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Author's Notes

This story was begun way back in mid 2001, as an attempt to break the writer's block I ran into while writing Nasty Boyz. As fans of that story can attest, it didn't work. After being shelved for many a month, I brought it back down and finished it off. More for my own piece of mind than anything else… Anyway, kudos to anyone who can guess where in the fic I took my sabbatical.

As fitting with its time of conception, this story takes place in late first season continuity, with absolutely no relation to the aforementioned Nasty Boyz. (But if you enjoy this, read Nasty Boyz anyway.) Coincidently, I'm rather glad I started writing this particular fic, as some of my other early stories would have been gutted by second season appearances. (Ask me about my idea for Arcade Games, or for a Morlock story featuring Marrow, Wolfsbane, Beast, and Angel. AND Captain America! At least Fury's spot had already been split between Sharon Carter and Henry Gyrich…)

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Additional note

"...As some of my other early stories would have been gutted by second season appearances."

I wrote the above statement when this story was originally posted, slightly before mid second season, and it seems to imply that this story isn't gutted by second season appearances. Ah, how naive and foolish I was back then... That being said, this story takes place completely outside the confines of second seasons continuity.

And on that note, I'm going to go out on a limb and make a little prediction for Evolution's third season. Clint Barton. Mark my words, he'll show up. One way or another. Yeah, he's kind of a long shot, but the other three core Avengers have shown up, and I always figured Apocalypse would have been the longest shot of them all...

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Speed and Spyte

Monday

Inside the Bayville High library…

Evan Daniels leaned forward, gazing balefully at his opponent. "Yo momma's so fat," he uttered slowly, his voice dripping with malice, "she has to ask Blob for dieting tips."

Unfazed, Pietro Maximoff looked back at Evan through hooded eyes. "Yo momma's so ugly, even Clinton turned her down."

Evan scowled, slightly. "Yo momma's so old, when she was in school, there was no History class."

Pietro's expression remained unchanged. "Yo momma's so fat, her blood type is 'Ragu.'"

Evan's eyes narrowed as he prepared his response. "Yo momma's so dumb… She's stupid."

Immediately, Pietro opened his mouth to chastise Evan for his inane comment. However, he caught himself before he actually said anything. Tilting his head slightly, Pietro closed his eyes, as if acknowledging his near-defeat. After a moment, he delivered his response. "Yo momma's so short, she has to look up at Mini Me."

Evan shook his head. Both because Pietro failed to fall for his ruse, and because of his lame comeback. "Yo momma's so slow, snails tell her to speed up."

Pietro's face hardened. Daniels had crossed the line with that remark. Pietro narrowed his eyes, and spat out his response with renewed intensity. "Yo momma's so fat, it takes her two trips to haul ass!"

Evan responded with equal intensity and malice. "Yo momma's so old, her birth certificate says 'expired!'"

"Yo momma's so dumb, she stamps her e-mails!"

"Yo momma's so fat, her shadow weighs a hundred pounds!"

"Yo momma's so hairy, Xavier thought she was the mutant of the family!"

"Hey!" Loosing his composure, Evan slammed his fist down on the table.

Instantly, all malice vanished from Pietro's voice, being replaced by simple arrogance. "Well, well, well... Looks like you've lost, Daniels." Smirking, Pietro snatched a notepad out of his backpack. With his unique arrogant flair, he added a tally mark. "…Again. So, you up for another game, or have you suffered enough humiliation for one day?"

Disgusted by his defeat, Evan pushed himself away from the table. "I don't think so, Pietro. Class is almost over anyway."

"Suit yourself." In an instant, Pietro had leaned his chair back and propped his feet up on the table. In the process he had snatched a book from his backpack. "Besides, I kinda wanted to get some reading done today. I started a new book yesterday and I just can't wait to finish it..." Pietro propped the book in front of his face, with the cover prominently displayed for all to see.

'War and Peace,' thought Evan as he read the cover. Evan noted that Pietro was over half way through it. 'Show-off....' At that point, Pietro flipped the page. He did it just quiet enough to seem innocent, but just loud enough to be noticed by those around him. Evan scowled at his classmate.

Flip.

At that point, two girls walked over to the duo. The first girl glanced at her companion with a look of annoyance on her face. "Gee, what a surprise. Evan and Pietro, doing nothing..."

Flip.

The second girl sighed and addressed the two boys. "Well, congratulations. You've done it. You've wasted the entire week in the library. I don't suppose you've even started writing your half of the report?" The sarcasm in the girl's voice was evident.

