This fanfic is based on a storyline that follows a modified version of the second X-men movie. You don't need to have seen the second movie though. In addition, several different X-versions (Comics, Movieverse, Animated Series etc) will have aspects here. This story is NOT about The Phoenix Force as a cosmic entity. The main character will come to call himself Phoenix due to something else that occurs.
Text in bold is used for emphasis. Text in italics indicates telepathic communication. Underlined text indicates any form of electronic communication.
What This Story Is About.
One year ago, Jean Grey Summers died saving the lives of her team via a surprising display of power. Among those she has left behind are her husband, Scott Summers, and her son, John. Scott went through a terrible period, but has made steady progress thanks to the help of Emma Frost - a telepath and psychiatric advisor. John however, is a different matter.
John's parents always placed their duties as X-men, especially since they were the first, above and beyond their roles as parents. As such, he was forever getting sent to other family, either his uncle and aunt or grandparents whenever his parents had their "missions", which was often. Whilst he loves his parents, a part of him resents them. Never one to confront his problems, John just buried the greater part of them. Something of a problem kid, John often gets into trouble at the Xavier Institute. The worst case of which is a fight (he finds a couple heavily making out, hiding behind his mother's memorial site) that persuades his father to send himm for therapy...therapy from Emma Frost.
John hates the woman because he sees her as trying to take his mother's place. In fact, she and his father are seriously dating. What happens during their therapy session will forever change his life...
Phoenix: Death Wish
I stood outside on my balcony. It was one of the few places on the entire Mansion grounds that I could be alone and actually feel that I wasn't being spied upon by others. I hated the glances...pitying glances from both my teachers as well as some of my fellow students. Today, March the fifteenth, had been the worst day since it all began. It was the first anniversary of my mother's death after all.
Just one year ago, my mother, Jean Grey Summers, had sacrificed her life to save that of her teammates. Teammates, you might ask? What sort of a team did she belong to? It surely couldn't have been a football or baseball team. Team members don't usually have to die on behalf of their fellows in those kinds of groups. Jean Grey Summers was an X-man. A member of an outlaw mutant group dedicated to the realization of a dream - that humans and mutants could live together in mutual peace and understanding.
Did my father, Scott Summers, know about his wife's activities? Of course he did. What was more, he actively encouraged them as the team's field commander. The husband and wife duo who spent more time pursuing an old bald geezer's dream than getting to know their only child. My mother and father always seemed more wrapped up in each other or their...missions, than they were in my life's affairs. At times I found it difficult to understand them and felt as if I didn't really know them. For sure they didn't know me...not the real me. But how could they be expected to? It wasn't like they were really around much whilst I was growing up. The years flew right by until, at fifteen, they suddenly realized that they had missed my childhood.
To give them credit, both mom and dad had tried to talk it out with me shortly after my fifteenth birthday. Why they chose that time of all the other times - I didn't realize at first. They apologized for not being around for me more often. They apologized that their...work, took them away for extended periods and interfered with our family life. But they were doing it for me, they said. So that one day I would be able to live in a world where people didn't think lesser of me or tried to hurt me because I was born different. They even made me a promise: when their next mission was over, they'd take an extended leave and we'd spend some time together, away from the Xavier Institute, as a family.
It was only after my mother died that I realized why they'd gotten so soft and emotional with me. The mission they were about to embark upon was particularly dangerous - and they didn't know for sure if everyone would make it back. A mutant madman, Erik Lensherr, who had seven years before caused serious turmoil in a terrorist plot, had somehow escaped from his holding facility. He was better known as Magneto to the general public. His first plot was to radioactively induce mutations in the general human population, transforming baseline humans into mutants. It was his belief that if everyone was a mutant, no discrimination would take place. The evidence showed that most baseline humans would die in the process - not that it mattered to Magneto. After all, in such a grand scheme, there were bound to be some casualties. Seven years in the slammer wasn't enough to educate Magneto as to the error of his ways.
I wasn't told exactly what happened. But I learnt a little over two months later through...my own means. Not through anything dishonest, but by being in the right place, at the right time and listening. Due to Magneto's escape...and other convenient occurences, Professor Xavier, Principal of the Institute and the founder of the X-men, was kidnapped and forced into helping him release a global psychic wave that would have eradicated all human minds on the planet...leaving the mutants as the inheritors of the Earth. The X-men opposed him of course. But their battle took place at a hydroelectric power facility...a dam. Magneto was beaten and managed to escape with his cronies. But not before he severely damaged the dam, resulting in a tidal wave of water heading right for the X-men's jet - their only means of escape.
And that was where my mother came in. She was a telekinetic and telepath - as I myself was. To save the lives of her teammates, but moreso her husband, she snuck outside the jet and lifted it to safety, whilst simultaneously forming a barrier that blocked the rushing waters. How on Earth she summoned enough power to do it, I'm not in a position to say. Mom's telekinetic powers were rather limited - like mine. Mom somehow accomplished her end, everyone made it out safely - whilst she was crushed under a colossal mass of water, leaving her husband to continue raising me - their only child as a widower.
I remember the morning the jet flew back onto the Mansion's grounds. It was just a little after sunrise. Whenever the team returned from a mission, I was always there waiting in the underground hangar for their arrival. I sometimes resented my parents for their poor brand of parenting - but I loved them and always worried about the danger that their job entailed. The jet was in a sorry state, battered and seared extensively. Strangely, the hatch doors didn't open for over ten minutes. But when it did, all I had to do was look at the tear stained faces of the people walking out to know that something had gone terribly wrong. I counted the people I remembered who went for the mission. Four were missing. My parents as well as Logan and Ororo. The Professor opened his mouth to say something but I didn't wait to hear it. I just ran up the stairs calling for my parents.
I found my father seated almost at the back, with Ororo and Logan on opposite sides talking to him. At my intrusion, all three looked up.
"Son, we need to talk", dad had said.
I could hardly believe that my father's voice could sound like that. So weak and without vigor. He who was typically commanding and full of authority? Dad's voice was barely audible and quivered as though it would break. I knew what was coming. But my mind refused to accept it. Frantically, I began searching the remaining seats to the back of the jets to see if my mother was possibly lying across them and sleeping. When I didn't see her there, I went into another of the jet's compartments - the onboard Med Bay - and checked if she was in any of the bunks. She wasn't there either.
Logan: "She ain't here, bub. She's -"
And just like that, my imperfect world crumbled and became that much more imperfect...
"Less Quacking, More Running"
Logan: "You're slowin' down, Johnny boy! Lemme see you whip up some dust in your tracks!"
Gym class, in many ways was my favorite and worst class of all. The Xavier Institute was more than just the secret headquarters of the X-men. It was also a school. The sign at the gate said that it was a school for "Gifted Youngsters", so most everyone in the outside world thought that it was a high end, private school that catered for the talented super smart kids. But in actuality, it was just a regular school whose students all happened to be mutants. Mutants who were being trained not only in academic subjects, but were also learning about themselves and their unique place in the world as mutants.
Logan: "You call that runnin', Drake? I call it waddling! I guess your name really does suit you, huh?"
Gym was cool in the sense that you didn't have to think much. All you had to do was basically move your body and perform the exercises you were instructed to do. It was just that Logan had a way of pushing everyone to their limits. And if you weren't at your limit - he'd publicly humiliate you until you worked harder and got there. Humilation was a thing to be avoided by any and all teens in normal circumstances. But in Logan's classes, everyone tried extra hard to avoid it as his gym sessions were co-ed. Girls didn't want to look like physically useless in front of the guys and the guys didn't want to look weak and pathetic in front of the girls.
Bobby: "I've had it up to here with those fuckin' duck jokes!"
I snickered somewhat cruelly. Bobby, my best friend, had a particular hatred for Logan due to his incessant teasing. I never detected any real maliciousness in Logan when he teased - but still, I wasn't exactly fond of being called "Johnny Boy" either.
"Not so loud, dumbass. He does have enhanced hearing you know."
Logan: "Less quacking, more running, Drake!"
Bobby: "Yeah, yeah."
We both rolled our eyes and decided to save our breath. Our session with drill sergeant Logan had only just begun...
Death is harder on the living, as the saying goes. When someone you love dies, the first emotion to manifest is denial. Then comes the sadness and the tears. And finally, that sorrow is mingled with anger and blame. Once those emotions are dealt with, the healing process can begin. Resisting the flow can be dangerous, the best thing to do is to accept it...or else become lost in the emotions of grief and never experience closure and continuance.
It had been just a year since the death, and I was still in a form of denial. I knew and accepted that my mother was dead - I wasn't denying that. What I did deny was the sheer impact of coping with it. I'd wake up day after day telling myself that I wasn't the first to lose a parent and I wouldn't be the last. Besides, I wasn't exactly the closest to my mother - all I had were promises she and my father made...promises that were never to be fulfilled. My denial couldn't go on indefinitely though. Because all it takes is just the right trigger...
"What the hell do you think you're doing?!"
It was all Bobby and Ray could do to hold me back after I blackened the left eye of the offending boy.
"Messing around on my mother's grave?!"
It couldn't technically be called a grave as no body was interred. Mom's body would have been obliterated by the sheer mass of water that collapsed on top of her. Searching for a body was useless. It was more of a memorial stone, with a larger than lifesize sculpture depicting mom. Apparently, the horny boy and his girlfriend thought it provided excellent cover, shielded as it was by a circle of trees.
Boy: "Look, it ain't her grave. She's not even buried here, ass."
Ray: "John...oh shit!"
I struggled free of my friends' grasp and socked another punch to the boy's face whilst his girlfriend ran off screaming for help. Help did arrive in the form of one of the teachers. A teacher that I was not particularly fond of. Suffice it to say that I didn't have much respect for her. Okay I downright hated her. But I'll explain why a little later. So when I was ordered to stop fighting with the desecrator by the said teacher, I went right on and continued...until I felt her presence invading my mind. Two seconds later I was totally paralyzed. Bobby and Ray looked at each other, quite worried. And small wonder at that - I knew that I was going to be in some trouble alright.
Emma: "You four boys are going to have to come with me. Professor Xavier will have to deal with this."
"So he gave me an all inclusive, weekend detention. I'll be helping the groundsmen."
Everyone in my circle of friends scoffed.
Jubilee: "I don't blame you. If it were me, he'd have a whole lot more to worry about than a black eye and some bruises."
That I would totally lose it and attack another student - and an older one at that - was almost unbelievable. Ordinarily, I was a very reserved and controlled guy, with a rather long fuse. But that morning, things were different. For one thing, it was a couple of days after the anniversary of my mother's death - so it was more on my mind than usual. And there was a memorial service right at the site of the monument. And whilst it was small with only the teachers, my grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles...the entire school knew what was going on and why. That boy knew that that place meant a lot of things to a lot of people. But he still went along and did what he did. He had it coming to him.
Amara: "Gosh, I saw the guy's girlfriend guiding him to Med Bay. You really worked a number on him, John. I...didn't know you had it in you."
Honestly, I didn't think that I had it in me to be so violent either. But the disgusting sight I had witnessed was enough to make my blood boil.
Jubilee: "Detention...dammit. And we were gonna go out this weekend too."
"You guys can still go."
Ray: "Ah well, we can always go next week."
"I am just waiting for my father's reaction when he hears the news."
And waiting a bit in dread at that. Dad had become so much harder to read since mom died. At times he was so strict with me, trying to make me a more fitting reflection of himself, that we'd end up fighting and saying things that neither of us should say to each other...and then my uncle Alex would have to jump in...which would lead to a fight between dad and him. You see, though my uncle was a mutant (and so was his girlfriend, Lorna) and lived at the Institute, he was not an X-man. He was a teacher. And in a way, I guess that he and aunt Lorna (his girlfriend) sorta were my real parents growing up. Since mom and dad were forever jetting off to their missions and my uncle and aunt took care of me while they were away - which was often - uncle Alex felt he had some say. And my father felt that when it came to my discipline, HE was the one with ALL the say. Hence the drama.
