Wednesday September 30th

Cory

It was a day I think we were all dreading but we knew it was coming. Lily told me she was having sleepless nights because of it, Cassie told me she didn’t really care but I know she did, Josh said it was inevitable, that it had to happen. Me, I was just didn’t know what I was going to do…

Today was the day we were going to get codenames…again. We had over two weeks to think of new ones because no one but Cassie could remember their old ones. I think mine was something to do with….my powers. I’m just guessing though. I had actually made an early list that I showed to Josh but he said none of them were good because they were all dirty. I don’t get what was wrong with ‘The Giant Iron Rod’. It’s not that dirty…but it did give Josh the opportunity to say “It’s too long anyway’ which I responded with a wink, “I know.” It was so awesome!

I arrived at the warehouse around five, everyone was already there. Cassie sat on the couch in the middle of the main room of the warehouse, her legs crossed looking very bored. Josh sat next to her, looking slightly nervous, while Lily sat next to him, pouting and twirling a finger around her light brown hair.

Ororo was sitting in a lone chair facing them and when I arrived, she got up and waved me over.

“Good, everyone is here,” Ororo said as I took the last seat on the couch next to Lily, “Okay let’s get started. Who wants to first?”

I raised my hand and Ororo nodded for me to go on. I cleared my throat, “The Shocker.”

“Oh my God,” Josh and Cassie muttered at the same time, while Ororo looked at them confused.

“I like it,” Lily frowned at them.

“You like Shocker,” I said, a devious smile came over my face.

“Yeah,” Lily said, “I do.”

“Cory…” Josh sighed loudly…

“Now it works because he does shock people,” Lily continued and I had to bit my lip not to laugh.

Josh and Cassie both rolled their eyes at Lily being so naïve she didn’t get what I was really trying to say. Ororo seemed to be looking at the four of us confused.

“Oh,” Lily said excited as she patted me on the arm, “You can, like have a move called The Shocker too.”

At this I burst out laughing. I laughed so hard that I could hardly breathe.

“What?” Lily said clearly confused. I looked to her just as Josh leaned forward and whispered something into Lily’s ear. Lily’s eyes grew wide as she let out a gasp. She covered her mouth which twisted in disgust.

“That’s horrible!” She screamed at Josh, her face pale. I laughed harder and she looked towards me, her eyes narrow. “Ass!” she punched me hard on the side of the head.

“Ah!” I screamed, turning to steel, my vision blurring from the tears of laughter and pain.

“Lily!?” Ororo looked at Lily shocked. “Why did you do that?!”

“You don’t want to know,” Lily shook her head.

“Can we please take this seriously,” Josh said as I transformed back to flesh.

“I’ll go,” Lily said getting up and turning to the three of us, “And it won’t be dirty.”

“What!? No!?” Cassie shook her head in mock shock.

“Okay,” Lily nodded, “My new code name will be….” She paused for a second. She swayed in place, bit her lip then started to cry. Josh throw up his arms in disbelief while Ororo just shook her head and Cassie looked at her fingernails bored. “I can’t do it!” She cried loudly, “If I get a codename, I’m just one step away from my father! Next will come the flashy, red costume with that horrible helmet! I don’t want helmet hair!”

She cried and took a seat, covering her face and waving for us to move on to the next person.

“Cassie,” Josh looked to Cassie.

“And codenames!” Lily suddenly cried out and some hope came upon her face, “They are so horribly cliché! Can’t we just call each other like L, J, C, and……” the hope drained from her face as she muttered, “…C”

“Well maybe we can say boy C and girl C,” I added trying to get back to Lily’s good side.

“Yeah, but which is which?” Josh shrugged with a smile.

Cassie shot him a look of disgust, “What happened to taking this seriously?”

“Yes, that would be nice,” Ororo added in, in an exhausted tone.

“Okay how about we call them Co and Ca,” Lily nodded and a smile spread across her face and she giggled, “CoCa…”

Cassie shook her head, looking at Lily with disbelief, “These moments always really make me wonder why I’m friends with you people.”

“Okay, okay,” Josh shook his head, “Cassie why don’t you go.”

“I’m keeping my codename,” Cassie said firmly, “Tech Girl fits me.”

“It sucks,” I replied immediately.

“It does,” Lily tried to say in a supportive tone.

“How about something to do with your precognitive powers,” Ororo said in a hopeful tone. This had to be really hard for her. We could be very ADD.

“How about ‘Frigid Bitch’?” I rose my hand.

“We might as well just call her Cassie,” Josh smirked.

“Aww,” Lily frowned, “She isn’t that frigid…”

“I’m going to hurt you all,” Cassie muttered.

“How about Prodigy,” Josh added seriously, “I mean it does fit with you. I mean you are one, and well you calling yourself one is pretty cocky and you are that too.”

“I am,” Cassie nodded, “And fine, I’ll do Prodigy….Though I really don’t like it. It’s such a dead giveaway that it’s me.”

Lily shook her head and muttered, “I’m not calling her that…” I nodded, agreeing.

“Okay,” Ororo sighed in relief, “Josh.”

“Alright,” Josh nodded and got up like Lily had done, “Since I could fly how about Concord?”

“Sounds a little womanly,” Lily scrunched up her face and put her thumb and index finger close together.

“I always felt he was a little androgynous,” Cassie smirked wickedly.

“Don’t turn the sexual androgyny around to me,” Josh said pointing a finger at her.

“You sort of are,” Lily repeated her scrunched up face and finger movement.

I didn’t really know what androgyny meant, so I just looked on, nodding.

Josh frowned but Lily shook her head.

“It’s a good thing,” Lily nodded, “It just means you’re more sensitive than the normal guy. I like a guy who could get in touch with his inner core and cry a little.”

“Did Connor cry?” I asked.

Lily’s face fell and she looked at me hurt.

