Rating: PG-13 - a few curse words.

Summary: A fire-wielding mutant meets a fire-wielding witch on a cold day in New York City.

Spoilers: X-Men 2 and all of Witch Hunter Robin.

Disclaimer: All Witch Hunter Robin characters belong to Sunrise, Bandai Entertainment, et al., and their many, many well-paid lawyers. All X-Men characters belong to Stan Lee, Marvel and their many, many well-paid lawyers. I am NOT making any money off this, nor am I trying to infringe on anyone's copyright. Believe that.

Authors' Notes: Once I came to the end of WHR, I couldn't help but notice the eerie similarities in the storyline to that of the X-Men universe. To satisfy my need to do crossover fic, I combined the anime with the movie-verse and this is what happened.

Questions, Comments, Suggestions: Send to donnacsopranonetscape.net. All flames are read, laughed at then deleted with extreme prejudice.


"Goodbye, stranger, it's been nice/

Hope you find your paradise/

Tried to see your point of view/

Hope your dreams will all come true/"

- "Goodbye, Stranger", Supertramp


"Stranger Like Me" by Net Girl


New York City


Kneeling on the rest behind the pew in front of her with her head bowed and her hands clasped together in prayer, Robin Sena reflected on recent events as she looked to God for guidance. After almost two months since the fall of The Factory, she felt more lost than ever. Even though she knew her true nature, she had so many unanswered questions left.

Slowly, her eyes opened and they settled on the Crucifix at the front of the Church. She was far away from the home she'd known. Japan seemed like a dream at times and memories of Italy only caused her more sadness. She'd left everything and everyone on the other side of the world - except for one person.

In an attempt to hide from the STN Headquarters hunters, Amon had brought her here, to America. He was to be her guardian, her watcher and her only friend. Certainly, those she'd left behind were still considered friends, but they could do nothing to help her. She dared not write a letter or phone them for fear of exposure. If only she was able to. She missed them.

Heaving a sigh, Robin rose to her feet. She cast one last look up to the Crucifix then stepped away from the pew and into the aisle. Her long, black dress shuffled quietly as she strolled to the back of the church. She'd promised Amon she would wait there until he returned, however, she couldn't. She needed a breath of fresh air.

As she passed through the doorway, she instinctively bristled at the sudden transition from a warm church to a cold, crisp winter day in New York City. Her gloved hands tucked themselves into the pockets of her overcoat and she descended the snowy concrete steps. Once on the sidewalk, she chose a direction and continued on her way, her mind preoccupied with her thoughts.


John Allerdyce, now exclusively known as Pyro, leaned against the wall of one of the buildings, his ever-present Zippo lighter in his hand, with a thumb clicking the cap open and shut. He huddled deeper into his leather coat, cursing the shitty luck he had today. Magneto and Mystique were in the building behind him, having fun while he was stuck with guard duty. Inside that building was a mutant registration office. The day the Registration law passed, the war elevated to the next level.

[And where am I?] Pyro thought as he examined the flame now dancing atop his lighter. [On the damn sidelines. I should be in there, giving these humans shit along with them. No. I have to wait out here.]

He slammed the cap shut with his hand and shivered again. He hated winter. He hated ice. He hated snow. Generally, he hated anything below 80 degrees. It was a wonder he became such a good friend to Bobby Drake - the Iceman. For a brief moment, he wondered how Bobby and Rogue were doing. In the months since Alkali Lake, he'd only heard they'd been made full- fledged X-Men. Not that he cared. He'd never wanted to be some goody- goody hero who saved people who didn't even matter. Humans. Or other goody-goody mutants.

The wind blew. He wished Mystique and Magneto would hurry the hell up. He wanted to go back to their nice, warm penthouse uptown. He'd considered just leaving. Nobody was around this part of town at that time of the morning, especially not on a freezing ass cold day like this one.

At the other end of the block, Robin rounded the corner. As she continued her leisurely pace, she noticed a young man up ahead, lingering suspiciously in front of one of the buildings. She avoided looking directly at him as she approached. Every stranger was a possible enemy now. STN Headquarters wouldn't stop sending hunters and she didn't know the faces of that many of them. Even though Amon was extremely careful in covering their tracks, the chance of being found remained.

