Disclaimer: I don't own the X-Men, Stan Lee and Marvel (now Disney too bleh) do.

Chapter Soundtrack:

Through the Trees - Low Shoulder

Worry About You - Ivy

Leave Out All the Rest - Linkin Park

All of this Past - Sarah Bettens

It helped if she breathed. The doctor and a few nurses had warned her about the anxiety. The possibility of having an emotional or mental breakdown because of the anxiety. People that lived closed off from others for more than six months had those problems.

But did it really count as being closed off from others if she didn't have normal levels of human interaction in the first place? She breathed in again. Artificially cooled air filtering through thoughts and memories not her own.

She breathed out heavily and carefully adjusted the hood of her jacket so that it set between her forehead and the glass of the car. Who knew what was on this window. Superficially or not. The scenery of mid-state New York passed by. It was dusky and grey with the first signs of a storm brewing. The sky swirled with dark clouds. There was no sign of lightning or thunder yet. No rain fall that she could detect.

The taxi driver had tried making conversation every few minutes, but when she refrained from answering with more than a few syllables, he eventually stopped talking. People liked to chit chat. Small talk. Politics at first then where she was going.

He had shut up when she said where. It was better when he was quiet.

Holly just liked the quiet.

The silence felt like cool air filtering through her cluttered mind. Even though her clothes hadn't been made in sweatshops, they still carried the imprints of where they were made, who they were made by, and their travel before arriving at her door in a box that a machine prepared. It would take a while for the memories to filter and settle.

It would take a while for her to absorb and adjust.

Holly blinked slowly, absorbing, adjusting, and breathing.

"Lady," the taxi driver said cautiously, "I've heard stories about this place. You sure you want to go there?"

Her smile was wry. If he only knew. A hot puff of air revealed what looked like a smudged hand print on the glass of the passenger window.

It took a moment to decide how bad the pain would be if she used her fingers. Her hands were the most sensitive, closely followed by her arms. Her forehead and the top of her head were almost as bad. There were other places, better places. Her feet.

She couldn't take off her shoes in here. That would require removing her socks. Who knew what kind of transfer was on this floor. Not to mention what kind of gunk could be down there. She had been in a few cabs that were not so…clean.

In the end Holly touched only the tip her nose to the glass. "Your wife had sex with your partner back here." She saw them, entwined, their breathing heavy. It had been going on for months. His wife was leaving him soon.

Holly pulled away from the window. The taxi driver gripped the steering wheel until the leather made a sound. She wiped at her nose with the back of one sleeve. Holly imagined his knuckles were white. "Last Tuesday, while you were at the doctor's office."

The car stopped short.

The cabbie, Richard was his name as she saw from the label on his dash, got out. He went around the back and popped the trunk. Her duffel bag and single suitcase hit the dirt. Richard didn't look at her when he opened the back left passenger door. He didn't look in the rear view mirror as he pulled away.

The sky cracked with lightning. Thunder rolled.


Drenched. Cold. Sticky. Hungry. Tired. Sore. Dirty.


All the words describing Holly's present state as she pushed open the heavy oak door to the mansion that posed as a school. Two hours it had taken her to walk. The rain, which had blessedly stopped about ten minutes prior had plastered her short, dark bangs to her forehead. It had also made her thin shirt and sweatshirt stick to her chest. Her jeans had fared no better from the mud.

And now her feet itched from the mud in her socks.

At least there was no transfer or feel to the rain. She couldn't imagine if there had been. Holly had no idea if her brain could handle going through knowing what happened to every water drop that hit her skin. The sheer magnitude was…well…yeah…

Holly dragged off the hood and dropped her suitcase on the hard wood floor.

Maybe she should have called ahead. The people that had come to the psychiatric ward to see her, Ororo Munroe and Charles Xavier, had coaxed Holly out of self imposed confinement. The promise of being around people who were just like her was tempting. A year of white walls and heavy doses of thorazine did tend to make a person consider thinking they were actually bonkers. Or was it politically correct to call them crazy now.

Call herself crazy.

Ha. Crazy.

Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters could use her spectacular talents. They could teach her to use it and control it, etcetera. Holly just wanted to stop the intense nose bleeds that happened afterward. And the blacking out. The seizures. The agony. At the rate she was going dying of blood loss or cracking her skull open seemed to be her best options.

She wondered if anyone knew she was there.

Holly, not for the first time in her life, wished she had a watch. Or a cell phone. Something that told the time. But they didn't make clean cell phones. No one made clean cell phones. No one made clean anything these days.

Once again she wondered if she was born in the wrong era. Would it have been better to live back when people sewed their own clothes and she knew where her food came from? Would it have been easier to hide her particular, if not annoying, talent?

Probably not on the latter.

The psychiatrist that she had begged to lock her up and feed her drugs had at least been progressive. He had given her the thorazine and other fantastic drugs that made her head feel lighter than air so she could sleep in a clean room that wasn't so clean. Holly was beginning to miss her clean room as she dragged her rolling suitcase – carry on sized for comfort and convince – down a hall.

The door across the hall from her opened. Holly whirled, evergreen eyes wide as saucers, her free hand clenched tightly, automatically, into a fist. Ororo Munroe, also known as Storm (the irony of that did not escape Holly) stood in the doorway.

The white haired woman's face brightened. "Holly," then the smile died a little around the edges when the older woman took in Holly's appearance. "Did you walk here?"

Holly's smile was rueful, "Just about." She yanked at her shirt and hooded jacket. They made a pitiful sucking sound as they released from her skin.

"Do you want to go to your room first? Take a hot shower and then you can come back down and…" Storm's voice trailed off. "We did send someone to pick you up at the train station. Logan must have missed you."

Holly shrugged, "I've lived through worse." A hot shower sounded good and clean clothes. Literally clean. Not just free of transfer and memory. Though that would have been nice too. Holly brushed the back of her hand across her forehead. Her mouth pressed into a thin line. "Actually a shower sounds good."

Storm's smile returned, though not in full force. She stepped out into the hallway and closed the door behind her. The older woman motioned for Holly to walk with her. "There are stairs at the end of this hall that lead up to the teacher's wing. There aren't many teachers here besides myself, and a few others."

They started up the stairs. "I assume," Storm continued, "that you are still willing to take up teaching English and manage the Library?"

Holly nodded, tugging her carry on suitcase up the stairs, "Show me to the class room and hand me a reading list."

"Good," Storm replied. They reached the landing. "You have the room across from one of our newer teachers, Kurt. The room on your right belongs to a guest, Warren, and the one on your left is occupied by the Logan. The two rooms diagonally are unoccupied right now. I'm a little further down the hall."

Holly nodded. Storm opened the door for her. Holly stepped in. The room was sort of Spartan in its lack of furnishings. There was a closet against the wall and a full sized bed in the middle of the room. A dresser stood across from the bed with a matching square mirror above it. A couple of lamps, one decorative framed painting. An out of place, lonely looking water glass. A window with a paper shade.


"I'm afraid our only negative can't wipe items by touch." Storm told her. "The sheets are new, though I'm not sure they're as clean as you need."

"As long as no one has died on them I think I'll be fine." Holly smiled ruefully and put her rolling carry on up on the bed. "Thank you Ororo."

"You're welcome. Come down when you're ready." Then the door was closed and the sound of boot heels on the ground receded down the hall until it faded completely.

Holly Harper, touch-know extraordinaire and tactile post-cognate sighed a low, long suffering sigh. She cast her gaze about the room. Her room. Her room in her new home.


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