Ties Never Binding, part 9

Disclaimer: Gen X is Marvel's, as so is anything else unless it isn't.

Author's Note: This gets funny, I'll say it right now. Not exactly 'ha ha' funny, but kind of lame, attempted funny. I did this entirely on purpose. Really. And yes, I HAVE heard people talk like the guy in this chapter. In fact, we had to spend twenty minutes in a cramped airport transport bus earlier this year. It was... interesting. Any else ever heard of Australia, Canada? Thought not.

Revenge of the Shopping Mall

The next day I flopped down on my bed and skimmed through a Mercedes Lackey book. It had taken me a little while to settle down, but once I did the Academy seemed like home again. I put on an Xavier's shirt made of unstable molecules and discovered Emma had been right--there WERE limits to the instability of the material. It was a tad tight here, there and especially there, but it was better then wearing that crop-top for the rest of the day. I felt slightly embarrassed about having to get new clothes because of the side effects of my 'new and improved' psionic abilities (great, now *I* was starting to sound like I was reading from a manual!) but having to wear spandex for half a day on a regular basis can somewhat strain modesty.

Even so, I zipped up my leather jacket (which was in itself a bit tight at the moment).

"Hey Dawn!" Jubilee called through the door. "We're leavin' now!"

"On my way!" I replied, placing a bookmark in the novel. I got off my bed and zipped down the stairs, eager to get some clothes that actually FIT me and possibly some new books in the bargain, having read everything I owned at least half a dozen times in those long, sleepless nights on Muir.

"Are the guys coming too?" I inquired as I met Jubilee on the way down.

"Yep," she replied. "Paige even convinced Jono to come. Dunno HOW she did it. Sparky usually hates public appearances."

"Don't underestimate the power of a Southern accent," I smiled wickedly as we went to the garage where the others were waiting. I moaned when I saw the transportation. "Oh no. The JEEP?" I groaned. "How's it going to hold us all?"

"Very uncomfortably," said Angelo from the left of us.

"A'right, lads an' lassies," Sean said as he came in, holding the keys. "Pile in an' try nae t' lose any limbs."

"Easier said then done," Everett commented as he was lodged between Jubilee and the window. He was right about THAT.

"Jono, move over!"

:To where?:

"Jubilee, watch the elb-ooof!"

"Dawn, would it be much of a bother to remove your hair from my shirt buttons?"

"Sorry Mondo. Just don't--OW!"

"...Move? Sorry."

"ANGELO!" I looked over at Paige and noticed she was turning and interesting shade of red. This was actually getting interesting.

"But I was only--"


I snickered as Angelo uttered an extremely rude Spanish oath. I didn't blame him, either. That eye was going to smart for days by the look of it.

"Senor Cassidy, Paige just--"

"Angelo tried to--"

"Not on PURPOSE!"

"Paige, Angelo, fighting in these close confines is as fruitless as it is illogical. I am no more comfortable then the rest of you and *I* am not complaining."

"If you >haack!< had to BREATHE ya would be!"

"*I* don't, and I STILL can't get comfortable."


:What was THAT?:

"I don't know, but I think it was my wrist."

"No, I believe it was my seat belt."

"Hey, the front seat's still free! It's MINE!"

"Jubes, you really should cut back on the sugar."

"Ow! Watch your foot!"

"Watch it yerself! I'm gettin' in the front!"

"Hey! That was my hand you just stepped on!"

:'S'funny, I didn't know fingers could bend that way.:

"They can, but I don't think they're supposed to."

"Paige, don't close that door y--"


"Ah'm sorry, Angie, was that yo' hand?"


"Guess so."

"Acch, this is going t' be a LONG ride," Sean muttered from the driver's seat. "Remind me t' buy a van."

"Hey you guys, let's sing something," Jubilee suggested from the pilot seat. She took a deep breath and sang (tunelessly, might I add) "One thousand bottles of beer on the--"


A slim, lith figure watched them depart from the bushes and crept out in the open silently, limping a little.

Nuke you, Captain Britain! he hissed to himself, his long red hair swirling around him almost gracefully. Nuke you all! But I'll have my revenge... and a snack just to pass the time...

He snuck quietly into Emma's private bungalow and spotted her looking over some financial papers. He turned off the lights with a soft click.

"What--?!" Emma exclaimed. "Who's there?"

"Hush, Emma. I like to eat my meals in peace."

Emma spun around and found two red eyes glaring at her hungrily. She tried to muster the energy for a psionic assault, but she found the gaze numbing her mind.

The parasitic mutant Mountjoy smiled. "Contact," he leered, licking his lips.

