Disclaimer: I do not own Marvel or X-Men. If I did, I would have crashed that gravy train a long time ago. I know what I'm about, ladies and gentlemen.

Chapter 43: Extracurricular Activity


Due to an 'incident', we had to head back to the airport shortly after takeoff. Thanks, Quire.

When he had telepathically un-paused everyone onboard the plane, it took five seconds for Hisako to realize something weird had happened, another five seconds to turn and see Quire sitting on the other side of me, and a concerted effort on my part to keep Hisako from subsequently blowing her lid. I literally had to hold onto her and talk her down while we were disembarking to keep her from flipping out.

By the time we got to the terminal proper however, she'd calmed down enough for me to explain what little details I had of the situation.

She was still far from pleased.

"Baka!" She shouted at me in her native tongue, something she only did when she was too mad to realize she was doing it, "Kono baka!"

She shouted a lot more than just that, but she was talking so fast I couldn't tell what she was saying. I wasn't exactly great at Japanese yet, but I'd binged more than enough subbed anime to know when someone was calling me an idiot, so I picked up that much.

"Look. Get back on the plane. You can still go home. I'll handle this," I tried to assure her as she paced back and forth, "My parents will let you stay with them until your next flight. Just tell them some X-Men stuff came up."

If she said that, they would know what she was talking about. After the thing last summer with Laura, and all of the other stories my parents been getting through the year, they'd learned that 'X-Men stuff' was a catch-all term that meant I would figure out a way to explain whatever it was later when I had the chance. If I came back from whatever it was, of course.

Not a fan of that idea whatsoever, Hisako wasn't shy about letting me know, "No way. You think I'm gonna leave you with him all by yourself?"

Pain in the ass that she could be, Hisako was loyal to a fault.

Quire, of course, had to take the chance to get in some kind of jab, "It's not like you would be any help to stop me, Ichiki."

Used to dealing with both me and Eddie at the same time when we were on one of our kicks, Hisako was easily able to tune Quire out to keep talking to me, "-Whatever he's going do to try and find-," She stopped and looked around suspiciously before deciding to forego using names, "-You-know-who, is probably going to get you killed."

It likely wouldn't be a good look if a bunch of mutants started openly talking about Magneto in an airport lobby.

"Probably," I readily agreed, "Either that, or it'll be stupid-illegal, and I'll end up taking the heat for it somehow."

Hisako gestured as though I were proving her point, "Exactly!"

"-Exactly why it shouldn't be your problem," I specified, "Look... it's not like either of us can call anybody while he's here."

"He's right here, by the way," Quire interjected.

Neither of us cared.

Hisako frowned, considering the merits of letting me leave with Quire so she could call the school, "But Cerebra can't track him as long as he's got his stupid telepathic cloak active," She said, "If I leave and call someone, I'll lose you anyway. It's not like I'll be able to tell anyone where you're going."

"Hey," Quire piped up again, annoyed at being ignored, "Are you two idiots not even going to try to hide the fact you're making plans in front of me?"

No, we weren't. While I may or may not have been a tougher nut to telepathically crack thanks to training with Miss Frost, Ruth, and the Cuckoos, Hisako was not. There wasn't much point in hiding anything she was thinking. Quire probably already knew what it was before it left her mouth. Apparently, as much as telepaths loved being know-it-alls, they hated having that fact be rendered redundant by people just spilling information.

"Better that than nobody know he's up to anything at all," I said to Hisako, "This is one of those problems we have to solve in steps as we go."

Quire scoffed, "You're talking like I'm planning some kind of international incident."

At that, the both of us slowly turned our heads to stare at him, "...Are you saying you're not?" Hisako asked, "People don't normally go looking for 'you-know-who' for nice reasons."

"Guess you'll just have to find out," Quire said cryptically before focusing on me, "You might as well let her come, Marcher. Like I said, none of it really matters."

Hisako planted her feet, firmly declaring that she would not play ball with me and simply go about her own vacation. My business was her business now, or so it seemed. Even though the Paladins were no more, squad loyalty ran deep.

I'd be a complete hypocrite if I couldn't appreciate that. Besides, being that there was a sick part of me that was curious enough to want to see just where Quire was going with this, I also couldn't fault her if there was a part of her that felt the same.

"I'm an X-Man too, Bel. Not just you," Hisako said resolutely, "We're in this together."

If there was any more fight in me against her, it evaporated there on the spot, "Right..."

In the meantime, now we needed flights to East Africa. I really had to put my dexterous use of Expedia to the test to make that happen in short order.

XxX

Back when we had the functional Danger Room at school, Miss Pryde would often run us through all kinds of simulations. They often ran the gauntlet from evacuating and protecting civilians to fighting all-powerful supervillains, and everything in between. There were also times, however, where we would be instructed to do weirder stuff, like defuse explosives, or infiltrate places. Most of the other teams were just taught how to fight, but Miss Pryde made sure we knew just how diverse the weird stuff we'd find ourselves involved in as X-Men could get.

Between that and the actual academics we received at Xavier's, there was no one who could say that our school didn't teach us important things.

It was why the smaller mission specifics of what Hisako and I had to do on Breakworld hadn't been that hard to wrap our heads around once we'd gotten over our initial shock and horror. We knew what we were supposed to do, it was just a matter of figuring out how to make it work for ourselves. The same thing went here.

Quire wanted to find Magneto, last seen on the island of Genosha. The same island of Genosha that had been genocided about a year and a half before. The same island of Genosha that was under quarantine by neighboring militaries. For just about any other set of teenagers, this would have been a bigger obstacle than it was. Granted, it was still a problem for us, but it was literally something we had drilled infiltrating in the past!

For all the shit I talked about Quire as a person, he was a powerful enough psychic to make it easier than it was with the Paladins training squad. I thought Ruth was good, but she was too volatile, too raw to juggle multiple tasks at once, especially at a high level. Quire didn't have nearly as much issue with that.

We used his telekinesis to fly slow and low to avoid showing up on sensors and radars, keeping out of sight of patrolling vessels. If we had to venture close, we had to make sure we got close enough that Quire could mindfuck people into thinking they didn't see anything. It was all a big war game, just with real consequences if we messed it up.

We didn't mess up. Quire was a cocky piece of work, but he had power in spades, and having had to deal with Julian for the last year, I'd learned how to manage working with people who had massive egos. Also, being someone with a massive ego, I knew how to keep him from needling Hisako into antagonizing each other.

Maybe I wasn't so bad at this whole leadership thing after all?

Or maybe it was because when Genosha finally came into view, none of us had it in us to go back and forth over petty things.

16 million people had once lived there, most in the areas surrounding the capital by the coast, Hammer Bay. Now it was a ruin. In hours, the entire population had been devastated, and the whole world just fucking watched – myself included.

