Author's Note: This is yet another AU fic. Within this fic, you'll find characters that are in the comics, in limbo, and a few original ones. The characters in this fic will be either VERY different then they are in the comics/cartoons/movies or pretty much the same. A lot of events will also be different as will character's past and relationships. You have been warned.

Chapter 1: Musical Chairs

New York

September 2nd, 2002

5:12 p.m.

Nineteen year old Scott Summers entered the rec room of the Lehnsherr School for Gifted Children. He went straight to the sofa and flopped himself down. Sitting in the large chair on his right was, the girl he thought of as his best friend, sixteen year old Kitty Pryde. Resident computer genius and punk/goth. As usual, she was reading a large book on psychics. Or was she?

"Joker trying to take the city again?" Scott questioned.

Kitty looked up at him and he could have sworn she nearly smiled. "Yeah, but that pissy Robin's going to save the day." She closed the book. "Why can't the bad guys win, just once?"

Scott shrugged as he took a pack of cigarettes from his bowling shirt's pocket. "We'd be out of a job." He moved around the sofa, looking for his favorite silver lighter. Then, he remembered he had given it to Jean. And with a sigh, he put the cigarettes up.

"It'd still be fun if they won. Think of the headlines- 'Evil Not Stopped'. Okay, that headline sucked, but I don't write the papers."

Scott nearly smiled at that one. "It wasn't that bad.You see Jean around?"

The second Scott said Jean's name, Kitty made a face. It was a well known fact that the gothic mutant and the perfect Jean Grey did not get along. Jean was always trying to get Kitty to be like the 'cute little girl' in the pictures that Kitty had of herself. Of course, that was three years ago. Before her parents split up. Before she became a mutant. Before her older brother died of AIDS. Before...well, just before.

"No." Kitty simply answered.

Scott nodded a little. Jean was a touchy subject for the both for them. "I just want my lighter back."

"You should have asked for it when you two broke up. Or at the wedding." Kitty replied with a sly grin.

"Nah," Scott ran a hand through his hair. Making a mental note to go out and buy more blue dye for it. "it was freaky enough without me bringing up our past. I mean our parents were getting married for Christ's sake. I was trying to stay away from her. Asking for my lighter would have defeated the whole purpose."

Kitty shrugged and stood up. "Whatever. You were just chicken. You two really need to get over it. You two broke up six months ago and your parents got married three months ago. Just ask for your fucking lighter and move on."

"Easier said then done,Kitty. She's still hot for me."

* * *

Jean Grey was in no mood for this. In fact, she hadn't been in the mood for it for six months. Yet, there she was sitting across from Erik Lehnsherr, her mentor and teacher. For the past year, Lehnsherr had been trying to teach the nineteen year old telepath, how to break through telepathic shields. So far, they weren't having much luck.

So they sat across from one another, green eyes staring into brown. Just staring. For three very *long* hours. Finally, Jean couldn't take it anymore.

"Agh," she broke the stare, causing Erik to jump. "I just cannot do it." She folded her arms across her chest in a sort of protest. "It's stupid anyway."

"Jean," Erik began gently. "it's not stupid. You must work on your gifts to make yourself stronger. Your telepathic gift should be just as strong, if not stronger, then your telekinetic gift."

Jean muttered. "Whatever." Erik gave her a stern look. "Sorry, sorry. I'm just not in the mood."

"Sometimes we aren't in the mood for something, yet we must do it." He patted Jean softly on the hand. "I know your still feeling upset over your break up with Scott and the marr-"

"Yeah!" Jean wasn't even listening to Erik now. "I mean why'd he even break up with me in the first place? Okay, so we were different. But, opposites attract. And ok, my Dad was sort of seeing his Mom, but...whatever. I really liked him, you know. We worked well together. I was smart, pretty, rich, and talented. And he was....he was Scott. We were happy. Do you know why he broke up with me?" Jean looked at Erik. "Well?"

