These Walls
by Karen

The clang of the rusty prison cell door opening just wide enough to allow the guard to hustle his prisoner though made a marked counterpoint to her hissing. To him. it sounded just like steam escaping from a boiling tea kettle. Feral, on the other hand, let out another hiss her lips skinned back from her needle-sharp teeth. Another low growl began to form at the base of her throat, and Feral clenched her fist and landed a solid right hook to the guard's jaw. He called her a filthy name and pinned her arms behind her back. In retaliation, Feral kicked him, but because it was ill timed and off- balance, she failed to connect, and to add to her disappointment, he ignored her efforts to get a rise out of him. Her energy momentarily expended, Feral was unceremoniously dumped into the waiting cell.

"Back in your cage, pussy-cat, right along with the other one. Kinda gives new meaning to the term 'cat-fight,'" he laughed at what he at least thought was his a rather clever joke. "Now, why don't you two play nice," he muttered, heaving a relieved sigh, slammed the cell door shut, and turned and stomped off down the corridor.

Rubbing his throbbing jaw. Feral whirled around. grasping the bars of the cell, the hard metal cold beneath her fingers, and followed him until he was out of sight.


Feral collapsed onto the hard the top off hard metal bunkbed that had been placed in the far left-hand corner of the back wall of the cell. She lay down with her arms folded underneath her head and turned on the cell's only other occupant, her older sister. "Isn't this where we came in?" Thornn remarked, rolling over in the bottom tier of the metal bunkbeds, one eye swollen shut with a dark ring of black and blue around it, which made it look she had put on face paint like a raccoon marking. Her amber colored eyes opened just a slit, as if in waiting for what her volatile younger sibling was going to say first.

"This is your fault, you little milksop," Feral muttered.

"And we wouldn't even be in this mess if not for your sudden guilt- stricken conscience," Feral muttered, her amber eyes narrowed down to mere slit, her white-orange streaked hair falling in loose snarls around her face. Feral rolled forward and lowered her head over the edge until she was eye level with her older sister.

"Same old song, different tune. It's never your fault, mi chica," Thornn said, her voice slightly muffled.

"My fault? Let's see? Who was it sung like a bonita bird for the cops? Who used her one phone call to get Cable and his little band of merry spoilsports in on the action. If I recall correctly, and I think I do. It wasn't me. I know you can hear me, so don't pretend you can't."

"Well, at least you got your facts straight," Thornn countered. "And if it had been up to you, you'd never take the blame for anything, ever." Thornn shifted around trying to find a comfortable position on the the picture of the young woman being held as a suspect the murder of the Callasantos family. Feral didn't even have to memorize the features of the other to know who it was, even though she hadn't seen Thornn for the better part of five years. Her older sister's coloring was more brown than orange, and favored a tiger-stripe pattern, but other than that the features were of both were unmistakable, although they certainly weren't twins, but they had the same cat-slit amber eyes, the same pointed ears, and the same nose and mouth. Without paying too much attention to the details of the news report, she knew where she could expect to find Thornn and the rest of the combined X- Force NYPD posse, the place where it had all began in the first place, the crumblng brownstone in the south Bronx, their old house. Feral pulled her coat around her shoulders, and moved from one alley to another, figuring she had a better than even chance of getting there before anyone found her first.


It was laughably easy for Feral to beat the combined X-Force/ Cable and NYPD posse to the punch. With the added advantage of being familiar with the way Cable planned things, she knew she laid her own plans accordingly. She scaled the walls of the rickety wooden stairs that led up to the second story. From there she leapt to the vaulted rafters and crouched there, lying in wait until they passed beneath her.

She watched them cautiously sneak in and she could have busted a gut laughing at how foolish they were being. But I didn't want to risk giving away my position. They made it difficult at one point, so it's not like she had a choice, I didn't Really want to harm Jose, he just made himself a useful hostage, that was all.

"Our father abandoned us when I was six, and Mama said it was because it we had one kid too many, so it was Carolina's fault that drove him away.

"Carolina died from falling down the stairs when I was supposed to keep an eye on them. Carolina wasn't pushed down them stairs; Matteo was chasing my pigeons and fell off, I didn't push him and he just couldn't hold onto the ledge for long. I let him fall."

