Time's Up
By Jeanne

Author's Note:This is a story about the St Croix family. Before you groan, let me explain. Truthfully, I've never been very interested in the St Croix family, their secret, or even in Monet. It just didn't interest me. In fact, it interested me so little, that even though I'd read every issue that even had GenX appearing, I'd never guessed that Monet was really the twins. Once I read issue #31, it was like...wow. They really did do it. That's when I started to get an interest in them, I guess. But it just wasn't as much fun to write about Monet as it was to write about Emma, or Jubilee, or Penance.

But then I heard about issue #40. Larry Hama was going to reveal the secret of Penance. At first, I thought it was a good idea. We could finally get to find out about her. But then, I remembered what Larry Hama had been "writing" the seven issues before. I started to get sick. Then I heard about what he'd done with the characters...how he'd totally lost Penance's past in order to make a neat wrap up with a cut little bow around the St Croix family. That made me mad. No, it made me furious. And even though I hadn't read issue #40 when I started writing this story, only heard the rumors and second hand spoilers, I just couldn't hold it in. So this story is a direct hit at Larry Hama, and I hope he chokes on it.

"I don't get it, Nicole."

"What's to get, Claudette? Larry Hama said this was how it happened."

"Yeah, but really, Nicole. I mean, how COULD Marius turn Penance into Monet? It's just not possible!"

"Why not, Claudette? What's wrong with out having another sister?"

"Oh, nothing's wrong with our having another sister, Nicole. But not PENANCE! Why, she was born in Yugoslavia..and she's fourteen...and if she were REALLY our sister, Emplate couldn't feed off of her!"

"Well, that's true, Claudette...but what can we do about it? The writer's already published our story!"

"We can tell the truth, Nicole...starting off with the fact that our name's arn't Claudette and Nicole!"


We were eight when it happened. (When what happened?) The secret. The bad thing. When my brother Marius became some kind of monster. (Oh, that thing.)

We had been born youngest in a family of six. Our papa, Cartier St Croix, was a big man in Algeria. A rich man, with lots of enemies and few friends. Our mere, we loved her very much, was the best mamma in the whole world. She loved to hug us and play with us, and we all grew up knowing that she wouldn't trade in any of us for the world. We had two older siblings...Monet, who was sixteen when it happened, and Marius, who was eighteen. We had cute little matching outfits, and a room that was like a mirror on both sides. We used to sit at the ends of the table and we'd look so much like matching bookmarks.

Monet was a nice sister, in a kind of detached way. She had lots of things to do and lots of places to go, and she couldn't be bothered with two younger sisters. She'd run off with her friends to the boutiques and the parties, and never pay attention to us watching her from our bedroom windows. We adored our sister. Our brother, though, was another story. Even as babies, we always sensed there was something off-balance within him, something that just cried out "evil". But, how could we know? We were young, and untrained, and nobody told us the curse on our family.

Did you ever wonder why Marius talked about his half century of life*? Or wonder why he was convinced that he could pass off his powers to another St Croix**? Oh, but we're getting ahead of ourselves...Let's think back, shall we, to that night.

We remember it so clearly. Perhaps it's because of Claudia's (yes, her name is Claudia) mental powers. Or perhaps not. It really doesn't matter. We remember mere came to tuck us in and say good night. Both of us, our long black hair framing out faces, sitting up in bed and smiling good night. Two bookends with out perfect smiles, sitting in our mirror beds with our mother between us like a ray. She kissed us each goodnight (she kissed me first!), kissing Claire first (that's better!). Then she left. Like a flash, we'd thrown off our covers and rushed to the window. It was only dusk, the sky a pretty purple color (pink!), almost a pink color, the sun just disappearing. Our sister Monet was supposed to be coming home soon.

Below our window was a garden. It was really pretty, with roses and trees and (Lilacs.)- Ahem. Who's telling this, me or you? (Both of us). Our sister was supposed to be home soon, and we never missed seeing her. Neither did Marius. Which is why we weren't surprised to see him in the garden either. (We were stupid). No. We were young.

Monet came in the garden, smiling over her shoulder, laughing with her friends. The fading dusk fell on her hair, turning it into an inky shadow, her skin into creme. Her head turned and she saw Marius standing there in front of her, one hand outstretched, and a huge, gaping mouth in his hand. She screamed.

