Chapter 1: Intro
Many thanks to luninosity for beta-reading! Ten points for Ravenclaw if you get the song reference in the third section.
FADE-IN TO INT. BROOKLYN APARTMENT - PRE-DAWN - ESTABLISHING
Raven starts awake in the pre-dawn from another shifting dream, Irene's arms warm around her the first thing she feels, a living reminder that she's gained as well as lost. She's not opening the coffee shop today, so there's no reason not to lie back in their bed and let her girlfriend's presence comfort her as best she can.
Irene stirs against her when Raven turns her head and presses her lips to her dark hair, murmuring something pre-verbal. Her own movement catches her eye in the mirror on the opposite wall, and then Raven's fully awake, sitting up with all the speed of her heightened reflexes.
Irene hears her strangled cry and sits up in bed herself, looking disoriented. "Raven? What's wrong?"
There's more and more light in the room now, and Raven passes her own hand in front of her face again, hardly daring to believe her eyes--which are their full natural goldenrod in the mirror in front of her, none of that tawny brown they'd been in her human form. She holds her hand out, and with only a single thought the scaly indigo skin shifts smoothly into her old blonde human disguise, into a dozen different people as she cycles through a random series of impersonations.
"Nothing's wrong," Raven says softly, grinning like a fool at her reflection, joy welling through her, suffusing her from her bones to her skin. "Irene, I--I'm a mutant again. I'm me."
She turns around to face Irene, who can only see her a few steps forward in time but is smiling softly, her arms crossed over her knees, dark hair sticking up in her usual epic bedhead. "I thought you might be, eventually," she murmurs, and holds out a hand. "Raven, darling, come back to bed."
Raven takes her hand slowly, unable to suppress a little flutter of anxiety in the pit of her stomach when Irene's smooth fingers close around her rougher skin. "Irene, my natural form is--"
"Beautiful," Irene says, pressing an open-mouthed kiss to the inside of Raven's wrist, and Raven shivers. "Get over here, I want to have the real you."
"You always have," Raven says. She goes where she's told, straddling Irene's thighs as Irene wraps one arm around her waist and pulls her down for a kiss with another. "You always will," she whispers into Irene's mouth when they break apart, and Irene smiles against her lips.
"I know," Irene tells her, and Raven wraps her arms around her neck and kisses her again and again, Irene's hands on her skin kindling fire in her blood. Irene pulls away briefly to smile at her. "I love you, Raven," she says seriously, and then she puts her mouth on Raven's neck and kisses a line down her torso before she pulls her down and rolls them over, Raven laughing on her back, threading her hand through Irene's hair.
"I love you too," she says, hitching herself up on one elbow to look down her body at Irene, who smiles again and then closes her lips around Raven's right nipple through her thin tank top, just the barest hint of teeth making Raven moan.
There are questions she has to ask, like whether she's still Mystique and just how the hell this happened, and she'll almost certainly have to go up to Westchester, finally, to answer some of them. But Raven is perfectly happy to let all of that slide; what's going on in here, right now, is far more important than anything else.
* * * * *
FADE IN TO EXT. CARIBBEAN BEACH - NOON - ESTABLISHING
He's slept so deeply that when he realizes he's awake he has no idea where he is, with the little jolt of disorientation such moments always entail. The first thing is the sound of waves, sighing against a shoreline, in and out, and then he realizes he's lying on something soft, a warmth--sunlight--on his face. The sunlight is warm, turning the world on the inside of his eyelids a gentle fleshy red until he blinks, opens his eyes, looks up at the sky above: a flawless, perfect blue.
He's lying on sand, he understands, sun-warmed around him, cool under his body. He blinks again, lifts a hand to shield. his eyes--without anything to brace himself against, sitting up is going to be a production.
The thought works its way to the surface of his mind, and then he realizes that he can feel his legs.
His legs. Holy shit.
Charles Xavier sits up straight, sand scattering around him as he turns quickly from side to side, looking for the ruined submarine, the U.S. and Soviet fleets: nothing. Moira had just shot him, and he remembered hitting the sand, shock and pain flooding his awareness--
No. That was 1962, not 2006; Charles can remember the rest of his life since then, and he closes his eyes, thinking back. The last thing he remembers is the kitchen at the Greys' house, Jean's face, the look in Erik's eyes--
It still doesn't make any sense. He was dying, he knows it, but he's just as clearly alive now, unless there really is a heaven and the God he'd never believed in has the universe's worst sense of humor. Doubtful, on the whole, though he has no explanation for why he's on a beach in the Caribbean, maybe even Cuba (because that's just what he needs, to be arrested as an American spy or deported for having entered the country illegally), wearing, of all things, jeans and a T-shirt and not much else: no shoes, certainly.
Charles stands up, and realizes that not only can he walk, but he's thirty again.
Well, Charles thinks to himself, running a hand through his hair--his hair!--where it's flopped in front of his eyes. He can't help running both hands down his hips, over the muscles of his thighs: just as firm as they'd been before they'd gone on that mission all those years ago. Well, this is unexpected, he thinks, and laughs out loud. He's alive, uninjured, rejuvenated: "unexpected" hardly begins to describe any of those conditions, let alone all three at once.
Things only become more inexplicable, not less, when he reaches out to the nearest human minds, a few miles away, and then to the rest of the island--yes, he is in fact in Cuba, and everyone seems to believe that it's 2011, which means he’s lost five years on top of the five decades he seems to have misplaced. The ocean, typically, doesn't have an answer for the question of where those years went, unless it’s the only answer it ever gives: eternity.