It's weird; you hear 16 million, and you immediately understand you're talking about an extremely large place, but your brain doesn't - can't - process just how large it is. Not until you're standing in the ruins of a city that used to be home to that many people.

Even after a year-plus, it still looked like ground zero to the end of the world. The radiation was gone, but there wasn't a proper building standing. The tallest structure was a three-headed Wild Sentinel, one of the machines that had eradicated the country. How it hadn't been scrapped yet was beyond me. Perhaps they'd decided to leave it as a monument or a memorial. Regardless, the way it loomed over what used to be Hammer Bay was unnerving to look at.

"Jesus..." I couldn't help but mutter as we traversed the ruins.

Quentin was reserved for once, but still couldn't help but let some of his abrasiveness through as he spoke, "This is it. This is the crap they've been trying to keep you from seeing. Genosha was one of the most advanced, promising nations on Earth. A symbol of hope for mutants all over the world. And now look at it. And nobody cares."

Cut off from the rest of the world, significant help never came. For the handful of denizens left on the island, stuck there, unable to leave, it must have been a nightmare. The remaining numbers were so small, from millions to hundreds, any attempts to rebuild were paltry at best.

I couldn't help but start thinking. My mind raced. There had to be something we could do. I couldn't just leave and go home without making something - anything - better. We were supposed to be goddamn superheroes, weren't we?

We'd been walking through the city for hours, with me lost in my thoughts. A nudge from Hisako finally got my attention, a distraction I was thankful for, "Did we bring enough food and water for the three of us?" She asked.

It was mostly for the two of them. I didn't need food, and I could go a lot longer without water than either Hisako or Quire. Whether or not we had sufficient supplies was not my primary concern. My concern was with whatever the hell Quire was occupied with.

"The more I see, the more pissed I get," Quire said aloud to no one in particular, "Genosha was glorious! This place was the pinnacle of mutant culture! A look at the future! And what happened? They destroyed it all, because they were scared! Scared of progress that would leave them behind! Scared of a future where humanity didn't dictate the state of the world! Scared of us!"

"Humans didn't do this, Quentin," Hisako said, exasperated.

Quire had been doing that. Speaking, but not talking to us. He sounded like a politician practicing his speech in the mirror, only he didn't seem to be trying to elicit a response from Hisako or I.

"Who is he talking to?" I asked, keeping a close eye on Quire for any funny business.

Hisako grabbed my sleeve and gave it a shake, "Uh... Bel?" She pointed to our surroundings.

People. There were people. Not many, but more than I thought we would see. Dozens of them, in various disheveled states of dress and cleanliness. They had definitely been through the wringer, and they were all focused on Quire. When he'd been talking, he had also been projecting; reaching out to any mind he could touch as we traveled.

The boy in question smiled at his apparent audience, "Magneto was right," He declared.

"Yeah, I've seen the shirts," I snapped back, "Whatever."

Quire laughed, "No, you don't get it," He made a wide, sweeping gesture around himself, "He did it. He made a haven for mutants. A paradise. A place where we were supposed to be safe and prosperous. He got closer to taking care of mutants than Xavier ever did."

Through his means of trying to work with the powers that be to eke out a place for mutants, Xavier had created a school and several methods of outreach that directly helped thousands in the end. Magneto's more antagonistic means of attacking and threatening the world had resulted in the United Nations recognizing an entire country meant for mutant sanctuary. The ends had justified the means in that case, as far as Quire saw it.

To be honest, I was hard-pressed to disagree. To the people that had lived there and remembered all the good that had come with Genosha, it had to be an even more striking declaration.

"He was going to raise a home army," Quire continued, "An army to protect Genosha, to fight for this place. And the X-Men had to jump in to stop him! Why? What was so wrong with wanting an army for a sovereign country?" The more he spoke, the more fired up he grew, "They turned him into an invalid before this place needed him most! How useful would an army of powerful mutants have been when the mega-Sentinels showed up?"

True enough. Without a means to defend themselves, Genosha had been a sitting duck. That it had been attacked wasn't what had been surprising. It was the means and the effectiveness of the attack that had horrified the world, and that humanity hadn't even conspired to do it. But for all of the horror Genosha's eradication had caused, the world certainly wasn't doing anything about it now.

Quire shook his head and looked out at all of the people that had gathered to listen to him, "They won't leave us alone just because Genosha is this way now. They aren't helping to rebuild. They won't even let you all leave. It'd be better for humanity's world if you all just... disappeared from the face of the earth."

It was at that point, I wasn't about to let him continue his impromptu rally, "So this is all you wanted? You wanted us to take you here to live your Lord of the Flies fantasy? Or was it for a dry run of your campaign speech?"

Quire scoffed at me, "I'm a man of vision, Marcher. I go where I'm needed. All of you sheep at the school? You're fat, happy, and comfortable. Even after everything that's happened, you're still taking your medicine and buying into 'the dream'," He jerked his head in the direction of the Genoshans listening in, "Meanwhile, everyone here has been living in reality."

"And what do you plan to do about that reality, Quentin?" One man's voice rang out in our heads. A bald man in a wheelchair rolled to the front of the crowd, focusing specifically on Quire, "Still trying to find your purpose, I see."

At the sight of the man, Quire grew more irritated than he had ever seemed in my presence, "So, this is where you ran off to after Summers got tired of your bullshit. Figures."

While he was as antagonistic as he always was, instead of staying and being a nuisance, Quire shoved his hands into his pockets and turned to leave. Whoever this was, just being there, he managed to do something I hadn't been able to in months; he got Quire to shut the hell up. Just as I was wondering how to ask the guy his secret, he looked over at Hisako and I and smiled before rolling away.

It had only been a moment, but something about it felt like it was significant.

"Should we know who that guy is?" I asked Hisako as the crowd dispersed.

"Yeah," Hisako replied, "Considering you go to a school named after him."

I looked between Hisako and the departing man so many times, so quickly, I almost made myself dizzy, " That's Charles Xavier?" I asked, having put two-and-two together immediately.

I didn't know what I'd been expecting when I saw the man in person. I'd seen pictures and portraits around the school, but those held a kind of poise and stature that didn't translate over to seeing the genuine article. Even as a man confined to a wheelchair, he seemed smaller than I'd expected. Then again, if he had been in Genosha for any extended period of time, I didn't expect him to have a very robust, calorie-rich diet.

Come to think of it, what was he even doing there? In all my time at Xavier's, I had never actually seen Xavier. Anytime I'd asked where they guy was, I always received a non-answer. I'd eventually just chalked it up as other people's business that I had no place trying to pry into.

