Generation Gap (Epilogue)
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. This is where the journey ends, kids. All in all, I'm happy with the way this trilogy turned out. R/R if you're happy with it too.
"Those kids tell me you cut one of them open to make a virus that could kill everyone in the world," said Tony Stark as he looked across his desk at Henry Peter Gyrich, "Is that true?"
"Baron Werner Von Blitzschlag is the one who authorized and oversaw those experiments," explained Gyrich, "He locked the virus away in the bio-vault in case we ever needed it. Once I found out what he had done, I confiscated all of his research and fired him."
"Where is he now?" asked Stark.
"He died," replied Gyrich.
"You mean you murdered him," corrected Stark, "Maybe you didn't do it yourself but you ordered it."
"It wasn't as if he was a saint," reminded Gyrich, "He authorized the cloning of Michael Van Patrick after the kid was already dead and now he authorized this. I put Elixir through tests to measure and better understand his abilities but I never signed the papers to take DNA samples and create killer plagues."
"Be that as it may, you will still resign from your position," stated Stark, "You're fired, Gyrich. Too many things have gone wrong under your watch and it's time to cut losses."
"I understand, sir," said Gyrich, "After all I've seen, I think an early retirement will be nice."
"You'll be debriefed immediately," said Stark, "You're dismissed now, Gyrich. SHIELD and your country thank you for your service." Gyrich nodded and left Stark's office. Stark swiveled around in his chair and stared out of the Helicarrier's window.
"I believe you have our children in lockup," said a voice. Stark sighed as he turned around to see Cyclops and Emma Frost standing before him.
"I didn't know they were still your children," replied Stark, "They were in direct violation of the Superhuman Registration Act and they attacked us even though it was a good thing they showed up. I need a good reason to let them go and I need assurance that something like this won't happen again."
"This country's already been through one superhero civil war," reminded Cyclops, "We can make it two if you really want to."
"Point taken," admitted Stark, "That's enough for me to release them but what about the assurance?"
"You'll have to trust us to take care of our own," said Emma.
"I respect you and your people," stated Stark, "You're free to take those kids but the next time something like this happens I will come down on you like a ton of bricks and no amount of bargaining will stop me. Are we clear?"
"We're clear," assured Cyclops as he and Emma turned to leave.
"You know," said Mercury as she looked at her actual skin thanks to the power-dampening cuffs, "I think I could get used to this."
"The jail part or the human part?" asked Surge.
"The human part," replied Mercury, "It's been a year or so since I saw my own skin. I miss it."
"Speak for yourself," said Rockslide, "I'm not too cool with it."
"Gotta admit that you look nicer though," said Anole, "You're even kinda hot."
"Shut up, Vic," warned Rockslide as he reached towards Anole.
"No seriously," assured Anole as he evaded Rockslide's grasp, "I wouldn't kick you out of bed."
"Yeah, I bet you would like it with these things," said Rockslide as he motioned to the cuffs, "You're a kinky, little bastard, Vic."
"How would you know?" asked Anole with a grin.
"Shut it," warned Rockslide, "Seriously, there's gonna be enough of that in jail."
"We should probably get all the goodbyes out of the way now," decided Hellion as he heard people coming down the hall, "I got a feeling some of us are going to get deported while the rest of us get tossed in jail."
"I will miss America," admitted Dust, "I believe going back to Afghanistan will . . . 'suck'?"
"Language, Sooraya, language," chided Surge with a grin, "All of my bad influence must've finally rubbed off on you."
"You sorry I dragged you into all this?" asked Dani as she looked at Cannonball.
"Hell no," assured Cannonball, "Most fun I've had in a while, Dani." All of the young mutants looked at the door as it opened.
"Well I'll be damned," said Rockslide as Cyclops and Emma entered the room along with SHIELD agents who immediately began unlocking the New X-Men.
"We're leaving," stated Cyclops, "Don't any of you dare make a scene."
"Nice of you to get off your ass," said Hellion, "I never said we needed your help."
"Julian, I really think you need to shut up," advised Surge.
"I'd listen to her, Mr. Keller," suggested Emma, "Everyone march. The jet's waiting outside." No one, not even the trio of Xavier graduates, talked back.
"We've decided to reform the X-Men," stated Cyclops, "We have a new base in San Francisco all set up."
"When exactly did you plan on telling us?" asked Hellion, attempting to keep his temper and his mouth under control, "I mean you must've reached this decision at least a few days ago."
"We had a hard time finding you," explained Emma, "It seems that we were better off waiting for you to cause a scene."
"Hard time finding us?" asked Hellion, "Really, hard time finding us? I mean you've only got Logan, Laura, who else that could track us? I hear that Worthington guy has a ton of cash and resources. Mr. McCoy's pretty smart last I checked and, hey, Storm's the queen of her own country now and they seem pretty handy with technology over there. With all that at your disposal, you had a hard time finding us? Really?"
"I don't appreciate your tone, Julian," said Cyclops, "As I was saying, we're starting over again and all of you are welcome to come live with us." Hellion looked at the rest of his team. Their reactions to the news ranged from overjoyed enthusiasm to skeptical wariness to outright anger. He was about to open his mouth and decline the offer on behalf of the entire team but he thought back to the conversation that he had with Cannonball the previous day. It was time for him to make the same choice again but this time he wasn't going to speak for everyone. This time, each member of the team would have to decide on his or her own.
"I'm not gonna speak for anyone but myself," stated Hellion, "You took us in. You gave us a home and you taught us how to be something more than what we were. You gave us something to believe in, something to fight for and die for. You gave us all of that and then you threw us away like garbage. Maybe some of us can forgive you for that but I can't. Anybody who wants to can come with me. I'll be staying in New York." Hellion moved towards the jet's exit, leaning against the frame and watching to see who would join him.
