A/N: Hmm. Originally I was going to end Snff here...but all the reviews its getting, plus bits of ideas, are making me think of making a sequel. What d'yall think? Want more?

PS: Sappy alert. That's just for you stray ;-)

š Chapter 12 : all the monsters ›

Julian froze, staring at the open front door. It was three AM, and it was raining cats and dogs outside, and he was just going upstairs after drinking
milk straight from the carton in the kitchen, hoping he could get more sleep. He only got one to two hours sleep during each go, before a nightmare
woke him up.

There was a girl dripping on the mat, a duffle bag on her shoulder, her hair dripping. Green eyes. She tilted her head and smiled slightly, feeling the
familiar thrill run down her spine. "Hi."

" H-hi," he said, though it hardly seemed sufficient. It had been a year since she'd left. He didn't know what he was supposed to do.

"Is Logan still here?" she asked, unzipping her jacket. Julian continued to stare at her, like a deer caught in the head lights. "Uh-huh," he said, his
voice strained.

Laura studied him. "Are you alright?" she asked.

"Um," he cleared his throat. "You-you were gone a long time. A really long time." He rubbed his neck, something he hadn't done in ages, because the
prickles didn't run up it when Laura wasn't there. It had only occurred to him at the sixth month mark-that the prickles didn't happen when he was
scared. It was something else entirely, that he'd misinterpreted completely.

"Yes...yes I was." Laura looked around. "I should go upstairs."

She closed the door and stepped up. She was on the same level as he was now-she stepped up, one step, another step-she was at the top, her back
turned to him again.

" Laura-" he ran up the stairs. He couldn't let it happen again-he'd spent a year figuring things out. He couldn't make the same mistake twice--for the
third time, perhaps, counting Sofia.

He'd even looked for her-but he didn't know where to find her. He'd even stood in Kingpin's office, alone, asking the terrifying older man to tell him
where Laura was. He'd laughed and told him to leave. Julian hadn't known that she was working for Fisk again, who didn't want her to be tempted
away from his employment again.

Everyone had a motive for Laura.

"Yes?" she asked, pausing in the hallway. In front of her old room-Sooraya's room now, with Cessily. He put his hand on her back, pushed her towards
the end of the hallway, to the door in the corner.


He fought with the doorknob. It finally worked-the door opened-and he motioned her in and closed it firmly behind them. "I've got a few things to tell
you," he said. It was a little hard to speak. She was looking at him like he was crazy, and rightfully so. He was crazy. He put his hands on the sides
of her jaws and pulled her into him, as close as he could.

" Mmph!" Laura made a noise of surprise, and her bag dropped to the floor with a thump. He slid his hands down her body and around her, not caring
that her clothing was soaking wet with rain, and cold. He pulled away suddenly. He had to get this out now. ""Your letter...I don't understand how
anyone could have gone through those things, ever. You're incredible. I-I love you," he said, a little more forcefully than he'd intended.

"I fucking love you and if you ever leave me again I will...well, I don't know but it would suck so bad." He paused.

Laura breathed through her mouth, looking down. Then...snff.

" In the bed, now," Julian ordered, pushing her backwards until she met the edge of the mattress and tipped over. "You're mine. I will fuck anyone up
who tries to change that. Understand?"

"Yes," Laura said. He crawled over her and buried his face in her neck, inhaling.



" Julian?"

He opened his eyes sleepily. The box from the corner-store was half gone, and he was exhausted. Absolutely exhausted. He thought he might pull
another 30-hour sleep, like he had that time, a year and a half ago, when he'd flown for the first time at mach.

"Mmhmm?" He sniffed the nape of her neck and kissed it. He wondered if he was going to wake up soon, like he had in the past-but he'd already
pinched himself a few times that night, and it had hurt. And other stuff hurt.

