Author's Chapter Notes:

Rogue has some strange feelings crop up that she can't explain. Mutant and human relations are starting to deteriorate, and Logan is discovering that the world is not as perfect as he thought in the new timeline.



1. a departure from what is normal or expected; a deviation from a moral standard

2. a defect in a lens or mirror that causes the formation of a distorted image


"Alright, people, let's get this meeting started," Scott says with a sigh as he shuffles some papers and sets them on a stack of folders.  He looks a little aggravated this morning; well, more so than usual.  Must be tough walking around with that stick up his ass, heh.

The rest of the team files in and takes their seats as Scott opens the wall cabinet where the large monitor is housed.  The Professor wheels next to the screen and takes the remote.

"Mornin' Roguey, Wolvie," Jubilee says, taking a seat beside Rogue.  Rogue gives me a little smile, squeezing my leg with a gloved hand before turning to talk to Jubilee.

"Good morning, my friend," says Kurt as he pulls out a chair and sits next to me.

"Hey, Kurt.  How's the tail?"  I nod at the appendage, which still has a bandage wrapped around the middle.  He got hurt the other day during a Danger Room session and we were sure it was broken.

Kurt smiles a big pointy-toothed grin.  "Much better, danke schoen.  It was only a sprain, I am happy to say.  Following the advice of our good doctor McCoy, I refrained from using it to swing from the chandelier for a few days, so it is almost as good as new."

I stare at him for a moment, then look at Hank.  "Was that...a joke?  From Kurt?"

"I believe it was," Hank says with a chuckle.

"Yes, a joke," Kurt says with a big smile.  "Did you like it?"

"Wow, it's a miracle," I say, winking at Hank.

"Indeed. Will wonders never cease," Hank nods sagely.

Kurt's smile fades.  "A miracle?  I do not think this qualifies as a miracle.  According to church doctrine--"

"Relax, buddy," I say with a grin.  "We're just kiddin' around.  You don't have to take everything so literally."

Kurt smiles sheepishly and laughs.  "Ha! Another joke--you are very funny!"

"Yeah you know me.  I'm a real barrel of monkeys," I say, to which Kurt laughs even more.

Scott gives us a disapproving look and clears his throat.

"Sincerest apologies, Scott," says Hank.  "Please, go on."

"As I was saying, the ladies locker room showers will be undergoing some maintenance this morning, so please make note.  You won't be able to use them after Danger Room practice."

"Ooo, looks like we'll be taking our showers with the boys today, right ladies?" Jubilee says with a waggle of her eyebrows.  Storm and Jean smirk at each other, and Kitty gasps, turning pink as Bobby nods his approval.

Scott's eyes are concealed by his ruby glasses, but by the look on his face, I'm pretty sure he just rolled them.

"Next week we have Parent's Day for the students," he continues, ignoring her comment, "and each of you will be expected to be on hand to answer questions and give tours.  Bobby, we'll need an ice sculpture for the banquet."

"Yes, sir," Bobby confirms with a salute.

"Jubilee, you're in charge of keeping the young kids in check."

"Yo, I'm on it, chief," Jubilee answers.

"And of course I think it goes without saying, I need everyone to be friendly and welcoming."

The room goes conspicuously quiet, and I can feel all eyes turn toward me.  Everyone except Kurt, who keeps stealing glances at me and quickly looking away, biting back a snicker.

"What?" I growl.

Silence and a bunch of raised eyebrows.

"I don't know why you're all looking at me," I grumble.

Without saying a word, everyone turns back to Scott, who has a grim look on his face.

"Just make sure you don't scare anybody away," he says.  "Last time one of the prospective students went home crying."

"Hey, it's not my fault that the little punk--"

"Maybe Logan should be in charge of security that day," Rogue interrupts with a sweet little drawl, placing her hand on my arm.  "Behind the scenes, so he can keep an eye on things."

I look at her and she winks at me discreetly.

Scott's expression softens at Rogue's charming demeanor.  "Alright.  Maybe that's a good idea," he says with a nod, to which Rogue flashes a satisfied smile.

I'll have to thank her later for saving me from a day of schmoozing with the parents and acting all cordial.  The torture.

Scott continues to drone on about various events and whatnot, while the rest the crew tries to act like they are not bored.

"And finally, we have a more serious matter at hand.  I'm sure you've all heard by now that the National Security Advisor died of a stroke last Tuesday.  They've just announced the appointment of Senator Kelly to the position.  For those of you not familiar with Senator Kelly, he has been a long time supporter of the movement to pass the Mutant Registration Act, and a very influential voice in the FOH."

Senator Kelly.  I remember that guy from the old timeline; apparently, once a prick, always a prick.

