2010-03-09: A Pound of Flesh


Jono_icon.jpg James_icon.jpg Robyn_icon.jpg Rashmi_icon.jpg

Summary: Jono and James meet for round 2. Revenge is taken, innocence is lost.

Note: Runs simultaneously with "Voices."

Date: March 9, 2010

Log Title: Pound of Flesh

Rating: R

Xavier Mansion - Japanese Gardens

A large area of the grounds is landscaped with a Japanese Garden. A river filled with coi fish runs through the middle with a wooden bridge. There is even a small waterfall splashing on the rocks. Bamboo can be heard clacking on the rocks. A small statue of a Buddha can be found in various places. The trees hang over the area and when the flowers are in bloom, it brings a variety of color to the peaceful landscape.

The voice James hears is a familiar one, yet not heard with his ears. Is he close? Jonothon doesn't say as he slips into the hyena’s mind and asks a question. «What defines a human being, James?» Being linked there's a greater connection involved than his normal telepathic speech. Totally unlike his sharing of memories, but there is intonation and emotion wrapped with the words. Jono is serious in his asking.

From the mental picture in his mind, James is in the garden, near the pond. The chill he's only slightly aware of is a pre-spring breeze. Ahhh, Spring. It's almost here, he can smell it. He knows it by feel, by the sound, and by the 'something' buried deep in his psyche. Spring. He's looking forward to it. And damn…this rock is cold on his ass. He's gonna freeze his James Juniors if he keeps sitting here. His mind shifts to a mental picture of Robyn. He’s no longer alone. There's a greeting. Looking away, he assumes the question is from the other boy, not a disembodied voice, "That's a strange question. That something from Mutant Ethics?" There's a pause, "I dunno. Wish I did."

Poor Robyn. This is sure to be a confusing conversation. «Like I bloody give a shit about Mutant Ethics.» Jonothon sounds amused at it, for all he doesn't share his environmental information. A little better telepath than that. Not by much though. A mental laugh, strange for it's still new to laugh, leaving a strange after taste to the emotion. «I'm talking about people like us, James. People who don't count as human by most standards anymore. What defines a human being?»

Casual conversation on James’ end. He’s already bored with it. His head switches between lunch and more as he reveals the inner workings of his mind. He catches Robyn's scent, it triggers a thought which triggers another and another and another. A cascade of memories, half formed thoughts, predictions, and….Oh, look a bug! Animal ADD for the inexperienced hyena. Then Jono speaks again and James gets the heebie jeebies, his back twisting as if cold hand was suddenly touching his bare spine. "Dude…I dunno. I suppose its genetics? Most days I can't even tell you who's teaching that class." That easily irritated part of his brain fires up, "You can pass for human, I can't. So there's really no 'people like us' that's really applies here. IS There?" He mentally grumbles and says “Sorry…but you asked. From my point of view, I want to believe its control over yourself. But after the other day, I think…I'm not ready to qualify."

The scents have Jonothon interested. He hasn't smelled anything in over eight years, and never that well. Intrigued. So there's no directing James back. Jono merely enjoys the sensory ride. «If you answer genetics that doesn't explain many of the monsters posing as human.» Sorry, he doesn't think himself a monster. «Is that all there is to define you, James? That you can't pass for human? That you lack proper control and so aren't human? Sounds too easy an answer to me.»

James converses more with Robyn: Class…putting Cam's laundry in the snow recently…getting his butt kicked by Jono. The mind recoils a little as he remembers the fight, but he starts to tell what he honestly thought. Then he stops, his anger firing up once more as Robyn asks more questions Robyn isn’t actually asking. "Okay. Never mind. I thought you wanted to know." Frustration set in all too easily. "I'm really not in the mood for games tonight. But, okay. I don't know what it takes to be human. I have no clue. I'm…gah!" He growls "Instincts. Fine. That good enough? I've got instincts that are tearing me apart."

Jonothon hardly came out unscathed in that fight. He did little more than crawl into a hole and pass out for hours while he 'healed'. He's quiet for a little while as he thinks on the instincts issue. «And no, I couldn't possibly understand, right?» Sarcasm there to be sure. With that in mind he lets James 'hear' what it's like for him at the moment. A great whispering fills your ears. To be honest it's James’ mind, not his ears, but that's how it translates. Thousands and thousands of voices all murmuring, with the occasional voice rising above the others to be clear. Make dinner. I hate this show. That moron! Turn left.. On and on. Jonothon knows something of being torn apart.

