PUNCH
Jonothon Starsmore furnaceface
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A Bar in New York, Jono's 616, Tuesday-ish
The Present:

Sitting in a bar, staring into his drink. The same one he'd ordered hours ago, bought and paid for out of his own pocket and everything. Anything particularly valuable to him was left behind in his room, letters and stones, seashells and crowns and a dozen little mementos of his high school days. He wouldn't be needing them tonight.




Xavier's School, Monday:

So help him, after spending the weekend enjoying Homecoming, Jonothon was in a damn good mood when he returned to the school. There had been talking with old friends and some new, contemplating his future, finally getting around to really thinking about keeping his promise to Raven to get the hell out of this gong show called the X-Men.

For the first time in a while, Jono really felt as though, maybe, he had nothing to lose.

So help him, he shouldn't have lingered as he walked by the meeting room. Lingering meant listening. Listening, around here, never led to any good.




The Present:

"Hey, pal..." The bartender. Idly washing a mug with a rag that was probably too dirty to pass inspection. It wasn't exactly the nicest of bars. Jono was counting on that. "Ya mind me asking what you're doing? You've been doing nothing but staring at that beer for hours..."

//Just remembering.//

"Remembering what?"

//What it was like to actually drink one of these.//

"Yeah, well... how about remembering what it's like to actually buy another one of those. Seats are for paying customers, ya know."

The eyes on the back of his head felt like they were going to burn another hole clear through it.

//What are you looking at? Ain't never seen a bloke have a drink before!?//




Xavier's School, Monday:

"I say it's time." Logan's snarl carried so easily through the door that Jono couldn't help but linger and listen, there. "I say we tiptoed with these monsters long enough... an' what I've seen recently only makes me think that even more. So yeah, I guess when it comes right down to it, I'm sayin' in no uncertain terms that the time has finally come, lady and gents, for the X-Men to take down the Weapon X program. Once and for all."

There was an itch in the back of Jono's mind at that. Some vague echo of a memory that didn't quite sit right.

He knew the best thing for him to do would be to walk away.

Why the hell hadn't he walked away?




The Present:

All just dull noise in the background, now. Jonothon's head was bowed. He was back to thinking, staring down at the beer that he wasn't going to touch. The bartender was talking to... some girl. Jono didn't care to look until she stepped up beside him, ordering him another drink.

Just going to sit there with the other one, just like the bartender said.

"Um, hello there.... I was one of the people staring at you, and you're right... we shouldn't be doing that. Please, accept this drink, along with my apologies."

She was cute. And she was trying and under any other circumstances, that might have been enough to get Jono to relent.

//Your name?//

"Becky."

//Becky, I'm not very good company tonight, so if you please...//

"Look, you seem like you need somebody to talk to, so..."

//I don't. So now that you've bought me a beer so you can make yourself feel better, you can go back to your friends and continue to gawk at the burn victim, okay?//

"Guess I deserved that." She hesitated. Lingered. Jono turned his face back toward his drink. Of course someone had to make it difficult. "So how... you know... did it happen?"

//I'd rather not talk about it, luv...//




Xavier's School, Monday:

"Hey, just point me in the right direction, runt," said none other than the Juggernaut, sitting there at the table just as comfortably as any person who had ever worn an X before him, "an' I promise ya ain't gonna have to worry about 'em ever again."

Jono rolled his eyes, but didn't comment. Just stayed there. Just listened.

"If it were only that simple, Marko... ya know I'd be the first one right alongside ya. But as much as I hate to admit it, this time the situation may call for somethin' a bit more... safe."

The words that Jono never thought he'd hear, coming from Logan's mouth. Bobby, either, apparently, considering he said more or less the same.




The Present:

//Here, Becky.//

He reached for her hand. She wasn't going to go away until he scared her off.

"What are you--?!"

And so it was her fingers that pulled down the wrappings over his face, and his hand, tightening around her wrist, not letting her pull back no matter how hard she struggled.

//Tell me. Is it as big a deal as I think?//




Xavier's School, Monday:

"Stakes are too high this time, Drake," Logan pointed out. "When Cyclops an' me recently stormed the Weapon Plus compound I learned a few things... some of it was about myself... some of it was about Weapon Plus' possible connection to Weapon X...."

"Wait," Jean-Paul broke in, "I'm confused-- were we not made to understand Weapon X had separated itself from their 'parent' Plus Programs?"

"They did, Northstar-- but I have reason to believe that they may have rekindled that relationship again... and it may just involve a little place called Neverland."

There had been many times in the past few years that Jonothon had found himself in an unfortunate state where his body's limitations couldn't possibly live up to his own need to vomit. The sound of that word, however, made him think for a moment that this was worse than all of those moments combined.

Neverland.




