"Rest in Pieces"
By Roby Carr
Part One: Didn't Your Mother Ever Tell You...?
"There's more in the middle of an Egg McMuffin than an egg in the middle of a muffin," a smooth, soft voice chirped on that hot summer day. The temperature was about 102 degrees outside even in the town of Glen Ellyn in northern Illinois, but that didn't stop one sixteen-year-old from dragging her friend out the door into the stifling, still air and hiking on foot to the nearest gas station. Just like they had on every other day of the summer, the two girls were sitting in back of the mini-mart and devouring a pint of ice cream each with one of the plastic spoons from the box they'd hidden behind the dumpster. "Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. Big Mac, Fillet O' Fish, Quarter Pounder, French fries, icy Coke, thick shake, sundaes and apple pie."
Before the singing girl could begin the song over again as she'd been doing for the past few hours, her friend clasped a hand over her mouth and glared intently at her. "Seriously Claire," she hissed, sounding more than annoyed, "I meant you should stop the first fifteen times I told you to 'shut the hell up'." The girl called Claire sent her friend a small apologetic smile but shrugged it off and tossed the empty ice cream carton into the dumpster. The other girl had finished a good ten minutes before.
"You're tired, aren't you, Jackie?" Claire asked, apparently already having forgiven her friend for the hostility moments ago. Jackie blinked at Claire; it was always strange how her older friend could have guessed that. All summer, Jackie had been the one with the energy when they went to the mini-mart, but this time she hadn't gotten much sleep the night before and she didn't get to sleep in either - stupid little brothers.
Claire shrugged at her friend, mildly puzzled herself as to how she had guessed it though she didn't like it show. Claire draped one arm around Jackie and tugged her closed so that Jackie would rest her head on Claire's shoulder. Jackie looked a little unsure at first as to whether or not she should let her eyes settle shut, but eventually she closed them and relaxed against her best friend for once. Claire smiled to herself thoughtfully, as she realized they had just switched their normal roles. Usually Jackie would be the one forcing Claire to rest if she got tired on their way to the mini-mart or if she felt like she was overheating.
Taking the first good long look at her friend she had gotten all summer - Jackie never stopped moving long enough for Claire to notice any subtle differences -, Claire realized that Jackie looked like she'd spent the entire indoors, even though both had been outside for hours every day. Her skin was ghostly pale, definitely worse than its winter shade and this year her light brown hair had only slightly gotten blonde highlights from the sun, instead of turning into the tarnished-gold color Claire loved to see every summer. Jackie still wore the mostly black clothes that she had mourned her older brother's death in. Along with the black 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' t-shirt Claire had given her last Christmas, she wore baggy jeans dyed black, black high-tops, a large assortment of silver necklaces with crosses hanging on them and black-and-white arm warmers adorning her arms.
In comparison to Jackie's almost desperately obvious cry for help displayed in her clothing, Claire felt somewhat plain for the first time that summer, though hardly anyone else would describe her that way. Reddish-brown hair in ringlets framed a well tanned face from her several beach trips so far that summer, her eyes a pretty ordinary hazel. She wore the top piece of her swimsuit - a black tank-top - underneath a striped purple and white spaghetti-strap top and to cover her legs, a pair of running shorts underneath a plaid green, blue, red and gold skirt that had originally belonged to one of her friends who went to a private school. Once the girl came back to the public school system, she didn't need her uniform anymore and Claire had taken them free of charge. Adorning her feet were knee-high socks and a pair of leather, open-toed sandals.
"Claire... C'mon, let's go. I can't sleep out here. It's getting too hot out besides," Jackie's voice muttered from her shoulder as the tall girl pushed herself off Claire's shoulder and stood slowly up.
It didn't take Claire nearly half that time to already be up and headed for the exit, walking backwards as she chattered away until she rounded the corner and slammed into something very solid. A sharp ache passed through the bones in her back and she turned around, about to apologize. Instead, the only thing that came out of her mouth was a scream.
"Claire-Claire!" Jackie called, a sudden sense of worry overriding the heat exhaustion that had been on its way to her brain a moment ago, "What's wrong?" She didn't need to jog around the corner to see as Claire came into her vision and grasped her arm.
