Generation X: It's Always Darkest... part 3

Disclaimer: Gen X is Marvel's, anyone else you may assume is mine.

Author's Note: People who like character building chapters, here's one for ya, plus Gateway to boot! He's trained M, delivered Penance and Jubilee to the X-fold, and saved the X teams countless times, so what's he want with Dawn? Hey, read the book!

Ups and Downs

The next morning things were quiet, so I got a chance to sleep late. I woke up around eight and went downstairs for something to eat, and discovered Jubilee eating left over pizza and drinking half a can of Jolt.

"Jubilee, that's DISGUSTING!" I exclaimed. "But then, now we know why you always seem to be on a perpetual sugar high..."

"There isn't anything else," Jubilee explained, too tired to be annoyed. "Sean forgot to go shopping again."

I looked in the refrigerator and pantry and discovered she was right; the only thing's left were left over pizza, soda, some condiments, a bag of flour, instant pudding, and a can of fruit cocktail. I took out the fruit cocktail and poured myself a glass of water, unwilling to drink soda and eat pizza that early in the morning.

"Did ya check the expiration date on that?" Jubilee asked.

"No. Why?"

"Last time I had anything canned *I* forgot to check and got sick."

"Well, it wasn't necessarily because it was bad..."

"The expiration date was June sixth, nineteen eighty eight." I made a face and hastily checked the can. Hmm... only a few weeks old, and I wasn't about to eat pizza. I took a cautious spoonful and discovered it reasonably fresh. I downed the entire can and went up to brush my teeth. I discovered Paige just coming in from her morning jog (strange, she was usually back by seven, but I guess even health nuts can sleep late occasionally) and said, "Hey, did you eat breakfast yet?"

"No, I haven't," she replied, wiping the sweat from her forehead. "Why?"

"Um, there isn't too much of a selection. You have the choice between pizza, ketchup, pudding, or flour."

Paige grimaced. "Maybe Mr. Cassidy should go shopping BEFORE the food runs out," she said. "But I think there are some apples in the control room of the Bio-Sphere, they keep some there for Penance."

"Good idea," I said. "But what're we going to do for the rest of the day, anyway? We're not having classes..."

Paige was thoughtful for a moment. "Well, you could go swimming, I guess."

"But it's just into fall."

"Oh, we've got an Olympic sized indoor pool, remember? You could use that, I think."

"That sounds nice... but I don't even have a swimsuit."

"You could borrow one of mine," Paige offered. "We're about the same size anyway, and I've got four."

"Thanks, Paige," I grinned, and she nodded. I went back to the bathroom and brushed my teeth, then made a trip to the Bio-Sphere to visit Artie, Leech, and Penance. I checked the control room first, and, sure enough, there was a large basket of apples leaning against the wall. I grabbed two, one for myself and one for Penance, and set about finding her. I used my telepathy, which was a little weak at the moment due to my constant use of it lately, but managed to find her quickly enough. She was sitting on a rock, gazing at a dozen or so butterflies as they flitted from flower to flower. She cocked her head to look at me, her bright blue eyes sparkling.

"Hi, Yvette," I said. "How're you today?"

I go no answer. Not that I'd EXPECTED one, though. She never talked, and pretty much all she seemed interested in doing was eating apples. 'Course, just because she didn't talk didn't keep the rest of us from talking TO her, and she was a great listener.

"Do you want an apple?" I inquired, holding out the other fruit. She stretched a long hand towards it and took it from my hand delicately, then began to slice it up and eat it piece by piece. All the while her blue eyes never left me, as if she could tell there was something wrong. I sighed and said, "Y'know, Penance, for someone who doesn't talk you sure say a lot." Penance looked puzzled, not comprehending what I had said. "I mean, you know there's something up and all, and not even Glenn has guessed. At least... not yet. But you... you can tell when something's wrong, and you don't even have to say a word to let others know."

:Be at ease,: came a male voice into my mind.

:Huh?: I exclaimed. :Who--?: I sensed his presence, but I didn't see anyone. However, I could tell his intentions were not malicious, merely concerned. Well, that ruled out Sinister and Apocalypse, even though Apocalypse wouldn't even know me in this era. Still, it was a relief.

:Here.: I looked over to the side and discovered the old, Aboriginal man, Gateway, floating beside me.

:What're you doing here?: I asked him. :I thought you didn't talk.:

:Merely offering comfort,: he said. :You should be at ease--death holds no terrors for you, Dawn-child.:

:What do you mean "death holds no terrors for me?" I'm terrified of it!:

:Should not be. Death for the flesh is not for the mind.:

:I know that, but I'm still scared.:

Gateway reached out and touched my forehead gently. :Heart. Mind. Spirit. Remember these three, and it matters not what happens to the body.:

This was making no sense. :What does that mean? Why are you telling me this?: I asked.

Gateway was silent and simply stared at me with his ancient brown eyes. I sighed, knowing I'd get no more out of him. As I walked away I suddenly turned my head to see him still floating there, eyes closed, with a single tear trickling down his cheek.

