A/N: Here comes the disclaimer bit. I do NOT own any of the characters or elements of X-Men: Evolution; that's all Marvel's. However, Hannah Black, her family, and Ryan Nepal all do belong to me. Any other fancharacters that may get cameos in this fanfiction belong to a select few of my friends on deviantArt, and credit for each of those characters will be given to their appropriate creators in due time. WARNING: This fanfiction contains fancharacters, OCxcanon elements, some possible mild swearing, darker writing elements, mild feminist elements, and violence. If you cannot stomach any of those, this probably is not the fanfiction for you, and I'd suggest you look elsewhere for your Evo reading needs. Everyone else, please R&R!
Chapter 1: Unsettled
The dream was as familiar as her reflection, as welcome as her favorite song. All people had recurring dreams, which had an individual meaning to each unique person, and to her, the dream of dancing and singing in a garden was a good sign, meaning something great would happen soon. Not to mention it was just nice, waking up after such a good dream. And it had Hannah Black humming and singing as she started her morning routine, putting her in a very sunny mood.
She was halfway finished brushing her hair when her mother yelled for her.
"Hannah! Breakfast, honey!" Julie Black called, and her fifteen-and-a-half-year-old daughter moved at once, cramming everything she needed into her backpack, and taking once last glance at her dirty-blonde hair in the mirror before heading downstairs. Her parents were already sitting at the kitchen table, calmly getting through breakfast, her mother fixing another plate while her father skimmed the newspaper. He glanced up when she took a seat, and his mustache creased upward as he smiled.
"You sound awful happy this morning, kiddo."
"I had the dream about the garden again," she explained, taking the plate her mother handed her, "Of course I'm happy!"
"That dream might mean something," her mother remarked thoughtfully, "Could be you'll wind up working at a greenhouse one day."
"I know your grandmother would approve." Paul Black said with a small chuckle. "She's always complained about how none of your uncles or I ever got her green thumb."
"I think I would like that." Hannah said beaming, cutting up her pancakes. "Maybe I could even find a few plants for myself, too."
"Hannah," her mother began in a tone indicating she was about to broach a sensitive topic, "Are you doing okay in school?"
She looked up at her mother, frowning in confusion. "Yeah, you just saw my current grades in my classes on the school website last week." She said slowly. She was doing find, if you overlooked that almost-a-D in Social Studies, so why was her mom asking her a question she already knew the answer to?
"And dance team?"
"Gemma says I'm doing great," Hannah replied, "I did stumble a bit through the last formal dance routine, but she says I'm acing jazz and tap, so it's cool."
"Jewel," her father jumped in, tossing his wife a quizzical look, "If you're trying to ask Hannah about something specific, just say it. Don't beat around the bush."
Hannah had to wince at the idiom. She didn't particularly care for it, but her dad had a point.
"Well…" her mom began, turning to study the surface of the table rather intently, "That is…a mother has a right to worry about her daughter at this age. Young ladies go through many changes around this time, especially when it comes to boys—"
"Oh, mom!" Hannah groaned, slumping in her seat, "That's what this is about?"
"Well, you're almost sixteen, honey," she said, "And you haven't had a single boyfriend yet."
"Which is perfectly fine with me." Her father declared, vanishing behind the Classified section when his wife shot him a glare.
"Mom, I haven't met the right guy yet, okay?" Hannah said, sighing and poking at her food. "Trust me, when I get a boyfriend, you'll be the first to know."
The resident students of Bayville High School weren't always the most accommodating of individuals, but somehow Hannah never seemed to have experienced that firsthand. She wasn't popular or even close to it by any standards, but she wasn't completely friendless either. Generally, she was just overlooked, which was fine by her. She didn't want anyone finding out that she was a…a…well, not normal. She'd already heard there were other students that were like her, but she had an idea who some of them might be, and she wasn't too keen on getting to know any of them. Not yet at least. She hadn't even told her parents yet about what she could do.
And quite honestly, she wasn't sure if she could tell anyone.
Her day at school was going quite well to begin with, and for a good while, she was able to push all thoughts of her abnormality out of her mind. Even her Social Studies class seemed to be looking up, once she realized the fourth seat in the back row was empty. Yes, today was turning out great.
But when she got to the cafeteria for lunch, her happy bubble was burst almost as soon as she sat down at a table.
"Hey, Black," said a smooth, oily voice, "How was Social Studies?"