Pyro stood a little straighter when he saw a young girl, probably his age, coming up the sidewalk. She was dressed differently than anyone else he'd seen in the area that day. There was something archaic about her appearance. Her reddish-blonde hair was arranged in an odd manner - two bundled pigtails with a few loose strands of hair hanging from them. A few more bits of hair fell across her face. Her head was bowed so he couldn't get a good look at her.

Robin continued to walk. She heard a clicking noise as she neared the dark haired boy. Curious as to what it was, her head lifted and, just as she passed the stranger, she made eye contact with him. Immediately, she scolded herself for giving into her wonder. Whoever this boy was, he knew her face now.

On Pyro's side, the reaction was different. Upon seeing her face fully, he realized she had to be younger than he. Maybe a few years. Despite her young appearance, her brilliant green eyes held a pain and sadness in them that he knew too well. Behind that, deeper, was what he could only describe as ... an old soul. It was a corny reference he'd heard Jean Grey use on a few occasions when she spoke of Logan. Someone with more experience and wisdom than his outer appearance let on.

In what felt like an infinity between both of them, the exchanged glance ended when she averted her gaze and bowed her head once more. She picked up the pace and swallowed hard. Her heart thumped in her chest. She felt him staring at her as she hurried away. Amon wouldn't like this. Not at all.

Pyro narrowed his eyes. Why was she so scared of him? Granted, he should be feared, but what about him had spooked her? Tossing a glance at the closed door behind he, he settled his dark eyes on the retreating girl again.

"Only one way to find out," he murmured.

Abandoning his post, he followed the girl as she sped down the sidewalk. After another block, he saw her round the corner and vanish from his sight. Jogging, he wanted to catch up with her before she could reach a more populated area. There, she could more easily lose him.

Robin tossed a glance over her shoulder once she rounded the corner. She wasn't quite sure if the boy had followed her or if her paranoia was simply working overtime this morning. [Is he STN? If he is, then he's not alone.] Her eyes scanned the immediate area, including the rooftops. Hunters came in all forms, not even someone that young could be dismissed. After all, she was only 15 and had done the same job for a while.

Her concerns about whether or not the stranger was STN were cast aside when she heard a woman's scream from the alley to her left. Only after a moment's hesitation did Robin head into the alley to investigate. The young witch ducked behind a Dumpster and peer around it in order to keep an eye on the situation.

"Please! Someone! Help me!" A young woman cowered against the wall as two men that Robin could only call 'thugs' laughed.

"Do ya hear this, Mikey?" one said, hitting the other in the arm. "This mutie is screaming for somebody to help her!"

The other cackled. "Yeah. Funny, huh?" He turned his attention to the terrified woman. "Why you callin' for help, mutie? Can't save yourself? Ain't you got any scary powers?"

Robin's eyebrows lifted when she heard that. [Powers?] Her eyes flicked over to the woman, who shivered in fear. [Is she ... a witch, too? But if she is ... why do they call her a 'mutie'? What is that?]

"I don't have any powers," the woman blubbered in reply. She shrieked when Mikey grabbed her by the hair. "I don't!"

"Yes, you do! We saw you come outta that Mutant Registration place yesterday, bitch. And you don't work there," he snarled.

"My power doesn't hurt anyone. Please ... let go. You're - "

"Shut up! You're a mutant and it doesn't matter what your power does! You're not human!"

"Yes, I am! I'm as human as you are!"

Her declaration only served to anger the young man even more. He raised a fist to deliver a punch, but he was stopped by the sudden flash of fire. Startled, he let go of the woman's hair and leapt backwards with a surprised yelp.

"Dude, what the fuck was that?" the second thug exclaimed. He saw the hairs on Mike's arm were singed off. Narrowing his gaze, he looked to the woman. "Don't have a dangerous power? I'll show you some real hurt now, you mutated bitch!"

A wall of fire rose up between the two men and the screaming woman. It was at that moment that Pyro entered the alley. His own eyes went wide when he saw the impressive display of fire power in front of him. His gaze shifted away from the flames to another figure in the alley with them.

[It's her!]

Robin stood in full view of the two men and their victim, her eyes glaring through her glasses that she'd slipped on in order to use her power efficiently. As the two men backed away from the flames, Robin took measured steps forward.