Charles stares out to sea and realizes that he has no idea what to do if it's true and it really is the second decade of the third millennium, and he's facing it with a twenty-nine year old body. He had a good life, a full one, and if it weren’t for the people he’d been leaving behind he’d have left it with relative equanimity, in those few brief moments between comprehension and annihilation. But he did leave people behind, and it seems monumentally unfair that, having been brought back, he won't be able to do anything about them. For them, five years ago and thousands of miles away.
Of course it's selfish even to wish that lightning could strike twice, and to concentrate on what he'll never have again as opposed to what he's regained. But there's no one here to witness him being selfish and ignoble, and if he has to live another fifty years on this earth alone, he's probably entitled to a few minutes of selfishness at the outset.
Eventually Charles walks a few dozen feet down the beach and settles himself under a conveniently placed palm tree, none too sure of his newly regained motor skills. In the absence of any obvious explanation, he decides, or means by which to extricate himself from the situation, he could really use a drink. Something with rum. And maybe even one of those little paper umbrellas to go with it.
* * * * *
FADE IN TO EXT. X-MANSION AFTERNOON - ESTABLISHING
It's a dream; he knows that, but he doesn't let himself dwell on it. Dreams are all he has left, now.
Erik pushes open the door of the mansion and strides down the sunny corridors, intent but not hurried. At the end of a long series of carpeted halls he opens the door of Charles' study and Charles looks up at him from where he’s leaning against his desk, already smiling in that helplessly fond way Erik adored. He's young again, young as he was when they first met and uninjured, which is odd for Erik's dreams; usually they're older, if not wiser. Erik knows without looking at himself that he's thirty again too.
Erik smiles back, and Charles' smile brightens for an instant before it fades into something more concerned. Erik, he says in Erik's mind, and this is how Erik would know it was a dream if he didn't already, because it's like listening to a mono reduction of 5.1 stereo sound; there's no warmth or depth to Charles' thoughts. Erik, concentrate.
"On what, Charles?" Erik asks, the melancholy ache of grief rising within him, sapping his energy. If he were stronger, this would hurt less, but he's not and it doesn't. Five years, and the dreams are still frequent, even if this one's got the virtue of some novelty.
You have to concentrate, Charles insists. Calm your mind, and concentrate.
Erik resists the temptation to roll his eyes, ignores the pricking of moisture in them. "I am calm, Charles," he says gently, and it's even mostly true. The fires of his anger were guttered in mourning, and he can't seem to relight them. It might help if he had something to live for, assuredly.
Then concentrate. Charles steps forward, propelling himself off the desk towards Erik. At his back, Erik feels the door swinging in on its hinges, the doorknob turning and the lock snicking into place. He's done it, though in the way of dreams he didn't consciously intend to.
That's the other reason Erik takes a masochistic pleasure in his dreams; he's never yet had one in which he didn't still have his powers. The waking world is nightmare enough.
Charles stops a few inches from him, hands sliding up to Erik's shoulders. His eyes are that unearthly blue, and Erik shuts his just before he feels Charles' lips brush against his mouth. It would be easier if his dreams weren't so surreally realistic, if he could believe that Charles was a ghost rather than a figment of his own grieving imagination, if he were a sentimental fool who believed he'd be reunited with Charles in death.
But they're not and he doesn't and he isn't, and there is only the dull, throbbing ache of his sorrow, his sole and constant companion. Erik puts his hands on Charles' shoulders and kisses him back, and at that precise instant he wakes up.
Wakes up, blinking rapidly, against the bright sun of the chess tables in Central Park at noon, surrounded by the chatter of people on lunch breaks and the shrieks of children accompanied by their parents or nannies with his own name in his ears, for all the world as if Charles were right here across from him. He's sitting at his customary table, a chessboard arrayed in front of him, the white pieces already arranged in a fairly predictable gambit. Erik moves one of his pawns to counter, the reaction automatic, and then after a long moment of disjuncture he realizes that he didn't touch the piece with anything but his abilities.
At that point Erik brings his hand up to his face, realizing that his electromagnetic sense of the world is surrounding and imbuing him in the opposite of sensory deprivation, unable to quite contain the fierce, unreasoning joy that overtakes him, and realizes that it wasn't just a dream: he really is thirty again, and the world’s magnetic currents are thrumming through his body like blood, like his heartbeat. For a moment, he can almost see them, the sensation is so palpable and overwhelming—until, with a conscious effort, he masters it.
The white pieces are still sitting there on the board, looking for all the world as if their player has just stepped away to take a cell phone call, and Erik feels a sudden, sharp stab of--grief, mostly, and remorse and anger. It's no more than he deserves, another fifty years on his sentence with no time off for good behavior, but surely there were others who deserved a new lease on life, literally, more than he. Surely if they could have the chance, they'd get things right this time.
Maybe he's become a sentimental fool after all: surely not.
Erik closes his eyes and collects himself and sits in the sunshine and painstakingly plays out both sides of the game, using a style of tactics for the white pieces that isn't his, but that he knows as well as he knows his own name. He uses his powers on the white pieces, unable to keep from smiling at little at the exertion and wishing that one of the people around him would dare to comment on it, but no one does. The sun arches down the sky as he does so, the afternoon burgeoning around him, which he registers but doesn't bother himself about. He has, again, plenty of time to kill.
FADE IN TO OPENING TITLES: X-MEN: REUNION
Thanks to were_duck for some high-level beta reading.
No thanks to Joss Whedon for jossing half of this fic with The Avengers, thus necessitating large rewrites.
CREDITS FADE IN TO INT. X-MANSION CONTROL ROOM - ESTABLISHING
”I’m on the right track, baby/I was born to survive…”
Jubilee lifts her head from her screen, pulled out of her coding fugue by the insistent buzz of the alarm—the Cerebro alarm, she realizes, and kills the volume on the Pandora station before she toggles to another window and pulls up the activity logs. Cerebro is set at a fairly low level of sensitivity, just because sorting out signals from noise at any greater “resolution” would require an actual human telepath rather than an intelligent algorithm, so whoever triggers the alarms is almost always worth a recruitment trip, or worth putting on a watch list for when they’re older. It would be nice, Jubilee thinks, if whoever has been found this time would come to the school. Their haven has felt rather besieged, these last few years.
