ANNOUNCEMENT: Two new stories-Like a Boss: Tainted Love and We're in This Together Now,along with the update wave! Enjoy! :o)

A/N: Thanks for the reviews! Wow oscar how touching! And I understand, writing is how I relieve stress and keep happy. Glad you're enjoying my work!


(Volume: 1 Arc: "Back to School" 2 Issue: 1/6 )
"Smells Like Teen Spirit"


"Keller, Julian."

"Present," the boy from last week's near-introductory-fight says. He's looking to the side, down the line—past where Laura is standing. After a few moments she follows his gaze, but cannot tell who he is looking at. She assumes it is a girl.

"Kinney, Laura."

"Here."

Laura glares back at the people shooting her glances; she hates being the object of public scrutiny. Everyone is doing it now—staring at her like she is an animal in a cage.

The person reading off the names adjusts the clipboard in his hands. He's covered—head to toe—in a blue, leather suit; only his mouth and chin show, as his eyes are also concealed behind a red visor.

He seems to go on forever, reading names; Laura has almost dozed off when she realizes the monotonous voice has stopped momentarily.

"Excellent, we're all present and accounted for. What a strange occurrence." There is a small ripple of laughter, and the man grins. " Welcome to the fall term; those who were here for the summer will find it's a lot more work. Classes start Monday the tenth. As we did last fall, we will be re-introducing the squads for ability development."

The man pauses. "For anyone wondering, I'm the headmaster of the school….Scott Summers. My codename is Cyclops, and yes, I'm an X-man. I advise the Corsairs squad, which will be led by Specter this term. And this over here is the lovely headmistress of the school, Jean Grey-Summers."

Beside him, the headmistress shifts; she is a lady that Laura has seen before, on television. She had blazing red hair, green eyes, and a kind face; she's stunningly beautiful. Her body is sculpted and slender, yet curvy; and is displayed in an attractive manner, beneath a grey striped roll neck sweater and a pair of black leather pants.

"She advises the New Mutants squad, lead again by Wind Dancer and Prodigy."

The redhead smiles and waves to the students.

"The other ladies with us today are the squad leaders." Summers turns and gestures to a woman standing at his other elbow. She looks like she should be in Playboy. Clad in white leather thigh-high boots, a bikini, and a corset concealing large assets, with opera length gloves; she represents the kind of teacher that probably half the boys in this school fantasize about. In addition to the revealing clothes, her hair is bleached blond, and falls around a face that looks as if it has been made perfect by the after market.

"This is Emma Frost. She is the adviser to the Hellions squad. This will be led by Hellion, as per last year." He pauses, and steps aside slightly to gesture to another woman, this one younger than the others. She has slanted eyes, and pleasant, pretty features; she seems to be of First Nations origin "Here is Danielle Moonstar, the adviser of the Alpha Squadron, whose leader will again be…"

Laura begins to doze off again, bored out of her skull.

"…adjourned," the monotonous voice says, after what must be another hour.

Laura is fast asleep, and doesn't respond until someone pokes her.

"AHHHGH!" she shouts in surprise, startled from what had been a quality snooze. She stumbles slightly, catches herself, and flushes, knowing that other people are looking at the commotion she's causing. She jams her hands into her pockets and began to weave her way towards the entrance stairs quickly, not stopping to chat like the other students.

Her fingers encounters a piece of paper in the fabric folds, and pulling it out, she sees it is an outline of the meeting the one-eyed man has just gone over. She raises her eyebrows; when was this given to her?

Wrinkling her nose, Laura crumples it up into a ball and throws it at a nearby garbage can; it freezes in mid arc, surrounded by a green aura that looks vaguely familiar.

"Aren't you the least bit interested in what goes on here?" The boy from yesterday. She remembers his smooth, irritating voice as he murmured derogatory comments about her to his friends.

Laura sighs, pulls on her mitts, which she's just found in her pockets. "Leave."

"It's a free country," the boy says, stretching out his hand. The wadded ball of paper flies to his fingertips, and he opens it up, grinning. What a great excuse to talk to her. And she doesn't seem so angry now; just sleepy...so the timing is good, too.

