Series: X-Men: Academy
Title: COLD WAR (Episode II)
author: B'Teena DOL/Scare Glow (my boyfriend *G*)
language: English is not my native language, so please forgive me my mistakes.
Disclaimer: All X-Men and other Marvel characters in here belong to Marvel, 20 Century Fox and else. Not mine ;). Just Flash and Avery belong to me.
Universe: Only based on the storyline of the movie 'X-Men' that was released in the year 2000.
Timeline: Shortly after the movie
Romance: Jean/Logan, Scott/New character, Iceman/Firestar, Storm/new character
Summary: Magneto needs new allies. But he has no idea whom he's dealing with when he hires this man...
Feedback: I'd very much appreciate it. ;)
remark: a) On my homepage on http://www.catbull.com/adora/fanfxmen.html
you find all my stories with pics in it. With them they're nicer to read ;). But it's the same stories :).
b) In this stories Gambit is introduced ;). Besides that scene with Rogue/Mystique - Rogue/Xavier will remind you on something... *G* Who said movieverse and comicverse can't be combined if it's for Rogue? *G*
that's Avery *G* at least in my story ;)
Raven Darkholme was depressed.
That didn't happen all that seldom, but that evening a melancholy she otherwise never felt kept her in its clutches. The cause of it probably was this unknown, cold room that was supposed to be her new home. That morning, Erik, Victor and her had completed the remove.
There hadn't been any problems. The X-Men hadn't returned to the cave that Magneto had used as his fortress before. All the equipment had easily been brought here, to Snake Island. A tactical mistake of the enemy, but a predictable one. Charles had always remained defensive. If Erik hadn't been so warm-hearted against him and his allies, the X-Men would have long been history. Mystique wouldn't have cared to eliminate them all, beginning with that Canadian Freddie-Krueger-guy to the nasty insect no 1, Mr. With-that-thing-I-can-even-read-in-the-dark... But since Magneto set so great store by it, she held herself back.
At least, Erik had never criticized her fighting method. So, if the One-Eye would dare to cross her again, she would - in a moment Magneto didn't pay attention - castrate him kick by kick. With special greetings to his girlfriend, the weather witch. With Wolverine, she had a little more patience. She wasn't allowed to kill him, but fighting him was always fun, at least. She loved challenges.
Anyway, the X-Men weren't really her problem. She had even done with Rogue now. Some things should better be kept filed away. At present, she was more worried about the man she had inwardly sworn eternal love.
She could have lived with the differences between him and her about the other mutants, and also with his regardful way of fighting. But since his imprisonment he had changed completely.
No, actually, that wasn't entirely correct. The cause of his change had been this last fight that had taken place only a few days after he had been freed. The day when he had found out about Victor's little slip.
Mystique herself didn't care about it; whatever Victor did was his own business. If he thought he had to revenge himself, she wouldn't stop him. She didn't really appreciate the way he had treated the ice empress, anyway. He just should have cut her throat when he had finished with her, then there would have been peace and quiet. Okay, then they would have had to deal with her friends, but they would have been little trouble, blind with rage as they would have been. Most importantly, Victor and her simply could have wiped out those losers. When Magneto's or their own life was in danger, the first directive, not to kill any other mutant, wasn't valid any more. Well, Sabertooth had wasted that chance.
There had been a rather apocalyptic argument between him and Erik, and since then something had been wrong with their leader. He drew back more and more. The plans for his new weapon had been on ice for over two weeks, as well as the preparations to get Toad out of prison. Insecure. He had become insecure. She had to talk to him. And that was just the problem. She loved that man. To talk about it without provoking an argument seemed almost impossible. Sticks and stones couldn't break her bones, but a rebuke from Erik was like a rebuke from God. Unfortunately, she didn't have a choice.
Sighing she made her way to his room.
"I've been expecting you, Raven." He sat at his personal computer, deep in thought. "I hoped last night you'd come to me."
"I was tired." She sat down on his desk and swung her long legs. "Can I distract you from your work?"
"I'm not working", he denied. "I've just been refreshing my memory." He turned the monitor of his computer, so that she could see the screen, too. A program, filled with information about all kinds of mutants, was running. Mutants that had somehow come to the attention of the public at some point of time. Potential allies. Erik watched a lot. He chose his partners carefully. Most of these people had never become interesting to the Brotherhood. But the one picture he showed her now she didn't see for the first time. "Avery."
"You remember?" He leaned back in his seat, keeping his eyes on her. He tested her reaction.
She knew that game already. "You've been watching him for seven years, of course I remember. He should be twenty now."
"21. Since today. Maybe that's why he came to my mind right now. Exactly seven years ago, on his 14. birthday, he mutated. That was the day his parents were killed. An explosion caused their house to collapse. Very mysterious, the case has never been solved. The boy has incredible powers." He rubbed his right hand. It still hurt, although the heavy burns had almost healed.
"You've always feared you wouldn't be able to control him," Mystique interjected.
"His mutation is much too powerful for me, that's true. He's always been a risk. But he has changed since then. He's just been released from prison. Some brawl with bodily harm, a peccadillo, as it were. Now he has started to study. It's the best moment to get him." Erik nodded slowly. "Talk to him again. Arrange a meeting. I want to try, at least. He must under no circumstance join Charles."
"If he doesn't know about him already," Mystique objected.
"Hardly. Avery has always taken great care of nobody knowing he's a mutant. The accident in the home he'd been taken to was concealed, and after that he went into hiding."
"But Avery's criminal career..."
"Xavier hardly ever chooses criminals as allies. But even if he wanted to have just the mutant who carried out the casino robberies single-handedly two years ago, he wouldn't find him, because he wore a mask. Only we know that this mutant's name is Avery Anderson, and we only do, because you followed him back then. Our way is free."
"Does that mean you give up on Toad?" she asked with narrow eyes.
"No, that means I change the schedule. If Avery joins us, prisons won't be a problem any more."
That day, the end of the seminar seemed like a redemption to the thirty students of psychology. Though it was almost six o'clock, it was around 77° outside. Inhuman temperatures for a seminar.
Angelica Jones was quite possibly the only one who wasn't affected by that. "Cat, you come along to town?"
"No time, unfortunately. Scott will pick me up; we have dance training," her friend replied. "You know, the Latin dance contest will take place in three weeks."
"What a pity. So I have to deal with him all alone," Angie grinned, pointing at the new student who had joined them that week. "I'm showing our newbie around."
"Just be careful Bobby doesn't get envious." Flash winked.
"Don't worry", the very attractive blond guy beside her commented. "Unless the girl stops calling me 'Ave', there's no danger whatsoever."
"I think Ave is much sweeter than Avery," Angelica grinned. "Do you mind if I quickly say hello to Scott?"
"Not at all."
