Slavery, Deliverance, And Faith [Movieverse]
- Disclaimer: Almost all the characters in this story
are the property of Marvel Comics, as interpreted by
Brian Singer. I do not have permission to use them,
and am making no money by said use. Annie and Geordi
belong to me, as do assorted supporting characters.
Please ask permission for their use. The title of
this story is taken from the song of the same name,
sung by Clint Black. This story is a sequel to 'The
Godless Among Them', by me, easily found at Kielle's
Slavery, Deliverance, And Faith
Annie hit a tripwire at hip height (on her, anyway),
doubled over, and fell flat on her cute little nose.
Creed smiled, picking her up by the overall-straps and
setting her back on her feet. "See, you missed the
"Who puts a tripwire above knee height?" Annie sulked.
She rubbed her nose with a little clawed hand. "Hurt
She was so CUTE! Creed firmly squashed a sloppy grin.
It was good that she'd tripped. The kid was
overconfident. And picking her up and giving her a
hug and telling her it didn't matter, just this once,
wasn't going to help one bit. "It'll heal. Go around
"Okaayyyyyy." She sighed, dusting off her knees and
skipping back to the beginning of the makeshift
obstacle course. Creed had told her, sternly, that
this was a 'baby' course... just a test to see how
well she'd do. He'd lied. The course would have been
moderately challenging even for him, and he was a good
three feet taller.
She wrinkled her nose, wriggled her butt a little, and
jumped eight feet straight up, to swing from the
bottom rung of a fire escape. Before the thing could
come down, she was pinging off a brick wall and
heading for the first obstacle. Aww..... his baby she
was so CLEVER! Look at the little critter go!
Creed wiped the grin off again, and tried to think
But she WAS cute. And as smart as a whip, too, he
thought fondly. Not like him. He'd pretty much come
to terms with the fact that he wasn't all that bright,
but it was nice that she'd gotten Mystique's brains.
He was also thankful that that was all she'd gotten
from Mystique. He didn't like that woman. She was
shifty. And, given as Magneto was still in jail and
all, she was damn disloyal as well. And not just
disloyal to things like the Government, which didn't
count, but to actual PEOPLE.
Annie bounced off the last dumpster and stabbed a
mannequin in the kidneys. "How'd I do?"
"Not bad," he said as grudgingly as he could.... but
when she bounced happily on her heels and beamed at
him, he couldn't help smiling back. "That's enough
for today. You wanna get pizza?"
She nodded. "Can we get the brown sauce on it?" she
said hopefully. "And the little sausage slices?"
"Whatever you want, honey." He didn't even notice the
endearment as it slid past his lips. "But you better
clean up first. Yer filthy."
"That's YOUR fault," she pointed out.
"Okay, okay, I'll clean...." They slipped out of the
vacant warehouse, and across the road to the bike.
It was completely ridiculus to think her tiny helmet
was cute, hanging on the side of the bike next to his
Annie lifted her small face and sniffed. "Do you
Creed sniffed too, turning his head a little. "Think
so. In the alley?"
She nodded, slipping quick as a weasel into the narrow
opening. He paused, irresolute. It probably wouldn't
help if he went in too..... and he really hated places
too small for him to fight in...
"Hey, Dad!" An imperious little voice summoned him
from the alley, and the magic D-word melted him
instantly. With a resigned sigh, he slipped into the
Annie was crouching in the darkest corner, her posture
one of absorbed focus. "Look what I found," she said
Creed hunkered down on his heels, and looked. A
scrawny little girl scuffled back against the brick
wall, gazing at him with wide, white pupilless eyes.
For a split second, he thought she was blind... then
the mauve hair and lavender skin registered. A
mutant. "Huh," he said thoughtfully. Annie aside, he
really didn't like kids much.
Annie reached out a curious paw. The kid flinched,
and Annie tilted her head. "You got a name?" she
"C-Clarice..." the little girl whispered.
