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FIC: Jus Ad Bellum Part IV: MA: 6/9: Rogue, all

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  • Jenn
    6/9 * * * * * What are we doing here anyway? Leaving that bed, as far as I was concerned, was just damn silly. There was so much left to do, and we were
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 9, 2001
      6/9

      * * * * *

      "What are we doing here anyway?"

      Leaving that bed, as far as I was concerned, was just damn silly. There
      was so much left to do, and we were here, doing--this. Damn. Most people
      might think thirty-six hours of sex was a little excessive. Most people
      weren't me. I was just warming up. And having a superhealing lover was
      something that should be required by law. All unwitting, I caught myself
      tracing his wrist with the tips of my nails through my gloves, and never
      had I resented my uncontrolled skin as much as at that moment. His fingers
      caught mine, squeezing lightly, and I tried not to pout at his half-hearted
      try at a frown.

      God, I was obvious. Though of course, he'd been the one that delayed us in
      the garage for an extra ten minutes against the hood.

      Logan shook his head at me and I skipped ahead, half turning to watch his
      face. He was very good about controlling his expression, but involuntary
      muscles had a life of their own. He gave away more with his lack of
      reaction than he sometimes did with a visible one. He didn't want to be
      here either. He'd much rather be comparing and contrasting the couch, the
      floor, and the kitchen table in terms of maximum sexual positioning
      potential.

      So far, the table was winning, but only by two.

      "I'm going to catch up on reassigning personnel. You're going to go train
      and look very, very interested in being a good little mutant. Allerdyce
      gonna go with you?"

      I shook my head shortly and sighed.

      "The Danger Room is boring, sugar."

      "You like it."

      "That's before someone worried about my safety locked me out of the upper
      ranges." I snorted. "It's boring."

      I got a wolfish grin.

      "Easy to override. Use my settings and shut down the safety protocols if
      you need to." Logan paused, coming to a stop and obviously thinking about
      what he'd just said. "Leave the comm open--if anything goes wrong, I can
      shut it down with a verbal command."

      "You'll be in your office?"

      "Yeah. Mostly."

      Logan had an office. Just strange. I waited for him to join me at the
      steps and his fingers wrapped through mine.

      "You have a weird look on your face, baby."

      "Just the concept of you in an office fazes me a bit. Give me time.
      Paperwork. Just--" I waved a hand in the air vaguely--it *was* dizzying
      in weird ways. Logan and paperwork--it would be like Scott choosing to
      become a rock star or Kurt taking up a life of celibacy. Just not--well,
      in character. Logan flashed me a grin.

      "I don't do it. I just look at it."

      "Turn it into confetti."

      "When I can get away with it, oh yeah."

      We grinned at each other as we walked inside and I handed off my coat to a
      norm near the door. Up ahead, Kitty was coming down the stairs and stopped
      as she saw us, a smile turning up her mouth.

      "Marie, where you been?"

      Logan dropped a kiss on my head and tossed Kitty a grin before he walked
      off. I tried not to watch him too long, but Kitty was beside me before I
      could manage to look away. He had a provocative walk. Well, damn, he had
      a provocative way of breathing. Hey, Marie, you are seriously losing it.

      "Uh-huh." Kitty smirked and I felt a flush creep up my face. "That's an
      interesting color." Her gaze went to Logan with a slight grin. "He's
      looking perky." Heh. Logan perky. There was some impossible imagery.
      "You busy?"

      I thought about it, and about the digital phone Logan had tucked into my
      jacket pocket that morning. He was so cute when he was worried.
      Hmm--Kitty or the Danger Room? Wow, wasn't that easy to answer.

      "Not really. You need something?"

      "The Salem Complex Director called. They had an accident and need a
      medic--Jean's on assignment, so they asked for me."

      Surprised, I met the dark eyes.

      "You're medical?" In retrospect, not a huge surprise--she'd always been
      into hard sciences.

