The Children's Crusade (Part Five)
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters.
Hellion didn't make it a habit of visiting the offices in New York City. He had been there with his "little" brother a couple times but Julian stayed in Los Angeles most of the time. James and Julian were twins and although they weren't identical there was enough family resemblance to see that they were brothers. Apparently, the resemblance was more than physical. The New X-Men suddenly appeared in the middle of Times Square.
"Right, that won't attract the attention of The Initiative at all," said Anole sarcastically, "I hope you're planning on making this quick. It's easier to hide from SHIELD when we're not in their backyard."
"Oh trust me," assured Hellion, "I plan on making this very quick." Hellion quickly moved down the street towards the office of Keller Enterprises. He knew James would still be at the office. His brother practically slept there and he had seen the office in the background of the video feed on the plane. Hellion didn't know if that feed was live but he knew the office was the first place to start.
"I got us as close as I could," said Pixie as the young mutants followed their leader, weaving through the streets of New York City, "I don't really know how to control where I land."
"We're not far away," assured Hellion as he suddenly stopped in front of a large office building, "Let's just hope he's still here." Hellion didn't pause as he marched through the front door and moved towards the elevator, "Santo, take a group up the stairs and meet me at the top floor." Rockslide nodded and took Pixie and Dust with him to the stairs. Surge, Anole, Hellion, and Mercury took the elevator.
"What are you going to do to him?" asked Mercury as Hellion hit the button for the proper floor.
"He tried to blow me up," reminded Hellion, "What do you think I'm going to do to him?"
James Keller had barely put his phone down before his office door suddenly came off its hinges and flew down the hall. James could only assume the occurrence heralded the arrival of his older, by mere minutes, brother. James Keller was only seventeen but he possessed all the practicality and business sense of someone his father's age. It wasn't a huge secret among the Keller family that James had always been jealous of his slightly older brother. Julian was the one who developed superhuman abilities while James was simply human. Julian gained the opportunity to waste his days in school while James had to learn the family business. The fact that the Kellers had changed their will to name James heir to the business wasn't enough for him. Julian Keller was a publicity nightmare that James could no longer afford to ignore. His master plan may have failed but it didn't mean that he wasn't prepared with a backup plan.
"You always knew how to make a scene," admitted James as he calmly sat in his chair and watched Hellion enter the room flanked by the rest of the New X-Men.
"Do Mom and Dad know what you just tried to do?" asked Hellion. James's desk developed a greenish glow before it flew into a nearby wall, leaving nothing standing in between the two Keller brothers.
"I doubt they would be upset," replied James calmly, "It's not as if they enjoy watching you make scene after scene in the public eye. It's why they rewrote their will to give me control of the company."
"There's a difference between cutting someone out and killing them!" snapped Hellion furiously as he grabbed James by the collar of his expensive shirt and held him up in the air, "I'm your brother, James!"
"You stopped being my brother the second you walked through the doors of Xavier's," retorted James, "You are nothing but an embarrassment, Julian. Mom and Dad weren't going to take the necessary steps so I decided that duty would fall to me."
"You're going to try it again, aren't you?" asked Hellion in dismay.
"As many times as necessary," assured James. The window of James's office suddenly opened of its own accord thanks to Julian's telekinesis. Hellion dragged James towards the window and stood precariously close to the ledge.
"It's just going to keep going and going," stated Hellion as he dangled James out of the window, "It's just going to keep going and going until one of us stops it. Which one of us is going to stop it, James?"
"Go ahead and drop me," dared James with a cruel grin, "I put in a call to SHIELD. I told them about those IDs that you had the Kingmaker create for you and your friends. You're a wanted man, Julian. I guarantee you in five minutes this place will be swarming with SHIELD agents. If you want to stick around to explain a murder to them then be my guest."
"You know it's not worth it," said Surge. Hellion closed his eyes for a moment and willed his arm to toss his brother back inside the office.
"I know," said Hellion finally as he opened his eyes. He punched his younger brother in the face for good measure, knocking him out cold with one shot.
"We need to leave," said Mercury, "You heard what he said about SHIELD."
"Actually, you don't need to worry," assured a voice. Everyone turned and saw a young, Asian girl in jeans, a t-shirt, and a trench coat calmly walk into the room and then give James a disgusted look.
"Who are you?" asked Hellion skeptically.
"How quickly they all forget," muttered the girl with a sigh, "My name is 'Jubilation Lee'. You might've heard about me once or twice, probably from Logan."
"Wait, Jubilee?" asked Rockslide as he looked at the former X-Man and Generation X member, "Wow, uhm, you . . . grew?" It didn't take a rocket scientist to realize that Rockslide's eyes were fixed to Jubilee's chest when he made the comment. Jubilee calmly walked up to him and proceeded to slap him across the face, the blow leaving a noticeable mark on Rockslide's stony cheek.
"Pym Particle derivative," explained Jubilee, "Anybody else wanna make a comment on my boobs?"
"Freakin' crap that hurt!" exclaimed Rockslide as he rubbed his jaw, "I thought X-Men were supposed to be cool with each other."
