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Resolutions - Chapter 12
Kate looked about the clearing with a nervous smile. "You really plan to do this?"
I looked at the clouds and felt the power barely contained within their rolling masses. "Oh yeah."
Jeff shook his head. "Why not just do it in the lab?"
I smirked. "Lab conditions don't show you how things will be in real life. I won't have perfect laboratory settings every time I try things."
Rogue and Bobby looked at my circle, and eyed the candles with worried expressions. I smirked. "I'm not summoning a demon, guys."
Rogue swallowed. "Yeah, but don't you think Ororo will be pissed?"
I couldn't help but laugh. "Witches have been doing weather magic for thousands of years. She's the one honing in on our turf, not the other way around."
Tyler came jogging back into the clearing. "She's not here anyways. She left last night with Kurt on a mission." He stopped a few feet from me, clicked his heels together and saluted. "Mission accomplished!"
I smirked. "Very good. How long do we have?"
"I set the system for thirty minutes." Tyler's confidence dwindled as he thought about it. "That was long enough, right?"
I roughed up his hair. "Yeah, Ty, that's fine."
He tried to give me a wounded look but the grin kept ruining his attempts. "Why do you always mess with my hair?"
Everyone busted out laughing. At some point, that semester, the irresistible urge for people to muss my hair had faded. Apparently, I'd transferred that "gift" to Tyler. I had to admit; I couldn't spend a day around him without doing it at least once. "Because you're so damn irresistible."
He couldn't stop the blush but he did give me a harsh look. "Yeah, right. You've got hottest guy in school sleeping with you and I'm 'irresistible'."
Jeff scooped him up and tromped over to the "safe zone" while Tyler complained about being "the victim of a short stature". He plopped Tyler down and smirked. "Just give it a rest, Tyler; and stop flirting with my fiancÚ."
He looked at the ground for a moment. "Was not."
Kate gave me a kiss on the cheek before heading over to the safe zone. "I don't know what gay boys see in a red bristled broomstick like you, but you must be worth the effort."
Tyler scowled at her as she got to them. "Why do -you- get to flirt with him and I don't?"
Jeff laughed. "Because he doesn't find her 'irresistible' so I don't have to worry about competition." He winked at Kate over Ty's head.
At that point Tyler was almost as red as my hair. Damn he was cute when he was embarrassed. He just looked at the ground and half-heartedly mumbled, "Fuck you."
Bobby and Rogue moved to the safe area without ceremony as I stepped into the circle.
"Why is it he can't just tell us what he's doing?"
Tyler piped up, a little too enthusiastically. "Oh, he can't. The Professor doesn't want him to tell anyone."
Rogue eyed Tyler. "Tell them -what-?"
The four of them looked at him as he squirmed. "I can't tell you. I'm not supposed to know."
Kate rolled her eyes. "Is there anything you don't see or hear in this place, Tyler? You're worse than Cynthia."
I nodded to Jeff and he raised his aura to shield the guys. Kate knew part of what I was planning; the part where I summon down lightning. Only Jeff, and Tyler, knew what the final results were supposed to be."
The wind began to pick up as I closed the circle and drew in the magick to call the storm. A human witch would have been a complete idiot, or insane, to try what I was going to do. No one in his right mind calls down lightning on himself; other than Storm or me.
I raised my hands and sent the tendril of magick upward as I focused on changing the power as it came. Oh boy did it come. It felt as if the entire sky had let loose in one barrage of lightning. I think there were seven, or maybe nine, but they all came so fast that it might as well have been one huge bolt.
I managed to control it; barely. The power swirled into a solid mass that dropped from between my hands to the ground. I followed it, sinking to my knees as I tried to recover my senses. Jeff was across the clearing, shattering the magick of the circle, before I could respond.
The way he was shaking I knew he was scared shitless. "You better not be hurt or I'm going to kill you." He held me as my trembling ceased, whispering, "Please be ok, please be ok."
I stirred his aura a little and he flinched. I grinned at him as I sat back up. "Worry wart."
He glared at me. "Don't even go there, Mister. I just watched you get fried by everything nature had to offer. If you..."
I shut him up by kissing him. When I pulled back I smiled again. "You're still my 'white knight', even if you are a ninny."
The kiss had taken a lot of the venom out of his voice. "Yeah, well, this had better have been worth it."
My eyes twinkled and I lifted my creation into the air. "Oh yeah, it was worth it."
