A/N: Well, this has been a long time coming- the plot bunny assaulted me like a year ago but I never got a chance to work on it. Now that things have settled down and I'm writing again, I decided to start this fic as I finish up "From the Shadows". This is my vision of how the series should have gone- some things will be different, but it's going to follow the general plotline of the show. Each season will constitute a volume, to get an idea of the pacing, and each episode will be a chapter in that volume. This will definitely be a Romy (Rogue/Gambit) fic down the road, but since Remy doesn't pop up on the show until Day of Reckoning, don't expect to see him until we get to that point. After that, though, he'll be in most chapters. This fic is going to have some cursing and not-so-responsible behaviors from the Brotherhood, particularly in the first volume, because let's face it they're teenage mutant terrorists- forgive the horrible pun. Hope you guys enjoy!
Volume I: Lone Sister in a Brotherhood
"And all the roads we have to walk are winding,
And all the lights that lead us there are blinding."
It wasn't the best night for a hunt.
The sky overhead was dark, the moon obscured by gloomy patches of clouds.
Although the air was temperate, a lingering echo of the day's warmth, an evening breeze had settled in, making it hard to make sense of all the scents swirling about.
He was utterly still, one with the forest, listening...
The trees were rustling gently in the wind, here and there a bird ruffled its wings or a squirrel darted across a branch. His ears were unfocused, absorbing the noise all around him in search of a single sound out of place, any sign of movement big enough to be his prey.
Where are ya, bub?
He'd been tracking the scent for nearly an hour now, following it from the overturned military jeep into the wilderness and across a river, and now the trail had doubled back as if he'd lost the scent.
But Wolverine knew better.
This particular scent was one burned into his brain, into his nostrils.
An old scent, one that flared nerve-endings and sent white-hot rage flooding through his blood.
He wasn't fully aware of the reason, the interactions he could remember offered up rivalry and competition, but it didn't explain the old, deep-seeded anger that festered within him.
Another piece of the puzzle that was his life before SHIELD, just out of the reach of conscious memory.
"Well, well. Look what the cat dragged in."
"I know you, bub?"
"Yeah, you could say that, runt."
If the trail had doubled back, the only explanation was that his prey was onto him.
Inconvenient, but hardly surprising.
How many hunts had they gone on together, during those years with the black ops? How many times had they tracked each other, both as allies and enemies?
"Yer getting' slow, Creed."
"Still fast enough to wipe the floor with you any day, runt."
"How goes the search, Logan?"
The sound of Charles Xavier's smooth, lilted voice filling his ears, courtesy of a high-range earpiece, brought him back to himself.
In an instant Wolverine was just a memory, and he was Logan again.
"I tracked him about five miles into Finger Lakes National Forest," he responded gruffly. "The wind's makin' it hard to get a good read, but I smell gas-lines nearby. He's out here fer a reason, any thoughts?"
"Some grim ones, I'm afraid," Charles sighed. "Ororo used your last coordinates to do a little digging."
"There's a GRSO base in Finger Lakes," Charles replied. "Classified information, of course, so I don't have the exact coordinates for you, but from what my contacts have hinted it sounds like the research being conducted there is of the weapons nature."
"It always is," Logan muttered. "Well, that tells us what Creed's after, doesn't it?"
"I'm afraid so," Charles agreed somberly. "I shudder to think what Erik has planned for all this."
"Global domination, mutant superiority... the same old bullshit," Logan grunted. "What's Storm's ETA?"
"She's twenty minutes out," Charles responded, and he could practically see the steepled hands and the frown behind them. "I want you to wait for her to arrive before you take action-"
Somewhere in the distance a twig snapped and he tensed.
Too soft to have been anything bigger than a rabbit, but something had startled the creature enough to make it move that fast.
"She'll find me," Logan cut Charles off. "I'm goin' to find Creed."
Without waiting for a response, he shut off the comm-link and started forward, sniffing at the air as he moved soundlessly across the forest floor.
He was certain that back in Bayville Charles was asking himself, for the millionth time, why he had ever taken in such a rough-around-the-edges, uncontrollable loner, much less let him oversee the training of the newest generation, but what had Charles expected?
This was Creed they were dealing with.
And there was long-standing unfinished business between them.
"Gonna have to go through me first, runt."
"Creed? Yer workin' fer Magneto now? Why am I not surprised?"
"Man pays well. He's gonna put our kind on top. And people like you and me need a little bloodshed to start the day right, don't we?"
