X-Men Evolution NEXT

Thin

The mid morning sun shines down on the Xavier Institute unveiling the destruction hidden in the shadows of the night and early morning. Scorch marks and random pot holed blasts riddle the front property. But despite the extremities of the battle, no serious damage was done to the estate. Standing among the scorched ground, after having cleaned up from the long night, Allan faces Fire Lord with his arms crossed. His expression is cold as he and the fiery cosmic seem to converse amongst themselves. Neither of them makes any big movements, only a lot of light nods and cold stares. Watching from the front steps of the main house, Logan, Sean, and Emma sip mugs of fresh coffee. "Do you know what they're talking about?" Sean asks.

"Nope," Logan replies, "looks serious though. What about you, Emma? You hear anything from them?"

Rubbing her temples, Emma answers, "I think I'm done with diving into the minds of higher beings. Besides, I haven't quite got over the migraine from our confrontation with Seth."

Sean chuckles as he sips his coffee and says, "Gotta hand to you Emma, you and that Tessa girl got a lot of guts trying to go up against someone like Seth."

"Guts had nothing to do with it, Sean," Emma adds, "I sent out a low level telepathic distress during the course of the night. I wasn't sure if anyone had heard it until Allan had made his presence known to the other entities. At the same time, he was also trying to sneak into the building undetected to save us. So, Tessa and I provided a distraction for him, and it worked. Unfortunately, we all played into Seth's hand."

"What makes you say that?" Logan inquires.

Emma takes another sip of her coffee as Allan's voice speaks up, "Because it's true."

All three glance down the steps to see Allan casually walking his way up to them. They then look up to see Fire Lord streaking up into the morning sky and beyond their sight. Logan grins and asks, "You let him go, kid?"

Allan nods silently as Emma also asks, "Is that wise?"

"Probably not," Allan replies stepping up next to them, "but he's no longer a threat, at least not to us. Besides, this way he owes me one."

"So what about this Seth guy?" Logan asks, "How do you two figure he played us?"

Allan sighs out while folding his arms, then says, "Last night was like clockwork for him. An obvious ploy that none of us had any choice but to fall for. He gave us a false sense of safety, drew us out with our fears, and threw the rest of the teams into chaos with doubt. I can't imagine how it could've worked out any better for him."

"All of that, just to try to kill Jean?" Sean brings up.

"Not to kill her," Allan replies, "he could've done that at anytime. No, Seth wanted Jean's full power to manifest. And I'm still trying to figure out why."

"Who is this guy, Allan?" Logan asks with frustration, "The resemblance is uncanny, almost down to your mannerisms."

Allan shrugs his shoulders saying, "I don't have all the answers, Logan. I'm just as surprised to learn about him as the rest of you, maybe even more."

The group falls silent for a moment. Logan then clears his throat saying, "Look, um, Hank is contactin' Charles even as we speak, giving him the low down on what's been goin' on. The FAA has canceled all air traffic for who knows how long thanks last nights light show. NASA and the Air Force are actually callin' it comet or meteor that exploded over the atmosphere. So we can expect SHIELD to be comin' down on our cases about this too."

"This is turning out lovely." Emma remarks sarcastically as she glances at Allan asking, "You didn't by any chance kill Seth as well in that explosion?"

Allan sighs out, "No, he disappeared shortly after the fight started."

Sean gulps back the rest of his coffee and says, "So, the guy is still out there."

"Yup," Allan replies with disappointed tone, "and I have no way to find him either."

The group falls silent again, staring out over the damaged front yard of the property.

Despite the gorgeous day that is brightening up outside, the mood inside the Xavier mansion is anything but cheerful. Exhausted faces and cranky voices roam about from those who were unable to get any kind of rest after the late night and early morning drama. Some of the students still don their uniforms as they make their way to breakfast. An assortment of cereal boxes, milks and juice pitchers decorate the dinning room table. The morning conversations are mostly about how tired each of them is and the rumor of them having the day off from school. Plenty of yawns and irritated bickering fill the air as each of them prepare they own morning meal. "So, does anybody know what exactly last night was all about?" Wanda asks out.

Everyone in the dinning room pauses for a moment at her question. Alex hesitates at first, but then speaks up, "Um… well, I heard Logan talking about some guy trying to set a trap for Allan."

"That doesn't make sense, Alex." Allison interrupts, "Then why were those two cosmic freaks after Jean?"

"I dunno Allison," Alex replies, "that's just what I heard from Logan."

"You know what I heard?" Tabitha mentions as she pours milk into her bowl of cereal, "That there's gonna be a media frenzy about last night. The morning news is already calling what happened down town a mutant related incident."

Piotr sits back in one of the chairs and says, "We were there, Tabitha. It was a mutant related incident."

Sam huffs out, "But you guys were caught in the middle of Allan's cosmic war. It wasn't any your faults."

