Sitting And Probably Moping
Jonothon Starsmore furnaceface
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Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, Saturday Fandom Time

While the rest of the madness was unfolding in the infirmary around them, Annie, the facility's human nurse, was starting to grow concerned.

"We're getting close to a pint of your blood, Warren."

Old Warren
Warren, the one who hadn't come in with the strange crew of kids, shook his head, refusing to budge from where he'd situated himself in the middle of the room.

"Keep going."

"No, you have to stop at some point."

Paige. Paige Guthrie. Former Generation X girl. Just the other day she was yelling at Jono because he never cared for her the way she'd cared for him. And now, two of her teammates were dying, and she was thoroughly applying herself to staying next to Archangel's side.

Apparently dinner together had been charming.

Old Warren
"My new healing factor will keep me going."

There were people dying. And, granted, Jono seemed to have called in the cavalry, but it looked like they could only get to people one at a time. One at a time wasn't fast enough. Warren was staying.

"You don't know that."

Paige was going to stay firm, damn it. Like hell she was going to go to the conference room when she could be sitting right here. She barely noticed as Kurt put his hand on her shoulder and told her that they were to meet with Scott and the other team.

"No, Kurt. I'm staying."

Old Warren
Oh, god. Paige, don't do this. Not right now, not in the middle of this.

"Go with him, Paige. You and Chamber." A pause. Something to make her go. "... You're wasting your time here, anyway."

He managed to keep his expression firm in the face of the shocked look that crossed Paige and Kurt's. He had to look like he meant it. Here and now wasn't the time or place for whatever game Paige was playing, and...

"That wasn't very nice, you know. She talks about you all the time." Thank you for the input, Annie. "She talks about you all the time. Can't get her to shut up, really."

Which had kind of sucked, when she was going on about how utterly angelic Warren was at the exact same time Annie was trying to get her head around the fact that Alex was... not only taken, but engaged.

Paige Guthrie, in spite of the fact that she could shuck it at will, still managed to be terribly thick-skinned.

"She likes you a lot."

Old Warren
"I know... But she loves Jono."

And for better or for worse, whatever this was, if it was just Paige throwing herself at him in some attempt to spite some would-be high school lover, he couldn't...


"What?" In all fairness, Annie knew that she probably should keep her mouth shut. She did. But considering the week she was having, with that stupid Canadian superteam trying to steal her son right out of her arms and now this, she was not doing so well at that. "The kid without a mouth? Please! There's nothing to kiss!"

Keep it down, Annie.

"If you knew anything about women, handsome, you'd know there's nothing more important than a man who can kiss."

Which, really, was a lovely thing to say within earshot of the mouthless boy in question.

Particularly while he was surrounded by friends who had just been tacked up on crosses to die.

Karla's jaw dropped as she heard the words coming out of the nurse's mouth. What? Had she honestly...what?! Right now? In the middle of all this, she was really going to point out that Jono couldn't kiss?!

Karla pushed herself to her feet, more than ready to go over there and show Nurse Busybody what life would be like without a mouth, when she caught sight of Raven's face. Raven, who had most definitely overheard the conversation. Which was to say she'd been in the infirmary and conscious.

Raven, who looked more than angry enough to tear a stripe out of that nurse's hide.

Karla sat back down again, prepared to watch the show.

Get popcorn, Karla.

Raven had been moving to tend to another patient and overheard the conversation. For a moment her brain locked on "loves Jono" and she stopped short in confusion, staring in the direction Paige had gone and wondering if she'd heard that correctly. But before she could begin to process that, Annie spoke.

That fury Raven had been struggling to hold back found a crack to reach the surface, and she turned toward Annie. Her voice was tight and controlled, but her eyes flashed red for a second before she reigned her anger in. Karla was right; it had no place in the sickroom. But she couldn't let those words pass unanswered. "How dare you say such a thing?" she said. "You know nothing of what you speak. Jono is a wonderful person and in no way deserves your scorn, especially in a moment like this. He is loving and brave and compassionate and always willing to do what he can to help a friend in need and many other things that are much more meaningful that your shallow definition of what is important in a man. Your words are insensitive and inappropriate, and you will apologize for them immediately, or you will leave this room, for you are no true healer. No one who seeks to help others would be so inexcusably spiteful and use such cruel words."

