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X-Men Days of Future Past fic: A Dying Breed (1/1)

December 25th, 2014 (08:48 pm)
ditzy
Tags: ,

feeling: ditzy

Title: A Dying Breed

Disclaimer: I do not own X-Men.

A/N: Fills my apocalypse square for hc_bingo. See my card here. Beta thanks to sendintheklowns. This is about Warpath and Blink, and sort of speculates how they came together prior to the start of Days of Future Past. It’s definitely movie based, though I did read up on James’ backstory in the comics a very little bit while writing.

Summary: A warpath always ends.



-o-

James is used to being the last of his kind. It’s not an uncommon feeling where he’s from. To be part of a dying people; to see a race dwindle to nothing and to bury the last of his ancestors. When he leaves the reservation, there’s nothing left. He had always dreamed of leaving, as some sort of triumphant escape.

When he walks away, the ashes are still hot against his feet.

What he finds in the world outside is that things are not all that different.

Ethnicity doesn’t matter -- mutation is irrelevant -- when the world is breathing its last.

-o-

He travels light. What little he starts with goes quickly, and he soon finds himself scavenging. He keeps his distance -- going still and silent when he senses something in the far off -- and he’s good at hiding himself when he has to, and he’s not above hoarding as he picks through the remnants of what’s left.

City after city, the roads are carved and broken. Skyscrapers stand vacant, and houses crumble. There is no one left to bury the dead, and the sun burns hot between the smoke.

Mostly, though, there’s simply no one left.

-o-

It is not the first Sentinel he’s seen. No, James saw many of the robots when they descended upon the reservation. He saw them swarm his people, incinerating every last one of them. For his tribe, mutation had never been a curse. It had been the promise of survival. They had rallied around James and the others like him, offered them safe haven.

It had fallen quickly, though, when the Sentinels came.

James is not certain how he survived, but he believes he owes those who died to keep fighting. Someone has to survive this apocalypse.

When the Sentinel comes after him, though, he starts to realize that it may not be him.

-o-

The attack on his people had been swift and coordinated with more than a dozen robots to see it through. He thinks one should be less of a challenge, but this time there is no chaos to hide him, no carnage to be lost in. It hones in on him, and James is fast, but it is faster. He cannot hide.

So he does not.

He stands his ground and wields his knife.

With a howl, he attacks.

-o-

The Sentinel falls, ripped metal and hissing circuitry in the dirt. Exhausted, James wishes it meant more. But there will be more after this.

And more and more and more.

James knows what he’s doing now. He is not fleeing. He is not hiding.

No, this time, he is on a warpath.

And he will stop at nothing until it is done.

-o-

He fights his way across the land. He learns the tells of the Sentinels and tracks them before they have a chance to track him. He grows strong on meager provisions, and he boils his water at night before falling asleep with his fingers wrapped around the hilt of his knife.

He dreams of the scream of metal, hot against his flesh.

It’s ironic that here, in the end, he has never felt more human.

-o-

When he comes to the coast, he’s not sure what to do. He debates heading north, where he’s heard rumors of people hiding in the mountains. But before he can make a decision, he hears a familiar sound.

Many familiar sounds.

Alert, he watches, and his stomach churns. It is not a Sentinel.

No, it is many Sentinels.

And they have come for him.

-o-

A warpath always ends.

Sometimes, it ends in victory.

Other times, it ends in defeat.

The rest of the time -- most of the time, probably -- it just ends.

-o-

His arm is useless, dangling at his side. There is something punctured through his side and his leg has been snapped nearly in half. The Sentinel comes to full height, coming at him as he writhes, helpless to escape.

Swallowing hard, he tastes blood. Every breath feels earned and fleeting.

He steadies himself.

If this is it, he thinks, then so be it. He’s been ready to die since he first discovered he was different. He’s been ready to die since he buried his people.

The Sentinel opens its face, the flames building. He won’t cower. He won’t apologize, he won’t--

He blinks and something changes. There’s a flash of movement and then he’s being hauled backward. He blinks again and he’s tumbling, falling through the air so fast that he can’t tell which way is up or down. He blinks one last time, and he’s on his back and the Sentinel is gone. Instead, there’s a girl, no older than him, crouched above him.

“It’s okay,” she tells him. “You’re going to be okay.”

