"Burn it." John orders as I look over the belt I was provided with when I first joined the X-Men.
It's not really that simple, is it?" I hiss.
"That is the last thing about your original uniform that remains unchanged. That is the last thing that ties you to them." He shrugs on his new leather jacket casually.
"It suits me though." I run my finger over the metal buckle.
"There's a giant goddamn 'X' on it, Ardor. You can't say that it suits you when it's not who you are." He stands beside me now.
"I just..." I sigh. He's right. I'm never going back now.
"Want this?" He offers me his lighter. I shoot him a confused look. He shrugs. "It's more traditional."
I take a deep breath and close my eyes, feeling the flames escape my fingers and ignite the belt in my hands. That's it.
"Let's go." I order, dropping the burning material in a metal trash can as I pass it.
"Ardor," John takes hold of my arm. I look down at his hand before locking my eyes with his.
"I thought I told you not to touch me?" I growl. He relaxes his grip on my arm slightly, but does not let go of me.
"Are you okay?"
"How can you even ask that?" I pull my arm free of his grasp roughly. "After everything you've done!"
"I still care about you." He replies sweetly.
"I care about me too." I lean into him more to emphasize my comment. "Which is why I'm not falling for any more of your bullshit."
"Evelyn!" He calls as I storm off ahead.
"Don't call me that!" I yell back at him.
"Hey," Voltage appears beside me.
"Oh, god. What now?" I roll my eyes.
"I know that we haven't really seen eye to eye in the past, but I just want you to know, what John did to you was really low-"
"You think?" I cut in sarcastically.
"But," She emphasizes the word. "He only did it because he didn't want to lose you to them. I'm not saying you should forgive him - if I was in your position I definitely wouldn't. I'm just saying, he's not a bad guy."
"I know." I admit. "But there's no way I could ever see him as a friend ever again."
"Could you see me as a friend? We could bond over the mutual feeling that John is a total asshole?" She suggests, making me smirk.
"Sure," I smile. I need a friend. "No more burning each other or pushing each other out of windows?" I offer her my hand.
"Deal." She shakes it, smiling. "Thanks for the clothes, by the way. I love them."
"It's not like I paid for them." I laugh.
"You're a lot cooler than I thought you were, Ardor." I have a feeling this is probably the best compliment I'll ever get from her, even though we are now friends.
"You too, Voltage."
"Girls?" John calls, approaching us.
"What?" I snap. Why does he have to be so patronizing?
"I found a mirror." He smiles smugly, before leading us around the corner of the street to stand infringing of a large display window of a toy shop. "Whatever. It was the best thing I could find. It's kinda reflective where the light hits it right."
"It'll do." I smile at him temporarily, before my mind reminds me who I'm looking at, and I break our eye contact.
We stand in front of the window evaluating our new appearance as a team. Already I can see we look better than the X-Men!
Voltage stands to my left. She wears some heeled black army boots, with skin light leather pants, which are slashed in various places. She has a cropped leather jacket partially covering her low cut, simple, black tank. Fingerless leather gloves cover her hands and a small black eye mask, similar to mine, helps to conceal her identity. As usual, she looks totally gorgeous!
I look to my own appearance now. My outfit hasn't actually changed much. I still wear my dyed-black catsuit and stolen thigh high leather boots, with my painted-black eye mask. But now, I have a cropped leather jacket over the top, similar to Voltage's, but with less studs. The most noticeable change in my appearance is my hair. I have dyed the underlayer black. I don't want to be the boring innocent redhead anymore. I'm more than that. I'm bad.
"You look good." John's voice is in my mind.
"Shut up." I order aloud.
"Sorry." He replies awkwardly.
John's new outfit is simple but effective. It is similar to in our 'dream' in the Rockies where we... I shudder at the thought. Heavy, black combat boots; black skinny jeans; a tight fitting black shirt, and a thick leather jacket, with a rounder, more masculine eye mask to finish it off. He looks good. Really good.
"I heard that." He teases in my mind.
"I thought I told you to stay out of my head?" I say, turning to him. "It would be nice if you actually stick to my rules."
"Make me!" He dares. Fine. If he wants to play it that way.
I walk towards him slowly, until our faces are just inches apart, and feel his breath hitch slightly. I place my hand on his chest and run it slowly down. Over his abdomen. Down to his hips. And then I stop.
"When you play by my rules," I whisper, removing John's lighter from his pocket. "You can have this back."
"Hey!" He protests.
"Be good and you can have it back. It's that simple." I slip it into the top of my boot and turn away from him.
"You can't do that!" He complains, following me. "Voltage, tell her she can't do that!"
Voltage shrugs beside me. "Sorry, Pyro."
"Ugh. You guys are terrible." He moans as he catches up with us.
"So, what's the plan for the state leaders' meeting?" I ask professionally.
"We don't actually have one." John replies. "The meeting is tomorrow, so I was thinking we could spend all of today planning."
"Can't." I shrug. "I've got school."
"You're still going to school?"
"Oh, I'm sorry, John." I reply sarcastically. "I've just lost almost everyone that's important to me, excuse me for trying to keep my best friend and my mother!"
"Fine." He says strongly. "This afternoon. The park, yeah?"
"No." I state defiantly. "It'll be too busy. You'll have to come to mine."
"Like a play date?" John jokes.
"It'll be a long time before you're playing with anybody, honey!" Voltage sings back, making me smirk slightly.
"I will contact you with details on how to get to my house later." I say to John. "The sun is almost up and I have school in like two hours, so I better get back."
"See you later." Voltage smiles before turning to leave, but John stays still.
"Can I talk to you?" He begs.
"Sure. How much more damage can you do to me?" I moan sarcastically.
"Do you remember when we had that dream ages ago? About us kissing in the trees here in the park. And afterwards I admitted that I was falling for you." He moves closer to me.
"Where's this going?" I cross my arms over my chest.
"Do you remember?" He asks.
"Yes." I sigh. "I remember."
"Do you remember when you told me that, if you hadn't had been with Scott, things would be different between us?" He lowers his voice to a whisper and comes closer.
"Yes." I say simply.
"Why not now?" He asks, his voice low and sexy.
"Because you sabotaged my relationship and tore apart my life." I try to keep the emotion from my voice, but it's too difficult. He was supposed to be my best friend.
"I'm so sorry, Ardor." He starts, and he genuinely looks like he is. "But even if someone gave me the opportunity to go back and do it all again differently, I wouldn't. Because you're here with me now. I don't care that you hate me. I just care that you're here."
"You were my best friend..." I take a deep breath to steady my emotions.
"I know." He whispers, our faces now just inches apart. "I know that what I did was stupid, but now you're free, you have to see that."
"I do, John. I do see that." My voice is weak. "But I don't want to be free if it means losing Scott."
"But you have us now."
"That doesn't really mean much at all." I reply emotionlessly.
"I know it's all my fault. And I can cope with you hating me." He takes my hand and, for some reason, I don't pull away. "But please, let me be here for you whilst everything is getting better?"
"It won't get better." I reply bluntly.
"It will." He whispers. "Starting here."
He leans down and kisses my lips. I shove him back roughly.
"What the hell?!" I shout. "How can you even think I would ever want to kiss you after what you've done?"
"Evelyn, please! I'm sorry, I just-"
"Stop calling me that!" I yell, running away. Away from the kiss. Away from the pain. Away from John.