No Witnesses

She'll be beautiful.

White hair will flow around her face, framing pale silken cheeks, full pink lips, flashing emerald eyes. The rest of her hair, shiny chestnut, will be pulled back in a loose chignon. Her strappy dress will be green, short, hugging the curves of her body, showing off the long, slim legs, the stiletto heels. She'll wear opera gloves. White.

"Chèrie," he'll whisper close against her and she'll shiver. She won't notice him approach until he's there, standing behind her, one hand trailing down her side to trace the curve of her hip.

But she'll smile dangerously up at him, leaning back to give him the full view of her full lips, her high cheekbones, the faint blush across them. "Witness."

He'll want to kiss her, but he won't. Instead, he'll order her another drink, whatever she's having, and pay for it.

She'll let him.

They'll dance, hip to hip, thigh to thigh, holding her close so their bodies whisper together with her warmth pressed up against him, moving rhythmically in time with the beat of the music. The lights will be dim in the club and it'll be all too easy for the world to shrink to her and him, the time and sound of their breaths mingling together, the feel of her heat, the scent of her perfume, like faint sweet magnolias, and the burning of more than just mutation or even desire.

He'll want her more powerfully than he ever wanted a woman, and he'll touch her in every place she allows, holding her, caressing her, murmuring sweet nothings against her soft white and chestnut hair, so beautiful.

Then the moment will be over, all business again, as he'll force himself to draw away from his feelings and into his job. He'll keep touching her, but the movement will have a different quality, a different meaning, as he draws out the word, "Chère?"

She'll turn just enough to whisper her warm sweet breath against him. "Ah'll do it."

She won't be talking about sex.

The streets of New Orleans had seen their share of urchins and tyrants wandering about among the restless crowds of tourists every year. But the small, lithe form darting in and out of the celebrants of Mardi Gras had his own qualities, unique from those who had come before. He was a scrawny thing, not much to look at, thin and wiry, a mop of auburn hair falling into his eyes and hiding the look of hunger and cunning on his young face. He wore little more than tatters but carried himself with a confident air. He wove in and out of shadow, like a shadow himself, mostly invisible in the easy way he traversed the crowd. He never seemed to touch any of the milling tide of humanity, never made himself significant, never even stopped to beg for a penny or a treat. He was quiet, unnoticed.

Or so he thought.

The crowd parted around him and he slid easily along. He was one of the best. It was nothing to him, like breathing. He took. Wallets, change purses, cell phones, cards, golden watches, silver watches, cash stuffed into pockets. He took because no one ever gave, because he was a street rascal with no other option, because he was a thief.

He paused next to a street corner and leaned against the back of a bench, casually surveying the world around him. His city, La Belle Ville de la Nouvelle-Orléans, his home.

The revelers of Mardi Gras seethed around him, filling the streets and the square. A small, black-haired girl sat perched up on a wall on the other side, affording her a good view, almost as good as his. Pigeons and swallows fought over fallen scraps or lined the corners of the rooftops. A pair of well-to-do men swaggered through the middle of the square.

The boy flashed a grin and vanished into the sea of people. He had a target, a mark.

He never knew that he was theirs.

He sits at a bar, tapping his thumb against the counter. Smoke roils around him and the scent of alchohol and sweat coats the air. A thrumming beat pounds in his ears and his blood. People are dancing to the music, close, hot. He occasionally touches the shot of bourbon on the counter in front of him, turns it with his finger, feeling the molecules glow with heat and then fall back to their state of "rest." His gaze never wavers from its focus on the door. He's waiting for somebody, as anyone can surmise. But they cannot see his eyes. He wears dark, black shades.

He's had a few approaches, girls that think he's out for a night on the town, for sex, for forgetting. They take one look at the bourbon, the long, unruly auburn hair that brushes his collar, the lean muscle showing through the shirt beneath his coat, the shades. It doesn't hurt that he's handsome and confident with a cocky smirk that takes in the world and gives as good as he gets. They think he's there for them.

He isn't.

"Penny for your thoughts?" The bartender is a pretty little thing, redhead, long legs beneath her mini, bright strawberry breath in the middle of all this alcohol and common swill.

Witness barely glances at her. He's waiting for purest white against the brown, green eyes that sparkle like gemstones, glitter like water, dance like flame.