"Oh, I don't know. I had heard something about his feelings-"

"Yeah. His feelings for me. He told me that he wanted to break up because we were just to different. Then he said and I quote "It's been a fun five months, but my feelings have changed. I'm sorry." " Jean made a face. "He- agh!"

"It's all right, Jean. You'll get over it. You both will, with time and-"

The telepathic teen sank deep into her chair. "I know. I just don't want to get over it or him. I think I loved him, Mr. Lehnsherr." Jean's voice was full of sadness. She really was broken up about it and not just being over dramatic. "And I just feel so bad about everything that happened."

"I know." Erik told her softly. "I know. But, I promise it will get easier for the two of you. I'm sure you'll even be ready to date over people soon."

Jean nodded a bit. Erik smiled and stood. "Now, if you'll pardon me. I have a meeting."

"With who,Mr. Lehnsherr?" Jean asked, just as Erik opened the door.

He looked back at his young charge. "Someone who will play a large part in the future of our mission." And with that, he turned and walked out the door. Leaving Jean to think about everything that had just happened.

* * *

The cafe Le Petite Belle was, as always, empty. It was a small out of the way place, famous for it's soup. Only half the tables were full, but that didn't seem to bother anyone. It was nice and quiet. A good place for a meeting.

There was a pretty, petite,30 something, blonde woman dressed all in white, sitting at the table by the door. She sipped quietly on her coffee and skimmed over the morning paper. She was half way through the sports when a man in his mid-60s entered the cafe. He smiled brightly at her and walked over.

"Ms. Frost, I'm so sorry. I'm nearly late for our meeting." He said as he took the seat across from her.

"It's all right, Mr. Lehnsherr. I'll a mit that I was a bit nervous;I thought you weren't coming." She gestured to a small cup on Erik's side of the table. "I ordered for you. You don't mind, do you?"

"Of course not, Ms. Frost. Thank you." He picked the cup up and took a large sip. "Mm, you even added the extra sugar, again thank you."

She smiled. "Not at all, and please call me Emma. We've know each other long enough, Erik." He seemed to blush a bit, but nodded. "Now, how are your dear students?"

"Fine, fine." He leaned in closer. "I saw the news this morning. They've moved on to Spain."

Emma sighed inwardly. She was disappointed that Erik had moved on to business so quickly. But, she knew the business was much more important then if he liked his coffee or not. "Yes, Spain. If they keep this up, the sentinels will be moving onto America next. Which, could be trouble for us, especially, if that damn Mutants Act is passed by Congress next month."

Erik nodded thoughtfully. "I agree, it's a bad time to be a mutant." He chuckled a bit at the sure irony of it all. After all, it was always a bad time to be a mutant. Emma gave him a look. "I'm sorry, Emma."

"It's all right,Erik. But, you make a wonderful point. Protecting mutants from the sentinels should be a major point right now." Emma moved back and sat straighter in her chair. "Erik, I think our teams should meet. After all, we'll have to work together in the coming months."

Erik nodded. "I agree. I believe the X-Men should meet your Hellions."

The two team leaders exchanged a small smile. They each picked up their cups and clicked them together before taking sips.

* * *

The bedroom of Jean Grey was painted an airy blue and was filled with awards. There was also a picture of Scott Summers by her bed. She just couldn't bring herself to take it down. And at that moment, someone was looking at the picture.

The tall,seventeen year old, blonde was sitting on the edge of the pink bedspread, the picture in her small hands. "Ah just don't see it. How come you were so hot for each other?" She looked up at the annoyed red head. "Ah mean, Jeanie, Scott's a great friend and all, but you two really didn't have much in common. Your really better off as friends."

Jean grabbed the picture from the blonde and held it close to her chest. "Can it, Paige." Jean opened her night stand draw and put the photo up. "Besides, I thought you were here to study for your French test?"

"Ah am." She flopped down onto the bed. "But, Ah don't really want to. Hey, were did Mr. Lehnsherr go? He's been disappearing a lot lately. You think he has a girlfriend."

