The Longest Night
Just a note. This is my first fanfic. Be kind. :) All usual disclaimer junk.
Thank you for your attention. Havoc.
Serendipity Jannhanson always felt safe when it rained. She liked the feeling of being surrounded by the water, yet protected by the walls around her. The thunder rumbling in the distance had a comforting sound, and the flashes of lightening had always seemed magical. Yes, she had always loved the rain. Tonight she was listening to it drum again her windows while half watching a late night showing of The Simpsons and half reading a new horror book she had picked up that day at the bookstore. She was perfectly relaxed, reveling in the freedom that came from knowing that she had just finished summer school and now had nothing to do for four more weeks except let her brain relax and get ready for her new year at school. Sera yawned, and flipped a page in her book. Plenty of time before she had to think real deeply about that.
The peaceful evening was broken by the buzz of her doorbell, sharp and heavy; someone was really laying down on the thing. She glanced at the time. 11:12, much too late for anyone but Charm to be dropping by and he was out of town this week anyway. Plus, he would never ring like that, so hard that she was getting a headache just in the couple of seconds that it was taken her to get to the intercom.
Hitting the button, she yelled, "What?" and waited for an answer. The one she got chilled her to the heart.
"Jay? Jay, are you there? Oh, god, oh god, please be there."
The voice was distorted by crying, but Sera could still recognize it. Terry Hunter, a girl who had not only been her student for three years but was her neighbor and a friend as well. Sera had always harbored some worries about Terry's family; the girl took too many sick days and wore too many long sleeved shirts for Sera's comfort, but she had never been able to put her hands on any proof and Terry wasn't talking. Sera was betting, although not happily, that lack of proof was no longer going to be a problem.
"Oh, god, Jay, let me in, please."
"Terry? Terry, I'm here, I'm buzzing you up, I'm coming to get you."
She slammed her finger down on the door release for what felt like long enough and then sprinted out her door. She didn't really want to see what had happened but she had no choice; it was clear that Terry needed help.
She met the girl on the second floor, trying not to panic at how slow the normally energetic Terry was moving. Even from a distance, Sera could see the bruises on the girl's face and the shock made her swear. They had never touched her face before but they had lost their restraint tonight. Terry's elfin features were battered almost past recognition. The girl was crawling more than she was walking, going slower with each step.
"Terry!" shouted Sera, leaping the last few steps and wrapping an arm around the girl. Terry stiffened and Sera's mind automatically noticed that detail and added it to her worry. More bruising or something worse? Broken ribs, internal injuries? What had those bastards done to her?
Working together, Sera managed to get Terry into her apartment and locked the door. Thinking of how near Terry's parents lived and looking at what they had done to the girl, she threw the bolt as well. Terry had collapsed onto the sofa. She was trying to get her breath but the fact that she was sobbing was making it hard. Well, that and the pain.
Taking a deep breath and trying hard to calm down, Sera went over to Terry and touched her arm, concentrating as she did it. With her mind, she gently reached out and touched the girl's chaotic, pain filled thoughts. She gritted her teeth as the Terry's pain exploded into her mind before she could control or contain it. Damn it, if she was any good at this, she'd be with her family and not a teacher. Gradually, she managed to pull the pain into herself, not all, but enough to calm Terry. The girl took a few hitching breathes and her crying calmed.
"Okay," Sera murmured, "okay. Hon, can you tell me what happened to you?" It was hard speaking past the pain she took from Terry. Nope, she wasn't any good at this.
Terry started to shake again and Sera took a second to calm the waves of anxiety rolling into her mind. The shaking eased and Terry's voice, hesitant, hoarse, began to speak. "My parents... my dad... he hit me. I was... it was my fault. I made the the TV catch on fire... and then crying... I knew he would be mad, I wanted to get away from him...oh, god..."
"C'mon, Terry," coaxed Sera, smoothing down more anxiety. "C'mon, babes, you can tell me what happened." She was, she thought, doing a good job at not sounding sick.
"I tried to get away...Mom was yelling, putting out the fire... Dad was yelling, he was mad, I just wanted to get away... and... and..."
"C'mon, babes, keep going."
I started to fly. "I dunno, I was just off the ground all of the sudden, I couldn't stop it and Dad was going nuts then. He said I was an abom... abomination... in the eyes of God. A monster... he caught me, he started hitting...oh, god, Jay, it hurts so bad." Terry dissolved into tears then as Sera, too stunned to keep her own control, slipped up a bit on the calming waves.
