The spacious halls of Prestonwood Academy were empty
and abandoned with the exception for three people
marching purposefully down their lengths, shoes
clicking sharply on the polished marble floor. The
halls stretched out, lengthy corridors kept
immaculately clean and orderly. Old portraits depicted
stern elderly men looking down upon the viewer, and
class collages showed off the most recent graduating
classmen. A case here and there held trophies and
awards in various fields of excellence, mostly academic
spotted with the occasional athletic achievement.
Like most high schools, lockers lined the walls. Unlike
most, however, these lockers were quite large, almost
two feet wide each and well spaced to avoid cramping a
neighboring unit. They were handcrafted and stained, a
rich and rather expensive looking mahogany. The lockers
had built in combination locks and each was adorned
with a brass nameplate, lavishly engraved to proudly
display the name and class year of each student. The
names of future lawyers, doctors, and CEO’s. Only the
best students came out of Prestonwood.
The trio stopped near the end of the hall at a
classroom door. It too was a lovely dark wood, sturdy
and solid and richly decorated. Rosettes were set in
each corner of the doorframe. A frosted glass window
glinted at eye-level, about the size of someone’s head.
It was decorated with swirls and pretty, looping lines
that formed an orderly, symmetrical pattern. Just below
the window was a brass plaque that read ‘Room 113’. A
matching plaque above the window stated, ‘Miss Jaeger’.
The man in the middle of the trio wore an expensive
looking gray suit, a tailored, orderly white shirt, and
a subtle red tie. His hair was white with age and his
face was pinched and clearly displeased. He was of
unimpressive stature, and his shoulders hunched
slightly despite his best efforts to keep them
confidently thrown back. To his right stood a slightly
younger man with black hair dotted with freshly turned
grays. He wore glasses and a calm, neutral expression.
His blue dress shirt was clean and formal, and looked
like it had recently been pressed, with equally neat
black wool pants.
On the other side of the old man stood a blonde woman
with her hair cut short, falling at the level of her
jaw. She wore a green dress blouse with short sleeves
and a knee length black skirt, as well as a pair of
very high high-heels. Red flowers were embroidered
along the waistline of her skirt. Even with the heels
she was shorter than both men.
“The parents still refuse to take responsibility for
him?” the younger man asked.
“Yes,” the older man answered. “They’ve apparently
“When did they do that?” the woman asked.
The old man shook his head and his face took on an even
more pronounced pinched look. “Today, when I called
them and told them what we’ve discovered of their son.”
“What are we going to do then, Principal Daniels?” the
The elderly Principal shook his head again. “I don’t
know yet. We have to see him first. The sooner we get
this… thing out of here, the better.”
The old man knocked on the door. Neither of the
teachers standing beside him commented on the way his
hand shook. A moment later the door opened and a young
woman slipped into the hall. She closed the door behind
her and firmly barred the way into the room.
She was slightly above average height for a woman at
5’9″. Her dark brown hair was thick, wavy, and long. It
fell in a dark curtain to the small of her back and
curled upward at the ends. A movement sent the tumble
of hair shifting this way and that, and the natural
waviness of it caused it to ripple like a soft,
undulating tide. She wore the sides of her thick mane
pinned back, and lighter shaded wisped at her brow
where several strands had come loose from their careful
confinement. She wore a long sleeved soft purple shirt
with a gray skirt and black flats.
Her eyes matched the rich brown of her hair with a
touch of rich green ringing the iris. She was gifted
with a smooth, lovely face and a clear complexion. A
small nose sat well with her facial features and was
slightly upturned at the end, and her lips were a rosy
pink, slightly plump and beautifully formed with a
pronounced cupids bow. Her shirt hung loose around her
waist and middle, mostly because the size of her bust
stretched it outward from her body. Where her legs
showed under her skirt, they were slender and long, and
while not particularly athletic in appearance, they
looked shapely and well-toned. Like the rest of her,
they were pale, almost milky white.
The woman gazed at the two teachers and Principal with
eyes cold enough to freeze over the entire city. “What
do you want?”
“Is that… thing still in your classroom?” Principal
“Yes, Robby is in my classroom,” she answered.
“The whole room is probably a mess. No telling what
kind of trouble he’s been stirring in there,” the
younger man commented.
“I already picked up the three overturned desks,” the
woman replied. “Those two boys who attacked Robby did
more damage than anyone.” She gave the trio standing in
front of her classroom a hard look. “Why didn’t you
bring some ice like I asked? Robby has a pretty bad
black eye. I already told you that.”
