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 Four

"Every Diamond Has Its Flaw"

Gossip has a way of spreading. And, naturally, the juicier and more scandalous it is - the faster it spreads. By the time we all sorted out Emma's punishment and exited the Danger Room, it was all over the school that I had tried to murder Emma Frost. Me, the son of Scott Summers! The chatter over the telepathic band was too much for the Professor's patience. He personally linked to the mind of each and every student and made a mental announcement as to what had really happened. He was met with disbelief - imagine that! Emma Frost's reputation was so good that Professor Xavier's revelation about her was met dubiously! How could she command such respect from so many people?!

Eventually, however, they relented when the Professor (after warning all that what they were about to see was graphic) showed them bits and pieces of the memory excerpt from Emma's mind. After that, they stopped slandering me. But some people did try to push forward a motion to have Logan checked out. He was known to act a little crazy on occasion. If the cool cucumber, Emma Frost, had such problems...Logan's could be much, much worse. It was rather funny when Logan found out about the suggestion. (^_^) The Professor squashed any such proposal forthwith.

And about my father and talking to him about his failure to take me seriously over and over... (-_-) He was taken in by her too. And yes it hurt that my father would side with someone else, who wasn't even family, against me. It was even suggested by Rogue that Emma could have been using her powers to influence my dad. I jumped at that and was prepared to believe it right away. I wouldn't put it past her to use her powers for anything if she wanted it bad enough. But after a thorough mental scan by the Professor...it was made clear that my father's mind was NOT being tampered with. So he made all those choices on his own...

Well, I reasoned with myself. Emma's rep was so good, that the school didn't believe even Professor Xavier completely without hard evidence. And dad was in a very emotionally vulnerable state after my mom died. And Emma had capitalized on that. I'd decided to have a talk with him later. After he and the Professor returned from dropping Emma off to that mental institution. Meanwhile, I needed to talk to my friends. So the first thing that I did when I got up was rush to Jubilee's location...I also found Amara and Ashley with her.

Jubilee: "Oh God, John. I can't believe that she was soo sick!"

No surprise there. Not even I would have suspected the whole truth about Emma Frost.

Amara: "She never fooled me. I knew from the first time that I laid eyes on her - that she was nothing but trouble..."

Jubilee and I looked at Amara amusedly. Sure Amara had accepted that Emma was trouble...eventually. But at the start, she was a devout Emma Frost fan. She admired Emma's fashion sense so much that she even went about trying to imitate it for a while. She eventually grew bored with it though - wearing white day after day became such a drag.

Ashley: "I didn't think that things were bad between you and her before I saw you looking at her that way last night. I mean, you two seemed to like each other a lot before that."

Emphasis on seemed to.

"I was only starting to act nice to her yesterday morning. To try and take her down with her own strategy."

Jubilee: "It's a pity it had to reach to this though. Putting her powers on lockdown. Wiping her mind. Sending her away to a mental institute?"

I scoffed and replied that she was lucky she was getting off so easy. Besides, she'd be happy enough where she was going. And she would be getting help. That was the most important thing. (^_^) Help of the variety she tried to dish out to everybody else. Shrink shit.

"She's the White Queen, girls. Happy Valley is just the place for her. White, plush walls - padded for her pleasure by the way. And those stylish white straight jackets - so simple, and yet so elegant. And then let's not forget that everyone else there will be wearing white too - just her taste. Even the doctors and orderlies."

So okay, maybe she wouldn't be treated to all of that...but a boy can dream. Can't he?

Ashley: "Ooohh, John, you're such a baaad boy."

Jubilee and Amara looked at each other, nearly bursting out with suppressed laughter. The way Ashley had said that was downright slutty! I was still too happy about Emma's departure too really feel uncomfortable or anything due to that though.

Amara: "Do you like that in a man?"

Still...did Amara really have to ask that question.

Ashley: "Hell yeah. Sometimes, being bad can be kinda good."

Mwhahahahahaa! We all burst out laughing a little too wickedly at that. Another slutty piece of innuendo. Could Ashley be something of a female Bobby? He was known to be a perverted ass quite frequently. You may be asking yourself where Bobby and Ray were in the midst of all this. They still hadn't apologized to me about their fucked up idea of jokes. As a matter of fact, they were avoiding me. But I wasn't too bothered with them for the time being. My life had taken a turn for the better and I was too busy enjoying that to brood on problems.

Jubilee: "How could they let someone with psycho problems in here. I mean - don't they check for issues and stuff? Like a psychiatric evaluation and profile?"

There was very little that I knew about the personal back stories of most of the teachers. But down in the Med Bay, Professor Xavier had told me that he was sorry that I had to go through Emma's abuse of power. And that he felt personally responsible for not knowing all that was going on in his school. He said he'd have to try to encourage the student body to come forward with their problems more. He expressed disappointment that I didn't come to him with my issues concerning Emma.

I explained that if my own father didn't believe me...what chance did anyone else have of taking my word for it? He did tell me that Emma was a former student of his - at the same level as my mom and dad were. And that she went on to university, but eventually returned to the institute where she took up her duties. Her mutation (due to a shape shifting incident where she transformed into diamond form) was revealed and she was having trouble finding employment. So the Professor took her on. She was always a star pupil with the best behavior of all...

"I guess they trusted Emma completely. Like most people here."

Ashley: "The further you place your faith in one person, the further it has to fall."

We all nodded in agreement. At that moment, I heard frantic voices calling my name and I spun around. Running towards me were Alex and Lorna. Lorna came straight up to me and didn't waste any time. She latched onto me and semi-strangled me with a hug, crying a little and saying that whilst she knew Emma was bad news...even she couldn't suspect just how wicked the White Queen truly was.

"Every diamond has its flaw."

I didn't know if that was scientific fact or not. But it sounded like something witty to say - considering that Emma transformed into an alternate diamond form. All present nodded gravely.

Lorna: "Goodness knows how far she was willing to go..."

"Well, she's gone now, albeit unwillingly. To a better - happier place."

Alex: "I never thought that she of all people... I mean, she was always helping everyone with their problems and - "

Lorna made some comment about dad thinking with his dick and not seeing what was going on right under his own nose. What Emma was really like. It seemingly annoyed Alex a little. He, naturally, tried to stand up for his brother.

Lorna: "He should have known, Alex! You can't date someone, be so...intimate...sex them so much and so often and not catch glimpses of their true personality. He should have listened to his son before that wench. I mean come on...the sex couldn't have been that good."

Alex's expression morphed into one of deep thought at that statement. But at a hawkeyed glare from Lorna - he cut it out and nervously replied,

Alex: "Hey, Emma fooled everyone. Okay?"

Lorna: "She wasn't sleeping with everyone -"

As far as we knew...

Lorna: " - infiltrating everyone else's lives. God, she could have seriously hurt John during that little therapy shtick she tried. Who knows if that was her real intention?"

"Guys, don't argue with each other. You've just hit your dating anniversary - though when Alex will ever propose, I don't know."

Lorna eyed Alex at that...he blushed.

"Besides. Emma is not worth fights over her insane ways."

Lorna: "Still...for Scott to actually think that you...could try to KILL Emma?"

Alex: "I didn't believe it for a second."

"Yeah, I knew you wouldn't."

I didn't doubt them at all. I spent a lot of my childhood with them being virtual parents after all. They KNEW - not thought - that I wouldn't. Dad didn't know me as well as he thought. I'm sure that he probably knew his enemies a lot better then. (-_-)

"Oh just you guys wait 'til grandma and granddad hear about this."

Lorna smiled at that, more than a little evilly. I joined her. You see, grandma Elaine (maternal) wasn't exactly happy with Emma's arrival into our private lives. She wasn't a believer that Emma was bad, bad news. But she didn't like the idea of dad being with another woman so seriously, so soon after mom died. She even asked him how I felt about it when she was last here - at the memorial. And he made it known that I didn't seem to like her. Grandma had tried to give him a hint - slow things down with her. Obviously dad hadn't followed the little, subtle piece of advice.

Grampa John (Yeah, I was named after my grandfather) however, was a supporter of my father's relationship with Emma. He felt that mom would want dad happy. And that given time, I would realize it was for the best. I may have been sixteen, but I still needed a mother - dad couldn't cope alone. Hello...sixteen! Grampa felt that it was bad enough that he had to see my aunt, Sarah, having to deal with two kids alone. He was a traditional sort...two parents mandatory. And dad was glad for the support. Grandma was a little upset at grampa's stance, as she felt (you go girl!) that dad shouldn't be happy with the price being my unhappiness. Well, I'd have something to tell them alright! Note to self - Mother's Day is coming up, get grandma a piece of jewellery that would make her run the risk of a heart attack...

Lorna: "See, Alex. I told you - a woman who eats pizza with a fork cannot possibly be right in her head. Telling me that I needed to lose weight around the hips - of course she was crazy. I should have suspected it then."

We all cackled once more. Well, Alex was a little less "cackly". But we didn't let him spoil our joy.

"Look, I - uh - have gotta go..."

They all looked at me confused.

Alex: "Why? Where?"

He eyed Ashley. Since breakfast that morning, I had the feeling that he thought I had a crush on her. Maybe he expected me to leave...and then she'd leave shortly after... I, however, wanted to go meet Julian. It would be the first time since I saw him the night before. Ororo's greenhouse was empty as long as she wasn't in it. And I knew for a fact that she was out somewhere on the greens with Logan. So I was all for calling Julian and meeting with him there. So that we could have our own, private little celebration.

"I just got a few things I need to take care of. Personal business. That's all."

Lorna: "Since when do you have urgent business matters to -"

"My dear Lorna, I just had to dispatch one nosey bitch. Please don't make me have to deal with you in like manner."

Lorna's face morphed into a mock anger / insane expression fit to rival Emma's.

Lorna: "Nosey bitch?! Alright, now you better get outta here!"

Grinning, I ran away whilst Lorna made an exaggerated show of attempting to try and choke me...

"Was It Something I Said?"

I walked into the greenhouse a little warily. I had never before had to sneak anywhere to meet a secret love interest. And the fact that it was a guy had something to do with my caution. God forbid that it ever gets out, that was my foremost thought. I used my eyes and ears to check around, making sure that the place was empty. In addition, I decided to try something that I never much used to do. Prior to my surge, I couldn't rely on my telepathy to detect others. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. It was straining and difficult at all times. Maybe I could try again? After all, if the Professor said that my telepathy had also been enhanced, why neglect it? I admit that I favored my telekinesis over telepathy. Telekinesis could do more visually impressive things. Telepathy - to me anyway - always seemed to be so much more subtle. I closed my eyes for ease of concentration and opened up my mind's receptivity.

Julian, alone. Getting...closer? But where is h-

Whilst my eyes were closed, someone's arms wrapped around me, in a way that I had only ever felt once before...in the car park with Julian.

Julian: "About time you got here."

I laughed and turned around to face him. He was grinning too. And for good reason. Standing behind me with my back towards him before, I couldn't see that he was holding a bright red rose in his hand. One of Ororo's prized flowers, no doubt. He extended it to me in semi-joking manner, semi-seriously.

Julian: "For you."

He looked like he was on the verge of bursting with laughter.

"One, that is way too gay. Two, I hope it doesn't mean that you're cheap cuz it cost you nothing. Three, I don't dare walk outta here with it...and neither should you. If Ororo sees me with it, she'll kill me."

So, so true. Last year at Valentine's Day, students tried to save money on roses. I should add that they were mostly guys (cheap cheap!). They stole almost all of Ororo's roses. Since then, she warned the school populace that it had better not happen again. Ororo could be scary when she wanted to be. Her eyes turn freakishly white when she's emotionally worked up - and boy was she mad then!

Julian: "One, you are gay. Get used to gay treatment. Two, I took a big risk picking it - that has got to count for something. Three, you'd better accept it or -"

"Or what?"

He pouted in a mock grief.

Julian: "Or I'll be heartbroken."

"Okay, okay. I'll take the dumb flower! But couldn't you have at least removed the thorns?"

Julian: "I thought you liked me cuz I was tough. I'm not giving you a sissy flower. A rose without thorns isn't...macho enough."

"Uh huh. An emasculated rose. Whatever was I thinking?"

Inside I was melting! I got a flower! From Julian! I'll dry it and keep it forever and ever and sleep with it under my pillow at nights! While I was engrossed in an overly sappy stream of thoughts and emotions, Julian Pulled me behind a row of Ororo's overgrown shrubs, and we settled down safely in their cover.

Julian: "Well, aren't you totally glad you wrecked Emma's car now?"

"Since it was the reason Emma flipped - then hell yeah!"

Julian: "You naughty, naughty boy."

"It was your idea."

His hands started creeping down over my pants and crotch again. We hadn't actually 'touched' each other at that point in time. You know...direct physical contact down there. Not that I didn't want to - or tried to. But Julian wanted to take things slow and not rush into it.

Julian: "At least now you can rest easier."

"I'm so glad you came up with that idea last night. Are you sure that you've never done something like that before?"

He shamefacedly denied it. I can't describe how cute it was. He is not the kind of guy who gets embarrassed easily. And it made my heart flutter to know that I could make him blush like that. He always does put up such a tough guy front to everyone. I thought it was genuine before. But I was beginning to realize that there was a quirky, sentimental and sometimes, shy side to him as well. He just hid it really well. Almost as soon as he realized he was blushing, he made to turn away. As he did so, the left side of his face became more prominent. As did the scar running down it.

"Made you blush."

I reached out to touch the scar on his face. It had always been a feature of his that I found attractive. It ran down from his forehead, across his left eyebrow, down his cheek and a little further down.


Julian: "Mhmm?"

"How did you get this scar?"

Julian: "Does it...gross you out?"

What a stupid question. Gross me out? Hah!

"Actually, I think it makes you look that much more hot."

Julian: "Really?"

I didn't have to be very observant to realize that Julian thought his scar made him seem less attractive. The night before, when I told him that he was beautiful, he didn't seem to believe it at first. I thought that the Stepford sisters should have counted themselves lucky to have a guy like him asking them to be his onstage backup. I was totally shocked that he had to pay them. Later during our make out session, I expressed that thought. He merely said that they sometimes looked at his scar in a peculiar way - not grossed out exactly. But they winced at times. A lot of people did. And some even seemed to be turned off by it. It was enough to make him uncomfortable.

"Yeah. It kinda reminds me of Blade from Teknoman."

Ah yes. That old cartoon. The main character, Blade, had many features in common with Julian. Including a scar that ran down the side of his face. And I always thought that he was hot.

