notes: inspiration strikes at the oddest moments. also, this fic has spoilers for X2. it's sort of a point-of-view type of thing revolving around what happened to some of the minor characters in the movie. I wrote it before the DVD came out, so the movie dialogue was dredged from my memory; yes, I know it's incorrect.
disclaimer: the characters within are the property of Marvel Comics and 20th Century Fox. This is a work of fanfiction written without permission or intent of profit. Please don't sue me.
feedback: is welcome at hutch @ jazmer.com.
rating: R for violence and swearing.
He had been dreaming of something peaceful -- Kansas wheatfields, rippling gold at the peak of harvest season -- when the shrill scream awoke him. Normally a deep sleeper, Peter Rasputin knew instantly that it was more, for the vibrations of the sound rang deep into his ears, shattered the glass in the mirror over his dresser. He was already up and moving, yanking the door of his room open, when it abruptly cut off, and he froze because in the absence of that headache-inducing noise he could hear gunfire from below and cries of terror from the younger students, and all his senses went into high alert.
There was no one in the corridor; the door to the younger girls' dorm was open, though, and Peter stepped inside to see several men, dark in the dark room, all clothed in camoflage and wearing night-vision goggles; they turned as one, raised their guns and squeezed triggers--
He didn't even have to think; it was a subconscious reflex, the upper layers of his skin flowing into metal, covering him in segmented, overlapping protective armor. They weren't firing bullets, but rather darts of some kind that pattered off his skin, falling harmlessly to the floor. He reached out, grabbed the closest man, and flung him at the wall, so hard that the wood cracked and split, and when he tossed a second after the first, it shattered the old wood completely. He threw a third out the window, not caring that they were on the third floor, and dispatched the last with fists to the face. He could hear bone breaking, didn't care.
Most of the girls were awake now, though he could see empty beds and that scared him. Theresa Cassidy -- she'd been the one screaming, her piercing sonic shrill better than any alarm -- was slumped in her bed, and he picked her up carefully, seeing the three tiny darts lodged, in an odd triangular pattern, in her neck. Pulling them out, he barked, "Get to the tunnels," at the others.
Now he was glad of the drills that had seemed so boring and repetitive, because they ran -- some crying, gasping for air, a few having managed to shove feet into slippers or grab bathrobes, but none panicking. Down the hall the boys were appearing from their dorm, too, and he tried to see who was there and who wasn't. Seeing Sam Guthrie, he grabbed the boy's shoulder. "Who's not here?" he asked.
"Jubilee -- Artie," Sam gasped. His yellow hair stuck straight up on one side. "Haven't seen Kitty, but Rogue an' Bobby went down th' other way -- I think John's with 'em."
"Keep them moving," Peter said, and Sam nodded, gulping hard, dropping back to herd some of the younger kids together. Hefting Theresa up again, he shouldered his way ahead of the others, forcing his way through them until he reached one of the secret entrances to the tunnels. He set Theresa down -- she was starting to stir, now, and James held her carefully -- and gave the wall a solid pound with his fist. It shuddered, shook, then slid back and up, revealing the tunnel on the other side.
"Go!" he yelled, though they were already pushing in, bare feet splashing in the thin water. As the last few slipped through, he heard footsteps down the hall and tensed again, but then recognized the silhouette of the man approaching him: it was Logan, with Franklin Richards slumped unconscious in his arms. Logan transferred him easily, without giving Peter a chance to protest.
"I can help you," Peter said. Logan was spattered with blood, too much of it, and the look in his eyes was fierce and feral. Whatever was happening, Peter knew that it was serious, because a lot of men had already died and more were undoubtedly about to.
"Help them," Logan ordered, and turned and ran back down the hall to forestall any argument. Peter chafed -- he wanted to hurt these men who had violated the mansion, taken his friends -- but Logan was right; someone had to watch out for the younger kids, even the older ones who hadn't had enough training in the use of their powers. He ducked into the tunnel and hit the wall with his shoulder again, making the section slide back into place once more.
