A/N: 2nd installment of my Distant World Omake-series, and filled with so much crack. There are some suggestive themes up ahead, but nothing explicit enough to warrant a different rating other than the current one; all written with harmless fun in mind.
Omake 2: The Search for Cyclops - Morning Side
"Blinded, I can't see the end. So where do I begin?"
- Excerpt from The Beginning by One Ok Rock
Rachel flinched; an arm flying up to shield her eyes from the harsh white light's glare.
"It's fine, Rachel." A soothing baritone called out to her. Immediately, her eyes widened as she sought to catch a glimpse of him, not caring in the slightest if she had to give her eyes up just to do so. "It's just me."
Alas, all she could see was a blurry, shadowy figure.
"Dad…" she whispered yearningly, reaching out in front of her as she grasped, fruitlessly, for her father's warmth.
"Come with me, Rachel." Her father's voice called once more, this time seemingly further away.
Rachel's heart thundered in her chest with fright-filled panic.
"No, don't!" Rachel pleaded to him, not caring if her full unbridled anguish was bared for her father to see. "Don't- don't leave me behind!"
As if having a will of their own, Rachel's shaky legs propelled her forward in a gawky sprint, chasing after her father's quickly fading silhouette.
"Dad!" Rachel Grey shouted as she shot out of bed in cold sweat, a burst of uncontrolled telekinesis exploded around her to smash against her room. Her eyes widened with sudden clarity then panic, and immediately she restrained her gift.
"It was just a nightmare." The young woman muttered to herself like a mantra, tight fists clenching the blankets closely towards her as she sought reassurance. "It was just a nightmare. It was just a nightmare. Scott wouldn't leave me behind."
But he did.
Her eyes watered and she quickly repressed the sob that threatened to break open the dam.
It has already been a week.
A sudden knock on her door that resonated clearly through her room made her breath hitch and heart freeze in surprise.
"Rachel?" It was Kitty. It made sense that it was Kitty. "I heard something crashing so I came to check. Is everything alright?"
"It's nothing." Rachel whispered hoarsely, and she shook her head and cleared her throat before repeating in a more controlled tone. "It's nothing… just a bad dream."
"Ah, I see." Came Kitty's deliberate reply from the other side of the door. From the manner with which the brunette spoke, it was clear to Rachel that she was contemplating whether to phase through the door to check on her or not.
Please don't. I… I don't want to talk about it.
Rachel could not bring herself to project her thoughts to her dear friend.
Thankfully, it wasn't needed when, instead, Kitty chose to ask.
"Are you alright now?"
Rachel glanced around the darkness of her room, her eyes taking in its clearly disheveled appearance even under the sparse moonlight spilling in from her now-slightly parted and ruffled curtains.
Her heart clenched.
Kitty's reply was quiet and reluctant.
Rachel threw her head back and buried herself in her sheets.
No. She was not fine at all.
Laura Kinney is a curious young mutant.
It may have something to do with the unusual circumstances of her birth, and even more unusual environment in which she grew up in.
Suffice to say, living under a rock did not even begin to describe her biography, but the phrase was enough to gloss over all her childhood trauma and conveniently explain her cat-like curiosity.
"Where are you going?" An edged, accusing but nonetheless feminine voice questioned from the opened doorway behind her, but it was not enough to make Laura pause in her chosen activity.
Much like her progenitor, it was a very difficult feat to approach Laura without her noticing.
"Packing." The jade-eyed teen said, not bothering to glance in Jeanne Foucault's direction.
"You are leaving."
If Laura had to categorize her once-friend's tone, it was anger born of a feeling of betrayal.
It was ironic given the circumstance of their estrangement.
Laura didn't care.
"I am." Laura affirmed, zipping her duffel bag and standing up to her full height.
"Where are you going?" Jeanne pressed, lackluster blue eyes appraising Laura for any possible hint of where her friend was going.
"Away." Laura put on her leather jacket and then secured her duffel bag around one shoulder.
"I can see that." Despite her stoic façade, Jeanne finally snapped after having enough of the young mutant's dispassionate replies. Not for the first time was Jeanne annoyed that Laura was one of the few whose body language she couldn't read. "Laura, if this is about what happened to Briggs; I am sorry. I really am. I should not have done what I did. Can we speak about this?"
It was quite rare for the normally stoic girl to express such emotion. The sudden outburst truly punctuated how much Jeanne treasured her friendship with Laura.
But Laura had other plans.
"I am angry." Laura began, finally turning to face the taller girl. Her words starkly contrasted her controlled, taciturn tone, however. Still, Jeanne could tell Laura was telling the truth. "I am angry that you used me as a weapon against my wishes to kill Jeremy Briggs. However, that has nothing to do with my leaving Avengers Academy."
Jeanne frowned. "Then why are you sneaking out of the academy?"
Laura stared at the persistent teen with a slight frown on her lips.
"To find answers."
Jeanne could only watch as her friend walked past her, leaving an empty room in her wake. She exhaled deeply, calmingly, and then finally spoke with a voice much smaller than her norm but filled, for once, with concern.
Despite the bad blood between them, Finesse still cared for X-23.
"I analyzed his profile and studied the footage of his escape. If you have not found him in exactly thirty days, I am confident that you will find him in the northern region of the Philippines." The declaration made Laura pause in her steps and turn to look at Jeanne with piercing jade-colored eyes. "I can tell you want to meet with him. Cyclops." Jeanne admitted. "The Avengers will not approve. Wolverine will not approve. I do not approve. However, I can also tell that you need these answers yourself. I do not know if you will find the answers you are looking for."
There were just some questions that one needed answers to. Jeanne knew this, for she had embarked on a similar crusade before.
Jeanne had long suspected Laura would react like this after they had seen the live broadcast of the flight of the X-Men's former leader almost a week previous. She had observed the hardening of Laura's gaze when Scot Summers was engulfed in, no doubt, Illyana Rasputin's stepping disc to reappear only they knew where after the former leader of mutantkind had made his declaration to all the heroes gathered. While Jeanne could not tell what Laura was thinking exactly, she knew the event had bothered her friend greatly.