She’s old enough to recognize her own formless guilt prompting the wistfulness, and she focuses back in on the text of the alert message. Just the first line is enough for her to bring up Storm’s cell phone preset in Skype. If this is a system error, they’ve got real problems.
“Jubilee,” Storm says when she answers, on the second ring, “is this about Cerebro? I just saw the text—that can’t be right, can it?”
“I think you or Wolverine should go down to the control room, Storm,” Jubilee answers. “I can meet you there, run some diagnostics directly. If—“ She cuts herself off from saying, If it’s real and everything else trying to spill out of her throat after the words. If there’s one thing they’ve learned, it’s that they’re not that lucky.
“I’m on my way,” Storm says, and Jubilee ends the call and stands up, collecting her iPad and the interface cables and locking down her station before heading out the door.
She’s closer to the control room than Storm, whose fast, assured footsteps precede her up the corridor several minutes later. Jubilee nods at Storm, who nods back before putting her hand and then her eye to the biometric scanners. The door slides open, and Jubilee follows Storm inside.
They both know how to operate the interface fairly well, but Storm allows Jubilee to outpace her to the console at the end of the pylon and take the chair there, hitting the switch to kill the alarm right away. Jubilee reconfigures the system into diagnostic mode and then hooks up the iPad directly, opening the app that she’s written to run the battery of performance tests they’ve developed since Beast did the basic redesign, right before he went off to D.C.
Storm doesn’t say anything, just stands at Jubilee’s shoulder and waits. Jubilee wonders what she’s thinking, but doesn’t ask. If this isn’t some sort of catastrophic system error—if it’s real—
If, if, if. Jubilee’s not Storm; she drums her fingers against the iPad case while the tests run, and a few minutes later, after the results all come up STATUS NORMAL, she lets out a shaky breath, and tilts the tablet so that Storm can read for herself.
“Can you bring up the readouts visually?” Storm asks after a moment, taking a deep, deliberate breath, and Jubilee nods. A few fingerstrokes brings up the Cerebro results superimposed over Google Maps readouts: there are six distinct signatures coming from five separate locations in four countries. Four of the signatures have an Ω icon in red on their label along with the approximated GPS coordinates. In the five years since they set up this system, Jubilee’s never seen any signature rated higher than Λ.
Omega-level mutants are supposed to be incredibly rare. They are incredibly rare. For four to manifest simultaneously— “This can’t be natural,” Jubilee says quietly, and Storm nods, grim.
“No,” she says, “it can’t. Which is all the more reason to get to the bottom of this. Those two European signatures are in Germany, right? Do you have Hank’s schedule in the system?”
“I have it on my phone,” Jubilee says, and thumbs through to Senator McCoy’s internal Google calendar. “Yes, he’s on a fact-finding mission there now, something about economic policy.”
“I’ll ask him and Father Wagner to go out there and talk to those two, whoever they are,” Storm says, because the two German signatures are in fact coterminous. “What about the others?”
Jubilee drags the map over to the Western hemisphere, flicks her fingers to enlarge it slightly. “San Francisco, New York, Cuba—“ Her voice catches, and she has to swallow, because she knows those coordinates; they’ve been burned into her brain. “The last one’s in Canada. Alkali Lake.”
Storm closes her eyes, just for an instant. “I’ll send Shadowcat and Iceman to New York,” she says at last; New York won’t need the jet. “Logan and I will go for the rest of them. San Francisco first.” She pulls out her phone, then looks at Jubilee. “Can you finish up here? I have to start making calls.”
“Sure,” Jubilee says, and Storm nods her thanks before heading out the door and, presumably, up aboveground to get a decent cell phone signal; there’s a reason Jubilee uses Skype for everything when she’s down here. Left behind, she disconnects the iPad after she marks the event reports as read, hitting the button to send full copies of the information by email to Storm and Wolverine’s phones. San Francisco, New York, Cuba, Germany—those could be coincidental, even with the absolute improbability of four omega mutants at once. But not Alkali Lake.
* * * * *
EXT. SAN FRANCISCO, THE PRESIDIO - NOON - ESTABLISHING
Jean is awakened by the feeling of the sun on her face, and she sits up as soon as she realizes that she’s lying on some kind of grassy slope. Several of the picnickers dotting the greensward between her and the water in front of her give her a curious glance when she stands, but most of them, and the bikers passing by on the trail next to the water, don’t look up.
She’s wearing her suit, like always, and the Golden Gate Bridge is to her left when she turns, and Jean very nearly has to sit down again at the sight, ocher against the flawless blue of the sky and the Bay. She’d seen Magneto lift the bridge off its foundations.
Jean closes her eyes and, very deliberately, reaches out to the minds of the people around her. The constant background murmur of their thoughts comes into focus as she pays attention, just skimming the surface. It’s enough to tell her what she needs to know: what she’s seeing is real, because five years have passed since Magneto’s last stand.
The wind off the Bay whips her hair around her face; it’s short again, though not as brown as it had been once. Jean remembers it being longer, at one point, and decides there and then that she likes it this way. It feels…lighter.
Her memory is slippery, full of gaps and rents like the fog that’s burning off in the sun in the northern reaches of the Bay, out beyond Alcatraz and Angel Island. Jean draws her knees up to her chest and sits on the grass, just slightly chilled—summer in San Francisco is cold—and tells herself that she’ll remember eventually.
