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FF: Empathy (D) PG-13

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  • Cherry
    Disclaimers, etc: See part A Feedback: Is appreciated in any form. * She was standing by the windows, moonshine lighting her almost white hair. She didn t
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 9, 2001
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      Disclaimers, etc: See part A

      Feedback: Is appreciated in any form.

      *

      She was standing by the windows, moonshine lighting her almost white hair.
      She didn't turn when he entered the room, but he knew that she knew he was
      there. He closed the door behind him.

      Leaning against the wall, he waited for her to speak.

      She'd reached out to him before. She'd do it again.

      He didn't know how much time had passed as they stood there, aeons passing
      in moments, seconds in hours.

      "You shouldn't be here."

      "This wasn't exactly where I wanted to end up."

      "This area is off limits to guests. Father said so."

      "Frost may be the one who holds my ticket, but he didn't invite me here."

      "Then you're not invited."

      "You sure about that?"

      "You shouldn't be here."

      "That's not the same thing, Aurora."

      There was silence in the room, broken by the sounds of the guests mingling
      in the main hall.

      "How much is real to you, Logan? How much is dreams and hallucinations,
      how much completely forgotten?"

      "It comes to me in bits and pieces. I see things, but they're disjointed,
      overlapping with memories that I already have."

      "He'd let you go, you know. If you left now, nothing would happen to you."

      She had a point. He could go, take the bike, and be back at Xavier's in no
      time. Marie would certainly be happy to see him. Scott wouldn't be. That
      in and of itself would be worth it. And the witch... Well, he'd just have
      to take that one step at a time.

      He was half way to the door before he realized what was going on.

      "Does your father's little watch dog know that you can do that?"

      "Do what?"

      He felt anger start to fill him. She was lying to him. She'd probably
      been lying to him before they even met in person. Why was he still
      standing here? He should get back on the bike, which was in the lower
      basement, and head back to Xavier's.

      "Look, Aurora, Emma, whoever you are, I had no way of knowing where they
      were keeping the motorcycle. Quit messing with my head. It's not going to
      get you anywhere." Then her shoulders slumped, just a little, and the
      anger turned, leaving in its place a hollow pang. Not to mention the
      beginning of a pounding headache. "Now, just how much is real?"

      There was a pregnant pause, and she finally turned from the windows. "You
      know, sometimes I wonder that myself. How much of what I remember is true,
      how much is what Jack tells Mastermind that I should know, what I should
      be. Half the time I don't even know where I end and everyone else begins.
      Makes it kind of hard to figure things out."

      "I'm with you on that one."

      "You only know the half of it. Until a little while ago, you knew what was
      true. I've spent my entire life split, or changed around. You just don't
      know."

      He watched her closely, trying to drag up the dreams, how it all ended.
      "Show me," he said finally. Her head snapped up at that, her eyes icing
      over. "Not from what you've been through. Help me find what I'm missing."
      She stood silently for so long he was afraid she'd called for the guards
      and was waiting for them to arrive. Remembering his last encounter with
      Frost's little force set his teeth on edge. Hesitantly, she reached for
      his face, stopping just shy of his skin. She jerked back, frozen in the
      pale light. Then her face became impassive, and her hands darted forwards,
      cool against the sides of his face, long fingers pressing against his
      temple. He closed his eyes as he felt her ruffling through his brain.

      Then they were falling among the dark.

      The scenes came to him in a disjointed manner, like he was watching a bad
      filmstrip.

      Gunning the motorcycle as he raced from the hotel, following the pull in
      his head East. Passing by the Boston city limits sign, heading through the
      heart of the metropolis and into the upscale part, never really knowing
      where he was going, just following the pull. The grass was just starting
      to yellow, fading to the colour of the concrete. The tall buildings
      flashed by him, imposing structures of glass and metal.

      Then he smelled the smoke.

      The fire was new, probably not even through the building yet, still small.
      He remembered pulling up on the lawn by the front doors of the building
      with the fire inside. He couldn't even see it. Alarms were going off as
      he pushed through the door. Rowland Meadows, the sign in the lobby read.