"How you liking the school, Laura?" he asks.

"Where did you get my name from?" she retorts, her eyes narrowing. "Have you been sniffing around on me, punk?"

"I'm pretty sure the whole school knows, since Cyclops announced it at the assembly we both just attended." He meets her angry eyes. "It's a pretty name for a pretty girl."

"I didn't ask you," she says stiffly.

"You generally don't ask for compliments." He lifts his eyebrows slightly. "Here. I think we were both in bad moods yesterday." A hand is stretched out towards the girl, in a handshake; she stares at him for a while.

"I'm trying to be nice," he says.

"I'm not," Laura says.

The boy looks irritated. "Come on."

Laura is silent.

He looks down at the paper; then suddenly he shoves it towards her, his finger tapping the word Hellions under Squad choice. "This here's mine. I lead it."

"Thanks for the heads up," she says, her voice flat.

"You'll join us?" he asks.

"More like I know what to avoid now."

The boy lowers the paper. "Come on. I really want you to join my team. You've got freakin' claws! Like Wolverine! You're obviously made out of better stuff than the other kids here." He pauses, and eyes her again, this time letting his desire show. "And I bet you'd look hot wearing our uniform. I mean, damn."

Laura snatches the paper from him. "Don't get any ideas, now," she says.

"What if I already have them?" he asks, in a teasing manner; he steps closer and looks down at her. He's about half a foot taller.

"I'll beat you up," she says calmly.

"Yeah, right." He stops, and Laura follows his gaze; his eyes are pointed down her top, visible from her half-zipped jacket.

BOMF!

His head snaps back, and he stumbles. "What the—"

"I warned you," she says.

The boy rubs his jaw and glares at her. "I was just—you can't blame me! They're just there, and I—"

"Whatever," Laura says, turning.

"Wait!" He reaches out and catches her by the shoulder. "What I really came to ask you was…do you want to, you know…hang out sometime?" His voice has lost the smoothness, and now he sounds awkward. Kind of…vulnerable.

"Honestly? Not if I can avoid it." Laura says scornfully. "Maybe if you hadn't started this off by trying to get into a fight."

"That was—can't we just start over?" he asks.

"To what, before you creeped on me, or before you threatened to teach me a lesson?"

The boy's face reddens. "Both."

"No. I don't do second chances." Laura grins.

He takes his hand off her shoulder. "Okay then. Jeez." He stands for a second looking down, then disappears between some passing students. Laura stomps up the stairs to the main building, feeling tired and apathetic.

"You hit on the new girl, didn't you?"

Julian ignores the girl talking to him, instead concentrating on his mashed potatoes. He's not hungry, but he's still going to have fun with the food. The mulch needs to be grooved, for the gravy to run down properly. He's making a volcano. This is something that is leftover from his childhood and he doubts will ever change.

"And she said no?" the girl persists.

"Lay off, Cess," Julian grumbles.

"You're obviously hurt," she says quietly.

"I said, lay off. What part didn't you understand?"

"The 'lay' and the 'off'," Cessily grins at him, her teeth very white in contrast with her shiny metal skin. The only other things about her that are not metal are her solid white eyes and her blazing red hair, which is swept back into a ponytail.

"Look, tell me. You'll feel better about it once you do. She's obviously a loser to turn you down without even getting to know you better."

Julian flushes. "She didn't turn me down. I didn't ask her out. I don't even like her…even if I did, she'd just be a notch on the bedpost, know what I mean?"

"You keep a record?" the pile of rocks beside him grunts with a big stupid grin. "I thought zero is an easy number to remember."

"Shut up," Julian says, but he doesn't seem angry.

"She wasn't worth it anyway, Jules," Brian says.

Julian raises his eyebrows. "I've made my peace with it, guys…move on." He looks over at another table; more specifically, at a tanned girl, throwing her head back and laughing at something her neighbor has said. She has long, glossy hair the color of ripe chestnuts, and big, beautiful brown eyes.

