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
Chapter Summary: Rictor and Shatterstar have an awkward re-introduction, while Jamie and Longshot fall victim to HORRIBLE pun use.
Part: One, Two, Three, Four,
Prequel Pieces: One, Two, Three, Four.
It had been about two hours. Two hours since Doc Samson had shown up at X-Factor Headquarters. Two hours since he had gone into a private room with Dazzler and Shatterstar. The entire building was quiet as they waited, save for the television carrying sound from the living room. Longshot had gone inside the office with his family, and although he had invited Ric to come, the Mexican opted to wait outside. He still had not said much to his best friend, and for now he felt safer to keep his distance until things were more figured out.
In the hours he had been waiting, he had tried to walk around. He tried to sit in his room. He tried to watch television, eat some food, and listen to some music, all to no avail. However, he had managed to finally catch himself a shower after about three days, which was nice, but even after the fact, Rictor found himself sitting on the floor in the hallway across from the office door.
He damned himself for being so hopelessly needy all of the time.
Waiting sucked, but in the meantime he had managed to go over Longshot’s words in his head. For someone so seemingly naïve, the Cadre leader had indeed given him some good advice. Even if it irritated Rictor like nothing else to be told what to do and how to feel, he could not help but feel somewhat ashamed at his earlier behavior. He knew deep down inside what he needed to do -- and he was going to do it -- it was just all so hard to take in. In fact, he still had a hard time believing it was still happening in the first place.
First the Purifiers, then Jamie’s coma, then Rahne taking off, Arcade, and now ‘Star losing his memories? It had to be some kind of record for the worst two weeks of his life.
But then again, it should not have surprised him. Julio Richter had an embarrassing track record for shitty luck, and it only figured something like this finally happened. And it had to be to the one person that he just assumed would always be around if he needed him. Of course, ‘Star was still there, but just…hollow. Not the same ‘Star that he knew like the back of his hand. Not the same ‘Star he sat in front of the television and belted out Rage Against the Machine songs with. Not the same ‘Star he would fight forever with about what to order on their pizza. Every stupid solitary little thing they had ever done together was practically nonexistent. What good was a memory if he had no one to share it with? Were they even worth anything at all anymore?
Those memories were probably the most treasured ones Rictor had. Sure he had some good ones from his childhood, but they were sparse. His time with X-Factor, the New Mutants, and even X-Force had just been a constant struggle with dealing with grief, and it was not until he had gotten exceptionally close with Shatterstar that he had actually began getting over his issues and having fun with his life again. Sure, there were still insecurities, but for the most part the two friends had fun and did random, goofy things together when all the couples on the team had paired off and left them out.
Then there were a few embarrassing complications -- namely taking off after he had realized he may be in love with said best friend and Cable had been prepared to go digging in his head. But one trip to
They had fallen in love.
Of course, Ric was not aware of the actual ‘love’ part until later, but they still made do with the relationship they had. They kissed and fooled around in their off time, and had a blast together on missions up until they left X-Force. It was a surprise that Shatterstar opted to go with him rather than continue fighting with the team, but it was a pleasant one. The boys hit the road and went to
It was there, late one night under the stars as they lay in the back of an old Chevy that he had his fondest memory. They had been talking about absolutely nothing in particular at all, and yet he had never felt happier in his life.
“I still think we should have turned left back at
“Shut up,” he had replied, laughing in spite of himself.
“We’re in the middle of no where,” Shatty continued.
“That’s not true, we’re in the middle of a ditch,” Rictor corrected.
“Whatever, Rictor, that is not better,” he turned his head to the side to look at him. “You could have at least let me push the truck out.”
The Mexican laughed out loud and threw his hands over his face exhaustedly. “I’m the one who crashed it.”
“Yeah, real smart of you,” the warrior joked.
“Ah, if only X-Force could see us now, eh, hombre? I bet they’d get a real laugh at us,” Ric dropped his hands to his sides and tangled his fingers through ‘Star’s. “All homeless and dirty and stuck in a dried out ditch in the middle of nowhere. What a life, huh?”