"How did you get it?"

Julian: "It's..."

A couple awkward seconds passed by and he didn't finish his sentence. I had always wondered how he got a wicked scar like that. Whatever caused it must have hurt like hell. And he was lucky that he didn't lose his left eye in the process.


Julian: "I...it isn't something I like to think about. Okay? I don't want to talk about it."

His tone had altered somewhat. It became more distant...colder.


Before I could get a chance to respond to that statement, Julian was answering his cell phone. I heard a female voice on the other side. It sounded pretty familiar. But I couldn't make out who exactly.

Julian: "Look, I gotta go do some training assistant stuff."

"But it's Sunday."

Julian: "I know. But I was supposed to meet up with Sally last night to plan our exercises for the week. And we both skipped to perform at the contest..."

Ah. Sally Blevins. Also known as Skids on the Generation X team. She once served as an assistant to Logan and I was acquainted with her.

"It's okay, then. Duty calls, huh?"

Julian: "Yeah. But I will be seeing you later. Right?"


With a quick kiss, he got up to leave.

"I'm sorry for upsetting you. About the scar."

He stopped mid-motion. Clearly he was made uncomfortable again at the mention of the scar.

Julian: "It's nothing."

It certainly didn't seem like nothing. Especially since his voice changed again when he said it.

"Are you sure?"

Julian: "Yeah. Later, Lil John."

He had started calling me that after I kept calling him Killer the night before. Before I could say anything to that, he was out of the greenhouse. I stayed there a little while longer, drawn into my own thoughts. What could have made him so uncomfortable when I asked him about his scar...

"Good Work"

Meanwhile, at the secret hideaway of the M.A.L.E.

The seven members comprising the M.A.L.E currently sat listening to their undercover leader, Mystique, via the speakerphone. She had been forced to leave behind any sort of sophisticated communications device. If the X-men happened to find that among her "humble" possessions, then they would have realized that poor homeless Ashley Montgomery wasn't all that she seemed to be. So cell phone calls would have to do for the time being.

Mystique: "Pyro, Toad, Quicksilver... When you fought the X-men at the Santorini warehouse...did any of them match this description? Teenaged boy, looked to be a little younger than fifteen or so...bright red hair..."

The three responded in the affirmative. They sometimes had no idea what their leader was planning. Mystique liked to work in secret at times. But they knew who she was talking about well enough. There were two non-uniformed opponents at the Santorini warehouse, in addition to the X-men. And of them all only one was a redhead. He was non-uniformed. The other guy in civilian garb was a blond. Quicksilver and Pyro in particular were vocal in confirming Mystique's suspicions. After all, the unknown (to them) boy had a hand in bringing both of them down. By holding Quicksilver motionless...and by extinguishing Pyro's flame.

Scarlet Witch: "Who is this boy, Mystique? And why are you interested in him?"

Mystique: "He's a junior member of the X-men as best as I can tell. Has to be or else he wouldn't have been allowed to fight you. He's also the son of one of their field leaders."

All seven members of the M.A.L.E (Pyro, Toad, Quicksilver, Wits, Scarlet Witch, Gateway and Blob) were impressed at how much Mystique / Ashley had managed to learn during her short stay at the X-men's secret headquarters. She did reveal to them that the X-men were based out of a supposed high order private school for the gifted.

Mystique: "I should congratulate you all for the excellent job you did. Your acting really hoodwinked the X-men."

Mystique wasn't in the habit of giving compliments. But the M.A.L.E had definitely fulfilled her expectations. They deserved a little complimenting.

Wits: "So why don't you show us how grateful you are by telling us what you're planning...exactly?"

Mystique's plans were a mystery to all. Why didn't she just conduct her sabotage as she had planned to on her first trip to the X-men's secret base of operations? Why bother to try and lure them out in order to infiltrate their little school?

Mystique: "My reasons are my own...for the time being. I have got to go for now. Just one final warning - if you ever see that boy again, come face to face with him...do not harm him in any way that could cause serious or permanent damage. Am I understood?"

Wits: "I'll have to enter Pyro, Toad or Quicksilver's mind and share the boy's image around. So we all know what he looks like."

Mystique: "Good, you do that. I have it on good knowledge that he's a member of the junior X-men, even if he seems a little young. He's a little older than he looks. So you just might see him around again eventually. Just remember what I said - or there'll be hell to pay."

There were a few impatient sighs at that cryptic warning, and Mystique severed the connection, leaving the M.A.LE. alone for the time being...

"The Heart To Heart"

Dad and the Professor returned home from the Happy Valley Mental Hospital a little after one in the afternoon. Both of them bore extremely somber expressions on their faces. In spite of the...relief I felt at Emma being put away...I admit that the looks on their faces instilled some of their solemnity in me. Of course I would have rathered that Emma be a reasonably sane person and not have to go to a mental institute. But given that she was more than a little crazy, and what she had tried to do - she deserved it one hundred percent.

Professor Xavier: "Well, it is done. Emma Frost has been committed."

He went on to explain that he had gotten in contact with her siblings and explained that Emma had suffered a nervous breakdown at the Institute for reasons unknown. He personally explained the nature of Emma's issues to the chief psychiatric doctor at the facility. Since he knew Dr. Christine Bentley personally (former classmate and friend) she agreed to keep the facts secret from Emma's relations whilst she underwent treatment.

"And they'll just release her when she's...cured?"

Professor Xavier: "Yes. When her issues are satisfactorily dealt with."

Satisfactorily dealt with. Uh...huh... I didn't care about the psychiatric crap anyone had to offer...Emma was beyond curing. Needless to say, there was one pertinent question that I just had to ask.

"When she's freed, she won't be coming back here, will she?"

Both Professor Xavier and dad looked at each other before dad answered. Thankfully, it was the answer I wanted to hear.

Scott: "No. She'll be asked to vacate the premises and her belongings and such will be sent to her."

Professor Xavier: "Her tenure at the school is most certainly at an end."

Good. At least I wouldn't have to live in constant fear of her retribution. Revenge is a dish best served cold...that was what she had made me say for dad and the others to overhear. She was probably a believer of that herself. If she came back to stay at the Mansion, she would probably plot my downfall in that schemish mind of hers. There is no cure for bitchiness. And Emma will always be a naturally talented bitch. I never would have guessed that she would flip and try to choke the life out of me. I nonchalantly touched my neck. Dad and Professor Xavier took a look at the redness there. Granted...some of that was due to Julian...

Professor Xavier: "I'd best be going. You two have a lot to talk about."

At that, the Professor eyed dad meaningfully and exited our house, leaving us the the living room alone. To say that the situation was awkward would be putting it too damned lightly. For one thing, I have an insatiable, "I Told You So", complex going on. If I'm right and you're wrong, I will rub your nose in it. Especially if you didn't believe me. And dad didn't believe me ever. Suffice it to say that Dad had a big sense of pride. Saying that he was in the wrong was not going to be easy for him at all. I kept restraining myself from just saying, "I told you so". It required the sum total of my self-control to do it. I was running out of patience though, so after a couple long minutes passed...


He opened his mouth to talk a couple times, but just closed it afterwards.

"I'm waiting."

Scott: "I was wrong. You were right. Emma was a...conniving slut."

I mock pretended not to hear him.

"What was that? I didn't quite hear you. Say it louder."

Scott: "I said that Emma was a conniving slut!"

He fidgeted and avoided eye/visor contact as he said it. But I understood that it was his way of saying that he was sorry. You might think that he was being an ass for not all out apologizing to me then and there. And maybe you might think that I should have been a little angry at him because of it. I wasn't though. Because I understood how hard it was for him to merely say that he was wrong. He was always conditioned to being the leader. He had to be strong willed and stubborn to deal with some of the brash personality types in the X-men.

It was enough of a challenge for him to admit that he was in the wrong about Emma. Even though I hated to admit it to myself - he really did seem to be falling for her. And the revelation that she wasn't kosher was painful enough without him having to swallow his pride completely. He didn't need to suffer anymore. He admitted that he was wrong and that I was right...and called Emma a conniving slut (^_^). It was more than enough for me.

"You're forgiven."

Scott: "She just seemed so... so right? You know?"

Actually, no I didn't. She was never right to me. And I didn't hesitate to tell him so.

Scott: "One day when you meet the right type of girl...you'll understand."

(-_-) No, I'm afraid not dad. And you better not be insinuating that Emma was the right kind of woman. But I guess I understood what he was trying to say. I'd just have to replace 'girl' with 'guy'. I just nodded.

Scott: "I can't believe I made such an error in judgement. I - I'm supposed to know better."

He went on to say that he never made an error like that on the field before. It appeared that he was having some sort of crisis of confidence.

"Well, I guess when it comes to emotions and things that affect you personally...sometimes it just can't be helped."

He shrugged. I hesitated a little before continuing.

"I know...with mom gone, it gets lonely. And you needed someone. She capitalized on that. It wasn't your fault."

The mention of mom seemed to remind him of something. He sat back up and looked me straight in the eye before asking,

Scott: "Why is that you never asked me about your mother? About how she died?"

Naturally, I hesitated to answer that question. The Professor had said that he'd speak with my father about him having a talk with me concerning mom. I suppose that he had spoken with dad whilst they were out earlier.

Scott: "Weren't you the least bit curious?"

"If I didn't ask, then why didn't you try to tell me?"

Scott: "Honestly, I thought that you were trying to avoid hearing about it. And I didn't want to force you to listen to something you that didn't want listen to. Something that you may not have been ready to handle."

Awkward pause...

Scott: "I had a little talk with the Professor earlier. And he mentioned that you asked about her? About whether or not she ever went through anything similar to this?"

I nodded in response to that. He eyed me very probingly.

Scott: "He felt that I should talk to you about her. If you want to listen."

"Yeah. I want to know how it all happened - what happened."

Scott: "I wanted to tell you. So much. I was planning to when we took that trip to Alkali Lake."


But that would be a direct violation of the rules. Rules that he himself followed religiously. Wow, I guess Emma was right about him telling me if he felt it would help me... She must have been a crazy bitch - but a smart one.

Scott: "It wasn't always just a lake. Before last year, it was a hydroelectric dam facility."

I told him that I knew that. When we were studying alternative energy sources, Hank mentioned that place as an example.

Scott: "And you know that the Professor was kidnapped last year...and taken there...obviously..."

"Yeah. Magneto somehow got a hold of him and tried to - "

Erik Lensherr, the bastard...so called mutant liberator. He was nothing more than a fanatic murderer whose actions did nothing to help the situation. Instead, he fueled more anti-mutant sentiment across the country. As if that wasn't enough, he was responsible for the deaths of dozens when his radiation wave washed over Liberty Island. Many more would never know a normal life due to having their genetic structure permanently rewritten from the radiation. Why on Earth the authorities didn't execute him when they caught him was beyond me. No...they locked him up in some plastic prison for seven years. Somehow, he escaped - killing ten guards in the process. He probably had help breaking out too.

Right after escaping, he managed to get to Professor Xavier. And spirited him away to Alkali Lake...

Scott: "That isn't what happened exactly."

"What?! But, I thought..."

Scott: "The first part was true. But Magneto wasn't the one who kidnapped the Professor."

I didn't understand it? Wasn't Magneto the bad guy in all of this?

Scott: "Yes, he is. But someone else, with completely different motives and intent, was involved."


Scott: "A parent of a former student of the school."

"What?! You - can't be serious?! Why?!"

Scott: "His son...he was upset that the Professor couldn't cure him. His name was William Stryker. Colonel William Stryker."


"Jason Stryker's father?"

Scott: "Yes."

I knew of Jason Stryker. He was a student who had the ability to create telepathic illusions that were indistinguishable from reality. He only stayed for a year before leaving. I thought it was because he had learnt to control his abilities sufficiently. He had some problems at the start where his mind would unconsciously link to others and would send images into their heads...

Scott: "He didn't want to leave. But his father angrily decided to pull him out. The Professor couldn't help him in the way he wanted. But things didn't go well."

"What happened?"

Scott: "Jason began to resent his parents. His father kept him on mutant suppressor drugs all the time. They wouldn't let him leave the house unattended in case he was meeting with other mutants. Stryker tried to force him to be 'normal'. Even his mother did it. Whilst Jason couldn't access his powers consciously, they still reacted to his emotions. Eventually, his powers lashed out at his parents. It resulted in the death of his mother."

"Oh God..."

Scott: "Stryker lobotomised him. It left him a docile, subservient shell of what he was. Stryker blamed the Professor for what happened because he wouldn't telepathically suppress Jason's powers like he had asked him to in the first place. He was a military man. He started to see all mutants as threats - timebombs waiting to explode. So he called the Professor and asked him to come over. He said he wanted to talk with him about having Jason return to the school."

"It was a trap and the Professor fell into it?"

Dad nodded and went on with his explanation. The Professor went to Jason's home. There he was confronted by Stryker and the lobotomised Jason. Jason, due to the forced brain operation, was completely childlike and subservient to his father's wishes. At Stryker's request, he trapped the Professor in a mind controlling illusion before he could defend himself. Then Stryker went about outfitting Professor Xavier with a neural inhibitor - a device that would weaken his pyschic defenses. Taking the Professor to Alkali Lake, Stryker revealed that his people had built their own telepathy boosting device. He then had Jason coerce the Professor into using it to track each and every mutant mind on the planet. And as soon as he was finished, the Professor had orders to kill us all off... I had thought that Magneto was the one responsible for Professor Xavier's kidnapping...and that he had planned to have the Professor target the human minds.

I then understood why they went all out to stop him. There was no way mom would have stayed back even if I had the chance to warn her (like in my dream). They needed all the help they could get to stop Stryker or we would all die anyway.

"You haven't mentioned Magneto."

Scott: "Stryker was a key interrogator of Magneto while he was imprisoned. He even taunted Magneto about mutant-kind's impending destruction. He used a serum extracted from Jason's brain to control Magneto. Magneto was forced into helping Stryker design a telepathy boosting device similar to Cerebro. That's how he knew all about the plan. He was even moved to the site a couple of times to help build it under mind control. Stryker had the clearance and contacts to do that."

"Let me guess - Magneto broke out shortly after and tried to stop Stryker?"

Scott: "Yeah. And...we joined forces with him and his crony - Mystique."

"Shit. Who is Mystique?'

Scott: "She's a shapeshifter, capable of being whoever or whatever she wants to be."

"I bet joining forces didn't go down too good with some of you guys, huh?"

