Somehow, things ended up being a little noisier than predicted.

Maybe it was the high spirits, or someone had managed to rustle up a few bottles of something alcoholic, but music quickly began to blare through the room, partially deafening my sensitive ears, and there were screams of delight in response to something. I managed to tap back into Hank's eyes, but for some reason everything was blurry and upside down, swaying wildly from one side to the other, and I quickly retreated back into soothing blackness, feeling a little seasick. I reached out for another mind close by, which turned out to be Alex. I could see from the corner of his eye Hank hanging from the ceiling, and Raven dancing on the couch, producing squeals of happiness as she dodged Angel who swooped across the room in some crazed dance of her own.

The loud crunch of wood on stone made me flinch as from Alex's own eyes I watched him swing a bat into Darwin's back. And yet it bounced back, the wood clearly dented and splintered in places.

"Come on, you can go harder than that!" Darwin shouted, his face split by the biggest smile I'd ever seen. And his back... It was carved from stone, although carved would be the wrong word as it was as jagged and harsh as a sea-worn cliff. He was hewn from the stuff; Alex's joy swelled through me as he launched another swing at Darwin. Splinters of wood went flying.

With difficulty, I got up and made my way over to Sean who was watching open-mouthed. Whilst I could see, the perspective was off; I had to translate left and right from what I was seeing to what my body was actually doing. I longed for my cane, but Erik had taken my bag for me.

Pretty cool, huh?

He jumped, his mind thrumming from the contact like a plucked string. "Jeez, you've got to stop doing that!"

I smirked. "Why? It's fun!" For a moment, I transferred myself into Sean's mind, and watched for a second as Alex, beaming, went in for what would have been a lethal series of blows. Darwin merely laughed. "Harder!"

Sean shook his head like he was trying to dispel a swarm of flies; I obliged, and sank back into myself. There was part of him that admired me definitely, but also a part that was slightly awestruck by what I could do. I didn't want to push it, and turn that awe into fear.

Suddenly, a familiar starburst of gold flared into life behind my eyes, brightening and warming as it moved ever closer. Charles. With some gentle nudging, I could distantly hear words tumbling through his brain in Erik's familiar tone of disapproval: "I'm telling you, these kids are not ready for Shaw."

I pulled back, and turned to Sean. "Bit of a problem. Charles and Erik are heading this way."

"Um... They're actually already here."

"What the hell?" A woman's alien voice rang through the courtyard like a gunshot, and with the same effect. The music died. I could feel Raven's mind dimming with surprise, and a sense of foreboding.

Oh dear. I put on what I imagined to be my best innocent face.

"What are you doing? Who destroyed the statue?"

"It was Alex," Sean blurted. Alex's mind flared with annoyance.

Raven then burst in; curiosity overtook me, and I hopped behind Charles' eyes, hopeful that I might be able to observe what was unfolding. Raven stood confidently, eyes shining, as she rebuked the unknown woman. "No, Havok. We have to call him Havok. That's his name now." She turned to look me – no, Charles – directly in the eye. "And we were thinking, you," she pointed at Charles, "should be Professor X and you," she pointed to Erik who was stood beside Charles, looking unimpressed, "should be Magneto."

Erik raised an eyebrow. "Exceptional."

Raven's face dropped – I wasn't sure if it was because of Erik, or the sudden waves of embarrassment and disappointment making themselves known on Charles' face. He glared at Raven. "I expect more from you."

Then he turned to walk away with the others. I caught a glimpse of the woman; she wore a skirt suit, with short brown hair and cold, gunmetal eyes. I noted the angry pull of her eyebrows before Charles roughly shoved me from his mind. Ask next time, he snapped.

I felt hurt. Surely I need not ask, not with him anyway. We were the same. The air around me throbbed with the frightened purple of confused thoughts and unspoken questions; suddenly I longed to be alone. I couldn't stand how suddenly restricted I felt, my own mind hemmed in by so many others that were so much stronger and brighter than what I was used to.