Now though? The guy in question was right there, wheeling away from me. I had a boner for knowledge and needed my curiosity satisfied.

As I walked off after Xavier, Hisako followed, though she glanced back in the direction that Quire had stormed off in, "What about Quentin?" She asked.

I couldn't be bothered to care, "What about him? We got him here. Far as I'm concerned, whatever he wants, we're done with him."

He would show up again before we made our arrangements to leave. And if he didn't? Well, that would certainly be a tragedy.

XxX

I followed Xavier, and Hisako followed me, following Xavier. It didn't take us long to catch up. The terrain wasn't exactly wheelchair-friendly. He didn't seem to have much of a problem with us tagging along, which was good because I figured that if he really didn't want us around, he'd just use his telepathy to turn us around or something. If anything, he seemed receptive to our presence, asking us questions on how things had been going lately.

So, there I was, walking alongside the man that had established my awesome mutant superhero school. I was face-to-face with the man that had done more to drag mutant-human relations into the modern age than anyone else I could readily name, and I had no idea what to say. Did you ever meet someone that you had no shortage of things to ask, and then when you finally met them you drew a blank? I wasn't the strongest conversationalist at the best of times, and being put on the spot didn't help.

"What have you been doing here?" Hisako went for the simplest question first, beating me to the punch.

"Look around you, Hisako," Professor Xavier said, prompting us to stop and take in the depressingly bleak sight of Genosha, "I feel my energies would be better focused here than at the school. I'm not needed there. Not like here."

Point taken. However bad things had gotten at school, we had people to handle it. We'd made it through. And nothing that had happened at school could ever equal what had happened on Genosha. Even the Purifiers and Sapien League attacking was kid's stuff compared to the attack that had happened here.

"But why did you even leave?" I felt myself ask, "Anytime I try to bring you up, all I get is non-answers."

"Fractured trust, children," Xavier said with a tired sigh, "Years of half-truths, things hidden from my students for what I believed was their own good. When they grew old enough to look beneath the surface, I failed to grow with them. I failed to be the man they believed I was."

I felt my brow curve in annoyance, "...You just said a whole lot of nothing, you know that?" Why did smart people think they had to use 50 words to say what they could in 5?

At that, Xavier chuckled, "I suppose I did," He replied, sounding amused, "Rest assured, there are very personal details there that they would likely not appreciate me sharing."

Oh, I would rest assured. Rest assured that the very next time this motherfucker came up back at school, I was pressing the issue. But that was something to keep in mind for later. In the present, we were heading to where the professor was staying.

He brought us to a villa overlooking the water at Hammer Bay. A brave choice for living quarters, given that I wouldn't have trusted anything built near a cliff to not fall into the water. The house looked torn apart from the outside, but given the circumstances it was nearly pristine on the inside. Not just livable, but clean.

"Make yourselves comfortable," Professor Xavier told us as he wheeled out of the room, "I'm certain you two are quite tired."

"Yes," Hisako groaned, falling into the closest seat she could reach. I was fine, on the other hand, though I may have underestimated how tired all of that walking right after sneaking onto a quarantined island would have been to a person with more standard conditioning, "Thank God. These shoes were not meant for this. Why didn't we wear our uniforms, Bel?"

"Didn't seem like a good idea," I said, sitting down with her as she went to pull her boots off, "This place was all gung-ho against the X-Men when it was still a country," What were the chances the beliefs of the survivors had softened? It wasn't like the X-Men had saved them or provided relief, "You have your luggage. Why didn't you put real shoes on before we got here like your boy?" I asked, pointing at my own feet.

"Because shut up," She replied, sighing in relief as she rubbed her soles, "If I have blisters…" She let the impotent threat go unfinished.

"A blister is the least of our concerns," I said, taking a moment to bask in the silence of her company before ruining it, "So, what do you think?"

Hisako immediately cottoned on to what I was talking about, "That we shouldn't be talking about the world's most famous telepath just because he left the room."

I scoffed at her. While she was more sensible, I was the more paranoid one. It suited me better, "If he really had it out for us, he'd know what I was thinking anyway," I said.

"You don't trust him?"

No, I didn't. Because I didn't know him, "I'll just say, it might have been a bit premature for you to take your shoes off," I said. We might have needed to jet at a moment's notice. I didn't want to feel that way, but being suspicious of new people was my default setting at this point, "Anyway, we need an exit strategy for if we have to leave without Quire."

"True," Hisako admitted, "Unless you learned to fly while I wasn't looking."

"If I ever learn how to fly, you're gonna be, like, the third or fourth person who finds out."

"Third or fourth?"

I started listing off everyone who would have learned before her, "Eddie, to help work out the bugs. Laura, because who do you think I'm taking on my first flight? Ruth will probably be first, because if I learn how to fly, she'll know before I do," I explained before giving her a nudge, "Then, you."

Our little conversation ended when we were joined by another, but it wasn't Xavier. Instead of the whirring of his wheelchair, we heard footsteps.

A tall, well-built older man with silver hair and blue eyes entered. His clothing was baggy and casual, and he didn't seem particularly notable at first glance, but if he had access to wherever Charles Xavier seemed to be staying, he had to be important to some degree.

Also, the guy had a presence about him that I couldn't place. Something that made it feel like you had to pay attention to him. Physical charisma, I guess, but it seemed like more than that. Fitting, considering who it was.

It seemed like he was sizing us up. That was fine, because we were doing the same. Hisako's hand edged near my closest arm, so that she could pull me behind her just in case the man was unfriendly – our standard duo strat. She would shield me, and I would fire blasts through her armor while she was positioned between me and whatever our enemy was.

"...Um, hi?" I said, trying to break the tension.

The man raised a brow, "Hello," The man said, seemingly amused. Once he saw whatever he'd been trying to analyze, he hummed and went about his business, heading out to the balcony that overlooked a good portion of Hammer Bay.

Hisako turned and stared at the man over the back of the couch, "...Is it just me or is something about that guy familiar?"

Yes, considering we'd been running simulations against him since the days when the Danger Room still worked. Hell, I'd had us run sims in the Danger Cave against him last week.

"Picture him with a red outfit, a purple cape, and a big ass helmet," I said.

Smart cookie that she was, Hisako had only needed half of that to put the pieces together. Of course, it also helped that the villa we were in stood in the shadow of a titanic statue of the man, "That's Magneto!" She exclaimed, lowering herself back down behind the couch, as if it would provide sufficient protection. Remember, this girl could summon psionic armor.

I gave her a reassuring pat on the back, "Yep. To be fair, you usually only ever see him when he's throwing pointy metal at us."

"I see you have met Erik," Professor Xavier said as he rolled back into the room, "This is his home. I'm afraid I'm imposing upon his hospitality."

