Straight and Narrow
Sitting silently in his desk chair near the foot of his bed, Allan watches Rogue sleep with a calm expression on his face. He tilts his head as he gazes upon her serene face and listening to her gentle breathing. Allan smiles slightly at the peaceful sight of Rogue's face sinking softly into the plush pillow. He keeps himself from waking her up prematurely seeing how peaceful she is. Everything about her intrigues him as he follows the contours of her body figure resting under the bed sheets. Rogue lets out a muffled moan as she stirs a bit rubbing her face into the soft pillow. Allan smiles and sighs out quietly looking out his balcony window. The early morning sun begins to brighten the Xavier estate giving shape to the distant tree line cutting into the clear sky. Turning his eyes back toward his desk, Allan finalizes one of his design projects on his holographic imaging laptop. With a slight gesture of his hands over the touch sensitive flat keyboard panel, he logs off putting his device in sleep mode. He stands up stretching his back and walks over to the bed. Allan leans down and gently kisses Rogue cheek. She stirs a bit as he whispers, "You have a Danger Room session with Logan in about an hour, babe."
Her voice sounding groggy, Rogue responds with her eyes closed, "…yeah."
Allan chuckles lightly as adds, "Don't be late, he'll blame me."
Rogue responds half asleep, again in her soft groggy tone, "… yeah."
Smiling while straightening his t-shirt, Allan quietly leaves the room, gently closing the door behind him. He strolls through the carpeted halls barefoot wearing only a pair of boot cut worn jeans and white t-shirt. Despite yawning, Allan smiles at the sight of a few others also waking up to start their day early. He watches as Logan exits his room already wearing his uniform. He spots Sean already holding a mug of fresh coffee making his way through the halls himself. Allan then passes by Scott who yawns and acknowledges him with quick wave while making a b-line to the bathroom. Just the typical handful of individuals Allan has grown accustomed to seeing almost every morning. Walking down the stairs, Allan spots one the newer students prepping for her early morning jog. Realizing it is Sam's kid sister, Paige, Allan grins and shakes his head. She had been one of the very few students at the Institute who had managed to keep her nose clean, and one of the few who had been fortunate not to be involved in the latest fiascos due to school zoning issues. Casually walking out the front door, Allan greets her, "Good morning Paige. You're up early."
Stretching her right leg on the front stair ledge, Paige looks up and smiles at Allan replying, "Mornin' Mr. Paran. I'm just tryin' to keep in shape. You run?"
Allan chuckles as he takes a deep breath of the morning air, "Only when chased."
Paige switches legs stretching her left as she mentions, "Well, I wanna to make sure I'm at least prepared for the next encounter. I missed out the last few times 'cause of school issues. I feel kinda bad for not being here to help out."
Sighing out, Allan says, "You're too young to be thinking about that kind of stuff."
"Jamie and Amara aren't any older than me." Paige mentions.
Allan falls silent as he glances at the young blonde. She hops onto her feet then stretches her back before saying, "Well, I wanna get in a two mile run before school. See ya later Mr. Paran." as she jogs off toward the main gate.
Allan watches silence and lightly shakes his head in near disappointment. But just as he is about to turn and head back inside, Remy's voice speaks up, "Lil' blondie is a bit of an over achiever, no?"
Glancing over at Remy at the other end of the front steps, Allan grins and replies, "That's an understatement. The girl wants to be a superhero."
"Who didn't wanna be at dat age?" Gambit mentions with a smirk.
Allan nods with a smile acknowledging Remy's remark. Turning to head inside, Allan slides his hands into his jean pockets and starts to step in. Remy quickly darts out, "Hey, I know you and me didn't start off on the right foot, but you saved my life that night. So, thanks." as he holds out his right hand.
Allan reaches out and shakes Remy's right with a smile, replying, "Don't sweat it, bud. That's what a friend does." Remy returns his smiles as he watches Allan walk back inside.
Strolling through the front living area, Allan can hear life starting to bustle up stairs. He walks to the main elevator and rides it down to the lower levels. He bypasses the command level and the training areas taking the elevator to the more undeveloped caverns. Allan reaches the last stop of the elevator and steps out into a fairly lit up access cave. These areas are used primarily to train the young students in practical uses of their powers by getting them to be a bit constructive. It also helps expand the operations beneath the Xavier Institute. But in recent days, the lower levels have been home to more the timid residences of the Xavier Institute, the Morlocks. Allan steps casually into the bulk head supported cavern. He catches the scent of home cooking in the air and smiles. As he walks around to approach their make shift living area, Allan catches movement in the corner of his eye. He looks and smiles as sees a little girl trying to hide from him behind pile of rubble. Allan kneels down with a smile holding out his right hand saying, "It's ok, you can come out."
The little girl innocently looks at him with a bit of fear, but walks around the rubble cautiously. Allan notices the little girl's mutation with her over sized lower arms and hands. She doesn't say a word as Allan mentions, "You don't have to be afraid of me."
With a bit of reluctance, the girl approaches and reaches out with her left hand. She gently takes Allan's hand and looks at him with surprise. Allan smiles as he slowly stands holding her hand. He glances up and notices the other Morlocks stepping around the corner. A bald lanky man approaches saying, "There aren't many creatures who can withstand little Torpid's paralyses touch." as he gestures to the little girl.
He then adds, "Then again, there aren't many creatures on this world who can call themselves gods." as he humbly smiles at Allan.
