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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14


Written by Monica Tamaru
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 9

Kitty kept glancing into the hall. She heard that Jean was back, and when she finally showed, Kitty was determined to get to her first. That probably wasnít going to be too difficult because she was alone in the room.

She was trying to concentrate on her chemistry homework, but her eyes kept sliding back to the door. She was so bored!

"What are you doing?" Marie asked. She was at the windowsill, biting back a grin.

"Nothing. What were you doing on the roof? You know Xavier warned us about that."

"Thatís why I was on the roof. Everybody else would stay inside so they donít upset the great Xavier."

"Thatís fine talk. He took you off the streets and gave you a home. Youíd think that there would be a little appreciation!" Kitty sniffed. Some people just didnít know how good they had it.

"Youíd think." Marie said under her breath. She shrugged for Kittyís benefit and put on a chastened expression. "Youíre right, of course. Hey! When did they get back?"

Remy was running past the door. Jean quickly followed on his heels.

Marie and Kitty shared blank faces before taking off after them. The afternoon was looking up.

"Scott, Iíd like you to meet Warren Worthington." Xavier led Scott into the war room. It has been decorated festively. The people looking back at him made Scott very self-conscious.

"Hello, Mr. Worthington." He looked to Xavier for some clue as to why he was there.

"Scott, I wanted you to field some questions about the Institute." Xavier settled into a chair behind him.

"Um, okay."

"How are the children selected?" Raven asked, smiling widely at Scott. She reminded him of a predator looking at her next meal.

"We have a screening process that we put all of the children through. We give them an aptitude test and observe their problem solving methods. We keep a low profile so that the Institute sends out applications to those we desire."

"But arenít there some children here that come from the streets?"

"Yes. We were very fortunate that Xavier can spot talent." Does that even make sense? He can look at a person and tell? "About 5% of our student body comes from low income homes or were saved from the streets. Xavier takes trips every three months to search out talent that we would otherwise miss."

"How long does it take to determine where each child should concentrate their efforts? From entrance to graduation, how long does it take to get a cooperative student?" Sean Cassidy asked.

"Unless they are previously trained, we determine what the student should study. Usually, we just go by class sizes, and what is available." Except we change classes every term so the way we drop and add classes, there usually is only one place to put a new student. "Most students here are willing and eager to learn. There are a few with problems, usually the ones from broken homes, that take some time to settle into the program. Xavier is a licensed psychiatrist, and he helps the kids get through some of the harder adjustments. It all depends on the child, but on average, we start training after a year."

"Thatís quite impressive. How long have you been here?" Warren asked.

"Since I was seven. I was a saved child."

The guests exchanged a look that Scott didnít quite get.

"Thank you, Scott. Would you please locate Marie and send her into my office?"

The room was silent as Scott walked out. He glanced back once, then quickened his step. Suddenly, the thought of staying there for one more second sent chills down his spine.

"Well, what do you think? After reading his file, can there be any doubt about how well this program works."

"Like I told the boy, impressive. I think I will reserve my opinion until I see some more."

Xavier gave a tight smile. "Letís go see if Hank is ready."

"Hey! Wait!" Kitty yelled. It felt as if theyíd been running forever. She struggled for breath. Marie was right behind her, and from the sound of it, not doing much better.

Jean turned frowned. She better see what they wanted. Silently cursing Remy, she slowed.

"What?" She couldnít hide the irritation.

"Where are you going? Why is he running?" Kitty gasped out as she struggled to regain her breath.

"I was following him. He should be running because once I get my hands on him, heís going to regret it!"

"Are you back for good?" Marie asked, meeting Jeanís eyes.

"I think so. Our stepfather thinks itís for the best," Jean said with a sneer. Noticing Kittyís wide-eyed look, she smoothed her features down. "Anyway, I missed the cheesecake with the chocolate truffles."

"So tell us about San Francisco! What happened?"

Jean smiled as she began to weave the tale of their adventures. Marie and Kitty were soon hanging on every word. On every fictional word.

Remy heard Jean falling behind. He wasnít really heading anywhere, but he needed to be alone. He waved at the surveillance camera that was following him. He fumbled in his pocket for a cigarette and sighed in relief as the nicotine invaded his body. He walked to the trellis and hoisted himself up to the roof. Jean was terrified of heights, so he was pretty sure she wouldnít bother him.

"You know cigarettes arenít allowed on campus," Marie said, leaning back on her elbows. Remy lost some of his characteristic grace as he spun towards her, and immediately lost his footing on the slope. Marie watched him silently as he regained his composure.

Remy frowned at her, and then shrugged. He settled down beside her and offered her a cigarette, which she accepted. They were silent, watching the flags flap in the wind, the clouds roll by.

"Why did you come back?" Marie finally asked. She was staring at him intently.

Remy hesitated. He knew that she wasnít clueless to what was happening at the school, but how to explain.

"I know if I ever left this place, I would start running and never look back. You couldnít get any farther than California. Why?!"

"Why doní yí just walk away?" Remy asked simply. "The gates arenít locked in the day."

Marie fumbled for the words. "I canít. Every time I get near the gates, something pulls me away. My mind floods with what is was like on the outside. Iím a coward. I canít go back to that."

Remy scooted closer and covered her hand with his. She looked down and then slowly back to him.

"Yíre not a coward, Marie. Iíve seen what happens tí girls alone. Thatís why Jeannie aní me are here at all. I still caní decide if this is a curse or a blessing. I know that what theyíre doiní is wrong, but is it worth closing down? If it means goiní back tí the streets?"

The wind picked up and Marie tentatively leaned against him. Letting out a small breath when he put an arm around her shoulders, she turned towards him. "Itís worth it. Did you ever figure out what happened to Jono?"