“Serves him right,” the male teacher muttered.
The blonde woman wasn’t so subtle. “Why should we waste
the effort on a thing like him? He’s an abomination!
It’s a complete disgrace for him to even be enrolled in
Prestonwood High. This is a Christian school! His kind
aren’t welcome here… he’s of the devil!”
The brunet woman glared at her coworker darkly. “I
don’t particularly recall the Bible ever stating that
being a Mutant was against the Christian religion.
You’re being a fanatic. And besides, if the school has
such a problem with having a Mutant student, they’d
probably have issues with having a bisexual teacher
too, don’t you think?”
The Principal shot the blonde woman a sharp, outraged
“She’s lying!” The blonde shrieked. “I could never do
something like that! It’s not right!”
The brunet teacher rolled her eyes. “Don’t be such a
bigot, Jessica, especially against yourself. I know you
are, for a fact. They can check the birth mark on your
right breast to prove it if they need to. It’s shaped
like a tea leaf.”
The male teacher shook his head and stepped away from
Jessica, a scandalized look on his face. “I can’t
believe this,” he muttered.
“Don’t get all high and mighty now, Nick,” the brunet
woman commented. “Just two weeks ago you tried to coax
me into having an affair with you. If you ask me,
that’s a lot worse than being bisexual. Especially
given your situation at home. Didn’t your wife just
enter her second trimester not too long ago?”
Nick blanched and fell silent.
The Principal glared at both the teachers. “She’d
better be lying, or you’re both gone. Gone!”
He cleared his throat and turned to face the teacher
blocking the door. “I’m not liking your behavior here
either, Kia. And I don’t even want to start thinking
about how you would know about a birthmark on Jessica.
But first things first. We need to get that thing in
your classroom out of here as quickly as possible. If
word gets out, parents will start pulling their
children out of this school! His parents told me they
don’t care what happens to him. I’m going to contact
the department of Mutant Affairs to see if they can get
rid of him. Can you keep him here?”
“No! I will not!” Kia exclaimed fiercely. “They will
not haul him off like a criminal. He’s done nothing
“His existence is a crime against nature!” The
Principal told her.
“He is a child!” she hissed. “Leave him alone and I’ll
take care of this myself.”
“What is wrong with you?” Nick asked. “How can you
support something like him? He’s like… like a
“I can send him to live with some of my old classmates
up north,” Kia replied, ignoring the man’s words.
“They’re not quite so old fashioned there. He’ll be out
of here, and he’ll be safe, and that’ll take care of
the whole thing.”
“If you give the boy any aid, any aid at all, you’re
job here is done,” Principal Daniels warned.
“Go to hell,” Kia returned pleasantly and without
hesitation. She opened the door and glanced back at the
trio standing at the door. All three of them stared at
her as if she were some demon spawned right in their
Kia slipped back into the classroom, slamming the door
behind her and bolting it shut. “Fucking humans,” she
Robby sat on her desk, staring at her. One of his eyes
shone with a mixture of fear and apprehension. The
other was swollen shut and covered in an angry purple
bruise. He had moppy brown hair and the thin, gangly
look of a teen in the middle of a growth spurt. He was
about fourteen. He cradled his bruised and tender left
arm to his body and looked like he was trying to make
himself as small and unnoticeable as possible.
“What’s going on?” he asked.
“We need to leave, Robby,” Kia answered. “I’ve been
fired. And I’ll probably be fired all over again once
they find out you weren’t the one who beat up your
“What’s going to happen to me?” The teen asked in a
cracking voice. He wiped the back of his hand along his
nose and the dried blood cracked and flaked off.
Kia sat on the desk beside him and glanced at his face,
wincing slightly at the swelling. “I’ll take you to my
place. We need to get you out of here.”
“What… what about my parents?” he asked softly.
Kia took a long time answering. “They’ve… disowned
you, Robby. I’m sorry.”
Robby stated at the floor. After awhile he shrugged. “I
guess I shouldn’t be surprised. They told me they would
if I was a Mutie.”
“You’re not a ‘Mutie’, Robby. You’re a Mutant,” Kia
corrected gently. “So. They knew?”
“They suspected, I guess,” Robby replied. “I tried to
hide it. I didn’t want to be a Mutant.”
