Author's Note: What would it be like if someone had written X-Men: Evo basing it off of experiences from their daily lives? That's what Marie Alder, the Rogue Writer, and St. John Allerdyce set out to do. But what happens if they uncover one of their friend's tangled past? Do they write about it, or let things go? SSP is a powerless AU, where angsty teens learn the meaning of friendship, and uncover the deep dark secrets of their sleepy town. Really. Unfortunately, their lives seem to be mirroring the lives of some kids who go to Bayville high on another earth. Too bad that they don't have the abilities to get them out of the events and drama.

This is a revamp of the original SSP, mainly modifications to my horrible writing of 2005, and chapter consolidation. For those of you returning to the fic there might be a few new paragraphs, or some deleted scenes. For the new people, yay, you get to see shiny new glory! I have not removed the accents from the beginning, but be aware that they peter out as my writing continues.

Disclaimer: I do not own X-Men: Evolution or the X-Men concept.

Year of (ex)Change—also entitled: Our Stupid School Project

by The Rogue and John Allerdyce

The sky was a clear and uncompromising blue. Light wisps of clouds darted across it. Autumn could be felt in the cool, crisp smell on the air. None of the leaves had turned yet, but it was going to happen, and the world knew it. The sound of laughing children came from behind the high walls of the local elementary school. Of course, only the youngest children were excited by the prospect of a new school year. At the high school, everyone was in possession of better sense. Still, cars filled Bayville High's parking lot.

It was eight o'clock on a Tuesday morning in September. In this sleepy little town just off Long Island Sound this meant that everyone was getting to work, going to school, and wishing that it was yesterday because they hadn't gotten enough rest on Labor Day.

Mayor Kelly sat in his office reading reports and memos. Principal Darkholme was looking out the window at the mass of students ready to start another fun filled school day after their three day week-end. Professor Xavier was sifting through the mountains of applications to his private school for the spring semester. In a bar somewhere on the outskirts of town a man known only as Logan was happily drinking away his liver. In front of the imposing doors of Bayville High School everyone was quickly separating into cliques.

A group that sat in the shadow of the steps turned on a boom box and listened as heavy metal flooded over them. Occasionally one broke into air guitar, and had to be pulled back into cool apathy. They sneered at the group of jocks that walked past laughing about try-outs. The group of cheerleaders that floated by stopped to look at the overly made up and darkly outfitted group. One of the perky girls whispered something to her friends. The girls broke out into a simultaneous giggle. They moved on to catch up with the jocks, stopping along the way to pose for a yearbook photographer.

Several skateboarders weaved through the crowds, laughing with each other. They started an impromptu contest. The winner was decided when one of the boarders grinded down the hand rail for the school steps and stole a soccer star's orange juice. The star just rolled her green eyes and continued her conversation with her teammates. Evan Daniels was a bit of a pest, even for a freshman, but not worth getting angry at, he would only turn it into a joke with his good friend, Kurt, anyway. If that happened, Jean, who had to live with Kurt, would never hear the end of it. Besides, hanging out with her friends while regaling them with tales of her victory at last night's unofficial game with Center Island's high school was much more interesting. Jean smiled at one of the football players who joined their group, the Adonis-like Duncan Matthews[1].

No one noticed the glare that they were getting from the crowd that was interested in cars. The glares were being divided evenly between Bayville's quarter back and the Russian exchange student, who was chatting up the perky idol of the computer classes. The cause of the tension could not have been simpler. Almost every division of the high school was divided on who was prettier, Katherine Pryde, amateur hacker, or Jean Grey, soccer super star. Unfortunately for Kitty, she was less popular with the girls, and had this horrible tendency to do all of her homework on time. Despite the bubbliness and sweet disposition, there were rumors that she was a geek.

One of the members of the track team jogged past Katherine and quickly tweaked her pony tail, staying only long enough on the scene for the computer genius to recognize him. She glared at him and her tall and chunky side of Russian growled deep in his throat. The track member gave an unrepentant smirk, and with a cocky wave he vanished into the crowd. He ran past the Goths only stopping long enough to ask the obvious leader of the outcast group what color she was going to be dying her hair today. She snarled at him, flipped her naturally white forelock out of her face, and turned the heavy metal up louder. Pietro Maximoff was both a good friend, and reigning king of Jerk Mountain.

However, the Goth queen Rogue managed to find a more suitable target for her ire within a few seconds. A pair of boys, one black haired and laughing, the other orange haired, and scribbling in a notebook walked up the sidewalk together. Her glare magnified itself by three hundred and focused on the black haired boy as he gestured wildly. Some people got everything handed to them on a silver platter. The object of her dislike was one of them. He had it all, a loving mother, friends who weren't constantly waiting for him to show a sign of weakness, and good grades.

