El Scorcho (twbasketcase) wrote,
El Scorcho
twbasketcase

FIC: Our Last Memory 17/23

Category: X-Factor (Volume 3)
Characters: Rictor, Shatterstar, Longshot, Dazzler, Siryn, Domino, X-Factor, Skids, Spiral, and Doc Samson.
Pairings: Rictor/Shatterstar, Longshot/Dazzler
Genre: AU, drama, romance, angst, humor.
Rated: NC-17 for extreme violence, language, and sexual situations.
Disclaimer: I don’t own a thing. I just play in the world of those who can't appreciate.
Story Summary: When X-Factor gets help in defeating Arcade, they get a new member of the team, Longshot. But in return for his assistance, Longshot needs some help with his own problems -- on Mojoworld. What they find there opens up a whole pile of old wounds for other members of the team, and they learn that sometimes memories are all that are left to hold onto.

Chapter Summary: Rictor's back in therapy, and Shatterstar gets two visitors.

Chapters: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen,
Prequel Pieces: One, Two, Three, Four.
Extra Scenes: Chap 9, Chap 14, Chap 16.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Good morning.”

Rictor nodded at the man across the room and plopped down on the couch across from him. “Hola.”

“I’m surprised to see you here,” Samson replied, and quietly opened his desk drawer to dig out his folder. “I thought last time was a one time deal? Get your pay and be on your way type thing.”

Rictor shrugged. “I got paid, but I pissed Jamie off again. So, uh, yeah.”

“Your temper got you in trouble again?”

The Mexican snorted amusedly and shook his head. “I’m that predictable, huh?”

“Hardly,” Samson laughed. “You’re about as predictable as a pitbull, Rictor.”

“Ugh, no talking about dogs. Please.”

Green eyebrows rose. “I won’t even ask.”

“Probably better that you didn’t,” Julio admitted with an annoyed smirk. “It’d probably just manage to piss me off again, and quite frankly I’ve been pissed off enough lately.”

“Seems to me that your anger is just a constant thing, Rictor.”

“Sometimes,” he shrugged and dropped his gaze down to the hands in his lap. “Terry’s convinced there’s something wrong with me. She thinks it’s male PMS, I think she’s being a bitch though.”

“While I highly doubt it’s male PMS, there is a good possibility that your mood problems are a result of a mental disorder or chemical imbalance in your brain.”

“Are you calling me retarded?!” he snapped, and clutched the arm of the couch.

“No, mental retardation and behaviour disorders are two completely different things, Rictor,” Samson explained, keeping his voice low and gentle. “Mental retardation has to do with your intelligence level. You’re a smart person. Your street smarts and your technological training are outstanding. And while you wouldn’t be considered on the same level as other people your age – and that has everything to do with the fact that you didn’t go to school – you’re incredibly intelligent in areas they aren’t. So, no, I would not consider you ‘retarded’ at all.”

“Good,” he scoffed and folded his arms over his chest. “But I ain’t a psycho either!”

“No, I never said that either,” the psychiatrist sighed. “I’m unable to diagnose you right off the bat, but I’d think it’s safe to say that it’s a pretty chronic case of posttraumatic stress disorder.”

“I thought that was a war thing?”

“It is, but it’s applicable to anyone who’s experienced a traumatic event. Childhood violence, sexual assaults, kidnappings, violent car accidents, beatings, combat, the death of a loved one – all of those things can cause it. It’s basically the inability to cope, and it affects nearly every way that you function.” 

Rictor averted his eyes and sighed; he absolutely hated to be told that there was something wrong with him. Hated it. What the doctor said did make sense, but he still did not necessarily want to hear it. He had experienced five of the things he had listed above, some time and time again, so he knew it was plausible. But having something wrong with him only made him even more of a freak than he already was, so he was not happy about it. Rictor clenched his jaw and looked back up at the green haired man. “So what do you propose I do about it, huh?”

“You agree with me?” Samson inquired.

“I dunno. You’re the expert, not me.”