      Kitty shrugged as she got her jacket from the hands of a young boy I didn't
      recognize and pulled it on, reaching down for her bag he put at her feet.
      I took my coat back without comment and slid it on, feeling the leather
      brush heavily over the backs of my calves with very feminine pleasure. I
      really liked this coat.

      "I got paramedic training during the war," she said as she pulled the pack
      over her shoulder. She looked me over. "I didn't have another--useful
      skill other than infiltration and hacking, so--" she shrugged a little.
      "When I was needed, I was called. Logan said he armed you--"

      I nodded in surprise, pulling back the folds of my coat so she could see.
      She nodded quickly.

      "Good. Bobby and Johnny are on assignment too, and we're not allowed
      unaccompanied into the camp proper." Pulling her hair back, she fastened
      it away from her face and I watched as she checked through the pack quickly
      before nodding to the door.

      "They don't have guards?"

      Kitty's expression was oddly fixed for a second--it dawned on me that she
      was uncomfortable.

      "Lensherr made the assignments to Salem Complex, not Logan." She
      hesitated. "They're not very--easy to be around." Pushing the door open,
      we emerged outside into the bright sunlight. "Logan sent my car back with
      new tires," she said conversationally as we approached the garage.
      "Something about bad roads."

      I flushed but didn't comment at her little grin, and I wondered if she knew
      why she'd lost a tire--or two.

      "All right," I answered and felt the weight of my gun against my side. It
      was comforting, and that worried me a little.

      Guns shouldn't be comforting.

      *****

      I was glad I remembered my ID, and even gladder that the director wasn't
      someone I'd met before my interesting hair color change. Captain Reherr
      wasn't in evidence--even better--and the tower was nicely full of people
      paying no attention to us.

      "Sorry to call you down here, Ms Pryde," the director said. He was a big
      man in a way I couldn't quite understand--because he didn't look big. He
      *felt* big. He speared me with a glance that was supposed to be
      intimidating and definitely was. I tried not to draw back. "I'll assign
      you an escort--"

      "This is Marie Danvers," Kitty said quickly, and there was a definite trace
      of nervousness in her voice. "She'll accompany me."

      His look was speaking. I'd never looked terribly intimidating even on my
      best days, I was well aware of that. Even in uniform, I was usually pegged
      as the weakest of the lot, and it was true in a lot of ways before Carol
      and I had met. It was oh-so not true now. His gaze slid over me,
      lingering on the butt of the gun I made sure was visible. I forced myself
      to stay still under his gaze.

      "Ms Pryde--"

      "Marie is more than capable of watching out for me, sir. Thank you."
      Kitty's voice was cool and firm in the face of his presence, and I wondered
      how she managed it. I waited as the director hesitated, then he stepped
      back, entering a series of codes into the doorway before removing something
      from his jacket and dropping it into Kitty's reluctant hand. A comm, I
      guessed.

      "If an emergency arises, please call." Another glance at me, frankly
      contemptuous. I wondered idly how much effort it would take to slam him
      into the floor. Not much. "Go on ahead."

      "Thank you." As quickly as possible, Kitty opened the wide metal door and
      walked out, and I followed, keeping my eye on the director before the door
      closed between us. Then I turned around to face Kitty and got my second
      view of Salem Complex.

      Seeing it from the outside had been one thing. I took a breath, trying not
      to throw up at the smell.

      "It's retaliatory," Kitty said softly, and a movement of her hand brought
      my gaze to the oblong pits in the ground. "They dug the latrines on this
      side to annoy the director. Every time he moves towers, so do these." She
      covered her mouth with a handkerchief pulled from her pocket and I wished
      she'd warned me. Lifting my sleeve to my nose, I took in the comforting
      smell of expensive leather. "Come on. Let's get in and out."

      My Kitty memories were shifting. Kitty was nervous around humans.

