It was maybe a few months after the Young Avengers broke up when the phone rang.
“One of the members of an X-Men team, Gen-X, has gone missing. His name is Eye-Boy. You need to find him. Call your boyfriend and tell him to meet you at your usual spot.”
“Who is this?” he replied, but she had already hung up.
Tommy Shepherd was a lot of things.
Pansexual. Transgender. Roma. Jewish. A mutant. An abuse survivor. The Scarlet Witch’s son. A former Young Avenger.
But at that moment, more than anything, he was tired.
Granted, it took a lot to tire him out, given his powers, but he couldn’t deny himself a decent amount of rest any longer, even if it was the middle of the afternoon.
Just as he was about to hit the bed, his phone buzzed. The message was from David.
hey i need help w a case u down?
sure babe where u wanna meet @
It took less than a minute for his friend to reply.
the noodle place. how soon can u be here?
Tommy changed his clothes, grabbed his phone, keys, gum, and wallet, and rushed out the door to their meeting place.
“Now works,” he responded, having just appeared in front of David.
He pulled up a chair just as the waiter came to ask them what they wanted to drink. After she took their orders, they started talking.
“So what’s the case?”
“A friend of mine, Trevor, went missing recently. I’m fairly sure someone took him, so I took it upon myself to find him,” David answered.
“What do we know about this Trevor?” Tommy asked.
“Well, he’s called Eye-Boy and-”
“Wait, Eye-Boy? Isn’t he the dude that has eyes, like, all over his body? If someone was trying to take him, shouldn’t he have seen them coming?” Tommy said, with humor in his voice.
David, however, was less than pleased. “I’m going to murder you.”
Tommy laughed. “So, bad puns aside, what else do we know?”
“He was last seen with Nature Girl, coming back from a date. But I know she didn’t take him, because Lin wouldn’t do that.”
“Have you talked to her yet?” Tommy asked.
“Haven’t had a chance to. I just found out about this this morning, and I wanted to get in touch with you before anything else.”
At that moment, a girl appeared. “Sorry I took so long, my brother decided he needed my help with something. Very last minute, because apparently Jamie is incapable of not procrastinating absolutely everything. By the way, I’m Layla Miller. I know stuff.”
David looked like he was about to say something, but Tommy interrupted.
“I’m Tommy Shepherd. I don’t know shit.”
The girl, Layla, laughed at that. Then she turned to David.
“David, right? You were the one asking about Trevor?”
“Yeah.” He seemed confused, but he rolled with it. “Do you have anything for me?” he asked.
“Well, this was meant to play at the Xavier school earlier today, but I intercepted it before it could,” she said, pulling out a laptop. “I saved it because I figured it’d be helpful.” She played the video.
“Gen-X, we have a member of your team.” A man who looked to be a Purifier said. He revealed none other than Trevor Hawkins himself behind him. “If you wish to see him again, meet us at 7387 Crest Way. We will be waiting.”
Then the broadcast ended.
“Do you think they’re actually holding him at that address? Or is it just an ambush?” Tommy asked.
Layla answered with, “it’s likely just an ambush, but he’s probably somewhere nearby to that location. They wouldn’t want to divert too many people away from him, in case someone is able to find him. That said, we should probably get going to the address they gave.”
Tommy responded with, “We? Oh, no, no, no, we just met you and already you wanna be all buddy-buddy with us? I don’t think so. It’s just gonna be me and David on this one.”
“I’m gonna have to agree with Tommy. We don’t know you that well, let alone trust you, so I see no reason you should join us,” David said, followed by “no offense.”
“Look, I’ve been doing this stuff for years, so I have experience, which is something you’ll probably need. Plus, as I said earlier, I know stuff.”
Tommy was ready to reject her again, but David, as it seemed, had other plans. “Fine. As much as I hate to admit it you probably have a point, and we don’t have any time to lose.”
Tommy was too tired to carry them both there, and brushed it off as “I’m not gonna be you guys’ chauffeur, you can walk or drive,” and Tommy didn’t want to have to wait for them, so they took an Uber. By the time they got there, it was dark outside.
