Judge Me Not – by Darlin

A/N - Warning! AU and no powers and many of the X-Men will be decidedly out of character. They're in high school. I watched a special Made on MTV the other day which made me think about an episode I saw on Oprah years ago about high school kids and so this is what came out.

I know I keep saying no new stuff and that I'll finish AS&CW but inspiration still hasn't come. Sorry for that. Sadly, inspiration still sparks a bit for new stuff as besides this I'm actually working on an OreO story called An Ever Fixed Mark. Sometimes inspiration comes in the oddest ways, would that I could control it.

Disclaimer – I don't own any characters and I make absolutely no profit from this, no copyright infringement is intended.

-xox-

There's an old saying that one must walk in someone else's shoes before judging them. Cheerleaders didn't qualify. They did their flips and leaps and tumbles and sensuous dance moves to deafening applause, cheerleaders in their element, beautiful, agile, voluptuous, loved while there was a game, despised when it was over. The Salem Center High School football team, eyes glued to their cherished cheerleaders during half time, won their game and everyone cheered, gushed over the players and then everyone went home or to an after game party still stoked because they hadn't broken their winning streak since their new running back, one Lucas Bishop, had moved to Salem Center. But then Monday came and the win was a fast fading memory and the beautiful cheerleaders were once again hated creatures that were resented and looked at with vehement antipathy by the majority of the school as those beautiful girls canvassed the halls in twos and threes. No rhyme or reason for the hatred it just simply was.

"They're mean," one Bobby Drake said when Emma Frost, student reporter, asked his opinion for an article she was researching about cheerleaders.

"I think they're stuck up," Wanda Maximoff told the blond reporter.

"They think they're special," Lorna Dane said when asked.

"Aren't they special though?" Emma wanted to know.

"If your goal's to be a stuck up whore when you grow up and you think that's special, yeah they're real special," the green haired Lorna countered.

"I resent that!" Jean Grey bellowed when she read the comments in Emma's article in the school paper. She threw the paper down, swore under her breath then crossed her arms over her chest, too furious to express her anger.

"Sssh!" Ororo Munroe whispered. She saw most of the kids in the crowded cafeteria staring at her and all the other cheerleaders sitting at their table.

"I'd like to tell them all where to go!" Jean muttered.

"They're just jealous," Threnody, a pretty brown skin girl with long, black, curly hair said and her fellow cheerleaders that were closest to them nodded in agreement.

"Just act like you don't care, Jean," Ororo said and with a flip of her very long white hair she got up, smiled as if she were a model advertising cafeteria trays to the gawking audience, and proceeded to the nearest trash receptacle.

And Ororo had the height and look of a model. Her look was decidedly unusual with brown skin, blue eyes and white hair. Most people assumed she wore contacts and dyed her hair, that her look was too flashy but few denied she was beautiful.

Her best friend Jean, now silently fuming, got up and followed her though not quite as gracefully. Long red hair flying behind her, pale skin flushed pink and green eyes flashing in anger she fairly stomped to the trash can where she slammed her tray onto the appropriate pile with relish. She looked over her shoulder at her fellow students and gave them her best glare, something she wouldn't have done if Ororo had still been in the lunchroom, but she was already gone, waiting for her friend in the hallway.

"It's doing things like that that make them hate us, Jean!" Ororo snapped when Jean joined her. "You give them exactly what they expect."

"Anyone would've gotten mad over that! You would too if you weren't a freaking, skinny, ice princess."

"Oh, thanks a lot, Jean!"

"Uh huh, see? What did I tell you? Emma was so right about them! If that isn't proof of how tacky they are I don't know what is!" a girl muttered to the girl beside her as they passed the two arguing cheerleaders.

"Stuck up bitches," the other girl grumbled to her friend.

"We can hear you, you know! We're standing right here! Being a cheerleader doesn't mean we can't hear!" Jean shrieked.

Ororo threw her hands up in the air and stalked off.

"Don't think I'm going to forget what you said either you fat bitches!" Jean shouted as she hurried after Ororo.

"Oh man, we're so screwed," one of the girls said.

And they were screwed. Later that day when school was out half the football team was waiting for them and as the two girls went down the front steps. The big burly boys inundated them with cat calls and lewd whistles. With flushed faces and feeling totally embarrassed the girls nearly ran down the two flights of steep steps hoping they wouldn't be followed home.

"It's your fault," one muttered to the other.

"I didn't know she was some kind of mutant and could hear me whispering," the other replied.

"I hate cheerleaders!" they both groaned as they ran down the street.

-xox-

"There are bags of carrots and celery in the fridge and some diet soda too, Jean," Mrs. Grey told her daughter when Jean came home.

"Ew."

"Use the fat free ranch dressing and it'll taste yummy. Did you have a good day today, honey?"

"It sucked," Jean replied.

"I'm sure it wasn't that bad, you always exaggerate. You know your sister Sarah never had bad days."

"And she married her childhood sweetheart and had a zillion kids that worship her and she did the impossible by staying skinny after each excruciating child birth, yeah, spare me the spiel."

"Jean, that's uncalled for your sister's worked hard for everything she has."

"Well it doesn't hurt that you don't charge to babysit the little rug rats. How are the midgets anyway?"

"I think your father should talk to you, you're being very . . . disagreeable today."

"Yeah, because every day sucks."

"I'm hanging up now, Jean. Eat your carrots so you don't overeat at dinner tonight. I'll tell your sister and the children you said hello."

Jean slammed down the cordless phone. Her mother wouldn't be home for hours since her wonderfully, perfect sister was working late and she'd be over there watching the little brats which meant dinner would be some kind of lean frozen dinner or ramen noodles again. She hated frozen dinners and despised ramen noodles.

