Disclaimer: X-Men and all related Marvel characters are the property of Marvel and Stan Lee. Don't sue me. I own very little.
Story: This story was inspired by the song Think Twice which is performed by Eve 6. I'm not really sure what to think of it right now, as it's like nothing I've ever written. Thank you to my reviewers: JC Roberts and bodo. A special thanks to Stef, who stepped in to beta this for me since I never heard back from the beta I was pushing toward on FFN.
Think Twice- The mutant community is coming unraveled as the Friends of Humanity push the government toward the dreaded Mutant Registration Act. Innocent lives are at stake as the X-Men face yet another hurdle. One of their own wages his own life for another, shielding an innocent. Is it the call of duty...or more?
"Is the food around here always this delicious?" Aubrey smiled warmly at Ororo and Scott as she forked up another bite of eggs and slid them into her mouth. When she'd awakened just hours ago, her first thought had been one of disbelief. Her room alone was enough to shock her into reality, with its huge four-poster bed and antique desk and attached bathroom. She'd been relieved to find that someone had gone to the trouble of finding clothing for her, so after a lingering hot shower, she'd slowly made her way downstairs dressed in a comfortable gray sweat outfit. She had been fortunate enough to find herself in the kitchen, where Scott was preparing a luscious breakfast for Ororo and the rest of the squad.
"Well, I guess it just depends on who's cooking," Scott admitted with a lift of one well-sculpted shoulder. While it was true that the Institute had a hired staff that tended to most of the domestic chores, generally only the students were fed by outside staff. The adults, unfortunately, were often left to their own devices, which often led to a number of uncomfortable mornings and evenings. "We usually try to split the duty, but there are a few that we'd prefer never be allowed inside of the kitchen."
Aubrey, seated at the large kitchen table in the corner, only smiled in acknowledgment and continued to eat the breakfast that had been prepared for her. She hadn't realized the night before that she had been starving. But it had made sense, particularly considering that she hadn't eaten since lunchtime. "This is simply delicious," she complimented both Scott and Ororo again as she dug heartily into her breakfast, moaning in delight after every few bites. "It isn't often that I get to divulge in eggs, pancakes, and bacon." As if to demonstrate, she picked up a piece of bacon and took a huge bite, chewing it slowly to savor the flavor.
"I actually enjoy cooking on calm mornings such as this," Ororo smiled at the houseguest from her position behind the island stove. A spatula was poised in her hand, and after a few more moments, she flipped a pancake over. "Besides, when it is someone like Scott that helps, the work is hardly remarkable. In fact, he does most of it." She smiled at her companion.
Aubrey enjoyed their company, much to her surprise. The night before they had both seemed a bit aloof and calculating. But in the early morning light she couldn't help but feel safe and comfortable around them. In fact, she was starting to feel safe and comfortable with her situation all around. Just in the course of less than a day, she'd loss her job, her home, and nearly her life; gained friends, a safe home, a chance for her child to be born into a warm and loving environment.
"Oomph," Aubrey gasped suddenly as she dropped her fork and pressed her right hand to her abdomen, dark eyes widening dramatically.
"What is it?" Immediately on alert, Scott handed Ororo his spatula and rushed over to where Aubrey sat. He crouched in front of her, his ruby-colored sunglasses shielding his eyes from her sight, as he looked her over in concern. "Are you okay, Aubrey?"
Slowly, a smile found its way to her lips. "The baby was just making its presence known a bit more dramatically than usual, is all," she smiled apologetically. "I didn't mean to worry you like that. Just surprised me is all."
Relieved, Scott stood back up, heaved a great breath and nodded his head. "It's quite all right, Aubrey. I was afraid that the bacon wasn't agreeing with you or something." Then before she could say anything else, he was back behind the stove with Ororo, the spatula back in his hand and his eyes glued to the bacon and eggs that he was in charge of.
"Wow, what smells so good?" Aubrey merely smiled in Kitty's direction as she walked into the room already dressed for the day in jeans and a long-sleeved shirt. The girl, obviously, was a morning person. "Mmm, I'm starving." A plate was quickly fixed for her and she placed herself just across from Aubrey at the table. She smiled warmly at the woman before pouring a heaping serving of syrup on top of both her eggs and her pancakes. "How did you sleep?" she asked through her first large mouthful.