I cringed, “Uh, I mean…something…….yup…”

“Nice cover,” Josh replied dryly.

I tried not to mention Connor around Lily. I didn’t really know how to help her here. I offered to beat Connor up for her but she got angry at me. I didn’t like seeing her hurt, and I wished I could help but really I just couldn’t.

“How about Speed Demon,” Josh said quickly. We all started to laugh and Josh frowned, “Fine..not Speed Demon…” he sighed, “Power Boy?” we began to laugh harder, “Uh..Karate Kid?” Lily started to wave her hands in the air as she laughed harder, tears falling down her face, “How about Blaster Boy..”

“Oh My God!” Cassie grabbed her stomach as she gasped her air, a large smile on her face, “It hurts!”

“I hate you all,” Josh pouted sitting down on the couch and crossing his arms.

Lily wiped a tear away and looked over to Josh, “Thanks Josh, I needed that…”

Josh glared at her.

“Alright that’s enough,” Ororo got up, “I was afraid of this going nowhere…Josh, your codename will be Force.”

Josh’s face fell, “Wow…People are going to think I’m a rapist…”

Ororo turned to me, “You’ll be Elemental Boy.”

I shot up from the couch, insulted “I’m a man!”

Ororo ignored him and looked to Lily, “You’ll be Fury.”

Lily pouted, “That makes me sound mean…and a little evil.” She sighed, “And so it begins…”

“Wow…” Cassie leaned back on the couch, folding her arms, smirking happily, “I just love the new codenames.”

Saturday, October 3rd

Cassie

The last few nights, I kept having the same dream. Or maybe it was a vision. It’s hard to tell sometimes. In my dream, I was alone, surrounded in dark smoke. I could hear a woman’s voice, she was someone calling my name. She didn’t want my help, that’s not why she was calling me. It was for something, something bad. The voice was familiar, eerily so but I just couldn’t place it. I never could.

I woke up that morning around eight. I had that dream again. I stayed in bed for an hour, just trying to think who the voice belonged too. I’m supposed to be smarter then this. I should know.

I got out of bed and headed downstairs where both my parents were seated around the circular kitchen table drinking coffee. My mom was reading the morning paper while my dad seemed to be looking over notes from his work as a lawyer.

“Good morning,” my mom said looking from her coffee as I entered the room.

I gave them both a wave and walked over to the coffee pot. As I poured my own cup of coffee, I couldn’t help but think of that voice. Over and over again it called my name. I didn’t need foresight or empathic powers to know that the voice was bad, that whatever it wanted from me was bad.

Sighing, I took a seat at the table with my parents.

“So I actually have the day off today,” my mom said with a wide smile.

I gave a lopsided smile. It was rare that my mom ever had a day off work. She was the hospital’s, hell, the country’s, top heart surgeons, so she works constantly. Whenever she didn’t work, she seemed to want to do nothing but spend time with me.

I looked at my mom for a second. She was very beautiful. Dark skin, long black hair, and brown eyes, she had a way of holding herself so that she seemed smart, beautiful, sexy and in control whenever she wanted. She was who I wanted to be when I go out into the real world. Well her or my dad.

“So want to go shopping?” my mom asked.

“I’m sorry,” I frowned, “I have to do something today, plus Lily wanted me to go to the mall with her today and I said no. So if I run into her she’d probably cry or something.”

“Oh,” my mom’s face fell and she took a sip of her coffee, “How about dinner tonight? Just you and I, your father is a bit busy…” her eyes moved her to him and she gave him a disapproving glance.

“Hmm?” my dad looked up from his work and to my mother.

I laughed and then looked back to mother, “Dinner, I could do.”

My mom smiled brightly, “Good. You choose the place.”

“Of course,” I nodded and smiled. I looked to my dad and bent towards him, trying to look at his work, “What are you working on? More evil corporate stuff?”

My dad looked to me and shook his head, “I don’t work for evil corporations, Cassie.”

“You’re a corporate lawyer,” I said taking a sip of coffee, “You defend the last people who need defending, then again you’re a lawyer, so second to last.”

My dad smiled at me, “I do my share of helping the defenseless too.”

“Yeah in the eighties,” I shook my head, “And really, no one deserved to be saved in the eighties.”

My dad gave a small laugh then put down the paper he was studying, “Actually I’m thinking of taking on a new cause.”

“Oh?”

“Yup,” my dad pushed his notes towards me. I glanced down at them as he began talking, “Read the notes and tell me what you think I’ll be doing.”

“Oh no,” I said loudly, continuing reading the paper which had a bunch of statistics on the mutant population over the last decade or so. Things like the increase of percentage of mutants in the general populous, the number of attacks caused by mutants, and the number of attacks against mutants. Cases against mutants and their verdicts. Heck, I didn’t even know half the stuff. I looked up at him, “You can’t!”

“Can’t what?” my dad looked at me confused.

“You’re not going to go on some mutant rights crusade are you?”

My dad nodded, “That’s exactly what I plan to do. Well, not a crusade but I, along with some other lawyer friends of mine and a few congress men I know, will do our best to make sure more Sentinels aren’t built, that laws like registration, and DNA testing in schools will not happen.”

I looked at him shocked, than turned to my mother, “He can’t do this.”

“Why not?” my mom asked looking as equally confused as my father.

“Because I’m a mutant!”

My mom and dad looked at each other, both their eyebrows raised. They both turned to me and my dad looked at me with a small smile.

“Why do you think I’m doing this,” he put a hand on arm, “I’m doing this for you.”

I sighed, “You’re putting me in danger. You’re putting attention on yourself, which will then put it on me and my friends. I have Stryker at my school playing Snape, I’m sure he suspects me already, you taking on the cause will just raise his suspicions.”

“I think you’re being a little paranoid,” my father replied.

“I’m not,” I shook my head, “You don’t think these politicians who you’ll be against won’t try and dig up dirt on you? Well guess what, I’m pretty dirty.”