Really, she’s waiting for someone. She doesn’t know who yet, exactly, but the Phoenix could never be left alone for long. If there’s one constant in Jean’s life, it’s that her powers make it impossible for the world to disregard her.
The sun crests the bridge, begins its slow trek down to the ocean, out beyond the bulk of the headland curving north and west behind Jean’s shoulder, from where she’s sitting. Passing bikers and joggers frequently notice her with surprise—she can feel it—but she snarls at the first one who tries to bother her and projects a strong aura of Don’t disturb after that. It’s an hour or two before the black silhouette of a familiar, but not the same, stealth jet pulls up and alights delicately, somehow, on the bike path - it hovers for long enough that people get out of the way underneath.
The backdraft from the plane whips Jean’s hair again, and she stands up and walks down the hill - really more of a berm, she’d realized, between the picnic lawn and the parking lot. The two minds in the jet, she’d know anywhere.
Jean waits while the engines power down and the jet’s ramp lowers. She can’t quite seem to make herself smile when Storm and Logan walk down it, though she feels that she’s happy to see them; she’s too keyed up for anything so simple as happiness. Logan looks the same, of course, but on Storm the five years she’s missed are immediately obvious in the hard set of her jaw, the frown lines at her mouth and eyes.
Storm swallows when she sees Jean standing at the edge of the bike path. “Jean,” she says hoarsely. “Jean, is that you?”
“It’s me, Ro,” Jean tells her, stepping forward cautiously. She doesn’t need telepathy to sense the wariness in both of them, more wariness than she’d expect even in the event of —
Of someone coming back from the dead.
“Oh, shit,” Jean breathes, and Storm flinches. “‘Ro, what happened? I died.”
Logan looks as grim as she’s ever seen. “Jean,” he says, and his voice has even more gravel in it than usual. “You don’t remember?”
“I remember…some things,” Jean says slowly, thinking back. She remembers the bridge, but after that—nothing. But Logan’s own clamoring guilt is enough for her to put the outline of the puzzle together. “Logan,” she asks, “what happened? What did you do?”
He scowls. It would look forbidding if she couldn’t feel his unhappiness. “I killed you, Jean,” he says bluntly. “You couldn’t control your powers, so you asked me to. And I did.”
His memory of the scene is almost too vivid, demanding Jean’s attention, but she doesn’t want it, and she strengthens her shields to tune it out. It’s her own memory she’s interested in, and when she turns her concentration inward, she finds—
“Oh, my god,” Jean breathes. “Scott. ‘Ro, I killed Scott.”
Storm nods, unhappy. “But—we detected a mutant signature at Alkali Lake this morning, Jean, the same time we detected yours here. Alkali Lake is where—I thought, if you could come back, maybe—he could too.” She reaches forward and grasps Jean’s hands, looking up into her eyes intently. “Do you have any idea what happened to you?”
“To bring me back?” Jean asks, and shakes her head. “No. I woke up a few hours ago, and I was here.” If dying had been as easily as falling asleep, coming to today had been just as simple.
Storm frowns. “If it wasn’t your Phoenix powers, then what—“
“I’m sorry, ‘Ro,” Jean interrupts, and she squeezes her best friend’s hands tightly before gently pulling away. “I have to go to Alkali Lake. If Scott’s there, I need to find him.” I need to know if he’ll forgive me, she thinks, but she keeps the thought to herself.
Logan jerks his head back towards the X-jet. “We were heading there next,” he says. “Come on, it’ll only be a few—“
“No,” Jean interrupts him. “I’ve got a faster way.”
It’s like riding a bicycle, or walking: she knows she can do it, and she doesn’t question how she knows, she just does. Jean takes a deep breath, and San Francisco vanishes from her sight in a flash of white.
* * * * *
EXT. NEW YORK, CENTRAL PARK - AFTERNOON - ESTABLISHING
Shadowcat and Iceman climb up onto the street from the subway at 72nd Street and head into the Park, cutting east and, eventually, slightly north from Terrace Drive to the chess tables. Kitty leads the way—she has a pretty good sense of direction—and after about fifteen minutes, they’re standing at the top of the small rise overlooking them, and, beyond the tables, the eastern half of the lake.
It’s obvious who they’ve come to find. The man is sitting alone at one of the chess tables, wearing a brown leather jacket over a turtleneck, concentrating quite intensely on the game he’s playing out against himself. Kitty’s no soldier, but she’s trained to fight, and even at this distance there’s no mistaking the watchful coiled energy in his trim frame.
She and Bobby glance at each other. “You ready for this?” he asks. They’re both full-fledged members of the X-Men now, taking the Institute’s college-level classes as well as some online course from Harvard Extension, but it’s still unusual for them to be trusted with sole responsibility for something like this.
Kitty shrugs. She really only knows one way to accumulate EXP. “Let’s find out.”
They make their way over to the tables, taking care not to hurry, but Kitty’s not surprised when the man looks directly up at them when they’re still several yards away. She pulls up so hard that Bobby would have bumped into her if she hadn’t automatically phased out to avoid the impact.
Kitty steps forward and lets herself phase back in slowly, still staring at the man. His face is all wrong—he’s young, and even more dangerous-looking somehow—but she’d know the Master of Magnetism anywhere. His eyes are the same, pale and alert and, she thinks, just a little bit tired.
The real question is, does he remember them?
No, she realizes as she forces herself to put one foot in front of the other, the real question is whether his powers have returned along with his youth.
Magneto tips his head up at them, and something in his expression prompts Kitty to stop a good four feet away from him. “Well,” he says, “I must admit I wasn’t expecting two of the junior scouts to come collect me.” He smirks. Young Magneto somehow seems to have a lot more teeth than the old one. “Is this some kind of detention?”
