Chapter One: Welcome to Vegas
A/N: So I decided I would revamp this first, just because I wasn't happy with some aspects of the story. Tobi's powers will have changed a bit, and some other minor changes will take place, just because I found her to be a bit Mary-Sue. It shouldn't take too long, I'd appreciate reviews, but I'm not hugely fussed if you don't because this is a rewrite and you'll have seen most of it before.
After I finish the rewrite, I will start up Stalemate, a sequel. It'll probably be a bit different to what I had before, but stay tuned for updates on this, which should be fairly quick if my uni schedule allows!
Moira McTaggert's heels clicked along the road as she crossed the street, narrowly dodging a taxi before following the rest of the scantily-clad girls towards the Hellfire Club. She felt exposed in her underwear, but knew that it was the only form of infiltration. She silently congratulated herself on her quick thinking – but then again, that was why the CIA had recruited her. She had an eye for detail, and so as she glanced around the neon-lit streets of Vegas, she noticed more than a few oddities.
There was a young boy wearing a beanie was busking on the sidewalk, strumming at his guitar with his fingers fumbling over the strings. He was inexperienced and the guitar was out of tune, yet still, he stubbornly persisted. Moira thought it was rather late for busking, but considering the boy's grubby appearance, he was probably homeless and desperately seeking money. He had quite feminine, pretty-boy features, and dark green eyes that seemed to search his surroundings almost as suspiciously as Moira searched her own. Slightly troubled, she walked into the Hellfire Club along with the other girls.
Beanie Boy snapped to attention the moment Moira entered the Hellfire Club. She had seemed way too intuitive for his liking, so he had tried not to bring any unwanted attention upon himself. He carefully placed the guitar back into it shabby case, along with the night's meager earnings, and hoisted it up. His green eyes narrowed in concentration and his grimy face was focused as he sets his sights on the man standing outside the club in a suit and diamond-encrusted gold watch. This was what he was here for.
Beanie Boy took a deep breath and steeled himself. Car horns tooted all around him and limousines were pulling up at the sidewalk at consistent intervals. Beanie Boy knew that Fiddler was counting on him for this, and he couldn't afford to let him down. He strolled almost casually past a group of men in penguin suits, a dirty little street urchin among the wealthy. They didn't even look at him because he was worth nothing.
A smile worked at the corners of Beanie Boy's lips as he reached out and unclipped the gold watch from the man's wrist, before slipping it into his pocket. The man seemed to feel something, becoming discontent, but Beanie Boy quickly replaced the feelings with his own, soothing the man, lulling him once more into a state of contentment. By the time the man even realised his watch was gone, Beanie Boy would have already disappeared.
He smirked to himself as he quickly changed route and headed down a side alley. It should have been abandoned at this time of night, but all sorts of criminals and miscreants lurked about the place. Criminals, Beanie Boy could deal with. It was only when he sensed two men following him that he started to worry. He was not a psychic or telepath – fairly close, but not quite close enough – but still Beanie Boy could sense the individual differences between one person and another. These two meant trouble.
"Oi! We saw that!" One of the men shouted loudly. "What you doing stealing on our turf, Tobi?"
Beanie Boy – or rather, Tobi – kept up his brisk pace, ignoring the two men trailing behind him. He could run if he really wanted to, but these two had been picking on him for so long that he would relish a fight. A smile curved the corners of Tobi's lips as the two men behind him gained speed.
"Hey!" yelled the same man, anger rising in his voice. "I'm talking to you, brat!"
Tobi whirled around to face the men, his grip tightening on the guitar case as they sprinted towards him. He could feel their emotions, tell that they were prepared to beat him to a pulp. Knowing people and how they felt and what they'd do made them somewhat easier to fight. The first man, the one who had called out to Tobi, rushed at him with a fist raised.
Tobi swung his guitar case in a quick circle so that it clipped the man in the jaw. He howled in rage and staggered backwards as the second man, the one with the mustache, came at Tobi. Despite the constricted space, Tobi managed to sweep his foot in an arc and knock Mustachio to the ground. The first man – Tobi liked to think of him as Shouter – was back on his feet by this stage.
Tobi grinned as he bounced on the balls of his feet, preparing to strike. When he'd started in this business, he'd quickly realised there'd be competition – and therefore he had learned to be fast, lightning fast. It was something he had learned by instinct. To Tobi, the ability to be quick came like someone jumping at the sound of a gunshot – a reaction by now.
"Hello, boys," Tobi said in a sardonic voice, cocking an eyebrow. "Looking for trouble, are we? Well, here I am."
Shouter snarled. "No one beats me, brat."
Tobi just shrugged nonchalantly. "If that's what helps you sleep at night."
He swung a roundhouse kick, which Shouter dodged…but then the guitar case swung around as well, slamming the man into a wall. He hit his head with quite some force and slid to the ground, lying in a crumpled heap on the concrete. Tobi turned and raised his eyebrows at Mustachio, who was gritting his teeth as he staggered to his feet, nervously eyeing Shouter's motionless form. The two men were a lot bigger than Tobi and if they managed to get him, he'd be down for sure, but he was a lot quicker than them and so if he kept his fast pace up and they didn't manage to beat him down, he could win.
