|Thu, 12 Nov 1998
"Elizabeth K" firstname.lastname@example.org
[Bishop] Warriors and Little Girls [PG]
Hi there. Me again. Another two-hour wonder, this is. Taking up for Bishop, this time.=) Gotta stick to the underdogs . . .
Disclaimer - Marvel's people belong to Marvel. Everybody else is mine.
Author's Notes: This is dedicated to a friend of mine. 'Rebecca' was my best friend in the whole world, we knew each other since we were four. Let it also be known that 'Rebecca' didn't believe in the Christian ideals of Heaven or Hell, but believed in a type of astral/alternate plane, as do I, based on an experience we shared when we were about six. =) This is written for her, and for me. She would have liked Bishop. =) And maybe a few of you will like 'im, too.
Warriors and Little Girls
Bishop glanced through the smoky air, lifting the glass to his lips. That woman was staring at him again. She had glanced his way twenty-seven times in the past fourteen minutes. He swallowed a mouthful of Dr. Pepper and returned the larger half of his attention to the others.
Remy, Logan, and Betsy were engaged in a drinking contest, with Logan taking double the other two, to make up for the healing factor. Jean and Scott were leaning close, foreheads touching, not saying a word. While Jean had settled for a gin and tonic, Scott was staying the sober one tonight at Harry's.
And Bishop, of course.
Bobby, Rogue and Ororo were trying to figure out the gold peg IQ test that sat on every table at Harry's, and Jubilee was sitting with her Coke, idly flipping peanuts out of their shells. Hank sat scribbling furiously on his pad, a martini of all things sitting in front of him.
The woman glanced at him again.
It was going to be a long night.
Several brief scuffles and Dr. Peppers later, she finally worked up the nerve to approach him. He ignored her, watching with interest as a drunk Remy tried to armwrestle an equally drunk Psylocke. The two couldn't place their elbows on the table. Bishop had bet seven peanuts that they'd give up before either one actually won the contest. Jubilee had placed hers on Logan laughing so hard that they would decided to jump him instead of arm-wrestling. Jean thought Psylocke would try something telepathic, and instead of betting she was concentrating to make sure it didn't get out of hand. Scott was watching with as much detachment as he could muster, which was little, considering the situation. Hank hadn't even noticed, of course, and Bobby was currently watching the overactive bosoms of the serving girl in the corner.
So no one even glanced Bishop's way as the woman settled herself comfortably in his lap.
"Hi there." Her voice was silky smooth, her eyes smoky.
"Do you often chose this tactic?"
She didn't even appear slightly abashed. "Only when I see a man of your caliber putting so much effort into ignoring me." She allowed a finger to trace one of the prominent pectoral muscles on his chest. While it had been his intention to be in uniform, minus the plasma rifle, Bobby had somehow managed to get him into a tight white tee shirt and a pair of jeans that were constrictive enough to lessen his movement by centimeters. He deeply regretted it, although a tiny part of his mind was amused. Had Shard been here to see this . . .
"Your place or mine?" She left her lips slightly parted, the promise of pleasures to come. Bishop regarded her without blinking.
"I don't have an apartment."
She smiled, refusing to be put off. "Mine, then. Wouldn't want the missus to know, would we?"
Bishop felt the beginnings of a chuckle and quelled it immediately. He was having much more fun than he should, and he was allowing her to distract him.
"I am not married. If you'll excuse me, I'd like to watch this match."
He put his hands very firmly on her hips and lifted her effortlessly to her feet without moving from his seat. She placed her hands over his, displaying amazing strength by holding them there as she moved those hips in a sway.
"I'll be over here, when you need me."
He did manage to free his hands after a moment, and she pouted cutely before turning and walking away, making every man in the room turn to watch her. Bishop cleared his throat and motioned to the waitress. When he looked back, every last X-Man was staring at him.
"Y'know," Bobby leaned forward and spoke conspiratorially, "She couldn't have been any easier if she had a sign that read, Tunnel Ahead, Four Lanes, 95 m.p.h."
Bishop glared at him a moment before asking the waitress for another Dr. Pepper. He waited for the laughter to die down before again glaring at the man.
"Bish, you are way too uptight. When was the last time you were alone with a woman?"
Scott shot a look at the slightly tipsy X-Man, who ignored it as easily as Bishop had ignored the chocolate woman moments ago. He paused, then sighed.
"Okay, let me rephrase. When was the _only_ time you were alone with a woman?"
More laughter. Bobby earned a slap from Rogue as Bishop thanked the waitress and took a swig of the soft drink. Bobby continued to stare at Bishop with wide, innocent eyes, ignoring the two drunks and Logan, who were trying not to slosh beer on themselves, laughing a little too loud.
"If you must know, Drake," he said quietly, "the last time I was alone with a woman was several days before I arrived here from the future."
