Disclaimer: Don't own the x-men but I will stake my claim on the uber-cuteness that is Jinx and Tommy so paws off!
Cayden rushed down the corridor in the direction of the scream, finding a number of students already gathered outside one of the bedrooms much further down the hallway. Three girls – the identical triplets – stood backed up against the wall opposite the open bedroom door, squirming and pulling faces as some of their classmates gathered around.
"Oh my God!" one of them shrieked.
"It was huge," cried another.
"And hairy!" the last one shuddered, crossing her arms and hunching her shoulders. Cayden slowed his approach, breathing a sigh of relief that Lily had surely been found. His expression darkened again however as he found Carl was standing next to the girls.
"Ah Jinx," the other student offered a knowing – and somewhat smug – grin. "Missing something?"
Cayden took a sharp breath.
"Where is she?" he asked calmly.
"She?" one of the triplets blinked, looking at Cayden.
"Is it your spider?" one of her sisters asked.
Cayden nodded and opened his mouth to reply but Carl spoke up first.
"Yup. That would be Jinx's pet tarantula. Not my pet of choice but…"
Cayden gave Carl a brief glare but quickly returned his attention to the girls.
"Yes, she's mine. If you just tell me where you last saw her I'll go catch her and get her back in her cage."
The two girls exchanged a quick glance before looking back at Cayden.
"I'm so sorry," the girl nearest Cayden said quietly, wringing her hands anxiously. "I got such a scare I just… I eh… I dropped a textbook on her."
Cayden's heart sank. Quickly he rushed into the triplet's room, his eyes immediately falling on the large, heavy textbook on the floor. Inhaling sharply he lifted the book, swallowing back the nausea that swelled through him. Lily lay crumpled on the floor, one leg twitching but only slightly.
"What's going on here?" Mr Summers' voice drifted in from the corridor. Cayden closed his eyes briefly, cursing under his breath.
"There's a rogue spider on the loose," Carl's voice followed Summers'. "Or there was anyway."
Cayden heard a quiet sigh and footsteps heading in his direction.
"I thought we made it clear that you were supposed to keep your pet secure," the teacher said sternly.
"She was," Cayden replied tightly, looking down at Lily helplessly as her leg gave another faint twitch. Carefully he picked the spider up, cradling her small, battered body, alarmed by just how limp she felt. There was a quiet scoff.
"So I see."
Cayden clenched his jaw against the unsuitable retort on his lips, not taking his eyes off the spider in his hands, desperately looking for any more signs of life.
But there were none.
x-x-x x-x-x x-x-x
A soft, tired sigh escaped Cayden's lips as he lay and stared up at the ceiling. He tried to close his eyes but once again all he saw was Lily's crumpled body and Carl's smug grin. The other boy was lucky he had been holding Lily or that grin would have been wiped from his face. Hearing a gentle knock on the door he rolled his head lazily to the side but made no effort to answer it. Returning his gaze to the ceiling, he completely ignored the second knock. He took a deep breath as he heard the door creak open.
"Jinx?" a soft voice drifted from the doorway. With a quiet groan Cayden pulled himself into a sitting position looking at Thomas tiredly. The other boy gently closed the door behind him and looked back at Cayden concernedly. "Are you ok?"
"I'm fine," Cayden grumbled, looking down and fidgeting with the ring on his finger. Thomas took a deep breath.
"I really am sorry about Lily. I know…" he sighed. "I think we both know who opened the cage. I think he did it 'cause I blew him off earlier to come after you."
Cayden inhaled deeply, scowling heavily but he did not comment further. Thomas glanced over at Lily's cage, frowning sadly at the limp form only just visible under the log. For a moment he regarded the spider thoughtfully, worrying his bottom lip before giving himself a determined nod.
"May I?" he gestured towards the tank. Cayden looked up frowning briefly before giving a shrug. Thomas made his way towards the tank, glancing over it to figure out how to open it. "You remember my power from the danger room right? How I can bring inanimate stuff to life?"
Cayden arched an eyebrow, looking at the tank – at the log in particular.
"What? You gonna try and give me a pet log?"
"No, I…" Thomas took a deep breath. "Look you can't tell anyone about this – I've been working on it with the Professor. I don't know if it'll work… she's quite big…"
Cayden just frowned in confusion as Thomas reached into the tank, resting all his fingers from both hands on Lily's back. For several moments he just watched but suddenly his eyes widened as one of Lily's legs twitched. Leaping to his feet he rounded his bed to stand over the tank next to Thomas.
"What…" he started but he quickly shut his mouth as he saw the concentration on the other boys face. Instead he just watched as Lily's leg twitched again, and another twitched. Suddenly the large spider pushed up on all eight legs, stumbling slightly as Thomas pulled away. Doing a small circle Lily seemed to calm, settling down half under her log. Cayden stared down at her in disbelief.
