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Hakuna Mutanta

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"Kid." Logan just won't quit with that, will he? Quentin is twenty now. He's an adult. Not to mention he's been the avatar for the Phoenix for just over two years now - and successfully. He's had no issues with it since his first couple of months. He's in complete control. He is in no way a kid now... Even if he hasn't grown out of his signature tacky haircut and colour, and only altered his clothing style by adding a few flame motifs to some key clothing items.

"Kid, follow." Still, Logan gestures with a slight flick of his hand as he passes the class Quentin has just finished up teaching. Frowning, Quentin reluctantly obeys the command trailing up the corridor after the older man.

"Alright, big guy. What's with the ominous orders?" He sighs with an eye roll that hasn't changed since he was sixteen.

"Just shut up and pay attention for once, Quire." Logan attempts to cover the growl in his words, though he barely succeeds. He cares about Quentin - that's obvious to anyone who knows them - but that doesn't mean the telepath isn't still one of the most infuriating assholes Wolverine has ever met. "I need to talk to you. Important stuff." He grumbles with a flippant hand gesture as he leads Quentin up the stairs towards the exit to the roof.

"Is it about the Phoenix? Because you really don't need to-" Quentin abandons his protests when they pass Evan (AKA brand new secret boyfriend after Quentin had finally gathered the balls to make a move on him last week) on their current staircase. He instead chooses to flick his eyes over his boyfriend's figure and offer him a flirty smirk. Evan, of course, blushes and hurries past them.

'Looking good today, Sabahnur.' Quentin projects, looking back to see Evan turning the corner out of sight at the base of the stairwell.

'Out of my head, Quentin.' Evan's thoughts sing back immediately, causing Quentin's smirk to grow, before he returns his attention to the headmaster still climbing the stairs in front of him.

"It ain't." Logan states gruffly and suddenly.

"Huh?" Quentin prompts, taking a few steps two at a time in an attempt to catch up.

"I ain't bringing you up here to talk about that damn bird." Quentin can almost hear the eye roll in the words - Logan's history with the Phoenix isn't great. Quentin knows that.

"So... Talk." Quentin pushes as Logan shoves the metal door and they exit out onto the roof. The sun is hot and bright, but low in the sky. It's calming. Peaceful.

He drops to sit on the roof with a sigh, causing Quentin to raise an eyebrow.

"Si' down, kid." He commands gently, and Quentin actually surprises himself by obeying. But he just gets the feeling from Logan's straying thoughts and feelings that he's anxious about this. And, despite never admitting it to anyone ever, when they're alone, Quentin doesn't mind showing that he doesn't 100% hate Wolverine.

"What's up?" He asks semi-politely, shifting on the hard roof to get comfortable.

"We ain't got time to beat around this, so I'll just come out and say it." Logan begins firmly, looking out over the grounds of his school, and now Quentin is inwardly worried. What's wrong? Is he okay? "I want you to take over as headmaster when I can't do it myself."

Quentin blinks across at him in silence, his expression blank. He doesn't know what to say. It's weird. He always knows what to say usually. Not now, though.

"I know it's big, kid. And I know you'll say like you don't care about keeping this school alive. But we both know that's a lie. If you really hated this place, you woulda left after you graduated. There's no way you woulda got to teaching seven classes a week for these kids."

Quentin wants to argue but he doesn't know how. It's all true, of course. This school is the most important thing in his life. Which is why Logan's proposition hits him so hard.

"But-" he starts, soon having to take a breath and re-evaluate his chosen words in his mind. "But Daken is-"

"Daken is my son, yeah. And maybe he'd do better in the spot than you. Yes, he's more experienced than you. And yes, he's been so good for us the past three years. But he struggles to understand the kids. And his past still comes back to bite him in the ass. We can't get the kids caught up in that."

Daken came to the school three years ago, seeking rehabilitation and safety, or so he said. But he causes little trouble, really. And with the untimely Mist-related deaths of so many X-Men in the recent years, he's been a brilliant and much needed asset to the dwindling team. And he's on the border of being trusted now. He's practically the leader of the X-Men alongside Quentin himself. But still, the way he fights, the way he disappears for a few days here and there, and the strange way he watches Quentin, give so many of the senior X-Men enough reason not to trust him entirely...

"Quentin, you're ready for this." Logan reassures the younger mutant carefully, using his first name as he only does so rarely. "These past two years, the Phoenix has really helped you grow the hell up. You can really help these kids."

Quentin is still close to speechless. He doesn't think he's ready. He's not. He can't be. He'd be responsible for so many kids. And with the Mists claiming so many mutants... It's a frightening task.

He sighs and turns his face away, looking down at the vines that have twisted their way up to and across the roof to weave carefully beside them. Krakoa always strives for Quentin's attention. The telepath trails fingertips over the plantation at the thought. It makes sense for him to be headmaster, he supposes, even the school grounds want him to be.