"In his press conference this morning," Scott continues, "he announced that one of his first orders of business will be to ensure the nation's security through the revival of the Sentinel program."

"The Sentinel program?  As in, those mutant hunting robots created back in the 1970's?" says Jubilee.

My ears prick up at the mention of Sentinels. 

"The very same," says the Professor.  He points the remote at the monitor and turns it on.   

A large crowd of people, many obviously mutants, are shouting and waving signs in the streets outside of the White House in protest.  'We are ALL human', one woman's sign says.  'Different, Not Dangerous' another one says.

Along the side lines are pockets of anti-mutant protesters, carrying posters and jeering at the pro-mutants.  The footage is a little shaky and partially obscured, like it was taken secretly with a cell phone or something.

"Wait, I thought that the Sentinel program was completely dismantled when Mystique saved the president or something," says Bobby.  "I remember hearing about it in history class."

"Yes, it was," says the Professor. "That was an important moment in the history of mutants, and went a long way towards human and mutant relations.  However there has always been a portion of the human population that remains fearful and distrusting of mutants."

"Especially when they see things in the media, like mutants using their powers to commit crimes and acts of violence," Scott adds.

The Professor nods.  "When people are afraid, they do rash things in order to restore their sense of security."

Just then, an anti-mutant protester soldier-wannabe in camo pants whips out a gun and begins waving it around, shouting slurs at the man in front of him, who has red skin and orange hair.

"I don't need sentinels to take out mutie freaks like you!" he yells.  "I can do it myself, right here, right now!"

"I'd like to see you try," the mutant shouts back.  As his chest heaves in anger, his skin starts to darken, and little glowing red cracks begin to form all over his body.  It reminds of the way molten lava looks, with the black crust and the red glow of magma swelling beneath.

Some people start scrambling to get away from the confrontation and violence that they can see is about to ensue.  Camo Pants takes aim and continues shouting threats at Lava Man, who now has the air around him rippling with the heat emanating from his body.

Not everyone is trying to get away, though.  Within moments, Lava Man is flanked by two other mutants, one with spikes coming out of his face, and the other who has skin like a lizard.  Meanwhile, Camo Pants and his little entourage are ganging up, ready to brawl.  Insults and threats are flung back and forth, and things are escalating quickly.

"Come at me, asshole, I dare you!" yells Lava Man, steam coming out of his mouth as he shouts.

Suddenly shots ring out, and several people in the crowd erupt in screams of terror and shock, dashing for cover.  Lava Man lets out a roar, bursting into flames, and begins advancing towards the humans.

Camo Pants drops the gun and stumbles backward, his eyes widening as he realizes that Lava Man is completely unaffected by the bullets.  He knows that he is big trouble now.

The asphalt beneath Lava Man's feet starts steaming.  Reaching down, he scoops up a handful of the softened asphalt, shaping it like a snowball.  He throws it at Camo Pants, narrowly missing him and hitting a nearby car, causing it to explode in flames.  All mayhem has broken loose, as people panic and run in every direction.

The destruction continues, until out of nowhere, a military hummer pulls up and soldiers jump out with their weapons drawn.  Without a word, two of them holding these strange looking guns with large barrels take aim and fire, releasing some kind of pulse that knocks everyone to the ground, humans and mutants alike.  They all lie there, motionless.

Everyone in the room stares at the monitor, speechless as they try to comprehend this strange turn of events. 

"Oh my God...are they dead?" whispers Jubilee, her eyes wide.  "Did they just kill them on the spot?"

"No, I don't believe so, Jubilee," says Hank answers, staring thoughtfully at the screen.  "I think they have been rendered unconscious.  Look what the soldiers are doing now; they are putting handcuffs on the mutants."

The soldiers cuff Lava Man, who is now back to his previous state of plain red skin, and strap him to a transfer board before carrying him off to stash him in the back of the hummer.  They also take the man with the spikes, but leave the lizard looking guy behind.  They leave Camo Pants and his friends on the ground where they lay.  Jumping back into their vehicle, the soldiers peel out and are gone in the blink of an eye.

The Professor stops the video.  A silence has fallen over the room, as we wrap our heads around what we just saw.

None of this is new to me, with the rioting and violence towards mutants; this is the kind of thing we saw all the time in the old timeline.  But I didn't expect to see it in this timeline, at least not so soon.  And the weapon they used to knock out those people--I don't remember ever seeing that before.

"What just happened?" says Kitty.  "What did we just see?"

"It happened all so fast," Bobby shakes his head.  One minute they're protesting, the next minute they're fighting, and the next minute they're just...gone."

