Title: Feel My World Crumble (Estranged Series Part 3 of 4)
Characters: Rictor, Shatterstar, and X-Force
Rated: R for violence, death, and bad language
Disclaimer: Don’t own ‘em no matter how much I wish I did.
Summary: Rictor gathers his bearings finally and makes his way back home to X-Force just in time for Star’s identity crisis -- and then something happens that makes Rictor’s Earth shatter. Takes place off panel-ish X-Force #59, 60, and 61.
Part 1 - For the Best
Part 2 - Just Trying to Kill the Pain
Part 4 - When Our Worlds Collide
What the fuck had they reverted him to?
When Rictor had left for
He had to be, or else he would not have made it as far as he had.
Shatterstar knew his ‘purpose’ and the roles he had to play. He also knew very well what he liked and what he didn’t like -- and who he liked for that matter. He did not get along with many people, and he knew it, but trust, honesty, and loyalty meant a lot to him. Especially when it came to his teammates -- the people he went into battle with. Friendship would always be hit or miss for him, but camaraderie was as strong as steel.
And it was that very thing that had drawn Rictor to him in the first place. Shatterstar was the one guy on the team who was not up in his space, or demanding to get involved in his personal life. The guy watched his back and made sure he was safe, and Rictor did the same thing in return -- or at least tried to. Socially the boys had one thing in common and that was they just did not ‘do’ people well. And when they started hanging out more outside of battle and training, Rictor felt 'Star was a welcome change of pace. Instead of being bothered or forced into a relationship, they had progressed slowly and naturally, just enjoying their common interests and such.
Common interests soon turned into conversations, which eventually progressed to sharing and bonding. Rictor had always been intrigued by 'Star’s mystery, his confidence, his aura -- but most of all his uniqueness. Everything was still so new to him and soon after Rictor found himself in the role of unofficial teacher. For someone who seemed so damn special, someone who everyone was in awe of, Shatterstar put a lot of interest and dependence on Ric. And in a way, that made Rictor feel important. Somebody needed him. Somebody cared about him. Somebody - who everyone else thought was so special - thought he was special.
It was not something that happened very often.
But 'Star was not just an admirer; he was also a bit of a teacher himself, in his own way. For someone who had so much damn confidence there was just no getting around that. 'Star would tell Rictor all sorts of stories about himself and things he knew and did, and sometimes even taught Julio some of his techniques. Shatterstar was a proud warrior and it had made him feel good when he could pass that sort of thing along to other people.
But when Rictor stood in that doorway and watched him right then-- hunched over, confused, and alone, a certain anger and guilt washed over him. It wasn’t supposed to happen, especially to someone like 'Star. The warrior was a little bit weird, sure, but for someone so tall and proud to fall from grace and crash down to this level…it just wasn’t right.
How the fuck did X-Force manage to accomplish this?
Rictor growled to himself and folded his arms as he watched. 'Star had cut his hair and looked thinner. Of course, Rictor still thought he looked as good as ever, but this…it wasn’t the Shatterstar he’d left behind.
And he knew it, too.
He had gone to
And Rictor was pretty damn sure he had them all figured out now.
But returning to this whole crisis 'Star was having was a bit much. Shatty was always so rock solid and on top of things, and seeing him any other way broke Rictor’s heart. This man he cared so much about was hurting, and as much as he felt the need to revert back to his old cowardly ways, he knew he could not.
He had to be strong - for 'Star.
The warrior slouched over his chair and began to frantically recall life as he knew it; muttering with more desperation than Ric had ever heard him use. The Mexican swallowed and stepped forward; Cable could be the coward who tried to scare answers out of 'Star that he didn’t have, but Julio Richter would do no such thing. 'Star needed his help -- not interrogation.
“I do not recall ever being in
Rictor swallowed down the painful lump in his throat, and shot a nasty glare in Cable’s direction before speaking to his friend. “Si. They have fans who believe in them even when they are losing. Like you and me, amigo.”
“Julio!?” 'Star sputtered, looking genuinely shocked.
Hearing the sound of his voice and seeing such a reassured smile pass on 'Star’s face just made Rictor’s heart melt. He smiled and stepped into the room, embracing his friend as he did so. “Que pasa, 'Star? Don’t have your head screwed on straight anymore, huh?”
