"You're insane if you think I'm just going to sit back and let some creep pick off one'a our own, Chuck. Who knows what that creeps plannin' on doing with her." Logan growled, his hands coming down on the professor's desk with a fierce thud. Behind him Storm flinched from the sudden noise and she shifted uncomfortably from her spot leaned against the bookshelf.
"Logan please, hear me out." Charles pinched the spot between his eyes. "I believe we can win him over with Dahlia, if I had the slightest inclination to believe she was in any harm at all I would put a stop to it. An inside eye would be incredibly beneficial right now."
Logan snorted a humorless laugh and turned away from his desk with a stubborn shake of his head, leaving Charles to steeple his fingers in thought.
"Logan, I know what you're thinking but Dahlia is a very bright girl despite how she may seem. And Toad, well," The professor glanced down at the battered file on his desk in front of him; one entitled Mortimer Toynbee. "I've been inside his mind more than once. I know what he's seeking and seeing him with Dahlia…" He trailed off slowly...leaving Logan and Storm to study him briefly before exchanging a glance.
"He feels incredibly alone and is on a quest for…security, if you may; acceptance...What he's lacked in childhood, despite his behavior now, he's still seeking. I don't like to snoop through someone's mind against their knowledge but after I first met Dahlia and caught a glimpse of the matter…Well, I couldn't ignore it. At first I thought that was the end of it, but now it appears Dahlia has managed to position herself close to him again. I believe he trusts her; he wouldn't be so open with her if he didn't. I highly believe that if we had gotten to him before Magneto did…well, perhaps he never would have even taken to the side he did."
"But, that's just the thing, professor." Storm pushed herself up from the bookshelf to walk closer to the two with a raised chin. "We didn't get to him before Magneto did. He chose the side he's on, and he's been living it rather enthusiastically, wouldn't you agree? He wanted to destroy the human race. As you know from the fight at Liberty Island…Scott, Jean…me...I almost killed him. I honestly thought I had. And well, my point is that even if he takes to Dahlia there is a slim chance that he'll take to the X-men. You've told me yourself, he hates humans. He doesn't want equality, he want dominion. That's not what we want, and that's most certainly not what Dahlia wants."
"Please, have a little faith in me, Storm. I do plan to continue monitoring the situation closely but Mystique is planning something and I believe one of the first things she's going to try to do is reach out to previously trusted allies, one of which undoubtedly is Toad. If we have an inside view...Well then, perhaps we can put a stop to this before it begins."
"If she's planning something then why not just take her out here and now?" Logan looked at the Professor steadily.
"Because Logan, the work she's doing with the public now..." He shook his head, flipping through the file. His eyes lingering over the torturous experiments Mortimer had been put under. "If we were to expose her suddenly it would set back all of the work Hank and all of us has been working to accomplish. Perhaps even set up farther back than we already were."
Storm's eyes scanned the carpet at her feet. By no means did she believe this was a good idea but she trusted the professor enough to, at the very least, consider it. Professor let the two sit in silence. He knew that his idea was a questionable one; he had faith in Dahlia's ability to win Mortimer over. If all went as planned, this could be exactly what they needed to keep an eye on the mutant-extremist. After being abandoned by Magneto and Mystique, what he assumed had happened when Dahlia found him, he had a feeling this might be their only chance.
"So…what?" Storm broke the silence they had settled into. "What do you expect we do if she doesn't take the news the way you hope? What if she's scared of him and doesn't want to follow through with the plan?"
Professor smiled politely and tapped a finger to his temple.
"You forget who has a bird's eye view into her mind, Storm. I believe Dahlia will cooperate with us, regardless of how she feels on the mission. Of course, I believe she'll be in need of some extra training…" He trailed off to look at Logan.
"This is stupid." Logan snorted. "Forget it."
Storm watched him leave with furrowed eyebrows, biting her lip. Outside the wind rustled the trees roughly, announcing the coming rain.