She began to turn away, but stopped because there was one more thing she wanted to say. "And his kisses are quite enjoyable."

Jono was kind of staring. At Raven, really. He was used to hearing things like Annie's comment around here. It was practically status quo. Being stood up for was something he was going to have to get used to.

And as much as he'd appreciate the apology...

//She's the only one in here who knows how to work this equipment. S'alright, luv. I... I have a meeting I'm late for, at any rate.//

Yes. He absolutely was pushing his way out of the room as though he couldn't get out of there quickly enough. Lee and Ange had been seen to. He was just in the way in here, anyhow.

While Annie and Warren both continued to stare at Raven, dumbfounded. Probably both for slightly different reasons, one being on the receiving end, and the other mostly just wondering how they managed to kiss, and all.

"Jono," Raven called, wanting to run after him. But there were still several injured people that needed her attention, and she didn't dare spare the time, much as her heart ached to do so. She'd find him later when everyone was safe and well, and she'd make certain he knew how loved and wonderful he was.

She gave Annie another withering glare. "You should be ashamed of yourself," she said coldly. "You are as bad as the ones who have done this, only you use words instead of weapons to do harm."

The nearest bed held a blonde girl, injuries not as severe as Angelo's had been but bad nonetheless. Raven swallowed her anger and moved beside the bed, turning her focus back to healing.

Raven always was good about taking the moral high ground. Maybe that was a skill Karla would pick up one day.

Today would not be that day.

*You can work most of this equipment, can't you, love?* Karla sent to Warren. No sooner had she gotten back a sense of puzzled affirmation, she stood. As long as there had been a chance that Jono was right, that Annie was needed, Karla would have choked her temper down and dealt.

Warren was treated to an almost radiant smile. *Thank you.*

By the time she turned to face the nurse, that smile was gone. "You are leaving," she said simply. "I don't care how much medical skill you have. You've proven yourself unfit to to offer these people care." Karla reached out, closed her fist as if she'd grabbed something, and jerked her hand up.

Annie hung in the air, limbs flailing, face panicked.

Karla's arm shook from the effort of holding that much weight suspended, even though she was using Craft. The door to the hallway was still open after Jono left, which was lucky for Annie. It was possible that Karla wouldn't have opened it before tossing her through.

"You owe him an apology!" Karla called after her. "And don't come back!"

The door slammed shut behind her.

Warren was observing all of this from where he was hunched overtop a kid who looked like his body was made of silver-white quills. The nurse really did have the lectures coming to her- Jono wasn't exactly Warren's favorite person in the world, but that didn't mean that he'd deserved any of that.

And then Karla had asked him if he knew his way around the equipment, and he'd agreed, though warily. Between spending so much time being hooked up to half this stuff while growing up himself, and the time he'd spent as a medic in Panem, he'd be a little mortified with himself if he didn't.

... And then Karla threw the nurse out the door. And that was when Warren stopped what he was doing, since this kid's vitals were reading stable if critical, and he ran over to... to... flail.

"You just threw out the nurse!"

In case she hadn't realized.

"Yes, dear, I know," Karla said calmly, holding a cup of water up to her current patient's lips and urging him to drink it slowly. "I was there."

Always so helpful!

"But... she's the nurse."

Also, in case she hadn't realized.

He looked to the other Warren for help, here. And got a shrug in reply. There seemed to be enough healers on hand for this not to be a complete disaster. Yet.

Either that, or the guy was just delirious from blood loss. Warren couldn't pretend that he hadn't heard the 'new healing factor' thing, or the fact that he'd already given a pint.