"Jackie," she panted, clearly shocked, "You'll never believe what I just saw! It's-"
"No! Not colossal, Colossus!" Claire corrected desperately.
Jackie gaped openly as she lifted the arm that Claire wasn't clasped onto and pointed at the path which Claire had come from. Standing there was a strange figure glinting in the sunlight. His entire body was coated in what seemed to be layers of steel. "Two words, Claire. Run. Away." Tugging at her best friend's hand, she quickly turned on a dime prepared to dash in the other direction, but realized without a moments hesitation that that exit was blocked too. A young man in a very strange Halloween costume was standing there, two flamethrowers spewing flame high up into the air above her.
Jackie could hear Claire whimper behind her. Obviously the prospect of facing the literal 'Man of Steel' and a pyromaniac in a fight didn't appeal to her. Jackie was the only one of the two with any fighting experience but the last time she'd attended karate classes was when she earned her green belt purple strip three months ago. She couldn't even remember the difference between a tornado kick and a forward thrust high kick. But none of this appeared to bother Jackie as a small confident smirk appeared on her face. 'Bluff,' she told herself, 'Psyche 'em out and take 'em down.'
"You take Metalhead. I'm on the fire freak," she told Claire. Claire's dimmed confidence level was obvious, but both girls struck up makeshift fighting stances. Jackie wanted to run. More than anything, she would have given the world to have been somewhere else - somewhere safe. She wasn't ready to be strong just for Claire's sake. She was so tired, but nothing moved her as she felt Claire shift slightly in her vigil against Metalhead. She however, just stared straight into Pyromaniac's fire. It was already licking at her face. Not close enough that it actually burnt, but near enough that beads of sweat already trickled down from her forehead and the thick, humid air made it harder to breathe.
"Didn't your mother ever tell you not to play with fire?" Jackie taunted Pyromaniac, trying not to let any emotion seep into her voice.
"Didn't your mother ever tell you not to play with boys who play with fire?" Pyromaniac replied good-naturedly, looking endlessly amused by Jackie's predicament.
"Didn't your mother ever tell you to take off your costume when Halloween's over?"
"Didn't your mother ever tell you to stop, drop and roll, sheila?" When Pyromaniac said this, Jackie looked confused for a minute before letting out a cry of pain and leaning down to beat out the flames on her left shoe.
"Asshole!" she shrieked, pain evident on her face, "What was that for?"
"Didn't your mother ever tell you not to talk to strangers?" Pyromaniac snickered at his response, though it was certainly not the one Jackie had wanted.
"Wait... How did you do that?" Jackie couldn't ramble any farther, a baffled look on her face, before she moaned and dropped onto the pavement unconscious. A large ugly, wild-looking man stood behind her, a rock in one hand, obviously the weapon he used to knock out Jackie.
"Didn't your mother ever tell you not to hit a girl?" Pyromaniac asked Ugly, looking pleased.
"Shut up," Ugly told him.
Claire gasped as she watched this out of the corner of her eye, still mostly focused on Metalhead. She would have to act fast if she wanted to have any chance of taking on even one of these guys. She charged towards Metalhead, jutting her elbow as she jolted him in the stomach. The only thing that came out of this was a sharp pain up her arm and a confirmation of her suspicions. Metalhead was Colossus. So that meant the other two were...
Claire's eyes widened as another man stepped out from behind the wall. "Please," she begged, "don't kill me or Jackie. We can't get you any ransom money or nothing. Just let me take her home. I'll tell her it was all a dream, I'll never mention you-" Claire was cut off when the fourth man, this one in a trenchcoat, began to talk in a Cajun accent.
"You don' need t' be scared o' us, cherie. We ain't gonna hurt you, if we don' have t'," the Cajun told her, though Claire was still shaking in fear.