"Don't worry, Quire. You got Evan to help you. And Laura and Keller. Daken can cover strategies for the X-Men until you settle into the position." Logan seems to really have planned this all out. It's strange. But it makes Quentin feel a slight bit less nauseous about the possible pressure in his future.

"Thanks." He murmurs, looking down at his feet. "Really. Thank you."

"It's weird when you're not being a pain in my ass, y'know, kid." Logan smirks pushing up to stand. "It's nice."

"Logan, wait!" Quentin stumbles clumsily to his feet and takes the other mutant's shoulder. His voice drops as he carefully asks, "You really think I can do this?"

"I know you can." Logan promises, offering the telepath a small, confident smile. "You'll be fine."

Quentin nods slightly, flames lining his eyes, showing his heightened emotions. They're harmless, of course. Just as his blue aura would show when he was emotional before, the Phoenix flames naturally took its place when he acquired the Force.

"C'mon, kid. Keller's phys-ed class is about to begin and I sure as hell ain't trusting him after last week's 'Mutant Lacrosse' incident."

Chapter Text

"Logan..." Quentin yawns, sat on the headmaster's desk, leaning back on his hands and focusing on the door.

"Get off my desk." Logan immediately responds, narrowing his eyes at the back of Quentin's head.

"Seriously..." Quentin starts, not actually continuing past that, but very much too far in his own thoughts to hear Logan's command.

"Ain't talking 'til your ass is off my desk, kid." Logan growls, leaning back in his chair slightly.

"Do you think they'll hate me for this?" Quentin allows a small hint of vulnerability into the words. It causes Logan to furrow his brow, a little surprised Quentin would expose his worry for what his teammates think.

"No, Quire. They won't. They can't. It ain't your decision." Logan replies professionally now, all the respectable, supportive headmaster.

"Are you sure? 'Cause most of them don't particularly like me already." Quentin sighs and drops his head, watching how his legs swing as they dangle off the desk.

"They respect you, kid. You'll be fine." Logan promises kindly, before adding another "Now, get the hell off my desk" to lighten the mood.

It works. Because Quentin immediately turns back with a small smirk, obviously forcing his insecurities away.

"Soon to be my desk," he points out matter-of-factly.

"If you don't stop being such a pain in my ass, I might change my mind." Logan smirks, although of course it's not true. Quentin's infuriating, irritating manner is one of the main reasons that he's like a son to the headmaster.

There's a series of light, polite knocks on the door that Quentin would recognize the pattern of even without immediately sensing the telepathic signature that accompanies them.

"Come in, Evan." Wolverine summons, recognizing the shyness in the knocks as easily as Quentin.

Evan enters quietly, easing the door shut behind him. "Hi, Headmaster. You said you wanted to see me?"

He looks perfect, Quentin notes. Distractingly perfect. Loose t-shirt, track pants that hang low on his hips, still slightly sweaty from his usual early morning run that he'd left Quentin in bed to go on a couple of hours back. Quentin bites his lip at the thought. He loves waking up in Evan's bed.

"Yeah, well, you and the team. Where the hell are they?" Logan grumbles lowly, as Evan moves over to stand behind his secret-boyfriend, resisting pressing a kiss to his cheek.

"Daken was styling his hair when I passed his room." Evan informs politely, still obviously not entirely comfortable with having Daken on their team.

As if on cue, Daken's yells echo up the corridor outside. Logan has his head in his hands almost immediately. Sighing, he mumbles something about 'damn kids' before looking up just as the door smashes open, and a very mussed looking Julian Keller stumbles in wearing no more than his boxers.

"Can you put your kid on a leash?!" He hisses, before Daken is in the room, on him, and shoving him up against the wall.

Megan teleports in in that moments, excitably squealing something about "-have to help! Daken found Jules and Laura- Oh. They're already here. Cool. Never mind." She grins and takes a seat to watch the show.

"I will tear you apart, pretty boy! Don't you think I won't!" Daken is growling, forearm pressed across Julian's neck.

Suddenly, he is being nudged backward, away from the telekinetic as Mercury forms between them.

"Please don't kill my best friend." Cessily sighs, her expression empathetic. "We all want to sometimes, but please. Restraint."

"Yes, brother." Laura speaks up with a smirk from where she leans against the doorframe in no more than her underwear and Julian's old Xavier Institute shirt. "If you 'tear Hellion apart' who am I supposed to continue my exploration into sexual activities and coitus with?" She's teasing, obviously. But it still makes everyone cringe, and provokes an audible 'ew' from Megan.

The slightly awkward silence breaks with an 'oof!' and a pained groaned from Julian that follows Daken's punch to the gut.

"Okay, he deserved that." Cessily deems this fair from where she now stands, shrugging beside them.

Logan has to suppress a moan at the sight. This is his team. This is what he managed to scrape together. And they're a mess. When they're not secretly screwing, they're beating the shit out of each other. They're immature, inexperienced and not ready for this in the slightest. But, he supposes, when they do work together, they really work. And their powers do make them a formidable unit. Good-guy Apocalypse, an Omega-Level Phoenix host, demon magic teleporter, two baby Wolverines (one with pheromone manipulation), an extremely skilled shapeshifter, and one of the most powerful telekinetics to ever live. They're good... When they get along... Which is rarely.

