AN – I have to apologise for my somewhat erratic updating habits in regards to my other fanfics. In my defence, however, I do most of my work on my iPod and when updating it, iTunes saw fit to wipe my entire memory and 'misplace' coughdeletecough my backup files. If it's any consolation, I'm now listening to really rubbish music because iTunes also saw fit to remove all my music from my iPod. Cheers iTunes. When I find these 'misplaced' files I shall make it my priority to update as soon as possible.
I found this fic lurking about in my laptop's memory. I don't know when I'll be able to update it but please enjoy anyway.
Disclaimer – I don't own any Marvel characters. Wow, there's a shocker.
A lone figure silently prowled between the crumbling ruins of the towering buildings that once lined the busy streets of LA. The darkness framed her youthful face highlighting the clear, sky blue eyes that, once upon a time, held so much hope and innocence. Now, they were the eyes of someone far older, someone who had lived for so much longer than her own seventeen years. The sudden sound of footsteps caught the figure's attention. She stiffened and glanced around carefully. Ducking behind a large piece of rubble, she crouched down, her petite body trembling with tension. The footsteps suddenly halted. The young girl cocked her head slightly, listening intently for any sign of movement.
Molly's ears pricked at the hushed whisper of her name but did not dare to emerge from her hiding place.
"Molly, it's Layla. I know you're here."
The young mutant peeked over the safety of the rubble and was incredibly relieved to see her blonde friend glancing around nervously. She quickly scanned the area before deciding that Layla was not being followed and crept out from behind her cover. The blonde mutant did not look very surprised at this and the young brunette pouted at her lack of shock.
"How did you know I was here?" she asked curiously.
Layla let out a bitter laugh and smirked at her friend.
"I'm Layla Miller remember? I know stuff."
Molly smiled at her companion's use of her long-time catchphrase. Shaking her head slightly, she glanced at Layla questioningly. The blonde seemed to know the question before it had passed through Molly's lips.
"I'm here because we managed to fix it."
Molly looked up sharply, her piercing gaze fixed on Layla. A small feeling of triumph bubbled in the pits of her stomach but she quickly quelled it. There was still so much to do. She couldn't afford to get her hopes up now.
"Y-you're sure?" Molly was surprised to hear the slight tremble in her voice. Usually, she had her emotions under control. She had to; in this world the slightest stutter could betray you.
"How did you do it?"
"Does it matter? We finally have the chance to fix things!" Layla gestured at their bleak surroundings. "Do you really want to grow up in this world?"
Molly shook her head vehemently. "No, of course not. But what we plan to do could fuck things up even more."
Layla stared at her friend. "Or it could make things a hell of a lot better. Mol, if you do this, you could save the others."
The brunette sharply sucked in a breath at the painful memories that flooded into her mind. Her blue eyes flicked to the face of her blonde companion, glinting determinately.
"Where is it?"
"Dammit! Where the bloody hell are those two?"
Former MI-13 agent, Pete Wisdom, paced the length of the crumbling warehouse restlessly. Sitting on a tattered crate opposite him, Rahne Sinclair rolled her eyes.
"Calm down Wisdom. They'll be here soon."
"I have to concur with Miss Sinclair." The furry blue face of Hank McCoy appeared from underneath a large ominous looking object in the centre of the warehouse. The scientist got to his feet, dusted off his clothes and readjusted the ragged tarp that hid the object from view. "Our young friends both know what's at stake. The most likely scenario is that Miss Miller had some difficulty locating Miss Hayes."
"Dr McCoy's right." The last member of the small, rag-tag group of rebels spoke up. "Hayes knows how to disappear; she always was a fast study."
Rahne shook her head in amusement. "You can tell that you're Wolverine's clone."
X-23 smirked at the Scottish mutant and leaned casually against the wall.
"Bloody hell" groaned Wisdom "I miss Blighty."
"I know how you feel" murmured Rahne in agreement. "This place is hell. But then again, I can't imagine Britain is doing much better."
"So true" Hank folded his arms over his muscular blue chest and sighed. "It was a sad day when the humans finally decided that mutant-kind should be eradicated."
"And now all our hopes lie on the shoulders of a seventeen year-old girl and her eleven year-old past self." X-23 ran a hand through her hair wearily. "If I didn't know Hayes I'd say the odds were against us."
"Luv, the odds have always been against us," snorted Wisdom "we've just learnt to ignore them."
He glanced around restlessly and continued his furious pacing. The two women trailed into a helpless silence and Dr McCoy sighed. He aimlessly wandered over to a grimy window and stared out in deep thought.
