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FIC: dragonflies draw flame (R) (X2)

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  • harriet_spy
    Title: dragonflies draw flame Author: Sarah T. (harriet_spy@yahoo.com) Website: www.aliencorn.net Summary: A sentimental education. Rating: R Notes: Feedback,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 12, 2003
      Title: dragonflies draw flame
      Author: Sarah T. (harriet_spy@...)
      Website: www.aliencorn.net
      Summary: A sentimental education.
      Rating: R
      Notes: Feedback, positive or negative, welcome. Thanks to Livia
      and the Spike for betaing.

      Magneto hated Berlin, Mystique told him as they carried
      groceries into the gloomy old house, but they were stuck there
      for now. Pyro would kindly keep the whining to a minimum.

      "Why does he hate Berlin?" John asked.

      "He doesn't like Germans."

      "Why doesn't he like Germans?"

      She shrugged. That didn't mean she didn't know. It just meant
      she didn't feel like telling him.

      Mystique had pissed him off pretty often with that shrug, but that
      time, John didn't get mad. The truth was, he didn't like Berlin very
      much, either.


      In Berlin, you got yelled at a lot. Always some dumb rule, and the
      cop--or, hell, some little old lady--would point at the sign where,
      he guessed, it had been written down and lecture him about it
      anyway. Not that he understood the sign *or* the lecture, but it
      was really annoying. His old prep school had taught him Latin,
      not German. Too bad they couldn't be hiding out in ancient
      Rome.

      All the kids his age spoke English, of course, but Magneto had
      told him not to make friends. Humans were for using, not getting
      attached to. He thought he'd hated having all the little kids
      constantly running around at Xavier's, but. At least you had
      someone you could talk to. Sometimes Marie and Bobby hadn't
      been *so* bad.

      Pyro broke the rules, of course. Hooked up with some kids at
      the clubs. They thought it was kind of cool he was American.
      They taught him bits of German, how to get around, how to duck
      the cops--useful stuff Magneto couldn't possibly complain about.
      It was even easier to get cigs and booze there than at Dalton.
      The music was kind of gay, but whatever.

      Magneto didn't say anything when he came home late, though,
      which kind of killed the buzz. And it got pretty tired, pretty fast,
      having to lie about...everything. His "uncle," why he wasn't in
      school, where he was from, the little fact that he could singe your
      eyebrows off if you made him mad. He was on the edge of at
      least telling one of the girls, who looked a little like Marie, that he
      was actually a runaway. Then there was a bombing in Iraq, and
      U.S. planes hit sites in Iran in retaliation.

      Suddenly, it wasn't so cool to be an American anymore. The
      guys weren't actually nasty, and probably in a few days they
      would've gotten over it, but...

      John set a fire at their favorite club. Only in the trash cans in the
      alley out back, and during the day. It hardly even delayed the
      opening that night an hour.

      "Humans are *always* looking for a group to turn on in times of
      trouble," Magneto commented the next morning, even though
      John hadn't told him anything, and that was the end of that.


      Not too long after, he sat in a chair at the Internet café, tapping a
      finger on the mouse. Mystique had shown him the anonymizer
      services, how to get in touch with people without leaving a trail.
      She was crouched a few terminals away, frowning as she typed,
      a perfect geek girl with short spiky bright red hair, an Invader Zim
      T-shirt, and dogtags around her neck. She was trying to get
      together some of the people Magneto called "associates," and
      that was all she'd tell him.

      He wanted to write an email to Bobby. Maybe he could get him to
      send his stuff somewhere he could pick it up...sometime. If he
      could figure out what to say.

      John clicked around until he hit the site he was looking for.
      Xavier's school had one, of course--part of the cover. Just like
      the site for Dalton, or any of the other schools he'd been kicked
      out of. A game of ultimate frisbee, a sunlit grassy quad, quiet
      wood-paneled hallways. But none of the students in *these*
      pictures actually went to the school. He snorted. No clues there.

      "Let's go, John," Mystique said. She was looking out into the
      street, at a couple of cops loitering by the door.

      John closed the window. What the hell. He'd left on a good exit
      line. Might as well stick with it.

      It was mostly kids' stuff at Xavier's, anyway.


      It sucked that Magneto was still making him study. John had
      figured that when you ran away with international mutant
      terrorists, that really wouldn't be an issue anymore, but no. Of
      course, it was a little different than Xavier's, with Magneto just
      sitting across the table with his piercing blue eyes and asking
      him question after question about what he thought about the
      book of the week until John was ready to wing it right at him.

      He'd done that once, in fact, when Magneto had been poking
      holes in his argument that might made right. Erik had batted it
      back into his face with a twitch of his eyebrows. "It seems to me
      you have two options here, Pyro," he'd drawled, amused, as
      John rubbed his head. "Either accept the counterargument or
      get better at hitting people."

