Generation X: It's Always Darkest... part 8
Disclaimer: Generation X belongs to Marvel, but that is all, for all *I* know.
Author's Note: Building up to the end, folks. The characteristic calm before the storm is here, and I'll tell you guys, the storm's really going to be something...
"So, what are you saying?" I drilled Cheryl.
"I'm saying that from now on I'm going to leave you alone," Cheryl told me, looking a little annoyed. She was sitting on my bed and I was standing up in front of her, sort of like an interrogation.
"Why the sudden change of heart?" I inquired.
She frowned. "Let me put it this way; every time I try to pull a prank on you it back fires. My hand is so sore from writing 'I will not...' letters that I think it's about to fall off. That and... and..."
"I... need your help," she whispered. "I'm failing in English and Science, and I need to look at someone's notes."
"What about Vanessa and Brenda?" I said.
Cheryl shook her head. "They're failing too," she told me. "And since you're..." she made a face, "since you're the... the smartest person in class, I was wondering if you'd let me borrow you're notes, because they'd probably help me a lot and... and my parents will kill me if I fail. Please," she begged, "I'm desperate."
If there was any doubt left in me, my telepathy quickly quelled it. Cheryl was as sincere as she was desperate, and I decided to give her a chance.
"All right," I sighed. I got out my school stuff and sorted through my notes. I took out the ones she needed and handed them to her. "Here," I said, "I don't really need these anyway."
Cheryl took them carefully and said, "Thank you, Dawn. I promise I won't do anything rotten to you anymore, and I'll make sure Brenda and Vanessa don't either."
"I'd appreciate that," I nodded. "You might want to go before anyone finds you here, though. It'd ruin your image."
Cheryl gave me a half smile and retreated to her room to study the notes. I wondered what exactly had made her 'suddenly' change her mind about me. It just seemed far to convenient to me for some reason. With a sigh I shook my head and sat down on my bed. I had promised the other's I'd visit them that night and I didn't really care to explain to the teachers that I was going to my former school's barbeque. I changed to a large shirt and the bottom half of my uniform (I was in a hurry, and I didn't feel like wearing jeans at the moment) and settle down on my bed. I took a deep breath, gathered my strength, and teleported to them. I ended up in the Bio-Sphere, where some of them playing around in the mini-lagoon the small waterfall created. Mondo was seated on a slight hill in a lawn chair and sipping a lemonade and Sean was flipping burgers on the grill the had brought in for the occasion. Everett was pushing a giggling Paige, who was seated on the tire swing they had made and Angelo was attacking Jubilee with a super soaker.
"Hey, guys," I said, running up to them a waving. "Guess who's here?"
"Hey, it's Da--whhhllph!" Jubilee began, but was cut off as Angelo squirted her in the face with his water gun. She responded by splashing him in the face with water and then running out of range to meet me.
"What're ya doin' here, Dawn?" she asked. "I thought you were just going to stay at that other school."
"I promised I'd visit, didn't I?" I said. "Well, this is the night."
"I was wonderin' when ye'd come," Sean said, smiling. "Was there a delay?"
"A bit of one," I replied. "It's okay, though. Nothing major."
"Where's Jonothon, Penance, Monet, and Artie and Leech?" I inquired. I neglected to bring up Glenn... it was still a sensitive subject.
"I'm nae sure," Sean answered. "I believe they're all scattered 'round the Bio-Sphere, though. Ye c'n look fer them if ye like, an' if ye find them tell them dinner's ready."
"Sure thing," I grinned, starting off to look for the missing five. As I trekked through the Bio-Sphere I cast around for them, and discovered a faint trace of Monet's psyche nearby.
"M?" I called. "It's Dawn. Where are you?"
"Up here." I looked up to discover Monet in the branches of a tall tree, sitting on a limb.
"How are you feeling?" she inquired.
"All right, considering. You?"
"Fine." She flew down and landed beside me. "Have things started happening yet?"
She shook her head. "Never mind. Is the food ready yet?"
"Yeah. Mr. Cassidy said to tell you."
"I shall be there in 3.2 seconds," she smiled as she flew through the Bio-Sphere towards the others. I continued my search for Penance, Artie, Leech and Jonothon and found them all clustered around Artie and Leech's tree house.
"Hi, Jono," I said as I approached them. "What're you doing?"
Jonothon's head jerked up suddenly and he stuffed something behind his back. :Er... hi, Dawn. Um... what're yer doing here?:
"It's my visiting day," I told him with a smile. "And you still haven't answered MY question."
:Er... well... nothin' really... I...:
"Chamber read to Leech and Artie!" Leech proclaimed happily. Jonothon looked as if he was about to blush, but since the bandages covered up most of his face it was hard to tell.
"Really?" I said, smiling at Leech. "What does he read?"
"Comic books," Leech continued.
"Is that so, Jono?" I asked, my grin widening. Now some red DID creep into his face despite the bandages.
:Um... I should go,: he said as his embarrassment flooded my mind. He got up and walked away quickly and I went over to where he had been sitting. I looked at the object he had stuffed behind his back and discovered it was a Simpsons comic book. I had long since realized Jonothon was not nearly as dangerous as all the leather and bandages indicated, but I hadn't thought him to be one who read to little kids. I turned to Artie and Leech and said, "Does he do this often?"
Artie projected a picture of an upturned thumb, which I assumed meant yes.
"Is it a secret?"
Again the thumb.
"Then I won't tell." I looked at Jonothon's retreating form and said, "By the way, dinner's ready. Want to go get some?"