"Shhh...shhh...its okay, you're safe."
Not very, her inner voice added, its not like her folks don't know where you live. Shit! They couldn't go anywhere until Sera knew how bad the girl had been hurt. Gently, carefully, she stretched her thoughts into Terry's mind and then her body. First she noticed the mutation, something she had been wondering about for a bit... firestarting... flying... there were probably technical words for all this but Sera had never been a scientist. Next her mind began cataloging the injuries...broken ribs, she was right, and one of them dangerously close to the right lung... kidneys bruised... what kind of bastard hit his own kid when her back was turned...? The kidney was going to be bad... many superficial bruises... The one on the head, that was hard enough to give a concussion. It was amazing Terry had made it the two blocks to Sera's place. The injuries were repairable, even as out of practice as she was, but that took time, something she didn't think she had. Think, woman, think!
"Terry?" The girl made a groggy sound. "Terry, you're badly hurt. I can fix it, or I can get us to a safe place. I think the safe place might be more important right now. If you want that, I can make the pain go away, not a lot, but a bit. Do you think your father will be coming after you? What about your mother?"
"Mom, she won't do anything. But Dad, I hit him and..and..it burned him or something. It put him out but... I dunno...he's never been this mad. I don't know what he'll do." Terry's voice was weak...the rib was poking her lungs. The concussion must really be rattling her head, too; the regular Terry would have asked a question by now.
"Safe place it is, then. I've heard of this places, it's a school for kids like you, kids who are different. I think maybe they could keep you safe."
"Kids like me? What'd you mean, kids like me?"
"Terry, hon, you flew. You know we did current events, you know what that means. You have a mutation and frankly this isn't the political climate you want to advertise that kind of thing in."
"I thought... maybe my imagination...?"
"No, I can... I can see it inside you... its nothing to be afraid of." Comforting thought that must be. The girl had just been brutally beaten because of it. Nope, nothing to be afraid of, your dad just thinks you're hellspawn.
"Jay...how can you tell...?"
"'Cause I'm one, too, honey," Sera said grimly, dragging Terry to her feet. "Lets get the hell out of here."
In the drive upstate, the storm had only gotten worse. The headlights of Sera's car could barely cut through the rain; luckily, the brilliant lightening was coming frequently enough for her to see the road. The only positive thing Sera could think about this whole two hour drive was that between the weather and the hour, she was pretty much the only thing on the road. And even then they had had some close calls. The only way Sera could keep Terry from being in so much pain was to keep part of her body and her thoughts connected to the girl, and the inability to concentrate on the road was frankly terrifying. She would have used her power to knock the girl out, give her some relief that way, except Sera remembered that people with concussions were supposed to stay awake. They had one near accident, almost being blown of the road by a particularly strong wind, and she had pulled her attention from Terry immediately to deal with it, probably hurting the girl more. Not only that, but once Terry had been pulled out of the sleep-like state Sera had been keeping her in, she had set the seat of the car on fire. Damn.
But finally, they were here. Professor Xavier's mansion, which she had read about in a teaching journal about adolescents. It had said he ran a school and that he could help people like Terry. God, she hoped so. Mutant Sera might be, and not a weak one, but Terry's strengths and weaknesses were nothing like her own. She had no idea how to deal with them or how to help Terry to. Plus, she thought grimly, let's not forget the violent psycho who had done this to her in the first place. He was a little too close to comfort. Although, this time, she was calling Family Services. She braked the car as fast as she dared, when the lightening had shown her near a heavy wrought iron gate. For a horrible second, she thought it wasn't going to be fast enough but the car stopped just short of slamming through the gate.
Fast as she could, without losing contact with the girl, Sera crawled over Terry to help her out of the car. Terry's grasp on reality seemed weaker; her eyes were just staring and Sera could tell she wasn't processing too much information. The girl needed real treatment, now that they were at a safe place. Getting out of the car was a treat, the rain so heavy they were both soaked instantly. Well, on the upside, maybe in a blinding rain storm, Terry couldn't accidentally set anything on fire. What would burn?
Holding Terry as upright as possible and cursing the fact that her small size made even a high school freshman taller than her, Sera stared blankly at the gates. Shit, now what? It was sometime after one in the morning, how was she going to get anyone's attention? She couldn't even open the gate, assuming it was unlocked, without dropping Terry and since they were already sinking into the mud that seemed like a really bad idea.
