kiev4am: (underwood)
[personal profile] kiev4am
Moar fic...


Title: The New Gear
Fandom: X-Factor
Pairing/Characters: Rictor/Shatterstar, Jamie Madrox, Monet St. Croix, Longshot, Strong Guy, Darwin, Layla Miller (all Marvel Comics)
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Just swearing.
Words: 1,387
Comments: Set sometime between issue #50 and the renumbering to #200, where the team have their new costumes; then a jump to just after Avengers: Children's Crusade #6. This started out silly and then got all serious on me at the end: a little backstory for Rictor's rebellious half-civvies look.


Rictor propped his feet on the reception desk, side-eyeing the stack of clothes Monet had just dumped there. The rest of the team were lounging in doorways around them, looking annoyingly slick and bright in their new gear. Ric on the other hand was sweaty, grungy and beer-deprived, and his five-hour shift as receptionist had drained every atom of his extremely finite supply of goodwill. Not that Monet on a mission invited goodwill. The look on her face could have curdled milk.

"Look here, you little scruffbag, I have spent a disgusting sum of money and hours of my own time trying to get these right. I'll be damned if you're going to let the side down."

"Whose side, for Chrissake? What are we, a hive mind? I have to dress up just 'cause you can't keep track of our faces?" Ric poked sullenly at the pile of clothes. "I did the nineties. Once was enough." Just the thought of a uniform was giving him horrible flashbacks to those purple and gold things Cable had inflicted on them. Shatterstar had looked awesome, of course, but that didn't count; Ric was quite sure 'Star could look good in a grain sack. It wasn't the style, anyway... it was the idea of a uniform. The meaning of it. Deflecting, Ric kicked his chair around and looked Jamie up and down with a practised smirk.

"Surprised you okayed this, Madrox. Because nothing says noir like a trapeze artist in a trenchcoat."

Jamie glowered. "Did you become a fashion guru before or after the mohawk?"

"I thought you wanted us to be the anti-X-Men."

"Don't be silly," Jamie said. "It's just... we just moved back here, and we're gonna get buried if we don't find a way to stand out, to look... together. Let's face it, we don't even look like a team."

"We don't feel like one, either," Ric said mutinously, thinking of Terry. But he had the sense to mumble it. He glanced round at the others. Grudgingly, he had to admit that Monet had done a good job. She'd gauged size and fit perfectly, the colours were strong but not garish, and the cuts were close enough to street-clothes not to make them look like Utopia wannabes. Everything looked like you could fight and run in it, or even sit in a bar without getting pointed and laughed at any more than usual in New York. Crucially, everyone looked themselves, just glammed up a little: Jamie rocking the trenchcoat, Guido still in his brawler's vest, Darwin neatly awkward, Longshot agile and strung with knives, Monet as feline and stunning as ever. And Shatterstar – well, damn. First chance he got, Ric was going to have to drag 'Star up to their room and explain to him in detail just how good he looked in that outfit.

But.

He pushed the heap of clothes away from him. "There's no way I'm wearing this stuff," he said huskily.

"Oh, for God's sake!" Monet threw up her hands. "You are such a brat. Why do you always have to be different?"

"Because I fucking am different." Rictor was on his feet. He felt a saving rush of anger, like fuel igniting, keeping him warm. "Tell you what, M – the day I get my powers back, I'll wear your stupid goddamn catsuit. Until then, as far as I'm concerned, it's false advertising. I won't be a fake superhero, Monet."

Monet jabbed her finger at him, then paused. Ric could feel the others staying well back while the two of them glared at each other. Then Monet sighed noisily – a sound of reluctant understanding – and shook her head. "It's not a catsuit, you idiot. Give me some credit. Won't you at least look at it?"

"Shit, okay." He felt like an ass. Every time he thought he'd purged the depowered whining for good, there it was again, like a squeaking hinge. He picked up the belt that lay uppermost. Subtle; the belts were the only thing that drew the uniforms together, that made them a uniform at all. The buckle felt heavy and well-made and the slouchy second loop of the belt had a faintly western, gunslinger look that he secretly dug. The gloves were okay too, dark, plain and martial-looking. Underneath belt and gloves was a zipped vest, trousers a bit like Shatterstar's, and a leather jacket. They were shades of brown – earth colours, his colours – and it weirded him out that she'd put that much thought into it. He shook the jacket out of its folds. It was a good shape, just the right amount of attitude in the shoulders and collar without looking like it was trying too hard. She'd even used that scuffed vintage leather he liked. In spite of himself he glanced sidelong at 'Star, got a barely perceptible grin and nod in return. Upvote for the jacket.

"Okay," he said. "The jacket works, I'll give you that." Monet blinked at him, then looked quickly down at her feet; to his amazement, he realised she was flattered. He'd be damned if he was going to let her walk it, though. He gave her his most mulish scowl. "Jacket, belt, gloves. That's the deal, take it or leave it."

Monet reached over and ruffled his hair, none too gently. "It'll do."

*

Months later, someone hung the unused half of the costume on the back of his and Shatterstar's door. No-one owned up; Monet scoffed at the notion that she'd do anything so pointless and random and anyway, she said, poking Ric spitefully in the stomach, those pants might not fit him any more. She knew his weak spots. He was still fuming in the kitchen, trying to figure out a way to sneak to the gym without her gloating, when he heard the reception phone ringing, and it was Jessica Jones.

When they got back from that whole Avengers melée – staggered back, really, all of them shellshocked, 'Star and Jamie having to drunk-walk Ric most of the way home via a hasty detour to Central Park so he could hug the ground and try to get his shit together away from any populated buildings – he knew exactly who'd put the uniform there. "Get Layla," he whispered.