"It's almost dark outside" observed Hank, quietly "I hope Molly and Layla haven't run into any trouble."
"Alright" proclaimed Wisdom as he grabbed his battered trench coat and pulled it on. "This is a load of bollocks."
"Where the hell do you think you're going?" exclaimed X-23.
"Look Claws, I'm going to find the kids. If anything happens to me, stick to the plan." He pointed at Hank. "McCoy, get that bloody thing running. Red, you're in charge."
Rahne gulped, desperately wanting to stop her former Excalibur teammate but knowing that he was right. She settled for a firm nod and grinned at her fellow Brit.
"Be careful Wisdom. You better come back in one piece."
Wisdom smirked and shot her a wink.
"I'll try me best luv."
Molly grabbed Layla's hand and dragged her through the minefield of rubble as they dodged the incessant gunfire that was aimed at them. The pair had been discovered as they were heading towards the rendezvous point. Instead of leading their pursuers right to their fellow rebels, the two young mutants had opted to try and lose them. It was proving to be more difficult than they had anticipated. They ducked down behind a large chunk of concrete in a desperate effort to catch a breath. Molly glanced at Layla.
"Do you think it's him?" she asked, breathlessly.
Layla shrugged, her face looking incredibly pale despite the thick layer of dirt that caked it.
"I'm not sure," she confessed "but we are so fucked if it is."
Molly couldn't help the sharp fear that gripped her heart at that thought. That tiny moment of weakness was all their pursuers needed to take control of the situation. The two girls suddenly found themselves surrounded by armed soldiers and staring down the barrels of their guns. The brunette allowed herself a small second to panic before fixing her expression into one of pure defiance.
"Molly Hayes and Layla Miller. You have been identified as unregistered mutants and are both suspected of belonging to a group of mutant terrorists." The mechanical voice of the commander chilled Molly to the core and she tried in vain to prevent a shiver creeping up her spine. "You are hereby sentenced to immediate execution."
Layla subtly nudged Molly in the side and the younger mutant took the hint instantly. Her blue eyes suddenly started to glow in a deep purple and before the soldiers knew what had hit them, their commander went flying past them and crashed into the dirt. Molly shot to her feet and grinned mischievously at the rest of the unit, her eyes still glowing.
The soldiers took a step backwards, not entirely sure how they should go about dealing with this threat. Their panic was unnecessary; however, as no sooner as Molly had leapt at them, she was sent stumbling by a vicious punch to the stomach. The last Runaway glanced upwards to face her attacker and found herself staring into a pair of luminous red eyes.
"Matthew," she spat in disgust. "I'm surprised you didn't show up sooner, you spineless bastard."
Matthew laughed, his deep voice echoing throughout the abandoned streets. His eyes shifted from their vivid red into their customary blue. He ran his hand over the short stubble growing on his shaved head and grabbed Molly's throat.
"How's it going Mol?" he smirked. "It's been a while since we last saw each other."
Molly's glowing eyes burned with hatred as she struggled to escape from Matthew's grip.
"Not long enough, dick-head," wheezed Molly.
Matthew scowled and tightened his grip on the brunette's neck.
"That, Mol, was rude." He glanced around and caught sight of an unconscious Layla on the floor. "What happened to her?"
The commander stumbled to his feet and saluted his superior.
"After you arrived, sir, we rendered her unconscious so she wouldn't be able to interfere."
"Huh," mused Matthew "I guess I don't need you idiots anymore then."
The soldiers gripped their heads in pain as Matthew's eyes once again glowed red. One by one they dropped to the ground screaming. Matthew suddenly grinned and the soldiers' cries trailed off into silence. The red-eyed mutant rolled the motionless commander over with his foot. The man's glassy eyes were all Molly needed to know that he was no longer alive.
"Well," smiled Matthew, turning his attention to the young girl in his hand, "that was fun."
"You sick son-of-a-bitch" growled Molly. "Was that just for your amusement?"
"Yes," declared Matthew gleefully "and now I'm going to kill you as I should have done years ago."
He threw Molly to the ground and delivered a swift kick to her stomach. Molly groaned in pain from her opponent's blow and rolled onto her back. Matthew stalked over and placed his foot on her throat.
"You know what I love about my mutant abilities?" he asked conversationally, "super-strength comes in really handy when crushing windpipes."
Molly closed her eyes in despair. "This is it" she thought despondently, "I've failed. I'm so sorry guys."
She felt Matthew's crushing weight on her neck and it took everything she had not to scream out.
"Any last words Mol?"
"Go to hell."
