—CASSIE—

Why exactly did it feel like I was the bad guy in all this? Cory doesn’t want to lie, Lily doesn’t want to manipulate but Cassie does. Cassie LOVES it! I’m only trying to do the right thing by my friend. I’m only trying to Joshhim, but Cory keeps acting as if I’m evil for forcing him to do this. Why am I the devil for trying to do the right thing?

The prophecy states that Josh must die or thousands will die instead. Josh’s first instinct is going to be to sacrifice himself.

There is no way any of us will let thousands of people die. But I am not about to let Josh die either.

My visions tell me that there is no other option. Either Josh dies or people die. Well I don’t accept that. I choose my destiny, I don’t let visions or prophecy or cryptic old women tell me what I can and cannot do.

I am not ordinary. I don’t care if that makes me sound conceited. Maybe I am. No, I definitely am. I am fully confident in my abilities and myself. I’m a genius mutant who can move things with my thought and read minds with ease. No one and nothing can stop me from getting what I want if I so desire it, and I desire this. I desire to save my friend’s life and I desire to protect thousands of people from dying.

So if that makes me a bad guy, so be it.

I’ll at least be a bad guy at an Ivy League school.

As uncertain as everything is in life, I at least have that. I know where I’m going to school. Yay…

I skim through my Columbia University brochure with little interest. I already have this one, but I couldn’t exactly refuse it. I put it on top of the others from Harvard, Yale, Brown, and Princeton and look to Cory, who is sitting in the large gap between bleachers. His eyes kept shutting and every other second; he’d force them back open to stay awake.

Lily’s over by her gaggle of girlfriends who I couldn’t stand to be around. I could almost hear them cackling and giggling from here. Having to stand around and listen to them talk was equivalent to when I get a telepathic headache and hear hundreds of voices screaming into my head at once.

Josh and Lily both had their own separate groups of friends, Cory and I on the other hand, didn’t really have anyone else. I guess Cory did have his band mates and a few of the idiots in his remedial classes, but he isn’t very close to them. And me, I’m close to no one but Josh, Cory and Lily. People don’t really get me and I don’t really get people. There is a lot of mutual loathing.

I can’t relate to them. I couldn’t relate before I was a mutant and I can’t relate after. I use to think it was because I was too smart and too worldly, and tiny, prideful part of me still does. But the truth is I can’t connect to people. I never could. I’ve never been able to care about the trivial problems of adolescences.

And lately; well lately I feel I have the weight of the world on my shoulders.

I guess I do have some friends outside of the three. There is Josh’s sisters…and Jean….Forge, who left after Ororo’s death so he doesn’t count. Jamie Madrox is in California now, so I only get the occasional ‘;I think I want to start PI firm’ or ‘I’m going to send you pictures of my hair tell me which style you like best(hard too choose’ I know! I’m good looking!” from him. There’s Tucker…

He’s a fellow mutant I meet a while back when there was still an Xavier’s Institute in California. He was surprisingly smart and easy to talk too. A bit of a doofus but a cute doofus. Lily thinks I like him, but I have no interest in being in any sort of relationship. My life is too complicated.

And I’m sure Tucker has enough to deal with in his life too. His sister was killed when Sentinels attacked his school, his brother turned traitor and left to join Magneto, and now he was starting school at NYU…less then thirty minutes from North Salem….

No! No dating, no boys, just saving my friend. When you can barely count the number of people who like you on two hands, you have to hold onto them.

Though…there is one person I’m forgetting.

“Betsy,” I say straightening up in my seat, crossing my legs.

“Cassie,” the purple haired Asian British girl practically sashays up to me. Boys pquiver in her wake, staring at her longingly as she passes. Cory finally sits up, running a hair through his maim of thick hair, “Cory,” Betsy says coolly and he smiles stupidly.

Betsy was my…friend. Lily calls her my frienemy but I don’t use such terms. If anything, she is my rival; my only competition in this school in both intelligence and telepathy.

“Have a nice summer?” I ask with just the tiniest hint of venom.

“Oh yes, it was wonderful,” she replies bitterly, “We stayed in our estate in North Cornwall, enjoyed the tranquility, went for a swim the lake and tired to pretend my mentally unstable brother is not off running about with that mad woman or that pasty man who seems to be so obsessed with you and yours.”

“Oh” I coo, “That does sound fun!”

I would feel for Betsy a little more if she hadn’t spent most of last year being my actual enemy.

“Speaking of Serenity and Sinister,” I lean forward slightly, “Talk to any of your Mutant Liberation Front friends? You guys do still keep in touch, don’t you? MySpace, Facebook? Please tell you guys at least have a mailing list. There are just no excuses to keep out of touch these days.”

“No, sorry,” she pouts and put a hand on her hip, “Sadly I have not seen or heard anything from Calvin Rankin or any of these monsters.”

“Nothing from Mercury?” Cory asks, finally scouting onto an actual bench. I roll my eyes. Cory and Mercury played grab ass last year based on the sole fact that Cory was the only person Mercury could touch. Cory tends to make out with the morally corrupt quite often. That’s what low standards get you.