With a small but genuine smile, Jeanne reached a hand out to the departing teen.
"It goes without saying that, as you keep a secret of mine, I shall keep one of yours. Take care, Laura Kinney."
Laura stared at the outstretched hand before her eyes slowly trailed up Jeanne's arm to meet with her gaze. With a small nod, Laura took Jeanne's hand in her own and gripped it firmly.
"And you, Jeanne Foucault."
Laura Kinney is a curious young mutant with many questions about herself and the world around her.
It was time for her to move on.
High up in the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, Captain America met with his most trusted friends while the moon was still awake.
"Everyone," Steve Rogers opened once the gathered had all seated themselves comfortably around the table. His blue eyes scanned the room and appraised the current mood. Everyone was tense with anticipation, but suitably so. "Thank you all for taking a break from your responsibilities and coming."
"Cut the crap, Rogers." Logan grunted. Appearing haggard and with restless energy, the old mutant was clearly the most agitated of the group.
"Patience, Logan." Ororo Munroe calmed her dear friend with a hand on his shoulder.
Logan merely grunted back and shrugged off her touch, but he did comply.
"Right." Steve decided it was wise to not keep everyone from their responsibilities with formalities. "As you all are aware, it has already been a week since Scott Summers – Cyclops – escaped with a group of mutants."
"Including Magneto." Trust Reed Richards to highlight the most dangerous threat.
"Yes, Magneto." Steve nodded. "If Cyclops' regime did anything right, it was making sure we knew where all of the mutants with checkered pasts were. Now, while I know everything's been quiet thus far, but that can only be expected."
"Indeed." At Steve's side, Tony Stark added with an amused smile on his face. "I doubt even our little troublemaker is stupid enough to cause a scene this early into the game. It's not his style. No; if anything, we should be seeing the fruits of his scheme anywhere from now until the end of the month-"
"-Which brings me to the first - well, second, really – agenda for today." Steve interjected before Tony could run his mouth; he keenly noticed the frown on Ororo's face at the needless desecration of her once-friend's name. The African mutant may not currently like Scott Summers, but it was clear that she respected the man he once was. Regardless, "I'd like to discuss two key points. The first is to know if anybody's found a lead on Scott and his team's whereabouts,-" Steve ignored the derisive snort from Abigail Brand's direction while Hank McCoy shot him an apologetic look for his girlfriend's rudeness. "-and the second is to discuss whether everyone has been making appropriate contingency plans for whatever Cyclops is scheming, whenever it comes into fruition."
Steve was glad that everyone in the room seemed to understand the severity of the situation, as they all straightened in their seats.
"Cyclops has played the waiting card before to brutally efficient and equally devastating results. Who knows what he is plotting now? Avengers, I open the first of many discussions until we can finally apprehend Cyclops."
A long night was ahead of them.
Elsewhere, the sky was blue and the sun was bright.
Despite this tropical paradise, Scott Summers' lips curled into a frown at the sight before him.
"Oh, stop pouting, dad!" The reason for his sour pout teased with a sheepish smile, dressed in quite possibly one of the scantiest bikinis he had ever seen. With Scott having bedded the epitome of feminine sensuality herself, that was saying a lot.
… And no; on his face was not a pout. It was a distinctly manly frown, thank you very much.
"Ruby," Scott began slowly, "What the hell are you wearing?"
It seemed his fatherly instincts somehow kicked in within the past week. It might have something to do with the telepathic link Ruby had established between her and her father's minds.
But on to the more important matter…
Ruby shrugged and scratched the back of her head in a very Summers manner. "Ah, well, I haven't really been to the beach properly. I mean, I grew up in Atlantic City, but I never had time to just let go. I never got to wear something like this." Ruby clarified, gesturing to her skimpy bikini with her hands.
The time-traveler also chose to omit mentioning the Sentinels that prevented her from having a good time; no point reminding Scott of the more depressing aspects of being a mutant after a long week spent getting her father to open up. "I always wanted to try one of these."
Baring so much of her skin provided a thrilling rush that boosted her feminine ego.
In short, it made her feel sexy; Ruby likes.
"Change into something else." Scott demanded. "Or change into what you usually wear when you swim."
After all, with Ruby mentioning wanting to try something so vulgar, surely her norm was something more proper. And wasn't cut so very low.
Ruby's embarrassed grin suddenly turned mischievous, and Scott almost missed the evil glint in her eyes beneath her tinted frames. "I'd normally skinny dip when you weren't looking."
Scott groaned piteously at the unwanted information. He also cursed his future self for being so lax with Ruby's upbringing.
What the hell had he been doing?!
"Ruby," Scott's jaw clenched tightly. "There are some things a father doesn't want to know about his daughter. Skinny dipping behind my back is one of them."
It was suitably high on the priority list, too.
"I'd be in my other form when I bared it all." Ruby coolly replied as if there was nothing wrong with it.
"That's beside the point! I don't want to know that you swim around naked!" He barked. "And change into something else! I'll get Nori-" Scott turned towards Surge, who also wore a risqué pair especially for a Japanese woman as she splayed herself under the Cyprusian sun; he was acutely reminded of Noriko's self-confident manner of dressing. "-never mind." Scott breathed in deeply. "Danger will assist you in finding a more decent bikini."
Scott nodded to himself for such a swift and sound decision.
Unfortunately, his daughter didn't see it that way.
"Danger struts around naked." Ruby pointed out smugly.
Scott shook his head and clarified, "Danger's clothes are her metal."
"If Danger can wear what she was born with and still be considered dressing decently, then I don't see what's wrong with me wearing my ruby skin sans clothing to swim."
"Stop talking about yourself being naked!" Scott almost felt like crying. And tearing his ears off. And maybe asking the Cuckoos to scrape this conversation from his brain.
Scott looked around wildly. "And where is Danger anyway?!"
Ruby nodded her head to where, true enough, Danger was sprawled on a beach towel, the usual metal of her body transformed into what Scott identified were solar panels. It gave Danger a very sleek, slender, and, more importantly, much more human appearance comparable to an obsidian version of Emma or Ruby in their gem forms. Her current appearance made many imaginations run wild.
