Scott Summers was walking along the San Francisco streets, until he came the famed Chez Panisse restaurant. His usual dour self, he was very much looking forward to dining here nonetheless. As he entered and was shown to his table, he automatically scouted out the entire restaurant, looking for enemies he actually knew were not there. If they had been, his lover and co-leader of the X-Men Emma Frost would have already taken care of them when she entered before him. It struck him how conservative Emma’s attire was for this evening’s dinner, yet even the non-revealing outfit she had on looked as sexy as ever on the former White Queen. She looked at Scott with an expression of mild amusement, as he sat down at the table.

“Scott, darling, you never cease to amaze me. You propose this date to me, ask me to treat it as an incognito affair, show up late and look as much the leader expecting to be attacked as ever. Is it so difficult for us to just have dinner here, in one of the finest restaurants America is able to produce without help from abroad?”

Scott actually managed a smile, as he sat down and said: “Nice to see you, too!”

“No! Repartee from Mr. Summers! Scott you are a surprise indeed!”

The couple settled into a nice conversation, ordered fine wine, ate a marvellous dinner, and drank coffee afterwards. All the time, Emma never brought up Scott’s purpose for his sudden need to have dinner away from their X-fiefdom. She enjoyed the simple date they were on, and let the conversation flow in whatever direction it might take. It surprised her a little that Scott had managed to refrain from any and all shoptalk all evening, and she found herself watching Scott for signs that he would steer the conversation back to the X-Men.

“Now, you probably know damn well that I have a second reason for wanting to meet here” Scott suddenly said.

“Of course I do, but I’m pretending I do not to enjoy the evening” Emma replied.

No longer startled by Emma’s directness, Scott continued: “I think we have to find something to do for Kitty and Rachel.”

“Agreed. The girls have been getting restless, and both of them seem to be having a hard time readjusting to life among the X-Men.” Emma spoke, switching to seriousness.

“Their time in space seems to have changed them. Rachel was in an intergalactic war, while Kitty has confessed herself that she went insane several times out in space. They seem to be dealing with it, but it’s not working out for them. Did you know that Kitty has actually put her relationship with Peter on hold?”

“Are you worried about Ms. Pryde’s love-life now? Scott, not everything is your business” Emma said

“It is a sign, Emma. You told me to embrace my humanity more, and my instincts tell me that these two need a break in the worst way.”

“But a break is all they’re having. You’re treating them both like damaged goods ever since they returned. Sending them on a vacation to the Cote d’Azur will not change their attitudes.”

“I know. That’s why I want to sent them on a mission, just the two of them, to get back into their roles and to give them time to figure things out away from all of us.” Scott said.

“What do you have in mind?” Emma asked

“I’m not sure yet. I talked to Kurt about the matter before he left to join Dani’s squad in Berlin.”

“Ah yes… Dear old Tony’s mutant-Avengers franchise….” Emma said in a mocking voice.

Scott ignored Emma’s sarcasm, and continued: “We’ll have to find something to do for them, maybe in Europe. They both lived there for a few years. According to Kurt it’s a whole new world out there”

“Bringing us back to the Cote d’Azur. Scott, darling, how do you want to send them away?

**********

Hi, my name is Kitty Pryde. I’m 22 years old; do you remember how old that used to sound? For the past 10 years I’ve been a member of the X-Men, and I’ve saved the world more times than I care to remember. The last time I was called upon to do some saving, things didn’t completely work out the way they should have. I got trapped inside this giant bullet, and I used my phasing power to such an extent that I became fused with the thing. I was flying through space alone for months, and the emptiness, loneliness and fear drove me over the edge several times. The Inhumans, those folks that used to live on the moon, finally got me out and restored my mind. I always thought that my parents divorcing, my father dying, my best friends dying and almost getting killed myself numerous times before I turned 18 were all the trauma I could ever need to cope with life, but this was different. I saw a shrink for a while after my father died, but this is something I could never talk about with anybody, not even the great friends I still have or my boyfriend Peter. I actually broke of my relationship with Peter because I want to be whole again before we continue our life together.

