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Secret Weapons [PG-13]

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  • Andraste
    Disclaimer: They don t belong to me, but to Marvel and Fox. Rating: No more violent than X2, really, although rather darker in tone. PG-13 for some bad words.
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 16, 2003
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      Disclaimer: They don't belong to me, but to Marvel and Fox.

      Rating: No more violent than X2, really, although rather darker in tone.
      PG-13 for some bad words.

      Summary: Charles Xavier will do whatever is necessary to protect his home
      and family. An AU opening to X2.

      Author's Notes: This was written for Minisinoo's powerswap challenge; the
      details and
      other responses can be found at
      http://www.themedicinewheel.net/shorts/powerswap_challenge.html. I may or
      may not have broken the rules, depending on how you look at things.

      There are many comicverse allusions here, but there are notes at the end for
      those who may get confused.

      Many thanks to Kernezelda and Dr. Tristessa for the swift and helpful
      betaing, especially when it came to weeding out the Australianisms.

      Feedback gratefully accepted at andraste@... or on list if you
      prefer.

      Secret Weapons

      By Andraste

      "They will come for us soon," Ororo said, setting her cup down gently.

      Her words were spoken calmly, but they sent a chill through Charles Xaiver
      even in the familiar surroundings of his office. He wondered if they were a
      prophecy - sometimes even he couldn't tell - but she didn't elaborate. He
      had to assume that she was only speculating.

      "I had no idea that the registration act would pass so quickly," he said,
      shaking his head.

      He wondered how he had misread the mood in Washington so badly. Charles had
      never entered the mind of a politician deliberately to see how they would
      vote, let alone to change their opinion, but he was seldom far wrong. Even
      after what Erik did, he was surprised that they hadn't been more cautious.
      Mutant registration was the kind of policy that was popular in theory, but
      difficult to introduce in practice. He has expected more debate about the
      logistics of the program, at the very least. More chances to do something
      about it.

      "Do you have any idea what happens next?"

      Ororo tilted her head to one side, considering. She couldn't force the
      visions, but even her guesses were correct more often than not. "You know
      they will not be able to hold Erik and Raven forever."

      Charles sighed. Of course she was correct. It was more than the night wind
      racing through the trees that had made him think of Erik tonight. In light
      of recent developments, perhaps he should visit the underground prison; but
      what would he say? He could only tell the man that he was right, and that
      would bring him no comfort.

      Or, he could set his former allies free. Together, Erik and Raven were a
      powerful combination. When they had all worked together, the three of them
      had been almost literally unstoppable ... but it was too soon to consider
      anything so drastic. The wolves were not yet at the door.

      Xavier was trying to frame a polite way to press Ororo about the question of
      timescale, when she dropped her cup and saucer. The heirloom china shattered
      and sprayed across the office floor, and he knew something was badly wrong
      before she spoke.

      "They're coming," she said, and Charles was on his feet and moving toward
      the door in an instant. "I don't know how I didn't ..." she looked
      surprised, and on Oracle the expression alone was enough to instill fear.

      "How soon, and how many?"

      And that was when he heard the first of the helicopters. Xavier reached out
      with his powers to search for the minds he should have sensed long before,
      already suspecting what he discovered: nothing at all. They had found a way
      to block his telepathy, which meant that Siren's powers would be useless as
      well.

      Which meant that Erik or Raven had told them about him.

      There was no time to think about that. No time to do anything but run, and
      think later. He allowed himself a second of regret for his childhood home,
      and then let it go.

      "I am sorry, Charles. I should have seen this before."

      He shook his head, knowing that Ororo wouldn't see the gesture. "This is
      hardly your fault - you can't know everything. At least you warned us that
      there would be an attack one day."

      With that, he reached out telepathically into the minds of every student and
      staff member in the school, waking those who were asleep as gently as
      possible. /The school is currently under attack. I want you all to remain
      calm and follow the evacuation procedure as we've practiced it./

      Next he searched for Jean and Scott specifically. /Siren, Aegis,/ he sent,
      /now isn't the time for heroics. I want both of you to get out with the stud
      ents while you can./ For a moment, he considered contacting Logan as well,
      but there was little hope that the man would listen to him.