"Eww,Paige!" Jean crushed her face up in a gross-outed look. "He's 66. 66 year olds don't have girlfriends. Please, can we just move with the studying? I'm getting images of Mr. L making out with some woman."

Paige sat up and held back a giggle. "You sure your not picking up his thoughts?"

"Paige, please! The only thoughts I want to hear are Scott's."

"But, Mr. Lehnsherr made you do promise not to listen in on our thoughts." Paige sighed. "Besides, what would you learn?"

"Why he dumped me."

Paige sighed. This whole thing was really getting on her nerves. It had been going on for way to long. The whole thing was like some bad romance novel. "You know why. He told you. He's feeling s for you changed. 'Sides wouldn't you find it strange dating your stepbrother? Ah can't image that." She shuddered. "It would just be gross." Something dawned on her at that moment. "Oo, you could ask Kitty. I mean she and Scott are so close. They've gotten even closer since the breakup. Ah mean, if anyone will know how Scott feels it will be Kitty. And-"

Throughout Paige's whole rabble, something had been dawning on Jean. Scott dumping her. Scott spending so much time with Kitty. She didn't even wait for Paige to stop talking. Oh no, instead she blurred out what she had decided. She was grossed out by it, but it had to be said. "Oh my God! Scott dumped me for freaky Kitty!"

* * *

Scott's walls were painted black, crap was all over the floor, and he hadn't made his bed in three weeks. Insets burned on his dresser and a Fog Hats CD blasted over his radio. Scott hung out in a large chair by his radio. He painted his nails black. Meanwhile,Kitty moved around the room. She swayed to the music and hummed along to the songs.

"Where's your Life CD?"

"Somewhere, look."

Kitty stuck her pierced tongue out at him. "If you'd just clean your damned room, Summers we wouldn't have this problem." She turned back around and began looking through his clothes. "And you could also wash your clothes."

"Don't stiff my clothes,Kitty."

"Bite me,Summers."

Scott cocked his head to one side. "Come on over here, then."

Kitty made a face and threw his dirty boxers at him.

Scott dodged the boxers and laughed. "Your aim is so bad."

* * *

Back and forth. Back and forth. Jean was pacing her room, moving her hands all around her.Yelling and ranting. Paige found the whole thing kind of funny, but she'd never say that out loud. She's just let her best friend rant for a couple of hours and then it'd all be over.

"He dumped me for freaky Kitty. How could he dump *me* for her?!" She whirled around to face Paige. "Freaky. Kitty. Does he not notice that like every part of her face is pierced?"

"Well, I'm sure he's noticed."

"Well, how would he kiss her? Huh, answer me that! Plus, she's sixteen. Sixteen! She's jail bait. Jail. Bait." Jean sank down in the chair by her make up table. "Paige, she's a sixteen year old freak and his a nineteen year old..ok, he's a freak too. But he was *my* freak."

"Not anymore,Jean. You and Scott haven't been together for a long time." Paige said gently. "It's okay."

"I got to talk to Scott about this!" Jean jumped up and rushed out the door.

Paige waited about two seconds before following her. They turned down the hallway and stopped at room 321,Scott's room. Jean stared at the door.

"Jean, don't do this. Don't make a big thing out of nothing. Please, you'll just make Scott upset." Paige tugged on Jean's arm. "Come on,"

Jean pushed Paige off her. "I have to know." She used her psychokinsis powers to make the door swing open.

Scott looked up from the magazine he was reading and Kitty phased through the chair she had been sitting on. With a small thud sound, Kitty pushed the chair off herself and stood up.

Kitty looked up at Jean. "Jean? What's with the mighty power show?"

Jean ignored Kitty and stormed right up to Scott;Scott put his magazine down and slowly rose from his chair. They couldn't see his eyes, because of his ruby sunglasses, but all three girls knew they were dancing with laugher. He found the whole thing *very* funny.

"You dumped me for this freak?!" Jean pointed at Kitty for added effect.

