X-Men Evolution NEXT

Different

The holidays approach like any other in Bayville. The streets bustle with hurrying shoppers as the weather whitens the ground around them in a soft blanket of snow. But even as Christmas passed, the streets are still stampeded by the same shoppers looking for those after holiday sales. Most of the students at the Xavier Institute had decided to stay around for the holidays and are now one the many faces bustling through the busy streets. Trying to keep up with Jean, Scott squeezes his way through another couple. He holds three shopping bags in each hand as he looks up trying to spot his red headed girlfriend. He calls out, "Hey, Jean, slow it down."

Jean stops and turns to him saying, "Oh sorry Scott. Did you want to get something?"

Looking down at his tiring hands, Scott replies, "May be next time. I don't think I have the space for any more cargo."

She giggles and ushers him to the side away from the moving crowd. Scott finds a clear spot to place the bags down and starts to adjust his coat. Jean smiles at him and says, "You know, Scott, if you wanted to snow board with the other guys, it would have been ok. You didn't have to accompany me and the girls."

Clearing his throat, Scott replies, "I'm alright with this, Jean, really. I'm having… um … fun."

Jean gives him a smiling smirk and adds, "I'm sure." She starts to glance around and mentions, "Speaking of the girls, where did they go?"

A few shops back, Kitty, Elizabeth, Tabitha and Allison gaze into a shop window. Their eyes sparkle as they look at the variety of shoes on sale through the window. Across the street, Rogue, Wanda, Amara, and Jubilee wait in line at a coffee shop. Rubbing her hands together, Wanda remarks, "You know, I can't remember the last time I trudged through snow just to catch some great sales deals. I really hate the cold."

Shivering a bit, Jubilee adds, "Tell me about it, I think the others go numb from the brain down when they hear the word 'sale'."

"What about Jean, y'all," Rogue says, "that girl is a shoppin' machine."

Amara giggles and remarks, "It also helps to have a guy carry everything for you."

Wanda grins at Amara's remark and adds, "It must be nice having your own personal porter. I'm telling you guys, Jean's got Scott wrapped around her fingers."

Rogue shares her grin and rolls her eyes saying, "Girl, as long as Ah've known them, she's always had Scott wrapped around her fingers."

Jubilee grins and says, "Just like you with Allan, right?"

Taking a quick glance back at her, Rogue follows the long line as she takes a step up. responding to Jubilee's remark, Rogue states, "Ah don't have Allan wrapped around my finger."

Wanda rolls her eyes and says, "Oh please Rogue. The guy will do anything for you."

"He's so sweet," Amara adds, "he makes you breakfast almost every morning."

"Allan and Ah aren't linked at the hip." Rogue states, "He does his own thing, and so do Ah."

"Wish I had a guy who would be that sweet to me." Wanda remarks.

Giggling, Jubilee says to Wanda, "There's always Todd."

Wanda smirks at her and replies, "Uh, eww."

They all chuckle as they move up line to the counter. They stare up at the menu deciding their orders. They seem to be favoring the hot beverages in light of the cold weather outside. And the thought of a freshly baked pastry only makes them want to stay inside all the more. However their attention is torn from the blissful scent of sweet cinnamon buns and cheese cakes to the flamboyant entrance of Tabitha as she says to them, "There you guys go again, stuffing your faces."

A few of the coffee shop patrons stare t her with rude expressions. Tabitha just smirks at them and grins as she approaches her friends standing in line. She continues, "Do you all plan on spending half your cash on snacks, or we actually gonna do some shopping?"

Wanda speaks up, "All we've been doing so far is follow Jean and Scott around. I say we rest our feet and let them find us."

"I second that." Jubilee adds.

Up the street, in another café like eatery, Jean and Scott seat themselves by the window. They gaze out the wide view for the other girls then decide to order something to eat. They both order the lunch 'soup in a bread bowl' special as they sit back and relax. Scott asks her, "Do you think they ditched us?"

Jean blinks her eyes as she focuses her mind. With a grin, she looks at Scott and replies, "I guess you can say that. They're taking a break at that coffee shop down the street."

"Wow," Scott remarks, "your telepathy is really sharp. It used to take you a minute or two just to locate one person."

Jean blushes and replies, "The Professor has been helping me develop my abilities with these increased levels. Things are starting to feel easier, almost second nature like."

"Are you going to be at Allan's power level, do you think?" Scott inquires.

"I really don't know, Scott." Jean replies, "May be, I guess."