Later Everett, Paige, Jubilee, Mondo, Monet, and Glenn and I were in the pool, playing water volleyball. Glenn, Jubilee and I were on one team while Paige, Monet, and Mondo were on the other while Everett was acting as referee.

"That was NOT out!" Jubilee exclaimed in mock anger as Everett called a foul.

"'Fraid so, Lee," Everett grinned, knowing she wasn't serious.

Jubilee smiled daemonically and splashed him head on with water. "Oh yeah?!" Everett exclaimed in indignation. "Take this!" he splashed at her, but she ducked under the water and it hit me instead.

"Hey!" I yelled. I aimed for Everett, but missed and hit Paige instead. Paige grinned and sent a wave my way, but I ducked and it got Glenn in the face.

That was all it took; full scale water-war broke out. Even Monet joined in, playfully using her super strength to create tidal waves. I used my cousin's elemental powers to control the water, making it do lots of strange, gravity defying stunts such as leaping over Glenn and hitting Jubilee in the back. Mondo, however, managed to avoid most attacks by melting into the water and traveling through it at the speed of thought. Thus he could start out at the other end of the pool, become water, flow behind you, hit you with a splash and be back at the other end of the pool before the water hit you.

It was a tie between me and Mondo for the most "hits" when Glenn decided to even the score. He snuck up behind me and began to tickle me under the arms, where the fink KNEW I was hyper ticklish. This, of course, caused me to laugh, destroying my concentration. To make things even worse he decided to take it out of the water and levitated in the air, still tickling me.

"Let >ha ha ha ha!< let me go!" I shrieked, laughing so hard I could barely breathe.

"Nah," Glenn said, grinning.

"I'm going to >hee hee hee!< kill you when I >ha ha ha!< get down!" I warned him.

"Then I guess I just can't let you down," Glenn said, thoroughly enjoying himself.

"Then I'll have to >ha ha ha ha!< make you!" I told him.

"Really? Do tell."

"I warned you!" My wings burst out of my back, and since he had my back to his stomach the effect was a little uncomfortable for him, to say the least.

"Not the fea--" he started, but it was too late. I moved my wings across his stomach, where HE was ticklish, and managed to make him drop me. Unfortunately we were about ten feet above the water at the time, and there wasn't enough time for me to start to fly, so I grabbed at Glenn's foot and dragged him down with me instead. We landed with a splash almost on top of Jubilee, creating a tidal wave that smacked the others in their faces.

"Watch where yer flappin'!" Jubilee exclaimed as I attempted to right myself in the pool, creating waves with my wings. I grinned at her and sent a small wave her way, flicking my wing so the drops hit her in the face. She smiled at me wolfishly and sent another splash my way, laced with pyrotechnics. They were all light and no substance, of course, but they managed to distract me long enough for Mondo to launch a sneak attack from behind.

"No fair ganging up on me like that!" I declared. I latched on to Will's elemental power again and turned the swimming pool into a wave pool, making three feet tall waves that slapped everyone in the face. I smiled, then worked up enough wind to carry me out of the water and then drop me back in as I did a cannonball. Monet and Glenn winked at each other and then came at me at once, grabbing me and pulling me out of the water. I somehow wriggled out of Monet's grasp, but that left Glenn to deal with. I wasn't in the right position to use my wings again, so I used my lips and kissed him on the cheek, which succeeded in startling him. He dropped me again and I swam underwater to the corner of the pool, saying, "All right! All right! I give up! You guys win." I even put my hands into the air as a sign of surrender.

"What do you think, guys?" Everett asked the others.

"I'M fine with it as long as she doesn't pull that living wave stunt again," Jubilee said, wringing out her hair.

"I'm still a little drained from the past few days," I told her. "I think it'll be a while before I--" my gaze fell across the door window. Gateway was meditating in the hallway. ", excuse me for a second, guys," I said. I ran out to the hallway, wondering if he had been watching me. When I got there he was gone, with nothing to mark his passing but a bull roarer, made of stone and twine, lying in the middle of the hallway.

I lay on my bed, toying with the bull roarer and wondering why Gateway had left it behind, not to mention why he had been there in the first place. He was concerned about me... but why? He rarely, if ever, spoke to the others, so why me?

There was a knock on my door. "Come in, Glenn," I sent, stuffing the bull roarer into a drawer.

"Hey, Dawn," he said, tripping over the rug as he came in. I snickered; the guy was such a klutz.

"I thought there were rules about guys going in girls' dorms," I grinned.

He shrugged. "I wasn't too worried about the rules right now," he told me. "I was more worried about you."

"Me? Why?" I wondered if he had sensed the truth--that he knew I had Legacy. I had been thinking enough about it lately, and with the psionic rapport we shared I wasn't entirely sure I had screened my worries from him.

"You seem... worried," Glenn said, sitting on my bed. "I don't know... you ACT like you're okay, but I can just... FEEL your worry. Care to tell me why?"

"It's nothing," I muttered, turning over onto my stomach and folding my arms underneath my pillow.