I brushed Raven's mind, wincing as she flinched back. "I think I might go and get some sleep. It's been a long day. Do you know where... if..." I tailed off uncertainly.

"What, if we have rooms?" She brightened a little. "Yeah. I'll take you up, if you like!"

"Thanks," I mumbled, and trailed after her, too embarrassed to ask for any sort of assistance. The going, however, wasn't as bad as I'd expected; the corridors were narrow enough that I could trail a hand along one wall and know that the other was only a few feet from my fingertips. So long as I kept the throbbing candle-flame of Raven's mind in sight, I could feel where I was going. Two lefts and three rights, then a long corridor followed by a steep flight of stairs that clanked with an air of menace under my hesitant feet.

Eventually we reached a door, and Raven cracked it open. "I think this one's yours... Is your bag green?"

"Um... It has a really chunky zip?" Oh, if only she were gone and I could make my own way...

"Then this one's yours. Number 12." She hovered a little, mind shifting through various sentences she could say, all of which made me cringe. I smiled in the sort of way that suggested this conversation was over, and she need make no effort, and was rewarded with the cool breeze of her relief. "Oh, well, goodnight!"

"Thanks," I said, and quickly retreated into my room before she decided that she had more to say. Her footsteps receded into the distance until... nothing. Not silence; my ears could pick up the exhilarated thump of my heart, the endless whine of air conditioners, the familiar push and whistle that one can only hear when it's quiet. I could still feel them downstairs, a grouped mass of light and humming emotion, but the distance between us reduced it to a comfortable murmur. I didn't try to reach for Charles again; I knew he was there, a golden smudge out there in the blackness, but its faint warmth no longer felt friendly but searing, a flame that happily bites the finger it's meant to warm.

Wordlessly, I traced the room around me. Circuit after circuit built up a rudimentary sensory map. It was probably about ten foot square; a desk was placed right next to the door, so I had to manoeuvre myself carefully around it. Then there was a blank space of wall, a corner, and then the bottom of a bed. Feeling my way around to the top, I discovered the head faced the window, beneath which was a small chest of drawers, and beside that a wardrobe. Another walk revealed a smooth door set into the wall. I went through, and noticed the sudden nose-twitching sting of soap and bleach. Ah. A bathroom.

A little clumsily, I retreated to the bed. At home, I barely tripped – perhaps now and then, when I was in a hurry, and always on the stairs, although they'd been designed with making life difficult for everyone anyway – since I knew it so well. Every curve and fall, every fold in the carpet, every scratch upon the wall which signalled a doorway three steps away, the sweep of the banister and the strange velvet quality of the curtains that left my fingertips itching. But here was strange. I had been casually tossed from the security of my own bubble, and frankly I didn't like it one bit. The walls felt too heavy and rough; the wood of the bed lacked the curious texture of whorls and knots that I often enjoyed tracing before drifting into sleep; the curtains were thin and I worried that should I pull them too hard they might rip. Nothing was right, and my body screamed it. Too bad there was nothing I could do.

I lay back, and sighed. Even the pillows were wrong. All wrong. Nonetheless, I budged my bag aside, tugged half the duvet over me, and closed my eyes. All about me, faint spots of light drifted like dust motes suspended in a beam of light, like a fragile constellation suspended on silver thread, each star tugging and tangling itself in the darkness, flickering, jumping, occasionally flushing to darker, nameless colours with a thrill of quavering notes. Excitement, I sensed, even from here. A softer, far more snagging melody drifted past as someone somewhere mentally hummed to themselves.

It was a little like drifting in open water; if I let my mind hang wide open, spread inquisitive antennae into the murky depths, then I caught all sorts of odd jetsam thoughts on the tide. Only briefly; for a moment they'd be there, and then with the flick of a quicksilver tail they'd be gone once more on some silent voyage – I knew not where.

It was with a warm sense of recognition that I slowly fell into sleep, no longer aware of the grating texture of the pillows, or the close push of the walls, only happy in floating, flying, where I knew I could truly be.