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Chapter One: Traces

Disclaimer: I don't own Marvel (yet)... these characters belong to them and such.

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"…alarming."

"What do you mean by that, Hank?"

"Well," the blue-furred feline spoke softly, "I suppose it is… alarming… that this was not detected upon your initial, er… re-arrival… in our lives."

"You guys missed something? Between you and Tessa I barely got three minutes of sleep… and you missed something?"

"Your forgiveness, Alex, please… we were dealing with a lot at the time—what with the deterioration of the school, the death of several students, and dare I mention Cassandra Nova."

Summers arched an eyebrow. "Fair enough."

"Though I must admit it is unlikely that we would have… overlooked this."

Alex pulled himself up from Henry McCoy's observation table to examine the computer his teammate could hardly break away from. "What is it, Hank?"

The Beast inched closer and closer to the screen, surveying the results—various DNA strands dancing before his eyes.

"…Hank?"

The large, blue man's feline paws tapped away at his specialized keyboard.

"Hank."

"…oh, wha'? Sorry, Alex… this is simply… fascinating."

"Hank, tell me what's going on. Please."

McCoy turned, looking at Alex above his small, black-rimmed glasses.

"Alex… it is theoretically possible that these horrible dreams you're having are related to my… er, findings. The body you're in is, quite simply…"

The Ph.D. stumbled for words.

"…someone else's."


"That's all he told you? Alex, from what you've told me about these dreams… and now, with these physical manifestations…"

Havok nearly shuddered. He'd woken up every night for the past two weeks in a cold sweat—images of those he loved, only not… images of a world he knew but didn't…

And now things were starting to change. There was more to it than having eaten Gambit's cooking the night before.

"He told me what he knows, Lorna," Alex replied as he and his teammate—and former fiancé—walked through the halls of the Xavier Institute.

"Good thing we keep our brilliant X-Men around," Dane rolled her eyes and smirked. It was the first time Alex had seen her joke or even smile in months.

"…how are you doing, Lorna?"

The green-haired beauty stopped short, students grunting as they were forced to walk around her in the busy halls. Her hip swang to the left and she put her hand upon it. "Alex Summers."

The X-Man stared into her green eyes.

"If this is going to turn into another round of 'poor little green-haired mutant with her ever-growing magnetic control and suppressed rage because she watched 16 million mutants die only to finally return home to the X-Men where she watched an imposter of her father kill one of her dear friends and destroy everything around her' talks… save it. It's time for lunch."

Alex grinned and chuckled, grabbing at her hand and pulling her closer to him. Lorna's eyes never left his and the two stood in the middle of the walkway staring at one another—just laughing.

Until…

"…Lorna?"

The two looked to their left, Alex's eyes this time meeting Bobby Drake's.

Iceman.

Founding member of the X-Men – long-time teammate and romantic adversary –

Polaris' current boyfriend.

"Bobby, I…"

"…hope I'm not interrupting something here," Bobby smiled largely, surveying the two who'd finally separated.

Alex cleared his throat as Lorna wrapped her arms around Drake and kissed his cheek. "Alex and I were just discussing some field tactics."

"…right. I know how pressing that can be, being an original X-Man and being in charge of a team.

Oh… wait."

Havok took a step towards Iceman. "Quality over quantity, Drake… they usually look for maturity when selecting someone to lead one of the squads."

"Or blood," Bobby glared. "Or is it just a coincidence that your brother runs this school?"

"Stop it," Lorna said, glaring at her boyfriend. Her eyes shifted to Alex. "Now."

"Lorna, maybe you should—" Bobby began, but found himself flying back into the wall.

"Frozen or not, Bobby," Lorna growled, "you still have iron in your blood."

Havok grinned. "So much talk about blood, Bobb—guhh!"

Summers slammed into the opposite wall.

Polaris began walking down the hall, stopping momentarily to roll her eyes at the two grown men pulling themselves from the ground

"Find someone else to fight over."


"I believe it will help, yes," Emma Frost, Co-Head of the Xavier Institute, said with a wry grin.

"How does it work?"

"Essentially, Alex," Hank McCoy spoke from behind her, "she'll be using your thought patterns to write a sort of… telepathic journal."

"Why not just read my mind right now and see what comes up? Why this… 'journal'?"

"Alex," Emma spoke as she stood, her cape following suit, "you needn't worry about me digging sultry entries about Ms. Dane up… those are written all over your face."

"I don't know what you're…"

"If I attempt to tackle and pull the dreams you're having into the foreground while you're conscious—there's no telling what your mind would present us with. You don't understand what's happening to yourself—the mental blocks alone…"

"If you're sleeping, Alex—if Emma can tap into your mind while these things are happening…"

"I'll be able to witness and dissect what's happening in your mind without your mind interfering and projecting its own set of ideals upon the situation."

"Should I be worried that my best friend and girlfriend are finishing each other's sentences now?" Scott Summers entered, standing in the doorway.

"We did have a lovely time at the opera last week… didn't we, Emma?" Hank grinned at Scott.

"Very funny, Hank," Cyclops returned the expression.

"The truth usually is," Emma winked in Scott's direction.

Havok's stomach twisted.

"I felt that, young Alex," Emma turned. "Do you wish to proceed tonight or not?"

Alex nodded.

"Excellent," Hank murmured.