“It’s not so bad,” Shatty had shrugged in an attempt to lighten the situation. “On my home world…”
“Oh wait! Lemme guess! You slept in ditches everyday and ate vultures for supper? Ones that you caught with your own bare hands?”
Shatterstar snorted amusedly. “No! I was going to say…”
“That our truck is bigger than your whole house was?”
"Julio!” Shatterstar scoffed playfully. “I don’t even know why I tell you stories when all you do is mock me.”
“Well that’s obvious. You just like to listen to yourself talk, amigo.”
“I thought it was fucking hi-larious,” he grinned, and pushed himself closer to the larger body. “And secretly I think deep down inside you thought it was, too.”
“You’re not that funny,” he rolled his eyes dismissively. “I just go along with it so that I don’t hurt your feelings.”
“Pfft,” Rictor smacked him playfully on the chest, and rolled over so that he was laying half on top of him. He pinned the larger hands down on the seat beneath him, and grinned down at the warrior. “What would you know about feelings anyways?”
The smile had fallen from Shatterstar’s face then, and was replaced with something softer. More sincere. “With you? Lots.”
Ric’s lips quirked up and he decided to go along with it. “Yeah? Like what?”
“I know that you are really happy right now…” he began. “Despite being stuck in a ditch.”
Rictor burst out laughing right then, and let his head fall against Shatty’s chest. “What gave you that idea?”
Shatterstar fought the smile that was trying to invade his face, but Rictor could feel the laughter shaking the larger body beneath him. “The raging hard-on digging into my leg.”
Rictor fell into laughter with him and they laid there in the backseat laughing like two idiots on dope, or something. It felt good to let loose and laugh after spending days chasing bastard family members. And despite the fact that they had argued for hours, which led to crashing the truck, it felt absolutely perfect to be there with him under the blue-black skies peppered with luminous stars. Just Rictor and his ‘Star.
The Mexican placed a soft kiss on the full lips when the laughter had died down, and Shatty looked down at him curiously. “What?”
“Nothin’,” Ric smiled with a slight blush. “You were right.”
“I’m happy,” he told him. “I mean, I’ll be pissed as soon as I wake up, mind you, but I am happy. Right now. Here…with you.”
Shatterstar nodded, and lifted a hand to press against the side of Rictor’s jaw. “I’m happy too, Julio. I miss training, but I’m happy.”
Rictor burst out laughing again, and grabbed the hand on the side of his face with his own. Leaning down, he kissed Shatterstar again and let it linger a little longer that time. The warrior responded and they lapped against each other lazily for a few moments before pulling away. “I love you when you do that,” Rictor grinned at him.
“You love me when I do what?”
The Mexican felt his chest swell a little with adoration, and he just shook his head. “When you randomly proclaim some completely off topic thing that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with anything we were even talking about.”
“I did not do that,” he scoffed. “I just said I missed training.”
“Yeah, yeah, I heard you,” Ric just laughed some more.
“Aw you don’t like when I tease you? So you’re just gonna be a jerk?” Julio laughed even harder, and wrapped his arms around the fit waist beneath him. “Aw, Shatty…”
The warrior just shook his head and stared up at the roof of the truck. “I love you, too.”
Rictor kissed the chest beneath his face and let his hands roam down to Shatterstar’s jeans. “I know you do.”
“Hmmm?” the Mexican shook his head and glanced up to see Longshot standing in front of him, and he realized he must have zoned out. His face heated up quickly, but he shook his head to rid of the feeling. “What’s up, amigo?”
“I was just coming out to look for you. What are you doing down there on the floor?” the blonde tilted his head to the side.
Rictor rolled his eyes. “Nothing. I’m just sitting here.”
“Rictor,” Doc Samson nodded at him as he stepped out of the room. The Mexican returned the gesture.
“So what’s the deal, amigo? His brain turn to mush or something?”