Huh. Well, that made sense, in a weird kind of way. I thought they would be mortal enemies, but then again, what did I know?

"Quentin was right?" Hisako whispered to herself, "H-He was right? Magneto is still alive?"

Having heard his name previously yelled from inside, Magneto had since come inside, "Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated," He said with a small smile, before it quickly faded and he turned back to his view of the city, "Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for my country."

Hisako elbowed me in the side, "How are you not freaking out about this?"

I shrugged, not really having an answer for her. At this point though, if someone told me another person was dead, I'd need to see a body, otherwise I'd be skeptical, "As far-fetched as it is that we found him, we did come here looking for him in the first place."

Magneto seemed surprised by that, "You came looking for me? Not Charles?"

"We didn't even know Professor Xavier was here," Hisako said, "And Quentin was the one who wanted to find you. We expected, at best, we'd find your body in a pile of rubble somewhere."

Magneto replied sardonically, "Had you arrived months ago, that was where you would have found me. And a part of me wishes that was where I remained."

I looked at Hisako, an unspoken conversation shared between us. And it would have been private, had we not been in the presence of a psychic, 'Hear him out, children. That's all I ask. It may teach you something.'

Goddamn telepaths.

"People came here to Genosha because I called them," Magneto continued, none the wiser, "This country was built on the backs of genetically-engineered mutant slaves. The great powers of the world knew that, but they did nothing, because they needed the goods, services, and technology that Genosha provided... and they were afraid of the consequences of any confrontation if those slaves could be reconfigured as warriors."

The country was definitely into some dark stuff back in the day. A quick internet search for anything older than five years before would give you a treasure trove of reading material on very recent human rights violations. News outlets all over the world covered the mutant slavery, then civil war, and that was when Magneto showed up and took over.

"I took my reputation as a monster and blackmailed the United Nations into giving this blighted land to me," He gazed out forlornly at the bleak cityscape, "I hoped to build something lasting; something of value. I wanted to make my children proud. Then a real monster fell from the sky and turned my dream to ashes."

For everything that Charles Xavier had said and done over the years for mutants, it couldn't be ignored that despite his difference in ideology, Magneto had been the closest to making a significant push in a positive direction for mutants than he had. Even if Genosha had wound up becoming a massive beacon for the enemies of mutantkind to attack, much like Xavier's school had been, only turned up times a literal million.

Magneto gazed over at the inactive Wild Sentinel that had razed his adopted homeland, "I could not stop the Sentinels. I could not save my people. Death was a mercy. One I was not given."

I thought about it, how I would have felt if I had been in his shoes. In a way, I almost had been. If the Purifiers and the Sapien League had wiped out the school on my watch, what would have gone through my head? How would I have felt? He couldn't even blame humans for it the way I would have been able to. It had been a mutant that had orchestrated the attack on Genosha. There wasn't even anyone within reach to rightfully lash out at in grief.

How was a leader to react in that instance? When, under your leadership, just about everyone who followed you and believed in you went to their graves, and you survived? That was my worst fear – not that I would be killed, but that what I did or didn't do would get everyone else killed. I obsessed over it, and I had just taken a ground-level tour of that worst fear brought to life 1 million times over.

"You're a better man than me," I muttered aloud before I could think to stop myself. Magneto looked over at me in surprise, and I winced. Hisako always said I lacked a decent filter between my brain and my mouth. Oh well. Better out than in at that point, "I couldn't stay, if it was me. Even if I tried to help, it wouldn't make anything better."

"It doesn't," Magneto admitted, "But it's not about me. I owe the people here my best, even now. Even if they do not want it. And if they hate me for my weakness, that is my penance."

Something about that struck a chord. He was more verbose about it, but that sounded a lot like something that I would have thought. Did Magneto hate himself the way I hated myself? No, he had to hate himself way more. I hadn't dealt with even a fraction of the kind of stuff he had seen. Thank God, it wasn't just a 'me' thing. I don't think he had impostor syndrome though. Still, that kind of put things into perspective for me.

XxX

We spent the night resting at Magneto's villa. I had so many questions, for him and for Professor Xavier. I probably got annoying at some point, but if I did, they didn't show it. Even so, it was a chance to talk to two of the most influential mutant leaders ever. What was my green ass going to do, not pick their brains?

When morning rolled around, I decided that it was likely better not to leave Quire alone unsupervised for too long and went to find him. Hisako and I stopped at an overlook with a view of what probably at one time had been a beautiful city. Now it was a decrepit grave for millions.

"Merry Christmas," She said sardonically at the sight.

"It's not Christmas yet," I reminded her, holding up a trio of fingers, "I've still got three days to get you home."

She didn't seem to share in my optimism, "Do you really think we're even going to get out of here by Christmas, let alone get either of us home by then?"

"Why not?" I asked, "We found Magneto. Now we just have to find Quire again, point him in the right direction, and whatever happens after that really isn't our problem."

"Even if he does something really stupid?" Hisako wondered.

There was no question Quire was going to do something stupid. The only question was if it was going to be something that would affect us, "If he's by himself, I really doubt he can do anything to Professor Xavier and Magneto without getting his ass kicked."

Of course, I said this before I really got to know who Quentin Quire was. Up to that point, I only knew him as the annoying voice in my head, then as the stupidly overpowered idiot that was supposed to be a genius. For someone who was so goddamn smart, I can't remember anything that would have ever lent that label credence.

He really wasn't that smart. He was pretty predictable, actually. Think of the worst decision most likely to provoke conflict a person could make in any given situation. That was how Quire always operated. He had never and would never be responsible for a decision that didn't wind up making something worse, not only for the people around him but even for himself; even when EVERYONE could see exactly how it was going to go.

This was a lesson that had to be learned though, and I hadn't quite yet. The first time I had to deal with his b.s. was when I later came across him with what amounted to a group of mutant bushwhackers at his back.

"Wow," I said when we managed to find him again, "You made friends? That's impressive. I'm proud of you."

Instead of Quire saying anything, a pretty jacked guy in a tight red top with black trousers and boots stepped up. He swept his short black hair back and looked Hisako and I over, "These the ones?" He asked.

Quire sneered at us before replying, "Yeah, these are the ones. Xavier's disciples," He said with a smirk.

"Should have figured," The man said, "They look like goody-two-shoes."

Hisako leaned over and whispered to me, "I mean, I do. Not so sure about you."

That was not the part of their conversation that I concerned myself with, "Disciples?" I responded, "I met the man less than sixteen hours ago."

"Doesn't matter!" The man snapped, "There's two sides on this island. My side, and everyone else. You either ride with Unus the Untouchable, or you're expendable."