      Logan had seen enough sanitariums to know one when he was inside. They may
      call this place fancy names, and the price tag may have been steep, but it
      was, in the end, just a nut house. A pair of orderlies were ushering a
      group of people down the corridor. The fire was starting to pick up. In
      the confusion, he wasn't stopped. No one questioned his right to be there.
      He followed his nose and his instincts through the corridors, catching the
      occasional glimpse of other people.

      He couldn't see their faces. Pale blurs passed by him.

      Then he was at what was, if not the source of attention, the source of the
      conflict. He didn't know how it had started, but the flames were shooting
      up quickly. A man in an orderly's uniform was crouched on the floor
      screaming. He wasn't on fire though. His hands were clamped to his head
      and he was rocking.

      Logan saw Aurora standing among the flames, miraculously untouched so far.
      She was standing stock still, but the flames moved around her, making her a
      part of them. Something in the curve of her lips, the tilt of her face
      made her wild, primal. She was beside him too. He could smell the one
      standing in the fire, honeysuckle and air before a rain. Her astral form
      looked at him once, then at the scene before them, then vanished. Aurora
      jerked in the flames, once.

      He watched as she kicked the man lying on the floor, her foot making
      contact again and again. He watched as sweat trickled down his face,
      tracing patterns along the set of horizontal scratches that graced his
      right cheek bone. The scratches were at least a week old.

      He remembered pulling her away when the flames rose too high, when he was
      afraid that if he waited any longer, he wouldn't be able to get her out in
      time. He could see the fire reflecting in her glassy eyes as she jumped at
      his touch, almost unleashing a mental blast on him. He saw her slowly
      starting to realize where she was. When her legs started to crumble, he
      took her arm, pulling her through the hall ways, hoping to find a side exit
      free of fire fighters.

      Then he was letting go of her as she collapsed onto the grass. Listening
      to her breathing, he thought that the smoke inhalation could have been a
      lot worse. Most of the bruises on her arms were purple and yellow with
      time already. He'd still have to take her to the hospital, but it could
      wait until they got to the next city. He had the feeling that Boston was
      going to be worse for their health than putting off a visit to the doctor.
      How was he going to explain her condition to people in the ER? They might
      call child services.

      Did he want her being taken care of in a place that wouldn't?

      They walked among the fire fighters, paramedics, and residents as they
      headed for the cycle. The eyes of the assembled crowd passed right over
      the odd pair, as if they weren't even there.

      They were almost out of Boston when it happened.

      He watched as he decelerated, pulling to the curb. His body out of his
      control, he just stood there, straddling the bike, unresponsive as Aurora
      tugged at his arm, trying to get his attention.

      He could smell them coming. He tried to warn her, but he couldn't even
      move. He threw the thought at her, but she was too tired to pick up on it.
      The night had drained her utterly. All she could feel was anger.

      Frost strode out of the shadows surrounding the buildings, his face a mask
      of annoyance.

      Logan hadn't known then who he was, only that his scent resembled Aurora's.

      She jumped off the back of the motorcycle, tripping over her own feet as
      she landed. Scrambling upright, she looked at Logan with shock in her
      eyes. He wasn't looking at her. She wanted to be away, to be anywhere but
      here.

      He watched in shock as she appeared at the end of the street infront of
      him, a good two hundred metres away. Even from this distance, he could
      tell that she didn't carry a scent anymore.

      But she was standing off to the side of the bike as well. A mixture of
      smoke and air before the storm told him she was still there.

      Then the Aurora standing on the corner disappeared, and he heard a gasp
      come from beside him. He managed to turn his eyes to her. He wanted to
      tell her that he hadn't betrayed her, that this wasn't of his doing, but
      all he could do was stare back impassively.

      She felt a tickle in her eyes, and she bit her knuckles. She wouldn't let
      them see that they'd hurt her, that she cared. How had she been so stupid?
      There weren't any saviors, any fairy tale endings. She turned, starting to
      run, anything to put distance between her and *them*.

      She only got a few yards before another figure stepped out of the shadows,
      catching her around the waist. She struggled in the manner of one
      accustomed to being grabbed, one who knew just what would happen if she
      didn't get away.

      She wouldn't let them get her, she wouldn't let him get her.