Allan sighs out as he returns the smile, "I'm no more of a god then you are, Caliban. I'm a person, like the rest of you."
Callisto approaches and adds, "Not really like us, though."
Smiling at her, Allan remarks, "Neither of us are truly the same."
"If you are not a god, then what are you?" Lucid asks.
Allan smiles once more as he asks, "Can sit? I'll try and answer all your questions the best I can."
Waiting in the Danger Room, Logan checks his watch with stern glare. He looks over at the other X-men, Cyclops, Jean, Shadowcat and Iceman. Lightly shaking his head, Logan sighs out and starts to pace. Nightcrawler teleports into the room with a smile as Iceman says, "Well, it looks like I'm not the late one today."
Logan sneer a bit at Iceman's comment as looks at his watch one more time. But just as he is about to speak up, the chamber door opens with Rogue rushing in. With a nervous expression, she straightens her uniform remarking, "Sorry… sorry ya'll. Ah over slept."
Giving her a quick smirk, Logan speaks out to them, "Alright, let's get started." He shakes his head while walking out of the main chamber.
The X-men wait for Logan to get settled in the command center above. Shadowcat shuffles over to Rogue with grin and asks in low tone, "So, where did you sleep last night?"
Rogue just returns her grin in silence as she straightens the rest of her uniform. Cyclops couldn't help but overhear Shadowcat's question at the same time notice Rogue's silent expression and speaks up, "I'm sorry Rogue. I know it's none of my business, but you and Allan might want to keep that kind of behavior in check. We're supposed to be setting an example for the younger students."
Staring back at him with somewhat sarcastic expression, Rogue replies, "Um, yeah Scott, it is none of your business. And, Ah don't recall any of us criticizing your love life."
Cyclops responds in his defense, "I didn't mean it like that…"
Jean quickly steps in, "Scott, just drop it. Rogue is right, that's her personal business. Besides, there is nothing wrong with what she is doing, it's spontaneous. May be we should take a page out of her book." as she grins at Rogue playfully.
Rogue shares her grin while Shadowcat giggles. Cyclops sighs out as he backs off with an embarrassed grin. Logan's voice speaks out from the intercom, "Alright team, cut the chatter and let's warm up." as he toggles the switches bring the Danger Room online.
The scent of freshly ground coffee brings a smile to Hank's face as he walks into the kitchen. Much to his surprise, he finds Tessa already awake and sitting alone sipping her mug of coffee as well. "I did not think you were much of a morning person, Miss Tessa." he remarks.
With plain expression staring into her mug, Tessa replies, "Ordinarily, I'm not. My mind does not require much rest. Also the thought of Seth still lurking about infuriates me."
Pouring himself a mug of coffee, Hank asks, "So your part in this search for Seth, is primarily for vengeance?"
Sliding her mug away while standing, Tessa adjusts her black satin robe. She lightly brushes her hair back and grins at Hank saying, "Well, I hope you don't mind, but it is what keeps me motivated for this task."
Hank watches her casually leave the kitchen with concerned eyes as she sighs out, "I'll meet you down below, enjoy your coffee."
Catching a glimpse of Tessa walking up the stairs to her room, Ororo, Sean, and Evan walk towards the main elevator. Tessa acknowledges them with a nod as she ascends up the stairs. Ororo mentions to Sean and Even, "I don't quite feel comfortable having Tessa or Emma within these walls."
Sean chuckles as the elevator door opens, "Funny thing is, that's probably what they want you to feel."
Stepping into the elevator one at a time, Evan remarks, "What do you mean by that, Mr. Cassidy?"
"Well, lad," Sean explains, "those two are so use to work both sides of the line they've grown accustom to not being trusted. Kind of strange, but not being trusted is what gives them their edge, and keeps us safe. At least in their eyes." he says with a grin.
Ororo chuckles, "Then I don't feel so bad about not really liking them."
Sean also chuckles saying, "I'm sure they're both use to that too, Stormy."
Evan shakes his head with a baffled expression, "Grown ups can be so weird sometimes."
"Yes indeed we can be, lad." Sean adds with playful tone.
The elevator descends top the lower levels in a smooth manner. Evan glances up at Sean and asks, "I thought you were helping Logan with the X-men's training this morning?"
Sean laughs a bit and replies with relieved grin, "Decided to pass on that. His Danger Room sessions are bit too harsh for me to stomach. Besides, I haven't been given the whole grand tour of this place. I've always been curious about how deep this elevator goes."
Evan smiles and turns to Ororo asking, "Aunty O, what about your claustrophobia? I mean, I checking on the Morlocks, and they're in the lower lower levels."
Ororo takes a breath and swallows before replying, "Valid question. Let's just say, I'm working on overcoming that fear. And, accompanying my nephew to the deepest parts of the Institute to check on his friends is a good start… I guess."
Evan notices her nervous smile as Sean adds in a confident tone, "Your aunt is a tough lady, lad."
Smiling at both of them, Evan holds Ororo's hand while the elevator quietly makes its' way to the lower levels.
Upon reaching bottom level, the elevator door opens in its' smooth manner. Ororo takes another breath steps out along side Evan . Sean follows them out stepping onto what we is expecting to her carved out solid rock. But is instead faced with an infinite vision of open outer space. Evan and Ororo look around them with wide eyed awe at the sight of star clusters, comets and strange planets floating about. The cavern they were expecting seems to be none existent as they gaze out to the vision of deep space. Sean breathes out with surprise then mutters out, "Well, Ororo, I suppose you don't feel closed in right now."