Scott: "We all hated it. But we had no choice. We needed his help. Whilst we could track the Professor to within a five mile radius, we couldn't pinpoint his exact location. The neural inhibitor was shielding him from pyschic detection. We needed Magneto to reveal where Stryker was keeping him."

And knowing that the bad guys always turned on you...

Scott: "We fought well together, I have to admit that. But yeah, Magneto and Mystique did turn on us in the end."

Dad went about describing some of the battles they had been involved in...

Scott: "You asked the Professor if your mother had ever experienced anything like you are now? The answer is yes, but much more intense and at a much faster rate..."

"Huh? Really?"

Of course I knew that from my eavesdropping on his nightmare during our Alkali Lake camping trip, but I had to act shocked in order to keep that a secret.

Scott: "I couldn't explain it. No one could...although we thought that maybe Jean was pushing herself harder and harder as the lives of all mutant-kind hung in the balance. I even wondered if maybe the mutation-inducing radiation we were exposed to, years before, fighting Magneto at Liberty Island might have boosted her powers. She managed to lock in on an incoming missile and hurl it off course..."

I stared silently.

Scott: "When we had to fight our way inside, she and Magneto pooled their power together and ripped open the entire series of reinforced titanium doors."

"That so doesn't sound like mom."

He nodded and smiled a little.

Scott: "A little while after, several of us were taken over by Jason's mind controlling powers...including me. I attacked your mother with a full strength optic blast. She shielded against it...pushed it all the way back towards me, and in the process managed to link to my mind, freeing me of his influence."

That genuinely had me gawking! I was prepared to hear about her telekinetic feats... But she actually used her telepathy like that? She never had been able to use it for anything other than communicating and minor telepathic feats before...

"So what happened after?"

Scott: "While we were fighting, Magneto and Mystique turned on us. They located the Professor. Magneto used his powers to reconfigure the machine so that it would target human minds instead of mutants. Stryker managed to escape in the chaos with Jason. As did Magneto and Mystique. They left us there to deal with the trouble they had caused."

"And Magneto damaged the dam before he got away, huh?"

Oops... Sometimes I speak faster than I think.

Scott: "How do you know that? How do you know so much. You're not reading my mind or anything...right? Have you ever...are you doing it now -"

"No! I'd never do that without permission. Not to mention that I can't and have next to no experience."

He looked at me semi-dubiously.

Scott: "You used Cerebro pretty well. Well enough to bring down Emma."

Yeah...I did that with Cerebro...AND with the built in guidance of the tutorial mode.

"I used Cerebro, true. But the skills were the Professor's - they weren't mine. They were programmed into the machine."

Scott: "You know too much to be just intelligently guessing. Has someone been telling you these things? Alex...Lorna?"

They knew? The only way dad would suspect them of telling me was if they knew. Did he tell them himself...deliberately breaking the rules? Guess dad has a bad side after all.

"Okay, no one told me. I kinda...remember when we went to Alkali Lake for that camping trip?"

Scott: "Yeah?"

"You were having a nightmare and I...I listened in on it. I pieced together a lot from the things you were saying in your sleep."

Dad eyed me a little surprised that I'd do something so sneaky. Since it was so soon after the death, his nightmares were very frequent then. And I suppose that since he wanted to tell me at about that time - it was more on his mind than usual.

"So...go on."

Scott: "Yeah, Magneto must have damaged the dam whilst fleeing so that he could buy himself some time to escape from our custody."

"So if Magneto hadn't done that then...mom wouldn't have died?"

Scott: "She'd still be here with us."

"And that bastard is still out there. What...will you guys do if - when you catch him?"

It was obvious that national security couldn't do squat. There hadn't been any breakthrough as to Magneto's whereabouts. Since the X-men were the ones with the mutant tracking technology...and the one psychic with the skill to use it to its fullest (Professor X)...it was up to them. After all the damage and suffering that Magneto caused after the Liberty Island affair - why didn't the government order his execution forthwith? They were almost all a pack of mutant hating bigots. I was a fellow mutant and saw no problem with an execution.

Scott: "What do you think we should do?"

"Kill him. Make sure that he can't hurt anyone else again. Life imprisonment is too good for someone like him. Besides, there's no guarantee that he won't escape again. Too much of a risk to take."

Scott: "Sometimes, I feel the same way."

"Sometimes?! Magneto is a murdering son of a bitch with no respect for life! He isn't worthy of life."

Scott: "I have no doubt that if we had caught up to him that day - I would have killed him or died trying to. But it doesn't work that way, John. The X-men aren't a death squad."

Death squad my ass. I preferred to call it justice. Taking into consideration all the people who Magneto's killed or maimed...he was more than worthy of a death sentence.

Scott: "Right after Magneto and Mystique disappeared, the entire dam started to buckle. We couldn't leave the humans behind to die, so we - ."

Humans? But the only humans there were anti-mutant fighters of William Stryker! A point that I did not fail to voice to dad.

Scott: "Some of them he coerced into joining his cause by having Jason mentally force them into obeying him."


Scott: "There were a lot of innocent humans who were being psychically manipulated by Jason. We couldn't let them die."

"You said a lot. Not all."

Scott: "No. Not all. There were also many others who were with him of their own free will."

"So you stayed back to help them, even though you knew that the place was about to come crashing down?"

He slowly nodded and added that they couldn't ethically just turn their backs on them. As the story was getting closer and closer to the end, my breathing had become uneven in anticipation. It was like watching a horror flick and you know the funny character - the one you like best - I going to die...and yet you're still hoping beyond hope that he doesn't...bracing yourself for it.

Scott: "We got most of them out. Not all of them. It was so chaotic. People were running for dear life. They didn't trust us enough to ride with us. In any case, our jet couldn't possibly hold everyone. Stryker's people had some working jets and they took off on those. The vibration of the take-offs weakened the dam further. And to top it all off...we were having problems with the Blackbird."


He explained that that the Blackbird had taken quite an aerial beating from missile attacks, including a few near direct engine hits. Magneto had patched it up temporarily, but the structure was compromised significantly. And as if that wasn't enough, the jet was refusing to take off.

"You were all in the jet at that point?"

Scott: "Yes. Ororo and I were at the cockpit. Which is why I didn't see your mother slip out. Everyone's attention, including the Professor's was so glued to the console. The thrusters weren't giving enough lift. We were faced with the very real possibility that we were going to die."

"But some of you guys can fly. Ororo, Rogue, Angel."

Scott: "Rogue and Angel were unconscious. They were among those mind controlled by Jason. As was I. Your mother freed me from his hold. When the Professor's mind was finally unclouded and he fought Jason, the psychic backlash knocked out all the others that Jason was controlling. When we saw some of Stryker's men fall, we realized that they were also victims. And as for Ororo, she had overextended her powers considerably during the mission - a wall of tornados to shield from missile strikes consumes a lot of mutant energy. She didn't have anything much left in her."

"But mom...if she had the power to block your optic beams - couldn't she have lifted you guys, minus the jet, and carried you all to safety?"

Scott: "It would mean trying to outfly something akin to a tsunami's speed. I very much doubt that she could have done it. If she felt she could, she would have tried to. We needed the jet's supersonic speed."

Dad paused a moment to let me take it all in before continuing.

Scott: "We were lucky that the dam had held as long as it did. Visible cracks started to appear soon after. And that's when we heard the doors shut tight. I looked back at the sound and realized that she was gone. The jet started to shudder and the engines came back online. Little by little, we began to rise into the air. I tried to get Kurt to get her back inside, but she linked to his mind and immobilized him. Then she entered the mind of the Professor and started to speak through him."

I was aware by then that my eyes were starting to tear up. Quickly, I blinked in a futile effort to keep the drops from falling down my cheek. I tried to imagine what it was like. To have to make a choice like that. To know that you were the only one who could do something to prevent the death of everyone else. What a choice. Either you do nothing and then everyone dies - or you die and everyone else has a shot at living. A lose-lose or lose-win situation. No matter what, you'd die.

"W-what did she say?"

Scott: "She said that she knew what she was doing. And that we shouldn't try to stop her. That it was the only way. She said that she loved us, all of us. She...she told me that she didn't want me to...waste my life away in grief."

I guess that was what he was doing those few months afterwards.

Scott: "She wanted you to know how much she loved you. She said to tell you that she was sorry she wasn't the mother she should have been. She made me promise to spend more time with you."

I nodded to show that I understood, tears refusing to stop flowing. I didn't understand it. I hadn't ever cried about mom's death before. And I knew about what had happened to cause her death by eavesdropping on Dad's dream. I knew what he was about to tell me next. Why was I crying now? I guess hearing it from dad's own mouth made it that much more real. Seeing the effect that it was having on me, dad reached over and squeezed my shoulder.

Scott: "She said something really weird after. I don't know what it meant then or now."

I looked at him questioningly.


Scott: "She said to tell you that...she knows and she understands. And that you'll always be her little boy and there's nothing that will ever change that."

I felt the blood drain out of my cheeks upon hearing that. Before stumbling upon those stories and that picture of hers...I wouldn't have had any real justification to even ponder what I was pondering. Could it mean that my mother knew about me...and was giving me her blessing? I wasn't stereotypically gay...well, whenever I succumbed to my gayer impulses, it was always in private. But she was a gay fiction writer. Maybe she knew the signs and stuff. Maybe she knew what to look for and noticed some signs in me. The thought that I could have possibly come out to her and she would have been totally supportive was too much.

Scott: "John? Do you know what it means?"

My silence and expression must have puzzled him.

"No. Not really. But I understand that she loved me unconditionally now. What happened next?"

Scott: "We were already in the air, with the engines and thrusters online. The vibrations of the jet finally cracked the dam fully and the wave came crashing towards us. Your mother lifted us higher to safety, whilst holding back the water. For a moment I thought that she would have been able to save herself. But abruptly, the wave collapsed on her and the Professor was jolted back into control of his body again. He tried over and over to make contact, but she was gone."

I began to compose myself, finally free to stop pretending that I didn't know what had happened. An awkward few minutes passed by in silence before dad spoke again. When he did speak, it was to ask me a disturbing question.

Scott: "John, do you think it was my fault that - "

Instantly I was snapped back to Emma Frost's therapy session where she asked me that selfsame question. I admit that at the beginning I felt that way. But it was only for a very short time. After the visit to Alkali Lake and seeing dad go through a nightmare, I never let the thought enter my mind again.

"No! It wasn't your fault. You were her husband. Not her master. She made a choice and there was nothing that could be done about it."

Come to think about it, choice was probably not the best word to use. I'm sure that she felt she had no choice at all. In any case, dad wasn't even given a chance to do anything because mom had slipped out whilst everyone's attention was drawn away.

"As odd as it might sound, I think she made the right decision. The only...realistic one she could make. She made sure that you came back home. And...I'm glad you came back."

If she didn't do what she did, they would have both died. She made sure that I had at least one of them with me.

Scott: "It's just that Emma said - "

Her again! Whatever happened to confidentiality?! The damned bitch probably spilled everything that happened in our therapy session to dad (putting her own little twist on it of course).

"Look, I dunno what the hell she said. But she was trying to drive a wedge between us to make space for herself. I don't blame you for what happened in the least."

I didn't miss the fleeting glimmer of relief that temporarily appeared on his face. And I felt guilty for ever thinking that he was in any way to blame. His next question confirmed my suspicion that Emma was loose with her tongue...

Scott: "Do you think I'm a bad father? It's okay to give me an honest answer. I won't get mad."

I gasped a little, in shock that he'd ask me that. Emma seemed to be probing around that topic during our therapy session. And I was very careful to avoid the issue. As a matter of fact, shortly after she started to question me about my views on dad, I lost my temper and insisted that our therapy session was over. I looked somewhat nervously at him. His facial expression was seriously set. Not harsh, just serious...and expectant I guess. What do I say? If I said that he should run for father of the year...he'd know that I was lying.

"Why are you asking me such a stupid question?"

Scott: "Emma -"

"Look, stop brooding on whatever that bitch said. She was crazy! What the hell could she know?"

Scott: "I know I'm not the best father around. And I have neglected you - a lot. But I want that to change. And I'm going to start right now. Logan kinda opened my eyes today. First off, I had no right to fire at you. I didn't even take the time to listen to what you had to say. Logan was right - I made the choice to believe Emma over you. And it was one of the worst choices I've ever made in my life. And for that I am begging you to forgive me."

I don't want to say it felt good to hear him say that. But on so many levels, it meant the world that he was willing to take his apology to such a level. You may think that it was the only reasonable thing to do and that I shouldn't have been so...I dunno, amazed. But you don't know my father. I had never seen him say that he was wrong before. I had never heard him apologize to anyone before (well...aside from minor apologies, like when landing the jet for example). In all our time, he had never once sat down like that and had a talk with me. Not even when the time came around for the Facts of Life (Alex handled that). That talk dad AND mom had with me before they went on their mission doesn't count. It wasn't one on one and he sure as heck wasn't being as emotional as he was now.

"I-it's okay, dad. You didn't fire at me. I guess you thought I was...trying to murder Emma and you wanted to maybe scare me into surrendering."

Scott: "I shouldn't have tried to put up a show of force like that. I shouldn't have even thought that you were capable of that."

He bent his head and hid his face from view then. I realized that in spite of his level voice, he was crying. His next words weren't very level sounding at all. I never imagined that he could be so deeply affected by it.

Scott: "I-in all this time...I've never even stopped to consider that I don't even know my own son. Your mother and I kept telling ourselves that we did what we did for your sake - "

They both told me that when we had that talk before their mission last year.

Scott: "But we - I shirked my responsibilites to you. Alex was more of a father to you than I was. I'm such a hippocrite...always going on about responsibilities..."

I wished that I could say it wasn't as bad as all that. But we'd both know that I would be lying. I guess that a sense of failure wasn't something that he could handle well. He must have felt that he failed mom for him to ask me if I thought what happened was his fault. And being a letdown as a father must have been added to his sense of personal failure.

Scott: "I don't know your favorite movie, your favorite color, if you need help with a cute girl or -"

"Dad, you weren't...you didn't mean to..."

Scott: "I know I failed you. And I'm sorry. So sorry."

Lord, what to say, what to say?

"Look, I haven't been a perfect son and you haven't been a perfect father. But...it wasn't like you had bad intentions or anything. I mean, there are fathers out there who don't even acknowledge their kids. Their kids haven't seen or heard from 'em in years. There are so called fathers out there who physically, verbally and emotionally abuse their children. You really don't think you're anywhere near that, do you?"