Kurt Darkholme had everything that should have been hers, and Rogue wanted it back, plus some vengeance. What did it matter if she did not actually know him? He was, in her honest, unbiased opinion, pure evil. Him and Jean Grey. Two of the perfect little students at Xavier's Academy for Gifted Students. It was basically a place for the geek crowd to hang out. They went to school with the other mortals, but they got a step up on the academic ladder. They could get into any programs they wanted. They were all rich supercilious dorks.

She knew that this guy was the principal's own son and she couldn't do anything to him without receiving a monumental detention. Not to mention the flak she'd get from her adoptive mother, Irene, about how she should treat her little brother with respect.

"Hey, sheila, couldn't help noticing that you were staring at us. Well, glaring at us. Hopefully more at me than my little buddy, who, hey where'd he run off to?" the guy with the notebook to whom Darkholme had been talking to looked around wildly.

He had a thick Australian accent and the Goth girl remembered she had heard something about some guy from Sydney coming to Bayville on an exchange program. He was supposedly staying with the Xavier prodigies, just like Russian over there by Pryde of computers, and Betsy--who was actually fairly cool, in Rogue's opinion. Still, stranger or not, Rogue did not see why this was an invitation for the guy to spread his blinding orange cooties everywhere. Had she asked the geek to come over? No. Rogue was too cool for that, and he had better learn it.

"Buzz off, crocodile hunter. We don' lahk yahr kind ovah here," she sneered.

"Hey, not my problem, you were the one who was staring," he was still writing stuff down in his note book while looking around for his vanished companion. The Goths didn't bother to tell him that it was doubtful that any of Xavier's people would come within ten yards of one of them. This stranger would learn soon enough.

The bell rung sharply and everyone made their way into the school building. No homeroom for the juniors and seniors often made them forget about the mass of obedient freshman and sophomores that they had to compete with in the halls. Most students tried to stay in their cliques, but classes forced them together, making the crowd rush and separate before doors and various hallways. The Goth leader noticed that the Australian was following her into class as she rounded the doorway. Oh, fantastic.

She looked at the cards on all of the desks. Her English teacher believed in assigned seats and had arranged them so that they were in alphabetical order by last name. Alder, Alder, where was Alder? She had found Allerdyce, funny name and not one that she knew. Ah, here was Alder, Marie, right in front of Allerdyce, St. John.

She slid into her seat and prepared to be bored. This teacher believed in Shakespeare, among other things. He also was interested in end of year creative projects. Those Marie didn't mind so much, she like to get her feelings down on paper, but she didn't like sharing them with the class.

An eraser tapped her in the back of her neck and she swung around to glare at the grinning visage of Allerdyce, St. John. Oh no, not that stupid Australian. That was it, fate was conspiring against her. John leaned over her shoulder and read her name card before she had time to stop him.

"So, you're a Marie. Funny, I thought that you would have a name with more X's and Z's than that. You know something like Xena, or Zelda."

Rogue chose to ignore him. She liked English well enough, despite being fed up with Shakespeare, and just because an annoying weirdo who did not understand the bounds of social conventions had decided to crash the party did not mean that she had to care. Marie stared straight ahead until the teacher, Mr. McCoy, entered the classroom with a flourish of lab coat. The guy was the teaching equivalent to a Jack of all trades, he taught a bit of history, English, Latin, chemistry, and subbed for the gym teachers.

He started off quoting Shakespeare, everything was normal. They spent the rest of the class dissecting the summer reading by Oscar Wilde, The Portrait of Dorian Grey. Marie grudgingly admitted that St. John, what ever else he was, had a real talent for English.

Fifteen minutes before class ended Mr. McCoy told everyone that they would be doing an end of term project. The difference this year from other years was that they would be doing it with a partner. The he told everyone in the front and third rows to be partners with the person sitting directly behind them.

Marie felt like hitting herself with her history text book, easily the heaviest thing in her back pack, as she looked at John's grinning face. Her final grade for the year depended on this loon?

The rest of Marie's day wasn't going too well either. John turned out to be in three out of her four classes. What made the situation worse was that Scott Summers was in two of those classes. She had no wish for John to find out that she had a stupid crush on Jean Grey obsessed Scott Summers. It was a vain hope.