As he hurried down the tunnel, keeping an easy pace with the others, his mind raced. The intruders had been carrying expensive weaponry, night-vision goggles, their faces blacked with camo paint. This wasn't just some random anti-mutant group, no poorly organized group bent on "racial cleansing". This, no, this was something more. The government--? He shuddered at the thought. You were supposed to be able to trust the government. Unless you can walk through walls, he thought bitterly. If nothing else, the fact that the Mutant Registration Act had even been introduced to Congress last year should have been enough to put them all on alert that no-one could be trusted.
The thought of walking through walls made him think of Kitty, and he felt a frisson of worry. Up ahead, he could see that Theresa was mostly moving under her own power again, so the barbs had obviously been meant to incapacitate, not kill. Were the men planning to kidnap them? And for what purpose? And if Kitty had been taken--
He shoved the thoughts out of his mind and trotted ahead of the others as they reached the grating that opened into the back woods. Sam accepted Franklin's slight burden, and Peter gave the grate a hard shove to force it open. In moments, they were spilling into the woods. Peter tried for a head-count as they went, Danielle Moonstar at the head of the group, but it was useless in the dark with everyone pelting away from the mansion (thankfully, all in the right direction). Several of them were still crying, others looking shell-shocked, a few angered and outraged at what had happened. The only thing Peter knew for sure was that several of them were missing -- Jubilee, Amara, Tabitha, Doug -- he couldn't see Rogue, Bobby or John anywhere -- or--
He whirled to see Kitty splashing up the tunnel, barefoot and in her nightgown, and gasped in relief. "Come on!" he hissed. The grate was already closed, but Kitty took a breath and phased through it, easy as breathing.
"Thank God--" she gasped and flung herself into his arms. "I was so scared--"
He allowed himself to hold her for a moment, then pulled away, taking her hand. "Come on, we have to get to the bunker."
"Is it safe? I'm -- they were shooting at me, Peter, they took Jubilee, they just took her--"
"Kitty," he said sternly, giving her hand a squeeze. With a wet gulp, she subsided into silence, wiping her face with her free hand. Despite the real horror of the situation, Peter couldn't help but feel a little warmer inside.
The bunker was on the far edge of the property, which meant a decent trek through the woods. Peter swung Rahne Sinclair onto his shoulders when she tripped on a protruding tree root; there were no major injuries, though, and aside from the continuing tendrils of worry about their missing friends, the students were beginning to calm, the fear receding from eyes and hushed voices. He could hear Theresa complaining about having to walk in the woods, though she was quickly shushed by Dani, and had to smile a little.
Without warning, Rahne shrieked; the trees shook loudly above them, and piercing light burst through the heavy leaves. "Run!" Peter yelled -- needlessly, because they already were, fueled by adrenaline and new fear. He set Rahne down, and she transformed immediately into her werewolf form, loping ahead of the others easily; then he gave Kitty a push even as metal covered his skin again. "Go!"
"I--" she gasped, but as the first men came through the trees, into the harsh light pouring down from overhead, she turned and ran, phasing as she went so that the gunmen's darts passed harmlessly through her.
"Come on!" Peter snarled at them. They weren't bothering to shoot, no doubt having already recognized that the darts would be useless on him -- and approached him instead, one and then another leaping towards him. It was a relief to let go with his fists, to vent his anger, his outrage at the attack, to pound and slam until none of them were moving.
"Is he coming?"
"Sam, can't you--"
"I told you, Clarice, I don't know the passcode, an' it won't take my handprint--"
"Shh, shh, Rahne, don't cry, honey, it'll be OK. I promise."
The chattering all hushed at once at the loud sound of footsteps lurching through the underbrush, towards them. Kitty raised her head over the shrub behind which she'd hidden, and then, with a soft cry, ran forward. "Peter!"
He had powered down, but his hands were still slick with blood and he moved away from her as she came up to him, not wanting to bloody her nightgown. "I'm opening the bunker," he said instead, moving past her to where the door was shielded by bushes and an optical distortion field. Keying in the passcode on what appeared to be an outcropping of rock, he placed his palm on the scanning field, and a moment later, the bushes and stone disappeared in place of a heavy, round door that swung open to admit them.
