A/N: A-ha! The last chapter in the first installment has arrived... I know, I'm a tad bit morose myself, but the second installment, The Promise Broken, has been posted! As always, enjoy the chapter.
In a single-file line, the five mutants climbed the spiral staircase leading to the top of the Statue of Liberty.
"Hey kid, you alright?" Logan asked after repeatedly glancing over his shoulder at Bane.
"You do look a little pale," Storm said. Bane gripped the railing with sweaty palms and swallowed hard.
"I don't like heights," she said haltingly as she reached to top of the lady's head and peered up at the torch. "I don't feel so goo-"
"Everybody get out of here," Logan said suddenly, cutting her off.
"What is it?" Storm asked, at the same time that Bane asked, "What?"
Logan stood at sort of a strange position. "I can't move," he said. His body turned slowly, and then was thrown against the wall. Bane jumped. Thin support beams tore themselves from the wall and wrapped themselves around Storm, Scott, and Jean, binding them to the wall. Bane looked around frantically, suddenly unsure of what to do.
Then Magneto sailed down from above, landing in the small room. Bane whipped around to face him. "Ah, my brothers. Welcome," he said, stepping forward. Bane took a step back. He looked at her. Extending his arm, she felt Trisha's necklace pull against the back of her neck. It suddenly started twisting around itself until it became tight against her throat. She choked, desperately attempting to suck in air.
"BANE!!" Logan and Storm shouted in horror as everyone watched her drop to her knees after a few moments, hand to her throat. Then she collapsed altogether, close to unconsciousness. The necklace dropped with a slight ping against the floor.
Bane tried not to make a lot of noise breathing in air greedily so Magneto would not notice she hadn't entirely blacked out. She laid there as he talked, regaining her strength.
"And you," he said, turning to Logan. "Let's point those claws of yours in a safer direction." Bane heard more metal clanking above and behind her, and she could only imagine what was happening. Logan grunted.
The floor shook slightly as someone else dropped in from above. "You'd better close your eyes," Magneto said. Stepping carelessly over her, the second man walked to where Bane knew Scott to be held, and she knew he must have removed Scott's goggles.
"Storm, fry him," she heard Scott say.
"Oh yes," Magneto replied, voice dripping with sarcasm. "A bolt of lightning into a huge copper conductor." He stepped over Bane as well. "I thought you lived at a school."
The man gave a dry chuckle, and then cleared his throat. "Mystique?" Magneto said. She could only guess he was trying to contact the blue female mutant by means of some sort of walkie-talkie. "Mystique," he said again, slightly more demanding.
"I've seen Senator Kelly," Jean said suddenly.
"So, the good Senator survived his fall… And the swim to shore! He's become even more powerful than I could have imagined," Magneto remarked.
"He's dead," Jean said.
"It's true," Storm added. "Bane saw him die. Like those people down there will die," she said forcefully. There was a tense moment of silence, and the soft rustle of cloth as Magneto shifted.
"Are you sure Bane saw what she says she saw?"
Bane heard fireworks outside, and she knew the summit had begun. Time was running out.
Magneto sighed and drew back. "Why do none of you understand what I'm trying to do?" he asked, perturbed. "Those people down there. They control our fate and the fate of every other mutant!" He took a deep breath. "Well," he said, calming slightly, "soon out fate will be theirs."
"Help!" Bane suddenly heard Rogue yell. Her eyes snapped open, searing and watering from the change in what she was seeing, and her breathing quickened. "Please, help me!"
"You're so full of shit," Logan said suddenly. "If you were really so righteous, it'd be you in that thing."
Rogue called out again, louder and more terrified. "HELP! SOMEBODY HELP ME!!"
Magneto's weight was suddenly gone from the floor, and Bane knew he had lifted himself out of the room.
"Please! SOMEBODY PLEASE HELP ME!!"
Magneto's giant henchman growled. Logan began breathing heavily.
"Somebody…" Rogue's shouts faded out. Logan started grunting, and Bane suddenly knew what he was going to do. It would work; or rather, it should work. She hoped it would because if it did, it would draw away the giant mutant.
She braced herself for his weight, as she knew that when he fell, it would be right on top of her, and she didn't want to give herself away. He suddenly bellowed, and she heard his claws come out of his knuckles.