The hyena's still talking, working out what the hell Robyn is on about. Questions, statements. Why is he asking if he's not listening…oh…I smell a bird. Mourning dove. I remember those from home…What? The beast flares, Robyn touched him. Invaded his territory. Bite him, quick! We’re not yours to pet! The hyena’s duality both sizes the smaller boy up and considers him as one would when looking at a friend. James’ touches Robyn's hand, the beast glowers, placated, for now. Why it's okay, 'it' doesn't know. Too much softener on Robyn's clothing. Stinks. Stifling. The voices start. His mind reels. He falls. What's going on….What did Robyn do? Can't think…too much.

«My world.» Jonothon explains softly, not quite another voice in the multitude. This time he doesn't hurt with it though. Doesn't share until it drives James mad with pain. «I know something of instincts tearing you apart.» Rueful that. «Different, yet so very much the same. I'm technically not human either, James, but it's all I've wanted to be.» Wanted, not wants now. «You give it strength, you know.» Give what strength? «By hating it, you make it stronger.»

The hyena is still a little in shock, trying to deal with Robyn being nearby, and all those voices. He's apologizing. He wants it to stop. The beast is on edge, waiting for that thin little line to be crossed. It has its target. It knows what it wants. It knows who it can blame. And all the while it's smiling, a mouth full of pointed teeth waiting to be sated by blood.

Jonothon mentally prods the Beast, vastly amused. He really shouldn't be doing this when he has little inhibitions, but then.. he wouldn't be having this whole conversation otherwise! «Lazy arse.» Teasing the beast. «Stop taking the easy target and blame the one who really should be.» There's that sense of laughter again. «It's a little coward, isn't it? Taking the soft target and avoiding what really makes it mad. Come on, James. You going to let it boss you around like this?»

The hyena is hurting, eyes shut hard. He feels it..something's closing in, trying to get him while he's down. Another predator. Something smaller. Robyn’s hand is close, too close. GET IT! James knocks Robyn to the ground with a roar! A clawed hand spreads wide against the smaller boy's chest. The hyena checks…no rivals to take his easily gotten prize. The view shifts left. It shifts right, then twists to look down, coming in close as if smells Robyn. The clothing softener, the fear, the blood just under the surface of the skin. He readies his jaw for the boy’s throat. He has his prize. Now to claim it. His mind hears Jono. He’s right, James listens. James fights.
The view turns away, eyes closed. "Gah…..no….you're right." He straining hard,
"Aggghhh!" He screams, "Get Out…of Here!" Motion leads to footsteps. Robyn’s leaving.

The laughter running through James’ mind isn't the hyena’s. It's Jonothon, all but cackling at his plaything «James.. look at it.» Easy for him to say, huh? «This is a part of you.» Prods the beast again, but it's all words. All shared memory and emotion. The Brit isn't about to mentally tweak him, even now. He hates that so much even Sinister couldn't change it. So, he spares James that, but this isn't any easier, is it? «Your body, so take control! These urges are a part of you, not something separate.»
«You want to hurt something, find me.» A mental grin if ever where was one. «I'm not far…»

James is fighting, he's fighting hard. "I'm not letting you have me! Not again. Not now, not ever!" He's fighting and winning. A paw on the ground breaks earth. The smell floods his mind and offers what seems like a lifetime of memories. A farm. Digging holes to hide in. Playing in a forest. He's going to do it. He's going to win. And then…Robyn runs and James looses to instincts. The beast roars and takes off. It's going to get the prey. It's going to tear it open and stop it from hurting him. But it's not prey, it's Robyn. No Robyn’s not the one harming him. It's something else. And James is coming for it. They're both coming for it—working together.

On 4 feet, then two feet, the hyena veers away from Robyn. The tree line comes fast. James is on the hunt. Within minutes he's already at the property line. His mind works fast in this. No distractions. No second thoughts. One task, not a multitude. One goal. His senses expand out in front of him like a radar. Rotting tree, 50 feet, left. Rocks afterwards…creek…jump. The scents come hard and they come fast. Deer! James runs beside the escaping buck, momentarily wanting to take it down, to hurt it like it hurt him. But it wasn't the buck’s doing, and this one is diseased, sick. Lung infection. No good. No, Very Good. Weak. The buck veers, James stays on task. He's well beyond the school’s limits before he knows it, heading towards the last place he saw Jono. He wants him, he wants him bad.