      She kicked at his shins, trying to turn so that her hands could get at his
      eyes. Her elbow caught him in the chin, and for a second Logan thought
      that she would get away as he rocked back on his heels. She swept her leg
      under her attacker's feet, knocking them out from under him. Logan felt
      the paralysis holding him lessen somewhat.

      But he kept his hold on her, using it to topple forwards instead of onto
      his back. Logan was trapped again. She started to scream as the other
      man's weight fell on top of her. They rolled on the ground, each trying to
      gain the upper hand. Logan could almost grin as she used some of the moves
      that she'd learned from him.

      If he was free, then that man would be ventilated by now.

      Aurora broke free from her attacker's grip, scrambling off of him. She
      started to run, darting down the street. But he rolled towards her as she
      took off, his hand snaking out, fastening on her trailing ankle. Her
      momentum worked against her, spilling her flat out onto the asphalt. Logan
      could hear a sickening crack as her head smacked into the ground. He
      willed her to get up and run. She still had a chance to get out of this,
      no matter what happened to him.

      But she just moved weakly on the pavement, a whimper escaping her lips.
      The pain filled her skull, blotting out the sensation as her attacker
      grabbed her arms, hauling her up none too gently. He held her hands with
      one arm, the other wrapped around her waist tightly. Marched her back over
      to the curb where Logan stood straining against the invisible bonds that
      held him immobile, where Robert Frost looked on with studied disinterest.
      Aurora started to wake up, and realizing what was going on, she began to
      struggle again. When she got in a good kick Mastermind, who held her, he
      let go of her waist and passed a hand over her forehead. His face was
      shrouded in concentration, and as Aurora finally stopped fighting, he
      released her. She stood as still as Logan himself, her eyes burning with
      the brightness of the fire they had left back at Rowland Meadows.

      Frost watched the entire scene, his face never changing. Logan hated him.
      Frost walked up to his daughter, studying her carefully. He slapped her
      suddenly, his expression still frozen. "Do you have any idea of the mess
      that you've created?" He asked. Logan was growling. "I'm going to have to
      pay for repairs to Rowland's. Not to mention the black mark that this is
      going to put on my reputation. Having a daughter who hears voices was bad
      enough, but that was easily taken care of. All I had to do was put you in
      a good place, not too far from home, so that it didn't look like I was
      trying to get rid of you. You've destroyed the most prestigious faculty in
      the several counties."

      It was Frost's tone of voice that really got to Logan. Aurora's father
      wasn't angry. He wasn't upset, not really. He was just annoyed.

      This didn't really mean anything to him. It was just an unfortunate set of
      coincidences that he had to deal with.

      Then Logan was halfway back in the room in the Frost mansion, standing
      still with Aurora's fingers pressed against his head. He was in both
      places at once, watching the past unfold. Here, Aurora's eyes were
      squeezed shut.

      //Mastermind's coming.//

      She'd known that he would be. Logan felt a million different things filter
      through her as the name echoed between them. //Thinks he has me under
      control. Thinks that I don't remember anything, that I can't use my powers
      without him knowing. He's not as great as he thinks. I've been halfway
      free since about three weeks after he wiped and restructured us. As long
      as it's nothing too overt, he doesn't notice.//

      Her mental speech was somewhat choppy, but it pounded loudly in his head.

      Her attention divided, her control started to slip, and alien thoughts and
      images slammed around inside his head. Watching from a hall as Frost payed
      him. A boy lighting a court yard bench on fire. Frost's impassive face as
      Mastermind moved on Logan, restructuring his memories of the last years,
      the backlash screaming inside his (her) head. Fear and anger as his (her)
      father's lacky moved towards him (her).

      "You knew that he'd feel this, didn't you?" He asked, the words falling
      loudly in the silence

      //He's bringing a group of guards with him. Jack's ushered the guests into
      a different part of the house, claiming he wants to show them a
      presentation. He's got Sebastian running it. Jack's coming with the
      force, too.//

      "Then we might want to continue this conversation else where, might we
      not?"

      She grabbed his hand, pulling him through the halls, through a kitchen
      where a pair of pheasants were roasting in the oven. Down the stairs,
      through another level of rooms and corridors. They didn't speak.