"Like you really have to ask," said Rockslide as he lumbered over to join his best friend, "I hear San Francisco is lousy anyways."
"Someone will have to keep you two out of trouble," said Mercury as she and Dust joined the two boys. It didn't come as a surprise to anyone that the remaining Hellions would stick together.
"Nothing personal but I'll take my chances," said Surge as she joined her friends.
"Yeah, what she said," agreed Anole. This action left Pixie as the only undecided member of the team. Megan looked at Cyclops and Emma then turned and looked at Hellion and the others. Megan couldn't count the number of times she wanted everything to go back to the way it was before but whatever desires she may have had were eclipsed by the love she had for her friends. Pixie knew that whatever normalcy she might attain by going back to the proper X-Men wouldn't be worth anything if she didn't have her friends along with her for the ride.
"I'm sorry," said Pixie as she looked at Cyclops before she joined the rest of her friends, "I've wanted this for days now but it won't be worth anything without you guys."
"This is our stop," said Hellion as he opened the bay doors of the jet with his telekinesis, "Everybody out." The New X-Men departed the jet, Hellion telekinetically lowering them down to the street. They all took one last look at the jet before turning their backs and walking away.
"That how we're gonna end this?" asked Cannonball as he looked to Cyclops, "Yer just gonna let 'em walk away?"
"The choice was theirs to make," reminded Cyclops, "We've apparently done enough damage as it is. Do you have an idea in mind?"
"Yeah," admitted Cannonball, "Think I got one that'll work just fine if yer willin' ta cooperate."
"So where do we go from here?" asked Surge as she looked at Hellion.
"I don't know," admitted Hellion, "We don't have Xavier's name to hide behind anymore and we can't play superhero without a license. The most responsible thing to do is go back to living normal lives. Whatever we do though, we stick together."
"It feels wrong to just give up though," said Pixie, "You were right a month ago when you said people out there are scared, Julian. Maybe the world still needs us."
"This from the girl who wanted everything to go back to the way it was?" asked Hellion as he mussed her hair, "Maybe you're right, Meg, but there has to be a better system."
"I think we can help with that," said Danielle Moonstar as she stood before the New X-Men along with Rahne Sinclair and Sam Guthrie.
"We had a talk with Cyke," explained Cannonball, "Here's the way I see things. You kids wanna be X-Men but ya don't like the way the adults do business. I know a lot 'bout that, trust me."
"So what did you guys agree on?" asked Hellion warily.
"Tha X-Men are goin' west but they wouldn't mind keepin' some connections here on tha East Coast," explained Cannonball, "You kids stay here in New York and do what ya did before only without makin' a huge scene."
"So we're X-Men again?" asked Surge skeptically.
"In a way, yes," replied Dani, "You can act as an independent team but you're still under X-Men jurisdiction. The Initiative won't be able to hassle you but you also have to keep a lower profile."
"Hey, they started it," reminded Rockslide, "I think we were keepin' a low enough profile back in Seattle."
"Santo, you couldn't keep a low profile if you tried," said Mercury.
"What about adult supervision?" asked Hellion.
"Somebody will check in on you," assured Dani, "Mostly you'll police yourselves but if you royally screw up then you will have to answer to Cyclops and when that happens you really will have to make a choice between going to San Francisco or retiring. This is a trial run and they're letting you do this because I think Cyclops respects the hell out of you for sticking to your guns."
"In other words, we shouldn't screw this up," paraphrased Anole, "All this stuff cool with you, boss?"
"You know, I think it'll work out just fine," admitted Hellion, "You three wanna hang out with us for a little bit or would that violate your new duties as parole officers?"
"Well, this all began because I wanted a chance to see how Josh was doing," said Dani as she looked to Elixir, "I suppose it would be bad if I didn't at least spend some time with him and his friends."
"Actually, we had a talk about that," admitted Elixir as he looked to Alani, "We'd like to come back with you, Dani. You guys will always be our friends but, well, Alani and I don't feel cut out for this anymore."
"No foul," assured Hellion, "You two crazy kids go enjoy yourselves out west. Just, you know, watch for those Thunderbolt guys while you're living in Colorado. They're pretty crazy bastards."
"I'll try," replied Elixir as he put his arm around Alani's shoulders and the two of them walked away with Dani.
"Stay?" asked Pixie as she looked at Rahne.
"Aye, this time I'll stay fer a little longer, lass," assured Wolfsbane with a smile, "I think we have some things to talk about."
"I best be gettin' back home," said Cannonball with a nod to the teenage mutants, "Ya'll behave yerselves. Ya made the right choice, Julian, both times actually." With that, the Kentucky-born mutant shot skyward and flew west. The New X-Men watched him go before turning their attention to one another. The group began walking down the street but Hellion and Surge hung back from the others.
"You think we'll be able to keep these kids in line?" asked Hellion as he grinned at Surge.
"You sound like we're married," replied Surge as she glared at him, "That's not a good thing to do."
"Just humor me," said Hellion, "You really think we can make this work?"
"I think that today is the first day of the rest of our lives," replied Surge with a smile as she watched the rest of the New X-Men, "The only way we're going to know for sure is to get out there and try."
"Funny, I think that's the attitude that got us into this mess in the first place," replied Hellion as he returned Nori's smile with one of his own before the two of them moved to join the rest of their team. Things may not have been perfect and they probably would never be that way. Hellion wasn't as concerned about that. At the end of the day, all of them were alive and they had remained true to what they believed in. Now it was up to them to go out into the world and honor that commitment once again.