"Jonothan Starsmore."

"No. I noticed that he was declared deceased witíout a body. Weird case. Yí know what happened?"

Marie sighed. "No. He was my best friend. I was hoping you knew. There was a fire and the gym fell in. Everyone got out except him, but when they cleared everything out, there was nothing there. They said that the fire simply incinerated him, but wouldnít there be bones or something."

Remy ran his hand up and down her arm. Bright emerald eyes met his. He gently wiped away a tear with his finger. Jean fumed. She could see them on the roof, and she didnít like the ways things looked from the ground. "Jean! Iíve been wanting to talk to you," Scott said, pulling her into the school. She yanked her arm out of his grasp, and started walking away from him. She felt a deep sense of betrayal. She argued with herself, telling herself that Scott never agreed to help, never admitted that she was right. It hadnít helped. "Donít you have another little girl to kidnap? Some other student to put in a coma?" she said angrily. It was little louder than she intended, but the fact that other people were gathering didnít penetrate her focus. "You know thatís unfair. WE didnít kidnap anybody. If I recall correctly, that was your fault! And what happened with your brother was an accident. We handled that appropriately. Anyway, thatís not w hat I wanted to Ė"

Her eyes followed his every move. He was staying as far away from her as possible. Jeanís lip curled into a snarl as she watched Logan put Jubilee through the paces.

"So whatís going on, Jeannie?" Remy murmured in her ear. He was dressed in work clothes, all form fitting and black, and his hair pulled back from his face.

"I can explain, just not now," she hissed. He wasnít supposed to be here. Ever since Logan took back his self-defense classes, Remy had been exempt.

"Jean, I told you to lay low. I told you to toe the lineÖ"

"I know that. I messed up. You know that Iím usually good about doing what you tell meÖ"

"Break into pairs!" Loganís voice rang out.

Jean narrowed her eyes and faced a grim Remy. He gave a slight bow and waited for Jean to get ready.


Block. Block. Jab. Their movements were fluid, block meeting each attack. Remy was the stronger of the two, but Jean was fairly innovative. She kicked out towards his ribs, easily ducking under the arm that flew at her. Remy sidestepped the kick and flung the heel of his hand at her chin. She flipped backwards, missing the blow, but a well-placed leg sent her sprawling across the floor. She quickly rolled back onto her feet and went on the offensive. She managed to throw Remy off-balance, but there was no time to gloat over that. Remy quickly took back the upper hand, throwing a barrage of blows at her that Jean could only hope that luck was on her side.

The whole class had stopped the exercise to watch Remy and Jean spar. Logan was watching in amazement at the vast amount of experience they showed.

Remy was concentrating hard on challenging Jean, but not actually hurting her. He was surprised and pleased with her skill. Still, he planned to beat her.

Jeanís arms were screaming in pain, but she remained steadfast. He was slowly backing her into the wall. The crowd parted as the came close. Timing it just right, Jean pushed off from the wall, crashing right into Remy. He easily rolled away from her and came up smiling.

"Pretty good, Jeannie, just not good enough."

She lunged at him, making her first big mistake. He easily threw her off balance, sending her to the floor. As soon as she hit, he lightly rested his foot against her throat.

"You lose." His eyes bored into hers. She sighed and nodded her defeat. He helped her up and gave her a look.

"Yes, I should have thought things through before flying off the handle. We need to be extra careful, and I totally disregarded that. Iím sorry." She was gritting her teeth by the time she reached the end.

"Was that so hard? When you can beat me, then you get to be right." They were scarcely speaking at all. Everyone was leaning in, trying to hear what was being said. Remy looked around, and then raised his voice.

"How did I beat yí?"

"You made me mad. I let emotion take over self-control. I made a mistake." Jean said immediately. A light blush colored her cheeks as she realized that was what happened earlier as well.

"Yí did good, petite." He gave her a grin and sauntered out of the gym. Jean became uncomfortably aware of the stares that were now focused on her.

"Thatís not stuff you learn on the streets," Logan said quietly.

Jean smiled sweetly. "That was what you were showing in class a couple weeks ago. We didnít want to show off by doing anything hard."

"Where the fuck are the kids files?!" Logan yelled. He was tearing through the file room and had been for the last hour.

"I canít get them on the computer either," Ororo called back from the control room. "Theyíve completely disappeared from the data banks."

Xavier was calmly sitting in the war room, silently thankful that his guests had all retired to their rooms already. A pensive frown marred his smooth face. "Thatís impossible. Only I have clearance to change the files."

"Theyíre not here," Ororo repeated, irritation tingeing her tone.

Xavier put his head in his hands. Things were not going smoothly. "What do you need the files for?"

"Those fucking kids are pulling a fast one on us. They know stuff. They were executing perfect forms. Where do you that on the streets, huh? That book Remyís always carrying around? Itís written in Latin!"

Hank looked interested. "There were a few times when were following them that we lost track of them for a couple of months."

"And they learned martial arts, Latin, and differential equations in that time?" Logan sneered.

"Well, they did test at genius and they stayed in a library. Thatís probably where they learned a lot of the things they know," Scott said softly. "I think the girl is a hacker, the boy is the executor."

Xavier peered up at him. "What makes you say that?"

"Just a feeling," Scott mumbled. Actually, it was a really weird message on my computer.

The room fell silent. The homogenous whirring of the computers were the only sounds in the room.

"Bring Erik to me." Xavier said. His steely blue eyes were hard, his lips pressed into a thin line as determination etched itself onto his face. He has never failed to break a child, to get his way. He would be damned if it would happen now!


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