Pairing: Jamie/Layla, Rictor/Shatterstar
Timeline: Somewhere between X-Factor III #48-50, I guess. Takes place the morning after Shine's Ficlet #3, which can be found on archiveofourown(.)org
Spoilers: How Layla 'Knows Stuff' and her actual mutation.
A/N1: Based on and taking place just after Shine's "Ficlet #3"
A/N2: I don't remember Layla ever telling anyone how she 'knows stuff', even after they showed the readers. So this is going on the assumption she hasn't.
Beta: none.
Feedback: is a must!
Disclaimer: Not mine. I play with other people's toys.


She doesn't like this. This not knowing. While she never knows everything, she hasn't been so in the dark with anything since Nicole. She doesn't like it.

She's sitting on the kitchen counter, swinging her legs much like she used to do when she was younger. Layla goes over what happened with Nicole in her head. She remembers the sick feeling she had in her stomach as soon as the 'girl' was introduced to her. There was a static that she couldn't explain. It was really similar to when you try to find a radio station while driving through country back roads; you think you might be getting something so you turn the dial ever so slightly and just get more static, loosing the small reception you had. And Layla couldn't just ignore it because Nicole wasn't a radio (although as a robot, it was closer to one then she'd have guessed) and she couldn't just give up and turn her off. By the time Monet and Theresa brought her back from France, she'd already gotten used to the mind-dump her older self had zapped into her head. Gotten used to and had come to rely on knowing stuff. So she'd been immediately been (rightfully) paranoid of the girl who was messing with it.

This is different. No static, just no knowledge about him. Which should make sense, because if she'd downloaded everything up to when her future-self came back to their timeline, she shouldn't have any knowledge about anything past that. But she does, so she is still trying to sort that out as well as puzzling over Shatterstar. She'd known to expect Darwin and Longshot, but that could have just been because Jamie mentioned them.

Jamie was right, memory is a tricky thing. Not only does she have a lifetime of knowing stuff so she can keep everything on track, but she's also got the memories of the first time around and how things went wrong. So sometimes, even though she knows she projects an air of omniscience, she has to make sure she's remembering the right timeline let alone have the right time for it.

"'Morning, 'Butterfly'." The girl jumps, startled out of her thoughts. She's become a little complacent since returning from the future, she shouldn't have ever let him startle her like that. Layla looks over at Rictor who's standing in the entrance. He looks smug, which while not unusual in and of itself, is a little unnerving. She knows him well enough to know he quite often uses it as a means to hide his insecurities and that does double for when he's around her. She knows he's never trusted or even really liked her and she accepted that. She liked Rictor and respected him for sticking it out with X-Factor, even though they were a constant reminder of what he'd lost.

"Good morning." She replies absently, staring off into the distance. She doesn't realize she's actually looking directly at the spot he and Shatterstar have been making out at last night until Rictor points it out.

"You really were surprised last night, weren't you?" He asks needlessly, and usually his amusement would have only fed her own. But this time, he's right. She wasn't feigning shock at what she's seen, it had been taken off guard by what she'd seen. So much so that Jamie'd teased her all night about the dumbfound look she'd been wearing. "So much for 'knowing stuff'." Layla just looks at him, unsure what to say. She's been unsure of a lot this morning. She really doesn't like it. "I'm going to like this."

"Maybe I was just really turned on by the display you two were making." She shoots at him, but he his grin doesn't falter.

"If we were really your type, you wouldn't be sleeping with Jamie." He replies cheerfully, making his way into the kitchen. Again, she doesn't know how to respond. She misses the days when she was so sure of everything. It may have been depressing knowing that free will, at least for her, was a joke, but at least she'd known what to expect and how to deal with it. Now, it's like she's naked. And she just thought that simile while being alone in the kitchen with Rictor. Eww.

"True." She swings her legs again, trying to relax. "I don't really know if that's a fair assessment, though. What 'type' would Jamie fit into?"

Rictor actually laughs at that. "Noir-obsessed, multiple-personality, easily distracted mutant? Yeah, I can see you having a hard time really classifying that as a 'type'. If you guys ever break up, you're going to be very lonely for a long time."

Layla's touched. Even though she knows Rictor didn't deliberately mean anything by it, the fact that he said 'if' and not 'when' means that he's not expecting her to be gone anytime soon. And he doesn't seem to mind. "Yeah." She grins back because she knows they'll be together until the end. *I still know some stuff.*

"Well, unless you get desperate enough to track down a dupe. I've met a few that'll sleep with anything." His face actually freezes as he realises how offensive what he said is. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that." The moment of... whatever that was ends and he begins to fish through the refrigerator.