From where we were, we could barely see what happened next. A blur, our mother running in front of Monet. "Marius...Don't!" we heard her scream, and then we heard nothing. That...mouth...just attached itself to her and sucked something out of her. Where my mother had once been, there was nothing but a dried out husk.

It took us a minute (an eternity) to figure out what had happened. We didn't know what was wrong, didn't know what Marius had done. Monet knew though (Monet knew alot). Almost before we could blink, she was gone...running torwards the house, slapping open the garden gate, darting beyond sight. With a roar of rage, Marius was after her.

Claire screamed at me that we had to save Monet (No I didn't! You did), and we both ran for the door. Wrenching it open, we ran for the staircase...two little brown skinned girls, black hair flying from identical faces, matching jumpers, moon necklaces dangling. We took the steps two at a time, arriving at the bottom breathless and gasping. We were still too late.

Before us was Monet, lying like a broken doll, with her head at an odd angle. Next to her crouched out father, his head down and hands resting on Monet. Marius stood nearby, just around the corner from us, glaring down at Monet and away from us.

"Why?" our father asked in a broken voice.

"You know why," Marius said. But his voice...so cold (cruel). What happened to him? What was he?

It was then that we discoverd the secret (Our secret). Our family's secret. It burst on us quickly, like a firecracker, and with the knowledge came out powers. Out mutant powers. We don't know what caused it (but we suspect it was the shock, the trauma. Our beloved sister dead before us, our brother changed, our father guilty). My powers were psionic in nature...telepathy, telekinesis, partial empathy. Claire's were physical...increased strength and invulnerability. Because we were twins, nad untrained in sheilding, what one of us felt the other felt as well...so when my powers divined out secret, Claire knew it at the same moment.

We, all of us, were potential Emplates, mutant-eating, soul-destroying monsters. My father had been born one, and upon my brothers birth, had infected him deliberately, passing the evil virus onto him. At Marius' sixteenth birthday, the Emplate powers developed, and he...changed. Tortured by his hunger, almost non-existant on this plane, Marius had finally found the way to transfer the power to another, and picked Monet as his target. Our mother, though, had discovered his plan and stopped him at the last minute...yet she hadn't managed to save Monet.

Monet was dead. Our mother destroyed. Marius as good as gone. Our father a betrayer. Our powers swelled within us, and we couldn't contain them. That's when we made a mistake (When you made a mistake, you mean). I reached out for Claire with my powers and she reached out to grab my arm...I focused my energy through my moon necklace and Claire grabbed hers almost reflexively...and we merged. Don't ask me how, I don't even remember anymore, all I know is that we were one person.

My father and brother looked up then, in shock, almost as if they could sense what we had done. Their eyes grew wide, jaws dropped, and we didn't know why (We were more concerned with figuring out how to seperate). My brother suddenly grew angry, really, really angry, and lept torwards us. In our new form, we stumbled back unsteadily, and tripped over the stairs. A vast portal opened behind my brother and dragged him through, screaming incoherantly. A silence descended.

We sat there on the stairs, arguing within ourselves, not noticing anything. What this did to our outside form we had no idea, but later on we were told that we just sat there, wearing Monet's body, staring ahead with a blank face. Our father was scared, guilty, and grief-stricken...but after all, that only serves him right, for killing our family.

The rest of our time in our home is pretty much a blank to us. We argued constantly, trying hundreds of ways to free ourselves from this new form, ignoring everything around us. We woke only occasionally to see what was going on, and always found it less interesting than the problem of ourselves. Then, one day, came Gateway.

Gateway, we felt, knew all about us, about our new form. He started to teach us how to use our abilities together, how to enhace them. We listened carefully, and learned, and contined to try and free ourselves.

Then, of course, we came to the attention of the Phalanx. Unknown to us, our sister Monet had also been a mutant, and had been found by Charles Xavier. Of course, he'd never discovered her powers, so when we were rescued by Banshee, they weren't surprised to find that our powers were completely different from the ones Monet had. In fact, they didn't even know there was a difference...

Well, eventually we ran into Marius again. We didn't expect to see him, you know...we didn't like him. He was always ruining everything. Gateway came back too, which is how we knew that Marius was back.

Suffice it to say that we eventually defeated Marius. Of course, that's another story...just as is how we escaped our form as Monet, fnally, and became plain old Claudia and Claire.

Or, as Hama would say, Claudette and Nicole.