Here is the first of what will hopefully be a bunch of one-shots detailing the Runaway's lives. Up first is Molly.
The Runaways belong to Marvel not me.
Like all Runaways, Molly never really believed she would live to see eighteen.
Molly's family is crowding around her as she has her face so close to the birthday candles that there's a real risk of her lighting her hair on fire. The cake is chocolate, decked in enough icing to drown a whale, and further covered in sprinkles.
Molly stopped believing she'd live to eighteen when Alex died. Watching the leader, traitor, get turned to ashes while not even mommy and daddy could do anything made her realizes that life could be taken. Painfully, fast, on a whim, it could be snatched away. Molly was eleven at the time and wishes she was like a lot of other kids. The ones that think they're immortal and don't know any better.
The small candles' flames dance in Molly's eyes. They spell out 'Happy Birthday Molly!' with love and warmth and she almost doesn't want to blow them out, but it's HER BIRTHDAY and OF COURSE you blow out the candles. Otherwise you don't get to eat the cake. It's a rule her parents made up; back when she still had a mommy and daddy, and it's one of the few rules they made Molly hasn't broken already.
'It's a good one,' She thinks. 'Eating a cake on fire would hurt.'
By Molly's twelfth birthday she's the only one that's really a kid in the group. Everyone else grew up in a tight, painful way that kids do when they're stuck dealing with things only adults should handle. Molly revels in this fact. Using it to act like a complete brat, gaining smiles and exasperated shouting each in turn, and remind the runaways that they ARE kids and it's okay to act like it. Sometimes.
Her hat, a cartoonish basset hound with ears that goes down to her shoulders, flops forward for the sixth time in the last hour. One of her friends jumps, snatching the hat before it hits the candles, and tosses it into the corner. Molly complains about such cruelty to Mr. Floppy, but they all just shout for her to blow out the candles already.
On her thirteenth birthday Molly has lost more loved ones, homes, and pieces of herself then she ever thought she could. Gert is dead, Old Lace was thought dead but they find her, Xavin has taken Karolina's place when a bunch of Majesdians jerks came to place her on trial for THEIR war, the gang has lost three bases, and Molly has been stuck in the middle of two wars. Those are the highlights, the things Molly focuses on because if she looks at all the little cuts, tears, rips, stains, she'll go crazy and she's seen what crazy people do, and then bounds off on all the good things. Like how they have new family members in Klara whose from eighteenth century and Victor who's the son of Ultron and a super-nice Hispanic lady, and friends in the Young Avengers and maybe even those Academy kids if they stop acting like tools all the time.
Molly pouts and refuses to do so without her hat. There goes a bunch of grinning and sighs and yelling, but she gets her hat. Tilting it back, she makes a wish. It's the same one she's made for the last seven years.
On Molly's fourteenth birthday things have….gone okay this year. They're still in L.A., but money got really tight at one point so when Chase's non-crazy Uncle Hunter offers Chase a part time job doing some protection of parts being shipped into L.A. They all hate it but it gets them more then enough more to live on and only a few incidents where Chase actually need to get off his butt and do something.
This is the year they hear that Xavin has been executed by the Masjedians. Karolina didn't come out of her room for a month no matter what they did. They all took a break from heroing for a while. It helped that a new avenger team is on the west coast to deal with stuff. Though Molly catches a story about a mutant who finally got his power restored by the Scarlet Witch took out a convenience store robber. The tv station asks why he did it and he said did it because the Runaways showed him that you didn't have to wear tights to be a hero. Molly didn't stop grinning or showing the others that story for MONTHS.
Everyone is grinning like idiots and happy like sunshine. Molly will treasure this moment all her life because she knows well, all too well, that these are rare and precious and have to be treasured or life sucks more than it already does.
Molly is fifteen today and it's the worst birthday ever. There's an invasion right here in L.A. and the Runaways are the only superheroes that live on the west coast anymore. It's part of a freaking huge one going on all around the world and Molly is sure not all of them are going to make it out alive. They don't. Chase goes down near a hospital and help from a wonderfully awesome medic is the only thing that keeps him alive long enough to pass of the psychic link with Old Lace onto Molly. His last words are "You're amazing Mols. Don't forget th-" and then he's gone just like Mommy, Daddy, Alex, Gert, Xavin…. The invasion is repelled by the grieving teens and they quickly disappear from the scene, taking Chase's body and burying it next to Gertrude's under the Hollywood sign.