My parents both looked at my with their mouths open.

“You know what I mean!” I snapped angrily.

“I’m protecting you,” my dad said softly.

“I can do that myself,” I sighed.

“Oh, and how will you do something like that?” My dad asked, “You’re sixteen years old. I thought you didn’t plan on joining the X-Men?”

I looked at my dad with narrowed eyes. Like he didn’t suspect I already joined. Both my parents knew I was a mutant and both knew that Ororo and the X-Men trained me. They had known longer than I had realised that they had. My mom had experienced powers while she was pregnant with me, so it was kind of a given. How could they not know I was an X-Man. They know me. I don’t stand idly by and watch things happen. Neither do my parents, but I couldn’t let them get involved with this.

“Dad, it’s dangerous,” I said firmly, “Mutants don’t like humans getting in on their affairs. And a lot of humans don’t like when humans do it. You’re putting yourself in danger, and you’re putting mom in danger.”

I wasn’t going to another funeral anytime soon, especially not of my parents. They had to stay away from this.

“Cassie,” my dad removed his hand from my arm and looked right at me, “You’re not the parent, I am. I don’t need my daughter telling me what to do. I know you’re concerned but I have your best interest at heart, I always do.”

“Da-”

“No, let me finish,” he put a hand, “If these laws get passed through Congress, things will get out of hand.”

“I know that!”

“They’ll make camps, Sentinels will be put on every corner, it won’t matter what you could accomplish,” my dad paused, he looked incredibly somber, “They’ll see you as a mutant and they’ll imprison, hurt you…I can’t let that happen.”

I sighed and looked away from my dad. I know he wanted what was best, but this was all too risky.

I pulled my hand out from my dad’s grasp and got up, “I have to go…I have something to do.”

My dad looked over to my mother, who was looking at me with deep concern.

“Just think about what I’m trying to say,” I looked to my dad, “You’re putting your life at risk.”

“I know what I’m doing,” my dad said, “But I’ll think about what you said, if you think about what I said.”

“Sure,” I said turning around and walking away from them, “I won’t be home late.”

I went upstairs and got dressed. I hadn’t planned to leave for another two hours or so, but I wanted to get out of my house. I was too frustrated at my dad. He doesn’t realize how dangerous this world is. And he doesn’t realize that I don’t need protection. I could very well take care of myself.

I looked at my the clock. It was still so early. I would get dressed then go to the park. Just relax for an hour or so, listen to my iPod. There was no way Jamie Madrox would be up now anyway.

After not hearing from Jamie for two weeks, I decided that he was definitely not calling me back because he thought I knew who he was. Which I did. He was Multiple Man, one of the Hellions who attacked the carnival three weeks ago. We lucked out that Jamie works with people more idiotic then my friends, as his fellow Hellion, Rockslide accidently slipped up and said Jamie’s name.

Before that, I had just tutored Jamie. I liked him well enough. He was weird. I thought he had Multiple Personality Disorder, but apparently he’s just multiple people.

Lily

Move on. Get over it. Forget him. You’re too good for him anyway. There are other fish in the sea. I could go on and on. I’ve heard it all. I’m actually pretty tired of it. I am moving on, I really am. I went through my mourning period. 90’s chick music. I started with Jewel, you know, sad, lyrical homeless chick music, moved onto to some Sarah Machalan, still sad, tragic, world ending but played on Buffy a lot, so inspiring, then decided to take the leap to Alanis. Angry, Canadian and so over it. Okay, well I’m not Canadian and I’m not exactly over it, but I’ll get there.

One thing I can’t do is stay in my room all day, eating chips and watching my DVDs of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Though, to be fair, Buffy gets me through the hard times. It speaks to me!

Allie was making sure to keep me active, Cassie, Josh and Cory, not so much. Unless you count training but I don’t. The first week they were there for me somewhat, but as always they all go do their own thing. Cory with his band and mutant hater club, Josh with Megan and his friends, school and training, and Cassie with, well lots of things. I guess I shouldn’t blame them, I joined yearbook and the school paper to do something after school now that I don’t babysit. Megan said I should have gone for cheerleading but Cassie said if I’d had done that she would have disowned me.

I just miss them so much. It’s stupid. I see them almost every day. But I miss seeing them. Hanging out and doing nothing but talking and making fun of each other. I miss knowing that when I’m sad, that they’ll be right there for me. I miss everything about them and I see them everyday. I’m weird like that.

Today I woke up early and went to the Palisades Center Mall, one of the biggest malls in the country, with Allie. We met up with Crystal who was extremely hung over, but for a sale at this awesome boutique she was a little trooper and got out of bed. Shopping was actually pretty cathartic. And Allie, pity bought me something, which was super sweet of her. I guess she could relate. Her ex Derek, Josh’s best friend who isn’t one of us, broke up with her this summer, so we’re just doing the girl support thing.

After the boutique, we went shoe trying-on. I wanted to get more fall and winter clothes, and I didn’t exactly have that much money and Allie and Crystal seemed to be the same, so we just tried on shoes and decided which we’d come back and buy once we get money.

It was good fun, some of the most fun I’d had since that night of hell. But as much as I love Allie, and think Crystal is incredibly fun, I’d rather have been with my best friends. I just feel so disconnected from them. And I couldn’t help but also want to be with Connor.

I love him. I don’t want to but I do. That seems to be a motto of mine. I love him in a different way than I do my father, which is obvious and if it wasn’t… ew. I try not to love both, but again for different reasons. But you can’t just shut off your feelings towards someone…It’s too hard. Connor, he was my first love and I think he was my soul mate. I’m a romantic, I believe in things like that. I believe that there is one person that you’ll connect with and love forever, no matter what. I really thought Connor was that. Not just because he was the first boy I ever loved, but just because he was everything I ever wanted. I felt so happy around him….