In fact, a cursory telepathic scan revealed to Ruby that the only one that did not seem affected by Danger's chosen form was Dr. James Bradley, but Ruby had already learned that the less she knew about the workings of the Nazi hunter's mind, the easier she could sleep at night, and so she decided not to pry into what the man thought of Danger's current appearance.
Ruby smirked, catching the stunned and embarrassed look on her father's face as he gaped at Danger, before unhelpfully adding.
"Oh, and she's doing it naked."
Underneath the brightest sun Scott had ever experienced and the bluest waters only Cyprus could offer, Scott fell to his knees and cried as something in him broke.
Unmanly tears were shed on this beautiful day.
Ruby hid a knowing smile at successfully pushing her father's buttons.
Rachel was among the first to greet Logan, Hank, and Ororo when the Quinjet touched down on the large lawn of the Jean Grey School. The three mutants had chosen not to use the Blackbird in case the school staff needed it while they were away.
"Welcome back." Rachel greeted hurriedly. "Has there been any word about dad's whereabouts?"
Logan grunted irritably. Figures that damn Cyclops' name was the first thing he heard coming back. "Summers is long gone. Just as well, too."
"What Logan means to say," Ororo quickly intervened, having picked up Rachel's distress. "Is that we have not found any trace of Scott's nor his entourage's location."
"It's remarkable, really." Hank added. While angry at Scott's choices, the scientist in him could not deny the level of security Scott must have erected to keep his whereabouts hidden. "I trust you and Charles could not find him with Cerebro again?"
Rachel shook her head negatively. "We're drawing blanks. It's like they all ceased existing." She hung her head in dismay. "I was hoping maybe the Avengers found something using other means…"
"The only thing we've done so far is confirm Scotty's one paranoid fugitive." Rachel's gaze snapped upwards where she spotted Tony Stark walking out of the Quinjet with a disarming smile. "Rachel, have you ever given thought to your dinner arrangements this Friday eve? I have a venture in Paris that would be delighted to have such a beautiful woman attend. Naturally, I plan to shower you with effects for the night if you so wish."
"What do you mean by 'paranoid'?" Rachel refused to be sidelined by Tony's flirting.
"Exactly as the dictionary explains, Ms. Grey." Tony smiled, not at all taking offense at the young Grey's harsh tone and willing to push her buttons even more – and maybe undoing some while he was at it. "Or would you require illustrations to go with it?"
Tony wagged his eyebrows with humoring intent.
Rachel just stared at him flatly.
Feeling that his attempt at lightening the clearly stressed woman's mood was falling on her incredibly deaf ears – it seemed alternate reality Cyclops' blood was showing -, Tony once more smiled another of his winning smiles and explained to Rachel why exactly he felt their most favorite fugitive was of a paranoid sort.
"We really can't seem to locate him." Tony began. "None of mine or Reed's satellites can find him or his team. S.H.I.E.L.D. cannot find him. We even have S.W.O.R.D. scanning the globe for him with no luck. Stephen and Wanda have both tried their voodoo to similar results. Given the company Scotty's traipsing the planet with, it's no surprise. Cyclops has truly built an impenetrable wall shielding his whereabouts."
"Who is with him?" Rachel questioned.
"My dear, have you heard of twitter? Someone managed to snap a picture of Cyclops and his troops munching at Pret A Manger, Birmingham four days back." Tony explained with amusement. "Analysis confirms Danger, Dr. Nemesis, and that infuriating tease, Magik, to name a few of Cyclops' vagrant posse. We're also still unsure if Magneto is with them."
And then there was still the matter of the unknown blonde that helped Scott flee the country. The woman had called Scott 'dad'…
"Who took the picture? Didn't you investigate further?" Rachel pressed eagerly.
"Someone named 'Ruby'; no surname; new account. Don't worry; we're monitoring the account for further similar tweets just in case." Tony supplied. "And we did travel to Birmingham, but we couldn't find traces of them beyond confirmation that, indeed, Cyclops was there. Expectedly, the manager found it difficult to forget such a motley gang."
Rachel seemed to deflate at the news.
Tony honestly didn't understand her reaction.
"You don't need to feel so sad about not finding him, Rachel." Ororo spoke, placing a comforting hand on the psychic's shoulder. "Scott will reveal himself, eventually."
"She's right." Tony added. "His type has a nasty habit of making their presence known in the most disastrous manner. But when he does appear, we'll be there to stop him."
Something in Rachel snapped.
"Stop talking about my dad like that!"
"Like what?" Tony returned the psychic's glare with curiosity. "Like the insane mastermind he is that heads a new Brotherhood of Villainous Mutants? Each one of them can cause serious damage on their own, but now they're rallying under the flag of a paranoid xenophobe with a proven combat record. It's truly a headache, my dear."
Rachel's jaw clenched as she struggled to contain her telekinesis from dismembering the Avenger where he stood.
"I don't care what you think of this situation, Stark." The redhead hissed, shoving Ororo's hand away as she marched up to snarl at the billionaire's face. "But I won't tolerate you speaking that way about my dad in my presence."
Ororo, Logan, and Hank were about to intervene before things turned ugly when Tony, as calm as a lake, merely raised his hand to stop them. Returning his attention to Rachel, he arched a curious eyebrow at the angry redhead.
"But he's not actually your dad, is he?"
The unexpected question stunned Rachel as much as Tony's flippant delivery of it. Seeing a break in the young woman's anger, Tony pressed forward.
"I read your file." Everyone wondered where Tony was going with this; Rachel, especially. "You are, at the very least, an illegal immigrant who coincidentally has blood ties to both Jean and Scott Summers, and at most an extremely hot pseudo-kin of our-reality Jean and Scott. You come from an alternate future reality whatever, not here. The Jean and Scott of that reality are your parents. You are their daughter. You have no obligation to look to our most recent fugitive. If anyone, only that surly Cable can claim to be a child of Cyclops."
Rachel's eyes clouded with confusion and her mind struggled to find an argument against Tony's frank assessment. Seeing her inner turmoil, Tony shook his head slowly then added in a lighter tone.