“We’re not junior scouts anymore,” Kitty says politely, because damned if she’s going to just give him the upper hand here. “I’m Shadowcat, and this is Iceman.”
“I know who you are, Kitty Pryde,” Magneto says. “Do you know who I am?”
“I know who I think you are,” Kitty tells him. She womanfully resists the urge to cross her arms. “Won’t you introduce yourself?”
He stares at the two of them for a good ten or fifteen seconds, and then his mouth quirks before his lips stretch into a shark-like grin. Oh, this would be a lot easier if he weren’t unbelievably hot. No wonder the Prof fell for him, Kitty thinks, and the thought doesn’t even hurt like it would have in earlier days.
“Erik Lehnsherr,” he says, standing up and extending one hand while pushing the chair in with the other. Kitty grips his hand, hers dwarfed by his big, powerful fingers, because she can always phase out if he tries anything. His grip is strong, but she puts everything she’s got back into it, and he lets go without comment. “I used to go by Magneto, in a previous life.”
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Lehnsherr,” Kitty says, and Bobby echoes the same sentiments when he shakes Magneto’s hand.
“Now that we’re all acquainted,” Magneto says, smirking, “what brings the two of you out here?”
“It’s not every day an omega-level mutant signature pops on Cerebro’s radar screen,” Bobby says, rolling his eyes. “Let alone four of them simultaneously.”
Magneto’s brows rise. “Four of them?” he repeats. “Where? Where else?” For the first time, he actually sounds less than totally calm.
Pyro shrugs. “We weren’t told,” he says, and this is actually true, though Kitty is glad that it’s an answer that won’t make Magneto happy. “We’re supposed to come out here and extend you an invitation to the Mansion. If you accept, I’m sure you’ll be able to find out everything that we know.”
“You don’t know anything, do you?” Kitty asks him. “About what happened to you?”
Magneto shakes his head, and he frowns down at the game in progress on the chessboard before sweeping the pieces into the box with his powers, not even moving a muscle. The box is cardboard, so he has to put the lid back on with his own hands. “I don’t,” he says. “I thought I was dreaming, but I woke up here, thirty years old again.” Something in his expression shifts, but Kitty has no idea what it means. “I have to return the chess set,” he says, nodding towards the Chess and Checkers House. “Excuse me.”
“Well, it looks like his powers are definitely back,” Bobby observes redundantly as they watch him cross the lawn. Kitty forces herself not to stare at his ass in his khaki pants. Damn.
“But he didn’t introduce himself as Magneto,” she points out.
“What do you think that means?”
Kitty shakes her head. “I don’t know. And I don’t think,” she adds, as Magneto heads back towards them, “that he does either.”
“Lead the way,” Magneto tells them with another mirthless quirk of his lips, and Kitty shrugs and does.
“Do you have a Metro Card?” she asks while they walk.
“You didn’t even drive?”
“We drove to the station in Westchester,” Bobby says defensively. “Gas is expensive these days.”
Kitty doesn’t turn around: she doesn’t need to; she can feel Magneto rolling his eyes. "Junior scouts," he mutters, but she pretends not to hear.
More thanks to were_duck for beta reading, and thanks to lian for German-picking the last section. All remaining errors are of course my own.
INTERIOR X-MANSION - AFTERNOON
They don’t really bother putting human eyeballs on perimeter security anymore, not least because they don’t really have the eyeballs to spare. There’s only so much point in putting resources into it that could be used elsewhere, particularly since the reality is that there are some phenomena perimeter security does absolutely nothing against.
One of those, of course, is teleportation.
There are security alarms in the complex that are set to go off when any previously undetected presence is registered, or when any unauthorized intruder shows up, but it’s the former that brings Jubilee out of her obsessive reviewing of the Cerebro results. The alarm’s in one of the rooms they don’t really use anymore, she sees as she fumbles for the button to disable the blaring klaxon—Dr. Grey’s lab.
Jubilee brings up the security feed automatically—it’s not the first time this particular system has given false positives, she’s been meaning to rewrite the code—but her hand just stops moving when she zooms in on the feed and sees not one but two people standing in the lab. She’d have sworn up until this very instant that both of them were very, very dead.
Suddenly the mystery of four omega-class mutants manifesting at once seems both much less and much more mysterious.
It takes a minute before Jubilee remembers that she can use the intercom. “Jean?” she asks once she brings up the system, speaking into her headset. If her voice trembles, well, surely that’s just a problem with the signal quality. “Cyclops? Is that you?”
“Jubilee?” Jean turns and, with unerring accuracy, looks straight up into the camera lens. “Is that you?”
“Yeah, I’m basically the sysadmin for the School these days,” Jubilee says, staring at her monitor. They don’t look quite the same as she remembers—Jean’s hair is redder, and Cyclops isn’t wearing his glasses—but there’s no doubt in her mind that it’s them. “Is—is that you?”
Cyclops laughs a little. “Do you mean, are we real?” He and Jean look at each other, and then he looks up at the camera, at her. She can’t tell what color his eyes are on the monochrome video feed, but suddenly she really, really wants to find out. “I think so.”
“What happened?” Jubilee asks.
“I was hoping you could tell us,” Jean admits, and Jubilee makes a decision. The body scan she’s been running, surreptitiously, is telling her that to the best of the Mansion’s computer system’s ability to discern, it really is Scott Summers and Jean Grey in that room, and they’re not just friends, they’re her family. The two people on the monitor feel like the people she thought she’d lost, and now, suddenly, they’re found again.
“I’ll be right there,” she says, and she rips off her headset and locks her station before heading out the door as fast as her Chuck Taylors will take her.