The address they were given turned out to be a warehouse, because of course it was a warehouse.
“Alright, we need a plan. They’ll obviously have a trap set for us. So we need to find a way to avoid setting it off,” David said.
“Wait,” Tomy said. “Maybe we shouldn’t.”
“What the hell are you talking about, Tommy?”
“Maybe we should walk right into the trap,” he continued.
“Are you a complete idiot?” David said.
“No, he’s right,” Layla said, smiling. “The two of us walk right in, see whatever trap they set, and keep them occupied while Tommy finds and gets Eye-Boy in and out unseen.”
“That’s…” David paused, “actually a really good plan. Alright.”
It probably worked a little too well.
“You mutants are all so arrogant. You really think that only two of you can take on all of us?” The leader says.
He gestures to the scores of Purifiers behind him.
“I don’t even know who you are. A pair of rejects? You weren’t even with the group we fought.”
“Oh, please,” David said, “I’ve fought--and bested--tougher opponents than you. Wolverine, once. An interdimensional parasite determined to eat one of my best friends. Not to mention several others. You don’t even make the list.”
“Oh? And are you so sure you can take us on alone?”
“Maybe they can’t, but we certainly can,” came a voice from behind him.
David turned around to see none other than the team from X-Factor Investigations. Leading them, the newly resurrected Jamie Madrox.
“You’re late,” Layla said offhandedly.
“Well, that’s no way to talk to your brother.”
“You’re right, I’m sorry,” she said, “You’re late, asshole .”
“Enough!” said the forgettable scumbag leading the Purifiers. “You disgusting mutants have met your end! Now you die!”
“Well, if it’s a fight you want…” Rahne said, transforming into her wolf form.
Chaos broke loose. Three of them ganged up on David. He kicked one under the jaw, and another in the groin, but the third one gave him trouble. He swing and missed. He dodges a punch from the guy, then swept his feet under him, but the guy leapt out of the way. They kept going at each other, until
“Stop fighting, or I blow this place up,” he heard Tommy say. Everyone stopped. David used that opportunity to punch the guy he’d been fighting with right in the face, knocking him out cold.
“You’re bluffing,” one of the Purifiers said, though he was clearly terrified.
Tommy smiled and put his hands on one of the walls, then started vibrating it furiously.
“If I keep this up for long enough, the building will explode. It’ll probably kill you guys, but a lot of us either have healing factors or can and have come back from the dead, so it’s not really a big deal for us.”
Someone shot at him, but Tommy expertly dodged the bullet. “Shooting at a speedster? Really? I knew you guys were stupid, but man, that was something.”
“Stop,” their leader said. “Fine. You’re free to go. But know, you haven’t seen the last of us.”
“How very kind of you,” Tommy sneered.
He grabbed everyone one by one, then rushed them out before the Purifiers could change their minds. Just as he got the last person out, the building exploded. He figured that could be attributed to the how he didn’t ease the molecules back down to their normal speed slowly.
“Guess they won’t be bothering us anymore.”
“What the hell did you think you were doing, Layla? What the hell were three kids going to do against a whole army of Purifiers?” Jamie said, in that annoying I-was-worried-about-you tone of voice.
“Why did you think I texted you about the weird cryptic broadcast thing? I didn’t have to ‘know stuff’ to know you’d be there as soon as possible,” she said, then added “also, fuck you, I’m allowed to have my own life and my own friends and make my own decisions. Just because you’re my brother doesn’t mean you get to tell me how to live my life.”
“Power move,” he heard Shatterstar call from a couple feet away from them.
Tommy figured he should save her from the rest of that conversation. He knew a thing or two about annoying overly-concerned brothers.
“So, I guess we’re a team now, huh?” he asked her, trying not to sound overly eager.
“Yeah, I guess we are,” she said.
“That’s cool,” he said, “I’ve been looking for something to do anyway. Not being part of a superhero team is boring as hell.”
She laughed. “For sure.”
Tommy gets settled in.
This is gonna be a shorter chapter, but it sets up a lot of the character development of the next chapter, which in turn sets up the next arc.