This time, when he blinks, his eyes don’t open again.

-o-

When he wakes, he’s bandaged and sore. He feels chilled and weak, and it’s all he can do to turn his head toward the fire.

He watches it for a moment, too drained to do anything else. It’s several long moments before he realizes he’s not alone.

Across the fire, the girl is perched. She is staring intently at him, face almost expressionless.

He swallows and tries to shift. Pain erupts in his side, and he has to muffle a cry.

“I wouldn’t, if I were you,” she tells him, as a matter of fact.

Wincing, he stays put but gives her a withering look. “And you are?”

She tilts her head, as if the answer should be obvious. “Blink,” she says.

He frowns. “I’m sorry, I don’t--”

“They call me Blink,” she clarifies.

“As in, if they blink--”

Her lips quirk up into a smile. “And what about you? Most people have the sense to run when faced with the Sentinels. What were you doing?”

His tongue is thick, and his mouth is dry. “Warpath,” he breaths, trying to keep still as the pain escalates through his torso. “I need to avenge the blood of my people--”

He cuts off with a sharp inhalation.

“There’s not enough blood left to do what you seek,” she says.

Grimacing, his heart is hammering now. “Still, have to try--”

He’s feeling tired again, heavier now. The pain’s just too much.

“You need to rest,” she tells him, somewhat gently. “You were hurt very badly.”

“But if I blink,” he starts to mumble.

“Don’t worry,” she assures him. “I’ll still be here.”

-o-

When he wakes again, the fire is gone. Movement hurts, but he’s able to hold it at bay long enough to sit up. The change in position sends his head spinning, and he nearly falls back to the rock beneath him when someone catches him.

Blink sits him up wordlessly, propping him against the rock and cupping his chin as she holds water to his lips. It dribbles down, and he drinks greedily. When she takes the water away, he feels foolish but he is far too worn to even attempt a protest.

For a moment, they sit in silence and James focuses on breathing. Finally, she lets out a sigh.

“The Sentinels killed my family,” she says. “And they killed my friends. Those who were spared turned against me and the others like me. We fled, setting up our own camp outside of the city. We thought we could live peacefully, that no one would bother us, but the Sentinels still came. Those who stayed were burned. I have not seen the others who left. I have not stopped long enough to look back.”

He lifts his head to look at her. She seems younger than he remembers, but he recognizes the weariness in her eyes. “I’m sorry.”

She nods. “You want revenge,” she says. “But killing them won’t bring them back.”

“Nothing will bring them back.”

“You are wrong,” she says. “You can survive. You can live. That way your people are not dead. That way, they live on. We all do.”

He wants to laugh at her, but he’s too tired. “What makes you think we can stand a chance against the Sentinels?”

“You have heightened senses, yes?”

He nods slowly.

“And I can teleport,” she says. “If you sense them, I can get us out of there. We can survive.”

“You want to run,” he concludes.

“I want to live,” she says. “Your warpath, where will it lead? Who will be left to tell the story of those who died for you?”

He’s faltering, maybe because he’s weak. Maybe because he’s still recovering. Maybe because vengeance feels hollow in his chest and no matter how many times he breaks metal, it can’t rebuild flesh. Maybe because for the first time since his reservation burned to ash, he realizes he’s not alone.

He’s not the last of his kind.

With a smile, he nods. “Okay, Blink.”

She smiles back. “Good to have you along, Warpath.”

-o-

They spend another few weeks in the mountains as he heals, and he learns to walk draped over her shoulder like a crutch. He catches fresh game with his knife, and they roast it together over the open flame.

The sound of her laugh is like music in the rock.

And when his body is healed, James is a man with something left to lose.

Something left to fight for.

At least there’s something left.

-o-

He senses the Sentinels in the distance, and pulls her close. “It’s time,” he says.

Seriously, she crouches next to him. “Are you sure?”

Gazing out across the horizon, he nods.

She pulls him closer. “Okay,” she says. “Don’t blink.”

He grins. “Wouldn’t dream of it now.”

-o-

Time and space rip apart, and he takes her hand.

Together, they take a breath.

Together, they leap.

Hope’s a funny thing, and those who have it in a world like this -- well, they’re a dying breed.

James is definitely used to that, though.