Smiling, Aubrey nodded her head. "Quite well, actually. The bed's wondrous, and I loved the view the moment that I woke up. I could see the tail end of the sun from the east. I must admit that I'm excited about watching the sun set from my window tonight." She picked up her glass of milk and took a long sip. While she was a fan of the product, she wasn't a fan of the amount that she was expected to drink while pregnant. But it went down well with the breakfast that her new friends had prepared, something that she was extremely grateful for. "Thankfully, I had the common sense to slip my ID into my pocket before the riot. Though I'm not sure if it's exactly common sense. So, I'll be able to get my credit card situation sorted out, as well as deal with my bank today."
"Charles asked if Katherine and I would be kind enough to escort you to the mall today, and we simply couldn't resist saying yes." Ororo smiled at Aubrey before flipping another pancake onto the platter. "I'm going to assume, and excuse me if I'm completely off base, that you're going to need quite a few things?"
"Well, considering that everything I owned was lost in my apartment fire, I'm going to guess yes," Aubrey murmured, her eyes focused on the plate in front of her. She'd nearly finished her breakfast, and was suddenly thankful for the lack of food on her plate, as a wave of nausea swept over her with a vengeance. "I suppose that I'll need to get clothes that'll fit me the next few months. But after that, I'm hoping that the weight will just sort of fall away so that I'll be able to get into my old size. I've never felt so huge in my life." Darkened eyes glanced down at her swollen abdomen even as a smile crept over her face. "Wow, my bank account is going to suffer a horrible and quick death today."
"Nonsense." She glanced up and noticed that Scott was offering her a very stern look. "Do you really think that the Professor would do something like that? He gives everyone that comes here a small allowance in order to help them get back on their feet. You're getting one, Aubrey." She couldn't believe the words coming out of his mouth and merely stared for a full minute or two. "Yeah, a lot of people tend to give me that look when I tell them, which is precisely why I love giving the good news." She was surprised at the full smile that completely lit up his face, yet couldn't help but return it in full.
"Scott is right, Aubrey. Charles has already provided a credit card and a shopping partner for you this morning. I hope that you will not mind having me as your guide to our quaint town," Ororo offered softly, her gaze never wavering. "How about we leave when you finish your breakfast?" she offered, glancing over at Scott and then back at Aubrey.
Aubrey, already thrilled about the prospect of being able to get her life back on track, found herself grinning yet again. "That would be absolutely lovely."
"I believe that this is the latest I've ever seen you rise, Piotr," Scott remarked when the heavily lidded man walked into the kitchen. The Russian merely nodded his slightly disheveled head in Scott's direction before sliding onto one of the many stools at the counter and resting his head in his hands and his elbows on the counter. Scott, as if sensing something was bothering the man, cleared his throat. "It's nearly lunchtime, Pete, you okay?"
Dark black hair seemed to curl in the most unruly of manners atop Piotr's head, despite his vainest efforts to tame it with a brush. His clothes, while normally pressed and near perfect, appeared wrinkled and well worn, something that surprised Scott to a great degree. "Dah, I did not sleep well, I am afraid," he admitted in a rough voice, his eyes focused on the counter alone. His dreams had been haunted by strange jade eyes and soft hands that had kept him tossing and turning throughout the early morning hours. It bothered him greatly, and he knew not what to do about his strange dreams, nor the strange sensations that seemed to come over him whenever he merely thought about the young woman that he'd met just the day before.
"I think that the mission yesterday sent us all for a loop, Pete. I'm still reeling from it if you want to know the truth." Scott Summers was known as the X-Men's greatest field leader, but even he was not immune to the turmoil that they'd witnessed not only as a team, but also as people in general the day before. "I only wish that we would have been able to get there sooner, because simply one survivor doesn't make it a successful mission."
At the mention of said survivor, Piotr lifted his head slightly. "Aubrey is still doing well?" he asked softly, suddenly picturing her face so vividly that it hurt in his gut. He'd originally planned on rising early in order to offer the woman an escort into town, but he'd slept horribly and his subconscious mind had played out too many different plausible scenarios for him to be able to actually follow through with his plan. Even if he had been able to rise when his alarm had went off exactly at six thirty, he would not have gotten out of bed. "I did not see her on my way downstairs."
