I Do What I Have to Do
I don’t own X-Force, New Mutants, X-Factor, or NeXt Wave.
Author: Dimitri Aidan
Fandom: Marvel Comics
Pairing: Ric/Star/Adam and various variations of such. (Yes…various variations.)
Timeline: Ohhh…some random point in X-Factor. Totally ignores the X-Force and Shatterstar Mini because I didn’t know that much wrong could be crammed into so few comics.
Warnings: Violence, blood, angst, language, Mexican abuse (the language, not Ric), sex, angst, threesomes, questionable sanity, kidnapping (mutant-napping?), angst, and so forth.
Notes: Nextwave was a work of brilliance and may I just say I hope it rests in peace.
Summary: Rictor doesn’t talk about
Empty Since You Left
Teresa stood in the doorway of Ric’s room, which had been hastily turned into a hospital room of sorts. IVs and tubes and bags of clear liquid, sterile white sheets and a small bowl of water gave the room a strange feel when combined with otherwise dark atmosphere.
Julio had always liked to keep things pretty straightforward and, yes, a little on the dark side of things. It had always suited him she guessed, far more than anything else did.
Rahne sat at Julio’s side, having moved rarely in the past two weeks and even then only for a few moments at a time. She didn’t falter, she didn’t waver, and her affection for him was so obvious that it hurt Teresa to watch.
Terry bit back a yawn and looked across the bed at Rahne, who’d fallen asleep in her chair and was snoring softly. She looked agitated even in her sleep, dark circles under her eyes and lines of distress dancing across her forehead and around her mouth. She wasn’t getting much slee,p but, Terry thought as she leaned back in her seat, none of them were really.
“Nghh.” Rictor’s face changed, pain crossing his features. His body started to curl in on itself and Terry just watched, knowing that it was better to wait out the episode then try to interfere. Jamie had gotten a backhand to the face, and they’d all been forced to contend with a dupe who was far too emotional concerning Ric, when he’d tried.
There were no screams though, no nonsensical rambling, just the cracking of eyelids and slivers of deep brown staring at her. She almost forgot to breathe: this was the first time he’d opened his eyes since the shooting! Maybe he was finally coming ‘round?
A hand reached up, shaking and seemingly unfocused, and just touched her hair. He stared at her dazedly before his hand fell back to his side. “Star…should…left. Sorry..you…. love.” He muttered a few more moments before his eyes once again slid shut.
She let out the breath still caught in her throat then swallowed. She looked over at her other friend, somehow not surprised to find her awake or her expression completely closed off. She held Rahne’s gaze for a moment then stood up stiffly, back protesting all of the sudden movement. “I have to make some calls. I’ll be back.”
It wasn’t fair to Rahne or Rictor to do what she had done but she’d done it anyway. She’d called Wade, who had been at the office mere hours later, costume ripped and blood splattered, and together they’d gone to find Cable. A few hours after that and she had someone looking for him.
Rictor hadn’t spoken a word about the man he called his best friend, hadn’t so much as offered an explanation as to what had happened to Shatterstar, and even left the room when he was mentioned. She hadn’t pushed, knowing that Rictor preferred to keep his business to himself but in her opinion it was no longer an option.
On the rare occasions that the feverish and obviously delirious Rictor was conscious, save that one time, he’d scream and thrash and all she could think was that it was a damn good thing he was depowered otherwise he would have killed them all weeks ago. Something was wrong, very wrong, and had been since Rictor had joined them.
Something dark was inside of him and it was obvious to everyone but they were just ignoring it while it threatened to consume him, but she wasn’t going to do that anymore.
She wasn’t going to lose anyone else if she could help it.
She should have done it sooner, like when Rictor wanted to jump off a building sooner. Shatterstar would want to know: just like Rictor had come back for Star when he needed him she knew Star would do the same for Ric. It wasn’t fair to Star to leave him in the dark any longer.
She jumped back, just missing being hit by the robots metal tail, then turned to run. She could hear it whistling as it sliced through the space she’d been occupying not a second before and winced as it hit the wall to her side, knocking a hole clear to the other side.
Stupid robot lizard things. This was almost worse than that damn purple pants wearing lizard H.A.T.E. had sent after them before. It was the sort of thing she should have expected when signing up for a group called H.A.T.E. and agreeing to work for a guy who ate pureed chicks.
Poor baby chickens.
Tabitha, or Boom-Boom for the sake of the situation she was currently in, made a sharp left between two red-brick buildings, hair trailing after her. Just as the blond locks cleared the corner a foul smelling glob of slime hit the wall and, with a sickening hiss, began to eat through the brick. She didn’t need to turn to imagine the way it hissed and bubbled, foam and smoke rising up, as it burned away.
She’d already seen the effect on a small dog a few blocks back and, as screwed up as she’d readily admit to being, she didn’t know that she’d ever be the same. It was like, seriously messed up. The poor little things really didn’t deserve to go out like that. On the other hand, better it than her, right?
She came to a skidding halt in front of a large green dumpster that sat in front of a chainlink fence. She cursed then took a few steps back, prepared to hop the dumpster and make a run for it.
A whizzing sound filled the air and she ducked as once again the sharp tail lashed out at her, cutting into the dumpster. She looked up through her bangs, breath leaving her mouth in an annoyed huff.
The robot made an annoyed mechanical sound before opening its jaws with a dull clank. Tabitha squinted, watching as a thick pus-colored fluid dripped from between metal teeth, then recoiled at a putrid rotting smell coming from inside. She didn’t know what it had churning around inside exactly, beyond that it was gross and acidy, but she had the feeling she didn’t want to find out.
Where the hell was Elle when you could actually use her anyway? Or better yet, Aaron. Maybe he could speak evil robot to them or something.
