1963-11-05 - Deer In The Headlights
Summary: Humanis First members identify Kitty on the subway and attack her, as well as another mutant, as soon as she's at the station. Fortunately, Piotr and Crystal are on hand to help distract and restrain the attackers before someone really gets hurt.
Related: The Meanest Town On Earth plot
Theme Song: None
crystal piotr kitty 

New York is grim and cold, and that's not just the weather. The mood has gotten very dark — even the resolution of things at Central Park has gone poorly and done nothing to improve matters. And that's saying something, when closing the portal to Hell doesn't help brighten things up.

Being recognizable was a little embarrassing and annoying when it first happened for Kitty. Now? Now it's potentially a disaster. There are icy stares and murmurs as she makes her way by subway to meet Piotr coming off a shift at MoMA.

The close quarters in the subway car make it worse. A man with a Humanis First patch on his black jacket, shaved head, and polished boots is glaring at her from a few seats away. His companion is a bit less threatening-looking but, when he follows his companion's sight-line? He, too, darkens and murmurs in his friend's ear. Their demeanor just brings more focus where it's not wanted. The whole car crackles with nervous energy.

Almost to Kitty's stop. Piotr will be waiting for her. Piotr, a nice meal somewhere, a walk thrugh the city. Normal things. Just normal.


Crystal avoids going into the city more than she absolutely has to these days. Whether or not the Hellmouth is gone, there's still the unending stream of pollution that does a number on her health. But sometimes she needs to get away from the campus. Today, she thought she might visit the museum herself. She's walked, though, moving across the sidewalk above the subway station as she checks the street signs.


Kitty tugs the collar of her jacket higher around her face, sinking into the fabric of the black coat, and willing herself invisible. She knew it was going to come back to bite her; no good deed goes unpunished. Yet just the same, Kitty is who she is. And she knows it. Which is why she pulls the collar back down to her shoulders, smoothing it in place before forcing the brightest smile she can muster, and casting it towards the glarer.

She tucks her hands into her jacket pocket and her eyes scan the rest of the car. It's not a particularly safe mode of travel these days. Not for known mutants. Her cheeks puff out, but the smile remains, as does her gaze, which levels on the pair; Kitty Pryde sees you.

She stands from her seat, and pads towards the door. It's always better to be near the door when readying to exit anyways…


Crystal is…lost. It was unavoidable, really. For all her time in the city, she just tends to forget how to connect a pair of places. But there's one place she can be sure to get some directions - the subway station. Spotting one nearby, she starts down the stairs, searching out a helpful attendant to point her in the right direction. Maybe they'll even have a map there.


No one impedes Kitty's exit, at least. The rush of people pouring off the subway and burbling up to the street is comfortingly anonymous. She's one of the most normal people going her way, even. A person ahead of her has spikes protruding through their jacket shoulders that might be ornamental but probably aren't.

And there's Piotr. Can't miss that silhouette at the top of the stairs. Daylight. Boyfriend. Kitty's nearly there.

"Katya," Piotr is saying happily, when someone shoves her hard from behind, hand between the shoulderblades.

"You're that mutie," someone growls. Normally no one could have caught her off-guard but there's such a press of people around here.


There's something weirdly reassuring about being anonymous in a crowd. That is, until Kitty feels that sharp shove between her shoulder blades. Her hands reach out to catch herself on the ground, but something instinctive causes her to become incorporeal as she falls. Muscle memory from her time with Ogun has her falling, and spinning around on the ground so she's facing upwards, very much anticipating another assault only moments later… except it's incredibly difficult to assault something that isn't there.


Crystal hears the muttered words going up the stairs just as she's coming down them, a frown flickering across her features as she half turns to get a look for herself. But it's New York, and pausing in the stairway? That's a cardinal sin. Three people already brush past her, muttering their own curses, and she murmurs a quick apology, her own steps speeding to get her down the stairs only to join the salmon swimming back upstream when she gets to the bottom. That didn't sound like it was going to end well.


"You are a freak!" The shove was a test, maybe if she'd just fallen, no one would have noticed. "She's the one from the paper!"