"Non." He lifts the shot glass to his lips and pours back the bourbon. It burns against the back of his throat and settles with a familiar dullness in his stomach. He has drunk for longer than he could drive. This is nothing.

"Waiting for someone?" the girl persists.

He doesn't even glance her way this time. He's staring at the door, at the quiet, dark-haired girl walking through it, wrapped up in her long coat and peering out from beneath the hood. The eyes are green, if frightened. But what stops him is the flash of white that isn't there, the pristine strands to frame the face.

No matter.

He drops his money on the counter and leaves the bartender, who sighs but says nothing at all. He is casual in his approach, simply snagging her elbow and guiding the girl away from the rowdier side of the bar. She looks up at him, startled and shy as a deer. She's skittish. Her eyes glance away.

She drawls softly, "Who are ya?"

Witness blinks in surprise. Sage neglected to mention she was southern. He frowns and sorts through his memories of her.

She'll be beautiful.

"Ah'll do it."

She is southern. He shrugs. "Witness. Sit here." He directs her to a clean booth and settles across from her.

She eyes him warily but drops into the seat. "Whah should Ah trust ya?" she asks, even while removing her long gloves and laying them on the table beside her. She pulls over a menu ringed with residue from all the wet glasses ever set atop it.

He raises both eyebrows and leans back. "Who says y' should?"

She glances up sharply. "Cajun, are ya? Hmm." She peruses the menu.

"Why so covered up?" he asks, curious.

Her eyes darken and she looks away again. This time, one slender hand comes up to tuck a wayward strand of chestnut hair behind her ear. He is fascinated by the sight, by the dark brown color.

She shrugs, returns her gaze to him, and smiles. "It's Alaska."

It's an excuse, but Witness isn't about to call her on it. "Pick somethin' yet?" He indicates her menu.

She blows out a long sigh. "No."

"Try de special. It's bien." He chuckles at her perplexed frown. "Good. It's good."

"Oh." She smiles with him. "Okay then." She lifts her chin, and a tiny bit of the sparkle he remembers enters her eye. "And whiskey."

"Legal now?" He clucks at her in disapproval. "Dat'll be a Shirley Temple for the lady and de special," he says to the busboy that's been waiting almost out of view to take the order. He considers. "Anot'er bourbon for moi."

He looks back at the girl. She's crossed her arms over her chest and wears a pout.

"Y' look prettier when y' smile," he says.

Her eyes widen. Green, glittering like water, sparkling like gemstones, then dancing like flame. Her mouth sets. "Flirt," she accuses.

He chuckles. "Oui."

She doesn't quite know what to say to that. He sees the faintest hint of a smile tugging at her lips.

He stretches his arm across the table and brushes his gloved fingers against the ripple of mahogany near her face. She catches her breath and her eyes widen further. She holds very still.

"Your hair," he says. "It's brown." He drops his hand back to the table.

The light tension runs out of her, ended off with a toss of her brown hair. She smirks at him. "Last tahme Ah checked, sugah."

He shrugs, as if it doesn't matter, but he's frowning inside.

He'll touch her hair, running his fingers through it in fascination with the white strands sliding over the smooth, silky hollow of her neck. He'll kiss her there where the white bathes her ivory skin. She'll make a small sound in the back of her throat that just makes him want to kiss her again.

Now isn't the time.

Witness shakes his head thoughtfully, staring at his hand against the table. It's close to hers. Two fingers have been cut off and are dangerously close to the pale slender hand in front of him. She notices. She draws away.

Her eyes dart nervously over the bar, taking in the boisterous crowd, the heavy scent of drunks and smokers, the vague tantalizing aroma of food. They stop on his. She doesn't seem to be breathing out.

"Let me see yahr eyes," she says, abruptly almost.

He cocks his head at her, a small smirk quirking his mouth upward. He obliges, removing and pocketing the shades. She sucks in her breath, but does not turn away.

He knows what she sees, the blazing ring of bloody color circling the dark pupil in the night darkness of his eyes. Crimson on black. The auburn hair falls forward into his eyes as he leans toward her.

"What d' y' t'ink?"

Something flickers in the depths of emerald pools. She closes her mouth, then licks her lips as she tilts her head appraisingly. "Beautiful," she says. Suddenly, she drops her gaze to her hand still on the table. She curls her fingers loosely, then flattens her palm against the hard surface and looks up. "You're a mutant."