The lab isn’t far away, and when she gets there the first thing she does is barrel across the space and hug both of them as hard as she can. Jubilee has never been big on this sort of display of affection, but it’s not every day that people come back from the dead; she’ll make an exception.
“Your eyes are brown!” she says to Cyclops, who laughs.
“I guess so,” he says, and smiles at Jean. It’s good that Wolverine and Storm are a thing now, Jubilee decides, otherwise Logan would be sad when he saw that he really didn’t have a chance any longer.
“So…what happend?” Jubilee asks, boosting herself up to perch on one of the lab tables. “What do you remember?”
Their stories are fragmented, but similar: waking up disoriented, as if from a dream, alive again and five years later, in San Francisco and at Alkali Lake, respectively. Storm and Logan found Jean—Jean went to Alkali Lake and found Scott.
Neither of them say as much, but it’s obvious that their powers are much stronger, and better controlled, than they were when they died.
“Do you have any idea what’s going on?” Cyclops asks when they’re finished, and Jubilee nods.
“Some, yeah.” She explains about Cerebro and the six simultaneous signatures, handing over her iPad with the data on the screen. Both Jean and Scott look confused by the device, and abruptly Jubilee remembers that they both died more than a year before the first iPhone was released. “Sorry,” she says, and takes the tablet back from them. “Here, I’ll show you.”
“Cuba?” Jean asks when she gets to the last signature. “Who’s going there?”
“Storm and Logan said they’d hit San Francisco, Alkali Lake, and Cuba,” Jubilee answers. “I guess you should tell them that there’s no need for them to go to Canada now.”
Jean frowns at the screen. “I remember the Professor mentioning something, once…” she mutters, almost to herself, and after another moment or two she looks up. “Don’t bother calling them,” she says. “I’ll just tell them myself.” She glances at Scott, who nods at her—the feeling of being excluded from a conversation being conducted telepathically gives Jubilee a vivid sense of deja vu—and then she smiles at Jubilee. “I’ll be back shortly,” she says, and then with a flash of light she’s gone.
Cyclops and Jubilee are left staring at each other over the iPad. “She couldn’t teleport before, could she?” Jubilee asks bluntly.
“No,” Scott agrees. “But it would seem to be a sensible outgrowth of telekinesis.” He gestures towards his eyes, redundantly. “I couldn’t control this before, either.”
“No,” Jubilee agrees, and makes a notation in her file: Upgrades.
* * * * *
EXT. CARIBBEAN BEACH - EVENING
Charles remembers the celerity of equatorial sunsets—even in Miami, the sun had gone down with a remarkable hurry, compared to Oxford or Westchester—but this is the first one he’s witnessed that he can remember taking the time to appreciate. Mundane concerns like food are starting to press in, admittedly, but moving inland and suggesting to people that they allow him to partake of their hospitality before forgetting his existence doesn’t actually present much of a challenge. He has time to sit and watch the sunset and try not to think about the people who aren’t here with him.
There really is no justice in the world except what people make. As he’d grown older, Charles had come to realize that that justice, so often, wasn’t even for themselves, but for others’ sake.
The indigo gloom of evening swallows him for a good half an hour or so before Charles brings himself to stand up, brushing the sand off his trousers perfunctorily. He’s reaching out with his telepathy to find the least troublesome potential host for his dinner when, up in the air, over the water, coming in fast, he senses a handful of far more interesting, and familiar, minds.
The X-jet lands on the beach about fifteen minutes later, the roar of its afterburners cutting off as the back hatch lowers and three figures walk cautiously out. Charles is, abruptly, grateful that it’s night; otherwise the memories would be stifling, as opposed to merely oppressive.
The jet has apparently been equipped with spotlights in the interior which can be aimed outward; when these blink on, shining a harsh white illumination into the gloom, Charles stands up and makes his way up the beach towards them, keeping his hands very carefully visible.
He recognizes all three of them, with successively painful twists of the heart. Logan, of course, looks the same as he did fifty years ago in that crappy bar where he’d turned them down the first time, but Storm is visibly aged, care lined into her tough, beautiful features. Beside her, Jean Grey looks almost exactly as he last remembers her, except her hair is short again, and there’s no instability in her eyes.
They see him as soon as he steps into the spotlights, of course, and the way they visibly tense makes Charles stop dead at the edge of the light. The last thing he needs is a lightning bolt to the cranium.
“¡Hola,” Storm says, and Charles frowns.
“I speak English, thank you,” he tells them, and then says, feeling obscurely foolish, “Hello.”
Jean frowns, but Logan is staring at him like he just crawled out of a sewer. Well, knowing Logan, he probably wouldn’t look like this if he had just crawled out of a sewer. It’s definitely a non-plussed expression, anyway, given the sense Charles has of Logan’s thoughts.
“Hello,” Storm says, recovering with laudable speed, but Charles totally loses the thread of what she says next, because Jean is staring at him. “…And that’s why we’re here,” Storm finishes, looking at him expectantly.
Beside her, Jean opens her mouth to say something, but Logan gets the drop on all three of them. “Fuck me!” he exclaims. “1962! That fucking bar! You and Lehnsherr! Chuck Xavier, is that really you?”
Charles opens his mouth, and then shuts it again. He’d honestly forgotten that none of them but Logan have ever seen him this young, and none of them but Logan have ever seen him ambulatory. On top of having been dead, being twenty-nine again—and apparently unrecognizable—had honestly slipped his mind.
Under the circumstances, protesting the “Chuck” is probably a battle best fought another day.
“You can’t be serious!” Storm snaps, turning on Logan. “Professor Xavier is dead!”
“I know what I remember, okay, Storm?” Logan shoots back. “I’m telling you, that’s the Professor from before he was the Professor!” They both turn back to look at him. “Do you remember what happened after you got your ass paralyzed here?” Logan demands.