Shrive leaned on the side of a piano in the Rec Room on Muir Island. He was worried about Karen, who, though she slept often, seemed to be getting weaker by the day. He sighed miserably. He knew there was nothing he could do for her but hope that Moira would be able to help her overcome her problem, but it didn't mean it wasn't killing him to watch her wasting away before his eyes.

"D'ye play?"

Shrive turned around to discover the petite Rahne Sinclair standing in the door way, almost shyly.

"Pardon?" he said.

"D'ye play the piano?" she repeated.

"A bit," he replied. "Would you like to hear some?"

"Yes please," she said. Shrive flexed his fingers, then sat down on the bench and uncovered the piano. He concentrated for a split second, then put his fingers to the keys and began to play. The notes were pure and the melody soft, but Rahne was unable to recognize the piece.

"'Tis beautiful," she breathed, not wishing to interrupt the music, "but what is it? I've ne'er heard it before."

"I'd've been surprised if you had," Shrive said, his eyes closed in concentration. "I'm making this up."

Rahne looked startled. "Ye're makin' tha' up? Tha's impossible!"


"Well, first of all 'tis too... too GOOD tae be made up."

"There are many advantages to being a precog," he told her, still playing flawlessly. "I can tell what each note if going to sound like even before I press it and all the different outcomes of the music created by every different key I touch. It took me a while to learn what all the keys sounded like, but once I did it was easy." His fingers flew across the keys as he ended the song with a flourish. He crossed his arms and turned back to her. "So, what did you come here to ask me?"

Rahne looked slightly embarrassed, but she said, "Well, I noticed ye're worried aboot Karen, an' it looked like ye could use some company."

Shrive sighed. "True, I'm worried about her," he admitted, "But you guys don't have to go out of your way to make me feel comfortable. I'm used to being alone, you know."

"Well, if ye dinnae mind me askin'... why were ye livin' with Karen? Is she... um, are ye..." Rahne trailed of rather awkwardly and Shrive almost smiled as she blushed.

"No, she's not my girlfriend," he replied. Then he DID smile. "In fact, she's the LAST person I'd go out with."

"Why?" Rahne inquired. "She seems nice."

"Oh, she is," Shrive nodded amiably. His smile widened into a fond grin. "The nicest, in fact. I just wouldn't consider dating her."

Rahne considered this for a moment. "How long have ye know her?" she asked.

"Seventeen years," he answered. "Or twenty-three, depending on how you look at it." He got up abruptly and said, "I'm going to get some sleep now. I'll see you later, Rahne." He strode down the hall, leaving Rahne's head boggling.

Seventeen, or twenty-three dependin' on how ye look at it? she thought. What does THAT mean? How could it be seventeen AND twenty three years at the same time? Maybe I should talk tae Lady Moira aboot Shrive...

Once we all managed to pile out of the car (which was extremely difficult, considering that we were all cramped and eager to get out) we all split up and went straight for the mall. I got to use Emma's Platinum Card again since it was likely I'd need the most stuff, so the others just used their weekly 'allowance' (almost a hundred dollars apiece, believe it or not!) to shop. Well, all except Monet, who had her OWN credit card. I headed right into the nearest clothing store and started cruising for some jeans that fit. Flexible as the ones I had acquired on Muir were, they fit rather too tight for my taste. I plucked a few of the largest sizes off the rack and, as an afterthought, a few shirts, too. I didn't really care, since I'd probably end up just wearing the ones made of unstable molecules, but until we could get some that fit me shipped in from Westchester they would have to do.

Since I wasn't trying too hard to be fashionable, being a tomboy at heart, I completed my shopping quickly. I stopped just long enough to by some underclothes, socks, and shoes (my feet had grown too, you know,) and then dove right into a bookstore, as I'd been longing to do from the beginning. I selected a few more Mercedes Lackey books (there were about nine I didn't have) and collected my packages. The designated meeting place was the food court once again, so I decided to hang out there for a bit. I seated myself on the ledge of the fountain and waited for the others to show up.

"Hey, babe, whatcha doin'?" came a male voice. I turned around to discover a high school guy leaning against the wall directly behind me. In theory, I shouldn't have had a sense of smell (but then, in theory, I shouldn't have been alive, either) but I could tell that his breath reeked of liquor.

"Ex-CUSE me?" I said, a little sharply, not liking the message his tone implied.

"I asked you what you were doin'," he continued. I noticed his speech was slurred slightly, not enough to be noticeable unless you were listening for it. "I mean, a beautiful woman like you sittin' out here alone..."

Oh please. I'd never even really heard a come-on before, but I could tell this wasn't one of the better ones. Sure, the guy was drunk, but still... I mean, drunk or not, what would a high school guy want with a fourteen year old?