He looks up at Quentin, who's already rolling his eyes and sighing a very Logan-esque sigh.

"Good morning, Satan- I mean Daken." Quentin teases with a sarcastic smile, provoking a low growl from the other male. "Still as happy as ever, I see."

"Stop talking, Quire." Daken snarls, dropping into one of the seats in front of the desk like an overly smooth but hilariously stroppy teenager.

Quentin is vaguely aware of Evan stepping closer to him. He never quite knows if this is a protective thing, or if it's a safety thing. It happens a lot when Daken's around - Evan being as close to Quentin as possible. Quentin originally assumed it was due to Evan past with the older man, that he was frightened. But now... Now Quentin thinks maybe it's Quentin's safety Evan's concerned for instead.

"Nice o' you all to turn up. Finally." Logan grumbles sarcastically, eyes flitting across the oh-so-very tedious paperwork scattered over his desk that he just knows he'll have to deal with once this meeting is over. He misses Ororo - she was always better at this stuff.

"Can you get on with whatever you need to say so I can - oh, I dunno - put some clothes on?!" Julian snaps from the back of the room, arms crossed firmly over his bare chest, lower lip pushed out to communicate just how done he was with this morning.

Logan shoots him a quick look, developed purely for him. "You kids all know my days are pretty numbered now. I ain't gon' live forever, you all know that." He starts. It's almost ironic, really. That the one person they'd all grown up viewing as totally immortal is discussing his death with them. "And there aren't many senior X-Men left to take on the school when I'm done. You kids are my team. You're the best the X-Men have, you know that?"

There's an odd air of guilt around the room as everyone feels a little bad about the chaos caused just minutes ago. They are the best the X-Men have. Why can't they act like it?

"I gotta get one of you ready to look after this place - my students - when I'm done." He pauses for a moment for no particular reason. "And - I'm pretty sure it's 'cause I'm losing my mind - but I chose Quire."

The room is filled with mixed reactions. Megan claps quickly with an excitable 'ooooh'; Cessily offers a fond smile; Julian rolls his eyes and forces a sigh; Laura simply nods professionally; Daken narrows his eyes in a slightly unsettling manner, and Evan grins as bright as Quentin has ever seen him before. Quentin can feel the excitable, giddy energy radiating from him, and it almost causes the telepath to laugh out loud.

"Daken, you'll be taking over strategy and planning, initially, alongside Laura, when she ain't on her solo work." Logan continues, meeting his son’s eyes.

"Of course, daddy." Daken hisses with a sarcastic smile.

Everyone is a little unsettled until Logan speaks up again, "I just wanted you kids to know before it might happen. But ya all have classes to teach now, so get outta my office and I'll see ya in training later."

Each team member filters out with mumbled goodbyes and careless throw away comments about the last ten minutes. Quentin is last to leave, following Daken from the room.

"Daken! Wait!" He calls, resisting taking the other mutant's arm. Daken turns back in an instant, expression impatient.

"What do you want, pinkie pie?"

Quentin clears his throat. "I just wanted to check you were okay with this. That you were happy to let me have this...?"

There's a pause when Daken blinks at Quentin silently. "Yes, well. Forgive me for not jumping for joy - bad back, you know."

Quentin rolls his eyes at the snarky, immature response. "D, c'mon! You know it's just because he sees how you're more valuable in the field."

"Thanks, Quire. I will bear that in mind." Daken repeats Quentin's eye roll back to him, before turning away. "See you in training, kid."

And Quentin is left in the corridor blinking blankly in complete and utter bemusement.

People are weird.

Chapter Text

Fire licks at his brain... As it does every night. The heat surrounding him from every angle, clutching at his breath. But no. No, this is different. Because this isn't the smouldering, suffocating burning he's used to, pushing down on his chest. This is sharp, yet seemingly distant, stabs of heat and danger all over his body.

And that's what makes him realize.

It's not just the Phoenix this time.

His room is on fire.

His eyes are open and he's upright in a second, the protective bubble the Phoenix surrounds him in slipping for a moment, allowing the ashy air into his mouth. He coughs and splutters away that mouthful of smoke, and wades through the flames, his mind slowly coming to.

But now he can hear it, the screaming, the panic. Oh god, the kids. The team. Evan.

He doesn't know how long he's been asleep, or how he managed to sleep through the chaos, because the fire isn't just in the teachers' quarters. As he runs desperately down the corridor, he's hit with more and more of the students' terrified thoughts.

He reaches out to the team, and sends the message that they confirm their safety as soon as possible, and flies up the stairs towards the nearest cluster of mental terror he hears. He kicks open the first door he comes to and is met with a startled squeal from a group of students hiding inside. They're pressed against the window of the room, obviously considering the jump or trying to get the attention of someone outside to avoid that option. Their eyes are wide and terrified, and it's only in that moment that Quentin remembers that oh yeah, he's the Phoenix. He's covered in fire. The thing these kids are trying to avoid. He resolves not to concentrate himself on suppressing the Phoenix flames, as he usually would, because he needs all his focus on protecting his students.

