Chapter 20 March Out Of The Darkness
I do not own Marvel, Spider-Man, X-Men, Avengers, Twilight, Papa Roach or anything youtube related.
Peter stretched his arms about then looked to the time. He raised his brows seeing as how it was noon. He hadn’t realized they’d slept that late. He looked over and smiled however as his Izzy was curled up against his chest. Peter brushed her auburn locks aside and caressed the apple of her cheek. He took a few moments to appreciate the view before him before inching out from under her and tucking her in. He kissed her forehead then he threw his boxers on, scratched his nether regions, and headed for the kitchen…
“Dammit…” Peter muttered as he looked to the breakfast he’d made.
He managed to not only burn the bacon, but the eggs and toast as well. Just as he decided on throwing everything out, Bella entered the kitchen.
“Eh, I wanted to surprise you…”
Bella smiled as she looked to the plates he’d set on the dining room table.
“It looks great, Peter.”
She sat down and he wrinkled his nose in disgust, as she bit into the burnt bacon. “Izzy, you don’t have to…” He reared back as she went on to devour her plate.
“That was really good!” She said afterward and Peter just stood there in disbelief.
“Izzy, that was the shittiest meal you ever ate and you know it!”
She smiled and pecked him on the cheek as he sat beside her.
“You made it. Of course I was going to eat it.”
For whatever reason, that had Peter all a flutter.
“You’re too good for me. You know that, right?”
“I think it’s the other way around, Peter.” She said and went on to clean up as he ate his food, with a repulsed look about him.
“Why do you do that?”
“You know… I give you a compliment and you throw it right back and make it all about me.”
“No I don’t…”
“Ummm… Yes you do, at least a good seventy-five percent of the time anyhow.”
Bella stopped what she was doing and peered over her shoulder.
“I hope you realize that I mean what I say. You do… Don’t you, Izzy?”
When she wouldn’t answer, Peter let out a sigh of slight frustration.
“You make me AND Spider-Man better people.”
Bella let out a laugh of mockery and went back to doing the dishes.
“What was that?!”
“It’s hard to see that when all I can focus on is all the hell I’ve put YOU and Aunt May through. At times I can’t help but to wonder…”
Peter’s entire face lit up and he shot to his feet. He pointed upon her rather irately.
“DON’T EVEN GO THERE!” He shouted, which was a rarity when it came to Peter Parker.
He was never one to yell at his Izzy like that. This had her pivoting around in shock.
“I don’t want to hear it. I mean it, Izzy. I’d be lost without you and it’s time you realize that. Why do you have to go and beat yourself up all the time?! Can’t you see what I see? Quit listening to everything your mother and Tony ever fed you. Listen to what me, Aunt May, Clint, and the old man have to say, for once. I love you, Izzy. But I am not okay with this self-destructing bit you’ve got going. You finally got the support system you’ve always needed. So what’s holding you back now, huh?”
Bella lowered her head and Peter cringed as she started to cry.
“Awe, Izzy…” Peter whispered and made his way over.
He pulled her into his arms then kissed the top of her head.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have yelled at you like that. I didn’t mean to make you cry.”
“You’ve got this light about you Peter, always have.”
This had him dropping his hold and tilting his head in question.
“You always know what to say and do, in any given situation you’re so chill and easy going. Whereas me? Well, I’m a fucking mess. I never know what to say or do. And the thoughts that enter my mind often enough scare the shit out of me, because I’m filled with so much hatred and darkness. I fear the day it takes me over. You’re the ONLY thing that keeps me balanced. If it wasn’t for Logan letting me know that you were alive and well, Draconian would still be out there. Taking lives left and right, until someone or something finally took her down.”
Peter recoiled in thought.
“Izzy… You’ve been through so much. It’s only natural for you to have a little more darkness about you. But that’s not to say you don’t have what it takes to overcome it and realize you CAN do this. I’m right here, every step of the way, just as I’ve always been. Now if the day should come where I’m no longer in the picture; don’t forget about the ones that care about you. Don’t turn your back to them and fall into that abyss, because whether I’m here or not… I’m always HERE, Izzy.” He said with a hand along the area of her heart. “Everywhere you go. Everything you do. No matter what trials we face. I’m right here. Don’t ever forget that.” But as he said this he felt somewhat hypocritical, in the sense of knowing that if anything happened to his Izzy. He’d be done for. He couldn’t stomach the idea of losing her, neither could Spider-Man.
“I already lost you once. I can’t lose you again, Peter.” She sobbed.
He drew back a breath on this and hugged her close. He let her cry it out then he cupped her chin and looked her in the eyes.
“We’ve always been each other’s rock, even before the imprint. I suppose what I’m really asking is if something like the symbiote situation should arise again… Don’t turn your back to everyone and let that darkness swallow you whole. You don’t need me in order to be the person you truly are. You’ve got a big heart, Izzy. You’ve got so much love and compassion within you. Don’t use me as an excuse to shut down and fuck yourself over. For one thing… Uncle Ben and I would be pissed if THAT’S what we have to look down on. It would kill me all over again… Knowing you’re going through literal hell and there isn’t shit I can do about it. I can’t see you go through that. So just make me that promise, will ya? Promise to keep me in here, no matter the situation, and know that you deserve happiness.”
“Dammit Peter! Quit talking about dying!” She snapped and shoved him back.
Peter shook his head as she went to storm out of the room. He fired off a web and had it wrap around her waist. Then he jerked her back over.
“Izzy…” He scolded but was quick to recoil as she was on the verge of having an “episode”.
“Stop that! I’m not going anywhere. This is all hypothetical. I just need to hear you say it, for my sake more than your own. Please.”
“Fine! If something should happen to you I’ll do be my best to be a skipping ray of fucking sunshine, YOU FUCKING PRICK!”
Peter reared back, while pressing his lips shut, in order to keep from laughing. He cleared his throat instead and gave a simple nod.
“GOOD!” He snapped in response but with a touch of a grin.
“Ugh!” She groaned and broke out of his web.
Peter watched as she headed on out of the room. He heard the shower start and sighed amongst himself. He didn’t need his spider senses to know that was nothing more than a façade.