The guys were waiting for me when I got back from the lab. Everyone was on edge to know the results. The only person who was totally convinced of my complete success was Tyler. I think if I told him I could move the moon he'd be out on the lawn to watch. I smirked at them. The tension in the room could have been cut by a knife.
Kate was the first one to lose her patience. "Well?"
I beamed. "Just over twelve ounces of solid, perfect, 24 karat gold."
Jeff whooped, grabbing me in a hug and planting an elated kiss on me. "I knew you could do it!"
I laughed. "Yeah, that's why Ty was the only one here not sweating over the test results." I winked at Tyler. "Thanks for the faith, bro."
Rogue smirked. "So, you're got the Midas touch now?"
I shrugged. "I will probably be in school for the next decade trying to learn everything I want to learn." Jeff cringed at the idea but I just hugged him. "Since I can't leave it to stud-boy to be the sole bread winner, I wanted to see if I could come up with an alternate source of income."
Kate started laughing. "You're going to create some gold any time you're low on cash?"
I shrugged. "Why not? It isn't illegal and how many mutants can claim they can make a profit from their powers?"
Kate shrugged. "The Professor is going to be pissed when he finds out you let us in on this."
"So what?" Maybe I sounded more bitter than I was. I resented having to keep quiet about one of the most incredible things I'd ever done; especially from my friends. "We're graduating in less than two months. If I can't trust you guys with this, then there isn't anyone I could trust."
Kate shot me a disapproving look. "He has good reasons, Dan. The more people who know, even though they might never willingly tell someone else, are still more chances for someone to discover it. What if Magneto found out? What if someone worse?"
I shrugged. "You're right. I know I'll get a strong reprimand when he gets back." I smiled. "I just couldn't keep it to myself any longer. I mean, how cool is that?"
Kate laughed. "Ok, I concede the point; you win, Mr. Mutant-Entrepreneur."
Bobby frowned. "Yeah, congrats, the only thing I'm good for is being a professional ice sculptor." He sighed. "How lame."
Rogue nodded. "The only ones in our group with practical applications for their powers are you and Tyler."
"Me?" Tyler seemed shocked at the idea.
Jeff laughed. "Tyler, you're thirteen and you can set up any network, run any computer, program any chip and you don't even have to touch a keyboard to do it. Sure, you'd need to fake doing it manually, but you could be the top IT guy anywhere. Right after graduation you could probably start in a basic computing job and within six months we'd be reading about you in the papers: 'Prodigy genius revolutionizes computer industry'."
Tyler grinned. "I never thought about that." That's the problem with people with 250 IQs; they can solve almost every problem but don't ask them to put a practical application to their discoveries.
The Professor did get pretty upset with me, but not about the fact I'd revealed my ability to my friends. He was upset because I did it out in the open. He was also upset that I'd done something so reckless as to summon lightning without supervision. As my guardian, he confiscated the gold till after I turned eighteen. That sucked but I knew I'd get it back, so it really didn't matter where it was being kept.
With finals approaching, and graduation to look forward to, it was all we could do to meet for lunches. Tyler got more depressed as the end of the semester approached. We'd all be graduating, but he'd still be at school. He had all of high school left to get through. I think he was worried he would be doing it alone.
Tyler's fourteenth birthday was on the Twelfth of May. We all agreed that we'd spend it surprising Tyler. That's a pretty tough thing to do when the guy you're trying to surprise can monitor every phone call, Internet email and conversation spoken in the public areas of the mansion. We managed it brilliantly. We'd gotten the Professor's help because we were going to make a real fuss.
I stood outside Tyler's first period class as its few students came in. I had to remember that this wasn't the regular level course; it was college calculus. Tyler had, technically, graduated high school at the age of twelve. The Professor had convinced his parents to keep Tyler in school till he was eighteen so that Tyler wouldn't be sent into the world feeling more unusual than he already did. Tyler came around the corner, hauling his books behind him. He had one of those book bags with wheels because his parents were concerned his book load would ruin his spine or something.
I grinned as he came up to me. "Hey, Dan. What are you doing here? We missed you at breakfast."
"Sorry about that; I had some last minute shit to do."
Tyler looked nervously at the door. The bell was going to ring any moment and I could see he was torn. Tyler had never missed a class in his life. Hell, the kid never slept. It was time he got out and had some fun.
He jumped as the bell rang. "I've got to get to class."
I caught his arm and smirked. "Nope. You're already tardy. Your attendance record is shot to hell."
He looked at me as if he was going to cry.
