It is a Year Later

December 18, 2018:

The story of Rose Wilson and Nate Grey took a bad turn early in 2016, when Rose was 'recruited' into the Suicide Squad and then a far worse one when in Genosha Nate got killed and Rose followed Sugar Man into another world. But he came back from death, and she just came back from elsewhere. A year later, they meet again. *Angst Warning*

A Street in Mutant Town

Mostly rebuilt Mutant Town.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Amanda Waller

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Mutant Town was down, down in the list of the neighborhoods to see the City Hall repair crews (much less the amazing Damage Control teams) but the locals were up to the challenge to fix the damages of the so-called demon invasion themselves.

So the neighborhood looks… okay. Lets be frank, it will never be a glamorous place. But the tourists are returning to see the freaks and their freaky business. Christmas spirit is visible here and there one can see wreath and garland at doors and balconies. Just outside Wannabes there is an (awful in Nate's opinion) cheerful Christmas tree. The club just re-opened a couple days ago.

Mutant Town does look better than some of the other poor areas of New York for sure. So there are reasons to be moderately optimistic despite the cold and the talks about registration. Nothing like a demon invasion to make humans forget they hate mutants. Maybe registration will be forgotten for a bit, like happened after Metropolis was invaded by aliens.

Nate is getting too cynical for that kind of optimism. But he has a tall cup of coffee and money in his pockets from last night stage magic show. The only thing preventing this evening from being a good one is the disappearance of a local mutant kid due to one of those weird rifts about an hour ago. He is trying to find him, since sometimes they don't go far. One of many volunteers, but also one of the best mutants for this kind of task. Searching through the familiar streets of Mutant Town using his eyes and his telepathy should be just a couple hours.


It has been a year…

Ravager went through a rift on Genosha, a time-stamp that left her well traveled in a world that looked:
..Akin to this one, here in Mutant Town and most of the Mutant-Dominate Populated places.

The white haired Steam-Pirate hefted up a duffel from a safe within an abandoned apartment, the scanner beaming arctic blue in a red laser beam before the entie floor started to smoke in her departure. The apartment of a displaced woman sealed behind a reinforced door, unseen behind splintered wood.

Mutant Town: Ground Level

The caucophany of crying carrion fowl overhead has Rose looking upward, narrowung her eyes before the landscape is taken in and recalled in a crash-course of memory from the time past. Her unincinerated belongings hefted over her shoulder, the pauldron of metal bearing a one-eyed skull and cross-bones bearing the weight behind a brace.

The local cafe, the soft opening Club, the shop where… Leather jacket is remade now, and clutched close over her chest as the memories easily come back like present tense.

That is where Nate can barely gain a feel on Rose, upon her exhale with the winter air fading to a fog before her lips upon a harsh exhale. A single eye looking up…

Finding Nate several yards along the sidewalk before her while fingers clutch the strap of the heavy duffel bag she just gathered.

The look alone can lay waste…


One year, three months, sixteen days and some hours. That is how long has been for Nate. So VERY long. Since the confused attack on the Magistrates Citadel of Hammer Bay.

He looked for her for months. He returned to Genosha with a small team of X-Men mostly to look for her, not just to fight Magistrates and Sentinels. But she was missing, and not even the spooks in the government knew where the white haired, one-eyed young woman was. MIA.

Not the first time Nate lost Rose. And in truth maybe he had lost her months earlier, when she told him to stay away from her and that clandestine DEO team in Louisiana. But he always hoped, and he searched, and only slowly he lost hope.

Until a full year passed and he stopped searching.

She spots Nate before he sees her, since he is focused in looking for a missing kid. Usually Nate is very hard to surprise. Even for Rose, who knew all his tricks and weaknesses. It is the intensity of the look that makes him turn, and freeze. He loses his breath, paling visibly.

The coffee cup falls to the sidewalk. "Rose," he mutters. Alive. Maybe an illusion? No, there is a mind behind the pale eye. Changed by a year away, but still painfully familiar.