"Artie an' Leech hungry!" Leech agreed. Artie made a hologram of an arrow that pointed to Penance, who was sitting on a nearby branch and Leech added, "And Penance is too."
"Well, then we'd better hurry over, shouldn't we?" I said. I called up a wind and it lifted all four of us into the air. Leech giggled and Artie smiled and Penance looked fascinated. I spread my wings to I could focus on the other three and carried us up above the tree line and then to the clearing.
"Did you like that?" I inquired as we landed.
"Wheeee!" Leech squealed happily.
"I'll take that as a yes." I couldn't suppress a smile as Penance trotted over to Jubilee, who was holding an apple.
"Hey, Penny," Jubilee said. "Want something to eat?" As expected, she got no answer, but she smiled anyway. "Here ya go," Jubilee said as she handed Penance the apple. Penance took it in an outstretched hand and ate it carefully. I glanced at her and then did a double take.
"Hey--she's not cutting it!" I exclaimed. Jubilee looked closely and said, "You're right! Mr. Cassidy!"
"What is it, Jubilee?" Sean asked, looking up from the burgers.
"Look at Penance!" Jubilee said. "She's not... sharp!"
Sean looked at Penance closely and said, "Ye're right! She seems t' be... softening?"
"I wonder why," I thought aloud. Penance looked up at us and scampered away when she realized we were talking about her.
"Hey, wait!" Jubilee called. then she sighed. "Oh well. Maybe we can find her later..?"
"I wouldna worry about it," Sean said, though he looked thoughtful. "So... who would like a burger?"
Several hands shot up, including mine. I had barely pecked at my food because (1) it was Spam Surprise again (I'm not sure what the surprise was, but I think it was horse) and (2) I was saving room for GOOD food. I took a burger and put some ketchup on it, then pulled a Coke out of the cooler. I wedged myself in between Everett and Paige, grabbed a bag of chips, and had the first decent dinner I'd had since leaving Xavier's, since St. Maria's insisted on 'healthy' food. Not that it all tasted bad, but I can only go a certain amount of time without junk-food before I flip. As it was, I had been about three hours away from teleporting myself to a 7-11 for something high in calories.
"How's the other school?" Paige inquired as she munched on a salad.
"It's okay," I replied. "I've got one definite friend, and maybe another one, but most everyone else has been giving me the cold shoulder. I think they're warming up to me, though. I haven't been pelted with fruit in days."
"Fresh or rotten?" Angelo asked.
"Hm, mostly fresh."
"Raw or cooked?"
"Then they probably didn't hate you too much," Angelo concluded, taking a bite from his hamburger. "Pass the chips, Country Mouse."
"Yoah wish is mah command, oh great an' wise City Mouse," Paige said, drawing out her accent sarcastically and bowing to Angelo as she handed him a bag of chips. I giggled and collected my trash, then depositing it into the nearby trash bag and turned to Monet.
"Where--" I began.
"The roof of the boys' dorm," she replied, not looking up from her meal.
"Thanks," I said and she nodded a bit. As I walked out of the Bio-Sphere Will popped into my mind, which was a little surprising since I hadn't spoken to him in quite a while.
:What're you doing?: he inquired.
:Going to talk to my friend,: I told him. :But a better question would be what are YOU doing?:
:You've been using my powers a lot, but you haven't said three words to me lately. I just want to know why that is.:
:Maybe because I feel like being alone?:
:You know, you can be VERY annoying sometimes.:
I could feel him grinning. :Yes, I can,: he agreed.
I rolled my eyes. :Please, Will, I'm trying to have a PERSONAL life here. Can you just leave me alone for a bit? Please?:
He became serious. :Dawn... I came to tell you something.:
:It won't be long.:
I felt him dissolve from my mind, leaving me alone to think about his cryptic message. Actually, I was fairly certain what he had meant, but still...
As I left the Bio-Sphere I spread my wings and called a wind, letting it carry me to the boys' dorm. I cast about, looking for Glenn. I was so desperate to see him I thought my heartwould explode. I missed him so much, but I couldn't tell him what was going on. So many conflicting emotions, need battling doubt, I was so confused. Finally I spotted him perched on the roof, the wind blowing his hair around.
"Glenn..?" I said quietly. He looked up at me, but the look in his eyes was so sad and forlorn it made me want to run.
"What?" he said flatly. "Tryin' ter twist the knife even more?"
"No, not at all," I told him, my tone verging on a plea. "I'm sorry, Glenn. If you want me to go, I'll do it, and... and you'll never see me again." I turned to go, but he spoke up.
I turned around again, shocked at the emotion that filled his voice. "I thought you..." I started, but couldn't finish the statement.
"No, Dawn," he said, looking right into my eyes. "I never wanted you to leave. I never wanted to hurt you in any way. I... I miss you so much I can hardly stand it anymore..."
I realized he was crying and sat down beside him. "I miss you too," I whispered, hugging him tightly.
An hour or so later, I returned to the others and said my good-byes.
"When will we see you again?" asked Everett.
"Next Friday?" I suggested. Sean nodded in affirmation. "Next Friday," I told them. "Until then..." I used Clarice's power to teleport myself back to St. Maria's and into my darkened room. Stretching my wings out one last time before I retracted them, I began to look for a book to read before I went to bed. As I selected one I heard a noise from the far corner of the room.
"Who is it?" I called. "Hesper? Is that you?"
"No, it is not."
I felt a chill go through me as I realized whose voice it was.
"Oh my God..." I whispered. "No... it CAN'T be..."
He stepped out of the shadows, as horrifying as I remembered. "Yes," Emplate sneered, "it CAN."