If only everyday could be just as lovely.

Written by: Nathan Pico
Beta reader: Noelle Pico

The boy opened his eyes and was blinded by the bright, white light. Where am I? Moments passed and his gaze grew accustomed to the glare. He recognized the ceiling, the lights, and the white paint of the walls in his peripheral vision. He was in the infirmary. But how did I get here?

His hearing came back to him slowly, as if fading in, with the blip-blipping of the ECG meter on his right, measuring what he surmised to be his rather slow heartbeat. More sound registered: voices.

Of familiar people.

“It was a good thing you two were awake. They could have—“

“Let’s not dwell on those things, Jean. Let’s just be happy they’re safe.”

“Still, this should never have happened, Cyke. Those kids never should’ve faced…” There was a pause, and the next word was said with disgust, “him.”

“I’m sorry, Wolverine, I’ll do a system check as soon as I can. I don’t understand how they had access to that training sequence.”

“We’ll find out as soon as one of them wakes up. Laura, are you sure you’re okay? You aren’t hurt anywhere?”

“I’m as tough as Logan here. I’ll be fine, Professor Grey.”

The rest of the conversation passed him by. It was just so hard to concentrate. His whole body hurt. From his fingers, to his toes, to his wings. It even hurt just to think. He shut his eyes and took a deep breath. All he remembered was hitting the ground, breaking his wing and screaming himself unconscious.

His wing!?

The boy sat up with a jump and his senses went on fire. He tried to scream but nothing came out. His vision blurred into a kaleidoscope of different colors both dull and bright. His only consolation was that he could feel both his wings were okay.

“Jay!” It was Professor Jean Grey’s voice. In a split second, he felt her beside him, her arms holding him in an embrace, and then he could feel nothing. He knew he was still awake, and he waited for what seemed like hours to pass, waited for his vision to clear again. For his senses to come back to him. And found a gaze so deep that you could lose yourself in them, staring back at him with the utmost concern.

“Easy there, Jay.” He heard her whisper to him with the voice of a mother, and her fingers ran through his hair reminding him of home. “You’re safe now.”

“You do the talking, Cyke.” He heard Logan’s gruff voice. Odd how of all their training supervisors, the man named Wolverine and the woman called Sage had always refused any of the titles that were due to them.

He wanted to laugh. Almost. This must be Professor Grey’s power at work. I can’t feel a lick of pain.

He heard the older man snort, and the trace of irritation that laced Wolverine’s words. “I might just blow a fuse.”

“Calm down, Logan.” The deep baritone that Jay recognized belonged to Scott Summers—no, that was Professor Scott Summers, or more colloquially known as Cyclops. He caught a brief glimpse of the man patting his disgruntled friend on the shoulder. “Maybe you should go to sleep too. I promise to tell you everything as soon as I find out what happened.”

“You do that, boy scout.” Wolverine gave a nudge of affirmation and headed for the door. “If anyone needs me I’ll be in the Danger Room for a good scrap.”

Had they done something wrong? The thought gripped Jay and made him feel sick to his stomach. Why was Wolverine so angry?

“It looks like something’s bothering him.” Jean looked to Scott as she continued to run her fingers through the boy’s hair.

“Something’s always bothering, Logan.” Came the chuckled reply. “But the computer generated him.”

“Yes.” Jean looked down and shut her eyes, and Jay couldn’t negate the feeling now that they’d done something very, very wrong. “Omega Red.”

The gaunt visage of the blonde mutant they had faced flashed through Jay Guthrie’s mind and a shiver ran down his spine. “It’s okay now.” Jean curled her fingers over his, a soothing action, one that Jay wished he could say now that he appreciated. “It’s over, Jay.” Her other hand brushed away the bangs from his forehead, the worry still there in her eyes.

That man was a monster.

* * *

Clouds. She smiled as she ‘caught’ a piece of one between her fingers and laughed inwardly as she dove straight into it, resurfacing on the other side, rejuvenated. Though at times she has afraid of her powers, these were precious moments when she was glad to have them: no inhibitions, no chains to hold her down, just the exhilarating freedom of willful flight.

She’d been up all night, soaring through the sky, through and above the clouds, allowing the wind to rush through her. Down below she watched the beautiful skyline of New York from a perspective that only she and several blessed others could ever witness: Its lights were enthralling and the quiet drone of all the mixed sounds below were a strange music to her ears.

It was around five in the morning by her watch and so, a bit hungry, she flew down as discreetly as she could to the coffee shop that she frequently visited in her spare time.