Madrox offered to let the three of them move in, since Layla was already there, and gave them their own office since “it’s obvious this won’t be the last time you guys cover a case like this,” and since Monet bought out the whole building, he got an apartment there, too. With David.
David, who he’d never admit he was very much in love with.
It only took a couple seconds to move all the boxes, then a couple more to put everything within them a way. A couple seconds, that is, from anyone else’s point of view. He decided to go and mingle with the rest of X-Factor.
Madrox let him, David, and Trevor introduce themselves quickly. None of them had much to say.
Jamie approached him. “Apartment all right? You have any trouble moving?”
“Nah,” Tommy answered, “it’s a nice place, so thanks, I guess.”
Jamie laughed awkwardly. “It’s no problem, friend of my sister’s, friend of mine, y’know? But you should probably thank Monet, too. Since she owns the place.”
“Cool,” Tommy said. “Oh, and thanks for the save last night,” he added as he walked away.
He went to talk to Monet, as he said he would.
“Thanks for the place, it’s really nice.”
“It’s no big. Plenty of empty rooms here, might as well fill ‘em up. Oh, and I’m rich, so unless you can comfortably afford it, rent’s free.” He already liked her.
Tommy figured that at this point it might be a good idea to check on Trevor.
“So I guess you decided to stick around, then.”
“Yeah,” he responded. “It can get pretty exhausting constantly trying to keep an eye out for trouble,” he responded.
Trying his damnedest not to burst out laughing, Tommy asked, “so I take it you’re holding up alright after that whole fiasco?”
“Yeah. I mean, it was terrifying, but I’m fine now.”
They talked for a few minutes before Layla interrupted, asking Eye-Boy if she could braid his hair, which he said yes to.
He talked to a few of the other members, getting to know them a bit, bouncing around between different conversations. Most of them seemed pretty cool.
He was flirting with David when he heard a voice behind him say, “hey, you’re one of the kids with the Young Avengers, right?”
“Not anymore, I’m not,” he said, turning around to speak with Rictor.
“So, you guys broke up for good then?”
“Yeah, I think so, I mean we all kinda went our separate ways after the whole Mother debacle, or so I hear,” he said bitterly.
“Huh. Anyways, I figured I should thank you guys. For giving me my powers back, I mean.”
Tommy was caught off guard by that. That had to be the first time someone had actually thanked him for something, or at least something that major. He responded with, “yeah, no problem.” Then quietly, and mostly to himself, “I just wish we had been able to repower more mutants.”
Well, he thought it had been quietly, but apparently it hadn’t been, because David interjected, “don’t blame yourself for things that you have no control over. I don’t.”
“First of all, don’t tell me what to do, second of all--I don’t know where I was going with that, but don’t tell me what to do.”
“David does have a point,” Rictor said.
“Will you two stop giving me perfectly valid advice that I’m just going to ignore?” Tommy said, then stormed off, making sure to do so as dramatically as possible.
He decided he should probably head to his and David’s room for the night, but he had a burning question on his mind.
“Why us?” he asked Layla.
“Because that’s just the way things are supposed to go,” she replied cryptically. He got the feeling there’d be a lot of that.
“O-kay,” he responded, confused, then, because he had nothing better to do, decided to go to bed for the night.
As he slept, he saw images, flashing for a few seconds, then disappearing only to be replaced by other images. Inconsequential things, a cup of coffee being poured, a pen clicking, a foot tapping the ground, a book falling open.
He forgot them all as soon as he awoke.
More character dev! I promise this is the last chapter before I get started on the actual story!
Upload schedule? Idk her.
No, but really, sorry about the weird time gaps between uploads, but the idea of having an upload schedule for works I haven't entirely finished makes me anxious for some reason, so I do apologize for that.
Tommy awoke at about 6, considering he needed less sleep than most. Well, more sleep from his point of view, but that was complicated. He got dressed, grabbed something to eat, rushed downstairs...
Only to see Shatterstar, already awake, in the main room, lights off, chugging an entire carton of (pulpless) orange juice.