"Yes, and she was doing a lovely job gossiping and being malicious while Raven, Squall, and I did the real work," Karla retorted, setting the glass down and making certain her patient was comfortable before moving onto the next. "Let me know when I'm supposed to start caring."

Warren stared after her for a moment more, still in a bit of a state of prickle-winged panic. And then something beeped behind him and he damn near leapt out of his skin before running to find out what it was.

A warning that... that other Warren's blood pressure was dropping dangerously low. Okay. Okay, he could handle this. Not-technically-licensed Nurse Warren to the rescue, and all that.

"Fine. Okay. Okay, this is okay. But..." He squinted a bit, looking back at his older self. "I'm pulling shifts with him."

Archangel just got voluntold.

That, at least, got Karla to pause.

"You sure?" she asked, her eyes searching his.

It was one thing to ask him if he could handle working the machines. It was something else entirely to ask him to get hooked up into them. There was too much history there for Warren to be able to blithely agree to it.

"Absolutely sure?" If he said yes, Karla would believe him. She just wanted to make sure he knew that he had a choice. No one would make him.

Warren nodded a little, looking around the room again. Anything that could be done for these people without benefit of powers of some sort had already been done. And... it was all fine and good to sit around staring at monitors and hoping, but he had the same healing factor as this man did...

"Positive. We'll swap off. He's already starting to bottom out, so if we each give ourselves a half-hour or so at a time to rest and eat something, we'll be less likely to kill ourselves trying."

Which would suck.

He'd just freak out about it later.

And Karla would be there for him when he did. "Fine. You get him out and I'll get him over to a bed where he can rest. Can there without help?"

She was trying to ask without using the words 'strap,' 'fasten,' or 'hook'. It was harder than she'd thought.

Glancing at the blonde who'd been talking to Annie--and, for someone who supposedly loved him, she sure as Hell hadn't spoken up in his defense--Karla decided she needed a new hobby besides trying to cling to Warren.

"You. Go fetch food and drinks from the kitchen. Cookies and juice or whatever else you can find that's small and easy."

"And find another nurse," Squall added. "One who's not an idiot."

Warren... both Warrens, actually... glanced up at Paige, who had been lingering in the doorway after watching Annie fly out of it. She opened up her mouth to protest to the two strangers with the big mouths.

The older Warren silenced her with a raised hand.

"Not now, Paige."

There was another moment's silence, and then, with a huff and a snarled "Fine," Paige flounced off.

The Warrens continued staring after her, and then shook their heads. In unison. And then looked at one another strangely.

"I... should be fine without help," the smaller of the two finally got around to saying. "Plenty of experience, but I might need help later, if I end up giving enough."

She was lucky she had listened to Warren. Karla was already on a roll, pissing people off and tossing them out of the infirmary. Paige did not want to get added to her list of useless people.

"I'll be there if you need me," Karla promised. The unspoken promise For any reason hung between them in the air for a moment before she turned towards Warren's older counterpart. "Let me help you out of that," she said, "and you can lean on me while we get you to somewhere you can rest. Don't bother with any of that masculine pride nonsense, either," she added tartly. "You just gave a lot of blood, you can lean on one little witch for a few feet."

Old Warren
"I can still give blood," the older Warren protested, shaking his head. And regretting that pretty much immediately. "I'm just... just a little lightheaded. But I can keep going."

Sorry, older-Warren. Your younger counterpart was now giving you the 'I've had a healing factor longer than you and I think you're full of total bullshit' face. While he was swabbing his own arm in preparation of poking a hole in himself.

"I've had this healing factor since I was seven. Trust me when I tell you that you can't. We've got talented healers in here who don't have to bleed themselves to save lives. With injuries that severe, split up between so many, we'll be just barely keeping them stable while they wait. But if you kill yourself in the process, they won't even have that."

Thank you, Warren.

"If you add yourself to our list of patients, I am going to be very cross with you," Karla informed the older Warren. "We don't have the people to spare for that right now. Even if I hadn't just tossed out the nurse, we wouldn't have the resources to take care of someone who got hurt because of stubborn pride. Now get out of there and rest for a half hour."