She didn’t quite feel like going home yet.

Landing in a nearby empty alley, she threw her hair back, running her fingers through it to straighten the slight (yet still fashionable, in her opinion) mess the wind had done to her brown locks. Her trademark white strand drooped down her face and she blew it away with a puff before proceeding out of the alleyway toward her destination.

The café was open twenty-four hours a day, the perfect get-away for those times between midnight and sunrise. People were few at this hour, allowing her a measure of privacy; and if ever there were other customers, they were either students pulling all-nighters or yuppies from the local call-centers that had just finished the graveyard shifts.

She smiled at the siren on the green logo as she pushed the glass door open, letting the cold air of the AC pass over her skin. Smiling at the familiar barista at the counter, she took her seat on the couches at the corner of the room where glass frames met the wall of the interior and waited for her order, which had been on the way as soon as she had entered. She was a regular and they treated her like a queen.

She smiled to herself as that same barista called over to her; a light tease about her arriving so early, right on cue, and an offer to fix her drink up with a little something special.

It was such a lovely feeling to be pampered; something that she missed from her childhood. As she settled in, her smile faded and she pursed her lips, bringing her knees up close to her chest, arms falling around them in a hug. For all the love she knew she received everyday of her life from her friends up at Westchester—no, not friends… they were family—sometimes, she just felt so alone.

She turned her eyes down to her gloved hands and her line of vision traced up her forearm, hidden under the long sleeve of her brown, leather jacket. Her gaze continued up where her shoulder was leaning on the glass, and she found herself face-to-face with her pale reflection on the glass surface of the window.

I love you,” she whispered, and as she touched her lips with her fingers the girl that looked back did the same; and after awhile, her attention moved to the scenery outside.

Across the street, a large bank waited patiently for morning and business to come. In the street in between the bank and the café, a few cars and buses drove by, scattering the littered cans and papers that were already being buffeted by the early morning breeze. It was going to be a windy day. Something she liked every once in awhile. It reminded her of strolls by the riverbank from where she was from.

The slightest movement from not too far off and something else had caught her eye. She hadn’t noticed him earlier, but a young man in a black coat sat at one of the tables outside. The wind blew about his hair, a black glazed brown, and the hem of his coat dangled off the chair, though he seemed not to care, engrossed as he was in the pocket book in his hands.

Squinting her eyes to get a better view, she was amused to find that text on the cover read Situationism in the New Century by Charles Francis Xavier.

Well ah’ll be. She leaned a fraction closer, as if by doing so would spark conversation despite the glass barrier and the fact that they were strangers. True enough, while she believed that there were lots of open-minded individuals in the world, she hadn’t expected to find one so close to home (in New York, city of so many bigots, at that), moreover one that was actually reading one of the Professor’s publications.

Her eyes traveled down to the smaller script beneath Charles Xavier’s name: Edited by Dr. Benigno Andres Delgado, and she found herself pausing, straining to remember where she’d heard it before. When the image, the place and the man finally clicked into place she couldn’t help but blink. It’s been so long since ah heard that name.

The boy’s gaze lifted from the book and locked with hers and she found herself mildly surprised. There was an odd, tense moment, wherein she spent her time captured by the young man’s deep, dark eyes, glimpsing in them so many things and nothing at all at the same time. Curious thing, ain’tcha? She couldn’t help but muse as she felt him exploring her eyes as well.

The moment was broken by a smile—his smile—a smile that was kind and genuine, and she blinked, returning one of her own.

The boy then went back to his book and her attention was taken away briefly when she noticed that her drink and cinnamon roll had already been brought to her table. Looking to the counter, she sent the barista a mouthed ‘thank you’ before she took a long cold sip of her White Chocolate Mocha.

If only everyday could be just as lovely.

A loud crash erupted from the bank across the street. Nothing seemed amiss till, after a few moments, another loud crash came.

She tensed all over, watching as guards of the bank raced up to the front doors and struggled with the keys. What was going on in there? She ripped her cinnamon roll in half and popped a piece into her mouth as casually as anyone else, though her toes hummed with anticipation. If her gut was anything right this fine, fine morning, she’d be on her feet soon enough.

But still nothing happened, and she ate the other half, eyes still focused on the bank’s front door. The guards had finally gotten it open, but as they were just about to go in, the tall doors ripped away from the rest of the structure with a loud crash and the guards were sent flying away and down the stairs.

As the dust and rubble cleared, a giant, overly-muscularly man in what looked like a grey rhino skin suit came into view.