"Oui." Another shrug. "Dat a problem?"

She hesitates on the answer. "Whah are ya buyin' me food?"

"Y' looked hungry." He chuckles. "Y'd have t' be t' come in here."

"It's the only place in town," she replies drily.

He raises both eyebrows and gives her his most playful grin. "Y' call dis a town?"

Her shoulders convulse and shake. Her head drops forward and she lifts one hand to her mouth, stifling a laugh. The action has brought a bright flush of color into her cheeks and a sparkle into her eyes. Something inside him tightens.

Now is not the time, he realizes yet again. Part of him shrugs off the inevitable consequences he'll have to face. The other seethes at Raven's assignment. The bartender's arrival saves him from an outward reaction.

"There you go, darling," the girl says, dropping the plate of potatoes and vegetables in front of his companion.

She looks up, one hand tightening on her gloves. "Thank ya," she drawls.

The bartender nods curtly, turns and offers him a winning smile as she gives him his bourbon, and sashays back to the counter.

He shakes his head. Any night but tonight.

The girl across from him fixes him with an intent gaze. "Sure are friendly folks around here," she says leadingly, tracing a finger around the rim of her plate. Her green eyes darken and deepen.

He looks her over slowly, appreciatively, imagining the body he knows is beneath those thick layers of clothing. A faint blush stains her cheeks as he appraises her. His lips curve in a slow, languid smile. "Y're prettier dan dey are, chère."

Her mouth forms an 'o' and the soft pink hue that settled beneath her skin flames into a dark shade of rose. She glares at him. "So is that whah they're all looking at me lahke they want to off me somehow?"

He chuckles and shrugs at her before lifting his glass and sipping the bourbon.

She grumbles something under her breath and takes her first bite of food. Her eyebrows draw together and a slight frown puckers her mouth. She chews thoughtfully and swallows. "Not bad."

He studies the small details, the delicate curve of her jaw, the high cheekbones, somewhat haughty, the finely arched brows, the way her long, slender fingers flex like playing the piano. He imagines what else they could play so well.

She picks up a napkin and wipes her mouth, then very deliberately folds the napkin over once, then over again and tucks it beneath the edge of her plate. She plants her elbows on the table, drawing a grin from him at the flaunting of manners, and clasps her hands beneath her chin. She then proceeds to regard him brazenly, eyes ablaze with interest as her gaze wanders over him. She starts at the tabletop level, gliding gradually up his chest and arms, then giving the most thorough of inspections to his face.

He leans back and enjoys her consideration.

Finally, with apparent satisfaction, she resumes her meal and doesn't bother to glance his way again.

He allows her the opportunity to eat. On a journey like hers--"running," what else could you call it?—a place to rest, something to eat, maybe a bit of companionship are small, but necessary comforts. He waits until she is halfway through her plate before he speaks again.

"Where y' headed?"

Her head pops up and he chuckles at the open surprise in her open gaze. "Whah would Ah tell ya that?" she asks, neither demanding nor surrendering. The surprise outweighs all else.

"Jus' wonderin'."

Witness knows the art of silence and he wields it effectively on her, turning slightly to survey the bar as he drinks his bourbon. He can see her perk up further out of the corner of his eye and the slight furrowing of the brow that indicates her perplexed wonder. She looks out over the crowd with him, as if wondering what has drawn his attention. Finally, she blows out a breath in annoyance and tosses back her chestnut hair again.

The lack of white bothers him. Shouldn't he remember this moment?

He turns to her with a smile and gestures at her plate. "Y' done?"

"Who are ya, Witness?" she asks, demanding for real this time, no longer content with the stolen moments of peace that come from the company of a stranger.

He studies her, making no secret of his thorough evaluation. He sees none of the signs he's looking for, nothing familiar to guide him.

"Ah'll do it," she'll say.

And he wonders what it is that gives him pause. He gives her a sidelong stare.

"So y' trust me now, hein?"

A frown troubles her expression, then smooths away. She sips on her Shirley Temple. "Do ya promise not to lah?" she asks, a soft, coy tone, a drawing away of the eyes.

He nods his assent. "I promise I'll neve' lie t' y'. But it'll be up t' y' t' listen. Too many people jus' hear."

She frowns again and sets down the glass.