...Which, really, was a lovely thing to say within earshot of the mouthless boy in question.

Particularly while he was surrounded by friends who had just been tacked up on crosses to die.

At least one of whom was awake, nicotine-deprived, in serious pain and Not Best Pleased about getting crucified.

Angelo flipped her off from his bed, ignoring how much it hurt to move his hands and fingers. "Puta, you just made it pretty clear you ain't never had a real man in your entire life."

"You tell 'em, Espinosa!" Jubilee muttered from her bed. No magic healing blood did that to a gal.

"Get your beauty sleep, Jubes, you look like shit," Angelo scolded fondly, only his smile looked more like a grimace of pain, because smiling hurt. Everything fucking hurt. Hell, he'd be sleeping it off, if he wasn't hurting for a nicotine fix so badly. "Twenty says we manage to catch her in a dark corner and beat her with our crutches."


"If they ever let us out of these damn beds."

"We just kicked out the only person qualified to let you out of bed," Squall pointed out. "So just get up whenever you think you can. If you fall over, it was too soon."

Squall hung out in the infirmary, watching the patients to make sure that everyone was okay. This wasn't Garden, he wasn't being forced to be in charge, and he could just sit back and wait for Summers to tell him who to attack.

And if Jono had to be off in the meeting, then he was going to sit here in his place until Ange and Lee got back on their feet. It just seemed appropriate.

In the meantime, he pulled out his phone and tried to get ahold of Rinoa.

Today could stop being weird any time now. Rinoa answered her phone halfway through the first ring, unable to not sound insanely relieved at the number on her caller ID.

"There you are," she breathed. "I tried calling and you didn't pick up. I got your message. I went to your room but you must have left already. Where are you and how do I get there?"

"There wasn't time to wait," Squall told her. "People were dying, and their infirmary isn't staffed." If they'd only been sort of dying, he would have waited for her. He didn't like being in a different dimension from Rinoa.

"We're in Jono's world, at the X-Men's headquarters. I'm not sure where Raven went, but Portalocity should get you here. It's..." He paused. "It's mostly over now, I think. The emergency, anyway. But... you should be here."

"I wasn't blaming you," she chided, gently. "Of course you went. People were dying? Friends of his? Is Jono okay? Did everyone ... ?"

She was already hopping down the stairs, overnight bag slung over her shoulder. She'd packed when she first got his message, just in case, but hadn't known where it was best to wait.

"Ange and Lee almost died," Squall told her. He'd forgotten their full names, and he realized that he wasn't sure whether Rinoa knew them at all. "...His good friends. Everyone's okay, now. We got here in time."

"It sounds like," Rinoa said, shuddering. "Okay. I'm gonna yell at the Portalocity people until they make this happen. I'll be there before you know it. And ... I mean. You're okay? Right?"

Not that things weren't ... weird. But. She still wanted to know, okay?

Squall grunted an affirmative. "I'm okay," he confirmed. "I don't know about everyone else, though. The people who did this were bigots, so everyone's a little disturbed."

Rinoa winced. Jono had mentioned that before -- the way that people from his world hated and feared people who were like him. She hadn't realized they would resort to murder.

"Please be careful," she said. "Take care of yourselves. Okay? Promise?"

So everyone was most likely exhausted and demoralized. No wonder he'd still asked her to come.

That was because Rinoa was idealistic, and didn't understand how easily some people could kill.

"I promise," Squall told her. "I'll make sure everyone else does, too. Come as soon as you can."

Even her best shouting had only gotten the portal wait down to about twenty minutes. Which had given Rinoa twenty minutes to think on her toes and make a supply run.

She hadn't thought to ask if there was anything that anyone needed. When in doubt, assume people haven't had time for the basics.

"Okay," Rinoa announced, entering the foyer with a precarious pile of take-out containers. "There's Mooby's, some Ching Tai, a pizza, and there are donuts in here somewhere unless I dropped them. Help?"