But then there were the times when he'd be so...frighteningly fatherly, treating me as if I was years younger. As if he were trying to make up for lost time. I admit that he tried, but it wasn't at all consistent.
Jubilee: "He's gone...to the lake again?"
Of course, whilst I never mentioned the exact details of my mother being crushed under a wall of water (which I wasn't supposed to know), I DID tell my friends about a particular lake where mom executed her last mission.
Alkali Lake. The place of my mother's final rest. He'd make visits there often, especially on the weekends. In one of his fatherly moods, he tried to persuade me to go there with him. The lake was newly formed by the onrush of water that was the result of the destruction of Alkali Dam - but I didn't know that immediately. I learnt that during the last night of our stay. The area was surrounded nbsp;by beautiful forests, he said. We could try the father-son camping thing. The thought of staying there, where my mother met her end wasn't really appealing. He'd suggested it two months after her death, when I was totally trying to avoid hearing stuff about her demise. So suffice it to say that I didn't want to go. But my uncle and aunt thought it would be a good idea. So I went.
It was a beautiful place. And the...camping was okay, at least in the daylight. But things changed the last night of our stay. We slept in the open air. I woke up in the middle of the night and found that my father was having a nightmare of some sort. It looked like a seizure with the violent shaking, and he kept mumbling out for someone to let him go - he had to bring "her" back to the jet. That there had to be "another way" . It was unnerving, but I didn't dare wake him up. I wasn't told everything that had happened, and I figured that dad was reliving what went on in the jet. I stayed up listening. From what I gathered, mom left the jet. And when dad tried to save her, he was told that she had made her choice, that there was no other way and nothing that could be done. I never went back with him to Alkali Lake. I didn't want to wake up to the sight and sound of him having such nightmares again. But he still went alone to the lakeside on many weekends.
Bobby: "Well, what kind of a mood was he in when he left?"
"Sullen as always. It bites that Emma was the one who found me beating that guy."
Amara: "That bitch is sure to be the first one to tell him."
Emma Grace Frost. I hated her absolutely. She was a teacher at the Institute. Specifically, she taught English Language and English Literature. She wasn't really a full time member of the X-men. But a part time one. She often helped them out in the psychic arena - styling herself as The White Queen. She was a powerful telepath, with the ability to read and influence thought, communicate mentally and a host of other telepathic skills. She was also a metamorph, in the sense that she could transform her body into an invulnerable diamond form that granted her superior strength. She was my English Language teacher, and whilst nothing major had ever erupted between us, you could feel the tension just under the surface. Why do I hate her? It's simple really. Since my mother died, she's been trying to "console" my father and help him "move on with his life". She's been wiggling her way into our lives like a worm.
My dad never spent much time outside of the team with my mom. He loved her dearly, yes. But they both placed their duties as X-men over and above anything else. I suppose mom's death must have opened his eyes to other important aspects of his life - his life beyond the team. And Emma Frost capitalized on that. She and my father were openly dating. He never took mom and me out for dinner as often as he and Emma went out. What was worse, he wanted me to go with them. I made the mistake of going a couple of times. The way I'd catch her eyeing him...
"Yeah, I know."
I remember when dad first suggested that I speak with Emma. You see, Emma was something of a shrink. I know that she had some kind of advanced psycho degree to her name. And dad first started to get close to her through...therapy. Professor Xavier thought that he would benefit if he went to Emma for help in dealing with his nightmares. And evidently he absorbed some of her shrink observational skills. Apparently, I wasn't going through a healthy grieving process. He had never ever seen me cry. And I was avoiding any and all mention of my mother. It wasn't healthy, and maybe I should see Emma, he said. Not that I did. If I wasn't willing to talk with my own family, why would I talk with a virtual stranger?
Ray: "Well...good luck."
"What the hell were you thinking?!"
My luck just wasn't running. It was Sunday night and I was sitting back, catching up with Desperate Housewives when dad came in. When mom and dad were married, Professor Xavier's wedding present to them was their very own house on the vast mansion grounds. Unlike the other teachers and X-men, they were about to start a family, and as such couldn't be accomodated in any of the main buildings. They were his first students and he insisted that they have their own house and the privacy that came with it. I heard the door slam and scarcely one second passed before the scream.
Scott: "Johnathan! Get your ass downstairs!"
I got up and started walking slowly, but my mind was quickly trying to come up with some idea to evade further punishment. My father not only took away phone, tv, video games, internet and such - but he made you apologize to wronged parties and confess to "crimes" like a man...in addition to menial labor. I wasn't cut out for menial labor! Apparently, my walking velocity wasn't to his liking, so he ended up walking up the stairs to my room. There are times I'm glad I can't see his eyes - I doubt I'd have like to see the anger in them. The frown on his mouth was downright scary.
Scott: "What's this Emma told me about a fight?"
"Okay...there was a fight...that I was involved in, but - "
Scott: "What the hell were you thinking?!"
See, I knew she'd take the liberty of running her mouth to dad. As if the Professor wouldn't have told him eventually.
"Dad, the guy and his girlfriend were making out on mom's grave and - "
Scott: "So you desecrate the place further by violently beating the boy up?"
I hadn't thought about it like that. That was a rather cogent point.
"I didn't think about tha -"
Scott: "I'm sure you didn't. When you do these things, do you even think about how it reflects upon me?!"
I honestly thought that when he heard what they were doing on mom's memorial site, he'd at least show some leniency. But according to him, mom would have laughed if she saw them...young love.
Scott: "Now if they were gambling, drinking, smoking weed, or pissing on her grave - THEN I could have understood it. But this?"
"So you expected me to just stand there and -"
Scott: "I expect you to use what passes for a brain and think about the consequences of your actions. Use a little tact and self-restraint. I come home, I'm tired and the first thing I hear is this."
"Would you rather have heard it tomorrow? Then take it up with Frost. I knew with one hundred percent surety that that friggin' bitch would -"
Scott: "Watch your language! God, sometimes I wonder where your mother and I went wrong."
"You have to wonder about that?"
His left eyebrow twitched - not a good sign.
Scott: "You got something to say?"
Maybe if they'd paid some more attention to their parenting duties, and didn't just pass me along to other people - things could have been different. In his mood, I didn't want to risk getting him any angrier. So of course I didn't say anything like that to him. I just kept silent.
Scott: "Didn't think so. You've done some stupid things before - but never anything violent."
"I guess I'd better ask - what's my punishment?"
Scott: "You're grounded, that goes without saying. And you WILL apologize to the boy you beat up AND his girlfriend. And - "
"Let me guess, I'll be cleaning the Blackbird inside out."
His eyebrows perked up angrily.
Scott: "Emma thinks you've been suppressing your emotions for far too long - and now their resurfacing as violent tendencies when things about your mother come up."
"Don't even start with her shit."
Scott: "Don't make me have to warn you about your language again."
"Oh, I'm so sorry. What did, MISS Frost say?"
Scott: "She thinks that this is the start of a problem and that we should try to catch it early before it becomes advanced."
He went on with Emma's ridiculous theory. If her idea wasn't the stupidest thing I ever heard... Suppressed, traumatic emotions resurfacing as a violent streak? I could become a loose cannon waiting to go off when and where I felt my mother's memory was being disgraced - whether I felt that way correctly or not? She really had outdone herself with that one. Sigmund Freud himself would be proud. I'm sure that if Emma could get me committed to the Looney Bin - she'd do it. Okay...so maybe that last statement was a bit extreme. But my hatred for her was so strong - I wondered about it for a few moments.
Scott: "She only wants to help you."
"Help me? Absolutely nothing is wrong with me."
Just like that, he had one of his moodswings again, and went into the frighteningly fatherly mode.
Scott: "At the memorial, everyone expressed their grief. Everyone except you."
"So what? I can't grieve in private? I have to make a public display of it?"
Scott: "You've never even talked to me about how it made you feel."
"Mom is gone, and she is not coming back. We never had a chance to really bond cuz of all your "missions", and we'll never have that chance. How do you think it makes me feel? It should be obvious - you shouldn't even have to guess. I shouldn't have to tell you for you to figure it out."
Scott: "It isn't just me. Emma said that often teens open up to their peers before their parents and... I've talked with your friends some weeks ago, and they all said that you don't really mention your mother much, and when they do, you always change the topic - "
That made me angrier. Emma wasn't just getting to my father, but her presence was starting to indirectly infiltrate my circle of friends?
"You went behind my back and discussed my business with my friends? You had no right!"
Scott: "I'm your father, John. It IS my right to -"
"Embarrass me? I wonder if they all think something is mentally wrong with me and that's why you went around asking?"
None of them had been treating me any differently. They must have been some seriously good actors. If my friends' parents came around asking me questions about them, I would have felt that they had a right to know about it. No matter what the hell their parents said. Friends don't keep secrets...well, secrets like THAT from friends.
Scott: "It wasn't like that. You don't talk to me about your feelings. You don't talk to your friends. Alex and Lorna say you don't bring it up. Who DO you talk to?"
"What makes you think I HAVE to talk to anyone?"
Scott: "You don't have to talk about your problems if you vent them in other ways. But you haven't been doing that. I haven't ever seen you cry once even - "
"Crying is for wusses."
Scott: "If men weren't meant to cry, we wouldn't have tear glands and we would be able to. Logan didn't seem to have any problem crying at the service."
"Why bother to cry? It isn't going to bring her back."
Scott: "But it can help you to find closure. Help you to deal with - "
"I am dealing."
Scott: "Dealing with issues by bottling it up isn't safe or healthy. And this incident just proves to me that Emma is right."
Scott: "Which is why we've both decided that you might benefit by taking therapy sessions with her on Saturday mornings."
I didn't answer at first. I just wanted him to get a chance to see the expression on my face, meditate a little, and give him a chance to change that decision.
"You've BOTH decided? What the hell? She isn't my mother! She can't decide what I do or don't do. She's not even family!"
Talk about hypocritical! My uncle - actual family - had no say in how I was disciplined. But an outsider, like Emma did?
Scott: "She just wants to help. And she cares a great deal about you."
I chuckled bitterly.
"Don't give me that. She doesn't give a damn about me."
Emma was forever reporting me to my father. I have a habit of leaning forward in order to see the writing on the projection screen when I'm in her class. I usually put as much distance between us by sitting right at the back. She always says that I'm leaning forward to talk in her class. And brings it up with my father. My essays are never good enough to suit her tastes. They're either not mature enough, have too many grammatical errors, or I don't do the topic justice with enough detailed information. Often, she used my "poor" performance in English as excuses to drop in unexpectedly at our house...so that they could discuss ways for me to improve. And it would always be at dinner time - and she'd end up staying for dinner.
Scott: "How can you say that?"
Easily. I knew her game alright. She was after my father. That I had no doubts about. I was a problem in that I was child by his former wife. She wanted to try and erase all memory of my mother...and I was a reminder of my mother's presence. She was making it her business to capitalize on the somewhat distant relationship my dad and I had to drive an even greater wedge between us. Then she could have her way with him. That was the way I saw it. My father couldn't see that. He was taken away with her false sympathy, false concern for me, and in all probability, false boobs.
"You obviously can't see it."
Scott: "Can't see what?"
"You go out with Emma a lot more than you ever went out with mom. You spend more time with her now, than you ever spent with me when I was growing up."
Scott: "Emma's made me realize that I have a life to live beyond - "
"Yeah, right. She just wants to get in your pants."
Scott: "That's enough! What is it that you hold against Emma?!"
Did he really wish to know? He did? Fine then!
"She's a conniving slut!"
Dad got up angrily and stormed out of my room, but we both knew the conversation wasn't over...
"I'd Really Rather Not Discuss It"
Bobby: "Whoa! Wait up!"
I ignored his voice and kept walking. I had seen him and the others in the hallway and decided to just ignore them. I was downright pissed that they didn't inform me of my father's clandestine questioning. They were willing to pretend like nothing out of the ordinary had happened - and they did such a good job of it, that I didn't even suspect.
Bobby: "Hey, you didn't see us waving you over?"