At Sam's suggestion, they dragged out sleeping bags and blankets from the lockers, piling together in a rough circle in the middle of the bunker. At this point, everyone needed the comfort and the warmth, and this way it was a little more like a sleepover and a little less like a midnight attack. Peter retreated to the only bathroom to scrub himself, attempting to get at least the worst of it off. They were safe, he kept saying to himself over and over. That was the most important thing, worth every drop of blood on his hands. Finally, with a sigh, he left the bathroom, taking a clean shirt from one of the lockers, and pulled it on as he sat down with the others.
"What do you think happened?" asked Clarice Ferguson as he tugged a blanket over his knees.
"I don't know," he said softly. "But I'm sure Logan got away -- and knowing Rogue, she's with him, so Bobby and John probably are, too."
"Shouldn't someone be back by now?" That was Dani, sitting up in her sleeping bag, arms locked around her knees.
"Th' Prof and Scott weren't supposed to be back 'til tomorrow," Sam said quietly. "An' Ororo an' Jean, they didn't know when they'd be back."
A gloomy silence fell over the group, and Peter shook his head, getting to his feet. "All right, dwelling on this isn't going to do us any good. Let's try to get some sleep, huh? They can't get in here, so we can relax, and we'll try to radio Jean and Ororo tomorrow."
He moved around the bunker, dousing the lights until only a few remained on, soft recessed lights that glowed dimly around the edges of the room. Though he was getting some resentful looks, most of the students were taking the hint and curling up, at least pretending to try and sleep.
As he laid down again, he glanced over to where Kitty had been seated, wanting one last glimpse before he closed his eyes. He knew he wouldn't sleep at all tonight, but if nothing else, he could set an example for the others. He paused, then blinked when he realized that she wasn't there. Shit.
He stood again, quietly, and padded towards the rear of the bunker. The control room, which housed the communications and surveillance equipment, was the only other place she could have gone besides the bathroom, and since there was no light coming from under the bathroom door...
He pushed open the door to the control room. The lights were on inside, dimmed somewhat, and Kitty looked up guiltily from the console. "I, uh. I was gonna see if I could get through to someone."
Sighing, Peter closed the door most of the way, then sat in the second chair, beside her. "We can't do anything tonight. If we broadcast something, they might pick it up. They might be here for a while."
She went pale. "Oh. But -- if it was one fast signal? They wouldn't be expecting it--" She deflated a little, turning to poke a finger at a button, not hard enough to depress it. "I checked all the comm channels. There's nothing but static. It probably wouldn't get out anyway."
"I'm sure they're all fine," Peter said quietly. "When they get back, they'll go get Artie and Jubilee and Amara and the others."
"I'm scared," she whispered, and when she looked up at him, "Wh-what if they don't come back?"
"Come here," Peter said, reaching for her hand, and without a second thought he pulled her into his arms. Kitty was shaking; he rubbed her back, gently, with a big hand. Her cheek was soft on his shoulder.
"What if they don't come back? We-- we can't stay in here forever, there isn't enough food. And--"
"Hey," he murmured, giving her a little shake. "They'll come back. They're the good guys, remember?"
"But if they don't--"
"Stop that. Thinking like that isn't going to do anyone any good. Right now, we have to focus on keeping everyone safe. They need us, Kitty."
She raised her head, nodding a little, and brushed at her cheeks with one hand. "I, I know. I do." With a little shake of her head, she pulled away, sat down again, and Peter leaned forward in spite of himself. He disguised the movement by resting his arms on his thighs.
"So what-- what's the plan for tomorrow?" she asked.
He turned to gaze over the control panel. "I haven't really figured it out yet. If the soldiers are gone, then we'll go back to the mansion. If not -- well, we'll have to stay here until the X-Men get back. Someone -- I can go in, get food, whatever we need."
"Me, too," Kitty said, and went on before he could protest: "I can phase both of us if we're touching, they wouldn't be able to hurt us."
"But we can't even let them know we're there, that we survived," he said, and then sighed, raking a hand through his hair. "Look, it doesn't matter if they're gone. We'll worry about it tomorrow, OK?"