"Food?" Hey, Rinoa! You'd just caught Warren in a rare moment where he wasn't hooked up to a bunch of medical equipment like a living blood bag, on his way through the foyer in an attempt to find some fresh air.

Food seemed way better than fresh air, though.

"Can I... help with that, at all?"

If he looked a little peaky, it's because he'd been through several pints of blood today already, and was taking breaks here and there in order to top up, more or less.

He looked pale. And like maybe she shouldn't weight him down with huge amounts of food, here. Not like any of this was heavy, but still.

Wow. People were more burned out than she'd even expected. Food was apparently a good idea? Okay, then.

"Guide me to a place I can set this down?" she asked, shrugging her shoulder to try to keep the strap of her duffel bag from sliding further. "I have no idea where I am and I can't see over most of this."

Warren blinked, and then shrugged and took a few packages of Chinese from the top of the pile anyhow. He had a pretty decent amount of upper body strength, some food wasn't going to break him, here.

"Maybe we can take this stuff straight to the infirmary," he suggested. "People are starting to come to in there, they'll need food to help them get their strength up, too."

Not to mention the healers.

"I wasn't sure what to get," she admitted, "so I grabbed whatever was going to be ready before my portal took off. I'm sure we can always send people for more, right?"

She was going to follow him to the infirmary, glad to have the boxes of Chinese off the top. It made it much easier to see.

"This house is gorgeous," she breathed.

"It is pretty impressive, isn't it?" Warren's smile was a tiny bit twitchy as he led Rinoa down the hallways. "This place was almost my only option after I left home, before I found Fandom."

He was pretty sure he was better off where he'd wound up, after seeing the state of the kids that had been hurt.

"It's kind of neat, being surrounded by people like me," he admitted a moment later.

"You mean everyone here has wings?" she teased, but very gently. It had been a long day, and she knew, vaguely, what sort of place this was.

"It's a haven, isn't it?" she asked. "For people who are like you. And Jono."

She'd heard the word mutant, but didn't know if there was a nicer word, or if that one was a slur.

"Mutants," Warren agreed, not really having much of a problem with the word, at least not at the moment. "People who are like me, and Jono."

And all the other kids in that infirmary.

"There really aren't many places that offer this kind of refuge. Some end up going underground, but... I couldn't do that."

Rinoa was hesitant as they stepped into the infirmary, but it didn't look nearly so bad as she had feared. The worst must have come earlier, like Squall had said.

"I couldn't, either," she said. "I like sunshine too much."

She deposited most of the containers on the closest table that didn't look like it had any medical equipment on it.

"Eat," she said. "You look like you're going to fall over if you don't."

"Thank you," Warren replied, smiling tiredly and, after setting his armful of containers down, claiming a whole one for himself. He was probably going to have to come back for more after this, for that matter, but this seemed like a good starting point. Mostly. "It's been a long day."

To say the least.

"I... smell food?" And that... that would also be Warren's voice. But slightly deeper, slightly more tired, and from somewhere on the other side of the medical equipment nearby. "I don't suppose there's any chance you could bring some of that over here? I'm a little... plugged in."

She paused, quickly, to give Warren a hug. There weren't really words. She'd brought food, for comfort, and she was going to do her best to be upbeat. It was the least she could do.

She jerked away again when she heard the other voice. "Just a second," she called, grabbing one of the boxes of Ching Tai haphazardly.

She navigated the mess of equipment to find ... someone who looked startlingly like Warren. Did he have an older brother!? He'd never mentioned it before.

Now was not the time to ask stupid questions, not when another blond, pale angel looked like death. He was getting some kind of transfusion, and it looked like he certainly needed it.

"Here," she said, handing it over. "Chinese. Or there's other stuff, just tell me if you'd rather. I, um ... I'm a friend."

Old Warren
"More friends?" Warren's older lookalike offered her a bit of a smile. He'd sit up in a moment to greet her properly, but right now his head was starting to spin again. Time to trade off soon. Was it remiss of him to hope that his younger counterpart put it off for a few minutes more? "I don't know if we'll survive many more of those."

