A 'Generation X' story
A/N: The first chapter is not mine – When I read the story, I emailed the author asking her: "OMG! What happens next?" She sheepishly replied: "Um... I dunno. I guess they die?" Blinking at her I asked if it would be alright if I finished the story. She said yes. ::grin:: - So, the second chapter belongs to me, finishing off what she so wonderfully began. - my biggest problem is that I read the story [and wrote the sequel] over a decade ago and cannot find the original author's name. (::wailing and gnashing of teeth::) If you have any knowledge as to the original author, please let me know.
Jonothon Starsmore sat dully under the bright single light of the room, staring down at his feet in their featureless grey tennis shoes. No laces, he noticed for about the fiftieth time. Funny how he noticed little things like that and not the flesh and bone and blood that now filled in where chin and chest had been missing for so long.
"Try not to move or attack us in any way," they said. He never could tell just which one was speaking; the males and females both sounded alike.
Jonothon snorted, his newly regained voice sounding hollow and foreign even to him. "Do I look like I'm doing anything?"
They didn't answer. He stared at them and hated them all, smug and clinical in their white uniforms, with their silvered clipboards and styluses, their clean, smooth faces that seemed ageless, sexless. Jonothon shifted restlessly, angrily, his long-fingered, sensitive hands-musician's hands-moving ceaselessly across his denimned knees, looking for something to hurt. That was the only feeling he had anymore that mattered. Just hate and hate and rage and anger driving him on.
"We'll go over the questions again, Jonothon. Now, you claim to have been gifted with some sort of godlike power enabling you to-"
"Speak to others telepathically, yeh. They're called mutant powers." He looked around at their curd-bland faces, reading with frustrating ease the unanimous disbelief that was written there.
Jonothon drew a deep breath, feeling it fill the unfamiliar solid tissue of his lungs, and tried to elaborate. "Look, I explained this all before. Maybe you're not quite sure about what exactly they are-" he could feel familiar rage building in him, but struggled on nontheless, "-maybe I can't exactly demonstrate, but PESTERING me with the SAME fucking QUESTIONS DAY IN AND DAY BLOODY OUT ISN'T GONNA FUCKING-"
The orderlies, huge and hard-muscled men with identical cruel, pitted faces, strode over and hauled Jonothon out of the chair.
He was practically spitting and frothing with frustration, the enraged bile rising in his alien throat along with the curses and howls. They held him still while one of the doctors came over with a syringe full of tranquilizer and sank the needle into the blueish thin skin of Jonothon's arm.
If he hadn't been crazy when they brought him here, he was certainly on the road to insanity now...
The other three were in their usual place in the common room, huddled together around a shabby beige card table in the corner, away from the other patients and the television set that buzzed quietly from its safe bolted-down perch. Jonothon stumbled over to join them, making the fourth figure in a group of shorthaired, solemn people dressed in beltless denim pants and pale blue shirts.
"They still won't believe you?" Jubilee's voice grated even in a whisper. She rocked continually back and forth, arms wrapped around her skinny frame, eyes darting, wide wounded mouth twisted halfway between a grin and a grimace. Jonothon shook his head, his hands clenching and unclenching on the table.
Angelo laughed unsteadily, his coffee eyes almost closed above the bruises under them; now that his skin was no longer thick and grey, those marks showed up with nauseating distinction. When he spoke, his scratchy voice was so quiet that the others had to strain to hear him.
"'M not surprised, amigo. Pretty soon, I ain't gonna believe us either."
"It seems so far away." The other three fell silent when Paige spoke. She had changed the most since they'd been brought here. Her heavy blonde hair chopped off by the sanitorium nurses, Paige's pale face showed how much weight she had lost, becoming a thin, almost ethereal girl, her skin taking on a sickroom translucency. Her colorless voice floated like ashes through the still air between them, feathery and choking. "You know, everything...home...everyone there..."
Jubilee gave a loud, barking laugh, her raucous crowing bouncing nastily off the pale green walls. The others winced at the sound. Where Paige had diminished, Jubilee had gone to the other extreme, becoming increasingly twitchy and irritable. She was barely recognizable as the mischievous, cheerful girl they'd known back in Massacheusetts. "Well obviously, everything's fine," she howled. "Otherwise, they'd've come looking for us and fucking found us by now!"
"They probably tried, Jubilee," Jonothon said. "They don't have sod all t'go on, now do they? I mean, hell..." he ran a hand through his tortured chestnut hair, "...we don't even know where we are and what the fuck's going on. How long've we been here, anyway?"
Paige shivered. "Three and a half weeks."
Jonothon wanted to hug her, but he knew better-and the knowledge of why Paige shunned human contact ate into his insides like acid.