“Well from what I know about you -- from your files and what you’ve told me -- it seems the most probable. You watched your father die at a young age, and then you were later kidnapped and tortured by a terrorist group. Since then you’ve had nightmares, you refuse to talk about your problems with people, you don’t like to let people get close to you, you’ve tried to kill yourself multiple times, and these events seem to always be on the forefront of your mind – as you’ve shown when you’ve randomly blurted out these things as an excuse to get people to back off. These are all forms of avoidance and increased arousal – which are primary symptoms of PTSD.”

Rictor shifted uncomfortably. “It’s not that bad…”

“Would you say that you think about your father’s death often, or even your experience with The Right? Have you experienced flashbacks, relived memories, or experienced intense distress when reminded of these events?”

“Sure, I guess, but…you know, it’s just…”

“And I’m only talking about two events here. We haven’t even touched on your power loss, watching your best friend die, being responsible for deaths during combat, or any of the other times you were kidnapped.”

Rictor dropped his face into his hands and groaned; just thinking about any of those instances made him want to punch a hole through a wall. Or his own head, or something. It was better just pretending they never happened – or at least ignoring them. The day went by easier when he did that. Sighing, he looked back up at the doctor and glared. “So you’re saying I am fucked then?”

“Well, do you experience those symptoms?”

“Shit, I don’t know! I guess so!” Rictor grumbled and kicked his foot against the table set in front of the couch before placing his foot on top of it. “You can’t blame me though! That was some twisted stuff!”

“I don’t blame you at all,” Samson assured him. “You’d be surprised how many people suffer from these sorts of reactions; thousands of people every single day.”

Julio scoffed irritably. “Yeah, well, no one else on my team seems to. They just deal fine and dandy with everything.”

Samson blinked and shook his head. “That’s not true at all, and believe me I’m in the position to make that claim. Many of your peers are suffering from many similar problems, but the main difference is the way each of you display your symptoms. Some people are more prone to behaviour problems – outbursts, paranoia, fighting, violence, distancing – while others are more prone to the flashbacks. Or they bury their feelings and mask it with something else. Some become alcoholics, some workoholics, and so on. It differs in every person because it all comes down to hormones and your brain.”

“So I’m just the lucky one that’s stuck with the inability to control myself?! Well that’s freaking awesome,” he rolled his eyes.

“It’s not an inability to control yourself. Perhaps it’s just the way you grew up or the way you were raised; maybe you’re just a sensitive person, and that would definitely be a factor in how your hormones affect your behaviour.”

Rictor nodded, but still could not help the frown on his face. He felt very self conscious right then, and it took every bit of will power that he had to not get defensive and tell the psychiatrist off for saying such things. But he knew that if he exploded with anger over the statements it would only further prove Doc’s point. So he simply crossed one ankle over his knee, dropped his chin into his hand, and took a deep breath. “I doubt it had anything to do with the way I was raised.”

“Why do you think that?”

Julio shrugged. “I dunno. My family was always comfortable around each other. If I was mad I could tell them why, same if I was happy or sad. There were so many people in my house that there were different moods going on all the time and everyone had at least one person that they were close enough to go to.”

“Who was that person for you? Your father?”

Rictor shook his head. “Nah, he was more business-like than a sensitive type. I looked up to my dad when I was little, but I was closer with my step-mom, I think.”

Samson nodded. “Are you willing to tell me about them?”

“Maybe. Depends what you want to know.”

“Okay,” Samson scribbled something down in his folder before looking back up at him. “You were closer to your step-mother than you were to your biological mother?”

“My biological mother is dead, so yeah. Naturally, I’d assume that'd be the case.”

“You never mentioned that before,” the green haired man pointed out.

“It never came up.”

“Fair enough; how did she die? If you don’t mind my asking, and how old were you when that happened?”

Rictor stared straight at the man unblinkingly. “I was almost three, and I was told that she died in a car wreck. Drunk driving or something.”

“You were ‘told’?”

“That’s what I was told, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it's true.”

“What makes you think that?”

“She wasn’t particularly popular with my family, let’s put it that way,” Rictor rolled his eyes, and crossed his arms over his chest. “And since I was so young I can’t remember what’s true and what wasn’t. So I just have to go with what I was told.”

“So your family was vocal with you about their distaste for your mother?”