Peter looked to the remains of his crappy breakfast and pinched the bridge of his nose. This wasn’t how he wanted today to go. It was their last day together (alone) … and here he was making her cry. Peter swallowed back and headed into the bathroom. He said nothing as he quietly pulled back the curtain. Bella was sitting beneath the showerhead and rocking herself as she cried. Peter climbed on in and sat behind her.
“I’m not going anywhere, neither are you.” He reassured and held her.
Bella nodded and leaned into his chest. For some reason it never dawned on Peter just how upset his Izzy would be if something should ever happen to him. But this right here was a true eye opener. Part of him took pride in that but there was another side that felt on edge. What would become of her if heaven forbid something does happen to him? But the unthinkable came to mind and Peter himself felt as if he’d have a panic attack. He thought back to when she was in that hospital and it was him fearing the worst. Peter spun her around and planted his hands along her face.
“Let’s just make a pact, right here, right now. We stay alive, no matter what. Got it?”
“I can deal with that…” She uttered and Peter smiled.
“Cool. But it’s a pact so you can’t break it. Got it?”
“Alright. No more gloominess. Let’s finish our shower, get dressed, and head into town. I’m thinking there’s a hotdog stand with our name on it.”
“But we just had breakfast.”
“Yeah at noon and it sucked ass.”
Bella managed to laugh and Peter smiled in response.
“That’s my girl.”
Bella laughed as Peter stuffed half a hotdog into his mouth.
He nodded looking like that of a chipmunk. Bella kicked back and laid her head in his lap as they were sitting on a bench in the park. Peter narrowed his eyes as he was watching a couple playing with their children.
“Think that’ll be us one day?”
“The kids?” Bella taunted and Peter chuckled.
“I think it’s a little late for us in that department. I meant the parents… Think we’ll have children of our own one day?”
Bella looked over in thought. The dad tossed a Frisbee over and his son caught it then threw it towards his little sister, who in exchange sent it towards their mother. Peter and Bella shared the same envy there. What they wouldn’t give to of had that growing up. But Peter was lucky in the sense that he had his Uncle Ben and Aunt May who was just as good as any mother and father (if not better), whereas Bella hadn’t a clue what that was really like. Clint and Logan was the closest thing, besides his aunt and uncle. But he knew it wasn’t quite the same. Bella didn’t know what it was like to have family gatherings and holidays, other than what she saw with the Parkers. And Natasha was NEVER one to truly spend with that kid. The more Peter thought back to Bella’s childhood, the sadder he felt. This had him reaching out and taking her by the hand. Bella however watched the children play in silence. A full two minutes passed before Peter got an answer.
“I don’t know, Peter. What if I end up like my mother?”
“Would never happen.”
“Come on, Izzy. You know that would never happen. You’re nothing like your mother. You’ll make a great mom!”
“More like you’ll make a great dad and our kids would grow up resenting me and wondering why you’re with someone like me.”
“That right there is what I’m talking about! Why do you do that to yourself?!”
Bella sat up in realization. She hadn’t meant to do that but Peter was right. She did it, yet again.
“I’m sorry, Peter.”
“You don’t owe ME an apology. You owe yourself one. And we’ve both seen it… You’re more like Logan than that of Natasha. Sure, Logan’s got his moments but he’s a good father, Izzy.”
“I wonder what it would’ve been like…”
“If Logan had raised me instead of Natasha…”
Peter nodded in thought.
“We should have twin boys and name them Ben and Clint!” Bella randomly put and Peter reared back rather wide-eyed.
“Yep. Identical ones.”
“That’s oddly specific.”
Peter tilted his head and observed as Bella watched a set of identical twins playing from afar. He smiled as she seemed to be in another world at the moment.
“Alright, so twins it is!”
“I’m holding you to that, Peter.” Bella taunted with a grin.
“Yeah… No pressure…”
Peter cleared his throat however.
“And if we have a girl…?”
“Not sure…” Bella murmured with a shrug.
“How about something like Emma or Chloe?” Peter threw out with a shrug.
“Those are rather cute actually.”
“Really?!” He said in surprise.
“Yeah. I really like those, Peter.”
“Awesome! So we picked out baby names for babies we don’t have yet! How cool is that?!” Peter witted and Bella died of laughter.
“We’re total dorks, you know that?!”
“I know. But I love that about us. Hey, let’s discuss wedding plans next!”
Bella cut him a look and Peter chuckled.
“Okay… maybe later?!”
“As long as there’s red or blue in the colors we should be fine…”
“Fine… But I really think we should go ahead and make the invitations. Do you know how long those things take?! We got what two, maybe three years tops to get to those? Shit we need to pick a date and get started!” He taunted and Bella elbowed him.
“So tense… What is it?” Jean questioned as Logan was looking to the time.
“What are ya coverin’ up for? It’s just us…” Logan uttered as Jean was pulling the covers up over her breasts.
Logan reached over and lowered them back down. Jean shook her head but smiled.
“So are you going to tell me what’s going on?”
“I sent that little punk out with my daughter… TWO fuckin’ days ago.”
Jean sat up on this.
“Yeah. He was supposed to take her on a date. What kind of date takes that fuckin’ long?”
“Well… have you tried calling?”
“Jesus. Don’t ya go and turn me inta one of those parents. Bella would never let me live that shit down.”
“You’re her father. It’s your parental right. Call. And if you have to… lay down the law.”
“She’s a good kid, Jeanie. So is he, even if he pisses me right the fuck off. Hell, I know what they’re doin’.”
Jean looked to Logan finding herself somewhat impressed.
“How about this… You call and make certain they’re “okay”. Can’t go wrong that way.”
Logan picked up the phone and regarded it in thought.
“Call. If nothing else… to ease your own concerns. Bella needs to understand that there are some guidelines to follow and so does Peter.”
Logan tried calling Peter first and when he wouldn’t answer he tried Bella. She too… no answer. This had the man a bit on edge, considering recent events. His brother and that little shit was still out there somewhere. Had Logan made a mistake in sending them out like that? He’d never forgive himself if something happened…
“They’re fine…” Jean assured as if reading his mind and Logan wondered if she had…
“How do ya know?”
“Just do. That’s not to say you shouldn’t set a few regulations when they get back.”
Bella giggled as Peter went on to mock the main actor in the movie they were watching. A helicopter popped up during one of the action scenes.
