Characters: Rictor and Shatterstar
Disclaimer: I do not own a thing
Summary: Rictor contemplates and muses while Shatterstar acts. Pointless really, but I’m trying to get my own muse back. Takes place somewhere around...er, let's say XF #65.
A/N: This prompt is a little vague. And I know that a prompt is just supposed to be a general idea, but this one is going to have a whole bunch of varying themes for ‘different’ running through it.
It was moments like these that made his life seem so much simpler. Long forgotten was the fact he was living with a psychotic telepath soldier from the future with a messiah complex, and that he was to accept responsibility and duty for protecting all of mutantkind. Rictor did not think about the fact that X-Force had been responsible for deaths. And it was during times like these that he most certainly did not let any haunting memories or daunting expectations bother him.
He needed moments like these to make it through the day.
There, under the dark painted sky of the night, it was easier; the wind was at his back and the scent of the spring air filled his nose. They were the senses of the planet -- senses that he shared with mother Earth. Everything from the dull energy feasted from the stars above him to the slowly growing grass beneath his back surged through his body. He could feel it thriving in his very core; it was the very best escape he had.
Since he had returned to X-Force after leaving for
Since Ric's return, Domino had been a surprising voice of reason -- namely during the Mojo incident -- and Rictor was thankful for her stepping up when he knew, despite her protestations, that her role on the team had pretty much been dumped on her by Nate. And Shatterstar…well he was another matter entirely.
Feeling a shift in the air, Rictor rolled onto his side and slid his hand through the grass. Beneath his fingers was another resurgence in activity. Brown eyes scanned across the lawn several feet until they landed on a figure in the distance. The estate grounds were darkened save for a few decorative lanterns and the light of the stars, but it was easy for Ric to figure out who it was. The broad shoulders, powerful legs, that hair -- even without the fluid and graceful movements he was able to tell him apart from everyone else.
It was one of many characteristics of Shatterstar that Rictor adored.
He came outside to train more often now. Before Shatty had been more comfortable in the confines of an advanced technological training facility; it was something more familiar and secure, Rictor guessed, because of the life the warrior had lived previously. Training under strict guidelines and supervision his entire life, there were just some habits that were hard to break free from. Since Benjamin Russell though, things had been different. An odd sense of calmness and humanity had overcome ‘Star, and he finally seemed much more comfortable in his own skin and in his role as a citizen of Earth. Perhaps the switch to outdoor training was a small consequence of that.
If anyone, Rictor understood the appeal of it.
Brilliant red flashed across the darkened air of the lawn as Shatty flipped and landed on the balls of his feet. Rictor noted that he was not training with his weapons tonight. Instead, ‘Star wore only a pair of loose fitting flannel pants and worked solely on his balance and agility. The Mexican had watched enough television to know that it was probably some sort of martial arts program that dealt with proper movement and breathing and other silly things Rictor knew absolutely nothing about.
But ‘Star knew it and he absolutely loved to do it, and that was just fine with Ric. It was all the more better to watch him then as well; Shatty found solace in his time alone in training, just like Ric did being outside. The Mexican figured that besides the discipline and control, ‘Star actually obtained a level of peace from this form of training. For once in his life he was not expected to kill or maim. He was not being used as a soldier or a piece of meat in the form of extra muscle. Just for a little while, Shatterstar was something different, just a normal person in the world doing something that he enjoyed for peace of mind.
Rictor turned onto his stomach and rested his chin in his hands as he watched him. The dull light of the sky cast a bluish tint across the warrior’s pale skin, and small puffs of white steam escaped his lips when he breathed. The cool of the night seemed to have no affect on him; Shatty had been accustomed to the scorching heat of Mojoworld, and Ric knew the cool was something new still. But like everything else, ‘Star made it a point to adjust with no complaints. It was just another step forward for him in adjusting and accepting his life as a human man.
