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Joined: 7-July 17
Last Seen: Jul 16 2018, 05:38 PM
Local Time: Jul 22 2018, 03:04 AM
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May 14 2018, 03:47 PM
“I’m sorry to hear about the school.
Roberto da Costa leaned his elbows onto the hardboard paste table that stood directly in front of him, the top came to not much above waist height causing him to bend at his middle. He was dressed in uncharacteristically casual attire; old ripped jeans and a Givenchy t-shirt splattered with paint, it was in his hair too, and on his hands and streaking his face. He was beginning to regret his idea to really get stuck in with decorating the place. Turned out it was a lot harder than it looked, and his pampered billionaire self did not enjoy the horrible mess that he had made. Picking at the paint under his fingernails, he frowned at his unsuccessful attempt to remove it before returning his attention to his friend and shrugging lightly. Berto had called on Sam that afternoon not just because he wanted to see him but because he needed his help. It had seemed like a good idea at the time, for him to get involved in setting up the place, but the fact that he didn’t know the first thing about painting and decorating had skipped his memory in the thinking.
“You should have called, why didn’t you call, Sam?
” He knew that he had lost the right to know about anything to do with Xavier’s when he had chosen not to return to the mansion, but he still couldn’t understand why Cannonball
hadn’t called him to help. Invasion by malevolent alien beings was exactly the reason to call on a friend but Sunspot and Mimic had been none the wiser sunning themselves in Brazil whilst the X-Men and their trainees battled for their lives. He didn’t want to come off like he was scolding Sam for it though so he smiled across the room at the other man. They were back in the city now and that was all that mattered, should the Brood hit the city again they’d be right there to fight. Picking up a paint brush, Berto dipped it into the pot of magnolia paint that sat on the paste table, idly swirling it in circles before lifting it up above the tin to allow the colour to run off of the bristles in a long, thin drizzle.
Running a hand through his hair, he cursed in Portuguese at the realisation that he had just pulled more paint through his curls. With every movement, even the small and insignificant ones, he was making more and more of a mess of himself and his surroundings. A trail of paint footprints wound over the bare concrete floor; Roberto had stood in a dropped splodge without realising until he’d left a map of his frustrated circling on the ground. That afternoon he had developed a deep appreciation for tradesmen; he’d never again complain about the cost of hiring people to do a job. “Listen thanks for coming over man, I really appreciate the help.
” And he did; as frustrated as he was by his lack of any real practical skill, Roberto was still determined to put his own stamp on the modest Mutant Town building. He needed to feel useful again, and he was sure that this was the way to that. “I promise you’re gonna like this.
” He added, standing up straight and gesturing with his arms open, to the whole of the room.
He was keen for his best friend to know that this wasn’t just another one of his indulgences, something that he was just doing on a whim, an entirely selfish thing that he’d only grow bored of eventually. “Welcome to the 6th Street Center for Youth.
” He announced with a wide grin. “Or at least the empty shell of it anyway.
” What the two men were standing in was the space that would eventually become the twenty-four hour reception and a café. In its current condition it was nothing more than pristinely plastered walls, an uncovered floor and a counter wrapped in plastic protective sheeting. The backmost wall was haphazardly painted, a brushed line along the top and bottom most edges and roller stripes criss crossing wildly where Roberto had made some attempt at the decorating. “A place for young mutants to come to when they’ve got no one else.
” And it wasn’t just teens that the centre would be aimed at either, Roberto’s aim was to open up the place to homeless, runaway and desperate mutants up to twenty four years old.
“It’s the Costa Foundation’s newest project, but this time I want to do more than just put my name on it. I want to be able to say that I helped build it with my own hands.
” Not that he was doing a very good job of it on his own so far.
