Title – End of the Road
Author - Ramos
Rating – G
Disclaimer – Only borrowed, not stolen. Played with carefully. Sorta.
Author's note: Not really a sequel to my "Stepping out with Wolvie"
series, but follows it.
Chad eyed the worn paneling of the far wall and methodically kicked the leg
of his chair with his heel. The last thing he needed was another delay,
especially now. He wasn't quite sure where he was, but he had felt he was
getting close before that security guard had caught him sleeping in the
alley behind the grocery store. The cops hadn't hassled him too bad, but
they'd been firmly insistent on escorting him to the police station and
making a few calls for his welfare.
It would take a while, but sooner or later they'd figure out exactly who
and what he was. It was always the same – all the concern and 'oh, poor
orphan boy' sympathy would evaporate the instant they found his file with
that big red 'Mutant' stamp on it. He knew how to play this game. The
secret was to pretend to go along until they placed you in a shelter. Two
or three days, at the max; then it was out the door and on the road again.
The people in charge would shake their heads, but nobody would put a lot of
effort into finding a mutant runaway. In the meantime, you got a shower,
some food, and maybe a new pair of jeans or a sweatshirt in the bargain.
It wasn't too much longer before he saw the desk sergeant nodding his way,
but the woman asking the questions wasn't quite what he was expecting.
Usually the social service wackos fit into a few general categories. There
was the tired grandmother type, weary of life and only doing this for the
money; the washed-out white trash only doing this for money; and the aging
hippie type who preached love and harmony and made their own whole-wheat,
high fiber bread and pretended they didn't do it for the money.
This one, however, was younger than usual, somewhere lower in the nebulous
"adult" range to his twelve-year old mind, but she was pleasantly plump and
had not a single gray hair in the chaotic mess held back by a pair of
sunglasses. She had a toddler by the hand, a little girl with her
mother's jet-black hair, swept back by high cowlicks on each side, and her
thumb in her mouth. The kid ignored the adults around her and met Chad's
scowl with an unnervingly steady stare over her fist.
The woman moved towards him, and he realized she wasn't plump, but
pregnant. He had no real experience with women or reproduction, having
skipped out of school before the Sex Ed part, but he figured it was either
a baby or a basketball under the loosely swinging blouse. She stopped in
front of his chair and put her free hand on her nearly nonexistent hip.
"Hey," she said simply.
Chad lifted his chin in reply; making nice wasn't necessary. They never
expected any response. He was aware of the little girl staring at him.
Slouched as he was in the plastic bucket chair she was nearly at eye level.
Her blue eyes bored into his with a challenge that would have looked
better on a teenage bully. He made a face at her, one that was usually
successful at making most bullies back off. It didn't work. She pulled
her thumb out of her mouth and cocked her head to one side, as if he'd done
"Yanna, quit making faces. You're gonna scare him." The amusement in the
woman's voice surprised Chad. He'd been the one making faces. The little
girl glanced up at her mother, then gave him a shy smile that showed all
four of her teeth.
"Hi. I hear you're looking for a place to crash."
Reluctantly, Chad sat up. "You're the Social Services around here?" he
asked, not quite keeping the scorn out of his voice.
"Kinda sorta. The cops get a lot of teenagers coming through here, so they
give me a call. I'm officially the emergency shelter gal, but I have a lot
of foster kids." She lowered her awkward body into the chair beside him,
sighing in relief as she eased her back. Check. Putting herself on his
level, so he wouldn't feel intimidated. Next, she'd introduce herself and
ask his name, like they were going to be best buds.
"So, you just drifting through, or you actually got a destination in mind?"
"Umm…" This simply was not going according to plan. "I'm headed
somewhere," he admitted, before he could stop himself. Stupid! Never tell
them where you were headed.
"That's cool. Well, I've got plenty of room at my place, if you want to
land for a while. Stay as long as you want," she said, her casual aplomb
messing with his expectations even further.
"I'm Chad," he offered, trying to get things back on track.
"Nice to meet you," she replied, holding out one long hand. "Most kids
call me Mrs. J, or J.L. This little terror," as she pulled the little girl
close and gave her an affectionate shake, "is Ilyanna. We call her Yanna
for short. It's easier to yell when you're chasing her." The little girl
giggled, knowing she was being teased even if she couldn't understand all
the words going on around her.