"Logan!" Jean yelled. He hung in the metal beams for a moment before they gave way under his weight and he fell onto Bane's back. In moments, she felt warm blood soak through her sweatshirt and shirt against her skin, and shuddered slightly. The large mutant towered over Bane and Logan.
She needed to know his name. Probing his mind for just a few seconds, she found his name was Victor, and he called himself Sabertooth. He growled slightly, just as Logan took a breath. Bane exhaled silently in relief.
Sabertooth bent, grabbed Logan's collar, and pulled him up. As he did so, Logan put out his claws again, and stabbed them into Sabertooth's stomach. Sabertooth roared, and threw Logan out the top of the Statue of Liberty's head.
Bane lifted her head. "Bane!" Jean gasped as Sabertooth jumped out of the hole after Logan.
She rolled onto her back, and grinned. "Totally." She stood up and went to Storm, trying to pull on the green beam across her throat. It wouldn't move. She frowned. "Fine," she muttered to herself.
Bane put her right arm forward, and the beams across Storm's entire body creaked. She clenched her teeth, and pulled harder on the metal, copying Magneto's power. The beams suddenly gave way, and Bane stumbled back and fell onto the ground.
Storm dropped to her feet. She kneeled down in front of Bane, hugging her. Bane was caught by surprise. Storm held her shoulders and looked her over. "Are you alright?" she asked, peering at Bane's neck. Bane touched her throat. There was a thin abrasion she could feel running all around her neck from where the chain had pulled against the skin. She nodded, and stood up. Putting out both her arms, she pulled on the beams holding Scott and Jean, and freed them as well.
Everyone suddenly looked up as Rogue screamed. "Magneto's giving her his power," Bane sensed. She looked to Storm for support. "We have to go get her," she said.
"No," Scott said decisively. Logan's claws suddenly punctured through the side of Lady Liberty's head.
"We have to wait for Logan," Jean told her. Her temper flared for the first time since she had been at the mansion and with the X-Men.
"There's no time!" she yelled angrily. Everyone jumped as Sabertooth suddenly landed with a thud from above. He took a step forward, leering in Storm's direction.
"You owe me a scream…" he whispered. Rogue screamed again from above them, and Bane saw pieces of the torch fall in front of the windows of the crown. Bane gritted her teeth, and rounded her hands, fingertips touching.
"Go away!" she shouted. She created immense heat between her palms; heat so hot it liquefied the air around it. It was the strongest attack she had ever produced intentionally. With a yell, she thrust it toward Sabertooth. It shot from her hands and hit him square in the chest with such a force it knocked him backwards and sent him crashing through the front of the statue's crown.
Logan dropped down, and suddenly his sweat-drenched scowl lifted. "Good job," he said to her. He looked to Cyclops. "You drop something?" he asked, holding Scott's goggles up in his hand. Jean lifted them with her telekinesis, working them back into their normal shape and then setting them onto Scott's face. Bane watched him open his eyes, and shake his head slightly to get used to the sudden light after having them closed for so long.
"Thanks," he said to Bane and Logan both.
"Don't mention it," they replied simultaneously. Logan glanced at her as she strode to the hole Sabertooth's body had created. She looked up at where the torch used to be. She could see Rogue in the middle of some machine that was spinning very, very fast.
"We've gotta get her out of there," Bane said. Logan looked at Cyclops, who was standing at her other side.
"Cyclops, can you hit it?" he asked. Bane was already shaking her head, knowing it wouldn't work. She chewed her lip and clenched her fists.
"The rings are moving too fast," Scott replied.
"Just shoot it!" Logan yelled.
"I'll kill her!" he shouted. He turned to Storm.
"Can you get me up there?" he asked. Storm shook her head.
"I can't control it like that," she replied. "You could fly right over the torch." Bane turned.
"Put me up, I'm smaller," she said.
"No," Logan said forcefully. "That's even worse." He looked at Storm. "Let me go. If I don't make it, then at least you can still blast the damn thing," he said. He was speaking to Scott, but he was looking at Bane. She set her jaw, and nodded.
"Alright, do it," Scott finally said. He turned to Jean. "Use your power. Try to steady him," he told her. She nodded. Everyone was looking up at the torch.
"Hang on to something," Storm said, taking a few steps back. The winds picked up, blowing around heavier and harder. Bane crouched below the hole in the crown, hanging on to the handrail above her. Logan looked to Jean, and then down at Bane as he was sucked up through the top of the statue's head. Bane forced herself to stand up against the wind, and gave a slight sigh of relief as Logan latched on to the top of the machine. Storm's winds died back down again, and everyone gathered under the hole.