[She's like me,] she thought, glancing from the men to the young woman. [A witch.]

"Stay away from us, you filthy mutant!" the second man yelled. Despite his words, his voice trembled with fear.

"You should leave," Robin evenly told them. The flames reflected in the lenses of her glasses, giving her eyes an almost demonic appearance.

"C'mon, let's get outta here!" Mike grabbed the other man by the shirt and pulled him towards the other end of the alley. Once they were gone, Robin relaxed her shoulders and the flames vanished into thin air.

"Holy shit," Pyro breathed as he watched the girl walk over to the injured mutant woman. "She's ... a pyrokinetic." He opened his hand and stared at the lighter with it. He could only manipulate the fire, he couldn't create it. If he ever did have that ability ...

"Are you all right?" Robin asked as she kneeled beside the woman.

Still trembling, the woman managed to nod her head. "Y-Yes, I am," she whispered. "Thank you." She pulled her coat closed around her and sniffled. "I .. I thought they were going to kill me."

"Humans don't understand our kind," Robin solemnly said. She sighed heavily then stared in the direction the two men had fled. They didn't want to understand, either.

"I never hurt anyone with my power." The woman stared at her hands. "It's rather useless as powers go."

Pyro had edged closer to them in order to hear what they were saying. However, he wasn't paying attention to where he stepped. His left foot kicked an empty tin can and it skittered across the ground. He froze in place, hoping against hope that neither girl heard that.

Gasping, Robin rose to her feet as she whirled around, ready to defend herself and the woman behind her from whoever it was. The determination on her face wavered to surprise then reverted to stony resolve. [So ... he was following me ... ]

Pyro stood rooted to one place. He didn't want to cause any harm, for once, he only walked to talk to this girl. If she could be persuaded to join the Brotherhood, she'd make a powerful ally. If he managed to bring a mutant like her to Magneto, the old man would have no choice but to give him more grown-up assignments.

While Pyro and Robin faced off, the victim used it as her chance to escape. She hadn't lied about her power being useless and the other girl was more suited to a battle if that's what this turned into. Scrambling to her feet, she hurried out of the alley and vanished around the corner at the other end.

"Why are you following me?" Robin demanded, remembering to speak to the boy in English. Her eyes narrowed yet she kept a rein on her power. For now. "Are you with Solomon?"

Pyro blinked. "Who the hell is he?"

She continued to glare at him. Perhaps he was playing dumb. Then again, he seemed genuinely baffled by the reference. "Who are you?" Her hands balled into fists at her sides. She didn't want to incinerate another person, but if it came down to that, she would.

"Me?" He came towards her, slowly. "I'm Pyro."

Robin lifted an eyebrow. "That is a strange name."

"It describes my power." He raised his hand, noticing how Robing watched his every move like she was a cornered animal. "Because I can do this."

Sparking the flint wheel of his Zippo, Pyro drew forth a small flame which he took into the palm of his empty hand. Once he had it, he tucked the lighter back into his jacket pocket.

Concentrating, he willed the flame to take the shape of a bird flapping its wings. That morphed into a large dog then it shrunk down to a take the form of a rat. Drawing the fire back into his hands, he formed it into a baseball then threw it at one of the buildings. Before it could do any damage, he forced it to dissipate into nothingness.

Robin watched the display in wonder. She'd only met one other person who had power over fire like she did. He couldn't be a hunter, not with this blatant and flashy display of his powers. Her wide eyes met his and she whispered, "You're like me."

He nodded. "I sure am. And you know our kind have to stick together. If humans had their way, we'd either be dead or in concentration camps." Not that he knew the horror of a camp, it was something that Magneto brought up every so often.

Her face fell upon hearing him say that. She'd seen something as horrific as a concentration camp with her own eyes. The Factory, an extension of STN-J, under Zaizen's direction had imprisoned countless witches "arrested" by their hunters and used their power for his own twisted purposes.

"I've seen something like that," she quietly tol dhim.

Pyro's eyebrows lifted. "Really? Somebody's running a camp for mutants?" [Magneto will want to hear about this. If she could lead us to that place ... ]

Robin, on the other hand, only looked confused. "What do you mean, mutants?"

