kiev4am: (underwood)
[personal profile] kiev4am
Silly alt!X-Factor-#230 fic.


Title: The Short Straw
Fandom: X-Factor
Pairing/Characters: Rictor/Shatterstar, Jamie Madrox, Banshee (formerly Siryn), Monet St. Croix, Longshot, Strong Guy, Rahne Sinclair, Layla Miller, Pip the Troll (all Marvel Comics)
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Just swearing.
Words: 1,187
Comments: Rictor hates democracy. A little response to X-Factor #230; just one of the ways I think I'd have preferred the whole 'leadership question' in Jamie's absence to go.


"Whaaat?!"

Rictor stared at the upturned hat on the kitchen table as if he expected a feral rabbit to climb out of it. Shock flushed the last cosy vestiges of alcohol from his brain. "You've gotta be kidding," he spluttered.

"No kidding," said Rahne, the appointed vote-counter. She spread the crumpled Post-Its on the table so he could see the scribbled names clearly: one vote for Monet, one for Layla, three for Terry... and four for him. Surrounding the hat was a battlefield of beer cans, takeaway cartons, liquor bottles and shot glasses: the familiar debris of an X-Factor crisis meeting.

"This is bullshit," Ric protested. Suddenly the room seemed too bright, too hot, too crowded with drunk, grinning colleagues. He felt like the punchline of a huge sick joke. "Whose dumbass idea was the hat thing, anyway?"

Rahne gestured at the bedraggled, thrift-shop fedora. "You're the only one who has a hat, you eejit. Democracy in action, you said." Under the ragged red hair there was a wolfish gleam in her eye.

"Democracy my ass," Rictor said wildly. He pawed through the Post-Its, trying to stem the panic. "This is a set-up. I'm gonna hunt down every one of you jerks who wrote my name down, I swear. Think I can't recognise your writing?"

"Hey, no tampering!" said Guido. "It's s'posed to be anonymous."

"Screw anonymous. This is a prank, and you're all gonna pay." Ric swiped a bottle from the table at random and gulped vodka, wishing fiercely that he was still good and drunk, then fanned the Post-Its like a hand of cards and glared at his teammates. "Okay, well. No prizes for guessing who voted for Monet."

Monet tossed her head. "Well, duh."

"And Layla, Longshot? Really?"

Longshot shuffled guiltily. "She knows stuff."

"Not any more she doesn't," Rictor growled. "Ain't that right, Butterfly?" Layla just watched from the doorway, hugging her ribs, just as she had been since Rahne had coaxed her from her vigil over Madrox' body. She looked so miserable that Ric felt a queasy jab of shame. "Okay, okay, I'm sorry." He buried himself in the votes, then looked up at her in disbelief. "You voted for me? Why the hell – ?"

Her voice was hardly a whisper. "Because Terry doesn't want it, and you're second best."

"Last resort, you mean. Sheesh, Layla." Then the rest hit him, and he looked at Terry. "You don't?"

Terry shook her head wryly. "Even less than you do, Ric."

Ric snorted. "Well, shit, 'cause I voted for you. And so did... uh, Guido and – and Pip."

Pip blushed to the roots of his hair as everyone stared at him. "What? Shut up. Redheads oughta stick together, that's all."

Rictor was rifling the votes in confusion. "But that means – that means everybody else – " He stopped. Shatterstar was giving him the sweet, hangdog look he usually reserved for accidental appliance breakage and internet mishap. "Aw, come on," Ric said weakly. "Why? Why would you do that when you know I don't want that kind of – "

'Star smiled hesitantly. "Because people who don't want power are the only ones you can trust with it?"

"Who says so?"

"You did, when we were watching The Daily Show."

"Agh, crap." Ric pinched the bridge of his nose. "No more politics TV for you," he muttered. The Post-Its dropped from his hand and he scowled helplessly at Terry and Rahne. "You two. I'd expect shenanigans from Layla, and – and dorkiness that's usually cute from 'Star, but – but you guys oughta know better, for crying out loud. Me? What the hell were you thinking?"

