Title: Come Together
Characters: Domino, Siryn, Meltdown, Sunspot, Cannonball, Rictor, Shatterstar
Genre: Angst, Hurt/Comfort, Friendship, AU
Disclaimer: I do not own anything seen here. No profit is being made
Summary: Post Messiah Complex scene; alternate end. Old friends come together to mourn the loss of a friend.
A/N: This is another take on Messiah Complex (I’m sure doing enough of these XD). Spoilers are behind the cut for recent X-Title issues, so you are warned. Warpath is not in this story for the sole purpose that I am sticking to the continuity for Vampire Crew. And since they are secret (apparently) and aren’t allowed to do/say anything about their whereabouts, he is not included here. Although I may (or may not) write a fic for him later.
The funeral had been over for a few hours. All of the X-Men and the students of the Xavier Institute had attended, as well as the members of Excalibur, X-Factor, and some Morlocks. A few other faces had popped up from the past, but for the most part they had all long since gone back home.
But Julio Richter could not.
He stood at the top of the hill at the far end of the estate grounds where Caliban had been buried that day. A simple marker was erected in its place hailing him a hero. He was still young, and the only thing he had ever wanted in his life was to do right by people. Rictor had known him a long time and
The big guy would have been so happy to know that he was finally considered a hero.
The Mexican swallowed and turned when he felt a hand on his shoulder. Another long time friend stood behind him, staring back with sad, wet eyes. Tabitha was doing her best not to cry and shook her head.
“That idiot was always doing stupid things,” she sniffed and folded her arms over her chest. “Figures now he’s still doing something to upset me.”
Rictor frowned, and reached out to put a hand on her bare arm. She wore a simple black, sleeveless dress and her hair tied back. The second his fingers touched her skin tears fell, and Julio was startled when she pushed herself against him for a hug. “Tab…” he muttered.
She pulled away, wiping her eyes. “Sorry, I just…this isn’t right…”
“I know,” he replied. “This whole thing that went on, it was…fucked.”
She nodded, and looked over her shoulder to see Sam, Terry, and Roberto walk up to join them. The blonde girl smiled at Cannonball and immediately approached him to embrace. Rictor looked away awkwardly and glanced at Theresa. “They aren’t expectin’ us back yet, are they?”
She shook her head, long done up curls bouncing as she did so. “Nah, we’ve got as long as we want.”
Roberto cleared his throat and shook Rictor’s hand. “Long time no see, amigo.”
“No kiddin’,” the Mexican grinned half heartedly. “You stayin’ outta trouble?”
“Never,” he replied, loosening the olive green tie around his neck. “Things were going all right until, well, this. I never expected to be back here for…” he swallowed hard and bit his lip. “This sucks.”
“Ah know it may sound weird,” Sam spoke up quietly. “But Ah think, ya know,
Rictor snorted loudly. “A cause? They sent him out to kill Cable.”
“Ric,” Terry scolded. “He saved Jimmy’s life, and that is what would’ve mattered tah him.”
“Still,” Tabitha sniffed from her place against Sam. “Scott shouldn’t have been sending people out to do his dirty work, especially people who weren’t even on his teams.”
“Ah feel bad, ya know?” Sam whispered. “Ah mean, Ah am an X-Man and Ah feel like Ah should’ve done more to stop it.”
“Dude, you shouldn’t even be out here right now as it is,” Roberto shook his head. “You’re hurt, Sammy. Don’t be so hard on yourself.”
“None of us should be,” Terry whispered. “It was an accident and nothin’ else. All we can do now is keep the lad in our prayers and memories.”
“It doesn’t make it any less shitty though,” Roberto replied sadly. “Man I know he was a total freak sometimes, but
Tabby nodded. “I know; he was always going around looking for someone to play with.”
“And then I remember when he started having them seizures,” Ric mused. “Damn man he was so scared, and I really started looking out for the guy then. It scared the crap outta me when he did that.”
They all stood in relative silence then mulling over their thoughts. It had been so long since they all seen each other -- since they were together as a group and just friends. So much had happened in their lives since their days in X-Force, but even so they felt completely comfortable in each other’s presence. They had been together so long and no matter what happened they would always be a team.
“Ya know, this may sound weird and all, but,” Sam cleared his throat and rubbed his fingers through Tab’s hair. “Ah really just wish Nate was here, ya know? Ah know so much stuff has happened between him and us, but…he always knew what tah do next.”