Hearing Sam's comment as she walks into the dining room, Rogue quickly speaks up, "Hey, it ain't Allan's fault neither! He didn't ask for any of this to happen. He had no choice but to go out there and fight those things."

Ray shakes his head and states, "And while he does that, we get blamed for the damages. You weren't out there, Rogue. You weren't out there when Kurt, Evan and me almost got killed. You didn't see all the dead Morlocks, killed by a cosmically super charged Sabertooth."

He then turns to Kurt and continues, "Tell her Kurt. Tell her what we saw last night. Tell her how Sabertooth just slaughtered those poor people."

Rogue glances over at Kurt, who silently swallows his spoonful of cocoa flakes cereal while looking down at the table, and tells them, "Ya'll can't blame Allan for any of this. That ain't fair."

Bobby seats himself across from Kurt and speaks up, "What's not fair is all of us being dragged into Allan's cosmic war."

"Stop callin' it his war, dang it." Rogue darts out, "Allan is doin' what he can to protect us."

"What he can?" Ray remarks sarcastically, "He's the Vanguard, Rogue. He should be able to do more than that."

As the other students fall silent, Piotr stands up and says, "That's enough, Ray. We all know what you, Evan and Kurt have been through and seen. No one needs to see that much death in their lifetime, but you cannot blame Allan for that."

Pouring herself glass of orange juice, Elizabeth mentions, "I think all of you are missing a big point of last night's events. Jean was virtually killed by those two cosmic gentlemen, but didn't actually die. Doesn't that bother anybody?"

The dinning room falls silent again with only the light sounds of chewing and drinking. But as the mood starts to calm a bit, Allan suddenly walks in and casually makes his way towards the assortment of cereals maid out on the table. In a cheerful tone, his asks out, "Leave anything for the rest of us?"

As he picks up a box cocoa flakes, Allan notices an insecure silence in the room. He then glances around with his eyes and sees the students either looking away, or smiling at him with an apologetic expression. A handful of them seem to ignore his presence all together. Allan turns his glance down and breathes out while he prepares his bowl of cereal. Rogue gives him a smile of sympathy as he holds glass bowl in his left hand slowly walking to the door. He returns her smile turning to the door. Stopping in the doorway, Allan looks back into the room and says in a light tone, "Well… um, you guys enjoy the rest of the day… I guess." Then he turns away with a disappointed expression as he walks out.

The dinning room sits silent even after Allan exits. A couple of the students clear their throats and continue eating. Rogue walks up staring at the closed dinning room door, then looks back at the other students with a cold angered expression saying, "All of ya suck."

She then storms out of the dinning room swinging the door wide open then slamming it shut loudly. Looking left and right, Rogue tries to catch up with Allan in the hallway. She spots him further ahead, standing silently staring at his bowl of cereal with a blank expression. Rogue trots up to him and calls out to him, "Allan, don't pay attention to them. They're just wierded out from last night."

Holding his bowl in his left hand with his right hand casually resting in his jean pocket, Allan sighs out while continuing to stare at the bowl, "You know… I don't know why I walked in there in the first place." As he lightly chuckles, "I don't really need to eat, drink, or breathe. I guess you can't break twenty something years of habits."

He looks over to Rogue and offers her the bowl. Rogue glances at the bowl then up at Allan and says, "Don't let'em bother ya, Allan."

Gently taking her hand, Allan places the bowl carefully in her right palm and smiles as he says, "I didn't have much of an appetite this morning anyway."

Allan reaches up with his left hand and caresses the dimple on Rogue's chin. He smiles at her confidently before turning to continue up the hallway. Rogue holds onto the bowl of cereal as she watches him walk bare foot away.

Scott quietly shuts Jean's bedroom door as steps out into the hallway. He takes a breath just before turning to head downstairs. Just as he looks down the hall, Allan turns the corner heading in his direction. With a plain expression, Scott approaches Allan determined like. "Allan, what went on last night, or this morning? What's happening to Jean?"

Catching the reflection in Scott's ruby quartz sunglasses, Allan asks, "Is she asleep?"

Scott glances at Jean's door then back at Allan replying, "Like a baby. I don't understand how she could sleep after what she's been through."

"Her mind is adapting to her physical change." Allan mentions, "We all had to go through it when our powers manifested. When she wakes up, she'll feel like she's jacked up on caffine. Let her rest, she'll need it."

Allan starts to walk around Scott, but his halted as Scott firmly places his right hand on his left shoulder saying, "Who is this Seth guy, Allan. What does he want with Jean?"

"I don't know, Scott." Allan answers, "But I intend to find out."

Scott removes his hand from Allan's shoulder and says, "This is happening too fast. I don't like where this is heading."

Allan glance back at Scott and sighs out, "Neither do I, Scott. Neither do I."

Scott nods with a plain expression as he watches Allan turn and head up the hallway.