“No,” Betsy shook her head then shrugged her shoulder, “I was never very close with her anyway. It wasn’t exactly summer camp. Least you forget, I didn’t enjoy being there.”

That’s true, at least. The only reason Betsy even joined the Mutant Liberation Front was to help her brother Jamie Braddock. Jamie had been a powerful mutant, who, like Josh could manipulate things on a molecular base . Unlike Josh, Jamie could actual use that power and did, along with his telepathy, to get things he wanted. He also happened to be a drug addict and a bit psychopath. He turned Betsy’s hair purple out of pure spite because he felt his parents loved their adopted daughter as much as they did him, and he would have killed Betsy’s other brother Brian if Betsy had not put a psi-dagger through his head. He had been comatose for years leaving Betsy guilty ridden and easy prey for someone like Sinister. He made a deal with Betsy; she joined the Mutant Liberation Front, he’d save her brother.

Well she did join and he did help her brother. But the time Betsy betrayed the MLF and saved my life, Jamie was awake. Only problem was, Sinister and Serenity didn’t plan to give him back to Betsy. They were taking him for themselves. And no one has seen or heard from them since.

“I talk to Jamie Madrox,” I reply with a shrug. Jamie Madrox, aka Multiple Man, was a member of the MLF and he too had more noble reasons to be there.

“Yes, I do too,” she nods, “He seems to be enjoying LA a great deal. I think if there was ever a city made for Jamie, that would be it.”

“I don’t know,” I shrug “given his powers I think Utah could work out.”

“What colleges are you looking at?” suddenly Cory’s interested in colleges.

“None here,” Betsy gives the room a disdainful glare, “I’m going to University back home.”

I gasp, “Oh shame.”

“Yes well,” Betsy shrugs one finely toned shoulder, “higher quality education, higher quality people.”

“But not teeth,” I say pointedly.

“Yes well we know you Americans need strong teeth so you can rip into your triple wide Big Macs with heart attack sauce and fatass topping,” she retorts.

“Hmm,” I d give her a nod of mutual respect. “At least we’re not French.”

“Thank God.”

“I like French Fries,” Cory says with a wide smile, “And French Onion soup. A french k-”

“Shush,” I shake my head.

“I think that’s my cue to leave,” Betsy gives a slight curtsey, “I have to go tell my guidance counselor what a disappointment the American public school system has been.”

“Oh fun! Make sure to take mental pictures to show me later!” I mimic a camera with my hands.

“Of course!”

“If you can make him cry I’ll buy you coffee.”

“As if I needed the incentive!” She says with a laugh as she walks away.

And that’s why she’s my friend! It was nice having someone around who I can relate too in so many horrible ways.

“You guys are weird,” says Cory shaking his head. He falls back into the gap between, “But she is hot…”

I roll my eyes, “You need to swear off women, for a year.”

“I’d swear off women,” Cory closes his eyes, “But they just can’t swear off me.”

“Given that most of  the women you’ve hooked up with should should be institutionalized, maybe you should look at that in a less positive way,” I reply.

But is there no point because not a second later I hear a loud snore.

—CORY—

“Ouch!” I scream as Cassie smacks me awake.

“Come with me!” she says grabbing me by the wrist and dragging me up, sending me tumbling off the bench.

“Hey!” I scream, barely staying on my feet, “Whatcha doin’!”

She ignores me and continues to drag me through the gym, with what I’m pretty sure was  her telekinetic powers.

“Move,” she says pushing aside anyone in her way.

“Sorry bros,” I try and lean out of their way, but my shoulder grazes one of them and my foot steps on another.   I think Cassie forgot that I’ve got really long(and muscular) arms and legs! “Where are we going!”

Students begin to move out of the way for us. Knowing better then to anger Cassie, they part at first sight, some even jumping out of the way. They’re all smirking at me though, looking at me like I’m some big whipped douchebag. I feel my cheeks begin to heat up and I try to keep my head low, hoping no one would recognize me.

She finally lets go of me in front of one of the college booth. I snatch back my arm and rub my wrist, pouting and muttering to myself, ignoring the stares of students passing by.

Why does Cassie always have to hurt my street cred! No girl is going to hook up with a guy who gets dragged around by the scariest girl in school. Plus, everyone is going to start to think I’m banging her and neither of us want that!

“Hello,” Cassie says to the dude behind the booth, a scrawny looking bro with a huge nose.

“Hi,” the guy smiles brightly at Cassie and picks up a brochure and hands it to her, “You play?”

My eyebrows raise. Play what? Was something kinky about to go on?

“Oh God no,” Cassie cringes away from the brochure, “But he does,” she nods at me and I frown in confusion.

Until…I look up at the sign on the top of the booth. The Manhattan School of Music

The guy hands me a brochure, but I shake my head, “I’m-.”

Cassie snatches it from his hand before I can finish. She smacks it into my chest way too hard and I clutch it instinctively. She shots me a dangerous glare and looks back to the guy behind the booth with a bright, equally scary smile.