I pressed my fist against his jaw and made like I'd punched him. "Lighten up, Ty. You're skipping class today."
The idea seemed to make Tyler's head spin. "I can't skip class."
"You don't have a choice." I lifted him into the air and started whistling "we're off to see the wizard" as I walked down the hall with him floating behind me.
Tyler was complaining like a real trooper. "Dan, I can't skip. I can't!"
We got to the front door and I pulled it open. Waiting at the base of the steps were the rest of the gang. They all saw Tyler floating out, objecting the entire time, and were good enough not to laugh. Tyler froze.
"What's going on?"
Kate laughed. "We knew we couldn't do anything here at school for your birthday, squirt, so we made plans for fun off campus. Now stop fighting; you're going to have a birthday if we have to force it down your throat."
Tyler looked from face to face and then back at me. Not an easy task when you're floating weightless and ever movement causes you to float the opposite direction. "A surprise party?"
I nodded. "Yep. You better appreciate this, Ty. We had the hardest time planning this without using the phones, talking in public or coordinating by email."
Logan's gruff voice echoed my sentiment. "Just get in the van, brats, you'll break your arms if you keep patting yourselves on the back." He was leaning, impatiently, against the fender.
Ororo smiled as she walked down the steps, pulling on her jacket. She chastised Logan as she moved to the passenger door. "Don't scare the children, Logan. This is a field trip, not a work detail."
It wasn't till after we'd piled into the van and were off the school grounds that it occurred to Tyler we hadn't mentioned where we were going. "Uh, guys, where are we going?"
Logan grunted in disgust and Ororo just smiled tolerantly. I beamed. "Six Flags."
Jeff mussed his hair. "Yep. A full day of nothing but rides, junk food, and buds!"
Tyler blinked back tears. "You guys are the best."
I pulled him into hug that escalated into a huge group hug. Logan mumbled something about not having an orgy with minors and Ororo shot him a severe look. It didn't matter what they thought. We were having a family day and nothing was going to get us down.
Exams were hell. We survived them, but not without having several near nervous breakdowns and almost overdosing on caffeine. Since Tyler never slept, he managed to condense all our notes into the "essentials" while we slept and would give us study guides each morning at breakfast. It was like having your own, personal tutor on 24 hour call.
Jeff and I burned off a lot of stress by channeling it into sex. We would workout, hit the showers and bring each other to orgasm at least once a day. Hell, a couple days Jeff kept me sane by aura-stroking me between each class. My balls ached, but it kept me with a smile on my face all day.
Mom, Dad, George and Janet were all coming up for graduation. I was also told that two of Gram's friends would be attending as well. They were people I'd never met; apprentices. I was more worried about them than anything else. Well, ok, they were a great distraction from my real worry, the wedding.
It was set for August Eighth. Mom had us scheduled to be fitted for tuxes the week after graduation. Jeff and I had vetoed "white"; that would have been too ridiculous. Neither of us was pure and we weren't waiting till August to lose our virginities. Jeff was almost frothing at the mouth. He wanted to replace the memories of what had happened with an act of love. I insisted that when we got to it, I'd be the receiving end first. Anyway, Mom finally settled on cream, forest green and gold.
They brought the invitations up with them. They were beautiful, tasteful parchment cards with gold embossing. They read:
"You are cordially invited to witness the union of Jeffery Alexander Watkins and Daniel Patrick Jameson this 8th of August..."
I cried. I was turning eighteen in less than three weeks and I could still be reduced to a sobbing wreck by shit like that. We hand delivered the invitations to our friends and teachers. Mom had a short list of relatives and friends she felt should be invited. Since they were paying for the whole thing, I wasn't going to argue.
The night before graduation, the blackbird left at about two in the morning. That was one of those things you just didn't sleep through. We watched as it vanished into the night, knowing that an X-Team was going off to save someone, somewhere.
Graduation Ceremonies commenced without Scott, Logan, or Ororo. I also knew that Kurt had been on the jet when they left. I always scanned it on the way out. The fact that they had not returned wasn't unusual. Graduation started at noon. If they had to go someplace out of the country they would not make it back till evening.
The day was an activity filled haze. I met my two sponsors to Oxford, which wasn't as dreadful as I'd thought it would be. They didn't take much of my time, but gave me their contact numbers and insisted I call a couple weeks later. I gave them both invitations to the wedding, and they said they would be happy to attend.
