Text in bold is used for emphasis. Text in italics indicates telepathic communication. Underlined text indicates any form of electronic communication.



Phoenix: Death Wish

Chapter Three


"Going Home"


They had engaged the blackbird into stealth mode and landed in the old, abandoned park next the former bridge. The firemen had by then arrived only to realize that the sudden shower had taken care of their job for them. With the spectacle of the fire gone, the crowd had dispersed. Police were also on the scene by then to assist in the rerouting of traffic via an alternative direction. The memory of the car we'd left parked in the middle of the street came back to Sam and he announced that he had to go back for it. And while he was at it, he might as well make the return trip to the...he didn't say the name of the place for fear that my father would disapprove of me going out with them again in the future. The Hellfire Club didn't sound like a parent friendly place.

Scott: "Well, make sure to keep your eyes open. Just in case."

Sam: "Will do, sir."

Sam took off and we five (Dad, Logan, Betsy, Ororo and me) went into the jet. Dad and Betsy went up to the piloting area, whilst Ororo and Logan sat down close together in a way that made me realize they probably wanted to be alone. That said, I chose to sit in a more or less empty region of the jet and enjoy the view from the air. Every now and then, I got the strange feeling that I was being watched though.




"Ororo's Plan"


Ororo leaned in closer to Logan and softly whispered her plan. Sure, the fire damage caused by those misguided mutant M.A.L.E. members was unfortunate. But their actions would at least have some positive consequences. That Toad in particular...

Logan: "Huh? How can -"

Ororo: "It's quite elementary my dear, Logie."

Logan: "How many times do I hafta ask you to stop callin' me that?"

Ororo: "But you call me Ro. Aren't we familiar enough with each other for me to have a nickname for you?"

Logan: "Familiarity breeds contempt."

Ororo: "Whatever. Back to what I was saying..."

Ororo smiled as she showed off some of the knowledge that came from being a Biology teacher. Toads were rather nasty amphibians that produced poisons from their parotid glands. Some frogs also did the same thing. As a matter of fact, some of the most powerful poisons in the world were of frog and toad origin. Like the dreaded batrochotoxin from the arrow poison frogs in South America...far deadlier than curare. And that Toad guy certainly lived up to his namesake - his slime could possibly be toxic.

Logan: "Batro...cho..."

Ororo: "Anyhow, I noticed some of that crystallized slime on John's forearm. The same kinda slime that Toad spit out on Samuel."

Ororo's plan was simplicity in itself. It would be relatively easy to obtain a sample of John's DNA that very night. All she had to do was express the fear that Toad's secretions could possibly be poisonous in nature. Maybe having a delayed effect even. Ororo would ask for a blood sample from Sam and from John and would claim to test them for any possible toxins introduced due to Toad's spit.

Logan: "You think maybe his spit could really be poisonous?"

Ororo: "Can't really say. So I better check it out just in case. Good thing he grabbed my boot with his tongue and didn't have any skin contact...yech!"

Ororo decided to check Sam and John's blood for toxins after all. But with the DNA extracted from John's blood, an extra test would be conducted. A DNA fingerprinting, paternity test... Of course she'd need a blood sample from Logan as well.

Logan: "And assuming you get the blood samples and run the test tonight...when would the results be back?"

Ororo: "In an ordinary medical lab...in a few days, about a week."

Logan smiled weakly. The laboratory of Hank McCoy could be called many things. But ordinary definitely was not one of them.

Logan: "And in Hank's lab?"

Ororo: "By tomorrow morning."

Both Logan and Ororo eyed John, who was busy taking in the night view out of his window...




"Any Landing You Can Walk Away From"


The basketball court to the west of the Mansion was never used for basketball games. The ones to the back of the school were. The west "basketball court" served as a cover to the underground hangar that housed both the Blackbird and the Hawk. They were both VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) craft. When the time came to use them, the basketball arena would slide open and they'd either take off or land. For the first time ever, I got to see the overheard view of it sliding open whilst in the Blackbird. The Blackbird slowly descended down towards the hangar.

THUMP!

The plane shook as it suddenly made contact with the ground...as if it had fallen the last foot or so instead of smoothly landing. Logan, Ororo and Betsy chuckled lightly, whilst my father sighed and mumbled an apology.

Betsy: "Told you I should handle the landing..."

Betsy regarded my father amusedly and mentioned that despite years of flight experience, dad still hadn't mastered the art of landing a bird right.

Scott: "Any landing you can walk away from is a GOOD landing."

Dad was making a joke? It had to be a joke because ordinarily he accepts nothing but the best. He wasn't smiling though.

Ororo: "And any landing you can walk away from, WITHOUT having to apologize..."

Logan rather wickedly completed Ororo's sentence,

Logan: "Is an even BETTER landing!"

All three once again had a minor fit of laughter at my father's expense...and I joined them, to his discomfort. He frowned and motioned for us to just exit the jet already, which all did without wasting anymore time. Betsy was rather in a hurry - she mysteriously didn't mention the specifics. Dad was probably anxious to go back to Emma (I hoped the call he got from Xavier meant that Emma's orgasmic hopes were dashed!). I was anxious to go spread the news of my night out to my friends. And Logan and Ororo...

Ororo: "John, is THAT by any chance, Toad's solidified spit on your arm?!"

She sounded quite alarmed. As a matter of fact, she looked it too. I followed her gaze and realized that when I had washed my hands, I had neglected the area just above my wrists. It was dark and I didn't see it. It must have been on my skin since my cell phone was snatched away from me. I hadn't been in contact with Toad directly (aside from hurling him telekinetically) since that first tongue encounter.

"Yeah, Miss Munroe."

Ororo: "John, I want to have your blood tested for toxins. And as soon as Samuel gets here, I'm going to insist in his case too."

She went on to explain that Toad obviously possessed amphibian-like mutant enhancements. And among them could be poisonous secretions! Like the ones real toads have.

"Hmmm, I feel okay."

Logan: "It could be a delayed poison. You know - it could take a while to act. And when it does..."

Logan slid his index finger across his neck, guillotine style...

Scott: "Good point, Logan. Get tested, son."

"But -"

Scott: "No buts! I'll see you later. Or...maybe I'll be asleep when you do come in. Just make sure and come home before twelve."

Asleep? Sleeping with the devil was more like it.

"Okay, okay."

Dad and Betsy left the hangar and headed for the elevator. Ororo motioned me along and I followed her down to Med Bay. Strangely, Logan followed us too. He was never known to tag along to Med Bay when students got their injuries during his gym classes even. He let them get themselves to Med Bay... Well, there was the time when Jubilee sprained her ankle and couldn't walk without a very bad limp. He'd taken her down to Med Bay himself. But that was only once and he never did anyone else the favor again. He himself never had any reason to be in the Med Bay because his healing factor healed him of...everything! Why would he have wanted to start that night of all the times? It wasn't like I was displaying any signs of being sick or anything.

"Don't you have anything better to do, Logan?"

Logan: "Nope. Besides, Ororo in a Lab Coat, with them instruments always turns me on big time. Maybe when she's done with you, she can offer me some sexual healin', eh?"

Kinky role-playing?

Ororo: "It's the one ailment that healing factor of his can't take care of."

Ororo and Logan grinned a tad bit lasciviously...to my discomfort...




"We're Sorry Boss Lady"


Location: Unknown


Raven Darkholme (better known to the general public as the mutant terrorist - Mystique) gazed upon three of her M.A.L.E. members with the utmost disgust. A simple task - basic arson - and they couldn't pull it off. Despite the fact that one of them, Pyro, specialized in the manipulation and control of fire! Human arsonists burned property down on an almost routine basis!

Pyro: "W-we're sorry, boss lady. But -"

What was more, she had already assigned the group's telepath, Wits, to the task of getting rid of the security. Earlier that night, Wits had succeeded in mentally controlling the security personnel and sending them home. It spared Toad, Pyro and Quicksilver a fight. Not that they wouldn't have won, but no doubt one of the security guards would have alerted the police in the process. So with them gone, it should have been a cinch.

Toad: "But there were some nosey mutant gits who tried to stop us, boss."

Mystique: "Tried to? Oh they more than tried. They succeeded. Gateway teleported two of you back unconscious! Describe them!"

Quicksilver: "Well, there were two teen ones in normal - civilian clothing. But they distracted us long enough for four more to arrive, in uniform. Grown ups."

Mystique: "Hmmm. What were the other four like?"

Toad: "It started to rain and when we looked up, we saw that this lady was causing it. Then - "

Mystique: "Ha, the X-men. They've been rather quiet since that Alkali Lake fiasco."

But then again, thought Mystique, so had the Brotherhood. Aside from forming its junior incarnation, the M.A.L.E. At the time of the Alkali Lake incident, about a year ago, the ranks of the Brotherhood had been reduced to a barebones membership of two - Magneto and Mystique. Sabretooth and Avalanche were still incarcerated. And until a sufficient force was gathered, it would be impossible to get them back. Well, maybe not impossible. Magneto could probably pull it off. But it would involve putting him at risk of capture. He was absolutely indispensable. So no matter how much he wished two of his prized henchmen free - Mystique made him wait.

Mystique: "Judging by the rain...the person you saw was no doubt that bitch, Storm. She looked prematurely gray, didn't she?"

All three nodded in slight surprise.

Mystique: "What about the others?"

Pyro: "There was this guy who shot beams out of his eyes. Or at least I think it was his eyes. He was wearing something on his head, so I can't be totally sure."

Cyclops, thought Mystique. The X-man team leader. After he saw what Xavier's dream did to his wife, he still allowed himself to be swayed by the old geezer's machinations? They saw the damage that Xavier's foolish dreams could inflict. Even after the death of Jean Grey, they still followed his line of thinking? Xavier was a very clever brainwasher after all...

Quicksilver: "And a clawed guy...and a purple haired lady."

Mystique: "Wolverine and Psylocke."

Pyro: "How do you know them?"

Mystique: "Let's just say that before you...I conducted my own schemes. And they were a constant thorn in my side."

Mystique had not yet revealed that she was a member of the Brotherhood to her new charges. The Brotherhood was well known to be exceedingly ruthless, and she felt that inducting new pawns into her ranks would be difficult if they knew the truth. People might be afraid to join if they thought they would be ordered to commit some of the most "heinous" acts for their own benefit. Some people are just too soft to have what it takes to ensure their own survival.

Everyone in the country knew the faces of Magneto, Sabretooth and Avalanche following their capture after the Liberty Island affair. Mystique had avoided capture by simply changing her form to resemble one of the security guards wounded in the battle to gain access to Liberty Island. The X-men had arrived and defeated Magneto and the others. They were captured and their faces made known. Mystique had spent the next seven years plotting to rescue Magneto from the plastic prison they designed for him...

She succeeded. Just at the time when Professor Xavier was captured by one dissatisfied parent of his school. Apparently the student involved couldn't be "cured", and the father took his son away...and when he got home, he lashed out at his parents, inadvertently killing his mother. Thus the father, a military man, Colonel Striker, captured Xavier and whisked him away to Alkali. There he had built his own version of Cerebro and tried to coerce Charles to link to the mind of every mutant on the planet, killing all the dangerous "freaks" out of revenge.

Since Striker was a regular interrogator of Magneto whilst he was in his cell, Magneto knew of the plot. And when Mystique freed him, they set about trying to stop him. It meant that they had to work with the X-men. They had succeeded in fighting their way through to Charles. And since Magneto was one of the original designers of Cerebro, he used his powers to reconfigure the device so that it would kill humans instead. Then he and Mystique started to make their getaway. Unfortunately, the X-men reached their mentor in time to stop him. Pity that the fight to get into the facility had weakened the dam severely. Xavier made them all stay behind to save the human followers of Striker (many of whom he believed to be merely misguided), and it cost them the life of one of their own...Jean Grey Summers. Mystique was broken out of her trip down memory lane...

Pyro: "If we are going to stop these Friends of Humanity bastards, then how do we deal with these guys."

Mystique: "They call themselves the X-men. And as to how to deal with them...well leave that to me for now."

Looks like I'll have to conduct a little espionage/sabotage once again, thought Mystique. And fast too if she wanted her plans to bear fruition. She'd need Magneto's authorization though. But it wouldn't be too hard to get - so long as she didn't plan on killing Charles Xavier. The Friends of Humanity (FOH) had to be stopped before their association became anymore powerful...




"At Taste Of Her Own Medicine"


I woke up Saturday morning still feeling a little tired. After Friday's Danger Room exercise with the other Alphas, I didn't have a chance to really kick back. And then there was that fight against the M.A.L.E. And as if that weren't enough, Ororo kept me back more than a little while in the Med Bay. After the blood withdrawal, she made sure to have my arm properly cleansed and disinfected - just in case her suspicions were true. I didn't have it in me to go find my friends afterwards. I just needed sleep. So I just jumped into bed...

And awoke sometime after seven...ravenous. As I made my way to the kitchen, I noticed that something smelled good. Dad must not have wanted to go out to the lakeside that weekend, I thought. When I made my way into the kitchen, I walked in on dad playfully hugging Emma from behind as she prepared something or other at the counter. Emma, so she stayed overnight. Dad quickly cut it out when he heard me enter and took a seat at the table.

"Good morning, dad."

Scott: "Eh hem."

"And Emma."

She turned around to face me and cheerfully returned a response. They both seemed to be rather...happy and they had that "glow" about them. I looked from one to the other and then I noticed something. A very familiar housecoat. With a faded stain over the chest. Mom's coat. And she had stained it with coffee the very morning when she went out to her final mission.

"Mom's housecoat."

Scott: "John..."

"No. Anymore of her clothes you'd like to have Frost wear?"

Emma: "I only borrowed it so that I - "

"She has some really nice dresses. Why don't you go try those on for size while you're at it?"

Dad's back was turned to Emma. She was scowling and looked downright pissed. For that matter, dad looked pretty angry too. We were on an "up" for the past couple of days. Now, we seemed to be on the "down" phase. And it wasn't my fault for that matter. It's bad enough to be dating and sexing Emma when barely a year had passed. But then to start passing along mom's personal possessions to her too?

The first couple of months after the death, he'd get upset (not mad exactly, just sadder) when I'd keep replacing her figurine collection. Mom had a figurine collection that she was rather attached to. Some were animal, some were angelic and some were just plain everyday figures of children and people. Dad had cleared them away from the mantelpiece and such. I took them back out, cleaned them and put them back on. There was one in particular she liked, a little boy that she said reminded her of me when she bought it. I liked having them there. But when I saw that it was disturbing dad, I put them away and kept her favorite in my room instead. I took his feelings into account. He was supposed to consider mine - especially as it was his obligation to as a father!

Emma put on the best imitation hurt look I'd ever seen and rushed up the stairs. Dad called after her but she kept up with the running. When he looked at me it was with his typically pissed expression.

Scott: "You know, I actually thought that we were making some progress."

"We were. But then you had to go and ruin it."

Scott: "By lending Emma a housecoat?"

It wasn't just a housecoat. As far as I was concerned, it was as sacred as any religious relic. Mom was a martyr after all. And Emma Frost was just not worthy enough to touch, far less to wear it.

"Yes."

Emma: "She was up early so that she could fix us breakfast. She even made Belgian waffles!"

Damn, Emma was really trying her all. Taking her down wouldn't be easy. Belgian waffles were my favorite. Seconds after I had the thought, dad pointed it out verbally and said that Emma had made them especially for me, and that I was rude and ungrateful.

"How the hell would she know they're my favorite anyway?! You two always talk about me behind me back!"

Scott: "We talk about you because she's interested in you. Whatever you may believe, she does care about you and wants to get to know you. Your likes and dislikes... She just doesn't know how to get you to like her."

It was simple. I'd like her better if she got the hell out of our personal lives and went back to the way she was before mom died. Minus the overly critical comments she'd make (like she did in English class) of course. Naturally, with dad being so mad, I didn't think that would have been the smartest thing to say. The problem was, I was the kind of person who always had to get the last word in. And not being able to think of anything to say was eating me up!

Emma: "Scott, I-I'll see you later."

She was back in her usual garb and quickly exiting the door. Her face was wet. Dad obviously thought that she was crying upstairs. But I knew better - it must have been water.

Scott: "Wait, Emma, don't go!"

Emma turned around and looked upon me very, very apologetically and said that she was sorry to have offended me so. She had no idea that wearing the housecoat would have affected me like that. Somebody get me the number for the Academy! I think I've just found the next candidate for the Best Actress award! I had a flash of revelation then...

Emma's entire plot depended upon her nice, outer fašade. The more rude and spiteful to her I was, the more I looked bad...and the better she looked. She seemed all the more nice, and caring and patient (qualities that dad would have liked!). Time to use her own strategy against her! Why hadn't I thought of that before?! As a guy, my first thoughts were to assume an overt - aggressive attitude. But sometimes, I guess, a covert, two-faced strategy worked best. Pity I had never asked for advice on how to split two people up from Amara or Jubilee. Them two schemish girls mighta enlightened me waay sooner! Time to get to work and use some dramatic fleer!

I put on the most sincere expression that I could, modelled after one of the most manipulative, two-faced people I "knew". None other than Bree Van de Kamp herself! Thank you for being such a talented actress, Marcia Cross! I quickly went up to Emma and held her arm.

"Wait, I-I'm sorry, Miss Frost."

Emma looked as though she had been bitch slapped. She almost jumped out of her skin! I quickly glanced at dad and saw that he was pretty much the same. I mentally smiled to myself. If she was so NICE to the outside world, then she'd be obliged to accept my apology.

Emma: "Huh?"

"Why don't you stay for breakfast? I mean, you did wake up early and prepared it all. You should stay and have some...with us."

Dad walked over and took her other arm and together we led her back, flabbergasted, to the kitchen table. Dad had by then begun smiling again, and Emma returned in kind. I didn't miss the distrusting glance she threw me though. Breakfast continued...

"Mhmmm, these Belgian waffles are heavenly, Miss Frost."

Emma: "Why thank you, John. But please, call me Emma."

Dad was seemingly so happy, he didn't mind the first name basis at all! I admit I preferred calling her MISS Frost since it emphasized her single status. But what the hay, short term sacrifice for long term gain...or loss (of Emma) rather...

"Okay, Emma."

Scott: "See how nice we can all get along if you try, son."

