The Stronger

Summary: Mutants are almost universally hated and feared. But sometimes love is stronger than fear
Fandom: X-Men
Pairings: Assorted OC/OC pairings
Warnings: Slash, bad language, violence
Disclaimer: If you recognise it, it ain't mine. If you don't recognise it, on the other hand, it's all mine and I'll kill you if you try to steal it
Author's Note: See, what happened was that I was thinking about what would happen if someone in my group of friends was a mutant. I realised that our reaction would be something along the lines of: "No way - awesome! What are your powers? Do some cool shit!"

A few other things need to be said. Firstly, this happens around the same time as X2. And I'm not going purely with movie canon – a few things have been taken from the comics or TV shows. I'll point them out as I come to them.

Chapter 1 – The Originals

My name is Andrew Mitchell. I'm seventeen, and I'm basically a normal kid…

Ha! I can't say that with a straight face. I've never been normal. I'm bi, and if you've got a problem with that, fuck you. I'm not ashamed of what I am. Course, I haven't told my parents yet. Because my mom would freak out and my dad would be pissed off, and it's just so not worth the trouble.

My family is not exactly what you'd call happy. My father's a businessman, and frankly I'm surprised he can remember my name most of the time. I must have spoken all of ten words to him in the last month. And my mom's a lawyer, who is also never home. They basically ignore me and I return the favour. In fact, the only family member I can stand is my little sister Karen. She's twelve and she's the sweetest kid. I've never really wasted much love on my parents, so she gets it all.

Apart from Karen, the person I'm closest to is my best friend David. He used to live next door to me. But around the same time as my sister was born, his dad pulled a disappearing act. So we moved to a bigger house in the expensive part of town, and David and his mom moved to a shabby apartment on the wrong side of the tracks.

David's about six inches shorter and a lot slimmer than me, with shoulder-length blonde hair that he's immensely proud of. He's got bright blue eyes turned up a little at the corners, and he's got these delicate features and high cheekbones that make him good-looking in a slightly feminine sort of way – just between you and me, actually, he's pretty damn hot. He's an adrenaline junkie, and he's completely nuts: when we were kids he was always the one coming up with crazy schemes that got us in so much trouble. David and me were closer than brothers when we were growing up, and that's basically because of our parents.

See, ever since I was a baby my parents weren't around much, so I've been more or less raised by David's mom – generally known as Jen, Jenny, or Big J. She's really cool – and she's still young, because she was like sixteen when she had David. She's absolutely tiny, less than five feet, but you don't actually realise it at first because she's got so much attitude and confidence that you find yourself looking up to her even if you have to kneel to do so. She's got really blonde hair, so pale it's almost white, and she keeps it short so it sticks up in spikes. She's some sort of scientist, although you would never guess it to look at her, and she works for the local university. I'm not sure exactly what she does, but she has to travel abroad a lot – once they spent a year in Japan, and David came back jabbering at me in Japanese just to annoy me. She's got a really deep natural tan, and a rather worrying number of scars. I learned every swear-word I know from her, and she let us watch R-rated movies before we'd even started middle school. I never 'came out' to my parents, but I think Jen knew before I did.

We live in New Ellesmere, which is a fair-sized town out in the middle of nowhere. Just your standard town really – think Springfield without the comic relief. I suppose it's not a bad place, but damn if it isn't boring as hell.

We have a routine in the mornings. We have to walk to school, because they're too cheap to provide a bus. My parents have always left by the time I wake up. I have a shower, pull on whatever clothes fall most easily to hand, and make sure Karen's awake. It's about take time that David shows up – the way the town's laid out, it's not really out of his way to come through my neighbourhood. The nearest bridge over the railway line is out of his way, though, and I know David far too well. He crosses the line, even though it's stupid and dangerous and illegal. That's David for you.

The elementary school, middle school and high school are all near each other, so Karen walks with us. This is us walking to school; even in the most scorching summer, David will be wearing his floor-length leather jacket. He loves it – I swear, they're gonna have to bury him in that thing, because not even death will part him from it. He lets his hair hang loose, and it swings hypnotically from side to side as he walks. He won't be carrying anything, because if it can't fit in his pockets he doesn't want to know. Odds on he'll be wearing those fingerless black leather biker glove as well. What can I say? He's just got a thing for leather…and I can't say I'm complaining.

Mom tries to get Karen to wear all this girly designer-label junk, but she usually wears my old clothes instead. On this particular day she's wearing an old Baltimore Ravens shirt, a battered pair of jeans and – I'm pretty sure although I couldn't swear to it – a pair of my boxers…please don't even ask. Her hair is a dark reddish-brown, and she usually ties it back in a tail. She has green eyes, same as me. She's a cute kid. I try not to be overprotective, but it's hard. I mean, if you saw some of the guys in her class, you'd be overprotective too. She keeps all her books in her kit bag – she's on the school soccer team. I'm as proud as hell…and mom and dad haven't gone to one of her games, not even when she scored a goal in the state final last year.

And here's me: I'm about six feet tall, with long-ish hair. It's naturally dark brown, but right now I'm dying it blue just for the sheer randomness of it. I don't really think I'm much to look at, but I suppose most people think that about themselves. At least I'm not a fat-ass like some of the kids at my school. My favourite jeans are black, and so old and ripped that they're about three stitches away from falling apart completely. Then there's my favourite t-shirt, which is battered, faded, and way too big for me. It's white; it has Kaneda from Akira on the front and it says "AD 2019: Neo Tokyo is about to E.X.P.L.O.D.E" (You know, the anime? If you haven't seen it, I command you to do so now…).