Standing in one of the many guest bedrooms of the mansion, Tessa examines the classical fixtures that decorate her room. Dressed down in simple long heather gray t-shirt, she contemplates her next path in life. More so, she ponders the danger she fears her life in now, allowing herself to be double crossed. As her mind drifts into these thoughts, her door swings open. Tessa quickly looks to see Emma stepping in. "Forgotten how to knock?" Tessa asks with sarcasm.

Emma smirks and replies, "I only do so to be polite."

Tessa grins and reaches for the robe supplied to her. She asks, "So, what is to happen to me? Will you turn me over to SHIELD, as you did Jason? Or am I a prisoner?"

Emma steps to the window and replies, "That really depends on you, Tessa. With Seth still out there, you will need protection. And if the other members of the Hellfire Society consider what you and I did as treason, well, should I even mention the consequence?"

"What do you suggest, Emma?" Tessa asks with frustration. "That I join this 'X-team' you are so involved with? Honestly, Emma, you and I are far from being heroes."

Emma nods in agreement and says, "True, I have no argument. But fact of the matter, we are both caught up in this greater scheme. Allan is still going after Seth, and he can use our help in doing so."

"And I can help in what way?" Tessa asks.

Emma grins as she turns heading to the door and remarks, "You were intimate with Seth. How little it meant to him, it is still something we can exploit. And by helping Allan, you may even find a righteous path of your own. Just a thought." as she leaves gently closing the door.

Hank thumbs through a few control buttons on the Danger Room access panel. He busies himself trying to recalibrate all the security protocols, reprogramming every locking system with a list of numerical code hand written on a piece of loose leaf paper. Humming the tune to Jeopardy, Hank grins as he punches in the new security codes one set at a time. Allan turns the corner toward the Danger Room entrance and sees Hank entertaining himself with the mundane task and decodes to also joins in by humming the same game show tune. Hank glances back with a smile as he and Allan raise their voices humming their playful tune. They both gesture their hands like orchestra conductors as they sing the final tune to the game show theme. Both sharing a hardy laugh, Hank notices Allan wearing his sleek leather motorcycle outfit and asks, "So, you are heading out?"

"Just for an hour or two," Allan replies, "I need to clear my head, get a better perspective about last night. I just came down here to get my helmet and code keys."

Hank closes the access panel and remarks, "You know, Allan, I'm still a bit worries about your stress levels. It is nice to see that now have a handle over your recent problem, as you can see, I have no allergies. But I'd be a liar if I said I still wasn't worried about you burning out again. Now that you have released your full power…"

Allan pats Hank on his shoulder and politely interrupts saying, "Hank, I'm fine. If it makes you feel better, I'll keep one of your wireless sensor nodes attached to me so you and Forge can keep track of my vitals."

Hank smiles and nods saying, "Your power, however, is overloading all our sensors. It will take time to calibrate them to even scratch the surface of your output level."

Returning Hank's smile, Allan says, "Well, I guess you and Forge got yourselves a hobby now."

Hank chuckles and asks, "So, where are you heading today?"

"Thought about checking out that race speedway track outside of town." Allan says shrugging his shoulders.

"Aren't you worried about that Seth person?" Hank inquires.

Allan shrugs his shoulders again replying, "I haven't forgotten about him. And I'm still going to look for him. But I have a feeling he's going to keep a low profile after last night."

Hank's expression turns baffled as he asks, "What's makes you say that?"

"Well, seeing that he and I are almost the same person," Allan answers, "that's what I'd do if I opened a big can of worms."

Allan walks into the Danger Room chamber and picks up his motorcycle helmet and keys. As he stats to walk out, he mentions, "I'll move the rest of my stuff back up stairs later. I just don't want to burn anymore day light."

Hank smiles as Allan walks by and up the hall. He then asks, "Allan, what about Jean?"

Allan looks back with plain grin and says, "I'll be back by the time she wakes up. Don't worry, Hank, I got it covered." he then turns the corner.

Gazing out the front window, Rogue watches Allan roll his sleek motorcycle out on to the driveway. He quickly straddles the seat bringing the two wheeled vehicle to life as it revs up with the dash board glowing. Alan slips on his suit matching gloves and prepares to place his colorful helmet on. He then looks up Rogue staring through the window. He smiles and waves just before placing his helmet over his head. Rogue smiles back and waves wiggling her fingers. She continues to watch as Allan gesture left hand out in front of him toward the damaged driveway and manipulates the energies, repairing the cracks and pot holes. He then revs his motorcycles engine loudly just before speeding out of the circular driveway and beyond the estate gated entrance. Rogue sighs out as her smile softens. Kitty approaches from behinds and asks, "Um, hey Rogue. Why aren't you going with Allan?"

Turning to Kitty, Rogue replies, "He wanted to be alone. It's a guy thing. Ah mean, he's takin' his bike to the speedway, and Ah really don't wanna watch him go in circles." as she chuckles.

"Well, want to hang out with us?" Kitty asks, "Since we have the day off, Wanda, Betsy and I were like, gonna hit the mall scene."

