into a ball intangible to anyone
other than her. Her eyes fixed the
derelict to the floor and she hissed as she forced this ball into his chest in
her mind’s eye. She was breathing
easily, each lungful of poisoned gas creating a new spike of pain to send into
her victim. He arched his back and
fell, clawing at his throat and the mask.
Mystique had fastened it too securely for him to remove it, but he tried
nonetheless. The girl felt a grim
pleasure in seeing him suffer for her, seeing her pain on another’s face. The
man convulsed once and then fell still, dead.
The blue mist fell for a moment more and then there was a rush of cold as
Magneto purged the chamber of poison, replacing it with clean air. Mystique entered and slung the dead man over
one shoulder, sparing the girl a bare glance tinged with respect. Magneto waited until the woman was out of
the room before he spoke. “Your
grandfather had many secrets, child.
This gas was his first gift to me when he found out what I was. He wanted to help, he told me. At the time, I had no use for such a gift
but accepted it nonetheless. When you
began to manifest your gifts, I knew then what I could use it for. You’ve been long-awaited, girl. You will be the deliverer of the
Brotherhood.” He lowered the table to
the ground, opening her restraints so that she fell forward onto her hands and
knees. When she looked up, he was
staring into her very soul. “You will
bring destruction to the X Men.”



[1] I’m not sure
who said this first only that it is a take off on something a saint said about
the devil knowing his own.

[2] Menstruation
is sometimes called The Curse.

[3]
Southernism. Say it loud and nasal for
the full effect. And yes, it is all run
together as one word. Best used to get
dogs off the porch and kids out of the yard.
;)

[4] Um, I think
you also call them string beans.

[5] Hydrocyanic
acid, mainly. Used as a defumigant and
disinfectant in the States (and other places) before WWII but used in Nazi gas
chambers during the war. Usually
pellets that become active when exposed to air. Very, very painful way to die—cyanic acids combine with red blood
cells to cause oxygen starvation and usually a slow death. Zyklon B that was used in extermination
camps had a blue appearance and stained the walls of the chambers a noticeable blue
color. Cyanic acid also has a
distinctive bitter almond odor. …More info than any of y’all wanted, I’m
sure.

[6] Death camp
where a large supply of Zyklon B was found stockpiled after the war.

SHIVA-CHAPTER 17 (NC-17)
Standard disclaimers apply

A/N Thanks millions to Foxfeather. She's the Beta/Translation Goddess. And to those who reviewed: Take me, I'm yours! Um....Just kidding. I'm just overly enthusiastic and what I really meant was thank you bunches and lots. Keep it coming! (Um...no pun intended, I think...) Okay. About the NC-17 ban on ff.net. ((sigh)) I really don't know....I'm gonna try and wrap up SHIVA before it's removed from the site. If anyone has or knows of a site that takes high-rated XME fic, let me know and I'll try and get it there. I'll keep my R and lower on ff.net. Going to go scream now...