The addition of two pretty teenage girls to the asylum's fold had been viewed by the male orderlies as something of a stroke of luck, and they resolved not to let either have a night alone as long as they stayed.
Jubilee ended up spending her nights straitjacketed and strapped to a cot in a padded room. Lifetimes ago, her adolescence in Logan's company had taught her enough to turn her into such a feral wildcat that the guards left her severely alone.
Paige Guthrie hadn't had that advantage. When Jonothon had tried to hug her, sometime during that first blurry week, she had screamed at the top of her lungs and beat him off with a strength fueled by terror and anger. Neither he nor Angelo had touched her since, not even to comfort her.
The clanging bell went off as it did every day at regulated intervals to signal morning, meals, and bedtime. The four of them looked up, startled wild animals hearing buckshot, then silently rose from the table. It was time to face the nighttime horrors.
They filed out, trying not to listen as Paige began crying, as she did every night.
Jubilee, enraged by the card-table conversation, refused to be strapped onto the bed of her solitary room as the orderlies were supposed to do. She ran around them, darting and ducking and screaming abuse, doing her best to avoid capture within her small cell.
After catching her a few times and suffering wild, animalistic bites, the orderlies finally flung her against a wall, disgusted. Jubilation Lee's slight body rebounded hard, catapaulting her face-first against the rough concrete floor. The orderlies left her to get herself up, which, jacketed as she was, presented no small problem to the girl.
Finally, panting, she managed to sit up, pressing her scraped cheek to the cold cot mattress. Her dark eyelashes fluttered like dying moths as she caught her breath, feeling the chill air knife down her throat and into her thin, hitching chest. She was alone, she was restrained, she was bleeding- but that was better than being where the others were.
Lying wrapped tightly in her thin blanket, shivering despite the stained flannel nightgown she wore, Paige screwed her eyes shut and prayed for the orderlies to have one of their drunken gambling nights. On those nights, they stayed away, too drunk and tired from losing money to bother considering her as entertainment.
She had tried to use the same trick Jubilee had, on her advice-biting and scratching and such-but the orderlies had taken Jubilee's maiming of one of their number as a warning. They made sure that there was always at least one other orderly present to hold Paige down.
She caught her breath as the door creaked open, her large, watery blue eyes widening in her emaciated face. As the door closed again, shutting out the thin hallway light, Paige scrubbed frantically at the lukewarm, salt tears that stained her frail skin.
She might not be able to fight, but she tried not to let them see her cry...
Jonothon hissed in rage as the door to his and Angelo's room opened. He heard Angelo sigh-a dead, weary sound-then quiet leaf-like rustling as he got up and stood next to his bed, a too-thin figure in pyjamas, silhouetted against the light from the doorway. Jonothon stood as well, glaring at the orderlies who came in, at the grins on their hard faces, at their cratered skin pebbled and bitten by the darkness. They had been fighting these blokes since the first night they were put in here, he and Ange. It seemed the entire staff of this asylum had taken an instant dislike to the four fallen mutants, and they took every possible opportunity to torment their patients. The going had been brutal, punctuated with visits to the medical facility for various injuries which were invariably recorded as "Self-Mutilation". And now, at the end of three weeks, it was seeming harder and more pointless with each beating to fight back...
Jonothon moved restlessly from foot to foot, his hatred growing as two of the five orderlies fell on his friend, growing as he heard the blows fall and Angelo's involuntary gasps. Jonothon held up his scabbed-over fists as the other three advanced toward him. His slightly lunatic grin glinted, predatory, in the scant light.
"So, Jubilation, you could discharge explosive pyrotechnics from your fingertips? 'Fireworks'which were generated by your own body under extreme duress?"
"Fuck, yes! How many fucking times! We were using a teleportation device thingy to get away from this crazy Friends of Humanity mob who was attacking us, who we couldn't handle, and we ended up here! On your shithole of a world! Where there's no fucking mutant powers or anything, so Jono's got his face and Ange is a normal color! We're from a different fucking alternate reality!"
"And your... 'teleportation device'?"
"I told you already! We all told you! It disappeared! What, do I have to fucking spell it for you?"
"That's enough, Jubilation. You aren't very co-operative."
"Yeah, well...FUCK YOU!" Jubilee went off into whoops of loud, crazed laughter that seemed to echo still through the questioning room even after she had been removed.
The other patients in the sanitorium were excited that day. Lunch was a special treat-meat with the spaghetti, albeit said meat was just chunks of Spam-and Jell-O cut into wiggly shapes. Jubilee laughed hysterically, uproariously, firing her meat chunks across the room with her spoon.
