Disclaimer haiku: Marvel owns, not me;/ Don't sue, for teachers have no/ Money anyway.

Note: So. "Inclusion" and "mainstream" are different things, although people use them fairly interchangeably. "Mainstream" implies that special-education students are placed in regular classes and receive little to no accommodations. "Inclusion" means that special-ed students are put in regular classes and continue to receive significant accommodations.

I should probably say that I'm majoring in special education. Fear the preservice teacher:)

This takes place between "Mainstream" and "The Stuff of Villains".

Edit Note 7/24/07: After I was reminded (thanks Folk Ballad!) that I still had underscores, not italics, I went back and fixed that.


Truth? Losing the soccer MVP trophy hurt more than losing the boyfriend.

It was unkind, Jean knew, but she'd worked for that trophy, all season, while Duncan had just... happened. Okay, so she'd pursued him, a little, at first, but the rest of it had all been him. Much to her displeasure yesterday. What an idiot.

The scary thing was, she could easily imagine spending the rest of her high-school career chained to his side. Thank God for anti-mutant fanatics and giant robots and news choppers.

That's right, find the silver lining, she told herself, mentally rolling her eyes. Sometimes she felt like playing the mutant version of Pollyanna was all she ever did.

Jean sighed, stabbed a spoon into her bowl of cereal, and turned around to head for the temporary table in their temporary kitchen. She hadn't taken a step when she collided with another person - Scott, in fact, although that didn't stop the milk and cereal from sloshing out of the bowl. She caught it all automatically with her telekinesis.

"Whoa - sorry," he said, reaching out to steady her anyway. Heat flared at the point of contact. Things like that had been happening more and more frequently - things that made her breath catch and fire light her blood - and it was all just a matter of time now, she knew. She still saw no reason to rush into anything.

"It's okay," she said, flashing a little smile, and sat down next to Mr. McCoy, who was working his way through a stack of dry toast and the newspaper.

"I heard about your speech last night," Mr. McCoy commented to her. "Nicely done."

She smiled into her bowl. Privately, she considered it a small miracle that the School Board members had voted the way they did, because her speech hadn't been that good. "Thank you."

"You know, if we really want to make sure you stay in school, we should get all of you staffed into ESE," he went on, shoving another piece of toast into his mouth. "Then BHS would have to provide you with FAPE or risk legal action."

Rogue paused long enough in picking at her breakfast to look up and ask, "FAPE?" Mr. McCoy nodded. "It stands for 'Free and Appropriate Public Education' - which you would receive in your LRE, or 'Least Restrictive Environment.' As mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act." He grinned, showing a bit of fang and a lot of toast crumbs. "I've been brushing up on my educational law. Fascinating, the things you can find in your local library."

Rogue made a noise that Jean couldn't quite decipher. "I'll just bet."

Mr. McCoy went back to his newspaper, evidently finished with the discussion.

"I don't know," Kurt said, wrinkling his nose. "I mean, we're already freaks. I've seen how the 'exceptional students' get treated - ESE comes with its own stigmas attached at no extra charge."

Kitty gave him an indignant look. "Hey! I'm ESE, thank you very much. It's not just, um, slow kids. It's everyone who needs special services."

"Really?"

"Yeah, I have like an IEP and everything. Only they call it something else, I forget what."

Jean tuned out the rest of their conversation, too busy bracing herself for the coming day. Had she been popular for so long that she'd forgotten what it felt like to be one of the outcasts? It hurt. It was a slap in the face. At the same time, she'd known all along that her "friendships" among the elite circles had been tenuous creations at best. Popularity was a game - a shifting, nebulous dance of social skills. She'd loved the game; it had come easily to her. And now it was gone.

Mr. McCoy got up and so did Rogue. Kurt and Kitty wandered off a few minutes later. Evan had eaten with the younger kids; Scott had long since finished and vanished into the depths of the basement. But Jean was still sitting there, staring at her bowl of half-eaten cereal.

She knew that if she didn't hurry up, she'd be late for school. And for the first time in a long time, the thought caused her no distress.