When he stood up, Flash noticed - not for the first time since she had met him on Monday - how tall he was. He could have looked Sabertooth in the eye easily. The thought of the beast sent a cold shiver down her spine. It was only a question of time when the next confrontation would take place.
The crowd in the corridor was terrible. Why did all professors have to close their course sessions at the same time? Rogue would feel anything but well when she'd start to study here next year. Finally Cat and the others could leave the building and reached the X-Rover on the parking place. "Hi, Baby." Katja embraced her boyfriend impetuously, gave him a long kiss. His presence immediately pushed the unpleasant thoughts she'd just had aside. "May I introduce..." She broke off. When she stepped aside, so that the two men could face each other, and then saw Cyclops' face, she knew she didn't have to introduce. "You know each other?"
"Summers", Avery hissed. His fists were clenched, laboriously suppressed anger was in his voice. He was obviously about to attack the other one. "I knew. I should never have come back. This city isn't big enough for both of us." He abruptly turned and walked away.
He didn't even turn round.
Flash looked at Scott, surprised. She had rarely heard so much pain in his voice. "I don't know what has happened between the two of you, but calling him 'Ave' doesn't win you any sympathies. Is everything alright?"
"Of course. Let's go. See you, Angelica." He quickly entered the car.
Flash shrugged. "I'll call you later, Angie."
The training didn't take place that day. Scott twice missed the exit to Ragon, the little village, the dancing-school was in. He murmured some lame excuse... and suddenly turned the car towards Ludlov. A town Katja didn't know at all, although by that time she knew the area around New York quite well.
The place he took her to was nice. A small lake that seemed like an oasis between all the big cities surrounding it. It somehow reminded Katja of her home town in Germany. It was growing dusky, and they were completely alone. A unique atmosphere.
"Scott, what is it?" She placed a hand onto his arm when he turned off the car and stared out of the windscreen absent-mindedly. "I love you. Whatever might have happened, you can tell me."
"Come with me."
They sat down on a blanket by the water. She placed herself in front of him, between his legs, leaning back against the upper part of his body. He crossed his arms in front of her belly, his chin resting on her shoulder. For a few minutes, they just enjoyed the moment. They had had little time for themselves recently.
"Katja, what do you know about me?"
"Hm?" She turned her head, puzzled.
"I want you to tell me what you know about me. It's important for what I'll tell you... If I'll be able to. I don't know yet."
"Alright." She briefly thought about where to start. "Well, I know you got your powers at the age of 12, when you and your brother almost died in a plane crash. Your were speeding towards the ground, and your laser beams prevented the impact. You were living in the street when Xavier took you in. You were his first pupil. Shortly after, Jean joined the team, the next one was Storm, two years later. The three of you have been best friends since then. You saved each other's life uncountable times. I know you're missing your family despite this wonderful friendship, because you haven't seen them for a very long time. You never talk about them, but whenever my mother or my sisters visit me, I notice there's a deep hole in your life. Anyway, you hooked up with Jean Grey shortly after her arrival in the academy. You've been a couple for seven years, exactly until last autumn, when a new mutant, called Katja Ninaus, came to Xavier, becoming part of the team. A mutant who destroyed practically everything that had been between you and Jean..."
"Why not? Let's tell the truth and put the devil to shame. You've assured me more than once that your relationship hadn't been happy any more when we fell in love, but after all, no one can possibly tell what would have happened if I hadn't appeared, right? Well, however, Jean fell for another mutant named Logan, also called Wolverine, a mutant you're not best friends with, to put it carefully. That's what truly irritates you. You're afraid he'll hurt her one day, although he cares for her more than for anything. You're alarmed for her, because she's like a sister to you. Despite the thing with Jean, who is a very dear friend to me, as well, I wouldn't want to miss a single day of our relationship. I love you more than anyone before in my life. That's what I know. Oh, and I also know you met a young man named Avery Anderson 20 minutes ago and that you've been looking like a zombie since then. That I'm worried about you, because you've stopped talking to me since that meeting on the parking-lot, although we swore each other that we could talk about everything."
"I'm sorry," he quietly replied. "These things... are very difficult for me to say. But I want to try nevertheless, because I'm afraid. I haven't been this afraid for years. I want you to know what happened between Avery and me. To understand..." He stopped, tried to recollect himself. "So you know I lived in the street. I take it the professor told you about it some time, for I never mentioned it."
She blushed. "Well, I..."
"It's okay." He gave her a tender kiss on the temple. "Actually, I'm glad about it. You never pushed me to talk about my past, and I think highly of you for that. Perhaps it's better for you to have known a few things already. You'll hear enough new facts now. I hadn't had a home since that accident with my brother. I had seen and experienced a lot when Xavier found me. But nothing was as horrible as meeting the Andersons."
"Avery told us he was from Iowa and had moved here only recently," she remarked.
"I guess he wants to forget his past. I understand he has been in prison for a few months. He probably wants to build up a new identity. No, Avery is a native New Yorker. I must know, I spent over two years with him. Avery used to quarrel with his parents a lot. Instead of attending school he hung around with us. But just before he got 14, they reconciled. As a sign of that, his parents wanted to have a big birthday celebration for him in their house. Avery made it a condition that he could invite our gang, too. They didn't like it, but finally they agreed."
"You're more than two years older than him... That means you were 16 back then, weren't you? So that was just before you met Xavier."
"Right. But let me come to that my way. I have to approach this thing slowly, otherwise I won't be able to do it." He trembled, although it was anything but cold. "You know, Avery and I were very good friends. I helped him to get into our gang, and he helped me when other people mocked me about my glasses. I brought him and his girlfriend of that time together, and he shared the few things he learned at school with me. Not that I wasn't interested in education. I just didn't want to be in a class where everyone would just laugh at me and exclude me. We stuck together all the time. That's why I wanted to give him something special for his birthday. A ninja-sword that I once had stolen from a store. He'd loved it. Combatant sport was a big hobby of his. But in order to prevent him from seeing it right when I'd ring the doorbell on his birthday, I wanted to bring it to his house when he was at school. I meant to ask his parents to hide it." His voice got faster and faster, cracked.
"Scott... if it's too hard..." Cat caressed his hands tenderly.
"No, let me finish. I want to get it over." He took a deep breath. "His mother went crazy when she saw me. I guess she wanted to use the opportunity to teach her son's bad company a lesson. She claimed I'd wanted to attack her with the sword and hysterically cried for her husband. He strictly forbid me to see Avery again. I wanted to say something, defend myself... Then he suddenly attacked me with a baseball bat. Bad nerves, the man." Again he stopped.
Flash felt tears on her neck, held him tight. "What happened, Scott?"
"The sunglasses I used to steal back then were simple ones. Not like the ones the professor and I developed later. Glasses like these I'm wearing now can hardly fall off, but then... I hit my head against a wall, the glasses were hurled away... I couldn't close my eyes in time..." Now he was really crying.