I nodded and looked at Emma repentantly once more. Come on, eyes! Get shiny! Don't fail me now!

"I'm so, so sorry about the way I've been behaving...treating you, Emma. It's just - sniff sniff - it's so hard, you know?"

Yes! My eyes were watering up! Although it was probably due to the fact that I was suppressing some serious laughter...and not any kind of remorse. (^_^)

Emma: "I understand, dear. And I want you to know - I'm always here if you need someone to talk to."

"Thanks so much, Emma! It means a lot to me."

Dad's head was shifting from Emma to me and back.

Scott: "Excuse me. But I just - have to get a camera! Today is the start of something good! I can feel it. Definitely warrants preserving!"

Okay...dad had next to no sense of intuition. He sped off upstairs. Immediately Emma's smile faded - as did mine. We regarded each other with a coldness as profound as the warmth we had shown each other earlier.

Emma: "I don't know what you have up your sleeve, John. But I don't buy your phoney apologies one bit!"

"I was never taken in by you either, MISS Frost. Time to give you a taste of your own medicine. Ooh, speaking of taste...for the record - these waffles are downright sickening!"

She scowled and I returned the favor (along with an exaggerated grimace due to the said waffles - which were actually quite delectable...).

Scott: "Movie time!"

Dad's footsteps could be heard running down the stairs. Instantly both Emma and me put on our sunny smiles once again.

Emma: This isn't over.

Uh huh. You heard, dad. This is just the start of something good.

The beginning of the end for Emma Frost's slutty manipulations. At that thought, my smiles became very genuine. (^_^) Then the thoughts were pushed aside by an incoming telepathic message. The Professor? Yikes! I hoped to God he didn't hear what I was thinking of.

Professor Xavier: Trust me when I say that I didn't. Was it anything of consequence? Is something bothering you?

No, sir. Just, um...

I stopped smiling and became serious. Dad seemed to be waiting to see if I was going to completely reverse my mood once more.

"It's the Professor."

Dad: "Oh. What does he want?"

What's up, sir?

Professor Xavier: I'd like you to make your way down to the subbasement when you've finished having breakfast. Meet me in the Cerebro room.

Cerebro? What do you want me -

Professor Xavier: You'll see.

Leaving me with such a cryptic message, the Professor made his mental exit...




"Ah...Love..."


Logan hadn't had much sleep the night before. Skipping breakfast, he first headed down to the Subbasement, straight towards the Med Bay. He usually wasn't a morning person at the best of times. But when he passed Professor Xavier along the subbasement halls (heading out from the War Room after scanning the Global News Network as was his usual morning ritual) and didn't say good morning to him, that attracted attention.

Professor Xavier: "And a good morning to you too, Logan."

Logan: "Mornin', Chuck."

Professor Xavier: "Where are you off to in such a hurry?"

Logan couldn't exactly say Med Bay. Because then he'd be laughed at and disbelieved. And he couldn't say the Danger Room...because it was in the opposite direction.

Logan: "I'm lookin' for Ororo. Uh - you know where to find her?"

Professor Xavier: "She's in the Med Bay. She seems to have been there all night."

Xavier just made some comment that she really didn't have any real reason to be working herself so hard - and Logan breathed a sigh of relief.

Logan: "Well...I'll just go then."

Xavier nodded, watched Logan curiously and made his way towards the Cerebro Room. Ah...love, he thought...




"The Results"


Logan: "Well? You got the results yet?"

Ororo was tired and the dark rings under her eyes didn't do anything to hide that fact. She sighed at Logan's abrupt entrance and lack of common courtesy.

Ororo: "Good morning, Ro. I'm so sorry you didn't get any sleep last night. But I'm even more grateful than sorry that you'd work all night to do me this favor. By the way...you're looking positively elegant today...how DO you do it?"

Logan smiled weakly in mild embarrassment and repeated the statements with as much feeling as he could. Then he repeated his very first question.

Ororo: "Your paternity test is complete. But I wanted to view the results with you here. And I...did um...a few more tests. Which is what really took up my time."

Logan eyed her curiously. A few more tests? What was that supposed to mean?

Ororo: "It's like this..."

She explained that she went poking about into Hank's private samples and extracted volumes of blood taken from all the male members of the staff and the X-men during the past physicals. Hank apparently maintained a genetic bank. In addition to fingerprinting Logan's DNA for comparison's with John, she was checking to see if any other man could be the father! Logan looked at the large monitor behind Ororo and read the names...

Logan: "You even checked out Hank himself?! And the Professor?!"

Ororo blushed lightly and attempted to justify herself. Some women are turned on by body hair (in Hank's case)...and um...maturity in a man (in the Professor's). She added that Hank had both ample body hair and maturity - plus plus. Logan looked at her aghast!

Logan: "What kind of a woman did you take her for?!"

Ororo: "Look, I'm not saying that Jean was a slut. But she wasn't a saint. And people who cheat on their lovers...sometimes go around town quite a bit. I was just making sure."

Logan: "She wasn't. She'd never -"

Ororo interrupted and altered Logan's statement,

Ororo: "Cheat on you while you were both cheating on Scott? Like I keep saying, it may have been love on your part and just infatuation on her's."

Logan was getting a little pissed. But he calmed himself down when he realized that Ororo didn't mean any disrespect towards Jean. Ororo made it clear that she just wanted to be certain of John's parentage herself.

Ororo: "Anyhow. I've determined that none of the others could be John's father. Which just leaves you and Scott. And those are the two I wanted to look at with you here."

Logan drew closer to the monitor at Ororo's insistence. When they were both ready, Ororo typed in the command to reveal Scott's status...

Ororo: "Scott...isn't the father..."

Both she and Logan pondered. It could still mean that Jean had possibly slept with someone else besides Scott and Logan...

Logan: "Oh shit..."

She typed in another command.

Logan: "That's mine?"

Ororo: "Yeah, look at all those common gene markers. Definitely a positive genetic match..."

Logan: "I'm - "

Ororo: "A dad? Uh huh."

For the first time ever, Logan needed to sit down upon hearing a bit of news...




"Bird Of A Feather"


It was a little after nine. The sun was brightly shining, the birds were singing... Well, except for one particular bird. It was a raven and it was perched on the roof of the Xavier Mansion. It didn't even seem willing to caw. And none of the other birds dared to wander near it. Birds of a feather flock together, and that bird just didn't belong. And for good reason - for it was none other than Raven Darkholme (Mystique) herself. Her shape shifting powers allowed her to assume the form of anyone or anything. The raven form was one of her favorites, especially as it was her namesake. The bird flew towards the back of the building and landed on the lawn, transforming into a tiny fly. In that form, it was all the easier to gain entrance to the Mansion. First thing's first, finding Xavier himself. I hope I don't get swatted, she thought to herself...




"In The Med Bay...And What John Found There"


When Professor Xavier contacted me earlier that morning, I was just about done with breakfast anyway. So I didn't waste anymore time with dad and Emma. I'd have liked to have gotten some time for myself that morning, to at least find and talk with my friends. But I guess being in the Alpha Squad meant sacrificing aspects of your personal lives at times. The Professor sounded a little urgent when he contacted me. Well...either urgent or excited. So I made my way as quickly as possible to the main elevator and punched in the subbasement access code. Mercifully, I got it right on the first try. (1612-9231-5355)

Upon exiting the elevator, I remembered the blood toxin testing that Ororo was adamant that she perform the night before. She was well known throughout the school as Hank McCoy's right arm girl. And I swear she just LIVED in the lab. So I decided that I'd check it out to see if she was there and if the results were in. She said that she was going to oversee the tests being run personally instead of leaving the computer to do it. That way it'd be done quicker.

Professor?

Professor Xavier: Yes?

Is it alright if I just check in with Ororo to make sure that I'm not poisoned or anything after last night? It'll only take a minute.

Professor Xavier: Of course.

I thanked him and went to the Med Bay door. It was open at all times and to all students just in case of emergencies. So I didn't even think of knocking or anything. I just opened the door and went inside, talking as I entered,

"Uh, Miss Munroe, I was wondering if - "

But I stopped midsentence when I met up with her face to face. She looked at me all wide-eyed. Logan was with her in there. And he did not look happy. Well, most times he doesn't look happy. But I'd never seen him so sullen before. And considering that he usually seems to bottle up his feelings - that was pretty damned extreme. My telepathy hardly ever picked up emotions from people unless they were exceptionally intense. And whilst Professor Xavier said that he believed that my telepathy was also being augmented, it hadn't flared up like my telekinesis had. But back to the point - I definitely sensed turmoil from Logan. A heady mix of anger, sadness and an overwhelming sense of regret. Both Ororo and Logan looked up at me and stared. Man, did I ever feel like I was intruding!

"I-I'm sorry. I just wanted to find out about the test results. But this must not be a good time. I'll come back later."

Ororo: "It's fine, John. You're clean."

"Okay then. Thanks."

With a very awkward feeling, I exited the room. It was made even more awkward by the fact that Logan hadn't stopped looking at me since I had entered. I hoped he wasn't angry that I'd just walked in and saw him like that. He's one of them tough guys, who doesn't show emotions much. But it was the Med Bay. If they wanted to have a heart to heart, that wasn't the place to be doing it in. A little shaken from the emotional shock, I made my way to the Cerebro room. The door promptly opened, which meant that Professor Xavier was aware of me waiting outside.

Cerebro was a massive supercomputer and cyberintelligence. It conducted a lot of the school's daily runnings...from controlling the security system, recording the world news for the X-men, designing the class timetables, marking examination scripts and turning on the sprinklers. Cerebro was also a machine that augmented telepathic powers via a headset. It was housed in a separate room all by itself. The room was of a spherical design with metal panels along the walls. When you walked through the door, you stepped out onto a long platform. At the end of which was the control center. You'd best not fall off the plaform because it was quite a drop...

"Good morning, Professor."

Professor Xavier: "Good morning, John. Your test results - everything okay?"

"Yes, sir."

Professor Xavier: "I bet you're wondering why I called you here this morning."

"Why, Professor Xavier, you must be reading my mind!"

Professor Xavier: "Well, I was wondering if you'd like to try your hand at Cerebro."

I gawked. No one was allowed to just try Cerebro. Emma and Betsy had free reign of it. As did the Professor, obviously. And I knew of students with very advanced telepathy being made to practise on it. But aside from them, the Cerebro room was off limits to everyone else. The only way to get in was via a retinal scan at the door...or for someone who was already inside to let you in.

"I don't know if I'm...Cerebro material."

The Professor dismissed my self-doubt and worries as one would a fly. Speaking of which, there seemed to be one buzzing around in there... In the complete silence of the room, it was very noticeable. Shoo! Get!

Professor Xavier: "I'm almost certain that your telepathy is also being augmented."

"You never mentioned how."

Professor Xavier: "When Emma and I entered your home the morning after you first surged...phenomena that wasn't happening prior to our arrival started to transpire."

He went on to explain that picture frames had started to shake downstairs. And when he and Emma came upstairs, an ornament flew off the wall and hit her on the head! I was under the impression that only downstairs was being affected by my powers.

Professor Xavier: "So was I. But that ornament hit only Emma and then nothing else moved..."

He was convinced that I was subconsciously aware that Emma had entered my house in my sleep.

Professor Xavier: "It's no secret from me that you don't like her."

Since I was supposed to be using Emma's own strategy against her, I decided to try and change that idea of his.

"I've seen the error of my ways. Emma...ain't all that bad of a person."

He regarded me very dubiously, but smiled generously nonetheless.

"About Cerebro - isn't it dangerous for people who aren't mentally strong enough to use it?"

Professor Xavier: "Oh, I'm pretty convinced that your mind is strong enough. With the levels of psionic energy you're generating, I don't think we have anything to worry about."

I decided to give it a try. I was always curious about what it would feel like to use Cerebro.

Professor Xavier: "Just have a seat and put on the helmet."

I complied. The Professor took me through some relaxation exercises that involved deep breathing and finding my "center". Whatever that meant. I did feel more at ease at the end though. Then, he called Cerebro to attention and verbally commanded it to activate. It responded in the affirmative and the room was hummed to life. The panels on the walls seemed to fade away and the image of white-gray "static" could be seen along the walls length.

Professor Xavier: "Cerebro can process mental data and convert it into a visual representation of the same."

"Huh?"

He totally lost me there - partly because I was too easily distracted by the grandeur of sitting in that plush chair, wearing the badass helmet. He chuckled and went on to explain in the simplest way for my benefit.

Professor Xavier: "It can make thoughts visible to others and a whole lot more."

Instantly I tensed and made to remove the helmet.

Professor Xavier: "Something wrong?"

"What about my thoughts? Will it -"

He set my mind at ease. He had apparently set the machine to ignore the mental impressions of the user. Good. So there was no chance of my mind wandering to something sexual (horny teen here!) and treating him to a sight that might have shocked the poor old guy into a heart attack...

Professor Xavier: "I want you to think of someone you know here."

"Anyone?"

He nodded.

I thought of Ororo. She was right down there in the subbasement and therefore, close by. Amazingly, the static cleared and the entire room went black. Dancing in the air in front of me, was a single white light.

Professor Xavier: "That light represents, whoever it is you're thinking of. Their consciousness to be exact. I want you to open up your mind now to its fullest - but very gradually. Just as you would do if you were trying your utmost to receive an incoming, weak telepathic message."

I once again complied, paying very close attention to the part about doing it gradually. Slowly the room lit up as more and more sparks of light appeared. As my mind detected more and more minds around the school and its grounds, sparks just started popping up all over the place...

Professor Xavier: "Very, very good, John."

He paused for a moment.

Professor Xavier: "Are you tired?"

I grew puzzled. Why would I be? We had barely spent any time working with Cerebro at all.

"No. I feel normal."

Professor Xavier: "Well, I'll have you know what you just did took Emma an hour and a half of hard work to accomplish. And she felt the need to sleep for the rest of the day when she tried it. That was when I first trained her."

I gasped. But Emma Frost was one of the most powerful telepaths on record! I expressed my disbelief verbally too.

Professor Xavier: "It's true. It takes untrained telepaths a while before they can build up the required level of psychic energy to use Cerebro. But since your surge, you are on a constant and ever increasing...high. I trust you see why you need to keep up with your training?"

I nodded. There must not ever be a point where my energy level exceeds my ability to control it, explained the Professor.

Professor Xavier: "You have more power than you can imagine, John. You must always be the one in control, not your powers. Psychic powers are very often linked to the subconscious parts of our minds. Because that's where the energy comes from - the deepest parts of our psyches. And because of that, psychic powers can respond and act as if they have a mind of their own..."

Like when I made that lamp fly across the room towards Emma? I hadn't consciously wanted to do that. But my anger at Emma was so strong, my powers did it nonetheless.

"Professor?"

Professor Xavier: "Hmm?"

"Am I - dangerous?"

The question seemed to have taken him off guard. But ever since I had my tarot and rune readings with Risk, Tarot and Rune, I was beginning to wonder...

Professor Xavier: "Danger only arises when abuse of power takes place, or through a lack of control. As long as you don't abuse your power, and work diligently to stay within your controlling boundary lines, you will pose no danger."

Another question popped into my mind.

"And...you told me that my abilities were growing at a fast rate. And just now you said that my psychic energy level is on an ever increasing high. When will it stop?"

Professor Xavier: "We honestly don't know, John. But...based on the results of the tests that Hank's conducted...there's no indication that it is going to stop...at least not anytime within the foreseeable future."

Hank had conducted tests on Wednesday. It was Saturday morning.

"When did these results come in?"

Professor Xavier: "Well...Thursday morning."

Thursday? Something that concerned me so profoundly, and he didn't see it fit to tell me? I had to ask him to find out?

"Did you tell dad?"

Professor Xavier: "Not yet. He knows about the accelerated development of your powers of course. But Hank and I haven't discussed the technicalities of your results with him."

"Why?"

By then it was easy to see that he was very uncomfortable.

Professor Xavier: "We just wanted to make sure that there wasn't an error with the results. We've never come across unlimited potential before."

Unlimited potential?

"Were there any mistakes?"

He replied that there were none.

"Um...what does unlimited potential mean?"

Professor Xavier: "Every mutant has their limits. A set target point that they cannot push their powers beyond and such."

He went on to explain it further in the context of telekinesis, so that I could understand it better. There were weight constraints involved with telekinesis. Then there were limits as to how many objects telekinetics could affect simultaneously. Added to that, the sizes and states of matter (solid, liquid, gas) also contributed to the set of constraints. As a further level of complexity, most telekinetics could only affect matter and not energy. And then there was also the limit as to whether telekinetics could affect matter on the molecular level, reconfiguring matter at will.

"Reconfiguring matter?"

The Professor said that he'd simplify it for me.

Professor Xavier: "Oh yes. Everything in existence is made up of atoms of different elements. You DO know that from your science at least?"

I nodded. I did understand that basic concept from Chemistry.

Professor Xavier: "And what really matters is how these different elements are bonded with each other and arranged in space. Telekinetics, ones with their powers highly developed, can at times break the bonds that hold molecules together and reconfigure matter, changing one substance to another one entirely. All it involves is moving individual atoms and attaching them to each other in different ways."

I was flabbergasted! He was saying it was possible to transform matter on the molecular level like...Lego blocks?!

Professor Xavier: "And from what we can tell...these limitations will eventually be inconsequential to you. You're very special Jonathan. Hank and I - we think that perhaps you are the next step in mutantkind's continuing evolution."

"I don't understand."

Professor Xavier: "Evolution never stops, John. It is the driving force that continuously alters all creatures through mutation. The process is slow, ordinarily taking thousands of years. But every now and then, it occurs in leaps and bounds. Every now and then, Mother Nature, the greatest scientist of all, stumbles upon a breakthrough."

According to Professor Xavier's line of thinking, mutants were one example of a breakthrough in evolution. A group of humans first starting to walk upright, development of a more complex brain and the opposable thumb were others.

Professor Xavier: "Mutation is a rare event. And sometimes it produces harmful deformities, or traits that are neutral. But when a trait is produced that confers a great advantage, the creatures with them thrive better than those without and their offspring often inherit the enhancement. Your children may very well - "

Offspring? Sorry Prof, but there ain't gonna be any kids.

"Did...my mother ever show signs of anything close to this?"

