FIC: Promises to Keep (A Time to Every Purpose 1/10)
- The girls on 42d Street all noticed the car. It�s not
that limousines were unheard of on their block, right
near the Port Authority. They were pretty common, in
fact. Going to and from the theater district, or the
big hotels. Long black stretch limos with tinted
windows and glossy paint jobs. Sometimes white ones,
too. But this car was different. Not as big as the
limos they usually saw, and not so flashy-looking.
Grey rather than black. Matte rather than shiny.
None of the girls but Tawny really knew cars, and
Tawny was working the first time it came by, so they
hadn�t had her around to tell them more about it. But
even without knowing what kind of car it was, they
could all tell it looked expensive. And expensive in
a different kind of way from what they usually saw.
�It *smells* like money,� Crystal said, the second
time they saw the grey car move slowly along their
It could have been that the man in back � they were
sure it was a man, although they couldn�t see in, of
course � was looking for an address, but the girls all
hoped he was checking them out. They waved and posed.
The grey car slowed to a crawl, but it didn�t stop.
When it came by again, they all started speculating,
but nobody had any ideas why the mysterious occupant
would be on their block three times in one hour.
The fourth time the car came by, Tawny was back,
straightening her thigh high skirt and smoothing the
reddish brown hair that had caused Nick to give her
her name. �Wow!� she said when she saw the grey limo.
�That�s his car. He *owns* it,� she said, voice full
�Who owns it?�
�Whoever�s in there. See, it�s not a T license. It�s
not a limo you rent out by the hour. Now, that�s high
�You saying I�m not high class just �cause I get
rented out by the hour? Them�s fighting words,
Sugar.� The girls all laughed at Crystal�s mock
indignation. But they stopped laughing and looked
curiously at the grey car, as it came to a stop by the
curb. They all watched, silently, as the door opened
and a tall man wearing dark glasses got out. Tawny
squeezed Crystal�s hand, hopefully, as he approached.
�I think he�s looking at us,� she whispered.
�Should we give up? Try again tomorrow night?� The
younger man, sitting on the right side, had been
peering out the window at the sidewalks they passed,
squinting to see as well as he could. He wore dark
red sunglasses, making it hard to see without much
artificial light. Of course, no place in the City is
entirely without artificial light, but it was a dark
night and right now they were stopped on a dark block.
A deserted stretch of 44th Street, right by the West
Side Highway access point.
His companion, a bald man of about sixty, considered
the question before answering. �No, let�s try one more
time. We gave up too soon last time. She was there
after we left that night. Let�s wait another fifteen
minutes or so, and try again.�
The man in the dark glasses nodded his agreement,
saying �Once more into the breach, dear friend,�
garnering an ironic smile from his companion. The
younger man then pressed the intercom button and told
the driver the plan. �You should have sat on this
side,� he said to his companion. �I don�t know that
I�ll recognize her. It�s too dark. I�m having
trouble seeing much of anything. I�m worried I missed
her last time we went by.�
�No, she wasn�t there. I�d know if she were.�
A few minutes later they came round the block again.
�That�s her,� the bald man said, as they approached a
group of scantily clad women.
Or were they all women? One tall figure might have
been a man in drag, the younger man in the car thought
to himself. �Which one is she?� he asked.
�The one in the red mini-skirt.�
�Not much help.�
�Sorry. She�s towards the right of the group, very
young. Next to that tall black man in drag. She�s the
only one without any jewelry on.�
�Yes, of course. Well, I can�t see well enough to
notice the lack of jewelry, but it makes sense she
wouldn�t have any.�
�No metal at all on her, I�d bet.�
�I�m sure you�re right. �No use of metal, corn, or
wine, or oil;
No occupation; all men idle, all, And women too, but
innocent and pure.� Sounds nice. Not that idleness
is encompassed in my view of Utopia.�
�No, it wouldn�t be. What�s that one from?�
The car stopped. �Good luck, Scott,� the older man
�What should I say?�
�Whatever it takes to get her in the car.�
It didn�t take much persuading. Really, it would all
have happened in a few seconds if not for Crystal
trying to convince him that he should take them both.
Tawny kept trying to dissuade her with looks and
nudges, worried that she�d queer the deal, but Crystal
was persistent. After a minute, though, Tawny started
to relax, realizing Crystal wasn�t scaring this guy
off. She stopped worrying and found herself kind of
enjoying the show of Crystal arguing with the
red-shaded john. He seemed nice. He was firm and
clear about only wanting Tawny, but not at all
belligerent towards Crystal. �No, thanks,� he kept
saying, politely, as Crystal regaled him with tales of
what they could offer as a team. Finally, his
patience wearing thin, he turned to Tawny and said,
still perfectly pleasant, �I don�t have any more time
to discuss this. Just you. Not him.�
�Him? Him?� Crystal was indignant.
�I�m sorry,� the man in the dark glasses said.
�Perhaps I�m mistaken.�
�You better believe you�re making a mistake, Sugar.
I�m more man than you�ll ever be,� she said, �and more
woman than you�ll ever have.� Crystal stood tall. An
imposing figure at 6�2� in her stocking feet, and
wearing four inch heels right now, she towered over
the stranger. �What do you think of that?�
The man in the dark glasses smiled. �I think you�ve
seen Rent a few too many times.�
Crystal laughed, casting off the pretense of high
dudgeon. �Have fun, babe,� she whispered in Tawny�s
ear, and kissed her on the cheek. �I bet it will be
fun,� she added. �He�s hot. Oh, and fun or not - make
a bundle. He can afford it. Those glasses alone are
worth at least a grand.�
�Tell Nick I might be a while,� Tawny whispered back.