“Some of them were. My parents never talked about it unless I asked them. Eva, my real mom, she was, uh…” he scratched his head uncomfortably and averted his gaze. “I guess you could say she was my old man’s mistress for awhile. On the side deal, you know, stereotypical mob boss thing. After she had me I guess she just went after him for his cash; smart in that sense, I guess. My dad had enough money to set her up, that was for sure.”

“Was your father ever bitter towards you for that fact?”

“No,” Ric shook his head. “When he was alive I got along with him well. He took me everywhere and bought me stuff; I was just too little at the time to realize the stuff he was involved in was wrong. So I looked up to him just like any kid looked up to their dad. But as I got older and I got more aware of stuff, it was different. I was disappointed, but I still loved him.”

“Was he ever physically abusive towards you?”

“No. You think I’d be bothered about the fact that he died as much if he had been?”

“Maybe; it was just a question.”

Rictor glared at him just because he felt the need to. “Well I don’t like that question.”

“Okay, we’ll talk about something else then,” Samson smiled reassuringly and folded his hands together. “Why don’t you tell me about your step-mom?”

“What about her?”

“Well you mentioned that you were closer to her. She must be a pretty wonderful woman; you’re not her son by blood, but she took  you in and seems to have had a lasting impression on you.”

“I used to be close to her; when I was younger. A lot younger,” Rictor corrected with a frown. “But she—I have another brother, a younger one, who isn’t hers either. She took him in too. She’s just really family oriented and despite the fact that my old man couldn’t keep it in his pants, she never blamed us. She knew better than to be bitter to us because of someone else’s mistakes. She worked hard to keep our family together, especially after he died.” Julio shook his head sadly at the thought of the older woman, and a familiar pang of emptiness swelled inside of him. “Problem is she picked up on the business right after my dad died too. Everything was about the business all of the time, and it turned a lot of them into really ugly people.”

“Is that what made you run away?”

Rictor remained silent for a few moments, contemplating whether or not he wanted to even go there. He stuck a thumb nail in his mouth and just nodded wordlessly.

“How old were you?”

Just turned thirteen.”

“That was what? Almost eight years ago?”

He nodded again. “About that.”

“Have you had much communication with them since you ran away?”

Agitation began crawling through the Mexican, and he began bouncing his leg up and down. “Yeah. I went back three times. Once just for a day, and then I moved back home for a couple of months when I was eighteen.”

“And the third time?”

“I was in Mexico with Shatterstar. Put some people in jail, got in some fights, and…uh, yeah. Haven’t talked to mi madre since then.”

“Why?”

“They don’t take too kindly to rats,” he muttered bitterly. “You know, another one of them stereotypical mob things. Cabrones.”

“That must have been hard for you to deal with,” Samson pointed out. “Do you think that particular incident – you parting ways with them the final time – has any sort of influence on your anger and abandonment issues now?”

He snorted humourlessly. “Well that would make sense, wouldn’t it, Doc?”

“How is it making you feel to see your best friend reuniting with his family? Despite their problems they seem to be getting along well. He was the one that helped create the rift between you and yours, and now he has one of his own,” Samson leaned back in his chair and watched Rictor closely. “Do you feel any sort of resentment?”

“He didn’t help create any rift between me and them!” he spat. “I brought him along for the company; he just did as he was told where it pertained to them. Shatty was the one who…”

“Go on.”

Rictor clenched his jaw irritably. “I don’t wanna talk about that anymore. Mexico just was a shitty time for me, okay?”

“Okay but how about now? Does the familial presence at X-Factor bother you any?”

“No.”

“Are you sure about that?”

“Shatty’s never had anyone before. There was X-Force, sure, but it was mostly just me. And that güey is probably gonna live a real long time, and I ain’t gonna be around forever. It’s better that he at least has someone else, you know? That’s good for him,” Rictor muttered.

“And I think it’s good for you that you have him back around, too,” Samson started slowly and carefully. “If you can work on keeping your temper in check, I really think that you can benefit from your time spent with him – and maybe even your team mates too.”

“Yeah? Why’s that?”

“Well you said it was good for Shatterstar that he had someone else now because before he never really had anyone else but you. But I think it’s safe to say that works both ways.”

