Finally, I've had time to TYPE chapter 15! Big thanks to StormyNightengale for beta-ing this chapter =) Tahsa's all hers, so thanks so much for the inspiration! Hope you enjoy learning a little bit more about the elusive Hack!
Chapter 15: Reminiscence
The room was dark but for the light of the digital clock, the red numbers unforgivably reading 3:47 am. The soft strains of music were overpowered by the restless scuffling coming from the bed.
A lamp bloomed slowly to life and Natasha sat up, her long brown hair coming loose in chunks from the braid she had slept in. Moving about silently, Natasha pulled a sweater over the old tank top that served as her pyjama top and piled a number of the heaviest tomes on her bookshelf into an old backpack. Easing the door open, Natasha slipped quietly into the hallway and padded softly down to the medical bay.
As the heavy stainless steel door into the large recovery room hissed quietly open, Natasha placed a hand on one of the light switches, telling a few specific lights to flicker into dim existence. Natasha moved though the shadows to the farthest corner of the room, the opposite direct from where Kane lay hooked up to a number of machines with an IV protruding from his hand. Dropping her bag on an empty cot, Natasha collected another pile of texts from the nearby desk, which she had quickly made her own. Dumping the tomes from her backpack, Natasha made herself comfortable amidst the haphazard pile of books and pulled the thickest text into her lap, flipping it open with a heavy thud.
Neurology Natasha though as she read through the medical text, her mind wandering back to her early university career.
Her parents had only ever wanted the best for their daughter. They knew she could do whatever she put her mind to, so they pushed her to be the best. A Surgeon.
Money wasn't really a problem – with her high marks, Natasha had qualified for two scholarships, her entrance scholarship alone promising to pay for her entire University career so long as she kept her make above an 85%.
The second scholarship was of a more confusing origin. The letterhead had been simple - an X atop a laurel wreath. Beneath the embalm were the words Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. Natasha remembered thinking it was odd she was receiving a scholarship from a school she had never attended or applied to, let alone heard of. Reading through the letter, her eyes had widened. It spoke of things she had told no one about – a secret she had kept for six months to herself. How do they know? How COULD they know? Her mind had raced. This man – this Charles Xavier, was offering to cover all her university expenses until she decided she was finished with school, on the condition she contact him about... well, that.
After much debate, Natasha had contacted him, and accepted his help, knowing that with his help and support, she could make her parents proud.
Natasha had enrolled in the Pre-Med program at Hudson University, and she stayed with it for three years. If she had completed all of the practical work – all the hospital placements and staff assignments, she would have graduated early.
Somewhere in her third year, Natasha decided she didn't want to be a surgeon. She didn't want to be in pre-med. She cringed, remembering how well that had gone over with her parents.
And they still didn't know she was a mutant.
Turning a page, she absent-mindedly fingered the pages of a long-forgotten letter, throwing her mind even further into her past as it dragged up long-buried memories.
"Damn Computer!" Natasha's chin length locks splayed wildly as the high-school senior fought with the archaic desktop computer her parents had moved into her bedroom until Natasha could afford a laptop. The blasted thing wouldn't even turn on. Just two more weeks the thought played through her head like the strains of a bad song. It had become her mantra as of late – just two weeks. Two weeks until her next paycheque. Two weeks until she had enough money to buy that laptop she had fallen in love with over the summer.
Two weeks until she could get rid of the outdated computer that was so old, it wouldn't even run.
"Natasha!" The shrill pitch of her mother's voice broke through her train of thought, "Natasha! If you want to make it to work, we have to leave. Now"
Laptop – then a car. Natasha promised herself for the umpteenth time, wrinkling her nose as the smell of salt, sweat and fryer oil wafted off her très chic McDonald's visor. She grabbed the offending article and hoisted her messenger bag over her shoulder as she headed for the door. Thursday nights she could normally manage to get some homework in.
It was close to midnight when Natasha staggered into her room after work. The shift had felt longer than it actually was, and cleanup had managed to just drag on. There had been an electrical issue at the restaurant, and their computers were on the fritz, so all the calculations had to be done by hand.
With a reluctant sight, Natasha pushed the power button on the heavy tower, resigned to the fact that it wouldn't respond, but silently willing it to. A jolt seemed to light up her hand, and Natasha's eyes flew wide as the tower instantly hummed to life.
Must be my lucky night Natasha smiled as she began to plug away on her English essay.
Natasha didn't really think anything of it as her technological luck seemed to improve over the coming months, passing it off as the idea that her luck just really had changed for the better.
Until she got the letter from the Xavier Institute.
She remembered the bolded type of the word Technologically Empathic and Technology Manipulation.
But more still, she remembered how the words Advanced Molecular Mutation had sent a shudder through her slight frame.
What would people think if they knew she was a... a mutant.
She had contacted the institute reluctantly, wanted to talk to this Xavier and find out how he knew – and what he could do to fix it.
Everything and Nothing.
Those were his answers. Natasha had played it off originally, insisting he must have answered her backwards. Some people did that – answered the most recent question before the first.
Well – not Xavier.
They had talked for weeks, until Natasha began to understand exactly what he was saying about who she was.
He could help her control her power, help her grow.