“I know,” Kia said softly. She squeezed the teens hand
and grabbed her things up. “Come on. I don’t know what
we’re going to do, but I won’t let you just live on the
street. You can stay at my place until we figure
“You’d take me in?” Robby asked hesitantly. “Even
though I’m a Muti… a Mutant?”
“Being a Mutant doesn’t make you any less of a person,
Robby. It’s not something to be ashamed of, and it’s
not a bad thing. It just means you’re different.”
“Different,” Robby said bitterly as they stepped out of
the classroom. The halls were mercifully empty now. Kia
wagered silently that her now ex-coworkers were making
some calls at just that moment that would prove
detrimental to Robby’s health. “Different like a freak,
you mean,” Robby sulked.
“Different like anyone is different, Robby,” Kia
replied as she led them out to her car. “Being a Mutant
is the same as being black or white, or being a guy or
a girl. It doesn’t matter any more or any less.”
Kia lived quite a distance from the school, out in the
countryside. She valued her privacy and was willing to
make an extra-long drive to keep it. Besides, the drive
was worth it for the money the prestigious school was
paying her. It was a good thing the job paid so very
well, too; she wouldn’t have worked with such narrow-
minded people if it hadn’t. Being a Christian was one
thing, and Kia still considered herself to be one. But
being ignorant was another, and Kia had hardly been
able to stand the sheer volume of ignorant people in
that rich little religious academy. She didn’t regret
being fired in the least.
Kia’s home was small and modest. She lived alone and
didn’t have many personal effects; a bed, a couch, a
kitchen, a table, a TV, a laptop, and a wide assortment
of books. Her table was scattered with various papers
and forms from her classes at the school. A few meager
personal effects dotted her walls and table-top spaces,
and she had a small file cabinet in the corner with her
personal papers and information, including her
She helped Robby to lie down on the couch and gave him
some ice for his eye before helped him situate his arm
and put it in a small sling.
The teen let out a long sigh. “My life is ruined.”
“Nonsense,” Kia returned. “But first, tell me, how did
those stupid guys know you’re a mutant?”
Robby’s face turned a deep shade of red and he looked
at the floor. “I don’t wanna say.”
“Come on,” Kia told him. “It’s okay. You’re not going
to scare me.”
“I, uh… I have… scales. They saw when I was
changing in the locker room earlier today. I thought I
He looked up at her, a haunted look in his one good
eye. He had the look of a boy whose world was closing
in on him. “It’s getting worse! It’s… it’s spreading!
And I… I tried to peel… to scrape them off, but it
h-hurts so bad a-and they just come b-back!”
The boy was sobbing softly now. Kia sat beside him and
put an arm around him, trying to comfort him in what
little way she could. He cried softly, his frustration
and fear and uncertainty flowing out of him in one
“I don’t wanna be a lizard,” he muttered as he sat up
and angrily brushed his tears aside.
“You need to stop messing with the scales, Robby,” Kia
softly advised. “Let them grow and do what they have
to. It’s a natural thing, for you, even if you don’t
think so. You’re just hurting yourself.”
“But what if I really do turn into a lizard?” Robby
Kia paused. She looked around slowly, her eyes not
seeming to focus on anything.
“Stay here,” she said softly.
“What’s going on?” Robby asked. He drew himself into a
ball on the couch, looking at her with fresh fear in
“Someone’s come. I’m not sure why anyone would be here.
You stay here, Robby, and stay quiet.”
“Ms. Jaeger?” Robby whispered.
She gave him a soft smile and ruffled his hair. “I’ll
Kia stretched her senses and followed the feel of the
visitors. They were going to the back door. She walked
to a window at the back door and cautiously peeked out
the blinds. She glimpsed two people approaching, a
small white man and a young black woman. The man was in
a wheelchair and the woman was pushing him along. As
they drew closer, Kia could make out more details about
The man was wearing a neat suit, appearing very
businesslike and professional. He was clean and had an
air of authority and confidence about him. A slight but
warm smile was upon his face. His hands were folded in
his lap and his eyes glanced left and right every few
moments, as if taking everything in. His head was bald
and his face smooth and clean shaved. His features were
well defined and had a slightly downward angle. His
brow and jaw were sharp with thin, tilted brows that
should have made his face appear severe and hawkish,
but somehow did not.
The woman was tall, a few inches taller than Kia even.
She had deep black skin that appeared smooth and soft.