“Yeah well, we’ll see if he even sticks around,” the Mexican mumbled as he stood and grabbed his jacket. “Maybe, Doc, some things just aren’t meant to be, huh?”

“You’ve had a change of heart?”

Never,” Julio shook his head. “But, uh, but his it-- uh, it’s not what it used to be, and I accept that. That’s fine. As long as he’s alive and okay and just doing his thing, that’s good enough for me. I’d rather that than not have him anywhere at all.”

“I think you’re giving up a little too easily.”

“And I think I’ve said enough today,” Rictor retorted. “Catch you later, Doc.”

Samson just sighed and shook his head. “I hope we can try again soon, Ric.”

“If you’re lucky.”
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

After leaving Samson’s office, Rictor rode around Mutant Town for a few hours on his motorcycle. The day was grey and dreary, but the fresh air was needed after the agitation the therapy session had brought on. Madrox had not exactly ordered him to go that time, but after the conversation the Mexican and his boss had the day before, Rictor felt like he owed it to him to at least try. Of course, he wasn’t ready to tell him that or to announce that he was tackling his problems head on. It was just fair considering all the shit he had pulled, and it wouldn’t hurt to put some effort into getting better. But it could stay a secret; that was okay.

However, everything going back to his family and upbringing just hurt in places he did not even want to think about. Having every part of his past dug up and re-exposed was very exhausting. There were many loose ends between him and his family; ones that he was very aware would not be tied. Rictor had made a decision to bring the business down, and it was not without its consequences. Feeling that way also brought upon certain realizations. Discovering so much inner pain at just a half hour therapy session was tumultuous, and it made him wonder how Shatterstar was faring. The Mojoworlder had been getting his past dumped on him and exposed for two weeks now – almost all day, every day. Some things they had even learned for the first time. And considering some really shady people had a big role in ‘Star’s past, it must have been difficult for him to take in. With the combination of Spiral, Dazzler, Longshot, his childhood, his death, Ben, and finding out he was an escaped slave belonging to an alien rebellion force, and on top of that was gay – Shatterstar had been through a very bumpy ride since he came home.

The thought alone made Rictor very embarrassed and ashamed that he had managed to be so selfish. Sure some of Shatty’s past choices were stupid and hurtful, but was it really appropriate to lash out on him when he could not even remember said stupid choices?

Yes, he had been forgiven for his behaviour, but Rictor was still conflicted. He and Shatterstar were back on talking terms, but there was still that unvoiced tension looming between them. ‘Star was obviously still awkward around him, and that hurt, but Julio could not for the life of him figure out a way for them to talk about it. What would he say? He had already apologized and any further conversation would just require some sort of weird emotional speech, and…ugh, knowing him he would probably either word something completely wrong and sound like an asshole, or he would look like a total loser. 

Lose-lose situation.

He turned and headed into the back parking lot behind X-Factor headquarters. All of the team vehicles were parked and present, and Ric inwardly wondered why everyone was home for the day. Shrugging, he continued on his way and took the steps up in twos, pushed open the back door and looked around the kitchen. “Hello!?”

“In here!” Terry called from up the hall. Julio just furrowed his eyebrows and made his way toward the front part of the building. When he reached the rec room, he could not even believe who was standing in there.

“About time you got home, kiddo,” Domino smirked. She gestured toward her partner and grinned. “You remember Sally, right?”

Rictor’s eyes widened. “Skids!?”

“The one and only,” she grinned and wrapped her arms around his neck. Rictor quickly hugged her back, and could not help the stupid smile on his face. 

“Where the hell have you been?” 

She shrugged and pulled back. “Around; I was going to school for awhile, but now I’m working for the government.”

Things finally clicked in his brain and he looked towards Domino. “Don’t tell me you got in shit with those two.”

“No, I’m not that gutsy.”

Domino laughed and looked at the younger girl. “Nah, she just got lucky and ended up as Shatty’s office partner. Small world, huh? Anyhow, we dragged this one around with us when we were looking for something less boring to do, and she musta got attached. She’d never admit it though.”

Skids shook her head amusedly. “You’re always making stuff up.”

“That’s Domino for you,” Rictor chuckled and raked a hand through his hair. “So what brings you guys around these parts?”