Last time Katja had seen him crying had been when she'd almost died in her first fight in the Statue of Liberty. Normally he could keep his emotions under control. "Did you hit them?"
"Not his parents, but the house. Some gas pipeline. A fire started while I was staggering into the garden. When I had put on my second pair of glasses, the explosion was already over. That's all they wrote in the papers. An explosion. The house collapsed as if built of cards. They didn't have a chance. They both died in there. The fire-brigade could only recover their corpses. I stayed there all the time. I wouldn't have been able to run away. When Avery came home he immediately knew that I was responsible, although he did never tell anyone. He knew how his parents thought about me and assumed I had freaked out. We had a fight until they could part us, then we were taken to two different homes. They wanted to get rid of me again rather quickly, though, because they'd forced me to take off my glasses, whereupon I gave them a new sunshine roof. They made a big fuss about it in the papers, wanted to involve labs and research centers. They probably would have loved to simply lock me away." He laughed bitterly. "I would have run away eventually, if the professor hadn't come then. But that way, I found the home I had been looking for so long. I've never told Xavier what had happened. Nor anyone else. The professor might know a few things, I guess he's scanned my mind often enough. But since Avery had disappeared from my life, I've repressed everything that had anything to do with him so much that even Charles can't possibly know the entire story. You know... I hardly ever think about that time, but one thing I've never forgotten: Avery's threat to take revenge on me. He wants to destroy my life, Flash, I know that. I don't like the thought of you being so close to him at all."
"I'll be careful," she promised. "Actually, he didn't seem very aggressive to me."
"He's an excellent actor. He won't betray himself by anything. But I'm convinced he's already working on some plan to revenge himself. Katja, stay away from him." He turned her to face him. "Do you hear me! I'm worried about you! Promise me, please!"
The panic in his face broke her heart. "I promise. I'm glad you told me, Scott."
"I was afraid you could turn away from me," he admitted.
"Why? It was an accident. You haven't killed anyone intentionally." A weak memory touched Cat. She saw herself sitting in the garden with Jean on her first day in Xavier's mansion, confused, crying. She heard Jean speaking the words she'd just said to Scott, and suddenly she realized a few things. The doctor hadn't told anyone. No one knew that Flash herself also had killed three people. She'd always thought the others were just too discrete to mention it. Now she knew that had been naive. She was already starting to tell him, then she broke off. At the moment, Scott was busy enough with his own sorrow.
"Might be. But that doesn't make it better."
Single drops fell. In the distance, silent thunder could be heard.
Cyclops amusedly arched an eyebrow. "So angry? That wasn't my intention."
"Hey, don't look at me that way." Somehow she managed a smile. "I didn't do that. For once. They had announced storms for today."
He rose and pulled her up. "Then we'll better drive home before we get all wet. I realize you can control you powers better, at all, can't you?"
"The mental training with Jean has helped a lot," Cat nodded. "Rogue should try it as well. It's an excellent way to control your powers." She felt like she should say something more. "I'm sorry. I'm afraid I haven't helped you very much."
"Yes, you have." He laid his forehead against hers. "You have no idea how good it was to get rid of it all. I've been training to get along with it for five years; I'll be able to do so further on. What I'm worried about is you."
"You don't have to be, angel. I can take care of myself. If Avery thinks he has to attack me, I'll give him some appropriate answers." She grinned slyly. "I'm also an X-Man, you know."
"Yes. And I'm afraid exactly that will be the problem." To him, the topic was concluded with that. They didn't talk about it any further.
But the conflict had only started.
When Avery reached his flat, an elderly man approached him. "Excuse me, could I have a word with you?"
Avery examined him briefly. "Since when have you been so polite, Mystique?"
Jaw dropped, the man began to change. His skin became blue, his gray hair turned bright red, became thick and longer and his eyes got that golden color that was so peculiar to Mystique.
"How did you know it was me?"
Avery endowed her with a condescending grin. "Your acting abilities could never fool me, my dear."
She pressed her lips together, but didn't say anything.
"Now, tell me, what do you want from me?"
She shortly cleared her throat. Now, changed back, her voice had that metallic sound again that made Avery always shiver, even when she talked gently, like now. "Magneto would like to meet you."
"Like two years ago. My answer hasn't changed. You want to make the same mistake like back then now?"
She startled shortly. "Don't worry, I'm not that silly. Why do you even refuse to listen to Magneto?"
Avery sighed, worked up, and Mystique began to lose patience. "Listen, I'm not interested in problems of an old men, who uses to be a megalomaniac, besides I'm just out of jail. I don't want any trouble."
She laughed shortly, not a bit happily. "Being a mutant you'll have enough of it. But talking about mutants, I just saw you meeting a few of them..."
He looked at her, surprised. "What do you mean?"
She pushed it aside, went to a banister nearby, swinging her hips lightly, and sat down on it. "I watched your little meeting with Cyclops."
He still didn't understand. "Cyclops?"
"Scott Summers. Calling himself Cyclops fighting Magneto. Well, and his precious girlfriend Flash was with him, as I recall- Katja, to be exactly. They're both members of Charles Xavier's school for the gifted."
Now his jaw dropped. "Cat? Cat- a mutant? What school is this? And who's Charles Xavier?" His arrogance vanished, leaving back a grimace of anger.
Mystique smiled. It always was fun to manipulate newbies. "Avery, I think we have much to talk about... if you let us."
He thought about it shortly and went to her then. His face was just inches apart from hers when he answered. "Very well. I'll give it a shot, but I don't promise anything."
She nodded. "That's all we want."
He stepped back, reaching out his hand. She hesitated, something that made him smile widely. "Don't worry, love, I don't use my powers all the time..."
Then she took his hand, jumped down.
"So get me to your Magneto." When she turned around, he put a hand onto her shoulder. "Just one thing... If you should spy at me once more I will use my powers again. Cool? You should remember that this can be very uncomfortable for you." He pulled back.
She didn't answer, but she felt a light shiver. She wasn't sure at all if she wanted to have Avery Anderson in her team.
"You must be very sure of yourself", Avery remarked when Mystique landed the helicopter on the roof of Snake Mountain, as the fortress of the Brotherhood was called. "Or does any of you have mental abilities and you delete my memories before I'll leave?"
"That won't be necessary. When you'll leave today you'll be one of us." She got out of the machine.
Her arrogance, nearly equal to hers, made him laugh. "What makes you so sure?"
"You're not afraid to face Magneto, who's one of the most wanted villain ever. You're not afraid of me or of flying to a territory that's completely new to you, either. If you really don't agree to Magneto's proposal, you could leave anytime, without any problems. You don't mind this everything at all. But you startled when I mentioned the name Scott Summers before." Smiling she looked somehow pretty. "All of us fight for Erik for different reasons. The reason doesn't matter. The triumph is important."
"You might be right about that." He put his hands into his pockets and followed her inside the ruined castle that Magneto had chosen as his new home. "But that won't help you if this triumph isn't of any interest for me."