But I’m moving on. I’m having fun…

“Okay,” Crystal said happily, swinging her shopping bag a bit, clearly the hangover had worn off, “Where to next?”

“Hmm,” I said looking around the large mall, “I need to get a book from the Barnes and Nobles, so we could go to the fourth floor and then grab a bite to eat for breakfast in one of the restaurants up there.”

“Restaurants good, books bad!” Crystal shook her head, “But I’m not hungry yet.”

“Yeah, well you spent all night throwing up,” Allie smirked.

“And morning,” Crystal corrected Allie, poking her nose.

I bit my lip as I felt a sudden pain in my heart. Me and Connor talked about throwing up in our first real conversation.

Allie rubbed her nose, “Did your mom and dad see you?”

“Nope.”

“That’s good,” Allie smiled as two boys passed us, totally checking us out. She ran a hand through her very light brown hair, “My mom caught me last week, thank God she’s cool.”

“Lucky,” Crystal said not looking at Allie.

“So, I’ve kind of always been meaning to ask you this,” Allie bit her lip and looked to me but I had no clue what she was going on about, I was just kind of glad they were done talking about throwing up. It was depressing me. Throwing up was totally ruined for me! It sucked.

“Yeah?” Crystal looked to Allie curiously as we continued walking too..I don’t know. I was just really following Crystal’s lead.

Allie looked at me nervously, then Crystal, “Are your parents Mormon or something?”

“Allie!” I shook my head at her.

Crystal rose an eyebrow at Allie, “No they aren’t…They’re…” Crystal looked away from Allie and to the floor. Crystal clearly had problems with her parents. All I know is that they were pretty weird. I’ve never met them, but they home schooled Crystal for like years. Somehow Crystal was finally let free though as she enrolled at my high school this year.

“They’re just super strict,” Crystal sighed, “I mean they aren’t really religious but they still have all these rules. But hey, I’m a rebel. I break all the rules!”

“If you were Mormon, it wouldn’t be bad or anything,” I gave Crystal a reassuring nod.

“I’m sure she appreciates that,” Allie laughed.

“Shut up, I’m not the one who asked her,” I replied shaking my head at Allie.

“Well I’m sorry PC police,” Allie laughed, as did Crystal. I shook my head and started to laugh too.

“Okay,” Crystal looked to Allie and I, “Where to next; Hollister or Abercrombie? Both have hot guys working there and pictures of barely clothed really hot guys. So win-win.”

“Those pictures make me really uncomfortable,” I frowned.

“Lily would rather go to Baby Gap,” Allie smirked.

“Those pictures are adorable!”

Again we all laughed.

“What’s the difference between Abercrombie and Hollister anyway?” I asked with a frown, “I mean it’s not like I don’t have either, but I just don’t notice a difference.”

“Well,” Allie put a hand on her chin, “Hollister is ‘Lets spend a lot of money to look like a poor yokel.’ While Abercrombie is more ‘Lets spend a lot of money to look like a preppie jackass’. I’ve always preferred the preppie jackass.”

“Then it’s decided,” Crystal said firmly, “Abercrombie. Which is good, if I’m correct on the hot guy rotation, there will be a serious stud there. I think this guy I hooked up with once worked there…Actually I think like two or three guys I hooked up with work there. And a girl.”

“Wow, you really get around,” I rose an eyebrow.

“I’m not a slut,” Crystal said immediately, “I’m just in charge of my sexual liberation.”

“I think your Berlin Wall has crumbled,” I replied with a smirk but within a second my eyes widened in shock, “I didn’t mean for that to sound so dirty.”

Again, we all laughed. It really felt good to laugh again like this.

Crystal walked ahead of us some more, “Oh I hope they have one of their hot shirtless guys standing outside today. We could take a picture and I could rub his nipples.”

“Oh ew,” I said laughing, though I wasn’t sure if Crystal was joking or not.

My phone made a ringing nose, alerting me I had a voicemail. I must not have heard my phone ring. I slowed down a bit as I entered my password. Allie stepped forward, laughing about something with Crystal.

It was my dad…my adoptive one. Just checking up on me. I smiled and deleted the message. Looking to Allie and Crystal, who were laughing about something. Suddenly they stopped and looked at each other. The next second they both turned around.

“Hey,” Allie said sounding nervous and looking behind her.

“Hey…” I frowned at her, “What?”

“Umm…” Allie looked to Crystal. “Connor is over there, about like a few feet away. He just came out of the Circuit City, and..” she turned her head slightly, “Is walking over here.”

My face fell, my heart suddenly slowed down and my stomach tightened. I ran a hand through my hair quickly but then shook my head.

“Turn around, walk ahead and like, laugh or something,” I said stepping in between them and linking my arms with theirs.

Allie and Crystal immediately let out incredibly fake and sort of scary laughs.

“Wow,” I looked to them, “Like humans.”

They both laughed for real this time and this caused me to laugh too. We walked and I looked forward. There he was. He was with five friends, smiling, laughing. I could see his green arms, his handsome face, I could just about hear his voice. There was a girl next to him. A fake blonde if I ever saw one. This made my heart drop. It was Connor’s ex-girlfriend, April, at least I think she’s his ex.

I continued to walk, hoping he wouldn’t see me but he did. His eyes fell on me and I saw his face fall. I looked away from him quickly but I could still see him in the corner of my eyes as we were now inches apart. He rose his hand, I think he was trying to wave but I looked completely away from him, just as we passed. I took a small look back and saw him slowly put down his hand, looking disappointed, I think.

“Whore!!” Crystal suddenly screamed back.

“Wha-” I looked at her shocked and Allie broke into hysterical laughter.

I couldn’t help but laugh too. I took another quick glance back at Connor and he looked back at me. He looked angry and sort of frustrated. He rolled his eyes at me then turned around.

