Generation X: It's Always Darkest... part 6

Disclaimer: Generation X is property of Marvel, the rest is the result of a tragic caffeine overdose.

Author's Note: No fights here, folks, but plenty of rivalry is building. Not the BEST first impression on the students of St. Maria's, but hey, they're not exactly the most likeable people, as you'll find out. Well, all but one, anyway...

First Impressions

"Now, ye're sure ye dinna need me t' help ye settle in?" Sean inquired as we came to my dorm room.

"I'll be fine, Mr. Cassidy," I assured him.

"Aye, well, I suppose I'd better be gettin' back t' the school," he said. He seemed reluctant to leave me, but knew I had to have some time to myself. "Ye'll let us know when ye need our help, aye?"

He meant when the Legacy Virus became fully active. I sighed inwardly and said, "I still have a few more weeks left, you know."

"Aye, I do," Sean agreed, "But ye're my responsibility, an' I dinna want anything happenin' to ye if'n I c'n help it."

"You've done enough for me already, sir," I assured him. "I'll be all right. Trust me."

Sean nodded a little. I gave him a reassuring grin and hugged him, which surprised him a little. He hugged me back, and I said, "Good bye, Mr. Cassidy. I'll be in touch." I tapped my head, meaning that my telepathy would enable me to contact him whenever I needed to. I had, of course, shut my telepathy down at the moment, but I would be able to reinvoke it when I had to.

"Good bye, lass," he said as he released me. I watched him walk down the hall and turn the corner, disappearing from my sight. I let out a sigh and went into my room to unpack my things. I didn't really have that much even though I had teleported home and collected all my things. I mostly had books, since I'm "bookish extremes," as Dad called me, and I had almost NO nice clothes. Of course, since we had school uniforms I didn't need them, but it really didn't matter. I sorted through my things, looking for my books, and came across a picture of me, Mom, Dad, and Will. Will had been visiting us, since it had been taken a year or so back when his parents had died, and he had needed a place to stay while he found a place to work, and Glenn had taken the picture since he had happened to be there at the time. I found another of me and Glenn alone, when Glenn had somehow gotten a hold of some silly string and had started spraying me for no particular reason. I smirked, remembering how long it had taken for us to clean the yard up after I had destroyed a pile of nicely raked leaves to get him back. I propped the two pictures up on my bedside dresser and found some sheets so I could make my bed.

Someone knocked on the door, and, without my telepathy, I couldn't be sure who it was. I shook my head and opened the door to see three other girls standing outside--one red haired and two brunette, and all of them at least a year older then me.

"Um, hi," I said. "Who are you?"

"Your classmates," the red head told me in a rather scornful tone. "I'm Cheryl, and these are Vanessa and Brenda. Ms. Herek sent us to... welcome you." She spat the word out like a dead fish, and I found myself taking an immediate dislike to these three girls.

To my credit, I tried to be civil. "I'm Dawn," I said as politely as I could manage.

"We know," Cheryl said. She acted like she was talking to a two year old. She, Vanessa and Brenda invited themselves in and pushed past me. They began to examine my things, and I got annoyed.

"Um, excuse me, Cheryl, but would you please put that down?" I asked. "It was a Christmas gift." I had brought my laptop to school and Cheryl was examining the software that went with it.

"Whatever." Cheryl tossed the disks carelessly on my bed, where I hastened to pick them back up again.

"Who's this, your boyfriend?" Brenda inquired haughtily as she looked at the picture of Glenn and I (or is it me and Glenn? I can never remember...).

"No, just a friend," I told her, my temper rising. "Would you please leave my stuff alone?"

"Hey, look what I found," Vanessa said, holding up my journal. I froze, terrified. I had written everything I had experienced in the past year in there, and if she found out I was a mutant I was as good as dead.

"Anything interesting?" Cheryl asked, raising an eyebrow.

Vanessa flipped through the pages and came to one of the more recent entries. "Hmm," she said, "THIS looks interesting. Apparently she and her prep school friends were attending a gathering at the Hellfire Club, some ritzy joint in New York. A friend asks another friend to dance, and--"

It was about that time that I snapped.

"That's ENOUGH!" I snarled. I grabbed my journal from Vanessa and ground my teeth. "If you think I'm going to let you keep rummaging through my things then you are SADLY mistaken! Get OUT of my room!"

"Oooo, I think we hit a nerve," Brenda sneered.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. "Would you all please leave?" I said carefully around gritted teeth. "I would like to get settled in, if you don't mind."

"We do," Cheryl said calmly. "We're going to--"

The door opened and a teacher stuck her head in. "WHAT was all that commotion?" she asked.

"Nothing, Ms. Fenarow," Cheryl said, switching gears from pest to sweet-young-thing. "We were just helping Dawn unpack."