“Yeah,” Terry swallowed, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. “He can be so bullheaded and aggravatin’ but…I miss him. What he did with the baby, I know he knew what he was doin’.”
“The guy’s a dick, but he never does something without a reason,” Rictor agreed, albeit grudgingly.
“Sometimes Ah wish we never had tah split at all, ya know?” Sam sighed. “Ah bet things sure woulda turned out different.”
The Mexican stared down at his feet and contemplated that; his leaving the team had not exactly been on the greatest terms, nor did he even have his powers anymore anyways. As far as he knew, Feral had been their only other teammate to lose them, but she was dead anyways.
“Just because we split doesn’t mean we’re not a team,” Roberto told him. “We came together when we needed to fight the Skornn.
Tabitha laughed out loud. “I heard about that! Damn, I’m kinda bummed I missed out on that action. There they go blowing stuff up, and they didn’t even call me! I’m kind of offended.”
Sam grinned crookedly. “Scott was so darn upset.”
Terry and Rictor both joined the laughing at that. The Irish girl flipped her hair and looked at the Mexican. “No wonder he was so angry when they came after Pietro! Dealin’ with them and us…aye, I would bet they are damn near sick of cleanin’ up our messes by now.”
Rictor nodded. “They’ve only been doin’ it for almost eight years now.”
“Even longer for some of us,” Roberto smirked, and smacked Sam in the forearm. “We’ve been kicking around here for almost a decade.”
“Where are they anyways?” Tabitha spoke up. “I didn’t see them at the funeral.”
“Who?” Terry questioned.
“Dom and Shatty,” she replied. “They weren’t there.”
Rictor cleared his throat and rolled on the backs of his feet. The others all shot him a look and he raised his eyebrows. “What?”
“Well if anyone knows where Shattybuns is it’d be you,” Tabitha said pointedly. “Hear from him lately?”
Rictor narrowed his eyes and looked away. “No.”
“They weren’t invited as far as Ah know,” Sam replied.
“What!?” Roberto scoffed. “And why not?”
“They blew up the mansion,” Sam chuckled at the memory again. “Scott and Emma aren’t particularly fond of ‘em foah that.”
Tabitha laced her fingers through his. “Now I really wish I would’ve been there for that.”
The group fell into a silence then. Rictor had noticed that Domino and Shatterstar were missing; he had been watching for them to show up throughout the entire service and had been a little bummed out when he did not see them. The Mexican had not spoken with Domino in a long time -- and he would like to see her. And Shatterstar…
…well that was a whole other story in itself.
“So I heard you guys are detectives now,” Tabitha grinned. “Do you get to wear funky coats and hats and play with guns?”
Rictor snorted at that. “Oh yeah, that’s something I really wanna do.”
“Nah, we mostly just use our powers,” Terry told her, and then immediately looked at Ric. “And tha’ one over there just uses his mouth.”
“Very effective, if I know mi amigo,” Roberto grinned.
“Oh yeah, real effective,” Ric rolled his eyes. “You know how many times I’ve had a hit out on me? Or been kidnapped, beat up, kicked in the ‘nads, or put on telephone duty? It ain’t that affective.”
“Well knowin’ ya, Ric ya’d hafta be enjoyin’ it if ya are still stickin’ around,” Sam chuckled.
Tabby snorted. “Yeah, little masochist you are.”
Rictor rolled his eyes and folded his arms. “Terry hooked up with Madrox.”
“REALLY!?” Roberto, Sam, and Tabitha all asked excitedly.
Terry just shot Rictor an evil glare, and the Mexican laughed.
“Nae! Jamie is an ass!” she began ranting, and even more so when Tabitha began firing off a round of questions -- wanting to know every private Madrox detail. Apparently Jamie was just as popular outside of headquarters as he was inside; Rictor was not amused. He sighed, and then looked up when he got pelted in the head a few times by stray rain drops.
“Scared of the rain, Ric?” Sam grinned, as he gently grabbed Tab by the elbow and pulled her away from the still sulking red head. “Ah always thought ya liked it.”
“Not anymore,” he grumbled and began stalking down the hill and back toward the Institute. Everyone began to follow, and the Mexican jammed his hands in his pockets. “But I guess ya can’t have a funeral without rain, huh?”
“Agreed,” Roberto sighed. “Man, I still can’t believe we ain’t ever gonna see
“I wonder how Jimmy’s doin’,” Terry remarked absently. “I cannae see him takin’ this all too well.”
“It’s too bad he couldn’t come either,” Sam pitched in. “We’re only havin’ like a half reunion here.”