"Started? Finished." Without looking up from his book, Pietro tapped his hand on a stack of papers laying on the table. "Here's our half, researched, written, and proofread. All that remains is for you to type it up. Now get to it, women!"

The girls regarded Pietro with annoyed expressions on their faces.

Flip.

"We, uh, kinda finished early," said Evan, trying to break the uncomfortable silence.

At that point, the bell rang, signaling the end of class.

Before the bell had finished ringing, Pietro had tossed his book back in his bag, and had his backpack slung over his shoulder. "'Bout time. Well, I'd love to stay and chew the fat, but I've got places to go and people to see. Catch you on Monday." With that, Pietro zipped out the door as quickly as school rules allowed.

Evan turned to his teammates with an apologetic look on his face. "Look, I'm sorry 'bout Pietro. He's... Well... He's Pietro. If you need any help typing up the report…"

The first girl sighed as she slipped the stack of papers into her book bag. "Nah, we've got it covered. And don't worry about Petey, over there. It's not your fault he got stuck in our group…"

"Cool," said Evan, relieved that he wouldn't be spending the weekend typing up a report. "I'll see you when we turn in the report, then."

The girls mumbled a few cordial good-byes as Evan strode out of the library.

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In the halls of Bayville…

A short while later, Evan had stashed his books in his locker and headed toward the school cafeteria. On his way there, Rogue caught up to him.

"Hey, Evan," said Rogue, in her heavy southern accent. "Ah hear you and Peitro are doin' a do a project togethah."

Evan rolled his eyes. "Wow, Rogue, nothing gets by you…"

"Shut up! Ah've had a busy week…" Rogue's voice softened a bit. "So, how'd it happen?"

Evan let out a sigh and continued without the sarcasm. "Well, the day that the groups were picked, Pietro and I were both out on one of our.. Well, it was the day of the Sewer Incident."

A knowing look came over Rogue's face. "Ah... Yeah, Ah remebah that. Wasn't too fun…"

"That's an understatement. My costume still hasn't come clean… Anyway, since Peitro and I weren't in class, the teacher just assigned us to a group that was two people short."

"Ouch. So how'd the project go?"

Evan abruptly chucked. "Pretty easy, actually. The two girls in our group decided to do half of the project on their own, and leave the other half to us. …Guess they just didn't want to deal with us, or something… Anyway, Pietro got wind of the assignment before I did, so he hit the library one afternoon and finished the whole thing in ten minutes." Evan chuckled again. "So basically, that gave Pietro and I the whole week to just sit around and insult each other!"

As the couple entered the cafeteria, Rogue gave Evan a very suspicious sideways glance. Deciding the it wasn't worth commenting on, Rogue let the topic drop as she and Evan got into the lunch line.

But while Rogue's thoughts had moved on, Evan's had remained on Pietro. Or rather, Pietro's actions. Throughout the week, Pietro had always dashed out of the library as soon as class was over, muttering something flippant about having someplace else to be. And as Evan thought about, he hadn't seen Peitro in the cafeteria all week. Indeed, he rarely saw Peitro in the cafeteria at all. Or anywhere else in the school, for that matter. Evan suddenly found himself very concerned over the whereabouts of his rival.

"Hey Rogue," he finally asked, "when you were part of the 'Hood, did you and Pietro ever talk much?"

"Not really…" Replied Rogue, somewhat surprised, and bit unnerved by the question. "He joined right 'bout the time Ah was leavin'. And when Ah was there, he really didn't talk to me, much…"

"Not that its any of your business…" Startled, Evan and Rogue turned to find Lance Alvers standing in line behind them. Lance had his arms crossed, and wore a rather bemused expression on his face. "…But Pietro doesn't talk much to anyone."

Curious, Evan cocked his head slightly. "You mean he doesn't hang around with you guys?"

Lance almost burst out laughing. "Heck no! That kid runs off every chance he gets! 'Bout the only time he hangs with us is when we've got some mission." Lance smirked. "…Like mopping the sewers with you guys…"

Evan was about to retort when he noticed Todd Tolanski approaching. Todd was wearing an uncharacteristic smile, and was holding a tray laden with five wrapped burritos. "Hey, Lance," he called out as he passed. "What'cha doin' in this line? They've got burritos over at A-La Carte…"

"Huh?"

Lance stepped out of line and looked across the room. Somewhat curious, Evan and Rogue followed his gaze. What they saw was Fred Dukes--all three hundred pounds of him--standing at the front of the A-La Carte line, paying for a sizable stack of bean burritos.