Other people chime in, there's more of those black jackets around here all of a sudden: "You shouldn't be around normal people!""Your kind fight each other and people get hurt!""Get out of our city!""You need a leash!"

There's some jostling and panic, people trying to put distance between themselves and Kitty. "What did she do?""Is she dangerous?"

"Don't worry, we're here to protect you," the man with the badge bellows. "Normal people shouldn't have to be afraid on their own streets!"

"Katya!" That's Piotr looming over her, trying to make sure she has space to get up and get clear. "Let's just…"

"I got another one!" Someone shouts in the crowd and someone else cries out in pain and protest.

Piotr was going to say "let's just go" but that's not going to be possible, not if other people are at risk.


The remarks cause Kitty to cringe, but it's nothing she hasn't heard before. Just in the past she'd been able to find a way to avoid most of the conversation. "Yeah, I am," Kitty mutters flatly when someone says she's a freak. Her eyes roll emphatically at the chiming from the crowd.

Her eyes darken and she's already nodding at gratefully as she presses herself up to a stand, becoming corporeal in the process. "Pete — " she starts only to be interrupted by the crying out in the crowd. Her eyes flit about the station. The nearly ever-present mischief has faded from her eyes, having been replaced with something far more fiery.

There's a glimmer of apology as her eyes meet Piotr's before she's ducking back into the crowd, her hands already balling into fists. Sometimes it's fortunate she can get into tight spaces.


"That is quite enough of that." Crystal raises her voice as she pushes her way toward the confrontation, for once not afraid to use a little more strength than she looks like she can command.

And speaking of command, it's there in her voice as well. The tone of someone who very much expects to be obeyed. "Everybody just calm down." She hasn't exactly declared a side, but if she can reach a point of conflict, she's about to.


The best way to deal with the situation may be to give them a target they can't resist, to draw their focus away from anyone vulnerable. These men aren't looking for explanations or a truce. Piotr has a vantage point and some perspective, he can see the number of black jackets and shaved heads, he spots a baseball bat in one man's hand, a tire iron in someone else's grasp.

"Find who they have, Katya," Piotr urges Kitty. "Get them to safety. I will encourage these men to focus on me instead." With that, he switches form, drawing himself up to his full — very shiny — height.

"You have "one of them" here as well," he tells the men. His height, his form, his accent — the effect on their attention is nearly instantaneous.

"Freak!""Get out of New York!" It does seem to be working, as the ring leader advances on Piotr. "Your kind aren't wanted here, ya red bastard!""Look for any more of them!"

In the crowd, the tall girl with the spikes — more like antlers, really — is struggling in the grip of two men in black jackets. "Let me go, I didn't…" She's spindly and not terribly strong, with soft brown eyes turning terrified and dull brown hair. "I'm not hurting anyone. I can't help it!"

"That's what you all say." One of the men grabs her by the protrusions at her shoulders and uses them to twist her to the ground. "You can't help it but you're all just a bunch of weapons. Can't help killing decent people!" It sounds as though he's speaking from experience.


"Pete, be safe!" Kitty calls back before trailing further through the crowd. The sheer number of black jackets is enough to unsettle the petite brunette. But she zips literally through the crowd. While Piotr tries to gain the attention of those present, Kitty works underneath their attention, thankful for her stealthier tactics, even in an emergency.

It takes Kitty several beats to figure out where the cry had come from, and the ruckus that seems to have taken over the entire station. The madness doesn't evade her, and she manages to negotiate the crowd, stopping only once to physically take a fellow's bat from him. By touching it, and then sinking its molecules into the floor, creating a bat-floor convergence. She has no need for a bat. Probably. Or she can come get it later.

It takes her a few beats to catch up to the spindly brunette and her attackers. "Let her go," Kitty commands before incorporeal fingers grab at the other woman, causing her to literally slip through the fingers of her assailants. "Thank you~" Kitty virtually sings as she tries to tug the other woman to clasp her hand and draw her into a run towards the stairs.