"Us." He gestured to himself then to her. "Me and you. We're mutants. Don't tell me that you don't know what you really are? Who you are? The power you have -"

"I'm no mutant," Robin firmly interrupted. Not only was this boy not a STN hunter, he had no clue as to the true nature of his own power. "You are like me, one of the Fallen."

"Huh? What the hell are you talking about? Fallen what?"

"A user of the Craft."

Pyro stared at her. "The what? Wait ..." He began to put together a few minor details. "You think ... I'm a witch?" He laughed, loudly, after she nodded. "You gotta be kiddin' me! Is this a joke? What's your name? Who are you?"

Offended and angered by his laughter, she almost lost control of her power. After a few calming breaths, she gave him his answer. "Robin. Robin Sena."

He shook his head as he brought out his lighter. "No. I mean your real name."

It was her turn to blink. "That is my real name."

He sighed, rolling his eyes at the same time. "Your name ... like mine. Pyro. What is it?" He held up his hands before she could say anything. "Wait. Lemme guess. Flare? Flame? Fire Chick?" When Robin only continued to stare at him in response, he went on. "Okay ... I got it. Firaga!"

Her eyes narrowed at the laughing boy. "Are you insane?" she asked with all seriousness.

"Me, insane?" He shook his head, not sure if recruiting this strange girl was worth the trouble. "You're the one who thinks we're witches!"

"We are! That is the source of your power. Our power!"

He sighed again. "Look, I don't know who you've been talking to, Robin, but you've got this wrong. We're mutants." He pointed to himself. "We're the next step in evolution. Homo Superior. We're destined to rule the world one day. The guy I work for, he's doing everything he can to make sure that happens."

Robin removed her glasses, her eyes never leaving his as she listened to his words. This boy truly believed that he was a mutant and not a witch. "This man you work for, he has a similar power?"

"Magneto? Hell no. He has a different ability. He manipulates magnetic fields and metals. He's powerful. So's Mystique."

[More of these odd names,] Robin thought as she cocked her head to one side. She wondered if she shouldn't just leave. Amon was probably back at the church by now. If he didn't find her there, waiting, who knew what he might do?

"There they are!"

A familiar voice shouting caught the attention of both teenagers. Pyro looked up and Robin turned to see the two men, along with a few police officers, on the other end of the alley.

"They're the muties who attacked us!" the other added as he pointed an accusatory finger. "The girl has fire powers!"

Pyro's eyes darkened when he saw the cops draw their weapons from the holsters. "She's not the only one," he growled as he sparked his lighter. He grabbed the flame and formed it into a fireball then hurled it at the oncoming humans.

Robin gasped as the ball of flame flew by her, destined for the policemen. Concentrating, she used her own ability to erect a wall of fire. When Pyro's fireball slammed into it, the fireball instantly dissipated.

Pyro, equally surprised as the cops, looked to her. "What are you doing?" he exclaimed. "They'll kill us!"

"You don't have to kill them," she replied. She'd had enough death for a long while. She'd taken more than enough life from others. It was too easy. If she didn't make it hard again, she didn't want to imagine where that path would take her.

"You two! Stay where you are!" one of the cops commanded.

In her distraction, Robin had allowed her firewall to vanish and the two offices advanced on her and Pyro, guns pointed at them.

"We have to run!" Pyro didn't have enough time for another offensive. Plus, Robin would probably just interfere again. When Robin made no move to follow him, he grabbed her by the arm. "Come on! RUN!"

Feeling herself being pulled, Robin's feet began to move. She tripped over them twice, almost taking Pyro down with her. As they left the alley, she shot one last glance over her shoulder at the police. They stopped long enough to fire a few warning shots in their direction.

"This way!" Pyro tugged on her arm to get her attention. "No matter what you've heard, cops move pretty fast."

"Where are you taking me?" she asked as she stumbled along behind him. Her dress wasn't exactly tailored for this kind of physical activity on already slippery terrain. Behind her, she heard the police order them to stop. [I should have stayed at the church. Now look at all the trouble I'm in.]

"Faster!" Pyro glanced over his shoulder. Robin struggled to keep his pace they appeared to be giving the cops the slip. He turned the next corner then came to an abrupt halt.