"The leftover chicken's on the middle shelf on the left." She tells him. He grunts in response, then goes about making his sandwich.

"Thanks. Been craving this ever since 'Star distracted me last night. I forgot how useful you can be sometimes."

"Thanks, I think."

"'welcome." He says around a mouthful of chicken salad. Layla continues to swing her legs, pointedly ignoring to curious looks Rictor keeps sending her. Being uncomfortable with inquisitive attention is another thing that's new and something else she doesn't like. She used to have fun with it, just explain everything with three simple words that didn't really explain anything and leave them wondering. Now, she's an adult and doesn't feel any joy in knowing stuff anymore. It was one thing to remember horrors that hadn't happened yet and an entirely other matter to live through them. She can still be playful when she has to be, but she hasn't really felt silly for a long time. And this thing with Shatterstar... it's just another thing that she doesn't like. And the worst yet because she didn't see it coming. "I really am sorry, kid." Layla looks up at Rictor, confused.

"Sorry for what?"

"The joke I make earlier. I've been spending so much time with Guido and Longshot."

"It's okay."

"If I'd said it to Terry or Monet, they'd have taken my head off. Even before the whole... you know, baby thing." He gives her another smile. "So, thanks for not killing me."

Layla nods and takes his apology for the olive branch it is. "You're welcome."

To her shock, and how weird is that feeling again, he drags a chair over and sits down, facing her. "So, were you really surprised by me & 'Star or were you just screwing with me?" Layla shrugs. He sighs. "Is it really that big a deal, me and Shatterstar?"

"As in the relationship between you two? No." She tells him flatly. "But I didn't know that Shatterstar would be here or even who he is. I don't know anything about him. And that is the big deal." She confesses to him, telling him things that she wouldn't even admit to Jamie last night. And suddenly, she feels like she's on firmer ground because she knows on instinct that her confession will get Rictor to open up to her as well.

"Huh." Rictor replies, ever eloquent.

"Exactly." They just sit there silently, but it's a comfortable silence with only the light rhythmic knocking of Layla's heals on the lower cabinet.

"Well, 'Star's from the future. Could that have screwed you up?" Rictor offers after a while.

"'Dunno." She cocks her head to the side, thinking. "Maybe."

"He's from a planet called Mojoworld." She goes over this in her head. "They created him with some kind of sick genetic engineering thing to be a kind of Gladiator."

"A gladiator, huh? So he was destined to be gay from the moment they started playing around with his DNA, huh?" Layla teases tentatively. She knows it's a risky joke, given the unstable nature of Layla's relationship with him, but she grins anyways to show she didn't mean it offensively and after a minute he grins back.

"Guess not."

It feels more like they've just met, two strangers buildings the foundation of what could be a friendship, rather than the truth, that for most of her time at X-Factor, Rictor saw Layla as being a constant irritation and subject of mistrust. They spent the next half hour or so making small talk and gently poking fun at each other. It's nice, just hanging out because there's no big emergency and the can. Layla hasn't been able to do this since... well, pretty much since the last time she sat on this counter, back when she was half as tall and before she had hips and 'things'.

But nothing lasts forever, and their little picturesque moment of friendship is abruptly ended when they hear a crash followed by a curse and multiple thumps.

"What the hell was that?" Rictor leaps up out of his chair, prepared for a fight. Layla just stays where she is and buries her face in her hands, trying to hide as she flushes with embarrassment.

"Oh god..." She mutters. Her face is flaming when she looks at the ex-mutant. "Don't worry about it, there's nothing wrong." She coughs and kicks the counter a little harder then she was previously. "At least, there's nothing you can do about it. Believe me."

Rictor eyes her warily. "Yeah? 'Cause you know stuff?"

"Nah." The young woman hops off the counter and sighs in exasperation. She runs her hand through her hair and she blushes even further and shrugs. "I just know Jamie." With that she sighs and heads out of the kitchen. She can hear Rictor's hysterical laughter following her as she goes to check on her klutz of a boyfriend.

But even as she puts her hands on her hips and takes in the scene of four Jamies trying to sort themselves out, inside she's feeling a lot better than when she woke up this morning. "Do I even want to ask how you got like this?"

Mojoworld. She'll have to keep that in mind. But if he's a time-traveller too, that could explain a lot without it meaning anything bad. Just to be sure though, she'll ask Jamie what he thinks of Shatterstar. But later, when he's in a more adult frame of mind. She takes in the pile of Jamies in the hall, able to pick her Jamie out among the dupes without an issue, and sighs again. A lot later. She's thinking maybe in five years or so.