The black car was sitting at the side of the road and a man sat in the driver’s seat, a steaming cup of coffee in the cup holder as he stared out at the bus stop on the opposite side. His windows were rolled down, it was a warm morning and he held a portable recording device in his hand.
On the other side of the road a gaggle of high school students waited at the bus stop talking to each other. There were five in total but he was focused on only two this morning.
Shifting in his seat, he peered over and raised the device to his mouth, speaking quietly into the microphone after checking his watch. “It’s 7:02, the bus is late. The psyche and the sonic are waiting alone. Unsure where the energy manipulator is.”
He moved his eyes to look at the road ahead and lifted the coffee to his mouth and took a long, theatrical swig, trying to look innocent and raised a hand to adjust the headphones in his ears. They had a small dial on the side which, when spun, allowed him to focus on particular voices.
He cast a glance to the side to look at his two targets and better aim his hearing device.
They were both teenagers, his files had them at seventeen, about to start their senior years after the upcoming summer vacation. The girl was tall with long auburn hair cascading down her back and she was looking at her peer with a look of extreme irritation.
The man tuned the dial a little to the left and her voice came through the headphones, clear as day;
“Have you been going through my emails?!”
The boy next to her, also a red-head, but more ginger and curly, seemed to disregard this. “I didn’t have to, man. You think I don’t remember last time? You go all sad and depressed and play that cut myself music whenever he gets in contact. How’d he even get your email?”
His accent was Irish, not a strong one though, his file stated that he’d been in The USA for at least four years and his accent appeared to have adapted accordingly.
The man watched as the girl raised a hand to bite on her fingernail and turned her feet inwards, seeming to shrink a little before his very eyes.
“He didn’t, I just… I looked at one of my old ones, I was just curious.”
“And?” The boy’s tone was low, accusatory.
A static interrupted the sound and the man had to readjust the settings and when he was back, she was mid-sentence.
“-been sending me an email every week.”
“Wow, creepy.” The boy threw back his head in derision and looked behind him where the school bus was finally arriving. “Jeez, Alex needs to hurry his shit up.”
“There he is.” The girl pointed up at the distance.
The man surreptitiously craned his neck to look too and, sure enough, he could see another teenage boy running down the road, his messy blonde hair rippling in the early morning breeze.
“Energy manipulator arrives at precisely,” He paused to look at his watch, “7:04.” He whispered into the microphone again just as the bus roared past, stopping in front of him, blocking the teenagers from view.
Static overtook his headphones now, but he was able to hear one last comment from the girl.
“If you dare tell Alex, I’ll smash all of your videogames.”
The man brought his audio device up to his lips one last time; “All on the bus as scheduled.”
It was evening and he was hungry, he looked at his watch. He was parked in front of two iron-wrought gates now, on the opposite side of the room, he had his windows rolled down and had a large map open on the dashboard in front of him, pouring over it or, at least, that’s what he wanted it to look like.
He was wearing sunglasses now, and a large sunhat.
A commotion from the other side of the road made him look up in time to see five people walking up the road towards the gates.
“I still don’t see why we gotta walk, all that money, those cars, a freakin’ jet and we walk to the store?” The blonde kid, the energy manipulator, was at the front of the small crowd. He was wearing a grey tank top and pale blue jean shorts and he was laden with shopping bags.
Just behind him, a tall woman of Amazonian stature let out a soft laugh, her voice low and melodious. She was carrying a bag in each arm but, as she walked, she shifted one of the bags into her other arm to bring the now free hand to pat her white, afro hair back into shape.
“Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should, Alex” She said, “Do you know how much we reduce our carbon emission by simply walking?”
The man brought up his audio device and spoke into the microphone; “18:37, the energy manipulator and weather controller returning from the store.” He paused and looked at the others; “Accompanied by the psyche, the sonic and MacTaggert.”
“Besides,” Another woman, MacTaggert, smiled cheerfully as she looked up at the clear sky, “It’s good exercise and this weather is beautiful.”
“Like we don’t get enough exercise.” The blonde kid muttered under his breath.
A couple of metres behind them were the two kids he’d observed at the bus stop that morning, both of them laden with shopping bags and apparently deep in a heated conversation. Raising a hand, he adjusted his hearing device, aimed it towards them.
“-Look, it’s my thing, okay? I’ve gotta see him.” The girl was saying, casting a furtive look at the others ahead of them.
“You don’t remember what happened last time?” The boy countered; he sounded tired and agitated and the man watched as he too looked forward to check they weren’t being overheard.
“He apologised!” The psyche hissed, “He’s promised it’ll be different this time.”
“God, you’re so dense.” The sonic clutched the shopping bags tightly to his chest and shook his head. “All boys say that. I bet he said that he’s changed and he’s not like the others.”
“Shut up.” The psyche said in a low, sad tone.
“When are you going?” The sonic seemed resigned.
“Friday, after school.” She replied in a defeated tone.
“I’m going with you.”
“You most certainly are not.” The psyche replied suddenly. “He made me promise to go alone.”
“Children!” They were interrupted by the weather controller; she’d stopped a few feet ahead and was gazing back at them. “Is there something wrong?”
The sonic looked back at the girl with the auburn hair. “Is there? I’d hate to have to tell Uncle Charlie about this.”
“You’re such an asshole.”
He couldn’t see clearly from his vantage point, staring at them in his rear view mirror but the man imagined that she was giving him a death glare.
“… No, nothing’s up.” She called back.
The two of them fell into silence and broke into a jog to catch up with the others who were now waiting beside the gate. MacTaggert, he now realised with a shock, was staring directly at him, at the car, her eyebrows furrowed.
Quickly, he looked back at the map spread out on the dashboard, looking closely at one of the roads, tracing it with his finger.
“Wait,” His earpiece picked up the voice of the sonic, the tone was low and secretive, “You know what day that is, right?”
When he dared to look back up they were all gone, through the gate. He heaved a sigh and spoke their movements into his recording device before leaning back in his seat, pondering what he knew.
He took out a large cigar and lit it up with one swift movement and allowed the smoke to fill his mouth with apparent relish as he looked back over at the gate, closed (and locked no doubt), and exhaled a thick plume of smoke towards the wall beside it which bore a silvery plaque, one he was all too familiar with;
Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters