Jonothon didn't manage to regain consciousness so much as he managed to drift from 'black' back to 'fuzz' somewhere throughout the course of the night. And when he got back to that fuzzy stage, he only dimly managed to realize that he wasn't in Boston anymore, but instead had been dragged back to the woods near the Massachusetts Academy, where he was now laying down on the ground, as opposed to the floor of the restaurant.
Jolly good. He really hadn't been looking forward to tipping the restaurant staff, anyhow.
Gayle was somewhere behind him, sitting in her chair again. The other students were there, bound and tied and hanging from a tree. Emma and Sean were in the same situation as the students. Most of the students. Everett was nowhere to be seen, and Monet was bound to a chair, instead. Arguing...? Arguing with... Jono narrowed his eyes, trying to focus. Thinking was hard, as though there was something smothering him at the core, pressing in on him, holding back everything from his powers right on up to his mind. Gayle had joined in on the argument, too, and the girls were arguing with...
Emplate. Emplate? The ugly bloke with the respirator who had tried to eat him through mouths in his hands when Jono had first set foot in America.
Brilliant. Gayle was in cahoots with the unholy offspring of a porcupine and Snuffleupagus. And here Jonothon had mistakenly thought that she was a woman with common sense.
"What is going on here, Emplate?" Gayle was yelling from her spot behind Jono. He wanted to turn around, to look, but whatever was restraining him mentally was holding him back physically, too, as though he'd been placed in some sort of steel-plated combination of a muzzle and a straight jacket. "When I agreed to help, you said it was because you were dying without Penance's genetic marrow to sustain you! You said I would be rewarded 'Chamber' for my efforts." Thank you, Gayle. "What's this about you and Monet being related?"
Emplate said something in that no-longer-human voice of his that had Jono's head reeling, struggling to keep up. Something about not being immediately aware of his relationship to Monet. Monet added that she'd known right away. There was something about Emplate wanting to eat them all. Monet said something about her their mother, and about blame. And then Emplate turned toward Jono.
"I... blame... myself," the creature that was Monet's brother said. "That's all I have left. The guilt... And the hunger!"
Well, this was it, then. Jono turned his hazy vision toward the fanged hand that was reaching toward him. There were worse ways to go, probably. Completely conscious, for one, would have been pretty bloody terrible.
"Get away from him, Emplate!" Gayle? "You promised Jonothon was mine to do with as I wished!"
... Thank you again, Gayle.
"Did I, Gayle?" Emplate again. It would be difficult to mistake the shivers that voice sent down Jono's spine for anyone else. "I must have been lying."
There was a rustle of movement from behind Jono, and he made a motion not unlike the writhing of a worm in an attempt to see what was going on. Gayle had reached forward, was grabbing at Emplate's cloak and trying to shake him silly. She was yelling.
Was she bloody insane?
"B-but I owe him for what he did to me! For the way he crippled me the first time he manifested his powers!"
Emplate didn't seem too concerned. His hand reached out, grabbed Gayle by the face, and lifted her off the ground as though she was a ragdoll.
"And you owe me, as well, for 'sharing' with you the ability to sup." The ability to cannibalize mutant marrow. What the hell had Gayle agreed to do to herself, all to get back at him? "It's rare that I choose to dine on non-mutants. It seems to me as though you're indebted to too many mutants!"
Emplate was going to eat Gayle. Or... had already? Or something. Something awful had transpired between the two of them, and that was about the best that Jono could grasp, beyond that the creature was holding her off the ground, and whatever had happened before was about to get far worse for her. He wanted to help. He wanted to help, but there was no hope of that happening if he couldn't so much as think.
But Emplate's lackey had spoken up. Said something about how Monet had managed to slither away while Emplate was distracted by Gayle. Of course Monet had. She was bloody perfect in every other regard. Why not that, too?
There was a crack as something hit the ground. That something was Gayle. Safe for now, more or less. Thank you, Monet.
Emplate was going to focus on other matters. Someone else was picking Jono up now, jostling him about. Moving him elsewhere. Getting him out of the way? Gayle, too. Things were still swimming in Jonothon's mind's eye, but he was aware that, even if he was getting some distance from Emplate, he wasn't by any means out of hot water.
After all, whichever one of Emplate's stooges had grabbed him wasn't doing so with Jonothon's best interests in mind.
That much was made clear when, after the dirty work was done, Jono found himself buried past his shoulders in the dirt, with Gayle in much the same situation nearby.
At least Jono could say one thing for being more or less buried alive. It made for plenty of opportunity to do things like gather his thoughts while waiting to be turned into a living meal for a guy who ate using the same hands he wiped his arse with.
//So, luv... This is... what we've come to?// Wow, his voice seemed quiet, even for a voice with no substance to it at all. Whatever this contraption was that he'd been crammed into, it was definitely there to suppress his powers, there was no question about that at all.
"No, Jonothon Starsmore! This is what you drove me to!" Gayle was yelling. Maybe that was why her words were rattling around in his head so much more clearly than his own telepathic voice was. "When your power manifested itself! You betrayed me! You betrayed all the hopes and dreams the two of us shared growing up in London!"