Her last class of the day was drama, which she shared with Scott, and now John. On the upside, she also shared it with the only people who she felt were OK to hang out with and weren't Goths. She hung out with the Goth crowd for image; she hung out with these guys for the friendship that only being slightly too weird for any other group gave people. Like her, they all had other cliques that they hung out with, but they were always on the edge of them, even though Lance, Pietro, and Marie practically ran their cliques. Lance Alvers was the co-leader of the car nuts (the other leader was Scott Summers). Pietro Maximoff was on the track team, basket ball team, and soccer team. Todd 'Toady' Tolensky was a pick pocket and tended to hang out with the rappers. Fred Dukes was part of the wrestling team. Then there was Marie Alder, Goth and sci-fi writer, Ice Queen and Rogue. That neatly finished out their little group of freaks.

There was one other thing that had brought them all together, other than being absolute outsiders. They all hated and loathed the Xavier Kids. So Marie could probably lose John, who stuck to her like an annoying limpet during their classes together, by virtue of the fact that he was one of the annoying Xavier's Students, now.

As she came into class she caught onto the end of a heated debate that was going on between the overweight Freddy and the stocky Lance.

"There is no way that Kitty is more attractive than Jean," Fred told Lance, "First of all; Kitty barely has two neutrons to fire together in that fluffy bunny infested brain of hers. Jean is the most intelligent girl in Bayville."

"Yeah, right," Lance retorted, "Jean's the shallowest girl that Bayville has ever seen. Kitty is way more intelligent. You can't be a hacker if you are not intelligent. Her pink bubbly side is just an act. Look, why don't we get an unbiased opinion?"

Squeegeeing some earwax from his ear, Todd just rolled his eyes. "There's no way, yo, that we are gonna find an unbiased opinion on this subject. All of the girls in school are friends with either Kitty or Jean. And all of the guys are in love with the two of them."

"Oh, we know someone with an untainted opinion," Lance said calmly. "Hey, Rogue, who's better: Kitty or Jean?"

Marie walked up to her friends. John followed, she ground her teeth. Honestly wasn't he going to leave her alone for one minute? He had been using her as some sort of anchor in Chemistry, as well.

However, before she could express her opinion, Pietro swept in, grinning craftily. "Oh, no. You two can't call Rogue untainted. She's biased towards Kitty 'cause Jean's got Scott's heart in her back pocket. And we all know how the charming Queen of Ice feels about Summers's love," Pietro made a mock bow over Marie's hand and mumbled the words: "Oh, Majesty, I am afraid that I must inform you that King Summers has fallen in love with Queen Grey's undying beauty. My sweet Rogue, pearl of my eye, how may we revenge thee?"

Seem this as a good opportunity as any, Rogue jerked her head as the bouncing St. John. "By getting this creepy Aussie tah stop followin' me 'round, lab rat."

"Oh Southern Belle, how happily we shall do this for you, oh great lady of--"

"An' yah kin stop callin' me stupid names. We ain't in the middle of the Dark Ages yah know."

Pietro stepped back from his friend grinning mischievously. His eyes darted to the uncomprehending John.

"Uh, who's 'Rogue', mate?" John looked as if he was questioning Pietro's sanity.

"Oh, Saintly Lady, have you not even told this utter commoner your nom de plume?" Pietro stopped short with his theatrics as he saw the threat in Rogue's eyes, "This, my Aussie friend, is Marie Alder, though among friends she goes by the name of The Rogue. Now, why don't you go and sit down with your own kind?" the table where both Scott Summers and the giant Russian sat was indicated with a jerk of Pietro's thumb.

"Anyway," Lance continued, even though John had yet to leave the vicinity, "Rogue, you're about as close as we will come to an unbiased opinion. So who is better: Kitty, or Jean?"

Considering her answer, Marie slid into an empty seat at the circular table. "Well, Jean's more attractive, but Kitty has the better personality. They are both Xavier's ovah achievers, but Jean plays powah games with her boys, where as Kitty has yet tah chose one. Howevah, she's been awful chatty with that Russian--Ah think that Ah have tah chose Kitty, but personally Ah don't think that eithah of yah are fallin' in love with the right girls."

"Masterfully decided, Rogue," Pietro took center stage again. He really couldn't resist being in the spot light. "Now, on to the next question that we needed decided by an unbiased authority. Who's hotter: Lance or me?"

"Yah, 'Tro. Yahr second place on the hottest guy in school poll that is goin' on the girl's bathroom wall," Marie grinned at the miffed expression that appeared on Pietro's face.

"Second place. Second place! Who's first?"

"Hi, Scott," Rogue waved over at the sunglasses toting boy, enjoying the look of jealousy that suffused Pietro's face.

"I came in second to Sergeant Summers? There's no way--Arrrgggh, those X-Kids get everything."