It was clearly meant to be a threat, but he had come along far too late in my superhero education to put me on edge just because he had hostile intentions, "I mean, I already considered myself expendable," I said to Hisako, "I don't really think being on this guy's side would make me feel any different about that."

Hisako let out a sigh, "I wish you wouldn't make jokes like that..."

"I could make fun of his name, but that just seems like low-hanging fruit to me."

"HEY!" Unus, tired of Hisako and I conversing amongst ourselves, took it upon himself to pull out a gun. On reflex, I raised my fist and fired a concussive blast that would have hit him dead center in the chest, but it broke apart and dispersed about a foot in front of him, "Heh-heh..."

He took aim at me and fired, but Hisako moved directly in front of me and armored up. The bullets bounced harmlessly off of her.

Unus was momentarily taken aback before he started blustering anew, "Yeah! What are you gonna do now? You can't lay a finger on me! I'm Unus the Untouchable!"

Sure, I couldn't really hurt him. But did I really have to? My teammate, who was standing right next to me, who I trained with almost every day, used a kind of force field. That meant I knew exactly how to fight people who used them. Instead of responding with words or another direct attack, I lasered off the portion of the cliff he was on.

He just stared at me like I was an idiot until a sliver of landmass slid off into the ocean, with him riding it all the way down.

"FUUUUCK!" Unus shouted until a mighty splash silenced him.

If his force field was as legit as Hisako's armor was, a fall like that wouldn't have killed him. And if he could swim, he'd be fine. But the important thing was that he wouldn't be a problem again until he could climb his ass back up. That was one issue dealt with, and seemingly effective in getting the rest of Quire's entourage to back off.

Good. I really wasn't in any mood to fight to begin with.

Quire didn't seem to read my body language though. He stepped forward as though he would take me on himself, "If you want something done right..." He muttered.

I cut that off at the pass, "The dude you're looking for is that-a-way," I quickly pointed him in the right direction.

Telling him that I'd found Magneto seemed to have taken the wind out of his sails, "W-What? Really?"

"Yeah. Told us as much himself," I said, gesturing for him to follow us, "Put your whole mutant rebel gimmick on hold for like five minutes and we can take you to him now."

While the mental image of seeing Quire turn to his new followers and tell them he had to go now like a kid being picked up from the park like his parents was hilarious to me, I didn't expect him to actually do it. Even when he was poised to get what he was after, the guy was incapable of playing ball to do so properly.

Taking advantage of what I had told him, Quire started laughing as he addressed his audience, "Magneto lives! The almighty leader of Genosha! The man that failed to protect this country – to protect all of you! And now he's hiding in the rubble like a coward!"

Much like Hisako, I'd had my reservations as to what Quire wanted with Magneto. Worst-case scenario, he wanted to restart the Brotherhood and was willing to use us to get his initiation. This, however, was far stupider than even I thought I'd see.

"Dude, did you seriously make me drag you all this way so you could pick a fight with Magneto?" I asked, seeing where this was going, "...You know what? More power to you. Have a ball with that. I'll go get him."

Hisako was quick to admonish me, "Sol!" I didn't stop and she ran off to catch up with me, "Hey, are you seriously going to give him what he wants?"

"No-no-no. It's fine. Let him do it," I tried to reassure her, "Let him try to solo the guy that entire X-Men teams need to work together take down."

Hisako looked back and Quire and then to me a few times before she realized what I was getting at. When she did, she covered her resulting grin with her hand.

We had been training on simulations in the Danger Cave since our generation of X-Men had been established. Hell, we'd been doing it as Paladins back when the Danger Room still worked. The point was, we had done plenty of sims against prime Magneto a lot. It never went well, no matter what the lineup was. Even when we recently started winning, they were Pyrrhic victories at best as far as I was concerned.

Quire didn't train. Quire didn't do drills. Quire didn't do anything. He had been in one real fight that I was aware of, and even high off his ass on Kick, he got his shit pushed in by the Cuckoos. Raw power wasn't everything. If he thought he could take Magneto just because he was a strong telepath, I was going to back up a safe distance, grab a snack, and enjoy the show.

Watching Quire get the taste slapped out of his mouth by Magneto live and in living color was the best Christmas gift I could have reasonably been given.

XxX

Much like a spoiled kid at Christmas, I was very much let down by my own expectations.

"You're kidding," I deadpanned at Magneto.

We had returned to his hideaway that Professor Xavier had led us to, and with the eagerness of the aforementioned hypothetical spoiled child, I told him that Quire wanted a piece of him. The feeling was not mutual, to say the least.

"I am not going to indulge a child," Magneto said, "Especially not in a meaningless battle."

No. Come on. I wanted to see him chuck a thousand metal rods at Quire and make an outline of a dick with them around his body. I needed this.

"I mean, it probably won't be much of a fight if that helps," I weakly added in an effort to sway his opinion, "You've still got that anti-telepathy helmet, right?"

Magneto frowned and floated the helmet over between the two of us. It was the exact same shape and design I saw on all of those 'Magneto Was Right' t-shirts you'd see in places like Mutant Town and around school sometimes. He gazed at it, as though the sight of it filled him with memories and more than his share of regrets.

"I've engaged in more than my share of battles for suspect reasons, boy," Magneto said, "Here, in a place like this? Now, of all times? No. I won't be doing so today."

My disappointment was immeasurable and my day was ruined, "That's great. Meanwhile, Quire's standing at the bottom of the hill like a 3 o'clock bully waiting at the bus stop after school."

"Sol," Hisako snapped, "Still Magneto," She warned me.

I rolled my eyes at her, but heeded the suggestion. Probably best not to antagonize one of the strongest mutants to ever walk the Earth, "Fine. I'm borrowing this for a minute," I said, snatching the helmet out of the air as I went to leave the villa, "Goddamn it, I wanted one thing today! One thing!"

If you wanted something done right, you had to do it yourself.

Hisako was quick to excuse herself and follow me out, "What are you doing now?"

The answer to that question was very simple, "I'm gonna put this helmet on, walk down this hill, and mellow his ass out myself so we can go home," I said as I pulled my hood up to conceal my newly acquired headgear.

We weren't on a plane surrounded by others. We weren't on a mission where I was responsible for the lives of teammates. We weren't at school where a bunch of other kids were in danger and where I'd get in trouble for bowing up. We were in what was ostensibly a wasteland, where no one other than us would know what happened, and I was tired of indulging Quire, and being the bigger man.

Hisako tried one more time to persuade me, "Quire is our way home. We don't get to leave until he decides to."

I responded smoothly as I concealed the helmet underneath my hood, "That's why I'm heading down there – to make that decision for him," And I found myself decidedly less concerned about the issue of transport than her. I'd been brainstorming a way off of Genosha without Quire since we'd arrived.