He grabbed the seat next to her, flipped it around, and sat in it backwards, sneering. Hannah did her best to keep her eyes on her lunch tray; she didn't need to look at Ryan Nepal to know what he looked like. Tall, buff, brunette, brown eyes that all the other girls adored, Ryan was the football team's linebacker and Duncan Matthew's wingman.
He was also her self-appointed tormentor, ever since they wound up in the same Social Studies class at the beginning of the year.
"Quiet." Hannah replied curtly, taking care not to reach for anything on her tray. The second she tried to ignore him for food, Ryan would snatch whatever she reached for, and chances were good then that she wouldn't get it back.
"Copy down any notes for me?" He asked casually.
"We didn't have any notes today," she said calmly, "Just a review for the test on Friday."
"Where were you during class, Ryan?" She shot back angrily, turning to glare at him finally. "Didn't think the football team stars were allowed to just skip whenever they want."
"None of your business." He answered, hardly fazed. "Besides, the football team runs this school."
"Oh, how enlightening. I'll be sure to inform Principal Kelly of that the next time I see him." She said in a mocking falsetto, sarcasm lacing her tone.
"Not funny, Black." He snarled. "One day that mouth of yours is going to—"
"What do you want anyway, Ryan?"
"You'll see soon enough, Hannah. You'll see soon enough."
There was something ominous and frightening in his tone, and when he stood and left, Hannah barely suppressed a sigh of relief. What the heck was his deal? Still, his words were unsettling, and hung over her head like a dark cloud the rest of the day, making it a lot harder for her to concentrate. The worst part was that Ryan showed up again when Hannah attended the after-school dance team meeting. He lingered outside the room silently, leaning against the doorframe with his arms crossed, smirking. Hannah did her best to ignore him and focus instead on what the team captain was talking about, but the nagging feeling prickling the back of her neck reused to go away, and she kept glancing toward the door, making Ryan grin each time.
Why won't he just go away? She thought angrily. The fifth time she looked toward the door, a few of his football friends had joined him, and began snickering at her.
"Wha-? Oh! Umm…" she squeaked, jumping when she realized she'd been asked a question and not heard it.
"Well?" Gemma asked, raising her eyebrows. Hannah thought quickly, trying not to panic. What had Gemma asked her? The meeting was supposed to be voting on something. What was it? A new routine? The next focus for style?
"Uh…" she stuttered, feeling her face go bright red, "Y-yes?"
"Alrighty, then!" Gemma said cheerfully, brightening up at once. "Britney Spears it is!"
Hannah blinked, startled. "Wait, what?"
"We were voting on whose dance style we should learn next," the girl next to her, Stephanie, whispered, "It was pretty unanimous about Britney. What happened? Were you spacing out?"
She stole one last glance at the door, only to find that the hallway beyond was vacant. Ryan and his friends had left.
"Yeah. I guess I kind of was." She murmured.
Once the meeting had adjourned and the girls been dismissed, Hannah bolted from the room, ready to get home as fast as possible, hoping against the possibility that the football guys were still hanging around. Much to her relief, the hallways were clear, and she had a free shot at the door. She ran, feeling home free at last—
And crashed right into another girl crossing the hall. Books and backpacks went flying, and both girls hit the floor. Hannah let out a small groan of pain, feeling her face flush again. How had this gone from such a good day with a lot of great potential to such a bad one?
"Hey," said a kind voice, "Are you okay?"
She glanced to the other girl, a tall, gorgeous redhead who was already getting to her feet and offering her a hand up.
"Y-yeah," she said, "I'm really, really sorry! I was in a hurry and I thought the hall was clear. Oh god, this is embarrassing…"
"Hey, don't worry about it," the redhead replied, pulling Hannah up, "I've had way worse, trust me. Say, what's your name?"
"H-Hannah," she answered, "Hannah Black."
"Nice to meet you, Hannah. I'm Jean Grey. I…don't think I've seen you around before."
"I'm a sophomore," Hannah said immediately, getting the impression this girl was a senior, "And it's n-nice to meet you too, Jean."
"Say, do you have anything you have to do right away?" Jean asked abruptly, a strange expression on her face, as though she had just thought of it.
"Well, I…um…" She hesitated.
Jean offered her an encouraging smile, extending a hand. "If you want, you could come and talk to me and my friends. Take your mind off things for a while; if you're off in such a hurry, you'll run yourself tired. What do you say?" She said kindly.
Hannah could hardly believe her ears. A chance to hang out with a senior?! Maybe this day wasn't turning out so bad after all!
