Disclaimer: I don't own the characters. I don't own the settings. I don't really even own much of the plot, considering the number of elements I've borrowed from elsewhere. I did write the words, but I'd imagine my legal rights to them are pretty shaky.
Here we go – this is my attempt at telling the story of what happened to Rahne after Mainstream, when her parents had her taken away from the Institute. If you're familiar with the Marvel Comics Universe, its probably best to note now that while I've used various elements from Rahne's comic backstory, I've also changed quite a few things to work with both what we saw of Rahne in the show (and that was far too little of course) and what I wanted to do with this story.
There are also appearances from a number of other canon characters in this, which I won't give away just yet. But they'll be there, and the same applies to them – I've taken quite a few liberties with backstories to suit my own twisted mind and purposes…
As the train pulled into the tiny station there was only one pair of eyes on board not avidly staring out the window at the spectacular Highland scenery. Rahne sighed. Unlike most of the passengers, who were tourists taking in the 'Scottish Experience' she had grown up in this area, and she was used to the moors and mountains. But it wasn't a sense of familiarity with the area that dulled her usual enthusiasm for the view, but rather one of resent. Why did she have to be coming home now?
Shouldering her bag, she stepped out of the compartment. The corridor outside was empty – for all the tourists' wonder at the scenery, they seemed to prefer viewing it from the comfort of a heated carriage. No one ever got off at Garve. Which was fair enough, really, in Rahne's opinion. It wasn't the sort of place you wanted to stay in for more time than was absolutely necessary.
The station's platform was as bare of people as the corridor had been; there were only two figures braving the biting wind. On seeing Rahne step down from the carriage they hurried over.
"Darling! We've missed you so much!" said the smaller one, pulling her into a tight hug - a short woman with fiery red hair. Her mother.
"It's good ta see ye, lass," commented her father, and with far more reserve, slipped one arm around her shoulders. Rahne returned the hugs – despite the circumstances, it was good to see her parents again.
She could smell a mixture of feelings coming off them – being in human form dulled most of her wolf senses, but for some reason not the ability to read people's emotions in their scents. There was love, concern, and relief, but also a large amount of fear.
"You're still worried about me, aren't you?"
They both looked up abruptly. "What? What would make ye say that, lass?" her father began, trying to sound casual, although his scent said otherwise. She raised an eyebrow and tapped her nose. Amazing how much parents could forget in six months.
"You brought me back here, aren't you satisfied now?" She made no attempt to keep the bitterness from her voice.
He opened his mouth again, but her mother cut in: "Of course we are, Rahne. We just want you with us. But we're worried too; this, this bigotry against… people like you, it's spreading…."
The word is mutants, mother. The secret police aren't going to jump out if you say it. "And so you took me away from the place that was offering me protection?"
"Protection?" queried her father. "Lass, the place was blown up!"
"Yes, well…," there was a good retort to that, Rahne was sure, she just couldn't think of it. "It's not like it was an everyday occurrence!"
"That's enough. We'll discuss it later, after we get ye home."
It was an hour long drive back to the Sinclair's home in Ullapool. The car was silent. Rahne wasn't feeling in the mood for talking. At one point she noticed her mother preparing to say something, and so claiming jet lag, she closed her eyes and pretended to go to sleep. And in fact, exhausted from the journey and lulled by the motion of the car, Rahne actually did fall asleep.
"Welcome back," her father said softly, startling her out of her dream of Frisbees and chew toys. The town hadn't changed since she'd left – nothing in the Highlands ever did. The same few streets clustered around the twin centres of the church and the pub. The same stillness and the same appearance of picturesque quaintness, an image which was oh-so-carefully cultivated by the residents.
The house too, was just as she remembered it. Two stories of granite blocks, grey and dour, but on sunny days the light would catch the stone and make it sparkle. Of course, sunny days don't come to the north of Scotland often.
"I think ye've grown a wee bit since we saw ye last," her father commented as she walked through the door. "Ye tower over yer poor mother now…"
"She'll be catching you one of these days, Ian." Rahne looked at her mother. It was true that she could now look down on her – Mrs Sinclair barely topped 5ft - but her father was at least 6'2''. The town had named them 'the long and the short of it'. She burst out laughing at the idea, and her parents joined in. For a few moments they were a normal family again, and everything was like it used to be.
"It's good to have you home, darling," said her mother, as they subsided.