“Get to the Choppa!” Peter called and Bella covered her mouth in laughter.
Thankfully, they had the theater to themselves as it was still early in the day.
“So…” Peter uttered as he grabbed a handful of popcorn.
“Do you think he’s hot?”
He nodded and Bella wrinkled her nose. Peter had a good laugh at this.
“That’s probably a good thing in my case.” He flexed his biceps then looked to the actor on the screen.
“Hardly… You have definition and it’s way sexier than that. Nothing like looking like you survived a swarm of bees.”
“I think you’re the only girl that’s ever thought or said that.”
“What can I say…? I prefer my Spidey any given day of the week.”
Peter smiled on this.
“Do you now?”
Bella nodded and Peter placed the popcorn into an empty seat beside him. He pulled his Izzy into his lap and they ended up in a heated make out session.
“Peter?” Bella called with concern as he reached to his temples during.
He narrowed his eyes and cranked his head back looking around the theater.
“Is something wrong?”
“Just my senses acting up. They do that from time to time.”
“Yep. Comes with it.” He said with a shrug and went back to kissing her.
Truth of the matter… Someone had been stalking them and had been since they left the cabin this morning. Peter was somewhat surprised that Izzy’s senses hadn’t picked up on it. Then again, she’d other things on her mind and she probably wasn’t thinking along those lines. Logan had already given Peter the heads up on keeping a watchful eye and ear and he’d taken the man at his word. Peter wasn’t taking any chances when it came to his Izzy, as to his reason for not bringing it up. She was finally at peace and genuinely happy. He’d be damned if someone went and ruined it for her. So he’d plans of taking her to one more place then calling it a day. He’d have called it one now if it wasn’t for his mere curiosity. But he had to find out who this was and this was the only way he could think of. He only hoped Izzy didn’t catch on.
Once the movie was over he took her to one of the local museums – something most people their age would frown upon. But he and Izzy truly got a kick out of learning whatever they could about art, history, science, you name it…
“You know we should hit the Museum of Sex on our next date!” Peter witted as they were looking at one of the dinosaur exhibits.
“Yeah. You know… for science.” Peter uttered whilst wiggling his brows.
Bella snorted on this.
“Whatever you say Peter…”
“So it’s a date?!”
“Awesome!” But as he said this his senses were tugging at him, something fierce.
Whoever it was… They were in this particular building now and not too far away. This had Peter on high alert.
“Are you sure you’re okay? You’ve been acting odd even for you…”
“Actually something’s come up and I need to get you a cab back home. Sorry.”
“Yeah… Spidey stuff.”
Bella narrowed her eyes on this.
“Why don’t I help you?”
“Not this time, Izzy. Sorry.”
“Okay. Do what you gotta do.”
Peter nodded and escorted her on out of the museum. He hailed her a cab and handed her money for the fare. He kissed her before waving her off. Then he acted as if he were heading out himself. Only he ducked into a nearby alleyway and merely observed as someone hailed a cab and was pointing to the one Bella was in. Peter shook his head then headed that way.
“Can I help you?” He called and the man looked over with a canary eating grin. That grin alone gave him away and Peter already knew… Peter took it upon himself to shut the cab door and sent the driver about his way.
“I needed that cab.”
“Hmmm.” The man hummed in mere amusement.
He went to hail another and Peter fired off a web. It wrapped around the man’s wrist and jerked it back.
“How bout we get a cup of coffee and you can tell me why you’re stalking your niece?”
“I don’t do coffee.”
“I kind of figured that but I thought I’d make the offer all the same.”
“Out of my kid, I got bigger fish to fry.”
“Not if it involves her…”
There were a few cars slamming on their brakes and honking their horns, as Victor and Peter stood in the middle of the street, eyeing one another down. Victor let out a growl of annoyance and took his claws along one of the cars that were honking at them. He eyed the driver down and the driver just sat there in shock.
“Not cool…” Peter uttered and Victor cranked his head back that direction.
“Okay, so no coffee…” Peter uttered with a nod.
“How do you feel about a little sightseeing?”
Victor reared back and before he could even react to what the Webslinger was hinting at; Peter fired off web after web after web and he didn’t stop, until he had Victor wrapped up like a human burrito. Victor went to break out of it only to have Peter fire off another web and snatch him up.
“I hear Daddy Logan’s been lookin’ for you!”
Peter called as they swung throughout the city. Victor struggled beneath the webbing and enough that he’d managed to get a hand free.
“Uh oh. I better hurry and get that appointment scheduled! Kitty’s getting a little piss-faced.”
Peter gritted his teeth as he fought to keep Victor in that webbing.
“Just a little…” he grunted and created a sling shot between a couple cars with his webbing.
He flung Victor towards the manor up ahead and Victor landed with a thud. He was sent rolling towards the front doors of the academy.
“There we go! HEY LOGAN, YOU HAVE A VIS…”
Victor busted out of the webbing sailed right for Peter.
“Oh shit!” Peter hollered and before he could even blink, Victor had him on the ground.
He sent one blow after another upon Peter’s face.
“PETER!” Bella shouted as her cab had just pulled up.
She hopped on out and rushed to his aid. Logan had stepped out of the manor and just in time to see his brother wallop the living hell out of his daughter. Victor let out this growl that shook the entire area and just as he was to take his claws to Bella’s face, Logan flung himself over and drove his claws through Victor’s abdomen. A flashback of Victor killing Silverfox hit and this had Logan looking to his daughter as Peter was helping her to her feet. Logan ground his teeth together and he twisted those claws of his before ripping them back out. Victor let out a painful groan and Logan forced his brother to his feet.
“WHY?! What do ya want with my girl?!” Logan’s entire body shook and those veins of his were popping, as he was on the verge of going berserk.
“Dad…” Bella whispered out of concern.
Peter kept a good hold on her. Jean exited the manor and recoiled at the scene before her.
“Ya done took away everyone else… So why her?!” Logan demanded once again and Victor started laughing.
“Oh Jimmy… You truly are somethin’. You know that?”
“ANSWER THE QUESTION!” Logan demanded with his adamantium claws aimed right for Victor’s face.
Victor let out another cry as Jean had her fingers pressed against her temple and gradually made her way over.
“Tell him.” Jean demanded and Victor was doing his best to fight against her influence.