She nodded, biting her lip. "I think-- I'm pretty sure we can keep an eye on things from here. It's all linked into the mansion's systems, so I can get the security cameras and everything."
"Good," he said, on a sharp relieved sigh; he'd been dreading the idea of walking out into a potential ambush. "All right," and then, as Kitty's hands poised themselves over the keyboard, "tomorrow. It won't do us any good now, and we need to be fresh in the morning for whatever's out there."
Kitty sighed, but she stood, letting Peter lead her from the room and palming the lights off as they left. They picked their way over sleeping bags to their own spaces; most everyone was asleep, now, or at least making a good pretense of it. Before she stepped past Rahne to her sleeping bag, Kitty turned and impulsively hugged Peter, and then was gone, a shadow in the darkness. He smiled to himself as he settled down on the floor, drew a blanket over himself. Despite the soft constant sounds of breathing, snoring, and a few faint whispers, he was tired, the adrenaline rush that had kept him going before now drained, and he fell asleep in moments.
"Peter!" Someone was shaking his shoulder. He rolled over and blinked up at Kitty, who grinned down at him.
"Come on, here, you have to see," and he got up as she pulled on his arm, stifling a yawn behind one hand.
In the control room, she shut the door before flicking the display on. The various monitors showed the mansion's upper and lower levels clear, devoid of any activity. Outside, the front lawn, though flattened and trampled, ripped up by the men who had stormed the grounds, was similarly empty. Despite the various windows broken, Peter suspected there had not been much additional damage, aside from the hole in the wall of the girls' dorm. He winced, remembering.
"They got into Cerebro," Kitty said in a more serious tone, pointing at one of the monitors: it displayed the corridor leading to the spherical chamber, the doors of which lay wide open. "I don't know how -- they must have had something that simulated Professor Xavier's retina--" She stopped, biting her lip. "But that's -- that's it. I think they got what they wanted and left."
Peter nodded; his thoughts had run along similar lines. He knew Cerebro's purpose: the professor, or any gifted telepath, could use it to locate a mutant anywhere on the planet. The men had clearly been after them, so, he thought with some dismay, they were probably going after every mutant alive, most likely intent on eliminating them. Us. He shuddered involuntarily.
"Well-- so, are we going to go back?" she asked, interrupting his thoughts, and he glanced up at her.
"They could have left people watching for us to come back," he said. "I'm going to go alone and check it out."
"Not alone," Kitty said, with a determined look in her dark eyes. "And I was thinking -- we could bring Rahne, 'cause she can go in her wolf form and smell if anyone's there."
"Which means we'd need to bring Dani," Peter concluded. It wasn't a bad idea, though, not at all. Danielle Moonstar's talent of plucking a person's worst fear or deepest desire from their head, and then displaying it for them, could be a more useful weapon on a group than physical violence, and her special empathy for animals would be necessary for them to communicate with Rahne. "All right. Get clothes -- for them and yourself -- and we'll get going."
He had to explain to the rest what was going on, and James Proudstar tried to argue with him that they should all go back together. "You can't leave us here all alone!"
"You're safer here than anywhere else," Peter said through gritted teeth. "They can't get in here -- the walls are something like a foot of solid steel -- and I can't watch everyone while we're making sure the mansion's safe."
"Then I'm going with you."
Peter stared down at the boy, a head shorter than him, until James finally looked away. "You're staying here," he said firmly. "You can play hero when we need to beat people up, but until then--"
"No, James," Peter said, and turned as Dani emerged from the bathroom. They'd managed to scrounge outfits, though the pants and jackets were decidedly oversized on the girls; Rahne was staying in her pajamas, since they'd morph with her when she transformed. "Ready?" he asked.
Dani looked pale beneath her dark complexion, but she nodded, and Rahne did, too, despite the apprehension in her eyes. He came over to them, kneeling so that he could look up at all three.
"Listen. We're going to go back in through the tunnels. Stay as quiet as you can. If someone's there, if they see you -- run. Don't try to fight. Get out as fast as you can, come back here. Doug'll open the bunker for you. OK?" When they nodded, he stood again, leading them to the exit.