"For the record, I'm a New Warrior now," explained Jubilee, "James Keller has been using Keller Enterprises to make all kinds of shady deals, a few of them involving super-villains. We've had taps on his phones for weeks now so we can gather enough evidence to bring him down. Whatever call he tried to make to SHIELD tonight wouldn't have made it through our screen. They won't be coming to bust you guys but that doesn't mean you should loiter if you catch my drift."
"So what happens to him?" asked Hellion.
"Your brother's going to hopefully spend some time in jail," assured Jubilee, "We plan on turning him over to the cops. After that, it's up to the law. I'll say one thing about you kids. You've got spunk."
"That's a good thing, right?" asked Pixie, "I think I heard Wolverine say that too."
"Knowing Logan, it was probably followed by 'I really hate spunk'," said Jubilee, "You guys get out of here. I'm sure the police will respond to the disturbance you created. I expect to see more of your handiwork in the future when I turn on the news."
"We aim to please," assured Hellion, "There's a little favor I'd like to ask though."
"What?" asked Jubilee.
"I heard my brother has designed these cuffs that block powers," explained Hellion, "You think you could make me a modified set that someone could wear in order to control their powers?"
"Kaz and Grace always enjoy challenges," assured Jubilee, "We'll grab the blueprints off his company's databases and let you know when we cook something up." Julian nodded as he took his team and headed for the door. Jubilee smiled and shook her head as she watched them go. Life was never as wonderful as it was when she was young.
"Julian?" asked Jubilee as she watched the New X-Men go, "It's Julian, right?"
"That would be me," assured Hellion as he turned and gave Jubilee a smirk, "You wanted to give me something?"
"Sofia says 'hi'," explained Jubilee with a grin. Hellion smiled and nodded before taking his team and leaving the building.
"Home?" asked Pixie hopefully.
"Home," agreed Hellion.
It took a few hours of sleep and a hot shower before Noriko Ashida realized that she had missed being in the company of her friends. She realized it was foolish to think that she could trade them away on the hope of getting back something she didn't really want in the first place. Surge rubbed her hair with a towel and walked into the living room of the apartment. Rockslide was sleeping on the floor while Hellion was doing the same on the couch. Anole slumbered in one of the recliners while Dust, ever the early riser, was sitting up in the other one while sipping some tea.
"I think this is the first time I've seen your face," joked Surge.
"Surely not," replied Dust as Nori sat on the floor and looked around for the remote control, "We were once roommates. I can recall many instances where you saw my face."
"You know there are men in the room, right?" asked Surge teasingly.
"I have known them for at least a year and a half," reminded Dust, "I believe I am allowed to . . . 'bend' a few rules."
"My time as your roommate was not in vain," confirmed Surge with a smile, "Sooraya . . . I just wanted to apologize."
"You already have," reminded Dust, "We were both foolish about things, Noriko. I see no reason why we cannot move past it."
"I agree," said Surge. There was movement on the couch as Hellion slowly sat up and rubbed his eyes.
"You've looked better," commented Surge.
"I didn't know you paid attention," replied Hellion with a smirk. There was a noise somewhere in the apartment as someone exited their room and occupied the bathroom.
"I believe that was Cessily," said Dust, "I think I should wake Megan. She will have to explain her absence to her employer." Dust gave Surge a glance that said she knew a bit more than even Nori herself did before leaving the room.
"I think we were just set up," decided Hellion as he got off the couch and took a seat on the floor while Surge quickly grabbed the recliner that Dust vacated.
"You think something's going to happen?" asked Surge with an arched eyebrow.
"Hey, you're the one who kissed me last time," reminded Hellion, "Never saw that one coming."
"I thought we already had this conversation," replied Surge.
"True," admitted Hellion, "There's another conversation I wanna have with you anyway. I don't think I can run this team by myself."
"They'd follow you anywhere," said Surge, "What more do you need?"
"Aside from your moment of temptation, you've always been pretty level-headed," explained Hellion, "You're not afraid to say what you think, you stick to your guns, and you don't mind taking charge when you have to. Miss Frost may not have believed in you as a leader but I think I do. After your probation period is over, you wanna help me lead this team?"
"That would mean us working together," reminded Surge with a grin, "Can you handle me giving orders?"
"I suppose it depends on whether or not you can handle me doing the same thing," replied Hellion, "If you're okay with that then I'm okay with you being on top once and a while."
"Ignoring your innuendo, I think we have a deal," said Surge as she extended her hand.
"Deal then," agreed Hellion as he shook her hand and then got up to see if he could steal the shower.
"I never thanked you for trying to get me new gauntlets," reminded Surge.
"You don't have to," replied Hellion.
It had been around two weeks since the New X-Men officially reformed. Rockslide, Hellion, and Anole had managed to secure an apartment in the same building as the girls. They didn't have a Danger Room, a Cerebra, or any of the more expensive things they had access to at Xavier's. The apartment building wasn't a mansion but it suited their needs well enough. They were hitting the streets every night and, while they weren't fighting Magneto or Apocalypse, they were keeping Seattle safe from whatever villains happened to be lurking in the shadows of the city. Life began to resemble something close to normal for the young mutants.
