[This story exists because I have a cold. Bleah. J And because something Alara Rogers said on RACMX triggered it. I think it was the idea that there weren't more Magneto stories. So this is dedicated to her (bet you wish you'd kept your mouth shut, don't you? *grin*) I'm going back to bed. *hack*]
[None of this is mine]


Lori McDonald

Quietly, with great personal dignity and pride, Erik Magnus Lehnsherr stepped from his office and started down the hall. Regal and majestic in his bearing, even though he was wearing a somewhat tattered blue robe, he was halfway along the passage when he suddenly bolted for the bathroom, reaching it just in time to grab a Kleenex and sneeze thunderously.

The lights went out.

"O, heb. Nob agaib," he moaned and blew his nose. Reaching for another Kleenex, he discovered to his dismay that the box was empty. "Oh no," he managed again as the lights flickered on around him and he sneezed again. The power went out completely.

"I hade it when I hab a colb."


Ever since his abilities manifested themselves, Magneto had been a name to be feared. Dedicated to preserving mutant life and helping them ascend to their well deserved position of superiority over normal humans, he had been labeled a terrorist, his magnetic powers on a level that threatened the entire world if he chose to use them. He had sunk nuclear subs, destroyed cities. He had defeated almost all who dared to challenge him in combat and his face was an image that haunted human childrens' nightmares.

Not all children. The place he lived now had never heard of Magneto, and had no reason to balk at the sight of him. Magnus had built his present house high on a mountain twenty miles from the nearest town, which was the only place for him to go within fifty to buy food. Not a gardener himself, he went there once a week for vegetables and meat, once a month for dry stock. He spoke to no one and was quiet and polite, his face hidden wide brimmed hat. No one had ever recognized him in it, but then, he wasn't normally trying to fight a cold that affected his powers when he came into town.

His head aching and his nose clogged, Magnus walked into the town, sniffing repeatedly as he headed down the sidewalk, very aware of how lightheaded and sickly he was feeling.

The lampposts bending over like pretzels behind him escaped his notice.

Kleenex, he thought to himself. All I want is Kleenex. And maybe some cold pills. They shouldn't affect my metabolism too badly. Headed for the local drug store, he walked around a corner and the mailbox he'd just passed started to imitate a car in a trash compactor, squeezing down on itself into a wheel that rolled after him almost gleefully, along with several manhole covers, a bicycle that had been chained to a bike stand, the bike stand itself and lots of change that had been dropped in the gutters and ignored over the years.

People began to realize something odd was going on.

Magnus walked towards the drugstore, crossing the road at the intersection, his eyes shadowed under his hat's brim so he didn't see the traffic lights reaching towards him, a few popping off and joining the rapidly growing scrap pile that trailed along behind him like a puppy. Several cars had joined the mess, some still with people in them. The sidewalks were getting remarkably empty. Magnus didn't care.

The drug store for the town was a tiny little shop tucked in beside the post office and a hardware store. Magnus paused at the door, noticing that the mailbox outside the post office was definitely leaning towards him. He eyed it. It leered at him. He put his hand on the door. It shuffled a few inches forward. Suddenly suspicious, he looked behind him to see enough metal to fill a foundry floating or crawling after him.

"O, rud," he managed with a sniff. Yanking the door to the store open, he ran inside and slammed it, just in time for the building to be buried in the wreckage.

The owner looked up, squinting through glasses thicker than blast shielding. "Did it just get dark?" he asked.

"Cloudy," Magnus told him with a sniff and dodged some amorous tweezers. The old man went back to his reading and the mutant stalked into the cold remedy aisle, cursing his powers. Grabbing a basket, he snagged a few boxes of Kleenex, aspirin, cold medicine and a heating pad. Detouring around the excited curling iron accessory aisle, he got some soft drinks as well and carried it all up to the front.

"Will that be all?" the old man asked with a smile as his glasses flew off his face to bean Magnus right between the eyes.

"Yes," he yelped, then cleared his throat and handed him the glasses back. "You dropped these."

"Goodness. Thank you. Can't see a thing without them." He put them on. They immediately flew off again and Magnus ducked, turning to see them take out the soda machine, which had been advancing on him from behind. "How will you be paying for that?"

Magnus stared at him, wondering if he were blasé, or just senile. "Debit card," he told him politely and handed him the card. He never did carry money.

Then he sneezed.

"Goodness," the old man said five minutes later, when all the power within two hundred kilometres had still failed to come back on. "I guess you'll have to pay cash for that."

Ten minutes later, he was still counting change scrounged from the junk pile outside. "Okay, that's five dollars and 16 cents worth of pennies," he told the old clerk, his voice briefly clear but his stomach doing flip-flops. "What can I get for that which includes Kleenex?"

"One small box of Kleenex and a bottle of 7-Up."

"What??" he thundered. "Who sets your prices??" The shelving units in the store trembled in excitement.

"I do," the old man told him proudly.

Magnus regarded him with a frown. "And how is you get away with such exorbitant prices?" he sniffed.

"By being the only shop in town that's open on a Sunday."

He had a point there. Magnus sniffed, then felt a sneeze coming on. Ripping open a Kleenex box, he grabbed a tissue and was bent almost double from the sneeze that erupted. Which also got him out of the line of fire when every shelf in the store went flying past his head and right through the back wall of the store.

Magnus stared open-mouthed at the great hole where the little old man had been standing. "Well, he won't be needing these," he said diplomatically and grabbed a bag for his purchases.

Outside, the streets were clear of people, though their cars kept trying to snuggle up and be friendly. Drinking a cough syrup right out of the bottle, Magnus tried to dodge them, understandably concerned about putting up a shield right at that moment. Above, he heard a low rumbling and looked up to see the Blackbird heading towards him.

"Oh, crap," he hiccuped, then blinked and hiccuped again. Suspiciously, he looked at the cough syrup bottle and threw it away. A trashcan leaped up and ate it quite eagerly. X-Men started to pour out of the hovering Blackbird, yelling at him to give himself up and assorted other crude insults.

Magnus didn't even try to hold in the sneeze this time.

Regally, the mutant pulled out a Kleenex and blew his nose, debating internally the pros and cons of actually trying the cold remedies he'd gotten as he picked his way through the remains of the Blackbird. Much of it joined his happy swarm of trailing metal as he went by the assorted stunned X-Men and headed for home.

Behind him, one of the mutants sneezed. Stopping for a moment, he fished in his bag for a box of Kleenex and tossed it to him. Then he kept going.