      I nodded in complete understanding to her statement and also to distract my
      stomach. I was certain the director was watching. Glancing around, I
      caught the video cameras stationed on the posts of the fence. Looking out
      through the wire, I watched the quiet street and remembered standing
      outside looking in. Directionally, this wasn't the same side of the camp
      I'd seen.

      "It's quiet," I said softly. Kitty nodded, letting down the cloth over her
      mouth after we'd gone thirty feet.

      "Yeah. No one wants attention drawn to themselves, as you can imagine.
      They're in section A, so it should be--" she turned, feet keeping off the
      ruined remains of the sidewalk and skipping the chunks of concrete and
      twisted metal effortlessly. "--over here. I think this is the right
      apartment block."

      I nodded and followed where she led. She was definitely familiar with the
      area.

      "You come here often?"

      Kitty's shudder was almost imperceptible.

      "With Jean, sometimes, when there's been serious cases."

      Picking my way through dead grass and carelessly strewn rocks, we went in
      between several buildings and onto what was once a road that separated two
      different apartment complexes. No way to drive this sucker--it was
      something of an accomplishment to get around the twisted hunks of metal and
      through broken glass, and I was tempted to pick Kitty up and fly us
      straight there. Turning my head, I saw the twisted pole that had once
      carried the name of this street and tried to get the name, but the dark
      green sign was blackened beyond readability.

      "What happened in here?"

      Kitty, semi-safely on the other side, gave me a confused look. I motioned
      with one gloved hand and almost fell over a chunk of something that seemed
      vaguely asphaltic. Well, damn. Pushing up, I hovered and flew to her
      side.

      "Forgot you could fly," Kitty said with a strained smile. Every nerve in
      her body seemed notched too tight--I felt her memories move in me and
      sympathized. I shrugged once both booted feet were groundward again, glad
      to see I was getting better at landings. "What do you mean, what
      happened?"

      I motioned around the area, and her blank expression didn't change.

      "The decay. The--well, roads." I looked at a gutted set of buildings
      about a hundred feet to my left and shuddered.

      "Oh." Kitty shrugged. "When we took back the school, there was a lot of
      collateral damage."

      "Collateral damage?"

      "Scott wanted to level Salem Center, Lensherr didn't. This was the
      compromise." She picked her delicate way to the remains of a fairly decent
      sidewalk that ran between two red-brick buildings and waited for me to
      reach her. "Scott didn't want a camp situated so close to the School, but
      he saw Lensherr's reasoning, that the most dangerous war criminals needed
      to be kept near the most powerful alphas."

      Okay, that sounded very wrong.

      "Salem Complex isn't for criminals--I thought it was for the Polaris
      Project."

      Kitty's gaze slid to mine and held with a perfect attention that almost
      made me squirm. I should have kept my damned mouth shut. After a second,
      though, Kitty merely shrugged.

      "It's the same thing--the ones here are the ones that are most dangerous to
      us. The ones that could still cause the most problems. Leaders of the
      FoH, several countries that aren't officially aligned with us, scientists
      who worked the experimental camps, people we can't afford to let free.
      Either of us or against us."

      The lines drawn sharp in the ground. Here or there. Mutant or criminal.
      No such thing as neutral.

      "One of you or against you," I heard myself say, understanding suddenly
      what Logan had been trying to tell me in his oblique way. An automatic
      assumption of guilt if you weren't born mutant. Those kids in the camp
      suddenly made immense amounts of sense. They were enemies because of the
      genes in their body.

      Kitty was already too far ahead to have heard me, and shaking myself, I
      skipped to catch up as she made a right. The entire place was creepily
      quiet, and my hand itched to take out my gun and have it in hand for any
      emergency. No place housing upwards of ten thousand people was this damn
      quiet.

      Ducking past the burned-out stump of a tree, I watched Kitty slowly
      approach a building almost at random. The porch was once, I thought,
      elegant white-painted wood. Half was missing, and the concrete of the
      floor was blackened and burned into almost nothing more than fragmented
      char. The front window was taped over, and even after several seconds of
      study, I couldn't quite see inside. After a second, I figured it out.

