Bruises Aren't Forever

The young girl sobbed into her pillow. Her tear glazed blue eyes gazed angerily at the world around here. Why was she here? What did this have to do with her life?

One finger traced the large purple bruise on her right cheek. When Belasco was angry he punished her like any parent would do. Belasco's punishments always involved S'ym. S'ym was never forgiving nor gentle and his punishments hurt and scarred and bruised.

Before the end of the night, Illyana Rasputin knew that she would have cried enough tears to fill a small river. But the tears always went away, just like the brusies and then no one could see her pain. Because after the tears and the brusies faded away the only marks left were on her soul.

Magik stared out the window as the rest of her classmates talked amongst themselves. A wind blew in through the window and tossed her blonde hair away from her small face. The blue eyes gazed at something no one else could see.

"`Yana?" Dani's voice was quiet and a much needed warning if she didn't want the hand she placed on Illyana's shoulder ripped off. "`Yana, what's wrong?"

The blue eyes flashed red as Illyana turned to face her friend. All the conversation and the laughter fled the room. A large purple bruise covered the right side of Illyana Rasputin's face. One eye was swollen and dried blood was on her lip. "Nothing's wrong, Dani," she said softly.

"Like hell nothing's wrong," Roberto burst out. He rushed over to where Dani stood next to Illyana, awe struck. "Who did this?" the young man demanded as he laid a comforting hand on her arm.

Illyana jerked her arm away. "Like you even care!" she spat and turned back to look out the window.

"`Yana, that looks pretty bad. Shouldn't ya have someone look at it," Sam suggested from his seat at the table.

"I'll be fine," she repiled in a dead tone.

"Ach, who would e'er do such a thin' to ye?" Rahne questioned, her green eyes filled with uncharacteristic compassion.

"It's not any of your business what happened to me, so bug off," she snapped and continued to stare at nothing. One hand came up to tuck a few strands of errant blond hair off her face and it brushed against the bruise. The contact hurt and Illyana's eyes filled with tears.

"Illyana, what's wrong?" Amara's soft voice asked as she drew closer to her aloof team mate.

The girl spun around to face them. "Don't you all get it? I don't need any help. I can handle this. It's nothing. Really." The words she spoke were strong and sure but the tears in her eyes and the shaking of her hands gave her away. This was much more than nothing, there was something deeply wrong here.

Dani looked at her friend with large, dark brown eyes that were full of compassion and hurt that Illyana had suddenly closed down. They had told each other many things, Illyana especially. To see her like this was devastating to Dani's spirit. "Please, `Yana, let us help. Let me help anyway."

The blonde girl slowly sunk to the ground, her arms wrapped around herself and her eyes bright with uncried tears. "Now look what you've gone and done, Dani. I had it all under control," she whispered.

Doug had left the room earlier and now came back with a first aid kit. He kneeled next to Illyana and tired to examine her face. She just pulled away. "Don't make this hard, Illyana," he said. "I'll have `Berto and Sam restrain you if need be."

"It's not like they could keep me here," she muttered but stayed still as he looked at the damage.

"It's mostly just brusises. The eye's swolled but should go down in a few days. Her lip's cut but won't take long to heal," Doug told them when he finished looking her over.

"I told you it was nothing," she protested.

Dani was looking down at her with worried eyes. Illyana had never acted like this before. It was kind of unnerving.

"This isn't nothing, `Yana," `Berto put in, his brown eyes full of rage and vengence. "Who's the creep that did this to you? New Mutants look out after their own. We'll bash him up good."

The blonde girl shook her head slowly. "You wouldn't want to do that, `Berto. If he's still drunk and in his rage, he'll kill you."

"Who is this person, Illyana?" Amara asked from the other side of the room. She had been keeping a far distance, waiting for the moment when Illyana drew out of her shell to start asking questions.

"My brother," Illyana whispered and bit her lip when the room went silent.

"I dinna understand," Rahne began, "why would yuir brother do this ta ya. He loves ya."

"People do stupid things when they're drunk, girl," Sam commented with a sigh as he rubbed the blond stubble on his chin. "My daddy had this friend who used ta get drunk and beat up on his wife. It went on for years but finally she left him."

Illyana's blue eys were full of tears again as she looked up at her friends pleadingly. "Piotr didn't mean to do it. Really he didn't but...I got in his way at the wrong time. He's been so moody lately. After everything he's been through how can I blame him?"

Dani leaned sat down on the floor next to her and was surprised when Illyana actually allowed herself to be hugged. "No one deserves to be hit, Illyana."

"When I was bad Belasco always had S'ym punish me. S'ym always used to hit me. He never hit me hard enough to do any real damage but he hit me a lot. I sit up all night sometimes, just weeping into my pillow because it hurt so much. I just figured that I had done something wrong and Piotr was punishing me for it. I didn't know," Illyana broke off into sobs.

Dani just stayed quiet and hugged the sobbing girl. The rest of the New Mutants stood around the room not knowing what to do or say. Then Roberto spoke up, "You should have told us earlier, Illyana. No one knew."

"I think that was the idea," Doug muttered. "Illyana's a strong girl, why would she share her weak points with us?"

Dani glared at him. "I don't know where you come off talking like that, Doug. It's an awful thing she had to go through as a child. It's no wonder she didn't want us to know with all the support and friendship she gets from this group." Dani's words were bitter and stone hard.

Illyana looked up at her friends. "No, Dani, it's not their fault and it's not mine. Brusies go away after all. It's the scars on the soul that stay unless you heal them."

"Point being?" Roberto inquired.

"I'd like very much to heal my scars but I can't do that without coming to terms with the things that happened to me. But I don't think I can ever do that alone. If I asked...would you all help me?" Her voice was strangly quiet and hushed, her blue eyes pleading with them for some sign, any sign that they wanted to help.

"You know I'll help, `Yana," Dani reassured her with a hug.

"An' me," Sam added.

"I would never turn my back on a team mate," Amara commented.

"The time you can best be a friend is when that friend's in need. I'm here for you, Illyana," Doug told her.

That just left Roberto and Rahne.

Roberto came over and knelt down next to Illyana. With great effort he hugged her and looked into her eyes. "When I was young my father walked out. I knew pain then as you know pain now. I wouldn't wish that pain on anyone else. You can count on me."

Rahne bit her lip. "Reveran Craig always used punishment if ye sinned. But I will try an' help ye, `Yana."

And somewhere, in the back of Illyana's mind, that little girl stopped crying and dried her red rimmed blue eyes. The brusies were not the only thing that was healing.

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