"Guten morgen, Katzchen." Kurt greeted his girlfriend with a sleepy kiss, missing her mouth and landing it on her cheek, as he stumbled past her to the kitchen. Kitty had risen early, troubled by dreams of the strange man offering her his trident and snake, offering her his hand which she would reach for only to find herself with a handful of dust.
"German again?" She asked his retreating form.
"Ja...too tired to think. See? You triggered the English center of my brain. Makes school a whole lot easier!" He said, walking backwards a few paces into the kitchen. "Hungry?"
"Na-I ate. Been up a while." Kitty shrugged and offered him a small smile. "Nervous about going back to class, I guess."
Kurt frowned a little at this. _Katzchen? Nervous about school? That's like me being nervous about acrobatics or gymnastics! _ "You sure that's it?" _ She looks tired...but we were up kind of late._
"Yeah...that's it. I'm sure, sweetie." Kurt still looked troubled so Kitty crossed to him and wrapped her arms around his neck, pressing her lips to his before saying, "Will it make you feel better if I sit with you? Just so you see I'm not going to burst into tears or something?"
"Mmmm. Will you kiss me again?"
"Hmmm." Kitty frowned as if considering it. "I don't know..."
"Kitty!" Kurt tapped her shoulder in mock indignation.
"Well, when you put it that way..." Kitty kissed him again, longer than before but still decorous in light of the fact she could hear Logan and Storm coming down the hall. "Eat."
Kurt sighed, wishing he could prolong the kiss, but took Kitty's hand and led her into the kitchen. She sat at the breakfast table and watched Kurt as he piled a plate high with buttered toast, bacon, and something that bore a suspicious resemblance to a pudding cup. Seeing her bemused gaze, he smiled a little sheepishly. "I need the sugar."
"Ah. Gotcha. In that case," Kitty rose and rifled through the pantry, coming up with a paper bag from somewhere in the depths. "It's all yours." She handed it to Kurt and sat with a satisfied smile.
"Was?" Kurt put his plate carefully on the table, mindful of the precarious tower of toast, and opened the bag to peer inside. "Danke! You are the most wonderful girlfriend ever!" Kurt tipped the bag over and spilled it's contents-Kitty's secret stash of Oreo snack-packs and chocolate pudding cups.
"Well, I would hope so, compared to Tabby and Amanda..." Kitty sniffed somewhat jealously.
"Now, Liebes, Amanda was not that bad. I cared about her very much," Kurt said around a mouthful of toast. He stopped mid-chew as Kitty's eyes hardened. _Fuck. _
"Really? Did you love her?"
Kurt swallowed hard, forcing the bread through the lump in his throat. "I, um, I thought I did...I guess I did in a way. Nothing like how I feel for you." He searched her eyes for a sign of what she was feeling and found none, just a f she sheen of tears that she was holding back.
"Ah. Good to know." Kitty averted her eyes, busying herself stacking the stash of sugary snacks into a pyramid between them.
"Katzchen?" Kurt peered around the edge of the shrine to carbohydrates and was met with a sad expression on his girlfriend's face.
"Don't mind me, Kurt. I'm just all in knots. Letting stupid things get to me." She sighed and pushed her chair away from the table. "I'm gonna go get ready." She let without another word, letting her hand skim his shoulder as she passed.
Kurt chewed a mouthful of bacon as he watched her leave, wondering just what else she had to do to get ready. _She was wearing makeup, she was dressed, she had her hair all twisty...Maybe she's crying _ ? He wolfed his breakfast and shoved the stash back into it's paper bag, tucking it securely under his arm before he 'ported to his own room. Stuffing his books and two pudding cups into his back pack, Kurt flung open his door to head to Kitty's room and ask what was wrong only to meet resistance. "Ow!"
"Was? Oh, Kitty!" Kurt dropped his bag and knelt next to Kitty where she had fallen on the floor, rubbing a goose egg rapidly forming on her forehead. "Why didn't you phase?"
"Wasn't expecting you to throw the door open like that!" She scowled. "What're you in such a hurry about?"
"I was coming to see you...I keep hurting you don't I? First your toes, then this..." Kurt sighed more to himself than anything else and helped her to her feet.
"Why?" She frowned as the lump on her forehead sent a jolt of pain to her nerve centers. "I need ice."
"C'mon..." Kurt grabbed her elbow and his bag and 'ported them to the kitchen. "Here." He made her sit down before he produced a bag of frozen peas from the freezer, wrapping it in a dishtowel and pressing it to herd. d.
"Dude, I don't know what kind of freaky sex shit you two are into, but don't involve dinner with it!" Jubilee said from her place near the counter, startling both Kurt and Kitty.
"I hit my head!" Kitty explained.
"Sure, sure....How many times do I have to tell you that the headboards on these oak monstrosities at the mansion are killer on the skull?" Jubilee downed the rest of her orange juice and, before Kitty could correct her assumption, waved a jaunty farewell. "See you guys at school. Ridin' with Rogue."
Kitty and Kurt stared after her for a moment in agape protest before Kitty finally giggled. "I think I need extra insurance around here."
"I'm _sorry, _ Katzchen!" Kurt felt like a heel. He had made her upset and concussed her before school, making him wonder what other Hells the day had in store. He paced agitatedly back and forth, muttering to himself and gesturing for emphasis.
"Kurt, don't get all worked up.t dot down!" Kitty hooked her ankle around the leg of a chair and sent it his way with a sharp kick.
"Kitty..."
"Look, I was being bitchy this morning about Amanda. Of course you cared about her...I suppose you even cared about Boom Boom in some way."
"Well, a little. Mostly it was just, um..." He shrugged and hid his face from Kitty's eyes. _Okay, she's hot. I'm a teenage male and I was attracted to a hot chick. Get over it _ , he wanted to snarl but he restrained himself.
"Yeah, I know. She's a looker when she keeps her mouth closed," Kitty said, repeating something Lance once told her. Ignoring Kurt's startled expression, she continued, "I mean, I cared about Lance and all...sure, he's all hot and stuff..." Kitty chanced a glance at Kurt and found him to be staring at her, tight jawed and eyes narrowed. "Don't you dare give me that look! I know you see other women and think they're sexy or whatnot!"
"Ja, but I don't tell you about it!" Kurt slammed his fist on the table and looked guiltily up at Jamie as the young boy entered. "Um, hi."
"Hey." Jamie was not his usual talkative self. "Seen Jubes?"
"She's gone," Kitty offered gently. Jamie's sadness wafted off of him in waved, making Kitty feel a tinge of depression around her newly-healing center.
"Ah. Good, I think." Jamie scrounged a bottle of grape juice and two granola bars while Kurt and Kitty followed his movements with concerned eyes. "Later." Jamie slunk out of the room without a backwards glance, mumbling to himself about Remy.
"What the Hell?" Kurt asked, quirking a brow.
"No idea, baby. None at all..." Kitty sighed and rested her chin on her hands, regarding Kurt with new interest. "Sorry I said Lance is hot."
"Sorry I...wait. What am I sorry for?"
"Nothing...that's what I was trying to get to earlier. I shouldn't have gotten all huffy over the Amanda comment. That was then, this is now. I love you."
"Me, too."
"Good. We're settled." Kitty smiled and rose, phasing the bag of now-slightly mushy peas through the freezer door, shoving them all the way to the back.
"Well, except for one thing..." Kurt seized her wrist as she neared him.
"Is it the head-whack thing? Forget about it-it was an accident! Just kiss it and make it better..." she giggled as he pulled her into his lap.
"Nein-promise me something, Liebes."
"Anything, sweetie." She murmured as his mouth brushed hers with a touch as light as gossamer.
"Never say Lance is hot again."