Yeah, right.

"Well, it's time for lunch," Ms. Fenarow said. "I suggest you all report to the dinning hall immediately." She closed the door.

"We'll be back," Cheryl promised. She gave me a burning look and left the room, followed by Vanessa and Brenda.

I went down to the dinning hall a few minutes later and got my lunch. The food was okay, but that wasn't the problem. The problem was that when I sat at a table no one would joining me, and the people already there moved to a different place in the room. All but one, anyway. An African American girl moved her tray down and sat next to me.

"Hi," she said. "My name's Hesper. What's yours?"

"Dawn," I replied, relieved that someone had decided to talk to me. "It's my first day here."

"I guessed that," Hesper nodded. "You met the gruesome three some yet?"

"If you mean Cheryl, Vanessa and Brenda, then yes, unfortunately, I have. Do they treat EVERYONE like that?"

"You'd better believe it. They treat EVERYONE like garbage."

"And what about them?" I jerked my finger back at the rest of the lunchroom.

"They're just doing what Cheryl told them to," Hesper said. "She runs things here, more or less. You're new, so I guess she just figures on giving you a hard time."

"Mm. It's happened before." I turned back to my meal. "Um, what's this?"

Hesper looked at the food on her plate. "Um... I'm not sure, actually."

I wrinkled my nose. "It LOOKS like a cross between spam and... and... and I'm not even sure what the other ingredient is," I commented.

"Well, don't worry, this is as bad as it gets," Hesper assured me. "The rest of the food is pretty good."

"I hope so." I molded my food (and I use the term "food" loosely) into an X. I didn't even realize what I was doing until I glanced down at it. I smashed it into a glob with my spoon and tried to take my mind off my friends. Of course, the fact that only one person was willing to talk to me didn't help my already low self esteem, but still, it was better then having no friends at all.

"Say, that guy you came here with?" Hesper said, "Was he your dad or something?"

"Who, Mr. Cassidy?" I laughed. "No, he's not my dad, he's my teacher. My... parents... are dead."

"Oh... I'm sorry," Hester apologized. "I didn't know..."

"No, it's all right," I told her quickly. Hesper was my only friend at the moment and I didn't want to scare her off. "It... it's okay. Mr. Cassidy is my guardian, too, and he and Ms. Frost have been helping me cope..." I shook my head. "I'm all right, really."

Hesper stared at her food, as if thinking of something to say. I was about to ask her about the schedule when something hit the back of my head. I turned around and discovered it was a pear. Cheryl and her two girl goons were laughing like hyenas, and it hadn't even been that funny. Annoyed, but unwilling to give them the satisfaction of knowing that, I returned to my meal and ignored every other piece of fruit they threw at me. And believe me, it was a considerable amount of fruit. By the end of dinner it looked like I was sitting in the middle of a fruit cart.

I got up, wiped my hands on my napkin, and said, "Well, THAT wasn't so bad." Somebody threw an apple at my head and Hesper giggled. I rolled my eyes, grinned at her, and put my plates in the appropriate slots and returned to my room. I began to unpack again, setting books on the shelf and clothes in the closet and suchlike. I also locked the door so no uninvited guests could barge in.

In the meantime, I was getting hot. The school uniform made it a lot easier to decide what to wear in the morning, but the jacket and sweater were rather heavy. I decided that since I'd have the rest of the afternoon before I had to go to dinner, so I simply took the uniform off and put on my streets clothes. I put on the first shirt I got my hands on, which happened to be one made of unstable molecules. Sean had arranged to have a dozen or so sent in from the Xavier Institute as soon as possible so I could extend my wings without ripping my regular clothes to shreds. My back felt stiff, so I extended my wings carefully, just to stretch them out a bit. It didn't hurt to extend them anymore, which was a huge relief to me, and I'd been working on building up the muscles as well. Now I could fly for extended periods of time without getting tired, and I enjoyed doing it under my own power as opposed to borrowing someone else's powers. I flexed them to straighten them out a bit, getting the kinks out of them. I could live without telepathy, I was sure, but I didn't know if I could live without being able to fly. Once I had done it, I knew I had to do it again. The need for heights was almost an instinct for me for as long as I could remember, always wanting to climb things and go on fast rides like roller coasters. I just didn't know if I'd be able to give it up after having experienced it.

As I worked, I delved into the memories that my double Threnody had left me. Having experienced her death had made me curious about her life. I had her memories and even a small part of her soul locked away within me, and, while her "soul" wasn't conscious unless I let it be, it was still a bit like having multiple personalities. While we were basically the same personality wise, but our memories and tactics were a little different. While Threnody didn't like killing, she didn't object to a little violence if the person deserved it. I was a little surprised to discover that she had never found out she had wings. Of course, her powers hadn't been augmented by the Legacy Virus, either, so it wasn't really that surprising.