"Ninety percen' o' evasion is lettin' de other person draw deir own conclusions an' not correctin' 'em when dey're wrong," he states matter-of-factly.

"Ah suppose that's true," she allows. "All raght. Ah'll listen."

He slides one ungloved finger across her uncovered hand. Instantly, she draws it back as if burned. Shaking, she reaches for her gloves. He stops her by laying the leather-clad palm of his hand across her fingers. She stares at him, eyes wide, hands trembling.

"What is it?" he asks, genuine concern softening his voice. He reaches out, looks deep into her eyes, overwhelming her slowly with his emanations of calm.

Slowly, so slowly, she quiets beneath him. Still, she swallows and glances about nervously as she admits, "Ah'm a mutant too."

He raises his eyebrows, as if he didn't know. He didn't know she was afraid. He catches her palm between both of his, and a helpless, panicked desperation shifts and dances within her eyes. Her body heat flares into an inferno, such terror and sweet fire at the awareness of his nearness. He feels the intensifying of her emotions and reaches to calm her again. He rubs her hand soothingly between his.

"Y're okay, chèrie," he whispers to her, focusing on maintaining eye contact, pouring comfort across the gap between them. "Not'in' bad is happenin'."

The heat in her goes cold, and it's too slippery to keep a hold on. "But it could," she whispers, eyes wide and dark with fear.

He shakes his head. "It won't."

She looks down at her hand, captured between his. Her next breath is a shuddering gasp. "Please, don't." Her eyes come back up to his.

He stills, tilts his head, reading her, then gently sets her hand back on the gloves.

She stares at it. A shiver runs down her and she hurriedly pulls on the gloves. "Ah just...it's not..." She stops, a faint flush of embarrassment spreading across her face. She doesn't look up. "Ah can't control it."

He gently places his hand beneath her chin, carefully avoiding direct contact skin to skin, and lifts it to see her face.

She's keeping her breath even, her face still with effort, not showing him the extent of her emotions.

"Y're not de only one," he says.

Something burned fiercely throughout his cells and rippled under his skin, like an alien within.

He dropped hard to the paved street with a sharp cry, agony ripping through his body, fiery and unrelenting. A man's face suddenly neared to his, hovering just above him. It was the well-to-do gentleman he'd been eyeing up for the pinch. Just a minute ago, he'd been feeling the rush of closing in on the prize, then a flash of dark hair in his eyes and this.

"Y' all right, fils?" the man asked, voice creased with worry and a thick Cajun accent that was only too familiar to the boy's ears. A heavy hand settled on his shoulder.

"It hurts," the boy whispered.

He tightened his embrace around himself and groaned as another wave of heat washed through him. He flinched as the man brushed back the auburn hair, revealing his eyes, those devil eyes that had earned him his pitiful life of thievery and hunger. He tried to turn away, but the man's grip was firm.

An accepting smile formed on the man's face. "I coul' take y' home, see if Tante Mattie coul' patch y' up?"

The boy could not believe the words. He stared into the man's eyes, searching for a lie. He only found sincerity. It scared him. "Home?"

"Where's it hurt?" He tried to lift the boy up, see his stomach where he clutched it so tightly.

The boy dropped his hands to the street to support himself.

It was a mistake.

"What do ya mean?" she asks, a brief look of confusion in her eyes.

Witness releases her chin, but she continues to look at him as he shrugs and leans back again, putting some distance between them.

"We all start out dat way," he says. "Out of control. It hurts, maudit. If not us, someone else." He doesn't tell her the story of his own period of gaining control. Too painful. Too full of betrayal. He wonders sometimes what would have happened if he hadn't hesitated, hadn't dropped his hands to the so easily chargeable ground.

She looks up sharply anyway. "Ya have control?" Disbelief colors her tone.

"Oui," he replies drily. "Comes wit' de territory. Control for service."

She stares at him, eyes troubled at his words. Service. She starts to speak, then thinks better of it and sips on her drink.

He waits patiently, knowing she will ask, that soon his work will be done. For now.

"What kahnd of service?"

His conscience doesn't even twinge, a fact he doesn't want to think about. "Mostly crime-fightin'. Intelligence." He shrugs. "Dey give y' control t' make y' useful."

Her finger wanders along the rim of her plate again. Her eyes stare into nothingness.

He aims carefully. "It's what dey specialize in," he says, all casual, then waves for the bill.