Kitty isn't the only one who can make things one with the floor. As Crystal comes into sight of the black jackets, she holds a hand toward the cement, softening it until it reforms around the feet and ankles of the attackers. "I believe the goal here is to avoid hurting anyone, innocent or otherwise," she says cooly, glancing in the direction Kitty's run with the girl. "Shall we keep it that way, gentlemen?"


"We're not afraid of you!" A man, older, maybe a veteran, steps forward from behind his friends and fires a revolver. It's an older gun but the bullets are just as good as new. The first shot pings off Piotr's shoulder, the next off his cheek.

"I cannot let you do that," Piotr says gently as he simply takes the gun away and closes his hand on it, crushing it.

The gentle intervention does nothing to calm the assailants. If anything, it enrages several of them. The bat, the tire iron, a knife — Piotr is unmoved as they swarm him. If anything, he's worried that they're going to hurt each other.

Even as he thinks that, reaching for the tire iron, the bat catches an older woman in the face on the backswing. She shouldn't have been in reach but she was trying to slip by — foolishly, yes, but no one should suffer that for being foolish. The reaction of the crowd is split, half of them acting as though Piotr had done it himself, with shouts and a can of soda thrown at his head. The other half, however, turn on the Humanis sympathizers. A beefy dock worker's fist crashes into the face of the man who'd tried to shoot Piotr and failed.

Crystal's tactic inspires panic among the aggressors — an unusual amount of it, one might think, for some men who were so ready to abuse someone helpless. One of them begins to shriek and flail, collapsing with an ugly crack of one leg. The air smells more like urine than usual now. The bullies don't take well to having the tables turned, however gently.

"What did you do?" The young woman Kitty saved gasps. She doesn't let go but she does make a gagging noise as they pass right through people. "Oh, God, I'm dead. Am I dead?" She sobs but keeps up with Kitty. "I died, right?"


"Up the stairs, up the stairs, up the stairs," Kitty chants to herself. "Don't stop moving, keep moving!" she urges the other woman with little explanation. "We're getting you out of here - " of course, the reassurance would go a long way, and will probably grant the other woman some semblance of confidence. "You're not dead. I walk through things. And I'm taking you with me so we can you someplace safe. We have to keep moving, I don't know," she doesn't finish the thought.

Instead, she trudges to the stairs, drawing the woman with her, "You will be okay. You're going to be fine. You're not dead, you're fine. DO NOT let go of my hand," Kitty continues to drag the other woman behind her. "You're going to be fine," she reassures again, this time for herself more than the other woman. "We're all going to be fine," because that's all she can offer right now."


Crystal arches a brow at the panic, crossing her arms over her chest. "You are going to hurt yourselves," she observes, grimacing faintly. As if in response to the thought, more cement flows up, fixing itself to the men just enough to immobilize them. Notably, in such a way that they'll be easy to cut free without injury once emergency services arrive.

Which means her attention is free to go back to the men assaulting Piotr next. The news these days has shown repeatedly how the police like to break up sit-ins - with fire hoses. The water that breaks through the subway tile from the water main comes at a slightly lower pressure, but it's aimed at the attackers all the same.


"What's happening?" The girl in tow behind Kitty is following but she's still panicked. "You're a mutant, a real mutant," she babbles. Which, given her appearance, shouldn't be such a surprise. Apparently it is. "I'm just a freak but you have powers." Then she catches sight of Piotr, carefully separating civilians in spite of the water spray and the ongoing assaults. "Oh my God, there's more of you."

Crystal's interventions are actually proving to be quite useful. The crowd is scattering from the water, Humanis sympathizers stop trying to wrest the attackers free when the cement moves again — too much is too much — and bolt. Now it only remains for the humans to stop fighting each other.

"You need to stop so this woman can get help." Piotr picks two men up by the scruff of their necks and gives them a shake. "People are going to die if you do not stop. Now, go!" Their feet are moving before he sets them down. The second they hit concrete, they bolt.

One loyal Humanis supporter is still hammering away at Piotr as though it will do anything. The guy actually hits him with a bicycle and, then, a trash can.

"That is the property of the City of New York," Piotr says evenly, taking it away as the man smashes him with it. "You are wasting tax payer money."

There is a long pause during which sirens draw closer and the man glares at Piotr as though he's about to try something else.