      He could already feel the panic rising among the minds contained within the
      school, but at least they had been drilled on how to get out and to the safe
      houses. "Ororo," he said, "Go and calm down the younger girls. Then leave
      with them. We'll meet at the rendezvous point tomorrow."

      "Charles, wait ..."

      He turned to see her standing framed in the light suddenly streaming in
      through the window, a rare expression of uncertainty on her face. "Yes?"

      "They didn't come here for us. They will take what they are looking for if
      you do not let them out."

      He hoped, for a moment, that she was speaking of the captured Brotherhood
      members, but knew already that it wasn't that. Charles shouldn't have been
      surprised - of course she must have known his secret from the beginning.
      Ororo always saw more with her blank white eyes than she let on.

      "You're certain? If they have Cerebro, then they must want me to use it."
      There were ways to permanently deprive them of his talents, if necessary.

      She shook her head. "They have Jason, I think. The vision is unclear."

      "Is he here tonight?"

      "No."

      It was only then that Xavier began to feel truly afraid. If Stryker - and
      surely it had to be Stryker - had found a way to harness his son's powers to
      his cause, then the passing of the mutant registration act was suddenly far
      more comprehensible. A telepath could encourage any number of Congressmen to
      change their votes. A telepath could make Erik talk, given time. A telepath
      could force Raven to help them construct helmets to block telepathy. Or a
      partial copy of Cerebro.

      A telepath and telekinetic of Jason's caliber working against them was an
      enemy so dangerous that Charles might *have* to use all his resources in
      order to keep his children safe. If he wasn't here tonight, Stryker had
      other plans for him. If the general got hold of Cerebro, and if he had a
      telepath to use it, then there was no limit to the damage he might cause.

      "Do as I said," he told Ororo softly. "Take the girls, and go. I will do
      what I must."

      She nodded, but paused to squeeze his shoulder on the way out, her hand
      finding him easily in spite of her blindness. "Good luck, Charles."

      Oracle hadn't seen how it would end.

      After she had gone, he stood for a long minute - too long - trying to come
      to a decision. But of course they couldn't leave him alone to think in
      peace.

      "Do you think Erik told them about us?" Cassandra inquired, feigning
      indifference. Or perhaps it was genuine - it was always hard to tell what
      Cassandra cared about.

      Cain, always a step behind her, shrugged. "Way I see it, don't matter if he
      did. No way to block *my* powers."

      "I can't trust you," Charles objected, but it was a token resistance. He
      already knew what had to be done.

      "I might not like you, Chuck, but you know I'll protect the kids if you'll
      let me."

      "And you, Cassandra?"

      She smiled at him, showing far too many teeth. "I will protect *us*.
      Besides, it might be fun - I haven't stretched my legs in *much* too long."

      He could see dozens of soldiers - from trucks as well as helicopters,
      probably - on the lawn outside already. There was no other way of adequately
      defending the mansion. Ororo had foreseen everything too late. Neither
      Siren's powers nor his own would work through whatever was blocking psychic
      interference. Of the other adults here at the mansion, Aegis could only be
      certain of protecting himself, and Logan would try to fight and probably
      die. Against so many, what chance did even a man of his talents have?

      He was going to have to take the risk.

      For the first time in years, Charles Xavier closed his eyes and simply ...
      let go.

      ***

      In one sense, the evacuation of the mansion went off without a hitch. By the
      time the attackers had surrounded the place, most of the school had already
      fled to the tunnels.

      Aegis had already checked the boys' dorms and made sure that all the kids -
      even the ones who wanted to stay and fight - were gone and OK before he
      headed up to the professor's office. He trusted Oracle and the older
      students to get the smaller children out and make sure they were safe, but
      his own place was here, whatever the professor might say. Few weapons could
      hurt him if he kept his shield at full strength, and although they might
      have gas he hadn't seen any evidence of it so far.

      His top priority now was to get Xavier out of the way. Siren had told him
      that her powers didn't work through the helmets, and that meant telepathy
      would be equally useless. He'd had no luck convincing Jean to leave the
      defence of the house to those better able to deal with this threat, but
      maybe the professor at least would listen to reason.

      Scott's first thought when he opened the office door and saw the figure
      standing by the window was 'why would Jean want to possess the Professor?'