“He plays guitar,” she begins, “And sings and writes music. He’s very good, sort of like a Ryan Adams meets Bob Dylan meets Mozart. Not at all Nicklebacky or you know Creed. No Justin Timberlake high pitch, female voice. Actually nothing boyband-”

“How long have you played?” the guy cuts Cassie off.

“Ugh…” I think for a moment, “I guess my brother started teaching me when I was like six…and then ugh…” and then he died, killed by Exodus in an attempt on Josh’s life when we were only eight and had no idea we were mutants, “Then uh…he stopped,” Cassie’s staring up at me now, all sympathetic like and I try to ignore her, “But I continued playing…so I guess, twelve years.”

“Nice,” he says sounding impressed, “I’m Frank by the way.”

“Cory,” Cassie cuts in as she places a hand on my chest.

“Nice to meet you Cory,” Frank holds out his hand and I shake it. Don’t wanna be rude.

Still I have no interest in talking to this dude, “Uh, I uh…I don’t think-”

But Cassie cuts in again, “So how important are grades for you, because Cory’s grades aren’t fantastic,” that’s putting it lightly. Usually she calls my grades a “travesty of epic proportions.” , but that’s totally cool with me. I like being epic.

“Well we don’t ignore them,” Frank replies, “But we really look for a student’s musicality.”

Cassie laughs, “Musicality! That’s hilarious! That is not a real word. See Cory,” she turns back to me, “They make up words at this school. You don’t need to know things. They’re musicians!” She shakes her head and lets out a sigh, “Funny stuff.” Franks stare at her, his mouth hanging open.

I shake my head at Cassie but she ignores me. Of course she does. She always ignores me. I’m starting to get angry and fed up with her. I have no interest in going to school and I wish she’d just let it go! She never lets anything go!

“Anyway if you’re all about musicality,” the word actually seems to cause her pain, “My friend’s got it. He is an incredibly talented musician. The very best” My eyes widen and my head snaps as I stare at her in disbelief. She’s never said anything this nice about my music before. She usually tries to get me to give it up, “Now you can ask anyone here, I’m a brutally honest person. I wouldn’t lie to you. He’s the next big thing.”

I stare at Cassie, not really knowing what to say. I’m flattered and annoyed all at the same time.

“How about you take my card?” Frank holds out a small white card and I finally break my gaze from Cassie and look down at it, “We can set up an audition.”

I shake my head and hold up a hand in a protest, “No thanks. I’m not interested in going to your school.”

I could tell Frank’s surprised by my response. He draws back his hand.

“Wait,” Cassie shots me a furious glance, “He’s kidding. He wants to go to your school.”

“No I don’t,” I repeat with a shake of the head.

“Yes he does,” she looks to Frank, “Ignore him. He’s going to come to this audition. Hand me the card,” she opens her palm.

Frank shifts nervously, “If you’re friend isn’t interested.”

“I’m not.”

Cassie is getting really angry now. Her nostrils flare and that’s always a sign of danger, “He is. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Give me the damn card.”

But I’m getting angry now too. I round on her, “I don’t want to go to that school! I don’t want to go to any school!”

She turns to me, her eyes lit with fury, “You have no idea what you’re talking about! You have to go to school! It’s for the best. You can’t just throw away your future”

“I can do what ever I want! I’m not throwing away my future!”

“Yes you are!” she screams, “You need to go to college!”

“I don’t!” I reply, “School was a complete waste of time for me I don’t need it! Just because you do doesn’t make it the right choice. I’m going to be a huge successful musician!”

People are staring at us now. Cassie practically growls at them and they all their heads snap away at the same time and I can’t help but wonder if she used her powers on them.

“You have to realize Cory that you can’t just follow whatever dream you want,” Cassie says, “You have to be practical and smart. You need a plan and a safety net. You can’t just leave your future to chance. There is no such thing as a sure thing.”

“HA!” I laugh cruelty, “I can’t believe you of all people are telling me this.” I know I’m going into dangerous territory now.

“That’s not the same,” her voices shakes with rage.

“Because it’s you?”

“Because I know what I’m doing,” she replies giving her chest a hard poke.

“Yeah, you know everything,” I wave my hands above my head, “Super smart Cassie knows all. She knows what’s best for her and what’s best for everyone around her.”

“Pretty much.”

“Well you don’t!” I snap, “You don’t know anything.”

“And you do?” she moves closer to me, “You seem so certain about your future, that you’ll be this big rock star but that’s not how life works. You need to prepare, you need to make plans, you need to be proactive. You can’t just hope for the best. You need to act.”

I know what she’s really saying. I might not be smart but I can read between the lines. She believes I’m hoping for the best with Josh, that if we tell him it will turn out alright, that Josh will listen to us. And maybe it will turn out alright. Maybe I will become a rock star and Josh will survive. She doesn’t know that. She never sees anyone else’s side of thing.

“I can’t take this anymore,” I throw my hands up in surrender. “I’m going back to sit. You can join me if you promise to shut the hell up.”

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