“Not so fast,” Roberto stopped, and grabbed the Kentuckian by the elbow. “Lookey what the cat dragged in…”
And sure enough when the group turned around, Caliban’s gravestone was being redecorated at the top of the hill. The figures up there were wearing dark battle uniforms, but a certain shade of hair and a certain skin tone gave them both away. Rictor’s heart nearly jumped up into his throat.
Tabitha broke away into a run and plowed back up the hill, not quite startling the new arrivals but still bull dozing into them anyways. The blonde girl dove onto a shocked-but-not-really Domino and squeezed her. “I knew you would show up!”
“Okay, okay,” the rest of the group heard Domino scoff as they neared. “I’m happy to see ya Tab, but not enough to play touchy feely.”
“How does it not surprise me that you two got banned?” Roberto laughed as he clapped 'Star on the shoulder, and grinned at Dom. “It’s pretty hard to get banned from here.”
“No shit,” Domino smirked and folded her arms. “I guess you can kill each other, brainwash people, backstab your team, run off on solo adventures, and be redeemed villains if ya wanna be an X-Man…but the second you knock the wall over and break a robot that’s drawing the line.”
Sam chuckled at her and held out his hand to greet her. “Ya know them; technology costs money but people are replaceable.”
“No shit,” she muttered, looking past the three and at Ric and Theresa. “You guys just gonna stand down there like morons or are you gonna come up here and play patty-cake with the rest of us?”
“Sorry,” Terry grinned and made her way up, while Ric followed closely behind.
“I got booze!” Dom tried to bribe her. “Come on, let’s try and do something not so depressing after we blow this joint -- figuratively speaking, of course.”
“What’s that, 'Star?” Terry questioned then, gesturing to the bag in the warrior’s hands. The big man just lifted it up and handed it to her.
“Some of Caliban’s things,” he replied, voice low and distant sounding. “He left them with us when we were together for a mission a few months ago. He asked us to hang onto them until he returned from the Morlocks, but we did not see him again.”
Dom looked at him, and gave him a friendly smile. “Me and Shatty here decided that the big goof woulda hated all this flower shit,” she gestured to the floral displays lying at the base of the tombstone. “But since none of these X-Morons even knew him anyways, we figured we’d break in and do it ourselves.”
“And you weren’t even gonna tell us?!” Tabitha nearly screeched. “You jerks! You were just gonna come and go and not even let any of us know, weren’t you? Glad to know we were so sorely missed.”
“Get a grip,” the merc snorted, and grabbed the bag back from Ter. “'Star and I knew where you guys all are, and we woulda made sure to see you.”
“But you were still here,” the warrior finished for her. “So you don’t have to get upset because we found you.”
“Right,” Tabby snorted and then randomly hugged Sam. The group stood in silence as Dom and 'Star began digging through the bag and pulling things out. And the sight of some of the objects made Rictor’s chest swell with emotion.
Caliban’s first X-Force uniform, a soccer ball, a Goofy hat, a back pack…his teddy bear. A tiny sob escaped Terry’s lips then, and Ric placed an awkward hand on the small of her back. “It s’alright, Ter,” he muttered. She just nodded and wiped at her eyes.
“I know, he just didn’t deserve this,” she whispered. “It’s heartbreakin’.”
“He died with honor,” Shatterstar announced, taking one of his beloved swords and placing it amongst the gifts. “He showed courage and loyalty in his death, and he has proven himself an honored warrior.”
“He wouldn’t have wanted it any other way,” Dom added, nodding her head at 'Star. “So we do the good ole soldier thing and leave him a piece, ya know?” she took a pair of dog tags out of her pocket and tossed them down. “It’s kind of a merc thing.”
Tabby nodded and took off her shoe and tossed it in there. When Domino gave her a bemused look, the blonde shrugged. “Hey! It was either that or my bra! That’s all I have on me!”
Roberto smirked. “Well I’m sure if you asked
“Not another peep!” Sam scolded, cutting him off and tossing a pair of his goggles into the pile. Roberto just grinned back and took off his expensive looking cuff links, and tossed them in. Terry followed suit with a pair of gloves, and then everyone just turned to the Mexican.
Rictor sighed and opened up the jacket of his suit to dig around in his shirt pocket. Tabitha smirked at him. “I’m so sure you wear a normal t-shirt under a formal jacket, Rictor.”
Julio rolled his eyes. “This isn’t even mine, so fuck off. I borrowed it.”
Roberto laughed out loud. “Dude, no wonder you’re swimming in that thing! Where the hell did you even get that?”