Bobby: "You got a free now, right? You wanna go to the Rec-Room? The new Playstation 3s just came and we're gonna hook 'em up."
A free period. Oh no. I didn't have one of those. You see, my father left me (after I called Emma a conniving slut) for all of ten minutes. He then came back and told me that I was to report to Emma the very next day. I did have a free period at half-past ten, didn't I? How fortunate, Emma was also free for an hour then. What was more, he also had no Math classes to teach or any X-duties at half-past nine. We'd both be going in to see her personally. Just so that he would be able to make sure I behaved myself and didn't bring anymore shame upon him.
"No. I have people to see, things to do."
Ray, Jubilee and Amara had by then caught up with Bobby and heard my last statement...and the cold tone that I'd said it with. Naturally, they asked me what punishment my father had decided upon - they obviously thought that my bad mood was the result of his disciplinary action. And it was...in addition to the anger I was feeling towards them.
Bobby: "What the hell happened?"
"I'd really rather not discuss it."
Why should I? I mean, hadn't they told my father that I didn't discuss my personal stuff with them? Family disputes were personal.
Ray: "Um, okay."
Amara: "Well, who do you have to meet?"
"I'd also rather not say."
Ray: "Since when do you keep stuff from us?"
"I don't have to tell you everything about my life, right? Some things I have the right to keep private. I'm sure that there are things you guys don't tell me."
They all looked at me with shocked expressions as I continued walking along to the classroom where dad and Emma were waiting. I knew that they were then aware that I knew of their talks with my father. It comes with being a telepath. I could sense it emanating from their minds.
Jubilee: "John, wait -"
"Sorry, I have an appointment to keep and don't have the time to waste on you right now."
"Get The Hell Out Of My Head!"
Emma: "Hello, John. Have a seat."
I eyed her viciously, not even bothering to conceal it in the least. My father leaned forward slightly and I sat down without greeting either of them. The first thing that popped into my head was how much of a hippocrite Emma was. She only used that sweet, conciliatory tone of voice whenever my father was around. It went well with her blonde hair, blue eyes and perpetually white attire in making her seem so friggin' angelic.
Emma: "I'm glad that you've decided to get help."
Dad said that they BOTH decided that I MIGHT benefit from therapy with her. I didn't decide anything. But he must have told her that I was willing to get help for my...emotional problems. I said nothing.
Emma: "Are you ready to begin?"
The sooner the better, and the quicker I'd be out of there. I merely nodded.
Emma: "I want you to tell me in your own words, what happened Friday afternoon."
"You were there. Didn't you see? You didn't have any trouble explaining it ALL to Professor Xavier."
What kind of game was she playing? Did she have a memory lapse problem? I said it in as calm a voice as I possibly could. But I saw the angry tweak of dad's eyebrow and the way his hand closed to a fist. Emma eyed me somewhat angrily herself, but her voice remained ever so sweet.
Emma: "Yes, but I just want to hear your version - in your own words."
"You want to hear it now? You didn't seem too interested to hear it on Friday. You just gave your report to Xavier."
Dad could take it no more, and spoke out measuredly, giving me a hidden visual warning to cut it out.
Scott: "John, we've talked about this."
And that was the turning point of our session. You see, Emma managed to pull another psycho trick from her sleeve. I must not have been comfortable with opening up with my father present. After all, most teens don't like to talk about their problems with their parents...or with their parents present. Maybe it would be a good idea if dad were to leave us alone. That way, I would feel a sense of condidentiality and might actually make some progress on the therapy front.
Emma: "It will be alright, Scott. I'm sure we'll get along juuust fiiine."
Dad smiled at her, got up, eyed me with a stern glance and left, locking the door behind him at Emma's request. Did he think I would try to run away? It's amazing how fast some people can change when they know that no one is watching them. The moment my father's back was turned, Emma's smile vanished and was replaced by a very pronounced frown. Well, at least she wasn't hiding hers any longer, so I let my own frown grow some more.
Emma: "Your father is very concerned about your mental and emotional well-being, young man. For his sake, I suggest that you be a little more cooperative."
For my father's sake? What about MY sake? After all, wasn't the entire idea that I benefit from the therapy?
Emma: "Now, I'll skip the first question, since it was a waste anyway. We both know what happened."
Emma: "Ah, at long last you've found your voice. Now you can use it to talk to me about your feelings."
Emma: "Tell me how you felt towards your mother. What was your relationship like?"
She wasn't the best mother ever. But she tried when she was around. It was just that as Professor Xavier's very first student, she let her sense of duty consume her. I knew she loved me - but it was just outweighed by her role as an X-man.
"I love my mother."
Emma: "Oh? How do you think she would have reacted had she witnessed your actions on Friday?"
Truthfully, she would have been just as angry as my father was. Not that I told that to Emma.
"You can drop the act completely, you know."
"You know that nothing is wrong with me. You just want to 'help' me to score points with my father."
And would you believe that she actually smiled?! She didn't even make any attempts at denying it.
Emma: "Let's move on. You haven't talked about your mother's death with your father. As a matter of fact, you two haven't really gotten any closer. And that's odd because I would expect you to have some more appreciation for family after losing your mother. Your father is trying and you aren't."
"Me? I should have some more appreciation for family? Dad is...trying?"
Emma: "Why yes."
"Do you know that I got passed around to my aunt and uncle...and on the odd occasion to my grandparents, all throughout my childhood? So dad suddenly decides to act like a father...and I'm supposed to adjust on the fly? Forgive me if I need a little more time to adapt."
Emma raised her eyebrow somewhat and began scribbling in that notebook of hers.
Emma: "How do you feel about your father?"
I was more wary at the question. If I said something stupid to that question, I'd end up in even more problems.
Emma: "Define okay."
"You're an English teacher. You should know the meaning of the word."
And if on the odd chance she didn't, I knew where she could find a dictionary. She was not amused at my attempt at introducing some humor to our session, and eyed me a bit sharply.
Emma: "He says that you hardly spend any time together. As a matter of fact, he sees you in the morning, in the evening and that's that for the weekdays. And on the weekends you rush off to be with your friends. Why can't you stand to be around him?"
"What makes you think I can't stand to be around him? You're putting your own twist on everything."
She once more wrote a few lines in her notebook in reaction to my response. Bitch. The only time I truly couldn't stand to be around him, was when Emma herself was sharing his company.
Emma: "You didn't spend any time together on your birthday last week."
That was true. But it wasn't because I was being spiteful or anything near that. My friends and I went to hang out of the Mansion grounds, and they had to take me around so that I could choose my own presents and stuff.
"My friends took me out. I was busy."
Emma: "Oh? He wanted to take you out someplace last Friday. Why didn't you go?"
I eyed her and added a scowl at no extra charge.
"Oh, but you were going. I wouldn't have wanted to...intrude upon you two."
Emma: "I wouldn't have considered it an intrusion. As a matter of fact, I've always wanted to get to know you better."
I openly scoffed and rolled my eyes.
Emma: "And what about the lake? Why don't you go camping out with him when he asks you to?"
After my first time there, I didn't want to.
"My mother died there. Why would I want to go there over and over again?"
Sometimes I wonder why dad does. What benefit could it possibly give him? Does he still have the nightmares when he goes there? Is that why he always comes back in a bad mood? Why would he torture himself and keep going to the lakeside?
Emma: "Well, you'd be spending time with your father. And many people claim to feel the presence of a loved one at the site of their departure. So it would be like your mother is there too. All three of you - a family."
I don't know about other people. But I didn't feel anything of my mother's "presence" at that place. And that's what I told Emma.
Emma: "Do you know the precise details concerning your mother's untimely death?"
I learnt about it all by listening to the nightmarish mutterings of my father on the last night we spent at Alkali Lake. Officially, I was supposed to know what the non - X-men students knew. That mom gave her life for the sake of her team and her mission. That I was her son gave me no priveleges. I wasn't an X-man. And dad, as changed a man as he was, still stuck to his duty. He told me nothing about the technicalities of mom's death. That would mean divulging actual mission details. Also, maybe he didn't want to talk about it himself.
When he returned from that fateful mission - he said that something had gone horribly wrong, and that mom didn't make it. That she had fallen in the line of duty. And the only reason they had all made it back alive was due to her sacrifice. I knew nothing then about the dam breaking. Or about my mother's sudden surge of power. When he took me to Alkali Lake, and I listened to his sleep-talking, it was like an entire mission debriefing. I pieced it all together and realized that there was not an Alkali Lake when the mission was carried out. There was an Alkali Dam Facility. And it had been damaged in a fight. The water threatened to kill them all. And in holding the water back to buy the rest of the team time to escape - my mother was crushed beneath the cascade of water.
I wasn't supposed to know all of that.
"No. I don't know exactly how she died."
Emma: "Would you be interested in knowing? Do you think you will find closure if you know how she died?"
"She died saving the lives of her team."
Emma: "All well and good. But that explanation doesn't tell you how she died, or how she saved them...exactly."
"I'm not an X-man. And if I'm not mistaken, I can't be given that information."
Emma: "I'm sure that if you felt it would help, your father would tell you."
"He would not."
Emma: "You haven't asked him, have you?"
Emma: "Then how do you know he won't tell you?"
"He may have changed a lot. But the X-men are still his number one priority. He's a stickler for rules and regulations."
Emma: "So you think he values his role as an X-man over and above his role as a father?"
Emma: "Don't deny it. That's what I can infer based on your statements."
"Don't put words in my mouth."
Emma: "The evidence is clear, John."
While I was pondering a way to contain the damage, Emma stared at me. Finally she broke her silence and asked another question.
Emma: "You don't blame him, do you?"
Emma: "Do you blame him for your mother's death?"
That particular question made me a little nervous.
"Of course not. Why would I?"
Emma: "Wasn't it his duty as head of a family to protect his wife - your mother? Shouldn't he have protected her?"
Her tone had altered. It became more aggressive, and I knew that she was trying to get me to lose emotional control. That way I'd say the first thing that was on my mind and she'd figure everything out. Classic shrink stuff. Knowing all of that didn't help me much because those thoughts had crossed my mind more than a few times. The idea that she would suggest them made me nervous. She really knew her psycho stuff.
"I'm sure he tried his best."
Emma: "Oh, but it wasn't enough was it? For him, the chain of priority was the X-men first, then family."
"I've had enough of this, shit!"
I got up to go but didn't make it very far. The door, after all, was locked.
Emma: "Some people can never accept the truth about themselves and their thought processes."
"You don't know anything about what I think!"
Emma: "I can make informed deductions based on what you've told me, and the manner in which you're behaving. Now sit down and let's continue."
"I said I'm done. I don't care what my father thinks, but this little therapy schtick - it's over."
I focussed on the door and was about to mentally attempt at breaking out. I honestly didn't know if it would work. For one thing, the locks were especially strong and durable, and were controlled electronically. (We were living in a school full of mutants after all. Regular locks would have easily been broken by some of our students.) And then there was the fact that my telekinetic powers were not exactly top notch. At best I was able to lift a heavy desk or a person of average weight. Added in the factor that my powers were still in the developing stage...
Emma: "Your father expects me to help you. Now sit down and don't make me have to repeat that order."
Nevertheless, I started applying telekinetic force to the door.
Emma: "Okay, I've had enough."
And once again, I felt her presence within my mind. But it wasn't just in the outer regions, her alien thoughts were probing deeper than they ever had before. I found myself unable to move. The idea that she could possibly witness some of my most guarded secrets scared the hell out of me. Secrets, you might ask. What kind of secrets? Stuff that my father would consider unacceptable and would never let me live down. Like say...certain thoughts about a certain guy. I'm sure you can guess where I'm going with this.
"Get the hell out of my head!"
Emma: "I don't enjoy doing this. But sometimes it helps. If you won't tell me with your words what's eating you - then you can tell me with your thoughts."
She pushed harder and I had to struggle to keep up my mental defences. I was no match for her. My telepathy wasn't my strong suite. She must not find out that I'm gay...she can't find out because then dad will find out, and then things would get even worse between us, I kept thinking. Then I realized that I shouldn't be thinking about her finding out, and had to force those thoughts out of my head.