"Well," Scott adds, "why you all of a sudden? Why now?"

Jean smiles and says, "I asked Allan the same question. He asks the same question about himself. The only answers he gets and tells me, is that the universe is random in its' orderly chaotic way."

Scott chuckles, "That makes no sense."

Jean giggles and remarks, "It didn't make sense to me either at first. But now I think I understand what that means. Allan keeps telling me to be patient. I just can't help feel excited about it."

"I'm glad you feel optimistic about this," Scott says, "because I'll be honest, the whole thing makes me a little nervous."

"Relax, Scott," Jean reassures, "it's not like this change is happening over night."

Placing her coat down on her seat, Jean stands up saying, "I'll be a minute, have to use the restroom."

Jean casually walks to the back of the café where the restrooms are as Scott sits quietly looking out the window. Light snow flurries slowly drop to the ground while people to bustle about outside. Across the street, on a small park area, he sees a couple of kids having a snowball fight. An enjoyable sight, as the group of boys wrestle on the soft white terrain. Scott becomes lost in thought as he begins to think strategically. He thinks to himself, 'If the group of boys on the left would split their team in two and send a small unit around to the right of the group of the left, they would flank them easily ending that snowball fight quickly.'

Scott takes a deep breath and closes his eyes as he carefully removes his ruby quartz sunglasses. Being careful to keep his eyes shut, he rubs his face with his right hand then slowly puts his sunglasses back on. Scott thinks to himself again, 'I really have to learn to relax. Right now, I'm not a team leader, I'm just me.'

His thoughts are suddenly interrupted by the sound of a familiar soft voice, "Scott?"

He quickly turns his attention away from the window to look. Standing at the end of his table, a familiar young, brunette smiles at him with a surprised expression. Scott slightly smiles as he replies, "Uh, hi… Taryn."

"Wow," she adds, "I haven't seen you since before graduation. How is everything?"

Scott raises his eyebrows and says, "Good as can be, I guess. How have you been?"

Taryn shrugs her shoulder and replies, "Busy, you know, with college. I'm at NYU right now, but I'm thinking of transferring back to Bayville University. Are you with Jean today?"

"Yup, she's in the restroom right now." Scott answers, "She'll be out in a minute."

"I'm actually heading out," she says, "I have a few errands to run. Tell her I said hi, and we need to catch up some time."

Scott smiles and tells her, "Will do, Taryn."

The young brunette smiles, then casually walks to the café door. She turns too look at Scott with the same smile and waves just before walking out into the snowy weather. Sighing out with a smile, Scott sits back watching her cross the street. Just then Jean's voice catches his attention asking, "Was that Taryn?"

Scott turns to her as she sits and replies, "Sure was. She says hi by the way."

"I thought she didn't want to have anything to do with us anymore?" Jean inquires.

"Well," Scott adds, "people do change, Jean."

Jean smiles and looks out the window saying, "This day is full of surprises."

Leaping out of a red and white rescue helicopter, Allan, Alex and Evan drop onto the top of the snowy capped mountain top brandishing snow boards and begin to descend down the powdery steep. Swaying left and right, the trio hop, slide and spin down the snowy slope. Wide smiles and with the occasional 'WAHOO!' and "WHOA!' echo along with them. In a show of acrobatics they each execute dare devilish back flips and somersaults as they would slide off large hills of snow. They dive and speed by trees and other local skiers as they approach the leveling base of the ski slope. One by one, they each come to a sliding stop, kicking up arcs of powdery snow. Evan pulls off his ski goggles and hat with a big smile and states, "That was totally kickin' dude!"

"Yo, talk about total rush man!" Alex adds yanks off his ski cap.

Both Alex and Evan high five each other as Allan slides up to them on his snowboard. Gesturing to the mountain face they just snowboarded down, Allan remarks, "Like I said, if you can skateboard or surf, you handle a little grind down a mountain."

Evan cheers out, "Man Allan, I can't believe you actually got the rescue chopper to take us to the top!"

"I didn't think that kind of stuff was legal." Alex adds.

Allan shrugs his shoulders with a smile and replies, "They owed me a favor."

Reaching down to unclamp his boots from the snowboard, Allan chuckles, "Just don't tell Ororo and Scott what I let you guys do. Now let's go check on the other guys."