Kitty and Paige exchanged a look. Paige made a face as if to tell Kitty that, yes Jean had finally gone over the deep end. Kitty rolled her eyes. She'd figured it'd happen soon.

Scott, meanwhile, had been thinking carefully about what he was going to say. Finally, he stated in a calm voice. "I didn't. I dumped you because I didn't like you in that way anymore."

"Liar!" Jean turned to the doorway, where Paige still was. "Paige said-"

Paige put her hands up and moved into the room. "Don't you dare bring me into this!"

Angry and hurt, Jean whirled around to face Scott. "Well, you did." Her voice was low.

"Guys," Paige began.

Jean ignored Paige. She was feeling upset and she really needed to get it out. "How could you dump *me* for her, I'll never know."

Kitty yelled. "Hey, I'm standing right here!"

"I wouldn't dump *you* for *her*.

"Again, hey!"

Tears were in Jean's eyes. "Then why did you dump me?"

"Because I don't like you like that anymore."

"Why not?"

"Because I don't." Scott tried to put a hand on Jean's shoulder but she moved away.

"Because of freaky Kitty!"

Something flashed across Scott's face. "Don't call her that." He said, at the same time Kitty yelled. "Don't call me that you obbsive psycho!"

Paige had listen to Scott and Jean this whole time. She was getting bord, angry, and really pissed off with the two of them. Jean, for not letting the breakup go and Scott for not showing any regard for Jean's feelings. "Guys, chill!"

No-one listened. "You can't tell me why? You really do only think of yourself!"

"Look who's talking."

"Guys, please chill!"

Jean whirled around, not annoyed with Paige. "Shut-up, Paige!!"

A familiar voice spoke up from the door. "I have an idea, why don't you all shut-up and follow me." All four teens turned to see Erik in the doorway. "Now!" Without another word, Erik turned and walked away.

* * *

Three minutes later, all four teens stood or sat around Erik's office. Erik sat behead his desk and looked over his "children." They were all so young, so pure in the war against humans and mutants. Could he really put the fate of other mutants in the hands of two nineteen year olds, one seventeen year old, and one sixteen year old? If Emma's Hellions could do it, then his X- Men could. Couldn't they? He had trained them for years. He had taught them everything they knew;but, where they ready? Erik looked at each one in turn.

Scott, leading against the door frame. As always, his face was unreadable. His blue hair, baggy jeans, red bowling shirt, and ruby sunglasses marked him as a bit of a punk among the locals. But underneath it all, Scott was a warm and wise young man. Scott'd never say it outloud, not even to Jean or Kitty, but he was scared of his powers. A complex boy-man, who would grow into a great leader.

Jean, beautiful, bright, Jean. Easy, the most powerful student. She sat in the chair across from Erik. Her hands neatly in her lap. Her red hair neatly flowing around her bare shoulders. Her eyes seemed so old. Erik pitied her in a way. In four years she had come so far,but she had some way to go. Could she handle what was to come?

Paige, sitting in a chair next to Jean. Little, innocent, Paige. The only mutant Erik had ever met that *wanted* to be a mutant. She to had come a long way, but she had trained more then anyone. Always studying, training. But, she was also the one to keep the peace. Without her, Erik was sure the X-Men would have been disbanded years ago.

And finally, Kitty. Leaning against the wall by the bookcase. What was the old phrase? Still waters run deep? Well, Kitty wasn't really a still water, but she did run deep. To most, Erik included, Kitty seemed to be a gothic/punk with thirteen piercing and four tattoos. However, she was a sad, lonely, little girl. A little girl, who never trained in her powers. A little girl that ended up in the den below her bedroom every time she had a bad dream. Erik knew she'd be okay in the end.

"I have no idea who made or controls the sentinels. All I know is that the sentinels are heading this way. Put this with the Mutants Act, that will in all likely hood, be passed and it is going to be a very hard and trying time. I'll be truthful, I think your all too young to be involved in what's to come. You may not be ready. But, I've done all I can for all of you. And I promise to be by all of you till the very end. Our world is ten percent mutant and growing. If we do not take care of these things that stand in the way of their safety now, it could lead to awful things." Erik looked over all of them, locking eyes with each.