Emma: "What is it that you're keeping from me? Goddammit, Johnathan, I'm only trying to help you. Stop fighting this, fighting me!"
"I'm warning you...you crazy bitch! Stay away from me!"
Calling her a crazy bitch wasn't the smart thing to do because it added to her anger and her telepathy surged in power. I felt a sharp, throbbing pain in my head the like and intensity of which I never felt before and my mental defences just crumbled. I had to grab hold of a chair to keep from falling to the ground. I glanced up at her and she did have a sorry expression on her face - I don't know how sincere it was. I didn't think she saw anything I didn't want her to, because right after my defences went down, she withdrew her mental presence from my mind.
"Yeah, you really want to help me alright."
Emma: "John, I'm sorry."
"Spare me the lies."
Emma: "You...can go if you want to."
"Good frickin' riddance."
She reached for her key chain, clicked a button on the holder, and the lock opened.
Emma: "Maybe you should go to the Med Bay, for something to numb the headache."
I walked out, somewhat shakily, and saw that my father was standing right outside the doorway with an expectant and strict look on his face. Something about the shaky way I was walking and my expression must have tipped him off. His expression altered.
Scott: "John? Is everything alright?"
"That psycho bitch just invaded my mind and left me with a headache fit to burst my brain!"
Emma heard me and my rant and walked outside. She apologized and explained that she was only trying to help me. She only tried to skim through surface emotions, not thoughts said she. I then called her an outright liar. I wasn't a star telepath, but I knew what an all out mental invasion of privacy was. Of course, as Emma was an accomplished telepath, and a shrink with credentials, and the pussy whipper of my father - he took her word for it.
Scott: "It was an accident. She wasn't trying to - "
"Fine, believe your blasted girlfriend."
Scott: "Come on, I'll get you to Med Bay."
"I know where it is."
Scott: "You look like you can barely walk."
Emma: "Just a temporary side effect, I'm sure."
"Why don't you two go discuss me and make some more decisions behind my back. Hey, you can even do it over lunch or something! Make it a date."
Several students in the hallway looked in our direction, but quickly turned when my father's visor made...visor contact with them. Before he could turn around to face me again, I made it around the corner and away from them. The effort at moving so quickly must have overtaxed me, because my vision became blurry and started to swim before my eyes. Before I could grab onto a wall for support, I was on the floor and blacking out. The last thing I made out was some students running up to me. Then it all went dark...
Jean: "John, wake up honey."
Jean: "It's time to get up...you're going to be late."
She was wearing that familiar, white housecoat. But there was a coffee stain on it that morning. Right over the center, chest portion. I remembered it distinctly. She got that stain the day before she went out for her last mission. I had asked about it and she said that dad had knocked into her accidentally, and she spilled hot coffee on herself. Thankfully, it didn't burn her skin. Just two days after my fifteenth birthday. What was I doing back in bed that morning?
Jean: "So what will it be? Pancakes? Waffles? Or maybe Fruit Loops? Take your pick downstairs, okay?"
She turned to go.
"Mom, there's something I have to tell you."
"That mission you guys will be going on - to get Professor Xavier back from that Lensherr guy?"
Jean: "Our briefing is in half an hour."
"Mom, you can't go! You have to stay back!"
Her face twisted confusedly.
Jean: "But I have to, John. It's the Professor we're talking about here - "
"If you go you'll die! You have to stay home! And you have to tell everyone that Magneto will destroy the Alkali Dam to kill them all with a flash flood! And - "
Jean: "John, how do you know we're going to the Alkali Dam?! Have you been reading our briefing documents?"
"No, but you - "
Jean: "It's already been decided. I have to go. And I'll be careful - we'll all be careful."
Her mind was made up.
Jean: "Your father and I will come back to you. And then when this entire mess is sorted out...we'll take that trip we talked about."
She hugged me and I knew her doom was sealed.
"I love you, mom. I know I don't say it much, but I love you."
Jean: "I know, honey. It will all be alright soon. You'll see. Be good while we're gone."
She turned and started to walk out.
She was in the process of turning around. But I didn't get to see her face again. Before she could make the rotation, my vision blurred, the dream dissolved into nothingness, I felt hands shaking me awake and felt an uncomfortable glare in my eyes. Since the death, I had never dreamt mom before.
Dad. My mouth felt weird, my tongue felt thick and heavy. I couldn't seem to speak.
Alex: "Someone, dim the lights."
Lorna: "Well, don't just stand around, Emma. Make yourself useful."
My aunt and uncle. I couldn't see them but they were there.
Professor Xavier: John, how are you feeling? Is there any pain?
A new face appeared over me. The Professor. I must have been in Med Bay. They must have got me there after I fell in the hallway. And since it was due to Emma's telepthic intrusion, the Professor must have been called in.
My head's a little dizzy. But the pain is all gone.
Professor Xavier: You lost consciousness outside Miss Frost's classroom. Do you remember that?
The Professor turned away from me and began talking soothingly with my father.
Professor Xavier: "He seems fine. I doubt that there will be any lasting harm."
Scott: "Thank God."
Then I heard another voice. A woman's...Emma's.
Emma: "Scott, I'm so sorry. I had no idea he'd react like that to my probe."
Professor Xavier: "Emma, I simply cannot understand it. Couldn't you use a little more restraint?"
Emma: "I didn't know that I was delving so deeply into his mind, Charles."
Professor Xavier: "There wasn't much deeper to go to. You, as a faculty member should have known better."
Emma: "I'm sorry, Charles. It was an accident."
Professor Xavier: "I would hardly think that you'd do it on purpose."
I looked towards my father, and could see the relief upon his face, even though his eyes were hidden, it was plain to see. And the pangs of regret over how I'd been treating him started up.
How long was I under?
Scott: "It's nine o' clock...Tuesday night."
My gosh. I went to see Emma on Monday morning. I had been unconscious for over twenty four hours.
I want to go home.
Professor Xavier: Maybe you should rest a little first.
But you said that I'm okay, right?
Professor Xavier: Well, yes but -
Then can't I rest at home? Please?
The Professor was all for me spending the night in the Med Bay. And my father, relieved though he was, felt the same. Thankfully though, my uncle and aunt managed to sway them both. They volunteered to stay the night at our house. That way, dad could get some rest and I would have someone close at hand in case anything were to come up.
Professor Xavier: Very well. We had to sedate you because you were thrashing about somewhat while you were under. I'll just call in Hank so that he can administer something to negate its effects.
"What Alex And Lorna Found"
Sunlight streaked into the guest bedroom of the Summers' home. Lorna Dane, groggily woke up, rubbed her eyes, fixed her strewn about emerald hair and got out of bed. It was close to eight thirty. As usual, Alex was still sound asleep, even though he had a Geography class to teach at nine. How totally different the two Summers siblings were, she thought to herself amusedly. Scott would have gotten up, made something to eat for everyone and been out of the house with half an hour or more to spare. But he was still fast asleep. He was on one of his few and far in between days off.
He hadn't had much more than a couple hours sleep since John was taken to the Med Bay unconscious. He deserved some rest, Lorna thought. Which was why she and Alex had offered to stay with them and sleep in the spare bedroom, next to John's. In case he woke up and needed something in the middle of the night. The effect of his sedatives would take a few hours to wear off completely, Hank had said.
Lorna: "Wake up sleeping beauty."
She gently shook her boyfriend awake.
Alex: "Didn't sleeping beauty wake up to a kiss?"
Lorna: "Nuh uh. Not until you brush. Morning breath..."
Alex: "What time is it?"
Lorna: "Half past eight.You can still make it to your class."
Alex: "Yeah, yeah."
So saying, they both dressed and exited the guest room with the intention of making it to the ground floor bathroom. They could save some time by taking a shower together rather than in turns. An idea that was both practical and fun. They wouldn't want Scott to find out and tease them, hence the downward journey. They never made it to the bathroom however.
Lorna: "What in the world..."
They had made it to the kitchen. Passing through there was the quickest route. They could not ignore the fact that they seemed to have walked into an anti-gravity zone however. Floating around the ether was a miscellany of items, ranging from fruit, to glassware, to china, to cutlery, to containers, to petals from the flowers on the kitchen table. After watching for a little while, they both realized that almost every loose object in the kitchen was being affected to some degree by some unknown force.
Alex: "Check out the sink."
The kitchen sink was forever leaking. No matter how many plumbers were called in, they never seemed to be able to fix the problem for more than a few days at a stretch. Scott was a total perfectionist. And he'd tried to tackle the job on his own on several occasions. Unable to fix it, the Summers had to make do with a tap that dripped at a rate of about one drop per ten seconds. It was a source of continuous irritation. And now it was a source of curiousity. Ordinarily, the drops of water obeyed the laws of gravity and fell into the sink. They didn't rise of their own accord into the air in spherical globules to soak and ruin the ceiling.
Alex: "What could be - "
And then he realized it wasn't a what, but a who. Wasn't Johnny's bedroom almost directly above the kitchen? Lorna was also a smart girl. The thought came to her mind almost simultaneously.
Lorna: "Come on. Let's go check on John."
Without wasting anymore time, they ran up the stairs and without knocking, opened the door. None of the items in his room were levitating. But he himself was suspended some five feet above his bed, fast asleep. It was by then obvious that John was the one affecting the objects in the kitchen below, albeit unconsciously. Both Alex and Lorna knew that his telekinetic abilites were rather limited in strength. What was more, he never before seemed able to affect more than one object at a time. Alex walked towards him with the intention of waking him up. Lorna, however, had other ideas. She held him back, led him out of the room, and softly shut the door.
Lorna: "Go get Scott. Don't wake John."
Alex: "Um yeah. But - "
Lorna: "I'm calling the Professor. He needs to see this."
Alex: "What's going on in that pretty head of yours?"
Lorna: "Remember what Scott told us."
Breaking the rule about divulging mission details to non - X-men, Scott couldn't keep the details of Jean's death from his brother, Alex. And by extension, Alex couldn't keep secrets from Lorna. They were his first confidants and he secretly told them all that had happened at Alkali Lake.
Lorna: "Jean held back a wave of water with her powers. Before that mission, no one knew that she had that kind of potential in her. Scott said that Xavier thinks something triggered it - released it."
Alex didn't really catch on. Lorna rolled her eyes.
Lorna: "Maybe Emma's psychic probing into John's mind triggered something inside him. Come on, let's hurry."
Lorna: " - and it's not just him, Professor. The entire kitchen, things are floating around and -"
Professor Xavier: "I'm on my way, Lorna. Don't wake him. If it's subconscious in nature, the phenomenon may terminate if he awakens."
Xavier switched off his cell phone, hurriedly apologized for the interruption to his mutant ethics class, and dismissed them. He had to get to the Summers' house and quickly. Ever since Jean's death, he had been plagued by questions. How was it possible that Jean could block a raging torrent of water, travelling at such speed and with such force? He was a first hand witness of the event. He thought he knew his students and their limitations, especially Jean. She was his first student and he trained her in the use of her powers personally. Whilst she was very versatile, her telekinesis had never before manifested in such a dramatically powerful manner.
She managed to launch the Blackbird into flight as well as single handedly shield against the flood. For a moment, Xavier truly thought that she would have been able to save herself. But just as suddenly as the extra surge of power came, it died, and Jean died with it. And now, according to Lorna's report, her son seemed to be undergoing some form of mysterious power surge himself. Since it was so soon after a deep mental probe by Emma Frost - which degenerated into a battle of wills that John lost - Xavier had his own rudimentary theory.
Professor Xavier: Emma, head to the Summers' house and wait at the door for me. There's something I want you to see.
Emma: But Charles, I have a class mid-term to conduct.
Professor Xavier: Ororo has a free period. I'll send her to supervise the test. This is more important.
Emma: Oh no...is John okay?
Professor Xavier: He's fine, at least I think so. You'll see when we get there.
