Unbearable Tolerance

An X-Men Evolution Fanfic by Stormy

Rating: G

Warnings: None

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Sunday, March 09, 2003

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It always starts with a dull pain at the base of my skull, just above the nape of my neck. It's like a low-level throbbing that hums away constantly, always there, never-ending, but like a radio on low volume, it's easy to ignore most of the time. You learn to tune it out, put it out of your mind, otherwise you'd go nuts. When your concentration slips and you feel it, the pain isn't so bad because subconsciously you were expecting it, and have always expected it. You're used to it. It's not so bad, then.

It's when the variables change that it gets worse. Little things like someone whistling off-key, or kids shouting in a crowded high school hallway. Maybe someone chinked their glasses a little too hard together, or your pal slipped the dial on that radio a few notches higher. The throbbing seems to spike a little, usually in time to the water drops striking the metal of the sink, or the drums your next door neighbor just couldn't wait to practice on. Pain sneaks its sharp little fingers up the back of your skull, making your head feel heavier. Cracking your neck sometimes helps loosen the tension but like watching a car wreck in slow motion, you know what's coming next and you can't get it out of your mind. As a result, rubbing the back of your neck or snapping your head from side to side gives a few seconds of relief as opposed to an actual cure.

Given enough time those little spiked fingers make their way to the front of your head, digging their talons into your temples. Suddenly, just keeping your eyes open is painful, but closing your lids feels like doors slamming up and down. When they're closed, you see neon lights sparking in front of you and they move in strange circles that can make you nauseas if you focus on them for too long. When your eyes are open, the light – natural or artificial – stabs you like needles, blinding you and sending those little daggers even deeper into your skull. Your neck is stiff with tension but cracking it sends mini-shockwaves up and down your spinal cord, making things worse. Especially now, since your sense of pain isn't like usual, and you do it too hard, and your face and side of your head goes numb for a few seconds, like you pulled a muscle, or cracked something you weren't supposed too.

Now, add in a mutant power that uses the mind to control seismic vibrations. Ever hear of the term a splitting headache?

Sometimes that's what I think is actually happening. On a good day, I like using my powers in small doses. After all, they're mine – why shouldn't I get to use them? Tripping up some high-thinking jock in front of his girlfriend is always good for a laugh, especially when said jock was usually picking on Toad at some point during the day. And it's fun scaring the muta-phobe principal we have into thinking Bayville is on some kind of fault line.

Using my powers like that aggravates that low-level throbbing I always feel, but it's not that bad, and it's always worth it.

It's when you're forced to use your powers on a scale only hear about when they're covered by the media in discussing disasters that claim the lives of hundreds in other countries.

But that splitting headache…when the seismic waves are pouring on and the school parking lot or maybe the football field has become like a living creature beneath everyone's feet; when buildings collapse and dirt and debris shatter in front of you like mini missiles; when your entire world is shaking uncontrollably and you think you're going to be torn apart inside, and the sheer power of the vibrations make you bite your tongue and the taste of copper fills your mouth and dribbles out of your ears and nose….

Yeah…it hurts….

A part of me will probably always want to smile when people complain of having headaches…for I know I would die to have such a simple pain like theirs…one that will disappear after a while…one that will be cured by swallowing one or two aspirin instead of downing half a bottle of codeine…

What would it like to be pain free? Since my powers were born in that crumbling orphanage years ago, I've never known. I can't even remember a time when I could smile, laugh with my friends and crank up the volume without once wincing in pain before I adjust.

Pietro has an idea of what I go through. Sort of. I try to hide the charming after-affects of my powers from the rest of the Brotherhood, but having a speed demon in the house means having very little privacy. As fast as I can wipe a look of pain off my face, Pie's reflexes will have already caught the look, analyzed it and recorded it for future reference. He hasn't told Fred or Todd yet – I can tell – but I know he knows. Little things, like turning Toad's music down even though I haven't said anything, or casually mentioning he needs to go re-stock the first aid kit even though the only thing missing is the painkillers I keep downing like candy.

I am not going to make a big deal out of this. I've dealt with it my whole life – and the last thing I want is to see Toad or Fred look at me with pity. I am the leader of this little group of social outcasts – I am responsible for them, not the other way around. Besides, it's not a big deal. After all, everyone gets headaches.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Pietro silently watched their fierce leader lay back against the couch, resting his head against a soft pillow – one of the few that hadn't been slimed by Toad at one point or another – and closed his eyes. His face was blank, but Pietro glanced over towards the bathroom Lance had just exited. The light was off, but Pietro knew if he went in there and checked, he'd find the bottle of painkillers was almost empty again. He made a mental note to pick some up from the store in between classes the next day.

A crash sounded from the kitchen, and suddenly Todd wobbled into the room, one hand clapped to his head. Pietro raised an eyebrow.

"Toad? What'ja do this time?"

"Blob's makin' a mess that he thinks will turn into a cake," Todd said woozily, a shaky grin on his face. "I tried to jump through and landed on a splatter that I think used to be an egg. Or several eggs. I skidded headfirst into the wall. Man, my head is killing me!"

Pietro glanced over at the couch and saw Lance stand up and head for the bathroom. After a few seconds, he returned with a glass of water and two Advil's in his hand.

"Here," he said casually. "It'll help."

"Thanks man!" Todd snapped up the pills. "This sucks! I can't wait 'til the pain's gone."

Pietro was sure he heard a 'neither can I' come from Lance's direction but he couldn't be sure.

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The End

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My first X-Evo fic! ^^ I'm so proud. Incidentally, as a migraine-sufferer, I speak from profound experience, and the above incorporated that experience. ^^  

Anyway, I'm new to the Evo world (one I thought I'd never enter, seeing as I'm a Marvel purist at heart – normally) but already I can tell I'm going to be a Lance/Pietro gal. And I love Toad – he's so adorable! Strange to say that about someone who eats flies and smells like a swamp but what the hey…

Anyway, review please? Unless of course you don't WANT anymore. ^^ I can take a hint.