"Wait for it." She sighed quietly. It wouldn't be easy for Erik to convince him. "By the way, I'd love to know what Cyclops did to make a robot like you react that emotional."
"Nothing that would be of your business, sugar", he answered hard.
"Avery, finally we get to know each other." Magneto stood up at once when his guest entered his office with Raven.
The young man stopped right in front of Erik's desk, ignored the offered hand completely. "Why am I here?"
With a short raise of his hand the leader got a seat from the other side of the room. "Sit down, please."
Avery rolled his eyes but did it.
Mystique posed herself next to her boss, still showing that light smile.
"First I want to thank you for coming here this time..."
"Let's get to the point. You've got problems, I'm supposed to help you. So- convince me." The young man leaned back, folding his arms.
Magneto grinned lightly. "Well, I'll try. As you know, mutants aren't the worlds most loved creatures, to say it politely. I want to change that. I think that we're humanity's next step of evolution. Mankind is afraid of us. They want to oppress us because they feel that we're superior to them. We can't let them. Meaning: It's war, though most people don't want to see."
Ave shrugged. "So far so good. What does that possibly have to do with me?"
"Patience." Magneto turned the screen of his computer, letting Avery see it. "That's Professor Charles Xavier, a man with very strong mental powers. He leads a mutant organization calling itself 'X-Men'. They believe in a peaceful co-existence of mankind and mutants." He laughed scornfully. "Charles is a notorious peacemaker who doesn't want to see the truth."
Avery leaned forward, interested for the first time. "What's the truth?"
"Good question." Magneto tipped his fingers together. "The truth is that mankind will never change. They've always hunted and battle everything that's different from them. That's why we have just two choices: Fight or fade. I prefer the first one. As for you..." The picture on the screen changed. "I heard you know that man?"
Avery clenched his fists instinctively, pressed his lips together when a photograph of Cyclops appeared right in front of him.
Mystique put a hand onto Erik's shoulder. His way of manipulating was impressing.
"I take this as a yes", Magneto commented. "Scott Summers works for Professor Xavier, just like these mutants: Storm, Jean Grey, Rogue, Wolverine and Flash."
Avery slowly gained back control, put his hands onto the armrests again. "So these are your enemies?"
Magneto startled shortly. "I prefer it to call them blind. They follow Charles but they're still brothers. One day they'll realize that I'm right and join me."
Avery nodded. "Brothers, alright. But at present there's a kind of fraternal feud, isn't it?"
"Unfortunately. That's why I want to ask you to help us. One of my men is in jail at present. I hate to admit, but the three of us - Mystique, Sabertooth and me - are no match for the X-Men."
Ave just arched an eyebrow. "Why do you think I'd work for you? Because Summers is your enemy?"
Magneto looked at him seriously. "Why not? The enemy of my enemy... You can't really be happy, either, about Summers training young mutants, about him being the 'star' of this organization of Xavier. Besides he'll set everyone he knows against you, I suppose."
The other man grinned widely. "You know- I don't need any help to deal with Scott Summers."
Mystique got restless. She felt Avery would win this argument. For she knew how important this everything was for Erik, she suffered by bit.
Magneto stayed calm. He through a folder to Avery.
The leader told him to open it. "Profiles of all the X-Men that we know of. As you can see it would be difficult even for you to fight Cyclops alone. Above all since you don't want anyone to know that you're a mutant."
Lightly put off Avery read the files. He had to admit that this group was a good one. Psychics, controlling the weather, strength, healing factor... And skin reacting powers. A young girl, just 18, given one of the most powerful abilities ever, but not able to control this mutation. For a moment he remembered the times when he himself had not known how to use, what had happened to him when he had seen the dead bodies of his parents, back then. Not an easy life. The woman looked like a very interesting enemy. "Impressing", he admitted.
"It is", Erik agreed. "That's why you should consider working for me. Why trying alone the same with much more effort if we can do it much easier together?"
Avery closed the folder. "I don't think we want the same."
"Not exactly, but our intentions doesn't necessarily exclude each other."
"So what is it that I want, in your opinion?", Ave asked.
"To take revenge. Whatever Scott Summers did to you, you want to do the same to him."
"Why do you think he did something to me?" The young man's cold ignorance returned.
"Because there's hate inside you that must have a reason. Believe me, I know that. I hate people just as much as you hate him."
"What did the people do to you?" Ave began to get curious. Magneto wasn't half as ridiculous as he had thought.
But the leader shook his head. "We don't know each other that well, kid. But we can change that- if you help me fight Charles. Wouldn't it feel good to be trouble for the man that got Scott off the streets and made him the hero that he is now?"
Mystique held her breath. Now it was there, the most important moment. Erik had played all his cards- now Avery had to decide.
The student got through the files in front of him once more. Finally he looked up. "I don't want anyone to know that I'm a mutant. Is that clear?"
Erik relaxed, relieved. "Of course."
"Then you have a new ally, Magneto."
"Very good! Thank you." They shook hands. "Mystique, Sabertooth and I will show you how to use your powers best, most efficient. I'm sure we'll make a great team."
"Just to make it sure, I need my freedom", Avery remarked. "I like my flat in the city, don't expect me to move in this Addam's museum here."
"That's your decision. Mystique will give you a communicator. With this we can hold a constant connection. Any questions?"
Ave pointed at the folder that had changed his opinion about working for the Brotherhood. "Is there something modern like a copier in this ghost castle?"
"Ey, girls. Praying to Buddha again?"
Flash and Jean startled, their mental connection was cancelled. "Logan..." The doctor looked at her boyfriend annoyed enough. "You just destroyed the result of two hours working, thank you very much."
"Two hours? Are you still able to walk?", he asked, amused, looking at her crossed legs. "The Professor needs you. I myself would never ever dare to keep you from working." He winked, grinning, and left fast before she got the idea of throwing one of her cushions at him...
"Guess that's it." Jean stood up. "Did you ask Rogue to do the training?"
"Her last answer was too charming to repeat it", Katja laughed. "She shares Logan's opinion about this perfectly."
"Emotion control is a very new part of yoga", Jean sighed. "Most people just smile pitifully at it. But it really helped you very much. Perhaps you first must have a nervous breakdown right next to Marie without causing the sky to darken, before she realizes. Anyway, I have to go. Will someone bring you to college?"
"I take the bus. If I hurry up I'll get it", Flash mentioned, looking at the clock. She fast got her school stuff out of her flat. Thursday actually was an easy day for college. She could stay in bed longer than the rest of the week. But it was ponderous, too, to drive to the city for just one course at twelve o'clock.
Of course she barely missed the bus that had its stop right next to the mansion. The driver ignored her when she ran to catch the car, he just drove off. "Damn!" So what now? She was doing the motorcycle license only in three weeks, so she couldn't take Scott's bike yet.
