By PhantomChajo

Chapter 1 - Truths

How long has it been? Maybe two since I had that run in with the F.O.H. and Cindy's death? A week since her funeral? Its hard for me to keep track at the moment.

When I awoke that morning after her death, I found my wings swathed in bandages. A day later, Gene or if you prefer, Firebird, told me the extent of my injuries. I had dislocated my left shoulder. Several bird shot pellets had been removed from both the back of my thighs as well as the back of my head. And to top it off, my wings had been shredded. Though if you saw them at the moment, they look a lot like someone had turned them into a patch work quilt.

That someone that had stitched me back up was none other then my oh so loving and caring 'Father,' Nathaniel Essex.

Mr. Sinister.

I'm not going to ask how he did it. Though I can guess rather well. If my wings had been covered in feathers, it would be a simple matter of closing the wounds, letting them heal then repairing the damaged or missing feathers. But since my wings were like those of a bat, well it was a lot harder. Especial since so much of the flight membrane had gone missing. He apparently cloned the delicate tissue and then cut and stitched together. Just like a tailor piecing together a shirt or such. I will grant him this. He has a very steady and even stitch pattern. Once the stitches are removed, I'm sure the scars will hardly be noticeable.

I've been grounded till said wounds heal. It can't get any worse right? Wrong.

Semester finals was a week away and I had jack shit done for them. I haven't been to any of my classes since that day. Too doped up on pain killers to be able to pay attention. Though I have managed to get a few people from said classes to keep me up to date on what's going on as well as provide me with notes, assignments and all that fun stuff.

I haven't even been in to work. Jake won't let be behind the bar to mix anything. He says the drugs would interfere with my judgment also. So there goes my little nest egg I had set aside. Sorry, I just can't mooch off of the others. They would willingly give me the money I need, or even pay the few bills that I, personally, have. It's not like we ever keep track of who owe whom what. I just can't do that.

"Playing Squall?" a teasing voice asked. "Having an internal conversation with yourself? Or are you just brooding again?"

"Huh?" I looked up. I didn't realize I had been brooding again. I seem to be good at that. "was I glaring this time?" shifting in my seat and propping my chin on my fist.

"No. More like you had this expression of," Emily waved a hand a moment as she searched for the right words. "Whimsical sadness and longing. Though if this was a cartoon, you'd have a thunder cloud over you and rain coming down on your head." With that said she gently ran a hand though my hair after caressing my cheek.

Her touch is as light and familiar as any one of the others. Though with her, I get the image/sensation of a snowflake and a soft, yet chill breeze. The drugs must have kicked in while I was brooding. I'm seeing and feeling things that are not there.

"Earth to Drac, come in Drac." She said getting my attention again.

"Sorry." I said absently as I took her hand and kissed her palm. She wasn't the only one concerned about me. They all were.

"Come on John. Things will look up soon enough," a second voice said from behind Emily. It had an ever so slight British tinge to it. "you've said so many a time."

"Maybe, but none of us has been seriously injured any time recently either Bret." I pointed out.

"Hey, you're alive. Don't knock it." His arm snaked about Emily's waist as he gave her a kiss on the cheek. "Now get your sorry tail up out of that chair and come eat. Lunch is ready."

Bret and Emily each took one of my hands and pulled me up before guiding me out of the study and down to the dinning room.

"I can walk." I protested slightly.

"So you can. But that doesn't mean you'd show up any time soon. By the time you did, the food would be cold or gone." Bret commented.

"Alright, alright. So I haven't been hungry over the last few days."

"Try the last week and a half," Emily corrected.

I didn't say anything. They were right and I knew it. Nor could I argue against all eight of them when they ganged up on me. I might be the de facto leader of the group, but it didn't mean I could get away with things. Even though we try to have at least one sit down meal together a week, it's rare if it happens at any time other then dinner. As I sat there picking at my food, I could feel their concerns. Guilt is a strong emotion at times, and they shamelessly used it against me to get me to eat.

"John, before I head to work, I want to take a look at your wings." Gene said in between chewing. He was the trained medic of the group.

I just nodded absently. Continuing to nibble on this or that. Gods, I can't even name what it was I was eating. I hate being on meds. They so mess me up in the head.

The ringing of the phone prevented anything else from being said.

Orion was the closest so he answered it. "Hello? Yes, one moment please." He then wordlessly nodded at John and handed the phone off.

I took it and placed it against my ear. Thank the heavens for cordless phones. "Johnnathan speaking. Good afternoon Professor Torin. .. Yes sir. Much better, thank you." I was on autopilot at the moment. "No sir, I haven't.. Yes.. yes.. um, no. Alright. Yes, that's it. Thank you. Have a good afternoon Sir." I then hit the disconnect button and set the phone down. Everyone was still eating.

"What did he want?" Johnny asked. He was always curious about what ever was going on.

"Nothing much. Professor Torin has arranged for a tutor for me. To help me keep up with class because of the time I've missed." I said absently, still poking around at the food with my fork.

"Oh?" RoKasha asked. She was always conscious of our security and safety.

"Yeah" I returned, then looked up. Everyone was staring at me. Then it hit me. "Oh Bloody hell!" I said in disgust, tossing my fork down and sitting back in the chair. "Ye gods, how out of my mind was I?"

"What? So you got someone to help you on your classes. What's wrong with that?" Victoria asked.

"Oh what a fool I am. Let me count the ways" I held up my hand and started to tick off the reasons. "One, I accepted a tutor. Two, Said tutor will be coming here. Three, I didn't ask any of you before I agreed to it. Four, very few outside of work knows that I'm, that we're mutants, let's not go into the fact we're clones also. And five, the tutor is none other then Dr. Henry McCoy, AKA Beast. Former Avenger, currently in good standing with said group, one of the original X-Men and current member of said group. Is that enough?" I rattled off, then abruptly stood and left the room.

I headed for my room, slamming the door behind me. I wasn't mad at the others, I was mad at myself and at my 'Father.' Royally, righteously, pissed off too at that. At him for giving me the pain killers and at myself for being the idiot and taking them, knowing I reacted differently to them then most people.

Flopping down on my bed, burring my head under several pillows. Oh to be able to go back in time and take back my words. I felt like a kid throwing a tantrum because something didn't go right. Hell, if you looked at my true age, not my physical age, I really was a child still. Two years from waking in this world under his 'care', then another three living on my (our) own. Going through High School and managing to get into college. I'm not even nine years old, yet I am physically nearly twenty. Not the oldest of the group certainly, but I was the first. The desired prodigal son. Complete with the innate, pre-disposed talents in genetics. Shit. I even had the old man's bloody looks! If that isn't a kick in the ass, I don't know what is.

Damn. I'm brooding again.