Hey guys! So, school is out, and I'm back to writing. Here's a little plot bunny that's been working through my mind since I heard the new Origins movie was being made. (I know, a really long time to wait) Anyways, this one is kind of a tester, so let me know what you think. Reviews=Love!
Mina Calloway sat in front of Professor Xavier's mahogany desk, nervously bouncing her heeled foot. She had come to him to ask for help, something she didn't do very often, and she was beginning to remember why. The pregnant pause between them only seemed to stretch on, filling her with trepidation and anxiety. The feelings weren't exactly unknown to her, but they were nonetheless uncomfortable. After a few more moments, she'd finally had enough.
"I see that I've asked too much, I'll just see myself out. Thank you for your time," she said as she rose, flinging her coat over her arm. If he couldn't help her, she'd just have to figure out a solution on her own. It wouldn't be the first time she'd had to rely on herself, and it most certainly wouldn't be the last.
"Do sit down, Ms. Calloway. I haven't given you an answer as of yet," Professor Xavier replied, his gentle voice urging her back to her seat. "Now, I believe I can help you, but I have to know that your…previous activities are going to be left behind. You see, I cannot endanger my students."
"I think I can agree to that," Mina smiled, "Besides, it's not like anyone would hire me now." Her smile was not returned, but she thought she saw a twinkle of amusement in his eyes. "Does that mean," she cleared her throat, "You'll let me stay?"
Finally, a smile spread across Professor Xavier's mouth, "Yes, it does. I happen to have a room you may use in the teacher's quarters. Walk with me."
He wheeled from around his desk, the door to his office opening with the press of a button. Mina rose obediently, smoothing the wrinkles in her only skirt, and followed the Professor down a long, wood-lined hall. Classes were in session—it was early morning on a Wednesday—and the only sound she could hear was the sharp click of her heels and the cool whirring of the Professor's chair.
"You understand, I will expect for you to take on a few classes," he said casually.
Mina stopped, nearly choking in her surprise. "Excuse me?"
Professor Xavier continued to move past her and she had to skip forward a little just to catch up. "I have two classes that need to be taught—at ten and eleven, before lunch. Jean has been covering them, but she needs time to work with another project." They entered an elevator and Professor Xavier pressed a button, the doors closing in front of them, locking Mina into a situation she wasn't confident she could edge around.
"I'm not qualified," she barked, "I would probably do more harm than good, don't you think?"
"Oh, I'm not so sure about that," he replied serenely. The doors opened and Mina stepped out behind him, bewildered by the fact that he was asking her to teach. When had her plea for a hideout become a job interview? "The classes are more like study halls than actual lectures. All you have to do is make sure they keep to their books and you'll be fine."
Mina stared at him sideways as she walked, incredulous and confused. "That's it? Babysitting?" She hadn't done that in years, and from what she could remember, she wasn't exactly good at it.
The professor turned a corner and indicated a closed door. Mina flicked her gaze from the door, to him, and then back again before reaching down to turn the knob. "I look forward to seeing you in the teacher's meeting next week," he said, turning his chair around. "You may have the rest of the week and the weekend to settle in. I will inform Jean that you will be taking over her classes starting next week. I'm sure you'll fit right in." And then he was gone, leaving Mina sitting on her new bed, utterly befuddled as to how she'd gotten there.
She fingered the edge of the blanket, noting the thread count almost subconsciously. The room was sparsely decorated, a wardrobe and nightstand serving as the only other furniture. And yet every piece of furniture was made of finely crafted wood, including the bed. Mina sighed; it was the best accommodations she'd had since…well, since before she'd been forced into unemployment.
Swallowing back the memories, Mina pushed to her feet and stepped out into the hallway. Looking both ways, she spotted a staircase and decided that now, while everyone was in class, would probably be the best time to move her stuff from the foyer to her room.
Descending the stairs, she watched carefully for oncoming traffic, hoping not to be spotted just yet. She wasn't ready for the barrage of questions that would undoubtedly come with the arrival of a stranger. If not for the streaming sunlight, she might have been able to slip into the shadows and escape. As it was, she was a sitting duck in the wide-open, sunlit stairs.