With her eyes shifting from one shiny celestial body to the other, Ororo responds, "Not at the moment, Sean."
Evan glances around him with near excitement spurting out, "Whoa check it! I don't remember this being here!"
All three of them look down at their feet and almost stagger at the sight of infinite space beneath them as well. Allan's voice suddenly speaks up, "Good morning!"
They look up and see him floating above their head along with the younger Morlocks. Evan notices the smiles and amusement on their faces as Allan remarks, "Just a little astronomy lesson. I wanted to show where some of the cosmic super folk come from."
Callisto approaches the newly arrives trio with smile saying, "He came down to cheer up the younger ones."
Evan is even surprised at the sight of Caliban cracking a slight smile as looks up at the open space sky. Sean nods with grin remarking, "Well, he sure can paint a pretty picture."
Allan gently touches down next to Evan while keeping his eyes up at the cheerful young Morlocks still floating above their heads. Evan asks, "Is this real?"
Allan chuckles, "Just a little energy and matter manipulating on my part. Kind of like a zero gravity playground with creative elements."
Evan watches the children above him play as they float about in the celestial sky. Allan adds, "I just wanted to cheer them up in light of what happened to them. It wasn't fair how they got involved."
The sounds of laughing children and smiling faces brings a content grin on Allan's face. Evan shakes Allan's hand remarking, "Thanks, Allan. This means a lot."
Allan nods with a smile shaking Evan's hand. However, the light hearted moment is short lived as Allan and the others stumble against the sudden yet subtle shimmying tremor. A deep distant bass rumbling sound nearly thunders from above. With slight gesture of his hand, Allan dissipates the starry visual and carefully floats the young Morlock children to the floor. Sean glances up trying to understand what the sound was. A repetitive alarm lightly beeps by the elevator. Ororo speaks up, "That's a system alert. It is to indicate an internal malfunction, not an attack."
The sectioning light fixtures flicker a bit along with the elevator indicator lights. Ororo adds looking back at Allan and Sean, "Let's get to the command level and find out what is going on."
Sean quickly steps to the elevator controls and states after examining the panel, "We best take the stairs. Looks like the power is failing."
Ororo leads them to the emergency stairwell access. Sean steps in looking up at the winding ascension and remarks, "Of course, it's gonna be a long walk."
Allan immediately darts up tall shaft of stairs with Ororo following close behind him. Sean watches the two fly upward with smirk saying, "Show offs."
With a quick thought, Sean takes a deep breath and begins to hum. He focuses his sonic wave beneath him and in an almost jolting manner, propels himself upward after both Allan and Ororo. His reverberating voice echoes up and down the stairwell as he lifts himself along side them. Upon reaching the stair landing just beneath the command level, all three safely touch down. Allan glances at Sean while unclogging his right ear with his pinky finger and remarks, "You could've warned us before you did that."
Sean smiles wide and replies, "To tell you truth, I didn't know I could do that."
They share a quick laugh and proceed to the access door. Reaching the command level, they step out into the hall realizing it's partially filled with smoke. A light pounding is heard from behind the sliding door leading to the situation room. Sean runs up to the door and calls out, "Hey, anyone in there!"
A muffled voice on the other side speaks back, "Yes, it's me Forge! The door is jammed!"
Sean searches the sides of the door and locates the emergency release panel. He quickly opens it and pulls the release lever. The door slightly slides open, but wide enough for Forge to force his fingers through and pry the door open. With a confused yet relieved expression, Forge asks, "So, what happened? Are we under attack, again?"
But as he asks the question, they hear coughing coming from the more smoke filled part of the hall. Allan rushes to the coughing and finds Logan staggering trying to catch his breath from the smoke. Helping Logan to remain on his feet, Allan guides him out of the smoke asking, "Logan, what's going on?"
After catching his breath, Logan gestures behind him down the hall and breathes out, "The Danger Room." as he coughs.
Ororo glares down the hall and concentrates as she creates a gentle whirlwind sucking up the smoke and guiding it to the emergency ventilation. Allan darts down the hall followed by the others. They turn the corner towards the Danger Room but then stop suddenly realizing the severity of the damage. The metal floor paneling and Allan floats above the damaged floor with Ororo just behind him. After examining the access panel, Allan turns his eyes to the main door itself. Ororo touches the door and quickly pulls her hand back saying, "It is scorching hot."
Standing back behind the damage in the hall, Forge asks, "Is the door accessible?"
Ororo replies while to continuing to examine the door closely, "We're unsure, it appears to be fused shut."
Allan adds as he trains his eyes around the edges, "And warped."
Logan comes staggering around the corner in the hall remarking, "Ya gotta get inside there."
Sean quickly helps Logan stay on his feet then asks him, "I thought today was suppose to be a light exercise?"
"It was," Logan replies, "then an explosion went off in the chamber. I was in the command center and barely got out when the shockwave hit."
Taking a quick glance at Logan, Allan then turns his eyes to the damaged chamber door and speaks out, "Alright, stand back."
Ororo floats back to the others and plants her feet gently to floor. Allan touches down and slightly staggers on the warped rubble of the damaged flooring. He slides his hands over the somewhat bulged out warped door looking for any kind of area to where he can grip. Forge speaks out with concern, "Be careful Allan. The door is heavily reinforced."
Allan glances back with a smile and returns, "Don't worry, Forge. I'm just going to give a little tug."
