September 8th, 2008
|sheepfairy||09:07 pm - Fic: 'Going in Circles' by sheepfairy, Magneto/Karima Shapandar, het, pg|
Fic: 'Going in Circles' by sheepfairy, Magneto/Karima Shapandar, het, pg
Title: Going in Circles
Prompt: 616 | Magneto/Karima Shapandar | het | S/he futiley protested, "It was mouth-to-mouth resuscitation! Nothing more!"
Word count: ~2,000
Disclaimer: This is not my property and I make no claims that this is an official work.
Summary: Karima tries to figure out what's happening to her.
A/N: This is set right after X-Men: Legacy #210 and sort of vaguely alludes to X-Men #500, and it probably won't make much sense unless you've read Messiah Complex. And after a dozen edits and direction changes it ended up a kind of vague use of the prompt. And my apologies for the extreme lateness! I had some computer issues, but fortunately the story didn't get eaten.
Karima helps him step over the rocks and tree roots as gently as she can, but there's still pain on his face every time he has to put weight on his right side. It would so much easier if she could just carry him, but he seems stubbornly set on remaining on his own two feet.
"We should go to a hospital," she tells him, and not for the first time. He has fractured bones and some terrible bruises, and if her scanners were up and running at full power she's sure she'd notice brain damage.
"Yes, you've said that already," replies Magneto. "But I have great confidence in your medical abilities."
"You just had your head slammed into a wall twice. And then there was the impact of that psychic battle. I'm amazed you're even upright, to be honest."
"You're amazed with me? I wasn't the one who had Joanna's fist shoved clear through my ribcage."
"Yes, but I am not human like you." Magneto frowns, and Karima wonders if emphasizing his current genetic status might have been too low a blow. Then again, nothing else she's said has seemed to get to him.
She'd expected him to say something rather nasty in return, but instead he reaches out to touch her cheek. His fingers lightly graze the new skin covering the ragged hole Cargill had left on her face earlier. "You do seem to have healed quite nicely," he says, while she tries to ignore the fluttering feeling in her stomach and the vague sense of unease she feels about being reminded of her inhumanity.
"At any rate," continues Magneto, pulling his hand away from her, "if you could keep Xavier alive after a bullet to the brain, I'm sure you can keep me from dying of relatively minor injuries."
It was a lot easier to take care of people when they were lying still inside a cutting-edge medical laboratory, but she doubts the argument will get her anywhere with Magneto.
"Fine," says Karima. "Just stop for a second." She had looked him over for injuries earlier, but Cargill had smashed most of her internal sensors and left her with little more than standard human vision to work with. But if Karima's body is good at anything it's good at fixing itself fast, and with all of her infrared and x-ray scanners she can get a clearer look. And she has to admit that his ribs aren't quite as badly damaged as she had first assumed, and even though his leg is definitely fractured the makeshift splint she put on while they were still in the base seems to be holding.
She slides her fingers up underneath his hair, feeling for the back of scalp, and when she pulls her fingers back they're tacky with nearly dried blood. But there's not a fracture she can find anywhere on his skull, and it seems as if he somehow managed to avoid anything more than skin-deep damage.
"Fine, we'll avoid the hospitals, as you seem to be unnaturally lucky," says Karima. "But I am going to carry you whether you like it or not."
It's the middle of the night by the time they get out of the forest and reach civilization, which is for the best. It means there's nobody around the shopping center to see her when she switches off the alarm systems and breaks the lock. Guilt creeps through her thoughts as she takes street clothes of the racks and raids the pharmacy for medical supplies, but her sense of self-preservation manages to overcome her morality. Her memory might be full of holes but she's pretty sure that Rogue's team is on the outs, which makes her an unregistered super-hero operating in America with no political cover. And it probably doesn't help that she's also traveling with one of the world's most wanted terrorists.
It's still a blow to her pride as a police officer to steal, though, even with her current mitigating circumstances.
"You know, Miss Shapandar, I believe this is the first time I've seen you in street clothes," he says when she walks out the door. "You look very nice."
"Thank you," says Karima. She's fairly certain he's lying since she'd grabbed whatever she could lay her hands on quickly and none of it fit her very well, a problem which was only exacerbated by the fact that she had left her uniform on underneath. Still, it was nice of him to say it.
And then she makes her karma even worse by stealing them a car.
Most of the drive is spent in silence. He's tired, and talking probably isn't the easiest thing for him after all the damage to his chest, but after a while the silence starts to get to Karima.
"Where have you been all this time, anyway? There were a lot people looking for you, but most of them found nothing."
Magneto takes his time answering her, long enough that she regrets asking him in the first place. "Drifting," he finally says. It isn't much of an answer, but his tone discourages her from prying any further. "And were you one of the people looking for me, Karima?"