Luckily, all decisions were taken from her when a heavy hand landed on her shoulder. The lightening flashed again- great timing- and Sera screamed. Standing in front of her, touching her, was a short, heavily muscled man. He wasn't smiling as the rain beat down on him, flattening what looked like longish hair against his scalp and soaking his flannel shirt and jeans straight through.
"What the hell are you doing here?" he yelled at hear, voice fighting with the sound of thunder. There was real threat in those words and Sera spared a moment trying to remember what else she had heard about Xavier... and the rumors of his X-Men.
"The girl!" she yelled back, wishing like hell she were a telepath. "She's hurt, she needs help! You have a doctor here, don't you?"
"This ain't no hospital," the man growled back.
"She's a mutant. She needs help. Please!"
When the lightening flared again, he was close enough for Sera to see his eyes. Blue eyes. They were staring right at her and all of a sudden, even with her attention focused on Terry, Sera felt a surge of some strong emotion. Not her own, not entirely, but nothing like she had ever felt before. Flashes of pictures, changing too quickly for her to make sense, seared into her brain, along with the powerful emotions. Drained as she was from helping Terry, it was too much. Sera's knees buckled and she went down, taking Terry with her. She had just enough presence of mind not to let go of the girl, hoping against hope she could still hold on Terry's pain. Then the world went black and cold and very wet. The last thing she remembered thinking was the hope that this strange man wouldn't let them drown in the mud.
Wolverine had been the only one to see the car drive up to the gates. He had been outside, the better to see the amazing weather in the process of destroying the grounds. Consequently, it had been his luck to deal with the woman and the girl. Even in the lightening, he could tell the girl looked like hell, her face more colors than the storm clouds above. The woman wasn't looking much better, soaked to skin, wide-eyed and desperate, hanging on to the girl like she couldn't let go. He had moved closer, trying to get their scent, see if anything was about this was a trick and that was when he had seen her eyes. And froze. They were hazel, some part of him noticed, almost more red than brown, with flecks of gold. The rest of him was just plain caught, stunned to his center. It was almost like he knew her, but he couldn't. At least, he thought he couldn't. Who knew, maybe he did? The next thing he knew, she had gone white as death and collapsed, pulling the girl's body closer to her as she fell. Out like a light.
Glancing back at the house, he sighed and reassured himself that at least Hank was still likely to be awake. Grunting, he knelt and picked up both her and the girl. No doubt about it, this was just going to suck. Cursing under his breath, he slowly made his way to the mansion.
"Miss?" said an unfamiliar voice. "Miss, are you awake?"
The words seem to swim towards Sera through dark water. Awake? Why wouldn't she be awake? she thought groggily. It was Terry who was hurt, Terry who needed help... Terry! She couldn't feel Terry! Where was Terry? She would be hurt!
"Terry!" she managed to yell, forcing her eyes open and at first only seeing the brightness of the room. "Terry!"
"If you mean your young companion, she is resting, although not well. If you are Jay, I believe she has been asking for you."
Sera blinked. Expecting to see the man from the gate, she had to look twice at the creature in front of her. Huge, blue and furry? She blinked again. Yes, huge, blue and furry, he stood in front of her in a lab coat and what looked like a swimsuit- makes sense, she thought fuzzily, since the whole world's turned to water- his eyes blue and kind behind his glasses. Well, she worked out stupidly, I did pretty much come to Mutants-R-Us. I shouldn't be surprised to see one.
"She's okay?" Sera managed to say.
The... man?... frowned slightly. "To describe her condition in such a way would be erroneous. To clarify, she has three broken ribs, a concussion, a bruised kidney and numerous facial and body bruises and cuts that will require treatment. She has been badly hurt and she lost consciousness not long after you arrived. Perhaps you could be so kind as to explain to us how all this this came to be?"
Shoving herself upright from the hospital like bed she seemed to be on, Sera could finally see Terry. The girl was in the next bed over, laying still, the bruises on her face standing out horribly against white skin.
"Later," Sera rasped, climbing slowly down. She thought she could feel every bit of Terry's pain, without even trying. Not a good sign, that. "I gotta help her."
"Miss, I assure you she is being well treated." A large, blue hand wrapped around her arm. "It is inadvisable for you to do anything beyond rest at this time." He studied her a moment. "Unless it is that you are her doctor?"
Confused by her fainting, frustrated and worried about Terry's condition, Sera pushed at the arm with her other hand and pushed at the man's mind with her own. "Close enough," she muttered, while doing her best to instill a feeling of certainty and confidence in her in his mind. Not easy; she could see his mental picture of her, colored as it was by emotion, and she looked like a drowned rat. One that had already died. She pushed harder and he relented.