Rahne's smile froze on her face. In the excitement of being back at her home she'd forgotten the reason why she was here. As fun as it was to laugh with her parents, she wasn't sure that she belonged in Ullapool anymore.
"I'll just take my stuff up to my room," she said quietly.
That was almost exactly as she had left it as well: the bed with the patchwork quilt, the slightly ragged old armchair and the Rangers poster on the wall were all still there. Of course, it wasn't quite as she'd left it – for one thing it was clean. But it did feel comforting.
On an impulse she threw her suitcase down on her bed and shut the door. The room was comforting, but it wasn't home again yet. There was something more to be done. Standing in the middle of the room she concentrated, focussing her mind inward.
Her ears were the first to alter – she felt them stretch up, and frowned as she adjusted to the heightened hearing. The hair started to grow on her body and she felt her bones altering their shape, bringing her to a crouched posture. With that came the change in her features – enlargement of the nose, sharpening of the eyes and lengthening of the teeth. It was complete – she shook out her fur and looked around the room as a wolf.
Perception was different in her wolf state. The room lacked colour, but the lack of colour was only a minor drawback to sight – her lupine eyes could detect wavelengths into the ultraviolet and infrared of the electromagnetic spectrum. She could see the patterns of heat given off by her passage through the room. But sight was unimportant in this state compared to sound and smell. The muffled noises of her parents' activities downstairs resonated clearly in the wolf's ears: her mother was in the kitchen taking something out of the cupboard; her father had just turned the radio on to the sports channel.
Smell took precedence however – she knew she wouldn't feel right until the room smelled like it should.
Wolfsbane sniffed the air. Her mother had been in there this morning – her scent, with its distinctive tinge of camomile soap was still strong. Strong for the wolf in any case; it would have been imperceptible to any human. The smell of polish and air freshener permeated the whole room. She'd been cleaning. Well, there was only one thing to do about that.
The wolf was methodical. Working from the door, she paced around the walls, rubbing her back against them. She rolled around on the floor, then jumped up on the desk and padded across it. The bed was next – that required an especially large amount of work to remove the smell of washing powder from the sheets. Which left the armchair. Only a small leap to reach the seat, and then a minimum of turning to get comfortable. She settled down, content that the space was once again her own.
There were footsteps, then a knock at the door. It opened to reveal her mother, although the wolf had known that already from the rhythm of the footfalls.
"I hope you've made yourself com… Oh Rahne," she sighed as she saw the wolf curled up in the chair. "Already? I just made that bed this morning."
Wolfsbane gave her what could only be described as a wolfish grin. She yawned lazily, displaying her canines. Jumping off the seat onto the floor, she started to stretch her back, which continued to extend and elongate until she was back in her human form.
"You wanted me?" she asked.
"I don't know, home barely five minutes and already look at your room." Rahne glanced around. There was fur all over the chair, paw prints on the table and the bedding was a complete mess.
"Well, I'm a teenager aren't I? Anyway, it smelt wrong."
"And how am I ever going to explain the fur all over the house to the neighbours when they come over?" There was no real feeling of annoyance in her, but some concern.
"Well, you don't have to tell them I'm back," Rahne suggested. "I'll just stay changed and you can tell everyone you've bought a new dog." In truth she rather liked the idea, but her mother pursed her lips.
Rahne followed her downstairs, where her father was waiting in the lounge.
"Now Lass, we support yer being a mutant," he began. Well, it's not as if I got much choice in the matter, she mused. "But with the climate the way it is at the moment, ye've got ta be careful with yer powers. Ye don't want ta lose control."
"I thought that's why I was at the Institute – to gain control."
"What it did was almost get ye killed, Lass."
"That's unfair," Rahne protested angrily. "I learnt a lot! Plus we also got to help people with our powers – you told me once that they were there for a reason, so that I could make a difference." She'd been young and scared of her newfound abilities that day, and her parents had tried to comfort her when she'd tearfully asked them why this had happened to her. Having some kind of purpose had helped her deal with her fear and anger at being different.
He frowned. Her mother spoke instead. "That's as may be, darling. But you're only barely fifteen, there's plenty of time for that later. We just want what's best for you, and for now, that's being at home with us."
Their scents were unwavering – definite, determined. They weren't going to budge on this. Rahne sighed in resignation. She might as well make the best of it, it was obvious arguing would serve no purpose.