He shook his head in the negative.

"The truth is...you could have been more - um - around though."

Scott: "I know. Sometimes I wonder - if maybe I should have listened to your mother."


Scott: "When you were born, she tried to get me to resign. But I didn't think the team was in any way ready for that. Quite frankly, none of them had adequate leadership ability."

Mom wanted him to resign? My somewhat skeptical look made him continue his explanation.

Scott: "Yeah. But needless to say I didn't. And after maternity...neither did she. I wanted to later on. But one crisis after another always seemed to ruin the timing. She stayed on because of me."

"Oh. Well, like I said. It wasn't all your fault. Just promise me that from now on, when I say something that you'll listen."

Scott: "Goes without saying. But I want you to promise me something."


Scott: "If there is anything, and I mean anything that you need to talk about...you'll come to me."

I semi-nervously looked away as he mentioned that Emma may have been crazy, but she was a very far cry from stupid. Whilst I downcried her psycho-evaluation, he was still going to have some faith in it because it sounded totally logical. There was no denying that Emma was right in saying that our relationship had a lot of sore spots that needed to be worked out and we'd both have to give an honest effort.

"Okay, dad. If I ever need to talk - I'll let you know."

After a a couple more minutes of conversation, we ended the talk and went about our separate ways, happy that we had embarked on a new beginning with a new understanding...

"The Heimlich Manoevre"

Dinner time. Alex and Lorna had come over to our house with the intention that Lorna would prepare dinner. She was no doubt planning something fancy to "celebrate" Emma's institutionalization. But Alex wasn't too keen. Lorna's dislike of Emma Frost had temporarily superceded her good sense - she didn't think that whilst I had lost a tormentor, dad had lost a love (yech!) interest. So that plan was cancelled. Needless to say, dad wasn't up to making something to eat for dinner and Alex and I were hopeless in the kitchen, knowing nothing about cooking. All we knew about was eating. The simplest solution was to just eat dinner at the Mansion. Which I had no problems about. I was used to it because often when Emma mysteriously appeared at dinner time in the past... I greatly preferred to eat in the company of friends than her.

We all entered the dining hall where most of the school population ate. The teachers had their own table on a platform from where they could easily supervise the entire area. They were all present and accounted for - except for one seat (Emma's). The adults went about their way, but I noticed something odd. A lot of pairs of eyes were scrutinzing dad in a semi-hidden manner. I didn't know what that was about. But dad was aware that I noticed. He looked down and smiled, before meeting the gazes of several teachers (Remy, Warren and Hank). They all shifted their attentions elsewhere and resumed eating. Then I noticed that dad probably wasn't the one whose gaze made them watch away. Alex was all out death glaring them! Something that was kinda out of character for him.

"What's wrong?"

Abrubtly, the death glaring stopped and all three regarded me with cherubic faces.

Lorna: "Nothing, sweety."

Liar liar.

"Come on. It can't be nothing."

Alex: "Forget about it. We came here to eat - so let's go put a dent into alla that good food."

Lorna: "The way you eat, I'm surprised you still have that hard body of yours."

They all laughed at that and they almost did an excellent job of changing the topic of conversation. I, however, was not so easily assuaged.

"Of course it isn't nothing. They were staring at dad and if looks could kill - you'd be a triple murderer", I said, looking at Alex.

Scott: "Leave it alone for now. We'll talk about it...later."

I agreed at that, after having Alex and Lorna as witnesses that I'd hold him to it. Then I made my way over to the table where the guys usually ate at. They were all there - yes, so were Bobby and Ray as well as the newcomer, Ashley. Jubilee was the first to see me approaching and motioned Bobby to quickly pull a chair. At the best of times, asking Bobby to do anything in the midst of eating wasn't a good idea. And I could tell that things were still tense between me and him...as well as Ray who was pretending he didn't see me. Jubilee made to get up and pull a chair for me instead.

"Sit down, m'lady. I'll have none of that."

Good for nothing so and sos. I'm not chivalrous and I do believe in male-female equality (I saw no problem with a girl pulling a guy a chair). But Bobby and Ray were being too damned stubborn. If the situation were reversed, I'd pull a chair for them. I telekinetically latched onto a chair with the intention of moving it towards the table. The problem was...I was thinking some bad thoughts about Bobby at the time due to my annoyance and that channeled through to my telekinesis. The chair went flying through the air and collided with the far south wall with a crash. The room fell silent and several teachers stood up to see whether there was any problem. Seeing that it was an accident and not a fight or such, they sat back down. People went back to the business of eating. Bobby openly chuckled...as did Ray. Reddening a little, I pulled a chair for myself the old fashioned way and sat down.

"Hey, girls", I said, ignoring Bobby and Ray completely.

They all smiled and greeted me...and the smile from Ashley was especially warm. Okay, warm was an understatement. It was especially hot. To top it off, she was licking her lips in a way that had nothing to do with the food. At least I didn't think so. I mean, she had been on the streets and the sight of good food must have been really nice to her...but that motion she made with her tongue was downright slutty! Amara and Jubilee were smirking. When I looked at Bobby and Ray out of the corner of my eye, I saw that they both were almost drooling over themselves at the sight of it.

Ashley: "I was hoping to see you again, John. You just disappeared after this morning."

Yeah, to meet Julian. Then I went home to get some sleep as I was tired. I had stayed up late the night before with the singing competition and then sneaking around to wreck Emma's car...and then making out heavy with Julian after all that...

"Yeah...well, I went home."

Bobby and Ray started to...vibrate was a good word for it. You know how some people struggle to keep in wicked laughter. They shudder and they shake whilst struggling with it. Those two were doing that.

Amara: "Home? THAT was what was so important?"

Bobby and Ray eased off on the laughter for a moment and asked what Amara was talking about. She mentioned how I had ditched them earlier, saying that I had some things to take care of. Personal stuff. That made Bobby and Ray look at each other once more as they again started to vibrate with repressed laughter. Damn them!

Ray: "Things to take care of?"

Bobby: "Personal stuff?"

Jubilee: "What were you doing at home all alone for so long, John?"

Bobby: "At home..."

Ray: "All alone..."

I wasn't at home alone for the entire time...of course I could not tell them that. Before I could tell them that I was sleeping because I was dog tired...I was interrupted.

Bobby: "Probably jackin' off to those gay stories of his."

Again with that! It was seriously starting to get OLD! I mean come on! How many times were they going to keep saying the same old shit?! They were both fairly stupid with one-track minds...but it was getting ridiculous.

"What the hell?!"

Amara: "Okay, first up - we're eating here! Second - John, you have GOT to lend me those stories for pity's sake!"

Jubilee: "Mhmm hmm. We only keep hearing about them from Bobby and Ray. I'm fed up with the teasing."

I turned to Bobby, trembling with anger - especially since I saw one girl from another table turn her head in our direction when Bobby spouted his crap about my gay stories.

"What the fuck is your problem? Since you saw those stories you've been gay this and gay that. And all about those stories! If you MUST know - I was home sleeping!"

Bobby: "Sleeping? Yeah. Right. Although, a good jerk right before bedtime does work wonders for sleeplessness."

Well...he was right about that at least. Ray had begun laughing crazily. And like a lot of teen boys, he had very little table etiquette. He was in the habit of talking with food in his mouth. And I guess that his bad manners had finally caught up to him. We all thought that he was just getting carried away with laughing at first. But then we realized that he was indeed choking in the midst of laughing at me with his mouth full. His face got red and tears started to run down from his eyes.

Amara: "Oh God! Someone, DO something."

Bobby began smacking Ray hard over the back whilst I looked on in derision. I guess they just weren't paying good enough attention in First Aid when we covered what to do in the event of choking. That wasn't going to do shit to help the situation! He might as well be smacking Ray's ass to save him! Oooh, kinky. Although Ray was being mean lately and did deserve a spanking.

Jubilee: "Heimlich manoeuvre, boys!"

"I'd do it. But I'm afraid that it might look gay."

I, of course, knew that. But I watched on as Bobby looked at us in shock and disgust. His panicking must have screwed up his hearing. And probably messed with his normally faulty thinking processes too.

Bobby: "Hind Lick?! Man over?!"

"HEIMLICH...MANOEVRE. Methinks you have gay way too much on your mind these days, Bobby. Your friend is over there choking to death and the thought of gayness is all that you can register?"

Ashley: "Guys! Stop this nonsense! He's...get this...choking to death!"

Bobby looked a little clueless and Ray continued to flail. Sighing, I was about to go save Ray's life myself. However, at that time, Logan, Betsy and Peter came running down towards the table to see what was wrong. Betsy said that she had started sensing severe panic from our general area and decided to come and investigate. Seeing Ray floundering for his very life, Peter sprung to action. Standing behind Ray, he wrapped his arms around him and locked his fingers over his abdomen and began to administer several sharp thrusts. With each forceful thrust, Ray's eyes bulged. After the fifth time, a HUGE chunk of half-chewed steak came up and fell to the floor. Talk about...gross!

Betsy: "Are you alright?"

Ray: "Y-yeah."

Logan: "Okay, the food IS delicious. But you really shouldn't bite off more than you can chew, kid."

I laughed a little at that, much to the surprise of the rest of the guys.

Betsy: "Jonathan!"

Logan: "Lightening the mood with humor is always a good idea -"

Amara: "Ray, you should know better than to laugh with your mouth full."

Betsy: "T'ch, t'ch, t'ch. Mind your table manners, Raymond."

Jubilee: "Ray, tell Mr. Rasputin thank you."

Ray was still recovering from shock it seemed.

Ray: "T-thanks."

The teachers shook their heads at the thought that Ray had such a close call and went back to their seats. Ray soon recovered and went back to his steak with gusto. He just made exaggerated attempts to chew properly and didn't laugh with his mouth full in order to avoid any further incidents. I however, was smirking wickedly. Amara made some comment that me laughing at Ray's close call wasn't right.

"Oh I'm not laughing at the fact that Ray choked. I'm laughing at the fact that all Bobby could hear in the midst of the crisis was Hind Lick."

Bobby looked at me dangerously.

"Did you really think licking his hind would save him Bobby?"

Ray: "You fu-"

The girls had by then broken down laughing.

"Where's all the gay talk now, guys? When Peter was saving Ray with the Heimlich manoevre - tell me I'm wrong when I say that it looked like Ray was being fucked. Why don't you guys say THAT was gay, huh?"

Big, strong, hunky Peter with his arms wrapped around Ray...making a motion that looked like he was humping him...

Ashley: "Mwhahahahahaha!"

Amara: "Okay, there is NO denying THAT!"

Jubilee: "And pretending that was true...judging by the look on Ray's face...he either was enjoying it a LOT or couldn't handle it at ALL!"

Ray: "Fucked?! That shit is funny to you?! Huh?!"

He immediately got up, eyes aglow with electrical fury. I don't think that I had ever seen him so mad before.

Bobby: "He could have died, asshole!"

"Can't handle the gay talk NOW, eh? Well I think it's funny to me! It looked to me like Peter was humping you...for dear life. Which in a way - I guess it was! So tell me - was it good for you, Ray?"



My juicy steak lay before me...a LOT more than well done! I cannot believe that he used his powers on my food like that!

Ray: "Watch what you say about me, faggot!"

Forget the food! Did he just call me a, a...fag?! I myself got to my feet at that.

"You better take that the fuck back!"

Ray: "Or what?"

Jubilee: "Guys, what is going on?!"

Ray: "Ask the faggot. He's the one who - "

"Do not call me that, fuckface."

Ray: "You know what I think, Summers."

"Think? You can actually do that now?"

His voice got lower and even more nasty.

Ray: "I think you really are a fag. It's the only way that I can see you getting so defensive about a joke."

Several dishes on the table began to rattle...

"So you got gaydar now? You can know someone's gay just like that?"

Bobby: "What the hell is gaydar?"

Ray: "It's the first time I'm hearing the word. But it seems like Summers here knows EXACTLY what he's talking about. Must be some fag lingo or something."

The girls all started looking at me very oddly at that. Shit, shit, shit!


Jubilee: "Ah!"

I quickly shifted my attention back to the table and saw that Jubilee's glass had cracked, spilling water all over her front. The sound of her abrubt outburst attracted the attention of the people seated at the table around us. Ray and I were standing and 'talking' to each other in lowered - but violently angry - voices. That didn't draw attention. But Jubilee did. Thankfully, I didn't think that the onlookers could hear what was being said.

Amara: "J-John?"

I reminded myself of what the Professor had told me. I had to be careful with my emotions or I could risk a telekinetic flare up. I took a few deep, slow breaths and succeeded in stopping the shaking tableware. Ray, however, was not stopping or giving any signs that he was about to let up in the least.

Ray: "Did your mommy write those stories for you, Summers?"

Bobby: "Ray, come on man. Don't start up -"

Ray didn't take the hint. When he gets going good...he very rarely stops.

Ray: "Were they your bedtime stories?"

The tableware had ceased their rattling. But my anger didn't stop growing to any degree. In retrospect, I know I shouldn't have said what I said next. But I'm human. And sometimes when people hurt us, we throw all thoughts aside and just want to say or do anything to hurt them back the way they hurt us. Years of friendship, ties of blood, they sometimes mean nothing to us. And I was hurt - a lot.

"Well, at least my mommy spent her free time reading me bedtime stories. Instead of sniffing coke and whoring herself on the corner as the neighborhood bitch."

The look on everyone's face was one of total shock. Much of my thoughts, words and deeds were centered around keeping my secret, preventing the world from finding out that I was gay. My friends in the past never spoke much at all about anything gay. And then Ray and Bobby suddenly start. And what was more, they made jokes about me being gay. And as if that wasn't enough, it gets taken to the point where Ray actually accuses me of being a faggot. I had a damned right to be upset. So, okay, maybe they both didn't know how badly it was affecting me. And maybe to them it was just a joke. But judging from their derogatory statements - if I came out to them, our friendship would be over and our enmity would only be beginning. To them I'd be - in Ray and Bobby's words - disgusting. So even if they did know what they were doing to me - they probably wouldn't have stopped anyway.

Amara: "Ray?"

Ray's face had lost almost all signs of anger. And for a few moments his expression was unreadable. Then his mouth trembled and tears began to roll down his face in streaming rivulets. None of us had ever seen Ray cry, ever. Not even when he first told us about his past life before he came to the Mansion. He was sad then, obviously, but he didn't cry. We all knew that Ray had a very troubled life before his arrival to the Mansion - though a casual observer wouldn't be able to guess that he was a troubled teen as he didn't often show signs.