Rahne and Terry looked at each other, the two women in the world who knew him best, and then grinned at him. It wasn't helpful at all. "Because you can, because you should, because it's time," said Terry simply. "That's as much reason as you're going to get, so deal with it."

"You might have an out," said Layla suddenly.

"Huh?"

She pointed at the hat. "Three-four to you. Jamie hasn't voted yet. Maybe he'll make it a tie and then Terry can share the job."

"Jamie?" Rictor gaped. "Are you nuts? What's he gonna do, bang on the inside of the freezer?"

Layla ducked from the doorway and they heard her running through the front office. Five minutes later she was back, holding a small folded scrap of paper.

"What's that?"

"Something from the safe."

Ric shook his finger at her. "Ohhh, no. Nonono. I know where this is going. You knew this would happen, so you told Jamie to leave his goddamn vote in the safe so that – that – wait." The tiredness and grief – the frankly unsettling self-doubt – had never left Layla's face. "But you didn't know, " he said, softer now. "Because you didn't know he was gonna die..."

She shook her head, and a tear streaked her face. "He told me. He said if anything ever happened to him, and we ever got to voting for a new team leader, he'd left his vote in the safe. He said to only use it if – if there were arguments..."

"And by if, he meant when," Rahne said wearily.

Ric took the paper from Layla's outstretched hand. He was dismayed to find his own hand shaking as he unfolded it. Goddammit, vote Terry, vote Terry. You know it makes sense, no-one in their right mind would vote for –

"What's it say, fer Chrissakes?" Guido demanded.

Ric handed him the paper wordlessly. His legs gave way and he flopped into a chair as Guido read it. "He says Rictor. Oh, and a p.s. 'Tell him to quit his whining and get on with it.' Heh. Heheheh. Congratulations, ya poor doomed bastard."

Rictor wrapped his arms around his head on the table. His voice was muffled. "You're all fired. Get outta here." He waited stubbornly while everybody wandered back to the living room, chuckling – all but that one set of sad little footsteps going back downstairs to the morgue, and Madrox. Goddamn him. Damn him to hell. He'd put every available resource on finding a way to resurrect Jamie, just so's he could kill him again. That'd teach him. Shit.

When there wasn't a single other noise left in the room he mumbled, "You still there?"

There was the scrape of a chair, and someone sat down and put an arm around him. Ric breathed in the reassuring smell of worn leather and sword-metal, then propped his chin on one arm and looked at Shatterstar pathetically. "I can't believe that just happened," he said.

"I can." There was an odd, light smile on 'Star's face. On any other occasion Ric would've called it pride, but that couldn't be right, could it?

"You really think I can do this?" He hated how needy his voice sounded.

Shatterstar put his head on one side, appearing to consider his response. Then he came to a decision – to be fair, the same one he usually came to when Rictor was bitterly freaked out about something. He reached over and kissed him. "Yes," he said. "Yes, I do."


Date: 2012-01-15 11:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kiev4am.livejournal.com
:D Glad you enjoyed!

Date: 2012-01-15 03:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] some-stars.livejournal.com
OH THIS MAKES ME SO HAPPY. I'm so glad it was the first thing I read this morning.

"Because people who don't want power are the only ones you can trust with it?"

"Who says so?"

"You did, when we were watching The Daily Show."


SO HAPPY.

Date: 2012-01-15 11:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kiev4am.livejournal.com
I'm glad you liked it! I've always thought it would be fun to see Ric shoved into a position of responsibility. He's getting far too comfy grousing from the sidelines XD

Date: 2012-01-15 09:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lemiserabelle.livejournal.com
Aww. You know that you have to write about his first job as team leader now, right?

I wish Ric actually got as much attention in the comics as he does in your fics.