It was clear that Hisako wasn't onboard, and that was fine. I was about to be petty, and she was smarter than me, so it stood to reason that she wouldn't want me to indulge in the meathead activity I was about to. I simply left her halfway down the hill, deciding that I would apologize later, if I remembered to or was alive to do so.

As I approached, Quire seemed surprised to see me, which was good because the know-it-all usually could tell whenever anything involving people was going to happen in advance. I stopped fifty yards away, "Where's Magneto?" He shouted.

"Change of plans," I yelled back, "I'm tired of being a passenger in your side quest, so we're all going to be leaving now."

Quire laughed, "I love how you said that like you're going to make me do anything."

I was prepared to be as belligerent as possible, when I caught a glance at Hisako from the corner of my eye in the distance. She still hadn't left just yet, and she didn't say anything, but the beseeching look she gave me said everything she needed to. Fine – one more try to do things peacefully.

"I can't let you stay just so you can scare up some revolutionaries," I said. There were plenty of hurt, angry, vulnerable people that he could suck into violent retaliation that would just result in more of them getting killed, "You're gonna get people hurt."

Quire sneered at me, "That's hilarious. Just look around you, Marcher! People already got hurt!" He shouted before deciding to give up on talking, "There's no point. Of course, you would just roll over and show your belly to the humans."

I didn't sweat that jab too much. If he had been in my head and had been keeping track of all of the things I had done, he would know better. I just kept calm, "Time to go home, Quentin."

I knew that keeping my cool, plus the fact that he couldn't read my mind with the helmet on, would piss him off.

Pink telekinetic energy swelled around Quire as he lifted off of the ground, "Oh... I've been waiting a long time for this," He said threateningly.

I didn't say anything. I just gestured with my hand for him to bring it on.

At first, it was a standoff, much like it had been when we'd almost fought outside of Citi Field. But several things were different now. I wasn't tired from days of chasing after and getting smacked around by an alien in war armor and his superpowered cronies. And unlike then, my mind was completely clear, not bombarded with second-guessing thoughts that weren't my own.

He still seemed to be waiting on me. Probably he was repeating his old idea of trying to coax me into drawing down on him, only I couldn't hear him this time. Magneto's helmet really did work, it seemed. He was making direct eye contact with me though, and that made my opening move obvious.

"Gah!" Quire flinched away, holding his eyes after being blinded by yours truly, "Marcher, you-!"

I interrupted him with a concussive shot that hit him directly in the stomach, knocking him to the ground in a heap. He sat up, heaving and holding his stomach, but again made eye contact with me.

Wow. That had been the first time that ever worked twice in the same fight.

"Grr..." Quire pushed himself back up with his telekinesis and lashed out in an area-wide attack. The exact same trick wouldn't work twice, he had his force field up this time. By the time he had recovered from being blinded a second time, I had long since gotten out of range, choosing to take cover out of sight behind some rubble, "Where are you!? Why can't I hear your stupid thoughts!?"

It took a lot for me to not crack wise in that moment, even to myself. The chance that he would hear me was more than I was willing to risk. I had the tactical advantage, and I wasn't willing to relinquish it so easily. After all, there were a lot of decent hidey-holes to choose from in the ruins of Hammer Bay.

Stealth wasn't really my forte, but Quire was such a bull in a china shop with how he tore up everything around him to try and find me that it wasn't very hard. He had telekinesis, like Julian, but Julian was way better with it. Clearly, Quire relied a lot more heavily on telepathy.

"Come out, you fucking coward!" Quire bellowed as he floated above the ground, raising entire felled structures with a wave of his hand. He really liked throwing his power around, "Goddamn it, why can't I hear you!?"

I had a real dickhead idea at that point. Preparing my powers, I took aim at a specific area not too far away that Quire was busy pulling apart trying to find me. Once he'd dug through enough rubble, I put my plan into action.

He pulled up a concrete slab to find me underneath it. Only, it wasn't me. It was a projection. He took the bait and bit hard.

"Hah!" Quire immediately tried to snatch me up and crush me with debris and his telekinesis, "You're dead!" Of course, given that it was a light projection, he couldn't grab it, and he couldn't understand how he hadn't when it took off running and made it to new cover.

Making a projection was like making finger puppets, only not. It involved using one hand to make the base image, and using my other hand in front of it to make it move. It was more complicated than that in practice, but the important thing to know is that it was a goddamn party trick I'd come up with to amuse my friends, and I was using it to get into the head of one of the most powerful telepaths in the world.

I just kept having my projection pop up in random places and letting Quire get a glimpse of it going for a new hiding place, shutting it off just when it would 'take cover' again. It was the world's dumbest game of whack-a-mole, and the only regret I had in the moment was that no one would ever see this except for me.

"Keep scrambling around like a little rat, Marcher!" Quire taunted, "There's no place to run, and you can't hide!"

I had literally been directly underneath him for five minutes by that point.

Our boy was all 'show' and no 'go'. He talked a big game, and on paper should have had what it took to walk the walk, but he just... didn't. I'd heard it said that Quire thought ten million brilliant thoughts a second, whatever the fuck that meant. Well, if that were the case, it seemed like he could never decide on which one of those 'brilliant' thoughts to go with.

Quire started to get tired, throwing so much power around and running his mouth so much. Eventually, I got a clear shot at the back of his head, and picked him off clean. He never heard the shot that took him down. Probably didn't feel it either. Mid-tirade, he just dropped out of the air like a rock and hit the ground with a solid thump. Poor little fella. He was all tuckered out.

The most effort I wound up putting into the fight was tossing his limp body over my shoulder and carrying him back up the hill.

XxX

So, Magneto's helmet worked both ways, which was neat. Instead of just keeping thoughts out, it could keep thoughts in as well. I would rather have tried to figure out a way to swipe it for myself, but using it to keep Quire's thoughts trapped in his own head was good enough for me.

He sat bound by metal tendrils in a large metal orb, glaring up at me, "So you had to get a handout to feel man enough to step up?"

"Yep," I declared, putting tape over his mouth before tapping on the orb. Magneto took that as the cue to close it up. Good riddance. I couldn't wait for Magneto to send it off. I hoped he got to enjoy a G-force headache to go with the concussion I gave him.

Apparently, Magneto was strong enough and adept enough with his powers that even halfway across the world, he could direct an object. Something about reading the planet's magnetic field in order to determine location. I had enough trouble following the science behind my own powers; I wasn't about to dig deeper than I needed to understand someone else's.

Are we trusting Magneto to get him home in one piece?" Hisako asked out of concern, "What if he just dropped him in the ocean or something?"

"Do you really care?" I asked.

Hisako hummed in thought, "No. Not really."