"Hmm, That Wasn't Happening Before"
Emma sensed the approach of Professor Xavier and immediately began questioning him as to what was so important that it warranted her leaving a class. Charles merely asked her to quiet down, and led the way to the front door. Upon opening the door, Emma was greeted by the rather scowling face of Lorna Dane. Lorna wasn't exactly fond of Emma. For one thing, she believed wholeheartedly that Emma was trying to weasel her way into Scott's bed. As one of Jean's closest friends, it wasn't a thought she relished. She may have been dead, but Lorna's loyalty to her wasn't. And she also didn't believe Emma's claims concerning John's mental incident in the least.
Lorna: "Emma? Professor, what is she doing here?"
Professor Xavier: "Emma is very versed in the study of psychic phenomena, Lorna. I thought that it might be a good idea to bring her along."
Lorna frowned, and Emma returned in kind.
Professor Xavier: "Is Scott up and - "
Lorna: "He and Alex are in John's room. Come and take a look at the kitchen."
Xavier and Emma followed Lorna into the kitchen, stopping suddenly when they heard a sharp, rattling sound. Upon glancing at the walls, they realized that the picture frames were shaking.
Lorna: "Hmm. That wasn't happening before."
They ignored it for the time being and entered the kitchen. And sure enough, everything was just as Lorna had described.
Emma: "Oh my. Charles, how can he focus on so many objects at the same time?"
A fitting question. Telekinetics rated themselves in terms of how many distinct objects they could focus on simultaneously, of what sizes and shapes they were, whether they were solid, liquid or gaseous and how heavy they were. Here in the kitchen, numerous objects, of different sizes and shapes were being manipulated. And they were of considerable weight and in various states of matter.
Lorna: "He's doing it in his sleep."
Emma: "He's asleep? I've read about cases like this, Charles. Often due to teens radiating excess psycho-sexual energy. People used to call them Poltergeist phenomena. But they never were as extensive as this seems to be."
Lorna: "Come on upstairs and see for yourself."
Emma walked upstairs whilst Lorna made use of her ability to generate and manipulate magnetic fields. Under her influence, Professor Xavier's wheelchair was lifted with ease and hovered to the next floor of the house.
A floating wall ornament had collided somewhat forcefully to the back of Emma's head. Lorna looked surprised.
Professor Xavier: "What is it?"
Lorna: "Only items in the kitchen were being affected before you guys came. Nothing upstairs was."
Presently, they arrived at John's room and entered. He was still fast asleep, hovering five feet above his bed.
Professor Xavier: "Amazing."
Scott: "Professor, is he okay? Is he sleeping or is he...under again?'
Xavier performed a mental scan and was able to ascertain that John Grey Summers was experiencing normal sleep.
Alex: "You think it's safe to wake him up?"
Xavier gave it some thought. Psychic powers were linked to the emotions. If John was indeed going through some sort of power surge, and was able to perform telekinetic feats whilst asleep, it might not be wise to wake him suddenly. And waking up to the sight of five people at once was probably not the best idea either.
Professor Xavier: "Wake him very gently. Scott, you do it. The rest of you, come with me. We'll wait outside. Once he's fully awake, let us in, Scott."
"What's Going On?"
Yet again, I woke up to the sensation of being shaken. I was never a morning person. And I had a habit of waking up cranky. But something was different. My...blanket wasn't on me. And then I realized why. I was floating! Something that I had never been able to do before. Sure, I could lift someone else. But I never seemed able to focus on my own body and do myself the favor. The closest I had ever come to it was slowing my descent in a fall. My vision cleared and I recognized my father standing just near my head, to my left.
"Dad? What's going on?"
Scott: "I don't know, son. But don't worry, we'll get to the bottom of this."
Dad made his way to the door and opened it whilst I tried in vain to lower myself onto the bed. No matter how much I tried to force my powers to shut off, they stubbornly refused to comply. It was aggravating and I was beginning to get a more than a little frustrated.
Professor Xavier: "Good morning, John."
I glanced to my left and saw that Professor Xavier had entered into my room with my uncle and aunt. But they weren't alone. That bitch, Emma was with them.
And immediately my bedside lamp launched itself full force towards her face without my input! She instinctively transformed into her diamond form. Before it could collide with her body, it was stopped by aunt Lorna's magnetic shield.
Scott: "John! What the - ?!"
"I-I'm sorry, I didn't mean to - "
Professor Xavier: "It's okay, John. I know this is all strange and new to you. But I want you to take a few deep breaths and calm down."
I complied and started to breathe deeply and regularly, forcing myself to relax. The fact that I made the lamp fly towards Emma was a little more than disturbing. You see, I could only affect one object at a time. And there I was levitating myself - which I had never been able to do before - so I didn't expect to be able to move a second object. And move it so quickly and with such force.
"God, what's happening to me?"
Professor Xavier: "We don't know for sure. But I have a theory. First, I want you to let me enter your mind. You don't seem to be able to control your powers right now. I may be able to help you render them into their inert phase if you grant me access into your mind."
I tensed. After having been subjected to a forceful mental probe by Emma Frost, I wasn't anywhere near comfortable with letting someone into my inner sanctum again.
Professor Xavier: "I won't be scanning for any thoughts or memories. I promise you that."
I glanced at Emma with eyes narrowed, but accepted the Professor's proposal. Seconds later, I felt the slight tingle of another presence in my mind and slowly but surely, I started to descend until I rested normally on my bed. Simultaneously, we all heard loud, crashing noises coming from downstairs.
"What was that?!"
Lorna: "You were also levitating almost every loose object in the kitchen."
I froze. How was that possible? Not even mom, with her completed development and training, could do something like that...and then it hit me. She had suddenly experienced a burst of power that had allowed her to save her team. Was I going through something similar? My inner musings distracted me for a little while and I didn't at first notice the look of shock and excitement on Professor Xavier's face.
Professor Xavier: "I - Scott, I need to speak with you. Alone."
"Professor, what's the matter - "
He didn't answer my question, but instead told me that he'd be back in a few minutes. I found that to be very worrying.
Emma: "Don't worry. I'm sure that - "
"Who the hell asked you?"
Alex: "Whoa, whoa - take it easy, tiger."
Lorna: "Come on. You must be hungry. Let's see about getting something to eat. At least the fridge wasn't floating around."
"The Next Stage In Human Evolution"
Professor Xavier: "Something is different about him, Scott."
As any parent worth their salt would be - Scott was worried.
Professor Xavier: "I've never seen or felt anything like it before in all my years."
Scott curiously eyed Professor Xavier. The man looked as though he had found the holy grail or something. What he didn't yet know, was that in a way - he had.
The scientists claim that humans, at the most, use only ten percent of their total brain capacity. The rest is somehow inaccessible and remains as untapped potential. Professor Xavier had come across many unique minds in his time. But he had never before probed a mind that seemed to be functioning at above ten percent capacity.
Professor Xavier: "There were regions active in John's mind that I have never before felt functioning in anyone else's."
Scott: "Could that be where the extra power is coming from? He's routing it from unused regions of his mind?"
Professor Xavier: "It seems highly likely."
Scott: "Is that safe?"
Professor Xavier couldn't give any definite answers. But he did explain his thoughts to Scott. Jean had also experienced a power surge of sorts. And since John seemed to be experiencing one, it could be hereditary - and a result of the mutant X gene. The only problem with that theory was the age gap. Shouldn't Jean have experienced something close to what John was going through in her teenaged years if it was genetic?
Professor Xavier: "I think that Jean had vast untapped potential. Potential that was never realized until something activated it - something independent of age. I think that her full potential was locked away in the deepest recesses of her mind, waiting to be unleashed. Her training wasn't able to do that. But maybe something else did? Emma's mental probe delved deep into John's mind. I think she may have inadvertantly unlocked his untapped potential."
Scott: "With a psychic probe?"
Professor Xavier: "Precisely. Uncharted regions of his brain are psionically active. Emma's psionic energy must have stimulated those regions to start generating their own psychic energy in an attempt to repel her from John's mind. He was trying to fight her presence after all."
Scott: "But he still lost."
Professor Xavier: "Emma is very experienced. And John doesn't seem to have fine control of his newfound power. You saw what happened when Emma entered the room. His dislike for her unconsciously launched that lamp in an offensive manner. But that is not the end of it."
Scott: "There's more?"
Professor Xavier: "It's spreading, Scott. Like a domino effect - other regions of his brain are in the preliminary stages of psionic activation. His powers are growing. And I don't think it's just his telekinesis."
Scott: "Why not?"
Professor Xavier: "I think that he was subconsciously aware of Emma's presence in the house before he woke up."
Scott: "How do you know that? His telepathy was even weaker than his telekinesis."
Professor Xavier: "When we came in, picture frames started to rattle downstairs. Lorna said it wasn't happening before. And when we came upstairs - Emma was hit on the head by some sort of floating wall ornament. Lorna also said that prior to our arrival, nothing upstairs was being affected. Only that ornament moved, and it only hit Emma."
Scott: "What do we do?"
Professor Xavier: "We need to study the situation. I can't be certain, Scott. But it's almost as if what we're seeing unfold is..."
The Professor broke off and stared ahead blankly for all of ten seconds before Scott interrupted him.
Scott: "Is what?"
Professor Xavier: "...the next stage in human evolution."
"Did I Do That?"
The kitchen was a total mess. Broken crockery, glassware and such littered the floor. The sink tap, forever dripping was sporting a steady trickle of water. The ceiling above the sink was thoroughly wet. Now that my father wasn't around to impose strict discipline, I was free to refer to my aunt and uncle on a first name basis - the way they as well as myself preferred it.
"When did you first see this happening, Lorna?"
Lorna: "I didn't see it begin. Me and Alex just walked in on it while it was already in the process of occuring."
Alex: "For all we know, you could have been doin' it all night long, kiddo. Have you got no shame? Your auntie Lorna and I were right in the next room!"
Lorna didn't miss the perverted intonation of his words. But that was just the way he was. I sometimes marvelled that he and dad were brothers. They were orphans and never knew their parents. Unlike mom, who came from a regular home, they lived in separate orphanages and only discovered each other when they were past their teens.
Dad's powers had activated and he was sensed by Professor Xavier in his teenaged years. He had the ability to absorb solar energy and release concussive beams from his eyes, focussing them with his eyes' lenses. However, due to some unknown cause, his brain was damaged and he couldn't shut off his powers. This made it compulsory for him to wear special visors that blocked the beams...unless he wanted to release them.
Uncle...well, Alex's powers were very similar to dad's. Instead of sunlight, he absorbed stellar radiation and chanelled his beams and waves through his hands. In addition, he could fully control his abilities. So closely related were their powers that dad was immune to Alex's and vice versa. When Professor Xavier sensed Alex, he at first thought that he was making a mistake and sensing Scott. But he realized that it was indeed another mutant. When Alex was brought in, he brought his girlfriend, Lorna with him. Everyone at the Mansion, as well as Lorna, was amazed at the resemblance. Dad was slightly older than Alex - but Alex looked so much like him. Except that dad's hair was reddish brown, and Alex's was blond. When Alex's DNA was tested to reveal the full scope of his mutant power, it also showed that he was related to dad - they were brothers.
"What's funny is that you actually think that was funny."
Professor Xavier: John, could you come upstairs? I think we need to have a talk - alone.
"It's the Professor. He wants to talk."
Lorna: "Okay, we'll come with -"
"He wants to talk alone. I'll see you guys in a few."
"I'm A Gene Joke No Longer!"
Professor Xavier: "It's okay to be uncomfortable. As far as I know of - nothing like this has ever happened before."
I nodded stiffly. It had been shocking enough to hear that my brain activity was altering, even as we were speaking. The Professor did his best to placate my fears, and I admit it helped a lot. The fact that I wasn't experiencing any sort of pain was also a plus. If I was experiencing that, then I'd been a lot more scared. Pain was always a bad sign to the non-masochistic.
"And you think that this could be the real effects of my mutation?"
