Can also be read on AO3 here
Generation X,Post M Jonothon Starsmore gets a visitor after he’s been depowered. Might be slightly angst-ish, too. No beta, you’ve been warned! The voices in my head made me write this at somewhere between 2 and 5 in the morning!
Disclaimer: Don’t own them, not making money from this.
Footsteps sounded in the artificially lit hallway. The young woman moved as if she were afraid of her own shadow; her own clicking heels felt like the equivalent of explosions in her ears. The distance she needed to bridge to reach the door could as well be the other end of the world. She was not supposed to be here, yet she could not bring herself to stay away. Arriving at the door, she still hesitated. Tentative fingers reached for the handle but did not push down. She pressed her ear against the door and was greeted by the sound of machines – machines designed to keep someone alive. Other than that, she didn’t hear a sound. Not even breathing. Not that she expected there to be.
Mustering her courage, she pushed the door open. She kept her eyes down, afraid to look at the young man in the hospital bed.
She felt ashamed coming here in disguise. After all this time, she wished she was braver. A strange sound broke the monotony of machine noise – a sound similar to tearing paper, only louder and somehow more disconcerting. A metamorphosis took place in the hospital room. The young woman, quite literally, burst out of her skin. Her face, her hair, her pigmentation – it all changed in a heartbeat. Emerging from under the throwaway skin came the girl’s true appearance, that of Paige Guthrie, mutant girl-next-door. She dropped her old husk into a trash can unceremoniously, and sat down next to the bed. She could finally bring herself to look at the man – really look at him.
Jonothon Evan Starsmore. Her first love.
He was sleeping, his body broken. Seeing him like this made Paige understand why he had pushed her away in the past. It was a gruesome sight, to be fair. The entire lower jaw was torn off; there was a hole where his lungs and his heart should be. By all intents and purposes he should be dead, but he was fighting still. What truly sent shivers down Paige’s spine were the dozens of little tubes that were connected to him, keeping him alive. She was a shapeshifter, not an empath, but she could almost feel his pain. It was pressing down on her like a physical entity. Tears formed in her sky-blue eyes.
“Oh Jono, how did we get into this mess?” she sobbed quietly. Her question remained unanswered, as she knew it would.
She reached for his hand, entwining her fingers with his. How she missed his voice in her head. How she missed the innocence of their youth. Two losses so different, yet somehow connected. She wished she could kiss him – on the lips, tongues meeting, devouring each other. She wished she could have done it just once, long ago before they were mutants. One kiss. Would it have made a difference? Could one kiss have made up for all future kisses he couldn’t give her?
Her breathing became erratic, interrupted by sobs that seemed to sync with the pumping machines. Still Jonothon lay motionless, unaware of her presence. She moved her other hand to his forehead, caressing it. She wondered how she had ever led herself to believe that she had stopped loving him. How utterly she had lied to herself. Her body – her amazing body that could turn into anything she chose – was craving to do the one thing it could not: to become one with the man before her. She brought his hand to her lips, placing soft kisses on it. Precious contact, but painfully insufficient.
“I love you.” she whispered against his fingers, her confession remaining unheard.
Her own words scared her. At least he could not push her away, she thought. At least he wouldn’t hurt her feelings by trying to talk her out of wanting him.
She tried to imagine them on that beautiful autumn day; the day after their explosive kiss. She wondered how things might have turned out if she hadn’t told him she was embarrassed. She should have been stronger, but pride got in the way. How lovely it might have been though, curling up in his arms, surrounded by falling leaves. She held the image in her mind, repeating it, holding it, until it almost became a memory. She almost wished he could read her mind now, share in her reverie.
Then he stirred. It was just a faint movement, but it startled her nonetheless. His fingers tightened around hers. His face – what was left of it – distorted in pain. And as much as she wanted not to, she panicked. Her breathing stopped when his eyelashes fluttered. When his eyes flung open, she knew he recognized her instantly. There was shock in his eyes, and pain. Although he couldn’t speak, she knew what his eyes were telling her. He did not want her to see him like this. So here they were, trapped in their old dance again. He did not even need words to push her away.
And she…she still wished she were braver when she brought her lips to kiss his hand once more. She wanted stay with him, to cover what was left of his face with kisses. But her grip on his hand was already loosening.
Once more the sound of tearing skin could be heard in the room. Before Jono’s eyes, she turned into a stranger. And while every cell in her body begged her to stay, she turned away nonetheless.
Would he have called out to her, she wondered, if he had a mouth? Would he have gotten into her mind if he still had his powers?
But what ifs and maybes couldn’t help her now.
The steps to the door seemed a longer distance still than when she arrived. It was strange really, she should be happy. She had an angel waiting at home. Their relationship was simple. He was nothing like the man in the hospital bed. He was beautiful and charming, and wouldn’t push her away. He would take her in his arms and tell her he loved her. He would supply her with all the kisses she could ever wish for. Yet all his kisses couldn’t make up for that one kiss, the kiss she’d never gotten from the man she truly loved.
Tonight she’d go back to her lover, curl up in his embrace, and tell him nothing of the day’s events. She’d laugh, and flirt, and pretend everything is just fine. But in her mind, she’d go back to that autumn day with Jonothon Starsmore. She’d rewrite it entirely. She wouldn’t laugh, she wouldn’t flirt, and she would just be. He would hold her and the world would go away. His mind would touch hers and she’d never have to pretend again.
Ah, if only she were braver…
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