t h a n k s: To everyone at the Corner, especially River, Lise, Jono, KG and Mel. Merci beaucoup, people!
d e d i c a t e d t o: River and Lise.
c h a p t e r _ f o u r
I adore books. Have since I was a little kid and my mother read to me. I've never understood people who think books are boring. It's just a concept I really can't wrap my mind around. Books? Not fun? Huh?
I have a feeling I tend to give people who says things like that a rather pitying look. Not unlike the one I gave Ali when she stomped over to counter, I believe. That was one unhappy girl. Well, if she'd been thrilled about it, I would have been a bit surprised. From what I'd observed, she seemed genuinly fond of Remy.
Oh well, she never really stood a chance anyway. Right? Right.
Sometimes not caring very much for people I don't really know, can come in handy. Certainly lessens the guilt factor. A lot. Not that I had too much of it to begin with...
C'est la vie, you know? What is, is and all that.
One of my favorite movies is called Plunkett and Macleane. I have yet sit though it without groaning at the screen and going "God, Macleane! You're such a tosser! What the hell do you want Lady Becky for when you have Plunkett?" I guess you can say that's part of the reason I decided to meddle in Remy's affairs. I never was very patient with people that exasperate me.
St. John gave a surprised blink at the sound of his name. Though part of the surprise probably came from discovering who'd said it. Apparently, from what I've seen, the Smog-people didn't mingle with the other students. Major attitude problems might explain that. "Yeah?"
"Can I talk to you for bit?"
Now Pretty Blue Eyes looked up as well. "What do you want, LeBeau?"
"Didn' I jus' say dat?"
See? Schitzo. Even when I switch to Norwegian, I don't drop my accent that fast. Makes for a rather peculiar accent, by the way. Guaranteed to get my siblings to break down in laughter every time I open my mouth.
John gave Remy a long look, then he nodded slightly and got up from his chair. To the amazement of Pretty Blue Eyes who stared at him. "You're actually... Okay. It's your life. Your lungs too, if you're going with chimney junior here. Wait. You haven't been messing with Ali, have you? 'Cause, I have to say, I thought you had better taste than that."
"Shut up," John sighed.
Bobby shook his head. "I'll be here if you need... back up. Or something."
Judging from the tilt of Remy's head, he was currently rolling his eyes beneath his ever present dark shades. He probably didn't think John was the one who needed protection. Which could mean that... I grinned and made a mental note to nyah-nyah to Rick afterwards.
I followed Remy and John with my eyes until they disappeared out of sight and in to the kitchen. I looked over at Montgomery again. "Can I see what you've written now? Pretty please?"
"Because I'm still writing."
I sighed dejectedly. "You don't love me anymore."
"Yup, that's it exactly."
I sighed again and stared at the back of his head for a while. Nice hair. Got a bit boring after a while though, so I got up from my chair, stretched and went to see what Rick was up to.
He was sleeping.
How dare he sleep when I am bored and want to be entertained?
I glared at him for a bit. I suppose I could just let him sleep and go pester someone else... He did look all cute and peaceful there he lay sprawled on top of a bunch of pillows, drooling slightly.
I sat down on the pillows and poked his nose. "Hey. Rick. Wake up." Not a reaction. I tried again. "Riiiichard... Riiichard Oliiiver..."
His hand shot up to grab me by the wrist and his eyes opened to direct a 'you are in great danger of being horribly dismembered soon' glare. Rick doesn't like his last name very much. Child hood traumas involving being forced to play a poor, starving, street kid, I think.
I gave him a bright grin. "Hey there."
"I was sleeping," Rick said. "Is there any particular reason you woke me, or did it just seem like a good idea at the time?"
"I'm bored," I complained.
"Oh buh-huh," said Rick. Did I ever call him touchy-feely? What was I thinking? "Why don't you go buy a pizza or something? Isn't that what you usually do when you're bored?"
I brightened at the thought, then reality set in. "Can't. I have to watch them." I made a vague handgesture meant to include all of the Xavier kids.
"Then call the frelling school and see when you can get rid of them," Rick said sleepily and closed his eyes. "And let me sleep. I was up 'til 10 am. I need sleep."
"Wimp," I said and got on to my feet again. "And remind me that I have to nyah-nyah at you when you're awake again."