Robyn runs and Jonothon is laughing inside Jame’s head again. He's riding the thoughts, enjoying the sensations, yet doing nothing to influence in one way or another. Those are James’ thoughts and the man leaves them to be his. At least for a while. Until it's obvious that it's towards Salem that James is headed. «Wrong way…» Teasing of tone. And it's again that he fills the young mind with his senses. He can feel everything in a fifty foot radius around him. The very cells that make up the grass, the caress of the wind, a bug shifting over a leaf just out of arms reach. )
Now if only that helped in directions. Finally he shows yhim. A clear spot in the woodlands not all that far from the school. A couple miles to be sure, but that isn't far, is it? Yes! There! A steady mental link. Follow it, James.. He'll lead the way.

The farther James goes, the farther his senses extend. Before long it's hit his max at the mile mark. Ears and nose watch the distance; James' eyes watch the trees. Road. Pavement. Cars? He shifts his pace, ears tracking the sound of traffic. Nothing. A quarter mile form it and coming closer the hyena lets out a shrill laugh, an animal one. He's enjoying this. They 'both' are. Then it hits. A new scent. It's the same one from the blood. Jono's, He's here, not long now. He takes off again, full speed, healing factor working in random to keep his endurance at an effective peek. The road is coming, it's here, it's gone. Woods again. Vines—Passed. Forgotten stone wall—Passed. Dirt, snow, mud…Jono.

The man stands, looking dark against the darkness. No psy-fire, nothing out of the ordinary. A slender man wearing a black bodysuit. It really doesn't flatter him. Then again, costumes never do, which is why he doesn't wear them normally. Lifting his face as James’ vision shows him there, Jonothon withdraws mentally. Doesn't need to see through four eyes. "What defines a human, James?" Asked this time so that James hear it with his ears. "Do you want to know what I believe, or have you lost the struggle today?"

When Jono is close enough to see he comes to a stop, claws digging into the soft dirt as he skids just a little. He keeps his hands open, claws flexed, ready. He starts to circle, well over 100 feet out. Too far, but he knows, given time, he can close that distance. The sound is a lot darker than usual, animal, as if speaking through a snarl. But speech alone is a sign that the boy is still ahead of the other, less domesticated parts, "No. Why don't you 'nlighten me?" Muscles tense as parts of him flash between instinct and Prof Logan's classes. Wait, see. Read, predict. Win.

Jonothon smiles, a dark expression, for that snarl. Yes, he really is enjoying all of this. "The struggle." As if it explains everything. Spread his hands for it after that, as though gesturing at everything. "The struggle itself. There is no guide to being human, no way to define it, James, but those of us who wish to be, can be. If you fight for it." Says something though. Is he fighting right now? "I was thinking on it after we parted." Parted, like they'd just been talking. "That drive inside of you. I've felt it twice now. Do you hate it that much?" His Sinister made mind doesn't quite understand what's wrong with it.

James circles almost out of view, but never goes behind Jono back. He hears the lesson his teacher and beast agree on: Not behind your prey's back. It provokes. Don't provoke until your ready. Instead he walks in the opposite direction of the circle. He takes a few more steps inwards, walking to the other end, and repeating the process. "'lost lots because of it. Hard not to hate change when it's forced" the hyena says in a very clear thought. He doesn't realize it now, may not for a while to come…but for once his mind is quiet, focused. That ADD he experiences 10 folds is gone, his instinct and purpose working together, "You say struggle. But what about control? When it's taken from us. What happens then?

"Control? James.." He whispers the name, an eerie reminder of all those whispering voices in James’ mind. "You have control. Look at yourself. It's brilliant." Clear of thought, focused, beautiful. Arms drop to sides, but that's all he does for the moment. Stands there, watching James. Jonothon isn't idle for long however. "Oh, it's easy to hate when it's forced. Mine was forced on me, and I fought it for so very long, but all that brought was pain." A sudden grin and he lashes out finally. A burst of psy-fire that snakes along the ground towards James. Grass and clods of dirt go flying as it races forward. Another game, for the man isn't much trying to hit James. "The clarity is beautiful. Keep it!"

James' eyes widen he roll to the left, loosing some of that valuable space he taken taken from Jono. On all fours, he stays low, waiting for another blast. Head straight out as he looks at Jono, that large next hanging between his skill and shoulders, suspended with a network of muscles that nature forgot how to produce until 16 years ago. And now, once again the Cave Hyena stalks its prey. Starting at his shoulders, there's a quick full body shake, sending the collected dirt back onto the ground, "You tell me to control it. But what about you? Are you in control?"