Rogue smiles and says, "Ah guess it couldn't hurt to really unwind. Especially after last night."

Just as she and Kitty turn to walk toward the hall, they spot a handful of the surviving Morlocks wandering the halls. Their expressions are of awe and wonderment as they constantly look around at their new surroundings. Rogue lightly asks Kitty, "So what's gonna happen now? It's like the place turnin' into some kinda refugee camp."

Kitty shrugs her shoulders and answers, "Well, Mr. McCoy said it is safer for them to be here. At least for the mean time. Do you really think that this Seth guy is another version of Allan? I mean, I heard things from Piotr, but it's sounds so far fetched."

"Ya got me, Kitty." Rogue adds, "Considerin' what Allan is, anythin's possible."

Kitty snickers a bit and says, "It's like, kind of exciting, don't you think? Like being in a movie or something."

Rogue sighs out with a grin, "Ah think Ah've had 'nough excitement in this movie."

She and Kitty share a giggle as they both go off to look for Wanda and Elizabeth.

Normally, it would take close to an hour to get to the speedway a few miles outside of town. But Allan presses the speed of his high-tech motorcycle weaving in and out of local traffic with ease. On the straight away of the highways, he would throttle up the supercharged engine pushing the vehicle faster, thus cutting his travel time down to only thirty minutes. Upon reaching the coliseum like race track, Allan rolls his motorcycle up to the security booth and simply nods at the guard, who lets him into the complex with no problems. Allan carefully maneuvers his bike into the open topped oval shaped race track. High embanking turns on both ends of the track that surrounds an open grassy field with paved parking areas for maintenance vehicles. This day, the track is empty as well as the surrounding arena style bleachers. Allan brings his motorcycle to a slow stop, adjusting several settings on his digital dashboard. He double checks his helmet and matching leather suit just before he revs the engine loud. Allan grips the handle bars and throttles the sleek vehicle into high gear spinning the back tires in a loud squealing manner. White smoke trials behind him as he takes off at high speeds. The engine roars loudly despite its electrical nature. Crouching low to minimize air friction, Allan also leans into the turn as he takes on the high embanking turns at speeds ranging from 150 to 190 miles per hour. Some quick adjustments to the throttle, Allan really opens up the speed of his motorcycle on the straight away increasing his velocity to 200 miles per hour. His mind relaxes but wanders letting instinct guide his hand. He readjusts the bikes aerodynamics with a switch on his right handle bar further decreasing wind resistance. He whips around the other high banking turn increasing his speed well over 250 miles per hour. The digital heads up display in his helmet allows him to monitor all the systems on the bike at the same time watch his speed and heading. Allan smiles and mutters into his helmet, "Cut out limiter."

With that said the motorcycle engine seems to whine louder. Sparks sprinkle out from the sides as Allan throws the throttle to maximum bringing him to a break neck speed of 350 miles per hour. The motorcycle's adapting AI systems adjusts the aerodynamics to compensate on the turns to maintain the dangerous speeds. Allan grins out of excitement trying to push the vehicle beyond its design limits. But as he attempts to readjusts his speed once more, his helmet indicator picks up a visual of another rider entering track. He takes a quick glimpse through his helmet visual indicator and magnifies the moving image. Allan notices the motorcycle is somewhat similar to his in design, accept it colored all in black with the rider wearing a matching black leather suit. With sneering expression, Allan throttles back slowing his speed rapidly. He maneuvers his motorcycle through the center of the track approaching the other rider. Applying the break, Allan brings his bike to a loud screeching halt, almost nose to nose with the other rider's motorcycle. White smokes blows by them from burning rubber. Allan stares at the other rider in silence through the tinted wind visor of his helmet. The other rider speaks, "Nice move, Allan. Nice bike too. Similar to mine, accept yours has been redesigned it looks like."

Allan removes his helmet continuing to stare at the other rider and says, "Well, it looks like you saved me all the trouble finding you, Seth."

Removing his black helmet as well, Seth grins back at Allan adding, "Yup, looks like it, huh."

Taking a good look at Seth's facial features, he makes notes about the similarities, but also the prominent scar over his left eye and face. Starting to stand up off his motorcycle, Allan places his colorful helmet over the handle bars. Seth quickly says, "Easy Allan, let's not call too much attention to us." as he gestures behind him.

Allan looks and sees a small crowd of school kids on a field trip. They are lead by a female teacher as they casually walk into the empty race track and down into pit areas. Cheerful and excited sounds echo from the young gathering while the teacher tried to maintain a bit of order. Seth glances back at them, then back at Allan and sarcastically says, "It would be a shame if I had to snuff them out at such a young tender age, don't you think?"

With a cold glare, Allan asks, "What do you want?"

Seth grins and returns with a question, "How's the red head?"

"Why don't you come over and find out." Allan replies with sarcasm.

Chuckling, Seth sighs out, "Thought about it, since now you manage to hide her from me and the others. But I decided to ask you in person, just to be polite."