We ended up having a huge family dinner out in town. The Browns had come for Kate's Graduation. Bobby's mother had come as well. Bobby and his brother had never reconciled; his parents tried but apparently Bobby's 'special ness' was simply more than his brother could stand. Rogue's family didn't even know where she was. She and Bobby were going to have dinner with his mom. In the end, we became a huge dinner party of three families. Parents got to exchange embarrassing stories about their kids, we got to share some of our own, and we all forgot about the worries of the world.
We did, at least, till I heard Dad's cell begin to ring. He answered it while laughing at one of Kate's father's tales of his kids. "Jack Watkins." He listened for a moment and then waved at us to quiet down. After a few more seconds he handed the phone to me. "Dan, it's a Tyler? He sounds panicked."
That chilled me. I grabbed the phone and put my hand over my other ear. "Ty, what's wrong?"
Tyler was practically crying. "I don't know what to do, Dan. I know I shouldn't listen to the emergency systems but I did..."
"Ty, just tell me what happened."
"I think something's wrong with Black Bird 1. It's still in France and no one has been answering the Professor's calls." He was sobbing. "Two of the locators are down, Wolverine's and Nightcrawler's. The others are working but they won't respond." The panic in his voice was rising. "I checked the logs. They haven't sent any signals back since about five this morning."
"What about the Professor?" I was tossing my napkin on the plate.
"He went down to Cerebro about ten minutes ago. He hasn't come out yet."
"Keep on it, Ty. We'll get back as fast as we can." I shut off the phone and got out of my seat. "I've got to go."
Dad was flabbergasted. "Go? Dan, what's happening?" All the parents were looking at us with fear rising into their eyes.
"Something's come up. I need to get back to school."
"We need to get back," Kate corrected as she stood up. She looked at me significantly and extended her hand out. I suppose that wasn't a time to be subtle.
I touched her fingers as Jeff, Bobby and Rogue stood up and did the same. The connection was immediate and I let the conversation replay in my head. We dropped our hands and I knew they'd all be coming.
Kate kissed her dad's cheek and hugged her mom. Rogue waited as Bobby kissed his mom. Jeff and I hugged our parents and we ran from the restaurant with more than a few objections rising behind us.
I distorted the light around us while Jeff lifted everyone into the air and got us over the forest before I took over and blasted us back to the mansion. Tyler was running out to the steps as we landed. "He just got out and is back in his office."
I looked at everyone. "Rogue, Bobby, you have combat suits?"
They nodded. They'd gotten suits a long time before Jeff, Kate or I had. "Great." I turned to Jeff and Kate. "Get ours and everyone meet at Black Bird 2."
Rogue blanched. "I still don't pilot very well."
Nodding at Tyler, I smiled. "You're backup, Rogue; we have the best pilot in school with us."
Tyler smiled. "I'll get my stuff and prep the jet."
Jeff frowned. "Where are you going," he asked as I started down the hall toward the Professor's office.
"Letting the Professor know what we're doing. There are still parents on the grounds. Someone will have to make sure no one sees the jet lift off." I grinned. "That would be one fucking big distortion if I were doing it."
Jeff laughed. "Ok, if you aren't down there in ten I'm coming to get you."
I kissed him quickly before jogging down the other hall. "Deal."
The Professor looked up as I came in without knocking. It wasn't like he didn't know what I was there for. I was projecting pretty loudly just to be sure. "The answer is no."
I looked at him. "No? An entire X-Team is missing and the answer is no?"
"I've called in some others. Beta Team will be ready to leave in a few hours."
I was flustered. "We could be there in 'a few hours'."
"The answer is: no."
I set my jaw and glared at him. "Then I guess the cover for the school is going to be blown." I raised my shields.
"I won't let you do this, Dan." I felt his power rising, but I just put a wall around the room and waited. It took him a moment to realize he couldn't send his thoughts out.
"Who said you had a choice?" He looked dumbfounded as I walked, unhindered by his attempts to stop me, to the door. "We're going and you can't stop us. We're doing this with or without your blessing." I opened the door. "The only choice you have is whether or not the 'civilians' are going to see us blast out of here in a few minutes." I could feel the force of his will pressing against me. I looked back at him. "They're my family, Professor; nothing short of God will stop me." I didn't wait for his reply.
It was nearly three hours later when Tyler brought the jet to a hover in the clouds above the chateau. The locators were still active. When we'd left, the Professor told us that the team was still alive but unconscious as best he could determine. We were warned there was some sort of psychic static about the place. He wasn't kidding. The area below felt like a magickal maelstrom. It was magick, pure and almost erupting from the place.