 For all intents and purposes I was dead. My body ceased to exist and became part of the bullet. The only thing left of me was my consciousness, out in space, alone among the stars. If this is what death feels like, I can’t wait to forget the experience. Many of my friends have died and came back, but it’s a lot different when it happens to you. All of them, Peter & Rachel most of all, have been really great in trying to help me deal, but I can’t move on just yet. Every time I close my eyes, I’m back in the bullet, back in space. You cannot imagine how happy I was to get back to the real world, but at the same time, I find it difficult to actually live again. I know, total drama-queen, but there it is. I’m going through the motions of what passes for a normal life among the X-Men, but I’m not truly alive. Right now, I’m writing this, a letter o myself, to get in touch with my feelings, because really, the only one that can understand me right now is me. In a way, I’m still alone.

 Lately I’ve been sleeping with the lights on. The darkness is too much a reminder of space. I’ve also had trouble being alone, which is weird because at the same time I don’t want to let anyone get near me. I just want to hear people, know they are there. Silence can be too deafening, and I’ve been listening to any and all decent music I can download. I know what my psychiatrist would say. These are all perfectly acceptable coping-mechanisms, and I should feel okay with using them as long as I need them. It’s just that out here, with the X-Men, but not feeling part of them, I feel like I’m waiting for the trauma to be processed, so I can get on with things. I’m waiting for my life to begin again, but the only way I can pick up where I left of, is by living.

***********

Rachel Grey walked into the room she shared with fellow X-Men and best friend Kitty Pryde at the X-Centre in San Francisco. She had spent her day exploring the city, walking it’s streets, watching people go about their business, sitting in a park, shopping for clothing, and enjoying a wonderful late autumn day. All day, she hadn’t thought of Korvus, the Shi’ar warrior she might have loved and left behind, at all. This was a good sign to her. It meant that she was readjusting to life at home with the X-Men once again. She put down her bags on the bed, switched on the television for some background noise, and started taking out her new possessions out of her bags. Once again, she felt a little guilty about the amount of money she had spent, but on the other hand she felt quiet justified, since she was building a collection of clothes that would cover up the huge Phoenix-tattoo the Shi’ar had branded on her back. She tried on some of her new stuff, and was particularly fond of a short tartan-print skirt and a tight black sweater. As she was admiring her own sense of taste in front of the mirror, Kitty walked in.

“Wow, Ray, that has to be a record!” Kitty said

“What do you mean?”

“That must be the shortest skirt you ever wore, and for you, that’s saying something!”

“You got it, you get to flaunt it, Ms. Pryde!” Rachel said laughing, striking a pose.

“And this way everybody will know just what exactly you got!” Kitty said smiling

“What can I say? I’m sexy, and I see no reason to hide it!” Rachel replied, striking another pose.

“I suppose… Still, wouldn’t be caught dead wearing….”

“Oh, this from the woman with the leather fetish! Or have you forgotten about that already?” Rachel came back.

“It was a phase. You can’t exactly show up for work in a Chicago-bar wearing a corset and six layers of clothing! And anyway, like most of my stuff from Chicago, it’s in storage. I never wear that anymore.” Kitty replied.

“Pity. You looked great in that leather gear!”

“You want it? You can have it. It was always a little too tight for me anyway!”

“Great! Than you can pick out something of me!”

“And just how am I going to fit in that? I don’t exactly have your killer bod!”

“We’ll find something that’s not too tight. Come have a look!” Rachel said, gesturing at her closet.

While Rachel went to get some of Kitty’s stuff from storage, Kitty went through Rachel’s clothing, and after looking through all of her stuff; she finally came up with a pair of jeans and a plain blue t-shirt. She showed both items to Rachel for approval when she came back in the room, telekinetically carrying a box of Kitty’s clothing.

“Are you kidding me? Kitty, I love you but you can be so boring!” Rachel said

“What’s wrong with this? I can use a new pair of jeans and….”

“The idea was a bit of trading places, you know? Here, try this!” Rachel said taking of the tartan skirt.

“No way! I’d die in that, and…” Kitty laughed, but Rachel threw the outfit she had on at Kitty.

“Now, try it on! Come on!”

A few minutes later, Kitty had Rachel’s outfit on, and Rachel was wearing Kitty’s leather pants and top. Both looked absolutely stunning, and although Kitty was very uncomfortable, she had to admit that she liked the way she looked.

“Now, let’s go out tonight!” Rachel said.

“In this? No way!”

“Why not? Come on, I’ll let you choose, dancing or drinking!”

“Oh, all right then. Drinking it is!” Kitty smiled, trying to pull down the skirt.