Her hair was stark white, but one glance at the woman
made it was obvious the white was not from age. It hung
lustrous and full bodied, falling in a pale mass down
to the woman’s gently flaring hips. Her face was
beautiful, breathtakingly so, and her eyes were a
surprisingly clear and pale blue. She was long of limb
and slender, though her figure curved generously at the
bust and hip.
Kia swept her ‘sixth sense’ across them, focusing upon
them and taking in the feel of them, searching their
hearts and emotions to ascertain what kind of business
brought the pair here. She sensed no negativity, no
violence or anger in them, nor any deceptive feelings.
They were a bit anxious, worried, even, but there was
no fear in their hearts.
The woman knocked on the back door. Kia hesitated, then
opened it halfway. “Hello?”
“Good afternoon,” the man in the wheelchair greeted,
smiling softly. His smile was disarming, even to her.
“Sorry we didn’t come to the front door, but as you can
see I have some issues with steps.”
“Uh, no problem,” Kia nodded. “Can… I help you?”
“My name is Charles Xavier, and this is my friend and
associate, Ororo Monroe.”
After several long moments of silence, Kia finally
said, “Kia. Jaeger.”
“Hello, Ms. Jaeger. May we come in?”
“Why?” Kia asked, not bothering to keep the suspicion
from her voice.
“We know this seems very strange,” the woman, Ororo,
spoke. Her voice was thick and rich, full of both
strength and serenity. “We do not mean to disturb or
frighten you, but we know that you have a young man in
your house. A young Mutant.”
Kia tensed visably.
“We mean him no harm” Xavier said quickly. “We are
concerned for him. We… heard… about what happened
to him at school today. We are worried that something
worse may happen if he is not properly protected.”
“Properly protected?” Kia echoed.
“Please, allow us to speak with him,” Ororo asked
gently. “We wish him no harm. It is good of you to take
him in. Not many would. But he may need more help than
you can provide.”
Kia remained silent for a moment, stretching her senses
across the pair. Then she nodded and opened the door
fully. “Okay. He’s not feeling well. You know about
what happened at school.”
Robby panicked at the sight of the strange pair. Kia
grabbed his hand and nodded. “It’s okay, they’re
Charles gave Kia a sideways glance.
“You knew?” Ororo asked. “How?”
“Later,” Kia replied. “What do you need with Robby,
Charles faced Robby and smiled at him. He extended a
hand toward the teen. “Nice to meet you, Robby. I am
“What do you want with me?” Robby asked nervously. He
didn’t take Charles’ hand.
“To the point,” Xavier smiled. “Very well. I know that
you are a Mutant. I know what happened to you today. I
also know you cannot go home now because your
parents… your parents do not understand.”
“They kicked me out,” Robby said shakily. He looked
ready to collapse in on himself.
“They are afraid, Robby,” Xavier said softly. “They are
afraid because they do not understand. They do not
understand what you are. And it’s not your fault.”
“How did you know I’m a Mutant? How did you know where
to find me?” Robby asked.
Xavier smiled and glanced at Ororo.
“As Ms. Jaeger said, we too are Mutants,” she said
“So? That doesn’t explain how you know I’m one. Do all
Mutants know who Mutants are or something?”
Xavier chuckled softly and leaned back in his
wheelchair, steepling his long fingers together beneath
his chin. “Not exactly. My Mutant power is that of
telepathy,” he explained. “Telepathy is the ability to
communicate with someone through their mind, or,
possibly, to manipulate and access someone’s mind in
Robby tensed again. “So… you can control me?”
“I could,” Xavier nodded honestly. “But I have sworn
not to do such a thing. I know that such a power can be
easily abused, and I never use my power in any such
“Are you… reading my thoughts?” Robby asked.
“No. Someone’s thoughts are very private and personal.
Sometimes… someone’s thoughts can wander into my
head, but I try to block them out. Unless it is an
emergency, I do not let myself into anyone’s thoughts
unless I have their permission.
“However, I can use my powers, and a special machine I
have made, to scan the surface thoughts of many people.
I can use it to search for people… search for
Mutants, like you, who are young and do not know how to
control or live with their manifesting powers.”
“That’s how you found me,” Robby stated.
“Yes,” Xavier replied.
“So… what do you want?” Robby asked again.