Allan remains cold and silent, unaffected by Seth's banter. Seth then adds, "Come now, let's not be rude, Allan. It's a simple question. How is she? Or should I pry the answer from you by advancing one of these children's congenital heart disease?" as he points back at one of the kids in the field trip group.

Allan glances at the young blonde pigtailed little girl and notices her starting to clutch her chest. Seth grins and remarks, "Children are so fragile at this stage in life. And they always seem to pay for the sins of their parents." he starts to chuckle and little loudly, "You see Allan, just like you, I can read people as well. But I like to dig deeper, for their deepest regrets. Little Sally over there contracted a unique side affect at birth due to her parent's reckless drug use during their college years. And now, thanks to them, her life hangs in the balance. All I'm doing, is cutting to the chase. She is dead anyway, might as well save the tax payers money and snuff her out now. That is of course, you answer my question instead."

Taking a quiet breath, Allan glances at little Sally and says, "Jean is fine."

Seth smiles and sighs out, "Now why was that hard? Thank you, though."

Not taking his eyes off of the little girl, Allan watches as she continues clutching her chest out of discomfort. He then asks in a low tone, "So, what do you want with Jean?"

Seth shrugs his shoulders and replies with arrogance, "Oh, you know, I have my devious plans. And just like you, I also have my back up plans."

"I will stop you." Allan states.

Seth chuckles again, "Like the way you'll stop me from killing little Sally? Allan, buddy, you can't even find me. My power hides me from yours. It also hides me from the others. Especially now, since they all probably want me dead after last night's 'fubar'. The sad part is, you actually thought you were unique. Surprise, surprise." gesturing to himself.

Allan glances over to the crowd of kids down in the pit area and sees Sally dropping to her knees, still clutching her chest. It now appears she is becoming short of breath. With his face beginning to anger, Allan stare back at Seth and states, "I won't let you near Jean."

Seth leans in on his motorcycle dashboard and replies with a grin, "But you and I both know, that's not really up to you, is it?" as he winks and adds, "Good night, Sally."

Allan sees the little girl sudden drop to the pavement limp. The students all gasp as the female teacher suddenly screams out. Seth grins while revving his motorcycle loudly. He quickly puts his helmet back on and swings his bike around spinning the back tires in a cloud of white smoke. Allan leaps off his bike toward Seth but lands short as the dark rider speeds out the access way. The teacher cradles little Sally in her lap trying to revive her. Two race track officials rush out to aid her with medical supplies. One of the officials calls out to Allan, "You, call 911!"

Allan turns and sneers out to where Seth had escaped, but then quickly turns to the panicking crowd of kids. He rushes down to where they had laid Sally and kneels down. Allan calmly tells them, "Stand back."

The kids step away, some of them starting to cry. The teacher remains near Sally's side while the race officials stare at Allan with confusion. Allan closes his eyes holding his right hands over Sally's chest. His hand suddenly glows bright red as he gently waves it over and across the chest area. Sally slowly begins to stir, then takes a deep breath opening her eyes wide. Allan closes his hand and opens his eyes with a smile. Sally looks up at him as he says, "You're going to be fine, from now on."

Allan helps Sally to her feet and the teacher quickly shuffles her away. They all look at Allan with bewilderment as he smiles at them. He then turns to where Seth had exited and changes his expression to a distant anger.

Despite the celestial events of last night and early morning, the citizens of Bayville go on with their daily lives. Although certain roads are blocked off by law enforcement authorities and city maintenance crews, shops open, restaurants bustle and traffic still flows. More so at the newly re-renovated mall. Being the middle of the day, the mall crowd mostly consists of house mothers trying to fill their day, people on lunch break and those simply trying to cheer themselves up. And for Rogue, Kitty, Wanda and Elizabeth, the pristine lights and glass of the mall brings an air of cheer allowing them to forget for a few moments the drama they had endured. For once, they relax with a bit of normalcy, passing other mall crawlers with out a care in the world. They chat up about the merchandise and sales they all need to check out before the day is out. They each stare at window displays with envious gazes and conniving grins. Occasionally, each of them would succumb to a tempting purchase, leading to handfuls of shopping bags. Sharing laughter after laughter, the girls gradually make their way to the multi-level food court. Rogue, Elizabeth and Wanda humor Kitty by eating at the same vegetarian eatery she chose and they seat themselves next to the edge over looking the rest of the food court. With smiles on their youthful faces, they girls scarf back their meals and soft drinks. Elizabeth asks, "So, Rogue, how serious are you becoming with Allan?"

Rogue swallows her bite of her veggie-wrap and replies, "What kind of a question is that, Betsy?"

Sipping her drink, Elizabeth remarks, "Only curiosity. Forgive me for noticing the obvious, Rogue. But it is apparent that you and Allan are more than just an item now."

Kitty smiles and adds with excitement, "Totally, Rogue. You two are almost, like, inseparable. You hardly sleep in your bed these days."