I had Tyler shut off the jets and drop the landing gear while I brought us down silently. The magick filling the place was playing havoc on my senses. Magick underpins just about everything. To have so much of it in one place almost made reality malleable. I was going to have to be really careful.
"Tyler, keep the jet ready for an immediate launch."
"I'm coming with you!" He had lugged several bags of stuff with him when we left.
"No!" All of us answered him in unison.
Tyler looked hurt and dropped his head. "You don't trust me."
I kneeled down and looked at him. "Ty, we trust you to do the most important part of this. You're the only one of us who could make the jet launch under stressful conditions. Rogue can fly it fine if she isn't trying to fight wind, storms or some maniac intent on killing us. We don't know what we're going to find, but it took down four of our teachers. Four, Ty. We need you here as our safety net."
After a moment he nodded and pulled out a handful of ear communicators. "Take these. I'll track you guys from here. I won't let you down."
I stood up, giving his hair a muss for luck. "We know you won't, Ty. Keep the engines warm and give us a heads up if you learn anything else."
He hugged me briefly and then jogged back to the control console to be ready. I took a deep breath and keyed the stairwell. "You guys ready?"
None of us were, we knew that, but we went anyway. I'd been convinced that I was the only mutant-sorcerer in the world. I was wrong; dead wrong, and the team paid the price. We didn't stand a chance.
Evil's screaming was dwarfed by the eruption of power that consumed her. I had to keep the power from destroying the chateau. Below us, in the basement levels, four of my family members were alive. I rode the blast skyward. It vaporized the roof and punctured the clouds with the power of a newborn star.
I could feel Black Bird 2 in the distance. They hadn't gotten far; not far enough to survive the blast if I lost control. With one pang of regret, I sent my thoughts to them as my consciousness expanded, I love you.
My awareness flowed with the energy as it burst from the atmosphere and arched into space like a solar flare. I'd lost all sense of time; time really wasn't important. I simply pulled the energy with me, as I seemed to stretch further and further. Finally, the energy dwindled and I found myself in a sea of stars. I wasn't cold or anything, I was just there; and I wasn't alone.
I couldn't see her, but I felt her as Gram wrapped herself around me. It was so very peaceful; floating in all her love. I wasn't even sad about leaving; I was too tired to care anymore. I wanted to sleep, but Gram wouldn't let me. Then, somewhere, I felt pain.
I clawed at Gram as I felt myself being drug away from her. I didn't want to go; I was safe there. She went with me as far as she could and then let me go. It felt like I was burning in hell. No light, no air, nothing but blackness and pain. All I wanted to do was die. Maybe the Gods were listening; everything just stopped.
At some point I realized the nothingness had given way to sensation. There was a dull ache everywhere. I could feel my pulse; it was like a throb that beat into my brain. I could feel the air brushing my skin and the electricity coursing through lights and machines. I wanted to cry; it was so loud. Then, it all dulled. I felt something soft in my thoughts. Welcome back, Daniel.
My eyes hurt from the light as I opened them. Boy was I oversensitive. All the lights were off and the only illumination was from Hank's desk across the room and from the various monitors and control panels. I blinked, painfully, up at the Professor's eyes. I thought I died.
He smiled. You did, but it seems your friends wouldn't accept it.
I could feel that there were hands in mine. Kate was holding my right hand; she was asleep in a chair. Jeff was asleep on my left, his head resting against my leg and his fingers woven into mine. I couldn't move my head or anything else; I was pinned, and in several casts and support apparatus.
Tears were leaking down the sides of my face. I'm sorry.
The Professor's thoughts were absent of any anger; if anything, all I felt was relief and pride. Nothing to forgive, Daniel. You did what you said you would; you saved your family and even God couldn't stop you. He paused and I could have sworn I saw a tears in his eyes. Thank you for bringing them back.
At least we'd won. No matter what else happened; I knew my family was safe and home. I was lost in my own thoughts when I felt Jeff squeeze my hand. I opened my eyes to see the chocolate brown depths of his looking back at me. He smiled and whispered, "Happy Birthday, Dan."
My birthday. Three weeks had past since graduation. I wondered how much of me was left. I lost focus on the moment as my senses tried to find the answers to my fears. I refocused on Jeff as I felt his finger brush my cheek.
He was crying, and his voice shook through his smile. "You promised me forever, Dan. I'm holding you to it."
I smiled and closed my eyes. I could live for that.
The story continues in book 2 of X Universe: "Ties that Bind".