This time Molly can't NOT focus on the grief and spends her time with Klara and Lina Beans huddled together trying to deal with the fact that they lost another member of their small family. Nico and Victor do it by themselves in a bedroom. It feels like the walls have disappeared around them just like it did when they lost their parents. Nico and Victor eventually come out of their room; Klara, Molly and Karolina untangle themselves and they face the reality of their situation and come together once more. Nico and Victor take up Chase's roll of breadwinner while the others return to fighting crime in the blistering sun city of Los Angelus. The good news is that Lina's no longer staying for days at a time in her room alone.
Everyone wants to know what Molly wished for, but she steadfast refuses. Since birthday wishes don't come true if you tell people. The cake is cut and Molly piece is so huge that she is sure she'll be sick later but she couldn't care less. Old Lace nuzzles her neck and then steals a section of the birthday girl's slice before she can do anything about it. Molly isn't sure when Old Lace got so sneaky, but she's noticed that the dinosaur becomes more and more independent each time it changes owners. One day Molly thinks they won't need to pass on the link and Old Lace will stick around after the owner, whoever that is, dies.
Sixteen is suppose to be sweet. A big, wild party to celebrate only two more years until eighteen, but Molly can remember only one other birthday that's filled her mouth with such a bitter taste. Nico got pregnant by Victor and now they have two new members who everyone loves so much it makes everything sunshine and puppies some days. They didn't get married despite Klara's shock. Nico insisted that she would keep the kids but wasn't ready for even the idea of marriage and Victor reluctantly agreed with her. Klara admitted privately to Molly that she understands why Nico wouldn't want to do it as marriage isn't all what it's cracked up to be. Molly calls them Uno and Dos, even though their names are Maria Gertrude Mancha and Charlie Chase Mancha.
Then joys of joys happen and they get another member added to the group. A girl name Cindy who ran away from her evil parents, heard about their club, and hoped that they would protect her. They do, but she betrays them. Turns out she was working for her parents the whole time and almost kills the twins. Klara dies saving them and Nico fulfills the promise she always makes when they think that one member of their group is going to betray them and rips out the bitch's heart. Molly doesn't feel bad about using that word when it comes to Cindy. All they have left of Klara is a rose covered body and a garden that sprang up to defend the twins. Karolina spends all her days in the garden, tending to it while Molly watches the twins and Nico and Victor fight to keep L.A. safe and along with their family.
It's this year that Molly goes out and gets tattoos with the names and epitaphs for all the Runaways that have died. Because they have to be written down somewhere and her back is a lot stronger than a hunk of stone.
The cake is devoured and then Molly bounce straight over to the presents. It's a small pile, but each one is so very precious because her FAMILY gave them to her and nothing could make them not superbly awesomeness. Wrapping paper goes flying as she opens the first one; which is a new hat. Molly whips off Mr. Floppy and proudly dawns an equally large and cartoonish duck one. Molly makes an awesome pose, which the Runaways snap pictures of and laugh at.
Molly's seventeenth birthday year is the year of shocks. The Young Avengers, who are really full Avengers but nobody calls them that, show up at their door with Xavin. He/she is missing an arm and has burns all over her body, but nothing stops the whole team from sweep him/her up into a massive group hug. They had all miss the prickly shape-shifter and can't wait to hear the story about how he/she made it back home. Turns out the Young Avengers had a space adventure to Skrull and Hulking did indeed manage to save the empire. The masks heroes insist it wouldn't have been possible without Xavin who had managed to fake getting executed and get to Skrull but couldn't find any ship will to take him to earth until the Young Avenger showed up. Molly's eyes mist up when Xavin pulls out the compass she had given him/her all those years ago and flat out bawls when Xavin says it did it's job though she wonders why the Masjadians thought sending, who they thought was Karolina, in a tube into the sun would kill her. Victor shrugs and says maybe they like the irony.
Time passes and Molly asks Xavin and Karolina why they don't get married here on earth, Nico mentions that they do know a priest, and Victor chips, while balancing the twins in both arms, that Karolina is old enough to be married on earth by now. The two long time fiancés look at each other and decide to do it. The wedding is small, held in the church that Cloak and Dagger hid out in when they came to the Runaways for help, but it is worth it. Nico is the bridesmaid, Hulkling the best-man, Molly is the floor girl and ring bearer, while Victor leads Karolina down the isle. There's only a few guest: the rest of the Young Avengers, a few members of the Academy Avengers, the Twins, and Old Lace. It's perfect and goes off without a hitch. Their honeymoon is a week in Malibu alone and carefree.