I finished unpacking and settled down on my bed to take a nap, retracting my wings. I was a little annoyed when someone knocked on my door. Aware that it might be Cheryl, Vanessa and Brenda again, I said, "Who is it?"

"It's Hesper," came the voice from the other side of the door. I got off my bed and opened the door for Hesper.

"Come in," I offered. "I just got done unpacking."

"You travel light, don't you?" Hesper said as she entered.

"Mm-hmm," I agreed. "I was at another boarding school before this, too, so I really don't have too much anyway."

Hesper nodded. "Well, Ms. Herek sent me to show... you a..." she paused and glanced at my hands. "Are you okay?"

"What're you--" then *I* looked at my hands. They were shaking violently, but I couldn't figure out why. "I'm... I'm not sure," I replied. "I..." at that point I began to gasp for breath, like I had suddenly had the wind knocked out of me. I doubled over wheezing.

"I'll go get the nurse!" Hesper exclaimed, running for the door.

"NO!" I choked, grabbing her jacket. I knew if the nurse came I would almost certainly be taken to a hospital, and there would be blood tests that would tell them what I was and what I had. Even if I was allowed to come BACK the discrimination would have increased a thousand fold, and I just couldn't let that happen.

"Dawn, let go!" Hesper was saying. "I've got to get the nurse!"

My lungs finally began to work again as the respritory arrest abated, and I stood up, still gasping a little. "I'm... f-fine..." I told Hesper.

"Dawn, what I just saw was definitely NOT fine," Hesper snapped. "Now you tell me what that was, or I'm going straight to the nurse.

I sighed. It looked like I would have to tell her what was going on since I didn't want to risk a mind wipe. As my breath returned I said, "Look, Hesper, I... this is really hard to... arrrgh, this is so stupid." I sighed again and sat down on my bed. "All right, I'm just going to come out and tell you. I'm a mutant. I'll understand if you never want to speak to me again, but please... just don't tell anyone about it. I don't want to be kicked out." I was feeling really stupid by then. I hadn't felt so awkward since when I had tried to tell my parents about my genetic heritage.

"Really?" Hesper said. "You're a mutant? Why didn't you say something?"

At that point I got confused. "Are you saying you're not angry?"

"Why should I be? I mean, it's not like it's your fault, and you haven't tried to take over the world or anything, so why should it matter?"

I was extremely relieved. Though I hadn't had too many problems with prejudice lately, the incident with my father had made me cautious as to which people I told about my powers. I flopped back on my bed with a sigh of relief. "You don't know how good it feels to have someone say that," I said. "Most people just kind of... well, attack."

"I take it you've had some bad experiences?"

I laughed. "You could say that. My father and I didn't part on... the best of terms when he found out, but we made up in the end." I fingered a blue strand of hair idly, remembering. "It's a good thing it's the '90's or my hair alone would have given me away."

"You mean it's NATURAL?" Hesper inquired.

"Yep," I said. "Do I LOOK like the kind of person who'd dye their hair like this?"

"Not when I get to know you," she snickered. "But why did you start gasping like that? Does that have something to do with your being a mutant?"

"Yes and no," I told her. "I've got the Legacy Virus, and it's attacking my mutant powers, boosting them to the nth degree so it can feed off of them, and kill me in the process." I winced a little; I still wasn't very comfortable talking about it. "Only, I think my powers are fighting it off, because I'd probably be dead or bedridden by now if they weren't. Dr. McCoy said these aren't normal symptoms, because Legacy usually manifests as a fever, kind of like the flu. My case is kind of weird, because I only have the symptoms once in a while. Usually it's not that severe, though."

"So the guy who brought you here..?"

"Was my old teacher, like I told. Except, I never told you what KIND of school it was."

Hesper looked thoughtful. "So... you went to a school for mutants?"


"Did you like it there?"

"Oh, I loved it. The people were great, and the food didn't consist of spam and mystery meats."

"Then why'd you leave?"

"Because we don't know exactly how Legacy spreads," I said. "I didn't want to infect them. People have died because of me before, 'Esper, and I never want to have to live with that kind of guilt again."

Hesper looked thoughtful again. "I can see why you'd feel that way," she nodded. "How long do you..?"

"About another month," I told her. "I just needed a place to stay before it--" I stopped short. "Wait... when I got back, I told Sean I wanted to stay at the Academy, but then I... changed my mind?" I furrowed my brow. "But... why would I do that? This is confusing..." I shook my head. "Never mind. What were you saying?"

Hesper shook of a slight look of confusion and said, "I was wondering what powers you have."

"Oh, that. I'm a telepath and specific metamorph. I can grow wings." I decided not to tell her about being a medium--it made people uncomfortable.

