Additional Pairings: None
Author's Notes: Listening to Meteora while PVTing today resulted in this. Let's just say my Angst*Muse and I are apparently on speaking terms again. This one desperately wants to become another Betrayal series....someone shoot me XD.
Summary:...Some people are beyond redemption.
They never thought the end would come so soon. They were still kids; their biggest worries should've been whether anyone would agree to go with them to the prom, whether they could make it to a weekend party and still have time to finish their homework before Monday...not whether they would survive the next few hours.
Smoke stings Kurt's eyes, fills his lungs, chokes him and leaves a bitter, acrid taste on the back of his throat. The smell is overwhelming, mixing with sweat and stagnant water, the reek of burning flesh. He fights down the gag-reflex tickling his throat and narrows his eyes, desperate to see through the clouds of gray that fill his vision and the moisture that fills his irritated eyes.
The world around him is chaos. A not-so-small war is erupting in the streets, and he and his team are trapped in the center of it. Sentinels fight mutants, who fight each other. The only humans left in the area are corpses; something so fragile can't last long in a battle between gods and machines. The sight of them makes his stomach lurch, and he wants to be ill, but the precious seconds that would take could get him killed. He swallows hard and presses on, looking for his teammates, and marveling over the fact he's still alive in the midst of such carnage.
The Sentinels are easier to avoid than the mutants. Teleporting screws with the robots' sensors, but the Children of Magneto have had far too much experience with his abilities to let it throw them off for long. He's accosted many times, just barely escaping each fight, but continues doggedly on his search, growing more and more terrified at the absence of his comrades. He hunts, eludes, and hunts even more. And finds the last person he wanted to find.
Caught in a moment of relative calm, Todd turns to him; Kurt chokes on a gasp. The dark circles around his eyes stand out like horrid bruises. His skin is a deathly pale in contrast, his body even thinner than Kurt remembered it (and he did remember it, late at night, alone, tears running down his furry cheeks and hands traveling longingly over his own body).
No answer. Todd merely grimaces, turns his head slightly and closes his eyes. Kurt's mouth snaps shut.
"You shouldn't have gotten involved, blue." His voice is cold, weary beyond his very few years. Already Kurt wants to cry, and this is only the beginning.
"How could I not? Those're my friends out there, fighting and..." the word 'dying' catches in the spiderwebs that seem to have sprang up in his mouth. "What are you doing, Todd? Why are you here?"
"Looking out for the team, man. 'S all. Doing what has to be done."
Kurt frowns. "HIS team."
A glare filled with reproach. "MY team, yo. My friends, my people."
Kurt looks away from the accusation in his amber eyes. The battle's raging on around them, but in the background, as if afraid to intrude. "We were your friends, once. Or did you forget?"
Danger dances in his gaze, filling Kurt's vision and forcing him back a few steps. "Yeah, well, my definition of 'friend' usually doesn't involve murder."
"That was an accident, it was never meant to happen!" he cries, knowing the futility and needing to say it anyway. "What Scott did, he didn't mean to, you've got to see that! Why do you think he left the team? The guilt, it nearly destroyed him, from the inside!"
"But he came back."
"He said he had a duty to fulfill-"
"Lance isn't coming back."
Kurt flinches as if slapped, regret choking him. Todd continues, voice merciless and cold, "I owed Lance ten times what I ever owed you X-Geeks."
"So you're doing this for him?" Kurt snaps, betrayal and pain turning his voice high and sharp. "You're risking your life to, what, avenge his?"
"You don't get it, do you? I'm doing this for me; for the Toad," he shouts, and somehow Kurt prefers the sudden rage to the numb entity he was moments ago. "Don't you see, dawg? Those mutant-haters have their way, it's the camps or reservations for us. Looking like we do, you and I'll be the first ones they'll come after."
Kurt was given no time to process it; sudden movement at the peripheral of his vision made him spin to the right. His mouth dropped open at the sight that met his eyes, the slim girl making her slow way through the battlefield, eyes wandering as desperately as his had been, searching. She was too intent on finding a friendly face to see the unfriendly one behind her, the Sentinel turning its head with a slow, deliberate movement, walking towards her with calculating steps.
Kurt screams, a wordless cry, starts running; the girl doesn't hear him over the din of war, anymore than she hears the giant approaching from behind, weapon charging. Kurt shouts again, his throat rebelling at the force, finding voice in the single word, "Kitty!"
She turns, finally seeing him, a grateful, pained smile briefly flitting across her beautiful dirt-streaked face. Still she doesn't see the behemoth closing in; he flexes the muscles, mental and physical, to teleport to her side-
A heavy form slams into him from behind, robbing him of breath, of sense, and crushing him to the ground, digging harshly into his kidney and pressing his shoulders down. He cries out, in pain and desperation, but his head is clouded, confused, he can't focus on anything but Kitty's frightened face as she makes to run to his aid...
The shot goes through her shoulderblades and out her chest, cutting clean through her heart. Her furrowed brows rise, surprised, gaze focusing ahead for an instant before going blank. Her body slumps to the ground with a terrible grace, and a piece of him dies, screaming.
Wordless fury boils up in him. His blood seethes and writhes in his veins, burning with a sickly flame. A feral, gut-wrenching roar escapes his wounded throat; with inhuman strength he flips, tossing off the weight on his back, which really isn't as heavy as it should be, were Todd not so thin. He jumps the boy, knocking him to the ground and wrapping three-fingered hands around his fragile neck; his efforts earn him a kick in the gut from the strongest legs in the world. He flies several feet before crashing to a rough landing, the debris on the ground cutting his elbows and tail and tearing great rents in the shoulders of his uniform. He slowly turns over, raising himself on his hands, and watches his own tears hit the dirt.
"Why? WHY?! You're not a murderer! Why are you doing this?"
He looks up as the worn sneakers come into view. Todd kneels by him, on his left knee, arm resting lightly on his right. His tone is again even, emotionless. "You were always preaching at me. 'Stand by your principles, no matter who tries to sway you.' Well, guess what. It finally stuck."
Tears mingle with the dirt on his face, leaving the soft fur on his cheeks a matted, muddy mess. He chokes back a sob. "And does what we had mean nothing?"
Warm fingers caress his face, bringing his chin up gently until his eyes meet Todd's amber ones. It's a tender gesture, one he remembers as well as the feel of Todd's breath on his sensitive ear. "Why do you think you're still alive?" His voice is soothing, calm, and filled with pain, and Kurt's tears resume with full force. The blinding contact of Todd's fist is almost welcome, as is the slow unconsciousness that comes with it.
It's a while before Todd moves. He sits there, staring at the unconscious form, mind conjuring images of that body writhing under him, over him, curled gently against him. For a brief moment he wishes he were braver, stronger, able to finish the boy now, not leave him to the fate Magneto has planned. After a long time one of the Acolytes, the pyromaniac, comes over, and gives the limp body a questioning look.
"The Bossman wants this one alive, yo."
The Acolyte picks him up without a word, and heads off to deliver the goods. Todd watches him go for a moment, face unreadable. He spits on the ground, idly noting the traces of crimson mixed with the green, and follows.