"You didn't have to hurt her!" she exclaimed, pointing down at Jackie's body, "She didn't hurt anybody yet!" The Cajun man just shrugged at his lack of explanation which did nothing to calm Claire's nerves. He took a step towards her and she cried out, frantically searching for any direction to head in. They were everywhere. There was the pyromaniac and his flamethrowers. Metalhead, who hurt her more by just standing there and letting her kick him than anything else. There was the ugly man who'd already proven he wasn't afraid to hurt someone. And then there was the Cajun who acted quite charmingly but carried a dangerous presence around with him. New Orleans was 'The City That Loves the Dead' after all.
"Cherie, you're gonna be comin', whether you want t' or not," the Cajun said simply, "I'm jus' tryin' t' be lookin' out f'r you. Dat's what I'm doing." He stepped forward, this time closing in on Claire and grasping her arm. He circled her, still keeping his word and being careful not to hurt her, making Claire that much more nervous. Goosebumps fled down her arms when she felt two of his fingers pressing against her back. But in a few moments time, it was dulling out. Her vision was distorted, the men's words were slurring and all her senses were becoming less and less receptive as she slowly blacked out.
And then it was all gone.
Gambit caught Claire with a practiced grace as she fell back into his arms. He still carried her as he and Colossus joined the other two.
"Which one do we take?" Pyro asked good-naturedly, blinking down at the two girls. A small smirk was on his face, wishing that Jackie was still awake to see his easy victory. But if she wasn't unconscious than he wouldn't have been the winner. So he'd gloat later. "Magneto never said if we were supposed to get both of 'em."
"Grab 'em both," Sabretooth demanded, "If Magneto doesn't want one, we can just throw her out later." Colossus took Claire from Gambit's arms, settling her on one shoulder while Sabertooth did the same with Jackie - just in a bit more brutal way.
"Everything's just like it was when we came here, mates," Pyro announced, still looking just as cheerful as he had before.
"Then we will go?" Colossus asked. It was a question that didn't really need to be asked as the other three Acolytes headed away from the back parking lot, through unused alleyways and up into an abandoned building where they'd planned to spend the night and in the morning, head back to the Acolytes' base.
Kitty Pryde squirmed impatiently on the sofa, reaching up to smooth out her hair for the fifth time in the last ten minutes. She was beginning to wonder if it would've been better if she'd worn her hair up in a ponytail like normal. She was waiting for her parents, Carmen and Rebecca Pryde, for the last half-hour; even though she knew they were going to be held up. They'd called from her hometown in Illinois earlier that morning to explain that their flight to Boston had been delayed, so even after they had arrived in Massachusetts, they would need to wait another fifteen minutes at least to get on the next train to Bayville. Her parents were coming to take her back to Illinois because - even though she had already informed them of her decision to go to Boston University - they wanted her to take a look at Northbrook Community College so she could be closer to home. Kitty however had two other things she wanted to be near to.
One was quite obvious - the X-men. The professor had offered Kitty the chance to become an official X-man now that she'd graduated from Bayville High, with the highest honors of valedictorian. Even though Kitty had refused the full-time job, she still wanted to be close enough so that she could drive to the Institute in an hour if they needed her. The other reason... well, the other reason was the boy sitting across from her.
Yes, it was her beau, Lance Alvers in all his fidgeting glory that had been the deciding factor in the metaphorical battle between her family and the X- men. After all that had happened throughout high school as they hid their mutant gifts and attempted to hide the Brotherhood's, she was proud that they were still together. It was amazing that their relationship had withstood that. So here they were, Lance about to meet her parents for the first time since he had- well, since he'd tried to lower a building on to all of them. That was the reason he was acting so nervous. Somehow, Kitty knew that a perky reunion wasn't going to happen between Lance and her parents. What she had to do was prove that Lance was a better guy now, even if he did still live with the Brotherhood boys.
"Kitty, Lance," a voice spoke and it was followed with Jean's entrance into the room, "Something's happening. Lance, would you mind heading home?"
Jean didn't even give Lance a chance to protest as she strode into the room with an air of purpose around her. She placed her hand on Kitty's shoulder and said, "Lance, please. This is important. Kitty can call you later and explain." Lance was about to protest more, but this time Kitty stopped him by stepping forward and putting her arms around him.