“Shut up,” Rictor snapped before pulling out a familiar fabric. He fingered the material for a few minutes before tossing it on. It wasn’t like he wore bandannas much anymore anyways.
“You still have that?” Terry questioned, an amused smirk on her face.
“He doesn’t part with it,” Shatterstar answered for him, slightly surprising the Mexican. “Believe me, I have tried.”
Domino just snorted with amusement before pulling the last object out of the bag. It was a fairly decent sized picture frame, and she set it against the bottom of the grave. It was a picture they had taken the day they had returned to the X-Mansion. Caliban had just joined the team and Sam had graduated to the X-Men. It was the only picture in existence that had every single one of them in it -- even Cable. On the glass in the front Dom had scrawled across it. It read:
It looked like she wrote it in fucking white out pen.
But it still did what it needed to do, because both Terry and Tab busted down then, and everyone began to embrace -- well, except Dom and Shatty, of course, but that was to be expected. The white skinned merc had a thoughtful frown on her face, and she looked up at Shatterstar. “We should probably get outta here now before we get caught.”
“Let them catch us,” 'Star scoffed. “We can beat them.”
Domino smirked. “Nah, big guy, we ain’t fighting today. For
Shatty nodded and glanced up at the others. “We are leaving.”
Rictor’s throat dried and he cleared it. “That’s it?”
The warrior looked at him; he looked a little surprised at the Mexican finally spoke to him. “We snuck into the
Domino sighed. “We can’t get picked up by the cops but if we go any place we’re not supposed to be -- and Xavier’s is one of them -- we're outta here for good. SHIELD’s already warned us once.”
Tabitha wiped at her face, but couldn’t control her crying. “Fuck, we’re never gonna get to see you guys! It’s bad enough people are dying…”
“It’s all right, Tab,” Dom clasped a hand onto her shoulder and nodded. “You’ll see us again. You can’t get rid of us that easily, you should know that by now.” She smirked, “besides, who the hell ever said we follow the rules anyways? Me and 'Star…we just wanna work on finding Nate.”
Tabby’s eyes dried and she sniffed. “Nate? Well…let me come! I want to help you.”
Domino looked at 'Star and shrugged. “Fine, but I’m calling the shots. You do what I say and no blowing shit up for shits and giggles.”
“Wait, Tab,” Sam sighed. “Ya…ya really wanna do this?”
She clasped onto his hand and pressed a gentle kiss against his lips. “Yeah, I do. What else am I gonna do, huh? Go back to my crappy ass apartment in NYC? I don’t have anything for me there, you know? X-Force…it’s the only thing that ever gave me some sort of…uh…stability?”
“That’s sayin’ something,” Domino snorted. “Whattdya say, Sammy? You in?”
“Ah’m hurt,” he said simply. “Ah haven’t been on active duty for a few weeks now…”
“So?” Shatterstar cut him off. “We will not force you to fight if you cannot. We are simply looking for Cable.”
The Kentuckian looked from the warrior, to Domino, and then back down to Tabitha who was staring up at him with the biggest, bluest eyes she could muster. The blonde man sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. “What am Ah gonna tell Scott?”
“That he needs another freaking line up change!” Tabitha announced, and pulled on him some more. “They already reformed their teams, Sam, and you aren’t on them. They’ll be fine…”
“Fahne,” he pulled away and began retreating back to the mansion. “Just…let me grab some stuff.” Tabitha beamed and followed him. “Wait up! Can you fly us outta this freakin’ rain or what? Damn Sam…”
Roberto just shook his head and looked at his watch. “I gotta get back to headquarters. Look, I’ve got stuff I have to stay here and take care of so I can’t come. But…” he cleared his throat and looked back down to Caliban’s grave before regarding Domino again. “If you guys need anything at all I have a lot of contacts. I’m still in
Dom and 'Star both nodded and offered their hands in gratitude. The Brazilian cleared his throat and said his good-byes before heading back to the Institute as well. Just as he left, Terry’s cell rang, and she looked up at Rictor. “We have to go. That was Jamie and he needs help back at the base.”
Rictor swallowed and looked back at Domino and Shatterstar, who were just giving them expectant looks. The Mexican sighed and looked at the Irish woman. “Can you, uh…just gimme one minute?”
Theresa nodded, and then Domino stepped away as well. “Hey Terry! How about them Mets, huh?”
Shatterstar snorted. “She does not even like baseball.”
Rictor shook his head and attempted to smile, but it fell flat. “How’ve you been?”