“A waste of these outfits, but okay. God, you were practically raised by Logan, weren’t you?”

“Yeah, and I helped raise you, but that didn’t take either!”  Kitty replied, referring to the fact that her older self had played a part in raising Rachel in the alternate future she was originally from.

“I’ll get something to eat, and then we get ready. I’m hungry!” Rachel said smiling, heading for the kitchen.

Kitty thought about the comment she had made, and was a little angry with herself for bringing up Rachel’s past. Growing up in a future ruled by sentinels that killed both her parents and most of her friends was not something to use as punch line or a joke. She could tell Rachel wasn’t angry, but Kitty felt bad about it all the same. She was famous for being unsubtle, and spending months alone had not exactly improved her social tact. Turning around, Kitty once more looked at herself in the mirror, and was actually quiet pleased with her look. Then she noticed the shortness of the skirt once more, and started pulling it down again.

***********

Harold van Steen, alias DJ Magni, was no stranger to drugs. He was born in one of the drug capitols of the world, Amsterdam, and had tried just about anything under the sun. Coke and XTC specifically always made him feel like a million bucks, but for his big night in San Francisco, he wanted something a little better. The gig in San Francisco would be his chance to show of his talents to a whole new audience, and DJ Magni was not going to let his big chance pass him by. He needed the best dope available. Also he wanted something he could take with him on the plane, as he hardly had any contacts in the US to obtain some dope once he was there. His regular dealer had brought him into contact with this super weirdo guy from South Amsterdam, where the richest lived. The guy looked like a bodybuilder in a three-piece suit, and looked dangerous with his long red hair and intense, almost maniacal expression. Harold bought some new pills from the guy it at a steep price, and was told it was the ultimate performance enhancer, better than XTC, which always made him play his DJ-set like a house on fire.

The night he bought it, he tried MK for the first time, sitting in his studio at home. At first he wasn’t sure what was happening, but he suddenly felt more confident than ever, and he had only one thing on his mind: sex! He vaguely remembered going out that night, and seducing and scoring with no less than three women. It had been heaven itself, and he knew he had to get his hands on more of this MK that turned him into a superhuman love-machine. When he tried to contact his dealer, he couldn’t get in touch. The guy had disappeared, and Harold never saw him again, let alone the redheaded guy he bought the drugs from. The next night he tried MK again, and once again it was a complete success. In the morning, after a night of abundant sex, he sat down at his equipment, and created a brilliant minimal-trance-mix, which was better than anything, he had ever created before. The kickback was severe, though. The next day he couldn’t get out of bed, and it was only in the evening that he started to feel better. By then he realised he had to save the little pills he still had, as he had no way of getting more beyond the six he now had.

Using only one more before his trip to San Francisco, again with spectacular results, he arrived in the US with 5 more MK pills. He was going to use one in his set tonight, and he would get into a winning mood by scoring some girl first at a local bar. He stood in front of the mirror and combed back his half-long blond hair. He had on his best shirt and designer jeans. Harold figured that all of that actually wouldn’t even matter. As long as he was on MK, he could be a beggar in the streets and still get all the sex he could ever want. Smiling at him self in the mirror, he grabbed his jacket, and left his hotel-room. The night was still young, but surely there would be a place somewhere in town with one or two sexy women he could get his hands on? Oh, yeah, this was absolutely DJ Magni’s night!

*************

Kitty & Rachel were sitting at the bar of a trendy-but-not-too-trendy café called The Spot. It was a nice enough place, not too crowded and the music wasn’t so loud that the two girls couldn’t make conversation. The music was basically British rock-music and Kitty enjoyed it thoroughly. Both had on their killer sexy outfits, and they drew quiet a bit of attention from the crowd that was there already. Kitty tried not to notice it, but Rachel was smiling back at all the guys that checked her out, as both girls were hammering back Corona’s

“You know, I really wish I had worn something a little more comfortable….” Kitty said as another guy looked at her legs

“Bah! Comfortable! Why would you want to be comfortable? You don’t see Emma getting Comfortable!” Rachel commented.

“Whatever she calls herself, she’s still a skanky hoe who was wearing those outfits of hers when she was teaching class!  Seriously!”

“I bet a lot of learning was going on in those classes.”

“Then again, we were a school that required its students to wear spandex for certain classes!” Kitty joked.

“This is really nice, you know? We’re just sitting here, talking about clothing and school! We’re almost like regular people!” Rachel remarked.