Shatterstar twisted again and leapt through the air. Tucking his legs beneath him, he landed with a roll on his shoulders and back, continuing to move until he was back on his feet. Just as quickly as he was balanced on them though, they were above his head, hoisted in the air as he stood on his hands. A small laugh escaped Rictor’s lips then. Shatty didn’t bother with his normal routine of finger squats; instead he began walking with his palms across the yard. He did it with such ease too, which was also amusing for reasons Ric couldn’t quite figure out.
“Having fun?” he asked, not even bothering to raise his voice as Shatty’s ears would pick up the sound anyway.
“I was wondering when you would speak up,” he called, as he stopped to balance on one hand. He stayed on it for a few seconds before quickly switching hands. “You’ve been out here the entire time.”
“How’d you know?” Rictor questioned.
“You’re always out here now.”
Brown eyes narrowed suspiciously as ‘Star’s legs bent and his feet returned to the grass. “That so strange?”
“Not at all,” 'Star responded as he approached. Rictor noted how gently the ground dipped when he stepped, and how the silver of his eyes never left him.
“I like it here,” he spoke without really much thought. “I don’t like it in there.”
Shatty lifted his head and looked back at the direction of the mansion. “You are not thinking of leaving me again, are you?”
“No,” Rictor whispered and dropped his gaze to the ground. He did not look back up when he felt ‘Star sit down next to him. “Everything’s just different now, I think.”
“A lot has happened since you left,” he said slowly. Rictor felt him tear at the grass beneath him.
“I know,” he muttered. “It’s kinda hard to ignore.”
“I like it,” Shatterstar admitted.
Ric could not help but frown. “Why?”
He shrugged unceremoniously. “I find things somewhat…” he trailed off and paused, gesturing silently with his hand. “Simpler?”
The Mexican sighed and rolled back over onto his back, ribs just nudging the toes of ‘Star’s boot. Shatty did not move his foot away, and reached his hand down to finger the hem of Rictor’s shirt. So comfortable he suddenly seemed, and Julio wondered what the hell happened to him sometimes. It was not a bad change, not at all, but after so many months of pulling all the stops to get him more comfortable and relaxed, Ric had to wonder what the hell it was that was able to succeed in what he seemingly failed at.
“Well I’m glad,” Julio whispered.
“You don’t sound it.”
“Yeah well I am.”
‘Star furrowed his eyebrows and narrowed his eyes in that way he always did when he was thinking hard about something. “Are you staying?”
Shatty’s body froze then, tensed and troubled. “Meaning you will leave later, yes?”
The Mexican shrugged. “Maybe.”
“Why not? I came back to help you, amigo. You seem fine now,” he scoffed slightly, and moved his gaze back up to the sky above them. “You seem more than fine. Actually, hombre, you seem so okay that I have to wonder if something’s up.”
“You told me that there was only so much time you could spend at home before you were wanting to return,” ‘Star pointed out, eyes narrowed once again. “I was under the impression you were happy to be here again.”
“I was,” Rictor sighed and raked a hand through his hair. “But I didn’t realize how much everything--”
“I don’t understand,” Shatterstar cut him off.
“You’re making a big deal out of nothing,” a sudden amused chuckle made its way out of his mouth. “I’m not at the airport, am I?”
‘Star glared at him. “No, not this time; we already did that once.”
“Amigo,” Ric scolded. “Don’t sound pissed off or anything. I’m here now, right?”
“For now,” ‘Star repeated with distaste.
The Mexican frowned and reached his hand down to the larger one at his hip. Shatty’s fingers were still twisted in the material of his t-shirt, but they had stopped moving. “Why the sudden mood change?”
“Things are good now,” the warrior murmured, low and deep. The slight remnants of his accent licked at his words. “They would only become complicated once again if you were to leave.”
“What if…” Rictor trailed off, brown eyes searching the glowing silver ones. “Have you ever thought of what it would be like to get away from here? Go see the world and do something else?”
“That would be…” he pursed his lips. “…different.”
A slight smile quirked Rictor’s lips. “Sometimes different is okay -- you know, change? I mean, I’m not saying you should leave, amigo, but have you ever thought about it?”