Professor Xavier: "Jean was... John, I'm sure that you appreciate that there are certain things that I should not tell you."

"But Prof - "

He motioned for me to hear him out.

Professor Xavier: "But I do believe that you deserve to know nonetheless. I'll have a word with your father...he's the best person to talk to."

"Thank you."

I knew then that I was finally going to be officially told the truth. Even though I already knew (by listening in on dad's nightmare when we visited Alkali Lake), I wanted it to be told officially. That way I wouldn't have to constantly guard against the slip of revealing how much I really knew due to eavesdropping. I couldn't catch myself all the time. Sooner or later I would slip up.

Professor Xavier: "Well, let's continue shall we?"

I nodded and once more focussed my attention back towards the minds at the school...




"We So Need To Talk"


The funny thing about plans is how quickly they can change when the environment or circumstances warrant them to. Even when well thought out. Mystique had originally planned on entering the Xavier Mansion and disabling the good Professor. And while she was at it, wreaking havok with their computer systems. But that was before she found Xavier in the subbasement with Cerebro and a student. The boy did seem very familiar to her somehow. Xavier had called him John. She learned later during their conversation that he was the son of Cyclops and Jean. But all that was of no account compared to everything else she had seen and heard...

Mystique: "Erik, we so need to talk. Privately, in person, and today."

Erik: "I trust what you have to say is urgent enough to warrant -"

Mystique: "Oh it IS, Erik. Trust me on that."

Ordinarily, Mystique would never have even contemplated interrupting Magneto. But she was far too excited to pay any heed.

Erik: "You won't give me a small hint?"

Mystique: "Do you remember Jean?"

Erik: "How could I forget?"

Mystique: "She has a son and -"

Erik: "Oh? And your point is?"

Mystique: "Xavier himself called him the next step in mutant-kind's evolution...you really need to hear what I heard."

A long silence pervaded before Erik spoke again. Ah, Mystique thought, I've gotten him interested.

Erik: "Meet me at our usual place. At two."

Mystique: "Shan't be late."

Smiling wickedly to herself, Mystique turned off her cell phone and began to prepare for her rendezvous...




"Trying To Make A Connection"


After about two hours more of telepathic practising with Professor Xavier, I was free to go enjoy what (little) remained of my Saturday morning. In closing, the Professor calibrated Cerebro's settings to suit me and encouraged me to feel free to practise on my own whenever I wanted to. I left totally awed. We had progressed fairly quickly. I was always under the impression that Cerebro only allowed telepaths to extend their influences further. But nearing the end of the session, I was able to reach out with my mind and move items around the school - like retrieving a ball stuck in one of the Mansion's trees. I was already familiar with moving items I couldn't see. But I never had such range before. And it could be used to not only see memories, but RECORD them too! And if you had the skill and authorization...ALTER them to suit your tastes! Cerebro was a piece of work alright. Still, as fun as using Cerebro was, I was anxious to go meet my friends.

Logan: "Hey, kid. Hold the elevator."

Turning around, I saw that Logan was walking towards the elevator. I stopped the doors from closing and while waiting for him to make it up to my position, I scrutinized his facial expression. He wasn't wearing that overly disturbing look that he was earlier. That was a good sign, I guessed. Presently, he made it into the elevator and I looked away so that he wouldn't realize that I was studying him.

Logan: "So whatcha still doin' down here this time of morning? I thought all you came for was your test results."

Wait a minute, Logan's eyes were shifty. His eyes are never shifty! He must be nervous. All because I caught him in a moment of "weakness"...in a display of sappy emotion?

"I was with the Professor. We were working with Cerebro."

He whistled in an impressed manner. It wasn't like Logan to give such overt compliments. Since my "surge", he hadn't really been treating me any differently. And he certainly hadn't been giving me any praise because of my power increase. When it came to Logan, he only appreciated skill through practise and hard work. My surge was just due to genes and no effort on my part.

Logan: "Really? Doing what?"

Logan making casual conversation? Okay, he must really be nervous. And all to preserve a macho fašade?

"Look, I won't tell anyone or anything. Okay?"

Logan: "What? About this morning?"

Yeah, what else?

"Yeah. I didn't see, or hear anything."

A couple awkward moments of silence passed by.

Logan: "I was just - well you just walked in at a bad time."

"You two were having a heart to heart in a bad place."

He smiled a little. Funny, he was smiling but didn't really seem any happier. It didn't really look genuine at all. He opened his mouth to say something but just then the elevator doors slid apart. I nodded to him and stepped out onto the ground floor of the Mansion, making my way to the back door. You know the feeling you get when someone is watching you? Sure enough when I turned around, I saw him watching me. He quickly averted his gaze and walked off in the opposite direction. He must have been worried that I had overheard something, and was trying to figure out if he was right in that guess or not. Tossing the thought aside, I started out towards the back yard. During my time with Cerebro, I had successfully located my friends there. Time to go tell them about the night before and how heroic I was in the face of untold danger. (^_^) Oh yeah...




"Closure And A New Beginning"


Logan stood pensively before the larger than life monument depicting Jean Grey Summers. His emotions were always complicated at best. But now, he didn't even have a word to describe them. He felt angry. Deep down he couldn't help but suspect that Jean knew that John was his son, and kept it from him (by swearing he was Scott's) just so that the affair wouldn't come to light. Why else would she deny him a paternity test, beg him to drop the matter and just trust her? The sadness was stronger than the anger. Sixteen years had passed by. How many fathers lose their children and don't see them again for years to come...if they ever do? And there he was, seeing his own kid day after day and not knowing it.

Logan: You knew, didn't you? I backed down for your sake, because I loved you. I guess you didn't give a shit about me.

The regret was the worst. Shouldn't he have pushed harder for a paternity? But then what? He might have learnt that John was his. But what did he know about raising kids? And on his own too?

Logan: I'd have at least tried to get to know him better. Somehow...

Family was the one thing Logan desired above all else. The X-men were as close as any friends could get. But they weren't his flesh and blood. He wanted to settle down one day. Have kids he could call his own. People he'd love and who'd love him in return. For the past couple of years he'd tried to fill the void a little with Jubilee. She was the closest thing to a daughter that he had. While it helped, it wasn't the same as having his own.

Ororo: "Somehow I knew I'd find you here."

Logan: "She's gone now. And she's left us all to deal with her damned mess."

Logan didn't turn around to face Ororo for fear that she'd see how close to tears he was. Somehow, she seemed to realize it in spite of his precautions. She walked up to him and wrapped her arms around him for support.

Ororo: "Shhh. Don't say such things."

After the affair Jean's relationship with Scott seemed to be as perfect as could be. She would have probably took her secrets with her to her natural death, Logan thought.

Logan: "They passed John around, here there and everywhere since he was a kid. They never spent the time they should have spent with him when he was growing up. No wonder he's always getting into trouble. And this - this bitch wouldn't tell me he was mine so that I could have a bigger part in his life?! I wouldn't have wrecked her marriage and she knew it."

Logan would have been more than willing - if Jean allowed - to play something of an uncle or such. He would have been content to at least have an active role in his son's life. Get to know him. Even if the relationship would have meant further deception. But her selfishness wouldn't have allowed him even that much. She privately frowned upon any real closeness between Logan and members of her family. She no doubt wanted to distance herself from him, so she wouldn't have to deal with constant guilty reminders.

Ororo: "I just knew that it would affect you like this. A person doesn't just learn that someone is their child and does nothing about it. No matter how much they think it's for their own good."

Logan: "I know it'selfish, but I want -"

Ororo: "To be a part of his life? It's not selfish, Logan. It's natural."

Logan: "But how can I?"

Ororo: "You need to go slow. You cannot expect to just drop a bomb like this on someone. You're all grown up and look at what it's doing to you. He's still developing...it'll be worse for him."

Logan: "What do I do?"

Ororo: "Try to get to know him better for now. Make a little more conversation."

Logan: "I tried that just now. He seemed to think I was worried about him walking in on us this morning and finding me so shaken up."

Ororo: "Were you worried about that?"

Truth be told, that was the least of Logan's worries.

Ororo: "Don't take this the wrong way - but sometimes you make the students uncomfortable around you."

That was certainly true. Logan did call a lot of them nicknames and teased them and such in an attempt to become a little more familiar with them. But a lot of them seemed to take offence by it. And then there were the times when he had to be strict with them. He didn't want to let them think he was going too soft with them and risk them taking advantage of his "good" side.

Ororo: "Good side?"

Logan: "I...try, okay?"

Ororo: "Well, you're going to have to try harder in this case. But let's be clear on one thing. You are going to talk to him about this? Right?"

Logan didn't answer immediately.

Ororo: "It doesn't have to be tomorrow, or next week or the next five years. Only when you KNOW for a fact that he's ready."

Logan: "Yeah. I will talk to him...when he's ready for it."

Logan didn't like thinking about the effect that it would have on Scott. But he steeled himself. Scott and Jean had their chance. And as far as he was concerned, they both had neglected John for the greater part of his childhood. Sending the kid - MY kid, he corrected himself - to grandparents, Alex and Lorna... Scott always punished John more strictly than any of the other students, just to make an example of him. No wonder they couldn't seem to get along for any great length of time.

Ororo: "And since we're on the subject of talking...I hope you know that you can come talk to me anytime you want. And if you don't come to me and I feel you need to vent, I WILL break your doors down. I'm not letting you face this on your own."

Ororo, ever the kind-hearted one. No burden was too much for her to bear for the people she cared about. Logan shuddered slightly at the thought of how he'd have handled it all if she wasn't there to help him through it. It wasn't a thought he relished. He didn't have anyone else to turn to. He liked to think that he was strong. But even he needed a rock on occasion. And Ororo was always there waiting to help. She'd helped him learn the truth about his kid, and was prepared to follow it up with ongoing support. Logan turned around and looked at her with gratitude. At that moment, no one else in the world could be more beautiful in his eyes.

Ororo: "Log -"

The kiss was unexpected. But they each gave into it. When he broke it, they both stared at each other silently for several minutes...

Logan: "Come on."

Ororo: "H-huh?"

Logan: "It's almost time for lunch. I'm taking you out."

Locking hands together, they walked away from the monument...




"A Plot Is Hatched"


Later that day...


The Scandizzo diner. It was a seedy joint in a bad part of town. In years past it was considered to be a nice little place where you could take your family out to. Back when the paint wasn't peeling away and the waitresses didn't look like two-bit hookers. The clientele had since changed too. As did the opening hours - now it was a near twenty-four hour place. Mystique walked inside, disguised in a too-short, too-tight skirt...and a top that revealed a little too much cleavage,. She fit right in. Scanning the diner visually, she made her way to her usual table.

Sitting at it was an old man, wearing large dark glasses, a cap that fully covered his head and a scarf that reached almost up to his mouth. What a disguise, thought Mystique. It was obvious that he had been waiting for some time. The expression on his face was a little more than impatient. Sighing, Mystique sat down. Immediately, he demanded to know why she had kept him waiting for so long. He must not have known how difficult it was walking down the streets dressed as she was, with desperate men prowling all over.

Erik: "Down to business. What did you learn during your latest foray?"

Not wasting any time, huh? There were some good things about the Scandizzo diner. People knew to mind their own business. No one wanted to be nosy and risk hearing something that might put their life in danger. Of course there were exceptions to that rule. But they were far and few in between. Mystique promptly divulged the details of the discussion she had overheard earlier as well as all that she had seen.

Erik: "In fifteen minutes he managed to locate someone specific?"

Mystique: "And shortly after, he started sensing the minds of everyone around the Mansion."

Erik's shock was unparalleled. Decades ago, he and Charles Xavier weren't enemies at all. But the closest of friends. They shared the dream of human-mutant co-existence. Magneto had since wizened up. But during his time with Charles, he helped him build the machine known as Cerebro. So that with its help, Charles could extend his powers on the planetary scale if need be, to locate more mutants. As a co-designer of Cerebro, he knew its functional requirements. And no beginner could just sit in it and expect to accomplish what Mystique had reported. Cerebro was meant to boost the power of already trained, powerful psychics. Weak and mid range psychics would risk damage to their minds by its use.

Mystique: "I doubt the old sap would place his students at risk. He wasn't even slightly worried about that kid being in danger."

Erik: "Jean's son you say?"

Mystique: "You got it."

Jean's sudden rise to power was a mystery to Magneto. But he had one theory - that didn't really satisfy him. Charles always taught his students restraint. Charles called it the "ethical use of power". Magneto preferred to term it, "Denial of Self". Jean had always seemed to be a weak to mid-range telekinetic and telepath. Perhaps she was much more and merely denied using her full potential because of Charles' conditioning and teaching. The psychic power could have been amassing for years...and when the time came where she was forced to release it...

Erik: "Now that you mention her son...I'm forced to throw out my old theory."

Mystique: "How so?"

Jean would have had a long time after her powers manifested to build up that amount of power. John was still a teen and mutant powers tended to activate during the teenaged years. He didn't have the time to build up that kind of energy. And since he was a direct descendent of Jean...genetics had to be involved...

Mystique: "So you think that Jean was probably a lot more powerful than we thought."

Erik: "And it appears that her child has inherited it."

Mystique: "But why the hell didn't she use some of that power before that. She would have done a lot more damage to our cause."

Erik: "Maybe she couldn't then. Psychic powers are heavily influenced by emotional triggers. Maybe the thought of seeing her team die was enough to force it out of her."

Mystique: "I wonder what, if anything, forced it out of her son."

Erik: "Who can say."

Mystique: "So what do we do about...John."

Erik: "We need to study the situation first. From what you tell me concerning Cerebro, Charles is training him in the use of his powers quite quickly. We cannot let Charles have such a weapon in his arsenal. Especially in our current state - we're outnumbered as it is."

Mystique: "I'd rather have him in ours."

Erik: "The feeling is mutual my dear. I want you to infiltrate the Mansion. Pose as a student. Get those young ones to help you."

Mystique: "I'll keep an eye on the boy and learn some more."

It shouldn't be any trouble. Mystique would pose as a shapeshifting mutant. Shapeshifters' thought patterns were constantly changing and so they had a remarkable resistance against telepathic mind probes. There was little risk of Mystique being found out by telepathy. Of course, as Magneto pointed out, she had better take precautions to guard against Wolverine's nose. A nice spritz of perfume should prevent him from detecting her scent.

Erik: "Get the M.A.L.E. to raise some ruckus downtown. Let it attract attention. Pose as someone they're trying to coerce into joining. The media are bound to come running...and so will the X-men. They'll save you and no doubt offer you a place with them. And the rest will be child's play for you."

Mystique: "I suppose I'll have to get close to him."

Erik: "Shouldn't be too hard. He's a teenaged boy. Just assume the form of a beautiful girl and he just might come to YOU."

Magneto chuckled lightly, clearly enjoying a trip down memory lane.

Mystique: "Hey, maybe I should try to seduce him so he can get me pregnant. Who knows - the baby might eventually grow up to be just like him? Then again...he looks kinda young..."

Erik: "Too much of a long term plan. I want results a lot quicker than that. I'm getting along in years you know. Besides, with a father as stiff as Summers, I doubt he'd dare knock you up."

Magneto and Mystique chuckled at that. Although, deep down, they both wondered at the feasibility of that plan...nah.

Mystique: "Whatever. When shall I start?"

Magneto: "You know what I say. Why put off 'til tomorrow what you can do today."

Mystique: "Got it, sir."

At that Mystique got up, fended off two men at the door, and went about her way...




"Karaoke!"


Meanwhile...


Bobby, Ray and I looked at Amara and Jubilee with disbelief upon our faces.

Ray: "A surprise karaoke contest? You want us to -"

Bobby and Ray's belief was of the negative variety. Mine however was of the positive kind.

"Sounds cool."

Jubilee and Amara sided with me whilst shock was displayed on the boys' faces.

Bobby: "Who the hell came up with that idea?"

Jubilee: "It was Rogue's idea. I think it's cool. Besides...the winner gets three hundred dollars. And the consolation prizes are pretty hot too."

To Amara, because she was filthy rich, that wasn't much incentive. She merely wanted to show off the skills she claimed she had. For the rest of then - three hundred dollars would be welcome. Jubilee, Bobby and Ray were restricted to their allowances provided by the school. And since my birthday had recently come and gone...they were sorta broke.

"Besides Ray. If romance is what Vanessa is after...serenade her and see where it goes."

Amara caught my drift.

Amara: "And if you WIN, you can go take her out somewhere with the money."

Ray: "Couldn't you give me the money yourself? So that I don't have to go and make an ass out of myself onstage?"

Amara's reply was simple. She was NOT going to be giving a guy HER money so that he could go and spend it on some other girl. Not since one of her ex's was caught doing that. The memory was too painful...

Jubilee: "Oh it's on tonight! Come on, Amara. We gotta go research our divas!"

Divas?! Ooh, can I come? Didn't think so... (-_-) Like I'd ever dare to vocalize that desire... The girls left us then. Ray meanwhile had been giving the idea of serenading Vanessa, or at least singing to get her attention, some thought. But he had a problem. He had no idea what to sing. Ray's musical tastes were kinda limited. I really didn't think something heavy metal would have done anything positive in Vanessa's case. Bobby's suggestion was very helpful either.

Bobby: "I'm Too Sexy."

Ray: "Hmm, not a bad idea."

"You're both too stupid. Girls don't wanna hear that shit."

I sighed annoyed that even he'd be idiotic to suggest that song. That joke wasn't even funny. They both looked at me quizically. I gathered then that it wasn't a joke. They both were serious!

Ray: "How the heck would you know what girls wanna hear?"

Bobby: "You ain't ever had a girlfriend."

"Neither have you two."

Ray: "We had bitches at least."

The respect they showed to women was atrocious.

"Well, I really doubt that you'd snag Vanessa with that song. But WHAT would I know? You're sooo much smarter. It's a wonder how all of your past efforts have failed with a brain like yours."

Ray got sullen, and even slow, insensitive Bobby seemed upset that I'd say something so blunt.

Ray: "Well...what would you recommend?"

I had an idea at the tip of my tongue. But I pretended to have to think a little...

"Something by Bryan Adams."

Bobby: "Who?"

Idiots!

"Everything I Do... Yeah, that'd work."