      Maybe it wouldn't have been so obvious if he hadn't spent ten years watching
      Siren do her stuff, but as it was, he could always tell, especially when the
      target was a man. Women carried themselves differently, and that caused a
      noticeable effect on men when they were mentally controlled by a woman. The
      change in the professor's stance wasn't even subtle. By the time he
      remembered that Jean *couldn't* take control of the professor, the
      impression had already become a certainty.

      "Ah, Scott Summers." The pitch of the voice confirmed his instinct. "I don't
      believe we've been properly introduced."

      The bottom dropped out of Scott's stomach. Not Xavier. Not Jean. Not anyone
      he knew. If the enemy attacking them had someone like Siren, but more
      powerful, or a telepath strong enough to take over the professor himself,
      they were screwed.

      "Who the fuck are you?"

      "Let's say that I'm an old friend of Charles - a sort of guardian angel, if
      you will. You may call me Cassandra."

      "Another telepath?" Scott's fear was complicated by confusion. Why would
      someone Charles knew do something like this to him now, of all times?

      "Oh, no - Charles is the telepath. I have ... other talents." She strolled
      toward him until she was right up against the forcefield. It crackled in
      response to her solid presence. "You truly have the most astonishing blue
      eyes I've ever seen. And such lovely cheekbones. I've always wanted to tell
      you that," she purred.

      He was even more disconcerted when she ran a finger over the contour of his
      face, as close as anyone could come to touching him. "Such a pity you're the
      veritable boy in the bubble."

      Shaken as he was, Scott wasn't going to panic. His power had its benefits,
      and one of them was that he almost never had to worry about getting hurt.

      "Listen, I don't know who you are, or what you're doing in the professor's
      head, but you need to get *out*. In case you haven't noticed, we're under
      attack."

      'Cassandra' glanced down at the garden where three helicopters had landed,
      head tilted at an angle that looked all wrong on the familiar body. "So I
      see. Perhaps I might be of some assistance?"

      Scott had no idea what to say to that ... but for all he knew, this woman
      actually *was* some old friend of Xavier's. She hadn't attacked him yet,
      after all. "If you're here to help, then do it."

      Cassandra smiled. It was the most frightening thing Scott had seen all
      night - worse than the helicopters, the black-clad figures come to take away
      his adopted family, or the professor's body without the professor inside.

      "Alright. But only because you asked nicely."

      She actually *winked*. He regretted encouraging her even before he saw what
      she was going to do.

      Then the first helicopter exploded.

      ***

      Siren ran up the stairs with a growing sense of frustration. The comms were
      useless - no doubt the soldiers had a blocking device for those as well as
      her powers. She'd seen Ororo and most of the kids leave, but was annoyed as
      much as frightened when the seer told her that Charles Xavier had decided to
      stay behind. Her own abilities weren't of any more use right now, but she
      was field leader. Fighting off their attackers wasn't her mentor's job.

      She only prayed that none of the kids had followed his example - some of the
      older ones might have it in their heads to stay behind and help, although if
      John had used his brains he could have run halfway across the country by
      now.

      Jean hoped that Rogue was smart enough to drag Bobby away, at least. If he
      lost control at a bad moment, his chaos-inducing powers could hurt his
      allies as easily as his enemies. Jean doubted that the girl would be eager
      to use her own optic blasts against another human being any time soon.

      If necessary, Siren would be willing to turn her powers on them and force
      them to leave. It was a constant temptation to use them even against her own
      team when they did something dangerous or stupid, but one she usually
      resisted. Tonight she would be willing to make exceptions.

      Jean jumped and instinctively reached out with her mental 'fingers' as a
      soldier rounded the corner in front of her. She found a familiar mind inside
      the uniform even as the figure blurred, shifted and resolved itself into
      Logan.

      "You need to get clear," he said gruffly, brandishing the gun he'd acquired,
      no doubt by killing its original owner.

      "Not until I'm sure that everyone else is out."

      "Not much you can do without powers, Jeannie."

      She frowned at the nickname - it was hardly an appropriate form of address
      to the person in charge. "I can check up on the professor and maybe knock
      some sense into him. He's the one you need to worry about."

      Logan shrugged and hefted the gun, shifting from his natural blue scales
      back into the form of a soldier and training his weapon on her. "Lead on. If
      we run into any hostiles, you're my prisoner."

      They made their way to the professor's office cautiously at first, but when
      they heard the first explosion they both broke into a run without any
      consultation.