“Do you remember what happened at my parents’ house?” Jean asks, her expression troubled.
They might as well be asking, Are you really Charles Xavier? Are you our Charles Xavier? Because that’s what they’re nearly shouting at full volume, thought-wise.
“Storm, Jean, Logan,” Charles says, holding up his hands. “I’m sorry—I honestly forgot that my appearance is…not what you are familiar with. Yes, Logan, I remember what happened after 1962. And yes, Jean, I remember what happened at your parents’ house. That’s the last thing I remember, in point of fact.”
They all stare at him. In the silence, the sound of the waves on the shore murmurs loudly. “You don’t sound like the Professor,” Storm says abruptly. “You sound—“
“Not like the stodgy old fogey you remember?” Charles supplies, smiling to take the sting out of his words. He does sound younger. He feels younger. He is younger.
He’s not who he was when he died, though he isn’t anyone else, either.
“I assure you, Storm, I am who I say I am,” he says, “though I applaud your caution. Charles Francis Xavier, and none other.”
Storm nods, slowly. “If you really are the Professor,” she says, “then you won’t mind if Jean makes sure of that, will you?”
Charles and Jean look at each other, and it doesn’t take telepathy to understand that they’re both thinking the same thing, namely that telepathy isn’t an organic substitute for sodium pentathol. But the point stands. “Not at all,” Charles says, and takes the opportunity to step closer. “Jean?”
Jean lets out a breath and takes a few steps forward. Charles is reminded, abruptly and incongruously, of all those Star Trek reruns he used to watch with the students, in his old life, but thankfully she doesn’t raise her hand to his temple, or close her eyes. Instead, she stares at him, and Charles feels the press of her thoughts against his. He breathes out, and lets her in.
It’s only in the odd moments like this one that he ever comes close to knowing the experience of telepathy the way most people perceive it, and even now, Charles suspects that his perception of what’s going on is very unlike someone who’s not a telepath would process it. Jean’s control has much improved, he notes; she rifles through his memories with a deft, sure touch that doesn’t match his recollections of her previously uncertain grip. It only lasts a few seconds—seconds can be an eternity, at the speed of thought—and then Charles is blinking at Jean, who isn’t looking at him.
He wonders what she saw that’s got her embarrassed—there’s nothing he’s done that he’s ashamed of, except maybe what he didn’t do on this beach fifty years ago—but the thought peters out when Jean says hoarsely, “Logan’s right. He’s telling the truth. It’s him—he’s the Professor.”
“I realize this must seem hard to believe,” Charles says, when Storm turns back to him. “It’s not every day that people come back from the dead, after all—“
Logan barks a laugh, interrupting him. “You’d be surprised, bub,” he says darkly, glancing at Jean, and Charles very abruptly realizes that he’s missing something. “Resurrection’s getting to be a cheap trick around here.”
“Well,” Storm says, “resurrection and rejuvenation together are still somewhat odd.” She steps forward, still staring at him, and Charles doesn’t know what to say to the expression in her silver eyes.
He doesn’t have to say anything, though, because she simply walks forward and hugs him, hard, the strength In her slim frame belied by her appearance. “I missed you,” Ororo says into his shoulder, and Charles instinctively, automatically, hugs her back, just as hard.
“I didn’t mean to leave,” he says. Ororo, I’m so sorry.
Not your fault, Professor, she sends back to him, and when she steps away they both pretend she doesn’t swipe at her eyes. She’s smiling, anyway.
Jean hugs him hard, too, but even standing on his two feet Charles is shorter than she is, and he winds up pressed rather closely into her shoulder. They don’t speak; they’re telepaths, and they don’t need to.
“I ain’t hugging you,” Logan says, but there’s that particular cast to his glower that means he’s at least a little bit happy.
“Good to see you too,” Charles tells him, as oppressively cheerfully as he can manage, and laughs when Logan’s glower deepens. “I’ve been rather out of the loop, I’m afraid,” he says to Storm. “What have I missed?”
“A lot,” Storm says flatly, and she turns and heads back up the ramp into the body of the jet. “Strap in—we’ll fill you in on the ride.”
* * * * *
EXT. MUNICH - STREET - NIGHT
Anya Maximoff steps off her bus to the sidewalk and hoists her bag over her shoulder for the short walk home, thinking about what they’ll have for dinner when she gets there. Something simple, ideally, but also something Wanda can eat. Her half-sister had spent the previous night sweating and raving about how this is all wrong and I can fix it, falling into an uneasy sleep, her fever breaking, around dawn.
Altogether, the whole thing reminded her far too much of their mother’s dying six years ago, which Anya, thank you very much, would rather not dwell on. She’s twenty-six, and after six years she’s realized that that’s the best she can do. Judging by the pinched, pale expression on Pietro’s face last night, he'd been thinking the same thing.
They’ve done okay, since Magda Maximoff died of cancer; better than Anya had thought they would, when her mother’s will had made her the guardian of her eleven year-old half-siblings and the inheritor of a remarkably sizable estate, for a woman who worked hard at a good job all her life but was never wealthy. Anya can remember the twins’ father, though, and she has her suspicions about where the money came from. But her vague, formless anxiety fantasies about Magneto showing up to lay his claim to the twins had all been laid to rest five years ago, after the San Francisco incident and its aftermath had extinguished his Brotherhood and put him either in the grave or in hiding.
Anya’s not glad that her mother died before she saw it, but she is glad that Magda was spared the pain of that final act of terrorism on Magneto’s part. The man Magda loved, she’d always insisted, wasn’t the implacable madman on TV, and Anya’s own memories of Erik Lehnsherr upheld that view. She’d not told anyone, though, of the twins’ parentage; being the human half-sister of two early-maniifesting mutants was difficult enough.