With a fury fed by hunger she raided the refrigerator, pulling out anything she could find – eggs, milk, butter, unsweetened chocolate. Then she grabbed measuring cups, a big bowl and a wooden spoon. Soon she had flour, sugar, baking powder and salt mixed up and a cake baking in the oven. She beat up a thick batch of homemade chocolate frosting for and didn't wait for the cake to cool before she slathered the frosting on.

By time her mother got home the kitchen was spic and span and there was no trace of the two layer cake she'd made. Jean had eaten every last bit all that night savoring every bite and was in the bathroom throwing it up. When she came out, a little red around the mouth and nose, her eyes a little watery, her mother didn't seem to notice anything out of the norm.

"Dinner will be ready shortly, honey, please tell your father," Mrs. Grey said.

"Dad, dinner's ready!" Jean shouted and went to the refrigerator to get some water for her sore throat.

Mrs. Grey glared at her daughter but she refrained from unleashing her anger on her. She'd come to learn it wasn't worth it. Jean had more energy and anger than she did and they'd be fighting for the rest of the night. She tried to pick and chose the fights she could win or the ones she needed to win like Jean's excessive weight because how was the child going to get a boyfriend and then get married if she was overweight?

Jean sat down with her parents and wolfed down the store bought rotisserie chicken breast, butterless, boiled baby potatoes and the low sodium canned peas her mother always bought now since Jean had gained five pounds living on fast food over the summer. Jean had two helpings of the crescent rolls made from a can though her mother didn't see her sneak them and a huge glass of unsweetened ice tea all while ignoring her mother to the very best of her ability.

"Your sister's up for a promotion," her mother said. "She'll get it too. It's uncanny how everything just falls into her lap. She looked lovely today too, went to the hairdressers after work instead of the gym though she doesn't need to work out so hard, she's so tiny. Oh, Jean you should cut your hair the way she's wearing it now. It would look cute on you and make that chubby face of yours a little less noticeable. Oh, don't look at me like that you'll grow out of your baby fat stage. We all go through it, even I did."

"Sarah didn't," Jean mumbled.

Mr. Grey laughed despite the food in his mouth, "I wish she had gone through a fat stage," he said, "I would've slept better all those years those boys were calling her. Lord, Elaine remember? I couldn't sleep every Friday and Saturday night for four long years. Jean, you keep your fat till you're out of college."

Despite her father's encouragement after dinner Jean secretly stuck her finger down her throat and voided all the contents of her dinner.

-xox-

"It's true our cheerleaders never give anybody but their own little clique the time of the day," Henry "Hank" McCoy claimed. "But see there's another side you should consider for your article, Emma. Jocks, cheerleaders, they're not all bad but the brainy kids, and I'm one of them mind you I'm not just a jock, but they just ignore you if your IQ is over 145 much less over 180, they'd never want to be seen talking to us much less hanging out with us."

The article went on to explain how Hank McCoy was not actually one of the brainy kids although he was on the honor roll, a rarity the article explained since he was the center on the football team. Argument neatly voided.

"I'm sure she misquoted, Hank," Ororo said.

"I doubt it. He had the massive crush on you and you never gave him the time of the day," Jean laughed.

"He's not my type. He's more your type."

"Ew. Yeah, right. He was probably talking about you when he said that," Jean laughed again.

"Just finish the article."

"I think they're cute. Dumb but cute," Pietro Maximoff stated.

"Listen to this garbage! Like Pietro saying we're cute is gonna balance the rest of this smear campaign against us! And he runs track so no one's going to listen to him, they'll just think he's just another dumb jock which he is," Jean grumbled. She was in the library with Ororo and reading the school paper again because she'd been so mad when she'd first started reading it she had been able to finished the article.

"You should ignore that nonsense like I do," Ororo said without looking up from her book.

"You ignore everything."

Ororo shrugged.

"I'm starving," Jean said, tossing the paper aside.

"You're always starving."

"You don't know the half of it," Jean mumbled under her breath as she pulled out a Snickers candy bar from her purse.

"Hey, Ororo what's up?"

Ororo looked up to see a good looking, tall, husky boy staring at her quizzically. He had long wavy black hair, smiling brown eyes and his rich milk chocolate skin was flawless.

"Hi, Lucas," Jean said while trying to smile without making her face look fat, something she'd been experimenting with ever since her mother had told her that her face was fat.

"Uh . . . hey, Jean. Lucas Bishop said. "Um . . . Jean, do you know anything about some of the guys messing with some girls after school yesterday?"

"They deserved it!" Jean said, not even trying to deny it.

"Man, you've gotta stop making the guys do stuff like that, Jean. Coach is threatening to cut them and how're we going to win Friday if half the team's suspended?"

"All I asked them to do was whistle at those girls that's all. They were mean to us weren't they Ororo?"

Ororo looked at Jean but said nothing.

"Who're you going to homecoming with, Lucas?" Jean asked, quickly changing the subject when she saw Ororo wasn't going to back her up.

"Haven't decided yet. You going with anyone?"

"Me?" Jean asked a little surprised that he wanted to know, that he would even care. "I – I don't know. No one's asked me yet. I'm free I guess," she finished with a hopeful smile.

"You know that kid over there," Lucas said, nodding in the direction of a small computer cubicle near the front door.

Jean tried to keep from blushing as she peered at the boy.

"That's my man Scott. He thinks you're cute but he's way too shy to say anything," Lucas said.

"What do you mean?"

"If he asked you to the dance would you go?"

Jean and Ororo looked at each other in surprise. Jean shrugged. "Go to the dance with Scott, um . . . I guess so. He's cute. I've known him since middle school."

"He's cool," Lucas said.

"Yeah, I guess."

"Well, that's that then, you and him are gonna go together and Ororo maybe you . . ."

But what Lucas was going to say Ororo never found out. They were interrupted by a fellow cheerleader who sidled up to Lucas, her arm snaking possessively around one of his.