Standing amidst the gathered crowd, Piotr, Ray, Jamie, and Pietro watch a snow board stunt spectacle. It is a show of aerial acrobatics as snowboarders would slide and glide down a dug out half pipe in the hill. One by one, each young snow boarder would vault themselves into the air sliding off the steep embankment, twisting and turning their bodies in dramatic manners wowing the crowds, sometimes a few feet in front of them. One snowboarder glides nearby executing a 720 degree twist just before touching back down on the snowy slope. Pietro smirks at the stunt as he says, "Child's play. Let's see 'em do that under fire."

Ray looks at Pietro remarking, "Give these guys a break, they're doin' this for fun."

"Well, isn't that why we're all here?" Pietro asks.

Piotr smiles and says, "If you are so desperate for fun, then you should have gone with Allan to the mountain top like Evan and Alex did."

Pietro rolls his eyes at Piotr and says, "I came along to have fun, not break my neck. Evan and Alex are nuts to follow Allan up the mountain, the guy is freakin' indestructible. He's got nothing to worry about."

Jamie shrugs his shoulders and remarks, "I would've gone."

"Don't be a dork." Ray tells him, "You and your duplicates would've broken all the same bones."

Pietro and Piotr both chuckle at Ray's comment. Just then Allan shows up with Alex and Evan following. He speaks out to the four, "Hey guys, let's find the others and grab a bite to eat."

As the four make their way out of the crowd, Allan asks, "Where's Bobby, Lance and Todd?"

"I think they're hanging out by the ski lifts. " Pietro says as he points in the direction.

Allan glances over to the ski lifts and says, "Go get them and meet me at the lodge restaurant. I'm gonna grab my cash from the X-van."

They all collect themselves and start to regroup towards the restaurant. Allan trots his way to the gravel parking lot squeezing by gathered families and vacationers. All the way, he would notice quick glimpses and double takes from women. Every few steps he'd hear a giggle or two. Not out of the ordinary he thinks, but then he glances over toward the sound and see a group if girls staring at him as he walks by them. He catches a glimpse of himself in a shop window and thinks may be it's his attire they are giggling about. Allan's cosmic physiology protects him from severe elements and the necessity for him to wear the proper protective clothing no longer applies to him. He does however try to keep a low profile when it comes to domestic tasks, but just like any other human, he let's the simple things slip his mind. And as he looks at his reflection, and forgets he is only wearing a single olive green t-shirts with a black all weather vest over it. He sports a pair of loose jeans with skiing boots that clamp around the lower part and he chuckles to himself. As he approaches the X-van, he still catches the glimpses and cute smiles looking his direction. Allan returns their smiles and nods with a nervous expression. Opening the driver's side door, Allan reaches in for his new wallet. It fumbles out of his hand and falls to the floor board forcing him to bend over to grab it. As he leans in for his keys, he hears a loud catcalling whistle followed by hooting cheers from behind. Allan quickly stands back up and turns around to see a group of girls staring at him from the other side of the gravel parking lot. Acting innocently, Allan glances around to see if they are looking at someone else, but notices more passing smiles and glimpses. He then turns his attention back to the girl staring girls with a confused expression. One of the girls speaks up, " Find what you were looking for? We don't mind if you keep looking." as the other girls giggle a bit.

"I'm sorry, do we know each other?" Allan inquires.

One of the other girls speaks up replying, "Not yet."

Clearing his throat, Allan gently closes the van door and asks, "Alright, what's the gag?"

"No gag," another girl adds, "we just wanna know your name."

Allan slowly nods his head in response to her comment and says in a low tone, "Right."

But before another word is spoken, a stern voice speak over them saying, "Hey what gives?"

Glancing over to the girl's right side, Allan spots a group of preppy guys approach glaring at him. Each one dressed in nearly all name brand clothing, the guys step up to the girls as though claiming thier property. A some what brawny crue cut blonde guy squares off to Allan asking out, "I said, what gives. You flirting with these ladies?"

Allan sighs out, "It's the other way around 'Biff'," he says with sarcastic tone, "I was just leaving."

The blonde guy looks over at the X-van and remarks in a insulting tone, "Nice mini van."

The other preppy guys grin and chuckle at his comment as Allan glances at the van behind him. He returns their grins and says, "Thanks, I'm glad you guys like it. And I'm sure you fellas would like to see the inside of it, but I'm straight. But if your girlfriend there would like to see the inside of my, 'mini van', ..." as he winks at her.

The sandy blonde girl tries to conceal her smile from her now enraged boyfriend as the other girls try to quiet thier giggles. The blonde guy straightens his brand name ski coat and steps towards Allan stating, "You talk about her like that again, you'll be eating snow off the bottom of my boots."