"What are 'X-Kids'?" Rogue made quote signs with her fingers.

"What we're now calling those freaks that hang out at that private school. X is short for Xavier, see?" Lance told her, "Am I in that poll at all?" he looked hopeful.

"Yeah, yah came in fourth. Just after tall, dark, an' Russian. Hey, we'd better get tah our seats. John--St. John, whatever you are--what the heck are yah still doin' here?" Rogue glared at her project partner, who was scribbling down stuff in his note book.

Looking up, John favored Rogue with a brilliant grin. "John'll do. And I'm here because like a moth to the flame, you look like you're the most interesting person in the room. And I'm bored. It's a horrible affliction. So, keep me entertained, please?"

Lance took a seat at the back table looking dejected about the fact that he had come in second to Kitty's new flame. They all joined him, even John. Pietro shrugged and the rest of the guys became acquainted with Johnny, but Rogue seethed. The end of class couldn't come quickly enough for Rogue. Johnny had made friends with her friends easier than fish breathed water. As soon as the bell rung she grabbed her bag and bolted for the hall. The other guys stared after her. John started to follow, but was caught by Lance.

"Don't, something's upset her. One of us will deal with it. You don't know her well enough to be able to duck whatever surprise she has coming for you," Lance turned to the rest of the gang, "OK, who stormed out on us last time?"



"Yeah, it was me. Remember, I want to be cremated, not buried," Pietro ran after Marie.

"What was that all about, mates?" John felt puzzled. Like anywhere else there were obviously traditions here. He just wanted to understand them.

"We have this thing, rule, whatever. We tend to blow up a lot, so whoever was the last person to blow up has to go and confront the one who has just blown up. It's a means of punishment. Pietro yelled at everyone yesterday, so now he has to go get Rogue and calm her down. If you need us, we'll be off looking for a tombstone for Pietro. The last time Rogue blew up the person sent to calm her down got kicked in the balls," Todd explained, "That girl has serious anger management issues, yo."

"And very good aim," Lance seemed to be speaking from memory. A very painful memory.

John shrugged and walked off in the same direction as Pietro.

The fall air was crisp and smelled slightly of apples. The trees along the road were few and far between but they always cast the perfect amount of shade. Rogue was sitting under one, looking off into the distance. There was the cliff that marked the end of Bayville and the beginning of Long Island Sound. She remembered going down there over the summer with her guitar, sitting on the cliff edge and just playing it until her life restored itself to normal.

Everything seemed to be going wrong. She wished that she had never allowed Irene to convince her to move up to New York. Bayville was so provincial, and all of the rules had changed. But Marie had wanted to know about her family. Her family was in Bayville. So, Marie had to be in Bayville as well. She had found out about her family. Now her jealousy of them was eating her up inside.

"The view's a lot better closer to the cliff. You can even see the water, you know." Pietro was leaning against her tree. There was only the slightest sheen of sweat to show that he had been running all the way from the school.

She just sat in her pool of shade. Rogue didn't want to talk to anyone, not even one of her best friends. Pietro was used to this. He was good at playing the waiting game. Rogue never liked to say anything. She didn't trust people. He could deal with that, he'd known her for two years, practically since she moved to Bayville. Rogue had never told anyone why she had moved. Pietro didn't care as long as she never asked where he went every second Saturday.

"Why do yah guys lahk John so much?" Marie's sleepy Southern drawl caught him off guard for a second.

"Why shouldn't we like the guy? He's funny, he doesn't seem to have the hang ups about rules that everyone else around here does, and he's got all of these ideas just floating off of him. Plus he's something new, that's something you don't see every day. Especially not around Bayville, we need something to take our minds off what hell it is here. He's just what we need, someone who shakes things up just by being around."

The wind sighed through the trees and some grasshoppers chirped in the short grass leading up to the cliff edge. Pietro played the waiting game some more. It was a game that Marie liked.

"He'll shake things up a bit. But not in a good way. Yah should have seen him in chemistry, it was creepy the way he looked at the Bunsen burner," Marie broke the silence after five minutes of heavy duty contemplation.

"Hey, maybe if we're lucky he's an arsonist. Wouldn't that be nice, seeing the admin section in flames?" he allowed a split second for Marie to contemplate the idea, and then began again. "Can I ask you the question now? Why don't you like John?" Pietro moved slightly so that he was absolutely out of range of Rogue. He had learned the lesson that Lance had brought home to everyone about Rogue, that when the girl was upset you should be in another state.

"Ah don't think that we ought tah be friends with any of the X-Kids, OK?" Marie burst out.