He was still smiling. It was possible he was teasing, lightly.

"I'm Warren," he greeted.

Apparently the name really ran in the family, hm?

"Warren?!" she asked, gaping. Because ... they were all named Warren? Warren was a "the third," but there was no way this guy was old enough to be his father, and his father didn't have wings.

So ... this was probably ... also Warren?

... really??? Okay, that was kind of insane, and yet seriously, seriously cool, here.

Time to try not to look like an idiot.

"Hi, Warren," she said, returning his smile. "You should be nice to girls that bring you food. Didn't anyone ever tell you that?"

Old Warren
"Once or twice," Warren replied, in a tone that managed at the same time to be both wry and confident. His younger self certainly didn't seem to be able to pull that off.

... Which had him vaguely concerned, but he'd address that later, perhaps.

"The Chinese food will be fine, thank you. Now, do I dare ask if you have a name? Or would you prefer to be called 'Girl With the Food' for the duration of your stay?"

His teasing would probably be far more effective if he wasn't lightheaded and planted on the flat of his back. Probably.

It helped that he was seriously hot. Though kind of off-limits what with being Karla's boyfriend. Sort of. At least, in her mind, Karla had dibs, anyway.

"I answer to many things," she said lightly. "Rinoa will probably get me to come running the fastest. Which you probably want, if I'm likely to bring food."

Old Warren
"Rinoa it is, then," Warren replied, working, now, on sitting up. Whoa, dizzy. Not at all the graceful sort of gesture that he'd been hoping on, when it ended with a bit of a swoon and him having to brace himself on the desk. "A pleasure."

"Okay, Casanova." This was the younger, slightly less swooning Warren talking now, coming around the equipment with a few more containers of food in his hands. "Don't think I didn't notice that you haven't tapped out in a while. My turn again."

Now that he had food at his disposal, he could spend a little longer giving blood, himself, and the old man here could get some proper rest for a while.

Warren and ... Warren. Yeah. That confirmed that, more or less.

"This has to be weird for you," she said, shaking her head. "... You, plural. Both of you. Isn't it?"

She glanced between them. "Do you need another bed set up? So you can both get blood at the same time? There has to be something ..."

It didn't seem fair, that only one of them could be healed at once.

"Get blood?" It was the younger of the Warrens to give Rinoa a weird little look at that, putting down his chopsticks and then setting his food aside for the time being in order to help his older counterpart out of the setup that had been draining him. "The food should be good enough for that."

There was a pause, and then he turned a little smile to Rinoa, looking apologetic.

"Sorry, I guess I should explain, huh? We're donating. We've both got the same healing factor in us... We heal faster than most people do. And our blood can heal other people, too."

He swabbed a stray dribble of blood from older-Warren's arm and then helped him sit up again, almost immediately shoving a carton of Chinese in his hand.

"And yeah, this is really weird."

She was going to look from one of them to the other. They were ... just hooked up here, draining themselves dry?

Okay, that wasn't weird. There were people dying, and people donated blood all the time, and it wasn't special healing blood, either.

"And ... you guys are okay with that, right?" she couldn't help asking, first. "I mean, that's cool. That's good, that you're helping."

So long as it was their idea and not some ... other person putting them up to it, bleeding them out unwillingly. It made a huge difference.

"Completely voluntary," Warren assured her, quirking a wry smile as he started idly swabbing at his own arm again. "In fact, I've had to chase this guy out of the room a few times to get him to take a break."

He looked sympathetic for a moment, understanding all too well that there could always be reasons for concern about this sort of thing.

"And nobody could have forced me into this if I didn't want them to. I'm not enjoying this, but it's the best I can do."

"Okay," she said, feeling a bit sheepish. There wasn't anyone here with a gun to either pretty blond head. And if someone was trying to bleed Warren out, she had a feeling Karla would introduce that person to their own liver fairly quickly. Right. Okay, then.

