2020-06-14: Out of the Frying Pan


JinxF_icon.jpg JamesF_icon.jpg

Summary: Jinx and James share a not-so-happy reunion.

Date: June 14, 2020.

Log Title Out of the Frying Pan

Rating: PG-13.

The Future - Salem Center - Mutant Camp

Off in the distance, the crumbling remains of a school in ruins is stark contrast to the brilliance that once represented Xaviers dream. Now converted into a mutant camp, the surrounding area offers a humbling experience for those familiar with the grounds original purpose. Now best described as an open-air prison yard, tall walls, robot guards, and automated defenses keep depowered mutants inand yet-to-be-caught fugitives out. Oppression is heavy in the air. The sound of laughter and innocent screams replaced with something darker: A non-stop orchestral movement of roving Sentinels, anguished cries, and the shuffling of mutant feet to and from any of the many residential buildings, work sites, or sparse mess halls.

Laundry Day. One would think that in the future, there would be robots to do these most banal jobs, but not so. High class nanites are not for common folk, and clean socks and undies are a black market currency that can earn the laundress a nice trade, or perhaps a moment's peace from the people who'd wish to do her harm. Jinx has gotten free of the shuffling and anguish of the day in order to have the priviledge of washing one of the guard's undies in the polluted lake. Trudging through the grounds, she manages to drag the bag through as much dirt as possible on her way back to the buildings, her tail a dirty ribbon behind her

James watches from the window of a building in the yard as a couple of the Hunters he brought with him have beer and catch up on BS with the guards. "That's the one," he says to the pair. Dispassionately, he watches her move, waiting to see which building she will enter. Turning on a heel, he puts his hands behind her back, "She's on the list. Have her brought to the meeting room." He walks out the side door and, heads down the hallway as one of the prison guards goes to retrieve her.

Jinx is retrieved. She sneers at the guards, her tail fanning behind her in an echo of what she once was capable of before this all happened. Ears laid back, she leaves the skivvies in the mud and swears that this guard is now in some serious bandini. But of course, the threat of a captive is worth nothing these days, and she is lead upwards with her collar still firmly in place. She is let into the meeting room, and she paces back and forth, tugging at the jumpsuit that flattens her fur in uncomfortable ways.

After more than a few uncomfortable moments, the door opens and James walks in. Clad in basic Hunter's garb, the hyena looks little different than he did 10 years ago. Just more worn at the edges and much less alive, "Jinx Vallon. Please take a seat." He tilts his head, giving the woman a sensing scan.

Jinx's whiskers flick and her mouth opens in a gasp. "James….?" she asks, her ears flipping up and quivering slightly in uncertainty. She has heard the rumors of course; tales told about creatures in the night with sharp teeth and glowing eyes… but that could be a hundred people these days. Conflicted emotions cross her face, purpley eyes shaded. "Is that you? It has to be you.." she ignores his words, and stays standing. Far too much has happened for her to just accept his orders as if she was any common captive, and he a common hunter.

James rolls his sunglasses up from his eyes and gives Jinx a piercing stare. It's a voice she hasn't heard in well over 5 years, the commanding voice of a former X-Force member who learned long ago how to project himself over groups of screaming children. "Sit," he booms.

Jinx clamps her mouth shut and her ears flatten back. "You're the boss," she sneers, and clicks over to the chair, her claws flexing as she throws herself into the seat. A deep unhappy glower sets on her fuzzy features, her arms crossed over her chest. She looks to him expectantly.

James immediately tosses a folder on the table. It's her file with everything the Robot Masters have learned about the girl and more. Opening it, his clawed hand points to two specific pages, "Your mark. Here and here." He pulls out a pencil and offers it. Practically leaning over the girl, he waits for her to comply, "By order of directive twenty-seven B stroke six, you've been reassigned to the Hunters Camp. You will be briefed on your way there."

Jinx writes her name in her best handwriting. A glance to the Hyena, she knows he can break her apart, but she is not afraid. Not really. Her life ended a long time ago and the existence of a laundry maid and occasional date is hardly anything close to living. But damn if Jinx can't write her name well. If it's the last thing she does, it is gonna be fricking beautiful. And it is. She finishes with a flourish and a little heart over the "i". She pushes the paper away and looks up at the hyena. "I assume this means you're taking me."

"Yes," is the hyena’s only response. Closing the folder he walks to the door and hands it off to a person on the other side. "Follow me." Shortly, she's guided by her arm to a waiting repurposed police car, placed in the back seat, and chauffeured out of the camp with Tooth at the wheel; the other guards left behind to finish some sort of detail.

Jinx does what she is told. Yet another shuffling maneuver of one of the camp's least valuable mutants. She sits in the back seat with her hands in her lap, breathing a long sigh between her teeth, and looking out the window at the wrecked world beyond. "I'm not going to make it, am I?" she asks, her thoughts far away.

James says nothing, only looking into the back of the car using the rear-view mirror. After a moment's silence, he offers, "Would you prefer to be left in that place?" Eyes back on the road, the hyena drives. It's a familiar route, one he, her, Robyn, Connor, Lucas, Rashmi…and countless others took countless times when heading to the mall. Happier times. Fun times. The car comes to a halt on some side road and James shuts off the engine. At her door, he opens it, "Please step out of the car."

Jinx stays in the car. For a long moment, she reflects upon her life. Born a girl, turned into woodland creature, became something more. It's a short life, a sonata without a finale. She slowly looks up James's frame, as if evaluating whether she could take him with just her claws. Her eyes narrow, and one leg slides from the car, then the other until she slips sinuously from the vehicle. She stands in front of the hyena, lifting her chin in defiance. "Just don't hurt the face," she winks to him.