Looking back at the door, Allan steps forward and reach out with both hands. In a metal slamming ping, he embeds all ten of his fingers into the thick metal like a hot knife in warm butter. A slight grunt from him and Allan begins to pull back. Loud metal grinding sounds echo throughout the hall followed by the cracking sounds of bulkheads. Logan, Ororo, Sean and Forge watch as Allan gives the main chamber door sudden tug. In an ear piercing rip, Allan yanks the door loose. Shards of metal fall to the floor as the door hoisted off to the side of the hall. Allan carefully leans the thick door up against the side of the wall. Smoke and dust pours out into the hall almost immediately from the chamber. Allan slightly coughs as he is quickly surrounded by the cloud. With a quick thought, Ororo kicks up her concentration once more and redirects the oncoming smoke with her localized wind funnels and sends the swirling clouds of smoke towards the emergency ventilation. But as the smoke clears, the sounds of breaking debris gives way to the sounds of angered voices echoing from the Danger Room chamber. Mixtures of voices seem to argue as Allan and the others carefully enter the room, "Why'd you do that!" "Ah think I'm sunburned." "My ears are ringing." "That really wasn't necessary!" "Look, I'm sorry, alright!" "You could've killed us!" "Stop yelling at me!" "Don't you like, get it!" "What is the big deal, we won."
Ororo increases her gentle whirlwind further clearing out the rest of the emanating smoke and dust. The wind build up gets the young X-men's attention as they turn to face the approaching concerned expressed faces of Allan, Logan, Ororo, Sean, and Forge. Glancing around at the heavily damaged Danger Room chamber, Allan looks back at the X-men with a baffled expression and asks, "What happened?"
The young team falls silent, seeming unsure of what to say. Ororo steps up and remarks, "You all best explain this, the damage seems extensive."
Cyclops speaks up with a bit of reluctance, "It was my fault. I let thing gets out of control."
Quickly stepping forward, Jean says, "No Scott, this was my fault."
"No kidding." Kitty says in a sarcastically low tone.
Jean huffs out in frustration, "Kitty, I said I was sorry. I had to think fast."
Kitty turns to Jean with mixed confused and angry expression saying, "Think fast? If I hadn't phased the team when I did, you would've incinerated us!"
"Or at the very least, burn off all our hair." Bobby lightly chuckles out with Kurt giggling.
Kitty glares at bobby remarking, "This isn't funny guys."
"I knew you could do it, Kitty." Jean mentions, "I just had to time it right and count on our teamwork being in sync. I had faith in your ability, and we won."
Jean stands confidently with a grin as Kitty just looks at her with a baffled frown. Kitty then turns away walking out of the Danger Room sighing out, "I don't get you any more."
Logan takes a deep breath and speaks up, "Alright, you lot hit the showers." as he signals the other X-men to leave the room.
Allan glances around at the damage then turns his eyes watching Jean casually leave the Danger Room. He looks over at Cyclops and notices he is a bit withdrawn. Just then Hank comes lumbering in with Eric floating just behind him. Taking a quick look around the damage to the Danger Room, Hank asks in earnest, "Is everything alright, that tremor shook the upper levels."
Logan breathes out, "Nobody is hurt, Hank. But the Danger Room is fried, literally."
Eric takes glance around and mentions, "I'll check on the rest of the structural integrities and repair what I can. I suggest the rest of you concentrate on getting the systems back on line."
Allan steps out of the Danger Room as the others spread out to various keys areas of the command level. He catches up with Scott just out side the situation room and calls out, "Hey, what happened in there?"
Scott looks back and shrugs his shoulders replying, "It was just an accident, Allan. It happens."
With a stern expression, Allan nods. Scott starts to walk away toward the stair well as Allan asks out, "So it wasn't Jean?"
Slightly glancing back as he continues to walk away, Scott answers, "It was an accident."
As he walks into the stairwell and starts his way up, Scott looks up the steps in front of him and sees Jean waiting for him. She smiles and says, "You don't have to cover up for me, Scott."
Partially returning her smile, Scott replies in a plain tone, "I didn't, it was an accident."
Jean kisses his right cheek as he passes her on the stairs. Scott grins and remarks, "I have to get ready for class."
"Meet me later for lunch?" Jean asks friendly like.
Scott smiles and waves as he walks up the stairs slowly.
The morning comes to life up on the ground level as the rest of the students and residences of the Xavier Institute move about. The gathered chatter consists of typical morning complaints about waking up so early school. Others seem to be more curious about the early morning tremor they felt just before their alarm clocks. Fred lumbers through the hall just behind Lance asking, "So that wasn't you this morning?"
Lance huffs out in frustration, "How many times do I have to tell you, man. It wasn't me."
Just then Pietro speeds up to him is about to ask a question but Lance cuts him off saying, "No, Pietro, the tremor this morning wasn't me, alright!"
With baffles expression on his face, Pietro replies, "Whoa, ok, what tremor this morning? I was just going ask you why you're wearing a white dress shirt and blue neck tie, Lance."
Lance sighs out as he look down at his appearance. Fred take a glance as well asking, "Yeah, why are you dressed like that?"
Clearing his throat, Lance straightens his tie with an embarrassed expression and replies in a low tone, "I… I gotta job interview."
Fred and Pietro fall silent looking at Lance. Todd suddenly drops from the ceiling with his own baffled expression asking, "Yo, you gettin' a job?"
"Well, yeah," Lance answers, "'bout time I earned my keep."