      The window was blackened. Turning on a heel, I looked up and around,
      trying to make out whether or not the others were as well.

      --Blackening. For bombing.-- Logan's voice was thoughtful.

      --You're thinking of Amsterdam, aren't you, sugar?--

      Logan's pause was telling. I waited as Kitty went to the door and an
      elegantly gloved hand rapped lightly, jerking away from the splintered wood
      as quickly as possible, as if it would contaminate her through her gloves.

      --Yeah. Britain and Amsterdam. Blackened the windows, hide the light
      inside, if these people even have light.--

      I doubted it, blinking around me for a few long minutes as Logan watched
      through my eyes.

      --Bombing? Is she right?--

      --A little.-- Logan sounded strange, and I wondered, with a sort of blank
      horror, if he was going to comment on my extracurricular activities with
      Alternate Logan. --Some of this, though... Some of this isn't from a
      bomb. It was done deliberately.--

      --You think the residents vandalized their own home?-- That seemed sort of
      weird.

      --No, I think mutants vandalized it as a reminder and a warning. Bombing
      wouldn't do all of this. This is systematic destruction, carefully thought
      out. Homes without windows, doors without privacy, and life without modern
      conveniences. It's good psychology to reduce the enemy to inferiority in
      their own minds. Makes for easier handling.--

      "Marie?"

      "Huh?" I jerked back into the here and now to see Kitty waiting patiently
      for me beside the now-open door. Her voice had been level, but I could
      pick up the edges in it--no, Kitty didn't want to be here, not at all, and
      I was suddenly tasting the lab with her, feeling rough hands on my body.
      Shivering, I gathered my thoughts close and crossed the bare dirt before
      stepping up on the concrete of the porch and following her inside.

      There were *way* too many people crowded into a small space and my hand
      went for my gun, out and safety clicked off before I even got a good look
      at the room.

      --Shit, Marie, what the hell are you doing?--

      Ignoring Inner Logan, I turned my full attention to the people around me,
      counting them and how many the Glock could handle. Breathing evenly, I
      felt Kitty's hand on my arm.

      "It's--okay." Through her hand, I could feel her heart pounding, was only
      surprised I couldn't hear it as well. "They've been checked for weapons,
      Marie. Come on--in the bedroom."

      I nodded but kept my eye on the people. At least fifteen, maybe twenty,
      and the smell of unwashed norm was too damn strong for my nose to handle.
      I took a shortened breath and let Kitty lead me to the room, keeping my gun
      out but down as we picked our way across a bare concrete floor and a
      variety of threadbare blankets and worn pillows. I didn't want to turn my
      back on them, so I kept my back to the hall wall, Kitty in my line of
      sight, the people in the living room in peripheral.

      The smell of their fear was strong enough to worry me. Scared people were
      highly dangerous people.

      Finally, we were led into a small bedroom and Kitty shut and locked the
      door behind us as our guide withdrew. A young girl was laying on the bed,
      her mother seated beside her.

      Blue eyes came up to meet mine before skittering submissively to my collar
      and I recognized her. Vivid blue eyes, her daughter's brown hair, and the
      look of terror that cut me to the heart. Suddenly, the gun seemed horribly
      huge and out of place, and I tucked it back into my holster, checking the
      safety.

      Kitty was still standing beside me, unmoving.

      "What's wrong with her?"

      The woman's eyes tore from me--did she recognize me without the fence
      between us?--and slid to Kitty's waist.

      "Fever. She cut her foot outside and we haven't been able to make it
      heal."

      That had to be a real danger--infection was so prevalent, so very damn
      possible in conditions like this. These people needed shoes badly. Kitty
      nodded slowly, flipping into a cool expression I'd seen Jean utilize with
      patients before in my world.