“Tell him the truth…” She ordered once again and Victor let out a gasp as if he’d been holding his breath.
“Ivan…” He muttered while looking upon Bella.
“Ivan wants her. He has Natalia and he will hold onto her, until he gets what he wants.”
“Ivan?!” Logan spat in question.
“Ivan Petrovich…” Victor said behind a rather sinister chuckle.
“You know… The Russian assassin that trained the lovely Romanova and YOUR abandoned son.”
Logan dropped his hold and staggered back with this ill look about him.
“Ivan…?! I thought he was dead.”
Victor smiled and sent Bella a menacing wink.
“Far from it. In fact, he’s doing better than ever and ready to welcome his newest addition home.”
“Over my dead body.”
“Then it’ll be just that Jimmy boy! Ivan isn’t one to take no for an answer.”
“What would ya know about Ivan or anything ta do with Natalia?!”
Victor brought his fingers to his lips and let out a calling whistle.
“GET HER INSIDE!” Logan hollered as Daken stepped out from the shadows.
He had a peg now where Logan had sliced his hand off.
“NO!” Bella shouted as Peter went on to drag her inside.
“DAD!” She hollered as Peter fought to get her into the manor.
Logan popped out his claws and Jean hovered off the ground. Victor and Daken looked to one another and chuckled.
“You think it’s just the two of us? Guess again…” Victor murmured and it was then they heard the screeching of tires.
Several black vehicles pulled up and men poured out of them, by the dozen. Each of them had Russian guns on them. But one man in particular had Bella staggering back as she and Peter looked on from the manor window. The skull tattoo on his throat and his bionic hand brought back a memory. A memory she’d fought to push out of her head. But it was back and full throttle.
“Remember this day… If you shall ever decide to follow mommy’s footsteps… we’ll be back for you, kid. Keep your nose clean and there won’t be any issues.”
“Izzy…” Peter called with concern.
“It’s them…” She said is if in a trance.
“They killed my adoptive parents…”
“IZZY!” Peter shouted as she flung her entire body through the window and took off like a bat out of hell.
Peter took off after her.
“NO, IZZY!!!!” He shouted as she leaped into the air.
He fired off a web, in hopes of stopping her but she twisted her body about in midair and sent him apologetic glance, as she dived right for the main guy.
“Yoooou!” She howled as she had him pinned to the ground and with her claws at his throat.
The man gritted his teeth and held her off with that bionic hand of his. His men fought to hold Jean, Logan, and Peter back as they went to intervene. They aimed their guns upon Bella and their leader held up a hand. He smiled then sent Bella a wink.
“Well look at you… All grown up. Damn. You filled out, in all the right places.”
Logan let out a growl at this and Peter managed to web his mouth shut, but was clocked by the back of a gun directly after. The man rolled Bella onto her back and she brought her knee up against his crotch. Bella let out that same bark she had when dealing with Scott Summers. That bark sent him and anyone else nearby flying back. Bella jolted herself up off the ground and landed in a crouching position, reminding Jean of Logan.
“You want me? Then come and get me.” Bella growled and Daken rolled his eyes.
Victor let out a laugh of sheer amusement.
“How about you do the smart and noble thing, by coming with us?! Spare daddy and the rest of your friends’ lives.”
Bella was the one to laugh this time.
“You think a bunch of guns scare us?!”
“Allow me to introduce myself… As it’s been awhile, child.” The man lowered his shades and nodded her way.
“Donald Pierce and these… are my Reavers. You see we were given a job and we tend to our jobs seriously. So you’re either willingly coming with us. Or will drag you off, kicking and screaming. The choice is yours, sweetheart. Just keep in mind that mommy dearest awaits you…”
Bella closed her eyes and recoiled in thought.
“Don’t ya even think on it! What has that bitch ever done for ya, kid. She’s not worth it!” Logan spat.
Pierce looked towards the manor and let out a miserable laugh.
“But of course… We’ll be keeping in touch.” He said and made the gesture for his men to fall on back.
It wasn’t until the Reavers headed on out that Bella and the others took notice of Charles and the students standing outside the manor. Charles gave Logan a simple nod and headed back inside with his students.
“FUUUUUUUUUUUCK!” Bella growled as she gave that bag one last punch.
The bag split in half and sand went everywhere. Blood was oozing out from her knuckles and it had splattered all over her tank top and face. Bella turned as she heard the clearing of a throat. She narrowed her eyes the man’s direction but went on to place another bag onto the hook.
“Perhaps you need a break…” The professor said as Bella wiped the sweat off her forehead then tossed the towel aside.
“I’m good.” She uttered and went on to punch the new bag.
“That wasn’t really a suggestion as much as it was a request.”
Bella lifted her eyes and Charles gave a simple nod.
The young woman let out a frustrated breath but followed the professor into the courtyard. He gestured for her to have a seat at one of the benches. A cool breeze hit as she removed the wrapping from her hands. When she got to that last layer… she let out a painful growl before ripping it off her skin. Charles recoiled as he caught wind of this.
“You’re so much like your father…” Charles uttered in thought.
“At least when he first came here… He had so much anger and he kept it pent up, out of fear of losing too much control. Like you, that anger was warranted. He’d seen so much death and experienced so much heartache. Keeping to himself was all he knew…”
“Is this one of those moral stories?” Bella mocked and Charles smiled.
“You can take it however you want, Ms. Howlett.”
Bella lifted her eyes on this and Charles smiled.
“Your father let me know that things are a bit more official between the two of you. Congratulations are in order.”
“You must forgive me… Seeing Logan as a father figure is a bit unusual for me as it’s something I never pictured. Yet I must admit he’s doing one hell of a job when it comes to you.”
Bella narrowed her eyes and Charles nodded.
“You’ve come along ways since you first arrived. Once again, much like that of your father, which makes me feel the need to apologize all over again. I know I haven’t made things exactly easy for you and your mate. It’s not heard of in the academy… Sure, we’ve had students of other professors and things of that nature. But we’ve never had a student that shared a mating bond, under one roof before. As to my reluctance when your father suggested that you and Mr. Parker have rooms neighboring one another. It wasn’t until Logan offered to be right across from yours that I accepted his plea.”
“Perhaps it wasn’t as much of a plea as much as a request?”