It’s possible, of course, that Magneto simply didn’t know about the twins; the wording of the inheritance strongly suggested that. He probably didn’t know that Magda had been thinking about asking him to marry her, of changing Anya’s surname to Lehnsherr, either. If he had, Anya would never have been able to forgive him.
Maudlin, she chides herself as she turns at last onto their street, let it go, and with an effort, she tries to put all of those thoughts back in their cupboard in her mind where they belong. The twins are what matter now, her siblings whom she’s tried so hard to give a normal life, give a family and a home despite everything they’ve all lost, and right now they need dinner.
Anya has just put down her bag and coat and taken off her shoes when Pietro zips into the room, giving her a nod. “How’s Wanda?” Anya asks quietly, mindful of the half-open door to the twins’ bedroom. They still share a room, looking not too different inside than it had when their mother died, and this is something Anya has never tried to change nor to bring up with the social worker. If there’s one thing that’s true, it’s that the twins love each other; if there’s another, it’s that neither of them would ever hurt the other.
Pietro shrugs. “She’s okay,” he answers, speaking with the conscious deliberation that is the way he can make himself understood to people without his ultrafast mutation, “she’s sleeping again,” and Anya nods. “I gave her more of her meds and painkillers an hour ago.”
“Good,” Anya says, and crosses to poke her head in the door; sure enough, Wanda’s sleeping peacefully, her dark hair fanned out in clumps over her pillow. “How about you?” she asks, closing the door most of the way behind her, and Pietro shrugs again.
“I’m all right. I’m glad Wanda’s doing better.”
“Me too,” Anya says quietly, and she puts a hand on his arm briefly before she heads towards the kitchen. Before she gets there, though, there’s a knock at the front door.
Anya frowns—she’s not expecting anyone or anything—and makes sure to look through the peephole before she puts a hand to the lock. She knows the two men standing outside, though, by sight and by reputation, and after a long moment when the bottom drops out of her stomach and all she can hear is roaring in her ears, she gets a hold of herself and opens the door to Senator Henry McCoy (D-NY) and Father Kurt Wagner.
“Ms. Lehnsherr,” Senator McCoy says, in English; she assumes they’ve looked up that she can speak the language, since German is Father Wagner’s native tongue. “Good evening. My name is Hank McCoy, and this is Father Kurt Wagner. Could we come in?”
Anya swallows, and it occurs to her that she’s about to become one of the few people in the mutant rights activist and allies community who can legitimately say that she knows someone who was offered a position at the Xavier Institute. There’s many who claim to know someone who knows someone who was recruited, but few who can point to the Institute’s website and pick out a family member in the promotional photos.
She’s always known that the twins were powerful mutants; with their parentage, she’d more or less expected as much from the time they were born, when Anya was nine. It’s no surprise to see two of the Institute’s more famous community members on her doorstep, but now that the moment’s here it is just as painful as she’s always known it would be. And if there’s one thing she’s learned, it’s that anticipating pain doesn’t lessen its weight when it comes.
“Of course,” she says, and opens the door wide so that they can enter.
Chapter 4: [a musical interlude]
Available now, the X-Men: Reunion soundtrack!
X-Men: Reunion OST (Songs from a Movie)
1. Peace Is Just A Word - Eurythmics
Stop the world, just shut it down
There's no point in it spinning around
Let me tell you that peace is just a word
It's just a word
2. Good Intentions Paving Co. - Joanna Newsom
And I regret, I regret
How I said to you, honey, just open your heart
When I’ve got trouble even opening a honey jar
And that, right there, is where we are
3. Til The World Ends - Britney Spears
If you feel it, let it happen
Keep on dancing til the world ends
4. Love Love - Take That
Why don't you teach your heart to talk?
And give you love, love (give you love, love)
And give it all away?
Give me, give me what I need
5. Emptry Room - Arcade Fire
I’m alone again
Toute ma vie est avec toi
Moi j’attends, toi tu pars
6. Blindness - Metric
What it is and where it stops, nobody knows
You gave me a life I never chose
I wanna leave but the world won't let me go
7. Sunday - Hurts
Maybe we'll see that we were wrong
If ever we look back one day
Until you come back where you belong,
It's just another lonely Sunday
8. Enough To Go By - Vienna Teng
Would it be enough to live on,
If my love could keep you alive?
9. Violent Past - Low
All I can do is fight,
Even if I know you're right
All you can do is hide
God bless the darkness of the night
Maybe it's the violent past
10. Only If For A Night - Florence and The Machine
It was all so strange, and so surreal
That a ghost should be so practical
Only if for a night
11. Death Is The Road to Awe - Clint Mansell
12. You're My Only Home - The Magnetic Fields
I will stay if you let me stay
And I'll go if you let me go
But I won't go far away
Because you're my only home
13. Hatchet - Low
So you be my Mary Anne and I'll be your Yoko
And let's bury the hatchet
Like the Beatles, the Beatles and the Stones
14. No Light, No Light - Florence and The Machine
A revelation in the light of day:
You can't choose what stays and what fades away
15. The Height of Summer - The Knife
How is Charles?
I haven't heard from him for a long, long time
A thousand years seem to pass so quickly
16. Twilight Galaxy - Metric
I'm all right, come on baby
I've seen all the demons that you've got
If you're not all right, now come on baby
I'll pick you up and take, take you where you want
Anywhere you want…
Anything you want
17. Underneath The Sycamore - Death Cab for Cutie
I know you've got a vengeful heart
And I cannot be stopped soon as I start
But you have seen your darkest rooms
And I have slept in makeshift tombs
This is where we find our peace
This is where we are released
18. The Beginning After the End - Stars
Will we wake in the morning and know what it was for,
Up in our bedroom, after the war?