"What should we do?" asked Doug as Peter keyed in the door's passcode.
"Sit tight. We'll come back for you if it's safe. If we don't come back, stay here until the others get back. They'll come get you." He gave them a tight smile and slipped out the door, after Kitty and the others, watched it close on the young faces of his fellow students.
Rahne had shifted to her full wolf form as soon as they were out of the bunker, and she trotted ahead of them; Dani's eyes were slightly glazed, her focus on the mindlink they shared when Rahne was in this form. The woods were refreshingly loud, normal, aside from the clouds of startled birds that flew up at Rahne's approach. If it hadn't been for the previous night's attack, Peter would have thought it a day like any other, perfect for a walk in the woods.
Soon enough, they had reached the edge of the grounds proper, and Peter stepped ahead, cautioning the others back as he moved to the grate and opened it. Nothing stirred; there was an eerie silence to the place, and, thinking of the dead bodies within -- the ones Logan had left -- Peter winced. They'd have to clean them up before the younger kids saw them, though he didn't even want to think of what to do with bodies.
They made their way through the tunnels cautiously, pausing at one of the entrances that opened on a hallway near the kitchen. "Hear anything?" Peter asked Rahne; she cocked her head thoughtfully, yellow eyes gleaming.
Dani responded, "She says it's quiet. No smells -- well, blood," and she swallowed. "But nothing moving."
"Kitty, why don't you take a quick look," Peter said. "If you see anything--"
"I know," she said, exasperated, and stuck her head and shoulders through the wall. Dani smothered a giggle, and Peter tried to glare at her, but he was smiling, too. A moment later, Kitty drew back.
"Nothing," she said. "No-- no bodies or anything."
"All right." Peter gave the wood panel a thump to make it slide open, and one by one they ducked through, into the hallway.
It was quiet, but it was the stillness of an abandoned house, not the extra-fine stillness of an ambush. The air conditioning was running, and he could hear the refrigerator's hum from the kitchen, so clearly the power was still on. Rahne padded down towards the kitchen and Dani closed her eyes to concentrate.
"She says -- there's a lot of blood, but -- no one there." Her voice was choked, and Kitty put an arm around the Cheyenne girl's shoulders.
"They probably took the bodies," Peter said softly. "No evidence."
"We should clean up before we bring the others back," Kitty said in a quiet voice. Meeting her eyes, Peter nodded.
Once they'd done a sweep of the mansion to ensure that it was safe, Peter left the girls to get changed into normal clothes and start cleaning; he'd finally grabbed a pair of jeans to replace his pajama pants, too, and then he headed back to get the others.
"The mansion's pretty much a mess right now," he warned them as they walked through the woods -- which seemed absurdly cheerful, sun dappling the leaves and underbrush, birds twittering overhead. "We're going to be doing some cleaning."
"But -- but it's not our fault!" Roberto daCosta protested. "Why should we have to clean it up?"
"It's your home," Peter said quietly. "No one else will do it for you."
When they got back, he sent them off to clean up and get dressed, telling them to convene in the kitchen afterwards, and then found Kitty and Dani in the foyer. They'd already done their best job on the kitchen, which was undoubtedly easier because of the tile surfaces, and now they were attacking the floor with sponges and buckets. They smelled strongly of soap and oil, and Dani sat back on her knees, grimacing as she inspected the patch of floor she'd been scrubbing.
"It looks a lot better," he said. Kitty jumped and looked up at him.
"Thanks," she said, wiping a hand across her forehead. It left a streak of soap bubbles.
"She-- the smell was too much for her," Dani said apologetically. "I told her to go patrol the grounds."
"That's good. It'll help get her mind off of things. Are you two OK?" They nodded, and he smiled a little. "Good. I'm gonna need your guys' help. I'm going to send some of the others down to help clean up here, and take the rest to start getting the broken stuff cleaned up, so you need to ride herd on them and make sure they work."
Kitty gave Peter a smile -- a real one, one that made his breath stop for a moment -- and nodded. "It'll be all right. We'll take care of it."