“No,” he admitted, bowing his head and allowing a few loose tendrils of copper hair to topple over his forehead. “I have not. I am not very familiar with this Earth save for my missions and experiences here.”
Rictor shifted in the grass and traced his finger along the back of 'Star’s hand. “It wouldn’t be so unfamiliar if you were with someone you know well, right?”
“What are you talking about? I do not understand, Julio.”
“It’s nothing, 'Star,” Ric shook his head. “I’m just thinking out loud, is all. But just so you know, if I ever do leave here again, you aren’t bound to stay.”
“Okay,” he whispered and looked down at their hands. The closeness between them suddenly unnerved Julio, and his face flushed red.
“And stop looking so sad,” he snapped. “I didn’t come out here to ruin your night.”
“You never would.”
“Good,” Rictor muttered and stared back up at the clear sky. They sat in tense silence for a few moments as both boys tried to figure out what to say next. So many things had just fallen from the Mexican’s lips in the past few moments, and each of them brought up varying, conflicting emotions inside of him. He wanted to leave, but he wanted to stay. He liked the changes, but he hated the changes. Mostly he was happy to have returned, but hated the fact that he felt so alienated. This new and promptly changed relationship with Shatty didn’t help much either. He liked it, but it scared him.
“It was because you left,” Shatterstar spoke up suddenly.
“You said that I changed, and that is why.”
“Oh,” Rictor moved his gaze back to him. ‘Star’s face was troubled, and the reflection of the lawn lamps shone in his eyes, making his stare seem a whole lot fiercer.
“I had a bad life when you were gone,” he admitted further. “I got shot and possessed numerous times, and Cable wasn’t particularly helpful to me during my problems with Gamesmaster.”
The Mexican’s frown deepened. “I’m sorry. I didn’t even know any of that stuff. You never even told me.”
“Because you never called,” ‘Star pointed out. “Therefore I told no one these things.”
“Sometimes I wish that you would make friends with other people besides me.”
“Why?” he questioned, scrunching up his face disgustedly. “No one has even given me the amount of courtesy and consideration as you, and even if I find your constant whining extremely annoying, no one else’s company is as bearable as yours.”
Rictor snorted at that. “I do not whine constantly.”
“Yes you do.”
“No I don’t! Stop saying that!”
“You whine about your position on the team, you whine about breakfast choices, and waking early. You also whine about our new uniforms and you whine about television,” ‘Star sighed and shook his hair from his face. “You whine about Cable, and people hogging the bathroom, and you whine about--”
“Okay, okay!” Rictor burst out laughing by that point. “But I whine just as much as you rant, so we’re even.”
“I do not rant.”
“Yes you do. You rant constantly.”
Julio laughed again and smacked 'Star in the thigh. “Might I add that I find it absolutely endearing when you use your slang to spite me?”
‘Star shrugged. “If you want to.”
“Well I do,” Rictor told him, and smiled up at him. “I’m glad that hasn’t changed.”
“My awkward use of slang or the fact you find me endearing?”
Rictor felt his face flush again, and he dropped his gaze back down to his chest. “Both.”
“I have…” he cleared his throat and trailed off awkwardly, which was almost strange coming from ‘Star. “Do you remember the night that you took me to that aggravating dance club? And you spoke to me about…sensitive subjects?”
“You used to do that a lot,” Shatty told him, finally maneuvering himself so that he was lying next to Ric in the grass.
“I used to do what?”
“Talk to me about more personal things.”
Shatterstar cut him off. “Despite your protestations, you have not done that with me much since you have returned. Before you did much to help me sort out emotional disturbances, and in turn you told me of your own to help me understand them. You do not do that now and I believe that there is something that we are not talking about.”
Rictor felt his heart rate speed up then. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You have changed too, just as much as everyone else,” 'Star pointed out. “But I know you have not gotten dumber. These things that we--”
“There’s nothing,” Ric cut him off.