“Not at all,” the green haired man replied. “Seems as if this Mojo character did a good number though. It appears to be amnesia.”
“Amnesia?” Rictor echoed. “So just like them people who get in car accidents and bump their heads?”
“Except controlled,” the psychiatrist confirmed. “It’s strange, really. They both seem to remember other languages besides English, skills, abilities, battle names, tactics -- probably things that Mojo would consider important.”
“Right,” the Mexican scowled. “I was worried you were gonna say that.”
Longshot clasped the shorter man’s shoulder. “But they can remember things over time, you know. They just have to work on it.”
“It appears that way,” the doctor agreed. “After listening to Longshot describe his own experiences, it seems that you just have to find and use things and exercises that would jog their memory. Photographs, clothing, maybe sports and recreation…”
“Television?” Rictor questioned.
Doc perked an inquisitive eyebrow. “If television was that important to his former lifestyle, then I suppose it would.”
Rictor snorted in spite of himself and nodded. “But I don’t have any pictures or anything like that.”
“I guess you’ll just have to make do with what you have,” Samson replied thoughtfully. “Although it’s definitely safe to say they both still have a lot of personality-- colourful, really. I haven’t met too many people like them.”
The Mexican could not stop the sad smile from forming on his face. “Yeah, and you probably won’t ever again either.”
“Listen, Rictor, I know this is probably just as hard for you to deal with as it is for them, but you have to have patience. Which I know might be, uhm, difficult for you,” Doc Samson gave him a rueful smile. “I want you to know though that if you have any questions or if you want to come have a session with me, I would gladly do so for cheap. Since you’re an employee of Jamie’s and all…”
“No thanks,” Rictor muttered. “Therapy and me don’t mix.”
“No kidding?” the doctor deadpanned.
“Ha ha,” Ric retorted sarcastically, and looked up at Longshot. “Don’t take any free offers from that guy. He’s a joker.”
“Well I thought he was pretty nice,” Longshot stated confusedly.
Before anything else could be said, a flash of red caught Rictor’s eye when Shatty finally stepped through the office door and out into the hall. He looked downright annoyed, and surveyed all the faces in front of him. “I’m returning to my room. I don’t want to talk to you anymore.”
Doc Samson perked an eyebrow. “That’s quite all right. We’re finished.”
“Good,” the warrior responded, and glided past them smoothly. Rictor watched him with sad, but curious eyes, but suddenly decided to follow him.
The Mojoworlder stopped in his steps and turned around to look down at Rictor. The earlier anger had long disappeared, and was now replaced with annoyance. However, annoyance from ‘Star was almost a regular occurrence as it was, so Rictor took that as a good thing. “What?”
“Uh, let me come with you?” he offered, and jogged to catch up to him.
Red eyebrows pinched inward. “Why?”
“Uh, so we can talk, is all,” Rictor cleared his throat awkwardly as they walked side by side up the stairs. It was strange, considering the alien did not remember anything, yet he still walked with his same familiar air and flair. Of course, he was more uptight and suspicious, but the Mexican reminded himself that it would be normal. He was in a strange place after all, and it was not like Shatty had ever taken well to change anyhow.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“I’m…uh, Rictor,” he replied awkwardly.
“What do you do?” he demanded. “Are you a soldier?”
“Uhm,” the Mexican raked a hand through his hair and quickly took the stairs in two’s. “No, not really. I’m just…a guy. Your friend.”
“I see,” Shatterstar replied and stopped in front of his bedroom door. “You are just a person? An Earthling?”
Ric shrugged. “Yep, just a regular old human.”
He could not stop the laugh from escaping his mouth. “Uhm, I don’t know? I was born that way?”
Brown eyes followed the larger body as ‘Star pushed open his door, and gestured for him to go in. Thankful that he was trusted enough for such action, Rictor quickly moved inside before Shatty could change his mind. The bigger man followed behind him closely, and never took his eyes away. “You are just a person? You are not a soldier, Cadre, a rebel, a slave, or even a mutant?”