Bella smiled on this.
“Now that sounds more like my father.”
Charles nodded and held his hand out.
“May you what?”
“I’m having trouble getting a read on you.”
“Yes, Ms. Howlett. Your father always was a bit of a struggle but I could manage. You however… Well there’s something about you. Almost like a shield of some sort blocking not only myself, but Professor Grey as well.”
“You want to read my mind…?” Bella questioned feeling somewhat threatened as this had her thinking back to Edward.
“If you would allow me, yes.”
Bella let out this nervous laugh.
“I don’t think so…”
“I mean you no harm and whatever I see stays between us. I assure you.”
“I’m a very private person, Professor.”
“I’m well aware.” He replied with a warm smile.
“Has my father willingly let you in?”
“It took a lot of convincing, but yes. He has.”
“Why don’t you ask me whatever it is you wish to know and I simply tell you?”
“That’s not quite the same and I think we both know that. I want to help you. The only true way is to know everything about you.”
“No offense but I barely know you.”
“I understand that… Perhaps if I was to share a few things about myself as well?”
“As in projecting your memories into my mind?”
“A few things whereas you want to know everything about me…”
“Well Ms. Howlett, in all fairness I am quite older than you. It might be a bit of a bore if I was to go on and on about myself.” The professor witted and Bella managed to snort.
“I figured I could show you memories from when your father first entered those academy doors. Perhaps a glimpse of what it was like for me when I first discovered my own gift?”
“Tell you what… you add no homework for a week and you got yourself a deal.”
The professor had a good laugh at this.
Bella drew back an uneasy breath as she offered the professor her hand. A drop of blood trickled onto his hand.
“Sorry…” She murmured and was quick to wipe it off with the wrapping.
“Not an issue.” He murmured but went on to look at her beat up knuckles.
“You seem to find peace in pain, don’t you?” Bella went to pull her hands back and the professor got a tighter hold.
“I meant nothing by it. Just something I’ve noticed… It’s how you deal when you feel a spell coming on. There’s nothing wrong with that. Though I do wish you wouldn’t beat yourself up.”
Bella narrowed her eyes as he went on to lower her hands into a nearby fountain and cleaned the blood off her busted knuckles.
“I want you to free your mind. Let down that wall and know that I am your friend and not your enemy.”
As he said this Bella’s eyes grew heavy. She struggled against whatever this was and shook her head.
“Ms. Howlett… No harm will come to you. I am here to help. Now break down that wall and let me in.”
Xavier gritted his teeth as it was a true struggle – getting in. So much so that his nose started to bleed. But once he was in, he let out a breath of relief. But his heart sank, as the first memory to come to was of her parents’ violent murder and her memories bounced around from there. He’d witnessed her upbringing and how hard her mother had been on her. He’d seen where the Parkers, aside from Clint Barton, were her only true friends and what she considered family. By the time he finished… he pretty much knew everything there was to know. Charles had a better understanding of Bella Marie Howlett now. She had every reason to be the mess she was now. Her life was a series of ups and downs and more downs than anything. Yet here she was… a fighter, just like that of her father. Bella let out a gasp and dropped to her knees. Charles was quick to brace her against him. He cupped her chin and wiped her tears with his thumbs.
“When it comes to your mother… You should follow your heart but do not go alone.”
Jean stepped out and tilted her head upon Charles. He gestured her over.
“Escort Ms. Howlett to her room. She needs her rest.”
“We had a deal…” Bella made clear.
“And I will come to you, once you’ve rested.” Charles assured.
Bella wanted to argue this but her eyes grew heavy under Charles’s influence. Jean wrapped her arm around Bella and led her into her dorm room. She helped Bella into her bed, took her shoes and jacket off then she tucked her in. Jean looked on with concern as Bella was out fast. She brushed her fingers through her hair and merely observed as she sleep. When Jean reentered the courtyard, Charles was shedding a few tears of his own.
“Professor?” Jean called with worry.
He cleared his throat and looked over with a smile.
“It was wonderful, Jean.” He uttered in awe.
“So much like Logan…”
“She let you in?!” Jean questioned in shock.
“And it was beautiful. She’s endured so much, yet she’s got so much love in her. Such a rarity… Most would let it take them over. But day by day she pushes forth and fights. I’ve never witnessed such a thing and at such a young age. All she’s ever wanted was to be loved and to feel as if she belongs.”
Jean swallowed back as Charles got a little choked up again.
“I wish you could’ve seen it. But I made a vow and I cannot break it. I must keep it all to myself, as promised.”
“She let you in… That in itself is a miracle.”
“The only thing I will say is Logan hasn’t a clue what he’s done for her. This right here is what she truly needed…” He waved his hands about the academy. “A place to call home. She’s the image I based this academy off of.”
Jean smiled in response.
“That’s just Izzy… It doesn’t matter what her mother’s done. She isn’t about to leave her to rot.” Peter declared and Logan leaned back with a frown.
“That woman doesn’t deserve a goddamn thing when it comes to Bella!”
“Everyone here knows that… That’s not about to stop her.” Aunt May said agreeing with her nephew.
Peter drew back a breath on this and Aunt May patted him on the hand.
“We know that no matter what… Bella loves her mother and she’s going to do whatever she can to bring her back, even if that means sacrificing herself in order to do so.”
“SOMETHING NATALIA WOULDN’T DO IF IT WERE THE OTHER WAY AROUND!” Logan yapped and slammed his fist along the cafeteria table.
Peter pinched the bridge of his nose and came to his feet.
“She would but she’d make certain Izzy knew what all she went through in order to save her.”
This had Logan looking his direction. Peter let out a frustrated sigh.
“We’ve seen it before…” Peter said with a nod his aunt’s direction.
“Unfortunately, he’s right… Bella’s mother’s always been rather unorthodox when it comes to matters of the heart or her daughter in general.”
“Izzy’s the only kid I knew of that would get jumped and Ms. Romanoff would find a way to blame her.”
“How do ya mean?” Logan questioned.
“You remember what I said about those trophies right?”
“Yeah you told me Natalia threw them away because Bella didn’t defend herself…”
“Well there you go…”
“Yer tellin’ me that Bella got jumped by some asshole kids and Natalia found a way ta pin the blame on her?!”