Her gaze snaps back to his. "Where are ya goin'?" she asks, suddenly panicked.

He chuckles. "Nowhere if y' want me t' stay." He eyes her up flirtatiously yet again and is rewarded with a shy, nervous expression and a flare of heat through her body.

"Do ya ever give up?" she demands in exasperation.

"Non." He grins at her unrepentantly.

The busboy comes back over and he pays for the bill before looking at her again, sober now.

"Mais, I do have t' be goin'. An old kitty cat t' meet up wit'," he says. A ripple of disgust curls up his lip, but he shakes his head and any thoughts of Sabretooth away. He focuses back on her. "Y' need somet'in' else?"

"Ya never told me who ya are," she says. Her voice is high. She has more to say. "How...do they help just anybody?"

Both eyebrows come up. "Non. Only de ones wit' some sort of talent and a lot o' power." He looks her over. "Y' might do."

She takes a deep breath. "And was mah meetin' ya here an accident, Witness?" She stares at him, her eyes clouded over in suspicion.

He laughs then. "Not'in' wit' de Witness ever is." He rises from his seat and drops a small card in front of her. It's a white cardboard rectangle with ten digits typed across the center. "De number if y' ever wan' t' call."

He doesn't give her a chance to really answer, just flips up the collar of his trench coat and starts toward the front door of the bar.

"Wait—" she starts to call out after him.

But he steps out into the Alaskan outdoors, letting the slamming door steal away her words.

Now isn't the time.

He holds out a playing card, the ace of spades, and lights it up with a brilliant pink glow. He grins with predatory anticipation.

"I see y', kitty-cat," he whispers to an image of two feral mutants fighting in the snow that only he can see. "I'm comin'."

Witness was a child when he fought Sabretooth first. Fourteen years old. The Omega Team had been assigned to stop Weapon X from destroying the target.

Raven chose well.

It was the only thing that could force him to go omega.

The target was a small, quiet village that had seen too much, known too much. Phoenix took the Silver Fox and the teleporter. Sage took the Deadpool and the other fellow, Zero.

Witness took Sabretooth.

He was sniffed out before he attacked. When he brought his bo staff down, the kitty cat was ready for him, grinning with malicious intent. He fought like an animal, a trait Witness had yet to appreciate.

He charged the beast's clothes. The beast regenerated and kept on coming.

He charged the feral's hair. The feral healed and kept on coming.

He charged the claws that found purchase in his body. He went down before those claws and stared up into the deathly eyes delighting in his death.

"Raise," he whispered.

Sabretooth didn't understand. Not until the fire burned through his very bones and his entire body exploded.

Witness thought he was going to die.

He didn't.

He has settled high up in a tree, ready and waiting for what he knows will come. Far in the distance, a truck is rattling down a long, winding road in the Alaskan wilderness, pulling a trailer behind it.

He fans out a brace of cards, reads their faces.

The king of hearts.

He'll pull himself out of the snow, his injuries healing over after being launched through the glass of his windshield. He'll stop, smelling the enemy. Claws will break through the skin.

Bleeding drops against the snow.

He'll fall beneath those clawed fingers, those bloody hands.

The two of clubs.

He'll change things. He always changes things.

Witness. Wheel of time. Spin the circle. Watch the blood red, sin black cards against the white. How will he make them fall?

"Do you have any idea what you're capable of?" Raven asked, will ask, has asked, will have asked.

What is time to him?

He'll pull himself bloody out of the snow, breathing through blood, seeing through red, claws in his flesh. He'll let the cells burn.

It'll be the only way to live.

The joker.

Kitty cat. "Here, kitty, kitty," he'll taunt the beast, the animal, the man, the feral who has lost his way so deep in primal instinct, hunger, wrath, what humanity is left? "Come to play?"

Who will the joke be on, hein?

Claws will tear his flesh. He'll find the dog tags. He'll live to see another day.

The queen of hearts.

She, her hair brown from crown to ends, she'll live.

He'll watch her fly away, black doors to the jet will shut.

The ace of spades.

Blood will spatter the snow. Red, crimson red, red as the devil, red as his eyes, against the pristine, pure white, as white as her perfect hair.

Whose will it be, that red, red crimson blood?

Dog tags will twirl at the edges of clawed fingers.