"I'm nothin' like you."
"Keep tellin' yourself that, runt."
A sudden shift in the wind caught him off-guard, the hairs on the back of his neck bristled, his nostrils flared...
And he realized, with sudden clarity, that he had made a fatal mistake.
So caught up in tracking Sabertooth, so consumed with old vengeance and hatred, he hadn't paid enough attention to the other scents in the area, and he hadn't heard a thing.
The kid was good, he'd give her that.
A small, slender hand pressed against the back of his neck, smooth skin cool against his own, and the world began to waver as a distinct pull started to draw something out from deep within him. There was a chill slipping over him, moving through his veins from head to toe, and he could feel his heartbeat slowing as his brain began to shut down...
"Nighty night, bub," a sweet southern drawl filled his ears.
And everything went black.
"The children have returned."
At Victor's mocking announcement, Raven turned but saw only trees.
By the time she blinked, Quicksilver was leaning against the tree in front of her, arms folded over his chest and looking bored, as always.
"Did you lose your teammates?" she asked coolly.
Quicksilver smirked, but didn't reply, and out of the corner of her eye she saw movement. A few seconds later, Avalanche emerged from the tree line, and trailing along behind him was a girl who looked like Rogue, but didn't move like her.
The gait was lazy but tense, muscles coiled, like a wolf stalking through the forest.
A wolf, or a wolverine.
"Oh, man," Toad groaned from the tree branch he was perched on overhead. "Not again, yo."
Sunfire said nothing, merely folding his arms over his chest, but his eyes watched his approaching teammates warily.
"Rogue, darling?" Raven asked lowly as the teenagers joined them.
Familiar emerald green eyes locked onto her, but the expression in them held nothing of the girl she knew. Cold, predatory slits appraised her and she saw Rogue's nostrils flare as the menacing bone claws protruding from the spaces between her knuckles twitched with bloodlust that Raven knew all too well.
"Your brat smells like prey, Raven," Victor rumbled.
Rogue's lips curled up into a snarl, baring decidedly fanged teeth, and to Raven's annoyance Victor returned the gesture with a low, threatening growl of his own.
"She absorbed Wolverine," Avalanche announced, as if that wasn't glaringly obvious.
"I can see that, you idiot," Raven snapped. "Victor, take a walk before she decides to give you a face lift." She heard Quicksilver and Toad snickering and could imagine the look on Victor's face, but without waiting for him to reply she then turned her attention back to her daughter. "Rogue," she said gently, but Rogue was glaring at Victor's back as he begrudgingly trudged off into the trees, so Raven decided to try again. "Logan."
Finally Rogue's eyes flickered back to her and Raven stifled the urge to frown.
"Rogue, you need to gain control," she told her daughter firmly, meeting that cold gaze directly. "You are not Wolverine. Take. Control."
Those green eyes blinked, once and then twice, and Rogue's slender body shuddered as she shook her head to free herself of the man she'd touched. When she looked back at Raven again, the steel was gone from her eyes.
"Sorry," Rogue mumbled, biting her lip in embarrassment. "Ah thought Ah'd suppressed him, but when Ah laid eyes on Victor he hit me like a brick wall."
"At least you didn't grow sideburns this time, yo," Toad offered, earning a glare from Rogue.
"And your bruise has faded," Sunfire added solemnly, nodding at her now flawless cheek, where only minutes before there had been the tell-tale evidence of the sparring match between the two the night before.
Although "sparring" was a stretch.
Sunfire was, by nature, aloof and composed, rarely deigning them worth any show of emotion, but despite that, or perhaps because of it, he was particularly susceptible to Rogue's baiting, and every time the two entered the training ring together Raven anticipated there would be damages to repair.
Both to the children, and to her house.
Rogue bristled, no doubt hearing the veiled smugness in Sunfire's voice, but Avalanche put a restraining hand on her shoulder and she relaxed, shooting Sunfire a dirty look.
"We doin' this or what?" Rogue huffed.
Raven pursed her lips, eyeing her daughter appraisingly.
If Wolverine's psyche resurfaced inside of the base, it could spell disaster. On the other hand, they needed the codes and clearances of the handsome young Colonel that Victor had dispatched on the road, all of which were safely locked in Rogue's mind thanks to her imprinting ability.
"Ah'm good," Rogue said stubbornly, eyes blazing. "Let's get this show on the road already."