... Seriously? Gayle wanted him dead because blowing his face off meant that they couldn't live the way every crazy teenager ever wanted to? She turned him over to Emplate because Jono couldn't become a fucking rock star?
//Yer outta yer ruddy head gel!// His words weren't any louder, but they were certainly more emphatic, considering how much he had to focus just to make them happen. //I saw yer... in the restaurant. The blast what ate away at me...? Didn't cripple yer... Always led me t'believe...// Words were getting harder. He had to take it easy, or he'd wear himself back into unconsciousness just by arguing. //... Yer just wanted me... t'feel responsible.//
"You are responsible, Jono!" What, no 'Jon?' Funny how something as simple as his more generic nickname would stick in his mind so much, just then. "You changed! You and I were happy, and you took that away from us! Away from me..."
//There's a word for that, Gayle.// Jono couldn't look at her. His eyes turned down toward the dirt. //It's called... life.//
It had to have been at least an hour, buried there in the dirt, before anything of any note happened. From only about a hundred yards away, bright, colourful lights that could only be one thing.
//Jubilee's pyrotechnics,// he explained when Gayle asked about them, looking up at the explosions overhead that were becoming steadily more destructive. //Best bet, luv? Much as yer able? Duck.//
It wasn't that Jono was a self-centered person, but since the moment his raw psionic power ate away at his body, he'd tended to focus on his own mutant ability and his alone.
Watching the fireworks ripping through the sky above them, he couldn't help but be surprised at the level of destructive powers that Jubilation Lee possessed.
Somewhere else, the members of Generation X had managed to free themselves.
Somewhere else, Emplate was trying to make away with Penance.
Somewhere else, Bishop had arrived, and was now trying to recover from an attack from one of Emplate's goons.
Somewhere else, Angelo and Mondo were discussing how everything this team did was full of surprises, while scouring the grounds for Emplate's minions.
Around Jono and Gayle, the ground itself seemed to relent. Whatever had been keeping the psionic dampener on Jonothon had been put to a stop, and now he was working on pulling her out of the dirt. It took some effort, but he ignoring the look she was decidedly trying not to give to the flames that were licking up from his face, around his chest and shoulders.
He couldn't help it. She was insane. She was angry. She wasn't anything like the woman he'd once thought he loved. But he couldn't just leave her there, either.
//Easy, Gayle. Everything's gonner be okay.//
"Oh, Jono," again with the 'Jono.' If she kept that up, he was going to feel like he was twelve years old, again. "How? How, after everything I've done to you and your friends, from blaming you for ruining my life, to setting up Generation X to be captured by your deadliest enemy..." She finally looked up at him as he managed to free her from the ground. God help him, she was crying. "How can you find it inside you to be so kind?"
There she went, insinuating that he was a good person, or something of the like. People kept doing that. It confused the hell out of him at the best of times.
He wasn't all that great. He always had his reasons for these things, after all.
//You and me used t'mean a lot t'each other,// he pointed out. That didn't make him a kind person. It just made him a sentimental plonker. //Life- and th'pain it causes- ain't supposed ter change that.//
She was sobbing, now. Something wrenched in his chest even more, twisted in his gut and flickered up around him, perfectly visible in the flames. He didn't love her. But so help him, she was still Gayle.
He pulled her into his arms, ignoring the fire that made up entirely too much of his body. It wouldn't hurt her unless he wanted it to. He wouldn't dream of hurting her. He hadn't, before. It was okay, now, for her to cling to him for dear life, soaking his shoulder with her tears.
The only person he'd ever hurt was himself.
//Yer lookin' for someone to judge yer...? Then yer got to keep lookin'.//
Somewhere else, Bishop was about to fall victim to Emplate. Penance, who had been a slave, a living, constant source of sustenance for Emplate for entirely too long, put that to a swift end with razor-sharp claws across the mutant predator's back.
Somewhere else, Monet and Sean were wondering, in what seemed to be a trend whenever Jonothon dealt with Generation X, where in the world Everett had gotten off to.
Somewhere else entirely, Everett Thomas was looming hungrily over his eight-month-old sister, the gaping, fanged mouths in his hands watering...
But the search for their missing teammate was something for the others to worry about. People who actually knew more about Everett than his name and his mutant power. Jonothon had to see Gayle back to the airport, to make certain that nothing crawled out of the woodwork to attack her in the meantime.
He wasn't terribly fond of airports. He had Emplate to thank for that, too.
And then, because the other students from the Academy had other places to be, and he wanted to stay out of the way, he was buying a Portalocity ticket while he was there, to depart immediately.
He wanted to get back to Fandom, to get back home as soon as possible. And once he was back, he would sit low, wrap his head around everything that had happened these past couple of days, and try to figure out how in the world he could possibly apologize to Didi enough for all of the times that he'd jerked away, for all of the times that he'd all but panicked whenever she'd moved to be close to him.
He wasn't ready to throw himself into this superheroing nonsense just yet. But, after all of that, he was more confident than ever that he was ready to throw himself into this relationship, come what may.
[Once again, NFI and NFB for distance, and ganked pretty much directly from Generation X, issues 13 and 14. You have no idea how good it feels to finally get out of his system, omg. OOC is welcome if you've got it.]
- The Massachusetts Academy, 1995