Apr 18 2018, 02:36 PM
Friday afternoon in Rio de Janeiro. Roberto da Costa was seated on one of the many traditional pews in the main hall of the Catedral Metropolitana de São Sebastião. It was not local to the Costa Estate but Bishop Antônio Augusto Dias Duarte had been the family’s priest since his grandfather’s day. To give confession in his home city to any other member of the Rio clergy felt, to Berto, like some kind of betrayal and so he had travelled the few miles from his home to the central financial district to seek the Sacrament of Penance. The hours for confession had passed, but a phone call ahead had seen to it that the bishop would fit Roberto in for an appointment between sermon writing and other ecclesiastical duties. Antônio always had time for the children and grandchildren of Xoán Tadeu da Costa, they were a noble Catholic family; loyal to the church, faithful and good. That he had not seen Betinho da Costa in several months was also a deciding factor in allowing confession by special arrangement; Bishop Duarte had been disappointed to hear that the young businessman had made the move back to the United States and was therefore ecstatic to discover that he had since returned.
The Catedral Metropolitana was a cathedral quite unlike any other; a modern building designed to hold over twenty thousand worshippers, it had been designed with Mayan pyramids in mind. On the outside two hundred and forty six feet of concrete loomed over the Centro area of the city where, to the casual observer, it was imposing but characterless. But its structure was purposeful and filled with meaning; the cone shape said to represent the Brazilian peoples’ connection with the Lord. Inside was a very different story; it's interior boasted four floor to ceiling strips of stunning stained glass windows, joining at the top to form a cross-shaped skylight through which the bright sun’s rays cast rainbow sprays of light over the polished floor. When the priests sung Mass their voices rang out through the atrium, the hypnotic harmonies creating an almost supernatural ambience. Combined with the light from the windows it almost felt as though God himself were present in the room. The cathedral was not to everyone’s taste but there was no denying that it was a striking example of 1970s religious architecture. For Roberto it represented comfort, peace, sanctuary.
“<Betinho, my boy, how pleased I am to see you here today.>” The Bishop Duarte approached from the Lady Chapel to the right of where Roberto sat. An old man, almost eighty years of age, he walked with a cane, but as the two men locked eyes he opened his arms in a gesture of welcome. Rising from his place at the head of the pews, brown eyes shining with the smile that touched his lips, Roberto closed the distance between them both in just a few strides. Greeting the bishop with a warm embrace he kissed the old man’s cheek before helping him to his seat. “<Bishop, I can’t tell you how happy I am to be back.>” He said, as he sat next to the much older man, folding his hands into his lap. For a long while the pair sat in silence; Antônio was waiting for the boy to feel moved to speak, Roberto was not sure how to begin, it had been many weeks since he had even stepped inside a church let alone given confession. At the back of the room a group of tourists busied themselves with taking photographs and reading the information attached to various artworks that lined the walls. “<We can take our discussion to the booths if you require.>” Came Antônio’s reassuring suggestion, his voice wafer thin, almost a whisper.
It was required by the law of the Catholic Church for Reconciliation to take place inside a confessional but Antônio did not always see reason behind such tradition. Too old to consider the walk back from where he had sat himself, the bishop considered his arthritis just reason for taking confession at the pews, especially while the church was quiet, but if the young man who had sought his guidance required privacy, he would honour that. “<No thank you, I am happy to speak here.>” Roberto did not feel that anyone else would be interested enough in what he had to say to come within earshot. “<Shall we begin with a prayer?>” The old man asked of his penitent. Preferring to kneel when he prayed, Roberto nodded his agreement and then rested on the velveteen hassock at his feet where he offered a few words to open his confession. When he was done he returned to his seat, giving the sign of the cross and turning to the clergyman who had not moved from where he had sat. “<In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Bless me Father for I have sinned. My last confession was almost three months ago.>” And the guilt at not having been to see a priest sooner had been eating him for all of that time.