Allan steps up staring up at the tall blonde and says, "I've had worse, so you're not impressing me. But then again, it's easy to talk tough when you have seven of your friends backing you up."

Angered by Allan's bold stance, the tall blonde reaches over to grab Allan's vest, but finds his forearm in the stern grip of Allan's right hand. With a surprised expression on his face, the blonde guy stares at Allan's grip, baffled at the blinding speed of his hand. Allan holds the blonde guy's brawny forearm firmly as he says in a harsh tone, "It be ashamed if I had to ruin your over priced outfit, so I'll make this simple. Your girl was flirting with me, got it? You gotta a problem with that, take it up with her, and get out of my face. And that goes for the rest of you." as he looks over at the rest of the group, "You either drop this, or you'll be eating the snow off the bottom of my 'mini van', cool?"

With a quick push, Allan releases his grip making the tall blonde guy stumble backwards into his silent friends. With out a word, the young preppy group shuffles away. Allan watches them walk in the opposite direction, then he catches the girls in the group each glancing back with cute smiles on thier faces. He rolls his eyes while shaking his head confused at the entire situation that had just transpired.

Emma watches from the mansion steps as Logan shreds what is left of the large Christmas tree. She takes a sip of coffee from her thermal mug to keep warm from the winter weather. Occasionally, Logan would look up at her with a somewhat sneering glare. Emma looks away, feeling uneasy when Logan stares her down. She hasn't probed his mind, but she can tell he doesn't trust her. She thinks to herself he has every right not to trust her. Emma's loyalties are now torn between the new people who have given her a second chance at righteousness, and the people she had worked so hard to earn their respect. The Hellfire Society had been relentless in their communications with her in the past few months, asking her key questions about the Xavier Institute. But asking more about Allan and his involvement. When she politely refuses, they simply call back a few days later, sometimes asking the same questions. Whenever someone at the Xavier Institute would ask her who she was speaking with, Emma would simply say it was her stock broker, giving her updates. She had boasted to Mystique what she would do if she had ever crossed paths Hellfire Society again. But now, Emma has learned talk is cheap, and action must be taken. Lost in her thoughts, Emma fails to notice the lumbering physique of Hank as she blindly paces into him. She bumps into his brawny furry shoulder forcing her to drop her thermal mug onto the partially snow covered steps. Hank gasps out, "Emma, my apologies."

She quickly reaches down picking up her mug and says, "No Hank, it was my fault. I wasn't watching where I was walking."

Hank adds, "I do, at times, forget that my body mass is much larger that it used to be. I should pay more attention to that fact."

"Honestly, Hank," Emma remarks, "no need to over analyze things. Just accept my apology."

Giving her a slight grin, Hank asks her, "Are… are you alright, Emma? You seem a little bit on edge."

Emma grins and smirks at his question replying, "I'm fine Hank. Now if you will excuse me, I need to clean up this mess."

Walking into the house, Emma struts her way to the kitchen. Hank stands baffled, scratching his head. Logan walks up the steps towards him and says, "She's lyin'."

Hank turns his head to Logan inquiring, "What?"

"Somethin's botherin' her." Logan adds as he folds his arms.

"What makes you say that, Logan?" Hank asks.

Clearing his throat, Logan says, "The way she moves, unsteady. Also, people smell different when they lie about somethin' that's really buggin' them."

Hank sighs out, "May be she is having family issues. In any case, it really would be none of our business."

Logan nods and adds, "May be, but if it's all the same, I'm gonna follow my instincts. I ain't turnin' my back to her for second."

"Suit yourself, my friend." Hank chuckles out, then looks out toward the driveway entrance.

Pulling into the estate, Jean's SUV slowly rolls towards the parking area with Allison's sports car following close behind. Loud music vibrates from both vehicles as the doors open. Loud cheerful chatters and bantering echo as the girls step out and slowly unload their shopping bags from the trunks. Hank smiles and sighs out again saying, "Well, it seems the house is going to full of activity again. Best be prepared for the property damage that will be soon to follow." as he pats Logan on his left shoulder.

Logan smiles and shakes his head while heading back to his chores.