"Hey guys, it's okay, it's just me." He calls out to them over the concerning creaks of the warping building. He telekinetically smashes the window outwards. "I'm gonna get you down, don't worry."

The young mutants relax a little in Quentin's prescience and he works on telekinetically guiding them safely out of the window and down to the ground. He can only manage one at a time with his limited TK, but he does it.

He takes a breather when he watches Laura emerge from the building below him, shepherding the kids away from the school.

'Krakoa...' He reaches out telepathically, and cringes when he feels the pain rush back to him in response. 'I know, buddy. I'm sorry. Just, please, keep the kids safe?'

He watches through the empty window frame as the ground ripples and a small embankment forms between his location and the cluster of panic he sees and feels in the distance.

'Q! Where are you?!' Evan's panicked thoughts push into his head, so forcefully that it almost hurts, but it only makes him smile.

'I'm in dorm F. I was just making sure everyone was out. I can't sense anybody else - have you got everybody with you?' He projects back, probably too calmly, and heads back towards the stairwell to see what he can do about these flames. He's the fucking Phoenix. He must be able to absorb a little fire.

'The students are all accounted for, and the team are all here looking after them,' Evan rushes his thoughts, and the wave of worry he projects stops Quentin in his tracks. 'But Logan's not come out yet!'

'What?' In a second, Quentin is jumping the banister and landing heavily in the flames of the ground floor.

'Daken's gone back in to find him, but- I-' Evan's thoughts are frantic and stressed, 'Quentin, I can't sense him telepathically.'

"No." Quentin whispers aloud, because Evan is right; Logan's telepathic signature is nowhere. He can't feel anything, but he knows he's running. He can't even tell if his feet are touching the floor with every step but he's moving faster through the fire than he ever thought he could move.

And then he's at Logan's room, the door almost entirely destroyed by the flames. He darts past it and struggles to see the other man through the smoke, but he's there. In bed still.

Quentin's heart skips a beat.

He still can't find a signature.

He screams and throws out his arms - commanding the flames, the heat, the smoke to all come to him. It does. It feels like it could tear him apart as each tendril of fire seeps through his fingertips.

He feels Daken push past him and take his father's side, and feels mildly comforted, making the task slightly easier.

He yells out once more, as he claws the farthest flames to him. Taking ever searing, slicing sensation. And then everything it too cold, and too dark, and much too quiet.

He forces his heavy eyes open to the sight of the blackened, charred interior of the room, lit only by the permanent halo of flames the Phoenix affords him.

"Quentin..." Daken's intense, blue eyes break through the dullness from where he kneels beside the bed. "What did you do?"

"I- I- This wasn't me, I-" Quentin tries to respond, but he can't speak. Because Logan's not moving. Or breathing. Or thinking. "No... No, no, no. Please..."

"He's gone." Daken snarls grimly, head bowed, causing Quentin to fall down beside him and clutch desperately at Logan's hand.

"No... Please... You can't go..." He cries weakly, quietly. Barely more than a whisper.

"You killed him." The words hit Quentin a second after Daken says them and he draws back, panicked and hurt.

"This wasn't me!" He yells, the tears heating on his cheeks. "I didn't start this! I swear! This wasn't me, Daken! It wasn't!"

Daken pushes back to stand over him, shadows casting terrifying shapes in his expression. "How else would it spread so quickly? And why else would your mind be so unreachable? Evan tried to connect with you and it was blank! We needed your help!"

"No! There has to be another explanation! I can't- I didn't do this to him! Please!" Quentin slouches even lower where he kneels.

"It started in the teachers' quarters, Phoenix! How else would you explain it?!" Daken yells. And then there's silence. And it all seems to make sense.

Quentin's gaze drops a little and he stares forwards, at nothing, attempting to catch his breath. He chokes on a silent sob. This was all his fault. He killed the closest thing he had to a father.

He looks up to Daken with pleading eyes, submissive and small and so flicking hurt. "What do I do?"

"Go." Daken orders, fast and harsh. "Leave before you can hurt anyone else."

Quentin's pulls back, as if he thought he had any other choice. "I didn't want this! It was an accident! I swear..."

"Of course, Phoenix." Daken's tone is still curt and strong, but now with an odd air of comparison. Sickly sweet and painful. "You would never want this to happen..." His eyes connect sharply with Quentin'a again. "But you are the Phoenix. And you have killed my father. And none of us really know what you'll do next..."

Quentin opens his mouth to argue? Apologize? Cry? Scream? He glances at Logan's body again, before screwing his eyes shut in excruciating pain. And all he can think about is Evan. And the students. And whoever else might come next if he fucks up again.

"Leave, Quentin." Daken repeats lowly. "Leave, and never come back here."