"I don't LIKE Spam, mo-ther-fuckerrrrrrs!" she screamed almost joyously with each fling. One of the other patients, a young girl with a horrible overbite, went scrambling for them, coming to blows with the fly-eating man who was gathering the rejected Spamballs tenderly.
All Paige ate was her Jell-O. Noticing this, Jonothon nudged Angelo, and Paige found two more saucers of gelatin on her tray. She glanced up at the fresh cuts and bruises on their faces and smiled quickly, moving the plates to her lap. Paige hid her hands and their permanent bracelets of purpled flesh whenever possible, the same way Jonothon and Angelo never mentioned the fact that every morning they bore new or worsened injuries.
The nurses came and cleared away the trays, ushering everyone into the common room. "The Twilight Zone" was playing on the lone television, as always, and the other patients gathered around it. The card table in the corner beckoned. When they had settled at the table, Paige raised her head and looked around at them all. The other three stayed quiet. This was the first time in weeks that she had looked directly, steadily at them."I'm going to kill myself," she said, her voice stronger than it had been in ages. Still, nobody spoke, afraid to cut her off and send her back into her near-catatonia. Paige took a deep breath and continued. "I've thought about it well. No-one's coming to rescue us. We-I-might as well. But I'll take at least one of them with me."
"How?" Jonothon whispered angrily. "How do you expect to pull this off? You think it's that easy? You try anything and you'll just end up pumped full of sodding drugs, stuck in solitary, where anything might happen to you! You can't fucking kill yourself-they won't let you!"
"Well, what do you suggest, Jonothon?" Paige snapped with a flash of her old spirit, leaning forward. "We can't just sit here forever, waiting for Mr. Cassidy or Ms. Frost or someone to rescue us, letting these people do whatever they want to us! How long do you think it'll be until they start doing what they do to me to you and Angelo and maybe Jubilee, too?"
Jonothon sat back, his slashed mouth working, his throat dry and painfully sharp. Angelo flinched as if struck. Jubilee's pale eyes flicked back and forth, from face to face. Then she leaned forward, sharing her bloodshot stare.
"I think Paigey's right," she whispered, confedentially. "Fuck 'em! We can't get out, we might as well try anyway and kill a few of the fuckers! We got nothing to lose!"
Jonothon folded his arms, looking over at Angelo from beneath lowered brows. "You in with this buggered-up suicide plan?"
Angelo considered, shrugging. "Yeah, okay." The girls patted his arm and hand in an inclusive sort of gesture, and they turned to the fourth.
"How 'bout you, Jono? You with us?"
He stared around at them all for a long, frozen moment. Then he nodded, once, curtly. His grin rode the sharp edge of sanity.
"Wot the fuck-I'm bloody in."
::We're almost bloody done for, chums.::
Jonothon peered nervously around the corner of the brownstone, catching a dreaded sight of the mob at the other end of the street. He turned to his three companions and met Paige's worried blue eyes, doing his best to convince her that he was perfectly confident about their imminent escape.
In truth, he felt the situation was perfectly buggered up.
"They're gettin' closer!" Jubilee squeaked, tugging at Jono's sleeve to emphasize her point. Jono nodded tersely.
::Ange...ye'd better hurry up wotever 'tis yer doing...::
"Uno momento, por favor."
Angelo gripped the lapels he was holding even tighter, hauling the man wearing them closer to him.
"Now, vato," he hissed, "you wanna tell us just how that teleport thing works so's maybe I won't shoot my finger through your brain?"
The scientist giggled, vile-smelling foam flecking his shirt and lips. "I won't tell you anything," he boasted. "I answer to my Master and no other."
Disgusted, Angelo dropped the man and rose, loping over to Paige.
"No luck there," he said, watching her fiddle with the device.
"Look, Hayseed, we trust ya. Just DO somethin' and get us outta here!" Jubilee jumped up and down, frenzied.
The Friends of Humanity were closing in on them, a mob about one hundred strong. The four muties who had been dumped unceremoniously into their meeting-hall were nearby, were a handy and deserving target at which to direct their anger and hatred. The mob moved as one, intent on only one purpose-to find those genetic defects and hurt them...badly. It had been an abduction of sorts. Called up to investigate some sort of mutant activity in town, Generation X had found themselves faced with one severely deranged scientist in possession of a transportation device, which he then proceeded to use on the four members of the team he managed to get the closest to. And promptly teleported them into an FoH meeting.
And now there were only minutes before the screaming throng closed in.
::Go fer it, luv. You'll get us out've this mess.::
Holding her breath, Paige punched in a series of coordinates-and the four of them shimmered out of being breaths before the mob cleared the building.