“And that isn’t the first time she’s pulled something like that. Whether she meant to or not Ms. Romanoff always found a way of making Izzy feel down about herself. Why do you think she questions herself sooo much? That there is her mother… All those years of being told that big girls don’t cry and to toughen up. I can count on one hand how many times that woman hugged her. Something as simple as saying I love you was just too hard for her. Yet here’s Izzy after a decade of being treated like the redheaded stepchild…”
“She still wants her mother’s love and approval.” Aunt May added.
“Well she ain’t gonna get it. I hate ta say it but I know Natalia. She lives up ta that name of hers and it’s all she knows. I went out my way ta try and make things work with her but Natalia just isn’t one ta settle down. She gets bored easily and I can only imagine how tiresome she found things, once she had a child in the mix. Natalia doesn’t have time for a relationship, much less a child. She’s married to that job of hers and that’s how it’s always gonna be.”
“So what are we going to do about this?” Peter threw out there and this had Aunt May and Logan looking to one another.
“Come on… You know we have to come up with some sort of plan. If we don’t… Izzy will be on a plane to Russia, before we know it. Or worse… She’ll hand herself over to The Reavers.”
“God dammit. I fucking hate Russia. I always said I’d never go back.”
“Yeah well… you might want to reconsider. I’d much rather find a way to get Ms. Romanoff out of there, then for this Ivan creep to get his hands on Izzy. We have no choice but to work with Izzy on this. We’ve all seen it. The moment he mentioned her mother… There was a struggle in Izzy’s eyes. She was tempted and if given too much time to think on it. She’ll make that decision without us.”
“So what yer sayin’ is we haven’t a goddamn choice, right?!”
“Pretty much. Just think of it as a favor to Izzy and not so much to her mother.”
“That’s the only way this gonna work because if it were up ta me I’d run my claws through that Russian whore and be done with it. I have no pull to that woman other than Bella and that’s the way it stays. I want nothin’ ta do with that fuc…” Aunt May clamped a hand over Logan’s mouth and shook her head in a motherly scolding like manner.
Peter covered his mouth in laughter. Logan lowered the woman’s hand and curled that lip of his.
He went to bitterly remark on this only to have Aunt May shock the two of them.
“I feel just as you do about the fucking ice queen from hell but there isn’t much we can do about it now is there?”
Peter’s jaw dropped and his aunt took notice.
“Oh Peter, do shut that mouth before a fly lands. Talk about ironic…”
Aunt May strutted on out of the room leaving a stunned Logan and Peter behind.
“Did she just…”
Bella rubbed the sleep from her eyes as there was a knock at the door. She looked to the time and saw that it was almost dinner time. Whoever it was knocked again.
“Come in.” She tiredly called and Tony Stark entered the room.
Bella let out a miserable groan. “Alright, you can leave now.”
Tony held up a hand and pulled the door to.
“Just give me ten minutes… Can you give me that much?”
“I’ll give you five and it starts now. So you had better make it worth it.”
Tony plopped down beside her and folded his arms about his chest.
“Cozy room you got here.”
“Is that what you want to spend your remaining four minutes on?”
“Then drop the small talk and get to the real reason you’re here.”
“Look kid, I just wanted to let you know it was me that called it off with your mother.”
“Okay… You looking for some sort of star points or…”
Tony reached over and placed a single finger along her lips.
“Let me finish, will ya? I’m on limited time here.”
Bella rolled her eyes but gestured for him to continue.
“Seeing you drunk like that… well let’s just say it was a real eye opener.”
Tony cleared his throat and came to his feet. He paced the area of her room and shook his head.
“Dammit kid, I’m sorry. I look back on everything and know we screwed up. No. I take that back. I screwed up. I know you don’t believe it. I haven’t given you any reason to. But I’m fond of you, always have been. I love your mother but I love you too. And I’m not talking out of my ass like some loser uncle. I was down for the whole stepdad gig, you know.”
Bella swallowed back as Tony got a little choked up.
“I know I’m too little too late… Especially considering how you got your biological father in your life now. That and I don’t hold a candle to Barton. But that’s my own fault. I painted this vision you see me as. I could’ve changed, but didn’t. Hell, Pep told me this would happen. Should’ve listened. I should’ve listened to a lot of things Pep said. You being so fond of her… was a dead giveaway and I ignored it. Chased after your mother and ruined a good thing I didn’t know I had.” Tony let out a miserable laugh.
“You’re drunk…” Bella murmured and Tony stopped in his tracks and sort of laughed.
“Believe it or not I’m sober. Sober as ever.”
Tony went back to pacing.
“You see I think I saw your mother as one of my projects. I was mapping out all the pieces and thought I could fit them all in, perfectly, within time… But she wasn’t a project and neither were you. I thought if I put in the hours, blood, sweat, and few tears here and there, that I could shape and mold you, in order to fit into my crazy life. I never considered what your lives were like when I wasn’t around. I was so focused on being this hip and cool stepfather figure… That I never stopped to think about what it was truly doing. The image I was giving. And for once… I’m over here like fuck Iron Man. Fuck the industry and everything I’ve worked so hard to build. Because I can look back and realize I put EVERYTHING in those two things and let you both slip right on out of my hands. I ignored your mother’s cry for help. I ignored what you were always trying to tell me. And when I threw the Uncle Tony thing in your face… Hell that haunts me to this very day, the look on your face. I ripped your little heart out and I will never forgive myself. I was a different person then. Now, I’m not here to ask for forgiveness, because let’s face it I’m not getting it, and I don’t blame you either. This is all on me. I’m here to let you know that I know… I know I’m to blame. I know I’m the reason behind you being right within these X-Men walls, instead of the Avengers headquarters. I’m the reason behind your mother missing. I decided on ending things, rather than seeking the help she truly needed. I pushed her away, just as I did you and now look at where that got me. She’s missing and I haven’t a clue where she is. If she’s dead, or alive, or being tortured somewhere. I was foolish when I envisioned you and your mother living under my roof, as one big happy family. What gave me the right, when I never treated you like that to begin with?!”
“Tony…” Bella whispered with concern as he placed a hand along his Arc Reactor and had this painful look about him.
The billionaire staggered back and sat in the chair at her desk.