"Clarice, huh?" Annie nodded. "I'm Annie. And
that's my dad," she said proudly.
The white eyes widened a fraction more as they took in
Creed's massive bulk. "Oh," she whispered.
Annie's sharp - and for now, blue - eyes took in the
too-thin frame, the matted purple hair, the dirty
skin. "You're on the streets, huh?"
Clarice nodded ever so slightly.
Creed traded eyerolls with his daughter. A kid who
just went around answering questions like this...
well, she wouldn't last long, and that was a fact.
Poor little brat didn't look older than eleven, and an
"She's only little," Annie whispered, too soft for the
child to hear.
"It's not our problem," Creed protested
half-heartedly, in the same near-silent whisper.
Dammit, now he was going soft... just because he had a
kid of his own, he was getting so he didn't like
seeing other little girls in over their heads...
"We could take her back to the school," she suggested.
"They like little scruffy smelly kids."
Creed nodded. It would certainly make some brownie
points for him if he dropped another little kid off
with Annie on Monday. They were still pretty leery
about letting him take her on weekends, and until
she'd learned everything they had to teach her...
which he figured would take at least another six
months... he was going to have to make nice.
Annie held out her hand. "C'mon," she said kindly.
"You're not really bright enough to make it on the
streets by yourself, I can tell. So we're gonna take
you to this sort of school place where they think
mutants are all cute."
Clarice stared at the extended hand, shaking her head
"Aww, c'mon," Annie coaxed. "Nobody's gonna do
anything nasty to you, I promise. On account of if
they try, I'm gonna reach down their throat and pull
their liver out, okay?"
The little girl made an uncertain noise.
"We'll buy you some pizza," Annie wheedled. "With
little sausage slices."
* * *
Scott leaned back in his chair, a manouver which
allowed him to look out his office door and across the
hall to the foyer. "Annie, what time is it?"
"It's eight o'clock. Right when you told me to be
Scott sighed. "I MEANT in the morning, Annie."
She giggled, bouncing into his field of view. "But
you didn't SAY in the morning."
"I said in the morning LAST time. And the time
before. And the time before that." Scott couldn't
help grinning at her. "You know I MEANT it this
"Yeah, but you didn't SAY it," she pointed out,
grinning back. "Anyway, we were going to come back in
the morning, but we found something really interesting
"Another car that almost goes?" Scott asked
"No, much better." She pointed out of his field of
vision. "Come and see!"
Resigned to his fate... and fairly sure that whatever
she'd brought back this time had to be at least as
interesting as the Cadillac that was very nearly fixed
now... Scott pushed back his chair and strolled out
into the foyer. "What did... you... "
A tiny, scrawny child was clinging to Creed's hand,
wearing what Scott was fairly sure was a pair of
Annie's overalls (much too big) and her
least-favourite pink t-shirt. She was very obviously
a mutant, and even allowing for malnutrition and poor
growth, she couldn't be more than eleven. "We found a
kid," Annie said proudly.
"I can see that." Scott hunkered down slowly, gazing
at the little girl. "Hi. I'm Scott Summers."
She sidled a little closer, still holding tightly to
Creed's hand. "Hi," she whispered.
"I told her about you," Annie said helpfully. "He's
the nice one, Clarice."
Scott smiled his friendliest smile. "Clarice, huh?
That's a pretty name."
She smiled shyly. "Thank you," she said in that same
Annie tugged on Scott's sleeve. "Mr Summers? Can she
Scott looked at the tiny, helpless-looking child, and
let sentimentality cloud his judgement. "Of course
she can," he said firmly. "We wouldn't dream of
sending her away."
Clarice's face lit up like a small, pale candle, and
Scott smiled again. "Annie, would you mind if Clarice
shared your room?" he asked, squinching around to look
"I was gonna ask if she could." Annie gave him one of
her comically serious looks, that always put him in
mind of a baby monkey. "I think it's fostering bad
feeling that I have a room to myself."