Professor Xavier: "Yes. Your previous power level was likely just the tip of the iceberg. It will take getting used to - and if you'll let me, I'd like to help you adjust to it."
Of course I wanted to. Not only because I didn't want to wake up to find everything, and myself, floating beyond my control. But also because I wanted to learn to control my newfound power for other...okay, selfish reasons. I had always felt left behind my friends in terms of power. Non-mutants considered mutant powers as curses. But those mutants with purely beneficial traits considered them to be "gifts". And we were always comparing. Mutant powers at the school were akin to status symbols. I was always the lowest on the mutant status hierarchy in my group of friends. There was a term for people like me. Like I used to be, I reminded myself. And that term was a Gene Joke".
First there was Bobby. He had the power to condense water from the surrounding air, freeze it to sub zero temperatures and generate ice. He could make ice replicas of almost anything. He was very resourceful with his powers too. And he could even sheath himself in an armor of ice that was nigh bullet proof.
Then there was Jubilee. Her mutant powers were light based. She generated intense light energy from her hands. It was powerful enough to temporarily blind people. And over time she's learnt to increase the intensity even more, searing objects with her pyrotechnic like energy. She could even leave sparkling energy globules around that explode a set time after, depending on how much energy they contained when she created them. Since her powers were so flashy and colorful, she ranked highly at school and everyone thought her powers were so cool.
Amara was unique amongst my friends. She was always popular because she was filthy rich. You see, she was an actual princess from a Mediterranean country called Nova Roma. And as if that weren't enough, she had totally awesome powers too...in addition to her stunningly beautiful good looks. She was an Elemental like Bobby. But she could control Earth and Fire. Either singly or in tandem. And she could transform into an altered, magma form that granted her super strength and near invulnerability.
Finally, there was Ray. Yet another Elemental in our group. He was capable of generating and manipulating electrical energy. He was always popular around the mansion because of his personality. Very outgoing and fun loving. His power also let him intercept electro-magnetic radiation - like television and radio waves. He was a walking talking antenna. And he could affect technology to a limited extent as well. He was famous for circumventing the parental blocks on the satellite tv and allowing hardcore porno transmissions. That made him the undisputed King in our group - and he was well respected by everyone else too.
And then there I was, the kid who everyone else avoided because they expected me to be like my father - stiff as a board and uptight like I had a stick wedged up my ass. I wasn't trusted much because it was felt that I might report attempts at mischief to my father. That he was a member of the faculty made things worse for me on the social scene. And my lame ass mutant abilities didn't make me anymore popular. Barely there telepathy with the ability to levitate an average person at the most. Well, things were about to change alright! (^_^)
Professor Xavier: "...now we'll have to guage your powers in a safe environment. Which is why your father and I will be taking you to the subbasement. How would you feel about trying your luck at one of the X-men's Danger Room exercises?"
I smiled. Did he really think I was worthy of it? The Danger Room was a highly sophisticated, holographic simulator. It could generate virtual reality replicas of any environment imaginable. And it was so realistic - that at the highest difficulties it was possible to get seriously hurt or worse if you messed up. Regular students, like me and my friends did go in there. But only for normal mutant training.
"I'd like to try."
Professor Xavier: "Now...I suppose I should mention this as well. You do take mutant ethics classes with me - and I expect you have learnt much about the ethical use of power. With great power comes great responsibility."
"Oh, yes of course. I know alla that stuff."
Okay, great responsibility. But who's say that with great power - great fun couldn't come too? You with me on that, right?
Professor Xavier: "...very good. Well, then - I'll send for you in about an hour's time. Is that okay with you?"
"Yes, that's fine."
Professor Xavier: "Well, then. I'll be off. Oh, and by the way - do NOT use your powers between now and your Danger Room exercise. Is that understood."
"I'm A Whole New Man!"
I approached my friends carefully. They were at the Rec-Room, where they usually were at recess. Upon seeing me, their somewhat sombre expressions altered into relieved ones. They obviously had to have known what had happened to me. I was a little disappointed that I hadn't heard from them since Monday. Maybe my rude outburst had warned them off.
Jubilee: "Hmpf! Thank heavens that slut didn't permanently fry your brain!"
Turns out they had been down to the subbasement to see me when I was unconscious on Monday. And when they went to check on me earlier that morning, they heard that I was at home, having woken up on Tuesday night. They called my house and got my father on the line. But - given what was happening - he told them that they couldn't come over just yet. That I was sleeping and needed my rest.
"I'm fine. As a matter of fact, I've never been better."
I was wearing a huge grin on my face by then. Seeing my weird good mood, and the fact that I hadn't mentioned their "betrayal", they questioned me.
"Something absolutely wonderful has happened to me! I'm a whole new man!"
They all looked at each other comically.
Ray: "You finally got yourself a girl?"
I frowned and they all laughed.
Ray: "You got a girl and got laid?!"
"No. I've gotten a mutant power up!"
They didn't know what the hell I was talking about. So I explained it to them. Apparently, when Emma forced her way into my mind, her psionic energy activated dormant parts of my brain. They started producing their own psionic energy in attempt to push her out. And even though I lost, they still kept active. What was more, even more regions of my mind were generating psionic energy. And the extra energy was being routed to my abilities.
Amara: "I'm afraid that I'm going to need proof positive."
Bobby: "Yeah. You talk the talk. But can you walk the walk?"
"But it's true!"
Ray patted my head and said that Emma must have done more damage than originally thought. I then went on to explain, in Lorna's words, what was happening in my house that morning - the reason my father wasn't allowing them in.
"You can ask Alex or Lorna when you see them."
Seeing that I had credible witnesses, they started to pay some more credence to my seemingly farfetched story.
"Guys, I'm...sorry for acting like a prick on Monday."
Jubilee: "We wanted to tell you about your dad...but he made us all swear not to. We would have broken the promise if he didn't look so worried when he made us swear."
They must have thought that they were ones who would have had to apologize for not informing me of my father's behind-the-back sneaking around. But I was glad I went for that therapy session so soon. If I didn't find out about his questioning my friends, and their secret keeping, I wouldn't have been mad enough to call Emma a conniving slut. And then I wouldn't have had to go for therapy the very next day. It would have been on Saturday, by which time my anger would have cooled a lot. And then I without that extra anger I wouldn't have tried to storm out, and I wouldn't have ended up mind-linked with Emma...and I wouldn't have gotten my finally decent power level!
Bobby: "Uh huh. YOU owe US!"
Ray: "So how about paying us back with a little demonstration?"
I started to fidget. The Professor had made me promise not to use my powers until the Danger Room exercise. Given that I couldn't seem to shut them off yet, it could cause some problems.
"Maybe later. I'm under orders not to use them until my Danger Room exercise in about...half an hour."
Jubilee: "Danger Room?"
"Yep. They wanna guage my new power level. Apparently, the Professor thinks I should try an X-man's course level to see what my upper limits are."
Bobby: "No way!"
"Yes way. I'm movin' on up! God, and there I was thinking that I'd be stunted in the power department for a long time to come. Maybe a bitch like Emma does have a place in the universe after all."
We laughed at that, and laid back enjoying the newly arrived PS3s. Yeah, things were looking up...
"Welcome To My World"
Dad met me at the ground floor elevator and together we headed on down to the subbasement. In addition to being a math teacher at the school, dad was also one of the mentors. There were four of them. And they each had several groups of students who were under their supervision for training purposes. To assist them in that task, they also had two assistants each. In addition to dad, the other mentors were Ororo, Logan and Elizabeth (better known as Betsy).
Ororo Munroe was co-leader of the X-men. She was descended from a line of priestesses and came all the way from Kenya, Africa. I didn't know much about her past, but she and my parents got along very well. She could best be described as the ultimate Elemental - with her powers so highly developed that they allowed her to influence the weather itself. No form of atmospheric weather pheneomena was beyond her. Soft spoken and motherly, she was a confidant and counsellor of many a student. Ororo also served as a Biology teacher. Her codename was Storm.
Betsy Braddock was British, though looking at her you'd think she was of some Asian nationality. In fact, she was a mixture of both. Her mind may have once belonged in a British body, but - according to dad - was transferred somehow into that of a Japanese Ninja. I didn't know the details about that, though. Betsy was a powerful telepath. Due to the Ninja qualities of her new body, she had taken to forming weapons made of psionic energy that mentally damaged opponents but left their bodies unharmed. She also could communicate mentally, read and inflence thought and such with the best of them. It was also rumored that she was immune to telepathic attack - nifty trick! She always had a habit of popping up where you'd least expect her, and she vanishes even better than the Batman. Not to mention her totally out of this world fashion sense and the coolest shade of purple streaked hair. In addition, Betsy was a history teacher. I should add that she had a mysterious aversion to all things Emma. And whilst we weren't particularly close - she was thus my kinda woman! (^_^) When she was "working", she was known as Psylocke.
And then there was Logan. Well, let's see...there's nothing I know of his former days other than he was experimented upon and given an unbreakable skeleton. Some metal called adamantium was fused to his bones. The process that did it also gave him three retractable claws on each hand. That was prettly much all I knew about his time prior to Institute. That and he had a weird form of amnesia so he remembered almost nothing about his early life. Like I said, I didn't know anything much about his past. But I knew about his life at the Mansion. He had an indomitable spirit, a smart mouth for all occasions and all comers, and a completely pessimistic and suspicious outlook on life. He was almost always cranky, almost wasn't close to anyone and just loved to tease the students. He did have a particular fondness for Jubilee though - like him, she was full of the daredevil spirit. Logan's mutant ability allowed him to heal almost any wound or infection. And his senses were enhanced far beyond the range of normal human functioning too. He and dad didn't really get along too well - not sure why. I think it may have had something to do with their polar opposite personality types. Logan taught gym with a passion and a vengeance. Ruthless in battle, he went by the moniker, Wolverine.
Naturally, I couldn't be under my father's mentorship. I had the luck to be under...Logan. Which meant that my training exercises pushed me to my limits each and every time.
Scott: "So...an X-man level course, huh?"
Scott: "I didn't think I'd have seen this day for another two years or so."
You might wonder why I'd ever express a desire to join the ranks. It may have seemed reasonable to assume that I'd dislike X duties because they kept my parents away all the time. But I didn't hate X duties at all. My parents were the ones who didn't balance all aspects of their lives right. The X-men were not to blame. They were fighting the good fight. And I admit, my testosterone made me want to join partly for the action. What can I say - I liked the rush of the Danger Room. No matter how much Logan said it wasn't a game - it felt like the baddest VR game ever.
"What are the X-men courses like?"
Scott: "A lot tougher than the training exercises. You'll have to be on your toes and alert at all times."
"Is it...dangerous? Are the difficulty settings high enough that you'd get hurt if you get hit?"
Scott: "You won't be hurt physically. But you will get a healthy dose of virtual reality pain. But it's all good right?"
I looked at him and he was actually smiling. And at that moment I picked up a sensation radiating from him that I hadn't felt in quite a while - pride. I smiled too. I hadn't been behaving in a manner that made him proud of me for a long time.
Scott: "Well, we're here. Welcome to my world."
"Another Nobel Prize In The Works?"
Hank: "I look forward to conducting some brain scans, Professor. We may be on the verge of an exciting new discovery!"
Hank McCoy was the resident scientist and super-genius at the Mansion. Looking at him, you'd think was some sort of...animal. Hank wasn't always a hulking, muscular humanoid, covered in blue fur. He once was what could be considered a hunk. But his mutation - that of superhuman strength and agility - had a secondary effect. As Hank exited his teenaged years, he stared to develop more animalisic features, though his intellect remained as sharp as ever.
Most men would be content with one Nobel prize under their belt. But then, Hank wasn't like most men. Having already won a Nobel prize for Chemistry, Hank had since set his sights for higher heights. If he could prove Professor Xavier's guess that Johnathan Summers' mind was functioning at greater than ten percent capacity - he would rock the scientific world! He was already planning MRI scans and electroencaphalograms and the like to scientifically probe the newly developing mind of Johnathan.
Professor Xavier: "I understand your excitement, Hank. But remember, he is a sentient individual. We must treat him as a person first and foremost - and as an object of scientific study second."
Hank: "Of course, Professor."
Professor Xavier: "Ah, they've arrived in the War Room. Let's go begin."
"Take Your Kid To Work Day"
I had never gone into the War Room before. It was in a special region of the subbasement that only X-men could get into. The security systems required much more than a password - they required retinal scans. Ordinary students, like myself, could access the Med Bay at all times, and the Danger Room only through the permission of our mentors or their assisstants. Of course I'd been in the Hangar before. That was the one exception that I was granted, and only because I was the son of two members. Naturally I'd want to see if my parents were okay the minute they arrived back from an X-related mission.
But the War Room was something else. It was circular in form, with monitors running along the entire length of wall. In the center of the room, there was a large conference table with numerous seats around it. The center of the sported some form of holographic projection device that displayed a three dimensional image of the globe. I thought that Professor Xavier and perhaps Hank would be the only ones we'd be meeting for the exercise. But everyone else was present - some seated, some standing.
In addition to Logan, Ororo and Betsy, there were also Remy LaBeau, Rogue, Piotr "Peter" Rasputin, Kurt Wagner, Warren Worthington III and...Emma Frost. I guess even a part timer like her decided to tag along.
Remy was an ex Cajun thief - a lady's man if there ever was one. When I first met him, I thought that he was a compulsive gambler. He carried lots and lots and I do mean LOTS of playing cards around with him. I then found out that his mutant ability let him charge objects with kinetic energy by touch. Cards were small, lightweight and convenient. He was an excellent hand to hand combatant too and in addition, carried a retractable staff that he channelled his power into. As an ex thief, Remy was really good with his hands and was always making little odd gadgets and such. He ran technical oriented classes for the students who were adept at those. Due to his many playing cards, he was called Gambit.
Rogue was a southern woman all the way from some town on the Mississippi. She was very outgoing and jovial, and got along well with all the students. Her real name was Anna Marie - but she never let us call her that. Rogue, sadly, could not touch anyone directly because her skin absorbed various forms of energy - including lifeforce - as well as memories and other mutant abilities. If she held on long enough, she could kill someone. She also was super strong, could fly and had an invulnerable skin. Many a man would have wanted to touch her - sexy as hell - but they kept their hands to themselves when they learnt about her powers. Remy, however, had thing for her. As an X-man, Rogue was called...Rogue.
Piotr Rasputin - he was called Peter by most of us. He was Russian and by far, the physically strongest of the X-men. He was well over six feet, four inches and towered above everyone else, head and shoulders. And his muscular development was worth drooling over - I secretly admired it from a distance. (^_^) He was really strong and became even stronger and nearly invulnerable when he activated his mutant power. It allowed him to transform his body into an organic steel. Peter was soft spoken and very much loved by all. When he wasn't on X-duty, he was painting (very talented artist) or off the grounds helping out at some charity or the other. Due to his height and build - he was called Colossus when he was on active duty. Naturally, Peter was our resident art teacher.
Kurt Wagner was our holy man - though ironically, he looked like a blue demon, with tail, clawed hands and feet and yellow eyes. He was always preaching to students and staff alike, for he was a very devout Catholic. He had the unique ability to teleport - mentally transport himself from one place to another, as long as he could see or think of his location within a two mile radius. As a result of his special blue skin and eyes, he could cling to walls, become invisible in shadows and see perfectly in the dark. Nightcrawler was his codename. Kurt, as a teacher, was theological and philosophical when it came to his classes.
Warren Worthington III was a filthy rich billionaire. He looked like an angel - no kidding, for he sported angelic wings from his back. Whilst Kurt was a saint in devil's form - Warren was a fallen angel. He was as wild as I'd ever seen them come. Probably as he was the youngest, barely out of his teens. Naturally, he could fly. But he was also stronger than the average human, had zero body fat, hollow bones and a healing factor that was every bit as good as Logan's was. What was more, by transfering his blood to another, he could heal them as well. His X-codename was Angel. Warren wasn't trained as a teacher exactly, but as a billionaire and son of a very successful businessman - he new a LOT about money matters. Hence, he conducted business oriented studies at the school.
Everyone was curiously questioning my father as to what I was doing down there with them.
Warren: "We don't really have a, Take The Kid To Work Day."
They laughed heartily.
Professor Xavier: "Well, now that you're here. Let's be seated, shall we?"
We'd barely walked in and the Professor had arrived and started calling everyone to order. Nevertheless, his authority was absolute and we all took a seat at the round table. Professor Xavier explained his purpose. He'd rescheduled their usual tranining session a couple hours earlier.
Rogue: "But why?"
Professor Xavier: "Well, I actually wanted to schedule a time convenient for Johnathan. I'd like him to join you. You see - "
The Professor quickly went about trying to explain why he felt I should be there. They all looked like they had something to say and he may have been trying to get an explanation in before they all started up.
Kurt: "Professor, he's still too young."
Professor Xavier: "For this session, I want to guage his limitations. And you all will be in there with him - in case he finds it too difficult. Logan, you're his mentor. How's his progress on the basic exercises?"
Logan: "Top notch, like all my students."
That was true. Logan made us all work hard, and we all were quite good. It was a constant struggle to see who was better. I never got to the top of the class even once - but dealing with the basic training wasn't troublesome.
Remy: "But the trainin' will be a lot more stressful. And he's not exactly..."
Remy looked at me somewhat apologetically.
Remy: "...this new power level is new to what he's...used to."
Professor Xavier: "I trained Jean in the use of her powers myself. And she joined the X-men, limited though her powers were. And I might add, she aced her advanced Danger Room courses. Right now, I am certain that John's power level exceeds that of Jean's when she took those courses."
At the mention of my mother, everyone's faces dropped a little. I noticed that my father's grip on the armrest of his seat had tightened somewhat. Kurt stopped making his criticisms due to my age, as did Remy.
They all turned towards me.
Professor Xavier: "Yes, John?"
"What exactly will we be doing?"
He went of to explain. The first thing we'd be doing, before any X-level courses, was to help me adjust to the new, increased power. Since my power level had increased, I'd need to focus less to move objects. If I focussed too much energy on an object, I'd not only lift it - but I'd most likely throw it as well. Professor Xavier didn't think the fine control would be too much of an issue. I controlled the weaker version of my telekinesis just fine. I'd just have to be careful of the amount of effort I used - only enough to get the job done, and slowly.
Professor Xavier: "I don't think it should pose too much of a problem. The period of your life with a lesser power rating is over. Perhaps it's a hidden blessing. It helped prepare you for this new stage - like a buffer. The training wheels are now off. Your inner potential is starting to manifest."
"But look at what happened in my house. I couldn't shut my power off. Why do you think the fine control won't be a difficult issue to deal with?"
Professor Xavier: "Because it was an unconscious phenomenon. You are awake now. You activated your powers unconsciously and so couldn't turn them off consciously. You needed my help to do that. Did you use your powers at will since this morning?"
Professor Xavier: "And did any unexplained telekinetic phenomena occur in you vicinity?"
Professor Xavier: "Then I believe if you activate your powers whilst you're fully awake, you'll be able to shut them off yourself."
"Well, I guess we'll find out soon enough, huh?"
Professor Xavier: "That we shall. Everyone, suit up."
Suiting up... Okay, that was the one bittersweet part about Danger Room exercises. The changing rooms were separate for males and females, of course. And therein lay the problem. Imagine me, a gay teen, being surrounded by nicely toned, nude, masculine bodies before and after a Danger Room exercise. Changing before was bad enough. But afterwards was worse. We'd all come out sweaty, reeking of testosterone and various pheromones and have to shower together. And yes, people did drop the soap on occasion. Most guys think of girls cuz it stokes their fires. I think of girls in there because it extinguishes mine.
I was. I always wondered how the X-men could call their working attire, "uniforms", when they weren't uniform at all. Costumes would have been the more appropriate term. But since we were going to be merely training, we all wore the same basic black spandex body-fitting suits, with the dark gold boots, gloves, and belts. The belt buckle took the form of a stylized X. The female version showed little variation, except that the midriff was bare (Rogue's being the exception). Ororo, Betsy and Rogue wore the same basic suit. But Emma insisted on wearing her own, dazzling white outfit. She was the White Queen after all. How she got away with something so slutty, I'd never know. But then, she was always different and always in white. Before, during and after Labor Day. White, the color of purity - who the hell was she trying to fool?
Emma wore a neckpiece and specially designed bra-like cups, together with extremely tight, white pants. The special neckpiece and bra...thingies made it look like her exposed flesh formed an X on the upper region of her body. A "Flesh X" if you will. In addition she wore an elaborate cape that fell unevenly right past her ass. Uneven, but stylish. How did the men focus on their duties with a woman like her around? Anyhow, I suppose it did wonders to distract the male opposition.
"Yeah all set, dad."
He jokingly cleared his throat.
"Um, yes Cyclops."
Scott: "You'll be completely safe, okay?"
"Yeah, I know."
Logan: "Cyke?! What the hell's keepin' you two?!"
"Is that the kind of respect he shows to his superior officer, Cyke?"
Cyclops: "We're still working on that. Come on."
"Time To Disco"
The first phase of my evaluation had begun. Some exercises to help me attune to my new state. I found that getting my powers to activate was easy as always. But I was exerting too much force. I tried a little too hard to levitate myself the first time around, and wound up shooting myself upwards, much farther than I had intended to go. When I tried to bring myself down, I shot down far too fast and had to be caught by Kurt. But after some practice - nbsp;I learnt to use just enough energy to lift myself and nothing more.
Professor Xavier: "See? You just need to practise a little restraint."
Most children at some point harbor a fantasy of flying. I'd had it for a long time - but never could seem to. Once in the air comfortably, I didn't bother descending completely, but held myself suspended a couple feet from the ground.
Professor Xavier: "We're going to load a program. A defensive exercise. Discs will be launched towards you from various directions. You are to defend yourself against them - you may use a combination of your powers and bodily agility."
It's complicated. But telekinetics can "feel" objects mentally. The best analogy would be in the form of an imaginary "hand". As such, it's possible to sense objects around even when they aren't visible.
The first disc formed with a flash of blue holographic light and came streaking to my position from the left. It was faster than I was prepared for and it collided with my shoulder. Since it was merely a practice exercise, there was no virtual pain involved.
Professor Xavier: "Focus, John."
I was ready for the second one and stopped it before it could collide with my chest. The moment it stopped, it flickered and ceased to exist. I sensed something move behind me, located it and stopped it before it collided with my ass. Unfortunately, whilst focussing on that disc, I missed the one heading from my right, and it struck my head.
Professor Xavier: "You're capable of influencing much more than one object at a time, John. Try harder."
Yes, if I could move all of those items in the kitchen when I was sleeping, I could damn well do it when I was wide awake. Whilst I was giving myself a pep talk, three more discs collided, two on the chest, one to the back. I gave the next incoming one a push, then switched my attention to another. They both stopped, flickered and vanished. After another half an hour and quite a few more hits, I managed to improve my focus to three objects simultaneously. I glanced at the overhead monitoring room. Hank was busy poring over the displays, but Professor Xavier seemed to be staring into the air, deep in thought. They had stopped the program for over five minutes and hadn't called out any more instructions.
He shook himself out of his reverie.
Professor Xavier: "Why don't you take a five minute break, John? We need to prepare the next exercise program."
"Is That A Threat?"
Logan: "You've really improved, kid."
Logan may have been a faculty member, but he allowed all students to forgo formalities when we talked with him...most times. Something that my father never did and always disapproved of Logan doing. They'd reached a compromise. Logan only allowed us to refer to him by his name when we were outside of a formal class.
Logan: "I guess with this new growth spurt of yours, I'm gonna hafta adjust your training intensity, huh?"