Domino nodded toward Shatterstar, who Rictor noticed for the first time was standing off to the side. He was leaning against the wall with his arms crossed and had a suspicious look on his face. Dom shrugged. “We just wanted to see how things were going with ‘Star. I know you said the mind wipe was bad, but damn; he really doesn’t remember a thing, does he?”

“He’s getting there,” Rictor shot the Mojoworlder a reassuring smile. “Did they introduce themselves? That’s Domino in the black, and Skids in the yellow, Shatty. They were old, uh, team mates of yours.”

Shatterstar just nodded his head. “I remember the white face. She and I once got thrown out of a bar for winning too much money from pool games. The patrons were upset at their own lack of skills and took it out on us.”

A wide grin touched Domino’s lips. “You remember that, huh? We used to do that all the time before we got arrested. Hustled a bunch of cash while we were on the road.” 

“How does that not surprise me?” Terry laughed. “Actually the thought of the two of ye on the road together and practically unleashed on the country is almost scary.”

“We did all right,” Domino smirked and looked over at Shatty. “I wish I had pictures for you, kid. Some of the crap we pulled would drop your jaw.”

“Did all right? You ended up in jail,” Skids laughed at her.

“Quiet, you,” the merc wagged a finger.

“Whoa, is there a party going on in here, or something?” the group turned to see Dazzler and Longshot walk into the room. Longshot glanced around happily at the group of faces, while Alison looked curious. Terry just gave the older woman an amused smile and gestured towards their guests. 

“Not a party, no. But you remember Domino, right? She came with us tah Mojoworld the first time when we were on X-Force,” the redhead explained. Alison just nodded and shook the merc’s hand. Terry then gestured towards Skids. “This is Sally; she’s an old friend of Ric’s, and worked with Shatterstar at SHIELD.” 

“Good to meet you,” Alison shook her hand as well.

“Likewise,” Skids grinned, and Rictor almost groaned hoping she wouldn’t start fangirling over the former musician.

“I thought she was mind wiped too?” Domino thumbed over to Alison. “Or do you just remember this lovely face of mine just because?”

“I was,” Alison nodded awkwardly and cleared her throat. “But, uhm, long story short: a six armed psycho made an appearance and performed some magic tricks.”

Dom almost winced. “Ouch; did you get a chance to shoot said six-armed psycho in the head when you had the opportunity?”

“Unfortunately not,” Shatterstar muttered with distaste. “Had I been there though she would have been destroyed.”

“Well it’s good to see you still have your winning personality,” the merc grinned.

“And it’s good to see you still sticking around,” Longshot grinned at her. “I guess things will be looking up.”

“Indeed, I guess it’s your lucky day,” Domino agreed.

“Oh you know me, and odds are you came just at the right time too! We can use all the help we can get!”

“Well the odds tend to come out in my favour, what can I say?” the merc smirked.

Longshot returned to gesture. “Well maybe things are falling into place after all.”

Domino returned her gaze to Shatterstar. “Lucky for you; looks like we’re rubbing off.”

“Okay!” Terry held up a hand. “That was so cheesy. Did ye really have tah start with the luck puns?”

Domino and Longshot looked at each other and shrugged, and the older woman tossed an arm around Terry’s shoulder. “Come on, everyone knew that was coming. Everyone.”

“Do you have luck powers as well?” Shatterstar questioned and neared the mercenary.

“Something like that,” Domino replied. “Got us out of quite a few jams, too. Except for SHIELD, of course, but the amount of shit you and I messed up was a little too large to ignore.”

“So you were the one I was with prior to my hollowing?” the Mojoworlder asked her and folded his arms. “That’s the one area I’m a little unsure of still as no one else was there with me to fill in the holes.”

“That would be me,” Domino nodded, and then pointed at Skids. “And her too. I travelled a lot, but when you weren’t with me you usually stuck around her.”

 Silver eyes moved to peer down at Skids, and he raised his eyebrows. “What do you know?”

 “About what?”

 “What happened before I…left.”

 The blonde girl dropped down to a leather chair and looked thoughtful. “You went after Spiral.”

 “I did what?”

