A New Era Disclaimer: They belong to Marvel, I'm just playing, but I promise to put them back when I'm done.

Kitty Pryde's Journal – April 5, 2003

Being an X-Man is always an experience, everyday I find new things I just can't believe are for real: Toad and Blob wearing X-Men uniforms for example. Or Lance and Scott studying together. Lance studying at all used to be a contradiction in terms, even without the part where Lance and Scott are friends even if they'd never admit it. Actually Lance seems more comfortable around Scott than around the rest of us, I think it's because he doesn't feel like he ought to be watching out for Scott.

Speaking of people getting along; Rogue's getting harder to live with again. I'm guessing it's been awhile since she managed to get in contact with Pietro. I feel bad for her and now that we know Lance isn't going to die. I'm a lot less mad at Quicksilver these days. I never knew I could hate someone like that. I was empathizing Wanda! That's just scary. She still crashes here for a couple of nights a week, I avoid her. Now that I'm not angry myself it creeps me out to see that much unvarnished rage on display. Still I think maybe I understand her a little. I hear she was eight when Magneto locked her up, they would have treated her like a dangerous monster, kept her locked up or restrained for nine years. She must have been scared when they drug her off and felt helpless and alone for all that time. Being angry makes it easier to ignore those other feelings. Which doesn't make her any less scary.

But for the most part life at the mansion has never been better, or more insane. Everyone is getting along pretty well; the various vendettas we've got going on are all good-natured. Lance is getting better all the time. He's got some sort of secret project too, something he's trying to find. He calls people and spends a lot of time on-line, I even caught him going to the library once, he got all embarrassed and funny. Lance can be such a dope about his whole tough guy image. Sometimes Lance talks about going back to school, getting things back to normal. I hope the Professor talks him out of it.

It's a good thing life at the Institute is so great now, because I don't think I could stand going to school if I didn't have the Mansion to come home to. I see stories about superheroes on TV and how hard it is to have a dual identity, they're wrong, not having one is worse. Before people knew about me being a mutant I had plenty of time to be Kitty Pryde, now I feel like an X-Man pretty much 24-7. Always got to be on my best behavior, because I'm representing my species, it's enough to make me want to hide at the Institute for the rest of my life and Lance wants to come back to school. Sometimes I think my boyfriend is nuts.

We're studying the Civil Rights Movement in history right now, and those pictures from when they started desegregating the schools, well judging from the way some of my classmates were squirming I'm not the only one who recognized the gauntlet the rest of the X-Men and I walk everyday to come here. I thought maybe they were feeling bad about how they'd been acting, but then Marian, who sits two chairs up and an aisle over turns around, looks right at me and says, 'The stuff now, with mutants, it sort of looks like the same old story, but it's not. Back then the differences were just in people's heads, but no matter how much I might want to I can't just… well destroy the school for instance. I mean, okay, I could, if I managed to buy explosives or something and found the time to set it up and no one saw me doing it, but I couldn't just do it on a whim or something; some mutants could. The one they're looking for, you know on the news, the one that makes earthquakes, that one could do it."

I wanted to get up and hit her, because I couldn't think of anything to say to that. What am I supposed to say? That Lance would never do something like that… anymore. Things have changed a lot since Chicago. The X-Men and the Brotherhood used to fight so often and no one ever got hurt, it got to feeling like some sort of game. And once you get past Lance's whole chip on the shoulder thing he's really sweet and caring, and he's changed. So anyways, it's been forever since I thought about Chicago and our old school, you know, the one Lance reduced to rubble because I wouldn't run away with him.

But when she said that I kinda had to think about it. What if I'd been a regular person or had a power like Rogue's? Heck, what if Lance hadn't gotten me to practice with my powers earlier that day? He would have killed me and my parents and it's not that I think Lance meant it, this is the same guy who, less than a month later, thought it was a good idea to start an earthquake while he and his friends were in a condemned mineshaft. Thinking things through, especially back then, not exactly one of Lance's strong points. And he doesn't do that stuff anymore anyway. He knows if he tried using his powers right now he couldn't control the extent of damage, so he doesn't use them. Of course none of that would matter to me if I were dead. And there are other mutants out there who can't control their powers or who are still angry or who don't think things through. We're mostly kids, it's just how kids are! But I can't say we're not dangerous, because we can be.

Going to school is like another X-Men mission these days. Our goal: To prove mutants can be responsible with their powers and made them remember we're still human, even if we are different. Like every other mission it's not without danger, mostly of having to choose between expulsion for using our powers or getting beat up. That's why the New Mutants don't go anymore, they don't have as much training in martial arts as we do, it would be easier to force them to use their powers.

Tabby's still going to classes, no one knows about her yet. It's a weird seeing Boom-Boom being careful with her powers. We keep an eye out for her.

****** ****** ******

With a sigh Kitty turned off her laptop and slipped it into her backpack, she glanced over to where Scott was standing, a frown on his face.

"The lunch crowd is thinning out, you have to watch that sort of stuff," he said.

"Come on Cyke, we could take 'em," Kitty joked gesturing discretely toward the various individuals who were paying a little too close of attention to a mutant who'd seemingly lost track of her surroundings.