Walking into their room, Rogue and Kitty carry in several shopping bags and place them each on their beds. They both start pulling out their new purchases, holding them up with satisfied grins. Rogue pulls out a couple of industrial rock CDs she had bought and looks at the back of the albums while Kitty lays out the two new pair of boot cut jeans she found on sale. Turning her CD player on, Rogue quickly puts in one of her news CDs and carefully closes the door to their room. The sounds of digital rhythmic drum beats and guitars blare from the player. Kitty looks at Rogue and asks out loudly, "Rogue, what gives? Turn that down."

Quickly scampering back to her shopping bags on her bed, Rogue grins and shushes Kitty as she pulls out another item. Rogue walks up to Kitty while glancing behind her then says, "Ah want to show you somethin', and want your opinion."

Kitty expression is a bit baffled, but then turns surprised as Rogue holds up her new purchase against her body. Kitty stares at the clothing item Rogue carefully shows her and remarks, "Wow, I can't believe you actually bought that."

Held up against her body, Rogue shows off a two piece dark red lace set of skimpy lingerie complete with garter and leggings. Kitty's face smiles wide as she adds, "You're going to look hot in that."

Rogue shushes her again while glancing back over her shoulder. Remarking in a low tone, Rogue mentions, "It's for Valentine's day. Ah know Allan's got somethin' big planned for me, but Ah also want to surprise him."

Kitty giggles and looks at the sexy outfits remarking, "Well, I'd say he'll be very, very surprised, no doubt."

Carefully taking the hanger with the outfit hanging from it, Kitty holds it up and staring at the near see through fabric. Grinning at Rogue, Kitty playfully asks, "And what else do you have planned?"

Rogue blushes a bit, then hears the echoing sounds of a car horn bowing out front. Both Kitty and Rogue move up to the window to see the X-van parked with the guys hoping out. Allan helps unload the many snowboards strapped to the roof of the van and hands them down to Alex and Evan. They all disperse to different parts of the mansion while Allan parks the X-van in the garage. Stepping out of the vehicle, he taps the loose snow off his snow boots then looks up to see Alex, Evan and Bobby approaching. Allan nods at them as they stroll into the garage. Bobby leans back on a couple of boxes and remarks, "Allan, you gotta tell us your secret, man."

Glancing at Bobby with a baffled expression, Allan asks, "What secret?"

Alex gives Allan smirking smile and says, "Oh come on dude, that cute waitress at the lodge restaurant was totally into you."

Evan adds, "True bro, she was asking you all kinds of stuff. Like where you were from, what you do for a living and your favorite color."

"Fellas," Allan replies, "she was just striking up friendly conversation, that's how she makes her tips."

Bobby speaks up quickly, "That's another thing, they didn't charge us for our lunches."

"More like, the cashier didn't charge Allan for the lunches. She was too busy checkin' him out" Evan says with a grin.

Allan chuckles out, "Guys, cut it out. It just pays to be nice once in a while. You should give it a shot some time. You'd be surprised what you can get for free if you're just nice to people."

Alex speaks up with a smile, "Allan, we were watching. The girls there couldn't take their eyes off you, dude. How do you make that happen? Inquiring minds have to know."

"Stop exaggerating, Alex," Allan remarks, "I wasn't doing anything. May be they all thought we were some popular band or something. But they weren't checking me out."

The three boys chuckle a bit then look out the garage door. Amara and Jubilee slowly walk by the front looking into the garage. They both wave and giggle, then scamper off quickly. Evan speaks up with a wide eyed smile, "You see? That's what we're talking about Allan."

Glancing out the garage entrance, then back at Evan, Allan says, "See what? They just waved at us, big deal."

Bobby grins and adds, "They waved at you, Allan."

"Guys, I'm with Rogue," Allan says with a stern tone, "I can't stress how uncool it is to work your mojo with other girls when you're already with one, which is why I don't do it. And let's get one thing straight, I'm not a 'stud muffin' all women want to take a bite of, kapish?"

The three boys grin and nod their heads as they stand back up heading out. Allan leans back against the van, Evan glances back at him saying, "What ever you say, Allan."

"Well, I guess being a modest babe magnet comes with being a cosmic super guy." Bobby adds.

Alex grins and loudly, "Whatever it is you're doing, Allan, you rock bro!"

Allan shakes his head as they turn the corner towards the house. Rogue walks pass them turning the same corner towards the garage. She glances back at them with a baffled expression, then turns as she approaches Allan. She asks with a slight smile, "What's with them?"

Shrugging his shoulders while adjusting his snowboot, Allan replies, "I honestly don't know. I guess they wanted some dating tips or something."


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