      When they arrived, Aegis was already with the professor, but her second in
      command was backing away in fear, something she'd never seen Scott do
      before. Even as she drew to a halt, trying to read the situation, there was
      another explosion - and she saw through the window that it was one of the
      helicopters on the front lawn.

      "Siren!" Scott shouted, "that thing is *not* the professor."

      Even as he said it, she saw the evidence for herself. The way Xavier was
      standing was all wrong. The smile on the face that turned toward her was
      nothing like the one she knew. Jean's first assumption was that their
      attackers were assaulting the mansion psychically - but then, who was
      blowing up their helicopters?

      "Ah," said the person who wasn't the professor. "Dr. Jean Grey and the
      mysterious Mr. Logan. I'm delighted to finally meet both of you." Female.
      Jean ran through her short mental list of telepaths without thinking of a
      single person it might be.

      "What have you done with Xavier?" Logan demanded in his strange polyphonic
      voice, moving back into his own shape and advancing with the gun pointed
      aggressively. The only reason he hadn't fired it already was concern for the
      professor, Jean knew, but that would only go so far.

      "Logan, stand down," she ordered him. "Now, what's going on here?"

      She'd addressed the inquiry to Scott, but it was the thing inhabiting the
      professor that answered. "I'm Cassandra," she said, "and I'm here to help
      you."

      "By killing dozens of people?!" Scott said. "Xavier would never do anything
      like that!"

      "Exactly, dear boy. That's why *I'm* here to do it for him."

      "I don't care who you are, or what kind of 'help' you're offering," Jean
      said. "Get out of his head *now* before I make you get out." She didn't know
      if she could actually deliver on the threat, but she was more than willing
      to try.

      "If only that were possible. But no, I'm afraid that I'm stuck in here."

      Jean should have known better than to take her eyes of Logan for more than a
      second, so she blamed herself for not watching him when he moved in to
      attack their mysterious visitor. It would have been a non-lethal assault -
      at least he'd dropped the gun when she asked - but Cassandra didn't seem to
      take it well. Jean couldn't stop herself from screaming as Logan's fists
      burst into flames halfway through a punch. The normally stoic mutant
      screamed along with her.

      "That was very stupid," said Cassandra conversationally.

      Siren didn't waste any more time giving the entity another chance to
      attack - she reached out with her powers, hoping not to run into the glassy
      barrier that normally surrounded the professor's mind. It was a shock to
      meet no resistance at all, but at first a welcome one when she tried to take
      hold of the unfamiliar mind. Yet even as she did, her grasp slipped in a way
      that felt nothing like the usual sensation of someone breaking her hold.

      "Ah, that's better." Still not the professor's voice, but not whoever had
      just set Logan on fire. Surely that had to be an improvement?

      The flames flickering around Logan's hands put themselves out suddenly, and
      Jean's medical instincts kicked in. "Logan, we need to get you to the med
      lab right away."

      She went over to him, checking the damage. The air reeked of burning flesh,
      but it didn't smell quite ... human. Logan's physiology was bizarre enough
      to explain the difference.

      "I'm OK," he gasped, miraculously still on his feet. The pain probably
      hadn't really kicked in yet.

      "Like hell you are," she said.

      "Uh, Siren?" Aegis asked, in a tone that would have been humorous in another
      situation. "What about ... him?"

      The new thing in the professor's body was ... taking off his jacket and tie.
      "Thanks, babe, I needed the help." The voice coming out of Xavier's mouth no
      longer had a woman's pitch, but now it had misplaced his English accent.

      "What *are* you?" Scott asked, a heartbeat before Jean could inquire
      herself.

      "I'm Cain. I'm here to help."

      "That's what the other one said, before she attacked Logan." Jean wasn't
      going to make the mistake of trusting whatever this was, but nor did it seem
      like a good idea to try her powers again before she knew what their likely
      results would be.

      "That crazy bitch just likes to set stuff on fire - and believe me, I'd
      know. I'm not like her. I might not be Chuck's biggest fan, but this is my
      home too."

      "You ... you've been here before?" Jean could hardly believe what she was
      thinking - she certainly couldn't articulate it.

      "Always been here, sweetheart." He was *grinning* at her. "Known you since
      you were a kid, even if you didn't know me. Nice to finally talk to you
      after all this time. Chuck wouldn't let me so much as say hello before."

