"Every time the wind blows I think of her. I wonder if I could generate electricity off my yearning" - Jarod Kintz
Most people in the world today will never experience something that they can't explain with logic. I'm glad I can truthfully say that I am not one of those people. I had the unique opportunity to work with the most dedicated and colorful, if not abnormal, characters I have ever had the pleasure to become acquainted with. On some level, these abnormal characters became my family. A family of screechers, of boys who can't seem to stay out of other peoples' business, of boys who can't always control themselves, of boys who quite enjoy hanging upside down from whatever they can. And of girls who can't decide who they are or where they belong and can't accept that they are most beautiful without all the gimmicks. Looking back at it now I realize that we were like any bunch of siblings, dysfunctional, loud, and neurotic when we were left all alone.
Even with how everything turned out I wouldn't change any moment of the few months we spent together for anything. Not even for the certainty that I would live. You just can't replace or ignore some things. I'm proud to say that our little renegade was, and still is, one of those experiences that will stick with me forever. Funny, looking back to the day I met what you could call the "parents" of our little family, I nearly forgot how I... Well, it's sort of hard to explain. Let me just tell you the whole story of how I met the X-Men.
I was like any other girl in Maine during the Cold War. Bomb shelters were a place I called home, I went to an all girl boarding school, I had an overbearing mother who on several occasions attempted to dress me up in billowy gowns and enter me in beauty pageants, I had five brothers who had definitely influenced my tomboy personality over the years. And I had a secret that I couldn't tell anyone. As I sat in the courtyard of my pompous school, with my only friend to witness anything I did, I decided to practice my 'secret'. Much to my friends distaste.
"Maxine! Cut that out, it's not normal!" She pleaded, motioning to what I was doing with my fingers with a desperate look.
The action in and of itself wasn't out of the ordinary; I was simply rubbing the pads of my index and my middle finger against the pad of my thumb. No, the sparks that were jumping from my skin was what she was talking about. Ever since I was eight, possibly nine, I had been able to generate small electrical currents with my fingers. With more practice I learned that if I rubbed my fingers together for a long period of time I could charge more energy and that I could seemingly 'steal' electricity from nearby electrical sources. Lights, machinery, cars, you name it. I found my gift to be extremely cool, but not Julie, the nervous girl edging away from me. Sometimes I regretted telling her about it, other times I'm glad I had someone to at least try and hinder me from my devious tendencies. Extra emphasis on try.
I smiled at her just then. "It's not that weird, Jules. I'm like one of those guys from carnivals that can shallow fire. Just a little something I can use as an icebreaker in any awkward conversation." In part, this was true. Of the few 'relationships' I've been in they all started with me showing the boys involved a magic trick. They were always amazed, without fail, and then when we kissed there was always that... spark. I smirked just thinking about it.
My friend didn't look convinced. "B-but that's not a trick! You can do that all on your own, no smoke and mirrors involved!"
I rolled my eyes and continued to charge my fingers. No harm had come from my little parlour trick, and I secretly hoped that it never would. Finally, after producing enough energy to cause our hair to stick on end, Jules became too fed up with my oddness.
"It's late. I'm going to bed." She grabbed her books with an adamant tone, made sure her skirt was in place, and ran towards the dormitories. With one last sad smile to her odd friend, Jules was gone.
I was completely and utterly alone. My only company was the sparks in my hand and the light post next to me. I looked up at the bright light with an anxious feeling in my stomach. How long had it been since I had a cigarette? Too long. I reached behind the bench I was sitting at, grabbed my paperboy bag, dug my hand into a secret compartment I sewed into the lining, and pulled out my pack of Camels and my trusty military zippo from World War II. I plucked one of the white treasures from its spot in the carton, placed it between my lips as I lit it, and took a nice long drag. Screw people telling me that they were bad for me, there was no proof of that. They tasted good and they made me feel good. I puffed out three perfect rings before exhaling the rest of the smoke. That's when I felt it. The distinct sensation of a pair of eyes boring into the back of your head. My back went rigid. For the first time in my life, I wished Headmistress Saffron was the one standing behind me, busting me for smoking on school grounds again. But the feeling in my stomach told me that I wouldn't be graced with that pleasure. Slowly, I turned around. There was not one person watching me, but two, both men, and both plenty of years older than me. One, who was considerably taller than the other, was propped up against a tree while the other just stood ten feet in front of me with a smile on his face. I felt the electricity beginning to charge itself within me, giving me a lethal weapon if I needed one. Never be caught off guard. I reminded myself.