"You sure you want to do this?"
Mustachio lunged at Tobi, who threw down the case and kicked it behind him. Tobi sensed that Mustachio was angry and rather embarrassed at being shown up, so he saw the fist before it hit him, and he moved quickly, his booted foot making contact with the man's forehead. He watched in satisfaction as Mustachio slumped to the ground beside Shouter. Tobi picked up the battered guitar case and slung it over his shoulder, continuing on his merry way.
"People these days."
Tobi restrained a smug smile as he presented Fiddler with the gold watch, checking to make sure the quality was good and that the little thief hadn't nabbed a fake. Fiddler observed the boy with an impassive expression. Tobi had come to them two years ago and in that time, Fiddler hadn't figured out anymore about him than he had known to start with. All he knew was that Tobi was an orphan, or so he claimed.
Fiddler didn't question him because – well, aside from the fact that Tobi was his best thief, the boy also possessed some strange habits at times. He never understood why Tobi never took his beanie off, not even when he slept. Bishop, another young thief, had tried once…and Tobi had broken his fingers for his trouble. What was so important to him about that beanie? Fiddler didn't think he would ever know.
"Well done, kid," Fiddler nodded his approval as he put the watch in along with all the rest of Tobi's gatherings from the month's work, "That can't have been easy."
"I think I deserve a little extra," Tobi interjected quickly, knowing that he was daring for asking a bit of a raise on this one. "I was taken on by two of those ruffians from the new gang…dunno what it's called."
Fiddler raised his eyebrows and observed Tobi disbelievingly. He'd gone up against two men, yet there wasn't a scratch or bruise on him anywhere. He shook his head slowly, laughing. The boy was fast, there was no doubt about that, but he thought it more likely that Tobi was telling tall tales.
"Nice try, Tobi. You expect me to believe that? Off with you, go on."
Tobi stood his ground. The boy was brazen, Fiddler would give him that much. He never seemed to know when he should hold his tongue.
"I'm not lying! I hit them both with my guitar case."
Fiddler just shrugged and Tobi seethed as he realised that the man didn't believe him. He headed up the stairwell to the tiny room he shared with two other boys, Digit and Bishop. Both were older than Tobi and despised the fact that he was Fiddler's best thief. They had been stealing for years, while Tobi had been skilled at pick-pocketing from the day he arrived. Tobi didn't think it was because of any real talent at stealing, but of the emotions he managed to churn out to placate his victims, make sure they didn't even realise what was happening at the time.
"What's the matter?" Digit mocked him from where he lazed on the top bunk. "Didn't you manage to get the watch? Shame. Fiddler will have to send someone with more…experience."
Tobi ignored them and stormed into the bathroom, slamming and locking the door behind him. He wrinkled his nose at how filthy it was. Fiddler would probably get him to clean it for his recent attitude. Tobi knew there was something very different about him, different from anyone else. He'd known it for five years now. He had had his arm broken by Digit and he hadn't felt a thing. He could sense other people's emotions. He had extremely good senses and his reflexes…they were like nothing anyone had ever seen. It was as if for Tobi, time slowed down and allowed him to move faster.
What was he, exactly? He didn't know anyone else who had the sort of abilities he possessed…so he felt like a freak, uncomfortable in his own skin. Soon enough, he would break away from Fiddler's little gang of thieves. The only thing was, he'd been convincing himself that he would leave ever since he'd arrived…and he was still there.
"So, who are we looking for this time?" Erik Lehnsherr asked rather boredly as he and Charles Xavier roamed the streets of Las Vegas. It didn't take a genius to figure out that they were out of place. A scantily-clad woman raised her eyebrows suggestively at Erik, but he ignored her. He and Charles were looking for another mutant, but Charles's description had been rather vague.
Charles himself was rather confused. Most mutants that Charles could find were open-minded, but this mutant – this child – was a different story entirely. All Charles knew was that his name was Tobi, he had green eyes, he was approximately fourteen and he was around Raven's height.
"His name is Tobi. He has green eyes and…I'm not sure what else. I don't even know what his ability is."
Erik laughed mirthlessly and shook his head in disbelief. From the sound of it, this mutant had the ability to seal himself off from telepaths like Charles. It looked like whoever this kid was, he was not only powerful, but most likely he didn't want to be found.
"So how do you know he's here?" Erik asked almost mockingly, "A lucky guess?"
"I saw his surroundings, Erik," Charles replied a little frostily. He was curious about this child, because he hadn't known another mutant who could block out his power unless they themselves were a telepath. Normally such powers came on the cusp of adolescence, so the boy was extremely powerful for a mutant of his age. If he had been a little older, it would be most understandable, but…
Erik and Charles stared across the street as a boy in a beanie sprinted down the street…but he was fast, unnaturally so. The boy moved with a speed that couldn't be normal. He had to be a mutant and Charles felt a surge of recognition as he turned to Erik and nodded.
"I think we've found Tobi."
Simultaneously, both men broke into a run.