"And besides, family is more than just blood, isn't it?" He smiled at her sympathetically and slowly pulled away from their deadlock, retreating back into the Quinjet. He had other, more important matters to attend to; the life of a billionaire philanthropist and Avenger was never quiet for long. "Do put in it some thought, would you Rachel? And I'll contact you again about Friday."
Pausing before finally departing, Tony Stark glanced back at his stunned audience. Ororo looked very unhappy at his dissection, but Hank and Logan didn't seem to care. Rachel remained frozen in place, her gaze downcast in deep thought.
Tony chuckled, trying to lighten the mood.
"Aren't we lucky Scott isn't the vindictive sort, right?"
The Quinjet took off, leaving an even more distressed Rachel Grey to her dark thoughts.
Scott was brooding in his room, plotting righteous retribution of the most satisfying sort.
The opened window revealed that the sun was already setting on the third and apparently last day of their stay in the island paradise.
Just as in their stay in England, the vagabonds did their share of odd jobs where their talents were useful until signs of anti-mutant sentiments began, whereby the group would subsequently vanish.
Scott's goal with this lifestyle was simple: let the world experience the blessings mutants could bring, and then disappear when prejudice sets in. They were like a typhoon; they caused change wherever they went and then let the natives deal with the fallout.
Let them ponder, and let them decide.
Like many things, there were always two ways a receiver can look at a gift: 'is this good' or 'is this bad'? How many things could go swimmingly with this gift? How many things could go horribly wrong?
Would this make them more feared for what they could potentially do? Or would this make them more respected for what they have done?
Regardless the case, that question was not Scott's to ponder; not anymore.
When Scott gave his word, he stuck by it.
He was through with fighting.
But that was not why he was brooding; no.
He was brooding because his daughter was driving him insane.
It all started when his group of nomadic mutants decided to adventure in England immediately after Scott's release from imprisonment.
It hadn't taken long for Ruby to become inebriated with the idea of being free to move without Sentinels and MRD's barging in within minutes.
Seeing his daughter and the Cuckoos telepathically compel a group of living statues in Covent Garden to suddenly break out Gangnam Style, complete with acapella accompaniment and expert beatboxing, when he approached to have his picture taken, and then listening in to Ruby candidly speak of all the activities on her agenda, Scott, as the sensible Summers, immediately stressed the need for restrictions and limitations – responsibility for one's actions – to the time-traveler.
While Ruby had been unsurprised by Scott's attempt to dissuade her from pursuing uninhibited pleasure, she had still been unimpressed. With what, Scott didn't realize at first.
No; it wasn't until Ruby had Danger fashion her an extremely advanced smartphone from discarded parts and unwanted machines households left out in the streets for disposal, and subsequently use her new 'xPhone' to post on the internet a picture of them lounging in a coffee shop when Scott realized the extent of Ruby's displeasure. On a side-note, the two mutants making plans on getting the so-called xPhone patented and marketed. Scott didn't quite understand what was so special about the device beyond it processing at speeds he had never seen, and he didn't quite understand when Nemesis was babbling on about quantum computers, but Scott understood that it was a worthwhile venture, if heavily reliant on Danger's technomorphic abilities.
From then on, Ruby had only become more taxing to his sanity.
Them time-traveler would routinely take pictures and videos of their – her – adventures, including re-enacting the final battle of that old Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers movie together with the others in Bath's landscape. Little Solsbury Hill provided the most breathtaking view of the city, and the perfect battlefield – until the authorities came in when reports of a rambunctious group disturbing the peace came in.
It was a tragic turn of events, Scott would admit if he was being perfectly honest and stopped denying he had fun. It was finally his turn to play Legolas, too.
The documentation was more than enough to set Scott's blood pressure high – what if they were caught? – but after a week without any costume dropping on his group, Scott eventually mellowed down.
And besides, he had more problems to worry about.
Ruby had upped her game.
Scott twitched when he recalled the chaos his accomplices caused when they fed a swarm of pigeons crisps dipped in laxatives and set them loose in the park. It took all of Scott's willpower to not let fly a massive optic blast to clear the sky when he was caught in ground zero.
From the challenge in her smirks to the triumph in her gazes, it was clear that she was intending that, as well. The smugness of her gait felt like a challenge to him, but could he stoop so low as to allow Ruby, his daughter, to rile him into action?
Ah, screw it. If Ruby wanted a fight, then it was a fight she was getting.
If Ruby wanted to play with fire, she damn well best ready for an inferno…
…which was easier said than done.
Thanks to her mutation, Ruby was a deceptively young woman whose real age, Scott managed to narrow down, was somewhere in the 80s range, and thus had a lot of years of experience. Ruby had seen a great many things throughout her long life despite not acting like it majority of the time. Really, it was only the little things that reminded Scott that his time-traveling daughter was actually much older than him.
Goddamn time-travel; as if Nathan wasn't enough.
A sudden – and possibly brilliant - thought struck Scott.
Maybe he could ask Magik?
Speaking of whom, the Ruler of Limbo was surprisingly unnerved when Scott demanded that her bomb-laced uniform be changed, pointing out that not only did they not have the facilities to monitor the damaged woman twenty-four/seven, but Scott realized that he had been placing his trust in the people he shouldn't have. Illyana had proven herself time and again, and Scott trusted her to know her own limits. He could still see a bit of the Illyana of old, the New Mutant under his wing, beneath Magik's stoic and harsh exterior.
Just as Apocalypse had forever changed him, Limbo and Belasco had done a number on Illyana. She was not quite Piotr's Snowflake – not even close -, but that did not matter to Scott.
Really, Scott concluded after much contemplation, Illyana Rasputin presented the classic case of a mutant fearing their own power. Illyana was afraid of her own violent compulsions having lived in Limbo for so long, and she had turned to Scott as the stern hand that would always keep her in check. The blonde woman believed in Scott's judgment.
Scott had vowed to Illyana that he will be the one that would stop if ever it was needed, but not at the cost of her life. He would be the limiter she desired, but not one that was wrapped around her neck.
And besides, a little mischief here and there made for an exciting life – especially now that he abstained from confrontation.