"Hey, Lucas," Threnody said.

"Hey, Thren what's up?"

"Not much, just looking for you. Hi Ororo, hi, Jean."

"Oh?" Lucas said.

"Can we . . . um . . . can we talk? I mean like some place else?"

"Yeah. Hey, Scott you're all set," Lucas called out then he grinned at the girls. "See you lovely ladies later."

"I like her outfit," Ororo said as she watched Threnody walking off with Lucas.

"Ew, the shoes don't even match besides she's a stuck up whore and she just stole your date for homecoming."

"Threnody's one of us, Jean, you should ease up on her, besides how do you know Threnody's a whore? Have you seen her in the act, have you talked to any of her paying customers?"

"You're always so dramatic, you know what I mean, besides everyone says she is."

"You listen to too much gossip. If everyone would mind their own business we'd all get along better. And If Lucas really wanted to go with me he wouldn't have gone off with her, not that I care. Why should I? I think we're probably related somehow anyway."

"Ewww."

Ororo laughed at the face Jean made and went back to her book.

"That boy gets on my last nerve," Jean said after a little while.

Ororo didn't respond.

"Look at him," Jean insisted, nudging her friend.

"Who? Oh, Logan," Ororo asked, now looking up. Her eyes were immediately drawn to a dark haired boy with a ruggedly handsome face and a very good tan. He winked at her when he saw her looking at him.

"Look at that! He's so full of himself and the way he's always leering at me!"

"Maybe he thinks you're cute," Ororo said, amused.

"You think so?"

"Why not? You are."

"The way he looks at me is creepy."

Ororo noticed Logan didn't seem bothered by them watching him when it was obvious they were talking about him. He didn't look away like Scott Summers always did when they talked about him which they did a lot because Jean had a little bit of a crush on the shy boy. Logan still wore that perpetual smirk he always had and he even blew them a kiss.

"Eww," Jean said and turned away.

"Hmm, here comes Scott," Ororo noted as a red faced good looking boy clutching a backpack headed towards them.

"So, um . . . would you . . . I mean, Lucas said you . . . I mean I'd like it if you'd go with me. Will you?" Scott stammered out.

"Hmm, are you asking her to be your girlfriend or your date?" Ororo wanted to know.

"I meant the dance – will you go with me to the dance, Jean? I mean if it's not – you're not . . ."

"I'll go with you, Scott, it'll be fun," Jean said, her cheeks flaring red.

"You will? Oh man! I mean good, that's great. Lucas said you would an' all but . . . I mean . . . I didn't think you would . . . and I . . ."

"Stop while you're ahead, slim," Ororo said and shooed him away.

"He has the prettiest eyes," Jean said.

"I didn't notice," Ororo replied, her nose back in her book.

-xox-

"Stuck up much?" Logan said to Lucas after school when he caught up with him.

"What? Who're you talking about?" Bishop asked.

"He's talking about the cheerleaders up ahead of us," Lucas' little sister Shard said while pointing at Jean and Ororo who were walking home together. "They call Ororo the Ice Queen and Jean's the Royal Bitch."

"What did I tell you was going to happen if I hear you talking like that again?" Lucas warned.

"I didn't say she was a bitch it's just everyone else says she's a bitch."

"You're pushing it now, Shard."

She laughed and glanced at Logan who didn't notice.

"Ororo's not that bad. She's cute," Lucas said.

"You don't know her," Logan said.

"Do you?" Bishop asked.

"Well . . . uh . . . not really."

"So what're you talking about then?"

"She's a cheerleader," Shard whispered in a mock tone of conspiracy and then she laughed. "You know I'm going to be a cheerleader next year, Logan. I'm going to try out anyway."

"Hey, watch this," Logan said, tugging on Bishop's sleeve and ignoring Shard. "Hey, Scooter! You lost?"

Scott was rushing past them trying to catch up with Jean. He tried to ignore Logan but Logan stretched out a bulky arm and yanked Scott by one of the straps of his backpack. It took all of Scott's coordination not to fall down when Logan snatched his backpack off.

"You tryin' to score with Jeannie, huh?" Logan teased the smaller boy.

"Why don't you grow up, Logan," Scott replied.

"Don't talk to me like that, boy," Logan snarled.

"What's wrong with you, man?" Bishop exclaimed.

"You heard the man, what's wrong with you, Scooter?" Logan laughed.

Scott stepped back from Logan and glared at him.

"I meant you, Logan! Man! Come on Shard. Hey, Scott walk with us. I got your backpack."

"Huh, what . . .?" Logan sputtered as Bishop grabbed the bag from him.

"I know things are different here in America but I don't put up with that kind of stuff. You've got to treat people with respect; I don't care who they are or what they do. If you can't show respect then something's wrong with you," Bishop said.

"No one talks to me like that," Logan muttered to himself as he walked home alone.

Lucas' words were still stinging like they were meant to. Logan knew Lucas and Shard had moved from Australia over the summer but he didn't know they were part aborigine and not unfamiliar with bullies.

Logan hadn't lived in West Chester all his life either, just three years, but he'd made quite a name for himself in high school. He wasn't known for being a junior or a football player, he was known for being an unpredictable bully.

"Where've you been, boy!" an older version of Logan shouted at Logan when he got home.

"School," Logan muttered.

The skinny, taller man smacked Logan hard across the face. "Don't back talk yer ol' man, boy!" he snarled.

"Yes sir."

Another but harder blow to the head staggered Logan but he kept his balance.

"I didn't hear that," the man said.

"Yes sir!" Logan shouted at the top of his lungs.

"That's better, boy now get yer ol' man somethin' ta eat."

Logan did fall this time when his father kicked him from behind but he scrambled up and raced to the kitchen.