Skids sighed and looked a little guilty. “You mentioned to me once about Benjamin Russell. Do you know about him?”

 “Yes, I was informed.”

“Well after you told me about him I kinda talked you into finding out more about him. You were a little apprehensive at first, but eventually you got curious. You hacked into the SHIELD computers and we did a little bit of investigating when we weren’t on missions,” she explained, and Rictor could not believe what he was hearing. Skids, of all people, had been the one who had started all of this? The blonde woman bit her lip and sighed. “We uncovered an old Freedom Force file on Spiral, and ever since then you were having problems with her.”

“There’s an old lore on Mojoworld that says whenever you speak her name she knows. Almost like she can hear you,” Longshot added in an almost hushed voice. “Many people lived their lives on Wildways never mentioning her because of it.”

“That’s crazy,” Rictor scoffed. “That just sounds exactly like some urban legends they have here on Earth; sorta like Bloody Mary or something.”

“Well it wouldn’t surprise me at all,” Alison commented. “She has a lot of powers as it is, but when she has Mojo’s allegiance to add to that, she is very powerful. It’s likely she could’ve just cast a spell on herself to allow for it. Who knows?”

“She finds her way inside people’s minds,” Longshot continued. “An old team mate of mine, Rogue, tried to absorb her once. Spiral was actually able to reverse it and use Rogue’s powers against her. That sort of thing’s never happened before, but she’s just able to pull it off somehow.”

“I really want to kill this woman,” Shatterstar grumbled.

“Well that was apparent from the get go,” Skids told him seriously. “As soon as you found that folder you stole it and went through it. You didn’t let me see much of it, but I know you ended up leaving SHIELD with it; you told me you were going to go after her. I just didn’t expect you to do it so soon. You only had one more week left on your contract with SHIELD, and you disappeared about two days before it was up.”

“What did you see in it?” Shatterstar questioned her, sitting down on the chair directly across from her and giving her his full attention. “Whatever I let you see…”

Skids glanced at Dazzler nervously before shrugging. “You found out that…”

“That’s how he knew,” Rictor mused and rubbed his chin. “So he found out way before going to Mojoworld about his real parents?”

Skids nodded. “Yeah, and for whatever reason it made him really mad at Spiral. There was also stuff about him -- uhm, Ben -- in her folder. Something about a relation, but 'Star never let me know for sure; he hated her, that much was obvious. And I think whatever ties he did have to her really upset him and maybe even embarrassed him.”

“Well look at her,” he spat disgustedly. “She is the most dishonourable coward known to Mojoworld.”

“Anyways, we went through a lot of work to cover our tracks and make sure that SHIELD couldn’t figure out that we hacked it,” the blonde woman continued, and tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear. “Shatterstar took the files, and I have no idea what he did with them. They weren’t in his locker or in his desk, and they weren’t at our safe house either. He was sure that Spiral had been keeping an eye on him, and he told me that very last time I saw him that he was going to confront her. I offered to go along, but he wouldn’t let me.”

“And it’s better you didn’t,” Domino scolded her. “This could’ve happened to you, too!”

“I know,” she sighed. “But I still feel bad! Everything we worked towards solving was destroyed.”

“So how long ago did this happen, exactly?” Rictor questioned.

“That he left SHIELD? Almost a month ago.”

“And he’s been here for two weeks,” Ric looked down at his friend and frowned. “You were trapped on Mojoworld for almost two weeks.”

“She’s going to pay. I do not care if Longshot says she can’t die either,” the warrior scowled miserably.

“We’ve got quite a bit of stuff to go over if you have some time,” Domino placed her hand on Shatterstar’s shoulder and gave him a friendly smile. “Sal and I are willing to help.”

”I suppose that may help,” he shrugged. “Maybe you can even jog something in my memories.”

Domino nodded. “I also brought you your motorcycle.”

Silver eyes lit up and he got to his feet. “Motorcycle? Where!?”

Rictor groaned, and just knew they were going to end up having to mess around with it that night. “Did you have to?!”

The merc laughed and handed him a twenty. “Why don’t you run down to the café on the corner and bring back some caffeine and some grub. By the time you get back we can sit and chat.”