Without waiting, Rogue started in the direction of the base, moving with a swagger that did little to ease Raven's concerns. Her daughter was fairly cocky by nature, and now with Wolverine's psyche added to the mix, she was certain to be reckless since she had his healing factor.
But Wolverine's powers would wear off soon, and if she wasn't careful she might not realize she'd lost them.
Avalanche glanced in her direction, and Raven gave a curt nod, signaling for them to move out. Toad swung himself out of the tree with his tongue, almost landing on Sunfire, and happily hopped after his leader, ignoring the dark look his Japanese teammate sent at his back.
Raven turned to Quicksilver as he pushed away from the tree he was leaning on.
"Stay close to Rogue," she instructed flatly.
Quicksilver gave her a haughty look, the resemblance to his father uncanny. "Don't I always?" he demanded, then darted up to Rogue's side in a blur. He said something that Raven didn't catch, and Rogue laughed, swatting him playfully.
Or tried to, anyway- he was ten feet away in the blink of an eye.
"Want me to wipe that smirk off his face?"
Raven sighed as Victor came up beside her. "Don't tempt me," she muttered darkly.
If it weren't for his paternity, if Rogue wasn't so fond of him, she would have most certainly throttled Quicksilver to death by now. Working with the children was bad enough, but living under the same roof with five surly teenagers was enough to drive anyone mad.
"At least school starts Monday," Victor offered, as if that was a consolation.
Raven gritted her teeth, her eye twitching.
"I take it you didn't hear Erik's brilliant plan?" she snarled. "Guess who's going to be Bayville High's new principal?"
Genuine sympathy flickered across Victor's face, and if the situation hadn't been so horribly dreadful, she might have smiled- sympathy was not something that Victor Creed did often, nor well.
"Hell," he said at last. "Better you than me."
Shaking her head, Raven sighed. "Let's catch up to the children before they do something stupid."
"You mean like blow up half a military base?" Victor asked, with a feral grin that showed off his flashing fangs, and she winced, trying not to remember that particular disaster. "C'mon, Raven, what are the odds of that happening twice?"
"With those idiots?" Raven grumbled. "Higher than you'd think."
"That is so disturbing."
"Tell me about it," Pietro agreed.
He cringed, watching in horrified revulsion as Todd's tongue swished around inside of the beer bottle, lapping up every last drop from the bottom, and then belching loudly.
"What?" he demanded, noticing their stares.
"That's why we don't take you out in public more often," Pietro informed him with a condescending smirk.
"Ha ha," Todd grumbled. "I'm getting another beer, yo."
The youngest member of the Brotherhood headed off in the direction of the bar, digging his fake I.D. out of his pocket as he pushed his way through the crowd, and Pietro shook his head. "Twenty bucks says he gets it confiscated this time."
Lance just grinned, taking a slow swig of his beer.
The truth was, none of them looked twenty-one, not Lance and certainly not fifteen year old Todd, but their I.D.'s were the work of one of the best forgers in the business so the bartenders couldn't be certain. And more importantly, they were paying customers and as long as they had money no one seemed to care whether they were of legal age to be there or not.
"Have I mentioned how glad I am Shiro didn't come with us?" Pietro asked cheerfully.
"Only about a dozen times," Lance replied wryly. "In the past ten minutes."
"Make it thirteen then."
It wasn't that Pietro didn't like Shiro Yoshida... actually, that was it. The Japanese teenager was grim, serious and looked down on American culture, but what really annoyed Pietro was his arrogance.
There was only room for one ego in the Brotherhood manor, and that was his own.
"Trouble at ten o'clock," Lance said casually, dark eyes sharp.
"Yeah, I'm watching it," Pietro responded evenly.
They were seated at one of the tables on the edge of the dance floor, watching Rogue and watching the other guys in the bar watching her.
Dressed in tight black leather pants and a long-sleeved black fishnet top over a black tank-top, she looked good as she twisted to the music, eyes closed and a blissful smile etched on her lips. More importantly to Pietro, though, she looked happy.
It was a rare thing to see Rogue so carefree, so at ease.
Unlike her mother, she was a delightful drunk.
Out on the dance floor, Rogue caught them watching and blew them a kiss before turning back to dancing.
"She's gonna be hurting in the morning," Lance commented in amusement.
"What better way to mourn the end of summer than with a hangover?" Pietro retorted wryly. "Besides, she'll absorb Sabertooth and be fine, we won't be so lucky."
Suddenly Lance's dark gaze narrowed, and Pietro sat his beer down.