"I was preoccupied with other things," she says.
"Really. And how did you end up with the Acolytes?"
"I don't remember. The files are there, but they've been infected with something," says Karima, and she hates that it's the only way to describe it. Her mind used to be more than a carefully filled and easily invaded computer system.
"You don't remember anything at all?" he asks.
She almost says no, and then she realizes that she does remember something, even if it's vague and difficult to concentrate on. "I... I remember there was a baby."
Magneto doesn't respond, and when she turns away from the road to glance at him he's looking away from her.
They stop asking each other questions after that.
"Only one room?"
"I want to be able to keep an eye on your health," she says, slightly more defensively than she'd meant to. It's not as if the question had been particularly accusative.
She doesn't add that she could have monitored his life signs through a wall without much trouble if she had really wanted to.
"With only one bed?"
Karima feels her face get warm. "Well, I don't actually need to sleep anymore."
"That must be convenient," he says. Karima find it more unsettling than beneficial, but she's not surprised that Magneto would view it in more practical terms.
She helps him onto the bed, doing her best not to jostle his chest or his bad leg, and then gives him the bottle of painkillers she stole from the pharmacy. "Thank you," he says, taking the glass of water she brought him to help swallow the medication.
"You're welcome," she says. "I figure it's the least I owe you."
"You don't owe me anything, Karima. Xavier's the one who believes in saving people, not me. If it weren't for him I would have left you in pieces on the bottom of the ocean."
Karima shrugs. In the back of her mind she can sometimes remember what it felt like to think like a Sentinel, and she wouldn't have blamed him if he had destroyed her. It probably would have been the smart choice.
But he did fix her mind and he was kind to her afterward, and she's still grateful for that.
"And where are you going to go from here, Karima?" he asks. He sounds tired, and she can't tell if he's exhausted from the fight today or just exhausted with life.
"I don't know. What are you going to do?"
"I have no idea," he says.
Magneto sleeps, and Karima drags an armchair right up to the edge of the bed and simply watches the shallow rise and fall of his chest for the first few hours. She watches the inside of his chest as well, monitoring the motions of his lungs with her x-ray eyes and making sure there's no damage in his bones or joints that she missed, and that justification makes her feel slightly less like a stalker than she would have otherwise.
Once she's sure there's nothing she missed she lets herself doze off in the chair, because staying would only result in her dwelling on all the holes in her memory and the disaster her life has become. She still likes to cling to her human habits even if they aren't strictly necessary to her anymore, and sometimes she's even fortunate enough to dream.
Tonight she dreams of bare skin underneath her fingers. She dreams of stripping off bandages to find the skin no longer bruised beneath them, kneading the muscles back to strength. She dreams of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, breathing the humanity back in her and the post-humanity back into him. Her dreams come to her in far more vivid detail and variety than she is used to, now that her brain is no longer really built for dreaming, and there is a moment between sleeping and waking when Magneto has his hand on her arm and she's not entirely sure if it's the dream or if it's reality.
"Karima?" he says, and it takes her a moment to banish her distracting dream thoughts. "For somebody who doesn't sleep you looked suspiciously unconscious."
Karima blinks the sleep out of her eyes, and thanks her good fortune that he can't read her mind. "I don't need to sleep. But it's still very calming on occasion." Or at least it can be calming when you don't start having inappropriate dreams about the man sleeping less than a foot a way from you.
"Ah. You could have used the bed, then."
"I didn't want to jostle your ribs," says Karima, possibly a little too quickly.
"That was very considerate of you."
"You're welcome," says Karima, even though she's fairly certain he was being facetious. She slides her chair back so she's not quite so close to the bed anymore before she gets up and starts packing their things, which should only take her a few seconds given their lack of personal belongings. He reaches for the bottle of painkillers on the stand and winces, and she leans in to get them for him.
"We should probably move on today, even though I'm sure it would be easier on your chest to spend the next week lying in bed," says Karima as he swallows the medication. "It's not the best idea to stay in place for too long when so many people are looking for you. And we need to find a way to get a legal car."
"That sounds reasonable. But where were you planning on going?"
"I have no idea. Most of what I know about America comes from television, so I don't know much about anything other than New York and L.A. Although I've got maps in my head now, so if you have a destination in mind I can get us there."
"We could go west, out to California. The weather should be nice."
Karima freezes for a second in her packing, because she knows the X-Men are building a base in California and Magnus has to know it too. It'd been all over the news. And it seems highly unlikely that he'd actually care about the weather.
Then again, they'll have to do something eventually. They're not going to spend the rest of their lives just drifting, not when there's so much at stake. "California it is, then."