Kitty takes Bobby's hand, and they look at each other with concern.  "They came and took those mutants, and no one stopped them.  They can't do that!  Mutants have rights!" she says.

The Professor looks at them, saying nothing.  They can see in his eyes that there is no simple answer to that.  Mutants have rights, at least on paper, but that doesn't mean that those rights can't be violated.

"That could happen to any one of us," Kitty says, shrinking down into her chair.

"I wouldn't let that happen," Bobby murmurs to her, squeezing her hand.  "I would never let them take you like that."

Next to me, I hear Rogue huff quietly.  I glance at her, and see that's she's staring at Bobby and Kitty, her eyes filled with contempt. 

"Hey," I whisper.  She doesn't answer. 

I stare at her as she watches Kitty and Bobby, but she doesn't seem to notice; she just looks pissed.

"What's the matter?" I whisper again, while Scott and the Professor continue speaking with the others.

"Professor, what was that weapon they used?" Storm asks.  "I've never seen anything like it before."

"Rogue," I whisper, touching her leg.

Her eyes finally snap to mine, breaking whatever thought she had going on there for a minute.  She shifts in her chair, looking a little flustered, as if she was somewhere else and just realized that I had been talking to her.

"You ok?" I ask her quietly.

She looks at me for a moment, then nods, though her smile is unconvincing.  "I'm fine.  Really."

I hold her gaze for a long moment, trying to get a read on her, but then she looks away and turns her attention back to the conversation that the others are having.

"My sources have gathered some intel, and it appears that those weapons were prototypes," says the Professor.  "How they work, in essence, is by generating a pulse of energy capable of instantly disrupting neurological function."

"Total knock out," mutters Piotr.

The Professor nods.  "Thus far, the ones we saw in the footage are the only ones they have managed to build, and they have a limited life span due to the unstable nature of the pulse generator."

"I certainly hope they never work out all the bugs," Hank comments.

"We're keeping an eye on it," says Scott.  "Hank, maybe you can look over some of the data and see what you can find out."

After a few more minutes of discussion, they wrap up the meeting, and Scott reminds us all to head to the Danger Room next as everyone files out.  After the room is empty, I turn to Rogue.

"Hey. Everything ok?"

She looks at me with a faint smile.  "Yeah.  Everything's fine."  The morning light filters through the window, bathing her in a warm, soft glow as she looks out over the front lawn.

"You sure?" I ask her.  "You didn't seem fine a minute ago."

"Really?  I don't know why you would think that."  She stands up and casually gathers her notebook and pen.

"Because you were practically burning a hole into Kitty and Bobby's foreheads with your eyes," I answer, standing up with her.

She looks at me for a moment, then starts heading for the door.  "I don't know what you're talking about.  They were speaking, and I was just looking at them.  I think that's pretty standard practice, don't you?"

"Darlin', that wasn't simply looking at them.  That was shooting daggers."  She reaches the door and I tug gently on a lock of her hair.  She turns around, a little smile playing on her lips as she sighs, and I touch her under the chin.  "Come on, tell me.  What was that all about?"

She looks at me for a long moment, the words percolating just beneath the surface as usual.

"I know you want to tell me," I murmur. "Maybe I can loosen up those lips a little."  Leaning in, I touch my mouth to hers, just barely.  Once more, softly, and then a little lick of her lower lip.  It's enough to make her part her lips with a little intake of breath, granting me access.  I deepen the kiss, slowly and sensually caressing her tongue with mine, reveling in the softness of her lips, the feel of her body as I gently press her against the doorway with my hips.  I finish with a few sweet kisses to her lips and trace a finger along the side of her cheek.

"Ready to talk?" I murmur again.

She slowly opens her eyes with a dreamy smile, and I grin back at her.

"That's a nice way to loosen lips, mister.  Is that how you get all the ladies to talk?"

"Just one," I say with a wink.

She looks at me for a long moment, then finally relents.  "Ugh, I don't know why--there's really no explanation--but for some reason, I just wanted to smack them both.  That's terrible, because they've been nothing but nice to me," she confesses.  "In that moment, when they were holding hands, and Bobby was all, 'I would never let them take you like that', it just made me feel...ugh!"  She sighs and shrugs her shoulders.  "It was uncalled for, really."  She hugs her notebook and looks at the floor.

She looks so vulnerable and cute in that moment, I just want to scoop her up and carry her to my room.

"Nah," I assure her.  "Those two can been pretty annoying sometimes.  I'm sure that they deserve a hard smack for something."

She glances up at me and snorts.  "Probably," she grins.

"C'mon.  Let's get to the Danger Room before Scooter has a conniption."

She laughs and takes my hand as we head out the door.

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