Quentin takes a breath and stands. "I'm sorry," he gasps, "tell them all, I'm so sorry."

And then he flies from the room in a flash of flame.

-----

Daken pauses for a moment, watching the door, before spinning back to look over his father's body. He lifts a leg to nudge Logan's lump hand with his boot slightly, and takes out his cell. Lifting it to his ear, he clears his throat of the raspiness still left behind by the smoke.

"He's all yours." He announces proudly into the phone, looking over the body beside him.

"Kill him."

Chapter Text

He's exhausted by the time he stops running. He doesn't even know where he is, but he's far enough away that he can't hear Evan's desperate thoughts reaching out to him anymore. So that's good, he decides. Because he really, seriously, cannot let Evan find him. No way. He can't put him, or the kids, in danger again.

He killed Logan... Wolverine. Fucking Wolverine! One of the most indestructible X-Men. And one of the most important people in his life. How can he ever guarantee anyone's safety now? He obviously doesn't know the Phoenix as well as he thought he did.

He slumps against the brick in the dark alleyway he's found himself in and looks up at the stars.

"I'm sorry, Logan." He mutters breathlessly, his voice weak and coarse. "I'm so fucking sorry."

"Alright, alright. Apology accepted." Quentin's head snaps up at the snarky tone, concerned by the fact he didn't sense a telepathic signature before hearing the voice... And the fact he still can't sense one now...

He pushes up from the wall and swings a psionic shotgun into existence. The weapon is all flame and ember since the Phoenix, but is underlined with the blue of Quentin's aura, still.

"I mean, an apology doesn't really make up for the whole, y'know, 'dead dad' thing, but eh..." The figure comes further up the alley, into the dull street lighting that vaguely illuminates the area. The red hair is what hits Quentin first. Then the shorter, stubby-er claws - three from each fist. And, somehow, it's only after these things that Quentin really notices the blue skin.

Quentin sighs and looks to the ground but keeps firm control over his psionic firearm. "Raze, what are you doing here?"

Raze just laughs, and the noise goes right through Quentin. It's unnerving, maybe because Quentin still can't get into Raze's head. It's all just white noise...

"News travels fast, Phoenix. Fire at the Xavier Institute. Wolverine confirmed fatality. Phoenix is still missing. I can connect the dots." If Raze is supposed to be faking grief here, he's doing a pretty shit job of it. His tongue darts out to lick at his lips past a fanged smirk.

"Fuck off, Raze!" Quentin snaps suddenly, genuine, paralyzing grief actually coursing through him. Logan was more of a father to him than he was to half his genetic kids.

"No, no, no, pretty bird." Raze whispers, stepping up to him and - claws still out - strokes his fingers through Quentin's hair. "I'm on clean-up duty tonight."

Quentin barely has a moment to consider these words before Raze is stabbing three claws into his left shoulder and using the force to push him back against the wall. Quentin yells out in pain, Phoenix flames rippling out around him, and reflexively throws Raze back telekinetically.

"I fucking hate telepaths!" Raze growls, back on Quentin's flaming figure in a second.

"I noticed." Quentin snarls in response, referencing the fact that Raze obviously has some sort of inhibitor.

"Wouldn't wanna make it too easy for you, would I?" Raze smirks, sending a fist - complete with stubby claws - at Quentin's face.

Quentin opens his eyes from his involuntary wince at the action, to find that, yes, his TK has been quick enough and Raze claws are stopped barely an inch from his face. He releases a quick breath of relief, and ducks out of the way, just as Raze swings his free fist around and the claws just catch Quentin's abdomen. Quentin gasps out and clutches his side, glancing back up at Raze for a second just as the other mutant lunges for him. He telekinetically knocks him aside.

There's been too much bloodshed tonight, Quentin surmises. He really doesn't want to kill Raze. He needs to get to that inhibitor... His mind lights up for a second when he notices a small piece of white plastic in Raze's ear... That has to be it.

Focusing his wrecked mind for a moment, he channels all his TK energy into feeling the shape and fittings of the earpiece. There's a split second of consideration, before Quentin finds the right angle to remove the piece without damaging Raze's brain and pulls...

There's a shout of pain, but it's not Raze's... But his own. In the second that he had removed the inhibitor, Raze had been on him and forcing short claws into his gut. He gasps out and - before he can allow himself to do anything else - telepathically shocks Raze unconscious. Raze drops to the ground, and his claws hurt more coming out than they did going in, as Quentin's abdomen is torn more. But he has to get away. Now. He snatches up the implant and drags himself as many blocks as he can manage. He assists himself by telekinetically putting pressure on his wounds and using his telepathy to numb his pain.

Stumbling to a stop against a large, brightly lit building, he falls against the wall. With one look at the inhibitor implant, he can already feel the resistance from the Phoenix. But he ignores her. This is her fault. He has to do this. He has to keep Evan, the team and the students safe. This is the only way. They can't find him. He won't let them.

Arms too weak to lift, he telekinetically lifts the inhibitor to his left ear, closes his eyes and swallows hard...

