Characters: Laura Kinney (X-23), Mercury (Cessily Kincaid) + New X-Men (II) ensemble - Pairing: Julian Keller (Hellion)/Laura Kinney (X-23), mentions of other canon relationships
Timeline: New X-Men (II) #42/43
Warning: Self-harm (It's a Laura fic based on #43. It's canon.)
A/N: This fic took a very odd path. I started it as a happy Hellion/X-23, it twisted into Surge/X-23 and somehow ended up being mostly Mercury&X-23 friendship with H/X angst.
A/N2: much of the dialog comes from the two issues listed above.
Feedback: is a must!
Disclaimer: Not mine. I play with other people's toys.
First Posted: August 25, 2010

X-23 is standing in the corner of her room, unsure what to do with herself when Kincaid bursts in without knocking and drags her to the common room, going on about age comparison and the youngest mutant on the planet.

Indra is on the couch, roughly surrounded by most of the Institute's youth population, and there are multiple conversations going on between those present. The purple boy is listing birth names and ages, then begins to scribble frantically onto his notepad as he calculates something to do with their ages. She is not interested in their superstitions, so she tunes it out and counts the number of ways they are vulnerable to an attack in this room.

"Nori, just look at me!" Alleyne's voice cuts through the rest of the noise and she looks up just in time to understand the electricity she smells is being released from Ashida's gauntlets.

X-23 doesn't understand the feelings of intense anger and the desire to hurt Keller when Ashida ends an argument with Alleyne by throwing herself on Hellion and kissing him intensely. Nor does she like it.

Laura goes rigid as she watches the display in front of her. A couple of people gasp and everyone seems to freeze in place. Prodigy is the first to react, and she can smell his pain and anger as she begins to feel those same emotions herself. He turns and runs out of the room.

Laura does not want to run. She wants to hurt someone very badly, but she is not even sure who it is she wishes to harm. And when Keller shoves Ashida away, she is no less unsure.

Somehow, the telekinetic must be able to tell she is affected by this. He looks right at her. "Laura..."

She does not want to run. She wants to hurt someone, and the person she wants to hurt is Julian Keller. But that would not be an appropriate response. So she runs.

"Laura, wait!" She hears Mercury yell after her, but she does not stop. "LAURA!" If she has her way, she will never stop.


Laura somehow manages to keep her claws from emerging until she reaches the Girls' wing of the mansion. Blindly, she shoves the washroom door open, putting so much force behind it that when the door hits the wall, she can hear the drywall crack. She does not understand. She wasn't meant to feel these things. Rice created her to be a weapon. A tool. She wasn't designed to need companionship, have feelings to hurt or fall in love.

X-23 stumbles over to the sink and braces her arms on either side of the sink. She does not understand it and she does not like it. If this is what being human is, she was better off on the street. It was unpleasant, but it was better than this. At least then she hadn't been trying to be something she's not.

She inadvertently pushes down harder on the cool ceramic and it breaks away from the wall. She falls forward at the loss of support, her head slams against the mirror, cracking glass and cutting her face. She pulls away slowly as the unexpected shock of physical pain gives her a something more tangible to focus on, and looks at her reflection in the fractured glass. "I don't understand what's happening to me." Laura whispers to the empty room. "I don't understand what I'm feeling." X-23 rakes her claws across her thigh, deep enough to cut a tendon. Her knee buckles and her vision goes red. The uncontrollable rage that takes control now is not like the Trigger Scent. If anything, she's got even less control now because she doesn't understand it's source or if she'll come back from it. All she knows is that she's angry, hurting and confused and this is the only way she knows to make go away.

"I don't understand what's happening to me." Laura sobs, tearing through the walls that divide the toilets. Her arm catches on a jagged piece of metal and she tears it away, causing the cut to become a deep gash. "I don't understand what I'm feeling."


She takes pride in her self-control, though. She destroyed the girl's washroom on the floor of her door room and inflicted more damage on herself then any adversary had managed to do in a fight, but she did not kill or even harm any other resident of the school.

"I don't understand what's happening to me." She's still repeating quietly, over and over. "I don't understand what I'm feeling."

After some time, Laura has no idea how long, Mercury finds her on the floor amongst the remains of the washroom. She barely even realizes when Kincaid enters, doesn't have the energy to care about her lack of alertness. She doesn't even register that the other girl is there until the door swings shut and does not bother to look up at her. The only sign X-23 gives to acknowledge she knows Mercury is there is to add another line, spoken even quieter than the rest, to her mantra.

"And I'm scared I'm going to hurt someone."

"Oh, Laura..." In an instant, Cessily is beside her. Laura flinches, terrified that she might hurt her in her pain, but can't make her mouth obey her will to vocalize the warning. "Shhhh... it's okay. Everything's going to be okay." Kincaid murmurs to her, and pulls Laura into a loose hug. The clone practically falls over, having lost all muscle control. "You're not alone anymore."

They stay like that for a long time, with Mercury murmuring soothing words and Laura's overwhelming pain and disquiet lessening into something more manageable. When she can sit up on her own again, Cessily gently tugs her to her feet and leads her to the room Laura shares with Qadir. When they get to her room, Kincaid lets go of her hand and Laura stops in the doorway, even more uncertain of what to do then when the same girl dragged her out of here a few hours ago.

"Laura?" X-23 doesn't move. Although Laura's had the room for more than four months, it still faintly carries Noriko's scent. "Hey, come on." Cessily rises from where she's sitting on Laura's mattress and goes back to the door. She puts an arm around the clone's shoulders and guides her over to her bed. Laura remains standing while Cessily sits back down at the end, legs crossed. "C'mon, work with me here." She requests quietly, smiling softy. Laura forces herself to return the smile, although it feels as alien as the emotions she's feeling, and sits down as well, her back to the headboard in the same position as Kincaid. "Thanks." She nods. "Hey, it'll be okay. It gets better. I know."

"How?" X's voice cracks when she asks the question, "How can you know?" She's pleading now, aware her desperation is as plain as the destruction Mercury found her amongst. The silver colour mutant gives her another small smile, but this one is filled with sadness.

"Because I've felt the same way."

Laura shakes her head. "No. No, you're wrong." She denies. "You can't have felt this, not you. You're so-"

"Cheerful?" Mercury laughs, but she doesn't sound like she thinks it's funny. "I don't have a choice. It's my job to be the happy one. If I don't, who will, Santo?" Laura watches the emotions that flit across Cessily's face as she talks, completely unguarded. "Do you remember Kevin Ford? He left the same day you got here."

Laura sits quietly as the other girl tells her about Wither, how she loved him so much it hurt. She cries when she tells Laura that she was the only one who'd listen to him talk about Laurie and how it tore Cessily apart to do it, but he needed to talk to someone and the rest of the Hellions had lost patience with him.

When Dust returns to their room, X-23 and Mercury are crying all over again, talking in incomplete sentences. Laura does not know how long Sooraya was there before they saw her, but when they do, the sight of the Muslim girl looking so uncomfortable is enough to turn their tears into hysterical laughter.

Somehow, it leads to the three of them lying on their backs on the floor, sharing happy memories until they fall asleep.