Chad felt an odd wave of jealousy at the obvious love this mother felt for
her child; his own mother had been distant even before his mutation
manifested, and completely absent afterwards. Running away from home had
been a mere formality. An obstinate, perverse desire to ruin this domestic
scene pushed its way to the surface. "You sure you want me around? I'm a
"Yeah?" J.L. questioned, apparently not even paying attention. "What can
Nonplussed, Chad froze under the frank blue gaze. Part of his mind
realized J.L. had an Asian slant to her eyes, but the rest of his mind
raced to the handful of stones in his pocket. Reaching in, he pulled out a
nondescript round river rock and showed it to her.
"Watch." Frowning hard at the rock, he felt inside the stone with his
mind. It resisted, as usual, and he felt the perspiration gather on his
forehead as he exerted his will. Finally, reluctantly, the surface of the
stone flowed, flattened, and became clear. The outline changed to a simple
octagon, with a matching octagonal opening in the center. The translucent
blue was a last minute decision.
Finished, Chad blew out a shaky breath and dropped the newly shaped stone
into J.L.'s hand.
She turned it over in her fingers, feeling the smooth face and the rough
"Neat," she said. "Can you do any shape you want?"
"Uhhh," he answered. Nobody ever took his ability that lightly. They
usually screamed, or looked at him like a bug in their kitchen. "Doesn't
that scare you?"
J.L.'s smile widened into a wicked, 'I've got a secret, too' grin. "Watch
this," she whispered in a conspiratorial tone. She held up one hand, her
thumb and fingers forming a ring. Where they met, and blue and pink ball
of light formed. Yanna pulled her thumb out of her mouth again and put
both hands over her ears.
With a flick, the ball of light sailed off J.L.'s fingers. It landed in
the center of the linoleum floor and popped with "BAM" that sounded like
one of those fifty-cent firecrackers. A shriek came from the secretary's
desk, and the sergeant swore.
"Dammit, Jubilee! You made me spill my coffee."
"Sorry, Earl," J.L. called back, grinning unrepentantly.
The door labeled "Sheriff Green" opened abruptly, and a grizzled, older man
stuck his head out. Taking a look at the three of them, he scowled at J.L.
"Jubilation Lee, you are as bad as those kids of yours. You get on out of
here and let us get some work done."
"Yes, Sir," she responded with mock severity. "You still coming over for
"Wouldn't miss it," he replied. The sheriff's bushy gray eyebrows drew
down in a frown as he looked Chad up and down. "You gonna go with Mrs.
Lee?" Chad nodded, surprised he'd already made up his mind.
"Well, you mind your manners, and you'll do fine. Xavier's is a little
wild, but it's a good place to be. Ya know," he continued, addressing the
woman beside Chad, "my granddaughter threw a fit the other day 'cause I
told her she had to be a mutant to go that school of yours. Her momma says
she's still pouting. A 'course, I think she's a little sweet on that son
of yours," he added slyly.
J.L. laughed. "Well heck, Bob. She's only six. Tell her there's still
plenty of time for her to manifest. I didn't know myself until I was
eleven or so."
Chad was busy processing what the Sheriff had just said. He opened his
mouth, but wasn't sure he could hear himself over the sudden pounding in
his heart. "Xavier's? Do you know… are you talking about the Xavier
Both adults smiled at him, and Chad thought he'd die in the two seconds it
took J.L. to answer him. "Yeah, we're talking about Xavier's. You've
heard of it?"
"I heard – I thought it was a place for people – for kids. Like me," he
"It is," J.L. responded. "That's where I live. You too, if you want."
"You can get me in there?" he queried, hardly daring to believe.
"Oh, I imagine so, since I run that nuthouse," she drawled. "Don't worry,
I don't make you call me Headmistress, or anything like that. J.L.,
Chad nodded dumbly, unable to speak. He couldn't believe his luck. He was
finally here. Snow Valley, the Shangri La of mutants. A place where kids
like him weren't ostracized, or treated like freaks. He'd actually,
finally made it.
Yanna reached up and grabbed his first two fingers, all her damp little
digits could wrap around. Somehow he didn't mind the baby slobber as she
tugged imperiously on both his and her mother's hand.
"Well, gotta go, Bob. See you later," Jubilee called, levering herself out
of the chair. The sheriff waved absently and went back in his office.
She headed outside into the blazing afternoon sunlight that momentarily
blinded Chad after the dim interior of the police station, but Yanna's
little fingers gripped his with a firm strength, leading him out the door
and into his future. He gripped his backpack tightly with his other hand