It was obvious by then that they didn't have a clue about the song or the singer. Sigh, they had no appreciation for the eighties. What were the odds of them knowing about the seventies? I decided to poke a little fun...

"Or there is that song I heard at grandma's once."

Bobby: "Eh?"

Eh hem.

"If you change your mind, I'm the first in line! Honey I'm still free, take a chance on me! If you need me, let me know. I will be around! If you got no place to go when you're feelin' down!"

Ray: "Yes, yes! That's it!"

Pity ABBA was so gay.

"Unfortunately I can't remember any more of the song. We'll have to go with Everything I Do. Come on, mom had a CD collection."

Bobby: "We could just download it from the internet."

I put on an expression that was shocked and appalled. That was totally illegal! We didn't have credit cards and so I was sure what he was suggesting was an illegal free download. How WRONG!

Bobby: "Yeah, I guess. Shame on me."

"Good. Besides, today is Saturday. All the mansion computers are probably taken."

Like they almost always were during daylight hours. My computer was out of the question. Aside from the danger of them poking around (they pressed buttons and stuff without asking first) and finding my veritable porno stash, the filters on the home network didn't allow for mp3 downloads. Dad was very strict about infringing upon copyright laws. Oddly, as strict as dad was...mpegs and such were allowed... I think he must have been afraid that if I didn't have a sexual outlet, then I might act out my impulses elsewhere and bring shame upon him (like making him a grandfather too soon or something!).

Ray: "Well, let's go. We don't have much time to spare."

That said, I led the way towards my house...




"Something's Come Up"


I entered the house with Bobby and Ray and the first thing I noticed was how quiet it was. Emma and dad were at the start of a sappy movie marathon when I left home. But the place seemed deserted.

"Wait here."

Going into the kitchen I looked around on the kitchen table. Sure enough there was a note there.

"Something's come up... Mutant activity downtown....have to go handle it. Dinner will be in oven. Courtesy of Emma. Later."

Emma? Dinner. But it was nowhere near dinner time. He must have expected me in late and Emma was probably going to have to come in later to cook. Oh joy. I walked back towards my friends in the living room and saw that they were already getting themselves into trouble. Can't they learn to keep their hands to themselves?

Bobby: "What are these?"

"They're records."

Ray: "They look like big black CDs."

Bobby: "Look, it says over forty minutes of music... That all?"

"Okay, put down those records or my father will catch a fit if they're broken. Come on. Mom's stuff is in the attic."

Ah yes, the attic. The ONE place in our house that dad neglected. Mom was the one who cleaned out there. And since she's been gone we haven't really went up there except to dump old stuff. So we started making our way upstairs...




"The Attic...Repository Of Mysteries Untold"


Ray: "Smells really musty in here."

That it did. Maybe we should clean the place out. I had an inkling why dad hadn't taken over the position as keeper of the attic. There were just too many things that brought back memories in there. I fumbled about and located the light switch.

Bobby: "This place looks like a dump."

Considering it was my attic, that was okay. Bobby really should take a look at his dorm room. I ignored that comment and went rummaging around one of the shelves. Just old books and magazines...

Ray: "Whooo! Holy shit!"

I tossed a quick glance at Bobby and Ray and saw them smirking crazily. Making my way over to them, I saw that they were grinning at some sort of...was it a poster?

"What are you two laughing at?"

They tossed it to me. I unfolded it and...and my eyes all but popped out! It was as large as a poster. But it looked to be a drawing of some kind. The fact that it was so lifelike was shocking enough. But the subject matter made my heart beat so much, I thought I was going to have a heart attack! The drawing depicted two MEN! One was a dark-haired, tanned Adonis. And he had one arm wrapped around the other guy, a totally hot blond it seemed, who was standing a tad bit provocatively in front of him. The other arm of the tanned god was - he was smirking very wickedly - was snaking down the abs right into the pants of the blond! They were both shirtless and seemed to be glistening in the sun!

I looked at the bottom right hand corner of the drawing and saw initials.

"J.G. Jean Grey?"

Mom drew like that? The drawing was good...and yet sooo baaad.

Bobby: "It's titled on the back. Cruel Summer. Your mom was..."

Ray: "Maybe she drew it as a present to Summers."

Bobby and Ray laughed scandalously.

"So not funny."

Ray: "Then again, it could have been for her. I'm real attached to my lesbian porno collection."

I tossed the drawing aside - note to self, get that for yourself later! Bobby and Ray went about rummaging again. As did I...

"Ah, found it!"

Bryan Adams: The Best of Me. Now Ray could go practise for the karaoke contest. There was no response at my announcement though.

"I said I FOUND it!"

I looked behind me and saw that Bobby and Ray were cringed over something else and were shaking.

"What is it now?"

They turned to face me and shoved a heavy box into my direction. They both seemed to be holding in boisterous laughter. Lord, what more could they have found? I took the box nonetheless and scrutinzed its contents. Old sheets of paper? And they weren't a little pile of papers - they were a frickin' lot of them forming a very think stack. I took them up and read...

"A Slip of the Tongue."

"Andy and Mike go to Camp."

"He Likes it Rough."

"Every Tom, Dick and Harry."

"Jack Be Nimble, Jack Be Quick...blah, blah...Jack Jumped his Bones and Rode his Di -."

"Alex In Wonderland - Lick Me, Suck Me, Fuc -"

Ray: "Alex? I hope that your uncle didn't inspire that one."

Oh my fucking God! Each of the stories ended with a JG set of initials. Mom was into gay stuff?! I knew that there were a lot of girls into it - and the popularity of slash fiction would attest to that (^_~)...but MY mom?! How old was she when she wrote these things?! Lord, it wasn't even hidden or anything. She must have been confident that dad would leave the cleaning of the attic to her 'til kingdom come. I had the weirdest mix of feelings then. Something like sadness and regret. I know that some people were totally open minded towards others of another sexuality...until it invaded their own family. Then things were quite different. Still...would mom have been okay if she knew about me?

"Look, here's the CD. Let's go."

Ray and Bobby looked at me seriously then.

Ray: "Was this Bryan Adams dude gay?"

"What? No!"

Bobby: "Considering all that we've seen here today... And considering what your mom was into and that she was a fan of his..."

Ray: "Hey, I ain't singing no fag song up on stage."

Okay, that hurt. Especially as I always considered myself lucky in that my friends never really mentioned anything that remotely concerned gay stuff...

"Look, Adams, to the best of my knowledge, wasn't gay and his music isn't - "

Ray: "Look...I dunno. You could be mistaken. I think I'll just have to come up with something else."

Bobby: "I'm Too Sexy. I'm tellin, you. Let her know what she's missing."

Ass. Ray handed me back the CD and Bobby motioned for us to leave.

Bobby: "Come on. Let's get out of here before we all go gay or something. Jesus, all those sick stories -"

They both left the attic and started down the stairs. I felt more than a little mad at the both of them. But it was more than compensated for because I then knew for a fact that mom couldn't have been a homophobe or disgusted. Even if she wrote and drew those things years ago, she kept them. She didn't throw away or burn them or some shit like that. It was heartening. I was excited to read the stash, but I'd have to come back for it when I was alone. I'd just reassemble all the papers into a stack and leave it where Bobby and Ray had found the box, I decided. In the process of doing so, something fell out of the box and onto the ground. It was a small, silvery piece of jewellery.

"A...pendant?"

I picked up the silver object and scrutinzed it closely. I realized that it wasn't just a pendant. It also seemed to be some sort of key. What the heck was it doing all the way at the bottom of the box? And more importantly, what was it a key for? At the sound of Bobby and Ray's voices, I stuffed the papers back into the box, and put the key into my pocket...

Ray: "Dude, what's takin' you so long? You jackin' off to those stories up there or something?!"

Bobby's laughter could be heard.

Bobby: "Or maybe it's the drawing!"

Assholes...




"You Sure You're Homless?"


Meanwhile...


Ororo hugged the crying girl comfortingly as the X-men streaked homewards in the Blackbird. The M.A.L.E. must have decided to up the pace of their plans. Tracking down young mutants and trying to coerce them to join their ranks by force. The mutant ruffians had raised a fair bit of hell with the law enforcement too. At least the X-men were able to get the girl away from them.

Cyclops and Angel were up front piloting the jet. So comforting and reassuring were left to Ororo and Betsy. Logan sort of stood by. Ororo was of the opinion that the scene might help trigger his dormant parenting instincts. Whatever the hell that was supposed to mean, he thought. Still, there was something weird about the homeless teenaged girl's story. Logan interrupted the two women and asked a question that had been bothering him.

Logan: "You sure you're homeless?"

Ororo and Betsy looked at him a little disapprovingly. But Logan felt that he was in his rights. The girl, who identified herself as Ashley Montgomery, claimed that she was a runaway. But whilst she looked the part, she certainly didn't smell like it. As a matter of fact, she smelled downright heavenly.

Ashley: "Y-yes, s-sir."

She was heaving due to the sobs and Ororo and Betsy gave Logan looks that were meant to dissuade him from asking anymore questions.

Logan: "How long ago did you run away?"

The two women eyed him piercingly.

Ashley: "About two weeks ago."

Two weeks, not a very long time. It sounded reasonable.

Logan: "You smell really nice...for a person living on the streets."

The girl seemed to get a little irate, but she quickly composed herself.

Ashley: "That was my last bottle of perfume - I grabbed it just before I ran away. Just because I live on the streets doesn't mean I have to smell like it."

Psylocke: Logan, can't you see that this girl is in shock?! Shut the hell up or back away!

Ashley: "Besides, if I couldn't shower, I had to do something to get rid of the smell."

Ashley broke down into sobs once more. Both women seemed to be on the verge of shedding a few tears themselves. Women and their ways, Logan muttered out loud. Personally, if he were running away, he'd make sure to grab something to eat or better than that, money...rather than perfume. As if she could hear his thoughts, Ororo spoke once more to the shaking girl.

Ororo: "You poor thing. You could use a warm meal and a roof over your head. You're staying with us."

Ashley: "You...m-mean it?"

Psylocke: "Yes, dear. You'll have a home and family with us."

All three females huddled closer together. Ashley smiled, obviously happy with the arrangement. No one could guess just how happy she truly was...




"The New Girl"


I didn't leave with Ray and Bobby after our foray into the attic. They however, decided to stay a while, practising that horrendous song idea of Bobby's. The karaoke competition was later that night, after dinner. When the door opened and Emma walked in, Bobby and Ray took it as a sign that it was time for them to leave. Emma smiled graciously at them and wished them luck. Then she shut the door and regarded me with a straight face.

Emma: "We're having lamb chops tonight. Unless you have a better idea."

"Why does it matter what I think?"

Emma: "Look, we both know that we're not exactly big fans of each other. So let's just come up with a few ground rules. I'll be nice to you - and you'll be nice to me. And it'll keep your father happy. And when he's happy, we're all happy."

"But Miss Frost, I AM being nice to you for dad's sake. At least to his face, just like you are."

Emma: "Just remember, I have my eyes on you."

I was about to respond to that, but then I heard the door open.

Scott: "I'm home!"

That was a little early. Judging by the note he left, I thought he was going to be back sometime late. At the very least sometime after dinner. But I guess whatever mutant activity had come up...they had dealt with it sooner than anticipated. I was at that moment sprawled out on the couch with my legs almost wide open. And when I saw dad enter with a shy looking girl (who had a backpack on her shoulder)...I jumped and assumed a more dignified posture. Something that couldn't be misconstrued as, "Come take a ride". Emma seemed pleasantly surprised. We both looked to dad for an explanation. He promptly began.

Scott: "This is Ashley Montgomery. She's a girl we rescued earlier. Some people from the M.A.L.E. were trying to force her to join them."

Emma walked up quickly to the said girl and asked if she was alright. I stood rooted to the spot. The M.A.L.E. wanted to forcefully recruit Ashley. Got it. But what was she doing here?

Scott: "She has nowhere else to go, and we offered her a place here at the mansion."

Okay...still don't get what she was doing in our house.

Scott: "Rather than just assign her to a dorm room, in a large, new environment on her very first night...Ororo thought that it might be a good idea to have her spend the night here. And then we could give her a proper tour of the place tomorrow. If we do it now, we'll have to rush it and then she won't get to acclimatize."

I looked at Ashley. She seemed to be shaking a little. Poor girl. At least she knew dad as one of her rescuers. Just putting her up for the night with complete strangers mightn't have been the best thing to do. Ororo was right.

"That's a good idea dad."

He smiled, as did Emma and Ashley.

Scott: "Emma, why don't you show Ashley to the bathroom so she can shower. And maybe you could go see if you could get her some clothes to wear. Some of Jean's should fit just fin -."

He looked at me abruptly. It was nice to know that my feelings were being taken in consideration for a change. And then my mood was a little better since me and my friends stumbled across some of mom's...artistic pieces. Go mom!

It's okay, dad. Mom would have done it.

Scott: Yeah. She would.

He nodded and finished his sentence. Emma took the girl by the arm and went upstairs with her...




"I'm On A Date...Oh Joy" (-_-)


Why the heck did I get stuck with doing it?! During dinner, I mentioned that I was going to go sing at Rogue's karaoke competition. And that gave Emma and dad a "bright" idea. Why couldn't I take Ashley along with me? She seemed to have taken a liking to me during dinner (dad made me pull the chair for her and all sorts of chivalrous nonsense). And it might be a good idea if I introduced her to my friends and helped make her transition into the institute as easy as was possible. Of course I had to nod and smile and pretend to be okay with it. I mean, it was a nice thing to do. But there was something about the way I caught Ashley looking at me that was unnerving...

Scott: "And you know it should go without saying...but she's been through a lot today. The last thing she needs is a boy with overactive hormones making passes at her. Be a gentleman at all times."

Good grief! Okay, so Ashley was - if I were straight - what I would consider to be hot. All I could do was nod angrily that dad would even think I wouldn't be a gentleman. Dad was a little tired after flying the jet back and forth the night before and the day after, so he said he wasn't going to be able to make it to the contest. But he wished me luck...as did Emma.

"Why thank you, Emma."

She, what else, smiled. Ashley then came downstairs and we stepped outside. Emma led dad upstairs with the intention of giving him a massage after his hard day. I was so used to death glaring Emma behind her back that I automatically started to. Then I remembered that Ashley was right next to me. I quickly wiped the expression of my face. She had seen it though. And she completely misinterpreted.

Ashley: "Why were you looking at your mom like that?"

I gasped. Such blasphemy! She was lucky that she didn't know any better. Heaven forbid a day that I'd ever have to call Emma Grace Frost...mom! (O_O)

"Oh, she is NOT my mom. She's my dad's girlfriend."

Ashley: "Don't you like her?"

We continued walking down the Mansion's pathway.

"Yeah, I guess."

Ashley: "Your parents divorced or something?"

"No. Mom died about a year ago."

She said that she was sorry to hear that.

"It's okay."

We had by then reached the front door. I reassured her that the students at the Mansion were cool. For the most part. Yeah, there were some assholes there too. But hey, it WAS a school. What school was complete without its fair share? She smiled, took my hand and said that she was ready. I was a little uncomfortable with her touching me. Not disgusted or anything like that...just uncomfortable thinking about how everyone might react if they saw. I had never had a girlfriend. And I never ever planned on using a girl to cover up my secret. I had also never expressed any interest in pursuing girls. So it would probably draw some attention. added to that was the fact that Ashley certainly looked like girlfriend material...

Ashley: "Let's go inside."

"Y-yeah."

We had been standing their a little too long as I pondered. I opened the door and we went inside. The hallways were practically deserted as most students (who were taking part) were bound to be either doing last minute practising in private so no one could steal their song ideas...or already in the auditorium. And the spectators were probably there too.

"Just let me try and locate my friends."

I opened my mind up and managed to sense Jubilee.

Jubilee, where are you guys?

Jubilee: We're in the ground floor lounge.

All of you?

Jubilee: Yeah.

Oh boy.

Is it okay if I bring a friend along with me?

I could sense her curiousity at that. She knew that the only friends I had were them. No one else really got close to me personally. She said that of course it was okay and that I shouldn't have had to ask that.

"Found them."

We started walking to the ground floor lounge. Every now and then we'd pass a group of students and they'd look at me like I was some lucky son of a bitch.

Ashley: "You did that with your mind, huh?"

We had been talking over dinner about our mutant abilities. She was a metamorph. A person who could shift their form to that of someone or something else. She didn't know the technical name for it though. Dad explained his abilities as did Emma and myself.

"Yeah."

Ashley: "That is so cool."

Okay, being praised was always nice. And coming from guys or girls, it sorta almost always made me blush. I know I was blushing then. It was so not a good time for that. She obviously noticed it and looked away, blushing as well. Presently, we reached the door of the lounge and entered. I spotted Jubilee and the rest of the guys at the other end of the room. Sighing in anticipation, I lead Ashley across the room, amidst stares, to where they were sitting.

"Hey guys."

They looked up. And stared/gawked. I had then realized that in my nervousness, I had not taken my hand away from Ashley. She was still holding onto it and we, for all the world, looked like a couple! I gently eased my hand away and used it to point to her instead.

"This is Ashley Montgomery. She's gonna be a new student here at the institute."

The all broke out of their staring and welcomed her, offering her a seat. The particulars about her case came out and everyone was more than supportive.

Amara: "You'll love it here, Ashley."

Jubilee: "Yeah. You'll fit in fine. Look, you're making new friends already."

All three girls smiled at each other.

Bobby: "Hmm, the M.A.L.E. huh?"

Ray: "Same people you guys fought last night, John?"

I nodded.

Ashley: "Y-you fought them? You're so young. Why'd they let - "

"That is something Professor Xavier, the headmaster of the school, will have to explain to you."

She nodded and we dropped the subject of the M.A.L.E.

"They gonna start this thing up anytime soon?"

As if to answer my question, the P.A system came online and Rogue's southern accented voice began announcing that the contest was about to start. All participants and spectators should proceed to the auditorium at that time. Amara and Jubilee each too Ashley's arm girly style and they walked ahead of us.

Ray: "Time to get Vanessa's attention."

"Good luck with that."

He frowned.

Bobby: "Ray, maybe John's right. Maybe he does know what girls want. I mean, look at..."

He pointed to Ashley.

"I said that she is just a friend. Weren't you listening just now when I explained how I met her?"

They both looked at me disbelievingly.

Bobby: "She is sexy as hell. You sure that nothing - "

I nodded in annoyance. Nothing was going on, I vehemently protested. They looked at each other amusedly and I knew that they were about to try and poke some fun at my expense.

Ray: "Them stories turned ya, didn't they?"

Bobby: "That's how it starts, I guess. Today, a hot chick comes his way - and he doesn't care. Tomorrow he just might start cravin' dick."

I stopped walking.

"What the fuck is your problem?"

They merely grinned.

"Reading stories doesn't make people gay, Ray."

Not exactly the best thing to say.

Bobby: "You read them? Dude, that is sick!"

I really don't know what came over me...

"I haven't read them yet. But I think I will. When I get home later. They're a side of mom that I never saw before. And as for it being sick - you don't puke when you watch lesbians eating out each other's pussies, do you?"

They both looked at me open mouthed. I turned away quickly, then registering what I had said, I continued walking in silence. They didn't say anything more to me during our walk to the auditorium...




"Take It Away!"


Rogue: "Take it away, sugar!"

Rogue started off the contest by reminding everyone that it was an open competition. Anyone who just got the urge to sing their heart out could just join in and take their turn onstage. The order of contestants would be chosen randomly.

Most of the school population were in attendance. And a good bit of the teachers too. Some weren't, my aunt and uncle among them. They had a good excuse though. With their dating anniversary and all.

There was a panel of judges present, and their decision was final. It consisted of Rogue herself, Ororo, Warren, Remy and...what in the hell?!

Jubilee: "Logan?! What on Earth is he doing there?!"

Precisely what I wanted to know. I didn't even expect Logan to be a spectator at a karaoke contest...far less a judge in the damned thing! Shouldn't Logan consider something like that an absolute waste of time? Did he even have a good ear for music? I mean, yeah he could hear very well with that hypersensitive hearing of his...but come on! What is with him and his weird behavior all of a sudden? Looking like he was breaking down in the Med Bay earlier. Then nervously trying to make conversation as he pretended that nothing had happened and nothing was wrong. And now doing something so out fo character as judging a singing competition?

Jubilee: "Well, at least I know I won't have to try too hard to impress him. I own one of the judges. Hehehehe."

Bobby: "Cheater. Logan thinks of you like a daughter. There has to be some rule against nepotism."

"I am amazed that you even know the meaning of the word, Bobby."

And I was! In addition to still being pissed at him. I said it in a tone dripping with spitefulness. He looked at me for the first time that night with genuine anger. Jubilee, Amara and Ashley seemed confused as to why. But they said nothing, preferring to let us men work it all out. Ray was over at Vanessa's side, asking her to keep her eyes and ears open.

Rogue: "First up, we have...Samuel Guthrie...performing...ooh one of my favorites! Country Roads! Give it up, y'all!"

Hey, she was unfairly biasing the judges! Who said that she could mention it was one of her favorite songs?! And how could she be both a judge and an MC at one event?! Nevertheless, Sam made his way up front amidst near silence.

Rogue: "Eh hem! I said give it UP, y'all!"

Taking the not so gentle hint, an attempt at applause was made. I guess people wanted to save their ovations for their friends and such. Crowd response carried points in contests. The music started playing and Sam started singing. Sam had a sexy speaking voice. But the boy just could not sing! I didn't blame people for witholding their applause at the end of it all. No offence to Sam as a person. Just his singing voice.

Bobby: "I bet Rogue feels stupid for rating him up so much."

Rogue: "Weeell...moving right along to our next number...it's uh...Julian Keller and American Woman."

Julian? The music had started up...the familiar guitar intro for the rock classic...but Julian had yet to make an appearance.

Rogue: "Well...since he's a no show..."

Before she could finish the sentence, the microphone flew out of her hands and levitated towards the other end of the stage. His voice could be heard singing the intro, but he couldn't yet be seen...

Julian: "American woman! Stay away from me! American woman, mama let me be!"

Damn, he was good!

Ashley: "How do we know he's singing and not some tape?"

She had a point. Presently however, Julian dragged himself on stage...and we understood why he took so long. He wanted to make an entrance. And what an entrance! His clothes (what on Earth possessed him to try tight fitting leather) looked as though they were almost pulled off his body (^_^). Clutching him and trying to pull him away were five, skimpily clad senior girls. The quintuplet blondes known to all as the Stepford Cuckoos...the Stepford Sisters! They were dressed in too tight, barely there skirts and tops (star spangled). Julian broke free from them and managed to finally make his way onstage, amidst much amused applause. Jubilee's feminist feathers were ruffled though. Throughout the performance, the sisters tried to catch him...and he had to use some fancy dance footwork to escape their attempts (singing all the while, Stay away from me!).

Julian: "I'm gonna leave you woman, gonna leave you woomaan! Bye Bye! Bye Bye! Bye Byeeee!"

And he made a great exit too. Using his telekinetic powers, he started flying upwards until he vanished from sight somewhere behind the lighting. Then he lowered the microphone back to Rogue. The crowd went wild - and not a few people complained about the use of powers and sluts. But there were no rules against those. Aside from a couple people who had powers that affected their voices. And I supposed Julian scored points for creativity...

Bobby: "Okay, so a guy has five hot babes after him...and he runs away. That little piece of stage show musical was just so... Keller has gotta be gay."

He eyed me wickedly as he said it.

"What makes you the expert on gay, Bobby? You got something you wanna share with us?"

He reddened in anger.

Ashley: "What's going on?"

Amara: "You two have been scowling at each other since we all sat down."

Bobby: "John just can't take a joke. That's what."

"You said that I turned gay!"

Jubilee: "What is with you both? What is so wrong with being gay? You're both acting like it's - "

Amara: "If you were completely secure sexually, it wouldn't be such a big deal..."

Jubilee and Amara weren't homophobes?

Bobby: "Look, all we did was joke a little after we found them gay stories and shit that his mom did."

Amara and Jubilee - and Ashley to boot - looked at me with their eyes wide open! I death glared the mocking Bobby.

Jubilee: "Are they any good?"

Bobby casually revealed some of the titles... I grew alarmed at the ravenous look on Jubilee's and Amara's faces. They looked like they might have started drooling any moment!

Jubilee: "Oooh, John, you have GOT to let me read them!"

.....huh?

Amara: "Ditto! I've been re-reading all my old yaoi fics for ages. I gotta get me something new!"

Lordy! Amara and Jubilee were into slash?! Bobby wickedly replied before I could.

Bobby: "You're actually gonna read that shit?!"

Jubilee: "Hey, man on man action makes me hot. I won't deny it."

Amara: "Uh huh. Besides, if us delicate and sweet girls can be expected to suck cock...why is it so disgusting if a guy does it? After all, he should be more at ease with the idea as he was born with one. We have to overcome the awkwardness!"

Bobby looked at us like he was going to throw up.

Bobby: "Well, you're just going to have to wait to read those. Apparently John got so turned on by them that he's gonna go read 'em tonight."

I opened my mouth to say something, but at that moment our conversation was stopped by Rogue's announcement...

Rogue: "Next up is Princess Amara...with her Tribute To Aretha!"

Amra: "Here goes."

Putting aside our quarrel for the moment, we all applauded Amara as she took center stage. But judging by the disturbing way Bobby kept eyeing me, I knew that it wasn't nearly over...




"Stage Fright"


Amara's tribute was well received. Personally, it looked as if the winners (so far) would come down to her and Julian. As much as I idolized Julian...Amara was just too damned good. Like I had suspected, Ray's I'm Too Sexy wasn't much of a hit with Vanessa. Sure quite a few girls thought it hot. But they weren't clamoring to be his girlfriends because of it. He was hot in an eye candy sorta way. Probably someone you could have a one night stand with. But not a long-lasting relationship. Vanessa's rebuttal was so sweet...as was his downheartedness. Dis Bryan Adams would you?! Serves him right! I myself witheld all applause. Bobby tried to do a Vanilla Ice portrayal with Ice Ice Baby. That was a total flop and I had a good laugh at it. I thought that karma was frowning upon them for their stupid jokes on me. I was wrong. Karma decided to be a bitch with me too.

I heard Rogue call out my name and went onstage...pity I didn't think of stylish entrances and exits. Everything was fine until she said that I could start singing. Then I started to notice just how...big the crowd was. Nearly the whole damned school had turned out. And they were all looking at me expectantly. I started to feel very queasy at that. At first I thought it was stage fright. Okay, picture them naked...oooh better not. Rogue motioned impatiently for me to start singing. I'd decided to prove a point to Ray and sing Everything I Do.

Rogue: "Come on now, darlin'."

The music went off its repetitive cycle and I started.

"Look into my eyes, y-you will see..."

God, he sounds like a scratchy record.

(-_-) Okay, whispering something bad about someone performace was one thing. But whispering it out loud enough for performers to hear was quite another!

I stopped singing and looked at the crowd, scanning to see who had said that. Especially the people close to the stage as they were probably the ones who were doing it. Why were they - the judges and MC - letting people heckle? I thought the rules said that no heckling was allowed. You could either applaud or choose not to. Where the hell were the rule enforcers? I looked to the judges and they looked at me right back, confused as to why I had stopped singing. Maybe they didn't hear. Sighing angrily, I continued.

If he can't sing, why the hell is up there.

Man, I wouldn't wanna be him.

With a voice like that, no wonder Summers didn't show. I'd be embarrassed if I were him too.

"Okay that's it! Are you just going to sit there and let them say those things?!"

Several people in the crowd started laughing. I angrily looked at the crowd.

Warren: "What are you talking about?"

"You're letting people get away with heckling me."

Rogue: "Sugar, no one was -"

"I heard them. And I was singing and way up hear onstage. You expect me to believe that you're down there and you heard nothing?"

All of this was being broadcast really loud due to the microphone. Then people really began laughing.

Either he's trying to turn this into a stand-up comedy...or he's a little looney.

"Shut the hell up!"

Wonder if madness runs in the family? Summers goes insane in the Danger Room all the time.

Rogue had by then gotten out of her seat. Clearly angry that I was ruining her show, she took the microphone from me - I held onto it rather tightly, but with her superior strength, she won - and started guiding me back to my seat. I however would have none of it. Walking up to the front row I pointed accusatory fingers at the people sitting there.

"Was it you?! Or maybe you? You look like a heckler type."

The judges were starting to get agitated.

Boy: "Dude, you better get the fuck outta my face!"

I backed off. Not that I couldn't have taken his wiry punk ass! But provoking something wasn't the smartest thing to do. I'd only end up getting punished. I felt someone's arms on me then, rubbing my shoulders in an effort to calm me down.

Jubilee: "John, what is up with you?"

"Didn't you hear them? Had to be from the front row. The ill-mannered - "

Jubilee: "No one was saying anything."

"You sure? I mean, I KNOW I heard - "

Logan: "Trust me. I didn't hear anything. And with these ears, I couldn't possibly miss it if you heard it way up there."

He looked at me, concerned.

Jubilee: "Come on, let's just go outside for some air."

"But I swear - "

Well, I guess we can narrow the list of potential winners down a notch.

Not taking no for an answer, Jubilee took my arm and led me towards the exit. As we passed Ray, he made some comment about he was glad he didn't try to sing that song. Bobby looked vindicated at my laughing at his performance. Some asshole made a "cuckoo" sound. Not wanting to embarrass myself any further, I stepped out of the auditorium, following Jubilee's lead...




"Didn't See That Comin'"


Stupid hecklers. My chances at winning the damned thing were smashed to pieces then. I corrected myself, I didn't have any chances to smash in the first place as I had barely gotten to sing more than a few lines. Jubilee and me were sitting outside on the terrace overlooking the Mansion's back yard. She was right, gazing at the lake's still surface was calming. It did nothing to help my stomach though, I was still feeling queasy. Her second suggestion (reading poetry) I was not willing to try! After ten minutes or so, she had to leave.

Jubilee: "I gotta go... Braddock just sent me a telepathic message. It's my turn."

"Okay."

Jubilee: "You comin' back in?"

"I think I better stay out here. I cannot go back in there."

I wished her the best with her Christina Aguilera tribute.

"Go get 'em. Make Christina proud."

She smiled, then ran off back towards the auditorium. I continued gazing towards the lake, mustering up the courage to go back inside again. I'm not sure just how long I sat there. But it must have been for quite some time. I dozed off a couple of times. When I last woke up, it was to the mental voice of Emma Frost. I assumed that I was late to reach home. And maybe dad had asked her to check on me. I was wrong.

Emma: John?

What the hell do you want?

Emma: How's the competition going? Are you knocking them dead?

Why the fuck should she care? Shouldn't she be busy playing the role of a personal masseuse / whore?

Emma: That wasn't a very nice thought. I heard that. Speaking which, have you been hearing things too?

Wait, hold the fuck up!

What do you mean hearing things?

With a light, mocking tint coloring her thoughts, she replied that it was nothing. The sickening realization dawned upon me.

You fucking heifer! You were behind the voices I was hearing, weren't you?!

She made absolutely no effort to hide that fact. She admitted it right then and there. I knew she was a dirty snake. But even I didn't know that she could stoop so low.

Emma: I tried to be reasonable with you earlier. But you didn't want to come to any ground rules. So now that you see what I'm capable of - don't push me Jonathan.

Oh that was it! She went too far with that one. I was going to go home right then and there and bust down dad's door and reveal her for the bitch she was.

Emma: So melodramatic. We both know he won't believe you. I have a much better track record than you. Besides, I have him eating out of the palm of my hand...among other things.

Her psychic echo could be heard within my mind.

Emma: What's the matter, dear? I don't hear your comeback? Don't cross me again, John.

I don't care what you say. I'm still telling dad! You did -

Emma: Prove it. We both know he'll want proof. And you'll seem like such a hypocrite...just showing me a good face this morning to soften him up...then trying to bank on it later by making such an accusation when you think you've earned back his trust. No one will believe you. And you know it.

She...was right. Not with my track record.

Emma: Gotta go now, DEAR.

I felt her psychic connection terminate. I felt so angry that it made me sick to my stomach. It was hopeless. How could I be so foolish to think I could stand a chance against someone like her? She probably had years of scheming experience. I was new at it all. She could treat me bad behind my father's back and if I brought it up...nothing would come of it because she "had him eating out of the palm of her hand". She could mentally assault me and no one would bat an eye when I told - because I was mistaken! Emma wouldn't do THAT! She could publicly humilate me in front of the whole damned school and my own father wouldn't believe me over her. His flesh and blood over the likes of Emma Frost.

I got up and started walking slowly back inside. The halls were populated once again. Some people pointed and laughed. I couldn't be mad with them. They were right. There were no heckling voices when I was performing. Or afterwards either. I must have really looked like a fool.

Jubilee: "Oh! Johnny! Johnny! I won, I WON!"

Jubilee came running out from somewhere and latched onto me, flashing three hundred dollars in my face. She made to drag me back wherever she had come from but I resisted.

Jubilee: "John, what's wrong? You look...sick."

"Everyone was right. There were no voices."

Jubilee: "Hey, dude. Stage fright can really work a number on you."

"So can a slut who knows how to use her telepathy."

She peered at me curiously.

Jubilee: "What are you saying?"

"Emma was making me hear voices."

She was a little dubious.

Jubilee: "John...I really don't think she'd go that far."

I told her about Emma's gloating telepathic message.

Jubilee: "You have got to tell your dad 'bout this one!"

"He won't believe me. Something more serious - a psychic assault that knocked me out - and he didn't believe. He'll believe me with this story of teenaged humiliation?"

Jubilee: "Oh, John - "

"Look, I'm gonna go home. And - where's Ashley?"

Jubilee: "She's inside with us. After party!"

That was nice. At least she'd have some fun. I asked Jubilee if it was okay if either she or Amara would look after her. My dad would probably have liked it for someone to escort our newest guest back home too. namely me. But screw that. Jubilee volunteered to do it later and I thanked her. I just wanted to get home and crawl into bed.

"Congrats."

Jubilee: "Thanks. And tomorrow, you and me are going to have a serious discussion about how we deal with this."

I smiled and she went back inside. She knew better than to try and force me to join their after party. I made it to the front door amidst more giggles. Promptly opening the door, I stepped outside. I had made a few steps worth on the pathway when I heard footsteps walking behind me.

Julian: "Hey, hold up!"

I stopped. It was Julian. Wiping the sorry expression, I tried putting on the usual and fixed my voice.

"S'up, Killer."

A lot of people called him "Killer" because of his last name, Keller. That and he pushed everyone to their absolute limit when he supervised basic Danger Room exercises for a mentor. Someone had said that he was killing them...and the name stuck. He always hated it when we called him that. And since that was one of the few ways we could get to him...we did it a lot. He shrugged it off when I called him that name on that particular night though.

Julian: "That's what I was about to ask you, dude."

"Nothing."

He raised his eyebrows doubtfully.

Julian: "You don't look too good. Telepathic overload?"

I didn't know what he meant. I asked him to explain.

Julian: "Oh, you know. Like...the voices? You were hearing people's thoughts and couldn't block them out or something?"

Interesting. If only it were that.

"No. Nothing like that."

Julian: "Then what's wrong."

I shakily laughed and merely repeated that it was nothing. Sighing, he walked up to me and said,

Julian: "You can't fool me with a face like that. Here, take a look."

He pushed me towards the fountain and made me look at my reflection. He was right. I looked as sick as I felt, regardless of my efforts to hide it. I sat on the fountain's edge and took a few deep breaths. Julian followed and did the same.

"You don't look too happy yourself."

Julian: "I'm not. I lost."

"Lost?"

Julian: "Third place."

"That was still good. I'm sure I came in last."

We laughed wryly.

Julian: "If I didn't win. I lost. And quite a bit of money too. I had to pay the Stepfords."

The Stepfords! But I thought they'd have done it for free. They LOVE the limelight!

Julian: "They like money more. Stop changing the subject. What's gotten you so down? You're used to being teased."

He grinned. He was lucky that it was him that said that. If it were anyone else...

"Yeah, because I used to be a gene joke. Not because people thought I was a few sticks short of a bundle."

Julian: "Are you? I mean...if you were acting the part of a clown...it was pretty damned believable."

Me...a clown? Never. I don't like people laughing at me period!