      Professor Xavier had never whacked him with a book in class.
      But at least Magneto seemed to actually want to hear what John
      was thinking. John had felt like he was always saying the wrong
      thing in the Professor's classes--things that would make the rest
      of the class look at him funny and the Professor himself mutter
      "Hmm" and then hastily change the subject. To think he might
      be able to get the right answer...that was new.

      And there *was* other stuff that was more fun. At Xavier's it had
      been all about hiding your powers, not being noticed, escaping
      when you had to. Magneto took him into situations, asked him
      how he'd control them. Who might be a threat, how to keep an
      eye on entrances and exits, how long it might take for the
      authorities to get there. Just when John thought he'd got it
      figured out, Magneto would tap the top of his head, hard. "Did
      you account for hostiles on the ceiling?"

      "No. People don't usually stand on the ceiling, you know."

      "*People* don't. Our kind does. For quite a while, I had an
      associate named Toad..."

      There was fighting, too, in the big empty room on the second
      floor. Magneto out of his expensive suits into warm-up clothes,
      circling around, surprisingly light on his feet. "I'm teaching you
      this against my better judgment, Pyro."

      "What?" He was hardly listening. He couldn't wait for his chance
      to kick a little ass, and he was sure he could take Magneto this
      way, if no other way in the whole wide world.

      "Only a fool engages in hand-to-hand combat when his power
      works at a distance. Take...Wolverine. Given a few unprepared
      seconds at close quarters, he could turn me into mincemeat.
      Whereas, from a distance, I can toss him about like a puppet."

      "But you can't *always* tell what's going to happen. The night
      they came to the mansion..." He trailed off. The night he'd
      realized that it was all an illusion, that all the Professor's money
      and X-Men's powers couldn't keep them safe.

      Magneto nodded, and there was a slight softening around his
      eyes. "Precisely. But if you allow some teenage rush of
      testosterone to tempt you into a fight unnecessarily, don't look to
      me to mop up the pools of your blood."

      "Okay, okay. Can we just fight now?"

      "Very well. Come on."

      John grinned and lunged. And promptly found himself on his
      back. "Ow," he gasped.

      Magneto grinned back. "I suspect I'm being underestimated."

      John flushed. "I just didn't get my footing..."

      After he'd been thrown the fifth time, Magneto inquired
      courteously, standing above him, "Should I have the floors
      resurfaced? Velcro, perhaps?"

      He rolled his eyes. And then kicked Magneto's feet out from
      under him.

      He laughed. "Good! Cheating! I like it."

      John scrambled to his feet, then offered Magneto a hand up. As
      he rose, the sleeve fell away from his arm. It was lean and
      strong and not like an old guy's at all...and John saw numbers
      tattooed in blue on the inside of his bicep.

      Which, fuck. Whatever certain people might think, he wasn't
      *stupid*. John blinked, and looked away. No wonder Magneto
      didn't like Germans. In fact, it explained a *lot*.

      "Round two?" he offered, after an awkward pause.

      Magneto flexed his shoulders like nothing had happened. John
      could respect that. "Certainly.".


      "Magneto was in the Holocaust?"

      Mystique looked up from her lunch. "Why do you care?"

      "I just wanted to know."

      "Curiosity killed the cat."

      "Why do you get to know and I don't?" he demanded.

      The shrug again. "Because I don't have to ask."

      Mystique really didn't like him. When she was around, she
      taught him weapons and tactics, but she wasn't around much,
      which was just as well. Once you got used to the blue, you
      realized she was a hot chick. And not just a hot chick, but a *hot
      chick who went around naked all the time*.

      Oh, yeah, his dick had a good time with that one. He knew better
      than to stare, but alone in his room nights...that was another
      story. He had thought it was bad with Marie and Dr. Grey and
      Miss Munroe around, but this was a *whole* new level of not
      getting any. Especially when sometimes at night he could hear
      things thump or rattle upstairs. Too easy to close his eyes and
      suck on his fingers and jerk himself off, imagining all kinds of
      things going on up there.

      He didn't think Mystique was always a girl, for one thing. He'd
      come across the two of them one night after they'd had gone out
      to the opera, leaving him to wander the streets. It was raining
      hard. Magneto was holding an umbrella over them both in an
      alley, bending to kiss her, and at first he'd just been surprised
      how much she looked like a guy, her same height, but in a
      pinstripe suit and fedora and short, very dark red hair, and then
      he realized she *was* a guy.

      He tried not to think about that when he was jerking off, but it
      didn't always work. Like trying not to think of Bobby and Marie.


      One day, they took the train to Geneva. It was weird, watching
      Magneto and Mystique blend in with the rich people in the
      first-class compartment. They could've passed at one of his
      mom's best dinner parties. It wasn't very hard to play *his* part:
      fidgety kid. Ten hours on the train. It wasn't fair that the dullest
      parts came right before the excitement.