Julian Keller idly flipped through the TV channels in an effort to relieve some boredom. He tapped his fingers against his leg nervously as he waited for the sun to finally set and night to come over the city. They didn't go out on patrol until it got dark though the members of the team that could move through the city without raising eyebrows sometimes did a few good deeds during the daylight hours.
"You nervous?" asked Rockslide as he watched Hellion flick through the channels.
"I'm always a little nervous," admitted Hellion. There was a knock at the door. Rockslide and Hellion looked at each other for a second before Hellion tossed away the remote and got up to answer the door.
"Julian," greeted a voice Hellion never expected to hear again. Hellion didn't respond immediately. He was too stunned by the fact that Emma Frost was standing on his doorstep.
"Should I call you 'Emma' or 'Miss Frost'?" asked Hellion.
"Call your team together," ordered Emma, "I want to have a talk with all of you."
"If you insist," said Hellion as he stepped past Emma and walked down the hall, knocking on the door of the girls' apartment.
"The sun hasn't set yet," said Mercury as she answered the door, "What's up?"
"Team meeting at our place," replied Hellion, "Look out into the hall and tell me if you see what I see." Mercury shrugged and looked out into the hallway, quickly doing a double take at who was standing there.
"What's she doing here?" asked Mercury.
"Team meeting," repeated Hellion, "Grab the others and come over." Mercury disappeared into the apartment. Hellion could hear her talking to the other girls before all four of them came out of the apartment and walked over to the one the boys were in.
"Are you mad at us?" asked Pixie meekly as she looked at Emma.
"Something like that," replied Emma with a glare. Pixie nervously looked away from Emma and scurried into the room as if she was diving for cover to avoid an imminent explosion.
"What do you think this is about?" asked Rockslide as Emma walked into the apartment and began studying the place with an appraising eye.
"Do you even have to ask?" asked Anole in response, "Ten to one she came here to shut us down."
"That was my intention, Victor," admitted Emma as she turned to face her former students, "I assume that you children are the ones who are beating up super-villains and spray-painting giant X's on their unconscious bodies."
"Told you that was a bad idea," said Anole as he looked at Rockslide.
"Dude, the New Warriors do that crap all the time," reminded Rockslide, "We're way cooler than they are."
"Yeah, that's our handiwork," spoke up Hellion, "Are we going to get a lecture about it?"
"I came here to ask you to stop," explained Emma, "I won't lecture, I won't demand, and I won't force you but you have no idea the trouble you're bringing upon yourselves."
"I think we have a pretty good idea," assured Hellion, "You're not our teacher anymore, Emma, so I don't have to worry about getting in trouble for saying what I really think. We're not going to stop, not now and not ever."
"The X-Men are over," stated Emma, "We got what we deserved. You can't teach peace through violence, Julian. The world is no longer a place for vigilantes, especially vigilantes that aren't even legally considered adults."
"So all that crap we heard about how X-Men never quit was a lie?" asked Hellion, "People out there are more afraid now than they were before; they're just not aware of it. Someone has to protect them."
"That's what The Initiative is for," countered Emma, "Professor Xavier's method no longer works, Julian. Scott and I came to realize this and that's why we disbanded the X-Men."
"You took your ball and went home because things got too tough," summed up Hellion, "That's fine and I don't have a problem with your choice. That's your choice though, Emma. We never chose that because we're not through playing yet. The world still needs X-Men and if you won't step up then we will."
"Dude, high five," said Rockslide as he raised his hand, "Seriously, that was freakin' sick burn."
"Your choice is your choice," admitted Emma curtly, her jaw cinched tightly as she bit back the urge to force her children to stop this foolishness and return home to their families, "I warned you because I still care about your well-being. I won't make your decisions for you."
"How are the others?" asked Hellion as Emma turned to leave.
"Adjusting," replied Emma, "I haven't checked on the other children but, honestly, I think they're probably proud of you. I know some of the adults are."
"You were a good teacher," admitted Hellion as Emma stood in the doorway.
"Good teachers are meaningless without good students to teach," replied Emma as she looked back and flashed the young mutants a rare smile, "I have to admit, all of you weren't just good students. All of you were exceptional students." With that, Emma Frost left the apartment.
"I think she just gave us her blessing," said Surge with a perplexed look, "I guess that means we're really X-Men now."
"We're kinda all that's left," reminded Pixie.
"Yeah, we are," agreed Hellion, "As long as there's something left then our friends didn't die in vain. I think it's time we go out there and show everyone the X-Men aren't dead yet."
The rest of the New X-Men nodded in agreement. In their long and storied history, the X-Men had crawled out from their own graves time and time again to remind the world that the dream of Charles Xavier was still worth fighting for and, in some cases, still worth dying for. The X-Men had always taught their children that surrender was never an option, that one simply couldn't stand back and allow the world to be consumed with hate and malice. The young mutants had seen enough senseless brutality to realize what the world could become if the X-Men were no longer there to stand up against it. Now they were the ones crawling out of their graves to continue the fight. The children of the X-Men had learned their lessons well and now it was time to prove that some dreams can never die.