Having been spoken of as though he weren't well within earshot, Magneto spoke up, "I know exactly where the Institute is from here. I'll place him right on your lawn."

Oh, man. I wanted Saberwolf to get to it and rip it to shreds with Quire in it before he could get out so bad. He would probably scream.

"You're better than that, Bellamy," Professor Xavier admonished, having read the very obvious thoughts near the surface of my mind.

"I'm really not," I assured him.

"That's great," Hisako said, interrupting my fantastic thoughts, "But how are we supposed to get home?"

Magneto chuckled, and with a wave of his hand, he called forth another orb.

"Oh," I said quietly, "If you think these things can get people out of here without getting fired on by the quarantine, why haven't you?"

I would have been on the first metal ball available. Then again, I had other places, other options. Most of the people that had chosen to settle in Genosha probably didn't.

"Genosha was meant to be home for many of the people still here. It was a dream," Magneto said, "Even in the state that it is, they still do not wish to leave that dream behind."

For them, it had more than likely been their only chance for a real life with any semblance of safety or a future. And it turned to dust; dust that they had chosen to try and rebuild on top of.

"Now," Magneto offered, "Where to for you?"

I thought about having him take us to our respective homes, me to San Francisco and Hisako to Tokyo, but as the one that had been roped into things in the first place, that meant I had to see it through to the end, "

"Open Quire's ball back up," I requested with a sigh, "I'd better go back with him and make sure everything is copacetic," I would just have to catch another flight home or something. My Christmas break had already been put on hold for a day or two. It could wait a bit longer.

Hisako tapped the empty orb with her foot, as though to test its integrity, "Will we be alright in these things?"

I couldn't help but laugh at that, "You survived entering a planet's atmosphere in a collapsing shuttle. I'm pretty sure no matter what you'll be fine."

Hisako still seemed pretty tentative, "Yeah, but he could throw us at the sun or something, couldn't he?"

That sounded like a lot trouble to kill two random X-Men. Magneto felt much the same way, "Not only is that a highly inefficient way of dealing with a threat, even if I felt that you were one, Charles would never allow me the thought to do so."

That made sense. Honestly, I was more concerned with being stuck inside the orb with Quire for at least twelve hours than I was with any treachery from Magneto. It was not going to be a good time. Him killing us while we were stuck in there might have been doing me a favor.

"See?" I said, "Also, this is better than my plan to leave was. Faster too."

"What was your plan, anyway?" Hisako asked.

My reply could be described as cagey, "Let's just let that sleeping dog-. Professor, no. Shut up," He didn't say anything, but his smirk showed that he'd read my mind, seen my shitty plan, and had been prepared to spill the beans for everyone's collective amusement. Once I was certain he wouldn't, I finished my original thought, "...Let's just let that sleeping dog lie."

It was finally time for Hisako and I to go our separate ways. Seeing as how it was the last time I would see her in-person for a month. I wrapped her up in a tight bear hug, expecting her to squirm. She simply hugged me back.

"Call me when you get home," I told her.

"Same, when you get back to school," I said, "Merry Christmas, Sol."

I gave her a pat on the back and gestured her into her orb, "Yeah-yeah. Get out of here already, would you? Flight's already gonna be long enough for the both of us."

Hisako climbed inside of her transport, winking at me just before it closed, "Totally. But at least I don't have to share my ride with Quire."

She just had to get in one more for the road, didn't she?

Before I got into my metal ball, I shook hands with Professor Xavier and Magneto, thinking to myself how nuts this would have been for me to see myself doing just a matter of months ago, especially at the same time. Dogs and cats living together kind of stuff, at least as far as I could digest.

Once I was in my orb, I sat across from Quire, staring back at him as he glared with enough intensity that it probably would have pureed my brain if he had his powers active. I had no coverage on my phone, and nothing but time to kill, so, I decided to do what I did best; run my mouth to amuse myself and annoy someone else.

"So, you ever seen Holes? It's an American classic. Peak Shia Labeouf, in my opinion, which is kinda sad and a whole 'nother topic for later. But Holes is totally one of the best movies based on a book I've ever seen. Most of them just aren't very good, you know? Like Eragon. Jesus, man. A movie about dragons and shit should be way better by default."

I liked to think that the groan the bound and gagged Quire let out was because he felt the same way about that I did about the history of poor cinematic adaptations of books, and not because he realized that I was not going to shut up for the entire time we were stuck inside of that ball.

"Like, the inspirational scene near the end, with the heroes getting ready for the big battle? When I saw that dragon walk out of the shadow in armor, I laughed my ass off. Probably not what they were going for there."

I did not shut up about my shitty taste in movies for the entire flight, and I was fully charged, so I was wide awake the whole time. Quire had no telepathy to shut me down with, so he had to listen. It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.


Laurie Collins – "Seen But Not Heard"

My codename, 'Wallflower' - it was the sort of thing that had a double meaning.

My powers involve using pheromones to change people's moods and mindsets when they breathe them in. But... my name is also a thing because I'm shy and kind of passive.

Being in the New Mutants helped that, but between myself, Josh, David, Sofia, and definitely Nori, I'm the least bombastic by far. The only reason Jay isn't lower than me on the list is because he always excluded himself. Either way, I'm always the one least likely to cause trouble. It was just safer that way. If I got anyone's attention, who was to say it wasn't because of my powers?

My powers... can control people. Dr. McCoy and my advisor Dani, and everyone else tries to make it sound better by calling it things like 'influencing' or 'persuading', but it is what it is. I make people feel things that they don't really feel. I make them think things that they otherwise wouldn't be thinking. I could make people fall in love with me, do anything for me, if I wanted to.

After all, that was what happened to my mother. That's why I'm around to begin with. Interpret that how you will. But as good as I was at trying to be seen but not heard, there wasn't much I could do when someone came to school specifically for me. I'm talking about my father, the man I got my powers from, the famed therapist Dr. Sean Garrison.

The man had become a counselor at the school I was attending. Okay, that was fine. Unless I did something dramatic, I probably wasn't ever going to have to see him.

Oh, they made seeing him mandatory for participation in the X-Men training squads? Okay, no problem. With all of the fires going on around school at any given moment, and all the real business the staff had to attend to, I managed to slip through the cracks on that one.

He wasn't even there every day. More like two or three times a week in between his other business. I was able to dodge him for months, until he started reaching out to me. Never in person though, which again, was easy enough to ignore in theory, but it was stressful, especially when the requests to talk became more frequent. By the time Christmas break got close, I was super-anxious. So anxious, I finally caved and talked to someone about it. But it wasn't any of my friends, it was my team leader, Bellamy.