“What the hell are you doing awake?” Tommy asked.
Star finished off the carton, then said “I am always awake at this time. Why are you awake?”
“Same reason. Don’t need so much sleep when you can squeeze hours into minutes.”
“Well, anyways,” Tommy said, then sped out of the door.
He loved running. Granted, that was probably obvious, he was a speedster, after all. But it helped. His head always felt clearer after he ran.
He also enjoyed how freeing it felt to let his powers loose. He felt like he could take on the whole world by himself.
He ran for what felt like hours, but was probably only a couple of minutes. He checked his phone to confirm this, and only 5 minutes had passed where he expected ten or twenty. I must be getting faster , he thought to himself, stopping outside a corner store to buy some food to refuel.
He decided to walk back to X-Factor headquarters at a normal speed, for no other reason that to pass time. It took about 30 minutes, which caused him to promptly decide to never do that again unless he absolutely had to.
By the time he had returned, Layla was awake.
“Okay, why are you awake?”
“Couldn’t sleep,” she said. “thought I’d come down here to see who all was already awake. Star, I expected; you, I didn’t. But I probably should have.”
“Is there anything to do around here?” He asked her.
“I think Star’s watching Pride and Prejudice.”
He watched less than a minute of it before he got bored. It was so agonizingly slow , and from what he knew of Shatterstar, he was surprised he was able to stand it (though he did look a bit fidgety).
He figured he could check out the podcast Billy had recommended him, or one of the many books David had told him he’d like.
He ended up headed back up to his room and rewatching a few episodes of a 2000’s cartoon he used to like when he was younger. When he got bored of that it was about 10.
He went back downstairs to see Monet pouring a cup of coffee and talking to David.
“I mean, I love Tommy, he’s great, but he can be such an asshole sometimes. And he clearly doesn’t know what he’s doing half the time.”
He kept rambling on about the kid, like he was in love or something. It was starting to get irritating, so Monet interrupted him.
“For someone who claims to be one of the smartest people on the planet, you really can’t see the obvious, can you?”
Without skipping a beat, he said, “funny, coming from someone who claims to be perfect, when I know I see a chipped nail.
She rolled her eyes. “Please. People have tried that one on me for years. It never works.”
“Then why did you just check to your hand?”
Shit, this kid was observant. “I’m trying to figure out which color of nail polish would look best on meat this time of year.”
“Red, specifically a berry color. I know everyone goes with that, but it matches your skintone,” he said, then added, “a blue-violet color might also look nice.”
He also adapted to conversations quickly, evidently. “Yeah, probably.”
She saw a kid with white hair approaching. “Did you want something?”
“Just to talk to David.”
“Whatever,” she said, walking away.
“What’s her issue?” Tommy asked.
“M? That’s just how she is.”
“Anyways, I’m bored as all hell,” he said.
“And this is my problem because…?”
“Because I don’t know anyone else here and I don’t like talking to new people.”
David sighed. “Fine. What do you want to do?”
“I’m supposed to know that?”
David pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Look, Tommy, I don’t–”
“Guys,” Layla said as she burst through the door, “we have a case.”
Layla gathered them in the office.
“Okay, so I was looking through our case files just now, and some of them were missing. Normally, I’d assume I misplaced them, but Jamie said some of his are gone too. Which leads me to believe that there was a break-in last night.”
Tommy groaned. “Are you kidding me? How do we even have case files? We just got this team together, and the other team didn’t reform long before us. What could they hope to find?”
“You’d be surprised how many we’ve come across in that time.”
“Is there a pattern between which cases are missing?” David asked.
“A lot of the missing persons cases. I wonder if there’s a connection?”
“Probably. What details can you remember?”
“I don’t know… I think… most of them were mutants? A few non-mutants too, though.”
“Maybe we should check Xavier’s Mansion. Or Mutant Town,” Trevor said, clicking a pen.
“We can split up. David, you and Tommy take Mutant Town. Trevor and I will take the Mansion”
Neither of them really knew where to start, so they headed to the morgue to see whether there were any recent deaths.