"Oof!" Robin slammed into his back. She rubbed a hand over her nose. He, however, hadn't noticed their collision.

"This way." He jerked her into another run, dragging her down the next available alleyway. As they neared an empty Dumpster, he picked up the pace again. "Move it! Behind here!" Before she even had the chance to process his command, he shoved her against the wall behind the Dumpster, then joined her.

Robin used the wall to support her as she caught her breath. In front of her, Pyro peered around the Dumpster, muttering as he did so.

He watched as the two men ran by the alley, shouting for the two teenagers to surrender. He laughed. "Surrender. Yeah. Right." Once he was sure they'd escaped, he turned to check on the girl. "You all right?"

She nodded.

"I can't believe I just ran from a couple of goddamn cops," Pyro snorted, shaking his head. "Magneto would be disappointed. I don't even want to think of what Mystique would say."

"You didn't need to kill them," Robin quietly said. Off of his semi- surprised expression, she added, "They were not shooting at us, either."

"How would you know?"

"I have been shot at before. They only meant to scare us."

"Yeah. And we ran like we were scared." His hand tightened into a fist around his lighter. "What does it matter, anyway? The two assholes in the alley are the ones the cops should've been after, not us."

"Only because they reached the police before we could."

He shook his head again, baffled. "You really are naive, you know. They don't help our kind, only other humans. If Magneto had been there, he would've turned their guns on them." He smiled as he thought on the idea. How they would've pissed themselves at that sight.

"They were mistaken. And they're only doing their job. You have no right to kill anyone you please, either."

He laughed again. "You sound like somebody I used to know."

She didn't like the way he laughed at her. Not only was senseless murder wrong, it hampered the cause to prove that witches were no different than other people. Some were good, some were bad. Her mouth quirked as she studied the young man. Perhaps ... she'd had the misfortune of making the acquaintance of one of the bad ones.

"We shouldn't abuse the power we have," she simply replied.

"You sound just like the Professor."

"The Professor?"

"Xavier." When the name failed to register with Robin, he sighed. "What planet have you been on lately? Charles Xavier? I used to go to his school not far from here. Mutants only. He has this idea that mutants and humans can live together in peace. They don't want that. Not even an armed attack on the school clued the old man in."

"Armed attack?" Her mind flashed back to the day the people from the Factory stormed the STN-J headquarters. They were after her. Because of her, most of her friends were injured. The bullets were plastic, but they were bullets all the same. If it hadn't been for Amon she couldn't begin to imagine what her fate would've been. He'd saved her life. Something he'd done more than once and probably would do again.

"Yeah. Some nut named Stryker. He experimented on mutants, including his own damn kid. It wasn't all that long ago. How can you not know about this?"

"I haven't been in this country very long." She paused, unsure if it was wise to tell him that. Either way, she'd stayed with this boy for too long. She needed to return to the church before Amon did.

"That's for sure," he replied with a scoff.

"I ... I need to go," she told him as she looked away. "The person I'm with, he didn't think I would leave the place he left me." Her eyes met Pyro's again. "I pray that God enlightens you with a different path ... Pyro." She stepped around him and headed for the entrance of the alleyway.

"I am a god, Robin," he coldly said. After a pause, he pivoted on his heel. She'd stopped dead in her tracks. "And I chose the only path these humans gave me. You talk like you've been through similar shit. And yet you stick with these lofty ideals, like the Professor." His brow furrowed. "Why?"

She bowed her head. She would be lying to herself and to him if she claimed to have never desired what he had - freedom. Unfortunately, or maybe it was fortunately, Father Juliano instilled a strong sense of right and wrong within her, showed her that she chose her next move in life and to let God guide her on her way. As angry as she was in those weeks after the attack on STN-J, she wondered if she was on the right side. Now, upon meeting Pyro, she found she did not like where that path would've led her.

After a lengthy silence, Robin looked over her shoulder to him. "When you don't like the paths that others create for you, you create your own." She paused, feeling sympathetic towards him. "Perhaps you should choose your own before it's too late."

As Robin walked away, Pyro stared after her. Was she serious? Make his own path? What kind of nonsense was that? Magneto had the right idea, Xavier did not. He liked his decision. And who the hell was she to pass judgment on him? She didn't know his whole story.