"Is there ... anything I can be doing?" she asked. "You guys have to be tired. I have healing spells, or I can ... I don't know."

This was why she had gotten food. Because it was something to do, and made her feel less helpless.

Old Warren
The two Warrens exchanged glances. And then they shrugged, both at the same time.

Which they both found a little eerie, yes.

"Pretty much anything is a big help, at this point," the older of the Warrens noted. "But perhaps you could go around and, if any of the kids are awake, try to get them to eat something? Not much, and they'll have to take it slowly, but a little food could probably do them wonders, too."

"Got it," Rinoa said with a nod. "I'll see what I can do."

The fries would be a good place to start, probably. Salty, but largely bland. Easier to keep down than anything with spices.

She grabbed a few bags of Mooby's and wound her way through the infirmary, looking for students who were awake. Anybody who might want some greasy, entirely unhealthy fast food. Or maybe just some company.

Squall stood up when Rinoa entered the room, and gave her a relieved sort of smile. "Hey. You made it." Not that Warren didn't get a smile, too, but it wasn't Warren that Squall was feeling anxious without.

Rinoa made her way over in a few short steps, wrapping her arms around Squall's waist and holding on.

"Hey," she said, softly.

She wasn't sure what else to say. That was a start. Right?

It was a good start. "Hey," Squall said again, holding her close. "I'm glad you came."

"Of course I did," she dismissed easily. Better not to think about why. Because they, vague and nebulous they, needed her. Obviously.

"You should eat something. Have you eaten?"

He needed her. And she was here. That was good, right?

"No, I haven't. Have you?" Sure, she'd brought the food, but maybe she hadn't eaten any yet. And then they could eat together.

"I grabbed something on the way," she said, disentangling herself from his arms reluctantly. "Go. Eat. Please. We'll ... talk later?"

There were still people who needed help, here. The rest could wait.

Squall nodded. "Okay. Later." Maybe later would be less weird.

"You have food," Karla said, never shy about stating the blatantly obvious. "If I didn't love you before, I do now."

She would get up and greet you properly in a second, Rinoa, but the bones in her legs had apparently been hollowed out and filled with jelly. Or, at least, that's how they felt.

"Ugh, I can't believe I'm seriously contemplating Mooby's."

"You don't have to," Rinoa said, scooping up a few of the containers and carrying them over. Karla did not need to get up. Seriously. "There's also Ching Tai's and I don't remember what else? I gave them money and asked for whatever was going to be done before my portal left."

Because she had had a feeling that with people dying, nobody had probably remembered to eat.

She crouched to wrap her arms around the other girl for a quick hug. "How are you holding up?"

Karla was going to forgo food long enough to return that hug. Rinoa was a sight for sore eyes. Rinoa, unlike almost everyone one else under this roof, was sane.

"Making friends," she said, voice heavy with sarcasm. "With my special Karla-charm."

Rinoa gave Karla a tight squeeze. She didn't know what might or might not have happened earlier; the best assumption was that it was probably frayed nerves all snapping at once.

"You're exhausted," she reasoned, "and so is everybody else, and you're all just trying to help, right? Squall said everyone's gonna make it. That's what matters. You guys did amazing today. Everything else is just details."

And if someone was being a total asshole, then Karla could tell her all about who the jerkface was and they could call him-or-her rude names.

Him, her, them. Karla'd been kind of busy today.

"I am," Karla said. It had taken her three tries to wind some noodles onto her fork; her fine motor skills worked better when she wasn't so thoroughly tired. "And they are. There were a few cases that were kind of touch-and-go, but we got to them all. I don't want to think what would have happened if it had been left to that idiot nurse and Warren."

"I saw they were just ... bleeding him," Rinoa said, unable to conceal a shudder. She knew it was voluntary; Warren had told her as much, himself. Themselves, since it had been both of them to confirm it.

It was still unnerving, as a healing method, for reasons she didn't want to think about.