Scott nodded, equally seriously. It was absolutely
imperative that you not laugh at her when she was like
this. "That's true. And I can trust you to look
after Clarice and make sure she knows her way around
and such, right?"
Annie nodded, smiling proudly. "I can do that."
"Good." Scott finally had to turn his attention to
Creed. "Uh... thanks for bringing Clarice in," he
Creed grunted, scowling a bit. "Was Annie's idea," he
Well, he'd guessed THAT much.... "Thanks anyway," he
said as politely as he could, and turned back to
Clarice. "Clarice, do you have any family you need to
She shook her head violently, and Annie put a
comforting arm around her shoulders. "It's okay," she
said comfortingly. "Mr Summers doesn't have any
family, either, so he understands these things."
Scott nodded, touching the thin shoulder gently as he
stood up. "Okay. Have you eaten?"
"Dad bought us some chicken," Annie said happily,
gazing adoringly up at her father. Scott firmly
squashed a tiny twinge of jealousy. Just because he
felt like he had a special bond with Annie didn't mean
he got to be jealous of her own *father*. "Hey, Mr
Summers, did you know that you can get it in all
different size buckets? We got a really BIG one."
Scott rolled his eyes. "Annie, do you remember ANY of
what Doctor Grey taught you about nutrition?"
"Uh-huh. We had apples, too." Annie beamed. "Great
big green ones that got juice all over the inside of
the Jeep. You gotta be careful with those things.
"Good." Scott interceded before she could go into full
spate. "Why don't you take Clarice up to your room,
then? She looks like she could use an early night,
and you have studying to do before you go to bed."
Annie nodded and sighed. "Okay, okay...." She stood
on tiptoes and hugged her father around the ribs.
He wrapped big arms around her for a brief, awkward
moment. "I'll be here."
She smiled dazzlingly at him, then pried Clarice's
hand from his and gently coaxed her up the stairs,
taking the small thin hand in her square,
long-fingered one. "C'mon, I'll show you our room."
"Is it nice?" Clarice whispered.
"Sure it is. Kinda small, but that's okay if it's
just us. Only don't wake me up if I'm sleeping,
because I might whap you in my sleep." Annie's
chattering - softer than usual - faded away up the
Sabretooth and Cyclops stared at each other.
There didn't seem to be a lot to say.
With a soft grunt, Sabretooth turned and stalked away.
* * *
"Her name's Clarice," Annie said, for the eleventh
time that morning. "I found her, and she's kinda shy,
so be nice."
Clarice inched a little closer to Annie. The brash,
charming girl made her feel much safer. She might be
a little loud, and a little overconfident, but she'd
made it clear that anybody who messed with Clarice
messed with her... and the other students had made it
clear that anybody who messed with Annie was a crazy
They all seemed to like her, though... there was
something about her unquenchable cheerfulness that
made up for the loudness and impatience and total lack
of anything resembling tact. She was annoying, but
liked her anyway. Clarice had always been quiet, and
friendly, and well behaved... and she hadn't had a
tenth of the friends that Annie seemed to.
She kept waiting for the older girl - by just over two
years, they'd figured - to leave, and go off with her
own friends. But she hadn't... she'd just towed
Clarice around with her, telling everyone who she was,
and that she was shy, so they had to be nice. And
they were... even the boys. Two called John and Bobby
especially, who had smiled at her and shared a bag of
candy at lunchtime. Rogue was nice, too, but much too
old to really be a friend... seventeen, at least.
Jubilee - who'd once shared a room with Annie - was
nice, but spent most of her time with her own best
friend, Kitty. Yana was the only one close to
Clarice's age, but she didn't speak much English.
"You want a Gummi Snake?" Annie held out a small
package. "They kind of get stuck in my teeth, but I
Clarice took one, smiling a little. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." Annie kicked at the grass, legs
swinging from the bench. "Do you like it here?"