"We leave for Boston in an hour. Wither are not you come is up to you. If you stay here, I won't hold it against you. I love you all. Dismissed."

* * *

Scott Summers had thought about going to Boston and not going to Boston for half an hour. He had weighted the pros and cons of each. To go would mean that he might not come on. Erik hadn't shared to many details, but Scott was sure there would be the risk of death. And if he didn't go, he'd never forgive himself.

He looked over at a picture by his bed. It was of him and Kitty on the front steps of the school. It was one of the few pictures with the two of them smiling. With a sigh, he went over to his closet and grabbed a bag.

Jean Grey had thought about not going to Boston for three seconds. She'd go to Boston for Mr. Lehnserr. For her father, her sister, her stepbrother, stepmother, her mother's spirit, Paige, Kitty, but mostly, she'd go for Scott. Despite everything, despite the way she knew he felt. So, she'd go because she didn't want anything bad to happen and because she loved Scott.

Paige Guthrie didn't even think. She just went into her room and packed a suitcase. She'd go to Boston. She'd do whatever was asked of her. If she was asked to fight sentinels, she'd fight sentinels. If she was asked to go to Congress and beg them not to pass that Mutant Act, she'd go.

A long time ago, Paige had made a promise to herself and to God. She was about fourteen years old when she decided she wanted to a mutant. Her older brother,Sam, had been killed by a mob three months before. For three months, Paige didn't leave her room. Then, one day, she decided that she wanted to help mutants. She wanted to make sure no mutant or normal human was ever hurt like that again. So, she went outside and screamed for God to make her a mutant. That was when she pulled the skin on her arm off and found a diamond skin under it.

Paige put her ski hat tightly on her blond head. She picked her suitcase up and headed downstairs. She knew that she was ready to do whatever she could for peace. Even if that meant joining her brother in Heaven.

When Kitty Pryde's brother was on his death bed, he had told her something she'd always remember. "Protect life till death." She had been with the X- Men for less then two months, but she knew that Doug had been talking about them. He'd been telling her to stay with the X-Men and protect everyone till she died.

Yet, now it was different. As she packed her bag, she found herself wondering if she was ready and willing to die for the cause. No. The answer rang through her mind over and over. No. No. No! Kitty wasn't ready to die. She turned her wrist around and stared down at the scars from her first try. She had been fourteen. The second time she had used pills and had been fifteen. Now she was sixteen.

*No more trying. I don't want to die anymore. I have something to stay alive for.*

The sky looked like snow. Erik felt sad because Paige wouldn't see the first snowfall of the season and he knew how much she loved it. He looked out the window in his office and whispered softly. "Protect man kind from harm no matter what. I'm still doing it after 43 years, my friend. No one's getting hurt on my watch."

* * *

Somewhere in northern Canada

Sept. 2nd,2002

Fuzzy. The world looked fuzzy to him. It was just shapes and colors. Now and then a sound would come but it was always pushed away. He had been laying on that table for three days and he had had enough. He was sleepy, hungry, and all together out of it. To keep his mind occupied, he had taken to staring at the lights above him or at the science crap around him. Sometimes he'd look at the girl next to him.

She to was laying on a table. A tube connected them. Feeding his blood into her. She was surrounded by scientific machines and what not. Wires and tubes were all over her. An IV was in her right arm, tubes her up her nose, wires were in her head, tubes her even down below. Yes, she didn't even have to move to pee.

Her dark brown hair was covering her face and those damned streaks her covering her hazel eyes. Slowly she turned her head to look at him. Her bruises had healed nicely. He was proud of her. She had put up a great fight. She tried to smile, but failed. Instead she whispered his name. "Logan."

He smiled a little. In just saying his name, she had let him know she was okay. She was still with him. And for that small moment, he knew he'd be able to keep going.

end of chapter one