Dinner was simple fare, steak – rare – mashed potatoes – lumpy – and a loaf of white Wonder bread. The two ate in silence. His father drank whiskey straight from the bottle then afterward moved into the living room to watch TV and Logan picked up the many smashed aluminum cans of beer scattered around the room. He had to as the only other place to sit down was covered with them. But his father, suddenly in a rage, leaped up and grabbed him by the hair. The beating he gave the boy for interrupting his show with his noise was as fierce as any Logan had taken.

The next day Logan didn't go to school. Or the next. It took time for bruises and swelling to go down.

-xox-

A few days later Lucas Bishop made breakfast for his sister and himself as usual, pouring a bowl full of Captain Crunch, Lucas' favorite since coming to America, and then adding milk. He had six huge helpings then made himself some toast. Shard hated Captain Crunch but she also hated shopping so she made do with what they had.

"Dig in," Lucas said.

"I hate soggy cereal for breakfast," she said.

"If you ate it instead of played with it you wouldn't know what soggy was," he teased then feeling a little guilty he said, "I guess I forgot to pick up that cereal you like."

"And the Vegemite because toast without Vegemite isn't toast."

"I'll go to the store after practice."

"That's okay, I'll go."

"No, you won't."

"Why not? I'm old enough to go shopping by myself; I'm not a baby, Lucas!"

"No, but if anything happened to you mom and dad would kill me."

"They probably wouldn't notice."

"They'd notice; you're their favorite though I don't know why."

"No worries, I'll go with you then," Shard said, good humor restored since he'd end up doing all the shopping

"Cool."

"Ororo's pretty huh?"

"Too right, she's a beautiful girl."

"You like her?"

"She's all right I guess."

"You should crack onto her before someone else does. She'd be better for you than Threnody. I've heard a lot of bad things about Threnody."

"What did I tell you about listening to people talk about stuff they have no business talking about?"

"I just heard them talking in the bathroom."

"You weren't smoking were you?"

"No!"

"Good. Don't let me hear you've been smoking because you know I will beat your little butt."

"How could I forget? You tell me nearly every day, Luke."

"Make sure you don't forget it. Dad would kill me if you got into trouble."

"Pig's arse. When do you think mom and dad will be back?"

"Watch your mouth, Shard."

Her mouth twisted into a frown and she repeated her question.

Lucas shrugged. "Dunno. Next week I think but then he's gotta go to Nevada."

"I wish Dad would stay home more."

"If he did you'd be eating Captain Crunch for breakfast, lunch and dinner because we'd be broke."

"I mean that way mom could stay home more."

Lucas shrugged again and said, "You know what grandmother says, 'A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do'."

" Logan 's cute, huh?" Shard said while idly stirring her cereal with her spoon.

"Stay away from that boy, Shard. He's got some serious problems."

"You can't tell me who I can hang out with."

"Yes I can. I just did and you better do what I say."

"Who do you think you are – dad?"

"Shard, just stay away from Logan. You saw the way he treated Scott. Someone like that," Lucas paused and shook his head, "he's trouble that's all."

"You're always talking about giving everyone a fair go and you just knock him?"

"He's a bully, I can't put up with that."

"Well, maybe you could help him. He likes you, you know."

"Logan doesn't think he needs help and if he did he wouldn't want it from me."

"I think you're wrong and a hypocrite."

"I know trouble when I see it, Shard. Stay away from him. It's getting late; did you finish your homework? You all ready for school? If you're not you better hurry up, it's almost time to go."

"What about the parent teacher conference tonight? What're we going to do with mom and dad gone?"

"Stop your yappin' and get ready. Wait a minute – here, take this protein bar in case you get hungry before lunch. Come on."

-xox-

Most kids dread parent teacher conferences because most parents insist on attending. At Salem Center High where teachers were often burnt out and thus slack in their discipline the parents were judged just as harshly as the kids judged each other. Outward appearances meant everything. The Emma's gossip column in the school paper the week after conferences would read something like this:

Did anyone catch a glimpse of the mother who was so skinny when she turned sideways she disappeared? Seriously. I think she had on a hot pink mini dress.

Or:

Now we know who ate all the hamburgers only the Hamburglar didn't wear stripes last night but instead was in all black because black is supposed to be slimming don't you know. Newsflash – it ain't helping this football player's father at all.

No names given but enough information that every student guessed. No one wanted their parents mentioned and the kids whose parents were mentioned knew everyone was laughing about them behind their backs because they did the same thing.

Ororo wouldn't have gone that night except Jean dragged her along to be a buffer between her and her parents.

"Ororo, you look lovely as always," Mrs. Grey said. Jean's mother was in a tight green mini dress which she thought looked nice with her long red hair.

"Thank you, Mrs. Grey."

"Mom lost two pounds," Jean said proudly.

"Suck your cheeks in, Jean and you won't look so pudgy in the face hon. How many times do I have to tell you that? You should have gotten that haircut like your sister. Ororo, I can tell you've lost weight you're so skinny, good for you! I wish I was as thin as you, Ororo. Hell, I wish I was as young as you!"

"Eww," Jean said, sticking her finger in her mouth as if she wanted to throw up.

"Not here, honey, wait till you're in the bathroom," Jean's mother said.

Ororo was able to make a getaway when their principal Mr. Xavier, filling in for an absent teacher, began to wax harshly about Jean's utter lack of prowess in all her classes. She saw the art class across the hall was empty so she shut herself inside the dark room. She leaned her forehead against the door feeling relieved to be away from the parents and Xavier who really wasn't a bad principal just stern. She could see through the little window in the door so she'd be able to see Jean when she came out with her parents and try to rescue her.

"I hate parent teacher conferences," a deep voice in the dark said.

Ororo jumped. The voice was vaguely familiar.

"Um, sorry didn't mean to scare you," the voice said just as the lights came on. Ororo saw Scott standing next to her, his hand still on the light switch.

"What're you doing in here?" she asked.