"Go back to the boarding house, Lance. Nothing's going to gonna, like, change Jean's mind on this one," she kissed him on the cheek and grinned, "I'll call you, mutant's honor." Lance embraced her back quickly, not looking comfortable hugging her in front of Jean.
"See ya," he grumbled, shooting a glare towards Jean and heading out of the mansion to his Jeep.
"What's going on?" Kitty asked Jean, as they began to walk down the hall to the elevator leading down to Cerebro, "What about my parents? They were, like, supposed to get to know Lance today."
"Your parents called saying that the airport cancelled all of today's flights because the entire airport is on the fritz. Metal is melting and after planes have landed they'll pick themselves up about five feet in the air and suddenly drop. It's dangerous. Your parents are going to find a different time to come," Jean summarized in a no-nonsense tone, "The professor thinks that this is all happening because Magneto is in the area."
"Magneto? In Illinois?" Kitty asked, "Why?"
"We don't know," Jean replied, "There isn't any evidence as to why he'd go there. He's far north of Chicago, so we don't think it has anything to do with that city. In fact, we aren't actually sure that Magneto is anywhere near Illinois. All we have are the reports from several different airports and other businesses around the location where Cerebro pinpointed the DNA matches of Gambit, Colossus, Sabretooth and Pyro. They're in a town called Glen Ellyn." Jean sighed and shook her head, pushing her red hair back behind her shoulders. "So that's who we're after instead. The professor wants to find out from one of the other Acolytes what Magneto's plan is, but he doubts that we'll get there before they've gone back to their base. So instead, he wants you, Logan, Evan and me to head down there and find out what we can."
Kitty nodded, though she was still confused. If they weren't hitting Chicago, then why would Magneto and the others go to Illinois? It didn't make sense to Jean or the professor obviously, but she still felt like there was one important piece of the puzzle they were missing.
But she didn't have much time to dwell on this as she quickly packed an extra pair of clothes and - because there was no time to change into it - her uniform into a backpack. She and Jean joined Evan and Logan down at the X-jet and the four X-men boarded, Logan in the pilot's seat, Jean in the co- pilot's. Evan took a chair at the back of the jet where he settled in almost immediately with the gory action novel the boys at the Institute had been passing around. It was probably the first book he'd picked up all year, but Evan was obsessed. Kitty tried to settle into the seat behind Logan, but she felt her intuition telling her that they were already too late. Magneto and the Acolytes were gone; along with whatever it was they wanted.
a/n; Already, I'm feeling a good vibe on this story considering the fact that I know the characters so well. I finally got around to reading some really good X-men: Evolution fanfiction and I got my hands on my cousin Phil's X-men comics. Plus, Claire and Jackie do happen to be self-inserts. Claire is myself and Jackie is basically a mixture of all my best friends. But don't worry, no romance is expected by me and I plan on working really, REALLY hard so they don't become the cookie cutter, "like-me-only-better", Mary Sue-style self inserts. I have many scenes in my head worked out - a bunch of which don't even have Claire and Jackie in them. So please keep reading. Flame me if it makes you feel better. Which brings me to my next point...
REVIEW FOR ME PLEASE! I BEG OF THEE! PLEASE, OH PLEASE! REVIEW!
That done with, I'd like to inform everyone that since the school year will end in less than a month's time, the Powerpointers and I have become tighter once again and there is yet another member of our ever, expanding group. Her name's Obsidian Lee and she's the... counts ...seventh human member of our group? Oh, I don't know. Let's see: Roby Carr, Blizzard of the White, Solo Linkin, Chrono of the White, Pip Raye, Raquel Opaque and now Obsidian Lee. And we have another girl who hasn't officially joined yet, so that might be eight. Anyway, I think I'll finally get working on these unfinished fics I have laying around... cheers come from audience ...but that means no new fics for a while. more cheers from the audience You all hate me...
REVIEW FOR ME PLEASE! I BEG OF THEE! PLEASE, OH PLEASE! REVIEW! (yeah, had to do that again.)
Shalom to the world!
- Roby Carr