This story continues from my two previous post-X3 fictions, The Dark Before the Dawn and Clash of Steel, reading of which is recommended to anyone unfamiliar with them. As before, this is only in continuity with the trilogy, ignoring the prequels.


CHAPTER ONE

Viewed from above, the city looked like a maze. People went about their business, their lives, in the various streets and buildings. And if any of them had thought to look up, they would have seen a sight slightly more unusual than they were used to. A young man with fair hair, blue skin and a pair of large, white wings sprouting from his back was flying above the city. In his arms he was carrying a dark-haired girl in her late teens. The young man was called Warren Worthington III, although he also answered to the name Archangel. The girl was called Kitty Pryde. Both of them were members of the mutant superhero group known as the X-Men.

Kitty pointed out their destination and Warren plummeted downwards. Kitty gave a whoop of pleasure and Warren smiled at his girlfriend's delight. He picked out a quiet alleyway and came into land, his feet touching down on the pavement. Kitty jumped down out of his arms and grinned. "I never get tired of doing that." She gave him a lingering kiss on the lips. "Or that."

Warren put his arm around her and led her out of the alley. They headed across the road to the bank. The pair of them had been designated the job of paying the latest bills on the mansion, mainly because they were always looking for an excuse to fly somewhere together. As they entered the building though, they heard the frantic voice of a staffmember on the phone. "No, no, it's going on right now. The guards were jumped the moment they left the van. Yes, behind the building, robbery in progress."

"Sounds like something's going on,"Warren said quietly.

Kitty nodded. "Behind the building."

"Guess we should fly over there and check it out." Warren made to head back the way they'd come in but Kitty grabbed his hand and stopped him.

"My way's quicker,"she replied. Using her mutant powers, she phased them both and they walked through the rear wall.

When they got out in the back yard, they quickly took in the situation: An armoured vehicle, two unconscious security guards and a man in civillian dress holding onto a money bag for dear life. Surrounding him were four men wearing black leather tops. No, not four men: The same man. Each of them was identical.

"Look, just let me go!"the man holding the bag begged. He made to move through a gap between two of the men… and one of them split, an identical copy of himself separating from the original and filling in the gap.

"Sorry, pal,"he said, snatching the bag from the man's grasp. "Mess with one of Multiple Man and you mess with all of him."

"Leave him alone!"Kitty shouted.

All five versions of Multiple Man turned at her voice. One of them rolled his eyes. "Aww, X-Men. Isn't that just typical?"

The two nearest Kitty made a grab for her. She phased and they collided, becoming tangled up in each other. Archangel flew over the melee, making for the version of Multiple Man who was holding the bag, and snatched it out of his hands. "I'll take that,"he snapped.

"Why did you have to get in the way?"the Multiple Man demanded, lashing out with a fist. He connected with Archangel's side, knocking him off balance and causing him to fly into the security van and knock himself out.

"Warren!"Kitty cried. She ran to help but another of the copies gave her a shove that sent her hurtling to the ground next to him. She grabbed the bag from Warren's hand and phased, making both herself and the bag insubstantial. "Try getting your hands on it now."

One of the clones gestured to the others and they all merged back into him. "Catch you around,"he quipped before running out of the yard.

Kitty nudged Warren who was beginning to stir. "Where's Multiple Man?"he asked.

"Run off,"she answered.

"And the other guy?"

Kitty looked around. She'd actually forgotten about him in the confusion. "Not here either. Must have split once he realised there were some more capable have-a-go heroes around." She checked the two security guards. "These two should be coming round soon. At least we'll have a big bag of money to give back to them."


Bobby and Rogue were sitting on a bench outside the X-Mansion, their hands intertwined. Smiling at each other, they leaned forward until their lips touched, enjoying the sensation of arousal and intimacy the kiss generated.

Wolverine watched the pair from the other end of the garden. Storm stepped up beside him, following his gaze. "Young love, eh?"she asked.

Wolverine nodded. "Why is it whenever I see them doing that, I get a sudden urge to stick my claws through his chest?"

"I guess that's your way of being protective."

"Seriously, it's been a year now since she lost her powers and they first got to get all touchy feely. Hasn't the novelty worn off?"

"I don't know, Logan. Have you reached the stage where you don't want to do that anymore?"

Logan paused and looked at her, noticing the slight teasing smile on her face. Accepting the challenge, he bent and kissed her. She put her arms round his neck and he held her body tight, losing himself in the softness of the embrace, thoughts of eviscerating teenagers temporarily banished from his mind.


Professor Charles Xavier stood on the steps outside the mansion, casting his eye over the grounds. Everywhere he looked he could see students relaxing, chatting to each other, showing off their powers…and in some cases, following more adult pursuits.

He walked back inside the mansion, heading into the front room. There, he was greeted by the sight of Colossus and Siryn kissing on the couch. They sprang apart at his appearance, their faces reddening. "Ah, hi, Professor,"Siryn greeted him awkwardly.

"We were just…" Colossus stopped as he realised he didn't know how to finish the sentence.

"You know, it's curious,"Xavier mused,"I seem to have quite forgotten what I came in here for."He walked out of the room, closing the door behind him.

Gambit was standing in the corridor. "Is something the matter, Professor?"

"You know, Remy, there are times when I can't quite remember whether this is a training centre for a superhero team or a mutant dating agency." Xavier smiled but he didn't quite manage to stop his mind wandering to memories of times past, of sensations lost to him in his new robotic body. He quickly pushed them aside. It didn't do to dwell on what he'd lost.

"Be grateful, Professor,"Gambit noted. "You never know when the next crisis will appear."

"It might come sooner than you think,"Kitty replied as she and Warren came running up the steps into the mansion. She turned to Xavier. "Professor, there's something we need to talk to you about."