103. New Team
"Where are you hiding, you coward?" I yell, storming through the park in my X-Men uniform, my hair and hands alight.
"Woah!" John steps out from the trees. "What are you doing?"
"You ruined everything!" I scream, thrusting my hand out towards him, sending an inferno of flames in his direction.
"Calm down!" He orders, flicking the flames away casually and walking closer to me.
"No! You messed it all up!" The sight of him is too much, and I can't hold the tears back any longer.
"Just shut off the goddamn flames so we can talk." He orders. At his words, I let the exhaustion of my emotions take me over, the flames around me fading from existence. He rushes over to me and hugs me.
"Get off me!" I yell through my sobs, trying to push him away. "Leave me alone!"
I punch my fists against his chest in a futile attempt at freedom. But he just holds me tighter.
"No!" I sob. "You- You-"
"Shhh." As much as I hate him, his voice is still so soothing. I give up my assault and cry into his shirt. "I'm sorry."
"Sorry's not good enough. I've lost everything I've worked so hard for!" I try to sound strong, but the tears ensure I don't succeed.
"Ev-" He stops himself. "Ardor. We've been thinking about what you said about the plan. You're right."
"What?" I blink up at him through the tears.
"Help us find a better way to get through to them." What? Better than murdering them? He can't be serious! He's just messed up everything in my life and now he wants my help.
"Why would you even think-"
"Why are you wearing that, Ardor?" He cuts me off.
"Because I don't want to be exposed as a mutant." I reply mindlessly.
"No, that's not that." He says confidently. "It's because you still want to be one of them. You want to be part of a team. Now's your chance! Join us."
"No, I mean, I could never..." I trail off. He's right. I do want that. But this is the guy that just destroyed my relationship. Although I can see that, there is no way I can back to what my life was before the X-Men. I can't ignore my powers, and I can't ignore our connection.
"Okay." I whisper. "I'll do it."
"Thank you." He sounds relieved.
"This doesn't mean I've forgiven you." I take a deep breath, pushing the tears away and regain my confidence. "I'll never forgive you. So get your hands off me."
"Yeah, sorry." He steps back quickly, holding his hands up.
"Good." I bend down and retrieve John's lighter from where it is tucked neatly into the top of my left boot. I flick it at him and he catches it awkwardly, obviously not expecting it. "Get Voltage, we have some appearance alterations to make."
"If we're going to be a team, we're going to look like a team." I say strongly. I'm done with crying now. I have a new objective.
"Okay," He sounds confused. "But it's the middle of the night. Where are we gunna get any stuff from?"
"John, I said I was against murder. That doesn't mean I never break the law." I click my fingers, igniting them, to enforce my point.
"Wow." I turn back and see him stood there with mouth gaping.
"What?" I close my hand into a fist, extinguishing the fire.
"You're so hot when you say stuff like that." I release an exasperated sigh at his words.
"Shut up." He can't seriously think I want to hear that. "Are you coming?"
"Oh. Yeah, sure. Sorry." He jogs to catch up with me. I can't help but feel empowered at the thought of him following my orders.
"Perfect." I murmur sarcastically, rolling my eyes.
"And, Ardor?" He says my name cautiously.
"What?" I growl. I'm taking no liberties in showing him how much I dislike him right now.
"That night when I told you what we were planning, I said something." He takes a deep breath. "I mean... I... I said that I loved you. I just thought you should know, I didn't-"
"Our relationship is purely professional now, Pyro." I cut him off. I don't care how he feels.
"Sure. Thanks." I've never seen him so awkward. Good.
"Let's get one thing straight." I start, keeping my eyes dead ahead. "There will never be anything between us. You are to stay out of my head. And just... Don't touch me."
"Hey!" He objects, grabbing my arm.
"You've gotta be kidding me." I murmur.
"Who gave you the right to order me around?" He stands strongly trying to claim authority. It's pathetic.
"This," I slip my hand into his pocket and remove the lighter. "Is why I am the leader of this team. Without this, or without me, you're nothing."
"But what?" I cut him off. He doesn't answer. "Exactly."
"Why are you acting like this?" He furrows his brow and looks insulted.
"Take a guess, asshole." I growl. How can he not see that what he's done is a big deal? I wasn't going to keep acting the same around him after he'd ripped everything away from me.
"Let's just get this over with."