She sat on the floor, cross-legged, eyes still watching the room in case anything changed. "I haven't met the nurse. What was she doing?"

"You're not going to," Karla said shortly. "I tossed her out and told her not to come back."

Mmm, noodles. Sorry, Rinoa, the rest of that explanation was going to have to wait a moment while Karla finished off her container of Ching Tai's.

"She said some pretty rotten things about Jono," she said, a few minutes later. "And from the way he reacted, I don't think it was the first time."

... wait, what?

"Jono?" Rinoa said. "But ... this is his home, isn't it? I mean, he lives here. Why would she ..."

They couldn't possibly call her back just to rip her hair out or something, could they?

Probably not, but if Rinoa was willing to wait until Karla finished eating her weight in food, they could go hunting through the mansion for her. It would be a good bonding ritual!

"Warren--the old one--was telling the nurse that the blonde teenager you might see skulking around here wasn't really interested in him, that she loved Jono. The nurse was skeptical--rudely so--and pointed out that no female could ever fall for a male with no mouth. Mind you, Jono was like...three feet away at the time."

Oh. Oh.

So much for this being a safe haven, then. Apparently the nurse wasn't one of them. Or else she had it out for Jono. Or both. Or ... really, they should punch first and ask questions later.

"What a horrid bitch," Rinoa seethed. She was almost hoping Raven had taken a moment away from healing everyone to climb onto Jono and dry-hump him. Or that Karla had, just to prove a point.

"Okay," she said. "First of all, why does whoever owns this house let someone awful like that stay here, if she's mean to Jono? And secondly, can I hit her?"

"I don't think they have many people willing to stay on staff here and it's not like they don't need the help," Karla said, gesturing around to the infirmary. "But other than that...your guess is as good as mine."

If she'd been told that Annie had a mutant son, she might have been more forgiv--wait, no. It just meant that Annie should have known better.

"As for hitting her, I vote yes. In fact, if you can somehow plan it, I'll bring popcorn."

...Karla was probably not the best person to ask these questions of.

"But that's terrible," Rinoa said, shaking her head. "Because it's supposed to be safe here, and if it's not safe for Jono, it's not safe for any of them. Maybe whoever's in charge doesn't know. We should tell someone."

Yes, she was this idealistic. Shhh.

"There were a bunch of people in here to hear her," Karla said quietly. "None of them did anything. Raven was the only person to stand up for him."

Rinoa shivered, wrapping her arms around her knees.

"What do we do?" she said. "We can't ... we can't just let him stay here if it's like this, but I know he doesn't really ... have a lot of options."

"He wants to stay here for now," Karla said quietly. "He wants something useful. Feel like he's contributed. I get that."

Understanding didn't make her like it better, but she got it.

"He promised Raven that he'd come back soon. That's something, at least. So he'll deal with the abuse until he feels like he's made a difference."

"I can understand that, too," she said, frowning. "So long as he's not just ... staying here because he thinks he should, or some kind of twisted ... masochism."

Because that was something Squall might do.

She shook her head. "I guess it's his decision," she added, finally. "All we can do is wait. And help, when we're needed."

Like now.

Karla couldn't say that it wasn't some kind of twisted masochism that was making him stay. But like she was Jono's decision.

"Wait, and help, and remind him that he's got friends who can see past his mutation," she agreed. "That he's not alone, no matter how it can sometimes feel that way. And there's a home for him, whenever he wants it."

Whether it was Fandom, or Glacia, or somewhere else all together. If Jono wanted a place to settle, he wouldn't be lacking for friends visit him, at least.

[Part two of.. several, ganked and adapted from Uncanny X-Men 423, which NEEDED TO BE FIXED, DAMMIT. Follows this. Preplayed with mouthy_merc and icecoldfrost, who rocked the NPCing with Jubilee and Angelo, and trigons_child, angelo_wings, whateverknight, and glacial_witch, the last two rocking all the more for coding this and editing it respectively. NFB, NFI, OOC is awesome.]