This did not sit well with Lance. "Oh GAAAWD, Dukes! That's disgusting!" Todd just laughed. "I am NOT sitting with you people…" Glaring back and forth between Tolanski and Dukes, Lance stepped back into line. "Y'know, maybe Pietro's on to something, here…"

Rogue and Evan could only shake their heads and sigh.

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Late afternoon, in parking lot, near the Salem Center Mall…

"Hey, Ashley! Ashley, are you coming?"

From across the parking lot, a girl quickly stuck her head out of a crowd. "In a minute, Jean!"

Smiling to herself, Jean placed the last of her bags in the back seat of Ashley's car. It had been a good day. She had survived the week, and now, thanks to a clearance sale in a certain high-end clothing store, she had a new outfit for the weekend. A rather....flashy outfit. Jean smirked as she imagined what Scott's likely reaction would be.

'He'd probably go into conniptions. That, or he'd start drooling…' Jean chuckled at this thought. 'So, when to wear it…'

Jean's reverie was broken when Ashley returned to the car. "Hey, Jean, I just ran into Karen and a couple of her friends. They're having a bit of a get-together tonight to see the new Brad Pitt movie. Think you can join 'em?"

Jean stroked her chin thoughtfully. "Gee, lets see. Go see the new Brad Pitt with a bunch of girls, or stay at home and watch the guys throw popcorn at each other during the Godzilla marathon..." Jean dropped the sarcastic tone. "I'm there. When's it start?"

Ashley smiled. "About 45 minutes. So, do you need to check in with the Institute or something before you go?"

"Nah. They know I'll be fine."

"Wish I was that lucky..." Sighing, Ashley opened the door and got into her car. "I've got to go check in with my mom before I do anything like that. C'mon, hop in."

Jean stepped into the car with a curious expression on her face. "Uh, can't you just call your mom on her cell phone?"

As she started the engine, Ashley chuckled. "Nope. She doesn't have one. She says cell phones 'needlessly complicate life.' ...Whatever that means. She's going into the future kicking and screaming."

Jean nodded understandably. "Oh well. Its not like the movie is starting now, or anything..."

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Inside the gym room of PS-76 Middle School...

"You can wait here if you want. I'll be back as soon as I can find Mom..." With that, Ashley left Jean at the doorway, and began ascending the gym's bleachers.

Not in any hurry, Jean leaned against the door frame and gazed out over the gym. Her attention was first drawn to the center of the gym, where a girl's basketball game was in full swing. Beyond that, there were coaches and inactive players lining the court, with two large sets of bleachers behind them. For a moment, Jean just marveled at the spectacle.

'Hmmm....' Jean wondered at length. 'We're here because Ashley's little sister is in the game. I wonder which one she is..." Casually, Jean closed her eyes and extended her telepathic senses. With her psionic shields down, Jean 'listened' to the presences in the room. Jean wasn't looking for anyone in particular, just a personality that resembled Ashley's...

Jean focused her search on the players on the court. Ashley had mentioned that her sister was a starter, after all. After a preliminary scan, Jean had a few promising suspects. But as she prepared for a deeper scan, she felt something at the edge of her senses. Not just 'something,' but a very familiar presence. A slight scowl formed on her face and she shifted the focus of her scan to the periphery of the room.

Abruptly, Jean's eyes shot open. She stared intently at the far corner of the gym, hoping to visually verify what she had psionically sensed. And as her eyes adjusted to the distance, she got her verification. Standing next to the bleachers, half-hidden in shadows, stood Pietro Maximoff.

'But-- What would he be doing here? Why would Mystique send him to a Middle School basketball game?' The only explanation Jean could think of was that there was mutant in the area, and Pietro was scouting the mutant. 'But if there's a mutant, wouldn't Cerebro have...'

Jean cut off that line of thought as she noticed something about Pietro's behavior. He was yelling. No, he was cheering. As a fan. As Jean squinted her eyes, she noticed that Pietro's shirt matched the color scheme of one of the teams on the basketball court.

'So, he's here on his own... ...But, why? I never thought Pietro cared about... Anything...'

"Hey, Jean? ...Jean..." Jean suddenly noticed a hand being waved in front of her face. Jean blinked a few times, then focused her attention on Ashley. "C'mon Jean, its just a basketball game. Trust me, they're not that interesting. Now C'mon! Its time to hit the theater!" With that Ashley all but dashed out of the gymnasium.

Sparing Pietro one last glance, Jean reluctantly followed.

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