      Mystique had cased the bank a couple weeks earlier. She
      knocked out the guard, then took his position as Magneto
      popped the locks and turned the elaborate security systems off.
      Pyro went with him. It was his first crime on purpose, and he
      was nervous, but it all went smoothly. Magneto took care of most
      of it--it wasn't like a vault presented a lot of challenges to the
      master of magnetism. It was really something, actually,
      watching him stroll through this fortress of modern high
      technology and just making it all *his* without even lifting a
      finger. Pyro did get to do his part, too--burn through a couple of
      barriers that weren't metal. He filled his backpack with
      thousand-mark bills while Magneto collected the precious
      metals, and off they went.

      Except that the street was crawling with cops--they'd had crappy
      luck, as they found out later. The guard's girlfriend had tried
      calling him, and when she couldn't get him, she'd called the
      police. Pyro was glad for the mask and the costume. He was
      even gladder when Magneto had turned to him and said,
      "Perhaps a distraction is in order?"

      Outside Bobby's house had been the first time he'd ever *really*
      been able to cut loose. This time, there was no Marie grabbing
      his ankle to stop him. He could just let the flame flow through
      him, wave after wave, sheets that brought the cops to a halt and
      set building after building on fire. It was some truly fucking
      *amazing* devastation they left behind as Magneto flew them off.
      Better than an action movie. Hell, his *life* was better than an
      action movie now.

      It was all over the papers the next day. Magneto came in with his
      usual armful of German papers and an *International
      Herald-Tribune* for Pyro. "I thought you might like a souvenir,"
      he said, smiling.

      "How about a raise in my allowance?"

      "Don't get cocky."

      He read the paper in his room. It was pretty damn cool to be "an
      elusive, highly-dangerous mutant terrorist." There weren't any
      pictures, though--Magneto had seen to that. Pyro was almost
      sorry.

      When he hit the part about three cops dead, he *was* sorry. For
      a minute. Then he told himself: cops. They were the same
      everywhere. They wanted to lock them up, *do* things to
      them--he'd heard about what they did to Nightcrawler and
      Magneto--maybe even kill them. Pyro would never let them put a
      tattoo on *his* arm. It was a war, and they'd picked the wrong
      side. Too bad.



      On his birthday, two weeks later, he tried calling his mom.
      Nothing but voicemail. She was probably out at a social function,
      preferably one that involved lots of social drinking. He hung up,
      frustrated, then picked up the phone again and called the school.
      As the phone rang, he hoped that one of the kids would answer
      the phone--anyone but one of the teachers, who'd want to ask a
      bunch of boring questions. He was in luck; Artie got it. He
      wasn't even sure Artie knew who he *was*. Or what the phone
      did, for that matter.

      He'd asked for Marie, but of course Bobby had to come instead.
      "John."

      "Hey."

      "Hey." Bobby's voice was flat.

      "What's going on?"

      "Not much. Some new kids at the school."

      "Oh. How's...I mean, everybody's good, right?"

      "As good as they can be, considering."

      Bobby sounded mad, which didn't make sense.
      "Considering...?"

      "Considering Dr. Grey's dead. What did you *think* I meant?"

      Shit. She'd always been nice. A little stuck-up, but nice. "When
      did it happen?"

      "The day *you* went off with your new friends."

      "Hey! Nobody told me."

      "Nice friends."

      "At least I'm learning things. I don't need to hide behind the
      X-Men anymore."

      "Whatever. Look...John...why did you even call?"

      "Fucked if I know. And it's *Pyro*."

      He hung up.

      Magneto was reading the paper in an armchair in his room.
      John walked in without knocking. "Yes?"

      "Why didn't you tell me about Dr. Grey?"

      "I thought you already knew. And I didn't think you particularly
      cared." Magneto gave him a critical look. "Do you?"

      He was breathing too fast. "We don't belong to any country. Any
      laws. Any people. We can do whatever we want, right?"

      "Of course. If we want to end up in a cell, or dead, where we
      can't do anything at all."

      "You *know* what I mean. Everybody hates us, so why play by
      their stupid rules?"

      Magneto got serious. "Yes. We *are* free, Pyro."

      "Prove it," he said, and kissed him.

      Magneto stiffened, and for a second John felt it, something
      catching hold of his watch, belt-buckle, boot-buckles, pulling him
      back. Then he relaxed, and his hand slid over John's waist.
      "Certainly."

      And it was easier than he'd thought it would be with a girl.
      Magneto knew what to do, and--fuck. It was good, and it was
      over too soon, and he lay there afterwards, wondering if this
      meant he had left the other kids behind for good.

      He turned his head and Magneto was looking at him. A little
      differently, yeah. "Don't--don't tell Mystique," John said.

      Magneto touched his wrist. Already, there was so much space
      between them again. "This is a harder life than the others lead."

      He rolled over and looked at the ceiling. "Yeah. I'm getting that."

      "Pyro. You're doing splendidly."

      It made an achy hot bloom in his chest. "Yeah. Maybe."
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