Both Elizabeth and Wanda try to conceal giggles hearing Kitty's statement. Rogue smirks at Kitty then says, "So what. Ya'll make it sound like me and him are linked at the hip. We're really no different from what Kitty and Lance are."

Kitty blushes a bit and says, "Somehow, I doubt Lance and I are that far into our relationship."

"Kitty, give me a break." Rogue replies, "Me and Allan are just, really into each other."

Wanda giggles and mutters out, "Is that what you call it, Rogue?"

Kitty and Elizabeth join in the giggling as Rogue slightly smiles and sighs out rolling her eyes. Breathing out, Rogue tells them, "Whatever ya'll, Ah'm gonna go refill my drink."

She stands up shaking her head at her giggling friends and heads back to the eatery to have her drink refilled. Rogue is careful to avoid prolonged contact with people around her as she makes her way to the counter. A quick transaction of fifty cents for a refill of Dr. Pepper and Rogue is able to quench her thirst. She slowly turns around to head back to her table when she suddenly stops dead in her tracks. Her eyes open wide as she looks at a familiar face. Swallowing her sip of soda, Rogue asks lightly, "Allan?"

But then she notices the scar over the left side of his face that travels over his left eye. What ever the wound was had discolored the white his eye to a faded yellowish tint that seems to cloud over his pupil. He wears a complete black leather motorcycle suit. Rogue drops her drink, letting it splatter to the floor as she takes a breath and mutters out, "No, you're Seth."

Looking back at her with a cocky grin, Seth says, "Your heart skips a beat whenever you see this face, doesn't it?"

Rogue glance around with her eyes as though looking for help. Seth adds, "So you're Rogue. Not bad, a little too Goth for me, but I can see why Allan is into you. Probably in more ways than I can imagine. But then again, I can imagine quite a bit."

"What do you want with me?" Rogue asks with fear in her voice.

Seth grins and chuckles lightly, "I'm here to satisfy a curiosity. How does someone like you have such a strong hold on someone like Allan? I'd like to explore all aspects of that."

Rogue glance left and right at the passing shoppers. Some look down to where she spilled her drink, while others glance at what they pass off as couples' argument. Then Remy's voice speaks up from her left, "Chere, back 'way from him, slowly."

Rogue looks and see Remy standing defensively holding up a couple of playing cards in his left hand. Seth glances over at Remy and tells Rogue, "Stay where you are, sweetie."

Remy remarks again, "Rogue, listen t' me, you have t' back away."

Seth continues to grin at Rogue and saying, "She's smarter than that, Remy. Where is she going to go where I can't get her? Besides, we are just talking."

Rogue glances over at Remy, and notice him slowly shuffling to his right, trying to flank Seth. "Leave de girl outta dis, Seth." Remy remarks.

Making eye contact with Rogue, Seth chuckles, "Now why would I want to do that? Rogue is just as in deep as Jean is, and she knows it."

"What do ya want with us?" Rogue asks with a nervous tone.

Seth shrugs his shoulders and replies, "With Jean, I have my little dastardly deeds. I won't monologue my plans until I really need to. But with you, well, I'm very willing to let you know what I have in store for you." as he grins maniacally.

Remy yells out in anger, "Fils de putain, don't touch her!" and lunges at Seth.

With a slight gesture of his left hand, Seth generates a yellow halo glow around Remy lifting him off the colorful food court floor. Remy struggles to regain his bearings, but gravity seems reversed. "Do you mind, Remy," Seth remarks, "I'm trying to talk to the lady."

Seth gesture his hand again floating Remy close next to them. Rogue cries out, "Stop it! What da ya want? Why're doin' this?"

Laughing lightly, Seth answers, "Because I can, Rogue. Because none of you can stop me. And because no matter what you do in your short miserable mutant lives, you're all going to end up pushing up daisies anyway. You only live once, bumpkin. Now kiss me."

Rogue almost staggers back asking, "What?"

Seth smiles and repeats, "Kiss me."

"No." Rogue darts out.

"Let me rephrase that." Seth adds with sarcasm, "Either you kiss me, or I fillet the flesh off of Remy's bones."

A quick gesture straightens Remy's struggling posture as he floats in the yellow halo of light. He suddenly starts grunting out in pain as he feels a burning sensation crawling over and under his skin. Other mall patrons catch sight of the drama and start running away from the scene. Sounds of panic and concern echo throughout the food court. Rogue glances around at the growing pandemonium then back at Remy as he struggles in pain. Two mall security guards rush up brandishing tazer shock pistols and demand, "Alright, all of you, nobody move!"

Seth looks at Rogue and rolls his eyes hearing the guard's demands and replies out loud, "That's dumb. Does it look like anybody is moving!"

He winks at Rogue and slightly gestures with his right hand. A bright flash of yellow light washes over the guards. Rogue watches in horror as the guards begin to disintegrate right before her eyes. Their screams of pain fade into mass of smoldering flesh and burned clothing as she screams out, "OH GOD!"