Bobby: "You're a pathetic loser, John! You know that?!"

Ray: "We ain't friends no more, Summers! Don't ever talk to me again!"

"I doubt we ever were. And believe me - I won't have any sleepless nights."

What? You expected me to break down and say that I was sorry and I was sooo wrong right then and there? Yeah...right...

Ray left the table and when some people looked at his face, he made a few nasty comments to them, before disappearing from the hall. Bobby death glared me at that.

Bobby: "We're done."

Well obviously Bobby's status as my friend all hinged upon my standing with Ray. He and Ray were a lot closer to each other than I was to either of them. It had always been that way. If Bobby wasn't joining Ray in his teasing...I most likely would not have made that outburst. But as it was...he joined Ray and ganged up on me. I wonder what I might have told him... He left the hall, no doubt going after Ray. I looked at Amara and Jubilee, who were both wearing some seriously angry looks on their faces.

Jubilee: "John, you had absolutely no fucking right to say that about his mother!"

Amara: "You knew how badly it would hurt him! You of all people should - "

"He was saying shit about me!"

Jubilee: "Yeah. But it was so much less painful that what you said to him. Sure, he was taking a joke way too damned far. But what you did was inexcusable."

Of course I couldn't tell her how truly 'painful' Ray's overdone 'joke' was to me.

Jubilee: "Come on, Amara. After all this drama - I think I've lost my appetite."

Amara: "Ditto. Think about what you've done. And how you're going to apologize to him."

"I am not saying sorry to that jerk."

Jubilee: "You can't be serious!"

"He said it. We aren't friends anymore."

Ashley interrupted and said that they were the only two guy friends I had.

"Well, maybe I'll just have to see about getting some new ones."

Jubilee and Amara got up to leave and looked questioningly at Ashley (who had made no sign that she was going to).

Jubilee: "Aren't you coming, Ashley?"

Women moved in flocks. They shopped in flocks. Went to the bathroom in flocks... It seemed like Jubilee was trying to remind Ashley of that fact.

Ashley: "Oh, um...yeah. See you later, John."

They meaningfully eyed Ashley for a moment. It had its effect.

Ashley: "And apologize to your friends. It's a shame to lose two friends over a silly little joke."

Nuh uh! It wasn't silly and it certainly wasn't a little joke. If only they knew. They left me alone at the table with my electrically fried steak...

"Scott Under Scrutiny"

Scott Summers was a man used to being subjected to the criticisms of his peers. If there was a word that best summed him up - it was "duty". Since the Emma Frost fiasco...some members of the X-men were starting to believe that perhaps he wasn't as capable of fulfilling his duties as the X-men team leader. The notion was scandalous to say the least. Scott Summers, the all knowing Cyclops himself, couldn't see and manage what was going on in his own personal life...and he expected everyone to trust his judgement skills on the field? Emma Frost had turned out to be a possible danger to the students' welfare and when his own son kept trying to bring it to his attention - he ignored it and didn't even investigate the matter. Of course the X-men knew that they wouldn't have believed any such rumors about Emma Frost themselves. But Scott was team leader. It was his duty to investigate all matters, such as the one concerning Frost, without fear or favor...and without worrying about the consequences on his personal life. Being team leader involved a lot of self-sacrifice...

Scott: "You got something to say to me, Worthington?'

Warren Worthington looked at Scott in a dismissive manner but made no comment. Some people were eyeing Scott all through the dinner. It had all started during the meeting the Professor had called upon their return to the Mansion (after dropping off Emma at the mental hospital). Warren, Hank and Remy were the most accusing in their glances. Scott could have dealt with it a lot better if it had been just Remy and Warren. But Hank seemed to have issues too. Hank wasn't known to be petty. So the fact that he was bothered had Scott questioning himself. Then there was the fact that Logan also had been able to tell that John could have been innocent all along...

Several controversial topics came up during the meeting. Not the least of which concerned the destruction of Emma Frost's car. Judging by the memory playback of Emma Frost, John had been mentally made of fool of during Rogue's karaoke competition. And as a way of avenging himself on her, he wrecked her car. The said vehicle was totalled with no hope for repair. The sight of it was enough to disturb most everyone present. It made people wonder how he had been able to get into the carpark without a pass in the first place. But then Professor Xavier mentioned that John's range had increased and he could have been near enough to Emma's Mercedes. There were several entrances to the carpark and Emma's car was visible from two of them. All were agreed that what Emma had done was inexcusable...but John's actions were a cause for genuine concern. It was even suggested that something in the way of anger management be in order. Of course, with Emma Frost gone, the only people in the Mansion qualified to do that would be the Professor or Betsy. The looks on a few faces almost seemed to suggest that if Scott had problems controlling his own kid...

Professor Xavier: Pay no attention to them, Scott.

Scott glanced quickly towards the Professor. He was casually eating with no sign of being interested in aything else. Sighing lightly, Scott assumed that his thoughts must have been projecting themselves. And that Xavier must have picked up on them.

Psylocke: I've never doubted your leadership skills. You're the father of a teenager. They all go through a rebellious stage as they try to assert their independence. None of the others are parents. They just don't know what it's like.

Professor Xavier: Apparently they must have forgotten their own teenaged years.

Scott: This school is full of rebellious teenagers and they're teachers. They deal with it everyday. They should understand that I can't control every aspect of his life.

Professor Xavier: It's quite different when you're a parent. The students aren't their children and as such they don't expect to have full authority over them. Still, we will have to talk with John. His actions were far from acceptable.

Scott: Yes, you're right.

Feeling a little bit more at ease, Scott continued eating his dinner...

"For The Love Of God!"

"Ooh, check out this part!"

Julian smirked as he reached over for the sheet of paper.

Julian: "Andy and Mike, lost in their own private world of forbidden pleasure paid no heed to the dull, creaking sound until it was too late. Both boys cringed in burgeoning terror as the realization hit them like a tidal wave. Standing in the now open doorway was Kyle. His shocked expression quickly turned into one of utter maliciousness. 'Please don't tell, Kyle' begged Mike. Andy quickly followed up with the overly cliché, 'We'll do anything'. Kyle closed the door behind him before asking wickedly, 'Anything?'..."

We both laughed raucously. We didn't have any need to worry as I had a metal song on replay to drown out any sound of scandalous laughter reaching outside. True to his word, Julian had snuck out of the Mansion and made it to my bedroom window. It was just after midnight and we were having a good time reading some of mom's naughtier gay fics. We had both agreed that Andy and Mike was our favorite so far. Their adventures at Camp Bukkake were just too hilarious. And judging by the tents in both our pants...very arousing.

"You got any ideas after reading about Camp Bukkake?"

Julian: "A few. You?"

Without further or do, my hands began a downward journey into his pants. I'd waited long enough and decided that I would wait no longer. After reading about Andy and Mike...I was so horny it was a challenge not to just jump Julian, tear the clothes off him and ride him like a bucking bronco. But I did resist doing that. When that happened, we both wanted it to be special. For now, something lighter would do. I grasped his length through his boxers and was quite pleased to realize that Julian was leaking pre-cum quite a bit...probably had been doing it whilst we were reading that absolutely filthy story of teen discovery.

"Whoa, your cock's hot like hell."

In more ways than one. Yeah it was sexy. But it was also hot temperature wise...and hard as a rock.

Julian: "Your hand's a little cold."

"I'm sure your dick will warm it up soon. Stop complaining when you're about to get lucky."

He mock frowned and I continued stroking his cock, sliding my hands along its length quite slickly thanks to his adequate and effective stream of pre-cum. Then the urge hit me quite suddenly. I had seen it happen in countless gay mpegs and read about it in many gay fics - including the one we just read. You know how babies explore and have the urge to analyze everything they come across by tasting it. Yeah...I wanted to find out what it tasted like. Julian's face was a little disappointed when I rather suddenly withdrew my hands from his dick.

Julian: "What's wrong?"

"Oh nothing. I just wanted to sample."

I made sure to watch his face as I brought my wet hand up to my mouth. As my fingers drew closer and closer to my tongue, Julian's eyes enlarged more and more in utter surprise. So did his smile. The thought of doing the previously unimaginable was really motivating me to act a little...slutty. I suggestively brought my index finger to my tongue and began to lick, then suck it like a lollipop. Julian appeared to struggle to speak.

Julian: "H-how does it taste?"

Well, certainly not sweet like I'd read in all those horny stories! That's for damned sure! And I'm not just talking about mom's stories. Virtually ALL of the gay stories I ever read made it seem like cum was yum! I mean, yeah...I will admit that I tasted mine once. But that didn't count to me. You know how you don't really notice your own distinctive body odor often, but your nose pays close attention to other people's scents...I thought maybe something like that was in effect with cum as well. And that my tongue would be more sensitive to another guy's. I began to realize that I was staying silent a little too long. With a sort of embarassed voice tone, Julian asked me if I thought that he tasted bad.

"No! I just expected you to taste sweet. I used to read stuff like that in stories."

Julian: "Ah, okay. But...you don't think - "

"I won't get addicted to your cum. But it isn't disgusting or anything. Just slightly salty."

Julian: "Oh, good. Had me worried there for a sec."

"There's nothing to worry about. But...uh..."

I paused in mild embarassment at the thought of what I was about to ask him.

Julian: "What?"

"Can I...maybe try sucking you off instead of a handjob?"

Julian: "Yeah, sure! I mean...I was hoping you'd want to. But I didn't want to have you feel like I was pushing you."

I assured him that he wasn't and that I was every bit as horny as he was. If not even more so. He smiled and settled back, preparing himself to enjoy. I was hoping that I'd be able to give him something potentially enjoyable. I, obviously, had never been in a position to perform oral sex on anyone before. It all seemed so simple on the videos. Well, mostly simple. But appearances could be decieving. All those professional pornstars and fake "amateurs" could have just been making it look simple. Okay, enough worrying. You've got to at least give it an honest effort, I told myself. First thing's first. Put it in your mouth. There, that was simple enough.

Julian: "Oooh! Teeth! Teeth!"

Um...okay. Apparently not. I pulled off and nodded to let him know that I heard and would try harder.

Julian: "You gotta get your lips over your teeth."


Julian: "Like this."

He proceeded to demonstrate the procedure. The expression on his face, as well as the way he seemed to be gaping like a fish, made me burst out into scandalous laughter immediately. I could only imagine what I'd look like doing that.

Julian: "It looks funny as hell. But it works."

"It can't hurt to try...I hope."

That was one way I'd never want my face to stick. I cut out the smirking and did as Julian had instructed. Settling back to the task at hand, I was greeted by an appreciative moan as I managed to engulf four inches of Julian's length without gagging. Time for step two. In all of the video clips I had downloaded, bobbing head action was required. So I started to move up and down, a little clumsily at first. But after a few awkward moments, I felt that I had built up a satisfactory rhythm. I was soon to be corrected as to that assumption.

Julian: "Too fast. S-start slower then build up to it."


That said, I slowed down my pace.

Julian: "Getting' a little dry. More s-spit. A little more lubrication is n-never a bad thing, babe."


Julian: "Try to wiggle your tongue around some. Don't just slide your mouth over my dick."


Okay, so I was totally new to cocksucking. But the constant interruptions were starting to get annoying! And most importantly - they were seriously beginning to throw me off the mood. He seemed to sense this and (probably to soften the constant blows to my cocksucking confidence) began to apologetically play with my hair and face. For what felt like a couple minutes he said nothing...until...

Julian: "J-John?"

Oh for the love of God!

Julian: "Um...I was gonna s-say that you were doing it perfectly and to keep on doing it like that."

I kept right on sucking and glanced up at his face to try and guage his sincerity. It didn't sound too convincing.

Oh, well.

It may not have sounded very convincing. But nonetheless it was a compliment of a sexual nature. And it was from a source that I'd always wished to hear it from. So insincere or not - I enjoyed it and smiled as best as my occupied mouth would allow me to. Perhaps when I improve my technique, he'll say it with even more feeling and then I can really relish hearing it.

Thanks for the compliment.

Julian: "That...and I'm pretty close. If you wanna dodge, spit or s-swallow - now's the time to decide!"

God, I loved the way he stutters on his "S" sounds when he gets worked up! Now... Which shall it be? Hmmm, let's be adventurous...

"Learning Is Fun"

You know I actually thought that my days of pop quizzes would be over once I dropped my academic schedule. Boy, where the hell did I ever get an idea like that. I waltzed into the subbasement confident because I was actually on time. Everyone else was present and accounted for. Whilst I was smiling happily - everyone else seemed to be in a drab mood. Not knowing what was the reason at that point, I decided to ignore it for the time being until someone saw it fit to enlighten me.

"Good morning fellow team-mates!"

The response was half - actually more like three quarters dead.

Tyrel: "What the hell is up with you?"

I didn't answer for two main reasons. One --- I couldn't possibly tell them the truth and coming up with a believable lie wasn't going to be easy. And Two --- I was too wrapped up in the memory. Thankfully, Tabitha provided a very plausible response.

Tabitha: "He's probably still on the high that comes of getting Frost committed to Happy Valley."

"Um...yeah. Exactly. Still, I gotta say - you guys don't look to happy this morning. What's the deal?"

Reymundo: "Well, it's like this..."

Upon hearing the explanation - I stopped smiling and frowned. Apparently the higher ups had decided to try and spring an open-ended pop quiz on us. It was supposed to be a surprise thing. But Tyrel happened to be in the right place at the right time. One of his psychic gifts was the power of psychometry. It involves the reception of environmental psychic impressions ( understood that Tyrel called them vibes) from objects and places. He was able through the use of this power to obtain information about people, places and events linked to a location or object. Whilst he could focus and use that gift consciously, he also was in the habit of sensing things involuntarily. And that morning, upon walking past the War Room (where Logan, Betsy and Hank were chatting) he saw a pop quiz of some kind in our future.

"You know, I honestly thought that the days for this sort of thing were over for me."

Theresa: "Me too. But I guess this IS a school first and foremost."

Sam: "And learning never stops. Learning is fun and is its own reward."

We all scoffed. Sam continued seriously.

Sam: "It can be. I remember that there was a big ol' sign up in front of each and every classroom at my elementary school."

Tyrel: "I know I saw us all sitting down in a room...writing something. So I'm thinkin' maybe it's a written exam."

Damn it. I was so not in a mood to do some sort of essay.

"I wonder what they could possibly expect us to write about. I assume school work is out of the question."