Amara murmured in her sleep, only half-aware that she was speaking her native tongue. She felt warm and said so to the ghosts of home hovering in her mind. She stretched, feeling the fine sheets slide against her bare legs and realized with some mild consternation that her nightshirt had ridden up above her hips. _No matter...who will see me? _ She stretched again and rolled onto her side, colliding with something warm and solid. Fuck.
"Sleep well, Princess?" Lance murmured against her hair. Amara stiffened and tried to move away but his hand fell to her back, pinning her smaller form against his own lean one. "Nope-gonna lay right here. I'm warm and have twenty minutes before school starts, so we're gonna stay like this for a while." His words were tinged with smugness but he knew in his heart that it was false. Lance had fell to temptation and slipped into Amara's room an hour before, watching her sleep from a corner near the door. When she began murmuring and turning, he came to her side and brushed her hair from her face, marvelin how how fine-boned and small she seemed compared to his own gangly self. Lance kicked off his shoes and climbed into bed with her, intended to hold her while she slept, to feel like he was having a normal relationship where his girlfriend actually knew he called her that, where he could come to her and give her love and receive it without being made to feel he was wrong for wanting it. A few moments stretched into half an hour and then Amara woke. Lance felt stirrings in his chest and groin as she moved against him and knew that she was exposed from the waist down, but for once he restrained himself and kept his hands at her back and hair. Now she was looking at him like a startled cat, eyes wide and chest heaving in nervousness.
"What the Hell are you doing here?"
"Now, Amara, is that anyway to talk to me? I'm just making sure you're alright..." Lance tamped down the impulse to shake her and make her see that he loved her, damn it, and that's why he was laying in bed when he should be on his way to class.
"Alright? Why wouldn't I be alright?" Amara was shaking like an aspen leaf inside. She knew he remembered her tender gestures of a few days before, the murmurings against his throat as they laid in her bed that morning. She wished like hell she had remained aloof from him, remained in control. Now he thinks he owns you, a small voice in her mind murmured, making Amara cringe.
"What's wrong?" He knew he sounded concerned but did not care then. He pushed away from her enough to look in her eyes, inwardly shouting at the fear he saw there.
"Nothing. Leave. Now." Amara shoved against his chest violently but Lance, by advantage of his size, barely rolled away. Instead, he gathered her hands to his chest and pressed a light kiss to her fingertips, darting his tongue out for a slick caress just for good measure.
"You can fight all you want, but I'll still be here in the end." He raised a challenging brow at her but she looked away, cheeks a dull bronze beneath her olive tones. "You hear me?"
Her voice was so small that he almost did not hear her. "Why?"
"Huh?" he answered inelegantly, leaning so that his ear was near her mouth.
"Why?" she repeated, even more quietly than the first time. "Why do you stay? No one else to sleep with?"
Lance found himself on his feet and furious before he knew what hit him. "_Never _ say things like that! You have no idea what that does!"
"Makes you angry?" she drawled, rolling onto her back. She felt comfortable with fighting-fighting she could understand and control. Tenderness made her feel weak.
"Yes!" Lance snapped before he noticed the gleam in her eyes. "You _like _ me mad?" Astonishment rocketed through his veins. "You _like _ it when I'm pissed?"
"Never said that, did I?" She sat up, drawing her sheet high beneath her arms. "You're going to be late for class, you know."
"Ask if I give a flying fuck?" He drove his hands into his hair, clutching at it as if his life depended on it.
"You may not, but I certainly care, Mister Alvers," a low voice rumbled from the door. Silently, Beast had come into the room and now stood in the open doorway, regarding the couple with something akin to amusement. "Remy is leaving in five minutes if you need a ride. I suggest you go now."
"We were talking!" Lance snapped, belatedly realizing that he was at a disadvantage against Hank McCoy in size alone, if nothing else.
"Lance..." Amara's tone was suddenly softer. Something in her had snapped with little resistance, surprising her. She was tired, she realized, more tired than she would like to admit. The only thought that carried her through the day was that Tabitha would come to her, that she could punish the girl who had hurt her. _Lance will bring her to you, _ the voice whispered. _He'll do whatever you ask...you have power over him, you know. _ This thought did not please Amara as it once might have. While Beast hustled Lance from the room, she watched the lanky boy with the eyes of a hawk for any sign that he might be false in his feelings. He did not falter in his insistence that he be allowed to finish talking with Amara and could only be assuaged when the larger man promised that he would let Amara speak to Lance at lunch if the boy called from the office at school. Amara sank into her pillows with a harsh sigh once she was alone again. _It's time to come around, Amara. It's time to move out of this shell you've put yourself in. _ The new voice was hard and cold, still her own but not one she recognized at its core. She shook her head and felt the silk-bound stone at her throat bob in response. _What do you want of me? Damn it, Lance-I'm a bitch, you want me, I'm weak, you want me, I'm all but dead and you want me. Help me understand _ ... Amara stared at her ceiling for what seemed like hours but was really only mere minutes before decided to get out of bed. With purpose, she removed her nightclothes and flung her closet doors open. She dressed carefully, covering scars old and new, selecting clothes that she knew had great tactile appeal as well as flattered her figure, slight though it was. _Make him want to touch me, but he won't be able to, will he? Not there, not in front of everyone _ ... Amara smiled to herself, an expression that would have been beatific on anyone else but on her, it bore a tinge of wicked cunning. _Back in control _ ...