Bobby grinned broadly. "Parting gift?"
Bishop shrugged, his expression not changing. "You could say that."
"Bobby!" Scott looked slightly better than shocked. Rogue hit him again, harder.
Bishop glanced at Scott, then shook his head slightly, and turned back to Bobby. "You mean how far gone was she? Very. I arrived in time to hear her final words, and took the body back to the temporary home. I wasn't there for the burial; I would doubt very much if she stayed under the earth for more than two minutes after they left her. The scavengers would eat almost anything."
The laughter was gone, the drunks staring owlishly at him, Logan's face a mask of deadpan. Bobby looked sufficiently cowed.
"Aw, geez, Bish, I'm sorry-"
Bishop merely nodded. "No need to apologize. If you'll excuse me." He stood and made his way to the little boy's room, relieved himself and went to the sinks. Harry kept the bathrooms spotless, nothing marred the surface of the mirror save the reflection staring back.
When had be become so cold? It was amazing to think that he had just relayed that memory without any kind of emotion. All he felt was empty. Empty when the memory of the nameless mutant woman had woken him screaming from sleep for almost a year. He could hear her voice clearly at night, thanking him for pulling her from the mud and wreckage, asking him where he had been all her life, when he was the one that had collapsed it on top of her. He could see her eyes, late in those nights, watch her life just . . . leave. He'd killed, but he'd never watched someone die. Never like that.
He ignored the too-hot water sloshing onto hands that would never be clean. When had he become so . . . so inhuman? Is this how the X-Men saw him? He stared at the hard, trained face, the M tattoo, the expressionless mask that he had been so proud of, once. Is that how they saw him?
Of course. What else would they see? What else would he let them?
What else is a soldier supposed to look like?
He glared silently at that reflection, and cold, dead eyes stared right back. The same kind that had stared at him, kneeling when he pulled the trigger. The same kind that stared at mutants, at him, before they gave the order to have the bunch slaughtered. Mothers in child, old men, begged for mercy from eyes such as his.
He'd never seen anyone receive it.
He turned off the water and dried his hands, economically using only one towelette, before making his way back to the table. The others were shrugging into coats. It was cold outside; the energy he'd stored up from the mansion was still within him, providing a kind of buffer against the cold, though not physically. It just made it easier to ignore. Discomfort was merely an exercise in concentration, to be ignored until it grew large enough to signal serious damage.
He waited for them, again noticing the hopeful glance from the woman. He turned and stared at her, and she bestowed upon him a slow smile and a tiny wave of her fingers. He turned and headed out, the wind catching him full in the face.
If not for that wind, none of them would ever have heard her.
As it was, Logan's senses were sufficiently dulled that he couldn't quite figure out where the sound had come from. Psylocke and Jean did a quick psi scan before bolting into a side alley. There were three men there, trying their best to carry off a girl no older than fifteen. Hastily, Scott assessed the situation. Betsy was immediately subdued by Jean before she killed the three of them where they stood, and Rogue got a good grip on the drunk Remy. Scott fired off a warning blast, ordering them to let her go, and Bishop melted into the shadows of a dumpster, readying the energy that coursed through his body.
The men laughed, brandished primitive knives. The girl was held by her hair. Surprisingly, she didn't scream, nor did she look frightened. She looked tired, and silent tears coursed down her cheeks.
Scott easily disarmed the other two, not trusting his eye beams to free the girl without harming her, despite the fact he had ingested no alcohol. Remy was trying to slip away from Rogue, too clumsy to get away. Bishop slid easily behind the man while Scott distracted him.
"You're outnumbered and trapped. Let her go."
"You can just go fuck yourself, mutie!"
Bishop stood behind the man and quietly placed one huge glowing hand around his throat.
He felt the kid tense beneath his hand, and took the initiative. He spun the man and his hostage, taking the knife away with one hand as he delivered a heel strike with the other. Blood splashed from the guy's nose, and Bishop barely caught the girl as she fell. He awkwardly tried to help her get her feet under her even as Ororo pinned the men to the back of the alley with wind.
"Scott, everyone, leave. I shall, too, when the police arrive."
Scott opened his mouth to argue, but something in the goddess's face told him it would be against his best interests.
"Alright, people, let's go. Rogue, stay with her. Bishop, is she okay?"
Bishop finally gave up juggling the girl in favor of carrying her bridal style.
"I believe she in unconscious."
Hank had come around, ignoring Remy's furious swearing and Betsy's glowering stare at Jean, and touched her carefully. While her eyes were open, she was obviously in shock, and non-responsive. She was also pale, and had large, dark bags beneath her dark green/grey eyes. He glanced at Scott.
"I'd rather take her back to the mansion than the local hospital."