Pietro continued the waiting game. He wanted to know the whole truth. Somehow he couldn't believe that The Rogue was so petty as to think that all people who went to Snobville were not worth the effort to say their name. After all, she seemed to have no problems with Lance's ultimately doomed unrequited crush on Kitty. Plus, there were plenty of didots who did not go to the Institute. Look at Daniels.

"Well, aren't yah gonna say anythin'? Honestly Pietro, sometimes yah just make me crazy," Pietro's fists clenched as Marie said this, and his face became a mask of hatred, but he didn't say anything.

His friend looked up at him as soon as she listened to the words she had just said in the ringing silence, "'Tro, Ah didn't mean that. Ah really didn't. Ah just meant that yah made me really angry."

"Yeah, well you do that to me, too. Sometimes. Just please watch your words--Oh, forget it. Who cares? I mean, it's just a word. You can make it up to me by telling me why you have taken it into your head to hate Johnny. It's a little strange for you; I mean you insisted that we give everyone of those X-Kids the benefit of the doubt, before. Even after Jean Grey decided that she could score some points with her crowd by totally embarrassing you."

"Ah never insisted that we give that Darkholme boy the benefit of the doubt. That's who John was hanging with before he met me. Anyone who hangs out with the Darkholme boy is bad news," Marie brushed her hair back behind her left ear.

That was her unspoken signal to leave. Pietro left her. He still had time to jog a few laps around the park before the Maximoffs were expecting him home. He set off for the park at a sprint. As he continued down the road, he thought that he saw something orange out of the corner of his eye, but dismissed it.

John walked up to the gates of the school and typed in his security clearance. His mind was still reeling from what he had over heard. He knew that he had flipped his notebook out; he could feel his right hand moving, so the pencil was probably activated. He couldn't get the way that Marie had sounded when she was talking about Kurt out of his head. He had noticed that she wouldn't even say the guy's name, like it would contaminate her or something. What had Kurt done to deserve this girl's enmity?

The boy he was wondering about almost crashed into John as the Australian rounded a corner of the Academy.

"Whoa, get your head out of the clouds, dude. You almost ran me over," Kurt steadied his friend. He looked at John with a worried expression. The Aussie normally looked about as conscious of reality as a sugar high bunny rabbit, now the guy seemed to be grounded in reality. It looked as though reality had been a bit of a depressing let down.

"Hey, Kurt? Have you ever heard of a Goth sheila named Marie?"

Kurt appeared to be fairly confused. "Uh, I don't know man. I try to keep away from the Goth element, you know? I think she's pretty high up in their popularity system, if that helps. Why do you want to know?"

"Uh," John tried to think up a suitable lie, "I was just assigned to do a year end project with her. In English. Is she any good?"

"I told you, I don't know. I haven't heard much about her. She came to visit Mom once when she first came here, I think, but other than that I haven't a clue. But hey, what does it matter? You're some sort of writing genius, right?" John grinned as Kurt put a companionable arm around his shoulders, spreading his other hand as though the sky was the limit.

That was what was great about the shorter kid. Kurt always said the best things about any given person. He could make John feel as though he was the most amazing funny guy on the planet. That he had earned anyone's enmity was weird, to say the least. Oh well, maybe John should just leave well enough alone.

Disentangling himself, the Australian waved at the local boy. "I have a ton of homework to do, see you later."

John walked through the front doors of the mansion. He looked at the foyer and shook his head. It still amazed him that anyone could live like this. There was just so much. Potted plants, most of them were plastic, gilt picture frames, shiny hardwood floors, and that omni-present scent of pine. His room in this place was about the same size of his apartment back home, and he didn't have to share it with an all star brother, or a despairing father.

John walked up the stairs, took a left and went down to the third door. He walked into the spacious room with a sigh of contentment. The window gave a nice view of the cliffs and the sound. He had his own desk and chair. The room had even come furnished with a laptop.

John dumped his books and things down in the chair; he could get to them later. Now he had to figure out what they would be doing for a project. Marie would have her own ideas, so he couldn't start off on that. But, they needed to get together on this as soon as possible. He began to draft a polite note that would get Marie out of her shell long enough to at least start on the darn thing.

[1] - Shamelessly parodied from Twilight. The phrase "marble Adonis" kept me from reading past chapter three. Can you see Duncan Matthews as a possible insane, controlling stalker man?

Thanks to: ASTG, Locu S. Swarm, Claire, Hanna L., Cheese Simian, RITA, no thanks nora, Flit, misfit010, and Greenhaze of Fire, for providing commentary that helped me to redo these chapters. More reviews are always appreciated.

~ MF