Scars will line his stomach, ripped again with bloody claws.

The girl will be safe then. She isn't the one. It's not yet time.

Somebody's going to die.

Who will die today?

Memory fades.

What is now, what is then, what is future?

Witness tightens his grip on the cards and lifts an ungloved finger to test the wind. It's blowing hard. He tilts his head into it, waiting. It shifts.

He charges the cards.

The boy tried to stand, gripping the ground to give him leverage.

It was a mistake.

A glowing red pool of color spread out slowly from his hands. Hot. Burning.

Someone swore and pulled the man back as he stared, wondering what was happening, why his hands hurt, why the world hurt and slowly began to pulsate in a red glow before his eyes.

The paved street beneath him was so hot. He pulled his hands away.

It exploded from beneath his feet. He was flung back in a pile of bleeding flesh and torn clothes. Agony wracked through his skin. He hit the ground, rolled into a bench. They both began to glow.

People backed away, screaming. All he could hear was the screaming. He pulled away from the bench.

His world exploded again.

A truck pulling a trailer rattles down the long, winding Alaskan highway. Witness watches from overhead until the tree falls across its path. The truck veers, crashes. A man flies through the glass windshield, shattering pieces into the surrounding area.

The wind picks up. A dark figure inside the truck is struggling.

It is cold, almost still.

Witness waits, watching his breath pour out into the thin air.

The feral's arm moves. The man pushes himself up onto his knees, his feet, staggering to a stand out of the snow. The glass and the fall has cut him with jagged edges. Dark red blood has pooled across his skin. It is rapidly disappearing as the feral wipes at it, like scratching an itch and calls out to the dark figure in the truck.

He stops, smelling the enemy. Claws break through the skin with a metallic ring.

Fire breaks out in the back of the trailer.

It is yet time.

The first attack. The choice is his to change the flow of time.

The two of clubs.

Clubs are for war.

The hands of the clock wound through his fist, pushing each other like cogs in the clockworks, driving each other like ticks in a race course. Wind it tighter, Witness; wind the hands of time.

He slams his bo staff into Sabretooth's back, drawing the man's--beast's—attention. Sabretooth drops the other feral and snarls at Witness before launching toward him.

Witness laughs. "Here, kitty," he taunts and charges the staff just as Sabretooth meets it with his body.

Snow begins to blow around them. The winds are changing. Fire from the trailer pours up to stain the sky with its orange glow. He knows she'll live. He focuses on the claws on Sabretooth's hands, the direction of his eyes, the smell of his fury.

The other feral is rising in the howling gale of snow.

Who will die today, homme? Tu? Moi?

Witness attacks the Sabretooth. It's charge and claws and burning across his skin. He's losing blood. He'll go down, won't he?

He'll be ripped again with bloody claws.

The feral's after the girl. Sabretooth has no time for anything but Witness. He charges his fur, his hair, the clothes on his back. Red glow burns over Sabretooth. Blue glow joins the red, running like electric currents.

Witness tastes the blood in his mouth. "Sure y' wan' t' play, kitty cat?"

Sabretooth growls and launches all his exploding body into Witness, sinking in his claws. The explosion rocks him, and he shoves the mangled corpse of the kitty cat off his body.

A black jet is howling in the background.

Blood spatters the white, white snow. Pure pristine. The color of his eyes. The color of her hair.

She does not see him. None of them see him as he wipes the blood from his mouth and begins to charge his cells, turning the ache into burning blue fire.

They're in the jet. The Blackbird flies.

Witness laughs.

"Kitty cat, y' died today," he gurgles through the blood, waiting for his cells to change, the skin to shift to fire, matter into energy. He burns, he changes, he witnesses.

Witness. Wheel of time. Spin the circle. Watch the blood red, sin black cards against the white. How will he make them fall?

He glances over at Sabretooth, already healing as he is. "Anot'er round?" He cocks an eyebrow and grins when he hears the answering growl.

She'll slam her fist down on the desk. "I gave you a direct order! How hard can it be for you to accomplish?" Raven's dark eyes will gleam with an inner flame and her red hair will fan down around soft, smooth blue skin.

He'll shrug, leaning his shoulder against the wall. He'll leave his hands in his pockets, resisting the urge to shuffle the cards together in his fingers.

"Witness." Her voice will carry a faint warning. He'll know that she'll make good on it.