"Ororo took her to town for supplies," Scott replied easily, his gaze sweeping over the clean kitchen to the shaggy looking Piotr. "Actually, I think that they just pulled in. Come on, Lord knows they're going to have a lot of bags." He offered Piotr a grin before walking out of the kitchen without even glancing back to make sure that his fellow X-Man was following him.
Piotr, never one to lag behind, slowly rose from the stool and followed in his leader's trail, making it to the garage just as Aubrey attempted to lift a rather large looking box out of the trunk. Scott and Ororo appeared to be arguing over the bags sitting in the back seat of the car, but Aubrey appeared to have already unloaded half of the trunk. He couldn't explain why, even knowing that she had super strength, why he suddenly saw her as a vulnerable woman. "In Russia, a woman does not fend for herself in such a manner."
He stomped forward, drawing the attention of all three people as he yanked the box out of Aubrey's grasp, nearly causing her to lose her balance. Her green eyes widened in disbelief as he shouldered the large box and stared down at her fiercely, an unmoving giant. "Well, excuse me for taking care of myself," she muttered, eyes narrowing slightly as she placed her hands on her rounded hips. "I don't recall asking for help, so don't treat me like some incapable imbecile, okay?"
If he was offended by her outburst, it didn't show on his perfectly sculpted face. Instead, he merely stared down at her, as if daring her to lift another package out of the trunk with him around. The large box atop his shoulder seemed minuscule to him, as if its weight did not matter. But for a man that could easily lift 1100 pounds in his unarmored form, it was not exactly surprising. "I do not mean to treat you as such. I merely wished to help. You are heavy with child. Please, let others take care of you." The statement was simple, but his voice seemed to be thicker with his accent than normal, something that he immediately caught and he hoped he was alone in catching it.
Aubrey quickly shook her head as Scott and Ororo walked toward the back of the car swiftly, as if anticipating that some sort of an outbreak would occur between the two super strong beings. Fortunately, the young woman was able to contain her anger and merely frowned at the larger man. "Thank you for your concern, Piotr, but I am quite capable of taking care of myself." Hesitantly, she brushed her hair out of her eyes and met his gaze levelly, and he found his chest clenching tightly. "I've taken care of myself for a very long time. I'm used to doing things for myself." While her voice had softened dramatically, he still got the feeling that she was berating him for jumping in when she was capable of doing something for herself.
"I apologize if I have made a fool of myself, but I will not allow you to carry this." His gaze was fierce and his voice was firm as he stared down at her with a challenging tilt to his head. He would not give up the heavy box, despite the fact that Scott and Ororo were both eyeing him as though he were some sort of alien life form that they had never come across before. That did not matter to him. All that mattered was that Aubrey would be taken care of. "Now, if you will be kind enough to lead the way, I would be more than glad to place your purchases in your room for you," he offered kindly.
Her jaw dropped as Aubrey's hands fell to her abdomen in shock. Slowly, she nodded her head before picking up a smaller, much lighter bag and turning on her heel to head into the School. Scott and Ororo, meanwhile, hung back at the car as Piotr followed the woman. It took them a matter of minutes, mainly due to the fact that Aubrey had a bit of difficulty manning the large staircase. The Russian had been tempted a number of times to simply drop the box that he'd shouldered and lift the woman into his sturdy arms. But it would be improper and he did not want to make the woman feel off balance. So, instead, he merely followed her into her room, repressing the urge to let his eyes sweep over the bed that she had spent the night in.
"I'm sorry for snapping at you." Aubrey turned and apologized to him as he slowly placed the large box on the floor and brushed his hands on the legs of his pants. "I'd like to blame it on the hormones, but in all honesty I just don't like it when people take care of me. It's strange suddenly finding myself here and realizing that there are people that care, that wish to take care of me. Here I thought I would be bringing this baby into the world alone..." As she trailed off, Piotr's dark brows dipped in alarm.
Clearing his throat, he drew her wandering attention back to him rather quickly. "I am also sorry for being so rough with you, Aubrey. Forgive me if my manners were misplaced." When she nodded her head and offered him a warm smile before sitting down on the edge of her bed, he simply assumed that he was forgiven. Blue orbs of wonder simply watched the woman as she sat upon her bed, basked in sunlight filtering in from a large window. It seemed to play with her hair, bringing out blonde highlights in her light honey brown colored locks. Against his own will, he found himself smiling and trying to picture what oils to mix together in order to get the perfect color for her hair, wondering if there was ever such a combination.