Illyana promptly disappeared after handing him the bomb jacket, only to reappear the day after. When asked, Illyana flatly stated that she was mourning the loss of the violent limiter.
It seemed she had grown attached to it, somehow. Crazy girl.
Still, it was that sort of crazy Scott was banking on if he ever had a chance at one-upping his daughter. Ruby had proven a capable, cunning, and disciplined youngish woman; Illyana was Scott's best card to stir things up.
Nodding to himself in satisfaction, Scott stood up from his seat with an evil grin.
Brooding time was over.
It was time for war.
Rachel had much to ponder that evening.
Her earlier conversation with that damnable Tony Stark had truly shaken the young Grey.
Did Scott think like that, too?
Was the reason Scott so easily left her because he never saw her as his own flesh and blood?
No, that was not quite right.
Rachel recalled that, even possessed by the Phoenix Force, even when he became a monster… Scott had still called her 'daughter'.
As one that had once controlled the Phoenix Force – or, control the cosmic being well enough not to grow unhinged from its whispers and promises – Rachel knew how powerful the Phoenix Force pulled at its host's everything. Desires, fears, duty, emotions; the Phoenix Force enhanced everything that was its host while at the same time reduced them to their barest impulses. It could just as easily consume a planet as grant miracles, all at its host's whim.
It was difficult to decide whether it was the genie or the monkey's paw…
She did right, didn't she? Scott… her dad was not meant to host the Phoenix Force, and it was only her hopeful thinking that made her believe her dad could control it – like he had tamed the incessant susurrus of the puissant En Sabah Nur when they merged.
But Scott never did control Apocalypse, did he? He fought it every step of the way, and it left him scarred. Changed. He was a different man, now. Especially now.
Scott had gone too far. Scott… Cyclops needed to be stopped.
Rachel had drawn a line on what was and wasn't acceptable when she allowed Hope to escape, and Cyclops – he was on the other side. Even when it was revealed to her that the Professor had manipulated her mind and made her believe she had confronted Hope, the fact that the line existed had never changed.
"I hate this." Rachel murmured miserably, fists clenching in a tight ball. "I'm damned whatever I choose."
She regretted so many things.
Taking a deep breath, Rachel slowly relaxed her fist and stalked towards Cerebro.
Stark was right.
Family was more than just blood.
It was time to prove that she is Rachel Anne Grey-Summers.
"Illyana?" Scott asked after knocking on her door. "It's Scott. Are you in?"
There was a long pause that followed his question before Illyana's fairy-like monotone answered. "Yes."
Scott inwardly grinned.
"Illyana, I don't mean to take up much of your time, but I need help on what will possibly be an ongoing project."
"Is this about Ruby tormenting you?"
Scott blinked. That was quite perceptive of the young Russian woman. He also had to pause when he thought his ears picked up a smidgeon of anticipation in her tone.
"…That's correct." He admitted slowly before shaking his head of caution; he was probably just being unreasonably paranoid. "I plan on taking the offensive in this game Ruby began."
"And so you need my help?"
There it was again; an eagerness to her tone that made Scott's spine shiver in sudden nervousness.
What the hell…?
That was quick.
"…Really?" Scott couldn't help but ask suspiciously.
"Yes." Illyana affirmed before huffing. "Ruby is irritating."
Scott could only scratch the back of his head sheepishly for his daughter's abuse of their teleporters.
"It is only fair that I get compensation." The Russian mutant continued. "In fact, I already have a plan."
That was surprisingly proactive of the Russian mutant. Normally, Magik waited for people to tell her what to do before acting.
"And I need your help."
"Alright." Scott banished his trepidation. "I'll help any way I can."
Scott was suddenly engulfed in blue light only to appear in a very dimly lit room. He blinked his eyes behind his shades to reorient themselves, and he noticed something that made his heart stop.
There were what appeared to be candles that lit the room to cast an eerie light in the otherwise erotic torture chamber that appeared to be straight out of that book he had caught Noriko reading; Fifty Shades of Grey.
And there at the brightest corner of the room with the moonlight behind her stood Magik in all her scantily, leather-clad Darkchilde glory.
It was very possible that Illyana was grinning like a devil. Or it could have just been her horns.
From his vantage, Scott was sweating towards the former.
"I'm happy you say that."
She cracked her whip as if to punctuate her joy.
There was a certain roughness to her tone that made Scott's heart pound.
"Illyana…" He glanced at the walls again. Nope; those were definitely not candles. They were torches and inferno. "Did you just bring a piece of Limbo here with you?"
"Yes." The horned mutant giggled before steeling her features and then hissed with an imperious air, "Quiet, worm. The Queen of Limbo will have none of that insolent tongue unless it is to worship her!"
The fires around her suddenly flared with life.
Knowing how powerful Magik was in her conquered dimension, Scott should have really thought things through before dealing with the crazy young woman all by himself.
To cut a long story short, Scott sighed deeply and cursed.
"I'm fucked. So utterly and thoroughly fucked."
"Oh yes you are."
The Darkchilde wasn't above kicking a puppy when it was down.
As the unforgettable night of debauchery commenced, Scott wondered if it was too late to take up Xavier's dream once more. He didn't quite anticipate Illyana's sanity to be this insane.
Magik cracked her whip.
"I don't understand where I went wrong with Scott. He was such a kind and devoted boy – if a bit rigid."
Charles Xavier was an old man. He had seen and experienced much more than even his wildest dreams could promise, but, as with most things, they came at a terrible cost.
Scott's rejection had stung him more than he could ever admit. The man was like his own son; he was the first mutant he had taken under his wing, the first mutant he had ever taught and, despite the tumultuousness of their relationship, Scott was the man that had made him so very proud with his every accomplishments. The knowledge that Scott took his teachings to heart and, better still, made it a reality was quite simply rewarding to his weary soul.
And then, the other boot dropped.
Scott turned his teachings – no, Scott had bastardised his teachings into something unrecognizable.
…no, that still wasn't right.
Scott… he had repeated his own mistakes, and Charles was powerless to stop him.