More relief. “Julio, is it really you?”
“Si,” Rictor laughed. “Who else would come all the way from
A sort of emotion shone in Shatterstar’s eyes right then that Julio had never recalled seeing before. In many ways it warmed his heart to see that his friend had missed him so much -- just like he had missed him right back -- but in many ways it angered him. Shatterstar should not have been reverted to such a desperate state that he had to be jumping at the chance to be with someone who would not be treating him like dirt as Cable was. The very fact made Rictor livid.
“I am so glad to see you. Things…have not been very well,” the warrior admitted.
“So I hear. Wanna try and tell me what’s goin’ on, amigo?”
“I would if I could,” 'Star bowed his head shamefully. “I have just as much an idea as anyone else on this team. I cannot give them the answers they desire, and I know they are not happy with me.”
Rictor swallowed, pained to see him so embarrassed. “You don’t worry about them, all right? I came back to help you, okay?”
“You came back…” 'Star trailed off. “For me, Julio? That is…”
Rictor nodded, a small smile twitching at his lips. “Si. There’d be no other reason for me to come back.”
A happy smile formed on Shatterstar’s face. “Julio, I was almost afraid that you’d never return. You seemed so happy to go.”
Rictor frowned, and cleared his throat awkwardly. “Well I just needed to sort some stuff out. Do some thinkin’…get my own head screwed on straight, y’know?” Rictor smiled and nudged his friend in the side. “Only figures I work things out and you’re all messed up now.”
“I don’t like this,” 'Star told him with a frown. “I do not know what they did to me, but I know they have done something. Nothing makes any sense anymore, Julio! And Cable is quite angry about it.”
Cold, brown eyes looked over 'Star’s shoulder and at the two-way mirror behind him. Rictor knew Cable was standing there and watching them, listening to them even, trying and waiting for Rictor to pry something out of 'Star so that he could get the answers he wanted.
He was pretty much just using Julio as a tool to get what he wanted from Shatty.
“Fuck Cable,” Rictor moved closer to 'Star and whispered so only he could hear. “Cable is a prick, amigo, and what’s he’s doin’…it ain’t helpin’ ya. He’s only lookin’ for what’s best for the team, which is all right, 'Star, but it ain’t best for you.”
The warrior frowned. “What’s best for me does not matter…”
“Yes, it does,” Rictor hissed, a lot angrier sounding than he meant to. “Don’t let him brainwash you with that shit that you don’t, because it does matter. It matters to me, amigo.”
'Star stepped closer to him and placed a hand on his shoulder. “I want to fix this, Julio. It means a great deal to me that you want to help.”
“I’d do anything,” Rictor whispered to him awkwardly, feeling the heat rise to his face. “I swear to you, 'Star we’ll get it fixed.”
Shatty smiled fondly at that. “It’s good to have you back. Things were not quite the same without you. We went on many adventures, but it was not as nearly as entertaining without your commentary.”
Rictor grinned. “Missed that, huh?”
“I did,” 'Star admitted. “But…did you get your head nailed on right?”
Rictor snorted. “Screwed on straight, and yeah…I think so. I just had to do some thinking, amigo, and…”
“And?” 'Star pressed. “What did you have to think about?”
Rictor’s mouth dried out, and once more he eyed the two-way mirror behind them. “Whatddya say we talk about it once we’re outta here, huh? There’s a lot…and it’s kinda important. We need to have one of those personal conversations, you know?”
'Star nodded. “Yes.”
“Okay,” Rictor grinned and turned toward the door.
“Boys,” Cable voiced boomed over the mic. 'Star and Ric shared a look before turning in the general direction of X-Force’s leader. “Before you make any plans I need you to suit up. We’re going on a road trip.”
“We will talk when we return,” 'Star placed a hand back on his shoulder.
“Sounds good,” Rictor replied, somewhat irritably.
He never got the chance.
One moment they were out flying around in the PACRAT for some answers, and the next 'Star was gone. Ripped away from Rictor before the two even had a chance to talk. Gog and Magog were good and they were able to blindly attack the team while in mid air. The ship had crashed into the ground, and while Rictor was lucky to be alive, he was in an absolute panic.