Reassured, he stood from his crouch and went to the kitchen to meet everyone and mete out assignments.
"I'm hungry," Roberto said, not for the first time.
"I told you, man, we'll eat when we get this hall done." Sam picked up a piece of wood and chucked it into a basket; it was almost full, and he hoped Clarice would pop in soon to teleport it out to the garbage pile. They'd been cleaning this part of the hall, where an octagonal orel window had been smashed in, for an hour now, first sweeping and vacuuming up shattered glass, then gathering the broken pieces of wood that had been frame and wall.
It was starting to look like they were mostly done, though; further down, there was a large section of wet floor and carpet, and Sam figured they'd have to haul the rug outside to dry it. Hopefully, it wouldn't be ruined. He wondered where all the water had come from--
"Dios!" Roberto gasped. Before Sam could question him, a piercing pain split his skull wide open. He sank down against the wall, clutching his head, but there was no relief from the agony, so intense, worse than anything he'd felt when his power was coming in -- looking out of the corner of his eye, he could see Roberto's power flickering darkly around him, turning his already-dusky skin to pure black, but it was fluctuating out of control.
"God," Sam groaned, unable to hold himself up any longer, and let himself collapse to the floor.
"Wh-what's happening?" Roberto managed in a raw voice.
"I don't know, I--" Sam couldn't form words anymore; the blinding pain felt like a fist, squeezing down on his head, and he tried to focus on a prayer. If the soldiers had come back--
All at once, the pain dissipated, so abruptly that Sam blinked in surprise. He looked up at Roberto, whose appearance had returned to normal, and shook his head experimentally. He felt fine, now, as if nothing strange had happened.
"What the hell was that?" Roberto said softly.
"I don't know," Sam replied, "but I really, really hope it doesn't happen again."
Just then Peter came jogging down the hall towards them, out of breath. He slicked a hand through his hair, took a gulp of air and asked, "You two OK?"
Dumbly, Sam nodded. "What was--" Roberto started, but Peter held up a hand.
"I don't know. But if everyone's all right, I think we'd better take a break and have something to eat."
By dinnertime, they had most of the debris cleaned up, and Xi'an had found some plastic sheeting in the storage shed to tack up over the broken windows, as well as the open wall in the girls' dorm. Dinner was cobbled together -- sandwiches, soup, simple comfort foods, but it was better than nothing and under the circumstances, no one complained.
Afterwards, Peter told the others to do homework if they had any, which elicited groans, but he was determined to keep them on as much of a normal schedule as possible. Those who didn't have homework scattered to the media room, to play games or watch television; the mood was subdued, though, and many of them began drifting upstairs well before their usual bedtime.
Peter was sitting in the kitchen, fiddling with the phone, when Kitty came in. "What's up?" she asked, sliding onto a stool next to him.
"Nothing," he said, and put the phone down. "I was trying Scott's cellphone, but he didn't answer -- neither did the comm in his car." They'd discovered that the Miata was missing while searching the garage for boxes to hold debris.
Kitty didn't have to voice the thought in both their minds: that Scott and the Professor had been due home that morning. Instead, she reached out and covered Peter's hand with her own, squeezing it a little.
"You should get some sleep," she said. "They'll be back soon. They will."
He sighed, then nodded and pushed to his feet. "Yeah. You should sleep, too."
"I will," she promised, and sat up, feet on the rungs of her stool. Her lips brushed against his cheek, and then she stood, too, blushing. "Thank you for -- for everything," she said, and ran lightly off. Peter blinked after her for a long moment; then, slowly smiling, he headed for the stairs. He could hear the TV, the evening news, from the media room, and it gave him a little comfort to know that Franklin was ensconced once more, returned to his normal habits. The soothing voice of the news anchor followed him upstairs.
"...and in Calgary, the Alkali Lake Dam unexpectedly burst today, flooding an uninhabited forest area. Officials were at a loss to explain how the dam, which had undergone a recent inspection, broke open, but no foul play is suspected. Plans for rebuilding the dam are already underway, as it is a significant power source for the territory. And in local news..."
this page last updated on 22 may 2006