Feral figured that eventually she would have managed to kill all her former teammates in X-Force, she certainly had given it her best shot, but they'd made her dance to their tune. The thing that made her choke, was that Thorrn bought into it the whole stupid game, and she accepted it, damn it.

"Harry Bellinger was another story. He was a drunk a drug addict and constantly grabbing after us. I guess he had a 'thing' for furry chicks, not that I knew what being a mutant meant back then. I do now, but who the hell cares? I claimed it was self-defense, which was plausible enough, and Harry got what he deserved. Our mother? With Harry gone, she got mad, and killed my pigeons. Now, those pigeons were just dumb birds, but they were the only things that anted me around or needed me. So I killed her. End of story," Feral muttered.

Thornn accepted being arrested and charged with murder, or an accomplice to murder. Feral could not understand why Thornn had gone along with Cable's plan to flush her out of hiding, to make them both tell their sides of the same story. For that matter, why had Thornn abetted Feral's plan to keep them both from being captured in the first place when Harry's body was discovered and the whole mess surfaced. If she had fought back, if Thorn hadn't gone along with everything, then wouldn't now be sitting in a jail cell, cooling their heels.


"It wasn't my fault they died," Feral whispered suddenly.

"Do you mean Harry, or the rest of the family?" Thornn asked.

"Yeah, it was just a tragic accident."

"I didn't kill our family," Thornn repeated. Maybe I should have been watching her more carefully; maybe I should have seen this coming. I was the older sister, I was responsible for my younger brother and sisters. I just wanted to go outside and flirt with a good looking guy. And Jose wasn't just any old New York cop. He was a friend. Then the everything just hit the fan...

"Yeah right, if you didn't kill them, then why are you here with me in this friggin hellhole? Maybe you didn't kill Harry, and our momma, but you didn't do anything to stop the murders. Which is just as bad. Maybe worse" Feral growled. Jose, Sammy, they all tried to talk me into telling them the truth. Of course, Lucia had her own side of the story. I told them the truth. It wasn't my fault, but that wasn't the truth they wanted to hear. Feral thought absently.

"Oh come off it!" Thornn growled. "It always been so much easier for you, always blaming someone or something else, bad situation, bad homelife, mama on coke, too many kids, always high on drugs or alcohol, or both. And when our mutant powers manifested, of course, it wasn't your fault, you were a mutant. Why do always point the finger at someone else."

"Well, in this case, I know who to blame. This is all your fault! And you can stop with this 'holier than thou attitude, already!" Feral shouted.

"For once in your life would you accept responsibility for your actions!" Thornn shouted.

"I'm here. Ain't I? I'm in a correctional facility, I'm accepting the consequences of my actions. If you're expecting to admit that I'm sorry for murdering 'em, don't hold yer breath..." Feral muttered reluctantly.

Thornn grudgingly had to admit that for once, she had managed to get something through Feral's stubborn skull and she hadn't had to drag it out of her sister with her fists. Instead, her weapon of choice had been mere words. But it had worked. And as rotten and miserable as it made her feel for having to do it, someone had to do. I don't know diddly squat about modern pop psychology, but this is what they use interventions for. Of course, this is too late to 'save' anyone. God, I am such a fool. Hey, it was worth it, I guess.

Feral sank back into her bunk pulling the sheets up around her chin, wondering why she had allowed Thornn to use her as a verbal punching bag. In a back corner of her mind she knew there was no way in hell she was would allow Thornn the satisfaction of seeing how it affected her, it that it would show.

I ain't sorry the family's dead. Not a bit. Harry had it coming, and as for Matteo and Carolina, those were just accidents. As for our mother, she had it coming for being a drug addict, and for killing my pigeons. No matter what Lucia may think. Feral absently thought.

Feral briefly debated whether or not to tell Thorrn she was wasting her breath, and it wouldn't do any good, since they were both stuck with a prison sentence hanging over their heads. If she had meant to tell Thornn that she was 'sorry' or that she understood what the other had been trying to do. The impulse faded when she heard Thornn's shallow breathing in the bunk below her.

That meant Thornn had probably fallen asleep. "Lucia?" Feral whispered, oblivious to the single, salty tear that crept treacherously down her face. She bit her lips and growled a harsh 'good night.'

Feral waited a few seconds just to see if there would a reply from the other bunk's occupant, but there was no response, then fell asleep herself.


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