For the moment the cellos sound like a waltz foretold as leather clutch screams beneath a woven handle of heavy-weight.

Thunder Struck.

Welcome to the world of no heroes and villains.

Welcome to the war we've only begun….

Rose had lost and been forced to regain herself… Rise.

The span of coffee tables, pedestrians, steam, gloved grips, pathways between t all comes to a reltive pause as behind the patch there is a flicker of light that seeks to spark to life!

…."… Nate…"

The duffel slowly slides over her shoulder, taking the paudron with it, a clatter on concrete long behind the booted footfalls that carry her before him in a stand that could be taken as a virulent (violent) passion!

The bag and armament hits the ground behind her, the pale haired woman's grip laden in fingerless gloves capturing Nate's jawline while lips barely brush before his in an attempted embrace.

"You gave up on me," A flash of teeth to grasp his lower lip in a brutal bite that would swell his flesh in familiarity and yet…

… // 'Cuz you're scaring me, I guarantee you'll miss me… //

The clatter of coffee cup, baggage, and collision coincides as that single eye focuses upon Nate in close proximity. No illusion in the pain that reddens lips before their slow and painstaking parting.

"You didn't believe (in) me." A press of her forehead against his. Those platinum strands of theirs mingling while her fingers released their grip and leather attire moaned.

Rose is walking away… Again…


Nate recovers as Rose steps forward, his arms reaching for her waist as she touches his jawline. "No. I will never give up on you," he manages before she bites him.

"I feared you were dead," he adds, quietly. The coppery taste of blood in his mouth, but he doesn't care. It is not the first time he bleeds for her. "And I feared more you had given up yourself. And us."

He who never feared anything.

Another lesson she has taught him. A bitter one. Only if he has nothing can he be truly fearless.

His blue-green eyes find her paler one. They look harder she might remember, as if he had aged years in what for her felt less. It has been a hard year… no, two hard years. His left eye looks paler than it was, the scars around it look deeper.

His hands don't release her waist, not yet. "I wanted to save you, as you did for me when I needed you. I saw you in so much pain, what would YOU have not done for ME?"


The taste of blood, his blood is not unfamiliar to the pale assassin, even as she slowly drags away from him in a scrape of teeth and pliant flesh that stains her lips a darker shade of red.

Over the dark patch that shields her bionic addition, strands of gossamer-snow cut through the shadows like a light in the dark, cutting through the….

"Bullshit." The Ravager states as her own hands had withdrawn but his keepsake grip upon her hips - his words - keep her from fully turning away.

Only a pivot before she freezes and her posture goes ramrod straight in defense of an invisible blow laid across an invisible barrier. But if that single pale eye could cut through razor wire it would with the narrowed and aimed gaze she held upon Nate at that moment.

Rose's hair is a mishappen fall of stained platinum. Yellowed in pollutants, dirtied, and even some encrusted and dried black-on-copper of visceral rem(a)inders. At the tips of some of those bound tails, there is broken shards of mystery.

The same unanswered questioning is on one eye that zeroes in on Nates' dual gaze of oceans unfrozen by the Roses' own depths.

Shared scars differ in placement, but they are /shared/, none the less.

"The concern is what I would do." A pivot to drag the bloody swell of her lip back betwen her lips while half-gloved grip takes his hands upon her waist and squeeze.

Leaning forward her lips rest on the lower ridge, just beneath his eye but upon a splay of his scars, lips marked in blood barely accented on his skin over the plague marking that courses through his body. Ravager knows it intimately.

"You have stopped fighting though, by the looks of it." His hands are then clenched and pulled slowly from her hips, only to be brought into a hold between them as if the moment deserved mutual prayer. Calloused grip now shared. "Can YOU be saved?" Very real, that grip that has broken and brittle nails biting into his hands and knuckles while an unspoken challenge lies between them.

Nevermind the audience of the coffee shop around them!


Screw the audience. Mutant Town is a 24/7 show.