"It's nice." Clarice knew she looked anxious, but she
couldn't help it. "How... how long can we stay?"
"I don't know," Annie said thoughtfully. "Until we're
at least as old as Rogue and John.
Well, that was a long time... Clarice sucked
contemplatively on her Gummi, feeling rather less
Annie patted her knee. "Don't worry about it," she
said comfortingly. "People like you here."
Clarice brightened. "They do?"
"Sure." Annie grinned. "You're quiet, and nice to
people, and you keep me busy. I haven't climbed the
side of the building once since you got here."
"Oh." Clarice giggled a little. "Is that good?"
"Well, if I'm not climbing the building, I can't jump
off it screaming like a maniac just to watch everyone
panic," Annie said reasonably. "Which, incidentally,
never stops being funny. At least *I* don't think it
Clarice blinked, taking another gummi-snake. "...Oh."
"I'm not supposed to do it anymore." Annie sighed.
"And I'm not allowed to run on the roof, and I'm not
allowed to dig tunnels under the house, and I'm not
allowed to swing on the power-lines, and I'm not
allowed to drive the minibus, and I'm not allowed to
sit on the ceiling during class." She pouted. "I'm
not allowed do ANYTHING fun."
Clarice spluttered quietly. If she hadn't seen Annie
standing up on the back of the motorbike, she'd never
have believed it. "Well.... there are other things
that're fun..." she said weakly.
"Like what?" Annie asked curiously. "And don't
suggest swimming across the lake, 'cause that makes
Clarice gulped. "Uh... board games?"
Annie sighed. "I'm not allowed to play Pictionary or
Trivial Pursuit anymore. I'm too good at it. Perfect
memory and all."
"Oh. Well. Uh... Playstation?"
"John gets upset when I win. I think it threatens his
masculinity." Annie grinned. "Rogue's fun to play
Clarice giggled softly. "Oh, I see."
Annie grinned at her. "There's only one thing I won't
play. 'cause it's demeaning."
"What's that?" Clarice asked.
"Fetch. Anyway, Bobby gets the bark stuck in his
* * *
"Mr Summers?" Annie peeped around the office door.
"Not really." He looked up from a stack of papers,
smiling at her. "What is it?"
Annie perched in the 'student' chair. "It's Friday,"
"And...?" he prompted.
"And I'm worried about Clarice." Annie gave him her
serious-baby-monkey look. "She hasn't really
acclimated yet, and she's upset about me going away."
"Oh. And you want to cancel this weekend's going
Annie gave him a stern look. "No, silly. I want her
to go too. Dad misses me when I'm not there."
Scott blinked. "I.... you don't think he'd....
Annie shook her head. "You said I couldn't have a
puppy. I need *something* to play with."
Scott blinked again. "It's not quite the same," he
"Well, no. I don't have to paper-train Clarice."
Annie grinned. "Really, I'm sure he won't mind. He
likes anything that keeps me busy."
Scott raised an eyebrow. "He's supposed to be
spending time with you," he said sternly. "As in,
*he's* supposed to keep you busy."
Annie grinned. "He tries," she said demurely. "But
he's not really experienced with kids. And he gets
tired, 'cause he's not as young as he used to be."
Scott spluttered quietly. "What did you do to him!?"
Annie widened her eyes innocently. "We ran a race."
"And how long was this race?" Scott asked
Annie sniffed disapprovingly. "He flagged after forty
Scott grinned. "Dreadful," he said, shaking his head.
"Mind you, he didn't actually STOP until fifty-three
and a half blocks."
Scott chuckled. "And when did you stop?"
Annie grinned, swinging her feet. "Fifty-seven. I had
to go back to get him."
Scott chuckled. "Ahh. Well, it's good that you went
back." He fished around in his desk drawer, and
offered her a bag of confiscated liquorice. "I don't
know, Annie... Clarice really needs to acclimate to
Annie pouted. "I can't take her with me?"