Sam: "Well, whatever it is - we're about to find out."

Glancing in the direction of the door, we saw Logan holding the door open whilst Betsy and Hank filed in with several stacks of papers...

"Why I Want To Be An X-man"

Ah yes. The Test. It was an essay after all. Would you like a take a guess as to what the topic was? No? I suppose I could just tell you.

Tabitha: "Why I want to be an X-man?"

Damn it, Tabitha! I was going to tell 'em. Yeah, the training of Generation X was geared towards one thing - molding the future team of X-men.

Donovan: "I expected them to want us to write about battle tactics and shit like that."

Me too. Or maybe something about mutant issues - like rights and stuff. Instead they decided to ask us something akin to, "What I Want To Be When I Grow Up".

Tabitha: "I wrote that I wanted to do my part in -"

Sam: " - Promoting greater human mutant harmony and cooperation? Yes, Tabby. We know."

"Hmpf! I had that too - and in almost the same words."

Sam, Tabitha and Dononvan all shook their heads to indicate that they had all put down pretty much the same thing. I guess we had all just regurgitated the same old lines that we had been told by our teachers time and time again.

Donovan: "Without doubt - that was the shortest essay I ever wrote. Like two hundred and fifty words max."

Tabitha broke down laughing.

Tabitha: "Donnie, that isn't an essay. That's a paragraph. Although, come to think of it...I shouldn't be laughing. Mine was probably like four hundred."

"Is that all? Oh tell me that you guys are kidding!"

I am not a believer in quality over quantity. I mean sure - quality IS very important. But you just HAVE to have ENOUGH of it. Right? No matter what they tell you - size does count.

Sam: "Oh? And how much did you write?"

Close to twelve hundred words. When I told them that they all looked at me unbelievingly.

"It's true. You can all see my corrected script for yourselves when I get it back."

Donovan: "We only had like forty-five minutes. How on Earth did you think up so many things to write about?"

I explained my method. Yes, I did write the cliché stuff about fostering greater human-mutant cooperation. But I also wrote about about the unique opportunity to
put into practical use the mutant skills that the Institute had taught me. About the fact that it would help take my self-development into a whole new level.

Tabitha: "Hmmm. But that couldn't have been all. I mean, you said that you wrote close to twelve hundred words."

"Yeah. There was other stuff. Like getting to travel to exotic locales and -"

Sam: "You so did not write that! You make it sound like it's some kind of perk."

"Hey, it IS a perk. Mom and dad always used to find themselves in some of the coolest places!"

Yeah. Stonehenge. The Sphinx. Mt. Everest. The North Pole.

"Besides. I could have safely written that. The essay was kinda personal expressive. They question was , Why I want... You are not me. One man's perk is another man's...non-perk."

They had to admit that it was logical.

"Then I wrote that taking up X-hood as a career choice would never be a dull experience. It would be fun, fulfiling and exciting. And that I'd really enjoy it."

Donovan: "Shit. John, are you for real?"

I was. If you're doing something you like - then it isn't truly work. And when you enjoy what you do, you put your best foot forward. You try your best. And of course only the best performance on our part was acceptable for so important a job. Right?

Sam: "You have an answer to justify everything!"

I smiled. But of course.

"Then I wrote about what I intended to contribute personally to the X-men. I mean, every organization has to grow and adapt to new circumstances. And one of the key sources of change comes from its members. You really don't expect the X-men to stay static - dynamism is a must. I want to join because I feel that I can contribute to the school's advancement. Which is why when I get inducted, I intend to lobby for some change in the way things work around here."

It was fun to see the looks on their faces. It was a weird (but totally funny) mix of disbelief and amusement.

Tabitha: "Do I dare ask - what do you want to change?"

"First off...they way they recruit teachers needs some serious reconsideration."

I mean, aside from being a mutant oriented school - the Xavier Institute was also an academic one. And I noticed that a lot of teachers were simply ex-students of the school. I admit that it was out of necessity. After all, the fact that the school was all mutant was a secret. But I had never seen anyone ever so much as try to come up with a way to "come out" to the general public. And -

Donovan: "Why the hell should they out the school?"

"For several reasons."

Doing that could help us attract teachers who were more qualified than the ones we had to make do with. Extra options were never a bad idea. And better qualified teachers meant a better standard of education for the students. Also, as long as what really went on in the Subbasement was kept a secret - there was no real risk to the X-men. (Although in time, when the Governement is a little more understanding...I will be pushing for the X-men to come out too).

"And another thing..."

If we are all about greater human mutant cooperation and living together in peace and harmony...then why were all the teachers and students...cleaners and security...ALL mutants? That wasn't racial amalgamation. That was merely segregating ourselves from humanity. Not mixing with them - and as such it was hypocritical considering our credo. The teachers always say that not all humans are bigoted. Alright. Then go find us some, bring them here and show us instead of merely telling us. So what - we go through our entire adolescent lives with little human-mutant interaction and then suddenly when we leave the school we're expected to find our niche in human society and just fit in after next to no "practice"?

Sam: "...okaaayy..."

"And I'd really like to see this place open its doors to the general public here someday. With Human students."

Donovan: "Dude. What are you smokin'?!"

"Think about it. There are so many mutants in the public school system. And most of them obey the rules and get along just fine. But society just loves to take the relatively few cases where mutants act out and blow it out of proportion until everyone thinks that mutants in public schools go about looking for trouble."

The Xavier Institute could be a model school that demonstrates how untrue that belief is. IF it opened its doors to human students. And don't forget. Those students would see for themselves, through the experience of living and studying with mutants, that we aren't all bad. And then they'd take those beliefs with them when they leave and spread them. Humans would belive it more if it came from their fellow humans than us. And let's not leave out the fact that with the inclusion of human students...we could charge a fee.

Sam: "A fee?! You expect people to want to pay to live and study with a bunch of muties?"

"Well, yeah. It doesn't have to be a large fee. Take a good look around, Sam. The facilities we have here simply cannot be touched by what the public school and even the private school systems have to offer. I'm willing to bet that people will want to experience it and have their kids get the best. Especially the snooty rich people. Why let the mutants have all the top notch educational facilities to themselves, huh?"

Tabitha: "You're too much!"

"And with the extra income, we could have outreach programs where we send school representatives out to the wider community. And then we might even make enough through the fees and - I'm hoping - private sector funding, to start a branch of Institutes and spread the revolution across the country! And from there, the sky is the limit!"

After my long rant. I had to take a few deep breaths in order to replenish my oxygen reserves.

Tabitha: "Sam, I'm surprised at you! With all the time you spend reading, I'd think that you'd have been able to write something like that!"

Sam: "I am more inta philosophy and science-fiction!"

Donovan: "Now I feel totally stupid. Being outdone by a sixteen year old."

"Don't feel too bad. I'm kinda stupid myself. the only class I ever felt I could be good at was English and - "

Tabitha: "But Emma was -"

"I said felt I COULD be good at. She never gave me much credit for my unique writing style. I pretty much sucked at everything else."

Hey wait a sec! Everyone's eyebrows perked up as a look of realization dawned upon my face.

Sam: "What is it now?"

"I forgot to write something. The most important thing of all." (-_-)

Donovan: "Which is?"

"Having a full background check run on all prospective teachers to ensure that they aren't psycho bitches and bastards from Hell!"

Tabitha: "Oh yeah. THAT's gonna lose you good credit."

Damn it!

"A Shock For Betsy"

Betsy Braddock lazily took a bite of her muffin as she marked yet another dull, unoriginal essay script. Every paper from the test she'd supervised earlier that day seemed to follow the same old template. Everyone without fail appeared to have little more to write than (the clichéd phrase) "fostering greater human-mutant harmony and cooperation". It was becoming quite a bore and Betsy wished it to be over soon.

Betsy: "Oh dear. Not another one. Blah blah blah - "

The page needed to be turned then. With the deepest sincerity possible, Betsy prayed for the sake of her sanity that this script would be different. That the drabness of the overly familiar essay pattern would cease and that she'd be granted something that was refreshing to read. In her heart Betsy felt that it was a prayer in vain. What she couldn't know what that it was about to be answered and that she'd get more than she had asked for. Sighing, she turned the page and read....and read....and then read some more.

Betsy: "Wow, this is good stuff!"

Yes, Betsy. The Lord does work in mysterious ways. Or rather that was what she thought before she reached half-way down the page. Then the refreshing newness gave way to the familiar once more.

Betsy: "Wait a minute!"

Rummaging through the papers on her desk, Betsy found what she was looking for. Betsy was quite familiar with a lot of the ideas expressed in Jonathan Summers' essay. As her personal model essay attested to, his ideas were very like her own. A little too much like her own as a matter of fact.

Betsy: "It's practically word for word to the one I wrote!"

No wonder it was so good! Betsy was in the habit of writing model essays for her students. She was a History teacher at the Mansion. And after each and every paper assignment was returned, she'd share with her class her own essay so that they could appreciate what she expected. Out of habit, she intended to do the same with the Alpha Squadron of Generation X. Whilst supervising the test with Hank and Logan, she'd been mulling around some thoughts in her head. Afterwards, she'd written out the essay in full. Reaching for the communicator she always kept close at hand, Betsy put in a call to the Professor...

"Go Bother Someone Else"

Jubilee: "So are you going to apologize now?"

Jubilee had walked up prissily to the table where Sam, Tabitha and I were sitting. Donovan had since left and we three were just about done too. I had seen the guys at the other end of the room. But after seeing the looks on Ray and Bobby's faces (Jubilee's and Amara's weren't too friendly either) I decided to just walk on by without saying a word. Judging by the aura of familiarity Jubilee radiated, Sam took it that I knew Jubilee.

Tabitha: "Ooh, John. Is this your girlfriend? You lucky dog!"

Jubilee semi-frowned, semi-smiled. She expressed thanks for the indirect comliment to her looks. But she ascertained that we were just friends.

Jubilee: "Although our friendship is being put under undue strain thanks to John here."

I frowned and did my best to shoo Jubilee away. Let me tell you something about Jubilee right now. No one, and I mean NO ONE tells her that she can't go where she wants to go. And can't stay where she wants to stay. Or who with for that matter. She's the only student I know who successfully managed to negotiate her own dorm room. Sure she still had to share it with a roommate.

"Go bother someone else."

Jubilee merely put her hand on her hip and waited.

Sam: "John, that's rude."

Jubilee: "Ah, a gentleman."

"Well I don't have your southern style manners, Sam. So please forgive me."

Tabitha: "Speaking of forgiveness...what did you do to offend your friend?"

Hey, that rhymes!

"I didn't do - "

Jubilee interrupted.

Jubilee: "Oh, he didn't offend me directly. He just said some very bad things about a mutual friend's mother."

Sam and Tabitha looked at me in surprise. And some serious disappoinment.

Sam: "What did he say? Wait...it wasn't a yo mama joke was it? Those can backfire pretty bad."

Yeah, gotta love those yo mama jokes. They often start with, yo mama so fat... Or yo mama so ugly... Or my personal favorite, yo mama so stupid... (^_^)

I assumed that Sam was joking and laughed heartily. As did Tabitha. Hell, even Jubilee herself allowed for a smile. When Sam kept up his straight face, we realized that he was actually being serious. And so we stopped laughing.

Jubilee: "No. He said that our friend, Ray's mother spent her free time sniffing coke and whoring herself out on the corner as the neighborhood bitch!"

Sam and Tabitha looked at me stunned.

Sam: "What the heck made you say that?!"

Jubilee: "Ray was just carrying a joke a little too far. Something about John being gay and -"

Tabitha: "You're gay?!"

I slapped my hand over my forehead in frustration.

Tabitha: "Oh this is so cool!"


"Why is that cool?"

Tabitha: "Oh, um. It's a secret."

Tabitha merely smiled wickedly and a little shyly as well. I wonder...was she a lesbian? Time, my friends, will tell. Well enough about her. Let's get back to me.

"Well as it is, I am NOT gay. And Ray's been saying a whole lot of crap to me about it. It's a long story."

Jubilee begged to differ.

Jubilee: "No it ain't. His mom used to write gay stories."

Tabitha: "Jean?!"

"Yeah, yeah."

Jubilee: "And Ray found them up in John's attic and since then has been teasing John about them. He said that she wrote them for John as bedtime stories. And that's when John finally got fed up and said that Ray's mom spent her nights doin'...well..."

Sam: "Aww..."

"Besides. It's true."

Sam: "I thought you said that you weren't gay."

"I'm not. I'm talking about what Ray's mom did...I wasn't lying."

Jubilee: "Which is why Ray's taken it so badly and called off their friendship."

Sam: "Well, the solution as I see it is simple. Apologize to your friend."


Tabitha: "It sounds to me that he was just being a typical teenaged boy asswipe. I'm sure you have your asswipe moments sometimes. Yeah he took a joke way too far...but what you did could in no way be misconstrued as a joke."

"He called me a faggot!"

Sam: "So okay. He was a homophobic asswipe. But you're not gay. I'm not saying that what he did was right. But if you aren't gay, I don't understand why it's affected you so deeply. Just forgive him and try to work this out. A little tiff like this can't be worth losing your friend -"

Shit shit shit! And shit again!

"Look, I may not be gay myself. But I may have friends who are gay and I don't appreciate that kind of talk."

Jubilee: "Gay friends? I always thought that we were your only friends."

"I have other friends! Just...they just don't live here. That's all."

Jubilee: "Who?"

Awkward pause.

"Online friends and stuff."

Yeah. Lame. But that was all I could come up with. Anyhow, that was true. Most of my online contacts were homo. And the ones that weren't, were very homo-friendly. There were even a few mutants in the mix. Jubilee was of the opinion that the bond between me and my online friends couldn't possibly be as strong as the one between me and them. I told her to never underestimate the closeness that can develop between two people (who have never met face to face) through the magic of the internet. I was not going to have my friends insulted like that!

Jubilee: "They weren't even there."

"They were there in Spirit! They're always here in Spirit. One's right behind you laughing his ass off at that atrocious top you're wearing right now."

Oh damn me! I just had to make a fashion comment! Risky...

Jubilee: "Okay. NOW you ARE starting to offend me directly. That's never a smart thing to do. Now, I suggest you get off your ass, walk over there with a sorry expression on your face and -"

"I don't have to explain myself anymore to you. I am NOT apologizing to that homophobic bigot. Hell, HE should be the one apologizing to ME."

I muttered underbreath, "Not that I'd accept it."

There was another, rather long awkward pause right about then. Jubilee didn't say anything more to try and convince me further. She just said her goodbyes and left.