For the next hour the pair talked about the turn that Roberto’s life had taken since the night that he had taken Kick. How he had run from his mistake further hurting the people that he loved, how he had sunk so low that he had almost allowed a man to kill him and of how he was now, more than ever, determined to atone for what he had done. He had spoken at length about these very same things with Calvin, with his therapist, but somehow confessing it out loud in church lifted a weight that he had not known he had been carrying with him. “<Roberto, if you have not done so I feel strongly that the Lord requires that you make restitution for the damage that you caused to the school.>” Bishop Duarte began, it was not common for clergyman hearing confession to command repayment for damages but the bishop knew just how wealthy his parishioner was. “<Now for your penance. More than one is required of you, Betinho, for all that you have done. Firstly, I think it would do you well to pray the rosary. Think hard, whilst you pray, on what we have discussed today, really take the time to consider just how lucky you are. For your second penance, you shall say something nice about yourself with every meal. Three times a day for the next three months. You have done wrong but you must remember to love yourself, my son.>”
Pausing for a moment the bishop seemed to be taking his time to consider one more thing. Roberto was still trying to understand the nature of his second penance, of why Antônio would require him to ‘love himself’ in order to win over the Lord’s forgiveness. It did not seem at all right that this was considered the Church’s stance on having, to all intents and purposes, killed a man. But who was he to question a man in commune with God? “<Finally, there must be some physical act of contrition; I cannot tell you what, only the Lord can move you in the right direction there but when he does, you will know what you need to do in order to earn his forgiveness.>” Bishop Duarte heaved a sigh then, closing his blue eyes to the world and smiling lightly. After a long pause he added, “<Despite everything that you have told me, Roberto, you seem happy. You are lucky to have the support of this Calvin, it sounds as though he is a very dear friend.>” A gentle hand tapped Roberto on the back of his own as the two remained seated for a short while longer. The relief that the younger of the men had been feeling at finally confessing after such a long silence had all but disappeared with the bishop’s last words. A frown creased his brow, and he became lost in consideration until all at once he was compelled to speak.
“<He is. Calvin, I mean. He’s very special to me, Bishop.>” He knew that what he was about to say would no doubt be a problem for Antônio but he loved Cal, he had to be honest about that. “<If it weren’t for him, for the way that I feel about him, then I am not sure that I would be here today.>” He paused again, and turned to look the bishop in the eye, it did not seem like the old man had caught up with what Roberto was driving at. “<I love him, Bishop Duarte. We’re not just friends. I’m in love with him. And he loves me too, it saved my life.>” He realised then that he had almost tried to justify what he and Calvin felt for each other, like somehow all the beauty that came with such profound devotion to a person needed to be rationalised. This was not what he had ventured to the Catedral to discuss but now that it had been mentioned he was already tense from the feeling that he needed to defend his position. Running a hand nervously through dark curls, he made an attempt at a smile. Perhaps the bishop would hold a more modern opinion of sexual orientation within the context of their shared faith. Of course, deep down he knew that a man who had publicly expressed his support for Rio de Janeiro’s mayor, a man who had actively opposed the criminalisation of homophobia, was not a progressive thinker.
“<Betinho, I am not sure that you understand the full implications of what you have just told me.>” The bishop began after a moment of consideration. “<Homosexuality is a moral disorder. To carry on with another man is a mortal sin. To continue to do so despite knowing this is to be unrepentant.>” The Catholic church could not condone same sex relationships but it did preach compassion and sensitivity towards gay parishioners. The bishop could not approve of what Roberto had just confessed to him but he could afford him respect and advice. “<You have turned away from what is natural -- >”
“<I’m sorry, what?>” Roberto interrupted, his cheeks already burning as he had sat, preparing for Antônio’s arguments against what he and Calvin shared. “<What I feel for my boyfriend is the most natural thing to me, I feel it without effort or regret. I have never been more sure of anything in my life.>” If that feeling didn’t come from God then he didn’t know what did. He could not believe that Cal being there for him at exactly the right time, loving him so quickly, so readily, so unconditionally was coincidence. No, the Lord had sent him to Roberto and only good things had come of it. He had been turned away from taking his own life, had found unbelievable happiness and in turn had been able to help Calvin through his own personal struggles. How any of that could come from sin was a mystery to him. “<You must remain calm, Roberto, you have not committed a sin unless you have been intimate, and you are not married-- >”
“<-- Please. You know full well that we have.>” The bishop had known Roberto his whole life. The young Beto had confessed on more than one occasion during his frequent visits home, to the physical nature of his relationships with what was then, exclusively women. Antônio had not seemed to take as much issue with it then as he was doing now and you had to be stupid to not understand exactly why. Whilst the Church asked its clergymen to be compassionate, in the same breath it declared homosexuality and by extension bisexuality as ‘a tendency towards the moral evil’. He wasn’t surprised but he was disappointed that Bishop Duarte couldn’t be more liberal with his faith. Perhaps it was a lot to ask of a man who had been a member of the clergy for almost sixty years, but it made Roberto angry that he could be made to feel morally corrupt for nothing more than loving someone. “<My faith is everything to me, Bishop Duarte, but I draw the line at this.>” He snapped, getting to his feet. “<Tell me where in scripture it says that loving someone is a sin?>”
“<Scripture condemns-->” The priest returned calmly.