I looked forward. I was finding it hard to breath. It felt like someone was clenching my heart.

“Okay you totally are going to have to rub a hot guys nipple now,” Crystal said smirking at me.

I looked at her disgusted but laughed anyway. At least I still had some people here for me.

Cassie

I walked up to the small, one floor, green house that belonged to Jamie Madrox…or well his parents or guardian, whatever. I looked at the houses around me. All small with horrible colors. Jamie lived in the poor side of the town next to ours. It was the exact opposite of my own block. I lived in the wealthiest side of my town. Dad’s a lawyer, mom’s a doctor, bound to have lots of money. But maybe this is why Jamie is with the Hellions. Maybe he wants to have money. Maybe he is just trying to help his family or some sick sister, or something…I mean, what do we really know about the Hellions? They haven’t killed anyone…not yet at least. Plus he isn’t that bitch that attacked me.

I guess I did sort of like Jamie Madrox. In a totally platonic sort of way of course, but I thought he was a pretty good guy. Dopey but funny. He was smart but he never actually seemed to try to be it. Instead he joked around and made wise ass remarks. I thought he actually did want to try though. I thought that’s why he came to my tutoring session. Instead he was just really there to spy on me. Yes, betrayal does wonders in making me a more trusting person.

I sort of knew Jamie was a mutant, or at least suspected. He was one of Sinister’s patients, or well, Nathaniel Essex’s patients. He seemed to be keeping tabs on mutants, including Josh. Jamie didn’t know who Nathaniel really was though, at least I don’t think he did.

Part of me is hoping that deep down Jamie is really a good guy. I want to give someone the benefit of the doubt, just once.

“But that’s foolish,” Emma’s voice came from behind me.

I rolled my eyes and turned around, “Maybe so, but Jamie isn’t that bad of a guy.”

“Oh, you like him,” Emma smirked at me . She walked forward. She was wearing a large white coat, white heels and gloves. I looked plain next to her in my brown coat, jeans and black blouse. I didn’t like spending my money on clothes. I found it to be superficial, like Emma.

“As a friend I do,” I replied back quickly.

“Liar,” Emma wagged her finger, “Sex would be very adventurous with him.”

“No thanks but I’ll put in a good word for you when I ask him if he’s interested in transsexual telepaths,” I winked at her.

“If you don’t like him, why would you give him, of all people, the benefit of the doubt?” Emma appeared at my side, her long blonde hair was perfectly straight. She looked down at me with her icy blue eyes, I could practically feel them staring into me, knowing my every thought. Though we share a mind, so that’s bound to happen.

I shrugged, “After what happened with Gaia, I think there has to be better reasons to why people do things.”

“Oh, what the teenage libido does to ones mind,” Emma rolled her eyes, “So what, you think people are genuinely good and mushy on the inside?”

“No,” I shook my head, “I know people are like you…Disease ridden on the inside, plastic on the outside.”

“Oh sweetie, no one is like me,” Emma gave me a smug smile.

“I just didn’t get the vibe from Jamie,” I looked to the door, “I think I’m pretty perceptive and I just…I know he might be a good person.”

“Maybe you should go on the pill,” Emma looked down at me with a serious expression.

“I hate you,” I rolled my eyes.

“Are you going to let your guard down?” Emma for the first time, sounded truly serious.

“No, of course not,” I looked to the door, “Right now he’s my enemy. And…I really hope he isn’t listening at the door.”
Emma laughed, “He’s not…You could feel it if you concentrate. He’s inside. He’s watching some mindless drivel on television but I guess you should just be happy it isn’t porn…though you would want him all horny and ready wouldn’t you?”

I looked at Emma angrily.

“Can you leave?” I asked her.

“Remember, when he say’s no, he means it,” she said as she faded away.

I shook my head and sighed, ringing the doorbell. I heard a very faint bell from inside. I wasn’t sure if Jamie heard it, so I knocked twice.

A few seconds later Jamie answered the door.

“Yeah, who-”

He looked at me shocked. His blue eyes were wide and his hair was almost completely sticking up, though that was probably because he hadn’t combed his hair or taken a shower yet, as he was wearing what he clearly slept in. A white shirt and pajama pants.

“Uh-” He stuttered at me.

“So you think you could just get away with it,” I began looking at him with narrowed eyes.

“I-I-,” Jamie stuttered, “Listen-”

“I called you, texted you, and nothing,” I shook my head, “What the hell Jamie? I thought we were doing the tutoring. I thought you actually wanted a decent SAT score. Unless you really do want to be Jamie Madrox, Manager at McDonalds!”
“What?” Jamie’s mouth fell open, “SATs?”

I nodded.

Jamie opened his mouth once but nothing came out and then he nodded once and his face relaxed and a smile spread across his face, “Oh that! Yeah…well..I thought-”

“What?” I folded my arms.

He shrugged, “I don’t know. I got busy.”

“Doing what?” I looked over at him, “Clearly your Saturdays are extremely productive.”

“Hey, God gave us Saturday morning to chill and watch cartoons.”

“Right,” I nodded.

“I’m just doing my part for God,” Jamie puffed out his chest.

“Lucky God.”

“I think so too,” Jamie smiled.

“You know, I thought something happened to you in the attack,” I frowned at him, doing my best to sound sincere, “I was actually worried.”

Jamie looked at me taken aback, “Yeah… thanks. But I got out okay…It was crazy.”

“To put it lightly,” I sighed, “But whatever…Am I still tutoring you or not?”

“Oh yeah… if you want too.”

“I do,” I nodded stepping into his house and handing him my bag.

“Wow,” Jamie weighed the bag, “Pretty heavy.”

“With books,” I said happily, “Like I’m going to let you miss out on the work you missed. Ha! Get ready for pain Jamie Madrox.”

“Are there whips and chains in here too,” Jamie looked at the bag, “If so, I want to pick a safe word I could make sure you understand.”