It's around this time that Uno and Dos show signs of inheriting their mother's talent for magic. Nothing big happens, but toy float a little of the ground everyone once in a while and Dos shows a knack for making flames twist into different images. Something that makes Molly smile because she remembers when Chase you to do the same with his Fistigons and whispers those stories into Charlie's ear instead of the regular bedtime tales.
The sugar has really hit her system and Molly is practically bouncing off the walls. She zips around everyone. Giving hugs to one person, tackling another, shouting that this is THE BEST BIRTHDAY EVER! And that SHE IS EIGHTEEN WOOHOO! This shows her family that life can be good and kind some days and they are forever grateful for the reminder. The twins are keeping up with her and soon everyone is fooling around with what Molly is sure of the biggest, best, most awesomest smiles on their faces.
Molly eighteenth birthday year is just starting so she doesn't know what will happen yet. She doesn't know that after some begging from Xavin, they have an adorable baby girl who managed to somehow get not one but both parents powers. It makes it hard to hide her because she is in either the Skrull natural form or the Masjedian one, but Xavin assures the group that he/she will teach baby, Anelle Dean, to hide in human form once she is old enough.
Molly doesn't know that she will off-handily mention the epitaph tattoo she for Xavin that she needs to cross out and Xavin will ask to see it or that Xavin will insist she not cross it out because he can't think of another epitaph he would want to have. It is just his name with the words 'dear friend and warrior for peace' underneath it.
Molly doesn't know that this is the year that she will have to add Victor's name to her back or that Nico will retreat from the battle field to raise the kids while Xavin steps up and takes command on the fights.
Since she is not nineteen, Molly doesn't know that that year will be the year where Nico preforms a spell that brings all the Runaways, even the dead ones, to fight against a massive army that's threating the entire west coast starting with Los Angelus. They will stand before the enemy, scared but ready to fight, and when they are asked who they are Nico will utter the line she so many years ago and call them Children of the Damned and that will set off the battle. The fight is epic and the Runaways win with all their members intact for once. The dead ones go back to being dead after the battle but Molly was really glad to see them even Alex. Except for Klara. Nobody can figure out why, but Nico guesses that Klara really wasn't dead all these years just hibernating maybe. Molly doesn't care. She has her best friend back and that is ALL that matters though she's kind of annoyed that the Children of the Damned name seems to have stuck. It's too dreary for her tastes.
Twenty hasn't come around yet, so Molly doesn't know that Nico will take a bullet in the head for her or that Uno will take up the Staff of One in grief and defeat the villain of the day. That this time it's her, the youngest of the Pride's kids, will take up the leadership position and finally understand why Nico hated it all those years.
Molly doesn't know that twenty will be the year that they lose PEOPLE and that Karolina and Xavin will go next and together as a terrifying foe comes after her family personally. That she will make her first, cold, methodical kill by ripping that foes head off. Molly will spend one day grieving, she's gotten good at grieving quick and fast, and then grab the important stuff, Klara, Old Lace, Uno, Dos, and Anelle, jump into the Leapfrog and head into outer-space before the world tries to take away everything because of what that bastard, Molly doesn't feel any shame in using that word nowadays after all she is twenty now, made it seem like he was the victim.
Twenty-one is still far off, so Molly is in the Dark that she will be spending a lot of time acting like a cheery, child-like Han Solo to make ends meet or that she will go by the name Bruiser and call every family member she knows by their codenames to keep from being tracked down by the Earth governments. Xavin, Victor, Klara, Maria, Charlie, and Anelle don't' have codenames so Molly calls them Warrior Friend, Lighting Rod, Red Rose, Uno, Dos, and Sunfire, respectively. That their ship is called Leapfrog only in private and that their group is the Children of the Damned or how everyone will say what a fitting title it is.
Molly doesn't know a lot of things, but she suspects. A little of her parents mental powers got passed onto her, manifesting in some very accurate hunches. It won't be anything that Molly notices right away or will depend on, but they let her know that life is going to be hard, scary, fun, and short. Because Molly isn't going to live to see twenty-two and when the time comes she will be perfectly alright with that. Twenty-one will be the year that Molly tells Anelle what she wishes for on every birthday for the last ten years and Anelle will quietly do the same even after Molly is long gone.
"I wish everyone would make it another year!"
So...thoughts? Reviews would be much appreciated.