"It wasn't time," he'll say nonchalantly, all casualness and the flash of an innocent smile. That smile will not reach his eyes.

Her eyes will flatten. Her tone will follow suit. "You witnessed it." She'll look at him, keenly evaluating.

He'll shrug again and push off the wall. "She'll come, Raven. Just bide your time." He'll turn to leave.

Raven's voice will give him pause, high, worried. "She could die!"

Sharply, he'll glance back, narrowing his demon-eyed gaze upon her. "Like you ever cared."

His powers were eating him from the inside out. He lay curled up on the floor groaning with the agony of restraining the deadly charge.

"Let it out," the black-haired girl would tell him.

She'd press her hands to face, no matter how he pushed her away. The red glow of charge would flow from his skin to hers, writhing upward until he called it back, forced it under his own skin again.

Sage would look at him, panic in her eyes and drop down next to him, meet his blazing blue eyes with her own. "Let it out," she would say. "Please, Witness. You'll kill yourself."

Raven watched. She was always there, waiting for the inevitable he fought with all his might.

He screamed as his powers eventually unleashed themselves. His whole world exploded in blue and red glow.

Phoenix is angry when he walks into the home base. There is a darkness in her eyes and a melding of the flesh to show her powers. Dark angry red light emanates from beneath her skin, slipping out of the cracks.

"You almost died," she says. There's a telepathic echo, but he does not reach to hear it, and she cannot force it upon him. "She almost died. Have you forgotten our mission?"

"Where's Raven?" he cuts her off and pauses briefly in front of her.

She clamps her lips shut into a narrow line. Power licks out in reddish fiery tendrils, but then sink into her body and disappear as though they never were. Her eyes are a normal green, vivid and clear. Her skin is a normal ivory with the common faint freckles of a redhead. Her hair is red and falling softly around her face, instead of floating on a sea of telekinesis.

"She's waiting for you in the office," Phoenix says softly. "Please don't get yourself hurt," she says. "We need you."

He looks her in the eyes for a moment. He takes her head in his hands. "I'll live."

The words are hard, direct, but it is the only reassurance she needs.

She lets him pass.

Raven will not be so kind.

Strong, wiry arms grasped him from behind and held his mouth shut. He struggled, fought, but no one noticed his battle with the unknown woman. Or else no one cared.

"Be quiet and all will be well," a treacherous whisper echoed in his ear. A cold, sharp knife settled against his stomach beneath his shirt.

Angry fire welled up beneath his skin, and the knife pressed closer, deeper. He could feel the hum of the glow that moved, coming from him.

He quieted.

The knife drew away and he prayed silently it would not explode. He was bleeding. He was hurting. Please just make it stop.

"Good boy," the woman said.

The seething, mingling, milling, restless crowds closed around them. When they opened again, he was gone.


    FANDOM: X-Men: The Movie

    STORY SUMMARY: As the governments of the world developed their teams of powerful Alpha-level mutant supersoldiers, international espionage and law enforcement organization SHIELD recruited its own: Omega-level mutants. Omegas are so rare, even Charles Xavier isn't sure if they really exist. But they do. Their lives are about to become intertwined with the X-Men's.

    DISCLAIMERS: All characters and organizations (with the exception of small, mostly unnamed minor characters) throughout the series are the product of Marvel.

    CANONICAL NOTES: This story arc utilizes movieverse canon for events, beginning with X1 and following through the events of X2 and X3, but ignoring the events of Wolverine: Origins (XO). The story is, however, AU due to large changes to the ages and events in the lives of several characters. Story diverges from canon almost immediately and will be less and less like the movies the further it goes along. The story utilizes comicverse canon for characters and powers. SHIELD diverges from canon, but is largely drawn from comicverse. The Weapon X Program will be based on comicverse canon, as a department of the Canadian government.

    LANGUAGE AND ACCENTS: Cajun French is courtesy of Heavenmetal (many thanks). I will attempt to reproduce accents in this story arc.

    (UNBOUND) entries are in drafting phase and are likely to change radically before complete.



    1. Going Omega
    1.0 Prologue: The Huntress
    1.01 No Witnesses
    1.02 Phoenix Fires
    1.03 Where The Raven Flies
    2. Finding Omega
    2.01 Bearing Witness
    2.02 The Worst Rogue
    3. Burning Omega

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