"Is she… I mean," he looked quickly to Thomas who now sat on his bed before turning back to Lily, reaching down and stroking her leg, earning another little shuffle from the spider. Quickly he closed the lid, double checking all the clasps. With a broad smile he turned back to Thomas only to find he now lay down, eyes closed. Panic flitted through Cayden's eyes.
"He's just sleeping," a soft voice came from the doorway. Cayden spun round to find Dr Grey standing in his room. The teacher offered him a reassuring smile although with a serious note on her face. "The Professor realised what he was doing. He's not supposed to attempt this alone."
Cayden glanced back over at the other student.
"He'll be ok though, right?"
Jean nodded as she crossed the room to give the sleeping student a closer look.
"He'll just be exhausted – he's never even tried to revive anything as big as Lily, only small bugs," Jean looked at Cayden solemnly. "You realise you cannot tell anyone about this? If people found out what Tommy can do…" she inhaled deeply. "Of course he is getting stronger – and will continue to do so – but we have no way to tell what his limits would be. If people were to find out about this…"
"They'd want him to try and revive humans," Cayden nodded understandingly. What kind of a strain would that put on the other boy if reviving a spider tired him so? "I won't tell a sole."
Jean gave an appreciative nod.
Cayden glanced back over at Lily.
"What about her? What do we tell people?"
Jean looked thoughtfully at the tank.
"We'll just have to say she wasn't as badly injured as first thought," she replied. "I'll drop in and see the triplets and tell them Lily's moving a little and we're hoping she'll make a full recovery after all. You'll just have to keep her hidden a while so no-one sees just how quick her recovery is," she held up a hand as Cayden smiled wryly. "Carl and his companions will not be bothering you, I assure you. The triplets might come along though," she arched an eyebrow. "They are truly horrified by what happened."
"I know," Cayden nodded. Even earlier he had not really been able to be mad at the girls. "I'll keep the cage covered and tell them the dark'll help her get better."
Jean gave a nod.
"That'll keep the girls satisfied," she said, smiling faintly. "I don't think they'll be too upset at not getting to see her. They're not good with…creepy crawlies."
"I gathered," Cayden arched an eyebrow in Lily's direction. Jean looked back over at Thomas.
"You know Tommy came to see me today. He asked to be moved to another room… apparently he doesn't want to share with Carl anymore."
"Oh… right…" Cayden blinked in surprise.
"Would you like me to wake him up and get him back to his room?" Jean asked. "Well… one of the spare rooms until we get him sorted out properly."
"No, it's ok," Cayden waved a hand dismissively. "Just… leave him. He looks comfortable."
The corners of Jean's lips twitched.
"That's probably him out for the rest of the night…" she pointed out. Cayden shrugged.
"I'll crash on the floor."
"Ok," Jean smiled broadly, knowing the student would not look up to see it. "I'll go and look you out some spare bedding. And I'm sure there's a spare mattress or cot or something you can have for the night."
"Thanks," Cayden nodded although still he did not look up. Dr Grey made her way back to the door, pausing in the doorway to cast one more satisfied look over the room before leaving. Only when the door shut softly behind the teacher did Cayden let out a small sigh. Wandering over to Lily's tank he retrieved her food from the bag by the side, dropping a cricket in through the small flap on the lid, securing it shut again and checking it twice. He watched with a small smile as the spider crept out from under her log, grabbing her prey and retreating back under the log quickly. For several minutes he watched before grabbing a towel from where he had dropped it on the floor earlier and covering the tank.
Cayden jumped slightly, tuning quickly to look at Thomas. The other boy started to pull himself into a sitting position but Cayden gestured for him to stay.
"Lie down, you look exhausted!"
"I'm fine," Thomas objected but he lay back down tiredly. Taking a deep breath, he blinked rapidly to clear his tired, blurry eyes. "So, how is she?"
"She's fine," Cayden smiled timidly at the other boy as he looked at him. "Thank you."
"No problem," Thomas returned a warm, albeit tired smile. "What are friends for?"
Cayden glanced away sheepishly for a moment. Upon turning back to reply however he found the other boy had fallen asleep again but he did not mind. For the first time in a long, long time Cayden Poole's lips curled into a comfortable, contented, happy smile…
x-x-x x-x-x x-x-x
Author's Note: And there we go. No drama, just two boys meeting and becoming friends. I hope you approve of Tommy's power – I know it is a little extreme but in both stories I've used him in I've had him kidnapped because of his powers so I needed something serious.
I am still in a state of semi-retirement from writing fanfics but there's still too many Pyro/Iceman and Pyro/Multiple Man and …well… Multiple Man/Colossis ideas buzzing about my head so don't suppose that'll last too long…
Thanks for reading!