"Good evening, my name is Charles Xavier." The man closest to me said calmly. Charles was of an average size, unlike his companion, but they both had brown hair and blue eyes. He walked towards me with his hand extended. I didn't trust it. I jumped back off the bench and into the path leading to the main building of the school. My cigarette fell from my lips in the process, deciding it was a lost cause I crushed it underneath the heel of my boot. Charles's companion scoffed from the tree he was leaning against.
'Who are these guys?' Was the first thing I thought to myself. 'They dress like they're the freaking Mafia, but they stalk girls in the courtyards of this cruddy rundown school?'
The smaller one, Charles, chuckled. "We're not with the Mafia. I assure you, you have nothing to fear from Erik or myself. We simply came here to ask you a few questions." He offered me a kind smile but I still didn't trust him. He was assuring me of things I hadn't even spoken aloud! If anything that just made me distrust him more.
His companion, who I guessed to be Erik, groaned from his spot against the tree. "Charles, I'm tired of this and would like to get back to D.C. before dawn breaks. Can we please hurry this along?"
"Yes, as soon as Maxine here stops charging herself with enough electricity to power a small town." Charles said calmly to his friend.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't shocked by what Charles had just said. How could he have possibly known what I was doing? Or my name for that matter?
'Because, dear Maxine, I can read your mind.' A voice echoed in my head. For a brief moment I was completely dumbfounded by the voice that was not my own whispering things inside my head. Ironically, it sounded familiar. I looked around to see if anyone had joined us because it was clear that no one uttered a word past closed lips. That's when my eyes settled back on Charles who had two fingers placed on his temple. I cracked an unsure smile as he waved a bit with the fingers not touching his head. Is this guy a freak show like me?
'I am, indeed. Thought I wouldn't quite call what we can do something so simple as a carnival trick.' He chuckled inside my mind. 'Do you trust me enough to dispel the energy you have gathered and to stop coming up with ridiculous theories how Erik and I are sexual predators or anything of the sort?' Charles's voice asked.
If he had known about the sexual predator theory then he probably could delve deeper into my mind and I did not like the thought of that. I gave a small nod. 'As long as your friend stays where he is and you don't go searching through my head anymore. Agreed?'
In front of me, Charles smiled and clapped his hands together. "Agreed." He said aloud, removing his fingers from his temple, "Seeing as Erik is extremely tired after our long day I'm going to cut right to it, shall we? You wondered if I was different," hadn't quite said different but I'll give you that, "and I assured you that I am, indeed, different. There are several people on this planet like us, people who possess extraordinary gifts. Some use their powers for good, and others for rather nefarious purposes. That is why Erik and I have sought you out. We're putting together a team of people who will use their powers for good in hopes that we can stop a man from starting World War III and we were wondering if you would help us."
"Well that's quite a bit of information to wrap my head around..." I admitted truthfully. Just a minute ago I had thought these two guys were rapists or something, and now they're asking me to join a team of people with extraordinary powers to help stop a man from starting World War III? A girl has the right to be taken aback. I sat back down on the bench as I felt my knees beginning to give out. Charles took the seat beside me. He didn't look expectant or anything. It seemed as if he genuinely cared about me.
Erik groaned again. "Just say yes or tell us to fuck off like the last guy did." His crude statement got him a small glare from Charles, but he quickly looked back at me.
"You need to understand that you can tell no one about this, not your parents, not your friends, absolutely no one. If you do decide to come with us you will have to be taken out of school indefinitely and I will have to tutor you until you can return." He paused to take a breath but I interrupted him.
"Say no more. I'm in." I said with an unwavering confidence. The chance to finally get out of the nasty all girls school I was a prisoner of? Hell yes. I couldn't stand that place.
Charles gave me an incredulous look. "Are you sure? You wouldn't be able to see your friends for, possibly, a long period of time; you understand that, don't you?"