She got into the car and the man with the red shades
got in after her. Crystal blew him a kiss just before
he turned to get inside. He shook his head, smiling
and waving to her, then got in and closed the door.
Tawny had expected to be alone in the back with the
man with the red shades. So she was surprised to find
herself seated between the two men. Surprised, but
not concerned. �Just a little business talk first,
love,� she said in an almost apologetic tone, looking
back and forth between the two men. �A hundred for a
blow job, two for a fuck.� She tried to say it
casually, as if she were accustomed to charging such
prices. She thought she managed to pull it off, her
voice not trembling as she stated the large amounts.
�And I�ll give you a great deal. All night for five
hundred. Both of you, whatever you want to do.� She
looked to the man in the shades, to her right, and
then to the older, bald one. �What do you say?�
Neither of the men said anything. �Are we going to do
it in the car?� Tawny asked. �Or are we going
�We�re going somewhere.� The older man spoke for the
first time. �This isn�t what you think, RoseAnn.�
�What did you call me?� Tawny was starting to feel
�RoseAnn,� the younger man repeated what his companion
had said. �RoseAnn Mendez. I�m Scott Summers. This
is Professor Charles Xavier,� he added, gesturing
towards the other man.
The older man spoke again. �We know who you are. We
know what you are. We know all about you, RoseAnn.�
His tone was gentle, soothing, but his words were
frightening to her.
The car was going faster now. Tawny had been paying
attention to its occupants and not to where they were.
She realized they must be on the West Side highway
now. Heading north.
Something about this was making her very nervous. Not
just that they knew her old name. The other stuff.
What had he said? �We know all about you.� What did
The car began shaking, as if a sudden strong wind were
pulling it. The driver up front was clearly having
trouble controlling its movements, more trouble as
they continued northward. �Charles!� the younger man
said, in a tone of urgency. �We�d better stop.� He
reached for the intercom button to communicate with
the driver, but the older man stopped him.
�Not yet. Let her see what she�s doing. Let her
understand the power she wields.� He turned to Tawny,
still speaking calmly as the car jerked and shuddered.
�You can�t control when it happens, can you?� he
asked. �It�s because you�re upset that you�re doing
this to the car now.�
�I�m not doing anything! It�s just happening!�
�It�s you doing it. You�re worried and this is what
happens. Any time you�re feeling strong emotions you
do it. It�s getting more and more frequent, isn�t it?
And stronger. You�ve nearly hurt people a few times.
It�s just a matter of time before something terrible
happens.� He reached over to her ear, touched the
holes where earrings used to go. �That helped for a
while, didn�t it? No metal touching you. But it�s
not helping anymore. You�re not able to stop it
�I can... I know... I don�t let myself...�
The younger man spoke to her. �It�s not enough. You�ve
tried so hard. I know it. You can�t do it on your
own. You need help. We can help you.�
�I know how to stop it. I don�t need anything from
The younger man took her right hand in both of his and
spoke softly and clearly. �I want to help you. I�ve
been where you are.� Tawny looked at him in surprise,
wondering what he could mean by that. �I know what it
feels like when you can�t make it stop,� he continued.
She felt the tears well up in her eyes. �You�re good
and strong and brave. You�ve done everything you can.
It�s not working, what you�re doing. It�s everything
you can do, on your own, but it�s not enough. It will
ruin your health, maybe even kill you before it works.
There aren�t enough drugs in the world to make it
stop, to make you stop feeling. Not enough to make it
�How do you know? What do you know?� She looked
wildly back and forth between the two of them.
Neither answered her question. The older man pressed
the intercom button. �Pull over,� he said. The car
continued to shake for a few minutes after the engine
was turned off. When it stopped moving, the bald man
spoke again. �We can teach you how to make it stop.
And we can teach you how to do it when you want to,
how to use it.�
�I *never* want it to happen. I never want to do
anything like that. I just want it to stop.� Tawny
shook as she said it, sobbing. The car shook, too.
�I know it feels that way now, but you won�t always
think that. Someday you may want to use it. I may
sometimes want you to-� the older man began, but the
younger one stopped him.
�Charles, no.� He turned towards Tawny. She couldn�t
see his eyes behind the impenetrably dark sunglasses,
but she felt that he was looking right into hers. �If
you don�t want to do it, then you don�t have to,� he
said. �You�ll never have to use it if you don�t want
to. We�ll teach you how to stop.�
�How can you ...�
�You�re not the only one with this gift - we know it
can be controlled. We�re taking you somewhere you can
get help. You�ll have a home, an education,
protection. A place in the world. I promise you
�There�s so much we can teach you. And it will be
entirely up to you what you do with the knowledge you
acquire. We�re here to help you, not control you.
Try to trust us, RoseAnn.�
Now she was really crying. The man with the red
shades continued, his voice kind and full of
understanding. �I know it�s hard. You�ve been
through a lot and it�s taught you to rely on yourself,
not others. It takes time to realize that you don�t
have to anymore. I�m willing to take that time. I
don�t expect instant trust from you. Neither does the
Professor. We�ll give you the time you need. But do
try to believe us, to trust us. We�re only here to
help. Do you want to come with us?� Tawny nodded.
And then, before she knew it, she was pressed against
the man with the dark glasses, being held in his
strong arms, crying hard.
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