The pain is more intense than he ever could've imagined it could be from just an inhibitor. Physically, it's invasive and he has to force his mind away from the fact he's pushing something into his head - close to his brain - that he knows very little about. But worse than that is the mental pain. The Phoenix can obviously sense that her power source is being subdued here and she's fighting him, turning his own telepathy on him. It's like some kind of psychic warfare in his mind. But he needs to do this. He needs to keep everyone safe. That's his job... It burns, and it aches and he's yelling and crying, and he knows he has to carry on and-

And then it stops. And there's silence. For the first time since his mutation manifested. Complete, total silence.

And with this realization also comes the immense dizziness from the blood loss.

Suddenly, he's out.

Chapter Text

"This is a really stupid idea. Let me log that I warned you of that, right now."

"Oh, shut up, darkness."

"No! He's an X-Man! I heard on the news he's presumed dead! You don't think they're gonna be checking up on that with cerebra?!"

"What was I supposed to do? Leave him to bleed out on the pavement?"

The voices are too loud, and the lights are too bright through Quentin's closed eyelids.

"That's exactly your problem, Foley! You get into all this fucking trouble because you can't control your damn hero complex!"

"It's not a hero complex, it's called being a compassionate-"

Quentin's groan of discomfort severs the conversation around him. He blinks his eyes open, but it hurts. His head is aching like somebody whacked him with something large and heavy. It takes him a second to make sense of his surroundings. He's in a bedroom. Yes. Definitely. The sheets and duvet below and around him are the most pristine white, the same as the open curtains, surrounding the window on the wall to his left, that reveal the cityscape bathed in rising sun. He must be on at least the fourth floor of whatever building he's in. Still attempting to calm his stressing mind, he chooses to ground himself by noting five things he can see from his location.

One.

A small CD player that looks like it's from the early 00's on the nightstand on his left, with a stack of CDs beside it.

Two.

Fluffy, white towels hanging from a wooden rack near the opposite end of the room.

Three.

A stack of neatly rolled yoga matts beside the wooden rack. There's five altogether. Sky blue.

Four.

A curious painting hanging on the wall opposite the window, showing a silhouetted figure with seven coloured circles down its body. Chakras. Quentin can work that one out.

Five.

A classic style alarm clock on the second nightstand, to his right, complete with bells on the top. The little gold hands on the otherwise entirely white clock point to around five thirty-seven.

Feeling calmer in his surroundings, he finally looks up to the two other men in the room, stood in the doorway, not needing telepathy to recognize one of them. This is really awkward.

"Elixir. You're still alive…" Is the dumb first thing that his mouth decides to run with.

"Kid Omega. So are you." The pretty, blond boy responds, throwing up two golden hands and flicking eyes up to the ceiling in false modesty. "Thanks to somebody."

Quentin inwardly shudders. It's been years since somebody's called him that. Though it's kind of nice to not immediately be linked with the Phoenix...

"Sorry, just..." Quentin closes his eyes for a moment to compose himself and sits up on the bed. His body still aches intensely. "Can you take me through what happened? Like... Why the hell I'm here? And where 'here' is?"

"Don't worry. You're definitely not the first confused person to wake up in Josh's bed." The seemingly permanently frustrated-looking boy beside Elixir speaks up with an eye roll. He wears all black; a turtle neck and skinny jeans, and his pale face is framed by shaggy brown hair. He turns and leaves the room before either of them can respond to his face.

"Don't be so jealous, gothica!" Josh calls back, before returning his attention to Quentin. "We're in south Queens, first of all. I found you in the alley next to our complex a couple of hours back. You had some holes in you. Like... A lot. So, I healed you and brought you home to rest up."

Quentin runs his fingertips over his - apparently bare - torso, where he remembers Raze's claws piercing his skin. Nothing. Just clean, pale skin.

"Fuck..." He whispers, looking down at his body.

"Here," Josh hands him a glass of water and a pill from the nightstand, "it'll help with that headache I keep picking up on."

Quentin looks from the pill to Josh, and back again, and raises an eyebrow.

"Hey! That thing is persistent and doesn't have a source I can just heal. And I sure as hell am not gonna be your personal painkiller every time you want it!" Josh explains, as if that was totally obvious.

Quentin takes the pill.

"It's the inhibitor. I need it." Quentin finds himself explaining between sips of water. "Limits telepathy."

"Yeah, I noticed. I'm not judging." Josh shrugs, moving across the room to a small wardrobe. He pours through neat little shelves of clothing in silence for a moment. Turning back, he tosses some items onto the bed before gesturing to a door beside the one he was previously stood in. "Take a shower and get dressed. Clean body, clean mind. We'll be in the kitchen if you need anything."

And then he's gone, and the silence is back.

It's strange, Quentin thinks, a world without telepathy. He doesn't like it, but he knows he'll have to get used to it. Standing from the bed, he walks round to look out the window. The streets are busy, considering it's not even 6am, but he can't hear a single thought. Not one. It's concerning.