"That sounds—" she began, gingerly taking the offered hand and giving it a light shake. It seemed an innocent, gentle gesture, but the next second she knew something went wrong. Jean's body became abruptly rigid as a board, her eyes glassed over, going wide and distant, and her mouth went slack, jaw dropping. Frightened, Hannah jerked back, pulling her hand free, and began edging sideways toward the door.
"S-sorry," she murmured, refusing to meet the eyes of the senior girl, "I…I've g-gotta get home."
And before Jean could protest, she ran, her thoughts spinning.
Who was Jean really? And what had happened just now when Hannah shook her hand?
Could she be…?
No, she didn't want to think about that possibility. Even if Jean was…like Hannah, it was hard enough thinking about herself in that context.
But if she was…
On and on her mind raced back and forth, fears and doubts consuming her so completely she never noticed she was being watched the entire way home.
"Now Jean, Scott," Professor Xavier said as Beast shut the study door, "You said you needed to see us about something?"
"Jean thinks she's found a new mutant, Professor," Scott said immediately, prompting the redhead to glare at him.
"Thanks for stealing my thunder." She grumbled, though it was in good humor.
"Sorry!" He said quickly, backing down.
"Jean?" Xavier prompted, and all eyes turned to her. She let out a sigh, rubbing her temples.
"Forgive me; It's hard to begin." She said, not looking anyone in the eye, "It happened so fast and sudden. I had been heading out one of the side doors when I ran—literally—into an underclassman. Her name is Hannah. I'm not sure why…I just got a weird feeling when I saw her. I tried not to peek into her head, but she was clearly distressed, Professor. Anyone could see that. So I tried to ask if she would like to talk to me, and when I shook hands with her…"
"You had some kind of vision or somethin'?" Logan guessed, crossing his arms, and no one was surprised when Jean nodded.
"Yeah, kind of. But this one is difficult to explain. It was so much more jumbled than all the other mutants I've had any kind of contact with. I…cannot say for sure what power she has, but I know she is a mutant…and skittish around boys."
"I understand, Jean." Said the Professor.
"Perhaps it would be best then," Beast spoke up, "If you and the girls were to approach this Hannah and speak to her."
"I agree," she added, "Hannah strikes me as rather shy, but maybe some of the other girls and I can get her to open up a little."
"Very well then. I trust you shall fill them all in on the plan. In the meantime, I'll see if I can't confirm these mutant readings on her with Cerebro as soon as possible." Xavier declared.
"Professor," she spoke up again, looking somewhat anxious, "Could I have a word with you and Mr. Logan and Dr. McCoy? Alone?"
Beast and Wolverine exchanged a quick glance, and when Xavier nodded, Scott left the room, albeit reluctantly.
"What's troubling you, Jean? Did you sense anything else when you made contact with Hannah?" the Professor asked, his expression concerned.
"A lot more than normal," she replied, nodding, "A lot more."
"Could you be developing precognitive abilities?" Beast asked.
"I don't know," the redhead girl replied, shaking her head and clasping her hands in her lap. "But when I…brushed her mind…it went on longer than I am used to. I mean, I couldn't totally control how long the contact went on…but I don't think it was even all that long. I don't know what I saw…but if Beast is right, I might have had a glimpse of…well, something that hasn't happened yet. And Hannah's not the only new mutant I saw. There…there's another one too, and he's dangerous. Very dangerous. I only caught a glimpse of his mutation, but I don't have a clue who he is! I can only guess he must know Hannah somehow."
"He goes to the high school?" Logan asked.
"I think so."
"Hmm…this is indeed unsettling news you bring before us, my young friend." Charles Xavier remarked, brow furrowing.
"I was wondering…" she said hesitantly, "I just wondered if…maybe…Cerebro?"
"I can definitely try to scan the school with Cerebro during the day to see if I can't detect traces of a mutant signature, if it puts your mind at ease. Unfortunately, there is only so much I can do if this young man is not using his powers. It may be beneficial in our efforts to approach Hannah if we were to keep tabs on any boys she interacts with at school."
Logan grimaced. "Baby-sitting time again."
A/N: Hey there, me again! Not going to bore you too much, but this fanfiction does take place after the events of my other X-Men: Evolution fanfic, "Hurricane Warning," (it's not necessary to read that to understand this, though,) so I apologize in advance if I'm slow to update this at first. I want to try and finish what of "Hurricane Warning" that I can.