Fred, Pietro, and Todd start to chuckle at Lance. Just then Kitty approaches with a smile saying, "I think he looks handsome." as she steps up to Lance and kisses him lovingly.
She phases through them walking up the hall to her room and glances back at Lance remarking, "I'll see you after school, sweetie."
Fred, Pietro, and Todd watch with surprised eyes as Lance grins with tall confidence. He adjusts his tie once more and says in a proper tone, "Excuse me, gentlemen." then walks off tall and proud.
Pietro nods and chuckles, "Well, they do say clothes make the man."
"If that's the case," Todd adds, "I'm getting' me a tuxedo."
Allison casually struts through the halls biting in toasted bagel and reading the 'Arts and Entertainment' section of the morning newspaper. She finds herself a spot in the front living area to perch, Allison spots Amara and Tabitha walk towards the kitchen. Mara accidentally makes eye contact with Allison and smiles innocently. Allison keeps her facial expression plain as she signals the two over to her with her finger. Amara and Tabitha glance at each other then walk over to Allison. Scarfing down the last bite of her bagel, Allison lightly licks her fingers and says in plain tone, "I trust we have an understanding, girls?"
Tabitha rolls her eyes while folding her arms and replies, "Yeah, yeah, we know. We'll do your laundry after school."
Allison adds while coldly staring at her newspaper, "And Allan's and Rogue's too."
Amara's eyes widen as she speaks up, "But that's not fair, Allison. We said we were sorry."
Smiling with a sarcastic smirk, Allison remarks, "Let's not forget, Amara, thanks to you, Logan now thinks I'm a raging alcoholic. Do you know how hard it is to lie to someone who can smell you lying? That was one of my favorite outfits by the way."
Both Tabitha and Amara fall silent as Allison continues, "You best be glad Allan and I covered for you guys. Heck, even Scott is turning the other cheek to this. You people could've gotten all of us into a lot of trouble that night. Honestly, I think you all are getting off easy. Oh, and remind Bobby and Jubilee after school that the car cleaning supplies are on Allan's side of the garage. Also, Scott would like to have two coats of wax on his car." as she grins at them.
Both girls slowly turn away and walk to the kitchen with frustrated expressions on their faces. Allison sits back, stretching her back while sighing out with a smile, "Ah, sweet justice."
Within ear shot of the conversation, Jean smiles at the scene watching Tabitha and Amara walk away from Allison. She carries her school bag as she walks toward the study. Jean gently opens the door asking, "Professor, you wanted to see me?"
As she steps in, she notices Allan standing across the room from Charles. "Please, come in Jean." Charles remarks.
Jean's expression becomes a bit nervous entering the room. "I am aware of what happened this morning." Charles mentions, "Are you feeling alright?"
Shrugging her shoulders, Jean smiles and replies, "I feel fine, Professor. I just went a little overboard. Sorry about that."
"Overboard?" Allan inquires, "Jean, you fried eighty percent of the main systems down below. I'd say 'overboard' is an understatement."
Jean smiles out of embarrassment and says, "Ok, I over estimated the situation. I made a mistake, and I won't let it happen again."
Charles smiles remarking, "We all learn from our mistakes, Jean. However, we are here to help you keep your powers under control. Do not be afraid to ask."
With her embarrassed smile, Jean replies, "I'm good, Professor. Honest, I really do have a handle on my new powers."
Charles glances at Allan with a content expression. Allan nods his head in silence. Looking back at Jean, Charles says, "Very well then, we'll discus this further later."
Jean smiles and politely backs out of the room closing the door behind her. Allan straightens his posture and starts to pace. Charles asks, "What is bothering you Allan?"
Standing firm, Allan glances at Charles and answers, "We all make honest mistakes, Professor. None of us are safe from imperfection. But her mistake down there looked angry. Like she lashed out."
Charles settles back in his wheelchair and says, "If it is anger, then we must continue to give her more creative outlets. Perhaps tone back the physical aspects and concentrate on her mental training."
Allan nods and replies, "That's not a bad idea. I'll work with her later, see where this built anger is coming from. Right now, if you'll excuse me, Professor, I have other matters to tend to today."
Charles returns his nod as Allan leaves the study. Sitting silently in his study, Charles falls deep in thought.
The week begins as normal in Bayville with its' daily in town traffic frustrating the regular commuters. With the weather leaning more to the cooler temperatures despite the bright sun above, Rogue enjoys her short moments in traffic as she makes her way to the Bayville University campus in her new Camaro with the windows down. It is a liberating sensation she feels finally not relying on others to chauffeur her around. And the occasional double take looks she would get from neighboring male drivers, either checking her out or the sleekness of her decked out classic black sports car, is quite an ego booster which she can't help but giggle to. The growl of her 350 horse power engine is enough to turn heads as she pulls her car into campus student parking. Wearing a pair one of Allan's sunglasses, she walks with savvy confidence across campus. Classes roll on like any other day. Rogue had grown use to the long lectures of her Art History course and the tediousness of her English 101 class. Her class hours are long, drawn out and at times boring. It is why she savors every break and why she had strategically scheduled all her classes in the morning freeing up her afternoons for more personal time. Although the dangers of her mutant powers still linger in her mind, she goes about her day just the like other students around her. Yet, despite the work load she had now adopted into her life, Rogue finds it all pays off when she sees the smile of her favorite person waiting for her out at the regular outdoor café the usually meet at after her classes.