“Oh I don’t use safe words,” I laughed.

“Eh, I’m still willing.”

I laughed as I made my way to the coffee table in Jamie’s living room, which was about the size of my room. It was pretty messy and there were no pictures of Jamie anywhere. I frowned as I took a seat on Jamie’s couch. Where exactly were his parents?

I decided I wouldn’t ask any sort of personal questions this time around. I had to do my best to keep suspicions at a minimum. From what I could feel from him empathically he doesn’t think anything strange is going on, though apparently I do a poor job of reading him. I could feel that he is actually happy that I am here, though not happy to do work.

“Get out the red book first,” I said, “We’ll do math.”

“Oh yes, math on a Saturday, life is good,” Jamie pumped his fist.

“Oh and I only plan to make it better,” I smirked at Jamie and he smiled back at me.

Cory

I’m a mutant hater! Or at least that’s what these people think. These people being Stryker’s mutant hater club and Stryker himself. I was undercover! Yeah, I’m pretty badass right now.

This was our second meeting, the first took place last Sunday, where Stryker pretty much told us his opinions on mutants. The words vermin, abominations, devils and harbingers of Apocalypse were thrown around. Hey I didn’t harbor Apocalypse, he came himself!

But I was actually doing surprisingly well. I wasn’t getting angry at what these people were saying. It didn’t bother me that much. Who cares what a bunch of bigots say, especially when they are too stupid to notice a mutant in their mix! Or is midst?

We gathered in the church not far from where we lived. I think it was the same room where the alcoholics meet up. It was a decent size room. Sort of plain, all white walls, red carpet floor. If I was an alcoholic, this room would make me want to drink. I want to drink regardless on Saturdays, but that’s because I’m sixteen. Cassie says I’ll probably be an alcoholic, since I have inner turmoil and daddy problems, and when I said Lily had those same problems, she said she knew, but Lily would probably end up being a stripper. That upset Lily…

There were about sixteen of us, not including Stryker. We made a sort of half circle with Stryker in the middle, talking and talking. He would call on someone, and ask them to tell their sob story. One girl lost her brother in a terrorist attack by the Brotherhood six years ago, another boy lost his mom. She was like slaughtered…it was pretty disturbing. It was never proven that a mutant actually did it but the way she was killed, they pretty much concluded that it was one. They said there were claw marks. I know lots of people with claws, so I wasn’t sure who it was. I’m guessing Sabretooth.

Stryker said something happened to him, but he never elaborated. Instead he told us all of these horrible situations S.H.I.E.L.D. was called in involving mutants. Some of the stories sounded fishy, like the one about a mutant from Louisiana who blew people up with cards. Seriously…cards?

None of this seemed to be about healing wounds or whatever. It was the opposite. Stryker was getting these kids keyed up, making them hate mutants more. And it seems people are telling their friends. We went from seven members in the first meeting, to the sixteen we have in this one. Stryker seemed to love it.

“It all changed when he was a mutant…,” Chase Stewart’s words snapped me out of my thoughts. Chase was a kid a grade above me. I had like two classes with him. He seemed cool enough…

Chase paused and sighed. He ran a hand over his black hair, though he had a crewcut, so he wasn’t touching much. His brown eyes seemed to be watering a bit, “When my brother became a mutant…he just wasn’t who he was anymore. I mean all he could do was jump really high…at least that I know of. But he started acting like he was better than me…better than anyone around him. He didn’t trust me…didn’t talk to me. He ran away from home a month later and I haven’t even heard a word from him since…It’s been over a year now…And nothing. We used to be so close…”

“And that is the problem,” Stryker began looking at Chase sympathetically, “They do not want to work with us. They want to separate themselves from us, conquer us. All the co-existence nonsense Charles Xavier spewed was false. That man, like Magneto, just wanted humans to let their guard down… but we must never do that.”

Everyone in the room nodded and agreed, the room was filled with their muttering. I did too, a bit late though.

“Cory,” Stryker looked to me.

My eyes widened, “What?”

“Care to tell us a little about your past experiences with mutants?”

“Oh,” I nodded and looked around the room. All eyes on me, “Alright well…uh…my brother was killed by one. It was an accident though..”

“Which is what they all say,” Stryker added.

“Yeah, I guess,” I nodded, “The mutant lost control of his powers. Like exploded and took my brother with him…And I think he did other damage. I don’t know…I don’t really remember much of it and I don’t try too. It’s sort of a downer…But yeah…And I was there when it happened…”

I wasn’t really comfortable telling people all this. My brother’s death changed everything in my life. My parents were destroyed, they started to hate me and well, I lost my brother. I loved my brother. He was so cool and always nice to me.

“You where there?” A girl named Karen Haysworth asked.

“Yeah…” I nodded slowly.

“So you saw it happen?” she continued.

“Uh…yeah,” I shifted uncomfortably.

“That had to be horrible,” she shook her head and looked at me sympathetically. I would have sort of appreciated if she was even a little cute…but she’s not. Hey I’m all for pity make outs…not that I can make out with anyone without shocking them. Maybe I should stop being picky…

“Do you think about that day a lot?” Stryker asked.

I shrugged, “Not really. I don’t remember any of it.”

It was true. That whole day was like a blank slate. I only remember my brother’s face, the sound of the explosion, and then bright yellow energy. That’s all. I can’t remember anything else. I don’t really like trying to, but even if I do, I can’t get anything.

“I uh,” I began, realizing I needed to add in something about hating mutants, “I just think it’s unfair…you know… that he was taken like that. All because some mutant exploded because he couldn’t control his powers. What’s to stop that from happening again? Another mutant… even more powerful, he could kill lots of people, you know?”

Stryker nodded, “Yes, sadly I do.”