"By all means, feel free to examine her yourself, doctor," he murmured, stepping back.
Doctor. Whoops. Screwed that up . Oh well, we see what we want to. She made her way to Terry's bed, grabbing a chair along the way. The sheer amount of time she had spent in Terry's mind that night made it possible to feel the pain radiating off the girl. Couldn't have that. She could fix this, now that she had time and a safe place. Wrapping her hand around Terry's limp one, she gently drifted back into the girl's mind.
Sera was dimly aware of the blue man speaking. Soon there were other voices as well, other people. She felt them near, their emotions- confusion, wonder, worry, surprise- pressed against the skin of her mind but she had no time for anything but Terry. She wrapped her thoughts around the girl, showing her, clumsily, how the body ought to look, what things needed to be fixed. She started with the head injury, without a doubt the worst of the bunch. It was a sullen orange glow inside Terry. Carefully, she channeled her energy to it, smoothing in, fixing cracks, working slowly and gently to make it right. She could fix this... she could... she owed Terry for all those time she didn't call the cops or family services... she could fix this...
Wolverine hadn't clearly thought through why he was staying in Hank's lab, having dragged the two strangers in. He told himself it was in case they were dangerous as if Hank, all 355 lbs of him, would be somehow unable to handle one badly hurt girl and an unconscious woman. Yep, that was real reasonable. Plus, he was soaking wet, still. Despite all that, he stayed and watched.
The girl, once separated from the woman, began whimpering softly, trying to get up and look for the woman. She looked dazed, unfocused, and her only answer to any question was, "Jay?" He could smell fear on her, of them maybe or for the woman. In the light, she looked even worse. Bruised, battered, and bloodied. The sight made him sick- she looked even younger than Rogue and he smothered rage at anyone who would hurt a child like that. It was almost a relief when she went down for the count as Hank touched the worst of the marks on her head. Couldn't be good for the girl and Hank sure didn't seem happy, but her crying had been eating at Wolverine's heart. Anything else, he could pretty much handle, but a hurt kid... he'd disgust himself if he ever started not caring about that.
Hank began tests, trying to figure out how bad the kid was hurt, so Wolverine focused on the woman. Was she the Jay the kid kept asking for? She didn't look like a Jay. She also didn't look hurt, so it was a mystery to him why she was out so deep. She looked like she was sleeping, except he had seen her fall. The night, whatever had been going on in it, hadn't been kind to her. She was still almost dead pale and her hair was drying in a tangled mess.
All this considered, he was as surprised as the next guy when, after she finally came to, she pushed past Hank as he questioned her and made a beeline to the girl instead. Well, that worked, he thought, almost amused. It wasn't everyday that he saw Hank plowed over so easily. He had to hand it to her, the girl was single minded and not inclined to share personal information. They only things they, well, okay, Hank, had managed to lean was that the girl's name was Terry and the woman was a doctor.
Wolverine stumbled on that last thought as Hank called Xavier down to the lab to meet the new... guests. He checked out the woman as she wrapped her hand around the girl's and seemed to zone out again. Okay, he didn't know many doctors and liked less of them, but she looked awfully young. Plus, did they usually dress in cutoffs, white dress shirts, combat boots and... He looked closer at the soaked fabric of her shirt... black bras? And were those tattoos on her back? Maybe he was just narrowed minded but he more convinced that she had somehow just bamboozled the good doc and he had no freaking idea how she could have done it.
Apparently that was a question he wasn't going to have answered either. He noticed her shoulders start to droop and leapt forward to catch her as she collapsed again. In the otherwise sterile air of the lab, he noticed that she smelled of cinnamon and rain. Her eyes, that amazing red-brown color, flickered briefly to his and she stayed coherent just long enough to mutter, "We really got to get introduced," before she passed out again. Rolling his eyes, Wolverine carried her back to her own bed.
Hank was staring, not as his newly unconscious patient, but at Terry's medical sensors. "The fun doesn't end here, boys and girls," he spoke softly just as Xavier rolled in. "My scans are showing that Terry no longer has a concussion. And her bruises are noticeably better as well." Slowly, the large man turned to stare at the, if possible, even paler, Jay. "What exactly are you, my dear?"
Big surprise, she didn't answer. Neither did anyone else. Wolverine pulled up a chair. It was going to be one hell of a long night, that was for sure.