"Of course not! My act was sabotaged! Someone went into my mind and made me hear heckling and - "

That revelation made him change his tune.

Julian: "Whoa! Are you for real?"

"Yeah."

Julian was all for telling the teachers. Not because of the competition I had lost, but because of the strict rule at the Mansion. Professor Xavier had made a dictum: no student telepath was under any circumstances to enter the mind of another and mess around with memories, emotions, thoughts or the like. Communication was allowed and for the most part, that was it. Telepathy could be dangerous business to the unskilled. Julian was assuming that it was a student who had tried to sabotage my act. Either another performer or a supporter of a rival.

"It wasn't a student."

Julian came up with another theory. Namely someone from Generation X.

Julian: "A Generation X membe- "

I shook my head in the negative.

There was an awkward pause.

Julian: "You can't possibly mean -"

I looked him straight in the eye and nodded. Yes, a teacher.

Julian: "A teacher? The only telepathic teachers are Frost, Braddock and...well of course NOT Xavier."

"We both know Braddock would never do such a thing."

Julian: "You're saying Frost?!"

"Yeah. When I went outside to spare myself more shame - she sent me a message to gloat. She all out dared me to tell dad. She knows he wouldn't believe me."

Julian: "Shit. But she's a teacher! She can't go around...doing that!"

"She's a saint to everyone who matters. She's been in my head before. During therapy."

Julian: "Okay, you gotta take action."

"No one will believe me."

He grinned wickedly. Kinda like how he grins in the Danger Room, but much, much more intense.

Julian: "Who the hell said anything about telling. She's threatening you to keep you under her heel, right?"

I nodded. I then explained what things were like between me and Emma before her latest trick. And how I had planned to try giving her a taste of her own medicine that very morning. And how it apparently was failing miserably.

Julian: "And if no one will believe you...then you're the only one who can make it stop. Hence you should take action."

"What...should I do?"

Julian: "Hit her where it hurts."

"She ain't got no balls. At least...not to the best of my knowledge."

Unless that's where the extra mass of her breasts came from. (^_^) We laughed again at the notion.

Julian: "She's got a Mercedes..."

I shuddered at the notion. He...couldn't mean what I thought he meant. Vandalize her car?! Of course, I knew that Emma's car was her baby! But...

"I..."

Julian: "Look, you can still be nice to her in front of your dad...and deal with her behind his back. This is a war of wills. She's testing you to see how far you're willing to go before you back down. Don't back down! Hurt her if she hurts you. That car is the key."

Enough with the damned pity party! Julian was right! Emma had crossed the lines one too many times. That car may have been sacred to her. But the human mind is the most sacred space of all. And she had violated me from within for the last fucking time. The external humiliation was bad enough...but I'd be damned if I let her keep treating my mind like she had been doing!

"I'll do it."

Julian: "Good. Come on."

"Huh?"

He looked confused.

Julian: "Aren't you gonna do it?"

"Now? T-tonight?"

Julian: "Don't wait. Let her wake up to it tomorrow."

"Okay. But...I don't have a cardkey."

I'd have to wait, then swipe dad's cardkey...do the deed, then replace the card. That was a logical plan. And I'd have to do it in the dead of night and pray no X-related emergency came up that required a ground vehicle while I was in there.

Julian: "I do."

He reached for his wallet and pulled it out. The garage was sealed with an electronic lock that prevented unauthorized access. Julian, being an official adult (22 years old), had personal access to the garage and its adjoining internal parking lot.

"You could get into trouble."

He merely laughed scandalously at the notion.

Julian: "Oh please. No one is going anywhere this time of night. Especially not with that after party inside. They need to keep an eye on them kids. Unless you're chicken shit."

There he was, my idol accusing me of being chicken shit! I couldn't have that now, could I?

"Hell no! Gimmee that fuckin' card!"

Beaming with mock(?) pride,

Julian: "That's my boy."

He handed it over and we promptly got up and started walking towards the garage...




"And Yet Again - Didn't See That Comin'"


Julian was right. No one was going anywhere with a Mansion full of kids to watch over. The hallway leading to the garage was totally empty. I was afraid that maybe they might have cameras in there or something. Julian was a member of the Gamma Squad - the most senior division of Generation X. He was cool and confident all the way. There were no cameras inside, he explained. No one could get in without authorization due to the cardkey system. But there were cameras outside the driveway that showed the Mansion front - and coincidentally the garage from the outside. Hence, we were entering from the inside. Julian seemed to have it all down.

"You haven't done anything like this before, have you?"

He didn't answer at first - so I very much doubted his honesty.

Julian: "No. Maybe I'm just a natural."

We presently arrived at the garage entrance. I swiped the cardkey and the electronic lock BEEPED and opened. We walked through the garage until we arrived at the second door that led to the indoor parking lot. Here Julian felt it fair to give me a last warning.

Julian: "Last chance to turn back, buddy."

"Don't mention turning back again. Emma deserves this - been asking for it. That bitch drove me to it."

Julian: "Okay. Swipe the card."

I did and we entered. Julian led me down the rows of vehicles until we finally reached Emma's Mercedes. You probably want to know the color, right? What else, it was white. Like almost everything of her's. Who the hell does she think she can fool? When I get the answer to that question, then I'll stop asking it. Julian leaned on a Lexus next to it, whilst I stood scrutizing it closely. Determining with slow patience where I'd leave my mark.

Julian: "Come on, dude. Let her have it."

It was so pretty, such a shame I had to do it. Why does a car so damned hot have to suffer because its mommy is such a bitch? I steeled myself and focussed a telekinetic "punch" on the left door. There was a thud and a nasty dent appeared. Good, let her see that. She likes everything perfectly just so - like dad. Even if it was a little ding, she'd think the world was coming to an end.

"Okay, that'll learn her."

Julian scoffed. Apparently that wasn't good enough. He stopped leaning on somebody's Lexus and walked over to the dent. He went down face level to it and pretended that he needed a looking glass to notice it. It was actually kinda funny - I laughed at my crime. I didn't know he could be so quirky. That dent was pretty darned visible. He got up and looked at me unimpressed. I was satisfied - or that was what I kept telling myself.

Julian: "That can't be it. You looked a lot more upset than that."

"No, I'm done."

I turned to go, but he turned me right back around by the shoulders.

"You don't know this, because your powers have only just started to grow into something more...potent. When telekinetics hold in their emotions, especially anger, we tend to get some wicked migraines."

I looked at the car. The dent was very noticeable. It should have been enough to send the message across loud and clear. She'd know it was me - but without hard proof...

"Really?"

He patted me on the shoulder encouragingly.

Julian: "Uh huh. Sometimes, it feels like your head is about to explode!"

The sudden forceful manner in which he said that made me close my eyes in a wincing motion. I had a brief recollection of the pain I went through when Emma invaded my mind in her therapy session. It was the single most painful sensation I had ever had to endure. I must have been comparing what Julian was speaking about with that memory. It was enough to make me wince and close my eyes.

Julian: "If you internalize your anger at her - you will be the one suffering pain. And it will once again be her fault. It's better to get it out of your system. Let it all out."

"I...dunno..."

Julian bent down and whispered in my ear. The closeness was enough to make me shudder.

Julian: "She's already made you suffer enough. Does she have the right to put you through anymore pain?"

"No! She doesn't!"

Julian continued whispering softly. Which was weird because he was speaking regularly all along and no one was in there to hear us. And according to him, no one would come in at that time of night. The sensation was rather arousing. Bobby and Ray were touchy feely guys. But they never got as close to me as that. What was more, Julian's grip on my shoulders had become firmer and he was squeezing them rhythmically as if to further encourage me.

Julian: "That's right. She doesn't. If you don't show her that you mean business, she won't stop her shit."

His gentle massaging of my shoulders continued, almost trance inducing. And that cologne...

"I...just don't want to get into t-trouble."

His voice became distinctively seductive at that point. There was no way someone -anyone - could mistake it. There was just no way that Julian Keller could be one hundred percent straight.

Julian: "Who's gonna tell? I won't tell. And you won't tell either - right?"

"N-no."

His hands went down to my forearms and I felt his hot breath at my ear.

Julian: "Right. It'll be our little secret. Release your anger. Better you do it to her car now...than risk getting so mad that you end up hurting her later on. Holding back your...true feelings never ends good. Trust me."

The memory of the lamp flying towards Emma's head came back forcefully into my mind. I wasn't nearly as mad with her then as I was now. Just that morning Professor Xavier told me about the danger of psychic powers being linked to unconscious emotions. I couldn't bottle it all up. I'd explode and she could end up seriously hurt...with me in serious trouble.

I kept my eyes closed because I didn't want to see what was about to happen. I would do as Julian said. But I wasn't going to enjoy it. I hated that Emma - anyone - could make me think such dark thoughts, want to do something so vile. But if that was the only way to get her to stop her shit with me...then so be it. I brought to mind everything about Emma that had ever angered me. Her scathing comments about my school work in her class, her accusations that I talked too much and disrupted others, the bad reports she'd give my father, the way she felt she could depower me by freezing my motions telepathically, her two faced treatment of me that fooled almost everyone...her mental invasion on multiple occasions...including her latest...the way she was succeeding in turning my own father against me...

Julian: "That's it, just let it all out."

I heard metal warping, glass breaking, scraping noises that I couldn't make out. I was also aware by then that Julian's hands had shifted again. One rested on my left hip whilst the other reached around to my abs, running along its length. His mouth was physically touching my left air lobe, causing his words to tickle my ear. Between all the anger coursing through me and the focus needed to damage the car...I wasn't concerned with stopping Julian. Instead, I let myself enjoy the attention he was giving me. Yes, I wanted it. I'd always wanted it.

CRACK!

Something had been badly broken if I interpreted that noise correctly. Following that, a loud shot-like sound was heard, followed by several long hisses. I took it that the tires had burst and air was escaping. A few seconds later, I myself let out a hiss when Julian buried himself in my neck and took a deep inhaling breath. The shock to my emotions must have channeled into my powers, because right then I heard something being torn apart very disturbingly...as if being torn to shreds.

"Oh G-God!"

How could I have not known? He could be nothing less than Bi. There was no way he would risk doing something like that to a straight boy. He had to have known about me. Was his gaydar that good? Did I radiate some sort of gay vibe? Did I let my eyes linger on him too long whenever he trained us? I would be lying if I said that I didn't find him very attractive. It would be the understatement of the decade. He wasn't a typical pretty boy. But anyone would call him sexy - at least I thought so. I couldn't count the times I checked him out in the showers...my thoughts trailed away to my admiring past.

Julian: "Focus. Don't stop."

His voice was fiercer, huskier, more commanding than requesting...and it reverberated pleasantly because of the way his face was positioned at my neck. The sensation of something hard at the back of my thigh alerted me to his straining erection. Instinctively, I realized that I was also fully erect by then.

"J-Julian, why?"

Julian: "Because I want to. Don't you want to?"

The last step. By saying yes, I would all out admit that I -

Julian: "Do you want to?!"

"Yes."

Julian: "Then let's just enjoy it. Finish up here. You're almost done."

That confession must have been what he was waiting for. After I said "yes", he all out began necking me. I felt his tongue and teeth making electric contact and under the sudden assault, the last of my anger dissipated quickly (amidst more sounds of destruction).

Julian: "Open your eyes."

I complied.

"Oh shit!"

I was truly scared. Of myself, what I had done...and what repurcussions could come of it. Emma wouldn't let it slide! There seemingly wasn't anything that Emma could salvage! The car, first off, seemed to look like something very, very heavy had been dropped on it. Flattened would be the word. Glass was everywhere, littered around like confetti. There were no windows or windshield. The paint had cracked and peeled all over until the metallic body could be seen. The upholstery was totalled...tires, hubcaps, dash...everything. But my head felt much...lighter. Unless that was due to Julian's ministrations.

Julian: "You had a lotta anger all pent up inside. No wonder you were so tense."

I shook myself free of him and walked closer to the former car with shaky steps. Kneeling down, I surveyed the damage.

"My dad is gonna kill me!"

Julian pulled me to my feet and spoke reassuringly to me.

Julian: "Emma may know that it was you who did it. But she won't be able to prove it."

"But...who else would? It's obviously me. All she'll do is...tell him and...the Professor knows I hate her and...oh God..."

Once again I felt as if I could throw up.

Julian: "Shhh. It's okay. It really is. It doesn't work like that - innocent until proven guilty. The most she'll have is circumstantial evidence."

I asked how he figured that. He laughed and went on to explain. No one had seen me do it. There were no cameras about. And for anyone to be found guilty, the persecuters had to have three things.

"What?"

Julian: "Opportunity. Means. Motive."

I had the opportunity.

Julian: "You told everyone that you went home and I know we weren't seen. If anyone saw us coming here this time of night - we wouldn't have got a chance to reach this far."

I had the means - my powers.

Julian: "So what? There are other students here who could have done it."

I HAD a very strong motive. I was pissed at Emma's evil mind trick.

Julian: "Oh? If she wants to use that as a motive - she'll have to confess that she messed with your head. I have a feeling she'll want to avoid bringing THAT up."

Of course. She'd get into serious trouble with Xavier...and my father. So would I. But hers would be worse!

Julian: "She'll just have to...deal with her loss."

"What if she says that I tried to pay her back for knocking me out earlier this week in therapy? What if she uses THAT as a motive?"

Julian: "Revenge is often spontaneous. A kid your age would be too stupid to sit down and take the time to plan something elaborate. I'd think you'd have acted sooner. Besides...didn't you say that you started to treat her nice?"

"Yeah."

Julian: "Then logically, people will think that you've forgiven her. That motive is stale. Trust me, everything's gonna be fine."

He hugged me from behind to calm my worries down. Without my attention being drawn between my anger and powers...it felt awkward.

Julian: "Didn't it feel good?"

"Which part?"

Julian: "Both."

"What you - were doing felt nice. But the car - well..."

Julian: "Letting all that negative emotion out didn't feel liberating?"

When he put it that way, yes it did. The way I let it out wasn't nice though. But I didn't say that. I didn't want to seem like a weak willed little boy to him. Or worse, a goody-goody like dad. I wanted him to see me as a strong, confident person. Like he was.

"Yeah."

He could clearly see that I had questions that I wanted answers to. But they'd have to wait for the time being. We were at the scene of a crime after all.

Julian: "Come on. We better leave here. We wouldn't want to get caught, would we?"

He said it amusedly, totally at ease and confident that we were scot free. Smiling, I shook my head. We walked out of the parking lot, closing the door behind us...




"Getting Home"


Julian led me outside through the back door, avoiding the stray students we'd hear sneaking about the Mansion on occasion. I was pretty sure that my father wasn't aware that I was outside the house. My cell phone would have been ringing nonstop if that were the case. Emma must have worn him out. At least her sexing him was actually useful for a change. We hovered across the lawn to avoid making any sound whatsoever, taking care to stay within the cover of the shadows. Julian was dressed all in black. I had on a white tee - it definitely did not blend in. To avoid being seen from the Mansion (which was most critical), he stayed behind me, making sure that he was positioned in such a way as to totally cover me from behind, so no one looking out of their window would see the white of my shirt. He took the liberty of feeling me up as he did so.

Not now. We have to get home first.

We both wanted to talk. But decided that all things considered, it needed to wait until we were safe and snug in my room. Presently, we approached my house. We debated whether or not we should enter the front door or not. In the end, it was decided that we'd be safer entering through the window. We went around back and flew up towards my bedroom window, taking care to make sure that the guest room windows were locked and that the curtains were drawn. I did not want to have to explain to Ashley why I was bringing a twenty two year old guy into my room at that time of night.

I feel like a burglar.

Julian: You can't burgle your own house.

I "felt around" telekinetically and unlocked the window. We both entered and immediately locked the door and window, drawing the curtains for extra security.

Julian: "I'm so beat!"

He dropped down onto my bed like he owned it, taking me down with him.

"Shhh!"

Julian: "Them walls look soundproof enough that we can talk in private."

"So talk. What the hell possessed you to - to do that back there?"

Julian: "What made you enjoy it so much?"

I really didn't appreciate his answering a question with a question. That and I asked first.

"Are you...bi or something?"

Julian: "Are you?"

I pouted in annoyance.

Julian: "Cut that out. You're cuter when you smile."

His hands crept up inside my shirt and he started to tickle me. I erupted into a peal of giggles before I had the good sense to shut my mouth. Knocking his hand away, I repeated my question and demanded an answer.

Julian: "That's just a label. But I guess you could say so. I mean, I feel stuff for guys and girls. What about you?"

"I know I'm...gay."

Out to someone at last. And my hero no less. He asked if I ever felt anything sexual for a girl. And truthfully, I had never felt anything beyond friendship.

"Why did you do it?"

Julian: "You think I don't notice the way you look at me? It ain't very subtle. Only a total idiot could ignore something like that."

I looked at him, shocked. Was I so obvious?

Julian: "You always showered next to me after a training session. You always found some excuse to fight next to my position in the Danger Room. This last session you've been in, I know you were looking around expecting to see me. But I was hidden up in the observation platform."

I sighed.

"That is so cocky...so arrogant."

Julian: "Cocky but true."

"I -"

Julian: "You were forever asking my opinion about your technique during training. Wanting to know if I thought it was good enough - "

"You were serving as a mentor's assistant. It was your job!"

Julian: "Your technique NEVER changed! How many times did you expect me to give the same evaluation? And then...there were other little things."

"Like what?"

He grinned mischievously and drew me close to him.

Julian: "Just...little things. Like how you seemed to be both angry with me and heartbroken when I rated Alicia Suarez as number one fighter in semester two, back in - "

That was a little over two years ago. I was almost fourteen.

"Alicia is nothing but a dirty cockwhore! What did she do, suck your dick!"

I got so mad at the remembrance that I plain forgot Alicia was a saint back THEN, but a slut NOW. Time seemed to have no meaning in the face of that painful recollection.

I pulled away from Julian at the memory. It may have seemed childish. But that hurt when she was rated the best. I tried so hard to impress him. I wanted to both BE like him and HAVE him. And I thought then that the latter was out of the question. So I stuck to the former. I wanted him to say that I was the best in his opinion, in his eyes. It wouldn't be in the context I craved to hear it in...but I felt that it'd make me feel good on so many levels. I trained and trained - neglected almost everything else in an effort to be the best.