He looked at me, a somber expression on his face. I could feel other eyes on me too. The air in the room was just depressed thanks to my story. I was just happy I wouldn’t have to tell it again….hopefully. But hey at least I’m fooling them.

Two more people talked after me. One who’s sister went to Genosha, another whose brother was killed by a mutant. After that, Stryker talked some more, but it was more of same old, same old. Evil mutants, take away our families, the devil’s creations, blah blah.

“The abominations are trying to take over this Earth, our land,” he said ending his long speech, “We most pray for the government to do the right thing. One day, we ourselves will need to do the same. That’s all for today.”

With that everyone got up and started to make their way towards the exit.

“Oh and I will not be able to meet at all this week,” Stryker called out, “I’ll be available in my office to talk until Thursday but I will be very busy after school, and this weekend I have a business trip which I won’t return from until next Saturday, so that is when we’ll meet again. As always more members are always welcome.”

I quickly made my way to the door.

“Cory!” Stryker called out to me and I turned around as he walked up to me.

“Uh, yeah?”

“I’m sorry you had to relive that horrific memory,” he placed a hand on my shoulder and I wanted nothing more to shock his sorry ass.

“Yeah…” I looked down, “Well…I can’t remember much…it’s not that bad.”

“You made an excellent point today.”

“Oh cool,” I replied. That was like the first time anyone ever said that to me…

“I’m glad you are coming to this Cory, after what happened at that club..” he sighed, “It was surely tragic. How is Lily holding up?”

“Oh she’s holding,” I shrugged.

“She’s always welcome here.”
“Oh,” I shook my head, “I’ll let her know..”

“Good,” Stryker nodded, “Do you need a ride home?”

I shook my head, “No I’m alright. My house is just two blocks away.”

“Alright then, I’ll see you in school Monday,” he smiled at me and then turned back around to get his stuff from the front of the room.

I quickly high tailed it out of there not wanting to be alone with Stryker any longer than I had to be.

My house was really about two blocks away. It wouldn’t be a hard walk. Plus it was a pretty nice night, so I had no problem with walking.

I made my way down the steps quickly, and immediately went across the street taking a quick look back as Stryker himself stepped out. He gave me a wave and I waved back and continued to walk away. I took a quick look back just as Stryker went over to his old Toyota. S.H.I.E.L.D. seems to pay as much as being a Dean of Discipline.

I walked down the block, the whole time feeling like someone was watching me. I looked behind me, expecting to see Stryker’s car but got nothing. Frowning, I turned back around and continued to walk. I heard rustling in a nearby tree. Something silver shot from it at incredible speed. I whipped my head to follow the silver, just as it stopped right in front of me.

“Ah!” I screamed stepping back and putting up my hand, electricity forming but only sparking out of it.

Mercury stood in front of me. She wore a black hooded sweater and black pants. She rolled her eyes and she put the hood over her head and put her hands in the pockets in the middle.

“I’m not here to attack you,” she said putting up her hands.

“That’s what they all say!” I said keeping my hand up, “And then its beat down time for Cory!”

“Ooooh kay,” Mercury put her other hand up and backed away, “Listen I was just following Stryker and seeing exactly who was part of his little club. I don’t think I’m out of line in saying that I was surprised to see you there.”

“It’s called undercover,” I said putting down my hand and letting the electricity go away, “Don’t you have anyone going undercover?”

“Not here,” Mercury replied, “..Not yet at least.”

“Ha, point X-Men!”

“Right…” Mercury looked at me like I was an idiot, “Did you learn anything?”

“Like I’d tell you!” I scoffed.

She rolled her black eyes, “I think this is a situation where information sharing will be preferred. Stryker’s our enemy too.”

“An enemy of an enemy is a friend of my enemy,” I said stating that old motto.

“No…that’s not how it goes,” Mercury shook her head, ‘It’s the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

I starched my head, “So…who is who?”

“Wow, you really are dumb,” Mercury shook her head in disbelief.

“I use my brain for other things,” I tapped my head twice.

“I don’t want to know,” Mercury sighed, “But what I’m trying to say to you is this; Stryker is both our group’s enemy. He wants to harm all mutants…”

“So are you saying you want to work together?”

She shrugged, “Not together, but concerning Stryker, we shouldn’t be competing. If you have information you share, and vice versa….We’ll do the same.” She added at my confused look.

I shook my head, “I know…well. I’ll talk to my people and get back to you but all you need to know is that Stryker is serving some serious hatorade.”
“Thought so,” Mercury frowned, “Do you think he plans to form any sort of group.”

I shrugged, “I dunno.”

“Has he made any sort of mentions of it, taking up arms or something?” she asked.

“Hmm,” I thought for a second. He actually did mention something along those lines, with us having to do the right thing… I thought it would be best to keep that from Mercury though. At least for now. The others wouldn’t be thrilled with me if I revealed too much without talking to them. “Nope…”

She frowned and looked at me like she didn’t believe me, “Well… okay. I should get going… My teammates don’t know I’m here. They’d disapprove of this working together thing.”

“Yeah..” I frowned at her not sure if I believed her.

Mercury looked at me for a second and moved forward, “Can I touch you?”

“Say what!?” I asked looking at her shocked but then raised an eyebrow and looked at her curiously, “…Where?”

She shook her head and looked away from me, “Never mind… sorry…That was stupid of me.”

With that she stretched out far and took off at incredible speed. I looked after her…Where did she want to touch me?

That Night
Josh

Two weeks I crushed almost every bone in both my legs. It was about as fun as it sounded and then some. I try not to think of that night and all that damn pain, but I can’t help it. I sometimes feel phantom pains and when I run at super speed, my legs sometimes cramp up. I’m supposed to be one hundred percent healed but I’m not. Ororo says that it should stop soon but I was beginning to think it was a mental thing.

I kept trying to get my mind off that night, off the pain. I filled my time with everything else under the sun. School, Megan, my friends, school again, family, training lots and lots of training. I was busy almost constantly for the past two weeks but my mind would always wonder back to that night, alone in the field with nothing but my pain.