Date: 2012-01-15 11:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kiev4am.livejournal.com
Oh god, that's tempting. Hazarding a guess, I'd say his first few weeks on the job are a terrible hazing experience, filled with merciless pranking from certain teammates ;)

I think Ric does okayish in the comic considering the size of the team; I mean, obviously I'd love to see him take centre stage in more issues but I appreciate the time he does get, and it seems like he's close to PAD's heart.

Thank you for reading, I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

Date: 2012-01-16 02:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] morganlight.livejournal.com
OMG it's like you read my mind!!

I was driving home from work thinking 'I feel like shit. I need to come home to some nice RicStar schmoop.'

You're my favourite. <3

Date: 2012-01-16 09:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kiev4am.livejournal.com
<3 Thank you!

I just don't have any feelings for Havok/Polaris and I really wanted the whole leadership thing to be resolved internally. And I've always thought it'd be fun to see Ric in charge, if only temporarily, just because he's made such a profession out of being the underdog :D

Date: 2012-01-16 09:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] morganlight.livejournal.com
Ah, but I have been imagining some amusing scenarios of how the rest of the team are going to have to catch up Havok & Polaris with all the crap that's happened in the past 80 issues. LOL

Date: 2012-01-17 10:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kiev4am.livejournal.com
Heh, there is that. I pity any character who'd have to sum up the last couple of years of Marvel continuity in a way that doesn't make the listener crazy :lol:

Date: 2012-01-16 05:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rukia.livejournal.com
I really enjoyed reading this. The characterization is spot-on and I loved the jokes. XD

And I love the idea of Ric being the team leader - even for a little while. I think he'd be surprisingly good at it. Not like Jamie, but good in his own way. He'd be more proactive and he'd strategize more - he knows his teammates well and he'd be able to boss them around. I have little doubt that Jamie would give the team to Terry or Ric to take care of - and Terry doesn't want it again. It just makes perfect sense.

And of course, Ric would give the loudest protest and of course everyone would ignore him. Shatterstar and the others know what would be for his own good. ;)

Date: 2012-01-16 10:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kiev4am.livejournal.com
Aw, thank you! Glad you enjoyed it <3

I would seriously have *loved* to see this scenario play out in the comic, at least for a bit. It would have fitted with his overall empowering (personality-wise, not powers-wise) character arc, from that poor empty guy standing on the window-ledge to now, if he'd had to finally shake off that mistrust of authority, and quit grumbling from the sidelines, and step up :) And as you say, the only person who doesn't know that Rictor is more than capable of that is Rictor XD

[livejournal.com profile] lemiserabelle upthread mentioned the idea of a story of Ric's first case as team leader, and I can't get that out of my head now, dammit ;)

Date: 2012-01-16 08:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lemiserabelle.livejournal.com
*cackle* My nefarious plan to unleash plot bunnies has worked!

What kind of case will it be? Are there explosions or lots of sneaking around? Both?

Date: 2012-01-16 11:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kiev4am.livejournal.com
:D I'm nowhere near working it out yet (the trouble with an actual 'case' story would be that I'd have to put together the plot of an actual case, ha!). That said, I'm sure that Guido has wayyy too much fun calling Ric 'fearless leader' and other epithets; Rictor gets into the habit of firing everybody (J. Jonah Jameson-style) at least three times a day (four if he's slept badly), and 'Star and Terry get used to weathering the explosions of 'gahhh I hate my life' that issue from him at intervals. As usual, he's too busy angsting to notice that he's actually doing an okay job. ALso, some wiseass leaves a trenchcoat in his room XD

Date: 2012-01-17 05:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] asgt.livejournal.com
So cute! And funny and heartbreaking and I really just love the way you write the team.

Date: 2012-01-17 05:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kiev4am.livejournal.com
Aw, thank you! <3 I *love* writing this team, messy dysfunctional family that it is, so I'm very happy that people enjoy my rendering :)

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May 2012

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