Bright, clear light began to gather at the top of the machine, and started to pour over the sides and down the Statue of Liberty's arm like liquid.
Logan had the situation handled. Rogue would be safe in his hands, Bane felt sure of that. The mutant gene-affecting substance began moving quickly, and she turned her attention to Ellis Island. All ceremonies seemed to have stopped, and she could hear distant screams.
"Those people… Someone needs to help them," she said. She turned around to face the three remaining official X-Men. "I can help them," Bane said.
Scott shook his head. "No. Logan'll stop… the machine in time," he said. He kept himself from saying 'stop Rogue'.
Bane's gaze hardened. "I can do this," she said. She pointed behind her. "Those people need help, and I can do this," she said louder and more firmly. Scott opened his mouth, but Storm rested a gentle hand on his shoulder.
"She can," she said. She looked at younger girl. "Can you teleport?" Bane knew the term. She nodded, and Storm smiled slightly.
"I have faith in you," she said quietly. Bane blinked, staring at her. "Go…" Storm said, just barely audible. Nodding firmly again, Bane steadied her stance on the ground, put her hands down at her sides, and closed her eyes.
The second Bane knew she had vanished from the inside of the statue's head, she felt an immense weight pushing in on all sides. There was a bright flash of white light, and then nothing; just black emptiness. She felt as though her breath was being squeezed from her lungs and her chest. She thought all the pressure would make her ribs snap and collapse. Perhaps teleportation was instantaneous to the viewer, but it felt like she wouldn't ever get out.
She wanted out.
A blast of salty air suddenly hit her face, and she gasped for air. Then Bane realized she hadn't exactly made it to Ellis Island. In fact, she had only made it halfway, and she was now falling down towards the ocean.
"Damn it!" she breathed, the ocean looming up underneath her. "Go… go…!" she muttered to herself, trying to teleport herself the rest of the way. However, falling dozens of stories to her imminent death was a bit of a distraction. "GO!" Bane shouted.
As her back hit the water, she found herself in the chasm once more, struggling with relief and suffocation. However, not wanting a repeat of what just happened, she did her best to clear her mind and picture Ellis Island.
Suddenly, the screams she had heard from Liberty Island were ear-splitting and driving down into her eardrums. She opened her eyes as she landed on the stage that appeared to be at the front of the ceremonies. The people who had been close enough to see her arrive screamed again, and louder. One older man even leapt off the stage to get away from her.
Bane ignored all of them. She watched as the glowing cloud of Magneto's mutagen loomed ever larger and closer. Bane gazed at it intently, and used her power to stimulate her brain into analyzing the components of the cloud. Using the information she had gathered, she formulated the exact molecular barrier that would prevent the mutagen from reaching all the people on the island.
She braced her feet on the stage and threw her arms out to the sides. The only way she could think of to create the barrier was a force field around the entire island composed of the elements to counter the mutagen. She had never tried to summon that much power before, especially over this much area, but she didn't hesitate in trying. She began forming it from the bottom up. It was colorless except for a slight blue tinge and had white, lightning-like lines that occasionally flickered across it.
About halfway up, the barrier began to waver and fade out. "No…" Bane said through clenched teeth, every muscle in her body straining. She worked to open herself up to more and more power, and completed the force field. It took all Bane's concentration to hold up the field and watch the approaching wave. Sweat began to form and drip from every pore, and she began breathing heavily.
"Come on…" she muttered. "Come on, Logan!!" She was using every ounce of her strength to even remain standing at this point. It was the only other thing she could manage besides holding the force field up. Her knees began shaking.
The edges of Magneto's mutagen hit her force field, but didn't penetrate. She felt as though she was hit as hard as her force field was, and she struggled to regain her balance. The moment of pressure probably lasted no more than a few seconds, but those seconds stretched out, and Bane felt as though she kept being shoved backwards. Her limbs began to shake as she pushed against the wave, and her breathing became shallow and ragged. She knew the roots of her hair and her tank top were drenched with sweat.
Then the wave seemed to thin out, and then it dissipated from the source, the Statue of Liberty's torch, out. Her force field sputtered and, as Bane fell to her knees, faded altogether. Her stomach muscles clenched, and her hand flew to her mouth. She crawled to the edge of the stage as quick as she could, and leaned over the side, vomiting the contents of her stomach. She coughed slightly, and leaned back on her knees, looking up at the inky sky. Her damp hair began whipping around her face as she saw the X-Men's jet starting to lower out of the air.