The Present:

The reaction was instant. The bartender grabbing Becky away, yelling. The bouncer stepping in to get him to back off.

"Careful, Mike... can't ya see his jacket? Might not be no parlor trick. He's one o' Xavier's. One o' the X-Men. No tellin' what this freak can do." Just doing his job. The man was just doing his job as he reached to put his hand on Jono's shoulder. "Listen, buddy. Why don't ya just leave and do everybody a favor? We don't want no trouble, and--"

Fire.




Xavier's School, Monday:

It was Xavier's voice that filtered through the door next, low and somber and sounding a bit surprised, all the same.

"Then... such a place does exist?"

"But Cable," Scott was quick to follow, "had recently informed us that the rumors of Weapon X-sponsored mutant death camps were just that... rumors."

"More Weapon X mind games, Cyke. I mean, that's their specialty, ain't it? Cable must've been duped into thinkin' otherwise. Had to be."

"Entirely within the realm of possibility," Xavier grudgingly agreed. "Especially when you consider they're obviously using a means to shield our telepathic inquiries into Neverland's existence."

"Exactly, Professor," Paige's voice came next, making Jono's psi-fire insides twist a little all on its own. "Why do that unless you were hiding something?"

"And hiding something big, Paige," Warren added. "The files I accessed at the Plus compound shut down when I even mentioned Neverland."

"Then what do you suggest, Logan?" Xavier, again. "After all, you know the Weapon X Program better than any of us."

"A mole."




The Present:

The bar was a mess. Windows blown out, terrified patrons ducking and hiding behind tables. Walls were starting to go up in flame, spilled liquor lighting and just spreading the fires along the glass-covered floor.

//That's what this freak can do.//




Xavier's School, Monday:

"One of us on the inside," Logan continued, pressing ahead without either realizing or caring that Jono was just outside the door, eyebrows furrowed, his own mind working a mile a minute as the conversation wore on. "Learnin' what they're doin' now, an' maybe more importantly... what they're gonna do."




The Present:

Ice, creeping up his arm. The X-Men were on the scene, there to play heroes. There to look every bit the knights in shining leather that they wanted the public to believe. This little snit would work out well in their favour, wouldn't it? Just one more example of them protecting the people, no matter where the enemy came from.

Bobby, putting out the fires. Warren, tending to the wounded. Scott and Logan and Paige, lingering.

"What exactly do you think you're doing, Chamber?"

Jono raised an eyebrow at Scott, but reached up to cover his face again, all the same.

//Having me a drink, Cyclops. That against the rules, now?//

"Why you snot-nosed little punk--"

"Easy, Wolverine."




Xavier's School, Monday:

Scott actually thought that the idea had some merit.

Cain noted that, as someone who used to be on the other side of the fence, he knew pretty well that it would take one hell of a story to make anyone believe that an X-Men member would want to scratch his way free.

Jono's mind worked a mile a minute as Bobby volunteered. Insecurity, he stated. And how his powers had been misbehaving. Warren was quick to shoot him down. There was no way to work if it was one of the original team. Just no way.

Northstar offered. He was newer. Sort of on the fringe of the group as a whole. And he'd heard whispers that made him wonder if the program was behind the disappearance of his sister, too...

Wolverine shot that one down.

"Whoever we pick can't be concerned with such distractions. No, what we need is someone--"

//Like me?//




The Present:

"Oh, Jono..."

//Paige...//

She reached for his hand. And then reached up, resting her fingers against his cheek.

"Please, stop this."

It was the most kindness he'd seen from her since their Generation X days. Funny, wasn't it, how much a temper tantrum could change things.




Xavier's School, Monday:

Everyone in the room was staring at him, now. Standing there in the doorway, with the nerve to step up and volunteer after melting into the woodwork since that whole thing with the ESU.

//The horrible-disfigured, uncontrollably-powered, sometimes rebellious...// Make it good, Starsmore. //... freak? Who, need I remind everyone, does not only have experience at this sort of thing... but also just so happens to have the convenient cover story of his heart being broken into a thousand bloody pieces?// Him turning Paige down could be twisted so easily around, now. There she was, standing next to Warren, set like she belonged there... //Think those Weapon X blokes got a soft spot for little ol' me?//

"Jono..."

"Jono, I hope you're not volunteering for this because of... us." Archangel and Husk, even staging their protests in tandem.

"Really, Jono... think about this. You could get hurt--"

//Not everything's about you, luv.// It was harsh. But it was true enough. Jono turned his back on them both. Let them play lovebirds. Jono already had somebody to care for. A cover story was a cover story, nothing more. //So, what do you say, Logan? Do I get the part?//

"No."