For a moment, his eyes shift past her, to the girl sitting alone in the corner. Her dark hair is equally shiny; her skin is pale, and she looks much less sociable. He wonders why he keeps thinking about her, since the moment he'd seen her emerge from the car. Sure, she is beautiful…but she's not the only girl here, and she has a nasty temper.

Secretly, he wonders if that might play a small part in matters.

As he is pondering this, Laura continues to eat her tortilla at the unassigned table, casually eavesdropping on everything in the cafeteria with her undesirably sharp senses. She's taken some pills already, and feels more relaxed than earlier, when her senses had wrapped into a ball of pain and repeatedly hit her in the face.

She hears the Hellions discuss her, and then as the topic changes to other new students. The boy seems to be concerned about who is powerful, and who is not. She hears the word 'human' tossed around as an insult.

Meanwhile the table diagonal to them are talking about something called a Danger Room. It sounds like some sort of game. These kids seem to be all full of compliments for each other, and pats on the back.

Despite her grumpiness, Laura feels lonely. She misses Megan, and Aunt Debbie…even Sarah, at this moment. Even though she's still angry at the latter.

"Ah, Miss Kinney. It's nice to meet you," Scott Summers says, reaching across the table for her hand. They both remain in Laura's lap, folded; her back is ramrod straight. After a moment, he retracts the offered limb

Laura tilts her head for a moment. Summers seems to be in his early thirties, with short brown hair and a pleasant smile. Behind the red visor, she thinks his eyes may be blue, and briefly wonders why he keeps them covered all the time.

"It's okay, I understand that you didn't want to come here," he says in a kind voice. "It's hard to find out that you're a mutant."

"I've had my powers as long as I can remember," Laura says flatly. She doesn't blink. This is something she likes to do to figures of authority—stare at them, unwaveringly, unti they look away. For some reason, her eyes do not smart when she holds them open for long periods of time; no one has ever beat her at a staring contest.

"I see." Summers makes a note on his pad. "So, how are you liking the school, Laura? Any questions so far?"

"Do you take Viagra every day, or was last night your first time?" Laura asks, persistent in her belief that if she does poorly—or gets expelled from the school—then Sarah will come and retrieve her.

"Mhmm. Wha—Miss Kinney." Summers clears his throat. "I understand what you're trying to do. You're a brilliant girl—you will be studying with Mrs. Summers and Dr. McCoy to see what they can do to expand your knowledge, amongst others. Your grades have always been astoundingly high—one hundred percent average is, well, unheard of. However, records indicate that you have a tendency to get into fights."

Laura shifts. "You actually bother looking at records for this dump?"

"If they are available, yes," Summers says, ignoring her insult of the school. "This former behavior has been taken into consideration were squad placing is concerned. Miss Kinney, you have been hand-picked by Emma Frost for her Hellions squad."

"That's great. Wait a minute—WHAT?" Laura leaps to her feet. "You burn that piece of paper, right now."

"Why?" Summers asks, surprised.

"That man whore Keller leads it," the girl says, her voice full of loathing.

Summers can't help it; a small smile makes it past his restraint. "I take it you've met the squad's leader, then?"

"He met me," Laura says angrily. "I do not want to participate in this 'squad'. I have perfect control over my powers. I can blend into society."

"Your mother would like us to instruct you in defense, Miss Kinney."

Laura falls silent, knowing her argument is lost. Her mother, her mother. Quietly but firmly making decisions behind her back, neatly deconstructing her life.

"That is all for today, Miss Kinney. You will be meeting with Emma this Monday, at four PM, after your first classes. Please be prepared; you will need to think up a codename that encompasses your powers, and which you will answer to while in uniform." He gives her a smile. "You're lucky, Emma lets her students choose their own names. Dani and Jean don't."

Laura closes her eyes.

"There a Laura Kinney here?" a gruff voice at the door asks.

Laura looks over her shoulder at the door. Wolverine. How awkward. He is apparently back from his elaborate, time-consuming mission, and is here to meet the 'daughter' he's known about but has never cared enough about to check up on.