Leaning on the windowsill, his fingers brush a small wooden photo frame. There are three dotted along the sill.

The one in the centre shows Josh with his arms around Noriko Ashida and David Alleyne. They all wear matching yellow and white outfits and are smiling brightly. It's easy for Quentin to determine this must've been from the 'training squad era' some of his teammates have spoken about.

On the right is a photo that must be pretty old considering Josh doesn't even appear to have gold skin - just a pretty teen with blond hair and bright blue eyes. He has his right hand on Julian Keller's shoulder, his left balancing a basketball on his hip. Quentin regards Julian's mid-laugh expression with a sense of familiarity. Hellion was probably the team member he outwardly clashed with most, but Quentin can't help feeling a sense of hope in that moment. Julian is strong. He'll look after everyone. He shakes the thought from his mind...

To the far left is a selfie-style photograph of Josh with Laura, which is obviously the most recent, going by the silver-grey of Josh's hair and eyes. Laura looks curious and maybe mildly confused, it's familiar... And Quentin is struck by a huge wave of guilt. Laura. He hadn't even thought about what this could do to her. He hadn't just taken Daken's father... But Laura's too! He feels the panic and bile rise in his throat.

And then he's running through the door to the en suite because he's gonna throw up.

-----

"Okay, hear me out though." Josh's voice is cautious but serious as it drifts through the apartment. "Breakfast can help you maintain focus and physical energy throughout the day."

Quentin steps carefully through the large living space he finds outside of Josh's room. It's wide and light - windows lining all one wall - with just a three-seater, white pleather sofa and a large TV on a dark metal cabinet... And four other stacks of yoga matts dotted about.

"I'm just not hungry in the morning, okay?!" An overly irritated voice snaps back, just as Quentin rounds the corner of the open plan layout into a tidy looking kitchen.

Josh looks up from the mug in his hands and smiles from where he leans back against the sparkly, black marble worktop. He's wearing nothing but white track suit pants.

"Awesome, you're not dead!" He says far too seriously.

"...not quite." Quentin comments, taking a seat at the breakfast bar opposite the mopey boy from earlier. "Thanks... For helping me. You didn't need to." You should've left me to die. His mind echoes. He ignores it.

"Meh." Josh waves a hand flippantly.

"Josh enjoys helping the helpless." The snarky brunette mumbles into his coffee cup as he tips it up.

"Yeah, well, thanks." Quentin repeats awkwardly, "and for the clothes... Although, I'm not big on tank tops..."

He feels himself genuinely blushing in discomfort at how much of his thin frame shows in Josh's clothes.

"Well, it was that or Kevin's long sleeves in the height of summer. So, I thought I'd spare you the danger of heatstroke." Josh shrugs carelessly, plucking a grape off the vine in the bowl balancing in his hand, and tossing it into his mouth.

"Wait..." Quentin furrows his brows at the brunette across from him, connecting the dots. "Kevin Ford? Didn't you-"

"Yes, I died." Kevin speaks up with, yet another, eye roll. "In fact, sparkles here murdered me. But he decided to start making up for that by reviving me and letting me stay in his apartment rent free."

"And teaching you self-care!" Josh inputs unhelpfully, flicking a grape at Kevin's head.

"The X-Men still think you're dead." Quentin comments, extremely tactlessly.

"Yep. Because it's none of their business. We're none of your business."

"Basically," Josh cuts in. "The X-Men aren't a part of our lives now..." He pauses as he regards Quentin. "Well... Most of the time."

Quentin looks down at his hands. "I'm not an X-Man."

Josh and Kevin share a look, before turning it on Quentin. Josh holds sympathy in his expression and it makes Quentin turn his face away because sympathy is not what he needs.

"Hey... I don't know you that well..." Josh's voice is soft and cautious, his look of sympathy still firmly held on Quentin. "But... I mean... Do you wanna talk about what happened? Why you're hiding behind that inhibitor? It said on the news that the you're presumed dead..."

"I don't wanna talk about it." Quentin's eyes fall to the floor, and a shock of discomfort and pain runs through him at the reminder of the previous night.

"We wouldn't make you go back, that would be hypocritical as hell," Kevin speaks up, a mild sense of concern in his tone, "but don't you think you should let somebody know you're alright?"

"No." Quentin severs the conversation bluntly.

There's an awkward moment of silence, only made worse by the lack of thoughts from Quentin's dampened telepathy, before Kevin pushes a mug across the bar.

"Tea - lemon and ginger. Drink it. Josh says the ginger will help with the nausea." This makes Quentin look up at the other boys quizzically. Kevin shrugs. "Josh's bathroom backs into my room. You can't really mistake the sound of someone throwing up."

Quentin blushes and quickly takes up the mug to hide that reaction. He sips at it tentatively. It's warm, but not too hot, so it's easy enough to drink down at a steady pace. It feels good to have something nutritious in his body, and the distinct taste grounds his wild mind a little.

"So, what's your plan now?" Josh speaks up in a conversational manner.