Skids looked up at him amusedly. “If you’d like some company for the walk, I’d be glad to join you.”

Rictor just sighed and shook his head. “Yeah, sure, that’d be cool.”

“Good, that’ll give you two some time to catch up,” Domino grinned and walked toward the back door. “In the mean time, we’ll do some playing around before it’s time to get down to business. By the way, make sure mine’s a double expresso.”

“Like you need that much energy,” the Mexican rolled his eyes.

Shatterstar just looked between the two. “Energy? Hm, I think I would like one, too.”

Rictor’s eyes widened comically before he grabbed Skids by the elbow and took off to the door. “No! No, no, no! You’re not allowed! You don’t even like coffee!”

“Whatever, Rictor.”
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<

“So how they treating you here, Shatty?”

The young warrior looked up at Domino and shrugged slightly. “It’s decent. However, the people here are often very dramatic.”

Theresa just shook her head. “Yuir dramatic too, boyo, so don’t even go there.”

“I am not,” he scoffed, and climbed up onto the seat of the dark green motorcycle. The bike made him very happy; it was nice to see that he owned something very worthwhile and well taken care of. It was almost the exact same as Rictor’s, except Rictor’s was red. Shatterstar wondered idly if they bought them together. “Don’t listen to that woman, Domino. She is nosey.”

The merc just laughed. “I know all about this one, ‘Star. We were all on X-Force together.”

“I hear a lot about this X-Force!” he called over the loud sound of his engine being revved. The bike ran nicely, but he really just wanted to ride away on it rather than just sit on it. He tinkered with a few toggles and looked up at the two women. “That must have been a formidable strike force.”

“You can say that,” Domino called over the engine. When Shatty finally stopped revving it, she shook her head amusedly. “You were all just a bunch of kids though; still had a lot to learn.”

“What she means tah say is all we ever did was blow stuff up and make messes,” Terry smirked, and yelped when Dom smacked her in the shoulder. “But we were all t’gether a very long time, boyo. It’s just a little nostalgic tah talk about it now. Y’were on that team the entire time you were on Earth, save for a year or so that y’were in Mexico with Ric.”

“Why did I leave?”

“The team had a little temporary break up after some big invasion type deal. You and a few others had been captured and experimented on,” Domino explained with the wave of her wrist; it was much too casual though, Shatterstar noticed. “It was either we broke apart or went into hiding with Cable, and you guys weren’t too hot on the idea.”

“Cable,” Shatterstar hummed. “I remember him. In my memories he was a man who seemed to teach me things. Where is he now?”

Siryn and Domino glanced at each other strangely before they looked back at him. Terry sighed and scratched her head. “He’s a complicated man, ‘Star. He was our leader and he did teach us things, yes, but he did a lot of stuff on his own, too. He’s a time traveller and came from the future, and tah make a long story short…he tends tah go back tah the future every now and again.”

“And if he ain’t there then he’s pretending to be dead or skipping off half way across the world anyhow,” Domino scowled. “Don’t worry about him; he just makes things more complicated.”

“You have drama with him, don’t you?” Shatterstar rolled his eyes and turned the motorcycle off. “You humans have so much drama.”

Theresa could not help the laugh that escaped her lips. “Like I said, Shatty, you aren’t one tah talk.”

“Whatever.”

“So what’s got him all bitchy?” Domino scoffed.

Shatterstar glared, but before he could say anything, Siryn held up her hand. “Aye, dinnae use the ‘bitch’ word tah him. It makes him sensitive.”

“It does not,” he rolled his eyes.

The redhead just laughed at him. “Aye, it’s too bad ye don’t remember Dom much. It’s been way too long since I’ve seen the two of ye together – and with Ric too. It’s almost like a reunion.”

“Well I guess you should’ve showed up a couple months back when we met up with Tab, Jimmy, Bobby, and Sam, too,” Domino shook her head and kicked at the ground absently. “You want a dramatic reunion, well that was one in a nutshell.”

“Aye, I was there!” Terry laughed. “I just showed up after ye left and Nate got turned intah a baby.”

“A what?”

“A baby! Shatty was there as well,” the redhead looked at the Mojoworlder with a grin. “Ye shoulda seen yuir face. Ye hated kids.”