"On it," he assured him, and smoothly navigated his way through the people loitering around the dance floor to intercept the blonde frat boy heading toward Rogue. The blonde, sporting a Billabong t-shirt, gave him an affronted look, but Pietro folded his arms unperturbed.
"Look but don't touch," he said flatly.
Surfer Boy raised an eyebrow challengingly. "You her boyfriend or something?"
"Brother," Pietro responded coolly. "Her other brother is sitting right over there." He nodded in Lance's direction and when Surfer Boy looked over at him, Lance lifted his beer in a mock salute. "And we're very protective." He smiled now, and it wasn't a nice smile. "Get my drift?"
Surfer Boy stared at him for a moment, clearly judging whether or not he could take him, but then he glanced back at Lance and seemed to realize it was a bad idea.
"Yeah, got it, dude," he said. "My bad."
"Yeah," Pietro agreed as the guy wandered off. "Your bad."
He headed back to the table just as Todd returned, a beer in one hand and a whiskey sour in the other.
"Again?" Todd asked knowingly, placing the mixed drink down at Rogue's empty seat before taking his own. "That's like the third time tonight, yo."
"The third time for what?"
Rogue sashayed her way back to their table, face red and eyes bright, and brought the eyes of half the room with her. She knew it, too, but didn't seem to care- men could appreciate her from a distance all they wanted, so long as they didn't try to get close. Her skin was off-limits, and the boys knew that for a girl who couldn't be touched, appreciation was something she needed.
"The third time Pietro's checked his hair in the mirror," Lance replied smoothly, and Pietro shrugged, because they all knew it was plausible. "Todd brought you a drink."
"Thanks, sugar," Rogue said, flashing a smile. "What are we drinkin' t' tonight, boys?"
"Another one hundred and eighty days of hell at Bayville High?" Todd suggested.
"Trouncing Summers and the X-geeks?"
Lance, of course.
"Slipping some Midol into Shiro's tea?" Pietro added with feigned innocence, and Todd choked on his beer with laughter while Lance merely rolled his eyes, and Rogue attempted to give him a disapproving frown but in her intoxicated state it came out a smile.
"Like he'd ever let ya near that stuff," she retorted, and bit her lip thoughtfully. "T' Mama's newest alias."
"To Principal Foxx," Pietro agreed wryly, lifting his beer. "It's a step down from the glamour of being Ronnie Lake, but at least she can make the X-men's lives miserable."
"And that," Lance declared. "Is something worth drinking to."
Monday rolled around too quickly.
Staring down the looming horror that was an American high school, Kurt Wagner groaned.
Only a few days before, he had been saying goodbye to his parents and boarding a private jet for the Xavier Institute, half a world away from his beloved Germany, and now he was starting public school in a whole new country, with a whole new group of teenagers waiting to ridicule him.
"It'll be okay, Kurt," Jean Grey said, placing a hand on his arm. "No one is going to hurt you."
Nein, Kurt thought grimly, absently touching the watch on his wrist. Not so long as I am vearing zis, anyvay.
Never had he imagined that such a device could exist, that he would one day be able to go to school like any other teenager, without inciting riots and religious fervor wherever he went.
The image inducer Professor Xavier had given him was a gift from God.
Waggling his fingers, his normal non-blue fingers, Kurt smiled faintly. He knew the blue fur was still there, the visage of a wiry teenage boy with pinkish skin, blue eyes and dark hair was only an illusion, but it felt nice to be able to just blend in for once. It still took him by surprise every time he looked in the mirror and saw not the demon the villagers had taken him for, but a regular, average guy who no one would give a second thought to.
In other words, someone who wasn't a freak.
"You're not a freak," Jean protested, and Kurt shied away from her uneasily. "Sorry," she added contritely, in a quieter tone. "You were thinking pretty loudly."
"Verzeihung," he apologized, still not used to living with someone who could read his mind.
"It was my fault," Jean assured him ruefully. "I'll try-"
She was drowned out by a screeching of tires and Kurt flinched at the sudden sound, as a frown marred Jean's pretty face. He followed her gaze to a green jeep pulling into the parking lot, filled with teenage boys and its speakers blaring something that he supposed was meant to pass for music.
"Great," Scott muttered, shutting his car door loudly.
"Don't tell me we have to park near them all year," Evan groaned as the jeep parked across from them. "This bites."
"And zey would be?" Kurt asked nervously.