Oh, right, they’d gotten all ‘disband-y’ on her. Bastards.
Why couldn’t she be like an X-men or an Avenger or one of those superhero outfits that didn’t break up, have their name stolen by reality TV idiots, or just in general fall apart? Didn’t she deserve a little stability in her life too?
Sometimes she really missed Sam.
Still, between losing her team, mutants being on the endangered species list, and this whole ‘register or else’ crap going on everywhere, she swore life was getting even stranger than it usually was.
And then there were the lizard robots. Bulky, shiny, seven-foot tall, not counting the whip-like tails that were easily another four feet, intent on slicing, dicing, and then melting her. She sighed, standing upright and jumping onto the dumpster, boots clanging loudly. Tabitha aimed at the ground and it exploded in a shower of rubble and dust. She hopped up, grabbed the top of the fence, just managing not to wince as it cut through her gloves and into her palms. She pulled herself up, usual style and grace tossed out the window in favor of survival. Another shot of acid started to eat at the fence but another jump had her up on a rusted fire escape.
When she’d decided to make a little trip south of the border to avoid the registering thing she’d thought things would go smoother, not continue to be absolutely bat-shit insane. But she’d long since learned to just kind of roll with things and so she turned, arm outstretched and a smile on her face.
The first exploded in a shower of sparks and slime, arcing up and falling just short of the fire escape, hence her need for space. She couldn’t die today, she had places to go and people to find. After all, what was the point of fleeing the country and running from the government if you couldn’t take time out of your day to do a few good deeds by old friends?
And even if today had been a good day to die, fuck that getting melted into a puddle of gross ooze.
One Week Before
The bar was decidedly seedy and rowdy, the air thick with smoke and the smell of cheap booze. The girls were beautiful in a certain kind of way, most of them dark haired and dark skinned, wearing too much lipstick and showing too much skin. The men were less beautiful but seemed in good spirits for the most part, more intent on their drinks and respective companions than causing any trouble.
The day was hot and sticky; the sun high in the sky, and Tabitha was loving every minute of it. There was music playing in the background, slow and sorrowful yet her heart was racing and, as she gestured for another drink, smiled to herself. She had enough money to hang out comfortably for a while almost anywhere and as long as she stuck to dive motels and bars she’d have more than enough to stay for more than a while.
She had to send Cable a thank-you card: without him she’d probably be locked up or a government lackey once again or maybe worse. She may have come off as empty-headed a lot of the times but she wasn’t so foolish as to think that everyone had come out of Iron man and Captain
Still, she thought as she tilted her head back and let her shot burn its way down her throat, the big dudes were always pissing on each other’s parades. Someone would patch it all up eventually, everyone would come back from the dead, and she might consider going back over the boarder.
A man by the ancient looking jukebox winked at her and she smiled back, taking in the solid form and dark wavy hair. Or, maybe she’d stay forever. Who knew these days?
She was seriously considering getting up and introducing herself when her phone rang, upbeat techno music kind of ruining the vibe of the bar. She snatched up her purse and grabbed the hyper pink cell, knowing that everyone was turning to look at her and wondering if maybe now would be a good time to return to her room.
“This is Tabs, speak to me!” She said as she slid off of the stool, legs peeling off slower than she would have liked. She tugged on her shorts a little as she tried to mentally steel herself for the even more oppressive heat outside.
Whoever it was had better have a damn good reason for interrupting her flow.
“Tabitha, this is Teresa.” The soft Irish lilt was like music to her ears and she couldn’t even begin to suppress her smile. Last she knew of Terry she was in
Somehow she didn’t imagine that was going to be possible though. That didn’t make her any less happy to hear from the other woman; besides peace and quiet wasn’t good for a girl like Tabitha. All play and no explosions could make Tabby a very dull girl.
Unlikely, but possible.
“Ohmigod, Terry!” She pushed the doors open, just managing not to wince at the bright sunlight. The sunglasses fell into place without a thought and she started across the dusty street to her hotel. “How’d you get my number?”
“Cable.” Teresa’s voice was clipped and she could hear the strain. Yes, this was going to a peace shattering phone call. “I’m looking for Shatterstar and Cable said that you’re in
“Oh. Why don’t you just ask Ric?” If anyone knew how to find Shatty it would be Ric; they were just…like that and neither one was the sort to let a few thousand miles keep them out of contact.
“Rictor’s hurt.” Two words could say it all with people like them. Terry wasn’t talking ‘oh, he’s laid up right now’ hurt or even ‘kidnapped and tortured hurt’ but ‘Almost dead/dead/fresh back from the dead’ kind of hurt. “There was…its bad Tabby. He hasn’t really woken up in a week and when he is it’s just this…screaming and raving.”
More than the strain there was tiredness woven in every word she spoke, making them sound heavy and leaden to Tabitha’s ears. She nodded, even though she knew Teresa couldn’t see it. She didn’t need to hear anything else, didn’t need to know why Terry thought ‘Star could do something or how the hell she was supposed to find him. Just knew that it had to be done.
“I’m on it.”
She sent the last robot straight to hell where it belonged then let out a tired sigh. Now that she’d handled that there was the matter of getting off the fire escape (Not the way she’d come, as there was a bubbling, fizzy pile of acid slime down there) and getting back to business.
“I swear, you X-Force types always bring the most interesting people around.” The voice was dark and smooth, familiar to a degree but not so much that she could immediately place it. She looked up, squinting against the sun but could only make out a shadow. “Come up Tabitha.” The shadow moved, leaving only the sun. She reached up and pushed her sunglasses down, considering the offer. To go up or not to go up…
Worse come to worse there was more shit to blow up and it wasn’t like that was ever a bad thing.