[And you don't know hers,] he thought with a slight frown. [Maybe you should ask her. She might understand if you explain yours to her.]

He took a few steps before he stopped. What was he doing? Chasing after some strange girl he'd happened to meet when he should be watching Magneto's back? He frowned. Magneto didn't need his help. He was capable enough. Besides, he deserved time to talk to somebody his own age for once. He'd earned this. When he reached the street, he didn't see Robin right off. She was halfway to the other end of the street.

"Damn, she walks fast," he murmured. "Hey, Robin!" Apparently, she didn't hear him. She only rounded the corner at the end of the street with no acknowledgment of him.

She walked faster. She'd heard Pyro call out to her but she didn't want to hear anything else he had to say. She'd heard enough of that line of thought back in Japan. She had faith that the world could be better than it currently was. Why did that make her naive? What was wrong with having faith?

Pyro came around the corner and paused to catch his breath. Placing his hands on his knees, he drew in a gulp of cold air then lifted his head. Slowly, he rose to his full height when Robin stopped as a man considerably older than her emerged from inside of the church and descended the stairs. His eyes narrowed slightly. The young man wore an intense expression on his face as he regarded Robin.

[Who's this guy? Is he a mutant too?] he wondered.

"Didn't I tell you to stay here?" Robin looked away as Amon spoke. He'd arrived at the church not long after she'd taken her walk. He'd been concerned about her ever since. This was his way of showing it, through a scolding.

"You were gone for so long, I didn't think a short walk would be a problem." From the corner of her eye, Robin noticed Pyro at the other end of the block. He watched them yet he made no move toward them.

"Who is he?"

Her head quickly lifted, her eyes wide. "Wh-what? Who?" she stumbled over her words.

"Him." Amon nodded in Pyro's direction.

"Oh." Her shoulders slumped. "No one." She saw the look on his face. "I only spoke to him for a few minutes. He isn't who you think he is," she added.

Amon shifted his gaze from Robin to Pyro. As soon as he did, the boy dove back around the corner. "We have to leave. STN's hunters are already here."

"That fast?"

"Which is why you should've done what you were told. We can't risk unneeded exposure, not even halfway around the world." He tossed a glance up the street again. "Did you tell him anything?"

"I -"She barely managed one word when her body tensed.

Someone else - another witch - was nearby and he wasn't alone. As soon as she turned towards the opposite end of the street, both she and Amon were surprised by a bench hurtling at them. She could see the telekinetic force supporting the bench. Still, she didn't react fast enough. Amon barely yanked his gun from his holster when the bench collided with them. Upon contact, it sent Amon backwards into the wall of the church. His gun popped out of his hand then skittered down the icy sidewalk.

Pyro looked from the gun to Robin and her guardian. The girl had one hand to her forehead while she used the other to keep herself in a sitting position. The dark haired guy was down for the count, though. His eyes shifted to the perpetrator - a young blonde woman, accompanied by a group of masked uniformed men toting serious automatic weaponry. The woman looked from the unconscious man to the young Robin. Her words were clear as she spoke but they were in Japanese, so he had no idea why she was harassing Robin.

[Why do you even care, man?] he thought. [This shit is not your problem. Besides, these people are probably from an asylum or something. The kid thinks she's a witch, for Christ's Sake!] Even so, he remained rooted in place, watching as the blond woman advanced on the dazed Robin.

"You should surrender, Robin Sena," the blonde coldly said in Japanese as she came closer. Despite facing off with the most powerful witch known to STN, the woman didn't even take her hands out of the pockets of her long black trenchcoat. "Your time of running is over. Did you honestly believe you would lose us by coming to an American city as densely populated as this one?"

Robin paid little attention to the hunter's words, her gaze shifted to Amon and her heart sank in her chest when she discovered the state he was in. She blinked a few times. Her vision doubled because of the crack she'd taken to her head when she hit the ground earlier. "Amon ..." she whispered, reaching out for him.

A smile appeared on the hunter's face. "He can't help you. No one can," she said, and, for some reason, in English.

Pyro's eyes narrowed at the blonde. "I don't think so, bitch," he muttered. He stepped out into full view as he sparked his lighter and created a massive fireball. "Robin, look out!!"