The Present:

"Look, Jono," Warren, now. Perfect smile and all. "I know the whole thing with me and Paige has been tough on you. And I can appreciate you being angry... I mean, hey, that's more than understandable. But what you're doing here, Jono-- that's not. Nothing good's going to come from this... you know that. So please, come back with us to the mansion. We're here for you, man. We're X-Men..."

Condescending, overblown, wealthy, smug, asshole peacock. He put a hand on Jono's shoulder, and Jonothon swore to himself that if he said one more word, he'd punch that bloody smile right off of his face.

"... we're family."

Lord, sending Warren Kenneth Worthington III sprawling across the floor was one of the most satisfying things that he'd done in his life.




Xavier's School, Monday:

"I'm with them," Logan growled, waving a hand at Warren and Paige. "I think you're only doin' this 'cause your little Dixie Chick over there is playin' smootchie-bootchie with Big Bird and ain't chasin' after you no more. You're a loose cannon looking to impress some dinky broad--"

"Mister Logan, I really don't think that's--"

"--an' that's somethin' we don't need right now."

"Logan," Scott hissed, rising from his chair and planting his hands on the table, "there's no call for this."

"Stuff it, Cyke," Logan snarled, reaching out and grabbing Jono's jacket by the collar. "I mean, what has this loser ever done anyway, hmm? Mope around feelin' sorry for himself all the time? I mean, I sometimes wonder why we even keep a whiny little wuss like him around."

Jonothon's eyes were glowing hot-orange as Wolverine continued to speak.

"Now get lost before I lose my cool."




The Present:

Jonothon's back hit the bar, hard, courtesy of the short, smelly man with the bad facial hair.

"That tears it! I've had just about enough o' you, ya little creep--!"

Jono didn't need to look. He could feel the fist pressed up against the side of his head. Like the barrel of a gun in the hands of a man with the world's most itchy trigger-finger.

//Go ahead, Wolverine, don't just stand there making empty threats-- put me out of my bleedin' misery! Do it, old man! DO IT.//

It was quick, at least. The world skittered away in a wash of white, and then everything faded to black.




Xavier's School, Monday:

Jono didn't for a moment regret losing his temper. In the face of the things that Logan was saying, right there up in his face, he could hardly be blamed for unleashing that blast of flame at him. Warren was behind him in a heartbeat, holding him back while Logan stumbled away, and it took Bobby to put out the fire.

//Lose your 'cool' yet, mate?//

Seething. Struggling against Warren's arms, even if Jono knew there was no way in hell that he could outmuscle the man on a good day.

And Wolverine, all claws and teeth, spinning around with that wicked adamantium pointed his way.

"So... ya wanna play with the big boys, punk?"

Jono's answer was immediate.

//Absolutely.//

"Good."



//Huh?//

"'Cuz if you do this, you're gonna be in situations a lot more ornery than that dressin' down I just gave ya, kid."

"Then this was..." Bobby put his hands on his hips, frowning at the both of them, "a test!?"

Jono was a little beyond bewildered as Logan sheathed his claws and slung an arm around his shoulder, burned clothing and snow in his hair and all.

"Yep. An' one he passed with flyin' colours."




The Present:

Handcuffs. Bars. An orange jumpsuit that wasn't even remotely appealing, but was at least slightly more flattering than the helmet that they'd fitted him with, some solid metal or other that didn't need to dampen his powers, because he'd just blow his head clean off if he tried to use them while it was padlocked over his face like that.

"Somebody to see ya, Chamber."

It had only taken a few hours. Less time than Jono might have thought. Still a short eternity, waiting to see if all of that was for nothing.

"Wow... looks like some bad trouble you're in, kid." Jono didn't bother looking. He'd found a nice comfortable place on the bed in the corner, facing a wall, to be miserable at. "Reckless endangerment, assault, vandalism, disorderly conduct, menacing, kidnapping... and of course... arson."

//And who, bloody pray tell, are you?//

"I'm Brent Jackson. Probably the only friend you got right now."

Jonothon finally glanced up to see the face of the man who had come for him. Not what he might have expected, all blond hair and yellow shades and a uniform that looked like it had possibly slithered out of an 80's film involving a time-travelling car.

//Look, mate... if this is some kind of game...//

"No game."

The helmet was the first to go.

The handcuffs went next.

"Just an offer... from Weapon X."

Excellent.



[Establishy! Snagged pretty much directly (and with some mild rearranging) from Weapon X issues 15 and 18. NFI, NFB, but OOC is always welcome! ... Oh, Jono.]

regretiz4suckas

2011-10-25 08:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

[*facepalms* Oh, this so won't end well....]

trigons_child

2011-10-25 08:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

[SOMEWHERE RAVEN IS FLAILING. AND DOES NOT KNOW WHY. D: D: D: ]

batwaffles

2011-10-25 08:58 pm (UTC) (Link)

[OOC: Oh, Jono, no . . .]