      "Almost there," she finally said as they turned a corner. Logan pulled her
      behind him as they rounded it. The smell of motor oil and exhaust issuing
      from the nearby garage had masked the scent of the people standing in the
      next room until it was almost too late.

      Robert Frost and Mastermind stood in front of the door to the garage,
      flanked by half a dozen guards, none of whom carried fire arms. They must
      not be far enough away from the party to risk the sound of gunshots.

      He heard Emma take a deep, gasping breath. Turning to her, he saw her face
      furrow in concentration. Looking at Mastermind's similar expression, he
      guessed that the two were locked in a battle that he couldn't understand.

      Then the guards were on him and he couldn't think of anything outside of
      himself.

      He wasn't sure how long the fight lasted. The guards were well trained,
      and the only reason that he wasn't gone right off the bat was that they
      were overconfident. He'd taken down two before the rest backed off,
      watching him warily. He popped his claws and grinned savagely.

      They didn't seem at all put off by the show. It just made them more
      cautious. At several points throughout the fight that followed, he wished
      for back up, even if it came in the form of old One Eye.

      Luck was most decidedly the largest factor in his continued survival. By
      the time he took the third down his opponents were only more determined,
      and he was bleeding heavily from several wounds. A stitch in his side was
      slow to heal, making it hard for him to breath. He'd taken half of their
      group out of the picture, and they wanted blood. They rushed him as one.
      He managed to get an elbow into the nose of one. The man went down
      screaming. There were probably a few bone fragments floating around in his
      brain.

      But one caught his arms and held them wide. Time seemed to slow to a
      crawl. The last one pulled a knife from somewhere on his person, and as it
      arced towards his neck, Logan wondered absently why the other man hadn't
      used it before. *I'm sorry, Aurora. I'm sorry, Emma.* A picture of Ororo
      filled his mind, and he was filled with the impulse to reach out to her.
      *Tell Marie good bye for me, okay?*

      Then the man with the knife dropped the weapon, reaching for his head with
      a scream of pain. He saw Mastermind lying on the tiles, Frost staring at
      the five guards now spread across the floor, and time snapped back to its
      normal flow. He drew his arm back, catching the man holding him across the
      temple. He fell with a grunt, leaving only three standing.

      Emma stepped towards her father. Frost looked as if he was truly seeing
      her for the first time. As her steady pace drew her ever forward, he
      stumbled back, knocking over an antique coat stand. He fell among the
      jackets and hats, tangled to the floor. She stopped at his feet and
      reached towards him. He closed his eyes as her hand closed in on him. She
      reached down, and past him, picking up a leather bomber from where it had
      fallen when he knocked over the stand. She leaned in close to him,
      watching as his expression remained one of abject terror. She whispered in
      his ear. "I'm not you."

      Then she stood and opened the garage door, walking through as she shrugged
      the jacket on. Logan followed her inside, grinning at the incomprehension
      flickering across Frost's face. He gave the man a kick for good measure.

      Aurora walked over to the outer garage doors, flicking the switch that
      opened them. Logan found a helmet on one of the side tables and threw it
      to her. He found the motorcycle among the other vehicles. The keys were
      still in the ignition. He rolled it out onto the drive way.

      "Are you going to let me drive?" Aurora asked him.

      "You don't know how to get where we're going," he said.

      "You could tell me."

      "I bet you don't even have a license."

      "So?"

      "Just get on the bike, or I'm leaving you here," he said, fighting a grin.

      With an exaggerated sigh, she climbed on behind him, buckling the helmet
      under her chin.

      He tried to ignore the way she was pouting. "Look, I might let you drive
      in a bit, but we have to get as far away from Boston as we can, in as
      little time as possible."

      "I'm going to hold you to that, you know."

      He started the bike, smiling when it purred to life on the first try.
      Aurora wrapped her arms around his waist. "Where are we going anyway?" She
      asked as they pulled out onto the wide, silent street.

      "New Salem, Westchester," he said, looking at her in the side mirror
      attached to the handle bar.

      "What's there?" She asked him, touching his mind to see if he was being
      truthful.

      "Home."


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