      The little girl's head lifted a little, her mother's clear eyes looked back
      at me. I took a breath, trying to tune out the smells of the room.
      Something was wrong here. I didn't smell fever--and I'd had Logan's senses
      often enough to know it. Kitty was already moving slowly toward her, bag
      in hand, and I reached out a second too late to stop her.

      She knelt by the bed, back to the door for the first time, and I spun
      around just in time to watch the door splinter open and a gloved hand
      curled around my throat. Latex. No fingerprints.

      Clever.

      I heard Kitty's startled scream and even from the floor where I'd been
      thrown, I could smell her hysteria taking over. She should be able to
      phase right out of their hands. And there was no way in hell she'd know to
      do it. I went limp, letting rough hands grab my arms and jerk me upright.

      "Christ, Michael, you think this'll work?" Something covered my eyes--I
      hated that--and I took a short breath, bringing all my senses on-line.
      Kitty was in front of me and to my left, less than ten feet away when I
      started, but a spin killed my sense of direction until the wall collided
      with my back. She was--I gritted my teeth at the fear in the room, hers
      mixing into it, and my Kitty memories told me what I could expect from her
      now. She wouldn't be able to do a damn thing.

      "It's gotta--they want their bitches back in one piece, they'll negotiate."

      "You trust Summers that much?"

      There was a coarse laugh somewhere above me.

      "This one's fucking Logan--he already killed three of his own for touching
      her. He'll negotiate."

      Shit. Lucas. How rumors build. That little son of a bitch had a lot to
      answer for now. I bit my lip, jerked up against the wall, and tried to
      pinpoint Kitty and decide how many were in the room. My gun was gone, but
      the knife at my thigh was still comfortingly uncomfortable. Me getting
      away would be a piece of cake. Getting an hysterical Kitty out was going
      to be all kinds of tricky.

      "So how we going to do this?"

      Yes, how *did* they think this was going to work? Kidnapping and hostage
      situations ran into two big categories, and usually ended one of two
      ways--either these guys were going to die, or these guys, me, and Kitty
      were going to die. Assuming they figured out a way around the double
      threat of my skin, that was. Assuming Kitty didn't get past her hysteria
      and phase her ass out so I could get away on my own. Shit, I should have
      been watching more closely. Unforgivably stupid not to keep more alert.

      I could feel Carol in my mind, following the train of my thoughts.

      --You should be able to take out at least the ones closest to you.--

      --And they'll still have Kitty and can use her as a threat against me.
      Plus, I'll lose the element of surprise. I'm fast, chica, but not fast
      enough, not when I can't see where she is. I can't even be sure where the
      damn window outta here is, and she might not survive me knocking through
      the ceiling on my way out.--

      So far, none of the idiots had touched my bare skin. That might have been
      good or bad in the situation--I didn't feel the need to risk it yet.
      Something cold and metal was around my hands, jagged edges pushing at my
      skin. Homemade handcuffs of some sort. Necessity was the mother of
      invention and all that.

      --There were twenty in that outer room, but I can't be sure more didn't
      come through. Shit, I hate this. I hate it.--

      Kitty's tiny choked gasp was enough. I straightened and a hand knotted in
      my hair, jerking my head back. Hot air rasped against my ear, smelling of
      rotting chicken and dead vegetation, strangely familiar. I'd never eat
      again at this rate.

      "Strength and flying," one said softly. "There's a gun against your
      friend's pretty little head. Don't try any tricks, Miss Danvers, and all
      will be fine."

      "You think you'll survive?" I asked, equally soft. I knew that voice.
      Where the hell had I heard it?

      "If we don't, the world will be thankfully less two mutant whores."

      I followed the sound of him. Scent was familiar. It was sunny and we were
      standing outside. He was handing me--

      "John Andrews," I heard myself say. He gave me my money and escaped the
      guard my first day. That seemed too long ago, a memory almost faded to
      black and white in my mind. Almost not even me. How weird.