"Of course we could," Scott replied. "The point is not having to. You know better than to tempt the jackals."

Kitty headed into the school, Scott followed after her then paused as he saw Jean standing in front of the school's trophy case. He went over to stand beside her and wasn't surprised to find her staring at the hole where her soccer MVP trophy used to stand.

"I never used my powers," Jean said. "Not once. I know what I could have done to help my team with my powers, but I didn't, it would have been cheating. Why can't Principal Kelly believe me when I tell him that? I'm a good student. I work hard in my classes. I do extracurricular activities. I don't get into trouble when I can avoid it. I'm nice to my teachers. Why would he just assume I must be a cheat just because I'm a mutant? He doesn't just assume Arcade cheated to get that 800 on his SAT math score and he's good enough with computers that he could have hacked the system."

Scott wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "Come on Jean, it'll get better," he promised. "This is a huge shock to them, give them some time, they'll start remembering that they know us."

Jean smiled up at him. "You're right," she said. "They're just scared and shook up, I mean their world got turned upside down even worse than ours did. Thanks Scott, I was just letting things get me down."

Scott smiled watching her walk off toward her next class with renewed determination in her step, glad he could make someone's day better.

Then he heard Rogue's raised voice. "Yah work in the office, her host family must've sent a note or something," she insisted.

He turned the corner to see Rogue holding on to the arm of one of the office TA's, the girl stared at Rogue's gloved hand the way she might have looked at a tarantula. "Don't touch me!" she squealed.

Rogue drew back like she'd been slapped. "Come on, Risty's mah friend, I'm worried about her."

"That's a likely cover," the girl sniffed, retreating to what she considered a safe distance.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Rogue demanded.

"That Risty Wilde dropped off the face of the planet the day you and your freaky friends destroyed half the town. It's a wonder that the police haven't put two and two together yet."

Rogue watched the other girl walk off then seeing Scott she asked, "Yah don't think anything happened to Risty do yah? There were a lot of people acting like idiots and a lot of damage between the Sentinel and Juggernaut."

"Several parent pulled their kids out of Bayville high," Scott said. "And Risty was an exchange student, it would have been easy for her to just up and go home at a moments notice. You should probably try looking up her host family before you start thinking the worst."

"It's just, she didn't even leave me a note or anything. Ah thought we were better friends than that," Rogue sighed.

"She probably just freaked," Scott said. "I bet she got on the plane before she even realized she hadn't said anything to you. Have you seen Evan or Kurt?"

"Evan's in the Principal's office for fighting," Rogue said.

"He didn't…" Scott exclaimed.

"Naw, he kept the spikes in this time," Rogue reassured him. "Just your run of the mill fist fight."

"The buddy system was supposed to help us avoid stuff like that," Scott groused. "Kurt wasn't with Kitty at lunch either."

"Well Ah couldn't help it," Rogue said crossing her arms defensively. "The fight was in the boy's restroom, Ah can't follow him in there!"

"Sorry Rogue," Scott said. "At least he kept control of his powers." Then he saw Amanda walking down the connecting hall and took off at a jog. "Hey Amanda, wait!"

Amanda gave Scott a friendly wave as he ran to catch up with her. "Hey Scott," she said.

"Have you seen Kurt lately?" he asked.

Amanda looked sad. "He got water in his image inducer and it fritzed again. He went home so the Professor could fix it, I wish he'd stop hiding, it isn't necessary anymore."

"He's lucky, with you it never was," Scott said. "I wish everyone else was as open minded."

"Hey I know what it's like to be discriminated against," Amanda said. "Differences aren't anything to be scared of, they're what make us interesting. And there are more people around who aren't freaked out by you guys than you realize. It's just… well you guys kept it a secret so long, people worry that if they stick up for you everyone will think they're secretly a mutant too."

Scott frowned thoughtfully then noticed Tabby standing in front of a vending machine. "Tabitha don't," he called.

Tabby rolled her eyes. "Contrary to popular opinion, I'm not stupid Scooter," she sniffed. "I know getting caught using powers is like sending out invitations to get stoned."

"Are you doing okay?" Scott asked.

"Forge and I are keeping low profile," Tabby said. "And he's got plans for taking care of us if things get worse."

"Okay. Tabby, you know the both of you are welcome at the Institute any time right?"

"Sure thing Scotty, whatever," Tabby said putting some change in the pop machine and taking her soda. Reassured that she wasn't going to blow it up Scott turned to hurry toward his next class.

Just outside the door he bumped into Paul doing the same thing. "Hey," Scott said with a friendly grin.

Paul moved to walk past Scott without responding.

"Paul wait," Scott said catching his arm. "We've been friends since I first moved to Bayville."

"Well I didn't really know you then did I," Paul said.

"No, come on, you know me Paul. I kept my powers secret, but they aren't me."

"You could kill me by looking at me, how am I supposed to deal with that?"

"You know I wouldn't," Scott said quietly.

"I know you freak every time your glasses get knocked off," Paul said. "I've seen you crawl around on the floor feeling for them because you're scared to open your eyes. You're not in control are you Scott? How can you say you won't hurt someone when you might not be about to stop yourself?"

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