"The task has been completed, my Master."
Shinobi Shaw smiled complacently, stroking the fine line of the champagne flute he held, barely deigning to acknowledge Krager's obsequious bow.
"How many of the little pests have been erased?"
Krager raised his head from the floor. "Four, m'lord."
Shinobi made a mental note to himself to have the disgusting man's froth cleaned from his pink marble tiles. "You have done well, Krager."
The Hellfire Club's Black King sank one intangible hand into Krager's chest, closing his fingers around the beating, bloody organ. Shinobi shut his eyes in sheer pleasure as his fingers grew solid around the living heart and it slowed, slowed...and stopped.
He threw himself back into his ornate chair, picking up his glass, ignorant of the bloody smears it left. "Four little X-Players removed from the board," he mused. "Gamesmaster can't help but be impressed by this coup of mine..."
The door rattled slightly for a minute before swinging open. Paige sat up in her bed, eyes wide, tensing the muscles she had lost through inactivity long since. She hadn't been sleeping anyway, as usual, and now was a good a time as any to put her plan into action...
"Yer awake, luv?"
She squinted in the dark as Jonothon closed the door. "Jono? What are you-"
"Ange an me got out t'tell you and Jubilee that we're making our move t'morrow, when they give us all our shots." Jonothon sat on the vacant bed-Jubilee's-and grinned at Paige, his smile breathtakingly charming. "We picked the lock, like."
Paige snorted, drawing bony knees to her chest. "Should've done that ages ago."
"Would've, pet, but there was really no reason." They sat in awkward silence for a brace of heartbeats until he stood. "Better be going, now. Might's well enjoy the night, ay?"
She watched as he rose, watched the movement of his throat, the almost cruel line of his mouth, the shirt aginst the solid flesh of his chest. She watched and the pain became too much for her to stay silent.
"Jono?..." Paige held out her thin, shaking arms, pleading in her too-big, watery eyes.
A moment of hesitation, and then Jono was holding her gently, stroking her delicately tangled hair, murmuring comfortingly against her, his lips pressing against her.
"Jono...I..." she choked on the words, and clawed blindly at the buttons on his papery blue shirt. He watched for a moment, uncomprehending, then made a startled noise, a flurry of frightened wings.
"Sunshine..." the words caught in his throat, "... I divvn't think that's a very good idea..."
"Please...please, Jono. I don't want them to be the last people to touch me before I die..." Paige's desperately numb hands slid into his soft brown hair, seeking warmth, seeking comfort. Her breath caught sharply as she waited, crying silently, feeling her weakened heart beating in pain.
Jonothon had turned his emotions off, closed himself in-his way of dealing with the torment they'd been subjected to. Could he possibly still find it in himself to reach out to her, to warm her with the love that they had once shared?
She heard him sigh, his nose poking cold against her shorn head. Then Paige felt his mouth touch hers lightly, through the ocean damp of her tears, warming her battered lips.
With a shuddering sob, she pulled him down onto the hard, unfriendly bed in the covering darkness.
"Roll up your sleeves, please."
The four of them complied, baring thin arms with roadmaps of angry veins under palely shallow skin. Jubilee was bouncing on her toes, excited. Paige seemed strangely, almost eerily calm. Jonothon noted the number of people-one nurse for the shots, three orderlies-and grinned at Angelo, who gave him a quick wink.
The nurse tapped the inside of Jonothon's elbow, forcing a tired and sullen vein to rise, then squirted a preliminary jet of the anti-hallucinatory drug from the syringe. In a quick movement, Jono snatched the syringe from her, knocking her down, and flung it across the room, aiming it unerringly for one of the orderlies' eyes. The man's eye exploded in blood and aqueous humor as he screamed, falling backwards.
Jubilee, shrieking wildly, kicked the fallen nurse's head with all her lunatic strength, her sneakered foot cracking through the soft peak of the skull on the third swing of her leg.
Angelo smoothly took the nightstick from the belt of the blinded orderly and smashed it into the forehead of another of the men, tossing one of the sticks to Jono. The half-blind orderly headed for Paige, who coolly elbow-jabbed the syringe deeper into his eye, stabbing the brain. The man fell down, twitching convulsively.
Jonothon and Angelo had between them beaten the orderlies down to the ground and were kicking, punching, hitting them with frantic viciousness while Jubilee screamed and ran around kicking at them, each getting in as many hits as they could, knowing time was brutally short.
Paige looked out the thick, bulletproof glass doors to see a whole mass, a stampede of orderlies running down the hallway towards the room. Some of them were carrying huge guns, dull black metal against their white coveralls.
She smiled almost dreamily and began moving towards the doors.