What does one say in such a situation?

She gets up, and after a few moments, opens the door pensively. "Yes?"

"'llo." Wolverine is surprisingly short; she'd expected him to tower above her, but he is, in reality, only about four inches taller than herself. He looks mean and rough; his messy dark hair flies every which way, and his blue eyes look faded and weary.

Laura wishes desperately that she was anywhere but here. She lowers her head.

"Hi," she said in a small voice. "You're Wolverine?"

"You can call me 'Logan', kid. Won't even make you say 'mister'."

He touches Laura's chin to lift it up.

AWKWARD! she thought, jerking her head away in irritation.

"You're almost identical to your mom," he says, sounding surprised.

"Yes," Laura said. She didn't feel so talkative.

"Thought you'd look more like me. All things considered."

"Huh?" Laura unfolds her arms.

"Well…you are my clone, after all. Right?"

"WHAT THE FUCK, MOM? WHAT THE FUCK?" Laura pounds her fist into the tabletop, ignoring Wolverine's attempts to calm her down as she screams into the mouthpiece of the telephone at the top of her lungs. "HOW could you not TELL me? OH MY GOD! I'M JUST A SCIENCE EXPERIMENT! *YOUR* SCIENCE EXPERIMENT!"

Silence, on the other end, except for Sarah breathing.

Laura stares at the table for a moment, then hurls the cordless phone, the receiver, the lamp, and the table the whole display sits on at the wall. Everything breaks, with loud crunching and crackling noises.

"Kid—" the man says in the background.

"Leave me alone," Laura says.

"Kid…I didn't know she didn't tell you….I…I wouldn't have said anything…" Wolverine looks just the smallest bit disturbed. Laura is clenching her fists so hard they are shaking.

SNIKT!

"Huh. You have less than I do." Logan rubs his chin.

Laura pauses, studying the older man. "Please, leave. I'll…I'll talk to you later, when I'm not so upset. I need to be alone now."

He nods. She hears the door close behind him.

Laura sits on the edge of the bed and holds her face in her hands.

"Kinney! Hey, Kinney!"

Laura's neck twitches in irritation, as the boy comes jogging towards her, his breath coming in puffs in the cool autumn air.

"I thought I told you I wanted nothing to do with you," she says, when he reaches her.

"So did I." The boy pauses. "But you picked my squad, after all. I'm guessing you changed your mind."

"You've been misinformed. I was picked for your squad. I had no choice." Laura wrinkles her nose. "I hate this school."

He frowns. "But it's great here. Give it a chance." He pauses. "Give us a chance."

Laura looks up, but she can't forget the first impression he'd made on her. "I want to go home. I hate it here, I hate everyone, and most of all I hate you. I really wish you'd leave me alone so I could be miserable in peace."

"Doesn't misery love company though?" he asks.

"Not your company." She looks down. "Really, can't you just go away? It's not that hard."

The boy pauses. "Laura—look, if we're going to be on the same unit, we at least have to be civil to each other. I know I shouldn't have…done that the other day. But maybe you should be flattered instead of insulted."

Laura stares at him. "Did you really just…oh god. You are to vomit." She rips her hand out of his attempt to grasp her wrist so fast that he was left holding her glove. "Leave me alone, forever."

"No! I didn't mean that…dammit Laura! I just said that wrong!" He holds her mitt, feeling useless and furious at himself. "Look… I like you. I want to be your friend. You're really…interesting."

"Well, you're not!" Laura retorts, sneering. "You're just another douche bag. Get the hell out of my face, Keller. There's no way I'm going to join a group of kids called Hellion and the Hellions. Who the fuck does that?"

"I didn't. Just listen." Keller puts his hands on her shoulders. "Emma Frost asked me to pick a name. I knew she had a group of students called that before. I decided I liked the sound…it was so cool, and I wanted to prove I was worth her time. I didn't know she was going to form a squad named that again…and I was embarrassed." He grins slightly.