"Yeah, yeah. Go away."
I went away to find my mobile and call Ororo Munroe. I looked through my call list, found Miss Munroe's phone number and hit dial. I listened to this nice beeep beeep for a bit, then her voice came on the phone.
"Yes? This is Ororo Munroe, to whom am I speaking?"
"Hey. Alex Olsen here."
"Oh hello, Alex."
"I was just wondering... How much longer are the kids staying here?"
There was a pause and I could hear the faint sounds of a conversation, then she was back. "If you could look after them for a couple of hours more, that would be wonderful. We haven't finished the sweep yet, you see."
"Just a couple of hours?"
I thought. I looked at Rahne who was still doing homework (she must have done homework for the entire week, judging from the amount of time she'd spent on them), and over at Pretty Blue Eyes who was eyeing the kitchen door with a frown on his face. "Okay. I guess I can look after them for that long. Oh and Miss Munroe..."
"How is Kitty?"
"No change, I'm afraid. You can see her Monday, if you like? I'm sure she'd like that."
"Yeah, that'd be great. Tell her I said hello."
"I will. Goodbye."
* * * *
After fifteen minutes of staring blankly at a screen, reading the same line over and over again, I gave up. I went to find the Xavier kids and drag them with me to the pizza place. Brilliant idea, yeah?
Warren and Rahne were easy to find and collect. Warren was still reading leaflets (he'd finished the Oz one, and had moved on to 'Slashing the Angel by Catherine Wandan') and Rahne was studying history. Weird kid. Probably got great grades though. Unlike someone I know (read: me) who didn't start studying until he was promised a trip to Los Angeles if all grades were Bs and As. You'd be amazed what that did for my motivation.
Lovely year, that was, by the way. Los Angeles, Finland, Sweden and Toronto. God, even thinking about it makes me grin like a mad man. The year after I covered London, Dublin and Paris, and the year after that I decided to leave the icky school stuff for a while and just travel.
There's got to be a gypsy somewhere in my ancestry. Or maybe it's the viking blood. Sail the great seas, murder, rape and pillage. You know.
The gypsy theory sounds nicer somehow.
Anyway, I had to drag Jubilee away from the telly, Bobby away from the computer, Ali away from the booze (note to self: Buy more Guinness), Japheth away from Jana (they were still arguing, and they appeared to be enjoying it immensly) and get John and Remy out of the kitchen, then we were ready to go.
I was definitelly going to see if I could get Xavier's to pay my bills.
We ran into Ron (who'd found his katanas) on the way and I bribed him into coming along. I was babysitting eight mutant teenagers, a guy who could weild katanas like nobodys business could probably come in handy.
* * * *
"One large number 5 with two cokes," the woman infront of us said to the girl behind the counter (Jennifer, 23, blonde, goes to acting class).
"I hate pineapple," Jubilee informed me. She frowned at the menu. "And I want meatballs."
"Pepperoni!" from Bobby.
"Anchovies!" from Japheth.
"Ewwww," from me, Jubilee, John and Bobby. I've never been fond of fish. I know I come from a fish-country and all, but I've never liked fish. Ick, I say. Ick, ick, ick.
"Mushrooms. I definitelly want mushrooms," Remy said.
Ali's eyes narrowed. "Onions. Lots of onions."
"Are you ready to order?" Jennifer (girl behind the counter) smiled at us.
I shook my head. "Doesn't look like it."
"I am," Warren said calmly and whipped out what looked suspiciously like a platinum card. He gave Jennifer a charming grin. "One half vegetarian special, one half ground beef. One medium ice tea, surprise me, and a large milk."
Jennifer smiled brightly at him and punched his order into the register.
I stared at him. Either he was seriously schitzo, or he was buying for two. With these people you just never knew for certain. "Who are you paying for?"
"In the end, probably everybody," Warren said wryly. "But this was for me and Rahne."
"Oh." Was I the only one who found that a teenzy bit strange? I looked at the others. That would be a yes. "Excuse me for asking, but..."
Warren rolled his eyes. "I'm her big brother, okay?"
"School. She's new, I show her around and stuff."
"Ahhh." It was all so much clearer now.
"Alex?" Jennifer said. "Are you going to order anytime soon? There's a line forming..."