She had jumped at the chance, glad to have someone to talk to – knowing her parents would never understand.
Natasha was only two months into her first semester when 'they' started to appear.
It didn't matter what you called them – everyone had heard of the Avengers.
Capitan America, who had somehow fought in the second world war and didn't look a day over 30.
Iron Man, the man in the metal suit.
Thor, the guy with the god-complex
Hawkeye, the sharpshooter...
Hawkeye. Natasha's heart had fluttered at the name. She decided then and there that she had to be a part of the team – she had to be something MORE than just your 'average' university student.
So she'd contacted Xavier, who had told her that he didn't have contact with the Avengers, but put her in contact with S.H.I.E.L.D, the team he claimed was behind the Heroes.
In no time at all, Natasha had fired off an email to some Colonel, and sat eagerly awaiting their response.
It came two days later.
Dear Miss Natasha Dugan
We regret to inform you that we have no recollection of this 'team' to which you refer, nor have we any idea how you came to contact us.
We respectfully request that you remove this transpodance from your memory.
Natasha had taken the woman's advice and forgotten about joining the Avengers. What had she been thinking anyways? Why would they want some kid still in school on their team? All she could do was play with the tech and do the behind-the-scenes stuff.
She wouldn't be much help to them.
It was Februray before the Avengers crossed her mind again. Natasha had been dragged to a frat party by some of the girls in her class, and was regretting every minute of it. As much as she loved her school, it had to be in the sketchiest part of the city she had ever seen. All year long, she'd been hearing horror stories about bar fights and spiked drinks at even the most docile get-togethers, so she had long ago tucked herself in a corner with a water bottle full of fruit punch and was sipping slowly as she watched the people mingle.
"Hey there honey." The voice, deep and masculine, startled her from her trance like state.
"Oh – um, hi?" Natasha stammered, meeting the deep blue eyes of a handsome young man. He looked fairly sober, and his eyes were bright, but his blond hair stuck out at wild angles. He looks like he just took a tumble. Natasha blushed at the thought – how had her mind come to that assumption? It sounded like something her mother would say.
"I'm Clint." The man offered his hand. "I'm the V.P. of Eta Xi Kappa." He smiled and it took Natasha a moment to place the name of the Fraternity.
"Oh, so this is your party?" She asked lamely, he mind racing. Have I ever heard anything about him? The name doesn't seem familiar... maybe he doesn't run in the darker circles...
"That it is." He replied with a mischievous smile. "And as VP, it is my job to make sure all our guests are having an amazing time. You however, don't seem to meet the mandate."
"Parties aren't really my thing." Natasha answered honestly, punctuation the statement with a shrug.
"And what is your thing..." He trailed off, hoping she'd supply her name.
"Natasha. I'm Pre-Med." She gave a small smile. If nothing else, the boy was hot. "But I'm more into the drama and English scenes." Again, she wondered what was so special about this man. She had never told anyone how she'd preferred English or Drama to Med School.
"Well Nat, it's a pleasure to meet you. Make sure you stick around, I'm sure we could use a doctor in the house." He winked and took her by the arm, "Let's go get me something to drink." He smiled again, steering her away from the wall.
Natasha shook her head sharply, like a dog shaking water from its ruff. She didn't want to think about Clint the name was like acid as it oozed through her mind. She turned back to her books, absently thinking that her powers had been subconsciously responsible for her switching majors. English and Drama didn't use a quarter of the technology that Medical students did, and it made things so much easier on her to do something she loved.
Xavier had been perfectly aware that Natasha was not a certified Medical Practitioner when he asked her to head the med bay with Hank, but he had faith in her abilities none the less.
The clock read 4:50 now, and Natasha was still pouring over her old medical books, anxious and worried she had missed something with Kane.
Worried she made a mistake.
A heavy hand landed on her shoulder, startling Natasha from her scholarly trance. "Natasha?" The voice belong to Hank, one of Xavier's confidants. "Are you aware that it is not yet six am?" there was a smile of amusement in his voice, under the tone of worry.
"Unfortunately." Natasha replied with a sigh.
"Is everything well?" The ape-like mutant worried.
"I-yes – I was just double checking Kane's files..."
"You couldn't sleep." His eyes crinkled and Natasha shook her head. "May I?" he indicated a space at the foot of the bed not overrun with textbooks, sitting when Natasha nodded in approval.
Hank and Natasha spent most of the morning in the medical bay, going over old tomes and chatting. It was just past 10 am when Natasha yawned. "Well." She yawned again, "I believe it's nap time." She moved her current manual off her lap so she could stand. "If you'll excuse me?"
"Of course..." Hank paused a moment. "Ahem... Natasha. I was wondering if you would permit me to escort you around Bayville this weekend – you can get to know the town a little better." He tried.
"Yes Hank, I would like that very much." She said, giving him a warm smile, full of promise.
Yay for FINALLY turning out another chapter! I know I promised this one weeks ago, but life is psychotic atm. I work like, every day, and when I'm not at work, I'm sleeping (yes... i suck!) So, hope this will help whet your appetites and ready for more. 16 is still in the planning stages, but if it goes the way I'm thinking (it never does) it will be awesome! (it somehow manages to be.)
Now for a nap!
X3 Emmy X3