Is he in control? "Of course not." Laughter for it as Jonothon motions with a hand. Psy-fire forms finally, but only around his upper chest and neck. Those clods of earth, and even much of the grass is lifted. "You've known that since I disappeared." How he can grin through admitting that is anyone's guess. It's the truth though. He's not in control. "I couldn't do any of this if I were." Sounds so amused at it all though, his thoughts hovering at the edge of James own, shaping that earth randomly. He's toying with it. The DNA spiral forms between them. "I was too afraid of myself." Goes quiet a moment, watching the spiral, but then cants an eye at the other mutant. "James, you came here to do something. Are you?"

"Not yet," James says, staying close to the ground, sill on all fours. He paces a little, moving back somewhat. "Right now, I'm listening. You just spent the last few days filling my head with your…stuff. So, obviously you have something to say." An ear listens behind him, tree, forest. Nothing else. "So, it's okay to have control of your abilities, but not yourself?" His eyes narrow, "I've seen what you saw What you felt. Are you giving in and letting others control you so you can't blame your powers anymore?" It's an inefficient statement, but he is a teen.

"Tsk." Not yet? Where's the fun in that? Of course the question is a legitimate one, but not one that Jonothon can answer directly. It's why this whole situation is strange. He can't say what he wants to. Can't do what his heart wishes he could. Jono is having to work through the conditioning, and that leaves him very limited. "Not all of us have that choice, mate. You're missing the point." Not that he's making it easy to get.

With this the man earnestly attacks. That spiraling mass of earth and grass skims the broken ground as it races towards James. It even trails psy-fire, for that's what powers it. Forms into a large spike as it goes as well. Should it miss, the thing will reorient, and come at him again. Toying with him again, not truly trying to harm.

James dodges again and once more. He knows about the lack of choices. He was just there last month after all. He's running out of fancy words, and the beast…no his instincts are giving him an 'I told you so.' He tries to outstep the attack, slips on a freshly turned rock, and falls. It's the first mistake of the night, and hopefully not the last one. He tries to scramble back onto his feet, to jump out of the way, even if it means falling again, buying time. Meanwhile his words are all about, "You have a choice. You say you fought it but gave in. Thats a choice you made. You let it beat you. You had a choice, you're just hiding behind it!"

Chasing the hyena around~ Slip and that spike jabs into the turf so very, very close. Might even snag some of his clothing. "And you're still missing the point." Jonothon sounds cheerful about it, and in all the wrong ways. The spike collapses in on itself, slumping down to the ground. If only the other male could understand how hard this all is. He shouldn't be here toying with him. Shouldn't be carrying that phone. Shouldn't be wearing black.. so many ways he's fighting as best as he's able. "You're also doing the same, mate. Hiding behind your power. I'm a monster." Mocking there. "Can't pass for human… Lost your ability to change back. Who's fault is that?"

James feels the movement of the spike all too close to his arm as he does his best to recover from fall. On his feet again he spares the briefest of glances: hole in his shirt, scratch on his arm. No real harm, but it's first blood. His eyes narrow, focusing in on the man. Was it the injury? Maybe. The insult? Probably. One thing's for sure, he's an open-arena kinda guy, and all these trees are in his way and it's only giving Jono more available fodder. Senses tell him that the open area is just beyond the trees, but to each it he needs to go 'though' his enemy. He breaks off into a flat run, feet digging deep into the thawing dirt. He leans into the run, moving as fast as he can. And, if he gets that close, he ditches, feet first so that he slides past Jono's outside left leg, claws bared for a quick strike. Hit or not, his target is more about getting the telepath out of the woods, not his flesh. Although the beast won't mind.

For someone with all this power, he seems to be doing little or nothing truly affective. Jonothon doesn't initiate another attack, not even as James is racing for him. Hands spread, the man all but welcoming the attack, and he continues to do nothing as claws hit home. Yes, it hurts. It hurts a lot, but that hurt allows him focus. Not unlike what's been going on in James' own head. A sound of pain, the man hunching over as his knee buckles. Only the psy-fire saves him from dropping to the ground.
Tendrils of fire lash out with it, knocking down the trees James seeks to escape. Gets three careening down wildly, in several directions, before James is beyond Jono’s range. «Is that all, James?» Asked mentally as the pain makes him stop thinking about speaking physically. «I can feel those urges in you.» Jono does follow though, limping, trailing psy-fire behind him. Yet he doesn't hurry. James can get well ahead should he wish.