Didn’t these overly enthusiastic buffed up criminals with mush for brains ever get tired of these cliché bank robberies?

In both hands he held two large grey sacks, which she surmised, could only be the stuff from the bank’s vault. And Lord no, if she could help it, was the brute getting away with any of it.

But as she stood up to take action, she noticed that the young man in the coat was already running up the steps of the bank’s stairs, the black coat billowing in the wind. What in blazes does he think he’s doin’!?

She ran out of the café’s doors just in time to see the boy stop in front of the giant rhino-man, his arms spread out as if in a gesture to stop him. Dumb kid. She thought as her fingers gripped the railing separating the sidewalk from the street, watching as Rhino let loose a laugh so cruel and hard before dropping one of his bags to swat the boy away with a huge forearm.

NO!” She screamed and looked on, stunned, as the force of the blow sent the boy flying into a wall on the opposite side of the street, where he slammed into a wall and fell limp onto the ground.

Civilian safety was always more important, the Professor had always taught them that. She flew over to the down boy as fast as she could, worried that his unmoving body might have meant he was—

But the boy got up, seemingly unscathed by the assault, and only paused to shake the stars out of his eyes. “You’re okay!?” She all but choked out, but the young man didn’t even bother responding as he charged at Rhino with a sudden burst of speed and strength that, to her, did not seem his own.

She watched and saw in the startled criminal’s face that he wasn’t expecting the boy to get up, much less retaliate, and definitely not with the force that hit him and took him off his feet. The boy had speared him from seven paces away, giving her the uncanny impression that the boy had flown. It reminded her of the force of a wrecking ball, but by the way things looked, it seemed like the boy had hit a whole lot harder.

Incredible. She thought with awe, and she then watched as the boy, on top of Rhino, proceeded to pound the villain’s face with his bare fists.

But something seemed terribly wrong. With every hit, Rhino seemed to weaken more and more, as if he was deflating right before her eyes, and the boy just seemed to be hitting harder and harder. If this kept up, Rhino was going to die…

And a gut feeling made the scene seem so alarmingly familiar.

In a flash, she was behind the boy, who tensed, startled to find himself in a masterly applied full nelson, his arms unable to move or break out of it. “Easy there, kiddo. Keep that up an’ you might end up regrettin’ somethin’ you don’t want on your consci—!?”

Unexpectedly, it was her turn to be surprised when the boy suddenly flipped over her, his arms still trapped in her hold—but it wasn’t like that for long. He had reversed the hold and now she was the one with her arms—literally pinned behind her back. And painfully, at that.

But he let go to turn his attention elsewhere, and as she fell to the ground, she heard a hiss from behind. Whipping her head around to look, she saw a sight she’d never thought she’d see.

“What the!?” Spider-Man watched in awe and absolute befuddlement as his expelled webstring connected with an unnervingly similar one—shot from the wrist of none other than the boy he saw attacking Rogue of the X-Men.

He knew he was still a bit sleepy from an entire night of patrol on the streets, but he didn’t think he was that sloppy enough to get himself caught by a kid probably no older than eighteen.

It’s like he knew it was coming.

He landed with a soft thud on the ground, in a ready stance, and continued to eye the boy guardedly, all other senses equally alert.

The tension between them seemed to escalate exponentially and he was ready to pounce when Rogue flew overhead to stand in front of the boy, her arms held out as if to stop him from attacking her assailant. “No, Spidey. It’s not what it looks like.”

“What!?” He exclaimed. “You mean not save you from a normal-looking teenager who just beat up Rhino!?” His gaze paused for a moment on the limp form of one of his regular adversaries, his head tilted and his mind tried to ponder how that could be possible. “And who somehow managed to know I was coming from behind!?”

Rogue was fumbling with where to start when a stammered “I’m sorry,” came from behind her. Both she and the wall-crawler turned their attention towards the source, only to find themselves confronted with a rather apologetic look on the younger one’s face.

“I was just… surprised by you both.” The dark-haired boy eyed them worriedly. Who wouldn’t? He’d just been physically reprimanded by two of the world’s well-known heroes. “I… didn’t mean to hurt you,” he looked at Rogue, sincerity in his eyes as he said this, and then turned to Spider-Man, “and as for my being alert,” he paused briefly, as if contemplating how to describe something, “I felt a… nagging—at the back of my head. Warning me of something.”

The webslinger tilted his head the other way as if in response, and the boy continued his explanation. “I’m guessing both it and… this,” he turned his hand over, staring unnerved at the still clinging webstring from his wrist, “are… your powers?”

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