The once father-figure and mentor of Scott Summers stared detachedly at the blankness Cerebro revealed while another of his treasured students, Hank McCoy, tinkered with the mutant scanner. The furred mutant's mind was equally a confused mess; he was torn between anger at Scott's abandonment, outrage that Scott had taken the children in his escapade, fear for what Scott may be planning while he was laying low, and irritation at not being able to find that damnable Scott Summers despite all the resources they involved.
How the hell did Scott block Cerebro, and by extension, Charles, Rachel's and even Betsy's combined telepathic comb?
What the hell had Danger and Nemesis done?!
Not for the first time did Hank curse himself for underestimating the potential of his once-colleagues.
"It's not your fault, Hank." Charles' reassuring voice cut his thoughts, and the feline mutant blinked his yellow eyes into focus. It was the little things that reminded Hank that Charles was a telepath; he must have been unconsciously projecting his thoughts which his mentor subconsciously picked up. "It's mine."
"No, Charles." Hank shook his head and placed down the cables he was tinkering with. Massaging the bridge of his nose tiredly, he decided to take a break and lend an ear to his old mentor. "Scott chose to go down this path."
Damn that man.
Hank knew this was going to happen. He did. He had constantly warned that damnable man. He knew his old friend would break, and horrible things would be left in his wake.
But to outright flee instead of owning up to his mistake? Hank could not imagine Scott would degenerate into such a coward.
"I could have stopped him." Charles rambled. "I should have stopped him."
But Charles was too busy taking care of his real son after David had finally come home.
"I tried to stop him." Hank confessed. "But Scott would not listen."
"He would listen to me." Charles stated, though Hank could see his mentor was not as confident as he appeared.
"I doubt it. Scott… he's not the man we used to know."
Charles shook his head. "No he's not. But there's still the Scott we know somewhere. He just needs help."
"Of course." Another voice cut in, and both men turned to see a solemn-looking Rachel stroll towards them. "Dad's just lost after surrounding himself with those people."
"Rachel, are you feeling better now?" Hank asked worriedly. The poor dear was shaken up after her confrontation with the tactless Tony.
"I'm fine." Rachel waved off his concern, and then turned to the other man in the room. "Professor, was there any luck?"
"No more than in our previous attempts, unfortunately." Charles sighed in frustration.
Rachel nodded. "Hank, are you still up for more troubleshooting?"
Knowing how much this meant to the former hound, Hank nodded his head with a reassuring smile despite the tiredness racking his mind.
"Of course, Ray."
Rachel would make sure to find her dad and take him away from that crowd he traveled with. It was their fault her dad turned as hard-edged as he was. She would never forgive them for what they had done.
And she would never forgive that mystery woman who had poisoned her father's mind and abducted him.
She'd make her pay.
Ruby knocked on the door loudly.
"Hey 'Yana, is my dad in there?" The time-traveler asked loudly for a Summers. "I got something to discuss with him and the others said they saw him heading to your room."
Ruby blinked behind her black shades when she heard a muffled grunt that sounded like Illyana's before her father spoke up shakily.
"I'm- I'm busy, Ruby."
A frown of suspicion curved the time-traveler's lips at her father's breathy voice. Was it just her, or did he sound exhausted?
"Can I come in?"
"I'd rather you not." Came the too-fast-to-be-natural reply of her dad.
"Cool, dad. I'm coming in."
Not paying her father's wishes any heed, Ruby opened the door-
"RUBY!" That was Scott.
"Mmph~!" That was a somehow thrilled Illyana.
"What the shock?!" That was Ruby feeling a piece of her soul die.
-only to gape stupidly at the mind-numbing vision of depravity before her.
"It's not what it looks like!" The shirtless Scott defended helplessly.
Her father's outcry drew her attention from the bound – by her dad's missing clothes?-, gagged – by… her own panties?!-, and might-as-well-be naked, horned-and-hooved Illyana Rasputin sprawled on a flat slab of stone with her round and reddened rear raised up in Scott's direction, to the red streaks across her father's arms and torso. Ruby's eyes quickly darted between her father's recent injuries to the culprit – a lonely whip carelessly discarded on the ground – before settling on her father's gaping face.
"It's- I wasn't- we weren't-!" Scott stammered, trying to articulate the truth and failing miserably.
Ruby just stared at the grinning demonic mutant before taking a deep breath – and almost gagged when the air stank of brimstone and arousal. Covering her nose, Ruby took a step back and muttered.
"Dad… no matter what you're into or who you're into," She inwardly winced at the unwanted image her poor choice of words projected. "I-er-I'll still accept you, alright?"
The way Ruby hesitated was not reassuring at all!
"Ruby, wait- this isn't-!" Scott tried to explain the situation.
"I'll speak to you tomorrow!"
With a bang, Ruby hurriedly fled from the room to purer parts.
Scott wanted to cry. He really did, but it seemed he already ran out of piteous tears.
Illyana spat her panties out of her mouth and threw Scott a victorious look over her shoulder.
"See, we got her good." The demon queen leered.
In response, Scott mindlessly slapped her supple ass and earned a delighted hiss from the Russian mutant.
"Yessss-! More! Hit me more!"
"That wasn't the point!"
Urgh. While things never did go according to plan, this was just ridiculous.
And he had just escaped from the demonic Magik's clutches and was about to make a thrilling retreat worthy of Indiana Jones himself, too.
His eyes trailed from the prostrating Magik's delicious rear before him, upwards her spine and back glistening with sweat against the torch's lighting, to her demonic horns and mischievous leer that simply made the bound woman appear to glow.
"Come on, Scott! Deliver upon this demon righteous judgment! Chain me and do as you've been trained!" Illyana goaded.
Scott stared. Hard.
"You know, this is wrong in so many levels." He began, before sighing deeply and then glared at her offered treat. "Ah, screw it. I just don't care anymore. You're no longer the little girl I used to know."
He slapped her rear again and earned another delighted gasp from the Ruler of Limbo.
As the debauchery once more commenced, this time in full-swing, Scott resigned himself to living this crazy lifestyle to its fullest.
…Scott also made a note to beg the Cuckoos to scrape this memory from his brain.