Robin heard Pyro's voice shout her name. She blinked when she saw a funnel of fire headed her way. Quickly, she rolled from the hunter and ended up beside Amon. The witch used her telekinetic power to created a shield which forced the fire to harmlessly fly around her. The armed men, though, were not as fortunate. She'd not included them in her protection shield.

The soldiers screamed as the fired burned their clothes, fast in reaching the skin beneath them. Most of them fled the scene, howling in agony as the flames continued to eat away at their flesh. The blond showed no emotion over it. She simply focused her next telekinetic blast on Pyro.

"Fuck." He didn't need to 'see' the wave to know it was coming. He'd spent enough time around Jean Grey. The blast hit him, knocked him flat onto his back and his lighter flew out of his hand. Rolling onto his stomach, he watched in wide-eyed horror as it clattered and clanked through a nearby drainage grate. "No."

His source of power ... was gone.

The witch removed her left hand from her coat pocket, made a deliberate gesture in the air then drew her hand to her chest. The invisible force that had propelled the bench earlier dragged Pyro across the hard concrete until he stopped not far from Robin, who was huddle by Amon. The woman lowered her arm and she approached the three of them.

"Have you another guardian, Robin? One that STN does not know about?" she asked, still speaking in English. Her eyes narrowed at Pyro who tended to his scraped up palms. "Who are you, boy?"

"Hey, fuck you, lady," he snarled as he looked up to her. He'd obviously surprised her with that response, with the way her eyes widened briefly.

"You wield a power similar to hers." She nodded to Robin. "Why do you not use it now? Are you ... afraid of me? Of what I could do to you with a mere thought?"

He hesitated. If he let her know he was powerless, he was screwed. She'd simply crush him with her own power or do something more vile. He didn't doubt she had it in her. If he didn't already hate this bitch, he'd have offered her a chance to become a part of the Brotherhood.

The woman cocked her head to one side. "You have no answer to a simple question?"

"How's this for an answer: blow me." Probably not the best comeback he'd ever retaliated with, but he was rarely without a fire source to back up his mouth.

[Wait ... fire source?] He looked over to Robin from the corner of his eye. She was barely hanging onto consciousness. [I have one ... ]

The witch laughed. "I've only known you for a minute and you've already bored me."

"Sorry to disappoint. Guess I don't have enough ... fire for you." He nudged Robin casually as he stressed the word "fire". [C'mon, girl. All I need is one decent spark. Give it to me and I can save our lives.]

Robin stirred slightly at Pyro's nudge. She blinked a few times, trying to focus on him. She figured she had a concussion. Her bleary eyes caught sight of his left hand, opening and closing in what she took as a nervous tick. Then, the word he'd stressed - "fire" - echoed in her mind.

The blonde witch only smiled again, amused. "Clever choice of words." Her other hand came from its pocket. The fist opened and a handful of sand glittered as it fell to the ground before her. "Because you think you're so smart, I'll be equally clever in my disposal of you."

Pyro watched as the glittering sand formed a specific shape on the sidewalk in front of him. Confused as to what she was doing, he looked from the symbol to her. A moment later, the sand began to glow.

Robin saw it as well. [No ... ] Narrowing her eyes, she focused her attention on Pyro's open hand a few feet away from her. She shouldn't need her glasses at this close range to be accurate ...

"You'll suffer the full extent of Monica Churchill's power, child!" the blonde declared as her eyes grew darker.

Using her own power, Robin created a small ball of flame in Pyro's hand. As soon as she'd accomplished that, she finally lost consciousness.

Monica laughed. "So much for the most powerful witch on earth!"

"Why don't you try the most powerful mutant on earth?" Before Monica Churchill could raise a defense shield, Pyro launched a stream of fire straight at her. He watched as the woman was engulfed in the flames and screamed in agony as they ate away at her clothing and tender skin.

The shrill screams roused Amon. His eyes opened and his world gradually swam back into focus. Before him, he found the hunter, crumpled on the sidewalk, severely burned. He sighed, cursing himself. Robin had done it again. He'd promised her he would watch over her, protect her from her own power and he'd failed.