Tabitha: "O-okay. We'd best be going back down to the Subbasement."

Sam: "Yeah, don't wanna be late."

I merely nodded, got up and followed them...

"Great Minds Think Alike"

Our schedule called for agility training. Ground based Alphas were to be tutored by Remy, whilst flight capable members had Angel for an instructor. This meant that Sam, Theresa, Jeremy and I would be under Angel's supervision and the rest of the guys would go with Remy. Just as I was about to step into the Danger Room, an insistant tap on my right shoulder demanded my attention. Turning around I was met face to face with (a seemingly nervous) Betsy. Betsy nervous? Super ninja Betsy?

"Yes, Miss Braddock?"

Betsy: "John, I'd like to have a little talk with you."

I pointed out that I was just about to go in for training. But she insisted that it was very important.

"Well...let me go and ask -"

Warren/Angel: "Summers! What the hell is keeping your ass?! Get in here now!"

Warren Worthington III. Also known to us all as Angel. He was the youngest of the X-men proper. Somehow he managed to convince the others of his skills and joined the main team at the age of twenty one. His current age was twenty four. Yes, he was supposed to be an adult. And a responsible one at that. But take it from me - he wasn't. Totally wild. I was accustomed to my father complaining about him. Secretly, I often wondered if maybe some monetary transaction wasn't involved in his induction to the ranks. You know, bribery. He was rumored to be richer than Xavier. The sound of flapping (yes, he was called Angel because his mutation granted him wings and flight. In addtion to agility, a healing factor...and zero body fat) made me realize that he was coming outside to investigate. Even before he made his appearance, I could hear him griping.

Warren/Angel: "Summers, this class is important for you more so than for the others. You've only just learned how to fly. The others have been flying for years. Now stop idling around and - "

Betsy: "Warren."

Warren/Angel: "Liz."

They both looked from one to the other and the irritated expression on Warren's face instantly went away. It was replaced by a look of "glad to see you". I looked at Betsy who looked away, BLUSHING a little.

"Miss Braddock said that she wanted to talk with me."

Warren: "Oh I - I had no idea. Why didn't you say so in the first place?"

"I was just coming in to see you...but you started yelling at me before I even moved a muscle."

Warren/Angel: "So sorry for keeping you waiting, Liz."

"Aren't you going to apologize to me for alla the yelling?"

My question went unanswered.

Betsy: "I'm going to need him for a while. He might miss this class and you've said that it's important for him. Are you sure it's okay?"

Warren/Angel: "Oh yes. No problem. Keep him as long as you want!"

"But I don't want to miss out on flight training."

Warren/Angel: "Oh, I'll tutor you afterwards personally. The lengths I go to for my students... Now just run along and do what Liz tells you."

With a charming smile, Warren roughly pushed me completely out of the doorway and into Betsy's direction. She thanked him, they both smiled at each other once more and the next thing I knew, I was walking the halls with Betsy. We walked for several minutes before Betsy spoke.

Betsy: "The Professor wants to see you. But um, before we go in...I wanted to have a little chat with you myself. So I volunteered to come get you from your training class."

I was puzzled. Why didn't she just send out a telepathic message to Warren and me, letting us know what was up? And then she wouldn't have had to come get me herself. I could have walked to wherever myself.

Betsy: "I said that I wanted to chat with you, young man. Not just deliver a summoning message."

"Yeah. And get this, Miss Braddock - you're telepathic. You could have talked to me with your thoughts while I was walking to wherever it is we're going."

Betsy smiled and said that it would have been so impersonal. And then muttered, "besides goodness knows who could have overheard."

"What's so top secret?"

Betsy: "Well, it's about your essay. Why I Want To Be An X-man."

There was a vague look of worry playing across her features.

"Um, was it good?"

Betsy: "Oh yes! Definitely!"

I smiled in satisfaction.


Betsy: "I was amazed at the level of insight. Especially the points you expressed in the last six paragraphs or so."

"I admit that it was a little hard at first. But then I just started to get these ideas, you know? They just hit me from outta nowhere. I think it was what writers call inspiration."

Betsy's expression became serious at that.

Betsy: "Your essay was a little too good, John. You see, I think - "

Hey, I knew that tone of voice she was using. It was accusatory.

"Oh hold up. Are you saying I cheated?"

Betsy: "Don't get me wrong. Not that you meant to - but yeah."


Betsy: "Well, you see - I think that maybe you were unconsciously reading my mind whilst writing the test. I was milling through ideas of my own right about then. And the ideas you expressed were exactly like mine."

"Yeah...well, great minds think alike."

That was true...wasn't it?

Betsy: "Afterwards I wrote a model essay of my own. I write exactly as I think. And your paragraphs match mine completely word for word."

"But I couldn't have been reading your mind. I can't do that. And you would have known. You're...Psylocke."

Betsy: "You're not in any trouble. It had to be an unconscious thing."

"And here I thought I was actually...good at writing that essay."

Betsy: "Not all of it was out of my mind. Some was yours. And you did show at least some originality of thought compared to the others."

"Thanks. And sorry for the tone I used with you just now."

Betsy: "It's fine. There is something else I meant to ask you though."


Betsy: "Um..."

She started to blush again and nervously glanced around.

Betsy: "You said that the ideas just popped into you head out of nowhere. Right?"


Betsy: "Well...did any thoughts about me pop into your head."

"Thoughts...about you?"

Betsy: "Yeah. Crazy stuff. Seemingly meaningless."


Betsy: "You sure? You didn't see me doing - uh - see me at all?"

"No. I'd have remembered. Besides, all I was thinking about was that essay. The only thoughts in my head were about that."

She perked up once more, confidence seemingly restored. Someone has skeletons in the closet...

Betsy: "Okay. Come on. We can go see the Professor now. He and your father are waiting in the War Room."

"Google To The Rescue"

Right about then, In The Library...

Meanwhile, in a secluded corner of the library a certain Jubilation Lee huddled behind a computer monitor. To anyone looking at the suspicious manner in which she was hiding the screen, it would seem that she was trying to download pornography or the like (as many students try - and in vain due to the excellent porno filters). She had originally been using it in order to finish her research for a pre-lab Biology write up. But now that it was out of the way - she had some spare time on her hands to conduct some more research of a different kind. She had resisted doing this since the night before. But at last she could wait no longer. Shakily, she brought up her favorite search engine. Into the google search box she typed in the following key words:

friend probably gay.

After some more thought she added:

what to do.

As the results came up (there were quite a lot of them), Jubilee realized that she had her job cut out for her. Time to start working...

"The Ultimatum"

Walking into the War Room, I was greeted by dad and the Professor. With a gesture, Professor Xavier invited me to take a seat.

Professor Xavier: "Sorry about the interruption. But this is more important."

"It's okay, Professor."

Professor Xavier: "First off, I want you to have a read of these."

He opened a folder on the table and handed me two separate essays. One was mine and the other was Betsy's. Some of the paragraphs were highlighted and those were the ones that I was to read. Upon following that instruction, I realized that Betsy was right. The two sets of writing matched word for word. I must have been picking up on her ideas after all. Considering evidence like that, no wonder that she was worried that I might have seen some of her secrets whilst I was at it. Of course I wouldn't have known that her thoughts were hers - I'd have just assumed that they were the crazier workings of my mind.

"Sorry for doubting you, Miss Braddock."

Betsy: "It's okay."

Professor Xavier: "I think it's safe to say that is evidence that your telepathic power level is increasing. I expected as much since I saw you use Cerebro but now it is clearly obvious. Still, I have to ask - can you think of anything suspicious in the telepathy department that may have occurred before this?"

I couldn't say that I did. My telepathy was always weaker than my telekinesis. I only ever used it for communicating and now and then for locating people close to me. I had never even tried to read someone's mind, or control them or such. Sadly, I'd been subjected to that kind of treatment from Emma Frost. On more than one occasion...hey wait a minute...

"Uh...well, there was one time."

I glanced nervously at dad.

Dad: "You said that you never read my mind."

He must have been thinking that I had read his mind in order to find out the complete story about mom's death. Like how it came up in our talk earlier.

"I didn't! I never read anyone's mind before. But this concerns Emma."

All three pairs of eyebrows perked up. Dad and the Professor were stern at the mention of the name. But Betsy seemed excited and eager to hear more.

Betsy: "Did you ever mentally control her?"


I did mention before that Betsy had, and I quote, a mysterious aversion to all things Emma. I'm sure that I did. I'm pretty sure that she was happy Emma Frost was sent away to a mental hospital. (Author's note:Check out Chapter One. Section Heading, Welcome To My World. Third paragraph).

"We were eating at a pizza place on Thursday night. And um..."

Dad: "Yes."

"Emma made a comment about Aunt Lorna's weight. And I had a...thought about Emma."

Betsy: "What kind of thought?"

"A thought. What kind is not important. What is important is that it projected itself to Emma without my being aware of it. Whenever I communicate I have to consciously do it. I know other telepaths sometimes project their thoughts unconsciously. But my powers were so pitful that it never happened to me before. But I happened that night."

Betsy: "Maybe Emma was spying on your mind? Like you said she used to do."

"I doubt it. She was genuinely shocked when she sensed my thought. We had a mental argument over it."

Scott: "So that explains the sudden shift in mood during dinner."

Yes dad. Finally it hits you.

Betsy: "Mental argument. She must have been peeved. What sort of thought did you project?"

You're not going to let up until I tell are you?

Betsy: Not on your life. Wait, it wasn't a naughty sex thought was it?

No. I just thought that she had no right to be complaining about Aunt Lorna's weight when she was carrying a lot extra over her heart in the form of those false boobs.

Betsy: "Mwahahahhaha!"

Professor Xavier: "Betsy. Are you alright?"

Betsy: "Couldn't be better."

Professor Xavier: "Well then. Control yourself."

Scott: "Seems to me like this could have been going on since Thursday at the least."

Professor Xavier: "Yes. It's a good thing that it manifested as something mild. And not something in the order of a telepathic overload."

I'd heard that term before. It's when telepaths intercept too many incoming thoughts and are overwhelmed by them when their mental capacity is exceeded. When I left the Mansion on the night of the concert to go home, Julian thought that my weird behavior onstage might have been linked to that. For that matter, the Professor showed up at my house the next morning thinking the same thing.

"Oh, like what you thought had happened to me during the concert. When I was hearing voices."

Voices that turned out to be Emma's machinations.

Professor Xavier: "Yes. Exactly. Well, now that it has announced itself - we can take steps to deal with it."

Betsy: "Yes, dear. We can't have you going about the place picking up everybody's thoughts. I mean, if I - Psylocke - couldn't tell what you were doing, no one else in this Mansion will be able to protect themselves aside from putting up mental blocks or clearing their minds of all thoughts on a permanent basis. And that's just a wee bit impossible given that we have to think in order to get along in life."

Dad chuckled lightly.

Scott: "Most of us anyway. Some people seem to do just fine without."

"Is that a joke?"

Scott: "Yeah. Why aren't you laughing?"

"It wasn't all that funny."

Scott: "I think it was."

Betsy: "I always fall for lame comedy and trust me - it wasn't."

Professor Xavier: "Well, back to the matter at hand - I'm going to have to place mental dampeners on your telepathic powers, John. When you have gained enough skill - I'll release your telepathic potential little by little."

Up until that point, I had no problem. It was what he said afterwards that made me unwilling to comply.

Professor Xavier: "Now, I must warn you. This will be different than when I placed mental blocks on your telekinesis."

A warning. It sounded serious. I figured that I better find out as much as was possible.

"Different? How."

Professor Xavier: "The region of the mind that deals with telekinesis is different from the region that governs telepathy. Telekinesis deals with motion and spatial interactions. When I placed blocks on your telekinesis, there was no chance of my seeing any of your thoughts and memories because the center for telekinesis was not located in your thought and memory 'area'. Telepathy itself concerns thoughts and memories and as such is located in the region of your mind where they are stored. In order to block it, I will need to access that region. I will be seeing your thoughts and memories this time around."

Oh no, No, NO! The Professor seemed fairly certain that my telepathy needed to be dampened. And he didn't say that he might be seeing my thoughts and memories. He said will! Okay, maybe I was overreacting.

"But I can clear my mind of...no wait. That wouldn't work."

Like duh! Stupid me. The idea of not thinking about something was the surest way to get you to start thinking about it! Yeah, listen up mind. Don't think about the fact that you're gay. Or about Julian. Or about what you did with him last night. Uh huh...

Betsy: "I know it can be very frightening to open your mind up to someone else. It's the only place where we can be alone, where we store our secrets and - "

Scott: "Betsy, you aren't helping."

Damned right she wasn't. I once more directed my attention to the Professor (who was looking kinda disturbed).

"What kind of thoughts will you see. Like recent thoughts and memories...or long past ones?"

Professor Xavier: "The human mind doesn't store information sequentially and in any discernable order. As a result - I'd be seeing bits and pieces of...well, everything."

Everything? He'd be able to piece together things really quickly from the stuff he saw. It's what he does! He'd know my secret. And what if he felt that my father should know? What then? I mean, it would be easy to promise not to say anything to dad. But Professor Xavier might think that I needed help or something. And he might urge dad to talk with me. Dad might feel that something was wrong as a result and demand that I tell him. Maybe the Professor might even break his vow of secrecy feeling that it was for my own good, and tell dad everything. And it could all spiral into hell. I could feel my face fall and I knew I must have gone pale. No one spoke and so I decided it was time I did.


Professor Xavier: "John, it is imperative that we - "

"I'm sorry. But no."

Scott: "What do you mean, no? It has to be done."

Betsy: "John, please think about -"

"I have been thinking about it! And it ain't gonna happen."

All three of them sighed in mild exasperation.

Professor Xavier: "Remember when your telekinesis first flared? You wrecked your kitchen. The utensils and whatnot were easily replaced. But this is telepathy we're dealing with now. The damage you could do to the minds of others or your own could be far worse. And minds cannot be replaced or easily repaired when damaged."

"Well...I'll just have to be extra careful now. Won't I?"

Betsy: "After what Emma did to you - I can understand your hesitation to let us into your mind. But surely you must know that whatever we see won't change the way we feel about you."

I wished that it were so. But I could not be sure.

"Wait a minute. WE?"

Betsy: "The Professor may want my assistance."

My frown grew even more pronounced.

Professor Xavier: "I'm not going to force my way into your mind. I don't work like that. All I can do is appeal to your ethics, your reason. I'm asking you to reconsider. Know that you have my word that whatever I learn will remain in the strictest confidence."