"Not this time," Scott said firmly. "We don't want to
foster emotional dependency, do you?"
Annie sighed and shook her head. "No. 'cause that's
destructive to her emotional stability and personal
"That's right." Scott patted her hand. "We want
Clarice to be a whole and self-reliant person, who
doesn't need an emotional crutch.'
Annie nodded. "But I'll call her tomorrow, to make
sure she's all right."
"If you like." Scott smiled. She was so adorable,
sometimes..... when she wasn't being a nightmarishly
energetic little hellion.
"I will." Annie pouted a little. "I still wish she
could come with me."
"Maybe another time," Scott said kindly, not meaning a
word. "And Annie... when you see your father, I think
you need to have another one of those little talks
Annie blinked. "Again? What'd he do this time?"
"There are five bikers in intensive care, and I
understand that he stuffed wrapped one of them up in
his bike so comprehensively that he had to be cut out
with a welding torch."
"Oh dear." Annie sighed heavily. "I'll talk to him."
"You might mention the taxi he pushed into the river.
Right off the side of the bridge." Scott removed his
glasses for a moment to rub his closed eyelids, then
slid them carefully back into place. "He is getting
better, though. He did pull the driver out through
the window before giving the taxi its bath."
"I'll talk to him," Annie said resignedly. "He won't
do it again."
"Well, yes, but he's going to do something else just
as bad, isn't he?" Scott leaned back in his chair and
sighed. "I know it's not easy for you, Annie, trying
to modify his behaviour, and I know you're too young
for this kind of thing, but he won't listen to anyone
"I know." Annie rested her chin on her hand. "He's a
"And if you don't feel ready for that responsibility,
Annie, you don't have to-"
"Yes I do." Annie shrugged. "Nobody else can."
Scott paused. Then he smiled at her, reaching out to
pat her shoulder gently. "That's a very mature
attitude," he said softly. "And I'm proud of you."
She beamed, and nearly knocked him over with an
enthusiastic hug. "Thanks, Mr Summers!"
"You're welcome." Scott returned the hug, a little
awkwardly. "And no."
Annie pouted. "I didn't even ask yet!"
"Clarice still needs to be independent. And you need
to have that little talk with your dad."
Annie sighed. "Oh, okay. But you gotta look after
her while I'm gone."
* * *
"Come on. It'll be fun," Bobby coaxed.
Clarice shook her head, hugging a cushion to her
chest. "Don't want to," she whispered stubbornly.
"You sure?" he asked kindly. "We'd like you to come
"Don't want to," she insisted.
"Okay. We'll bring you back something." He smiled at
her again, and left.
Clarice sniffled a tiny sniffle. She missed Annie.
It had been a whole day and a half, and she wouldn't
be back until tomorrow morning. The school seemed a
lot bigger and scarier without her, and Clarice felt
very much smaller.
Everyone was being nice to her... Jubilee and Kitty
had taken her to a movie yesterday, along with
Illyana, and even bought her popcorn. And Bobby had
just offered to let her go with him, Marie, and John
to the mall, and Mr Summers had even let her have an
extra helping of dessert last night. But it wasn't
"Clarice?" a gentle voice murmured.
Clarice looked up, to see the smooth white hair and
dignified smile that were the first things anyone
noticed about Ms Monroe. "Hi," she whispered.
"Hello," Ms Monroe said softly, sitting down on the
couch beside her, right where Bobby had been a few
minutes before. "You didn't want to go to the mall,
Clarice shook her head. She hadn't wanted to go. She
hated the mall, which was too big and too loud and too
bright and too crowded. Even with Annie, it was
Ms Monroe nodded understandingly. "It is a little
overwhelming sometimes, isn't it?" she said kindly.
"So very loud, and so many people."
Clarice nodded, giving her a shy little smile. Ms
Monroe was nice. She didn't act like you were weird
if you didn't talk much, and got nervous in crowds.