He had thought on this a lot over the past ten years. “<--No. It doesn’t. There are six verses in the Bible, bishop. Six, of more than thirty-one thousand in total, that discuss same sex relationships. The Lord is more concerned with how we handle our money than he is about who we choose to spend our lives with. We are both Christians, followers of Christ. Our Lord Jesus had absolutely nothing to say about relationships between two men.>”
“<Sodom and Gomorrah, Leviticus-- >”
“<Condemn rape and adultery. Neither have anything to do with sexual orientation. You should know that!>” He was starting to raise his voice now, gesturing wildly. He didn’t mean to lose his temper but the bishop’s few words to him had been the first real opposition he had come up against by someone that he respected. “<Why is the Church okay to ignore that scripture bans mixing fabrics and cross breeding cows but cannot distance itself from a few largely misinterpreted passages about sexual misconduct?>” He blinked back angry tears before swiping an escaped few with the back of his hand. Bishop Duarte had barely said a word but his implication that Roberto and Calvin were unnatural had triggered an intense reaction in the young man that he was not willing to let go of just yet. He turned his back on the man then; it had been too much to ask for his family priest to attempt to see past misinterpreted doctrine. “<You have committed a mortal sin, Betinho. You must recite an act of contrition, repent for your actions and-- >”
“<--Beloved let us love one another, because love comes from God...Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.>” He recited from memory. “<I will not ask for forgiveness for loving someone nor for expressing that love in every way that I can; emotionally, verbally, physically. With the greatest of respect, Bishop Duarte, vai-te foder.>” Giving Bishop Duarte one last disappointed look, Roberto turned on his heels and left. He had not come to church that day looking for an argument nor had he intended to even tell the man about his relationship with Calvin; he had known exactly how that would go down. But when faced with the choice of whether to humour the clergyman’s assumptions about the nature of his relationship with Mimic he could only be honest, it wasn’t fair to his love to be anything but. He had said it before and as he raged towards the huge brass panelled doors of the Catedral Metropolitana de São Sebastião he believed it so much more than before; loving Cal was as easy to him as breathing and there was nothing on earth that could force him to deny that. Nothing.
Mar 10 2018, 05:55 PM
“Senhor Costa! Olá Senhor Costa!”
From a row of rainbow coloured homes stacked like shoe boxes three and four units high, a group of twenty children ran towards Mimic
and Sunspot as the two men approached across a painted concrete football pitch. Unlike any other outsiders the pair had walked through the streets of the Penha favela complex unguarded and unarmed. Vila Cruzeiro, the area of Penha to which the men had travelled, was one of the more dangerous of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas but neither Roberto nor Calvin needed to worry. The Costa family had a reputation amongst the gangs that ruled the surrounding streets; Emmanuel da Costa had been known to the locals as paitrao, a Portuguese neologism combining the words “boss” and “father”. In life he had been respected, in death he was revered, and by extension his son was afforded similar treatment. The approaching kids ranging from three to sixteen years of age each looked up to the Brazilian billionaire like a brother and they were, each and every one of them, excited to see him.
Crouching down to catch the youngest of them as the little girl barrelled straight into his chest, Roberto let out a delighted laugh scruffing her blonde hair. An older boy about six years of age jumped onto his back and he growled playfully as little arms wrapped around his neck. Standing up with the girl in one arm he used his spare to make sure that the boy did not fall. “<Cintia, sweetheart how are you? Have you been good for mummy whilst I’ve been gone?>
” he asked, planting a soft kiss on the top of her head. The little girl nodded shyly, it wasn’t like her. Large blue eyes had not left Calvin since she had crashed into Roberto, the presence of a new body made her wary but she had a smile for the stranger anyway. “<Cintia, this is Calvin. He’s my friend.>
” He told her, his voice soft in way that he never was with anyone else.