David took the lead.
“Hey, Madrox sent us, we wanted to double check that none of our missing persons ended up here.”
“He just came by a few day ago,” said the assistant who was helping them.
“Yeah, I know, but we’ve had a couple things change since then, and we’ve gotten some new leads, so we need to double check, just to be sure.”
“Alright, I’ll take you into the back.”
“Alright, so since your last visit, we’ve had two deaths, both from an unknown cause. The vics are Reeves, Lydia and Muir, Jason.”
“Were either of them mutants?”
“Jason was a mutant, Lydia was not.”
“Any connections to the rest?”
“They exhibited the same strange behavior, but other than that? No.”
David nodded. “Do you mind if we review the ones you showed us when last we were here? Just in case we find something?”
He lead them to a few other corpses. “These three are Gaye, Emily, Sanderson, Tyler, and West, Alex. Causes of death also unknown. Emily and Alex were mutants as well.”
David nodded. “I think that’s all we need. Tommy?”
“Hang on,” he said. He looked like he was deep in thought. “Remind me why you haven’t determined the cause of death yet?”
“There appears to be nothing wrong, which means whoever or whatever killed them probably eliminated everything that could help us intentionally.”
Tommy nodded. “Huh. Weird.” He felt like something was off, though he didn’t know how to explain it.
“That’s all we needed to know. Thanks,” David said.
It was a little ways to the mansion, so Layla decided to strike up a conversation.
“Hey, so you were a student there, right?” Layla asked.
“I mean, technically I’m still a student there,” Trevor answered.
“Fair enough, but my point is, you know what’s what, right? So who do we talk to about this?”
“Probably Kitty, if we can. Other than that, any of the older people might know something. Illyana, Bobby, Storm, Rogue, anyone like that.”
“Cool. We can check with Kitty first.”
“Yeah, I don’t really know anything about this stuff unfortunately, I’m sorry.”
“You’re sure?” Layla asked.
Kitty sighed. “I don’t think so. I mean, I can go through everything if you want, but I can’t guarantee that I’ll find anything.”
“I appreciate it, and even if you don’t, that’s alright.”
They asked some of the other X-Men, and yet none of them knew anything. They decided that it was an unsuccessful venture, but before they left, Trevor said that he wanted to gather some of his things. Layla waited for him outside, and caught part of a conversation.
“...Haven’t heard from Lyd in a couple days, which is weird. She hasn’t gone ghost on me like that since she lost her powers during M-Day.”
“Weird. Maybe you should check on her? You said she lives in Mutant Town, right? That’s not too terribly far, at least not for a teleporter.”
“Yeah. I might do that. Just in case, y’know?”
She heard Trevor approach, belongings in his backpack. “I’m done. Should we go?”
They all met up back at X-Factor Headquarters later.
“So apparently, there have been about five deaths in the past few days, and the coroners can’t find the cause,” David briefed them.
“Cool. I mean, not that five people died but...” Layla trailed off, “anyways, I didn’t really find out much of anything, unfortunately. Heard some juicy gossip. Apparently someone called Lyd hasn’t talked with one of the kids at the X-Mansion in days. Shocking, I know.”
“Wait,” Tommy said, “Lyd. Lyd. David, didn’t the Mortician’s assistant say one of the bodies at the Morgue used to be someone named Lydia?”
“Lydia Reeves, yeah. Do you think it’s her?”
“Maybe. If it is, though, it might be worth noting that the people who were gossiping about her said she was a mutant who lost her powers during M-Day.”
David paused. “Tommy, what was the name of that other person? The other human who was there?”
“Tyler Sanderson, I think.”
“Right. I’m gonna do some research to find out if he’s also a former mutant. You guys should see about finding out whatever else you can, in the meantime.”
Sorry I haven't uploaded in forever! A lot of you have probably forgotten about this fic. I kinda did, for a while there.
So, the upload schedule will probably be really inconsistent (more than usual) for a little while due to the fact that I have a lot of stuff going on in my day-to-day life. I might actually go on hiatus, I don't know.