"I don't know about this professor…"
Dahlia hurried down the side walk trying to beat the cold rain before it started. A rush of wind slapped her in the face and her hands went to her headband uneasily. A small gasp escaped her mouth when a raindrop landed on her nose and she looked up to the black sky as rain started to fall. The wind howled and newspapers tumbled down the side walk as she ducked under the nearest cover, giving a vicious whine as the rain started to pour.
With a huff she leaned against the window and folded her arms. Who knew how long she would be here now. Looking around at the scenery before her she caught glimpse of a figure shrouded in shadows standing outside of a narrow alley way. Dahlia stared at him fixedly and he appeared to stare back. Hands shoved into pockets and shoulders hunched up against the wind. He turned and disappeared into the dark alley silently, sending a shiver up her spine.
She really wanted to get to Mortimer's as soon as she could.
Dahlia's thoughts wandered back to Kurt as she drifted in and out of sleep from the comfortable corner of Toad's sofa. Kurt had offered her a helpful ear while she tried to reconcile the difference in Toad's and the Institute's views on 'homo sapiens' as Toad would refer to them. His innocent point of view was both refreshing and helpful, and she felt like he really understood her feelings after all of the dinner parties and mansion cleaning they'd been through together
Her lips pulled back over sharp incisors in a yawn. The days were starting to appear far too long for her taste and the nights too short, always leaving her feeling more tired than she should be. She stretched her arms over her head and arched her back, flexing her fingers till claws came out. The clock blinked nine PM back at her lazily as she looked over to Toad asleep on the opposite side of the sofa, head tilted back with mouth open and an arm thrown over the armrest. She briefly wondered when they had fallen asleep, it couldn't have been that long ago.
She'd gotten there from work around seven after she decided to suck it up and run through the rain. Of course, she'd ended up soaked and now she sat in an over-sized shirt of Toad's without any pants, probably way more comfortable than she should have been. Bringing her knees up to her chest and curling her tail around her toes she stared down at her shiny red nails with dismay and flexed her toes trying to get her claws out. They never did seem to listen to her quite like the set on her hands.
"Inadequate…" She said quietly to no one in particular, thinking back to what Kurt had said. She shook her hair out and reached for her now hair tie only to have it pop in her hand when she tried to tie her hair up.
She sighed and angled one ear to listen to the hum of the fridge behind her and the other to the murmur of the TV in front. With eyes dully glossed over and half closed she turned to study him while he slept. Her fingers fiddling softly with the necklace he gave her.
She really didn't know much about him did she? She didn't want to believe it, but aside from a vague memory of him telling her about the orphanage and streets…then another vague answer about his accident…what did she know? At the time she hadn't wanted to push him, everyone had things they weren't proud of but…
She rolled her eyes; she was letting Betsy get to her.
Thinking back to the other night watching TV, she recalled the way his fingers had traced a scar on her knee repeatedly and she had chosen to ignore it. Repeatedly she tried to deny that he wanted to be more than just friends, but she was finding it increasingly difficult.
She groaned softly and pushed herself off the sofa to clean up the empty box of pizza sitting on the coffee table in front of them.
It was in the way he jokingly pleaded with her to stay over longer or in the probing questions about when she was coming back and where she was going masked by friendly concern. It was in the way he looked at her when he thought she couldn't see; when her eyes were fixed on the TV in the dark room watching a movie and he sat beside her.
She closed her eyes again hoping to sleep but her skin crawled with restlessness. Outside a pigeon cooed continuously like it had every night that week. Tonight was just one of the many nights recently that he'd managed to talk her into staying.
Heaving a bag of trash over her shoulder she snuck out the front door and stuffed the bag into the trash shoot with a hard shove before going wipe down the counters. Mittens pawed at his closed bedroom door, causing Toad to stir from his spot on the sofa slightly. Dahlia's ears pricked, listening to the movement. She wandered over hesitantly to see if he was awake. He wasn't.
Eyes darted around in his sleep and he flinched slightly. Sadness swelled in her stomach for a reason she couldn't quite place and she brushed her finger tips down his arm softly, watching his face relax.