Ric felt his chest tighten with insecurity. “Uh…yeah.”
“Pardon my ignorance,” he blinked confusedly. “But if you are none of those things, then why were we ‘friends’? I do not understand.”
Feeling his face grow hot with defense and embarrassment, Rictor swallowed back a nasty retort. “I’m sure it’ll make more sense when things start coming together for you.”
“I see,” Shatterstar shrugged him off and walked around his room. “I’m quite angry at the fact that Mojo has done this. There are many complications now, and for that I would like to--”
Rictor swallowed down that familiar pang of hurt and nodded. “Yeah?”
“Cancel him,” he muttered. “I’m annoyed at the fact that I was taken away from my world because now I cannot do so.”
“But don’t you think it would be better if you got everything fixed and then went after him?” Rictor questioned, suddenly bothered about the fact that Shatty was upset about being there with him. “Besides, you were living here on Earth right before that even happened! You hated Mojoworld!”
“Mojoworld is all I know,” he replied slowly. “I do not ever remember being on Earth, and the only human I know is Dazzler. And now you,” he added as an afterthought.
Rictor frowned. “You really don’t remember a single thing?”
“No!” he rubbed his temples.
“¿Usted recuerda México?” Ric asked quickly.
“No realmente,” he muttered.
Brown eyes widened. “That’s funny. Where do ya even think you learned to talk like that?”
The warrior narrowed his own eyes and shrugged miserably. “
Ric frowned. “Nah, you didn’t learn it there. But you spoke it there for a long time. We didn’t speak much English at all actually. Just Spanish and Cadre.”
“Cadre?” Shatty perked an eyebrow and frowned. “Why would you speak Cadre with me if you are not part of the rebellion?”
A sort of panic hit Julio then, as he remembered the reactions from the rebels when he had spoken words of fluent Cadre on Mojoworld. He had not known it was all supposed to be some secret up until it had been too late, and he worried now Shatty might pull the same stunt.
“Uhm, well…” he scratched his head, and decided just to come out with it. “You taught it to me.”
“Codlista,” Rictor nodded. “Feh duk masthakta meno trenk.”
Shatterstar’s eyes widened. “Za’s Vid!”
“Yeah, but before you ask…I didn’t know it was supposed to be some kinda ‘Cadre Alliance only’ thing. You just volunteered to teach me when we were on the road together traveling,” Rictor explained nervously. “And I only accepted because you learned my language, and I wanted to do the same thing for you. It was just something that was between us; no one else knows.”
The warrior plopped down onto his bed. “Whyever would I do such a thing? That is a dishonour to my people! It was the language that kept us safe from our mortal enemies!”
“It was the language that kept you and me safe in
“Fekt!” he cursed and dropped his face into his hands. “I dislike this! I do not know-- I-- ugh! I’m about as useful as a mere child!”
“No!” Rictor scolded and approached him slowly, still unsure how he would react. When he felt it safe, the Mexican sat down on the bed next to him and sighed. “Don’t say that about yourself, amigo. You’re more useful than I’ll ever be, and that’s with or without your memories.”
“You must have excellent skills,” he commented flatly. “You faced the Protectorate with nothing to defend yourself with, and not even the greatest of warriors in that dungeon had been able to do so without being imprisoned.”
Ric would have felt a swell of pride from the compliment if it had not been for the circumstances. “I only did it to help get you back.”
“Why?” he demanded.
Rictor swallowed. “Because you were-- are-- my…best friend.”
“Very best,” Ric tried to pass off an encouraging smile, hoping to God it looked more real than it felt.
Shatterstar stared at him intensely, studying his face closely. The gaze made Ric’s cheeks burn, and there was no way in hell they were going anywhere near that right yet. The Mexican jumped to his feet. “So, uhm,” he cleared his throat. “I’ll leave you alone to get some rest.”