Ruth, no longer Ruth, lay on her bed in the spacious home Magneto had taken her too then promptly left her alone in. She knew better, even in her altered state, to think that she was not being watched. She knew she was being tested, being monitored. She just did not know what for. In the distance she could hear a garbage truck on it's morning rounds and registered the fact that it was early morning and she had no idea how long she had been waiting. She had no need for food-she sent the pain away. Magneto had not bothered to show her how to control her powers once they were unhed.hed. She barely felt anything now. Sensation was minor-the cool sheets on her naked flesh were a bare note in her mind. Instead, she dwelled on plans. Plans and fragmented memories of a life before she came to be what she was. The girl-_Ruth _ , her mind cried, _Your name is Ruth! _ -rolled to her feet and staggered to a small dressing table. The reflection that greeted her was that of a monster. Pale flesh scored with bruises and red electrode marks, dark circles under the eyes, swollen and cracked lips. Her skin was sallow and verging on the gray and her hair was growing in clumps due to uneven shaving. She felt dirty, she realized, and wondered if she could wash. _What for _ ? A small folder on the dressing table drew her eye and she let one shaking hand fall to the cover. _Smooth, slick...plastic? Do I know that word or am I making it up _ ? Inside were pictures-an elderly couple embracing, a child hugging a dog, a group of black-clad men and women, heads covered, staring grim-faced from the deck of a boat. The last picture was a girl with dark hair, smiling and eyes twinkling, with her arms around a smaller girl, a girl with fair hair and a thin face but pretty nonetheless. Bells rang in the girl's memory and she stumbled backwards in actual pain at the images that flashed through her brain. _Kitty. Her name is Kitty and I am Ruth. She is my cousin, my sister, my friend...What am I? _
"Ah-you are awake. Good. Eat this." Mystique glided into the room and set a tray down on the bed. "You haven't eaten in a long time and you will be weak."
"Who am I?' The words were thin and reedy.
"What?"
"Who...who am I? Who is she?" The picture of Kitty waved between her fingers.
"Ah...that....girl...is your Achilles' heel. She is the one person who will stop you from being all you need to and can be." Mystique took the photo and tucked it into her shirt for safekeeping. "Soon she will be out of your way and you can bring justice to this world, child." Mystique considered the fragmented girl before her carefully, lips pursed in deep thought. "Who would have thought such inconsequential people would be such important mutants?"

A/N Next up...Kitty's first day back at school...and what the Hell is Amara up to?


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