Why am I naïve to her? Dahlia mused, thinking of Betsy. Do I have to know everything about someone to care for them?
She pressed her tongue against the cut she'd gotten from accidently biting her cheek earlier. It wasn't like she didn't see it was generally a red flag that someone vanishes after you sleep with them, she wasn't stupid. Her pupils narrowed into slits at the bird cooing in the window with agitation and took to re-organizing his utensil drawer. Really? It looked like he just tossed all his spoons and forks into it. She rolled her eyes.
But, what if it wasn't really a red flag at all? What if what Kurt said, corresponded with him leaving in the first place? What if he had just been scared? She had tried to come up with multiple excuses for him, but this one seemed to pull a chord in her she wasn't sure she was ready to acknowledge.
She turned her head to look at his sleeping figure in the living room, then sighed in frustration at the way her ears amplified the cooing; it was particularly bad tonight.
She didn't want to worry about so much though. Everyone worried. Since leaving her home her mind had been nothing but worries.
Trying to push her brooding thoughts from her night she walked over to the window and slid it open with more force than was necessary. The pigeon flew upward quickly and she watched it disappear over the edge of the roof, running a tongue over her sharp eyetooth. She would just figure things out later.
Toad awoke slowly, looking around the empty living room with drowsy confusion. The curtains were blowing back into the living room from the open window, letting in the cold, humid air. He got up to peer outside the window; looking up he had just enough time to see Dahlia's tail disappearing over the edge of the roof. He furrowed his eyebrows in confusion and pulled himself out the window and up onto the wall.
Reaching the top, he crouched on the edge of the roof to watch her shadowy figure down on all fours stalking forward to what appeared to be one of the damned pigeons that always cooed outside his window day and night. It perched up on top of the Roof turbine contently, unaware of the danger behind it.
With her ears and tail and—as he was starting to notice with concern—increasingly thinning body, both an eerie and adoring feeling settled over him; a cat stalking her prey.
The bird caught wind of her and fluttered up frantically but with a single leap, clawed hands out reached, Dahlia pulled the bird out of the air and pinned in to the ground with tail swaying excitedly behind her. He smiled slightly, starting to stand out of his crouch when Dahlia tensed, her head snapping up. And, for what seemed like a moment too long, she watched him with caution.
"Somethin' wrong, kitten?" He asked and she seemed to relax a bit, though getting closer he could see her pupils still narrowed into animal like slits. She looked down slowly to the mangled body of the bird pinned under her hands and then back to him as he crouched in front of her. Brushing her cheek with his thumb, he studied her face closely with apprehension.
"Y'okay, pet?" He asked again when she didn't respond.
"...I killed it…" She said quietly, not unlike a child, her expression wide eyed and distant. Slowly coming back, her pupils expanded and eyebrows turned up with remorse. "I didn't mean to…"
He looked at her softly, cupping her cold, bloody hands in his to warm them.
"S'okay," He said gently, "Let's go inside and warm you up, okay?"
She nodded hesitantly but as he led her to the roof's exit door he couldn't help glancing back at the outline of the twisted body lying in a heap in the dark. He was unsure of what to think, but if there was anything he knew for sure, it was that Dahlia wasn't a killer.
I've gone back and revised chapters 1-3 and part of 4 (Not done with that yet though) and plan to revise the rest of the story slightly, maybe even try to write an actual prologue. I just had waaayyy too much in there that made me cringe when I read it. I hope it's all much better now, not really the best story ever but eh, I'm having fun with it. :3 I have the rest of the story planned out.
When I first started writing this story it was one, because I adore Toad (Not just the Ray Park version either, the character in general) and, two also because I wanted to get practice with plotting and completing a story. I thought that would be the most important thing I would learn writing this, but I'm starting to think "revising" is the most important thing I'm learning here. Pew-ee, it's a lot of work.
Anyway! Classes start Monday for me. :) Thank you for reading! ^_^ I hope to hear back from you!