So what’s a boy to do? Party I guess. Or well not party. Milo seemed to make sure we all know this was more of a hang out not and not a party, so not to invite a lot of people. I wouldn’t anyway. Cassie isn’t interested in hanging out with these people, Lily hangs out with Allie, so Derek and her being the same room was unlikely to work, and Cory had a small show today. So the only person I brought along was Megan.

This was the first party I’ve been to since that Saturday. I’ve hung out with people since then but no parties. Last Saturday I just stayed home, which is nice to actually do sometimes. Quiet is nice.

I downed my fifth beer, just as Derek opened and handed it too me. I heard a roar of disappointment from behind me. People were playing beer pong, I’m guessing someone just missed their last cup. I sucked at beer pong. My aim is only good when I’m blasting energy out of my hands and even then it isn’t anything to write home about.

“Come on,” he said opening his own beer, “You have a lot to catch up on”

“I’m caught up,” I shrugged. “Everything is the exact same as last week and the exact same as the week before. It’s always two things. You’re horny, you want ass, you got some ass, you bragged about ass. Or you didn’t get ass and the girl was a total bitch and a prude, though it could never be that she actually has taste.”

“Oh haha,” Derek rolled his eyes, “You make me sound so one dimensional.”

“Oh yeah, you’re real deep,” I said sarcastically.

“My feelings are hurt,” Derek put a hand on his first. “I mean you’ve been MIA once again, and now you’re just being all sarcastic, mean and Cassie to me,” Derek went on, “I’m starting to think you don’t love me.”

“I hope he doesn’t,” Megan adding taking a seat on the couch next to me.

“Don’t be jealous,” Derek replied.

“I’ll try not to,” she rolled her eyes. Megan and Derek weren’t exactly on the best of terms. Megan was good friends with Allie so she had to hate Derek. It was one of those women rules I don’t get.

“Well you’re back,” he said lifting his beer in the air, “For now…”

“Yeah,” I said taking a sip of my beer.

I understood what Derek was going on about. If Lily thought I didn’t spend enough time with her, Derek was worse. Derek has been my best friend…besides my best friends, since I was in Kindergarten. We’re pretty different, him and I. He’s athletic and good looking, I’m…not really either of those things. I mean I guess I’m a bit more athletic since I gained my powers and looks department, I’m more fit, all of which Derek noticed. He doesn’t understand how it literally seemed to happen over night. I’m not sure how Derek would take to me being a mutant. His stance on mutants is neutral. I don’t think he really cares either way but I didn’t think he needed to be dragged into the complication which is my life.

But I try to make time for Derek, more time then I try to make for the others since I see them in training anyway. I don’t want to lose any of my normal friends no matter how different it feels to be around them.

And different it is. I don’t want to sound like I think I’m superior to anyone of my human friends because, I don’t think that I am, but I am more powerful, I can do things they can’t, I’ve seen things they haven’t, been tortured…a lot. It just makes me feel isolated when I’m with them. When Derek talks of something like girls, or something about some kid who he doesn’t like, I just feign interest. When he talk about sports, my interest was always low, so nothing changed there but as much as I want to lead a normal life, I can’t help but feel all these normal things are so mundane and unimportant. A war is brewing! Mutants are being prosecuted all over and all Derek wants to talk about is his fantasy draft.

But I want to be interested in it all. I should be. I should be like every other teenage boy. I want to care about normal teen things, I really do. I care about being liked, I want people to still want to be around me, so I try to act like I really care. I just feel like I’ve grown so much that some of these conversations seem so inane. Inane conversations never seemed to matter when I’m around Cassie, Cory and Lily…I don’t know why. Maybe because they are mutants or maybe because they know what I’ve been through, that I know that they do care about what’s really happening. And it isn’t like Derek is ignorant, I mean Milo sort of is, but Derek isn’t. He’s just a bit of an ass sometimes, a typical sixteen year old boy who doesn’t know of the real dangers in the world. It had to be nice.

“You’re zoning out,” Derek snapped his finger in my face and my attention went to him. “And now you’re not paying attention to me. It’s like you don’t even care about my needs!”

“You okay?” Megan asked rubbing the back of my hair.

I looked to her. She looked pretty tonight. Her blonde hair was a bit longer then usual, going down over shoulders in long waves. Her blue eyes looked right back into mine and she smiled.

“What?”

“Nothing,” I smiled back at her.

I guess Megan was the most normal thing about my life. She might be a mutant but she was involved enough in both of my lives that it felt more natural, though at times I felt like I had to be someone else. A more cooler, suave me…which I think I failed miserably at. And I’m not exactly thrilled that Megan does have the urge to help me out in my mutant problems, and that I sometimes need her help. I’d rather none of my friends be involved, I’d rather us all be safe but when it comes to the others and I, we’ll never be safe. Megan at least has a chance.

“So, like I was saying,” Derek began but I was only half listening, “My parents want you to know if you want to spend Christmas with us, since you’re a Jewish and all. We’re going to the Cat Skills this year, my whole family including my cousin, who I think will hook up with you-”

“Hey!” Megan screamed

I sighed and shook my head. It’s hard balancing everything. I’m trying to do everything the best I could do, I really am. Normal life, romantic life, mutant life. I’m trying to be good in all of it, be the best and be able to handle it all. But I’m not exactly sure how I’m doing. I’m not exactly sure if I can ever be normal again, or even fake it. I could have a healthy relationship without putting Megan in danger, and in my mutant life I keep getting hurt and my friends keep getting their lives torn apart. We are always one step behind, the bad guys always seem to have the advantage. So part of me feels like I’m failing all around…but hey I’m a super hero. We don’t give up… We try until we can’t try anymore, only death or permanent injury can stop us…..yay……

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