"No, I think it IS something," Glenn insisted, touching my shoulder. "Dawn, you KNOW how I feel about you, if there's anything I can do..?"

"It's NOTHING!" I told him. "There's NOTHING wrong, okay?! Everything's FINE!"

Glenn looked shocked and hurt. I bit my lip. I hadn't wanted to do that, and I had to get out of there before I made it worse. I tapped into Jenny's power of telekinesis and opened the window, then jumped out of it, flying into the air.

"Dawn--wait!" I heard Glenn call after me, both with my mind and my ears. I shut him out, trying to hold back tears. I couldn't believe how stupid I had been to explode like that, but he had touched a nerve with me, and I was afraid of what I might do to him if I stayed, with my measureless potential to do damage. I flew into the woods and settled down on a tree limb, out of sight from the school. I wanted to be alone, or, better yet, crawl into a small, dark hole and die. At the very least I needed some peace and quiet to collect my thoughts.

Yeah. Right.

I turned around to discover Gateway sitting on a branch opposite to me, looking a serene as ever.

:Look, this is starting to ANNOY me,: I scowled. :Would you PLEASE go away? I would LIKE to be alone, if you don't mind.:

Gateway looked at me calmly. :You are angry,: he sent.

:NO DUH! Of COURSE I'm angry, you keep popping up and NEVER explain why! You don't even talk to the others, and when you talk to ME it's only telepathically! Care to tell me WHY?:

:You must be taught.:

My anger gave way to confusion . :Pardon?:

:You must be taught.:

:I heard you the first time. I MEAN, what do YOU mean?:

:You are strong, but impulsive also. Emotion before think. Loyalty is good, yes, but not foolishness because of it. You must be taught to control yourself.:

:Tell me something I don't know,: I sighed. :Well, what would you teach me?:

:To be calm. To control self. With power comes responsibility, and with responsibility comes power. Wish you to learn this?:

:Yeah, I guess so,: I sighed. :Lord knows I could use it. When should we start?:

:Dawn tomorrow. Over the lake.: After that he would say no more, and I was left to think about what he had said. Why would he waste his time on someone who was going to die in two months unless... unless he thought I would need it?

I went back several hours later in time for dinner, where Glenn and I avoided each other for the most part. The others noticed, but didn't say anything about it. At least, not until later...

:Gel, are you two havin' a fight?: Jonothon asked. I was startled, because it was the first time I had seen him since I had gotten back.

:Not... exactly,: I told him. :He... I mean, I... arrgh. Never mind. It's nothing.:

:I doubt it.:

:Look, I can have secrets, can't I? Please, drop it, Jono.:

Jonothon looked at me steadily, but dropped the subject. He returned his attention to the Simpsons, but I could tell he was still worried.

I lost my interest in the conversation after that and wandered up to the roof, where I summoned Will's elemental powers and soared into the air, feeling the wind around me, the water in the clouds, and the life below on the ground. I dove up into the clouds, feeling the cool moisture they left on my skin. The clouds were so thick I couldn't see the ground, but I had a certain sense that allowed me to tell exactly where I was, even without sight. I twirled around in the air, trailing wisps of clouds and fog around me, which sparkled in the waning daylight. It was going to rain, I could feel it, and it would be a heavy one. Lightening flashed around me, but I didn't mind. At the moment my body was capable of metabolizing such energy, so I simply enjoyed the show. I was by no means an expert in using Will's powers yet, and I still faltered every once and a while, but I was getting better and--

It was about then that I noticed something was different. I looked around in my head and discovered there was no one to be found (no, I mean no one ELSE to be found) and realized I was only using Will's powers, not him. That must have been what I had done before that night after my parents had come to visit me--I must have tapped solely into his powers, not into his essence. That was an interesting new twist in my powers that could probably prove to be useful later on.

I finally alighted on the roof several hours later and reflected on my time with Generation X, brief though it had been. They were all nice, and it felt good to be a part of something worth while, but I couldn't help thinking about how my life had been before I had gotten involved in all things X. No psychic death screams to endure, no time traveling, and all my relatives alive. My cousin, my parents... it hurt thinking about them, even though I still spoke to Will. I wanted to learn about my powers, but was it worth so much? The dream was worthy, but surely there was some other way I could do it without getting attacked by madmen every other day even when I was trying to mind my own business! I had barely been here a week, for God's sake, and I had already had to face more death then most of the others had even dreamed of, except maybe Angelo, but he was tough and streetwise, while I wasn't used to death and pain at all. On top of that, I was afraid of infecting the others with the Legacy Virus, because no one really knew how it was spread. I wouldn't be able to bear it if one of the others died because of me. But what could I do about it?

I walked back to my room, feeling depressed again. I wanted to live... I wanted to stay with my friends... but fate seemed to be pulling me away from them. I lay down on my bed and pulled the covers over my head, trying to shut the world out, but I couldn't shut out my thoughts. I remained awake long into the night, tormented by my worries and concerns, until I used my telepathy to hypnotize myself and slept at last.

TEASER: Dawn meditates, arrangements are made, and the team plays baseball!

Continue To Chapter Four

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