" What did you mean?" She turned her head and eyed him, on her back; he did the same. Her hair was all over his pillow; he twirled a lock around his
finger with the hand behind his head. Her hair was curly when wet, and it had stayed curly as it dried, with his messing it up constantly.

" Hm?" he asked, raising his head slightly.

" Earlier. You said you 'love' me. I don't understand."

"..." Julian wrinkled his forehead. " Huh?" He thought he'd been pretty clear.

"Before...you told me there was two types. Of love. You told me that there are crushes...and there is real love...where you would die for the other
person...some other attributes, as well. You did not specify which type."

" Oh, the second," Julian said sleepily. "Definitely the second." He kissed her cheek.

" Okay," Laura said. Her eyes slid shut. "Me, too."

He moved to conform to her side, and buried his face in her neck. Snff.


Emma Frost, looking out her window with distant diamond eyes. She'd just had a phone call, and was thinking it over. Her sister had died.

Not a tear could be seen, because she didn't have tears in this form.

Her eyes narrowed on a strange motorcycle in the driveway. There was a visitor.

She shifted her flesh and closed her eyes-then they shot open.

Mister Keller, to my office, now.


" Why did you bring her?" Emma asked coldly. Julian was standing in front of her, his arms folded, Laura behind him, an uncertain expression on her face.

" Anything you have to say to me can be said in front of her," he said. He was angry. Emma was angry. They'd disobeyed.

"X-23 is a weapon," Emma said. "I will not have her at my school."

" Her name is Laura," Julian said.

" Mister Keller--"

"No! God, what is your problem?" Julian's voice was rising.

" I am protecting my students," Emma said, her tone firm. "Including yourself. You will understand later--perhaps you are too young now--"

"I've seen how you protect your students!" Julian snapped. "You screw up their lives, you hurt them, you call them weapons. You're like the people who
made her--you're a monster. And you don't know the first thing about protecting children."

" You don't know what she is," Emma said acidly. "All it takes--one drop of trigger scent--and everyone's dead. She's a time bomb. You wouldn't
even see it coming. I will not allow that." She looked over his shoulder. "Laura, get your things. Then leave. I will give you five minutes."

Julian turned to the girl. "Come on, Laura. We don't have to take this."

" Mister Keller--" Emma stood up. She hadn't meant that he would leave.

" I have nothing more to say to you," he said, following Laura out. He grabbed the door handle behind himself and slammed it so hard that a
painting on the wall beside it tilted.


" That's everything I want," Julian said, zipping up his bag. "Good thing I went with the laptop...PC would have been a bitch."

" Are you certain you want to do this?" Laura asked, frowning. "She's right, Julian. I am a weapon. I am not human. You are at risk in my presence. You
will lose everything you know, all your friends, your teachers. You should not come."

" Laura-I'm not even talking about this," he said fiercely. "I already let you go once, and I realized I'd follow you into a burning pit, if I ever got
the chance to be with you again. I'm pretty fucking certain." He swung his backpack on his shoulder. "Let's go say goodbye to Cess, at least."

Laura paused. She didn't want him to come--she was afraid for him. She knew, though, that she couldn't stay away...she'd already tried.

" Okay," Laura said.


"Julian?" Cessily asked, peering out of her door. "What--ohmigod!" She'd just spotted Laura over his shoulder. Then she realized they both had bags, and jackets on.

" You're leaving?" she asked.

Julian nodded. "I..."

" It's the right thing," she said immediately. He'd told her-told her about Ms. Frost, and she'd watched him, for a year. He'd been very, very
miserable. "Just--just call me, okay? And you have my MSN--"

He pushed the door out of the way and hugged her. "I wish it didn't have to be like this."

Cessily frowned. "Let me know where you go," she said. " You should find Mr. Summers--and Mr. Logan. They're in California...San Francisco, I think.
Something about a new branch of the school, or something."

Julian nodded.

"Well...bye," he said, holding up a hand. They watched each other for a moment, then he turned, and Laura followed him, waving at Cessily.

The end