She hopped down the last few steps, made a grab for her bag, and turned to rush back up again, only to be stopped short by a figure standing at the top of the stairs. Instinctively, she tried to pull herself into the shadows—a useless attempt seeing as she was standing in a wide patch of sunlight. Instead, she stared up at him, frozen to the spot, and gaping like a goldfish.
He was an imposing figure, no doubt—and the way he just sort of stared down at her made Mina more than a little uncomfortable. Steeling her resolve, she hefted the bag over her should and placed her foot on the first step, gripping the banister. She eyed him as she ascended, one step at a time, noting the stark contrast of the faded plaid shirt with his dark wash jeans. The material was worn, stretched almost too thin across the broad slope of his shoulders, and she thought she saw a small hole near the hem.
His voice, when he spoke, was gravelly, the tone almost irritated. "Who the hell are you?" he asked curtly.
Mina stopped, one heel hovering over a wooden step, "Calloway, Mina," she said, "I'm new."
He shifted, his hands coming up to grip his hips, "You a student?"
"No," she replied, moving upwards steadily, watching for signs that he was going on the offensive. As she reached the top of the stairs, she slipped around his frame neatly, ignoring the light growl he sent her way. "I'm a teacher." The sentence rolled over her tongue easily, but the thought stuttered in her mind. She was a teacher…responsible for the young minds of her students, God help them. Well, if the Professor was willing to trust her, so should he.
Turning towards her room, she tried to ignore the heat of his gaze on her back as she walked away from him. He had the air of a protector, and she figured he'd be the one she'd have to convince it was her right to be there. Otherwise, she'd be tiptoeing around him until she could get her situation sorted out.
He was still standing in his place at the top of the stairs when Mina reached her door. She gave him a small smile before entering, unnerved at how he leveled the same scrutinizing stare at her, his mouth pressed into a tense line. That settled it, he hated her.
Once inside, she leaned against the door and let out an aggravated breath. Her first day wasn't exactly going well. However, any day that went by where she wasn't literally dodging a bullet was a good day in her book and she wasn't going to let a grumpy coworker interrupt what should have been a victory. She had a place to stay, indefinitely if she could handle teaching, and that best part was that no one had a clue where she was. She could start fresh, with an absolutely clean slate. It was a refreshing feeling, living without the threat of danger lurking over her head. Mina inhaled, releasing her tension on the exhale. Refreshing.
At dinner, Mina sat with Ororo Munroe, a motherly woman whose moods seemed to affect the cloud cover in the area. She introduced Mina to a few of the teachers, guiding her to the teacher's table while commenting on Mina's shoes. "I have a pair like that," she said amiably, "Do your feet feel numb after a couple of hours as well?"
Mina looked down, embarrassed that she really didn't know how typical female conversation went, "I really don't wear them all that often, but I lost feeling about ten minutes in, if that counts for anything." Ororo let out a light, earthy chuckle, indicating for Mina to sit beside her.
"So where are you from?"
Mina stiffened, "Around. I move a lot," she replied evasively. "I haven't really had a permanent home in a long time."
Ororo nodded knowingly, "We all go through that at one time or another." Then, "You don't have to be afraid here, Mina. No one is going to judge you, not here."
Whatever reply Mina could have given was lost as a redheaded woman approached the table and sat down. "Really, Ororo, you'd think they would realize I can see their little plans before they even hatch them!" She placed her hands on the table, taking notice of Mina's wide eyes. "Oh, I'm sorry. Hi, I'm Jean." She extended her hand across the table.
"Mina," she replied, taking Jean's cool hand in her own.
"So you're the one taking over my classes. Thank you, by the way. Maybe now I can sleep in a little." She leaned towards Ororo conspiratorially, "Scott's been wanting to spend a little more quality time lately."
Ororo gave a small smile, spooning some yogurt into her mouth, "I imagine that has something to do with Logan coming back." Jean smiled, shaking her head, her hair falling over her eyes.