Hope Summers slammed the front door of her house shut and carelessly discarded her school rucksack as she made her way to the kitchen through the living room.
"Dad, I'm home." She called out to her father.
Life had been… quiet in the week since Scott left. While there still remained some tension between her dad and the Avengers, Nathan hadn't made any hostile moves. Instead, Nathan seemed intent on keeping her peace.
However, keeping that peace also meant distancing themselves from the Jean Grey School.
The school wasn't safe, Nathan had reasoned. The best way to see to her safety was to disappear, he added; and it was easier to disappear when there were only two of you. A hairstyle later, a few fake ID's, and the Avenger's leverage later, Nathaniel Spalding, a single father, had enrolled his only child, the fiery Hope, in Midtown High, New York – a strategic location the Avengers refused to negotiate on.
Scott's attempt at world domination had riled up more than a few tempers, sparking protests for and against mutant-kind. With the mutant species still on the road to extinction and Hope confirmed as its only savior, both the Avengers and the X-Men in-the-know decided to pull out all the stops in ensuring Hope would be free from harm. It was a tall-order considering the way their lives worked, but it was one both groups were determined to fulfill.
Nathan had half the mind to take Hope and disappear, but he realized it was more trouble on Hope's part than it was worth his pride. And he had promised Scott that he'd always look after Hope's wellbeing.
"Dad? Dad, where- oh." Hope suddenly became subdued upon seeing her father hunched over three computer screens filled with news reports, blog posts, etc; she already knew what he was up to. "Are you looking for Scott again?"
"You're back." Nathan looked up at her with warm eyes. "How was your second day at school?"
He was dodging the question.
"It was nice." Hope admitted with a small pout and concerned eyes. She grabbed one of the computer chairs and dragged it next to Nathan so she could better see what he was reading. "It's really boring, though. And I can't understand what's the deal between purple and violet eye-shadow; aren't they the same?"
"You're asking the wrong person if you're looking for the right answer, Hope." Nathan deadpanned before returning his attention back to the screen. "But I won't be getting a call from the principal about you breaking another punk's nose in tonight, right?"
Hope blushed. "About that…"
"I didn't break his face in!" Hope defended. "Just- I'm not sure if he'll ever have children in the future anymore."
There was a long pause that followed the embarrassed girl's confession before Nathan sighed tiredly.
"Alright. One less bastard in the future, then. "
"And at least this was a clean hit." Hope added thoughtfully.
She remembered having to scrub the bloodstains off the locker with a toothbrush the day previous. That was hell.
"You're really messed up, you know that?"
"I don't think I've ever been normal. At least, not by normal's norms."
"Hmph." Nathan grunted and said nothing more. Inwardly, he was proud of his little girl for defending herself. That'd teach those hormonal teens not to think with their limp dicks. Still, a good parent didn't encourage such barbaric behavior… no matter how appropriate it was.
Normality was so difficult.
"Hey, Nathan…?" Hope anxiously began moments later.
"Are you- is this alright?" Hope's hands met in her nervousness. "This life, I mean?"
"Why won't I be happy?" Nathan looked at his daughter questioningly. "For once, you and I are together, sitting down peacefully in an idle afternoon. In a few hours, I'll be ordering takeout for the both of us; you'll be doing your homework then fall asleep afterwards." Hope made a face at the reminder of homework. "We're not rushing off elsewhere; we don't have to worry about food; there's no dark shadow chasing our footsteps. Why wouldn't I be happy? I'm here with you."
A warm feeling enveloped Hope at the sincerity in Nathan's eyes, but even she could tell that Nathan wanted more than just this.
Hope swallowed her anxiety and questioned her father.
"Do you want to chase after Scott?"
Nathan was not surprised that Hope pointed out the pink elephant crowding their life. Rather, it was expected.
"I want to." Nathan admitted and Hope visibly flinched; Nathan continued before Hope could speak up. "But I won't. I've got you now, Hope, and I'm not going anywhere."
Hope just stared at Nathan, her heart twisting at the loving gaze he bathed her with before she harshly squashed the feeling.
It- it was alright for her to pursue her own happiness at the expense of her father's, right? And… Scott would come back anyway, right? He just… needed some time away. Yes, that was right. A sabbatical.
Scott said so himself; the Phoenix Force was coming back.
So- so she needed to prepare.
That was right.
She was owed this time of bliss.
Hope leaned her head against her father's shoulder and smiled at him softly.
Nathan nodded his head in reply, never once taking his eyes off the screen before him as he sought confirmation that Scott was alive.
Who the hell was telepath with him?
The question ate away at Nathan, but he trusted in Scott. Cyclops could take care of himself easily.
And besides, Nathan was a Summers. No matter how powerful was the urge to react to his worries was, he stood firmly on the path he had decided, no matter what came his way.
In Nathan's mind, he had decided that his daughter's happiness was of more important than his father's safety. He was sure that, as a father himself, Scott would understand.
A duet answered him. "Yes?"
Scott slowly gazed between the bound Illyana Rasputin with her reddened rear before him and the Illyana Rasputin behind him that was currently rubbing sensual, soothing circles on his chest. He could also feel a deep sense of yearning with every heat she left on his skin.
"Why are there two of you?"
"Why is that?" The bound Illyana asked with a small pout to her future-self for disrupting a wonderful session.
The unbound Illyana whined, "In the week after this, Scott has not touched me once. I feel cheated."
"Ah." Present-Illyana nodded her head in understanding before addressing the only male in the room. "She is sexually frustrated."
"… I can see that."
Scott couldn't tell if he was in heaven or hell, what with the two admittedly hot, hungry, and scantily-clad Russian blondes surrounding him in this little piece of Limbo.
A ray of hope suddenly beamed through the room.
"Oh, look at the dawn!" Scott suddenly exclaimed, pointing to the eastern window and the rising sun. "Well, everyone's probably about to wake up so it's time to wrap this one. It was fun but we really have to make a move soon."
Scott hastily beat a retreat, briskly walking out the door only to be surrounded in blue light and find himself back where he started.
"We have two more hours before everyone is ready to leave." Future-Illyana explained as she picked up the discarded whip.