"You have three seconds before I put you in this," Piotr says, lightly bouncing the garbage can off the palm of his hand the way someone else might bounce a tennis ball. "I will crush you like a tin can," Piotr says evenly.

That's enough. The man bolts and Piotr sets the garbage can aside with a sigh. Some good citizens are taking care of the injured woman, the police are almost here, Piotr scans the area for anyone else. No one?

"Time to go," he says evenly, picking up the bag he'd dropped at his feet. "I suggest you make haste," he says when he catches sight of Crystal. He doesn't know what, exactly, she's been doing. She's just a little too calm and measured for someone who isn't up to something.


"Some people were trying to hurt you, and I'm getting you out of here," Kitty replies evenly. Her eyes roll at the observation about her mutant status. "Yes, I am. You're not a freak. I'm not a freak. We're all people," she says blandly. "And right now, we're saving your ass." It's an unusual day when Kitty Pryde resorts to such language. Evidently, desperate times mean loose language.

She finally gets the other girl up the steps into the light and releases her hand. The police are already on their way. "I need — " a glance is given down the stairs back towards the station. "People may need more help." Her eyebrows lift, and Kitty runs down the stairs, fully corporeal, virtually sliding as she moves. "Pete!" she calls, running back towards him, "We need to move!"


One of the benefits of Crystal's particular powers. There's absolutely nothing to prove that she was the one who did…Well, any of it. For all anyone can tell, she was just a nosy citizen who stopped to yell at the people in a fight. But she does smile faintly to Piotr, picking up a map from the subway kiosk on her way to the stairs.

"Thank you," she says quietly as she comes by Kitty and Piotr. "That was…as well as that could have gone." Almost as an afterthought, she glances to the hole in the wall where the water came from, and any residual flow just trickles away. Even the puddles on the floor disappear like nothing happened.


"Katya, we must go." Piotr changes back to his less-obvious form, holding his hand out to her. "The police and ambulance are coming, we cannot stay here." He holds his hand out to her. "We should go down into the subway," he suggests.

There's chaos everywhere, it's probably easy to disappear. "If we can jump on a train going…anywhere…" If they don't end up near home, that's even better.

"Are you all right, miss?" That's a police officer on scene, headed toward Crystal. Of course, the first person you'd want to help in any emergency is the beautiful young woman who looks entirely unharmed and unbothered. "Let me take you upstairs."


Crystal is cast a tight never-meets-her-eyes smile and a nod. "We do what we can. Always." Her smile flickers further, and for a moment, it seems like she has more to say on the matter, but remembers herself and what's just happened. "Thank you. It's…" her cheeks flush and her head shakes. The madness is more than she can quite put into words, so for now, she's not going to try.

"Agreed," Kitty replies to Piotr. She grasp his hand, and clasps it tightly as she draws him back to the subway. The train there, bound for Queens earns a small smirk, and sees the pair already shuffling towards it. "Are you okay?" she asks quietly, ever-concerned, even when unnecessary. "I think the girl with the antlers is going to be okay. Truly. Even f she didn't really appreciate the help…" her eyes turn downwards as the train come stop a stop, letting people spill into the station once again.


"Go," Crystal urges Kitty and Piotr with a tight smile before putting herself in the path of the officer, running interference. "Oh my goodness, officer," she says, a hand at her collar. "You just wouldn't believe what was happening. Those poor kids, and that poor girl, they weren't doing a thing and then suddenly all those men in the leather jackets were pulling out weapons. Do you think it's some sort of gang?" she asks, feigning concern. "Goodness, I knew I shouldn't have tried to take the subway…"


"We'll take your statement, miss." The officer, a handsome young man, ushers Crystal toward the street. "We are having some issues with vigilantes lately."

"Some powers are frightening even to those who are mutants themselves. I had not considered that but, I suppose, that is work we have to do." Piotr slides his arm around Kitty. "We have a great deal of work to do, Kitty." He kisses the top of her head. "You must be kept safe — all of us, yes — but, for me? Especially you. I know you can defend yourself. I want to find a way to make sure you never have to."


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