"He'll get over it eventually."
"Logan, or Scott?" Ororo chuckled, raising one well-groomed eyebrow. "Speaking of the devil…"
Mina glanced past Ororo's gesturing hand to see the dark man from that morning striding into the room. He hadn't changed, except to throw of a leather bomber jacket, his hair windswept away from his face. Mina quickly calculated how long it would take her to make a break for it, given that she was pretty much terrified of him. The feeling was inexplicable, but just looking at him brought up memories best left buried in a cement room, under ten feet of steel, inside a volcano.
He spotted her, his eyes fixing on her face for a moment, before sweeping over the rest of the table. Mina pursed her lips and looked down at her plate, wanting nothing more than to sink into the shadows and avoid facing him. She pushed the food on her plate around, leaning on one elbow. Ororo shared one more look with Jean before turning her attention to Mina.
"What subject are you teaching?" she asked.
"Study hall, I think, thought I really don't know the specifics." She looked to Jean, "You usually teach the class, what do you do during class?"
Jean sipped from a bottle of water, nodding, "Hmm, well, I just keep them quiet, try to help them with whatever homework they have for the week." She munched on a carrot stick thoughtfully. "You know, I'm not exactly sure why the Professor decided to start the classes."
Mina raised her eyebrows, unsure if the declaration was meant kindly or maliciously, but decided to let it go. If she wanted to keep a low profile, feuding with another teacher was not the way to go.
A shadow slid over the table from Jean's left, and Mina looked up to see that the dark man had made his way across the room. He held out a set of keys to Jean, "Give these to Scott, would ya, Jean."
"I'll be sure to let him know you returned the bike safe and sound, Logan," Jean said tightly. Logan nodded, his eyes flicking over Mina's face for a moment before he ambled away from the table. As she watched him go, Mina let out a breath that she hadn't realized she'd been holding for almost a full minute.
Ororo rolled her eyes, "Don't worry about Logan, Mina. He's a little weary of strangers."
"I'll say," Mina replied, watching Logan maneuver around the tables, "He didn't seem to like me much this morning."
Jean leaned forward, curling her fingers around the keys in her palm, "You've met already? I thought he only got back this afternoon."
Mina looked down to the hands in her lap, "We've met, briefly. He asked me "who the hell I was' in lieu of introduction." One corner of her mouth lifted in a wry smile, "Not very welcoming."
Jean nodded and Ororo outright laughed, "That sounds like him," she said. "His bark is a lot worse than his bite." At Jean's pointed look, she continued, "Well, most of the time."
Mina caught one last look at Logan's back as he exited the room. She noted, reluctantly, that his jeans were finely made and fit his body very well. If it weren't for the air of quiet fury beneath his skin, he might have been incredibly attractive. As it was, he was merely dangerous. "I hope so," she said finally, knowing in her gut that he was someone who probably should be avoided in the future. He'd tear her to little bits, she knew, if she got in his way.
After dinner, Mina retreated gratefully to her room. The other teachers were nice enough, but so full of questions. It seemed everyone had a story here, everyone had a past that lead them inevitably to the institute. However nice it was to know that she wasn't alone in that one instance, hers wasn't a past she could easily tell—at least, not unless she wanted to have half the faculty issued a death warrant.
As she shrugged out of her skirt and button-down, Mina thought about how luck she really was to be there, alive, with a job and a bed. Two days ago she was sleeping in the back rooms of a church, checking over her shoulder every five minutes to look for Fuller's men. And now… now she might actually be safe for a time.
Sliding beneath the sheets, Mina mentally checked herself. She needed to scope out the school, find all the hidden stairwells and unused hallways, just in case. The Professor couldn't protect her forever, at least not from Fuller. She'd have to make an escape eventually, and she wanted to be ready when that time came.
Mina flicked off the light, vowing to have the place completely mapped out…tomorrow.
In the next chapter, I swear you'll learn a little more about Mina's past, but please be patient.