She didn't sit down; she stood very still in the middle of the room, her face terribly soft and blank. If he'd been able to see straight, he might have felt sorry for her.

"You knew," he said. "All this time – you knew." It hurt to get the words out. 'Star reached for his hand. It felt miles away, microscopic, just frail atoms rubbing together, vanishing in the yawn and bulk of the earth's spin; and then suddenly it was too close, too heavy, crushing him. He remembered these ricochets of feeling from his first mutation, but it didn't help.

Layla knotted her fingers. "I wanted to tell you. I really did."

"So why didn't you?" He'd never dared ask her. What if she'd said no? No, there's no way. No, I've seen the future for your entire lifetime and you never get it back. He'd have died.

"I didn't dare," Layla said, muffled. He realised, to his surprise, that she was close to tears. "I was afraid that if you knew, you'd do something differently, something else that mattered. Like, like not go Vermont with Guido, or... I just couldn't risk it. I only knew one way that you got your powers back, and it was this way, this sequence of events."

Ric pointed at the clothes on the door. "Why that, then?"

She shrugged helplessly. "It seemed funny when I thought of it. I woke up this morning, and I was so happy for you, and I couldn't tell you – it was killing me. This... knowing stuff kind of mangles your sense of humour."

Ric lay where he was, crashed on the bed, shaking. He listened to the earth trying to rock him to sleep, tectonic sighs booming like surf in his inner ear. 'Star stroked his head; Ric could feel joy and relief in the tiny tremors of his hand, keening at a whole different pitch from his own. "I'm not... quite sure I forgive you," he said at last.

Layla smiled her broken Mona Lisa smile. "Good," she said.

Date: 2012-03-20 03:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joasakura.livejournal.com
<3<3<3<3<3

Date: 2012-03-20 04:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kiev4am.livejournal.com
:D Glad you like!

Date: 2012-03-20 04:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] animegoil.livejournal.com
Oh wow, what a good take on this <3 Loved that it started out with uniforms and then came back to Layla and Rictor getting his powers back.

Loved that line about his feelings ricocheting and the yawn and bulk of the earth's spin. Gorgeous <3

Date: 2012-03-20 06:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kiev4am.livejournal.com
Thank you! :) It was kind of a stitching-together of two little scenes I'd had in my head for ages. I'm kind of surprised Ric and Layla have never had that conversation in the comic, seems odd that he never asked her outright if she knew stuff about his repowering...

Date: 2012-03-20 10:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] some-stars.livejournal.com
This is wonderful! And it really feels like a whole piece, the funny beginning and the more serious end; there's no disjunction. Also I love that the jacket is Shatterstar-approved :D

Date: 2012-03-20 11:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kiev4am.livejournal.com
Thank you! I'm really glad you felt it flowed OK, because it was originally two separate little half-scenes I had floating around my head, so I did wonder about the midway tone change. And the jacket is totally Shatterstar-approved XD

Date: 2012-03-21 01:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] foreverrhapsody.livejournal.com
Awww, so cute. I've been rereading the series from the beginning and falling in love with poor depressed Ric all over again and this is just encouraging it. Jamie's wrong, though. The mohawk was totally cool. He should've picked on something worse. :D

And I can't remember if this is something we talked about on the comm or not, but Ric totally gravitated to Central Park after he got his powers back. I've got a ficbit I've been secretly writing that has him doing that too. :D

Date: 2012-03-21 09:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kiev4am.livejournal.com
Aww, I re-read bits and pieces of the whole run all the time, and depressed Ric is very lovable in his cranky, suspicious way. And you're right, I was actually going to have Jamie snark about some other awful part of Ric's X-force costume (wasn't there some lime green trousers on a cover once?), but then I figured he'd just go for the easy target.

I love that I'm not the only person who saw Ric crashing in Central Park after getting his powers back! I don't think we did talk about it on the comm, it just seemed logical to me that he'd need to go chill somewhere before he broke something (especially after all the Avengers nonsense). I have this image of him lying under a tree with a stoned look on his face while 'Star fusses and Jamie and Guido are all 'shit, how are we gonna get him home?' :D

And you're hoarding fic? Post it post it! *flail* XD

Date: 2012-03-21 03:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] foreverrhapsody.livejournal.com
Yeah, exactly. And I read somewhere that Avengers Mansion is right next to the park, and it just clicked in my head.

We'll see. I'm not quite happy with it the way it is and I need to add something to the end for it to feel balanced and 'done', but if you want to give it a look and tell me what you think, I wouldn't mind. What's your email? Send me a message with it or just email me at snowwhitesings (at) gmail (dot com) and I'll send you a copy.

Date: 2012-03-21 10:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kiev4am.livejournal.com
I'd love to read it, have emailed you. I love that someone's doing the just-after-Childrens'-Crusade-#6 fic - it needs to exist :D

Date: 2012-03-21 02:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lemiserabelle.livejournal.com
FUCKING APPLAUSE

You handled Layla perfectly and Ric had the moment I wish he and Monet would have in the comics: they realize that Layla's not enjoying this; she's doing what she must. The first part was so funny, too.

Date: 2012-03-21 09:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kiev4am.livejournal.com
Thank you! <3 Yes, I'm always surprised Ric and Layla haven't had the 'you knew' conversation in the comic! I've always tended to attribute his extreme mistrust of her to something to do with his powers - wondering if she knows if he gets them back or not, dreading the answer, hating the fact that someone else knows something so vital to him and he doesn't/daren't find out - and that section came out of that.

Date: 2012-03-22 07:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mojoturtle.livejournal.com
I am now making this part of my head canon

Date: 2012-03-22 10:48 am (UTC)

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May 2012

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