I didn't have the luxury of massive elemental firepower like Alicia had. I tried to compensate for it by developing the fighting techniques that Logan taught us. And I was a lot better at it than Alicia had a hope to be. But the training excercises were mutant in nature. And in terms of mutant power...she had me beat without trying. By the end of semester two, she was destroying five Danger Room robots with a mere gesture... I just couldn't compete with that. No one had ever gotten under my skin like Julian had...ever.

It was weird. I knew I was gay - and I felt attraction towards guys. But I never had a genuine crush before Julian. And it hurt that I couldn't satisfy him in the one way that I had available to me. The memory, the thought that someone could have so much power over me was too much. A tear trickled down the side of my face, closely followed by three more until I was all out crying. I felt like I failed him back then. I was failing school courses left right and center, failing my parents and myself. I just felt so worthless and needed to feel like I was worth something. And him telling me so would have meant the world. Alicia being rated over me had happened in a bad time.

Julian: "Shhh. Come on, don't cry. I had to rate Alicia as the first in the class. I was the training assistant - I had to perform my duty."

"Y-yeah, I guess you're right."

Julian: "I wish I didn't have to."

I guess there were times when you just had to do things you didn't want to.

"God, you were everything I wanted be."

Julian: "Oh?"

"You were strong. No one messed with you. You had kickass mutant powers...you were - are - beautiful."

He seemed genuinely surprised. Like I said before, he wasn't a pretty boy. He didn't look like he had walked out of a magazine. And he had a wicked scar running down the left side of his face. But on him, it was a nice feature to me. It made him look that much tougher. He had nice, dark eyes that went well with his jet black hair. A body that was around six feet, two inches...not scrawny, but not overly muscular...just nicely intermediate between those two extremes. I'd seen far uglier people around - and not ugly due to mutations! Why the Stepford Sisters would demand payment to serve as his backup onstage was beyond me. They should have counted themselves frickin' lucky!

Julian: "I'm beautiful? You think?"

"Fuck, Julian. Look in the goddamned mirror. And on top of it all...you were so nice to me. You never let anyone get away with calling me a gene joke. I used to pretend that you did it because you liked me...and not in the friendly way."

Julian: "I...never guessed you were going through all of that back then."

"How could you know what I was feeling for you and not say anything? If you knew -"

He pulled me back to him and wiped away the stray tears.

Julian: "You were just thirteen. I was nineteen going on twenty. If it ever got out, it would have looked like child molestation. You were just too young then, John. You could have been a confused kid for all I knew. I could have messed you up bad. That and I was going through some confusion myself."

"I don't understand. What confusion?"

He said that he thought that I was merely idolizing him as a male role model at that time. He, like everyone it seemed, knew that me and dad didn't get along too well. And he thought that I was compensating by fitting him into the role instead. Back then, I hadn't started to check him out as daringly as he'd caught me doing a couple years later. Aside from the fact that I was too young, he thought that I could also have been confused. Lots of guys go through a little same sex attraction at some point, a natural curiousity. And he didn't want to take advantage of that and screw my sexuality up in the process. The concern and maturity he had shown just elevated him more in my sight.

"But you said that you were going through some confusion? What kind?"

Julian: "I hadn't come to terms with my bisexuality then. And to top it off, whatever attraction I felt for you, I chalked it all up to the idea that you reminded me of myself when I was younger. Shy, aloof, the butt of the gene jokes. I never got along with my dad... I told myself that what I was feeling was a natural desire, to be there for someone when they needed it, taken to unhealthy levels. It's only in the past year that I've really accepted that I am what I am."

I turned around to face him eye to eye. Enough with the past. I wanted to know about the future - our future. IF we had one. If one was in the works...

"Do you want me, Julian? Does tonight mean that you want me?"

I sounded desperate, and that was because I was.

Julian: "You haven't got anyone -?"

"No. No one. I've never felt like this about anyone ever or since."

Julian: "And what about the age difference. I'm like...six years older than you."

After the Hellfire Club fiasco, where I couldn't even enter, I'd had enough of the topic of age. The blasted thing was nothing more than a number.

"I don't care about that."

Julian: "I just don't want to take advantage of your age-"

"You aren't. Believe me you aren't. I'm old enough now. I wanted you, have always wanted you."

Julian: "Then yes. I do want you...so much and - "

I didn't let him finish. I just gave into the urges I never ever thought I'd ever get to express and kissed him hard and deep. He wasn't expecting it, but quickly adapted, wrapping his arms around me and spinning me around so that I was under him and he could assume the aggressive role. We didn't even need to ask each other about who'd fit into what role - who was top and who was bottom. I guess it was obvious to each of us what we wanted and needed from the other. We made out for what seemed to be a delicious eternity before I fell asleep, completely, but pleasantly exhausted - the happiest I'd ever been in my life...




"News Travels Fast"


Sunlight streaked into my room and I awoke to an empty bed. I looked all aroung frantically for Julian, but he was nowhere to be found. I then had the stupid notion that I had dreamt it all. But that idea was quickly dispelled when I saw the sheet of paper lying on the floor next to my bed. It was a note. Must have fallen off the bed and onto the floor. Picking it up, I read it. Julian had left before sunrise. He didn't want to risk being seen. Especially not in the same clothes he performed in. It would reveal that he hadn't gone to bed after the show. He had also left me some instructions that basically said not to act out of the ordinary. Don't act too happy, because I didn't want anyone to suspect I was happy due to wrecking Emma's car - should she accuse me. Got it. I'd just be as bitter to her as I always was behind dad's back though. Even more so - let her think her threats had shot some scare into me - let her think that she had won. Let her be unpleasantly surprised. Julian had thought of everything.

Scott: "John?!"

Uh oh. Dad at the door.

"Y-yeah?!"

Scott: "Could you open this door, son?"

I reasoned. He didn't sound upset at all. Guiltily looking around, I hid the letter under my pillow and opened the door. Thankfully, the room wasn't smelling of boy sex because we hadn't brought each other over the edge. We were both very sleepy and wanted our first orgasms together to be something special and not rushed. Dad came inside and took a look around.

Scott: "Jeez."

He looked at the bed. It was in a mess. A really, really bad mess. Not soiled, just the sheets were totally helter skelter. We did make out pretty heavy.

"Must've been a nightmare or something."

Scott: "Are you okay? I heard -"

He heard something? Did Julian and I make a little too much noise? Time to act fast.

"You heard me? Probably because of a bad dream."

Scott: "No. I heard that you had a little problem at the concert last night?"

News sure travels fast! My confused expression as to how he learned kept him talking.

Scott: "The Professor's downstairs. He came first thing this morning to see how you were doing. You better get ready and come downstairs."

Oh boy. I nodded, he left and I made to get ready...




"When Will These Children Mature?"


I came downstairs to the concerned faces of Dad, Emma, Alex, Lorna and the Professor. Ashley must have still been asleep. As I made my appearance, Lorna and Emma instantly dashed forward, asking if I was alright and getting emotional and touchy feely. Emma should had gone into acting. Maintaining fašades was really her thing. She could have made a really good living out of it. I sorta eased her away from me. Lorna, I let continue.

Professor Xavier: "Are you feeling alright, John? Any headaches or - "

I shook my head and asked why he and everyone else was so worried.

Professor Xavier: "Well, I heard all about the concert last night. About the voices you were hearing and - "

He went on to say that he was concerned that I could have been having a mild telepathic overload. Since I was the center of attention, people's thoughts were on me. And a lot of people. He thought that maybe I could have started picking up on their thoughts. And that was why no one else was hearing what I heard. He even knew that I had left the auditorium and didn't make it back.

"I went for some air. With Jubilee. Back terrace."

Good good, start working on an alibi.

Professor Xavier: "I'd like to scan your mind now, John. To determine if you had possibly been experiencing a telepathic overload."

I got nervous. As did Emma. We both looked at each other, sharing the same worry. Professor Xavier seemed to sense that I was uncomfortable with the idea.

Professor Xavier: "It's just a surface scan, John. No thoughts or memories will be witnessed by me. I'm just checking to see if your mind was overly sensitive last night."

I gulped and nodded. He closed his eyes, and I felt a weird tingle. Then he opened them, a little confused himself it seemed.

Professor Xavier: "That's odd. No sign of telepathic oversensitivity."

Emma was quick to offer a solution.

Emma: "Maybe someone was playing a trick on him, Charles. Some telepathic student or other."

The best lies often come with a healthy side order of truth. I eyed Emma, unable to control myself that time.

Professor Xavier: "It could be possible. Since there's no indication of an episode, I'll be on my way. When will these children mature..."

When indeed?

Scott: "Stay for breakfast, Professor."

Professor Xavier: "I really must be going. I have to make the final arrangements for young Ashley. Do send her over sometime after breakfast, won't you?"

Emma: "Yes. We'll just let her sleep a little while longer."

They agreed. We all had a sigh of relief and went into the kitchen...



"Oh! Oh! My baby!"


A Little Later On...


Emma Frost walked down to the garage and the adjoining car park. It was her usual practice to go out for a Sunday shopping spree at the mall. Nothing could have prepared her for the sight that met her eyes...

Emma: "P-Princess?! Oh, oh! My baby!"

She fell to the ground, examining the damage, already in tears...

Emma: "Who has done this to you - wait a minute!"

Getting up stiffly, Emma wiped away her tears.

Emma: "John..."




"Prove it"


I had the task of dropping off Ashley to see the Professor. She woke up about a half hour after the Professor had left. She had a late breakfast. Then she packed her few belongings up. She had been assigned a dorm room. And Professor Xavier would be revealing where it was, who she was rooming with, and would take her for the tour of the place personally. She needed to be briefed properly about the school and the purpose it served. Emma hugged her, playing the "mommy" role perfectly, and sent us on our way. I had kept up the defeated attitude to her face, with a cheerful one to dad's. Just like she wanted. She seemed totally at ease and happy. As a matter of fact - she said that since I was being such a "good boy", she'd buy something special for me when she went out shopping. She mock patted me on the head like a little kid...much to the amusement of my father and Ashley. I couldn't wait to just leave.

"Well, here you are. The principal's office."

Ashley: "Okay. Thanks for leading me here."

"No prob. See you around later."

She smiled and went inside. When she came downstairs earlier, she asked me if I was alright. I got embarassed as she brought up the details of how I had acted during the contest. Thankfully, she didn't bring it up again after we set her straight. After dropping her off, I headed back downstairs to meet my friends. But there was a problem...

I saw Jubilee and Amara outside speaking with Emma on the lawn. In the near distance, Bobby and Ray could be seen playing basketball with some other guys. They saw me approaching, but didn't acknowledge me. As I got closer, Emma noticed me and started advancing. She wiped the smile that she was using with Jubilee and Amara and walked over to me with an expression of - well, I don't have the words to describe it! She placed her arms in a motherly manner around my shoulder and led me inside, forcefully pushing me into the Mansion. She pasted on a smile for Logan and Ororo as they walked down the hall...and led me into the deserted waiting room.

Emma: "I know it was you, John! I swear to God -"

"Whatever are you talking about...Emma?"

Emma: "You fucking destroyed my car, you bastard!"

Ouch, she was cursing. Ain't never heard her do that before. She was whispering, and to make up for the lack of volume, she spoke with a LOT of intensity. I spat out the same words she had used with me the night before.

"Prove it."

Emma: "You little shit!"

I explained just how limited her options were if she wanted to get me into trouble - the same way Julian had explained it to me. The truth about her mental invasion the night before would come out.

Emma: "They'll never believe you."

"Oh I think they will. The Professor said he felt no indication of an overload in my mind this morning. So that rules that out as a possible explanation of what happened. And if you press charges, you'll need a motive. I'll confess and give them my motive - mental invasion. I'd get into trouble, but dad will forgive me after a...while. You on the other hand may just be sent packing. And dad won't want anything to do with you ever again."

Hey, what a nice thought. That last bit made her beet red.

"Ooh, I think you better change your name to The Red Queen."

She closed the distance and got face to face with me.

Emma: "You don't know who you're messing with, kid. Don't get in my way!"

I think I watched a little too much Desperate Housewives for my own good. I had a flashback of Andrew Van de Kamp (God he is soooo cuuttee and eviiil!) and became possessed by a confident surge.

"First up...back your face away from mine, bitch."

Emma: "Bitch?!"

"Second, now that you know what I AM capable of, here's a few words of advice - don't FUCK with me!"

She looked flabbergasted and even more enraged. I know they said that people sometimes snap but even I didn't expect -

Emma: "I'll kill you! You son of a bitch! I'll fuckin' kill you!"

She grabbed onto my neck and began choking me. It caught me by surprise and I lost balance, fell onto the back of the sofa, gasping for breath.

Emma: "I'm onto something good here, you little fuck! And no bastard son of a whore is going to get in my way!"

I made to knock her away from me, but she transformed into her diamond form. In that state, she was physically super-strong. She squeezed harder and started to throttle be back and forth. There was no choice. I locked onto her mentally and pushed her off of me, very restrained. It threw her backwards a few feet. She must have been so shocked that she lost her concentration and reverted back into her untransformed state. I took the opportunity to gasp for air.

"Fuck...I was right...y-you are a crazy bitch! You wanna add attempted murderer to that?"

Something about her seemed to change as I made that statement. Her face registered a new emotion that I wasn't sure I liked.

Emma: "That was the last straw. I've had it with you. Come hell or high water...I'll make you suffer for what you've done to my car!"

"My only regret was that you weren't in the car when I did it!"

Emma: "Guess I'm not the only one with a murderous streak - eh? Don't put yourself up against me. Like I said, you don't know who you're dealing with. I've been in this game a lot longer than you!"

She must have wanted my father obsessively and would do anything to have him! Julian was right, it was a war of wills.

"Yeah. Like I'm sooo afraid of you!"

Emma walked to the door of the room and closed it...no wait...locked it behind her. When she turned around, she looked surprisingly calmer.

Emma: "I really didn't want it to reach to this, but - you leave me no choice."

"W-what are...stay the hell away from me!"

Emma: "Don't worry. I'll be quick."

I quickly started thinking. The level was probably deserted. Everyone was either outside having fun...or on the second floor where the Rec Room was. The ground floor didn't have anything for entertainment...

"So what are you going to do? Try to change my mind - literally?"

Emma: "Not quite. You're beyond saving. I'm just gonna do this."

A sudden pain shot through my head. At the same moment, one of the lamps flew across the room and hit Emma on her head. She staggered and clutched at the wound. Blood began to flow. I sensed her presence lurking about within my mind. She was controlling me. Making my powers activate without my consent! Why was she doing that?!

Emma: "To make you look bad, of course. Real bad. You really ARE dumb!"

"Oh God! S-stop it!"

Emma: "Always wanted to give the lamp attack another go, huh?"

"E-Emma, don't!"

Emma: "Let's prepare for the arrival of our guests."

"What the fuck?!"

Emma: "I've sent some desperate telepathic messages out...when I locked the door. I begged for help...after all - you're trying to kill me! We can't have them seeing the place like this."

She's crazy! I knew that for a fact then! She grinned madly and exerted her influence on my powers once more. The chairs and sofa started to rise. I knew I had power and not the skill to match it. But Emma seemed a pro. Everything loose in the room began to hover mid air. The wiring shot out of the wall, teared off, and wrapped itself around her tightly. It cut her and she started to bleed on the body, staining her dress and the floor red.

Emma: "Y-you're a very dangerous person, John. You n-need to be dealt with for your own good as well as for the safety of others."

"You won't get away with this. I'd never do this to someone!"

Emma: "I'm not just anyone, John. Look...ugh...at all we've been through together. And when people see what you've done with my car..."

"I'll tell them about last night."

Emma: "You'll say what I want you to say. I've got it all down! Pity about the way you'll break your family's heart."

The furniture had started to crack into smaller fragments that subsequently began to rotate around us.

"Emma, you n-need help. This isn't something you want to do. You're hurting yourself."

Her reply was simple. She was helping herself. Self-help was the best kind of help. And she was always a believer in self-sacrifice. And as for hurting herself, I'd hurt her more and in a more lasting way. The money it took to buy her car was gone. But her injuries could easily be healed by either a blood infusion of Warren's healing blood, or magickally by Rune or Risk. As long as she didn't do anything fatal. She was going for attempted murder. At the end of her confession, the sound of banging on the door outside could be heard.

Emma: "No! Please, please John! This isn't you!"

The revolving furniture fragments flew outwards towards the walls of the room. The disastrous crash stilled the banging outside momentairily.

Remy: "Bust da door down!"

The Mansion's fittings were all specially made to be very strong. I guess Remy's kinetic powers didn't work on the door. I heard Beast comply with Remy and shortly after that, my father's voice warned them to get clear...

Emma: "Oh God! No don't....aaaahhh!"

Emma was grabbed mentally and held suspended above the pool of semi-darkening blood that had accumalated beneath her... A ruby flash beneath the door meant that my father was using his optic blasts. The door gived signs of succumbing after a few more hits. Meanwhile, Emma had taken control of my body...

"I warned you, again and again you smegma soaked harlot! But you wouldn't listen - oh no! Wasn't trashing your car enough to keep you from fucking with me!"

Emma: "A-ll I wanted was to h-help you, John. I wasn't...taking your...mother's place...ahhh!"

A series of telekinetic punches hit her face: left right and center.

"Do I look like I need your help?!"

The door finally came down. Remy, Hank and dad stood motionless at it. Nothing but horror reflected off their faces!

Scott: "Emma!"

"Well, well. Come running to save your girlfriend huh? You really think I'd just forgive her after she tried to kill me during her little therapy session?! You thought I'd forgiven her, huh? Revenge is a dish best served cold."

Remy began charging one of his cards.

Scott: "Son, put her down. We can talk about this. I-it's not too late to stop what you're doing."

"That's assuming I want to stop. Wrong assumption."

I felt my powers activate once more. The wires around Emma tightened, cutting deeply into her flesh. She let out a truly blood curdling shriek. The loss of so much blood must have been enough to finally induce fainting in Emma. She slumped. Her last command to my mind was for me to toss her aside like a rag doll. I heard her psychic laughter echoing within. Along with her final taunt - she dared me to try talking my way out of that one.

Scott: "Emma!"