The Professor looked at me gravely. Psychic or not, anyone could see that he was worried. As was I. It was at that moment that I first started to realize the true significance of what he had said to me - with great power comes great responsibility. Sacrifices sometimes have to be made. I understood then that the hand I had been dealt wasn't the unmitigated blessing I first thought it would be.

Although I didn't before consider dropping my academic schooling in order to train with Generation X a sacrifice - it was but the first one I'd made. And now I was being called upon to make another. To sacrifice my right to privacy, allegedly for my own good as well as for others. Was it a sacrifice I was willing to make? Was I that strong, brave and ethical of a person?


I wasn't. I didn't ask for what happened to me! regardless of whatever responsibility I had - I was still a person. A human being with rights of my own. And I wasn't going to give up those rights. I would run the risk of my father finding out about my homosexuality. No matter how small it was, I was not brave enough or willing to take that chance. Professor Xavier mentioned the possiblity of damaging minds. But if my father found out about my secret and scorned me for it, MY mind would be irreparably ruined. And considering that psychic powers were linked to the emotions and the practioner's state of mind - I very much doubted that ruining my mind would be in anyone's best interest.

Scott: "John, you cannot be serious!"

Betsy: "It would be like living with a timebomb strapped onto you with no idea how long before it detonates. You've never had access to powerful telepathy before. You don't know what it is you're dealing with -"

The Professor's stern voice interrupted Betsy.

Professor Xavier: "You don't have the moral right to place yourself, or more importantly, others in that danger!"

And then things got worse.

Scott: "Do it, Professor. It's for his own good. He'll realize it."

"Excuse me?!"

Professor Xavier: "Scott, I can't."

Scott: "I'm giving you permission."

"You can't give him permission! It's MY mind! You don't own me!"

Scott: "Until you're eighteen, it's my job to make decisions as to what is best for you. Think of it as a form of psychotherapy I'm authorizing the Professor to administer to you. Parents sometimes have to - "

"I repeat - you don't own me. I'm not some piece of property."

Scott: "I'm just doing what's best for you. For all of us."

"Since when? When have you ever done what's best for me?!"

When I was a kid? Um no, he was hardly ever around! When I was going through my various teen crises? No, he never noticed them. When mom died - no, he got involved with Emma and caused me even more trouble! Come to think of it, this was partly his fault!

"You all just want what's best for you!"

Scott: "I am your father -"

"You don't know me! You have never known me. You are not qualified to make decisions like that. I've said no and that's final."

Betsy: "Everyone just calm down. Scott, you cannot grant the Professor permission to enter another person's mind. Even if he is your minor son. This is not like psychotherapy. John, you're being selfish and foolhardy and placing everyone in potential danger."

Professor Xavier: "What is it that you're so afraid we'll see?"

"I don't want you to see it. And you think that I'll be stupid enough to tell you when you ask?"

Scott: "Watch your tone! This is the Professor and you'll show him respect!"

This was all Emma's fault. It's her way of reaching out from Happy Valley to screw with me! I thought that her messing around with my head that day in our therapy session had a positive side-effect in boosting my powers. I should have known that nothing good could come from the likes of her...

Professor Xavier: "So your mind is made up?"

Time to be firm and hope for the best.

"Yes. It is."

Professor Xavier: "Then I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

Dad and Betsy gasped. As did I.

"L-leave?! Leave where?"

Professor Xavier: "I cannot forcefully enter your mind. True. But I cannot have you here endangering my students."

"So you want me to leave the Mansion. To stay away from the school?"

Professor Xavier: "I want you totally off the grounds. Even your house. It's too close to the school and it is on the grounds. You're telepathic potential is increasing, just like your telekinesis. It's my guess that your range will increase as well. I need you to move away and lower the risk to my students and staff. It may involve placing the wider public at risk instead. But I guess it just can't be helped. If anything happens to anyone out there because of you - it will be on your conscience."

For the second time I felt the blood drain from my face. Leave? I hadn't in my wildest imaginings thought that he would say that. I looked to my father for some support. But there was none to be had. So much for wanting to change the way things were between us. Duty first.

"But what about my training. You said -"

Professor Xavier: "It's either you have some faith in us and stay - or leave."

"Oh, so my way or the highway, huh?"

Professor Xavier: "It isn't like that at all. I'm not trying to bend your will to my own. There are hundreds of students here. Their safety needs outweigh whatever mistrust and insecurity issues you may have. Sometimes we just have to share our skeletons with others, Jonathan. You have to decide whether keeping your secrets is worth...where are you going?"

I didn't answer but continued to walk towards the door. I just needed to get away from the suddenly oppressive, restricted space of the room. Leave? If it weren't for Julian, I would have told them all to fuck off and start to pack for my grandparents' house straight away. But now everything was different. Everything was all complicated and I needed to get away from their constant badgering. Get away and have a few moments to myself to think.

Scott: "John! Get back in here!"

I ran out of the room and into the corridor not caring to look back. But I heard them starting to argue - though I couldn't hear what they were saying. One thought was running through my head. Julian. I needed to talk to Julian...

"The Plan"

Scott: "What do you mean send him away?!"

Professor Xavier: "Of course I don't want him to leave. I was trying to force his hand. To shoot some scare into him for his own good. But apparently it has backfired."

Betsy: "I thought that he'd crumble for sure. You've got a hard as nails kid, alright."

Professor Xavier: "What on Earth could he be so adamant that we not see? I've seen some troubled youths before, but I can't think of anything that might be troubling him..."

Scott: "Emma warned me about this."

Betsy: "Don't tell me that you're still paying attention to - "

Betsy trailed off, clearly upset that Scott was still quoting Emma, even after her dishonorable termination.

Scott: "She said that when she was in his mind...she felt shame, guilt and fear."

Professor Xavier: "Oh I think we've all just seen the fear."

The three adults took a few moments to mull things over and decided to follow through with their plan. Scott was convinced that if they stood firm in their resolve, that John would eventually buckle and see things their way.

Professor Xavier: "Are you sure. What if he decides to leave?"

Betsy: "If he does, he may try to go to family. His grandparents...aunt..."

Scott: "We'll just have to take that chance. But he'll come around."

Professor Xavier: "Do you think they'll let him stay if they find out why he ran away. About the danger it could place them in?"

Scott: "I don't know about his aunt Sarah. She's got kids of her own to worry about. But John and Elaine...they'd take him in no questions asked."

Betsy: "Then you better be right - or he just may decide to go to them. I mean, we can't exactly stop him through the legal system without outing the school as a mutant haven."

Professor Xavier: "Well, we'll just have to keep firm our resolve and wait...and hope..."

"Making It Better"

Julian: "Okay, Johnny...just calm down and tell me what's going on."

I'd phoned Julian and asked him to meet me inside the greenhouse. It was a struggle to compose myself over the phone. And when I saw him creeping into the greenhouse, and the thought of what I might have to leave behind hit me - I lost it and started to breakdown. It wasn't fair that I had to face such a dilemma. Let the Professor find out my secret and stay - or stand up for my right to privacy and leave Julian behind just when I'd just gotten him.

Julian: "Come on...stop it with the crying. I can't make it better until you tell me what's going on."

"He wants me to leave. He -"

Julian: "Who?"

"The Professor."

As calmly and as quickly as I could, I explained to him what had happened and the situation I was in. To his credit, Julian was remarkably calm. I suppose he felt that he couldn't possibly calm my fears if he himself was freaking out. He just held me without saying anything while I continued to babble out my problems. I thought that he was giving me time to get it out of my system. That or maybe he was all quiet because his mind was busily at work trying to come up with a solution. What I didn't expect was for him to say -

Julian: "Let the Professor help you."

"W-what? I can't."

Okay. Surely there was some mistake. When I had to deal with Emma he encouraged me to wreck her car. I expected a better plan than just giving in to the Man. Like...pretend to run away and let them get all worried about me and beg me to come back. Or maybe we could run away to together and shack up and - okay that second idea was crap. But come on - he HAD to have something, anything better than that. I took the time to explain again that the Professor would be able to see anything where my thoughts and memories were concerned. And quite a few of them concerned him and...oh no!

Julian: "What?"

"You. At the very least you could get outted. And worse - you could get into trouble!"

My thoughts about Julian. That we were together. The...things we did. He was twenty two. I was sixteen - a minor. Aside from our relationship being a gay one...Julian was an adult and I wasn't. What if the Professor saw? A LOT of my thoughts and memories and fantasies (God!) directly concerned Julian. What if the Professor saw and somehow got it into his head that Julian was somehow taking advantage of me or something...and felt it to be in my best interest to tell my father?! Shit!

Julian: "Oh damn. I didn't think of that..."

"This is all that bitch Emma's fault! I hope their abusing her sorry ass in Happy Valley with brutal Electroshock Therapy!"

Whilst I fumed, Julian's face bore a thoughtful look.

Julian: "Even so. Let him."

"You've got to be insane! I'm not - "

Julian: "Do you love me?"

"Of course. Why -"

Julian: "Then I'm asking you to trust me. If you have the Professor and Betsy's word that whatever they sees will remain a secret - then they will keep it a secret."

"But -"

Julian: "Betsy and the Professor are trustworthy...just take my word for it."

"You'd get into trouble!"

Julian: "I'm hoping that they knows me better than that. That I'm not some kind of perverted molestor."

Of course I was well aware that I was not a child. But according to the law - I was underage. And there are some unsuspecting people who would consider it child molestation.

"What if I let them - and they find out about me ,and they turn on you, and I lose you anyway?"

Julian: "That's a chance that we'll have to take."

"Well I'm not willing to take it."

Julian: "You think I'm not scared too? If things were simpler, we could just run away together. But they're not. I'm scared that I'll lose you, and get branded a child molestor in the process. But the thing that scares me the most is that you won't accept the Professor's help...and then somewhere down the line...someday, you'll get seriously hurt because of it. And that is a chance that I am not willing to take."

After a back and forth exchange of words, it became clear that Julian's mind was not going to be changed.

Julian: "Betsy and the Professor are right. You have never even felt a mild overload before. If you ever go through one you won't be able to cope. You could be driven insane or worse. Let them help you. Whatever comes out of it, we'll deal with it. Together. I won't bail on you."

"You're sure?"

Julian: "Yeah, totally."

I had begun to realize that though my options were limited and it would seem like I was just giving in to the wishes of the Professor...it was the best choice that I could make. If I went to my grandparents, they'd probably take me in (grandma and grandpa would never turn me away) but then I'd be placing them in danger. And as my aunt Sarah and two cousins, Joey and Gailyn lived there too...they could all be affected somewhere down the line. It would not be fair to them.

And running away was a stupid idea my crazy mind churned out. As was expecting to take Julian with me - cuz then everyone would know about me being gay. Why else would two guys run off together when (to everyone's knowledge) they weren't even good friends. And getting found out was what I was trying to avoid in the first place. Better that two people sworn to secrecy know and not the whole damned Mansion. I guess when you're panicking you don't think straight. I suppose I'd have to make the Professor and Betsy swear that whatever they learnt about me...they'd keep secret unless I expressly gave them permission to talk about it.


Acceptance of what must be done calmed me down enough that I began to breathe a little easier.

Julian: "You need a hug."

"I think I need a little more than that."

It was while we were wrapped up in each other kissing away each other's fears that I heard it. Something shifting around to the right of our position. I pulled away from Julian as if I had been burned. He didn't hear anything and looked a little flabbergasted. Then embarassed...

Julian: "Oh, sorry. I was having a sandwich with onions when you called me."

At any other time I would have smiled. But it wasn't a time for smiling. With a whisper, I let him know what was up.

"No. It wasn't you. I heard something move to our right."

Julian: "You sure?"

"Yes. What if someone was watching us?"


That sent Julian into action. With a glance, he levitated three racks and the flowerpots on them revealing a...

"A cat?"

What the hell was a cat doing in the greenhouse. There was a rule against pets in the Mansion. Even the teachers had none of their own. Julian suggested that it may have been a stray one that climbed over the Mansion's walls or something.

"Well, as long as it wasn't a person, it could have been an anaconda for all I care."

Julian: "Still, it looks nasty. Black cats give me the creeps. Get!"

The cat grew scared at Julian's violent gesture and ran off, leaving us alone once more.

"I'm gonna go see the Professor now. Before they come looking for me or something."

Julian: "It'll be okay. You'll see."

After a final parting hug, we left the greenhouse. Through different exits of course.

I hope so...

"Curiousity Thrilled The Cat"

>From out of the Mansion's greenhouse, a cat (black as night) scampered across the lawn unseen. To all onlookers, it would appear to be a perfectly ordinary critter. But let it be known that there was nothing very ordinary about this cat. As would be proven once it safely made its way into the cover of some hedges that the gardeners had neglected trimming. Once behind the overgrown shrubs, the physical form of the cat began to blur and alter, until...a young girl stood up, laughing evilly at what she had just witnessed.

Yes, Ashley Montgomery (Mystique in disguise) had been keeping a close eye on Jonathan Summers ever since her arrival to the Xavier Institute. She knew that when she saw him running outside with a distraught expression playing across his face - that she just had to find out what was going on. Now at last she fully understood why her advances were not very successful...

Ashley/Mystique: "Damn. I should have disguised myself as a boy instead."

No matter, she thought. Information is ammunition. And she now had a weapon that would prove to be very effective when the right time came to use it. When exactly would that time come? Well, that's up to young Ashley...

Author's Notes:

Well guys and girls, that was Chapter Four. I hope that you all enjoyed reading it. Now I want to thank each and every person who has taken the time to send me feedback. It really helps me to keep writing and more importantly, to shape the story. There have been quite a few emails coming in regarding The Phoenix. Boy, this is a toughie and I cannot make a decision on my own.

I originally stated that this story will not feature the Phoenix as a cosmic entity. But it seems that a lot of you guys want just that. When I say cosmic, I mean as the classic "Phoenix", the flaming firebird from beyond the stars. There will be no extra-terrestrial stuff in this story (As I've planned it so far). I have a concept for the Phoenix in this story. But I can't speak about it here because of the spoiler risk. So I am asking you guys and girls to send me your thoughts of how I should portray the Phoenix concept in this story. I'm not saying that I am gonna choose one person's opinion and run with it. But your responses may help me decide how the Phoenix should express itself and if my concept needs some modification to keep most people satishfied.

If you have any comments and would like to contact me, feel free to send an email to either




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Bye for now!