      "Aegis," she said, not knowing what else to do, "we need to get Logan down
      to the med lab immediately - he's tougher than most, but those burns need
      attention right now."

      "What we need," Logan said, with visible effort, "is to get rid of whatever
      the fuck this thing is, and then the black ops guys. They could be in here
      any second."

      "If they were coming, they'd have come already," Cain said. "They're not
      really after us. Now they know we can defend the place they'll go for what's
      in the basement as fast as possible."

      "If you ask me," Logan said, "you know too much about their plans to be
      their enemy."

      Cain rolled his eyes. "Yeah, like I'd be standing here yapping if I wanted
      to hurt you."

      The next moment, Logan was lifted into the air by some unseen force. "Hey!"
      he shouted, kicking and struggling. Then, abruptly, he went still.

      "What did you do to him?" Aegis asked, moving forward in a way that meant he
      was planning an attack. Siren didn't know whether to order him to stop or
      not.

      "Sorry," said Cain, "just gave him knock on the head with my powers - he'll
      be easier to move this way. Not to mention less annoying."

      "You're a telekinetic," Scott said quietly, backing off a little. "Like
      Jason Stryker."

      He nodded. "Between us, we've got all he has and a little bit extra. Too bad
      the extra has to be controlled by a nutball, but what can you do?"

      "The question is, are you any more stable?" Jean considered her options, but
      there weren't many. They could try to get out, take Logan to a hospital ...
      but hospitals had bad attitudes toward blue people. She didn't have adequate
      supplies up here to treat him. The longer they stood here talking, the more
      urgent the need to move became.

      Cain grinned at her again. "Don't know if I'd say I was stable - I've got a
      temper, and I'm not afraid to use my power like Chuck. But I was a real
      person once, not like Cassie. That helps a lot."

      The lower levels would be full of soldiers by now, assuming Cain knew what
      he was talking about. Assuming he was telling the truth. They had to get
      Logan down there anyway.

      "So, are we going to get out of here and get rid of these assholes or what?"
      Cain inquired.

      Siren glanced at Aegis, but it didn't look like he had any helpful
      suggestions.

      ***

      "What did you mean, when you said you were a real person?"

      Now wasn't the time to be asking questions, Scott knew, but he might never
      get another chance if this manifestation disappeared like the other one had.
      Jean had gone ahead of them in the elevator to scout while he remained
      behind with the unconscious Logan, who was still disconcertingly suspended
      in midair. And ... Cain. He hadn't liked letting her go alone, but then, if
      their new friend turned on them he was probably better able to protect
      himself.

      "I mean, I was alive - had my own body. Used to be Chuck's step-brother.
      Still am, I guess."

      "You mean you ... live in there, now?" He glanced at Cain, who was rocking
      back and forward on his heels restlessly. The elevator was taking too long.
      If they ever got the professor back, he'd make him install stairs down to
      the subbasement.

      "For most of our lives, yeah. He never told you how his powers manifested,
      did he?"

      Scott hesitated. There was no reason to believe this thing was telling the
      truth, except that he usually had a pretty good sense for when a kid was
      lying to him. He got the feeling that Cain wasn't nearly as old as the body
      he was currently controlling.

      "He told us that his mother died, but that's about it. He never wanted to
      talk about exactly what happened."

      Cain looked straight at him, and smiled in a way that had nothing to do with
      being happy, or even amused. "I'll bet."

      The elevator finally arrived, with a cheerful electronic beep that seemed
      incongruous in the silence. They were inside and on their way down before
      Cain started again.

      "First off, he was only ten at the time. Too young to have his powers.
      Second, my old man - his stepdad - shoved Chuck's mom down the stairs."

      Scott closed his eyes for a moment. It was all starting to make too much
      sense. "What then?"

      "Chuck ... I'm not the right guy to explain it. His mind broke, I guess, and
      Cassandra came out. First thing she did was set my dad and me on fire."

      After seeing her performance with Logan, he didn't have trouble believing
      that. "Why you?"

      "Cassandra's thing is to protect Chuck, even when he doesn't want the help.
      We'd ... I hadn't been the best big brother in the world. Still, I don't
      think I deserved that." He said it so matter-of-factly that Scott had to
      assume that the casualness was fake. "Besides, she *enjoys* doing stuff like
      that."