"Oh right." I look at the rest. "Have you decided?"
"Ham!" St. John.
"Mexican special, extra large!" from a widely grinning Ron. I should've just kidnapped him instead of bribed him.
I sighed, turned to Jennifer and took a deep breath. "Okay, pay close attention now... We'll be having one half meatballs, one half mushrooms, one half pepperoni, one half onions, one half anchovies, one half ham, one half pineapple and a Mexican special, extra large. And keep the anchovies and the onions away from the other stuff."
Jennifer punched it all in, then gave me a bright grin. She'll be an excellent actress one day. Six hours of punching in orders and she's still capable of giving bright grins. "Will you be having anything to drink?"
"Um." I looked at the kids and Ron. They quickly rattled off their drink preferences. "Four cokes, a beer, Remy, Japheth, you can forget about it, you're getting cokes, a sprite and two fantas."
Warren held out his platinum card with a wry look. "You'll be needing this."
I'm starting to like that kid.
I, well, Warren, really, paid Jennifer and went to find a table that could seat all ten of us. It turned out that we had to push two tables together to make room for everyone. Ali sat down as far away from Remy as she could get and proceeded to tear every napkin she could get her hands on into neat strips while she sulked. Remy and John managed to get a seat next to each other without making it too obvious (but I swear they were holding hands). Jubilee and Bobby sat across from them. Warren and Rahne sat next to Remy and John, and Japheth sat next to Ali. Ron and I took an end each.
"So," I said, taking a stab at the conversation-thing. "Nice weather we're having."
"Alex," Ron said pationately. "It's raining cats and dogs."
Japheth leered at Ali. Ali ignored him and grabbed his napkin.
"Right." Pause. "But I've seen worse."
"Of course you have. You're from Norway."
Warren absently tossed a package of salt from one hand to the other. Rahne read the back of a ketchup bottle.
"Like the Swedish weather is all that much better!"
"I've been in Norway, Alex. Compared to your weather, ours is practically sunny."
Remy very pointedly did not look at John. John very pointedly did not look at Remy.
"...Good point that."
"Yeah, I thought so. You have a nice coast though," Ron added generously.
Jubilee inspected her nails and hummed something that sounded like 'I'll be thinking about you'. Bobby eyed John with a puzzled look on his face.
"Oh thanks. You know, I come from a small place by the coast."
"Really? Must get windy..."
Ron and I continued to discuss the weather until the waiter (Raymond, 26, part-time student) brought us our pizzas. That took about fifteen minutes. If there's one thing Norwegians can, it's dry talk about the weather for all eternity. Swedes, or at least Ron, are apparently just as good at it. We once spent two hours comparing the weather in New York and the weather in Scandinavia. Yes, we were at that time bored silly.
"Okay, get this away from me!" Jubilee pushed the pizza away from her person with a look of disgust on her face.
I leaned across the table. "Gimme my pineapple!"
"Gee, Ali, we seem to be sharing a pizza, wanna fuck?" Japheth leered. That guy hits on anything in a skirt...
Ali gave him a Look. "Drop dead, maggot-breath."
"That one's mine." Remy reached for his mushrooms.
John tilted his head and frowned. "I think Jubilee's got mine... Hey, Jubes! Gimme my ham!"
"Could you bring me a plate, please?" Warren enquired Raymond with a polite nod.
Bobby sighed. "Look, I have a brilliant idea... Why don't you and Remy switch places?"
Jubilee patted him on the back. "Good idea!"
"Why don't you move?"
"'Cause it was my suggestion, swamp-rat," Bobby replied.
John elbowed Remy discreetly. Remy sighed long-sufferingly and got up to switch places with him. That earned him a bright grin from the other three.
Ron looked up at Raymond (who'd returned with both a plate and a pizza) with stars in his eyes. He sighed happily as the pizza was placed infront of him. "My piiiiizzaaa..."
I rolled my eyes. Ron's a chef, and it's impossible to bring him to dinner at any place which isn't something akin to a take-out place. He just ends up either critizising the food or being green with envy over what the local chef could do with mushroom sauce. At take-out joints, however, he's pathetically pleased with the food no matter how bad it is. Not that the food at O'Malley's is bad, but... Ron's weird.