Remy quickly tossed a charged card in my direction. My body mine again, I dove away from it. It exploded with no harm. It must have been a low energy card meant to stun. The floor wasn't damaged by the low intensity blast.

"Wait, I can explain! Please!"

Hank: "We have to restrain him. Scott?"

He looked apologetically to dad, whose face was that of a man on duty.

Scott: "D-do it."

"Dad please! You don't understand!"

He brought his hand to his visor and took aim.

Scott: "Kneel down and place your hands on the ground before you."

This was not happening. They couldn't believe it...they couldn't! Dad wouldn't...?

"I didn't try to kill Emma. She -"

Scott: "Get down...and p-place your hands on the ground before you. I will not repeat that order again."

"D-ad?"

I didn't make a move by then. I couldn't let Emma have her way. What would they do to me? I knew they had a brig in the subbasement? Would I be locked up? Everyone would take Emma's side. She changed the entire game. I had the opportunity to kill her. I had the means. I had the motive - she made me yell that I was seeking revenge for her attempt to "kill" me in her therapy session. She even made me say that "revenge was a dish best served cold" to explain why my sudden, surprising change of heart to her and why I didn't try to kill her sooner...

"Ah!"

Dad shot a beam towards me, missing deliverately. It hit the floor in front of me as a warning shot. It was low intensity.

"Y-you'd shoot me, dad?"

He looked from me to Emma, but said nothing.

Whatever they decided to do to me...he'd let them. It would be justice. And he was a man all for justice. He didn't believe in exceptions to rules. I'd have to pay for what I did.

"She isn't dead. She made me - "

Scott: "No one makes anyone do anything. You have always had choices. I'm just sorry that you reduced mine to this. Now -"

I had to get out. Get away from them and find some way to prove myself innocent.

"Yeah, I do got choices."

I made to do as they said. Hank ran in to check on the unconscious Emma. Dad's attention was drawn to them both momentarily. Remy hadn't yet approached me. That was my chance. While dad's attention was occupied, I mentally grabbed hold of his leg and tossed him aside to the other end of the room. Remy yelled an expletive. Before he could take out another card, I held him suspended and tossed him against Hank. They were all shocked at that and I took the opportunity to run out of the room. I could hear dad on the communicator. They were no doubt calling for help.

Running all the while, I tried to come up with some plan. I needed to get off the Mansion grounds. Easier said than done. I could picture the outside swarming with X-men. Then there were the Gen X members outside. It was Sunday morning. Every damned person took it easier then! I wouldn't be able to break out! I'd have to find someplace where I could buy myself some time. I needed to get them to listen to me without trying to take me down. Maybe the Professor. This was a supposed life and death situation. He'd surely break his code in the circumstances. He could enter Emma's mind and see her madness from within.

"Wait a sec...Cerebro."

The Cerebro room was one of the most heavily fortified in the Mansion. They surely wouldn't expect me to go to the subbasement. They'd think I'd panic and try to bust out - like I had decided at the start. Sure they might bring Emma down to the Med Bay. But they wouldn't have to go to Cerebro to find me. I was well within normal telepathic range. I'd be right under their nose. If I could make it to Cerebro, I could use it to enter Emma Frost's mind by force. Cerebro converted mental impressions into visual and auditory playbacks. It even allowed for recording of memory sequencing. Something about memories being stored in the brain in electrical impulses that Cerebro could interpret and imitate. I could stand a chance to rip the information out of her mind if I was boosted by Cerebro's power. They'd get the door down easily with the code. But hopefully they wouldn't think to check there before I was done. And what was more...Cerebro also increases telekinetic power and range. It'd make me much stronger if it came to defending myself whilst I got what I needed...




"Something Else Is At Work Here"


Professor Xavier's eyes shot open as his tour was interrupted by an incoming message from Scott. His ears could hardly register what he was hearing. An attempted murder...by John Summers?! Emma unconscious having sustained injuires and blood loss? The communicator built into his hoverchair blared the message out loud enough for the Mansion's newest guest, Ashley Montgomery, to hear. She grew quite alarmed.

Professor Xavier: "Um, excuse me my dear. There's something I have to take care of. Don't be worried. Just...go join the others around the corner."

Xavier couldn't believe that John Summers would attempt to murder Emma. Surely there must be some misunderstanding. Remy's voice was adamant that there was not. He, Scott and Hank had seen it with their own eyes. They repeated some of what they had heard. They didn't sound like things John would say at all. Why carry out a murder so blatantly with no chance of escape? Surely, if John wanted to revenge himself on Emma for the accident she'd had whilst in his mind (during therapy), then he could have planned it better. The fact that he waited days to try and avenge himself meant that it wasn't spontaneous. He was in full control of his faculties. He could have planned to kill her when there were less people around. Furthermore, John knew full well that Emma was a powerful telepath. He would have logically tried his stunt when she was asleep or not suspecting it - so that she couldn't call for help. Something else was going on. Something he had to get to the bottom of.

Professor Xavier: "Be very careful with him. Just detain him, and gently. Something else is at work here."

Xavier reached out telepathically and located each of his X-men who weren't in the habit of carrying about communicators twenty-four seven. He needed to spread the word before someone got hurt...permanently and in more ways than one...




"Cerebro, Don't Fail Me Now"


I managed to make my way down to Cerebro. The Professor was more than willing to let me practise on Cerebro when I had the spare time. And so I was granted access to the room. I glanced at the scanner and it performed the retinal evaluation.

Cerebro: "Welcome, Phoenix."

I entered and the door promptly slid shut. I walked up to the chair and sat. I put on the helmet and swiveled the chair sideways so that I could see both the doorway and the projection walls of the room.

"Begin psionic augmentation."

The computer processed my command.

Cerebro: "One moment please."

I felt my mind expand and the limits and strength of my telekinetic powers increase. I focussed my thoughts on the members of the X-men and Generation X. Generation X were all (except one, Rune) at a single location. The area close to the Mansion gate. Either they were guarding it from my escape. Or they had moved the students outside of the school and Gen X were taking care of them. The X-men were all on the move though. One by one I located them, scattered throughout the Mansion. Hank and Rune were taking Emma to Med Bay right at the moment. She was still unconscious.

"Cerebro, memory playback and recording please."

The computer complied and launched the program. I locked all my thoughts towards Emma mind. The room darkened and became pitch black. It must have been a reflection of Emma's unconscious state.

Cerebro: Memory playback and recording requires target to be conscious."

"Shit."

I'd have to wait until she was just conscious. But not fully conscious where she could use her superior skills to fight me off.

"Monitor the frequency of this mind. When it is about to awaken, alert me."

Cerebro: "Affirmative."

I decided to make contact with Julian in the meantime. See if he could give me some information.

Julian?

Julian: John! What's going on?!

She hatched a plot on the fly.

I quickly brought him up to date as to my situation. He in turn confirmed that Gen X was with the student body at the front of the school.

Julian: Oh shit! Are you okay? Are you hurt?

I'm fine...so far. I'm going to rip a memory vid from Emma's mind with Cerebro.

Julian: Do you even know how?

Not really. But that wouldn't be a problem. You see, Professor Xavier had programmed in a tutorial mode - the version I was currently using - into Cerebro. It was meant to serve as a tutor or guide to student users of Cerebro. Just so that they could practice without having to have a teacher with them all the time. I didn't know how to record a memory sequence. But Cerebro in tutorial mode, imbued with Professor Xavier's skill, would walk me through it.

I don't care if it's breaking Xavier's most sacred rule. It's the only way to prove my innocence.

Julian: Do what you have to.

Cerebro: "Consciousness imminent."

I severed the link with Julian and quickly ordered Cerebro to start the recording.

"Come on, come on..."

I linked myself to Emma's mind and felt a woozy feeling hit me. She was just coming out of it...




"You Were Saying"


Logan and Scott checked the Mansion's parking lot to determine if John could be in there. Possibly attempting to steal a vehicle in order to escape. When he heard from Remy that Scott had shot at John, it was all Ororo could do to keep him from starting something up with Summers in the midst of a crisis. Logan knew what it took to take a life by murder. And John didn't seem to have it in him. Oh, Logan knew how to read people. And there was no way that John would try and murder Emma Frost in cold blood...

Logan: "Jesus! I can't believe you tried to blast him! He's your kid for Christ's sake!"

Scott: "I fired a warning shot. Do you think I wanted to?! You didn't hear - see what I saw!"

Logan: "John wouldn't! This don't seem right!"

Scott stopped suddenly and stared at something to his right. Logan, likewise, did the same.

Logan: "Fuck..."

It was Emma's car.

Scott: "You were saying."




"Confessions Of A Crazy Bitch"


"Cerebro, end sequence."

The system complied. With the "virtual" skills of Professor Xavier programmed into Cerebro, getting the footage of Emma's memories for the last hour was no big problem. I felt the mental equivalent of someone guiding my hand without them actually being there physically or mentally. The wonders of modern technology. I didn't expect it to be so...easy. And at first I was worried that I was merely seeing the memories and that they weren't being recorded. Or that pieces were being left out, crucial pieces that I'd need to prove my innocence. But when I checked the recording, everything was there.

"Cerebro, can you access a wireless connection?"

Cerebro: "Affirmative."

"Email this video as an attachment to smart_and_sexy16@xavierinstitute.edu."

It was Jubilee's email address. No matter where Jubilee went on campus, she had her handheld with her. I'd need her to use for the next stage of my plan.

Jubilee?

Jubilee: Oh shit! John, what did you do?! Wait, not that I think you murdered Emma, or tried to but - WHAT the hell happened?!

Jubilee, please tell me that today is not the day - of all days - that you broke your addiction to technology. You got your handheld on you?

She confirmed it.

I want you to check your student email account. There's a video of Emma's memories I just sent. Titled as, Confessions Of A Crazy Bitch. I need you to get it to an X-man. Or...better yet a psychic. Betsy or the Professor. They'll believe this footage. As a student, I can record memories using Cerebro, but I can't alter them. They'll know that the memories shown are genuine and untampered with. Can you do that for me?

Jubilee didn't answer for a while. I took it that she was watching the video. When she next made contact, her emotions were very shaken...

Jubilee: "They got a couple Gen Xer's with our group. I'll still try my hardest though. I can run real fast. But hey, why don't you contact the Professor and he can give them the order to either let me go...or the Prof could come see me himself. It'd save me the trouble of breaking away."

I didn't want to make contact with Betsy or the Professor in case they located my position as being in the Cerebro room. They might want to catch me before they saw any so called evidence. Best to keep all advantages I could get.

Jubilee: Okay. I'm about to remind these guys why I'm the female under eighteen track champion. Can you locate the Professor?

I thought of Xavier and pinpointed him as being near the fountain.

Xavier: John?

Shit! He must have detected my presence whilst I was locating him. I decided not to answer him.

Xavier: John? Please stop hiding. Come out and let us talk about this.

Hiding? Well at least he didn't sense me in the Cerebro room. my position must have still been a secret. I sensed Jubilee's excitement as she evaded the Gen X members who tried to stop her from breaking away from the group.

"Cerebro. Map mode. Plot the position of the last two mental signatures I made contact with on the mansion map."

The Mansion map came up. The dot representing Jubilee's position was close. Almost there...




"Evidence To The Contrary"


Professor Xavier: Attention X-men! Cease your search for John and meet me in the subbasement. Hank, leave Emma in Med Bay, but do not tell her why or where you are going. Generation X, you may lead the students back into the Mansion.

Confused questions came from all present.

Professor Xavier: I've just received evidence that John did not attempt to murder Emma. Now, meet me like I asked.




"Nightmare's End"


About fifteen minutes after I saw Jubilee's dot meet Xavier's...I received a telepathic message from the Professor himself. He and the X-men were in the War Room. I took it that the time delay meant that they had all watched the video footage. I mentally checked on Emma in the Med Bay. She was conscious and her thoughts bore a scared and disturbed pattern. With Cerebro, I could easily tell that they were as fake as her usual smiles. So they hadn't broken the news to her yet. Good. I wanted to be there to see the look on her face when it all came out.

Professor Xavier: John, please leave Cerebro and meet us in the hall. We're going to confront Emma.

Yes, sir.

I took off the helmet.

"You may shut down now, Cerebro. Thanks for the help."

Cerebro: "You are welcome, Phoenix."

I took a deep breath as I opened the door. The X-men were all outside. And they were all looking at me...worried, sorry...angry (no doubt at Emma).

Scott: "Oh God, son...I -"

"Save it."

Scott: "You have to understand...what I saw...I thought Emma was a - "

A saint? Hah!

"Look, let's just go deal with the whore."

Several people's eyebrows raised. Nevertheless, we all hastily made our way to Med Bay. Emma was sitting up in bed, with Rune at her side. At a motion from Professor Xavier, he backed off and joined our group. Judging by the look on Emma's face, she must have known that something or the other had gone wrong with herr plan. Of course, with the footage I got...they all knew that I had trashed her car. But they also knew that she had violated my mental rights the night before and made a fool out of me. She didn't have any leverage.

Professor Xavier: "Frost, you have some explaining to do."

Emma started to fidget and her eyes teared up. She started acting all traumatized and frantically begged for them to get me away from her. Ever the actress.

"Drop the fuckin' act, whore. They know all about your little attempted murder plan."

Professor Xavier: "Quite right...though I wouldn't have worded it that way exactly."

Scott: "Why Emma?! How could you do something as fucked up as this?! To John...to ME?"

Emma: "He was always trying to sabotage us, Scott. He wrecked my car, he's always rude to me behind your back, swears at me -"

Everyone looked at her in disgust and anger. She actually thought that she was justified.

Scott: "So I guess he was right about when you probed his mind and knocked him out too, huh? You tried to turn me against my own -"

Logan: "She didn't turn ya, bub. You made the choice to believe her over John."

Everyone looked at Logan oddly. As did I...

Professor Xavier: "Emma, you have a problem. A serious one. You need help."

It was the Professor's idea to send her to a mental institution where her condition could be treated. It would involve placing mental blocks on her powers. And after that, her memories concerning the X-men and the true nature of the school would have to be wiped.

"I want that slut behind bars. I want to hear that she's suffering in prison having been made the bitch of some lesbian inmate! A mental institution? That is the BEST that you can do?!"

Once more everyone looked at me in shock. Professor Xavier said that she had a serious problem that required therapy. Incarceration would only put her behind bars for a limited period of time. She hadn't actually killed anyone, despite her having tried to choke me. Besides, her plan was to get me institutionalized, said the Professor. It was poetic justice that she was the one being sent to the looney bin instead (the prof didn't say looney bin). Imagine that - a shrink needing therapy. That just flushed whatever respect I had for the psychiatric profession down the toilet.

Emma: "Scott, Scott! You can't let them do this. Think of all that I've done for you! Think of all that we mean to each other!"

She got off the bed and went on her knees begging him. Dad looked at her aghast.

Betsy: "I always knew that there was something about you I didn't like. At first I thought it was your slutty attitude. Your over the top, goody-two shoes mannerisms. But now I guess I know why my intuition was warning me about you."

Betsy patted me on the shoulder, smiled at me and whispered, "Brilliant job John." Well, I knew that Betsy had an aversion to Emma...like me. Two of a kind I guess. Ooh, Lorna - THREE of a kind. At least we hadn't been taken in by like almost everyone else.

Professor Xavier: "This is for your own good, Emma. Please don't resist...or it may be quite painful."

Please, please God - let her be too damned stubborn and resist!

Emma: "Nooo!! No! Fuck you, Jonathan! Fuck all of you! Ahhh!! Fuc - "

Thank you, God! Before she could swear at us anymore, the Professor knocked her out and began working on her memories. I breathed a sigh of relief the like of which I never had before. At long last, the nightmare that was Emma Frost had come to an end. I was free of her. And not only me, but the entire Mansion as well. Things were looking up too. Sure I had a little tiff with Bobby and Ray. But Julian was mine. My idol / object of my affections was mine! I'd learnt that my mother was a gay fiction queen at some point in time! (^_^) Yeah, things were starting to look up...




Author's Notes


Answer to a common question: Yes, this is Adrian Anderson, the author of xxx-men series (to those who just read on Nifty). This story is my baby, now that I think I have improved after writing xxx-men series. And it goes out especially to Jeremy McGinnis! I'm working my best each chapter for you, dude! Xxx-men series will be updated to Chapter 32 soon enough. Time time - I need time. So don't worry you who follow that one. This story is a sorta break for me...and I know it means a lot to a special someone out there.


First off, let me say that Chapter Two had a GLARING Error that I MUST apologize for. I mentioned an "Andrew" in the scene where John and the others pull up into the Hellfire Club's parking lot. A few asked WHO that was...he wasn't mentioned ANYwhere else in the chapter. That is what comes of worshipping Andrew Van de Kamp too much for your own good. I meant to put Jeremy. As in Jeremy McGinnis of Alpha Squad. Damn you for acting so perfectly hot and evil, Shawn Pyfrom!


Well guys and of course, girls... What do you think of this one? I'd like to thank those who have emailed me their responses. Have been behind in checking email these days. I did get a particular one via my group that made me feel good though. Thanks Curt/Yama (^_~).

I bet some of y'all thought that Logan had decided to take Ororo out to the Scandizzo Diner, eh? Especially as that scene was right after the one where he says he's gonna take her out for lunch. Give Logie more credit than that. He had more CLASS than that! It ain't in the story but, he took her out to his favorite hot dog stand! Old one eyed Joe makes the best in all of Bayville!

And the idea to make Jean a gay fiction aficionado came upon me very, very suddenly. There's one thing I should mention though. There actually IS a story called Alex In Wonderland on Nifty - under the gay male fantasy section! I saw that one and decided to use it. Whether Jean's is based on Alex Summers...we'll have to wait and see! (^_~) I'm almost sure that I saw a story called Lick Me, Suck Me, Fuck Me somewhere before. Since Alex In Wonderland had those words...I added them in. Those stories aren't mine and I can't remember the authors and I am too damned sleepy to go look for 'em. Just know that they ain't mine.
That's chapter three. If you have any comments and would like to contact me, feel free to send an email to either
birdofflame_587@yahoo.com
Or...
phoenix_587@yahoo.com
You may also post a message at my Yahoo group. The address is at:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/phoenix_587
Bye for now!