She cracked it loudly.
"Now… beg, maggot!"
Half an hour later, Scott turned the tables on Future-'Yana, too.
Having smelled and identified the visitor before she was even within visible range of the school gates, Logan was already stood there and waiting for Laura to arrive with a fond grin on his face.
It only took a short ten minutes before Laura emerged from the foliage – foregoing her usual entrance of climbing the school's walls.
Laura had smelled him waiting, after all.
"What brings you here, kid?" The hairy man grunted warmly of his adopted sister as he led her in. "Does Pym even know you've left?"
"I came to speak with Ms. Grey." Laura admitted with, staring up at Logan with her usual impassiveness. "I left Hank Pym a note."
"Well, that's a good a notice as any, I s'pose." Logan murmured while scratching the back of his head. If ever his connection to Laura was of any suspicion - and it wasn't, by the way – then this would have settled it; Laura expressed Logan's own tendency to take off and wander at a whim. "Ray just finished a class so she should be free. You know how to find her."
Laura nodded gratefully. "Thank you."
It did not take Laura long track Rachel Grey. As Laura slipped past the sliding doors leading to Cerebro, Rachel paid the approaching mutant no mind.
"Rachel Grey." Laura began, trying to draw the telepath's attention.
"Yes, Laura?" Though her presence was acknowledged, Rachel remained intent with staring at the globe before her.
"You are searching for Cyclops."
That caught Rachel's attention. The schoolteacher turned towards the former-assassin, staring at her intently. "Yes. Yes I am. Do you know anything?"
"No." Laura admitted. "But I am searching for Cyclops, too."
"What do you plan to do with him?" Rachel narrowed her eyes in suspicion.
"I intend to speak with Cyclops."
The intensity in Rachel's gaze never let up. "And? What will you do once you've spoken with my dad?"
"I am uncertain, but I will most likely leave him be." Laura confessed, her green eyes somehow shining sadly.
Though Laura's statement left no guarantees, it seemed to be what the psychic mutant was looking for.
Rachel slowly exhaled, her green eyes watching the younger mutant tiredly. "Why are you telling me this? Why are you here, now? You know Logan will never approve of you chasing my dad."
"I want to know if you would like to join me."
Rachel had to blink at Laura's honest admission.
"W-what?" She asked, flustered, as her heart raced with a panicked beat at being put on the spot.
"I am searching for Cyclops." Laura repeated clearly. "I want to know if you would like to join me. With your experience tracking down mutants and your mutant ability, it should be easy to find Cyclops."
Rachel's first impulse was to get off Cerebro and join Laura on her expedition, but just as her arms braced themselves on the armrests of her seat to accept Laura's invitation, Rachel's body sank.
"I- I would love to." Rachel began as worry began to pile in: what would happen if she met Scott? What would she say? What could she say? She desperately wanted to meet him again but- but what if her dad didn't want to meet with her anymore? What if he had really cut ties with her? What then? "But- but I have responsibilities. Here."
Rachel slowly nodded her head; a gesture to subtly remind Laura of her place in the school.
Laura blinked. "Alright."
Rachel waited uneasily under Laura's owlish gaze, resisting the urge to pry into the younger mutant's thoughts. Just as she was about to say hell to her restraint, Laura spoke up again.
"I need the X-Jet. Will you help me?"
"That…" Rachel deflated. "… That I can do…"
Rachel couldn't help but feel wretched at her hesitation.
For all her talk, she still could not decide for fear of what could happen. She needed- she needed more time.
To think this through properly.
Yes, that was right.
…Rachel had always resembled Jean more than Scott.
Scott and Ruby stared at each other.
Though it was hard to tell because of their respective spectacles, they were not staring eye-to-eye, and while Scott was blushing up a storm of embarrassment, Ruby wisely opted to shift into her gem form.
"So…" Scott began awkwardly.
"…yeah?" Ruby hesitantly asked.
"…Let's leave it at that." Scott concluded sharply.
"Agreed." Ruby agreed, a grin shakily curving her lips as she slowly regained her bluster.
"Scott." Illyana's voice suddenly sang and Ruby gaped when the Russian mutant appeared behind her father, hanging off his shoulders with her arms casually draped across his chest. "I had the most wonderful time last night, particularly when you finally took up the reigns."
"Oh for the lack of profanities to mutter!" Ruby exclaimed in despair. "Keep away from me you evil, evil devil!"
Illyana merely grinned evilly like a devil before making a show of whispering in Scott's ear.
"I really hope we can do it again. Otherwise, I'll have to use my powers creatively."
"Lalala! I can't hear you! LalalalaLA! Get off him!" Ruby made to shove the Ruler of Limbo off her father, only for said ruler to disentangle herself and step back with a mocking twirl. "Argh!"
"Alright." Scott shook himself out of his stupor. "Let's just- go."
He purposely didn't look in Illyana's direction.
"Ruby, gather everyone. We're leaving in ten."
"Right." Ruby swiftly grabbed onto the lifeline her father threw and shifted back to her flesh so she could call the rest of their troupe with her telepathy.
Illyana pouted slightly before sighing. "Very well. We'll have our fun later."
As Ruby was too busy blanking herself of Illyana's taunting, she missed the discreet thumbs up Scott sent the Russian mutant.
Oh yeah, the game is on.
A/N:This omake's getting too long, so I decided to cut it here. Consequently, this will be a two-parter omake filled with crack instead of a stand-alone.
On to the notes:
- Current Magik is awesome. I hope BMB doesn't ruin her. Damn you, Bendis.
- Rachel and Scott's relationship is both messed up and interesting. I hope to see them interacting as an actual family soon, but with the wankers currently steering the wheel of the X-Books… Hang in there Nick Lowe!
- I've given up on Hope. Leave Cable & X-Force alone, McGuffin! Die in a fire, Mary Sue! Jejejejejeje.
- I like writing Tony. He's a smooth-talking, self-confident jerk. I really wish I could write Nemesis, but I'm not eloquent enough to pen (keyboard?) Dr. Bradley's brand of crazy.
- Danger, where are you?! /sob