He fits in really well with the rest over at the Corner.
Rahne eyed the ketchup bottle, then leaned over to whisper something to Warren, who nodded. She turned the bottle upside down over her pizza. Warren looked at the ketchup being poured down on the pizza for a moment, shuddered and returned his attention to his own pizza.
* * * *
"Touch my ass one more time, and I'll make you see the light. As in the Light," Ali growled at Japheth, who backed up slightly.
We were on our way back to the Corner after a relatively uneventful time at the pizza place. Uneventful meaning that no one got seriously hurt and O'Malley's insurance company wouldn't be breathing down our necks.
Of course, Bobby and Jubilee did play that prank involving heaps of ketchup, and it had taken the combined strenght of me, Ron and Rahne to keep Warren from launching at Remy when Remy provoked him, and Ali had blinded Japheth by creating a bright light infront of his eyes...
I decided to call it a success anyway.
* * * *
Note to self: Don't ever go to the bathroom while teenage-sitting ever again. You'll come back to utter chaos and it'll take you days to figure out everything that happened.
When I'd gone to the bathroom, everything in the Corner had been as normal. Stace and Ellis had pushed one of the big, comfy chairs over to one of the computers and Stace now sat in Ellis' lap, typing happily away on some story or another. Galynne, Japheth and Jana amused each other by coming up with gore-ish ways to kill someone. There were people on the computers, in front of the tv and on top of the counter. All normal.
When I came back from the bathroom, Ron came flying through the window and landed on his ass in front of me. I stared at him in puzzlement. Ron made a sort of rolling thing with his body and was back up on his feet in no time. Two seconds later, he charged through the window, one hand grabbing a katana, without a single look at me.
I blinked after him, and turned to ask someone what was going on, and discovered that I was the only one in the Corner.
This was probably a bad thing.
I heard the distinct sound of Galynne's lioness-growl, joined by a growl I didn't recognize.
Okay. So it was definitelly a bad thing.
Fuck. Faen. Frell and flonq.
What do I do now?
I came to the conclusion that I was not hero type material, and while I had no qualms jumping into an orderinary bar-fight, I had no intentions of going up against someone who could make Ron fly through the air, and headed for the kitchen.
I opened the kitchen door and ended up face to face with a really big, mean looking knife. "Eeep!"
The knife was removed. "Oh hey, Alex. Was wondering were you were."
"If you ever do that again, I will hurt you severely!" I glared at Rick and made my way into the kitchen. "You scared years off of my life. I'll be dead when I'm fifty because of you."
"Pfft," said Rick.
"Alex! There you are!" Jana elbowed her way over to me. "We've trouble."
"Galynne smelled someone that made her hair stand on an end, and Montgomery said that they were after the kids..." I decided that this was not the time to point out that Jana was probably younger than all of the Xavier kids. "...And Gally and Ron went out to keep them distracted while we got the kids out of the way, but we can't find Jubilee and Montgomery and Ellis are sitting on Bobby and Remy to keep them from rushing out to join Ron and Gally and..."
"Slow down, all right!" I held my hands up in surrender. "I only caught about half of what you were saying. Someone's after the kids?"
"Yes." Jana nodded.
"And Jubilee's gone?"
"Is anyone phoneing the school?"
"Yes, Warren, but he's not getting a reply."
"So we're in deep shit?"
"Yup," Rick nodded, eyeing the door watchfully.
"Pretty much," Jana nodded as well.
"In the cooler."
I blinked at her. "In the... Never mind."
I left Jana and Rick to guard the door, or whatever it was they were doing, and headed for the cooler, noticing on the way that the kitchen was kind of crowded. I elbowed my way forth. I reached the cooler and opened the door to a stream of French and English curses.
"Wow," I said and blinked. "I don't know what half of that means. Probably nothing nice. Anyway, hey, Montgomery. What's up?"
Montgomery whacked Remy over the head and turned his head towards me. "A whole lot, it would seem like. Any idea what we're supposed to do?"
I wondered briefly when I had turned into Captain Picard. "Um... Eh... How many people's after the kids? Can you tell?"
Montgomery frowned and stared blankly into the air for a bit. "Two. A male and a female. Might be mutants. Their thoughts are all weird."
"Can you tell me anything else?"