      The elevator stopped, and they got out into an empty corridor. Scott turned
      and punched into the panel the code that would lock the elevator in place.
      Electronics did have their advantages. It looked as if Jean had gone ahead
      to prep the lab for Logan. Or, he hoped that was where she was. He had to
      assume that some of the soldiers were down here, since it was much too quiet
      in the mansion above. Cain had been right so far.

      "Anyway, I was dying," Cain continued. "But Chuck was sorry about that - I
      don't think anyone cared about my dad, know I sure didn't - and he kinda
      sucked me in with his telepathy. I've been here ever since."

      A lot of little things started to come clear. Xavier's insistence on coming
      along on too many field missions, even though he had no offensive or
      defensive capabilities in the traditional sense. His uncanny way of not
      getting hurt on those missions.

      They both froze for an instant when they heard the sounds; apparently at
      least one squad *had* found the elevator ahead of them. He just prayed that
      Jean had been smart enough to take the left turn away from the noise and
      toward the lab.

      Aegis was going to take the right turn.

      "Can you take Logan to Jean?" he whispered. It was an appalling risk to
      take, but so far Cain's story checked out.

      "Sure," the other man said, shrugging in a way that moved Xavier's shoulders
      as Scott had never seen them move. "I'll be back in a second." He realised
      that he'd forgotten to ask if Cain knew his way around, but apparently that
      wasn't a problem.

      Aegis turned the corner, and felt almost relieved when he saw the group of
      men in black converging on the door to Cerebro. It was good to find
      something he could actually *deal* with.

      He threw himself down the corridor with a sense of ... not happiness, but
      satisfaction. In battle, he was safe and, as a result, completely fearless.
      He could do what he had to do. Some of the men were dumb enough to raise
      their guns against him, but their CO - was that Stryker himself? - shouted
      at them to stop.

      Not that avoiding the complication of ricocheting bullets would do them any
      good. Scott's forcefield didn't just protect him, it made his own blows
      harder, and he had the training to use the reinforced strength well. He
      punched the first one and watched him fall, then kicked the feet of another
      out from under him. The rest crowded against his shield, but none of them
      could get closer than a couple of inches. This would be easier than he'd
      thought.

      Aegis heard the first snap but didn't think much of it until he saw one man
      drop, then another, then another. He froze, watching as they dropped like
      stones all around his feet, their necks twisted at impossible angles. Within
      sixty seconds, all of them lay still.

      Cain was standing at the end of the passageway. Scott felt a sense of
      unreality settle over him. Intellectually, he knew that there were all kinds
      of mutants who could do what Cain had just done. The professor's telepathy
      could have accomplished the same result, or Lensherr's lightning if he used
      it the right way.

      He'd just never seen anything like it.

      "What do you think you're doing?" he asked flatly. He was somewhere past
      shock.

      "Making sure they never come back," Cain said.

      "I thought you were meant to be the sane one. This is *not* how we do things
      around here. It's not how Xavier does things."

      "Why do you think I'm here?" Cain said in a sickeningly reasonable tone, the
      familiar voice making it that much worse.

      That was the thought Scott had been trying to push away all night. "He *let
      you out*?"

      "Cassandra and I exist to do what Chuck can't do - and I don't just mean
      handling the extra powers." The corridor was eerily quiet, the smell of dead
      bodies replacing the sounds of live human beings. "Now, are you going to
      come with me and help get rid of the rest, or stay down here with the doctor
      lady?"

      He followed Cain around, and watched him ... clean up. It was all that Scott
      could do.

      ***

      "Professor?"

      Charles opened his eyes to find Jean looking at him with a mixture of
      concern and fear. Something inside him curled up and died. It would be so
      easy to just release them again, to flee the consequences of his actions.

      "Are you OK? We thought it would be better to put you down here until ..."
      Her voice trailed off. They were inside the Cerebro chamber, which was
      proofed against psychic interference from outside. The walls would also
      prevent him from using his own telepathy on anyone outside, unless he put
      the helmet on.

      Charles wondered if they had disabled it properly.

      "I am as well as can be expected. How many did they ... what did they do?"