"Probably the same as you."

"I doubt that."

"Are you avoiding your parents?"

"Nope, I'm with Jean."

"Where're your parents?"

Ororo looked at the skinny boy with the tousled brown hair and noticed his eyes were actually pretty just like Jean had said. He was handsome even. "My parents are dead," she said.

"Oh, wow, that's sucks, so are mine."

"Really? I didn't know. I'm sorry."

"What for? My father died a hero saving me and my brother."

"You have a brother?"

"Alex. He lives with a foster family in Nebraska. I ran away, ended up here."

"Oh." Ororo tried to stop her eyes from widening in surprise. Scott would've been the last person she'd ever suspect of running away from home, even a foster home.

Scott shrugged nonchalantly. "My foster folks are talking to Mr. Lensherr."

Ororo shuddered. Mr. Lensherr taught physics, her worse subject. "Why aren't you with them?" she asked.

He didn't say anything so she didn't force the issue. Instead she took a seat on a stool at one of the large tables. She wrapped a long piece of hair around a finger then absently put the strand in her mouth. He came and sat in the chair beside her. Bored without a book to read she twirled on the stool and was surprised to hear Scott giggle.

"What's so funny?"

"You don't . . . I mean . . . well, nothing . . . I mean I just didn't think you'd be . . . well . . . aw forget it."

Ororo caught his arm in a tight grip and said, "Tell me what you were laughing at!"

"I just didn't think you'd be the type to let go like that," he confessed, feeling a little scared of her.

"Why because I'm the stuck up cheerleader, the ice princess right? Guess I forgot not to blow my cover."

"No, I didn't mean it like that."

"I'm sure you didn't."

"No, really I didn't. You're . . . you're nice!"

"I am?"

Scott nodded.

"Not too many people would agree with you."

"The kids at this school are . . ."

"Weird? Judgmental? Useless?"

He chuckled. "They're clueless. When we get out of high school you'll see. People they thought were geeks will be rich and powerful and they'll be working minimum wage jobs working for me and wishing they were me – I mean . . . well, you know."

Ororo laughed. "You think life gets better than this then?"

"If it doesn't then I might as well kill myself now."

"Don't kill yourself yet, Jean wouldn't like that."

"She wouldn't?"

"Probably not. She likes you."

"She does?"

"Um hm."

Scott boldly grabbed Ororo and gave her a quick wet peck on the cheek. Lights flickered off then on and they both turned to see Logan standing in the room playing with the light switch and watching them.

"Aw, man," Scott groaned, almost cowering on his stool.

Ororo rolled her eyes. "If you're looking for Jean she's . . ."

"What makes you think I'm looking for her?"

"I don't know, maybe the way you've been stalking her like . . . uh . . . now?"

"Do you see Jean anywhere? What makes you think it wasn't you I was stalking?"

"Look, Logan leave Ororo alone," Scott said and he actually stood up. He was a lot taller than Logan and with his shoulders back, his chest out he didn't look quite as skinny.

"He's not bothering me, don't waste your time, Scott," Ororo said. She got up and walked past Logan but she stopped at the door and waved. "See you later, Slim."

Ororo didn't wait for Jean. She left school and walked home. When she went up the steps to her house she accidentally dropped her keys. She didn't bother picking them up but instead slumped down onto the steps and buried her face in her hands.

"I'm not an ice princess," she whispered.

"Who said you were?"

Ororo looked up, startled to see Logan coming down the walk to her house. "Are you following me, Logan 'cause if you are I know karate!"

Logan laughed. He reached out and caught a lock of her hair and let it slide down his finger when she jerked away.

"I don't know; you just seemed kind of lonely."

"I'm not lonely."

"No? You know what?" he sat down on the porch step beside her. She scooted away but could only move so far. "I think we're all lonely. Take Summers for instance . . ."

"What?"

"Yesterday I would've had some fun with the kid but – well, today . . . I don't know, he just kinda seemed different."

"I don't even know what you're talking about."

"Summers, I heard what he said about being in a foster home an' all."

"Oh."

"Yer folks are dead too?"

She looked at him with her mouth slightly open.

"Mine too," he said when she didn't answer.

"I thought you lived with your father."

"Well, he's the man who spawned me but he sure ain't my father."

"That doesn't make any sense."

"What happened to your parents?"

Ororo scooped her keys up in one hand then stood up. "I have to go."

"Okay."

Ororo unlocked the front door but she didn't go inside. "Come on," she told Logan.

They walked through a dark living room then into a short hallway then turned into a bedroom. A small bedside lamp shone on a hospital bed and in the bed was a tiny emancipated woman with the same dark brown skin as Ororo. Her hair was streaked with gray and her eyes were closed. Logan thought she might have been pretty once.

"This is my mother, Logan."

"I thought you said she was dead."

"It's just easier than explaining this."

"What's wrong with her?"

"She's never going to be . . ." Ororo stopped, trying to find the right word. "She's just never going to be," she repeated because it was the truth, her mother was never going to be anything again just a woman wasting away trapped in her body.

Logan looked at the mother then the daughter. He put an arm around Ororo somewhat awkwardly. She turned into him and he held her. They stood there for a long time – misconceptions fading, truths revealed.

-xox-

"Statistics have shown that when cheerleaders grow up they are most likely to become bimbos, gold diggers, college dropouts, welfare recipients, or hookers although probably a high class hooker who dates movie stars and rock stars who adore vapid, artificial, self centered women. Aside from the aforementioned occupations cheerleaders actually serve little purpose after their few minutes on the field. We must not hate them but pity them for they are true misfits," Jean said, reading the last of the article she'd been forcing herself to read ever since the newspaper had come out over a week ago.

"Pity us," Ororo murmured. "We should all be pitied; no one knows what anyone's going through."