"They're close. And I think the male is older than the female. Actually, I'm pretty sure about that. They know how to fight -"
"Yeah, I saw that," I muttered, thinking about Ron's trip through the window.
"-And they know exactly what the kids look like."
"That's why you think they're after them?"
"Yeah. Well, that, and I have a very strong impression that they're here to pick them up. And Galynne didn't like the smell of them. She started hissing."
"Can you find Jubilee?"
Montgomery shook his head. "Nope. I tried looking. She's out of my range, I think."
Bobby stopped struggeling with Ellis. "Jubilee's gone?"
"So they say."
"That's not good."
I, Montgomery, Remy and Ellis stared at him.
"Um," Ellis said. "Duh?"
"Let me up," Bobby said. "I've got to find her before she does something insanely stupid. I really, really don't want a repeat of what happened the last time the Jubester made a run for it."
Remy looked thoughtful. "Was that the time with the blond and the bike and the judge and the fish?"
"No, that was the time before that. I mean the time with the redhead, the skates, the phonebox and the Fed."
"Right," Remy nodded. "Yeah. A repeat of that would be bad. Kind of fun, but, bad."
"Okay, would you two stop freaking me out? Thank you." I thought. Evil people after the kids. Jubilee gone. How to fix?
I had no idea.
I looked over at Warren, who was looking increasingly impationed as he dialed the number to the school again.
No help in that.
I looked around the room for inspiration.
I poked Ellis with my foot. "Where's Stace?"
Ellis looked up, frowning. "She's not here?"
"HEY! ALEX! THEY'RE GOOD GUYS! THE SCHOOL SENT THEM!"
Spreaking about the devil...
"THEY SAY YOU KNOW THEM? LOGAN AND ROGUE?"
Logan and Rogue?
I looked at Montgomery and Ellis. "You can let them up now. The good guys are here to fetch them."
* * * *
"But he doesn't smell right," Galynne insisted for the n'th time and regarded Logan suspiciously. Galynne and Ron looked like they've been through a meatgrinder. Logan and Rogue didn't look as though they'd been touched at all. Huh. Could have sworn Gally and Ron were good enough fighters to at least get a few punches in...
"I know you keep saying that," I said pationatly. "But, honestly, he's on the side of the angels - or a reasonable faximile of such."
"Where's Jubilee?" Rogue asked, having looked around and not spotted her in the crowd on the street outside the Corner.
I winced. "Uh..."
"She made a run for it," Bobby said darkly.
Rogue blinked. "What?"
"Oh right. You're new. You haven't heard..." St. John grinned. He slung his arm around her shoulder. "Rogue, m'dear, come with me and I shall tell you allll about the time with the blond and the judge, and the redhead and the Fed, and, my personal favorite, the brunette and the nun..."
They started walking towards the school bus, Bobby, Remy and Japheth trailing behind them.
I looked at Logan.
He looked back.
"Maybe you should go back to the school...?"
He sighed. "I need a vacation."
"This happens a lot?"
Galynne looked intrigued. "Which part? The fighting or the disappearing students?"
"Cool," Galynne nodded, impressed. She seemed to have put the fact that Logan just didn't smell right behind her. For now.
"Ow," said Ron. He was studying his hand intently. "You know, I think it's broken." He shook it slightly and winced. "Um. Yup. Definitely broken. Could someone drive me to the nearest doctor?"
"I'd do it, but I don't have a lisence," I said. "Maybe Logan could stop by the doc on the way to the school?"
Ron turned to Logan and looked questioningly at him.
Logan nodded. "Yeah, sure. No problem." He raised his voice. "HEY! ALL XAVIER KIDS! GET INTO THE BUS! NOW!"
Rahne started walking towards the bus, then stopped and looked uncertainly at Warren. He was busy talking with Rick about something. He laughed at something Rick said, and I suddenly noted that the kid was actually good looking. When he didn't look all 'high and mighty' or 'dreadfully bored', he was down right handsome. I shook my head in amazement.
He finally noticed Rahne, said good bye to Rick and followed Rahne into the bus.
Ali had already entered the bus and now sat staring out of the window. She didn't look much happier now than she had at the Pizza place.
The bus drove off five minutes later and life returned to what went for normal at the Corner.
I, for my part, went home.