“Julio,” 'Star rolled his eyes. “You touch me and you watch over me. You have shown no interest in associating with the others since I died. You were never like this before.”
Rictor withdrew his hand from 'Star’s. “I don’t touch, I--”
“You do touch. You hug and you play with my hair and my hands--”
“I won’t do it anymore then,” he snapped.
“But I…” ‘Star trailed off, once more furrowing his eyebrows and narrowing his eyes. “I like when you touch me, Julio. I do not feel fear or discontent from it, I enjoy it. Since that night at the club…”
Rictor swallowed and rubbed his hands across his face; panic was building up inside of him. Hide it if he may, he knew exactly what 'Star was referring to. The warrior was voicing everything that Rictor had been thinking since even before Mexico -- and even if he knew he was right, it did not make hearing it out loud any less awkward. On top of that, he had not really noticed the changes in himself; they were not so damn apparent compared to those of everyone else in X-Force, but leave it up to Shatty to take notice. Rictor hated being fucking obvious.
“Things changed, Rictor, and I think you should tell me why.”
“Why do I have to tell you?” he grumbled, staring up at the sky.
“I cannot explain things to you that I don’t quite understand,” he admitted, sounding somewhat ashamed and perplexed. “I know what I feel, but I do not know if it’s appropriate or if it’s reciprocated.”
Reciprocated? Rictor turned onto his side and propped his head up on his hand. ‘Star’s eyes blazed brightly even in the night air, and Julio almost felt as though they were piercing right through his very core. Swallowing, he reached out and hesitantly grabbed ‘Star’s hand again. “It’s all right, Shatty. You’re allowed to feel any way you want.”
“What about me?”
“What do you feel?” he questioned with his eyes narrowed once more. This time there was no confusion or suspicion, just searching.
He did not quite know how to put his emotions into words; he was never really all that good at it, especially with important things. So instead he squeezed Shatty’s hand and pulled him closer until their lips were only a few inches apart. Rictor saw no fear and anger in his silver eyes, so he quickly jutted out his tongue to wet his lips. “I feel like I reciprocate,” he breathed and closed those extra inches until their lips touched.
It was shocking at first; Ric had never kissed another man before. 'Star seemed almost stiffened against him too, which also added to the awkwardness. But despite it all, a huge weight lifted from his chest. No matter how different everyone and everything seemed, no matter how out of place he felt in the institute, and despite the fact that he had actually seen this amazing friend of his die -- his feelings for him had never changed. That was one thing that had stayed the same.
Pulling away, Rictor eased his eyes open and swallowed when he realized Shatty had been staring at him the entire time. “Amigo?”
“That touch…” he trailed off and furrowed his eyebrows. “You…”
Ric swallowed again. “Look, I--”
“You kissed me,” he stated dumbly, and pressed his fingers against his lips.
“Are you mad?”
“No,” he murmured, and dropped his hand back down on top of Rictor’s. “Does this mean that you will stay with me, Julio?”
The Mexican couldn’t keep the small smile off his face. “I’ll do whatever you want me to do. And if I leave I will take you with me, comprende?”
“Si,” he nodded. His silver gaze traveled down Ric’s face again and rested on his mouth. “Can I…?”
Rictor nodded and leaned down again, that time cupping the side of ‘Star’s face when he kissed him. The warrior was more responsive that time, making the effort to kiss him back and rest his hand on the curve of Ric’s neck. The Mexican reveled in the fact that ‘Star was so receptive to such advances; he had seen before when he had not been, like at the club. But then again, Rictor was always sure he was different from everyone else, at least in ‘Star’s eyes -- and that made him feel important.
They pulled apart and lay back down on the grass, backs on the ground and gazes up to the starlit sky above them. And there they did not have to worry about stresses or people, haunting memories or daunting expectations. They were not soldiers there; instead, just two normal guys with normal feelings. And even though everything in their worlds had just changed with just one small touch, this was different. It was a good thing -- a positive thing.
That made up for everything.