"About time," she sighed. Then, as if a curtain came down over her eyes, her body finally gave out, and she collapsed.
Bane's eyes slowly opened, and she drew a breath. She knew exactly where she was, and she laid there, staring up.
"I'm really beginning to hate this ceiling," she said to herself. With a sigh, she pushed herself up into a sitting position. Her muscles shouted in protest. She rubbed her face with her hands.
She turned and slid off the table, realizing she was again only in her underclothes and holding the sheet to her. Her bare feet hit the floor, a small shiver running up her spine, and then she started to sort through the cabinets. She went through them all, and found nothing. She subconsciously tightened the sheet around her body, and pulled it up, frowning and looking around. She saw nothing she could throw on to sneak upstairs to her room and find some decent clothes.
She heard the familiar whooshing sound of the infirmary door sliding open, and she jumped, whirling around. She saw Rogue, her arms full of Bane's clothes. "Rogue?" she asked.
"Bane?" she gasped. She set the other girl's clothes on the counter, and stepped up to her. She pulled the stethoscope out of her hands and looked at it, and then at Bane, laughing. Bane then noticed Rogue's hair, or rather, the new frontal white streaks.
"What's this?" she asked, reaching out and carefully pulling on a section.
"Oh, that. Magneto's machine did it somehow. Do you like it?"
Bane gave her a teasing smile. "It's kind of like Bride of Frankenstein, but in a cool way," she replied.
Rogue laughed, and gestured to the clothes she had brought. "Get dressed, and we'll go upstairs," she said.
Bane and Rogue talked and laughed the entire way upstairs.
"John's been worried about you, even though he won't say so," she said suddenly as the two of them stepped out of the elevator. Bane looked over at her, and her knowing smile, and was about to make a smart retort as someone down the hall called out her name.
"Bane? Bane!" She turned, and saw Storm gathering speed up the hallway. She grinned.
"Hi," she greeted her. Storm enveloped her in an immense hug.
"I'm glad you're finally awake," she said.
"Um… alright…" Bane said into her shoulder.
"You've been out for days," Rogue said.
"Days? How's the professor?" Bane finally thought to ask.
Rogue said, "He woke up before we came back. He's fine." Storm let Bane go.
"I'd like to talk to you," she said. Rogue touched her arm.
"I'll see you later," she said, starting down the hall toward the front of the mansion.
Storm took Bane upstairs into her room, and firmly closed the door. Bane sat on her bed, and Storm took a seat next to her.
"How do you feel?" she asked.
Bane groaned. "I'm so sore you wouldn't believe it," she replied. Storm laughed, and then it was quiet for a few minutes.
"Do you still feel like you're a cause of harm? Ruin? Death? Do you still think you are the source of misery and misfortune?" Startled, Bane looked at her, wide-eyed. "That's what Bane means," she said.
Bane looked at the tips of her shoes. "I know. That's why I chose it. It was appropriate," she said quietly. Storm looked at her, and extended her hand.
"My name is Ororo Munroe." Bane looked at her.
"But, everyone calls you Storm, even the professor," she said. Storm's hand remained in the air.
"My name is Ororo. I would like you to call me that from now on. What is your name?" she persisted.
Bane hesitated, and then slowly reached forward to shake her hand.
"Lexiss," she said. "My name is Lexiss Torrence."
"Do you know what Lexiss means?" Storm... Ororo asked. Bane shook her head. "Protector of mankind," she answered. Bane blinked. "That is what is appropriate," Storm added. Bane smiled, and then suddenly turned to face the window.
"Logan," she said suddenly. She stood.
"What is it?" Ororo asked.
"Logan," Bane replied. "He's leaving." She took long strides toward the window, and threw it open. Giving Ororo a quick wave over her shoulder, she leapt out. Ororo didn't move to stop her.
"She'll be alright," she said to herself.
Lexiss drifted through the air down to the driveway below, her arms outstretched from her body to help her maintain her balance. As she glided down from above, she watched as Logan turned from eyeing a black motorcycle parked in the drive to face the mansion. She landed quietly on the white cement and then perched herself on the bike.
"You'll miss it," Lexiss stated. He turned around. She draped an arm over one of her knees.