“I’m just…” he sighed. “I’m in the next bedroom. To your left. But I want you to know, ‘Star…”
“Yeah, I’ve always called you that,” Rictor murmured.
“That’s…interesting,” he paused. “And what do I call you?”
“Anything you want, really,” Ric explained. “Just…do whatever makes you feel comfortable, all right? I’ll try my best to help you.”
Shatterstar frowned and said nothing.
Longshot opened the door to Jamie Madrox’s office and peered inside. The leader of X-Factor was on the phone with someone and twirling a pencil around between his fingers. The Mojoworlder could easily hear the conversation, but, for sake of tact, knocked to let Jamie know he was there.
“I gotta go,” Jamie spoke into the receiver. “Thanks again for your help, Doc.”
“I didn’t mean to interrupt,” Longshot explained.
“It’s no problem,” Jamie told him as he hung up. “It was just Doc Samson on his cell. He kinda has to come here quite a bit, so I was just thanking him. Again. For, uh, stopping by.”
“I see,” Longshot nodded. “Well I suppose I just came here to thank you.”
Jamie nodded. “You don’t have to do that. I told you we owed you.”
“And you gave back more than I could ever repay you for,” he bowed his head, and a tiny smile traced his lips. “You put off saving your own teammate to help me. That speaks a lot of your character.”
Jamie’s eyes moved down to gaze at the top of his desk. “Yeah, well, that’s…complicated.”
“And generous,” Longshot pointed out. “I’m indebted to you.”
“Don’t think of it that way,” Jamie sighed. “Look, I told you my team was in the crapper right now, and I could use your help, yes. But let’s say we put this who-owes-who-what stuff behind us, and start thinking like a team.”
“Sure,” Longshot grinned. “I’ve never been a detective before.”
“Yeah neither has anyone else here,” Jamie muttered and rubbed his hands across his face. “But that doesn’t stop them, apparently.”
“Never mind,” Jamie snorted and dropped his arms down to his desk. “Look, we’ll just focus on getting Dazzler and Shatterstar settled in and remembering things again. Then we’ll go from there. I don’t know if it would even be worthwhile to even attempt long term plans at this stage in the game.”
“Okay, but what about Mojo?” Longshot questioned, rubbing his chin.
Jamie perked an eyebrow. “You really think he’ll come after us?”
“Do you even know how many times he’s come after me?” Longshot questioned. And it was rhetorical, really, because the Cadre leader could not even think of a time in his life when Mojo was not after him. Except, of course, with the Exiles, but he had still basically been under his rule anyhow. The blonde sighed and folded his arms. “I’m sure we will be safe for the time being. They have a tendency to strike at the most unexpected times.”
“You don’t think anyone will be turned into babies or put on TV do you?” Jamie looked a little frightened at that prospect. “I’ve heard really messed up stuff about that…”
“Who’s to say?” Longshot shrugged. “Whatever is up his sleeve at any given time is game. Sometimes death, sometimes he will just have Spiral drop people through time to fall for eternities. He’s unpredictable.”
“That…is freaky,” Madrox responded, pushing a hand through his hair. “So what do you suppose we do?”
“I hate to say it, but all we really can do is just wait,” he explained with a slight frown. “And watch our backs.”
“Just my luck,” the multiple man groaned.
“Mine too,” Longshot slumped. “Always my luck. Darnit.”
Jamie eyed him. “You just had to throw that in there, didn’t you?”
The Mojoworlder grinned amusedly. “Well, I was going to say that you could watch your own back anyways, but I thought that might make you groan, too.”
“Oh lord,” Jamie pinched the bridge of his nose, but could not stop the chuckle from escaping his lips. “You’re something else, you know that?”
Longshot smiled. “So I’ve been told. And speaking of which, thanks again. But I should probably go see my wife now.”
Jamie nodded. “Good luck.”
The Mojoworlder grinned a cat-like grin. “You’re looking at it!”
Madrox smacked himself in the forehead. “Oh, brother.”
Go to chapter six.