I cringed. Physically, I was one of the students that Logan pushed the most. Other students with more advanced powers than mine could rely solely on them to complete their training exercises. I couldn't because my powers were rather limited in strength. So I had to learn to move swiftly, to aim and execute accurate and forceful kicks and punches, not to mention to be agile enough to avoid dangerous hits. Before, I would have had to block one disc and jump to avoid the others heading for me at the same time. But things had changed.
"Is that a threat? Should I be feeling a sense of dread?"
Logan: "Well, if Chuck seems to think you're fit for an X-rated course...I might have to start treating you like it."
"Mr. Wagner seems to think I'm too young."
Logan frowned. You see, in order to ensure that there would be no time period without an active X-team, a junior team existed. They were all eighteen and over. It had to be that way because many students of the school came from regular homes with parents and guardians. And those students could only make such a decision when they turned eighteen at the least. And it was also felt that if training began at an age younger than that, it would almost be like bending the students' wills to the school's ends - rather then them making the decision independently. That and the idea of minors in the potential danger must have been disconcerting. Logan however, was all for innovation in the training of the next generation of X-men. He felt that there were younger students who were fully capable of assuming junior X-duties.
Logan: "Age is just a number. Talent and skill are what counts, kid."
I ventured to ask.
"You think I got the talent?"
And was shot down some.
Logan: "You got hit by them discs over and over and over..."
"I blocked more than I got hit by!"
Hey, that had to count for something...right?
Logan: "In our world, you gotta block 'em all."
I lowered my gaze.
Logan: "But you'll get there - eventually."
"So...you think I got potential?"
Logan: "Ev'rybody got potential. It's whether you realize it that counts."
I mock shuddered.
Logan: "What, you feelin' okay?"
His concern was genuine. I chuckled.
"It's just that - you sounded so profound...it's scary. Didn't know you were capable of that."
Logan: "You cut that out, or I'll show ya what else I'm capable of."
Scott: "I don't understand, Professor. He got hit repeatedly by those discs. That's under average performance. Why are you two so excited?"
Hank and the Professor began their explanation. Yes, John's performance could very easily be outdone...right now. But the rate at which he had improved over his previous performances was astounding.
Professor Xavier: "It takes on average about eight hours before a telekinetic learns to properly focus on another object simultaneously...until they reach their limit that is. John has moved from one object to three in less than an hour."
Hank: "He is adapting well to the surge with training."
Professor Xavier: "His powers are growing - and it is important that we provide adequate training so that his ability to control them can increase accordingly."
Scott: "When...Jean held back the water...and launched the jet, she didn't seem to have any problem controlling the power."
Professor Xavier: "Because she had already completed her mutant training and had years of experience. She could have coped with a sudden increase. John's training isn't complete. If his fate is to wield something near such power - he will need the experience. He must be ready for it, Scott. We have to speed up his mutant instruction, even at the expense of his academic courses. He must complete his training."
Scott was a little uncomfortable with sacrificing his son's academic growth. But after he witnessed his wife's sudden rise to power, he was convinced that it was simply too much of a risk not to take all out action to prepare John. If John ended up with his powers more advanced than his ability to control them, it could be very, very dangerous. Both for him, and more importantly, others.
Scott: "What do you suggest?"
Professor Xavier and Hank looked at each other before answering.
Professor Xavier: "Let him join Generation X."
"You don't think that's maybe a little extreme? He's only just turned sixteen."
Professor Xavier: "That's why I'm asking you. You're his father, and it's your responsibility to look out for his best interest. This IS in his best interest."
Scott considered. John needed a more intense training regimen. And it was not possible for the limited number of mentors to divide their labor any more thinly. They already had regular school subjects and activities to take care of, as well as mentoring the students in the basic mutant training exercises...on top of training the next generation of X-men. Scheduling special attention for one student would be burdensome. But if John were to join the Generation X team and train with them - he'd have a more disciplined training regime, and no teachers would be placed under an additional, unnecessary burden.
Professor Xavier: "You must try to convince him."
Scott: "I doubt I'll have to try hard. Logan tells me that he enjoys the thrills of the Danger Room a little too much."
Professor Xavier: "So you'll do it?"
Scott: "If you think it's for the best."
Professor Xavier: "I do. But there is another matter..."
Scott: "What is it?"
Professor Xavier: "I want an honest answer. Did you tell him the particulars of Jean's...passing? About her sudden surge of power shortly before she - "
Scott: "No. I haven't. He doesn't know how she died, or how she saved us."
Professor Xavier: "Very good. Since he is a direct genetic descendent, I'm surmising that Jean also went through what John is going through, albeit at a faster rate. The chances are that her brain's operating capacity also received a boost. But I told John that it was the first time I came across anything like this."
Hank: "Perhaps by studying John's progress, we can come to some conclusion as to what happened to Jean. He does take so much after her."
Scott smiled. That was certainly true. He and Jean used to joke about it a lot when their son was born. John had the same shade of wavy red hair, the same nose, and mouth as Jean. But his eyes were different. They were bright blue, whereas Jean's were emerald green. Scott didn't even know what color his eyes were. His early life was a blur before he reached the Nebraska orphanage where he spent his remaining childhood years. But he did know that he was blind then. Some form of vehicular accident had claimed the lives of his parents when he was very young, and he himself had no memory of it. He spent his whole childhood blind. But suddenly during his teenaged years, he saw for the first time ever. The orphanage's playground was his first image. It was beautiful - before he destroyed it completely. He had to shut his eyes for days before Xavier sensed and found him. He couldn't even look in a mirror close enough to catch a glimpse of his eyes because his optic blast would immediately activate, destroying it on sight. Scott always joked that John had inherited his eyes - but Jean insisted that she'd need evidence of that before she believed it. Her mother had blue eyes. Since he couldn't provide it - she won the argument.
Scott: "Yes, he does."
Professor Xavier: "A telekinetic joining Generation X's ranks would round them out nicely."
Scott agreed. The only psychic on the team was a Tyrel Holder. Though he was empowered with three psychic gifts (hence his codename - Trinity) telekinesis was not one of them.
Scott: "Do you think he'll fit in?"
Professor Xavier: "He's had some...disciplinary problems...and there is a two to three year age difference... But let's give it a try and see how he acclimatizes."
Scott: "Okay, I'll talk to him tonight."
Professor Xavier: "Very well then. Let's start the X-level course proper."
"Never Hesitate To Act"
A hostage crisis. That was the theme of the exercise. The Danger Room's holodome was in the process of simulating City Hall. A sizeable band of mutant terrorists had managed to fight off the heavy security and make their way into the inner chamber, where ten councillors were previously voting on resolutions. All ten were captured by said mutant terrorist, and the building itself locked down. Ransom demands were made to the authorities and we had less than an hour before people started dieing. It wa our job to infiltrate the building and deal with the situation. Our number one priority was the safeguarding of the hostages.
Computer Voice: "Simulation fully loaded."
We were divided into two teams. One was headed by Cyclops (my father), and the other by Storm. To prevent any team decisions being influenced by personal ties, I was assigned to Storm's team. The roster was as follows:
Team A - Cyclops (Leader)
Team B - Storm (Leader)
- White Queen
Pity I didn't have a codename. The main strike team was Team A. Their job was to infiltrate deep within the building to locate the inner chamber where the hostages were being kept. Hence, Wolverine advanced senses, and Psylocke's telepathy would lend themselves well to that. Cyclops and Gambit were heavy hitting ranged attackers who could take out targets before they got to striking distance, and Beast was their muscle man. Added to that, Wolverine and Psylocke could multitask very well - tracking and fighting at the same time. They'd make their way into the inner quarters, distracting attention away from Nightcrawler. He'd use his secondary mutant abilities and hide in the shadows. Then when he was close enough, he'd quickly teleport the hostages to safety. Once the hostages were safe, they could mop up any resistance with having to worry about any councillors dieing.
As for our job, we'd have to patrol the outer regions of the building, taking out any groups of enemy targets, so that when the main body returned, we'd all have a clear route to make our own escape. Because once word got out that the councillors were safe and free, the authorities would likely come barging in and attack us all.
Storm: "Stay alert, team. Things may seem calm now, but things can change in the blink of an - "
Something sharp flew right past the head, barely missing by a foot. Scuffling about could be heard in the shadows.
Storm: "Take cover!"
We all ducked behind an object in the hallway, be it a large vessel containing flora, a statue or a column. Everyone aside from Rogue and Colossus. Rogue's skin was impenetrable. And when Colossus transformed into his organic steel form, he was very well protected as a result. Several more sharp spikes were thrown, but they rebounded harmless off our two tanks' skins. They in turn rushed into the shadows and made an attempt to catch our attacker/s. It was in vain. Several more spikes were thrown in our direction. I could sense that one was heading for my right leg. So I concentrated and stopped it, holding it suspended in place. The White Queen, silent and still for some time quickly directed our attention to a dark corner of the hallway. She had successfully located our attackers telepathically. I quickly tossed my levitating spike in the direction she indicated, and was rewarded with a howl of pain.
Storm: "Good work."
The sound of the cry guided Rogue towards the dark space. She lunged, made contact with something, and tossed it out into the open. A rather large male humanoid figure, covered in scale armor, with spikes bristling out of his skin. We all saw that his left leg was injured by the spike I had returned to him. As soon as he was out, our leader's eyes glowed fiercely white and she released a stream of electrical energy from her hands. The lightning made contact, but the man was barely affected. Angel vocalized what I suspected.
Angel: "That armored skin of his must be insulating him from electrical shock."
The hulking man quickly recovered, raised his arms, and fired another volley of spikes. With a swift motion, Colossus dove in the way of the missiles, deflected them, and aimed a punch at our foe's chest. He staggered. Rogue took her turn, grabbed an arm and flung him into the wall, grining his body in until he was still.
Rogue: "Well, that's it for this one."
Unfortunately, she was wrong. Whilst her back was turned to the wall, the spiked man reached out, and grabbed Rogue from the back. His hands made contact with her skin, but the armor covering his own skin prevented his energy from being drained by Rogue's power. With an evil glint in his eyes, he began to choke her. Storm's lightning bolts were useless as the man was insulated. And even if he weren't insulated, she'd have hit Rogue with an electric shock too had she launched bolts at him.
Colossus: "That's not the way to treat a lady, you cossack!"
A smash punch by our strongman slightly phased the brute. Rogue broke free, gasping for breath. Before Colossus could relaunch an assault, a return punch sent him reeling next to Rogue. The man knocked them both together and they were temporarily stunned. He then looked at the rest of us. With a grin, four more spikes were launched towards our position. Angel extended his wings and launched himself upwards. The restrictive space of the building meant that he didn't get very far, and he took a hit to the right arm, and fell. The rest of us were luckier in that I was able to stop and hold the other three spikes. The man scowled and was preparing to launch more missiles, but out of the blue, he fell to the ground cursing, holding his head in pain.
White Queen: "Now, John. His spikes are sharp enough to penetrate his armor. Take him out."
"You mean, kill him?"
That was one of the few things about field work that unnerved me a little...
Storm: "This is a life or death mission, John. For the most part, it's kill or be killed. He's made his choice - and won't give up. He WILL kill us if he gets the chance to. And we've seen that he refuses to stay down. On top of that, he recovers quite quickly."
White Queen: "Do it now while I have him subdued."
That said, I flung the three spikes I was holding with all the telekinetic force I could muster at the man's head. They made contact and sliced right through his skull, embedding in the wall behind him. With a death groan, he crumpled to the floor, blood staining the mosaic finish. Rogue and Colossus had recovered by then and ran up to see to the descending Angel. He tore the spike out of his arm, and we watched as his healing factor got to work, instantly mending the tattered flesh.
Rogue: "That was some good aimin', John."
Colossus: "Yes, comrade. You are young, but a quick learner."
White Queen, Angel and Storm looked at me a little less supportingly.
Storm: "On the field of battle, the first thing to remember is to never hesitate to act. You or your teammates could end up dead as a result."
I guess the kid gloves were off. In my basic training, I never had to kill any simulated beings before. Logan never gave us any courses like that.
Storm: "This mission has only just begun. Let's get a move on."
We all followed her lead as she led us down the hallway...