"Need a ride, Milady?"
"Avery? What are you doing here?", she asked, stunned. She hadn't seen the black Ford parking on the other side of the street, breaking more than one traffic regulation by standing in the middle of the emergency entry.
"Angelica told me where you live. I wanted to pick you up ", he explained. He had dark sunglasses in his hands that he just cleaned with a little white cloth.
Flash had to laugh. This pedantic gesture didn't fit her current opinion about him at all. She had to admit that he looked quite good. The bright June sun left his bright hair shining golden... And this fascinating dark blue eyes... Cat fast suppressed these thoughts. She shouldn't give Scott another reason to fear this man. "Why would you do that?" She tried to sound rejecting, slowly neared the little Fiesta, looking like a failed car clone from a scrap yard.
"I remember you being more charming before. Did Scooter already tell you to beware of me?"
Scooter? How could they ever have had a friendship with such names? Logan had once dared to call Scott like that. Cyclops had told him friendly that he'd be able to breathe through his stomach if he tried again... She shrugged. "You can say that. But to calm you, I wasn't too excited myself about your acting on Monday."
"Yes, I know." Now he looked embarrassed.
That fit him quite well... Katja inwardly shook her head on herself. Was this her reaction on Scott's warning? An adoringly gaze at Ave like a teenager seeing Nick Carter?
"I just was quite surprised when he suddenly stood there. How could I know he'd have a beauty like you by his side?"
"Too much compliments can literally kill", she answered dryly.
"I don't like Scott Summers, but that doesn't mean I'd have a problem with his girlfriend. I like you, and I'd be glad if we could still be friends."
Difficult situation. Fact was, she had to be in the college very soon. He also had, by the way, so it was unfair to stop him any longer.
Before she could reply, a motorcycle left Xavier's estate. She knew the characteristic droning by that time, knew, even before she saw the bright yellow color, that it was Scott's beloved baby. Strange. Cyclops taught mathematics, it couldn't be him. When the driver stopped next to her and took the helmet off, the riddle was solved.
"Logan! Are you crazy?", Flash asked amazed. "I seem to remember Scott saying, he'll shoot you if you take his bike again."
Without a word he took a second helmet from inside the machine. "You..." He pointed at Avery. "...get out of here. And you..." He gave Cat the helmet. "...put this on, shut up and mount. Now."
She was too astonished to protest.
"Wait a minute!", Ave shouted.
"Run off, kid!"
That was clear enough. The young man started his car and left.
"Did you lose your senses?", Katja asked. "What's this all about?"
"I said mount! Your course is about to start. I won't risk a ticket because of too high speed, so hurry up."
Annoyed she sat down behind him. "Okay, I'm here."
"I don't know what Scott's problem with this baby face, who's just driving against the one way street over there, is, but next time you want to flirt with that guy you should make sure, Cyclops can't see you", Wolverine growled. "I'd prefer that, too. I have other things to do than getting, handcuffing and bringing you to the city."
"I didn't...", she began, stopped then. From the distance perhaps it had looked like that. "Is he watching me from the window with a spy glass?"
Cat turned her head, and she knew. Because of the heat Scott gave his lesson in the big courtyard of the estate, where he could see the bus stop. His sharp eyesight had allowed him to watch everything happening on the other side of the fence.
When Cyclops saw her looking at him, he waved, smiling lightly embarrassed.
"Let's go", she asked Logan quietly. A little touch of hurt pride prevented her from greeting back.
"So what did he say?" When Cat returned in the afternoon, Scott was waiting for her in their flat.
"That he likes me." She sat down in front of her dressing table, avoiding his sight. "He just wanted to apologize."
"Yeah, of course." He laid on the bed, his arms folded behind his head. "That's just why he wanted to talk to you, of course."
"Scott- what is it?" Frustrated she put her comb aside, sat down next to him on the mattress. "I promised you to take care. I'm in the same course as he is, I can't change that. By the way, Angelica thinks that he's okay, and she spent nearly the whole week with him."
"It's starting. He already has you on his side. I've seen him manipulate people before, Flash. Believe me, you're underestimating him completely."
"I'll stay away from him, if that's so important to you", she offered. "But in this case you're underestimating me. I'm not to manipulate."
"You never meet someone like him", Cyclops insisted.
"Then propose something. What should I do?", she sighed.
"Very simple. You should leave the course. But I don't think you'll do me that favor, will you?"
"I can't just stop! Do you think that's so easy?", Flash asked, shaking her head. "You know, it's lightly insulting that you put the faith of an empty bottle in me."
"That's not it." His face grew dark, she knew she had hit him where it hurt the most. This was the first big disagreeing in their relationship that had been so happy and easy so far. That just Ave caused this... Well, it surely wasn't good for the two men to become reconciled. "Perhaps I'm just afraid, sugar. Avery managed it to part the most perfect couple in our gang, just because he wanted to have the girl. If we would have been old enough by that time, I'd say, he wanted to lay her. For that he just left the girlfriend, he had then, who was my best friend, by the way. He's cold, he doesn't know any scruples, if he wants something. I don't want to lose you."
"Your protector instincts honor you." She rested her arms on his chest, kissed him gently. "Here's a deal: You stop worrying that much and I promise you to tell him to stay away from me forever. Is that okay with you?"
"That would be great, Cat. I'm feeling rather bad because I make your decisions. I know how you hate that." He lovingly caressed her neck. "I'm sorry that I was such a jerk."
She didn't really like the 'Cat' in this sentence. Scott was the only one who usually called her by her real name. This was something special between them; he had trained the pronunciation and managed it perfect by now, something that was very difficult for an American. She always was happy to hear 'Katja' from him. Sometimes she missed her home Germany very badly. Now, in that moment, her nickname made some kind of a distance. It showed that the discussion was not over yet. She didn't hear the sentence 'I'm sorry that I was such a jerk' for the first time, either. He usually said that when he had won. But after that day she was just too tired to keep on arguing. "What about going to Nematti's for a pizza?"
"Of course. I've got a headache from all this trouble, I have to get out of here, anyway." He took his leather jacket from a chair. "What about taking the motorbike? You can drive yourself, to train before you do the license."
He didn't make such an offer everyday. Cat finally stopped being angry. "Just let me put on my leather clothes."
But they didn't get the chance to leave. When they wanted to start, Storm landed in front of them. "Stop, you two! Emergency!"
The Professor had advised Ororo to train her ability to fly that she had hardly used so far. That was an inalienable advantage fighting Magneto's strong ground fighters. For days she flew more through the estate than she walked. Wearing - like now - her tight black uniform with the elegant cape she looked just stunning, unnaturally beautiful, with her long white her and her thin body.