“We wish to help you,” Xavier replied. “We are familiar
with the kind of things you are going through. It is
the same way for almost all Mutants your age. We have a
place where you can come to be safe and among your
“What is this, some kind of occult thing? Do I
automatically gotta go with you now because I’m a
Mutant?” Robby asked nervously.
Charles smiled and shook his head slowly. “Not at all,
Robby. Being a Mutant does’t mean you have to do
anything. There are no… Mutant rules, or anything of
the sort. And we will not make you do anything. There
are only choices here.”
“What choices?” Robby asked uncertainly.
“As I said, we want to help you,” Xavier replied. “I
run a very special school in upstate New York. It is a
school for Mutants, young people like yourself, to
attend. It is many things, really. It is a place of
learning, where you can continue your studies and
education. We hold our classes up to the highest
standards of academic excellence. It is also a place
where you can learn to control your powers.
“You will learn to keep any mutation or power you have
from going out of control and becoming destructive or
harmful to yourself or others. At my school, you will
learn to accept this new discovery and adjust, so that
you can be a productive member of society, possibly
even using your power to your benefit and the benefit
“But more than this,” Xavier said as he leaned forward
slightly. “The Xavier institute is a home. It’s a place
where you can be with people like you, who understand
what you are going through. You will be with many other
mutants, with all different kinds of mutations, and you
will be accepted. You will not be judged or looked down
upon. In the Xavier institute, we are all equal. And
also… you will be safe.”
Robby shook his head slowly. His eyes darted from
Xavier, to Kia, to Ororo and back. “I… I don’t
know… I don’t even want to be a Mutant.”
“That’s a very normal reaction, Robby. We all felt that
way when we were your age. It’s a big change,” Ororo
“We cannot change who and what you are,” Charles said
gently. “But we can help you, and we can give you a
place to belong.”
“Where would I live?” Robby asked, sniffling slightly.
“At the school, with the other students and the
faculty. We have large dormitories for the students,”
“The teachers… they’re Mutants too?” Robby asked.
“They are,” Charles nodded. “I myself am a professor
there. As is Ororo.”
“You’ll have your own room,” Ororo added. “And you
won’t need to worry about food and such. Everything
will be provided for you.”
Robby glanced at Kia with unsure eyes. “What do you
think Ms. Jaeger?”
Kia glanced at Ororo and Charles and swept them over
with her sense again. Still she sensed no feelings of
deception or ill-will. Sincerity and concern was
foremost of their feelings, and they were otherwise
calm and relaxed. She sensed no lie in their hearts.
“It’s your choice, Robby, but I think this would be a
very good thing. I think these people are being honest,
and you would be safe there. You need somewhere safe
and comfortable to stay. And you need to continue your
Robby hesitated a moment. He gazed at Ororo, and then
Professor Xavier. Finally he nodded. “Okay. I don’t…
really have anywhere else to go.”
“Excellent,” Charles smiled. “We have transportation
waiting. Do you have any personal belongings you need
Robby shook his head. “It’s all… at my house. And I
can’t go back there now.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll be sure you get some things of your
own once you get settled,” Ororo smiled at him.
Robby stood and Ororo reached out a hand to him. She
patted his shoulders comfortably.
“I have a question,” Kia spoke. She stood and faced
“Of course,” Charles nodded.
“Are you looking for any teachers? I got fired today. I
don’t really have anywhere tying me here, and I need a
good school where I can be useful.”
Charles leaned back in his wheelchair and studied her
for a moment, his lips slightly upturned. “I thought
you were a Mutant. It seemed the only way you could
have known we were. What are your credentials?”
“I have a PHD in English and Literature,” Kia replied.
“I’m sure I could provide a more thorough resume if you
really need one.”
“You’re a Mutant?” Robby asked, his mouth hanging
slightly in his surprise.
“Most Excellent, we’ve been in need of a second English
teacher,” Charles smiled.
“Is that why you were able to beat those kids up? You
used some kind of Mutant power?” Robby asked.
Charles glanced at Ororo with an arched brow.
Ororo shrugged. “The school told me Robby did it.”
“The school was quick to point fingers as soon as they
found out Robby was a Mutant,” Kia explained. “The
damage was already done. I would have told them I’d
done it immediately, but if I did they would have
chased me out and I wouldn’t have been able to take
care of Robby.”
“I understand,” Charles smiled. “In any case… you
most definitely are hired.”
“I hope you don’t mind the cold,” Ororo smiled at their
new associate. “It’s chilly in upstate this time of