Seth grins turning his eyes to Remy and asks Rogue, "Would you like me to do the same to him?"

Rogue quickly holds up her hands pleading, "Don't, please! Please don't hurt anybody else! Ah'll kiss you, alright?"

Laughing with a cocky smile, Seth leans closer to Rogue and whispers, "Ask me, to kiss you."

Glancing down at the smoldering remains of the mall guards then turning her eyes to Remy, Rogue slightly shakes in fear as she swallows and forces herself to say, "Will… you kiss me?"

Seth grins and reaches out with his right hand pulling her close to him. Rogue is barely able to take a breath as Seth presses his lips against hers. She grunts out as she feels his tongue dart into her mouth. Remy struggles and growls out as he is forced to watch. Rogue tries to push away, but Seth's strength holds her close. A single tear runs down her right cheek as she has no choice but to succumb to this force kiss. Seth opens his eyes staring back at Remy. He smiles with his lips firmly pressed against Rogue's lips. As their lips part, Seth chuckles, "Not bad, you seemed to enjoy that."

Rogue's expression angers as she yells out, "You wish!" and she slaps Seth across his left cheek.

Seth smile and lets his face roll with the slap. But much to his surprise, Kitty phases through him and grabs Rogue, phasing her from his embrace. Rogue slides back to the floor. Kitty tries to continue her phasing, but finds herself all of a sudden in Seth's embrace. He holds her trim waist firmly and playfully says, "Just couldn't wait for your turn, pretty Kitty?"

Kitty yells out realizing she can't phase out of his hold, "Hey, let go!"

Wanda voice calls out from behind, "You heard her, punk!"

Seth turns to look back at her with Elizabeth and smiles saying, "Sure." he then look at Kitty in his arms and adds, "Maybe next time, cutie."

With a quick spin, Seth throws Kitty toward Wanda and Elizabeth. Unable to concentrate in time. Kitty collides into both girls sending all of them to the floor sliding back a bit. Rogue gets to her knees as Seth turns around to look down at her. He grins at her again saying, "You know, there are many things I'd love for you do while you're down on your knees." he then glances up and around with his eyes and adds, "But it looks like I may be out of time. Say 'hi' to Jean for me."

Seth winks at Rogue then looks over at Remy, who floats helplessly. A quick gesture of his left hand and Seth sends Remy flying backwards over the food court balcony like ledge. He hits the railing hard nearly knocking him unconscious as he rolls off the edge. Rogue quickly gets to her feet sprints over to Remy. She dives out sliding to the ledge and manages to grab his hand before he falls. Rogue grunts out feeling his weight. Remy's eyes almost rolls back as he tries to maintain consciousness. Rogue struggles with her grip. Remy's limp hand begins to slide out of Rogue's gloved hand. Rogue breathes out as she struggles, "Remy! Wake up, Ah can't hold ya!"

Slowly shaking his head, Remy finally opens his eyes wide and quickly reach up with his other hand gripping the hanging railing. With Rogue's help, Remy carefully hoists himself up off the edge and onto the floor. They both look up for Seth and find he had already left, leaving them facing a horrified crowd of mall patrons. Rogue shuffles back away from Remy, giving him space. They both catch their breath as Allan's voice calls out, "Hey! Is everyone alright?"

Rogue looks up and sees Allan approaching them. He drops to his knees to check on both Remy and Rogue and asks again, "Are you hurt? Did Seth hurt you?"

Remy sits up rubbing the back of his neck and replies with groan, "We be livin', Allan. 'Sides, I'm getting' use to havin' my butt kicked by you cosmic guys."

Allan helps Remy to his feet and extends his hand out to Rogue to help her. She ignores his hand and gets to her feet alone. Allan looks down at her and asks, "What's wrong?"

Rogue expression seems hurt as she replies, "Nothin', Ah'm fine Allan."

She turns and walks toward Wanda, Kitty, and Elizabeth. Remy sees Allan's confused expression as he watches Rogue walk away and mentions, "We best be goin' before de cops show up, mon ami."

Allan nods at Remy and they both trot over to the girls ushering them to pick up their bags of purchases and head out quickly.

A few hours later, back at the Xavier Institute, an air of excitement and concern spread about what had transpired at the mall. Local news coverage adds to the hysteria calling the scene a mutant related incident. The students share their concerns with each other speculating and theorizing possibilities, while below in the command room, Allan tries to explain at the same time understand what is going on. A mixture of angry and concerned faces watch him as he slowly paces. Cyclops speaks up, "Allan, what are you going to do about this Seth guy?"

Allan looks back at him saying, "What do you want me to say, Scott? I've never faced anything like this before. He can hide from me, ok. That's new."

Hank asks, "I've been giving that some thought, Allan. Do you think he is still concealing

other cosmic beings?"

"No," Allan answers, "I can sense the others."