“I guess… Hey, wait a minute! Isn’t that… What’s her name…. Loa?” Kitty said, pointing out a young girl with facial tattoo’s at the other end of the bar.

“Loa? Who’s Loa?” asked Rachel.

“Alani Ryan AKA Loa. She was in one of my classes at the School!”

“Isn’t she a little young to have been in class with you?” Rachel asked absentmindedly.

“One of the classes I taught back at the Academy, simpleton! And she id definitely too young to be here drinking and especially for that creep she’s talking to.”

“He does seem to be looking for Jail-bait” Rachel said getting up  “Shame, really. He could be doing sooo much better”

“Rachel Grey! You are not going to hit on that creep who is into little girls!” Kitty said as she got up to go after Rachel, pulling her skirt all the way. Pretty soon they both reached the place where Alani was talking to the man with blond hair and expensive clothes.

“Hi there!” Rachel said.

“Oh hi! And hi to you too, professor Pryde!” Alani said.

“Professor?” the blond man said as he turned around to look at the two women who had just arrived.

“Yeah…. Things have changed a lot since you were in school” Kitty told the man, “back in the 80’s!”

“Hahaha… Yeah, that’s Professor Pryde all right…. Always joking…” Alani laughed.

“You know, I finished school some time ago…” Rachel said.

“Right… Well, it’s time for me to go” the man said “I have my DJ set in less than three hours. Any of you want to come?”

For a short moment, all three of the girls felt a little dizzy, and looked at the man with extreme feelings of lust.

“Sure, why not…” Kitty said, as Alani took the man’s arm.

“Wait!!!” Rachel screamed, her Phoenix sign glowing over her eye, “I don’t know what you’re trying to do here, but I am a little more powerful then you, pervert!”

“What? What are you…” the man stammered, as he felt an invisible force grab his throat, crushing it.

“You sicko, is this the way you get girls?” Rachel spoke angrily at the man, as both Kitty and Alani started to come to their senses.

Suddenly, in a burst of energy, a pink skinned woman appeared on the bar behind them. Wearing an incredibly high split green dress; she had a quiver filled with javelins on her back. She also carried a short javelin in one hand, and had some sort of device on her other arm. She was exotic looking, but from her pose all present knew that she was ready for anything.  For only a second the woman stared at the device on her arm, and then looked at the scene in front of her.

Kitty reacted immediately, screaming: “Look out, she’s got a weapon!” and phased her hand through the device. The pink woman was startled, as the device fell of her arm. Around them, people were starting to panic, and fled the scene. The device was sparking as it fell to ground, and started to hum louder and louder.

“Behind me, all of you!” Rachel called, and she enveloped the device in a cocoon of telekinetic force.

The device exploded with incredible force, knocking Rachel back and unconscious. Kitty got up as did Alani, and both stared at the pink woman in front of them.

“Cool!” Alani said.

“What the hell was that?” Kitty said.

Then the woman disappeared with a blinking sound, from right in front of them.

**********

Hi, I’m Rachel Grey. I have no idea how old I am exactly, but I guess I’m in my early twenties. You see, I’m a time-traveller, and I’ve jumped around so much that I do not know how much time has passed between birthdays. Not that I ever celebrated my birthday after my parents were killed. I come from this horrible nightmare timeline where every mutant was killed by government sponsored Sentinels, including my mom and dad, Jean Grey and Scott Summers.

 That whole timeline has been cosmically erased, however, and I’m all that’s left of it. I should know a little bit about cosmic stuff, since I used to be a host for the Phoenix Force, and sometimes I still tap into a little of that power. When I do, watch out, because I’m very capable of bringing the house down! Anyway, I came back to this reality a year or so ago, and I decided to let go of all the crap that happened to me in the past. I tried to live life as any other young woman would, who also happens to be a member of the X-Men. I didn’t have much luck, though, as I lost my adopted family, my mom’s in this reality, to a bunch of Shi’ar fanatics, who wiped them out because of their connection to the Phoenix Force. I survived, but I did get this incredible Phoenix brand on my back out of it. It looks like a really awesome tattoo, if you’re into that sort of thing, but to me it’s just an ugly reminder of the fact that I can never escape the consequences of the past, no matter how hard I try.

 After getting involved in an intergalactic war involving the Shi’ar, and losing the potential love of my life to it, a Shi’ar warrior named Korvus, I got back to earth, and I’m trying to move on again.