She didn't talk much, either.
"Well, since you don't want to go to the mall, how
about we go down to the kitchen?" She smiled that
nice smile again, holding out her hand. "I have a tub
of icecream hidden in the freezer that we could share,
if you like."
Clarice smiled again, a bit wider this time. "Okay,"
she whispered, tucking her small thin hand into Ms
Monroe's long, slender one.
They slipped down to the kitchen, where the cook was
muttering good-temperedly about picky teenagers who
didn't appreciate fine food. Ms Monroe smiled at
him, and they took the icecream and two spoons out
onto the little patio. "I hope you like fudge-mint,"
Ms Monroe said seriously. "It's my favourite kind."
"I've never tried it," Clarice murmured shyly.
"Here." Ms Monroe loaded up a spoon and held it out.
Clarice tasted it tentatively, and couldn't help the
big smile that spread over her face. The older woman
smiled too, and pushed the tub a little closer. "You
like it, hm?"
Clarice nodded, beaming. "It's nice."
Ms Monroe took a spoonful of her own, and nibbled it
delicately. "You miss Annie, don't you?" she said
gently. Clarice nodded silently, taking another
spoonful of icecream. Ms Monroe nodded, giving her
another kindly smile. "It must be very dull, not
having anyone to play with," she ventured.
Clarice nodded again, smiling a little bit. "We play
lots of things," she said shyly. "Like hide-and-seek,
and Finding Things That Got Lost, and Climbing High
Things and Making John Nuts."
Ms Monroe actually giggled at that. "As a teacher, I
should discourage that game, but I rather believe that
it's good for his ego," she said, almost impishly.
"It makes it a lot smaller."
Clarice giggled too. "He swears a lot," she said
shyly. "But he knows it's in fun."
Ms Monroe nodded. "You and Annie seem to have a lot
of fun together," she said softly. "You know, she
wanted to take you with her this weekend."
Clarice nodded and sighed. "But Mr Summers said no.
'cause he doesn't want me to be dependant." Annie had
explained that Mr Summers only had their best
interests at heart, but Clarice hadn't been entirely
Ms Monroe looked grave. "I think Mr Summers was
right, Clarice," she said softly. "Annie's visiting
her father right now, and... well... he can be a
little scary sometimes."
Clarice gave her a blank look. "He can?"
Ms Monroe blinked back. "You hadn't noticed?"
Clarice shook her head, and smiled another shy little
smile. "He let me ride on the motor-bike," she said
happily. "And I got a whole pizza all for me."
Ms Monroe blinked at her, looking baffled and a little
alarmed. "You did?"
Clarice nodded. "He doesn't talk much, 'cept to
Annie, but he didn't yell at me or anything. And he
gave me and Annie a box of cookies each." Food figured
largely in Clarice's world, and had since she'd found
herself homeless and alone. Anyone who gave her as
much as she wanted to eat, and didn't yell at her, was
fine with her.
Ms Monroe took another bite of icecream, gazing out at
the grounds for a long moment. "He didn't.... scare
you, then?" she asked carefully.
Clarice pondered the question. "A little, I guess.
Right at first. But not after I saw him and Annie
together for a while." She sighed, licking her
spoonful of icecream reflectively. "It must be nice
to have someone like that. Who loves you even if you
*are* a rotten kid a lot of the time."
Ms Monroe nodded slowly. "They seem truly fond of
each other, then?"
Clarice nodded. "In a guy way. Shoulder-punching and
Ms Monroe nodded again. "Would you have liked to go
with Annie?" she asked very quietly.
Clarice savoured her icecream. "Yes," she said just
as quietly. "I wanted to go."
"Then I will arrange it with Mr Summers for next
week," Ms Monroe said, standing up. "You may finish
what's left of the icecream, if you wish. I... have
work that needs doing."
Clarice nodded, digging into the icecream happily.
She would go next weekend. It would all be arranged.
* * *
(continued in next post)
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