Standing by the campus courtyard fountain, Scott adjusts the weight of his backpack over his should while waiting for Jean. He watches other students pass by with a content smile. He gets curious glances from a handful who obviously wonder why he always wears red sunglasses. It is a reaction Scott has grown use to, so he continues to smile. Being in college has given him a chance to be treated normally since his exposure as a mutant. Occasionally, Scott would get the indirect look of suspicion or the whispering huddles as he would walk through campus. But he considers those isolated, seeing how big the campus property is. Most of the time, Scott finds himself just another face in the crowd, and he revels in it. He begins to slowly pace back and forth in front of the decorative and near spiraling water fountain as the minutes pass. Just then a fellow students voice calls out to him, "Hey yo, you with the shades."
Scott turns to the voice and sees a group of seven male students approaching him. He carefully glances around to make sure they are talking to him. The male student says to him, "Yeah you with the red shades."
Scott replies calmly, "Did I do something wrong?"
The same students answers with grin, "Naw man, we just wanna talk."
"Ok, sure, what's up?" Scott asks with a smile.
The dark haired student casually stands in front of Scott with friends and mentions, "We're cool dude. We just wanna know if you're a mutant. Because you look like the guy we saw on TV a while back."
Scott falls silent at first, unsure of what to say. His expression becomes a bit nervous as he stutters out, "Well… um…"
Again the student smiles saying, "Dude, it's cool. I mean if you're not, no big deal. If you are that guy who helped stop that Juggernaut dude from destroying that dam a while back, I just wanna say thank you."
His face turning baffled, Scott asks with a bit of surprise, "Really? I mean, you guys aren't all freaked out?"
Continuing to smile, the student replies, "Hey, some of us here had family living in that valley. The way we see it, you and your friends saved their lives." as he then holds out his right hand.
Scott reaches out and shakes the other student's hand. With smile on his face, Scott remarks, "That's what we do."
Much to his surprise, Scott notices an air of acceptance from the group of guys that has approached him. One by one they each shake his hand either complimenting him or thanking him for his heroic deed. Some voice their excitement of an actual superhero standing before them. Scott flashes a modest smile as they all share laughs. But just as the light hearted moment surprisingly began, it comes to an eerily silent halt. Scott pauses for moment, then realizes everyone around him seemingly frozen in time. He speaks out with concern, "Whoa, hey, is everyone alright?"
He looks around and sees that nearly everyone with his line of sight has simply stopped, frozen in their moment. Silent smiles and near blank expression surround him as then notices Jean walking around a few of the 'stopped' students. Scott calls out to her, "Jean, what's going on!"
Jean grins while glancing around and says casually, "Relax, Scott, they won't remember a thing."
With a baffled expression, Scott asks, "Wait a minute, you're doing this?"
Continuing to grin at him with a coy expression, Jean remarks, "Don't worry, I'm just rearranging their perception of time. They won't remember ever meeting you."
Scott back away from the frozen group of students that were in front of him and says, "What for? I wasn't in any danger. Those guys aren't afraid of mutants."
Jean stares at Scott with sarcasm and asks, "And how long do you think that will last? You and I know that it doesn't take much for anyone to fear a mutant. Oh sure, they'll be your friend now, but that will change the moment you show them the color of your eyes. Honestly, you and I shouldn't even consort with these people."
Scott is a bit stunned at her comment. His expression is of near shock at the cold nature in which Jean had spoken as all he can say in return is, "Let them go, Jean."
Sighing out, Jean's sarcastic stare softens as she says, "I'm sorry Scott. I didn't mean any of that. Tell you the truth, I don't know where that came from. I feel that I've been reciprocating the anti-mutant thoughts that have been floating around."
She glances around and blinks her eyes. All around them, life seems to continue on as every person frozen in place move about as though nothing has happened. Scott looks over at the group of guys that approached him moment ago and watches as they continue on away from he and Jean, apparently mind wiped. Scott takes a breath and sighs out in frustration, "I don't know what is going on with you, Jean. I was giving you benefit of the doubt about this morning in the Danger Room. But after this, you've got me worried."
Jean just looks at Scott as his expression turns from confusion to near anger. In a stern yet low tone, he adds, "We're going to be late for lunch." as then turns walking away.
Jean swallows as she scampers trying to keep up with him.
Slowly turning the pages of Rogue's thick Art History text book, Allan smiles and marvels as he states, "There is something more to be said about actual printed text than holographic imaging information. The words just seem more tangible I guess."
Rogue sips her sweetened tea and asks, "Ya don't have books where you're from?"
Flipping through more pages with grin, Allan remarks, "We do, they're just bad reprints or very expensive. Most information is now portable VPI."
"VPI?" Rogue chuckle out, "what's that?"
Allan sips his drink with grin and answers, "Visual Photonic Imaging. If I remember correctly, it replaced the need for recyclable resources, like paper and plastics. It was considered the ultimate space saver tech. My 'laptop', as you all call it, uses VPI. So does the dash readout on my motorcycle."
Rogue smiles and giggles saying, "So, when can Ah see this future world you're from?"
"When can you what?" Allan asks returning her smile.
Rogue leans in on the outdoor bistro table they sit around and replies, "Well, call me old fashion, but when do Ah meet your father? Ah mean, you've kinda met my moms."
Allan gives her a baffling grin remarking, "It's not as simple as taking a long road trip to the west coast, babe. We're talking about crossing the threshold of two parallel worlds. I'm not even sure if you'd survive the trip."
"Why wouldn't Ah if Ah'm with you?" Rogue inquires.