Behind the sunglasses James' eyes glow a familiar bright blue as he readies his teleport ability. "You won't feel a thing. Promise." He reaches his hand forward for a moment not touching her quite yet. Head tilted, he asks of her, "Please close your eyes."

Jinx takes a step back then. "No," she says. "I will keep my eyes open, James Palmer. I will watch as you do this and I will remember your face." Her eyes look beyond the glasses. "I knew you, James. I knew you before Africa, and before Tooth. I knew you before it all happened, and I want to know why you'd come and ruin that memory now?" She asks, her monologue buying her a little more time on this plane. "I was never so bad to you that I need to be erased on some shitty side road next to a car."

James frown and asks of her again, this time somewhat agitated, "Please. Close. Your Eyes." He steps forward, as if the threat of his size would be enough, "Do it." He beings working that inner fierceness, arms coming down on either side as he grips the car, "Do it!"

He's saying please, and it gets her attention. His growing agitation also thrills her somehow. She is getting a rise out of him. Violence is not a language that most captives care to speak, as at the other end of the leash, the collar is very tight. She leans forward, her muzzle close to his. "Why?"

James gives Jinx the rise she's looking for as she questions him. There's a loud roar, a flurry of paws, a gripped skunk and then a flash of blue. In an instant there's a whiff of ozone and the teleporter vanishes, leaving Jinx alone at the car. But it only lasts an instant and he's practically op top of her. He vanishes once more, and again; each time his hand reaching for her but disappearing before he can make contact. Appearing some 50' away, with his back to her, he stumbles into a patch of grass and falls to his knees, hands in his head fur.

Jinx frowns. Really, she should run away. She should get far away from this place, run as far as she can before they zap her and catch her again. But she doesn't. She steps from the car into the long grass, and pauses a few long strides away from the hyena. "Why??" she calls again, this time it's her turn to demand.He can be anywhere. Maybe even inside her and bursting free, but he doesn't. He could never get her to behave when they were closer, so why should that have changed?

James hunches over somewhat, eyes on the ground. He offers a much weaker sounding, "Because I need to make you safe. How can I make you safe if I can't take you away." Sounds logical to him, but then again he's frekin' crazy.

Jinx stands in the grass and tries to make sense of what he just said. The wind picks up, her hair tousled against her ears and her tail swept along in a black and white streak. "Why do I have to close my eyes?" she asks, gentler now. She doesn't approach, giving him his time and space, but neither does she run.

James turns his head away from her as she tracks into his vision, "Because…I can't look at them." There's a long, drawn out painful sigh. It's as close to upset as he ever gets, and Jinx will know it. Hyenas don't cry. They just make a lot of noise—and break things. Hearts included. Lessons learned from days past.

Jinx ohs softly. It still makes no sense. She moves through the grass then, approaching the hyena. There is a distinctive sound to her shuffle, a sway of hips counterbalanced by her tail that humans just can't manage. She places her hand on his shoulder softly, her claws held back though glinting in the red light of polluted skies. She's silent a long moment. "Okay," she answers, her voice a soft whisper.

James flinches a little, head still turned away, "I thought you were dead…you were supposed to be dead. I needed you to be dead. Now, now it's all wrong. Things aren't right anymore. How can I do what needs to be done when I know you're watching?"

"Since when have you ever cared what anyone thought of you?" she asks, her voice quiet. She bends behind him, and her arms move to encircle his shoulders, though she moves very slowly. She is significantly smaller than he is, both in poundage and in height, and her cheek presses to the back of his head, just like it did years ago.
"You do what you do because you know that in the end, it's not about being a hero or a villain, it is about who you look at in the mirror. Right?" Her words are soft, whispered to his cupped and tattered ears. "There's a lot of broken mirrors these days around here," she presses a soft kiss between his ears.

James offers the reaction she'd probably expect, a quick snap of the head at the first hand that touches him, a low growl that's cut short as he stops instinct from overriding him. There's an exhale, a stiffening, and an answer, "I don't use a mirror anymore." He stands and turns around to face her, "You are dangerous for me." There's a nod to the car, "We must go before we're missed. And I need to get you settled into your new role." He steps past. No words. Only bumping her slightly with his shoulder. It's a sad fact that Jinx is wearing her inhibitor. If she wasn't, the passing breeze would carry a familiar scent…one she woke up next to for years after graduation. Something comforting, human…and a far cry from the person in front of her. And even in all his Hunter’s fur and fangs, James can't hide it. The smell of truth.

"Wait," she calls after him as he moves away. "What if I said okay?" she asks of him, impulsive as ever. "Do whatever you were going to do. Look.. I'll even close my eyes," and she does. Her arms spread to the sides, and her eyes are completely closed. She is as vulnerable as she ever was, and perhaps feeling a death wish against the creature that is whispered of as a monster of epic proportions. "Go ahead."

James starts the car as Jinx stands there with her eyes shut. Looking over, he growl-sighs, "Get in the car. Now." He stares down the road ahead, looking tired…

Jinx frowns then, and her eyes open again. She rolls her shoulder in a shrug and trudges up the embankment towards the waiting car. She doesn't say anything else as she slips inside, and closes the door herself.

The car pulls back onto the road, bits of gravel and broken pavement spraying out behind the them. James stays silent, only speaking when questioned at the gate to the Hunter's Den. His home…and now somewhat hers.

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