Timeline: New X-Men (II) Issue 36
Spoilers: X-23; Innocence Lost, X-23; Target X, NYX... aww, hell, let's just say all of Laura's back story and leave it at that, okay?
A/N: Dialog about the Facility from issue 36's first epilogue.
A/N2: Anyone else think its weird Laura doesn't use contractions when the people who worked in the Facility where she grew up did? It's not like she learned to speak using "Speak and Spell" or anything.
Feedback: is a must!
Disclaimer: Not mine. I play with other people's toys.
First Posted: September 06, 2010


When Dust informs X-23 that Mercury -no, Cessily. Mercury is a codename and these people prefer the names they were given at birth- wishes to speak to her, she does not want to go. In fact, she would choose to be anywhere but with Cessily. As soon as the residents of the Xavier Institute are asleep, X-23 has plans to leave the school, probably the state and even possibly the country. But she goes to see the metallic girl anyways, because she owes her that much. If it hadn't been for her presence, Cessily never would have left the protection of the government Sentinels and therefore would not have been venerable for Kimura to steal -kidnap. Objects are stolen, people are kidnapped-. So she goes to the designated room (remembering to knock twice to respect the girl's privacy) and opens the door ajar, just wide enough for her to enter.

She knew what to expect even before she walked in, knew that Cessily Kincaid would be broken and hurting. But seeing the redhead like that, knees curled up to her chest in the fetal position but sitting upright, hyper vigilant of all possible ways someone could get in... the painful feeling in X-23's gut intensifies. This is all because of her. This girl, who was once innocent, will never truly be able to feel safe again, because of her. Her weakness, her desire to no longer be alone, her selfish wish to take what Wolverine offered without thinking of who else it would hurt. And now, the one person who'd offered her friendship, offered herself, to X-23 without needing or wanting anything in return had been through a fate worse than death. Because of her.

The second X's hand landed on the doorknob, she could smell the room's occupant's fear jump, but when she looks over at the clone, Cessily's eyes are glazed over, looking very dead. She doesn't say anything and for the first time in her life, X-23 does not like the silence.

"Sooraya said you wanted to talk to me." She makes sure to use Dust's given name. A small thing, but she has observed that this little thing can affect how a conversation goes and she wishes to make her latest victim as comfortable as she can.

The girl nods ever so slightly and her right hand goes from around her legs to her knee. Cessily does not look at X-23 , but rather focuses on her fingers tracing geometric shapes on her knee. "I just wanted to thank you for saving me." She says softly. X's chest tightens with guilt and she deliberately looks away from the slim, metallic fingers. "Again." Uncomfortable and unsure how to answer, X-23 chooses not to say anything. She slides the rest of the way into the room and closed the door without making a sound. Cessily still is not looking at her and without meaning to, X drifts closer, desiring to comfort the other mutant but having no idea who to go about doing so. Being human is much more complex than normal people realize and not for the first time she wishes she were more apt at mimicking the human condition. She is 2.26 centimetres from the bed when Cessily looks back up. There are tears streaming down her face from her pupils eyes. For a fraction of a second, she wonders how her system, which does not require water to function, can produce tears. "Those people..." She chokes out and X-23 is disgusted with herself. How can she be thinking about how the girl's body produces tears at a time like this? "The facility. What they did to me... did you really spend your whole life there?"

"Yes." She answers succinctly. Then, without warning, Cessily's legs drop and she lunges forward, her arms wrapping tightly around X, just below her ribcage, and her face pressed into her chest. For all her inexperience with situations such as this, she recognises it would be an awkward hug for anyone, which is only made worse by her uncomfortable clumsiness. But the broke girl does not seem to notice or care. Her tears flow onto and through the leather tank X is wearing.

"Oh God, Laura..." And for the first time since Kimura attacked the Grindstone, X-23 not only really remembers she has a name, a human name, but also that she likes it when others use it. "They hurt me so bad! It hurts so much!" And as wrong as it is, this, the pain, both physical and emotional, is something the girl, named by her mother as Laura Kinney, can understand. This is something she knows better than anyone. And all of Laura's hesitation and awkwardness dissolves in an instant. She stops cataloguing every scent, sight, sound and movement as she wraps her own arms around Cessily. "It hurts..." She repeats, tugging Laura even closer.