Bellamy was nice enough. He could be grumpy and sarcastic, but none of us really disliked him. He was a good guy, and he always helped out whenever he could. Plus, it wasn't like I was close to him, so he would tell me what he really thought and wouldn't automatically jump to defend me to the death the way the rest of the New Mutants would have. Even so, I still didn't tell him everything, just enough to get his viewpoint. But he did say something that stuck with me.

"Just remember, you're not saddled with someone forever because you share genes. Family can be a choice too."

We weren't close, like I said before, but that was exactly the kind of answer you would come to expect from Bellamy if you knew him at all. As much as he insisted that people around him learn from his mistakes, I decided during Christmas break that I would take a page out of his book. When school started up, I would confront my 'father'.

It was high time that Sean Garrison, the man that had never heard the word 'no', learned once and for all that he couldn't always get everything he wanted.

Ruth Aldine – "Blindfold's Journal"

She is strange. The way she speaks, how she reads minds, all strange – sorry. She knows because they tell her so, yes. They tell her all the time. It wasn't surprising, either, no. Pardon, she saw it – all of it – before she was enrolled. She saw the isolation, heard the whispers from others, felt their discomfort with her. Felt her own sorrow over all of it, well in advance, before it all ever happened. Because of who she is, pardon, and what she can see.

When she sees the future, it isn't always a guarantee, no. Predicting possible futures is never perfectly accurate, since a reality must diverge in order to create alternate futures. There is always some divergence; sometimes small, sometimes large. Some things she sees never occur, because simply the act of being aware of them alters them. Some things she sees are vague and undefined. Sometimes, she sees entire events played out as if she is there.

It's scary... yes. Because sometimes it can be hard to distinguish the difference between what's real, and what is a potential future.

But there was always a chance, yes. There was a chance that things would improve, yes. That she would find friends, yes. That she would meet him.

Bellamy.

In the future when she saw him, she felt warmth. He protected her, accepted her, helped her... cared for her. Yes. The first person other than her aunt, since her mother, to truly care for her. And when she realized that this was the one where he existed, when she finally knew that she would meet him, finally did meet him, he was just as she had seen him to be.

Pardon, no matter what poisonous thoughts he had of himself, he never let her down. No matter how she felt about herself, or how others saw her, he always supported her; always believed in her. Yes, always. She is his 'little sister'.

One day, pardon, she dropped her notebook on the floor after class, "The fuck is this?" Eddie asked, looking down at it when it fell open, "These aren't English lit notes, Blindfold. I... don't know what this is, actually."

She didn't say anything, no. Not to Eddie. She knew that he didn't like her powers, didn't like hearing about the future, didn't like having his mind read – sorry.

Bellamy came over to take a look over Eddie's shoulder at her book, "Huh..." He knew, yes. She could see it, pardon. So smart, "I'm thinking this is where Ruthie writes all of the shit she doesn't tell us."

Bellamy smiled at her, yes. She could see it in her mind's eye, feel his caring intent. She always feels better when he does that.

"When did you learn how to read braille?" Eddie asked. He's so skeptical, thank you.

"I've been comparing school notes with a blind girl for a year," Bellamy answered, "Braille's not that hard to learn, dude," Yes, much easier to learn things when you never sleep, Bellamy. Yes.

Eddie put the book into Bellamy's hands and stepped away, "Well, fuck. Get this thing away from me then. I don't need to see my death date."

That is not what she uses her journals for, pardon! That's not how precognition works either, Eddie, yes. Besides, that already should have happened months ago, sorry. Now she cannot see your death.

No, the future is fluid – never set in stone.

"I'm pretty sure knowing about the future alters it, or something," Yes, Bellamy. See? So smart, "Or doing something different enough changes it. I dunno. I haven't seen Butterfly Effect in a while."

Ah, now Bellamy was going to watch Buttefly Effect after classes.

Eddie snorted, yes, "Ashton Kutcher is your go-to for time travel facts? You should probably talk to Rachel Grey or some other time-traveler about that..." Ah, pardon, he wanted to bring up Riddick, but didn't, no, "Still, what's the point of reading it now then if she isn't going to tell anyone what she saw?"

Because... it's hard, sorry, to keep everything bottled up inside. There are so many times she wants to say everything she knows, yes. She wants to help. But people don't like that, no. No, they saw her as an ill omen, that because she only told them about the bad things to warn them, being around her caused the bad things.

But Bellamy; he never blamed her for what she saw. He helped her express herself, find an outlet. He took her words to heart. He listened to her, yes. And so many things changed because he tried to understand. Did they change for the better or the worse? Well, sorry, she cannot see that yet.

Bellamy let out a laugh as he read what she wrote about an alternate timeline where the school was a prison secretly training assassins. She was thankful that was the one he landed on, yes. Some of the others would have been embarrassing for him to see, thank you, "I dunno. Some of these are really interesting stories. We could probably sell these. A collection of short stories or something."

"We could?" Eddie asked, getting excited.

"Oh, not 'we'," Bellamy clarified, "I mean Ruthie could sell 'em."

Eddie slid next to Bellamy and elbowed him in the side, "You don't want a piece of that potential action? Eh? Eh? It being your brainchild doesn't warrant a cut for the big boss?"

No, pardon, Eddie. Bellamy was revolted at the thought of taking my journal for his own gain, "It's not me getting unsolicited future shit shoved into my brain all the time, so I don't deserve a piece," He said, continuing to read, "Yeah... find someone to clean up the writing a bit, change the names, take some creative liberties, and I think you'd have something here."

She could see it. Dozens of outcomes for this. Hm. She would have to remember the right combination of decisions to make. Publishers... editing decisions...

No. No. No. No. Maybe? Mmm, no.

No-no-no. Too much to decide on now. Too many bad outcomes, catastrophic even in some cases, thank you. Must not rush.

Eddie laughed, "Did you seriously just find a way to monetize Blindfold's precog powers?"

Bellamy shrugged and wrapped an arm around her. Always warm, always comfortable, yes, "Hey, we all need a come-up. The lottery idea didn't hit, but this seems like a pretty damn good substitute," He closed her journal and handed it back to her – thank you, "Well, what do you think, Ruthie?"

She thinks that she loves you, yes. Very much. But, pardon, you already knew that, didn't you, Bellamy?


And that's the chapter, everyone.

Quentin Quire is weird to me. He's supposed to have the potential to be powerful, but if you follow his arcs, you never see him do anything to reflect that. Other than maybe twice when he's been really dangerous, in everything I've read to do research on him, he's usually just a menace more than a real threat. I guess that's more because very few of the 'newer' mutants introduced since the 2000s have really ever been used as much more than place-fillers after their original introductions burned out.

Anyway, that's all I've got for you guys this time around. I hope you got some amusement out of the update. Until next time.

Kenchi out.