"Hmm?" Quentin prompts, raising his eyebrows a little.

"Where are you heading? Any plans?" Josh elaborates, before tossing a grape in the air and catching it easily between his teeth.

"Not really," Quentin sighs, pushing a hand through his hair and looking down into his mug, "but I've got money, so I'm sure I can figure it out."

"You have money?" There's a curiosity in Josh's tone that somehow actually amuses Quentin for some reason. Especially when it's followed the way Kevin says his name in a warning manner, like attempt to train a disobedient puppy.

"Yeah?" Quentin looks up from his mug and shrugs nonchalantly. "I'm pretty well off."

Kevin must understand the way Josh's eyes widen better than Quentin does, because he repeats his warning, "Josh..."

"What?" Quentin frowns, looking between the other two boys.

"Well, you know how Kevin can't touch anyone or anything organic?" Josh starts, and there's the obvious tone of a sob story in that sentence.

"Yep. Hadn't forgot that, thanks." Kevin interjects with an eye roll.

"It kinda means he can't get a job. And most places don't like having visually different mutants working for them, so I have to make do with teaching yoga in the apartment five nights a week." Josh rubs the back of his neck, cheeks flushing a brighter gold. "And the mortgage on this place is kinda steep, and-"

"Are you asking me to move in with you, so you can pay off your mortgage?" Quentin cuts in bluntly, Josh's awkward, blushy begging feeling truly uncomfortable for him.

Josh bites his lip and throws him the puppy dog eyes, "Maybe?"

Quentin chooses to look to Kevin now, instead, as Josh is obviously just an excitably rash decision maker. Kevin just shrugs and returns his attention to his coffee.

With a sigh, Quentin considers the ludicrous offer. It's insane. It really is. He barely knows these kids, past the fact that they were at the school once. His heart skips a beat at the recollection of the photographs in Josh's bedroom - he can't risk living with someone if they're still in contact with Julian and Laura. But then he remembers Kevin's apparent existence, and the fact none of his team were seemingly aware of it. The boys were already X-fugitives in their own right... Maybe it wouldn't be so bad to stick around for a little while, whilst he made more solid plans…

"I mean, I guess I could sleep on the sofa for a few weeks or something..." He mumbles, still not sure about his answer.

"No way!" Josh exclaims cheerfully, laughing through the words. "We've got a little office space we can clean out for you in a few days. You can stay in Kevin's room until then!"

"Wait. What?" Kevin snaps up, slamming a hand on the table and turning back to Josh. "'The fuck, Foley?"

"It's only a couple of days, Kev. I'm not giving up the en suite; and I pay for this place, so I make the rules." Josh steps up behind Kevin, placing his hands either side of him on the table, boxing him in. Leaning around him, Josh pushes a dramatic kiss to Kevin's cheek. "We can be bed buddies!"

"Please never say that sentence ever again." Kevin warns grimly, pushing the memory of the kiss from his cheek in disgust. "You just wanna sleep next to someone 'cause of your damn touch kink."

"Lighten up, darkness. It's not a kink if it's my mutation!" Josh ruffles Kevin's hair (much to the brunette's obvious irritation), before turning his attention back to Quentin. "So, you in? I mean you'll have to deal with my lessons in the living room, and the threat of imminent death every time Kevin forgets to wear his gloves, but I'm sure you can handle it."

"I-- I guess?" Quentin replies hesitantly, raising an eyebrow. It's not like he has any better offers. "Thanks?"

"Anytime, roomie!" Josh shrugs with a grin, grabbing the whole grape vine from the bowl, before walking straight past Quentin and out of the room. With no warning. And no expansion on the previous, pretty important conversation.

"Is he always like that?" Quentin asks, almost entirely baffled by Josh Foley as a whole (he swears the kid wasn't this weird when he was younger). "Y'know, like, so..."

"-flippant and frustratingly positive?" Kevin finishes, as if he's thought over those descriptors a lot. He looks up at Quentin from his mug, expression one of utter defeat. "You have no idea."

"Kev?" Josh's yell from across the apartment triggers a tired groan from Kevin. "Where do you keep your underwear? I'm moving your essentials to my room and I don't want you running out of boxers!"

By the time Quentin returns his attention to Kevin, the brunette is out of his chair and storming across the room.

"Foley, I swear to god, if you touch my fucking underwear I'm gonna destroy you!"

The yells fade across the apartment, followed by a harshly slammed door and - yep - more yelling. Quentin notes in this moment that this might be exactly what he needs. Any second he's truly alone with his thoughts, it all comes back, and he just can't take thinking about it now... And the silence from his lack of telepathy makes it all worse. All the more intense and lonely. Maybe he needs people like Josh and Kevin stomping around him and yelling to help ground him... For now, at least, maybe this is a sensible choice.

"Oooooh! I didn't know you had any PVC boxers... Kinky!"

"Seriously, Foley! You fuckin'-"

Emphasis on the 'maybe', Quentin notes with an eye roll.