Shatterstar had been taken back to his home world.
The team was taken on a twisting trail through the home of Doctor Strange, a portal of the nexus, and right through to a whole other dimension.
The hell known as Mojoworld.
And it was there that Rictor’s entire world had crumbled. Not only was Shatterstar captured by the Mojo ruler of the present time, but it was all for a purpose. He was destined to be the man to free the biped slaves from the spineless rulers of their television dominated world. A One Hundred Years war, Longshot had told them, and it was to end with the death of one man.
He was ripped away and thrusted into some fucked up television show; Mojo had gotten his hands on some time travel equipment for the sole purpose of preventing his demise. The fat fuck had placed 'Star in a battle, a war style simulation that would put him in the exact scenario 'Star would have been in one hundred years from present day. The day Mojo was destined to die.
And Mojo made sure to get to him first.
And Rictor had watched the whole show in front of his very eyes and there was not a damn thing he could have done about it. Shatterstar had been impaled through the chest with a sword and left to die on the filthy ground of the one place he hated more than any other place in existence. He was alone out there when he had been injured.
And Rictor had watched.
He had never felt anything more heart wrenching and devastating in his entire life. Yes, things had been horrifying when he had seen his father die -- but this was totally different. It was not something criminal, or the result of Shatterstar wronging his death-dealing boss. It was the murder of a man who needed to save an entire race of people. It was the murder of a man who had been ripped away from his life to be placed somewhere he was not even entirely sure about.
It was the murder of the man Rictor loved.
Siryn and Longshot had taken off after them to try and fix it, and Rictor was left all alone with the rest of X-Force shooting him looks of pity and sympathy. And it was all the time he was given to grieve before they too were attacked. And every single ounce of rage and emotion Rictor had built up inside of him came out and lashed at the opposition in a fury he had never quite released before.
And no one would have been able to stop him if they tried. He had left Shatterstar selfishly to get away and sort out his own mess of a head. Months and months he was gone just because of his own silly fears, and it only figured as soon as he came back he would be too late. 'Star was in a mess of his own problems and before they could even be resolved he was dead.
He was dead.
Rictor let out an anguish yell and threw his arms out in front of him, slamming a wall of attackers -- including Gog and Magog, the fuckers -- with a massive shock blast that threw all of them off of their feet and affectively took them out. Rictor held no sympathy for them, or whether or not they were hurt or killed in his attack. They had taken his heart away from him and left him a cold, empty shell. And he never even got the chance to say good-bye.
Rictor never got the chance to tell Shatterstar that he loved him.
And nothing then could fix him. Whatever Longshot and Spiral had planned, Rictor hoped to God that it would work. If he had to live everyday for the rest of his life knowing that Shatterstar had died the way he did -- scared, confused, alone -- and he never got to tell him…Julio Richter would never forgive himself. He wasted so much time wondering and fucking around, and everything that he ever wanted and needed had been in front of his face all along.
And now it was gone.
Julio had returned too late.
He pressed the palms of his hands into his eyes and struggled to level his breathing. Behind closed lids Rictor saw red. A brilliant, shining shade of wonderful red hair that flowed and sat a top a perfectly shaped head fronted by a gorgeous face. Pale white skin that was peppered with light freckles on dimpled cheeks smiled at him. Pink, full lips moved happily as a slightly accented voice told him that he was his very best friend -- everything in the world that was important.
And then that voice panicked. The perfectly happy face twisted into a horrified frown that begged him not to leave him behind -- to stay with X-Force and not return home to
And that desperation had turned into a miserable angst when they had gotten to the airport. Dark, silver eyes pierced Rictor’s own brown orbs as Shatterstar begged him the whole way to the airport. He’d sulked and pleaded and just about bribed Julio to never leave him.
And he did.
Rictor slid down the crushed concrete wall behind his back with a deep frown on his face. And when he finally removed his hands from his face the moisture hit his cheeks. He was far too late to change things now.
For so long Julio Rictor had felt the Earth move beneath his fingers, and only now did he feel his world shatter.
It was gone.