"Didn't know who you were fucking with, did you?" Pyro chuckled as he glared at the whimpering blond who was crumpled in a charred ball. If she survived, her life would be miserable. Served her right. "Hey, Robin, are you -"He stopped when he saw that the man had awakened and now stared at him. "Uh ... hi?"

Amon narrowed his eyes at him. "Who are you?"

"The guy who just saved your ass, pal." He smirked. "You know, since you were busy with the being unconscious when you were needed the most?" He looked over to Robin. "You all right?"

The girl's eyes were half open and she tried to focus on Pyro. "Yes, thank you," she whispered.

He shrugged. "She messed with me. I had to do something."

"Is that why you warned me before you attacked her the first time?"

Pyro pressed his lips together then glanced at Amon. He didn't like the look this guy gave him. Quickly, he jumped to his feet. "You guys should get outta here, before the cops or more of these idiots show up." He paused, an odd feeling had descended upon him in the last few seconds. Is this what it felt like to be an X-Man? "Well ... good luck."

Robin sat up as Pyro began to walk away. "You could have left," she said. That made him stop dead in his tracks. "But you risked your own life to help a stranger."

His head bowed as he hunched his shoulders forward. "Maybe you're not a stranger. Maybe it's because you're like me." He looked over his shoulder to Robin. "Or maybe ... I just wanted to see somebody burn."

"Maybe you have chosen the wrong path, Pyro," Robin suggested.

His gaze shifted to the sidewalk below his feet. He remembered Stryker, the man's attack on the school, the two best friends he'd ever had and how he'd left them behind to join Magneto. It seemed like years, not months, ago. He wasn't that kid anymore. His head lifted and he met Robin's gaze again.


She raised an eyebrow, puzzled. "What?"

"John. That's my real name." He offered her a small smile. "We're not strangers anymore, are we, Robin?" Shoving his cold hands into the pockets of his jacket, he turned and continued on his way.

Amon looked from Pyro's retreating figure to Robin. Whatever had transpired in his absence, it was more than Robin let on. Still, he would ask her for the rest of the story later. They needed to leave this city as fast as possible.

[Good luck, John,] Robin thought as Amon helped her to her feet. [I hope you find your own path ... one day.]


"Where the hell were you?!" Mystique's voice brought Pyro to a halt. He found the blue-skinned mutant, along with Magneto, at the corner of the block where he'd been himself not more then five minutes before. "Weren't you given a specific order?" she went on. Her eyes narrowed on him when he showed no concern over the trouble he'd caused.

"Something came up," he replied with a shrug. He saw the expression on Magneto's face. "It was important."

"More important than the task I assigned you?" the older mutant calmly inquired.

Pyro glanced over his shoulder. Amon and Robin lumbered down the street together, the girl leaned on the man for his support. "Sorta," he answered as he turned back to Mystique and Magneto. He pulled his hands from his pockets and rubbed them together in an attempt to warm them up. "I'm sorry, all right? It won't happen again."

Mystique noticed the absence of Pyro's lighter. It the months he'd been with the Brotherhood, Pyro was never once without that Zippo. "What happened to your lighter?" she asked.

His hands stopped and he shifted his gaze to the nearby grate. "I ... I dropped it. When ... I ... slipped." He gestured towards the grate. "It fell down there."

Magneto eyed the boy before he stepped over to the grate then peered down into the darkness. Sure enough, that's where it was. He held a hand over the grate and a moment later, the lighter emerged and the man wrapped his fingers around it. He placed it into Pyro's open hand.

"Continue to be careless, Pyro, and I'll have no use for you." Something happened that the young mutant did not want them to know about. He would pursue the full story later, however. "Come, my dear."

Mystique accepted the arm Magneto offered to her. She gave Pyro one last lingering gaze then accompanied their leader down the sidewalk, morphing into a lovely young brunette woman at the same time.

Pyro flicked open the cap of the Zippo, sparked the flint wheel and admired the flame. He considered Robin's words about finding his own path. He cast one last look over his shoulder - the girl and her guardian were gone. A thumb snapped the cap back down into place as he sighed.

Who would it hurt to keep on his current path for a while?

Shoving his hands back into his pockets, he followed Mystique and Magneto down the street, cursing the cold day under his breath.

The End!