“<Cal, this is Cintia. She’s my little peanut.>
” He had a particular soft spot for the little angel because her mother, who was only seventeen, had been through so much to provide for her child. She was a fighter. “<Tell him that my name is Abrahan, Betinho, tell him.>” The little boy swinging from Roberto’s shoulders demanded. “<Ssh, it’s Senhor Costa.>” Whispered Cintia, a tiny finger held to her lips. Turning towards Mimic, Abrahan’s legs swinging as he did so, Beto rolled his eyes playfully at his boyfriend as the two children argued back and forth. “Cal, I want you to meet...everyone.
” He said in English, he knew that the other man would be able to follow the Portuguese that had passed between the kids but it hadn’t quite yet begun to feel right to speak to his American boyfriend in his native tongue.
“<Abrahan, you can tell him yourself.>
” He spoke over his shoulder at the boy, ignoring the fact that this was now the second time that his name had been mentioned. Without a moment’s hesitation the boy jumped down from Roberto’s back and closed the short distance between himself and Cal. “Senhor Árvore?" He asked, not bothering to introduce himself or ask Calvin his name. “<Why are you so tall? Did you eat all of your greens when you were six?>” He had to take a step backwards just to be able to look the far taller man in the face and hold his hand over his eyes to shield his vision from the sun. It was a funny little sight, a little boy his remaining hand on one hip regarding the newcomer with a critical eye. Whilst the two of them were talking Roberto took Cintia and made his way over to the crowd of kids that had gathered a little way off.
He shook hands with the elder kids, gave hugs and kisses to the younger ones and answered questions about why he had been absent for so long. It was so good to see that the kids he had left behind were still with the charity, there was always the risk of losing some of them along the way. As Cal approached, his chat with Abrahan finished for the moment, Roberto turned to him, holding out a hand for his boyfriend to take. “Some of the older guys have been with the charity for over ten years.
” He said in English. “Favela Street was something I asked my dad to do when I was about eight. He set it up for me, and I took it over when I came back after he passed.
” He paused to cross himself with the hand that was not holding Cintia, kissing the crucifix pendant around his neck.
“We’re trying to get them out of the drug trade. They grow up here believing that it’s the only option and we want to show them that it’s not. Our employees are former gang members and graduating kids. Football helps them to connect also, to learn not to judge one another based on affiliation.
” With a smile, he turned back to the crowd. “<Senhor Árvore is a friend of mine. He’s going to be visiting with me a lot from now on. If you have any questions, now’s the time to ask.>
Feb 24 2018, 04:41 PM
Cal, he just needed to get to Cal. Roberto couldn’t be sure that his love was even waiting at the destination where he and his travelling companions were headed but for two days now he hadn’t let that thought cross his mind. Seeing his boyfriend’s face again had been the single driving force that had kept him going in the wake of all that had happened at the Sun People’s temple. Without the possibility of being able to know for certain that Mimic
was okay, that he was alive, he might have just given up and laid down in the dirt to die. It wasn’t what he wanted, he wasn’t the man who wished to give up on life anymore, but the pain of crucifixion and of surviving it was so great that at times during the group’s journey to the X-Men’s rendezvous point he had been certain that he could not go on any longer. He had struggled to fly for anything more than short periods, could barely walk at all but through sheer force of will and the determination to see Calvin again he had kept on. The group had helped in anyway that they could with Chrome most importantly providing a means to keep his wounds clean with ethanol. He owed a debt to that man, without him, he might have lost limbs.
It had occurred to Roberto just once during their travels, given the terrible way in which he had suffered within minutes of his arrival, that there was a strong possibility that Calvin could have met a worse fate during the three years that Merry’s crew had been stranded in the Savage Land. The thought had crushed him but he hadn’t let it linger, couldn’t accept that all of this would lead to his discovering that Cal had already been lost to him. He needed to believe with every fibre of his being that his boyfriend was waiting for him on that island in the middle of the lake. On the many occasions that they had stopped to rest he had gone over their reunion in his head, imagining how it would feel to see him again. The various scenarios had played out differently each time depending on where his head was at although a single theme ran through each of them; uncertainty about how Calvin would react. Three years
, it had been difficult just getting his head around that; he had missed Cal terribly during the few days he had been missing, he couldn’t even begin to imagine what change three years of absence might have brought about in the other man.