Logan shook his head and laughed slightly, putting his hands on his hips. "You think so?"
She nodded, glad he avoided the topic of her awakening, and then she looked down at the black bike. "This is Cyclops', you know," she said.
"Why the hell do you think I'm gonna take it?"
Lexiss smiled. "So, where're you headed?" she asked, standing and shifting he weight to one foot.
"Up north again, Alkali Lake this time," he replied. "The professor thinks I might find a little bit of myself up there."
"You are coming back right?" she asked as he gave her a farewell hug.
"Yeah. I left a few things around I'll need to pick up," he said.
Lexiss stepped back, and walked around him toward the front door.
"Hey," Logan called. She turned. "I'm proud of you," he said hesitantly. It was so unlike him to say something of that nature, and so unlike her to actually hear it, but she liked the way it sounded. She gave him a lazy, two-fingered salute, and grinned.
It took about a week for Lexiss to get settled back into the groove of school and homework, but she managed. A few days later, on a Wednesday afternoon, she was sitting cross-legged on her bed, listening to music and working on physics homework, when someone knocked on her door. She didn't look up; she just answered, "Come in."
The door swung inward, and John stepped into her room. "Hey," he said. She looked up and grinned.
"Hey, yourself. What's up?" she asked, pulling the earphones out of her ears. John glanced down at her books.
"You actually do that stuff?" he asked. She arched an eyebrow at him.
"We're not all slackers," she said.
John shrugged. "Anyway, do you want to take a break and come downstairs and play a little foosball with Bobby and Rogue?"
Lexiss gratefully shut the thick book on her notebook paper. "Finally," she sighed, standing, interlacing her fingers and stretching her arms up over her head. "I was starting to think no one was going to come up here and save me."
John crossed his arms and stared at her. "I thought you weren't a slacker," he said.
She shrugged. "I did half of it," she replied. She paused, remembering something. "Oh yeah, I almost forgot," she said. She started opening the drawers in her nightstand, rooting through them for something.
As she moved on to her dresser, John asked, "What are you looking for?"
She got down onto her stomach. "Just chill for a second…" she said, voice muffled because her head was now under her bed. There was a moment of silence, and then she clearly found what she was looking for.
John walked to where Lexiss was laying, and crouched down beside to her. "Got what?" he persisted.
She pushed herself out from under her bed and held a little red box in her hands. Sitting up, she ran a hand through her hair, and then presented the little box in both hands to John.
"Here," she said breathlessly.
"What is it?" he asked, taking it and looking at her suspiciously.
"Just open the stupid thing," she said.
Grumbling, he pulled the lid off and set the box in it. Inside, tilted diagonally so it would fit in the box, was a rectangular silver lighter with the features of a shark's head painted at the top. John pulled it out of the box slowly, and held it in his palm.
"What's this for?" he asked.
Lexiss grinned. "It's so you don't have to carry those crappy plastic Bic lighters around anymore," she said.
He looked at her. "Where'd you get it?"
"It was my dad's Zippo. I accidentally left with it in my jacket pocket. It was my dad's jacket, actually," she mused.
"I can't accept this," he said, making as if to hand it back to her. She grinned even wider.
"Sure you can," she said, pushing his hand back. "You can certainly put it to better use than I can."
John looked down at the lighter, and then flicked it open, and turned the tiny wheel to light it. A considerably sized flame erupted.
"Is that the only reason?" he asked, watching the fire. Lexiss thought about the question, even though she already knew the answer.
"Well," she said carefully, "I think the only reason I ever agreed to stay at the mansion in the first place was because of what you said to me. And look at me now. I actually have friends, I'm not so timid anymore, and I go by my birth name. I'm… me," she finished. "And I have you to thank for that."
John snapped the lighter closed with a decisive snap. "Yeah… Lexiss…" he said. "Who would have thought that was your name?"
She glared at him. "Shut the hell up." She stood up, and started for the door. John turned, still in a crouched position, watching her.
"Where are you going?" he asked.
She paused in the doorway, and looked over her shoulder at him. "Weren't we going to kick Bobby and Rogue's asses at foosball? Come on, let's go," she said. John laughed, pocketed the lighter, and followed her.
Lexiss put her hands in her pockets, smiling to herself, and looked out each window as she passed it.
It looked like it was going to be a beautiful evening.
Cue X-Men Theme