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changing the minds of pretenders

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His arms windmill in front of him, knees bending and hips moving in a slow figure-eight as though physically drawing up the broken road debris and cars. They all move sluggishly in synchronization to his movements, gaining momentum and rising higher, and Minseok can't think of a way to stop it.

A wind gusts through the city, too sharp for April and cutting through Minseok's clothing and skin like invisible razor blades, but he's used to this freezing pain. It's familiar, and the face that seems to materialize out of thin is even more familiar.

Minseok throws out his hands, freezing the moisture in the air around Lu Han, encasing him in ice and stilling his movements.

But the movement isn't what controls the objects' unnatural flight. Lu Han uses telekinesis; his power is in his mind, which Minseok cannot freeze.

The cars and debris keep flying. The ground shakes, traveling in a line into the city and breaking the pavement more.



The ice cracks, splits, and fractures, turning into frosty projectiles that blow apart in a controlled explosion, slicing and impaling bystanders but arcing around Minseok as if deflected by a shield. Lu Han rises from the ground, ice falling like snow, and drops his arms. Everything is reclaimed by gravity, crushing everyone too awestruck or horrified to run away.

"Han!" Minseok screams, helpless to do anything but watch.

Something heavy beats the cool air, kicking up dirt. The sky streaks with orange and yellow flames of the dragon that hovers over the carnage. It screeches, belly glowing white with heat, and opens its mouth to release a stream of flames.

Minseok feels the intense heat on his face, someone grabbing his arms, and an almost uncomfortable coolness when he blinks and finds himself in a comfortably furnished sitting room. His stomach lurches belatedly, and the arm around his waist uncoils to re-position around his shoulders and sit him on a sofa. He sits forward, breathing between his knees.

"I'm sorry, hyung... We couldn't leave you any longer than that." Jongin perches on the back of the sofa, rubbing Minseok's back until he raises his head. Yixing approaches his side, but he shakes his head. The wounds are superficial; he's had worse and still lived.

"What was that?"

Zitao, rubbing his temples and looking rather dazed, answers without looking at him, staring at someplace distant. "That's five months, three days, eleven hours, and forty-some minutes from now."

"It can't be."

The time-bender's eyes slant at him and squint shut. His temples pound; Yixing gently takes his hands and replaces them with his own, speaking softly and dulling the pain. "I can't change the future,” Zitao says. “If things go as they are now, that will happen."

Minseok shakes his head. "Lu Han would not hurt innocent people." Seeing isn't always believing, and what he saw couldn't provide a whole narrative of events leading up to a massacre.

"He would if they're not mutants," Jongin voices quietly. He looks tired. Transporting along the same plane was simple, but crossing through dimensions of time and possibility drain him of energy. “Regular humans aren't necessarily innocent. To-To him, I mean. To them.” They all experienced their unfair shares of prejudices and anti-mutant sentiment. Jongin spent most of his childhood in an orphanage that performed conversion therapy. An open secret of the city that never worked.

"What else did you see, hyung?"

Minseok looks over his shoulder. He hadn't known Baekhyun was even in the room; he's sitting in his own darkness, not at all his usual, bright self. Waiting for family in their own time is hard enough; time-traveling and being left in the dark is worse.

"Aside from Lu Han hyung, what did you see?"

"There was a dragon... and fire... The ground was shaking like an earthquake or an explosion, and there was a lot of wind. I only saw Han, though."

"But we can assume he's not alone, since his powers are telekinetic. I mean, sure, he could move a dragon if it were around, but giant flying lizards aren't the most common thing around."

"Wait.” Baekhyun sits forward, shadows dimming. “Fire, earth, wind... Those are elemental powers. What about water, hyung? Rain?" Baekhyun looks more excited when Minseok shakes his head. "He's gotta be trying to recruit elementals. With natural powers like that, he can easily wipe out the world and blame it on nature. It's the most aggressive passive-aggressive attack ever." For as much as the world population struggles, they cannot control volcanic eruptions or earthquakes or the rising ocean levels. Lu Han doesn't want the negative publicity; he wants humans to feel totally helpless.

"You can't fight nature," Jongin finishes.

"How do we know he hasn't found these people already?" Zitao asks.

"Because they haven't exactly shown up, yet." Kim Kibum struts into the room, a thick stack of folders under his arm. "These are all the mutants whose powers emerged just last year. These are ones showing up this year, soonish. Of them, only three are earth, wind, or fire." He passes out the folders.

Minseok takes the last file folder. "What about the water one?" The folder shows a smiling boy with shaggy hair and glasses. There's not much information about him.

"They're hidden or haven't come into their powers, yet. Jinki hasn't seen anything about them in the immediate future with Zitao." Zitao shakes his head, nearly asleep on his feet with Yixing massaging his forehead and face.

Jongin closes the thickest folder, containing background and incident reports on the future fire user. He's in custody for arson. Fitting. "So just earth, wind, and fire."

Kibum nods and waves one of the papers. “I've got current addresses for you. Two are here in Korea; one is in the Philippines."

“Excellent.” Minseok holds out his palm, forming a car key out of ice. “Who's up for a road trip?”

Baekhyun immediately calls dibs on shotgun.