The following is a complete work of fiction.
This is the 2nd story of my "X Universe" series. The story began in "Resolutions." Please read the first book before starting this one; things will make more sense that way.
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X Universe - Book 2
Ties that Bind - Chapter 10
Home. That's what I was thinking as I vanished from the house. It was all I had ever wanted; a nice, quiet, happy life with someone who loved me. That wasn't going to happen. I was a mutant, I was gay, and those things didn't add up to a happy little domestic life. I'd planned on vanishing into a dreamscape and never coming back, but that wasn't what happened.
I felt myself emerging from dreamscape. I stumbled to the floor as I reappeared. I wasn't at the house. I was face down on the steel plates of danger room as I heard Cyclops call out. "Freeze Simulation!"
Looking up, more than a little disoriented, I tried to figure out what was going on. Wolverine, in X-suit, was acting like he just had the worst headache. Tech was near him looking at me like I was a ghost or alien. I also saw Cyclops, Psylock, Angel, and Beast. They all looked surprised, confused or pissed.
Cyclops hopped down from the platform he was on and strode over to me. I was feeling a little sick. "Brandon, you ok?"
I nodded, feeling a little nauseated. "I think so."
Beast leapt from his perch and landed near us. He knelt down and looked at my eyes. "You're in shock."
I was feeling a little cold and shaky.
"Let's get him to the infirmary." Hank hefted me up like I was a feather.
I looked apologetically at Cyclops as I was carried out. "Sorry I ruined your practice."
Tech was picking up my book bag, and Cyclops just shrugged and grabbed my suitcase. "Break for thirty, people."
Everything was a little fuzzy after that. When my perceptions finally came into focus, I was in the infirmary and had some IVs hooked up to me. Tyler was sitting next to the bed, looking worried, and Dr. McCoy was just shaking his head. "You certainly have a way of pushing yourself to extremes."
I smiled sheepishly. "Appearing in the middle of a danger room sequence wasn't what I'd had in mind."
"What did you have in mind?" I looked over and saw the Professor wheeling in.
I shrugged. "I was just going away."
He frowned. "You're evading, Brandon. This is important. What were you thinking when you dreamwalked?"
I thought about it for a moment. "I was thinking 'home'."
For a moment, I was confused by the answer, and then I felt his thoughts touch mine. Welcome home, Brandon.
I was freaking, Mom was screaming, and Dad was nearly tumbling down the stairs with his face half shaved wondering if there was a homicide going on. "What's going on?"
Mom couldn't even make words. She was curled up in a corner and gibbering. I couldn't even look at her; it was her fault. I looked at Dad. "Brandon's gone."
He blinked. "Gone? What do you mean, gone?" He was clueless.
"Gone, discorpriated, vanished, stepped beyond; pick a word Dad!" I pushed off the floor and scowled. "I guess he decided to try and find someplace where he could be loved." I spat it out; I know it wasn't fair, but I was hurting. "Shame he didn't take me with him."
Dad scowled at me and went over to Mom. She clung to him, whimpering. "I didn't mean it. I didn't want him gone." She started sobbing into Dad's chest, and I was beginning to feel like a complete asshole. "I just want my babies back."
It never occurred to me that our parents would have as hard a time with this as Bran and I did. Why would I? They'd always been the "perfect parents". Of course, they'd also lived a near perfect life for as long as Brandon was able to manage it. God, fear really sucked. At least I'd learned how to eat humble-pie at school. I sank down beside Mom and hugged her. "I'm sorry, Mom. I didn't mean it."
She clutched to me and cried. I felt so bad. I'd blamed her for not being able to understand or accept. Of course, I also hadn't given her a chance; neither had Brandon. As usual, I'd charged forward and "attacked" while Brandon chose to "avoid" the whole situation. Both methods of dealing with problems sucked.
Dad jerked up as the phone rang. He yanked the phone off the wall and listened for a moment. "Uh huh, sure." He held it out to me. "Xavier wants to talk to you."
I grabbed the phone and tried to keep my voice calm. "Hello?"
"Ben, I want to let you know that Brandon is here and he is safe." I practically sank to the floor. The relief was so overwhelming.
"Is he ok?"
"We think so, but we have him in the infirmary as a precaution." There was a pause, and then he continued. "Can you tell me what happened?"
I looked at my parents, and frowned. "Uhm, give me a minute." I looked at Dad, "I'm taking this in the den."
I handed him the phone, and went for the other phone. I wasn't sure I could say what I needed to say with them watching. I picked up the other phone and spoke into the receiver. "Ok, Dad."