There was every possibility that if he had survived, Mimic would have left Roberto behind years ago. Back in New York city where no more than four days had passed since Cal had disappeared their relationship had been so new; whilst it might have burned bright in that time, with them declaring their love for each other very early on, he worried that faced with the prospect of never seeing him again, Cal would have given up and moved on. He couldn’t blame him if he had, three years was such a long time to hold onto feelings for someone who wasn’t, couldn’t be there to keep them alive. It would break his heart knowing that the short passing of time in the world outside of the Savage Land meant his feelings were no different than they had been the last time he had laid eyes on his love. But none of this changed how desperately he needed to see Calvin, he would deal with the consequences of three years of absence when it was right there in front of him until then Cal was the only thing that was keeping him going.
Hovering at the shoreline of the Lost Lake, brown eyes settled on the island that sat in the middle of it. Roberto’s heart pounded in his chest, apprehension filled his entire body; all it would take was a final crossing of the water and he would know. Tears shone in his eyes part formed through pain and fatigue part through a feeling of being completely overwhelmed. He was running on empty, looked a vision of ill health despite the precautions taken to avoid his condition worsening. Beneath the shadow that had engulfed his skin, his complexion was grey, his skin cold and clammy. His hands hung useless at his sides, fingers curled inwards towards his palms; the crucifixion had severed his median nerve causing paralysis at the wrists. He didn’t need his hands to fly though and so taking a deep breath he lifted himself higher into the air and using the last of his energy flew across the water to meet with the rest of the stranded mutants.
Reaching the island, a gasp of relief left Sunspot as he dropped to the ground, a loud hiss following that as his weight landed on broken ankles. His knees buckled but he managed to keep himself just about upright, fortunate as he would not be able to catch himself with his hands. Letting go of his powers, his energy reserves not enough to keep them active, Roberto looked up from where his focus had landed on the place where he did not wish to fall. He needed to find… “Calvin.
” Letting go of a breath, he took a moment to drink in every inch of the man stood before him. For just a second both men were locked in frozen, silent contemplation with one another before, unable to maintain any distance, Roberto took a single shaky step forward.
Feb 21 2018, 10:06 AM
The last thing that Roberto da Costa remembered was a brilliant flash of light before the out of place sensation of falling that seemed impossible for a man who had been able to fly for over a decade had overcome him. An unusual weightlessness had taken over his entire body and then...nothing.
He could see the sky, impossibly blue and patchworked with bright white candyfloss clouds. In his sleepy haze the heavens seemed to shift and sway, blurring in and out of focus through slow, long lashed blinks. A soft smile kissed Roberto’s lips as he watched a flock of birds hover and dart in the air above. He could sense the sun on his skin, its warm glow a relief to the man whose body craved sunlight more than most; its power coursed through his blood, sustained and strengthened him. Silence had settled on the place where he lay, even the light wind that rushed over him refused to make a whisper. But despite the comfort that he felt in the beauty of the sky above it was this complete absence of sound that broke the spell and his brow furrowed with concern. Where was he? Suddenly very aware of an ache that drummed through his entire body, Roberto reached up to touch a hand to an unfamiliar wetness on his chest. His movements were labored, as though his entire body were wading through molasses. Drawing his hand away he was surprised to see the tips of his fingers smudged with deep green.
Pulling himself up to sitting, a sighing groan escaping him with the effort, the Brazilian cast a confused eye over a bright marking drawn onto his skin. A circle and eight lines of differing lengths formed a sun over his heart. “What?