Hank gestured towards the cars and Bishop followed. It seemed Ororo had everything under control, and Rogue wasn't about to let them escape, either. Both women knew the surrounding area well and they were in no danger.
"Hank? Why?" Scott was watching the scientist closely, his voice very level.
". . . I think she might have Legacy."
"Who . . ?"
Bishop glanced at the girl, squinting up at him. He tried to smile as they rushed towards the cars.
"My name is Bishop. You're very sick, and Dr. McCoy going to try to find out what's the matter."
She smiled, her head rolling dazedly on his arm, glancing at the blue, furry mass beside her.
"Pneumonia. I . . . AIDS. Tried . . . to tell . . ."
This time her eyes closed, and Bishop made absolutely sure she still had a pulse as he gently laid her in one of the cars.
It was more than three weeks later that Bishop got a phone call.
Bobby was the first to inform him. "BISHOP, IT'S FOR YOU! A CHICK!"
Bishop pushed open the kitchen door and stared levelly at the man. "There was no need to shout." To Bishop's dismay, Bobby hadn't placed the caller on hold, but had merely covered the receiver. He took the phone, stilling the urge to hit Bobby across the mouth with it.
"Is. . . this Mr. Bishop?"
He nodded, then realized how stupid the gesture was. He immediately spoke. "Yes. With whom am I speaking?" If the woman in the bar had somehow gotten the number . . .
"My name is . . . I'm Pam. You've met my daughter, Rebecca."
He wracked his brain. No supervillains named Rebecca came to mind. The woman on the other end sensed his hesitation.
"You rescued her from . . . some men . . "
"Of course. How may I help you?"
Bobby's eyes bugged out, and Bishop stared at him in an unfriendly manner until he took the hint and vanished.
"She . . . never got the chance to thank you . . . she's been asking about you all day . . . I know it's a lot to ask, but if you have some time today, could you come by the hospital? I realize that this is out of the blue-"
"I'm sorry, Ms . . . Pam, but . . . I'm afraid that I have little time today." Checking the security systems, rewiring the ruined outlets in the old dormitory bathrooms, and going over surveillance tapes immediately came to mind.
There was a pause. "I . . . I understand, Mr. Bishop. Again, sorry to have bothered you. And thank you, for saving my daughter."
Bishop ignored the disappointment in that voice. "I was more than happy to, Pam. Again, I truly regret my inability to see her-"
There was forced cheerfulness in the voice. "Oh, I completely understand, you have things to do. I'll tell her that you send your best?"
He hesitated, then answered. "Yes, of course." The line stayed open a moment longer, then clicked dead. Bishop replaced the receiver.
"You are the coldest bastard I think I've ever met, Bishop. I wonder if it's because of training or because of cowardice."
Betsy slipped off the counter, mostly out of view of Bishop, and strode past him without another word, leaving the man alone with her half-eaten cup of yogurt.
The beeping of the machines was the first thing he heard, followed by a wet-sounding cough and the quick intake of breath of a person trying not to sob. Hesitantly he knocked on the slightly opened door, suddenly missing the weight of his trusty rifle. There was a murmuring and then the door swung open.
"Uhm . . . yes?" She was a curly short red-headed woman, wiping away stray tears even as she regarded the giant black man dubiously. He cleared his throat, wondering at the sudden dryness there.
"I am Bishop. I believe you contacted me?"
The woman stared at him before they both heard a tired, muffled squeal.
The woman - Pam - moved aside, with a hesitant smile. "She's thrilled to see you."
Bishop would not have taken the high-pitched noise for joy, but he nodded just the same, and walked in.
The girl - Rebecca, he reminded himself - tried to sit up and smile. It was difficult for her, obviously, and he stood by her side uncomfortably as she fought the small battle, before losing and slumping back, obviously fighting the urge to cough. Instead, she tried to smile up at him. This, too, failed, due to the large oxygen line in her nose and tube taped to the side of her mouth.
"Mr. Bishop . . ."
"Bishop, please." His voice was steady and empty.
"Bishop . . . thank you." She reached up her hand. Unsure, he took it, amazed at how weak and cold it seemed, so frail. So delicate.
"I would have . . . made . . . those men . . . sick."
"They deserved it, if I wasn't so sure they'd give it to three hundred other women before they died," Pam muttered darkly, still shedding tears and denying every one.
Rebecca glanced at Pam and succumbed to a coughing fit. Bishop wasn't sure whether the sudden beeping was due to her heart faltering or the sudden jump in blood pressure. He leaned her up slightly, letting her cough, wishing he could pull the tube out of her throat to help her breath better. Pam was immediately by the child's side, and nurses rushed into the room. Bishop stood back as they administered an injection to her heart, and held her down until her coughing subsided.