Allan nods raising his eyebrows and answers, "Good point. I mean, I've never taken a passenger before on that kind of trip though."
Sitting back and relaxing a bit in her seat, Rogue shrugs her shoulders saying, "You know, Kurt went to another dimension and survived. He even brought Logan with him, and they made it through."
Chuckle while sitting back himself, Allan remarks, "Yeah, I read that file. I can't believe you guys let him do that. You have no clue what kind of imbalance that could've caused."
Rogue rolls her eyes saying, "My point is, they survived the trip."
Sighing out, Allan nods and replies, "Ok, they survived. But we're not talking about the same kind of trip."
With a frustrated smile, Rogue asks, "What's the difference?"
Allan leans back rubbing his face and takes a deep breath. He smiles back at Rogue and sighs out, "Alright, how do I explain this without confusing you?" as he clears his throat and continues, "Another dimension is very different from a parallel existing world. First of all physically, a dimension can be a flipside of what we perceive to be reality. Think Toon Town, Candyland, Acme Acres, if those places were real, they would be considered another dimension."
Rogue giggles, "Are those real places?"
Raising his eyebrows with a grin, Allan replies, "Geez, I hope not. I couldn't afford the therapy."
Lightly laughing, Rogue leans in as Allan continues, "Needless to say, traveling to other dimensions can get dicey, as you already know. Which is why I try not to do that as much. Now traveling to parallel existing worlds is whole different matter. Technically, you're not actually leaving the world, you're just stepping into a different one. Now when I say step, don't take that literally. It can be as simple as that, but most of the time, it's not. It is a physically existing world, but with a slight shift in time and space, or so I'm told. In essence, a parallel existing world is another planet, accept it's not."
Rogue just stares at Allan with near blank half smiling expression as she tries to understand his words. Allan notices her confusion and adds, "Well, that's the best way I can put it, I guess. Our worlds are almost the same, we share similar histories, but our present literally evolved differently."
Rogue takes a breath with eyes as she asks, "So how different is your world despite the fact that its' a hundred years further than ours?"
Allan chuckles and grins saying, "Let's just say, where I'm from, human's aren't the only ones born with powers. You would find it very interesting there."
"If you were to take me." Rogue quickly adds.
Sitting up, Allan says to her, "Babe, I'm not sure if that's a good idea."
Rogue breathes out, "Look, if ya don't want me to meet you're dad, you just have to say so."
"It's not that," Allan speaks up in his defense, "I'm concerned about your safety. Crossing the threshold of parallel existence sounds easy, but it's complicated. Well, for cosmic people, it's not, but still it's tedious. Just take my word for it."
Giving Allan coy grin, Rogue asks, "So, have you met another version of me on any of those worlds?"
Allan chuckles as he leans and tells her, "Actually, no I haven't. But that would be dealing with alternate realities, and that is a whole different mess which I avoid like the plague. It gets confusing, cliché, and very annoying. Anyways, I doubt any other version of you could top the version I'm sitting across from right now."
Rogue smiles and replies, "Good recovery, tough guy."
Returning her smile, Allan slowly turns his face to his left with a curious expression. Rogue looks to what has caught his eye and notices another young couple accidentally listening in on their conversation. The young couple's expression seems a bit baffled and disturbed as they slightly grin and look away in the opposite direction. Rogue and Allan stare back each other with slight grins, then begin to lightly laugh. Rogue chuckles and asks Allan, "Are our conversations always gonna be this weird?"
Playfully shrugging his shoulders, Allan smiles and replies, "Considering the line of work we're both in, why not?"
They sit back with content smiles, ignoring the disturbed and curious glances from the other patrons who were in ear shot of their unique conversation. But as both Rogue and Allan settle into their semi private light hearted moment, Allan suddenly feels psychic push against his mind. He flinches at the sensation as it begins to feel like an ice cream brain freeze. Rogue straightens her posture asking, "Allan, are you alright?"
Just then, Rogue begins to hear a drawn out high pitch ringing sound in her ears. She starts rubbing her ears slightly as she glances around. Rogue notices other people doing the same as she, reacting to the high pitch ring. Allan rubs his temples trying to fight off the uncomfortable sensation that has washed through his mind. People around them start to complain about the high pitch sound rubbing and trying to clear out their ears. Rogue adds to the complaining asking out to Allan, "What is that?"
Allan sits up and begins to glare around them, trying to ascertain if this is an attack. He sees other people passing by rubbing their ears to the high pitch noise. Their faces show a bit of frustration as they assume it is some kind of malfunction with someone's stereo. Allan and Rogue assume the worst as they both glance around for another source of the discomfort. The discomfort in Allan's head turns to slight pain as he grunts out continuing to rub his temples. Looking out away from the outdoor café they sit at, Both Rogue and Allan turns their eyes to the courtyard. Much to their surprise they see Scott and Jean walking in their direction, apparently not affected by the discomfort. It is as though the two are totally oblivious to the curious and frustrated voices around them. Allan notices Scott's somewhat sour expression and Jean's pouting face as they walk through the campus eatery. Gritting his teeth, Allan whispers out, "Damn it." and stands quickly.
He walks over to Scott and Jean with frustrated expression and focuses his mind. With his mind now reaching out, he hears echoing bickering coming from Scott and Jean's thoughts. 'Scott, I told you, I'm really sorry! I don't know what came over me. I was just trying to protect you.' Jean's pleads.
