Disclaimer : I own none of the X-Men nor their surroundings, however Dell Tucker is mine, along with Ilehana Xavier, should she make a brief appearance!

A/N 2 : Bear with me, I'm having a little trouble with this new formatting system, I can't get my usual scene-breakers (which usually consist of a line of stars or hashes) to work, so I've gone for the lame A WHILE LATER type thing until I can get something sorted out! Everything from here on in is unchanged from the last time this was posted.

A/N : Well, this has surprised me a little bit. I was so wrapped up in my X-Men fic "Guardians of Destiny" that I wasn't prepared for inspiration to strike. Ah well. I thought I'd give my O.C Ilehana a break, just because she's running round trying to save the world in "Guardians", but she'll probably make a cameo appearance -or at least a mention - somewhere……… Anyway, drop me a review?


"I could blast you from here to……… to……… to Paris if I chose to!"

"Go on then, try it! I dare you!"

A pair of eyes watched the scene unfold, a terrified young mutant - perhaps thirteen, though he looked a lot younger - cornered by seven human teenagers in a park. He had been backing away through a set of swings, off the bark chippings and onto the grass. Unable to run away from the bullies, he'd been forced to fall back on threats and challenges to protect himself. The humans were advancing, slowly, but meaningfully. The malice in their eyes was cold, cruel, they wanted nothing more than a good fight - to see the mutant suffer for no better reason than he was different than them. She shook her head slowly - did they even know what they were dealing with? The boy raised his hands, as if fending them off, but she knew he was steeling himself to use his power - his mutant ability to force objects away from him with pressurised air.

"Ooooooh, we're so scared!"

"You gonna do for us? Come on then!"

"Yeah, come on mutey!"

The mutant rolled his wrists, his eyes rolling back in his skull and sinking slightly as he concentrated, gathered his strength within him, but she couldn't allow it. Sometimes she wondered who was more humane of humans and mutants, but no matter how evil these brats that called themselves humans were, she had to put a stop to this - now - before things really got started. Quietly, she stepped out of her vantage point, from amidst the small bunch of trees, her long black coat billowing out behind her, and laid a hand on his shoulder. Quiet words addressed only the mutant boy. "No, Andrew, this is not the way." But the boy was too far gone, already releasing the will of his power……… but nothing happened. Frowning, he examined his hands, a strange, puzzled look across his face, he couldn't understand why it hadn't worked………

"Awwwww, kid, has big sis come to rescue you!" The taunts came thick and fast but the boy simply looked up at her through fearful eyes.

"Who are you?" He asked quietly, voice shaking with fear.. "What have you done to me?"

Without a word, she turned him away from the human boys, led him off down a path out of the small parkland. Their taunts followed them, but she simply raised a hand and all seven boys collapsed into sitting positions, suddenly too tired to follow, or to continue their bullying.

"Do you know what would have happened if you had hurt them, Andrew?" Her voice was soft, understanding, like she wasn't actually telling him off as he'd expected. It enchanted him like lavender attracts bees and butterflies. But he was still cross that she'd spoilt his opportunity to prove himself.

"I would've taught them a lesson." The boy grumbled. She made no reply for a moment, walking on until they came to a rickety old bench. She sat. The boy looked at her, then at the space beside her, then back at her face. Her left ear was framed with maybe ten silver hoop ear-rings, while the right was adorned with a simple silver star-shaped stud. Her eyes were grey and cold, somehow calculating as she looked back at him. Deep chestnut hair was braided into what looked like millions of tiny plaits, all pulled together into a pony tail. The beads at their ends clicked together whenever she moved her head, even as she sighed heavily, patting the bench and inviting him to sit beside her.

"No, Andrew," she countered his comment softly, "you would have started something which you would have been unable to stop. Even with your mutant power, you would have come off worst in that fight."

"How do you know that?"

"You're young, Andrew, young and untrained. Your power might have blasted one of them, maybe two but no more……… and then where would you have been when the others came for you?"

He thought about that, his face looking so crestfallen that she smiled. "Don't worry, Andrew, your powers will develop in time." His young face lit up in a big grin, and his words were forceful.

"You really think so? Cool! I want to be an X-Man when I grow up!"

"An X-Man, huh? Well, I'm sure they'll be pleased to have you on the team." She grinned at him conspiratorially, a slight American drawl cutting into her English accent. "But remember, Andrew, an X-Man always avoids a fight if they can. They're there to improve relations between mutants and humans, not destroy them."

"I'll remember." The boy vowed, his brow creasing into a determined frown, and she knew he would.

"Glad to hear it. Stay out of trouble now, won't you?" And she got up, leaving him to think.

"I will. Thanks, lady." He replied. As she began to walk away, he called after her "Say, who are you anyway?"

"My friends call me Dell." She replied over her shoulder. And as she twirled round in a circle, her coat billowed out behind her. The boy gaped as he caught sight of……… could it be?……… the X-insignia? "But the X-Men call me Stifle!"

And with that she was gone.


#A job well done, Stifle.# Professor Xavier offered his thanks via Cerebro and his telepathy.

#Thanks.# She offered ruefully. #The boy could be useful to you one day.# She hung her uniform up with the others and closed the secret compartment to her wardrobe, feeling the panel slide close with a clunk.

#Very.# The Professor agreed quietly. He sighed lightly. If only we could be there for every mutant that is about to make the very mistake the Andrew nearly made.

#You all do your best, Professor.# Stifle comforted the ageing man, using his own telepathic connection to convey her gratitude to him. #Think of the lives you and the X-Men have saved already, humans along with mutants.#

#And yet you're still not ready to call yourself one of us?# She smiled sadly at his teasing words.

#I'm everything the X-Men fear, Professor.# She had had this conversation before, though not with the Professor, just before she'd left Westchester. #It's not that I'm not grateful to you all, but………#

#I understand.# He cut her off before she dug herself into a hole, for which she appreciated. After filling her in about their latest exploits, they chatted for a while as if they were merely on the telephone. He signed off, disturbed by one of his students, leaving Stifle alone to contemplate times gone by, when she had been Xavier's enemy, when she had held his life in palm of her hand………