Laura raises her eyebrows. "You, embarrassed? I wouldn't think you'd know what that emotion is."

"Sure I do." He pauses. "Not my fault I don't have much cause to feel it."

"Spare me." Laura shoves him away and takes off across the grounds, not even bothering to retrieve the mitt he still holds.

Julian watches her go, and for the third time in a short period, finds himself feeling angry that he hadn't handled the interaction better…at the same time that he's studying her behind and thinking she looks as good going as she does coming.

Knock knock knock.

Laura tears the door open. She had leapt out of her bed and run to the entrance well before the rapping began; this was because she had known he was coming the second he made the turn to her hallway.

"What do you want?" Laura's enraged eyes search his.

After a moment of recovery, Keller holds up the mitt she'd left behind outside. "Thought you might want this back."

"It's contaminated now." Laura leans back and makes a disgusted face. "You got your slime on it."

"Oh come on." Keller seems annoyed, and he tries to hand the mitt to her; he succeeds in pushing it into her hand, only to have it dropped.

"What the hell is your problem?" he fumes, finally pushed beyond the limit of his patience. "I'm trying to be nice to you! I don't offer my friendship to everyone, you know!"

"That's exactly why I don't want it," Laura says, her eyes narrowed. "I'm not going to be the friend of someone who seems to think he's 'the chosen one'. Well, I have a news flash for you!" She grins. "You're not special. You're average. You're weak. You might as well be a human."

Keller's eyes widen dramatically, and she knows her words have hit home. "What the—what did you just call me?"

"Human," Laura arches her eyebrows. "You shouldn't even be at this school."

The boy studies her for a few moments, his eyes narrowing to squints. Laura realizes she's had the luck to touch on a major sore spot, and a fight is about to break out. The fight that could get her expelled from here!

"This from the clone," Keller says suddenly. "Word is you're nothing but a cheap knock-off of Wolverine. You're not even original."

Laura is moving before she realizes it.

KA-SMACK!

"URF!" Keller's head moves to the side; when she lowers her hand, she can see an outline of her fingers on the skin of his cheek, blazoned in purple. In her delicate ears, the hallways are still echoing slightly with the fleshy sound.

"You stop talking right now, you piece of shit!" she snaps.

"That's IT!" Keller roars. "I'm DONE withbeing nice!"

He barrels into her room, knocking her to the ground in a twisted, squirming mass. Laura swings her booted foot up as hard as she can, but finds it blocked by an invisible resistance. As he struggles to force his fist down into her face, she bites the knuckles.

"Grr!" he shouts, yanking his fist back. "What—"

BONK! Her forehead colliding with his. Really, really hard.

"Woah!" Keller sits up and sways, with an odd look.

He doesn't see Laura's fist coming in for a knockout punch.

"…where…" Julian sits up, too fast, and feels the room rush around him. What room is he in? His head hurts. He holds his face with his hand, and tries to focus.

"Don't move so fast," Laura's voice, from the corner of the room. He peers through his fingers and makes out that she is sitting on the chair, by her desk…and she is holding a nail file, casually grooming her nails.

Julian blinks.

"I knocked you out," she says. "You probably have a mild concussion. So stay down, you idiot…or you could make it worse."

"…so I just lie here?" he asks, confused.

"Yup."

"I thought we were fighting," he says.

"Yup."

Silence.

"What about now?" he asks.

"Well, I figured it ended with me knocking you out. Unless you want me to kill you. Actually, wish I had. I would've done the world a favor."

Julian reaches up and wipes his nose; when he looks at the back of his hand, there is blood. "Shit," he says.

"I hit you hard." Laura's voice is full of satisfaction.

He flushes in embarrassment. Now everyone's going to know he lost a fight to a girl. Actually—to begin with—he will be looked upon poorly for fighting with a girl in the fist place. There's no way he can come out of this looking good.

"You're such a bitch," he murmurs.

"And you're a cocksure asshole." She sneers down at him. "Get the hell out of my room, Keller."

Gritting his teeth, Julian scrapes himself off the ground and lunges for the door, slamming it behind him.