Not for the first time Flash thought about how unfair it was. Storm had so much to give to a man... But she had never been very interested in boys. That was why she was called the ice empress, in the first place. If it was for that the lively, hyped young woman had just been very shy. 'Cold like a dog's nose', Jubilee had once called her. Why, and since Sabertooth had destroyed everything in Ororo that had been able to love, it was hopeless. It made Cat angry. More, once more she wished to see the beast rot in hell.
"What happened, Ororo?" Scott took off the helmet. "Trouble?"
"Apparently. A bank robbing in the west part of New York. There are some hostages. Mystique and Sabertooth were to see in the news."
"Magneto's people play Bonnie and Clyde? Something's wrong about that", Cyclops mentioned. "We'll join you immediately."
'Something's wrong about that' didn't exactly cover what the X-Men saw when they arrived. Mystique and Sabertooth had barricaded themselves in the counter hall of a little private bank, shooting at everybody who neared the house.
Scott landed the flyer on the roof of the affected building. From above the team watched the executive, who had surrounded the house. "One of the instrument's playing wrong, and that disturbs the whole orchestra", Cyclops commented. "Magneto doesn't need to rob a bank to get money."
"Even if, Mystique and Sabertooth don't need guns to escape the police", Jean added. "Shall we go down?"
"Wait a moment", he refused. "I don't like this. Could be a trap. What did they say in the news, how many hostages are there?"
"Three. Two employees and one customer. The bank was just closing when it happened", Storm explained.
"First we have to pass them, anyway", Rogue mentioned, pointing at the police.
It was one of the most important rules ever that the X-Men should never be seen in public. Nobody should know of the big team of superheroes that had been built up through the years. Even Iceman and Firestar were more popular than Xavier's people, though they had just started their career.
"That's no problem." Scott shot the roof door that leaded inside the house. "Be careful. They might wait for us."
Avery nodded, satisfied. Everything was working perfectly.
He had entered the bank just minutes before it would close to get a checking account. This had taken much time, as he had expected it. The employees had to wait for him to go home. Avery had shown his well trained embarrassed face, apologizing for the trouble. The friendly woman behind the counter had told him that this was no problem at all.
When Ave had been finished, he had activated his communicator, calling Mystique and Sabertooth in.
The two secretaries of the bank had been completely shocked when the mutants had entered the building, heavily armed. Ave had seen one of them pressing the alarm button before Mystique had summoned both of them to the safe, smiling friendly.
The other one had started to cry hysterically.
"Shut up", Mystique had hissed, without any success. Rolling her eyes she had called for Victor.
Without hesitating Sabertooth had knocked the woman out.
That was when Avery had jumped forward. "Leave her alone, you monster!"
Victor had just grinned and used his fist another time.
Of course Avery hadn't fallen unconscious, but for the other employee and the cameras it had looked like it, and that was important. Acting had always been his specialty.
When the other worker finally had opened the safe, Mystique had beaten her, till she had blacked out as well, then she finally had deactivated the annoying cameras.
Now she neared him, smiling. "Everything's fine. Now we just have to wait for our mutant friends."
"I know, this is my plan, after all."
"How could I forget? You remind me every five minutes. By the way, you may stand up now, great hero."
"Oh, I'm very comfortable, thanks." He leaned against the wall, folding his arms. "Did your little pet clear the way to the canalization by now?"
From beneath there was a loud bang.
Mystique grinned. "I think so."
Sabertooth returned to them, got the taken money.
"Don't you want to help him?", Mystique asked, still grinning.
"Don't push me too far", Ave growled. "Nobody said you're always the big boss."
"We're done", Sabertooth reported.
Raven just nodded. "Good."
Victor took a disparaging look at the two woman on the floor. "Why can't we just kill them?"
Avery snorted. "Because they have to confirm that I was here getting an account. Besides it would look a little strange if they're dead and I'm not."
The beast grimaced. "Okay, okay, next time." Suddenly he raised his head, smelled. "They're here."
"Something special for me to watch?", Avery asked.
Mystique shrugged. "Just look suffering and keep your eyes open. Most important is to know the enemies, every skill and, above all, every weakness. So be quiet and watch a master doing her work." She sat down next to him, changing into a young woman wearing office clothes.
"Their team's made up of six people, isn't it? You're alone. How great can that be?", Ave asked, scornfully.
"Wait for it, Junior." Sabertooth hid behind a counter.
"I can finish you both with just one touch", the young man hissed. "I don't need anyone to call me Junior, understood?"
"Try it, kid. Then your guts will decorate the ceiling." Victor bared his teeth.
"Shut up! Both of you!", Raven shouted, laying down. "I hear them. Down, Avery!" When she caught his angry sight, she added with a perfectly sweet look and just a little touch of irony: "Please."
"Wow, that was good. Did it hurt?" He avoided her annoyed kick fast, laid down then, closing his eyes, pretending to be blacked out. He was more nervous than he'd admit. The information about the X-Men that Magneto had given him, was disturbing. Their team was unbelievable strong. It wouldn't be easy to deal with Scott. At present he needed the Brotherhood's help, no matter if he liked it or not.
But Avery had always been very patient.
"Girls, you stay behind us. Marie, get ready."
The young woman raised her hand, which was - except for her face - the only bare part of her body. Her uniform was much more closed up and tighter then the ones of the other members. Even her throat was covered completely. "Ready when you are, Boss." She saluted shortly, clicking her heels, winking at Scott.
Nobody knowing Marie a few months ago would have recognized her by now. She had accepted her gift, had accepted that all her life had changed, that she'd probably never be able to touch anyone without a cover anymore. The strength that she showed, living with this destiny, was unique. She fought like a lion to not to despair. The high school, her job as an X-Man, the other pupils and above all the deep friendship with Logan, Flash, Jubilee and Kitty had made her bloom like a rose. Fighting, she was more lively and cocky than all the others. She knew what she could do and used it purposeful. The name Rogue fit her perfectly, anyway.
"Jean, do you feel anything? How much of them are there?"
"I can't tell. Sabertooth's and Mystique's souls are just too strong." She shook her head. "But you're right, something very strange is going on."
"We should have brought Kitty", Cat sighed. "She could just take a look through the wall."
"Don't even think of it, I have to stop her enough without you encouraging her", Storm moaned. "If Jubilee and her would do half as much for school as they do for their X-Men training, they'd be finished with High School in two months... This door over there smells like a trap, doesn't it? Perhaps we should take a short cut." She pointed at the wall right next to her. "If my orientation isn't very wrong, the hall should be behind it."
"I'll remind you if we leave in the woman's toilet", Scott grinned.
But it was the right position. When he shot the wall, they were just in the middle of the hall. None of the enemies was there. On the floor not too far away there laid two unconscious people.
Jean ran there.
"Wait!", Scott shouted, but Logan was even faster, pulled her back.
Just in time, one of the victims jumped up and wanted to attack Jean.