"Please, I plan to have a whole load of fun before that happens. I'll see you on the other side."
"OI! WHY DON'T YOU PICK ON SOMEONE ELSE, YOU SODDING WANKER!"
Molly felt the heat of one of Wisdom's white hot knives as it cut through the air and sliced Matthew across the cheek. The sadistic mutant stumbled back and allowed Molly to squirm out from under his weight. She crawled over to where Layla was slowly coming to.
"Layla, c'mon. You need to wake up."
The blonde groaned and slowly sat up, only to be greeted by the sight of Pete Wisdom and Matthew engaged in a ferocious battle.
"Holy shit! What the fuck did I miss?"
"No time for that," cried Molly, pulling her friend to her feet. "We have to help!"
"NO!" screamed Wisdom, skillfully dodging one of Matthew's super-powered fists. "Get out of here NOW! Don't stop running until you've fixed this fucking world, do you understand?"
"What about you?"
"I'll hold this bastard off! GO!"
Layla grabbed Molly's hand and hurriedly dragged her away from the battle.
"We can't just leave him there!" cried Molly, as she ran. "Matthew will kill him!"
"And he'll kill us if we're caught!"
Layla span around and glared at Molly.
"Listen to me. Wisdom knows what's at stake. That's why he's doing this."
The pair were a fairly good distance away from where they had left Wisdom and Matthew but they could still hear the sickening crack that filled the air. Molly paled and glanced at Layla. The blonde's face was also a deathly shade of white and Molly didn't need to guess what had happened.
Layla nodded grimly.
"Yeah," she murmured quietly. "Wisdom's dead."
Molly's eyes filled with tears as she thought of the surly Brit who had taken her in. The very notion that he was gone broke her heart a thousand times over. She turned to Layla in the desperate hope that she had been wrong.
"Yeah," mumbled the blonde, "I'm Layla Miller remember? I know stuff. C'mon, we have work to do."
The older mutant started to walk away. Molly stood for a few seconds longer with her eyes clenched shut before turning and following her friend.
"I'll fix this," she vowed silently. "I swear to whatever God is out there that I'll fix this for Pete."
From the very first moment the two teenagers entered the warehouse, Rahne Sinclair knew that Peter Wisdom was no longer one with the living. Perhaps it was from the lack of sarcasm that seemed to follow Wisdom around like the foul smoke from his cigarettes. Perhaps it was from the deathly silence that could never have been even associated with the ex-spy. Either of these reasons would have been suitable clues, but the waves of anguish rolling off of Molly were all the redhead needed to come to a grim conclusion. Pushing aside her grief, she quickly stepped forward to greet the two devastated young girls.
"I'm glad you two aren't hurt. When you didn't arrive we assumed the worst."
"Rahne," started Molly in a broken voice "Wisdom, he-"
"Wisdom knew what had to be done," interrupted Rahne gently, "we can't let his sacrifice be in vain."
"Rahne's right," mumbled Layla from behind Molly, "he wanted us to keep going remember?"
"Right." Molly's suddenly firm and detached voice contrasted with the fat tears that trickled down her face and trembling hands that shook violently in her pockets. "Layla said that you managed to fix it?"
"Indeed." Hank's deep, velvet voice seemed to reassure the young mutants so Rahne subtly motioned for him to continue. "As you both know, three years prior to the formation of our small rebellion, the late Wolverine and I carried out a raid on a government laboratory. We had hoped to find information on where our fellow mutants were being held. Instead, we discovered this."
The large blue mutant stalked over to the object in the middle of the warehouse and whipped off the tarp. It was exactly as Molly remembered it. The Yorkes' time machine. The memories hit the young girl like a truck. Days of happiness and innocence. Days of friendship and adventure. Days of family. The lump in Molly's throat rose until she was forced to look away. How many times had she looked upon that very object as it sat in the La Brea Tar Pits Hostel? It seemed like so very long ago. Molly could barely remember those innocent days. They were blurred, like so many other things in her short life.
"Hayes?" asked X-23 tentatively, "you okay?"
"Peachy," Molly muttered hoarsely, "is it ready to go?"
"Yes," confirmed Hank, "but you must remember to mindful of your actions. Even a slight mistake could land us in a far worse predicament then our current one."
"What about you guys?"
"What about us?" asked Layla in confusion.
"Are you coming into the past with me?" Molly felt a sudden thrill of fear as she thought of leaving her companions behind. "Matthew will kill you if you stay here. We all know he's already tracking us."
"We are," smirked Hank, "well, in a manner of speaking anyway."
At this, the four women turned to stare at him in confusion.