      "They killed almost all the soldiers," said Scott, his voice empty of any
      emotion, "and one of them set Logan on fire. I think Stryker's dead, too."

      Charles closed his eyes, telling himself that he could feel guilty later.
      "Will Logan be all right? Is everyone else safe?"

      "Logan will be fine, eventually. We called Ororo at the safe house," Jean
      said, "and all the kids made it there except John. Somehow I doubt he's in
      government custody. We need to decide whether or not to move them back
      here."

      "We need to decide a lot of things," Scott added. He looked pale and shaken,
      all boyishness stripped from him by the night's revelations. Charles didn't
      want to look inside his thoughts to find out just how bad the damage was.
      "And talk about why you didn't happen to mention your extra powers some time
      during the last ten years. Or why you've got two extra people living in your
      head."

      "Dissociative Identity Disorder," Jean added, still a doctor even in moments
      like this.

      "I don't expect you to forgive me," Charles said, "but surely you can see
      why I kept them a secret? If you find it impossible to trust me now, how
      could you have trusted me in the beginning if you had known the truth?"

      "It isn't that," Jean said. "It's that you didn't trust *us* to do our jobs.
      I'm not useless just because my powers don't work, and Scott and Logan
      between them could have taken care of the situation. You only made things
      worse."

      "How do we know you've managed to put them back in the box? Cain left
      voluntarily, but what's to stop him coming back? What's to stop him killing
      again?" Scott asked.

      Cain hadn't gone anywhere, and nor had Cassandra. Charles doubted pointing
      that out to Scott would help.

      "We can talk about this in the morning," Jean said, in the voice that meant
      she expected to be listened to. "Do you think we're safe here for the
      moment? I don't want to move Logan if it's not absolutely necessary." Her
      tone was far from friendly, but her pragmatism would keep her from any
      radical suggestions before she'd had a chance to think over the options.

      "For now, I don't think they'll come after us. You should go and keep an eye
      on Logan while we ... I would like to be alone."

      Jean simply nodded grimly and left, while Scott stared at him for a long
      moment with cold blue eyes before following. Not for the first time, he
      wished he could touch the younger man in reassurance. They shut the door
      behind them.

      Once they were gone, of course, Cain and Cassandra came creeping back into
      the front of his mind. Charles dangled his legs over the end of the walkway
      and tried to ignore them.

      "See? I told you I'd look after them. Cerebro's safe, the kids are OK, and
      we beat the bad guys."

      "That won't stop them coming back, Cain," Charles said, appalled at his
      stepbrother's cheerful demeanor. Even Stryker's death wouldn't make any
      difference now. They had proven themselves monsters.

      "I hope they visit us soon," Cassandra said. "It was *so* nice to get out
      again."

      Charles said nothing, silently wishing that he could be truly alone.

      The End

      *Notes*

      Charles Xavier = Legion. Has his son's powers - not just telepathy, but
      pyrokinesis and telekinesis as well - but also the Dissociative Identity
      Disorder (or Multiple Personality Disorder, if you prefer) that goes with
      them.

      Erik Lensherr = Storm.

      Raven Darkholme = Magneto.

      Scott Summers = Cecelia Reyes, but he can't turn off the forcefield due to
      his brain damage. (If you're wondering how he eats and breathes, and other
      science facts, just repeat to yourself 'it's just a fic, I should really
      just relax.' Seriously, though: I'm assuming liquids and gasses can pass
      through the shield, since he hasn't suffocated or starved to death.)

      Jean Grey = Karma. I changed her codename because Siren is a better name for
      a woman with coercive abilities. Karma never made much sense to me as a
      name. Apologies for any confusion caused; I hope I managed to separate her
      from Banshee's daughter Siryn clearly enough in the final version.

      Ororo Munroe = Destiny. Precognition and attendant loss of sight.

      Logan = Mystique.

      Marie = Cyclops. And yes, she did blow David's head clean off when she
      manifested.

      John Allerdyce = Quicksilver's super speed.

      Bobby Drake = Scarlet Witch's chaos-inducing hex powers.

      Jason Stryker = Jean Grey.

      *****

      I may not have a quote, but I do have a home page:

      http://www.users.bigpond.com/storysmith/index.html

      Or, to get my stories as soon as they come out, try the Southern Stars
      mailing list, for the writings of a whole variety of Australian comic
      fanficcers:

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