"Really? Can you show me?"

"Sure." I extended my wings and flexed them a little. Hesper looked impressed. "Can you fly with those?" she inquired.

"For about half an hour at a time," I said. "I'm still developing the muscles." Then I had a wicked idea. "Would you like to fly?"

She looked shocked. "Whu... who, me?"

"You see anyone else here?" I grinned.

"F-FLY? You mean, you'd carry me?"

"Nah, I'm not THAT strong yet, I'd just call up a wind to carry you. Helps take the weight off of my wings, too."

"Um...but won't we be seen?"

"Oh, telepathy is a wonderful thing, and the way my power levels are now I could probably mask us from the whole state if I had to." I smiled at her reassuringly. "C'mon, Hesp, you're the first non-mutant friend I've had since I got my powers, and I'm DYING to share this with someone. Trust me, it's FANTASTIC, and I won't let you fall. Promise."

Hesper looked blank for a second, then said, "Why not. It can't be TOO bad."

I grinned devilishly and said, "Here, come over to the window." As she walked over I popped it telekinetically and invoked my telepathy again. The suddenly flood of thoughts felt strangely comforting, considering the fact that the first time it had happened I had been scared out of my mind. I felt the slightest bit of a link with Glenn, but blocked it out as best I could. He wanted me out of his mind, and I didn't want him any angrier at me then he already was.

"All right, let me get out first," I said. I crawled through the window and used Will's power to summon a wind, catching me in mid air. Spreading my wings so I could better catch the wind, I said, "All right, now step out."

"A-are you SURE you'll be able to...?" Hesper asked hesitantly.

"Quite. You can take my hand if you want to."

"That'd be good." Hesper took my outstretched hand and stepped out the window. I caught her with wind before she fell more then a few inches. Carefully masking our presence from anyone within eyeshot, I built up the winds and carried us higher into the air. "You like it?" I asked her.

"It... it feels great," Hesper said, though she looked a little faint. She was being sincere, I could tell, but having nothing visible supporting her was a little unnerving.

"Here, this'll help," I said. I used my telepathy to connect her with my own elementally aware senses so she could see what I could. She gasped in amazement as I did so, because I had opened her eyes to the threads of order that binds all life together. The life in the trees, the currents of the wind, the drops of water in the clouds, now she could see them all too. Tension, fear... it all gave way to wonder.

"Wow..." she murmured. "This is... it's so beautiful..."

"Isn't it, though?" I smiled. "I love flying like this, it always makes me feel better."

"The colors alone make it worth it," Hesper said, reaching out to touch an air current. "I never even thought these kind of colors EXISTED."

I snickered. "Are you enjoying this?" I asked.

"Very much."

"Good." I let go of her hand and bent a wind current to support her and brushed her to the side a bit so I could stretch my wings to the fullest.

"Yyyyyiiiii!" Hesper cried as I let her go. "I want to get down now!"

"Why?" I asked "It's no different then when I was holding your hand. Besides, so long as you can see the wind currents you'll know you're safe. Relax, Hesp, I won't let you fall."

Hesper sighed and untensed as I swooped through the air like a hawk. I giggled and spun Hesper around in a mini-tornado, making her scream in startled delight. "Having fun?" I called.

"Yeah!" she agreed, her mood lightened by my little prank. I sent a gust of wind her way, carrying her around in a dizzying circuit and followed close behind her.

"Takes a while to get used to it, but when you do..." Hesper said, lifting her arms above her head.

"I'm glad you like it," I grinned. "I think we'd better come down now, though, or we'll be late for dinner."

"Yeah, I guess we should," Hesper said, a bit regretfully. I took us back down to the window and retracted my wings.

"I guess I should go get washed up for dinner," Hesper said. "My hair's a little wind-blown."

"You're not the only one," I said. "Plus I've got to get back into that stupid uniform again. See you later?"

"Always. And thanks for the flight."

"My pleasure." Hesper left and I got dressed again, then went down to the dinning hall. It was pretty much the same as lunch, because no one but Hesper sat next to me then either, but we had meat I could identify this time. As I ate the roast beef I listened to my classmate's whispers, which were mostly about me.

"You seen the new girl?"

"Looks like a deranged skunk..."

"...From that Xavier's place..."

"Couldn't get in there..."

"What's their problem? So weird..."

"Why would she leave such a high class place for THIS dump?"

"...Missing all afternoon..."

"Weird weather today. Lots of strong winds..."

Then Cheryl, Vanessa, and Brenda made a most UN-welcome appearance. "You say you want the scoop on the new girl?" Cheryl inquired. "Well, I've got it all right here. Anyone for a little story time?"

"What's she talking about?" Hesper whispered.

"I'm not..." then I noticed what Cheryl was holding.

It was my journal.

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