Anyway, it takes us almost half an hour to walk to school, and even longer on the way back because we tend to swing by the arcade or the beach. We're late to class so often that most of the teachers have given up caring.

Today is a Tuesday, and as usual me and David run into English at least five minutes after the bell has gone. Our English teacher, Mrs. Cardell, is one of those nice yet slightly insane old ladies who constantly wear a rather demented smile – she's the best. She waves us to our seats without a word and keeps right on explaining about the lesson.

"We are going to have a debate," she said, writing on the board. I crane to see what she's written: The Mutant Registration Act, "I want you to decide whether you are for or against it, and we'll split into two teams and debate whether or not the Act should be passed. Who is against it?"

David's hand and two others go up immediately, followed more slowly by mine. Great – four out of a class of thirty. David always picks the side he knows will be outnumbered, and I go on the same side as him: it's just easier. I have no idea what he really thinks – he could argue just as compellingly for either side. There are a few undecided, but almost everyone else is in favour of the Act. I'm in a class full of right-wing morons. What fun.

We are split into groups to share our views and organise our arguments. The other two in our group are Kelly Marks and Michael Green. I'm not surprised – Kelly's mom is an equal rights activist, and I'm pretty sure Michael's sister was a mutant. Me and David spend the allotted fifteen minutes chatting aimlessly about completely unrelated topics. Michael's making a paper airplane, and Kelly's happily vandalising the desk. The start of the debate takes us a little by surprise.

"Mr Campbell, would you like to state your case?"
"What?" David looked confused for a moment before realising what he was supposed to do; "Oh right. Yeah, okay." He stood up and cleared his throat.

"'We hold these truths to be self-evident'," he recited, "'that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. That among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed'." He paused; "This is from the Declaration of Independence, the document that created the USA. Oppressing people because they are different – be it because they are mutants, or different for any other reason – is betraying the very principles upon which our homeland was founded. Segregation of blacks and whites was exposed for the racist piece of fascism it was, and future generations will look upon the segregation of mutants and so-called 'normal' humans in much the same way. All prejudice stems from fear of the unknown, fear of what is different. To give in to our instinctive prejudices is to declare ourselves nothing more than cowards." He stopped, and grin slowly spreading across his face; "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I rest my case."

I know David wants to be in a band when he grows up, but he really should be a lawyer. That was absolutely brilliant – now no-one could argue against his speech without appearing like an unpatriotic coward. And that's the last thing any redneck wants. Besides, no-one was even thinking of the debate – they were all staring at David like he'd grown an extra head. As he had spoken, I saw jaws dropping, and even Mrs Cardell looked surprised. David is profoundly lazy – he doesn't study, and he doesn't try in class. But never, ever make the mistake of thinking he's stupid. Too many of our teachers and classmates have, and he always proves them wrong eventually.

It was a double period of English, and we had break straight afterwards. We headed to the basketball court on the far side of the playing fields. That's where all our friends hang out. Our numbers vary – anything from five to thirty depending on the day, time, and assorted other factors. There are six 'Originals', however - those of us who have been together since kindergarten.

There's David and me, of course. Then there's the Twins – Nicola and Melissa Adams. We call them Pinky and Perky, because we know it annoys them…but not very often, because they kick our asses if we exceed the quota. They're identical, and not even their parents can tell them apart. They're tall, with curly red hair and brilliantly green eyes.

Next in line is Lily "Caramel" Shan, the mysterious oriental beauty. She was born right here, but her parents are from Japan – she speaks Japanese, and she was really pleased when David came back from his year abroad speaking it too. They have these long conversations that none of the rest of us can understand. She has long dark hair, and almond-shaped eyes so dark brown they're almost black. I wasn't exaggerating – she is beautiful. I went out with her for a while in ninth grade, and damn if I wasn't convinced I was the luckiest guy on earth. We split up not long after – it just wasn't working – but I'm honest enough with myself to admit I'm not completely over her.

Lastly we have Colin Johnson – better known as CJ. He's short with baby blue eyes, and he dyes his hair shocking pink to annoy his dad. He's absolutely obsessed with music, and he plays bass. He also has a freakily high singing voice. There are others, of course, but they come and go. Nothing can split up the Originals.

"About time you two showed up," CJ said as we flopped onto the concrete beside them; "We were starting to think you didn't love us any more."
"How could we stop loving you?" I replied, blowing him a kiss. He winked and fluttered his eyelashes at me. CJ's straight, but he doesn't mind messing around like that. Or at least I'm fairly sure he's straight – it's never safe to assume anything with CJ.
"Hey, we got some great news!" Nicola – at least I think it was Nicola – said.
"Yeah," probably-Melissa agreed; "Our parents are going to Paris for their anniversary this weekend – so we've got the house to ourselves. Party at our house on Friday night!"
"Sweet!" Caramel said.
"Why not Saturday?" I asked. Nicola shrugged:
"Gives everyone an extra day to recover – and us an extra day to clean up."
"Cool."

Nothing of interest happened for the rest of the day – except from me getting an A on our Physics test. Not bad, huh? For once in my life, everything is going well. What could possibly go wrong?

Note: People referring to real football as "soccer" really annoys me. But, well, Andrew is American, and I'm trying to write in character. Damn my artistic integrity.