But then I remembered. I was several feet taller then I had been, and the height alone made me look at least five years older then I actually was. The hair and the jacket probably made me seem more mature then most fourteen year olds (I've seen plenty of kids try, but only one out of twenty can actually convince their parents to let them dye their hair, let alone keep it that way).

In the mean time, Mr. Can't-Take-A-Hint was still bugging me. "So >hic< whaddaya say?" he hiccupped. "Wanna come down to a party Friday? 'S gonna be fun..."

This was annoying and getting slightly disturbing. How could I let this guy down gently, or at least maturely? As mature as I could GET, anyway...

"Thanks, but no," I demurred. "I have plans this Friday."

"Aw, c'mon..."

Was this REALLY how people acted when they were drunk? Geez, I didn't want to use my powers on this guy, but if he wouldn't stop bothering me I was going to have to. I was trying to think of a inconspicuous way to make his brain explode when a new voice spoke up.

:I suggest yer take the hint an' get away from the lady,: Jonothon sent. I flashed a grateful smile at him, but the persistent drunk kept at it.

"An' who're YOU?" he asked, drawing himself up to his full height. Jonothon was just a hair smaller then he was, and at least a year his junior, but he seemed unperturbed.

:Her brother,: he sent, looking at him steadily. I wanted to grin at the little yarn, but I stifled it. If there was any chance this was going to work I'd have to keep my mouth shut and face straight (a task that was getting progressively harder, might I add...)

"Oh, really?" the man continued, seeming fearless. "You don't look that much older 'n her."

:Yeah, really. We're twins.:

I let out a soft snort, verging on a giggle. Honestly, I don't know HOW Jonothon was keeping a straight face through this!

Hearing my snort, he turned to me and winked, a sly look in his eyes. He turned back to the man and turned up the heat a notch.

:Yeah, I'm her brother. And I'm VERY protective of her. VERY.: To add to that threatening tone he somehow managed to make his eyes glow blue, (a trick which I myself have been known to do when I'm angry or powering up for an attack, I'm told.)

At this the man actually turned white. Drunk or not, facing off against a scarred, over-protective leather-clad Englishman with glowing eyes was simply too much trouble for one uninterested girl. He turned to go and said, "Well, when ya put it that way I guess I'll be goin'..." He stumbled over a trash can as he beat a hasty retreat.

As soon as he was out of earshot I couldn't contain it any more. I burst out laughing so hard I thought I'd explode, doubling over on the bench and shaking with mirth. I felt a psionic chuckle in my mind which could only have been Jonothon's and sent, :You are SOOO lame, you know that? Had that guy been sober he'd NEVER have fallen for it!:

:Well, he wasn't an' it DID work, didn' it?: he replied, almost smugly. :'Sides, wasn't MY idea. Talk ter Paige over there.:

I wiped tears from my eyes and looked over to the indicated direction. Paige was standing by the water fountain, her hand over her mouth as she stood there, shaking with laughter.

:YOU?: I sent, laughing again. :YOU came up with this corny plan, Paige?:

She came over to join the two of us, giggling. "Yeah, Ah did it," she said, her accent slipping through. "Sam tol' me about this one time when his friend did the same thing. Jono ain't six feet tall or anythin', but I guess it was enough."

As my laughter died down I smirked at her and brushed the hair out of my eyes. "First time THAT'S happen to me," I said, leaning against a pillar. "Most guys aren't interested in me. Not even guys in my age group." Bit of down-talking on my part, but true enough. Except for Glenn...

:Well, yer tall enough ter be in college,: Jonothon told me, sifting through a bag of cd's he had been carrying idly. :Some guys find leather jackets and tight jeans an invitation, though. 'Specially when you're sittin' alone.:

"And don't think so little of yourself," Paige said, plucking at a blond hair. "You're not exactly ugly, you know."

I shrugged their comments off. I wasn't looking for romance with anyone else other then Glenn, and I was thoroughly convinced that he was still out there alive. Somehow he had survived D'Spayre's attack, I knew it. Medium powers or not, I would have KNOWN if he was still dead.

I shook myself out of my depressed stupor. This was no time for self pity--I'd already sung that song. This was a time to shop--to relax. I could have an angst attack at the Academy, now was NOT the time. I told myself that come hell or high water, I was going to have a good time if it killed me.

About then we all noticed a mob at the entrance of the mall, each member bearing a racist sign, like "America for Americans--Humanity for Humans!" "Vote For the Future! Vote Creed '96!" and the old favorite "Do You Know What Your Children Are?"

:Yer know what this means, don't yer?: Jonothon sent.

"Yeah," I replied. "So long peaceful afternoon." I sighed and put my finger to my head like a mock gun. "Bang."

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