After a moment, I heard the click. I took a breath. "Mom's having a hard time dealing with us. I think she's scared of Brandon, and he could feel it."
There was a pause at the other end of the line, and then Xavier sighed. "Do you think your parents will agree to fly out? We will cover the expense."
"I'll ask." I set the phone down and went back to the kitchen. Mom was back in the chair, and Dad was sitting next to her, holding her hand. "Xavier wants to know if we'll fly out if he pays for it."
"Why?" Mom sounded so scared.
"He's a really good guy, Mom. He would only ask if he thought it would help." I swallowed the urge to snap at her; it wouldn't help. "I'm going, whether you guys come or not. Brandon's more scared that you; he's scared you hate him and scared of being a disappointment. He almost died once already; I'm not letting him be alone."
Dad looked shocked. "He what?"
Just thinking about what could happen to Brandon if he had more uncontrolled nightmares made my stomach clench. I was getting mad again. "Almost died; you know, dead? His powers aren't easy; like it or not, we don't have a clean, simple life; if you can't deal, then stay here and try to lie to yourselves that everything can be pretty and pure. I don't have the time." I yanked the phone from the hook. "I could use a ticket, Professor." I looked at them, and after a moment Mom nodded. "We're coming."
"You'll be getting a call in a little while with the flight information. Tell your parents that everything will be alright."
"Thanks Professor." He hung up, and I followed suit.
Dad looked grave, and Mom looked so tired. "While we're waiting, Ben, I think it's about time we know what's happened since you two left."
I frowned. "You won't like it."
"Fine, tell us anyway." Dad was one of the easiest going guys you'd ever meet, but when he decided it was time for no nonsense, he was all business. I sat down and started with what happened in June. I didn't know whether it was fair to Brandon, and I definitely skipped the whole thing with Tyler, but I covered the important points. By the time the travel agent called, Mom had been sick and Dad looked a lot older. I felt sorry for them, but they hadn't been there; they'd never know what it was really like.
Tyler's perpetual look of concern was getting really tiring. I frowned at him as I stirred the batter for some cookie bars. "Just say it, Ty."
"Are you sure you're okay?"
I smiled. "What do you want me to say, Ty? Physically I've got a clean bill of health. Emotionally, who knows?" I stirred in some nuts and three different types of chocolate chips. Chocolate batter, dark chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips, semi-sweet chips, walnuts, pecans, and caramel chips; yeah, comfort food for chocoholics. "We'll see when they get here."
He seemed to think about it for a while, and then he looked at his hands. "If it's any help, I don't get along with my parents either."
I looked at him. "Huh?"
He shrugged. "Dan told me that it's usually easier to know that other people have the same problems."
God he was trying hard. Sometimes Tyler had all the answers, but when he didn't, he really tried anyways. I came around the counter and gave him a hug. "Thanks, Ty." It didn't really help to know someone else had parent problems, but the hug did.
He hugged me back, and then grinned when I let go. "Do I still get the spoon once you bake that stuff?"
"Sure." I went back around and finished mixing the batter. When I filled the pan, I left enough for several spoonfuls. I slid the pan into the oven, pulled out a spoon for myself, and pushed the bowl across the island. "Dig in."
Ty grinned, scooped out some of the leftovers, and began licking the spoon. "You sure know how to make comfort food."
I scooped out some for myself and chewed on the stuff. There was nothing better than raw cookie dough to make you feel about five years old and happy. "Yeah; the more stuff the better." We had chocolate and sugar all over our faces by the time we were done.
I knew when Ben got within a few miles of the school. It was like I was suddenly aware of a part of myself that was missing. I'm sorry.
It took a moment, but Ben's thoughts came back. You okay?
Yeah. I don't know if I can face Mom and Dad though. Actually, the idea of sensing them again scared me to death.
If you don't want to, you won't; I promise.
I had tears in my eyes as I sat on the couch in the lounge. Tyler saw it and gripped my hand reassuringly. I love you, Ben.
I hope you're not driving.
Nah, we were picked up by Scott and Logan.
I could imagine that meeting. Did Mom faint?
Nope, but I know Logan scares her.
Like that's unusual. Mom was scared by anything out of the ordinary. I never should have expected her to be able to deal with me.
Give them a chance. Mom's just scared; she still loves you.
God, that hurt. I knew, deep down, that she did. It was so hard to get past the fears. I know. I'll try.
Where are you at?