"Is something wrong?" she asked, her eyes narrowed in worry as she drew further attention to the fact that Piotr was staring at her so openly. Affronted, he quickly straightened his posture and shook his head to indicate that nothing was wrong. Aubrey made a face as if to say 'If you say so'. "I imagine that Scott and Ororo are downstairs poring over my purchases and wondering how on earth they're going to explain it to Charles. I already dread explaining to him that I needed every single outfit and diaper bag." There was a smile on her face that brought a light to her bright jade eyes that made his stomach turn uneasily.
"I am sure that the Professor would not have given you a credit card had he a spending limit in mind." It was no secret that Charles Xavier was one of the most kind-hearted men in the world. As with all new arrivals, Piotr merely assumed that the man had provided a credit card of some sort for the expecting mother. Smiling warmly, he crossed his large arms over his well-sculpted chest. "No, nothing is wrong, Aubrey. I was merely wondering if I might ask a rather... personal question."
Slightly taken aback, it took a full minute before Aubrey slowly nodded her head. "Of course. Feel free to ask." He wondered if it was apprehension that he saw on her face or if she was merely afraid of the question that he planned to ask.
In truth, he knew that it wasn't his place to ask such a personal question, but every fiber of his being demanded an answer. Heart pounding wildly in his chest, he licked his dry lips and summoned the courage to press forth the question that had been burning in his mind through the entire night. Well, one of the questions that had been burning through his mind the entire night.
"Aubrey, is the father of your child still involved in your life?" The question was forced, rushed, and the moment that it escaped his lips he clenched his eyes closed and let out a sigh. He had meant to ask the question more gently, to ease her into it without seeming nosey or pushy. Unfortunately, he had been less than gentle with his prodding. "Forgive me if it is something that you do not wish to discuss..." he trailed off as he opened his eyes and met her gaze immediately.
Lips parted slightly in thought, Aubrey Wilson was the epitome of a siren beckoning forth a lost sailor. Hair brushed over her shoulder naturally, and it gave her an impish look in the light. Her features were jagged, more defined than most women. Yet, when her lips trembled slightly, he felt shame and anger well in the pit of his stomach. But he did not get a chance to thoroughly apologize before she let out a short squeak.
"I'm sorry, Piotr. You have every right to ask that question. In fact, I'm floored that it was not asked when I was offered a place here, quite honestly." Her voice was almost level, but he could still sense a shakiness in her that made the large man want to wrap the woman in his arms and nestle his face in her lovely hair. "He's not in my life. By choice." The words seemed forced and left the beautiful woman pale and slightly trembling. "We were involved romantically, as you can see, but he did not know of my rather eccentric abilities. It was a mistake, but I don't believe in abortion. This child is mine. Just because his or her father wants nothing to do with them does not mean that I love them any less."
Blown away, Piotr found that he was clenching his hands at his sides, wanting nothing more than to meet this man that had left a woman to her own devices at such a vulnerable point in her life. "If I may be so bold," he managed through clenched teeth, "you are better off without a man that would think only of himself."
As Aubrey opened her mouth to reply, Scott and Ororo stumbled into the room, each clutching a number of bags in their grasps. But the mood in the room seemed to dim dramatically when the two noticed the strange belt of electricity that seemed to be sizzling between Piotr and Aubrey. In fact, Scott found himself quickly clearing his throat in order to get their attention.
"Well, you'll both be glad to know that this is mostly the last of it. Granted, there are a few other things downstairs in the trunk that I figured we'd have Pete bring up." As if to emphasize the off-handed comment, his gaze trailed over to Piotr, who quickly unclenched his fists and lifted his chin. "You mind, big guy?"
Shaking his head, Piotr cleared away the fog that had been cast by Aubrey's glistening eyes and moved toward the door. But, before he stepped outside, he glanced over his shoulder and met green eyes that had his heart pounding wildly in his chest yet again. "I think you're right," she whispered softly, but he still heard.
With his heart clenching both in sympathy, anger, and elevation, Piotr Rasputin quickly made his way back to the garage in order to retrieve the rest of the packages that Aubrey had purchased. He passed Hank on the way, and did not miss the way that the furry blue man cast him a knowing grin.
This Aubrey, this mystical being that had come into his life in the strangest of ways, already had a spell cast over the large man. Willing or not, he was hers.