      A vise-like grip closed over my jaw--and invulnerable or not, he could
      break my neck through my skin easily and even I couldn't move fast enough
      to stop him. I waited, his fetid breath panting in my face. Kitty was
      scarily silent--I didn't have any time left.

      "Shit, Andrews, how the fuck does she know you?"

      I was thinking faster than I ever had before. I leaned into his grip,
      taking a short breath through my sadly constricted windpipe, and blindly
      turned my head toward the sound of the voice.

      "He knows me, don't you John?"

      There was more movement, the sounds of someone coming toward us--there were
      three around me, maybe more in the room, but I had to get an inkling of
      where Kitty was. She'd been by the bed, that'd be to the front left. I
      hadn't heard any sounds of dragging, so she was probably on the floor
      somewhere over there. Hissed conversations made it impossible to figure
      her out by the unique sound of her heartbeat and breathing.

      "I don't know you," he hissed, jerking me closer, and the blindfold was
      beginning to slip. Better and better. I kept my body limp as he pulled me
      closer. "I never saw you before that night in the ghetto."

      He'd been there. He'd seen--I swallowed in a dry throat, remembering the
      feel of that building against my back and that little bastard against me.
      They'd seen--they'd seen and they hadn't cared.

      He'd been close enough to see my face. I gingerly twisted a wrist and the
      metal bent before me. Almost. Almost there, make it a shock, a surprise,
      because there was only one chance or the hostage situation would end with
      Kitty's death. Not going to happen.

      "You saw that little bastard attack me?" I whispered.

      "Yeah. Thought you were human, didn't they, walking alone in the ghetto?
      I knew you weren't. I watched you drive up to look around and enjoy your
      moment of superiority." His voice was rich with hate and fear, wrapping
      around me like fog.

      "Would you have tried to stop them if I'd been a norm?"

      "Yes." The hand tightened on my chin. "Not for you, though. Who cares
      what happens to a mutie bitch?"

      The blindfold came loose from my face and I met the clearly written hatred
      in the eyes before me. Hate was frightening when you were the subject of
      it. Hate was good when you were feeling it yourself, and it fueled the
      rage in my voice, soft and low so no one else could hear. I wanted this to
      be John Andrew's little message alone.

      "Then why should I give a fuck about you?"

      Both my hands were free and I jerked them out, knocking him backwards into
      the far wall. The others drew back--knowing someone was strong and seeing
      her knock a two hundred pound man with a flick of the wrist was two very
      different things. Hesitation--just what I was waiting for. I speared the
      location of the window with a glance, then the broken door, then Kitty
      curled in a tiny ball on the floor with a gun forgotten against her head.
      Taking to the air, I kicked out at a random head, trying not to do too much
      damage to an unarmed norm, but for a moment I almost didn't restrain the
      kick. They weren't armed, weren't suited up, and I couldn't toss my
      training away that easily, no matter how badly I wanted to hurt him.
      Ducking easily, I landed beside Kitty and hooked both hands under her arms
      and pulling her close to my body as we floated backward out the window in a
      beautifully controlled tumble. Glass brushed harmlessly against my skin
      and I landed on my ass on the ground just outside, Kitty practically
      catatonic in my arms.

      Shit. Where the hell were we?"

      I could hear the sounds from inside, people coming toward the window,
      shouting for help. Hauling Kitty over my shoulder, I flew upward--nothing
      like flying as the deus ex machina of an escape, that was for certain.
      Kitty's limp hands banged on my back and I hoped to God her jacket kept her
      waist covered from my neck.

      Taking a hovering stance, I looked around the complex and saw a tower very
      close. Latrines nearby. That's the one.

      The soldier on duty in the upper room of the tower turned around and almost
      screamed to see me hovering in his line of sight. A gun almost came out
      before good sense took over.

      "Umm--"

      "You mind letting me in? We have a bit of a situation here," I answered,
      flicking Kitty's weight more evenly on my shoulder.

      He gulped.

      * * * * *
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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