I'll get them to Xavier and then I'll be back there. Ty with you?
I smiled. He wasn't looking at me, but Ty was still holding my hand. Yeah.
Good. See you in a few. His thoughts pulled back.
I smiled at Ty. "Ben will head back as soon as Mom and Dad are with Xavier."
"Yeah, they just pulled out front." I thought he'd looked a little distant.
"How long have you been tracking them?"
He shrugged. "Since the train station."
I leaned back and closed my eyes. "That's so cool." Ty really had his shit together.
I was ready to run up the steps and back to the lounge. I knew Brandon was okay, but I still wanted physical confirmation. Then I was going to slap him senseless till he promised never to do that again.
Mom looked at the main building with a sense of awe and trepidation. "I never realized how big this place would be."
"It's a great place, Mom."
She waited for Dad to come around and take her hand before she took any steps closer to the building. I kind of felt sorry for her; she had no choice, her life wasn't simple anymore.
I showed them to Xavier's office. Mom and Dad were surprised that Brandon wasn't there. Xavier took control before they got worried. "I thought it would be best to have a few words with you before asking Brandon if he was ready to see you."
Dad frowned. "I thought that was why we came."
He nodded. "Yes, but it was my idea, not Brandon's. I realize that you have had very little exposure to accurate information about mutants, and I thought we should have more time to address your fears and ideas."
I wondered if I would have to remain, but Xavier looked up. "I know Brandon is anxious to see you, Ben. I'll let you know when we're done."
I got out of there and down to the lounge as fast as I could. Bran was just getting off the couch as I came around the corner. He gave me a sheepish smile. "Before we get all emotional, let's take this private."
I nodded. There were a few people in the lounge that didn't need to know. Ty stayed where he was, and I nodded at him as I caught Brandon's eye. He nodded. "Ty, want to try one of the cooked bars?"
Bars? I should have known he'd been cooking.
Ty got off the couch and grinned. "Yeah, the smell nearly drove me nuts."
Bran laughed. "I thought you didn't like chocolate."
The little shit just grinned more. "I've got more reasons to appreciate it now." How Brandon could miss that innuendo I couldn't figure out. The kid spent so much time sending "I'm available and interested" signals that the only explanation was that Bran was just ducking and running. Fucking gay-boy drama; Kate was so right about that.
We went to the cooking classroom and, even before we got in, I could smell the chocolate love in that room. Oh my god, it was evil. We stepped in and stopped. I started laughing. Logan was leaning on the counter, with a cookie bar skewered on a claw, and was chewing down a mouthful. He just gave Brandon a narrow eyed look. "You really shouldn't leave shit like this around, bud. I could smell it all the way from the garage."
Brandon smiled. "Want some milk with that?"
Logan frowned. "No way, but I think I'll take a few of these back to the kitchen and get a coffee."
Brandon pulled out a plate and dropped five bars on it. "Enjoy, and save one for Scott. I know how he loves chocolate."
Logan frowned. "I'm not your delivery boy."
Bran shrugged. "Ok, but if you happen to see him, let him have one?"
Logan snagged the plate. "Sure, no prob."
Bran poured out a few glasses of milk while Logan left with his plate. We all grabbed some bars, and chewed through a few bites before I swigged some milk. "Ok, ready?"
Bran set down his bar. "Yeah."
I'd been ready to slap him silly, but chocolate was a great pacifier. "Don't do that to me again, Bran."
"I can't promise that Ben."
I held his eyes. "Yes you can."
I could feel him fighting with himself over it. I knew I was asking a lot, but I needed the commitment. I couldn't take it if he kept running away. Finally, he nodded. "I promise."
I grabbed my bar and took another bite, talking around the chocolaty goodness. "Good."
He looked perplexed. "I thought you were going to kick my ass."
I shrugged. "Changed my mind; you can do that all by yourself. I just needed the promise."
Bran took a deep breath and then picked up his bar. "That was anticlimactic."
"Sue me; I'm not into gay-boy-drama." I shot him a superior smirk. "You're such a drama-queen, Brandon."
He practically snarfed. "Oh please, says Mr. Exhibitionist."
"Yeah, I should know. I've had years of practice."
He smiled. "Thanks, Ben."
I just smiled back. "Anytime."
Tyler had been silent the whole time. He was just eating quietly and washing his sugar down with milk. He finally realized we'd stopped talking, and he looked up. "So, what do we do now?"
I laughed. "Well, if we were really doing this right, Bran would be making some ultra-thick hot cocoa to drink with these."