Jean glanced at Ororo wondering if she knew that after every meal she forced herself to throw up so she could get skinny enough to please her mother and stay on the squad.

"Scott's nice," Ororo said. "I like him a lot. He's sweet too. Be nice to him."

"Why wouldn't I?" Jean responded as she threw the paper on the floor.

Ororo shrugged. "I don't know just be nice to him."

"Eww, look who's headed this way and he's with Lucas, why does Lucas put up with that freak? He's the misfit," Jean said.

Ororo leaned over and picked the paper off the floor then pretended to read it.

"Hey you beautiful things you," Lucas greeted them.

"Hi, Lucas," Jean said and gave him the biggest cheeks sucked in smile that she could manage.

"Uh . . . hey, Ororo," Logan said which surprised Jean so much she forgot to hold her cheeks in.

Ororo looked up from the paper and stared at Logan.

Lucas sighed. "See you around," he said. "Come on man let's get something to eat."

Ororo looked back at the paper but she couldn't hold back a smile. She hadn't expected to feel warm all over when she'd looked at Logan.

"See you around, Ororo," Logan said when he caught her smiling. He touched her shoulder for a brief moment and she looked up, surprised and strangely pleased and he grinned at her.

"Stalker," Jean hissed under her breath when he was gone.

Ororo laughed and said, "Sometimes it's not so bad to be stalked."

"So what's with you, man?" Lucas asked Logan who kept following him after he'd rushed through lunch hoping to finish before Logan so he could ditch him.

"Whaddaya mean?"

"You haven't tried to beat anyone up all week an' you were actually cool with Scott."

"Yeah? Well. Ah, well maybe you were right," Logan admitted.

Lucas chuckled. "I'm always right. Guess my little sister was right too. Hey, guess what?"

"Chicken butt?"

Lucas rolled his eyes even though he chuckled. "Man, that's lame."

"But you laughed, dude."

"Whatever. Hey, Scott's gonna try out for quarterback next year."

"You serious, that little skinny runt?"

"I know but I'm gonna work out with him, get him bulked up an' he's fast. You never know he might be good."

"No kiddin'."

The boys traversed the school halls in silence for a few minutes.

"Hey, you know Ororo right?" Logan questioned.

"Of course. Why?"

"I think I'm gonna ask her to homecoming."

"Really?"

"You . . . er . . . you don't like her or anything do you?"

Lucas shrugged. "She's cool I guess, maybe too . . . quiet for me."

"Well you've got Threnody man, she's always all over you and she's smoking hot."

"Threnody," Lucas said and grinned. "Too right. She's cool too I just wish my sister liked her."

"Give her a chance," Logan said.

"Wow, I never thought I'd hear you giving me advice like that."

"I'm just repeating what you always say."

"Yeah, I am always right," Lucas laughed.

-xox-

After lunch Jean almost ran to the bathroom while Ororo talked to the girls at their usual table. When the warning bell rang and Jean didn't come back Ororo dropped her tray off and went to look for her. Since school had started usually Ororo found Jean red in the face and looking ill when they met up in the bathroom and she'd just assumed the cafeteria food had made her sick but today she found her in the bathroom crying.

"What's wrong?" Ororo asked.

"Nothing. Just go away I need to use the bathroom." Jean turned the cold water on in the sink and splashed her face with water then shut herself inside a stall.

Ororo had a funny feeling. She knew it was rude but something made her bend down and look under the stall. She gasped when she saw Jean get down on her knees in front of the commode. "What the hell are you doing, Jean?" Ororo shouted.

"I don't feel good," Jean said before she heaved.

"Are you sick? Open the door."

"I can't be," Jean said in a little voice.

"The bell's going to ring soon, come on, Jean."

When Jean gagged again Ororo pulled on the handle to the stall. "Jean, you better open this door now or I'm climbing in from the other side!"

Jean got up slowly and reluctantly unlocked the door. Ororo yanked her out.

"You can't be sick every freakin' day, Jean! Please tell me you weren't doing what I think you were!"

"I can't do it."

"Do what? What? Oh, Jean you better not be going all bulimic on me!"

Jean laughed a hoarse laugh. "I can't do it today. My mother would tell me to try harder."

"I'm sorry but your mother can be a bitch."

"Tell me something I don't know."

"You better never, ever do this again, Jean do you hear me?"

"I have too."

"Oh no you don't! You don't need to throw up, girls would kill to have your figure, you're beautiful just the way you are!"

"I've only lost three pounds."

"Have you seen yourself?" Ororo demanded. She pulled Jean in front of the full length mirror on the wall and forced her to stand there. "Look at yourself! You're not fat. You don't even look like you need to lose half a pound! That's why half the school hates us, we're not fat, we're toned, we have the bodies most of them want! Maybe cheering isn't the chess club but it's part of what makes this school work. We're not bimbo's like they want us to believe though you really should start studying harder. And that's the thing, Jean, we've got the discipline to train hard, we learn moves they couldn't do in their dreams but we could do them in our sleep. 'They wish they could get out there and do what we do and have all the guys watching us! Jean, are you listening to me? You know you have to stop!"

"You don't understand, Ororo. I gained five pounds over the summer so my mom put me on this diet. I hate it but she won't let me eat real food unless I lose it."

"Well, how do you expect to lose it if you're eating candy bars every day? Oh, wait, sorry never mind. It's not the candy that's the problem it's what you're doing. If you think you have to lose a pound or two just go running with me."

"I hate running."

"Oh yeah. Well we could play tennis or go bike riding or swimming."

"I don't know; I hate exercising."

"What do you think cheer practice is? Look, you will stop this even if you have to move in with me so I can watch you twenty fucking four hours a day. You will never do this again, do you understand?"

"Wow! You never cuss."

"I've never been so angry before! I'm serious, Jean."

"I can't stay on the squad if I'm fat."