"Kurt, like, brace yourself for the Brotherhood," Kitty announced, rolling her eyes.
As the occupants of the jeep climbed out, Kurt was startled to discover that they were not all boys. The driver and the three in the back were, but the figure vacating the passenger seat was most definitely a girl, with the most striking hair he'd ever seen. Long brown hair fell over her shoulders, but her face, heavily adorned with dark makeup that contrasted her tan skin, was framed by two stark white streaks that couldn't possibly be natural on someone so young.
The girl glanced up and noticed him staring, and Kurt winced under her glare.
"Well, well, if it isn't the X-geeks."
The jeep's driver, a dark-haired guy with holes in the knees of his jeans and fingerless motorcycle gloves on his hands, was approaching with a smirk.
"Been a while, Summers," he sneered in Scott's direction.
"Not long enough, Alvers," Scott retorted through clenched teeth, his eyes flashing behind his shades.
"Scott," Jean broke in soothingly. "It's the first day, let it go."
A sudden breeze blew across Kurt's face and he shielded his eyes, the clatter of books hitting the pavement filled the air, and when Kurt opened his eyes again he found Evan standing there with his book bag unzipped and all of his belongings on the ground. Kurt blinked, shocked, but none of the others seemed surprised, and Bobby sneered at the guys flocking Alvers.
"Real mature, asshole," he snapped.
The guy to Alvers' right laughed, his silver hair still windswept, and favored Evan with a smirk.
"That's it, Maximoff!" Evan growled angrily, and even Kurt recognized the way he flexed his arms from the Danger Room, a precursor to the firing of his bone spikes. "I've had enough of your shit!"
"No one can ever have enough of me," Maximoff scoffed arrogantly, and Evan twitched.
"Evan, no," Scott said sternly, clamping a firm hand on his arm to still the fight about to start. "Jean's right, we don't need this today. Let it go." With that, he glanced at the rest of them. "Come on, guys, we don't want to be late for homeroom."
Evan shot one last glare at Maximoff, then accepted his books from Jean and Kitty, who had picked them up for him, and let Scott push him along toward the school with Jean in tow. Bobby and Kitty fell into step behind them, and Kurt followed quickly, not wanting to fall behind.
"Love the ponytail, Pretty Kitty," Alvers called after them, and Kitty faltered, a strange tint to her cheeks.
"Thinking about trying it out on your own hair, Lance?" she threw back, without turning. "You're gonna need a better volumizing conditioner."
Alvers chuckled, but thankfully didn't follow them through the door.
Unfortunately, the short kid with the olive skin did, and popped up right in front of Kurt's face. Kitty cringed, backing away, and gave Kurt a sympathetic look. "My homeroom's in the next building, Bobby will show you where yours is," she said, and without a moment's hesitation she took off down the hall, abandoning Kurt and Bobby to the pesky little menace.
"So what do they call you?" the kid asked, tilting his head.
Kurt leaned away from him, trying not to gag at his breath. "My name is Kurt Vagner," he replied in a choked voice, feeling his eyes starting to tear up at the smell.
"No, your codename, dumbass."
"Oh." Kurt hesitated, glancing at Bobby before answering. "Zey call me Nightcrawler."
"Nightcrawler?" the kid with the breath of death snickered. "What are you, some kind of insect, yo?"
"You're not hungry, are you, Toad?" Bobby demanded. "Don't they feed you three bowls of maggots a day at the boarding house?"
"Actually, it's three bowls of spiders," a Southern voice drawled, and Kurt turned only to find himself looking into a pair of pale emerald eyes. "So this is the fresh meat, huh?" the girl with the white-streaks asked, eyeing him critically. "Guess we'll find out what ya made of tonight, won't we?"
"Vhat's tonight?" Kurt asked uneasily.
"Annual X-Men Thrashing," she informed him bluntly.
"Don't you mean Annual Brotherhood Beat-Down?" Bobby shot back.
"In ya dreams, Frostbite," the girl sneered, then gave Kurt a smile that made his fur stand on end. "Don't worry, since ya new Ah'll go easy on ya."
The bell chimed through the hall, ending any further barbs between her and Bobby, and Bobby cursed under his breath, grabbing Kurt by the elbow. "Dude, we're going to be late!"
"Welcome t' Bayville, Vagner," the girl called after him.
He had the distinct impression she was mocking him with the smooth pronunciation of his name.
"Vhat did I get myself into?" he muttered under his breath.
Verzeihung- I'm sorry (formal)