Tyler cringed. "Oh god, that'd be way too much chocolate."
Bran was already pulling out some milk and chocolate. "No such thing."
Tyler groaned. "I think I may be sick."
Bran frowned at him. "You've never even had my hot cocoa."
Ty thought about that for a moment and smiled. "You're right. Ok, I'm game."
God that boy was easy.
Between planes, trains and automobiles Ben and our parents hadn't gotten to Xavier's till a little after eight pm. By ten-thirty I was getting nervous. Ok, that was an understatement. I'd been nervous all day; now I was anxious and worried. Two rounds of thick cocoa and a plate of chocolate nut bars later, we were completely sugared out and were all feeling the effects.
I sighed and grinned at Tyler. "Ok, so maybe you can have too much chocolate."
He grinned back, but looked a little peaked. "I shouldn't have had that last bar, but they were so good."
Ben looked like he'd been pumped up with valium. He leaned back, loosening his pants and groaned. "What is taking them so long?"
Tyler and I looked at him. He'd had the balls to say what we all were thinking. I shrugged. "It's only been a couple hours. You don't get over fears and traumas in a couple hours, even with the Professor helping."
Tyler suddenly sat up and smiled. "I'll be right back." He slid off his stool and jogged, a bit sluggishly, out of the room.
Ben grinned at me. "He's a really great guy."
In my chocolate induced haze I melted thinking about Tyler. I think what made my day just about as much as anything was to have him smile at me. Tyler had the most perfect, sweet, pure smile. I also enjoyed the times of warmth that I'd feel when he'd be cuddled against me out at the oak or on the couch at nights when I couldn't sleep. Tyler was a major cuddler; physical contact was so important to him. He cuddled with anyone he considered a friend without a second thought. That was the only thing that let me hold onto the safe zone; it wasn't sexual. It almost never failed though, at some point I'd start having erotic thoughts about Ty and I'd have to get away. I knew it probably hurt or confused him, but sometimes he felt too good.
Ben was smiling at me when I came around. "Earth to Bran."
I blushed. "Don't say it."
He laughed, but his smile was still genuine. "You should O.D. on chocolate more often; you get a lot less uptight."
I shrugged. Ben knew how I felt; he knew why I felt that way. At least he wasn't teasing me about it any more. "Chocolate doesn't solve the problem, Ben."
Sighing, he leaned forward and propped his chin on his hands. Admit it, bro; you are completely gone.
I frowned and looked away. Ok, I admit; I'm one sick fuck.
That's not what I meant, and you know it.
I know, but it's the truth regardless of whether you say it. No normal adult has the hots for a fourteen-year-old. It's sick. I was beginning to feel sick as Tyler came back in with some techie stuff under his arm. Let it drop, Ben. I've got enough on my plate for one year.
Tyler set a two foot disc on the island and hooked it up to a wireless router. After plugging them into the island's power, he defocused for a moment. "You guys should like this."
The air for about two feet above the disc shimmered, and suddenly there was a holographic image of the danger room. In the image were four people. I recognized Cyclops immediately. It took me a few moments to realize the other people in uniform were Jeff, Kate and Dan. Cyclops was addressing them as Aurik, Psynique and Arcane. It was a recording of a training session.
Ben's eyes were riveted on Psynique. "Damn, I've never seen Kate in the X-uniform before."
Grinning, Tyler sat down. "I have all of Omega team's training sessions."
"Omega team? I didn't know you guys were an official X-team."
Ty shrugged. "We aren't, but they have an Alpha and Beta team at present. I look at Omega as the 'last resort' team. I've been trying to get Scott to approve the formation of a third team, but he's being stubborn." Ty's expression made it clear he didn't appreciate the fact that his suggestions were being rebuffed.
Ben grinned as the training progressed in the hologram. "So, is this the complete run or Ty's picks of the best?"
"I edited the entire series from over a hundred hours of training down to four." He grinned. "The guys really are good; they even took down three X-team scenarios."
Ben grunted. "Dan could probably take out an X-team on his own."
Tyler shrugged. "Maybe, but he's a team player. That's what's so cool about Dan; he values people over his own abilities."
I leaned on the counter and watched. It really did help pass the time. It was also interesting to watch friends of mine take on the teachers and give them a run for their money. Tyler was right; not one of them outshined the others. Though the guys were impressive individually, what struck me as we saw them progress was how they supported and enhanced one another. We were about halfway through when I felt Xavier's mental touch. Brandon?
I sat up. Yes, sir?
Your parents want to see you.