"Fat? Miss. Hunter hasn't said anything about you needing to lose weight to stay on the team, Jean. You barely weigh 120 pounds!"

"You're skinnier than me."

"I'm taller so it just looks like I am."

"My mother will kill me if I get any fatter."

"Your mother can burn in hell."

Jean giggled. "I like that idea."

"So, do we understand each other?"

"I don't know. I mean my ass is really big now."

"Boys like 'em big besides it's not as big as mine."

"It used to be flat before I put the weight on."

"See? There you go – a sweet bonus."

"I don't know about that."

"You aren't anywhere near fat, Jean but if you're so worried about it exercise is way better than throwing up. Seriously."

"I just don't know. My mom's always on my case . . . I don't know what to do any more."

"Well, I do. You'll spend the weekend with me and we'll fix this."

"You've never let me spend the night with you before."

"Well, it's a little crazy I guess but my mother won't mind if that's what you're worried about."

"I thought your mother was sick."

"Well, she is but not the kind of sick that she'd be bothered if I had a guest. It's a long story I hate telling because people would treat me worse than they already do if they knew about my mother."

"I guess I know what you mean. You don't think I'm crazy do you?"

"Yes I do but you're not too far gone that you can't be helped. When did you start doing this anyway?"

"Right before school started."

"I can't believe I never noticed."

"I hate throwing up."

Ororo pulled Jean into a tight hug. "It's going to be all right," she said.

-xox-

"Cheerleaders are the bane of any decent female's life. They flirt endlessly, always hog the mirrors in the restrooms and think they're God's gift to every male alive. How many children grow up saying "I want to be a cheerleader"? I didn't. I would never be a cheerleader, it's one of the most demeaning absurdities ever invented and should be banned from all sports . . . rant, rant, rant," Shard said as she read the last of Emma's infamous article.

"That girl really hates cheerleaders," Lucas laughed.

"That's because they told her she wasn't good enough when she tried out. I'm glad she got fired from the paper, they should never have printed this, it's just mean," Shard said to her brother the night of the homecoming dance.

"Yeah, it's pretty bad."

"She tried to make it seem like cheerleaders were worse than flesh eating zombies but you know what? Threnody's not so bad I guess. I didn't think someone like her would speak up like she did. The way she went to Mr. Jameson, and he surprised me too, I didn't think he'd do anything at all and then he fired Emma just like that. I thought he was a lousy English teacher but I guess he's not so bad and I bet Ms. Darkholme's going to do a much better job."

"It's like I always say . . ."

"Oh brother, here it comes," Shard said, rolling her eyes.

"You can't judge a book by its cover."

"Threnody's got a pretty nice looking cover though don't you think?"

"Definitely. So, who're you going to the dance with, Shard, you didn't tell me?"

"Well, um . . . I'm going with Japheth."

"Japheth? He's kind of . . ."

"Kind of what, huh?"

"Well . . . young."

"We're the same age."

"He's kind of different too you know?"

"I cannot believe you just said that after all the crap you give me about giving people a fair shake."

"Well, you're my baby sister an' I've gotta take care of you."

"Japheth's cool!"

"All right, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt but he better come in to meet me when he comes to pick you up not just sit in his car and blow his horn."

"You're giving us a ride and you better not give him a hard time."

Lucas laughed. "That's cool and as long as he's cool he'll be fine. A man's gotta take care of his sister, Shard."

-xox-

"This party sucks let's get outta here," Logan said. Dark gym, streamers, balloons, bad punch and too much perfume and aftershave at the homecoming dance were having a bad affect on him.

"It's not that bad," Scott said.

"How long does it take a girl ta take a piss?"

"It hasn't been that long."

"I don't mind waiting but damn! They've been in there for an hour at least!"

"Jean's going through some stuff," Scott said.

Logan wondered if Scott knew Ororo had told him about Jean's problem but he didn't say anything.

"We're back, miss us?" Jean said when she and Ororo joined them. They were both dressed alike in strapless mini dresses though Jean's was green and Ororo's white.

"You know I did! You look beautiful!" Scott said smiling at Jean then glancing at Ororo. "Everything alright?"

Jean gave him a bright smile and nodded.

"Everything's fine, Slim," Ororo assured him.

"Good, then let's dance," Scott said and led Jean out onto the dance floor.

"You look beautiful too, darlin'," Logan said.

"Thank you; you keep telling me that."

"You look so good everyone's staring."

"I'm sure that's not why they're staring."

He shrugged. "So you wanna get outta here?"

"Oh, I don't know. What would we do?"

"Maybe go to your place."

"Jean's spending the night."

"Again? What, is she moving in with you?"

"Kind of. I've been talking to her mother, I finally told her how sick my mother is and she said Jean could stay with me a while and help me out since, well you know," she said with a shrug.

"And she's cool with that? Really?"

"I know, huh? But I think she feels really sorry for me and she thinks it'll teach Jean some responsibility. They don't exactly get along so maybe she wants a break, I don't know."

"Oh."

"I've decided you should move in too and Scott. Scott's going to be eighteen soon and he won't have anywhere to go then and we have a finished basement with a bedrooms so you and him could live down there. It'll be a half way house for all us misfits."

"You're serious?"

"Yeah! Why? You don't like the idea? I thought you adored me and couldn't get enough of me!"

"You know how crazy I am about you, 'Ro but I think my ol' man would kill me if I did anything like that."

"That's what I'm trying to avoid," Ororo said. "I've seen the bruises and cuts on you, Logan."

Logan's immediate thought was to lie as he usually did when someone confronted him about their suspicions but since he'd been hanging out with Lucas and Ororo he'd discovered that people weren't all like his father and they could actually care for him if he tried to be decent so he caught himself and just admitted the truth. "My ol' man's an ass, I'm used to it."

"I don't want you to be," Ororo said softly.

It was a moment before he spoke.