“Eh… I’m probably going into cardiac arrest.” He uttered behind a miserable laugh.
He tapped his finger along the area and shrugged.
“You’re fucking kidding me, right? You came here to fucking die?!”
“Not exactly… Ran into some trouble on the way over and took one HELL of a hit.”
“Trouble?” She questioned and went on to unbutton his shirt.
He raised his brows and stopped her.
“Not so sure I’m into that sort of kink, sweetheart. Watching you grow up and all… then there’s the whole banging your mother ordeal.”
Bella hauled off and slapped him.
“Right… Not a good time for jokes, got it.”
Bella cursed under her breath and went on to rip his shirt open. Her jaw dropped as he had black veins spreading across his chest.
“Tony…” She whispered.
“What’s that?! I thought this was something you always wanted.”
“Don’t be an idiot! I hate your sorry ass but I never wanted you to die! STAY PUT, YOU FUCKING JACKASS!”
Bella rushed out of the room and knocked on Peter’s door. When there was no answer… she started to panic.
“PETER!” She shouted and went on to search the entire manor.
Logan had entered the hallway and nodded upon his daughter.
“What’s with ya?”
“Back at the cafeteria I guess. Why?”
Bella took off and Logan reared back in wonder. It wasn’t until he passed by her room that he saw what the fuss was all about. Logan cocked a brow as he poked his head in.
“Well I’ll be goddamned. Yer finally kicking the bucket, ya metalhead!”
Tony went to smart off but couldn’t, the pain was too much.
“So ya came here in hopes of gettin’ my daughter’s sympathy. Is that it? Ya had hopes of her watchin’ ya die. So you could rest easy knowin’ she gives a damn after all and maybe just maybe that’ll win ya the key to those pearly gates?!”
Logan gritted his teeth and made his way over.
“Of all the fucked up things ya could think of. I oughta help ya out by sendin’ ya out faster.”
Logan wrapped his hand around Tony’s throat then lifted him up off the chair. He pinned up against the wall. Logan tilted his head as the Arc Reactor started to malfunction. He nodded amongst himself, drove a single claw in then twisted it about. He jerked the Arc Reactor out of his chest then he flipped the billionaire over his shoulder. He headed into the infirmary and plopped him down on one of the examination tables.
“HANK!” Logan hollered whilst eyeing Tony, with unreserved loathing.
“Yes?” Hank called as he exited his office and was wiping his mouth down with a napkin.
“Ya might wanna stop this piece of shit from dyin’; seein’ as how he’s that metal dumpster that saves occasional lives and all.” He spat but was writhing in anger.
Peter and Bella entered the infirmary and Peter recoiled.
“Does he have a backup?!” Peter asked in alarm.
“I haven’t a clue!” Bella said and was on the verge of tears.
Tony held out a hand signaling that he had.
“Where?!” Peter asked.
Tony’s eyes started to roll back.
“SHIT! PETER, HEAD TO AVENGER HEADQUARTERS TALK TO DR. BANNER. HE WOULD KNOW IF HE DOES AND WHERE TO FIND IT!” Bella hollered not knowing what else to do.
Peter gave a simple nod and hurried on out.
“YOU SON OF A BITCH. I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU CAME HERE TO DIE!” Bella shouted and Tony sent her an apologetic glance.
She swallowed back however as he reached out and took her hand into his own. Logan rolled his eyes but didn’t comment. But this right here was all the proof he needed. Damn kid couldn’t help herself. If she was going out her way to save this asshole… He could only imagine how far she’d go in order to save her devil of a mother.
Charles wheeled himself into the room and gathered what was taking place. He took it amongst himself to place Tony Stark into a deep sleep, as Dr. McCoy did whatever he could. Bella regarded Dr. McCoy in alarm and as if reading her mind, Charles went on to explain that he’d put him out. He was focused on Tony’s mind however and was picking up on how to keep him alive. Charlies nodded upon Dr. McCoy and walked him through what all they needed. Bella looked to her father as Charles mentioned something about an electro magnet and a car battery. Logan and Bella hadn’t a clue where they were going with this. But it was clear that Tony was somehow walking Charles through this and in return the professor was walking Dr. McCoy through it. Once they had everything set up, Bella quietly exited the room. Her father followed as she headed on out of the manor.
“It would be so easy… turning my back to the both of them. I could finally move on and not have that weight on my shoulders.” His daughter said whilst looking to the stars.
“You have no idea how tempting that is…”
“I think I know more than ya realize, shortcake. But that’s just it… you can. Not a single person would judge ya on that. Everyone knows what those two have pulled over the years. Maybe ya should be the one ta undo those cuffs. Set yerself free, darlin’.”
“I can’t…” Bella said and pivoted around with tears in her eyes.
“No matter how much I want to… I can’t. Because it would haunt me and I have enough night terrors as it is. I’m sorry, dad. But I have to do this. I have find mom, for my own peace of mind. Then I have make sure Tony pulls through. Because once I bring her back, I’m done. She’s Tony’s responsibility after that. I won’t continue with tug-of-war game they wish to play. My place is here, with you, the Parkers, and the X-Men. I will never be Avenger material, no matter how cool Captain America might be.”
Logan cocked a brow on this and went on to pop a cigar into his mouth.
“I haven’t any recollection but old Cap claims I once served with him.”
“That’s right, darlin’. Small world, huh?”
“You served under fucking Captain America?!”
“Yeah well, he isn’t all that…”
“Whatever you say…” She uttered with a smirk and Logan chuckled.
“Alright… So ya wanna find yer bitch of a mother and save that idiot billionaire…”
“Got it. But just do yerself a favor, kid.”
“Once ya do this… Truly do as ya said and wash yer hands of it. If not… yer gonna be walking that plank fer the rest of yer goddamn life. Trust me. I’ve been there with Victor, time and time again. And look at where it’s got me… He killed the love of my life and now he’s goin’ after my daughter.”
“Love of your life?”
“Ah, before ole Red.”
“I never knew there was someone else.”
“Darlin’, I’ve been around for quite some time there were plenty of someone’s but I doubt ya wanna go and hear about all that. But there are only two that ever hit me the way Spider-Man hit ya. That’d be Jeanie and Silverfox.”
