- Work in Progress
- Abuse - Sexual
- Dark Themes
- Death - Child
- Death - Major Character
- Death - Minor Character
- Discussion - Child Abuse
- Discussion - Murder
- Discussion - Other Trigger Topics
- Discussion - Sexual Abuse
- Discussion - Torture
- Disturbing Imagery
- Permanent Injury
- Suicide - Attempted
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Violence - Graphic
- Violence - Sexual
- Action Adventure
- Alternate Universe
- Challenge Response
- Episode Related
- Fix It
Art by WaterSoter
“Unbelievable.” Matt Murdock muttered, almost too low for anyone to hear. To his left, Amanda Griffin hid a smirk behind a sip of exceptional champagne. Krug But, if she wasn’t mistaken. She had only tasted it once before, after she had settled the Benietti case. It had been as exquisite then as it was now. The taste lingered on her tongue, complemented by the wonderfully ripe strawberries.
“Drink, eat, enjoy.” She said in a low voice, watching as a girl with pink hair and colorful wings walked around with a tray of flutes and strawberries. “The champagne is well worth a break to your delicate sensibilities.”
Murdock turned his face toward her, mouth pinched in an unhappy pout. Cute, if you were into complicated; not to mention pathetically easy when it came to lost causes. “So you think this is a good idea?” He motioned vaguely towards the guests, clustered in groups about the room. She glanced from one colorful mutation to the next, like sorting through a crayon box, until she reached the corner by the window where their client stood, isolated by an aggressively protective security detail.
Scott Summers had seen better days. His handsome face was a mosaic of greens, purples and blues, and he was thinner than even a man dubbed “Slim” should be, swallowed up in that horrific off-the-rack suit that he and Matt had insisted he wear. In theory it was to appear humble as if that was going to win their case. There was a plate in his hand, and three more abandoned on the nearest table, food untouched. And of course that little demon girl was keeping everyone and anything away with a glare that intimidated even Amanda, who had defended serial killers.
Most noticeable was how Summers huddled in on himself, his broken left arm, still in its sling, held protectively over broken ribs. Anyone else would assume that his posture was defensive, defeated. Amanda, who had read his medical file, knew it had more to do with 17 stab wounds that were still healing.
But Amanda wasn’t Summers’ babysitter. She had done her part, and now she planned to bask in once again achieving the impossible. Her firm had already offered to extend her contract, and there was talk about a possible partnership track. That this entire situation had caused a major embarrassment to the current administration, kicked the Avengers in the teeth and destroyed people’s confidence in SHIELD – well, that was just the cherry on top of a very generous sundae.
She wasn’t petty, but she had to admit to enjoying the biting headlines, the squirming of officials and high ranking military personnel; and watching as that bitch Pepper Potts ran ragged trying to keep Stark and his investments afloat. That perfect world crumbling at her feet. Amanda took a sip of Krug, savored it. Now Ms. Potts and her ilk would know what that felt like.
“We won a case that no sane lawyer would have taken. Enjoy the victory, Murdock.” She bit into a sweet strawberry and made a note to find out where they had gotten their supplies for the party. “I, for one, plan to savor this very expensive champagne before I eat a very large amount of very fattening foods.”
A young woman with long, dark hair and coppery skin made her way toward Summers. Amanda thought she recognized her as the X-Man they referred to as Moon, or Mirage, or some other ridiculous codename. The demon girl watched, but did nothing to stop her from reaching Summers.
Matt gave a heavy sigh. His champagne was still untouched, Amanda noticed. “I don’t think everyone sees it that way.”
Amanda at the few groups clustered as far away from Summers as they could get while still in the same building. She wondered if their open hostility was for Summers in particular, or his merry band of nominally reformed villains in general.
“You didn’t honestly believe Summers winning would change anything for most of them?” Amanda had been clear about that from the get-go. She hated unreasonable expectations and there was nothing worse than clients who expected miracles rather than a harsh and bitter pill of reality to swallow.
Matt’s wary breath was sharp and frustrated. Amanda hid a satisfied smirk. “Really, Matt, and here I thought you were more realistic than that.” She had more than enough exposure to the X-Men these past months. Their entire situation was filled with so much unnecessary and convoluted drama that Amanda would never be able to enjoy any show produced by Shonda Rhimes again.
“I was hoping it would make things easier.” Matt said, finally taking a drink of his flute. He stopped, surprise on his face. “Wow, this is better than the stuff Stark usually has.” He grimaced as soon as he said the name. Several heads whipped towards them and the temperature in the room seemed to drop.
Yes, she imagined that name, among others, would be taboo among this crowd. “Krug But, 1,800 a bottle.” She purposely took a large bite out of another strawberry, felt the glares directed her way. “And Mr. Stark likes expensive things, not necessarily quality.”
A curious tilt of the head but he was smart enough to keep his opinions to himself. The girl, Mirage, Moon something, was with Summers now. A new plate handed over despite the stack of plates piled high with untouched food within easy reach.