"I know." Laura replies honestly. She begins to rub circles on Cessily's back, the same way her mother would do for her when they were alone. Slowly, Cessily's tremors begin to subside and her sobs turn into soft hiccups. And sometime later, Laura realizes somehow they've gone from Cessily sitting on the bed with Laura standing beside her to being curled up together on the bed, and that's the last thing she thinks before the last few day's events finally catch up with her and she falls asleep.

..-..lcutwfk

It's no more than ten minutes after dawn when X-23 wakes up. The first thing she registers is her limbs are entangled with another person's. Immediately, she stiffens, flashing back to when her only name was "Boo" and men paid her to do things that made her stomach turn and caused her to turn her claws in on herself. But quickly she realizes the arms around her are smaller than a man's, not to mention the lack of body heat coming from the individual lying with her. Causally, she sniffs the air and the scent of Cessily, the Institute and the faint but certain to be ever-present smell of the Facility brings the events of the last few weeks rushing back.

Laura jerks, suddenly realizing how vulnerable they are. Not only do the (aesthetically beautiful) windows cover half of the one wall, but there are no curtains blocking the view, either.

"No." Cessily murmurs from the pillow, having been disturbed from sleep by Laura's movements, "I don't wanna get up yet."

Laura sniffs the air again for any sign of any threats, but the only new thing she registers, much to her embarrassment, is the scent of combine tears. Evidentially, Mercury was not the only one who ended up crying last night. Laura swipes at her face to remove any physical evidence of the fact and realizes that she also must have removed her gloves before falling asleep in the unfamiliar room. She slowly rolls her fingertips together, the bare skin only emphasizing vulnerability in their current position.

She lies there for another twenty four minutes before she tries to disentangle herself from Cessily. Once she's standing, Laura leans over the redhead and whispers to her, "I will return soon."

Stealthily, she creeps out of the room, silently closes the door, and jumps ever so slightly when she turns to find Wolverine watching her. He is leaning against the wall across from Cessily's room, looking as though he's been waiting for her all night. "Y'didn't leave last night." Logan drawls. Laura glares at him.

"No."

"What made you change your mind?" Laura does not respond, just goes to walk down the hall. Logan's reaches out and grabs her arm. "Well?" She purses her lips, unwilling to admit she'd fallen asleep, even though the girl is aware he knows it. She tugs her arm, but his hand tightens painfully, keeping her in place.

"Let go."

"No. You can't just leave, Laura. Not now. You weren't responsible for Kimura kidnapping Mercury or what the Facility did to her, no matter what bull Frost gave you." Laura pauses and his grip loosens a little. "She's gonna need you, Laura," he jerks his chin towards Cessily's door, "to help her get over this. You're the only one who can understand what they did to her. You can't run out now."

She eyes him coolly. "I have no intention of running away."

"No? Then where the hell're you going?"

"Cessily's room is too exposed. I am going to get something to cover the windows."

"Yeah?" Logan sounds like he doesn't know whether to believe her or not.

"Yes. Her windows cover most of her outer wall and there is nothing covering them. It is unsafe."

He arches an eyebrow at her. "And where're you gonna get curtains that big?"

She eyes Logan, wondering if she should involve him in her plan. "The headmistress's office had dark, heavy ones that will suffice."

"Payback, huh?" Her genetic predecessor asks.

"It is not revenge." She tells him. "It is the most logical choice. Frost's windows are the same size and the material covering them is thick enough to give Cessily the security she will need to begin to feel safe again."

He does not argue with her on that. "Yeah." Logan concedes. He smothers a grin and in turn, Laura is amused by his amusement. "Frost'll kill you." Wolverine warns.

She looks at him darkly. "She can try." Laura replies evenly. X-23 will be more than willing to do whatever is necessary to protect Cessily, regardless of the cost or who stands in her way. She does not like Frost and if the woman challenges her on her actions to protect the girl, it will be no chore to take her down.