When she was comfortably resting and her heart beat and blood pressure were slightly closer to normal, the nurses glared at Pam and Bishop before leaving, with a quiet warning.
Pam nodded, and Bishop finally agreed as well as soon as he saw that the nurse would not leave without his assent. He wasn't sure what the five minutes meant, and he wasn't sure he wanted to know. He leaned toward the laboring child, and picked up her hand again, watching her fearful eyes dart again Pam's way. Warning the woman of another fit of coughing?
"I'm afraid that was my signal to leave." He kept his voice level. "Now you listen here, young lady." His words were as much for Pam as for Rebecca. "I am a soldier. What I did for you any decent human being would have done. You need not thank me." He gripped her hand tighter, aware of the biting cold in it. Poor circulation.
"You handled that situation very well. Anyone else would have been screaming and struggling and frantic. You kept your head and held still, and allowed us to help you. That was the bravest thing I have ever witnessed, and I am proud to be able to say that I've met you." He held her gaze, and fought the slight lump that grew in his throat. It subsided instantly.
Rebecca was staring at him with wide eyes, apparently forgetting to cough. He held her gaze, listening to the unsteady breathing of Pam.
"And I know that you're scared. But there is nothing to be afraid of.
I know that you have the heart of a warrior, and the strength of ten, and that you won't give up. But if you are defeated, there is no shame in the defeat. You have lived a life that many never have the opportunity to live, and you have people that care about you very much. And you need not fear death. They have taught us that death is the place that warriors go to rest, before taking up the fight once more."
Rebecca let a tear slide from her eye, and didn't even have the strength to wipe it away. But Bishop saw no defeat in those eyes. They were not dull and lifeless, not stone carved in flesh. They lived.
"There are many fine warriors there, and if you should meet them . . . give them hell."
He mentally thanked Bobby for the line as he watched her face crinkle into a smile.
"Yeah," she said tiredly, a small shadow of defiance clinging to the raspy voice.
He smiled back at her, grasping her hand tightly. "I'd rather, though, you came to visit me after you're well enough to leave. I can show you some rather nasty self-defense techniques to use next time."
Again, the shriveling of the face into a small ray of light.
"I'd like that."
"So would I." He was amazed by the sincerity of his voice.
The nurse ducked back in and tapped her watch, and he glanced at Pam.
"We're being ordered to leave, and frankly, I'm not brave enough to argue with her."
This time, both Pam and Rebecca smiled, and the nurse narrowed her eyes playfully. Bishop leaned down in a sudden burst of spontaneity and kissed the girl's forehead, surprised to find a sweat there despite the overall chill of her body. He knew what it meant.
"Get well, Rebecca. I expect to see you at the mansion at 8 o'clock sharp."
She nodded slightly. "I'll be there."
He nodded, gave her hand one more pat, and placed it gently on her stomach. She nodded and accepted a kiss from Pam, who smiled brokenly around her tears.
"You heard the man."
Rebecca again nodded, following them out of the room with her eyes. Once the nurse had closed the door, Pam broke down completely. Bishop gently, very awkwardly embraced her. She smiled, and tried to laugh at herself, but she only sobbed harder.
When she pulled away and swallowed, she stared up at him.
"Thank you so much, Bishop. She hasn't smiled since . . . her father died, seven months ago." The woman stared back at the window, at the profile of her daughter, her eyes closed.
"And I'm . . . I'm not even sick . . ."
Bishop watched her swallow again, and she smiled thinly.
"It isn't fair . . . to outlive your only child."
"She isn't gone yet."
Pam nodded slightly, staring at a point on the ground. "Yeah. Yeah, they said tonight, sometime. I'm allowed in after she goes to slee-" Her voice cracked, and she held her hand to her mouth for a long moment. When she felt it safe to speak again, she pulled it away, wiping her nose absently on her sleeve.
"Thank you for coming."
"Thank you for contacting me." He found his own voice not quite so rock-steady. "The invitation still stands, should she want to accept it. You know where to reach me."
She nodded, and headed off quickly for the women's restroom without a backwards glance. Bishop looked thought the plate glass one more time before he left, quietly. He allowed the lump in his throat to grow, wondered at the twin tears that tumbled down a lined face that had rarely felt their moisture. He felt his heart, and it ached, but the ache of relief, as though a weight was lifted.
The nameless mutant was named, and her eyes no longer haunted him.
Additional notes - Let it also be known that 'Rebecca's' father was not the loved figure he was in this story. He knew he was infected with HIV while he lived with 'Pam' and gave it to her knowingly. Currently 'Pam' is still showing no symptoms of the disease, and I still keep in touch with her. I hope the SOB that gave it to her dies a horribly miserable death in a cold alley, and if I knew where he was, I would probably kill him myself, and never have a guilty pang for the rest of my life.