This carries on from the original trilogy and from my previous stories X-Men IV: The Dark Before the Dawn, X5: Clash of Steel and X6: Gene Pool (reading of which is recommended if you haven't already). Both prequels are ignored.


CHAPTER 1

Storm looked through the windscreen of the X-Jet as the craft slowly came into land on the lawn. The building in front of them stood gleaming white. The fact she was looking at it was a perfect symbol of how far the X-Men had come from the outlaws they were once regarded as. "I never thought I'd see it this close."

Wolverine shot a glance in the direction she was staring at, his attitude as nonchalant as always. "Yeah, it's real impressive,"he remarked drily.

"I think what's perhaps more impressive,"Professor X replied,"is that we were invited here."

Wolverine shrugged. "Least they could do, given how many times we saved this country."

Storm shot a look at him. "You're not going to be like this in polite company, are you?"

Wolverine reached over and took her hand, smiling one of his rare, genuine smiles. "For you, I will be on my best behaviour." He kissed her on the cheek.

"Well, I suppose we'd better announce our presence,"Professor X noted. He pressed the control to lower the lamp and the three of them descended onto the White House lawn.

A group of soldiers had surrounded the jet, even though they were making sure they pointed their weapons in every direction except at the X-Men. Wolverine leaned close to the professor. "Can I?"

Professor X shot him a long-suffering look. "If you must."

Wolverine turned to the soldiers. "Take us to your leader."


The soldiers led the three of them down a long succession of corridors to the Oval Office. When they entered, the President was sat behind the desk. Standing next to the desk was the former X-Man Beast. The President gestured to the chairs in front of him. "I'm glad you could join us. Please, take a seat. Unless, Professor, you'd prefer to stand?"

Professor X smiled. "Well, this robotic body doesn't require rest. However, after so many years in a wheelchair, I'm still not quite accustomed to viewing things from this height. So, I think I'll accept the chair."

The four of them, Beast included, took the seats offered. The President gestured to the other man. "I believe you are all well-acquainted with Henry McCoy, the leader of our mutant strike team?"

Wolverine glanced at their old colleague. "You didn't stick with 'X-Factor'?"

"The name is still in use,"Beast answered. "But it was felt a more informative description was also required.

"Mr. President, we appreciate being invited here,"Professor X noted. "Perhaps more than you can imagine. But I would like to know why, exactly."

"What can we do to help you?"Storm asked.

The President leaned back in his chair, considering his words carefully. "You can talk to me."

There was a confused silence. "Come again?"Wolverine asked.

"In the past, there have been those in my administration who have viewed the X-Men as renegades, as vigilantes. As a menace to society, the same as the Brotherhood or the Marauders or any other mutant terrorist group. I do not share that view. But if we are to work together, then we need to work together. I can't have you continuing to carry out raids without official backing."

Professor X steepled his fingers in concern. "Mr. President, the X-Men have always valued our independence. We believe we work best without government interference."

"We can't ask your permission every time we need to take action,"Storm added.

The President considered their words. "My main priority is that we are kept fully informed of all relevant information. I am appointing Henry McCoy, who you trust, as liaison, in the hope that will remove some of the suspicion."

"Things will go better if we work together,"Beast agreed.

Professor X considered the comments. "Then it seems we must be prepared to welcome this brave new world."


Bobby Drake, better known as the X-Man Iceman, was sure there were times he had been more terrified. But he couldn't quite remember any at that moment. He was aware that the ranks of senior X-Men had thinned somewhat during his time with the team, which had led to him being made one of the group's instructors. But when Professor X had suddenly left, taking Wolverine and Storm with him, no-one had been more surprised than Bobby when they told him he was being left in charge of the mansion. Normally, Rogue would have been considered the best candidate, but her current circumstances made that somewhat impractical. Which was how he came to be standing outside the Danger Room, with a line of X-Men waiting for him to tell them what to do: Colossus, Kitty Pryde, Siryn and Angel, as Warren had taken to calling himself again since Sinister's virus had reversed the changes Apocalypse had made to him.

"Okay,"Bobby announced in what he hoped was an authoritative tone. "Today's exercise is to focus on teamwork. Watch each other's back, make sure your partner's safe. You may have to do this in real life some day. So, Peter with Therese and Kitty with Warren, okay?"

They looked at him. "Bit obvious?"Siryn suggested.

"Well…it's probably what you'd do if we were doing this for real."

"So, guess I'm paired with you then,"remarked a female voice from behind him.

Bobby turned round to find Rogue standing there, having changed into her X-Men uniform. He walked over to her, speaking quietly. "Marie, you can't be here."

"Why?" Rogue tilted her head, looking at him defiantly, and made no attempt to stop the others hearing. "Because I'm not a mutant?"

"Because you're pregnant and about ready to drop?"Kitty suggested helpfully.

"She can't even do her jacket up,"Siryn remarked caustically.

"You're being indelicate,"Colossus scolded her gently.

"Look, Rogue, you can be back on the team when you're…"Bobby searched for the word.

"No longer pregnant,"Warren suggested.

"Yeah,"Bobby confirmed.

Rogue rolled her eyes. "You get that this is an industrial tribunal in the making, right?" She turned and stalked off back down the corridor.

Bobby turned back to the others, who seemed to be trying to stifle laughs. "Okay, Danger Room, now." But the little encounter with Rogue had made him feel even more of a fraud than ever. If his girlfriend didn't respect him, why would anyone else?