"The hell I did," growls Nate. Fighting? He never knows when to stop. Ever. All other things can be blamed to him. Every one of them. But never the lack of the will to fight. And being saved? NO. Nate could be saved from everything but himself. If nothing else they have that in common.

The concern is what SHE would do. The concern is what HE would do. Anything else can be wrecked, trampled. That is what they did.

"Does it look I stopped fighting? I was fighting in these very streets but two months ago," and where were you?! No. He has no right to ask, that is not how they were. She had her missions, her bloody job. He had his obsession. Apocalypse.

Nate lets her grab his hands and raise them and his eyes wander briefly, picking up now the details. The stained hair, the damaged hands, broken nails. She is back from a war zone, he can even smell it.

He was so tense, but now he relaxes slightly. "Can we be saved? I don't know. Does that change anything?" They didn't care when they were younger. Now… maybe he cared too much.


Nate did not seem to understand her meaning, even as Ravager had marked the growing pattern of the Techno-Viral scarring from his eye.

More blood, more sorrow. Not all scarlet letters are 'A', right?

Wreckless…

"Fighting in these streets." But then Ravager takes the clutch upon his hands and presses them to his chest and shoves! "But not for yourself!" A twist to pivot to the side and slap a bystanders' cup of cafe' from the table top to splatter the cream topping over the window of watchers that take a small lean back upon the impact of cup and contents.

A firestorm building…

The bag of her hidden-away goods is shouldered back up while she turns away and clenches her eyes closed, pinches the bridge of her nose and grinds her teeth to the point the hollows of her cheeks concave and almost look skeletal.

"Maybe you need to fight to live, too." /To come back/. Unspoken but the innuendo is blatant even as that single frigid blue eye looks back at him.


Nate's eyes narrow. Oh. That.

"What is for me, anyway?" He shrugs, a self-depreciating smirk in his lips. "I live on borrowed time, Rose, I just try to make the most out of my life. Fight to make things a bit better, and enjoy what I can of the world," he reaches for her shoulder, trying gently to pull her away from the crowd. There is so much he wants to tell her, he does not even know where to start. "I am actually pretty good at staying alive against all comers, you know?"

And apparently also good at returning when killed. Did she ever know what happened to him in Genosha? Maybe better to keep that part for a better time. What happened to HER in Genosha, anyway? It hurts not knowing. As it hurts not to be able to share all his life with her.

"Come, walk with me a little," he offers. "Yes, the technovirus is spreading, but so slowly I have many years ahead. I doubt it is what kills me. You look like you just came from hell, what happened to you?"


".. who doesn't live on borrowed time," a small tension at his touch as he grips her to bring her back. How many times..?! "When we live the lives we do?"

Ravager finally stops to face him. She has to, she needs to, something in his tone…

But it does not make her face him with any less apathy, or torn?

One eye focused, the other a shadowed reminder…

Ravager will not speak of the future she clamored through to obtain the desired for a Wall. In fact that single eye is far colder, far more fathomless. No scars around that single gaze, unlike his, but there is an emptiness - a fragment stolen. It is evident she is still fighting it. Hating it.

Hating who she is….
Becoming.

Yeah, it hurts!

"Maybe it isn't what kills you," A pause as she walks with him, as offered. "But it is no help. Get rid of it, Nate."

When he asks what happened to her she does not break her stare towards him, that eye

"The future -" A pause and she smiles lightly on the finality, but missing some…. aspects… of it. "That could have been."

Did she miss some people, some possibilities? Absolutely. Even a Ravager can make friends.


Nate peers into the eye, and of course he feels. Empathy is not something he can control. And he knows her. Or knew her… no, if feels HER. Her Rose was ever contradictory. So driven, and so aimless sometimes.

Again, he wants to know. But she is not responding his questions. "Rose…" let me help. He sighs. Unsaid.

"Actually the virus does help some. It keeps my power in check and under control to a point. There is some balance," a painful balance. But that is maybe what he deserves. He can live with it until something better comes up. "I guess it wasn't an easy future," he comments, changing the subject. "Well, you are back. I am glad," a pause, "I miss you."