“I still do,” he muttered. “They are loud and annoying and so dependent! Very ‘lame’ as Rictor would say.”

Domino laughed at him. “Well it’s good to know some stuff hasn’t changed, kiddo.”

“I want to ride this bike,” he announced. “Who wants to come?”

The women looked at each other for a few moments before they raced to the seat. Domino ended up winning in the end, and Terry pouted. “Oh, settle down, Red. You can fly beside us.” 

“I hate you,” she grumbled.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Rictor and Skids walked in comfortable silence out of the coffee shop with two trays of drinks and a bag of donuts; it only figured that he got sent on a food run. On the plus side though, he had not seen his friend in a long time, and Rictor was glad to know that Skids was doing okay. Ever since Rusty had died, his contact with her had been very minimal and he often worried about her. She just seemed to disappear off the radar for the most part, and the fact that he could not be there for her made him feel like a crappy friend – especially after everything she had done for him.

“It’s weird, but the way Shatterstar described you sometimes when he and I talked I almost didn’t believe you were the same person,” the blonde shook her head and looked up at him. “You’ve changed a lot.”

He smirked. “I just grew up.”

“I know,” she laughed. “It’s still a trip to see though. I can remember like it was yesterday when you were that cute little scrawny kid who was terrified of a door slamming shut.”

Ric felt his face burn and he shrugged it off. “Yeah, well, no time to be afraid these days, right?”

“Oh, totally,” she agreed. “It’s amazing how different everyone is now though. I’ve seen the others quite a few times over the past few years, but not you until now. I tried to keep updated on you through everyone else, but eventually you even slipped off the radar from them.”

Ric nodded. “Sorry about that, Skids.”

“You can call me Sally, Julio.”

He shot her an amused look. “He told you, didn’t he?”

“Yeah he did, very casually might I add. I couldn’t even believe I didn’t know your first name!” she laughed and smacked Rictor on the arm playfully. “You must’ve thought he was pretty special if you told him right off the bat.”
 
That familiar blush returned to his face; talking about that kind of stuff with Skids was very new, and he did not quite know what to make of it. However, she was a close and dear friend, so he did not have the heart to shy away. “Yeah he was.”

“Still is,” she reminded.

He shrugged. “Yeah, I guess. Not really much of the same guy though.”

“You kidding? Just talking to him for five minutes I could tell he’s still the same guy. Just doesn’t remember stuff, is all. That’s no reason to cast him off as ‘someone else’,” she scolded. “You should feel lucky, Rictor. You still have the chance to get him back, you know. You would be stupid to throw that away just because you didn’t feel confident enough to keep trying.”

A strange sense of guilt came over him then and he stopped to look down at her. “Shit, Skids—Sally, I never gave up it’s just…”

“Even though you grew up, there are still some things about people that don’t change,” she smiled slightly. “And you don’t have to admit that you feel that way, but I can see it in your eyes. Just like I saw in his eyes all those months how much he loved you. He never even had to say it; he needs you.”

“He doesn’t need me,” Rictor scoffed and started walking again. “That’s Hollywood movie crap, and you know it. Besides, he even said he didn’t.”

“I think the whole proclamation of not needing someone just to spite them is more Hollywood movie crap than admitting that you do need them is,” she retorted, and jogged to catch up with him. “Just please take my word for it, Ric. Because one of these days it’ll be too late and you’ll be kicking yourself in the ass for it! I know I did.”

His eyes softened then, and the guilt intensified. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be,” she insisted. She raised a hand up to tussle his hair. “I care about you like a little brother, Ric, always have and always will. In the past couple of months I made pretty good friends with him, too. So I just want to see you two work things out. He’ll come around for you, I know it.”

For some strange reason, hearing the words come from her mouth was different than anyone else. She knew what it was like to lose everything, and she was pleading with him not to become the same sad person she did. Skids had always looked out for him during the most vulnerable time in his life, and for that he would always be grateful – and her words would always hold the utmost merit to him. And because of that he was definitely willing to try. Wordlessly, he placed a companionable arm over her shoulder and they walked back up the driveway to headquarters, silent thanks passing between them.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
Go to chapter eighteen.

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