Wolverine got in the way and caught the knife that had been meant to hurt his girlfriend. He was knocked on the floor, which didn't happen exactly very often. His loud scream did even Sabertooth much credit. Because of his healing factor the injure was less a problem as it would have been with Jean having it, but for a few seconds his breath was taken away, anyway. His mutation didn't include immunity to pain, and having a dagger in the abdomen hurt damn much. Clenching his teeth he pulled the weapon out of his body, breathing shallow. Impatiently he waited for his mutation to heal the wound. The sweat on his forehead showed how much he was in pain.
"Bitch!" White with rage Marie wanted to attack the enemy, but before she could reach Mystique, Sabertooth, who had left his hiding place, caught her and held her high above his head. A bright red laser ray right into his chest made him let her fall at once, anyway.
Scott laughed quietly, but a kick into his stomach wiped that smile out of his face. Raven was fast as usual.
Flash and Storm ran there but Mystique got to safety with a double flick flack fast, smiling pitifully. "Oh, gals... How exactly do you plan to do defeat me without your weather powers?"
"'Without'?", Storm giggled.
A strong wind took hold of Mystique, forced her to shrink back.
Sabertooth had recovered by then, but Scott and Logan also had. For a moment they stood still.
Marie had made her way around the scene and took Raven's arm from behind now. "Surprise!" Like in the fight a few weeks ago she drained her power, which build an intimate physic and psychic connection. Like last time she felt this scratching, metallic voice inside her head. But this time it sounded different. Gently, friendly- loving. It wasn't telepathy, though for a moment she could feel Mystique's current rage, as well. What she heard was a memory of a time long passed.
'You're no longer part of the system, Marie. You're above the system. We're above it. I show you the way to live a happy life. It's no curse but a gift, that's been given to you. Trust me.'
Before Rogue could think about where this memory came from, this memory of a very different Mystique than this heartless beast that she fought for months now, a memory of a woman that she had never meet, Raven used her superior strength to break free.
Sabertooth threw a smoke garnet. "Enough fun for today. We have what we wanted."
With his VISOR Scott could see through the clouds that the enemies fled into the cellar. He knew that he couldn't follow them alone, so he waited till the smoke was gone. Then he took a look around. "Logan, are you alright?"
"I can still defeat you with one hand, if you mean that. Girls? That one alive?"
Jean, Storm and Flash knelt next to the second victim, the real one.
"Barely, thanks for asking", a weak male voice from this corner murmured.
Scott startled. Even before he saw the stunned look on Cat's face he knew who the hostage was. "Avery? Avery Anderson?"
"Do I know you, my friend?" The young man sat up, smiling widely at Storm, who helped him. "Thanks, pretty. Cool hair color, by the way." Then he saw Cyclops and frightened at least as much as Scott. "Summers? Do you follow me everywhere?" He stood up, still a little dizzy. "And Cat, of course, I should have known!" His eyes narrowed. "What are you doing here? You don't want to tell me you work for the police, do you? Do you belong to these psychos who just fled?" He shrank back. "Who are you people? What do you want from me?"
Storm neared him. "Stay calm, we don't want to harm you."
Avery took another step back. "Of course, above all not Summers." He turned and ran to the exit.
Jean locked the door fast. "Wait!"
"What now?", Ave asked, excited. "I want to get out of here!"
"Just in case you didn't realize, the people who took you prisoner are our enemies, as well as yours", Storm began calmly. "If you run outside like that, perhaps some Cop freaks out and shoots at you. Wouldn't be that cool, would it? We're your friends. The good guys. If you've got a few minutes, we'll explain everything." She shortly looked at Scott. "I suppose you already know more than you should, anyway."
"Didn't I tell you we need masks?", Rogue commented.
"We'll be wearing masks as soon as I'm out of this team, and not a moment earlier", Jean contradicted her. "So, Avery- is that your name? What do you say? Will you listen to us?"
Mistrustful he seized them, slowly, their faces, their outfit, their uniforms. Storm and Flash with their long capes. Rogue, who put on her right glove. The gaping spots on Logan's gloves. Cyclops' VISOR, looking like being taken out of an original Star Trek series. This detail took his attention a bit longer, then he looked at Storm again. "I don't have any good experiences with mutants, but alright. Who do you think you are? Superman or something?"
Rogue grinned. "The idea is good."
Jean glanced at her admonishing, turned to Avery then. "Go outside, do your report, but don't say anything about us. Just tell them that the villains have been gone when you woke up. Then come to this address." She gave him a card.
Ave shortly looked at it, nodded then. "Ok."
"Please, remember, the Police must not know about us", Jean repeated. "For our group anonymity is most important. That's the only way to protect mankind from danger like that one today."
"The girl's right, you wouldn't have such problems wearing masks", he grinned. "Don't worry, I won't say anything. That's the least I can do. After all you saved me. Those psychos perhaps would have killed me. Probably I'm lucky that they didn't do it at once. See you."
The X-Men left off to the roof while Avery went outside, his hands held high.
An hour later Avery reached the address that the redhead had given him. It was an empty warehouse.
Inside Jean, Storm, Rogue and Wolverine were already waiting. They shortly asked about his report and if he was alright. When they had made sure that he hadn't told anyone about them, they began to talk. They explained as much as it was necessary, as less as possible. Jean again asked him not to say it to anyone. Then they wanted to know everything about the raid.
"Do you know what Mystique and Sabertooth wanted from you?", Storm asked. Again and again she found herself seizing his muscular, handsome body. He looked damn good. Great eyes. He was exactly the kind of man of your dreams, blond hair, blue eyes, in the dark light looking nearly black, big, trained... He could have been an actor or a model. Macho, she thought, smiling lightly. Ororo, put yourself together! A man, keeping her from doing her job, was the last thing she needed at present. No matter if he looked sweet. No matter if he was charming. And...
"Why from me? That was a bank, not my home. I just was in their way", he mentioned. "Pure chance." Without wanting it he ended up staring at her beautiful face again. The girl was very attractive. He hadn't realized that seeing the picture that Magneto had given him. Being the master of the elements and able to fly she was one of his main enemies, too, he better should not forget that.
"Pure chance, right? Okay, let's summarize this. You come from college, you want to have an account at the probably tiniest bank in the whole city...", Logan began.
"I got a little job at the company that owns that bank ", he threw in.
"...and you're - pure chance, I suppose - the only customer in the building", Wolverine continued. "Then two of the most wanted villains of the city suddenly have the idea that it would be nice to rob just this bank with a grocery's turnover on one day and a safe that's nearly empty. They enter the house, wait long enough for the police to come to barricade themselves in the building. When we show up they fight us a bit, just for training, I suppose, cause there's nothing to win for them. When they're sick enough of it, they leave. Pure chance?"
"Ey, I'm the good guy here, remember?", Avery protested. "You want to hold me responsible? I thought Summers is the only member of your team who dislikes me."
"The whole thing is just strange", Jean remarked. "I'm sure you're innocent, but perhaps Magneto wants something from you. Did you ever have something to do with mutants?"