I gave him the same exact look he gave me, but with sass. How I loved sass. "The only friends I have are my five brothers, the boys back home, and the guys I went to school with for a short while back when I was thirteen. I won't miss this wretched place one bit."
That got me a laugh from him. "Splendid. But before we shove off I'd like to see your gift in action. And I'm sure Erik would as well." Charles said with interest. And true to his word, Erik suddenly became a bit more alert to the conversation occurring in front of him. I smiled. It was nice to be around people who weren't completely and utterly terrified of what dwelled inside of you.
"Well... I guess it couldn't hurt to show off a little. Good thing I didn't listen to you when you asked me to dispel the energy I had collected or I wouldn't be able to do anything moderately impressive with my 'gift'." I gave Charles a playful wink before standing up and walking towards the middle of the courtyard. Now that I think about it, the courtyard wasn't so much a court as it was a yard. It was a moderate sized patch of grass in the centre of the school with a sidewalk intersecting four times to the four different buildings and the only thing you could do there was study or climb the three trees that decorated the area. And being an all girl school, rarely were those trees climbed. It wasn't very interesting, which was why no one ever really thought to hang out there.
But there I was, standing at the intersection, with two men I barely knew, one I half trusted and one I slightly feared, charged to the brim with electrical power. The smile playing at the corner of my lips was my natural reaction to all of the power inside of me. I hated to admit it, but I loved what I could do. And now I had a chance to show off with no restrictions applied. I yanked one of the hair ties off of my wrist and pulled my hair up into a sloppy bun. Let's get this party started.
First, I had to focus the energy. If I just let it go without any control I could short out half of the east coast in a matter of seconds. Been there, fried that. I focused the energy equally throughout my body, causing a powerful electrical field to surround me. I exhaled a held breath, rolled my shoulders, and slowly let electricity out of my body. The sparks began to jump off of my skin, though the energy mostly remained in the palms of my hands, which I raised until my forearms made a perfect right angle with my biceps. Slowly, I lifted off of the ground. The power of my electrical field and the one that naturally encompassed the Earth repulsed each other. I had done this a few times in the past. It was one of my favourite things about my gift, the power of flight. I focused on the energy, letting out just a bit more.
That's when it got exciting.
All around us lights were flickering. Stems of lightning seemingly passed between the circuits that ran through the school and the energy in my hands. In front of me, Erik and Charles stood with astounded expressions on their faces, Charles' was more evident than Erik's but I didn't expect anything less or more from them. Content with the spectacle I just performed I allowed the energy to flow back into the school, successfully lowering me back to the ground and expelling most of the energy I had conducted. Charles rushed to me, grasping my hand in his. I chuckled slightly when Charles's hair began to stick out due to the static still around me. Little Einstein.
He looked at me with amazement. "Splendid. Absolutely stunning! You will be a great addition to our team of mutants!" He shook my hand vigorously. I arched an eyebrow at the word mutant. Once he saw my, once again, incredulous look, he explained, "The technical term for people like us is mutants. But don't think of it as an insult, mutation brought us from single celled organisms into the single most dominant species on this planet. We are just the next step in human evolution." With that explanation I felt less like a freak. Not really. I was happy as I was, smiling all the while. Erik came up and clapped me on the back.
"Great to have you." He said with a shadow of a smile. That was the most emotion I had ever seen on his face. But then it hit me.
"So... if you're with Charles, and Charles is a part of the mutant team, are you a mutant too?" I asked.
Erik gave another shadow of a smile before reaching his hand out towards the lamp post. Slowly, he clenched his fist and the metal of the lamp post began to buckle in on itself. It was a simple action. I assumed he had mastered his gift long ago, that's why he could execute it with such ease.
"I'll take that as a yes." I chuckled lightly.
"Now that we have that all settled, Maxine, you should go pack." Charles said, motioning towards the dormitories.
"Yeah, before someone comes and expects me to pay for Erik's destruction of that lamp post." I winked and started towards the dorm but decided to correct something while I was still there. I turned back to Charles. "I prefer Max, if you don't mind." With a curt nod from him and a smile from me I ran towards the dormitories, ecstatic for the adventure that would unfold once I finally left Saffron's All Girls Boarding School.
Author's Note: Much thanks for You May Call Me Goddess - Bitch Goddess, for beta reading Perfect Synergy!