"Jean can't stand me," he finally said.

"That was when she thought you were staring at her all the time."

"I wasn't staring at her I was looking at you but you never paid any attention to me."

Ororo smiled. "I didn't," she admitted. "I thought you were a little crazy."

"Yeah, I guess I was crazy."

"Well, you're not now and Jean thinks we make a nice couple."

"Really? She said that?"

"Yeah, she said you've really changed. She thinks you're a gentleman now."

"Bet those weren't her words."

"Well, no but it's what she meant. She thinks you're good for me because she thinks you bring me out of my shell."

"What do you think?"

"Oh, I don't know – she might be a little right."

They laughed and he pulled her to him and kissed her and then kissed her bare shoulder. "Did I tell you how beautiful you look tonight?" he said.

She nodded and smiled, shivering under his touch.

"Us all living together, huh?" Logan said, kissing her other shoulder.

"Mmm," she breathed.

"Like that?"

"You better stop before Mr. Xavier says something."

Logan stopped but he didn't let her go.

"Maybe, if it worked out, we'd live together till we go to college. It could be fun," she said.

"Well, good luck with college."

"You too."

"Me? Oh no, darlin' I'm sick of school."

"You won't be sick of it if I'm there."

"Well, you might be right about that but don't ya think that's a little conceited of ya darlin'?"

"Didn't you read Emma's article? I'm a cheerleader, we live on conceit. Pity me."

He chuckled.

"So?" she asked.

"So what?"

"What do you think about my plan? We'll call ourselves the Uncanny Misfits."

"Uncanny Misfits, what kind of name is that?"

"Come on, I think my mother would like it if I wasn't all alone. Well, as long as you and Scott behaved."

"I haven't messed with the kid for over a month now!"

"I meant you and Scott couldn't be sneaking into our room at night, you'd have to be really, really good."

"When I'm around you I always am, don't know about Slim, the way he goes around kissin' girls anytime he just feels like it."

"It was a kiss on the cheek because he was so happy about Jean liking him – how many times do I have to tell you that? He's not even my type!"

"I'm your type then, huh?"

"Well, you're way manlier than him and I do like manly men."

"So you're sayin' you like me then?"

"You already know that."

"An' you're sayin' we're gonna be together next year an' even in college?"

"I have a good feeling about us."

"You know, darlin' so do I. I . . . I think I . . ."

She kissed him lightly on the lips, "I feel the same way," she said.

"You do?"

"Of course."

"Man! So you really want me to move in with you, huh?"

"With Scott and in the basement. It won't be anything like those Bachelor and Bachelorette shows if we live together."

"Uh . . . I wasn't even thinking like that, 'Ro!"

"You're such a gentleman," she teased.

"Well, I do try."

"You're such a liar, Logan," she laughed.

He grinned.

"So, you haven't told me what you think?"

"You really wanna know what I think, darlin'? I think you're asking for trouble if we do this so I'm in, you know trouble's my middle name, but you gotta think of a better name maybe something like the Westchester Wolverines."

"Or Xavier's X-Men or the X-Club," she laughed. "And we'll live happily ever after or as much as we can with you around," she said and kissed him again.

~Finis~

A/N – I reread this at work yet again today, 3/20/12 and 3/21/12 (last time I read this and tweaked it was 7/24/09) and I tweaked it yet again, made some spelling corrections and think it flows a lot better now, a little more realistically hopefully. Sometimes I hate rereading a story I've written even though I desperately want to change things, make things clearer or add something but for the most part I don't make drastic changes and I didn't for this story. I like this story. I think it's straight forward, simple, maybe even a little realistic. A bit of an Afternoon special I've been told but hey, if we all just stopped judging people the world would be a better place and that's not a bad message.

Also, since someone wondered who Threnody was, I've included a list of the possible unknown cameos in order of appearance just in case anyone's not familiar with the character's I've scattered throughout the story since I'm a long time Marvel fan who remembers what a No Prize is . . . or isn't and have a love for many of the characters Marvel no longer uses or has killed off.

List of Characters:

Wanda Maximoff – The Scarlet Witch and Pietro's sister but I think everyone knows this. She's a favorite of mine but out of character here obviously.

Lorna Dane – Green hair Polaris, Scott's brother Alex's old flame. Perhaps Alex will find Scott in a few years or they'll all go to Westchester Community College and he and Lorna will meet and fall madly in love.

Threnody – Worked for Sinister who had her keeping tabs on Nate/X-Man from the Age of Apocalypse. She ended up hanging out with Nate through most of his short lived series.

Shard Bishop – Of course Lucas' sister who used to be a very interactive and amusing hologram despite being dead in the future.

Pietro Maximoff – The dashing Quicksilver (seriously, no pun meant by that, I adore him), and Wanda's brother. That brings us to . . .

Mr. Lensherr – Who is better known as Magneto though that's probably quite obvious. I'm thinking he doesn't know Wanda and Pietro are his kids yet but when he finds out he'll go berserk, blame the world and/or decide to take over the world by running for President of the Board of Education, either that or Wanda and Pietro will teach him to loathe and denigrate cheerleaders just as much as they enjoy doing and they'll start an on line group perhaps called the Brotherhood Against Evil Cheerleaders. You never know.

Miss. Hunter – The never, ever mentioned any more (I think) Stevie Hunter, Kitty's old dance teacher.

Mr. Jameson – Why the not so friendly neighborhood newspaper editor J. Jonah Jameson of course! Who better to be in charge of the school paper?

Japheth – The late, lamented and sorely missed (by me anyway) Maggot who was a friend of a sort to Joseph. He's South African too, or was. One of his maggots is still out there though. So many loose ends.

Miss. Darkholme – The one and only Mystique. Hmm, Emma or Raven writing articles, not sure which would be better.

And that's it all. Hope you enjoyed my story.

~Darlin~