'It was unnecessary, Jean!' Scott replies, 'We were taught better than that!'
'It felt like the right thing to do at the time. It won't happen again.' Jean tells him.
'Again? It shouldn't have happened, period!' Scott says sternly.
"Scott, stop it! I can feel your anger! It's… nauseating.' Jean remarks.
Allan expression becomes angry as he vocally yells out, "Both of you, SHUT UP!"
Scott and Jean stop in their tracks surprised at Allan's outburst. Other passing students look, also surprised at his sudden angry tone. Allan looks back at the students and darts out, "Something we can do for you! Mind your own business." as he then turns his angered expression at Jean and Scott.
The other students shrug and move while rubbing their ears against the noise. Rubbing his temples slightly, Allan mutters out, "Stop, whatever you two are doing, now."
With that said, the pain sensation in Allan's head stops. All around them, passing students stop reacting to the high pitch ringing noise and continue on. Allan takes quick glances around them and asks, "Have you two lost your minds, bickering like that? Can't you see what you both were doing?"
Scott hesitates at first, then says, "Sorry, Allan. It was just…"
Jean quick adds, "… just a little argument. That's all. And I lost concentration. We're really sorry."
Allan nods with his a frustrated expression and states with an angered tone, "Yeah, well 'sorry' is not going to cut it this time. I want both of you back at the Institute, right now."
Scott speaks up, "Whoa, Allan, we're not kids anymore. You can't…"
Stepping up to Scott with his eyes glaring at the ruby quartz sunglasses, Allan nearly growls out in a low tone, "Do I need to repeat myself?"
Backing off, Scott sighs out, "Fine." as he turns heading towards the parking lots.
Jean looks at Allan with innocent eyes then turns to catch up with Scott. Allan closes his eyes and takes a breath. He begins to calm down as Rogue approaches and asks, "What was that all about?"
Allan remains quiet as he tries to gather his thoughts. Then another voice from the outdoor café speaks out to them, "You mutie freaks don't belong here!"
Quickly turning to look at the male student who yelled, Allan glares at the guy and returns with a loud angered tone, "You wanna say that in my face, you racist PIG!"
The somewhat over weight male student stumbles back, then turns in the opposite direction and briskly walks away. Allan adds loudly, "No I didn't think so!"
The other patrons do their best trying to mind their own business. Nervous faces look away, taking quick glances and speaking in low tones and whispers. Rogue steps in front of Allan and placing her hands against his chest saying, "Babe, calm down."
Allan takes another breath, rubbing his temples. Rogue adds while glancing back, "Come on, let's get outta here."
Nodding, Allan follows Rogue's lead as she takes him by his right arm ushering him away.
The late afternoon fades into early evening. The residence of the Xavier Institute begins to wind down from their day of activity with content moods. The mood however, seems to pass over the individuals standing in Charles Xavier's office. Looking across from his desk with Eric seated a few feet to his right, Charles does his best trying to understand the situation Allan had informed him about. With Allan and Scott some what flanking her, Jean stands with her eyes down in an almost ashamed manner. Charles takes a breath and remarks, "I am a bit… disappointed. Control is they key lessons we try to teach here. You and Scott know that all to well to allow something like this happen so easily."
Scott speaks up, "It's my fault, Professor. I was angry and Jean was reciprocating what she…"
Allan quickly cuts him off, "Stop it, Scott. You've been defending her all day. It's time she faced her problems herself."
Scott quiets down sighing out. Allan continues, "We all make mistakes, Jean. None of us are safe from that, especially cosmic beings. But it doesn't mean you can blatantly disregard the safety of those around you."
Charles and Eric both nod, "I have to agree with Allan, Jean." Charles remarks, "You cannot afford to lose control at this stage of your growth."
"Nobody was hurt, Professor," Jean says in her defense, "and I wasn't looking to hurt anybody."
Allan steps in front of her mentioning, "You were lucky today. My mind happens to be a sponge for emotional psychic pulses your mind was putting out. If I hadn't been there, your pulses would have turned that whole area into a riot zone, rather than just irritate me."
Jean looks down in silence as Charles speaks up, "Alright, calm down everyone. We have addressed the problem so now we can move forward. For now, Jean, I need for you too tone back the use of your new abilities and concentrate more on your creative outlets. I believe your mind has been under a bit of stress dealing with your college classes. Every morning, you will work with Allan and myself in your power development. With the Danger Room out of commission for the time being, all exercises will held out on the grounds for the rest of the students. Also, until Forge, Hank and Sean can get the power systems down below up to par, access to the lower levels are restricted only to the instructors."
They all nod at Charles's comments as he adds, "Very well then." as he politely gestures them to leave.
Both Scott and Jean walk out of the office quietly closing the door behind them. Allan looks back at Charles with concern.
Walking up the stairs, Scott and Jean keep to themselves as they pass the more up beat students around them. Scott notices Ororo and Logan giving them concerned glances. He ignores the looks and continues on to his room. Jean catches up with him and remarks, "I think we kind of got off easy."
Scott nods and mutters back, "Yup."
With concerned expression on her face, Jean mentions, "I'm just surprised you didn't mention what I did to those group of guys you were talking to earlier."
Sighing out with a somewhat saddened look, Scott replies plainly, "I was hoping I wouldn't have to. Good night, Jean." as he continues walking away towards his room.
Jean stops by her door watching him walk up the hallway then turning the corner out of her sight. Her face saddens as she reaches out with her mind feeling the disappointment in Scott's mind.