"I know Mr. Summers but I think that's not what you mean, is it?" He shook his head. "No, I don't know why I should suddenly be hunted. Probably bad luck. Not my day. And even if not- what am I supposed to do? There are by no means enough hints for police personal protecting."
"You know where to find us", Storm remarked. "If you have problems, just call us. Don't take this too easily. Magneto's people are dangerous."
"Oh, really?" He arched an eyebrow. "Why, thanks, anyway. I'll remember the offer. Perhaps we'll have another meeting someday. Your clothes are somehow out of fashion, you know- but I'd be glad to see you again." That he said above all to Storm. He smiled at her warmly once more and left then.
"Strange guy", Logan growled.
"Ey, not everybody can look as good as you", Rogue grinned, knowing exactly what really bothered him. "I think he's nice. At least he didn't tell the police about us. But let's ask the man of the day. If Scott makes it to take his tongue out of Cat's mouth for just a few minutes, then he'll surely be able to tell us about Avery."
Jean and Logan looked at each other, amused, laughed quietly. That was a comment that could just come from Marie... Before they joined the others they shortly shook hands. Rogue and Ororo, who both had pulled Ave's clothes off with her sights, surely hadn't realized. Scott and Flash on the other hand shared a dark secret about him that they wouldn't reveal that easily, that was clear. But Jean with her telepathy and Logan with his instincts had also realized something. A phantom menace that somehow surrounded him. They'd have to keep an eyes on him.
"Is that your official explanation?", the Professor asked after seconds of silence.
"What is this, an examination?", Scott asked angrily. "It's just my business what happened between Avery and me. That's it." He left, slamming the door of the office.
Flash startled as if that had been a conscious attack on her nerves.
"He'll calm down", Storm tried to calm her.
"I doubt it somehow. Excuse me, please." She stood up.
"You know that it won't be long till everyone will get to know", Xavier said seriously. "Big trouble's in the air. It would be better if he told us."
"That's not my decision", she said hard, went outside.
"You know what happened, don't you?" Jean finally asked.
"I have to." He tipped a finger against his forehead. "There's still a wall inside Scott's head, but I couldn't ignore Flash's thoughts, even if I tried. Nevertheless she's right. Cyclops himself must be ready to tell us. It wouldn't be fair otherwise." He thought about it shortly. "It would be best if one of you checks this Avery. I hate doing something without Scott and Cat knowing it, but in this case we have to."
"I feel you're worried. We have to take care."
"What do you mean with 'checking'?", Marie asked. "Spying at someone sounds more like a job for someone like Mystique."
"A few harmless conversations would be enough. Just to make sure that we're wrong. That he isn't dangerous. Would you do it, Ororo? We know where he's working, after all. Think of some reason to visit him. Have diner with him."
"You should do it, Jean", Storm mentioned uneasily. "With your mental powers..."
"...I'd be prejudiced, even if I'd just feel his obvious rage on Scott", she contradicted her. "Really, it's better if you go. Come on!"
"That isn't a punishment, is it?", Rogue grinned. "That guy's really sweet."
"Arrogant is the better word", Logan growled. "I also think we should watch him. If he has to do anything with Magneto, then we must know."
Ororo sighed deeply. "If it's so important to you- okay." She left too, some pupils had asked her to give them extra lessons.
"She's changed", Rogue remarked.
"Quite a bit", Jean nodded. "I never thought this was possible, but our new mysterious friend seems to interest her. It's good for her if she gets out of the house for a few evenings."
"Are you sure?", Logan asked, doubting. "Even if our ice empress finally makes it to leave this depression and gives men another chance... Millions people in New York, and she chooses just the one who's always in danger to catch a laser ray from Scott. Great job."
"Your sense of tact is unbelievable." She rolled her eyes. "Let's try to be happy for her. If she and Ave possibly come together, then that could even finish this war between Scott and him."
"Yeah, and there, just outside this window, a pig might be flying", he murmured.
"The communicator is not a peeper." Mystique angrily sat down on Avery's kitchen table. "What's up?"
"Pay me the flying license and buy me a helicopter then I can visit you on your island anytime", he answered dryly. "I want to do my report."
"Do it on the way. Now that you have time you can come with me on the mission", she decided.
"I'll test a new weapon that Magneto has finished today. We have to search for fitting targets. You know much about street gangs, you surely can tell me where to find the trash of this city."
"Of course I can." He lifted a loose blank in the floor and got out a bag, went to his bedroom. "I'm just going changing."
"Don't waste time. I'll turn around if you want me to", she mentioned irritated. "I don't mind seeing you without clothes."
"But I do, sweetie. Perhaps I'd get into trouble with your boss and lover then. Besides..." He took a short look over his shoulder. "...you can't tell me that you never imagined how I'd look naked."
Until she could think of an appropriate answer, he was gone. "Ass", she murmured. Apparently she had seized him once too much. From now on she had to take care where to direct her eyes. Of course she didn't want anything from him, that was bullshit, but better being careful.
At least he was finished really fast. Mystique couldn't help but laugh when he returned. "My god! Welcome to the 20th century, Avery!"
He wore tight black trousers with long silver boots. Instead of a top there were just three silver stripes placed diagonal over his chest. The long cape nearly reached the floor. The elegant mask was made of pure silver too.
"'Liquidator', not Avery. Something that most villains nowadays have forgotten is distracting people with an striking costume from your face. If I walk down the street like this, five minutes later no normal citizen who's seen me, can remember, how big I am or what's the color of my hair. You think I like wearing that? Let's leave. I'm looking forward to see your next plan fail..."
"Laugh while you can. If this weapon works we'll be able to turn all the people in New York into mutants in a few days. Then, in half a year, we can do that with all mankind." She looked quite proud.
"Yeah, of course." That was his only comment when they climbed the stairs to the roof.
His ignorance annoyed her, but Magneto liked this boy, she knew that. So she kept on controlling her temperament. "You wanna know how to fly? Get inside." She pointed at the helicopter's pilot's seat demonstratively. "That's not too difficult. And then tell me what happened yesterday."
About that time Scott and Cat did their motorcycle tour they had missed the day before. The destination was the center of New York.
'Private driving lesson' Scott had mentioned, but Flash soon realized that they weren't just driving accidentally through the streets. They were going right to the Bronx. "I don't like this", she admitted, seeing all the slums. "What are we doing here?"
"Refreshing some memories. You always wanted to get to know my family, didn't you?" He had never sounded that bitter. "I wanna see if some of my friends are still living here. Perhaps one of them can tell my about Avery's time after the accident happened."
"I thought you wanted to forget about him?" It wasn't a question.
"It's too late for that. I have to see for myself if he's threat or not. Perhaps I'm really worrying for nothing. But honestly, sugar- I don't believe it. Turn left. Oh, and no matter what hap
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