Things have been really good here at the X-Men centre in San Francisco. I’m sharing a room with my best friend Kitty Pryde, who got back from space along with me, only much more screwed up by having been fused with a gigantic projectile for months. We X–Women sure know how to have the best of times!

Did that sound callous? I guess it did, but sometimes that is the only at I know how to act. It seems I have only two options in life, one of which is to embrace the hardships, the torture and the suffering I’ve had to deal with throughout my life, and the other is to just move on. Right now, I’m kinda stuck in between, and I really wonder how I can move on when every time I try, the past hits me right in the face and messes everything up again.

 Anyway, I’ve started to write down these thoughts I have because Kitty is doing it and it helps her to sort things out. Have I told you how great Kitty is? Well, she is. My earliest memories are of her trying to take car of me after my parents were killed in the future I’m from. She called herself Kate then, and she was wonderful. So you see, I do not just love Kitty now; I know she will be an even greater person when she gets older! How’s that?

 Right now, I’m writing this in the infirmary of the X-Centre. Me and Kitty went out tonight, and we ran into some trouble, which resulted in me containing an explosion on the upper level of the a-bomb scale. I succeeded, it’s me, but I did get knocked out. Hank, The Beast, wanted to keep me in the infirmary just to be sure, so now I’m here, bored to tears. Might as well write this, then….

**********

“I don’t care WHAT you have to say for yourself, you had absolutely NO business hanging out in a bar like that, dressed like that, chatting up some creep like that!!” Kitty yelled at Alani when they were back at the X-centre.

Alani just looked at Kitty like she had no idea what Kitty was getting so worked up over.

“Kitty, perhaps you should…” Scott tried to come between Kitty and Alani, having just gotten back from dinner.

“Butt out, Scott! I’m talking here!” Kitty yelled, “Well, Alani, what do you have to say for yourself, huh?”

“Well, duh. You’re making it into this whole deal, Professor Pryde. You could just, you know, chill…” Alani answered, still not sure what all the commotion was about.

“Chill? Who do you think I am, Iceman? And don’t call me Professor Pryde all the time! It’s not like I’m that much older than you!” Kitty yelled back irrationally.

“Yet you get to wear the hot- momma outfit, girl. Ya made a fine point there!” Logan chimed in, after watching the yelling contest with some amusement.

“Who asked you, Logan? Your morals are 200 years old if a day, they really don’t count!” Kitty told Logan of.

“Kitty I really think you should calm down!” Scott said a little more forcefully.

“I should calm down? You should have seen the way this MINOR was throwing herself at this sleazebag DJ!” Kitty replied, and resumed staring down Alani who was still very much unbothered by the whole affair.

“Miss Pryde, I really must interfere on…” Emma involved herself in the discussion.

“Yeah, I figured you would be defending any slutty behaviour!” Kitty hissed at Emma.

Emma didn’t react at all, and continued: “I really must interfere on behalf of miss Ryan here. The very things you are now throwing at her have always been accepted when you did them. Or have you forgotten your innocent jailbait routine with Mr. Rasputin, back in the day. I believe that age-difference was even bigger.”

“You will excuse me if I do not feel obliged to answer questions from a woman who thinks it’s hunky-dory to teach class in her freaking underwear?” Kitty spat at the former White Queen.

“Enough!” Scott shouted, actually drawing some attention and raised eyebrows. When he was certain he had everybody’s attention, he continued.

“While I enjoy a good snipe-fest as much a the next guy, this is just unproductive. I think it’s a very bad idea to stand here debating morals while there is a potentially dangerous telepath on the loose in San Francisco, who seemingly preys on young girls. I would think that you, Kitty, would agree with that, or do you just want to throw a tantrum?”

“Be gentle, Scott dear. After all, she’s not that much older than Miss Ryan” Emma added.

“Lay of Emma!” Scott bit at Emma, “Well, what do you say, Kitty?”

“Oh, all right… But we will talk about this, Alani! Count on it!” Kitty said.

“Okay. Whatever…” Alani said, twirling her hair.

“Fine. Now Emma, if you would start up Cerebra, we can…””Scott started.

“Uh. That’s not really necessary. He like told me a hundred times about his primo DJ-gig at The Hacienda tonight.” Alani said.

“All right then… Let’s go!” Scott said.