"Wait a minute," Scott darts out, "there are still more of those things out there? I thought you killed all of them."

Allan turns his stare to Scott and says, "It's not that simple, Scott. With the exception to myself and a small handful, majority of the cosmic beings out there are attached to a world or a star. Trying to think of them as living essences of celestial bodies. By out right killing them, I could sentence countless billions to die also. It sucks, but that is the way the universe works. I have to maintain a balance."

Scott huffs out in frustration as he turns to pace. Forge raises his hand and says, "Well, if Seth can exist in our world, there has to be a way to find him."

Hank nods as Emma steps up and mentions, "Perhaps there is a way." as she gesture for Tessa to step forward. Emma adds, "It will require the use of Cerebro and Forge's ingenuity."

Logan stands up and nods remarking, "Let's get crackin' then. In the mean time, we prepare ourselves just in case."

Scott asks, "What about the Professor? When will he be back?"

"Not any time soon, kid." Logan replies, "FAA has banned all commercial flights in and out for at least a week. The world's basically standing still ever since last night."

Ororo stands up mentioning, "This doesn't help our image either. The media is having a field day with this. I fear there will be more anti-mutant backlash after this."

Logan nods and remarks, "Then it would be better if everyone kept a low profile, stay behind these walls, includin' the Morlocks."

"I'll let Evan know." Ororo says as she nods and exits the room.

Hank clears his throat and speaks up, "Well, let's get to work, shall we?"

They all disperse to there tasks. Scott walks by Allan but is stopped as Allan tells him, "Scott, I'm going to need to work with you sometime."

Looking back at Allan with a baffled expression, Scott asks, "What for?"

Allan smiles with confidence and replies, "I'll explain later. Trust me."

Scott shakes his head out of confusion and says, "Right, sure. Well… um, I going to check on Jean."

Allan smiles and nods as he watches Scott exit the room. Hank notices Allan's distant and near saddened expression and asks, "Allan, is everything alright?"

Turning his look to Hank, Allan snaps a quick smile and replies, "It will be, Hank. It will be." then pats Hank on his broad shoulder before walking out of the room.

Upon reaching the main floor of the mansion, Allan walks his way past a few of the students. He keeps his eyes forward trying to ignore their some of their angered and confused expressions. He catches whispers and nervous eyes as steps by them on his way to his room. But as he tries to cross the hallway, he approaches the door to Kitty and Rogue's room. He pauses for a moment staring at the door, then decides to knock. Allan swallows and lightly taps on door asking, "Rogue, can we talk?"

With no answer, Allan braves the moment and decides to open the door. He slowly peeks his head around the door to see if she is in there and finds her sitting at the foot of her bed, staring back at him with sullen cold expression. Allan asks, "Are you alright? Why didn't answer the door?"

Rogue takes a breath and says, "You were just gonna walk in anyway, right? Ah can't stop you."

"I walked in because you didn't answer," Allan says in his defense, "I was worried."

He steps into the room and gently closes the door behind him. Rogue quickly stands up and says, "Well, nobody ask ya to worry about me. Ah'm gonna catch up with Kitty."

She starts to strut past him almost ignoring his presence. Allan stops by gently grabbing her right upper arm saying, "Whoa, what's wrong? You just don't walk away from someone like that."

Rogue suddenly becomes enraged as she swings around with her left hand slapping Allan across his right cheek. She yells out, "Don't you ever grab me like that again!"

Allan let's her go as the slap surprise him. His eyes widen in shock as Rogue steps back covering her mouth. She seems shocked at her own outburst as they both stand in silence. Tears begin to build up in her eyes while Allan seems to look away. "I'm sorry." Allan says lightly as he then starts to walk toward the door.

Rogue quickly grabs his left hand stopping him from taking another step. "Seth… made me see things." She mutters out.

Allan turns to her as she adds, "When he made me kiss him. He made me absorb some of his memories, Ah think."

Reaching up, Allan gently embraces her holding against his chest. Rogue starts to sob, "AH saw… awful things. The people he's murdered, the worlds he destroyed… and the satisfaction he got outta all of it." buries her face in his chest.

Rogue then balls up her fist and starts to beat Allan's chest as she cries out, "You cosmic freaks are monsters!"

Alan's expression saddens as he holds her close. He lets Rogue vent her emotions as she starts to settle down. Rogue presses her face against Allan's chest again saying, "Ah'm sorry Allan. Ah just… Ah can still see everythin'. It's like Ah was there."

Holding her gently in his arms, Allan caress her softly as they embrace in silence. Allan fights back a few tears of his own, kissing the top of her head. Rogue closes her eyes feeling safe in his embrace. Allan then speaks up softly, "Anna."

Rogue's eyes open as she looks up at him. "I will never let him hurt you again. I swear on my mother's soul." He adds.

With out another word spoken, they hold each other tight in the middle of the room, as though the rest of the universe no longer exists to them.


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