Rose is answering his questions, but doing so in a way… To not betray…

… Those who don't exist anymore, right?

A quiver of lower lip at the thought, sucked in and bitten hard to divert her attention to the present, and not the future. To Nate…

Her hearing fades in, and out in a warped sound of his baritone until his final three words.

I. Miss. You.

"The future," Your future? She inhales and curls fingers into palms, broken nails biting into flesh, cracking the layers into a small draw of blood beneath callouses. "…Is Hell."

The look Nate's way is one that is pensive, studious, and… There is a moment of fear. But her spine straightens in resolve, a roll of her shoulders as if to remind herself that she ended Sugarman's infliction from Genosha to the future and beyond.
Handed it to The Wall.
Walked away.
Turned her back on…

Eyes closed and she stopped in her walk with Nate, that single ocular looking his way as his final words mixed in and formed an equation.

"A virus does nothing but erode away at the reality." A swift flashback, to Sugarman's future, to what was between them before… A Wall. A SKWAD.

Ravager's body shuddered and leather moaned as fingerless gloves gripped the handles of the canvas bag and clutched it closer.

Rose knows HIM, too. The look his way now more assessing, final. "You need to embrace one or the other. Just like me," She states, lowering her head where the beaded ends of stained platinum strands descend over her shoulder in a abeyant chime of bitter silence.

"I miss you, too." An exhale and she closes her eyes. "But we need to figure this out. The future is already paved." A draw of inhale. "Dark."

"I refuse to be It's Bitch."


Nate smirks faintly. Fighting for a better future is such a large part of his life. Always has been. "We can change the future," he states firmly. "Rose. If you hate what you do, stop. It is always your choice. You did what you did… you thought you had good reasons. But it is it worth your soul?"

He steps a little close. He offers a choice, but she is demanding a choice from him too. "Come back," with me. Or without me. Just come back to what she wants. "Lets fight against the world if that is what it takes," and more important. "Don't let anyone control you. That is what you hate the most. Don't let anyone warp you into a tool of death for their benefit. You can be better. You were better."

He pauses, as if remembering something more. "I don't know if I can give you what you want. But I promise I will never stop trying. I still love you. I don't think I can stop myself, not even when I believed you were dead." He clenches his jaw, "more than anything. I don't want you to hate yourself anymore. Never again."


For a fleeting moment, Rose genuinely smiles at Nate.

We can change the future..

"You think…?" A look away where a sleeve swipes against her eyes as if sweeping away something she hides from them both, even her own conscience. The only look back bares a smear of soot and mascara in a streak across her eyes like a war band. Branded. Eye patch and all.

"I do not think you could give me the forgiveness I need." A rise in her stance then as she looks deadpan at Nate, a thumb streaking a blackened droplet upward into that band where she feigns a wince beneath the patched occular. But behind that patch a soft glow casts…

"I'm trying to come back." A lift of that soot-smeared hand, reaching to touch him along his profile, smearing that stained thumb along his scarred cheek-bone.

Rose's head tilts as she watches the gesture almost make the scarring seem deeper, more cutting upon him in shadows and light. "We will fight." /Ourselves or them, though?/ That is the question unspoken as she tilts her head and withdrawals to take her few steps back and into a crowd that did not see the prior actions.

"But death does not become us." A small smile, sanity seems split now even in that gaze. "Even apart, Nate." A pivot on booted heel and a single gesture is made to coordinates, but seems like a dismissive wave if unstudied before she bows into the crowded streets of Mutant Town and…

Ninja. Vanish!


"Don't let anyone stop you," offers Nate. Or maybe demands. There is an edge in his voice when he realizes she will leave. Again. But this is far more that he had fifteen minutes ago, when he expected her to be dead. What could he hope now?

The forgiveness she needs? He guesses she needs to forgive herself and Nate can't do that. On the other hand he faces pretty much the same problem. So many mistakes he made, and the cost was horrendous.

"I will only blame you if you surrender, Rose," he says as farewell. Ninja vanish ever unwelcomed, but always allowed.

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