Bella listened as Logan went on to reveal what all took place between him, Victor, and Silverfox. How Victor raped and killed Silverfox and all in order to pay him back. It wasn’t the first that Victor had been known to rape women either. Seemed to be a thing of his when he didn’t get his way. That’s what had Logan so on edge about his brother confronting Bella alone. Niece or not, he wouldn’t put it past the motherfucker to come on to his own blood and if Bella refused she’d end up like that of Silverfox. The mere idea had Logan feeling murderous. Victor wouldn’t see Bella as blood. He’d see her as another opportunity… that’s it. As to why he didn’t know how to feel about this whole reveal of him having a son. He thought it all bullshit and some sick sort of game of Victor’s.
Bella staggered back in disbelief once her father finished his story.
“I’m sorry… I hadn’t a clue.”
“Ya can imagine my surprise when ya went and turned inta this… Sorry kid, it wasn’t yer fault. But ya went and turned inta a damn fox on me and that was the first thing that came ta mind.”
“Guess that should be yer code or somethin’…”
“Scarletfox I was thinkin’”
“Dad… We can go with something else. Seriously.”
“Nah… once I had sometime ta let it settle in I started ta see it as another sign…”
“That maybe Silverfox is tryin’ ta tell me somethin’. Crazy as that is. Maybe that’s why ya went all fox on me.”
“You believe in stuff like that?”
“Hell, if I know. But it’s a nice thought, now isn’t it?”
Bella lifted her head as she sat at Tony’s bedside. Peter gave a simple nod as he handed Dr. McCoy the other Arc Reactor. Bella laughed out loud once she saw it to be the one Pepper had engraved for him, even after he went and cheated on her with her mother. That in itself only proved how big of a heart Pepper Potts had, not Tony Stark.
“Oh man, I can’t wait to see his face!” Bella said and Peter sort of laughed.
“It was all I could find…”
“Oh no. This is perfect…” Bella uttered with a devious grin and she took it upon herself to hook it up.
“Eat that shit for breakfast, Uncle Tony!” She spat afterward and kicked back with a wide grin.
“Remind me to never get on your bad side.” Peter said and sat beside her.
“Don’t think that’s possible.”
“Just sayin’… By the way we’re about to have a full house.”
“What do you mean?”
“Let’s just say the Avengers are on their way over to check on their supposed leader.”
“Shouldn’t that be Captain America and not Iron Man?”
“Not sure who leads to be honest… Don’t really care.”
“You should get some sleep. We have school in the morning.”
“Sleep? Yeah… that’s not happening. Not anytime soon.”
“I’m fine. Go on. I got it.”
“I’m not leaving you to face this alone.”
Bella went to say something on this, only to have Tony sit up and with a gasp. He choked back as he went on to catch his breath. The door to the infirmary swung open and Captain America was first to enter the room, followed by the rest of the Avengers.
“Clint!” Bella called and hopped to her feet.
Hawkeye smiled as she darted on over and hugged him.
“Hey, Lil Devil. Heard you had some babysitting to do.”
Tony looked to the Arc Reactor and let out a miserable laugh.
“Right… I take it YOU took part in this?!” He said with a nod Bella’s direction.
“Nope. But I do love the irony, don’t you?! I think what she really meant was proof that Tony is a lying; conniving, cheating, bastard but she couldn’t fit all of that on there.”
“Okay…” Tony uttered with a frown but knew she had a point.
“Guess I should be thanking you for saving me and all that?”
“Don’t. I’ll hit you on principal.”
“How you feeling?” The Captain questioned and Dr. Banner took it upon himself to check Tony over.
“I think Dr. McCoy has everything handled.” Bella bitterly put and this had Dr. Banner lifting his head.
His eyes locked with hers.
“His turf and all…” She damn near threatened and Dr. Banner raised his brows on this.
“That’s quite alright…” Dr. McCoy called as he entered the room.
Dr. McCoy offered Dr. Banner his hand.
Bella let out a pouty puff of air as the two started talking. It was obvious that Hank was rather a fan of Bruce’s but even more of Hulk’s. He went on and on about how extraordinary the gamma radiation was and how he’d like to learn more about it.
Clint took notice of Bella’s resentment with the two doctors getting along. He wrapped his arm around her shoulder then led her on out of the room.
“Something on your mind?”
“Where do I start?” She taunted and Clint sort of laughed.
“Right… Wrong question. Look, Dr. Banner isn’t all that bad. Trust me. He’s one of the good ones. So tame it down in there a bit. He’s not the enemy.”
“Yeah well, he’s the one offering to run some tests on me and all in order to appease Tony.”
“So that’s what that was…”
Bella shrugged reminding Clint of when she was little.
“Bella, Bruce isn’t aware of all the crap that went down between you and Tony. In his mind, he thinks he’s helping YOU by offering. It isn’t within Dr. Banner to do anything deceitful like that. If he were to do this… It would be with YOUR best interest at heart and not for his or Tony’s.”
“Dr. McCoy’s got me covered.”
“Then you’re all set and I’ll let Dr. Banner know that myself.”
“All good, Lil Devil. You know I got your back! And kudos… You didn’t let him kick the bucket. That right there deserves some sort of praise. Between the two of us… You thought about it, didn’t you?”
“For like the first ten seconds…”
Clint had a good laugh at this.
“I can imagine. Alright, I hear you have school tomorrow. So why don’t I get him out of your hair and we head on back to headquarters?”
“Sounds like a plan.”
Clint started back inside…
Bella drew back a breath but went on to tell him about The Reavers and how they were here looking for her, under Ivan’s orders. Clint grew pale and leaned against the wall for support.
“Whatever you do… Promise me you will NOT give into their demands. Once Ivan gets ahold of you…” He recoiled in thought.
Bella swallowed back as he went on to plant his hands along her face.
“Look at me… I mean it. You stay away from The Reavers. Don’t you get yourself caught and taken to fucking Russia. Once Ivan gets ahold of you… You won’t be yourself, not ever again. He will brainwash you, just as he did your mother. All you will know is working for him. You will become a full on assassin and you won’t know any different. Because all this…” He waved his hands about.
“Will be forgotten. You won’t even know my face by the time he’s done. So I need to hear that promise now.”
Clint nodded then kissed the top of her head.
“Don’t break that promise, kid. I’m begging you.”
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