“Busy,” he responded, silver eyes moving to gaze down at him. “We’ve been after Cable for many weeks now.”
“So I hear,” Ric folded his arms over his now wet jacket and shrugged. “Sounds like fun.”
“Hardly,” Shatty replied, running a hand through his long, water logged hair. Rictor noticed then how hard and irritated he looked; a great change since their time spent together in
Ric frowned. “I’m sorry; things have been really shitty since…”
“You lost your powers?” 'Star finished for him. “I figured as much, but that does not mean you had to stop talking to me.”
The Mexican sighed dejectedly and dropped his arms to his sides. “I don’t even know anything anymore, amigo. I got no powers, I was homeless and…everything is just shit, you know? I have nothing. I don’t even know what I’m doin’ with Madrox’s outfit anymore; I’m more of a liability than anything.”
“Why would you say that?” he perked a red eyebrow.
Rictor just shrugged. “I just get my ass knocked out all the time, you know? They all got powers to defend them…and I just get to answer the damn phone all the time.”
“You are an exceptional fighter,” Shatterstar cut him off. “I know this, and you have no reason to forget that fact. All you have to do is start training again.”
He shrugged. “Yeah well, easier said then done, I guess. I don’t have much motivation for that.”
Shatty dared stepped closer, and never took his eyes off Ric’s. “Perhaps if you had a little help, you would. Maybe a team such as that doesn’t benefit your training anyways.”
He dropped his gaze to the ground and shrugged miserably. “Ain’t like any other team can use me.”
He snorted. “Yeah, right.”
“Who needs powers?” 'Star asked him. “I do not use mine, nor does Domino. We just fight and train.”
Rictor just stared back at him, swallowing down the lump of emotions in his throat. “No; I’d be useless. I don’t have skills that good.”
“I fought with you for many years and seen you win many fights with people without the aid of your abilities. I know what you are capable of, Rictor, and your excuses are no good to my ears,” Shatty told him, reaching a hand out to grab the Mexican’s chin to force him to look him in the face. “Besides…I believe we could benefit from fighting together again. You are my best friend, Julio, and I…”
“I’m not the same person anymore,” Ric croaked lamely. “You wouldn’t like the new me.”
“I will always like you no matter what,” he told him, moving the hand from his chin and down to his shoulder. “And I do not like to see you sad like this…”
“'Star, please…” Rictor looked away again, frowning through the rain on his face. “Don’t make this hard for me.”
“I missed you,” the warrior told him in a rare moment of exposure. “I would not say that if I didn’t mean it.”
Rictor’s heart slammed in his chest and he frowned sadly before letting the warrior pull him forward for a tight hug. The warmth from 'Star’s chest shocked Julio’s cool skin, but he held on so tight he feared he may never let go. Dios, he’d missed him so much too and there was no getting around that fact. After all the crap that had gone down since M-Day -- his power loss, Pietro, Rahne, watching the x-kids get injured and killed, Caliban -- it was so nice to have that familiarity and security back in his life.
And then he felt Shatterstar press his lips against the top of his head, and he shivered. “I know you meant it, 'Star.”
The warrior pulled back and looked down at him. “Come with me. We can be together again…you do not have to be sad anymore, Julio.”
What did he honestly have to lose?
“If we find Cable…” he asked in a low voice. “Can I punch him in the face?”
Shatty shot him one of those grins he saved only for him. “After Domino is done with him.”
“Of course,” Ric snorted, and wrapped his arms around the larger waist just because he felt he needed to. “I…si, I think I will come with you.”
'Star pulled away and leaned down to brush his lips against the Mexican’s. Rictor nearly fell over at the touch, but managed to keep his composure enough to kiss him back and pull him close again. When they broke away, he leaned his forehead against Shatty’s chin. The warrior sighed. “We can go get your things on the way…”
“Fuck it,” Rictor chuckled and shook his head. “I’ve got nothin’ anyways.”
“Will you be okay?” 'Star asked him.
His dark gaze dropped down to the pile of stuff that had accumulated on Caliban’s grave, and he was reminded of all the horrible shit that had happened over the past few weeks. Nightmares and casualties that he didn’t want to at all think about. But there with 'Star he felt safer…he felt right. And when he looked at that picture of X-Force -- he was nothing but a punk eighteen year old kid then, but it was a happier time. They would always be a team no matter what.
And they would do it for Caliban, if anything else.
He looked back up at the warrior and smiled. “I’ll be fine, amigo.”