” He asked, his voice quiet. Instinctively reaching for the cross that hung around his neck, Roberto muttered a short prayer for his protection and all at once the memory came flooding back. Of how desperate he had been to find Mimic
; missing for days without a word as to his whereabouts, of flying over Antarctica in the Blackbird and finally of the jet being torn apart right before the world had gone black. Blinking rapidly in an attempt to clear the fog from his mind the young man cast a worried look over his immediate surroundings. He had been laid upon a platform made from stone, high atop a structure so tall that it provided a sweeping view of the landscape below. How he had gotten there and how long it had been since the crash was anyone’s guess but the marking on his chest was a clear sign that Roberto was not alone.
“Ah, you’re awake.
” As if peeling from the shadows, a beautiful woman dark haired and violent eyed stepped into view.
“Who are you? Where am I?
” Roberto asked, sliding down from the altar stone he realised as his feet touched the ground that he was not wearing his shoes. Immediately on his guard, the Brazilian made to power up, he didn’t enjoy being Sunspot anymore but he had no idea what this woman’s intentions were, he wanted to be prepared if she attacked. Except that despite how effortless it had always been for him to engage his mutation, this time no ambient light drained from his body and the familiar strength that he gained from the solar radiation that he was constantly absorbing was noticeably absent. Brown eyes went wide as the realisation struck him that something was terribly wrong, the smile that twisted the corners of the woman’s mouth only serving to confirm that. “What did you do to me?
” He snapped, angered by her clear amusement. His hands balled into fists at his sides as he strained to overcome whatever force was stopping him from accessing his powers. He could feel them there lingering just beneath an impenetrable barrier but he could not break through.
“Simple preparations to ensure that you arrive at your new accommodations without incident.
” The woman answered, her tone light as though she were addressing an honoured guest or long time friend. As the words left her lips she gestured to a structure built into the stone a little way off; a tall Latin cross, its upright post at least nine feet high, the crosspiece already affixed two thirds of the way up. Roberto’s stomach lurched as his eyes fell on the perfect imitation of the pendant that hung from his neck and instinctively he took a step backwards, strong hands preventing him from making a hasty retreat. Two guards flanked the disbelieving man, their arms linked with his whilst another came to stand beside the woman, a hammer and four nails held in his hands. Feeling suddenly sick as realisation of the fate that awaited him washed over like a tidal wave, Roberto’s body tensed. He’d been given barely a moment since waking to fully comprehend what was happening, where he was, how he had gotten there. “No. Wait.
” Panic rose in his chest. “Why? Why are you doing this?
Her answer came with very little explanation of exactly what she wanted from him but provided enough context to set Roberto’s head in a spin. There's power in sacrifice, dear Roberto. Simply taking something is not enough if you refuse to give anything in return.
Determined not to go without a fight, the depowered mutant pulled with all of his strength against the men who held him, struggling to cease their steady walk forward. A strangled cry escaped him as in his efforts to hold them back, his bare feet caught on sharp stone, cutting at the soft flesh. His knees buckled; unable to access the energy that the sun provided him, Roberto did not have the strength to hold the guards back. “Stop!
” he begged, “Please!
” When it was clear that they would not, he fought back again thrashing wildly against their restraint, kicking and screaming as they dragged him forward. “You can’t do this!
” He had reached blind panic, unable to hold off the inevitable and terrified of what that meant for him. His vision swam, and despite his efforts doing nothing to put a stop to their advance on the upright post, continued to kick and twist in the grip of the guards. As the trio drew closer the guard with the hammer and nails pulled the crossbar from the stipes and placed it on the ground; it was easier to drive the spikes in if the victim was laid down.
Letting go of another angry and terrified cry as one of the guards kicked his knee out, Roberto fell heavily against the floor, his head cracking against the stone. Dazed as he was by his fall, he was in no position to fight the guards as they wrestled him onto his back, wrenching his arms out to his sides. “Please.
” He begged one last time as he felt the scratch of a sharpened point line up with his wrist, but his pleading was for nought. Blinding, searing pain shot through his entire body as the hammer drove the nail home, tearing through muscle and severing the median nerve. Tears streamed down his cheeks, clouding his vision and sharp breaths heaved in his chest. A second strike came swiftly after the first bringing with it yet another wave of pain so intense that the world seemed to turn sideways, the sound of his own scream echoed in his ears as though it were travelling through water and then finally, the agony too much for his mind and body to take, Roberto slipped into unconsciousness, everything turning black.