Murdock shifted, “Not eating?” Amanda sipped at her flute, impressive despite herself.
“We’re not his babysitters.” But some of his people apparently were. Emma Frost held court on the wrap around sectional, but her attention was on Summers. As was Lehnsherr’s, who stood proudly at the center of the apartment. His cold, cold eyes assessing everyone. There were others that Amanda knew by news feeds and of course the formerly famous Alison Blaire.
“Moonshine is attempting to feed him.” Badly, since Summers looked like a stiff wind would knock him off his feet.
Matt Murdock smirked down at her, “Moonstar, Dani Moonstone. Codename Mirage.” Moonstar, what a name and with all these names and codenames was it ever any wonder anyone got them right in the first place. “She’s a good kid.”
She supposed she must be as Moonstar waved a girl over and together they forced Summers into a chair. None of the ambivalence in her obvious concern for Summers that others held. Said a few choice words to other kids that had converged on them as soon as Summers sat. A boy with enormous yellow wings flew past the floor to ceiling windows. He glanced at Summers and was waved away by Moonstar.
“I’m surprised he lasted that long,” Murdock said, even as Erik Lehnsherr moved further into the apartment, taking quite literally center stage. “Showtime.”
Amanda grabbed another flute offered to her and the entirety of the strawberries from a dark skinned boy this time, with no visual mutation like many in attendance. The room fell into a hush and Emma Frost and all those sitting stood, as did a shaky Scott Summers.
“My brothers and sisters,” Erik Lehnsherr began with great aplomb, “An injustice has been rectified!”
His voice boomed throughout the apartment, every eye riveted to him. “Today we celebrate a great victory for our people!”
The room erupted into cheers and applause. Amanda felt her smirk grow. Showtime indeed.
Once the clamor died down, Magneto continued. “Two years, two years now when the Avengers, an agent of this government stormed our home, our sanctuary with the sole purpose to quell our rights. To steal the one among us that would restore our people to their former glory.”
A bit much, she thought, but the mutants present were clearly of similar way of thinking. Well, almost everyone. There were a few of the more familiar faces that weren’t quite as excited by Magneto’s speech. Alison Blaire had her arms crossed while Iceman stared out at the impressive floor to ceiling windows. The sun was near setting, leaving a colorful display despite the dozens of buildings blocking the spectacular view.
Warren Worthington III had his wings folded over his shoulders like a cape, face set into an impassive expression. There were others but these three seemed to represent a more dissenting mood in the room.
“These self-proclaimed heroes, who had never raised a word in our defense, dared to impose upon us their laws, their justice to what was nearly the end of us all. To the unjust incarceration of our leadership.” Here he paused, a sombre timbre in his voice, “to the death of he who would dream of our place among the humans.”
“Son of a bitch!” Matt muttered lowly, but the anger there was very sharp and real.
The entire room was in rapt silence, and more than one person glanced at Scott Summers who had straighten in what was clearly a painful manner. Charles Xavier. Haloed, tragic hero. Amanda had many opinions of Xavier but hero was hardly one of them. She glanced at Summers and saw his face close off at the mention of Xavier. Despite it all, he would be one more that would be wholly devoted to Xavier.
“But despite it all, we are triumphant. Today we finally gain a semblance of justice, and those that would oppress us now know that we will not be silent nor silenced. We will fight and we will win!” The tone of the room lifted but Amanda wondered about that. Lehnsherr was a master at manipulation and so far Amanda hadn’t see anything from the man that would change her mind about that.
“Today we are not a people on our knees, but a people that stands proudly and proclaims to the world that we will not be victimized any longer!”
Everyone once again erupted in cheers, and even some of the more skeptical among them seemed to be swayed to Magneto’s views. But not all agreed she thought as she saw Iceman stalk out of the room. Worthington following at a more sedate pace.
Then Lehnsherr stepped back and motioned over to Summers who looked ready to drop. Demanding, expectant and waiting. For a moment Amanda thought Summers wouldn’t go. Would sit back down and ignore everything that had happened around him like he had done with most of the trial when he hesitated. But no, of course not. Scott Summers was a man of responsibility and guilt. He would do what was expected of him until it killed him and even then . . .
He took a step forward and several hands made motions to catch him when he went down. But instead of falling on his face, he shoved shoulders back, painfully and walked forward to take his rightful place by Magneto’s side. A moment later Frost joined them.
No speeches were needed, Amanda knew. With them presenting a united front was enough for many there. The past, the present and the future of mutantkind in these three people. But no, not in three people, as Frost and Magneto stepped back every so slightly, leaving Summers to take centerstage.
Beside her Matt Murdock clenched his fists. The demon girl glared. Moonstar crossed her arms and the room as a whole watched and accepted. Amanda bit into a deliciously ripe strawberry, drank from excellent wine and ignored the unseen weight that seemed to settled on Summers’ shoulders like a death shroud.