"What are you talking about McCoy?"
Hank rolled up his sleeve and gestured to a large clunky piece of technology on his wrist. It vaguely resembled a wristwatch but instead of a face, it displayed a small screen with various numbers flashing across it.
"This is also something Wolverine and I picked up on our last adventure together. From what I can tell it was created by a Victor Stein."
Molly glanced up at Hank and shot him a curious look.
"I believe so. Anyway, this device allows a person to transfer their consciousness from their body and into the watch."
"No way!" gasped Molly, "Have you tested it?"
"No," replied Hank, "it seems to be a one shot deal. After transferring your consciousness you can't send it back to your body."
"Well, then are we sure we want to use it?" asked Rahne warily, "I don't particularly want to be stuck inside a watch for the rest of my life."
"I don't think we'll actually be awake when we're inside," commented Hank, "we'll probably go into some sort of trance until Molly needs one of us."
"If we're going to do this, we need to do it now," barked X-23 suddenly, "I can hear a truck-full of soldiers approaching."
"Quickly Mol," yelped Layla, "get in the machine!"
Molly scrambled into the machine that they had all pinned their hopes on. Layla, Rahne and X-23 gathered around Hank as he fiddled with the dials on the watch. He swiftly jogged over and attached it to Molly's wrist.
"Push this button when I say so, alright?"
Molly nodded numbly as Hank turned his attention to the dashboard of the time machine.
"Everything seems good to go."
Molly could now hear the footsteps of the approaching soldiers. That was not good. It meant that they had enough men and weapons not to be worried about the tiny group of rebels.
"Alright Molly." Hank's deep voice caught her attention and she jerked her head back to face him. "To use the watch, all you have to do is place your finger on the screen and think about which one of us you want to talk to. We should appear in a sort of holographic form."
"MUTANTS. YOU ARE SURROUNDED. YOU HAVE FIVE SECONDS TO SURRENDER OR WE STORM YOUR SAFEHOUSE. FIVE."
"Now Molly! Push the button!"
Molly hurriedly pressed the button that Hank had pointed out to her seconds before. One by one, her friends dropped like flies, their motionless bodies splayed across the floor.
Molly checked the screen of the watch. The flashing numbers had been replaced with images of her teammates'. Molly smiled sadly. She would have much preferred to have the far more experienced mutants travelling back in time with her in their own bodies, but there was no way they would have all fit in the Yorkes' machine.
The young brunette scanned over the settings of the machine one last time. She couldn't help the slight thrill of excitement that rushed up her spine. At last, all their work had paid off. They could finally fix their fucked up world.
The soldiers stormed into the warehouse just in time to see the machine disappear in a cloud of smoke. One image would haunt them to the end of their days. The image of a seventeen year-old girl flipping them the bird before disappearing into the fabric of space and time.
"C'mon Chase!" pleaded the short eleven year-old, "one more game, pleeeeeease."
The tall blonde teenager shook his head in amusement.
"No way, Mol. We've been playing board games for the past two hours and you've beaten me at every single one. Besides, you should have been in bed ages ago. Nico'll kill me if she finds out you're still up."
"Who's still up?"
Chase yelped at the sight of the team leader standing in the doorway. In one swift movement he knocked the board games off the table and pushed Molly under it.
"No-one," he squeaked, plastering on an innocent grin.
Nico raised an eyebrow at the sight of Chase's terrified expression and Molly's complete and utter obliviousness. The youngest Runaway was quite happily waving at her from underneath the table, totally unaware of the trouble she had just landed her friend in.
"Molly, what are you still doing up?"
"Chase said that sleep was for losers so we decided to play Monopoly instead."
Nico turned her attention back to Chase who was glaring at Molly in a mixture of shock and betrayal.
"Chase, as the oldest, you should know better. You can't just let Molly stay up all hours of the night. It's irresponsible and-"
Nico's lecture was suddenly cut off as a loud crash echoed throughout the Hostel. A bright flash of light temporarily blinded the three Runaways and a foul smelling smoke filled the room.
"Ewww, Chase! Was that you?"
"No Mol," coughed Chase as attempted to waft the smoke out of his eyes. "That was most definitely not me."
The smoke suddenly seemed to fly towards Nico who was brandishing the Staff of One.
"Are you guys okay?" she asked as she moved towards the pair.
"Yep," chirped Molly, "but it's gonna take forever to get this smell out of my hat."
"Holy crap," murmured Chase, catching sight of what had caused all the commotion.
An unconscious teenager sitting in what the three recognised as the Yorkes' time machine.
"Déjà vu anyone?"