Westchester - The Road Less Traveled

Far along Mills Road, a small, overgrown dirt path breaks off from the road, leading through the woods toward an old, abandoned cemetery.

James hears the snapping and tearing of the trees behind, smells the blood in the air, feels the pulse of his own heart in his ears….then the sound of a free being flung all-too close. He continues his run, hoping for the best, but by the time he even finishes that thought it's nearly on top of him. *Boom* His eyes close expecting the worst, but instead his body feels the bass rumble of the tree hitting another tree. He doesn't takes his eyes off the open field once, and when he reaches it, it almost feels like salvation. But the feeling lasts only a second as Jono begins his limp. He begins to form a plan, with only seconds to go. Run? Fight? Get the phone? Bleed him out and make him pay? The latter comes from deep within, the scent of blood weighing heavily on his mind. Jono taunts, the beast smiles, James licks his wet claws unconsciously. The beast smiles again.

It's almost spring. And James can feel life. In the ground, on his hand, and leaking from his friend.

James waits. And then without warning his body takes off without his permission, towards Jono, hoping to catch him catch him as he clears the tree line.

«No, you aren't running away, are you.» He's listening, feeling what the hyena feels. A passenger behind his eyes. Something he'd never have done before. Jonothon is enjoying those passions of the other mutant. It's been so very long since he felt anything strong, beyond grief and pain. Wrapped in his psy-fire, he shatters the trees before him to clear a path. No holding back against the things that aren't James. The tendrils of flame caress the ruined trees as shrapnel imbeds itself into the trees around it, and Jonothon limps through the mess he's made to the open.

And there, framed by trees, lighting the area all on his own, he does nothing to stop that rush. Attack, James, but there will be drawbacks. Jono hits the turf, under that greater weight, and he shares everything he feels. All the pain, the cold ground, the dark of the sky..

Inside his head it's life in slow motion. With each step James takes, his nose picks up the smell of fresh turned earth, his hears hear each impact, his mind picks a target, his eyes hyper focus. Something zips past his ear, and then again. Shrapnel. Theres the briefest sting in his arm as a splintered piece embeds itself. Blood. Overly rich in iron. His. There's hesitation in his mind, but his body is already committed to the leap. Jono's reflection broadcasts to both. But it isn't all. The hyena's is body strong but his mind is weak. He doesn't want to do this. And a flash of regret proves this even as claws aim for his friends chest. Then it's all over. The beast tackles its prey. The impact hits James hard, twices as hard as it should. He's in pain, a lot. And he not's sure why and he's even more unsure why he's yelling.

Jonothon is yelling too. Claws rend flesh and he's screaming into James' mind. Into any mind that happens to be around honestly, but beyond knocking out a couple animals people are spared. Can taste the blood being drawn from him, for the Brit has make shift lungs and throat at the moment. It's heavy in his mouth, and his chest burns for some reason. Shouldn't have made that mental link though. It works against him almost immediately. A scream, and pain, then two sets of pain. Two sets of confusion, an over loading of senses that aren't even his.. and Jonothon passes out. The thin man slumps down to the grass, eyes rolling back into his head. There are no signs of life either.

James doubles over, arms hugged so tightly around his own midsection that he can't breath. He's crying, it's the sound of a wounded animal. And even with his eyes shut, he sees the blackness of unconsciousness creeping up on him. But his beast won't allow it. The prey is down, it's time to claim the rest. James becomes painfully aware of where his face has landed the moment his beast rubs his nose in it. That creeping wetness coating his fur? Blood and bits of meat. And it's not from him. The pain fades as Jono passes out. James starts coughing, the feral crying fades, replaced with sounds more human, crying of his own. He rolls off his friend and lays in the grass for a long moment making the noises of someone in pain in places people can't see with their own eyes. He stands, roaring at nothing, claws bared, turning in a small circle. The beast leaves, happy with the results of its hunt, leaving James alone. He collapses at the man's side, and after a moment with his hands trembling, removes the phone

The beast leaves, happy with the results of its hunt, leaving James alone. He collapses at the man's side, and after a moment with his hands trembling, removes the phone from Jono's pocket. Dialing his teammate he cries into the phone, "I just killed Jono." There’s a pause, "He's dead. I…I I…dont' know where I am. It's near that other cemetery I think." Rashmi’s voice can he heard"….Hold on, James." Her voice is tight, cracking. "We'll… we'll get help. It'll be okay. Just… stay there. … ….We'll be right there." James shuts the phone and begins to make some rather unearthly mourning noises.

Concluded in "Not Dead Yet."

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