Divergent Paths

"I'm not a child, Vic. What on Earth possessed me to tell him I'd be fine getting home on my own?" the young man muttered as he shoved his hair behind his ear and dragged his bags from the back of the car. "What I should have said was, I'm small and weak and I need you to help me oh mighty kitty-cat." He snorted. "Right." He dropped the last of his bags in the front hall and crawled up the stairs to collapse onto his bed. He flopped across it and sighed. He decided he'd best clean off the eye-liner. And if he was going to go to that trouble, he'd best take a shower so that he could let his hair dry. It was strange not to sense any one in the house, but he assumed that they had decided to go out to dinner. He hadn't been sure when he'd get out of his exams. The next morning he was a little more wary, but he made his way down the stairs to the kitchen to indulge in some shameless ice cream raiding. He never made it to the kitchen.

*****

Adam looked up in surprise as the furry blue creature knelt to examine his shoulder in obvious concern. "It's dislocated, Dr. McCoy," he stated. "I'll just pop it back into joint." His crisp British accent made the doctor pause.

"I can do that now, unless you wish to wait for an anesthetic."

"Very well." Adam waved one fine fingered hand. He turned his head and placed the collar of his black leather coat between his even, white teeth. McCoy nodded and gripped the limb. He didn't say a word, merely wrenched it back into the socket. He rubbed the offended area gently as Adam regained his breathing. "Thank you. Have you seen Father?" the young, auburn haired young man asked.

"Your father?" Hank McCoy asked in confusion. "Gambit, are you all right? Has anyone checked your health recently?"

"Gambit? Who the bloody Hell is Gambit? Do I look as if I'm going to start traipsing around in spandex with Grey's crew or something? It's Adam. Or are you having one of your spells again? Been drinking oddly bubbling concotions in the basement have we?" Adam waved it off. "Where is Scott?"

McCoy, thankful for the opportunity to push the problem off on his team leader, helped the young man to his feet and led him into the house. He was not reassured when he opened Scott's office door to reveal Jean glaring at Scott.

Scott's scowl transformed to a smile. "Thank God, Adam!"

"What on Earth is *she* doing here?" Adam asked looking around the room. "Scott? Have you had someone in?"

"It's not as simple as all that. Ms. Grey has been attempting to convince me that I've been dead for a year or so."

"Gambit?" Jean whispered. "Oh, God." She put a hand to her mouth. "Both of you?"

"Both of us what, Ms. Grey?"

"You're alive?"

"It would appear. Why are you wearing your shades? Have you one of your headaches?"

"Everyone goes insane when I don't wear them. I got bored with watching people cower before me."

"As well they should." Jean and Hank's jaws dropped as Adam casually straddled Scott's legs and massaged the elder man's temples. "You do have one of your pains. You know I've no problem with easing them." Scott relaxed back into the desk chair.

"There's no one here to do it."

"What about the runt?"

"Watch yourself."

"I forgot. Only you may call him that. Logan won't massage away your pains? How odd."

"The only thing I'm sure of is that we aren't in the correct time stream. Therefore, this situation must be your fault."

"My fault? I wasn't even in town. I just finished comps for Heaven's sake. *Victor* wasn't even home when I got there. I'd assumed you'd traveled to warmer climes."

"Without you? As if I'd be foolish enough to go running about that house of yours without a native guide? And you know I despise the desert."

"True. But I wasn't thinking beyond climbing into bed for about a week." Adam pushed his sunglasses to the top of his head and removed Scott's glasses. "There now. Doesn't that feel better?'

"Much. Do you know, I believe that is the least amount of eyeliner you've worn since you turned sixteen?"

"You're right. It is. I was in search of brunch."

"Ah, that explains it. At least you shaved."

"I'm considering something more permanent."

"No. As your brother, I forbid it."

Adam giggled. "As if that has ever stopped me?"

"I will find out you know."

"I know. What's the situation?"

"This is Xavier's School for the Gifted."

"What?"

"Calm down, Adam. Jean Grey is supposedly married to this universe's version of me."

"Jeannie? And what does Logan think of that?"

"It would seem he's in love with her, but hasn't acted upon it." Scott's hands settled on Adam's hips. "There's too much to tell all at once."

//Then, let's do it this way.//

//No. Not with *her* about. Later.// "I'll answer questions as we go. Did you find your brunch?"

"No, suddenly I was on the ground with a dislocated shoulder and Dr. McCoy was helping me with it." Scott's hand automatically raised to rub the shoulder Adam threw out most often. Adam smiled. "Is there an offer of food on the table?"

"There is."

"Then I'll accept it." Adam stood and pulled on Scott's wrists. "Is the kitchen in the right place?"

"Yes, but the cook is not."

"No cook?"

"No."

"You mean I'll have to survive on my own cooking, or worse, yours? I'm going to starve." Scott gave his brother a little shove.

"You are an insufferable brat," Scott informed him. He grabbed the closest wrist and paused when he didn't feel leather beneath his fingers. "Poor thing. You're barely dressed." Scott smiled. "You look downright *normal*."

"There's no reason to insult me."

"Don't sulk or I'll put you over my knee."

Adam sniffed dramatically. "I'm so abused." Jean watched with a bemused smile.

"Well, I think that proves his claim that he's not Scott Summers," she said to Hank. Hank nodded.

"I'd like to take a closer look at your shoulder, young man, to make sure there's nothing broken."

"Nothing's broken. My shoulder pops out of joint all the time. It has since I fell out of the tree." Adam rolled his eyes at Scott.

//Let's get you fed.//

//Good idea.// The two men went to the kitchen.

"What is it, Jean?"

"They're telepaths."

"What?"

"They've got a telepathic link. Nothing in either of Scott or Remy's past suggested that. Well, we assumed Remy had some psi abilities, but not telepathy."

//Oh, he's an empath too,// Scott informed her. //It's not nice to talk about people behind their backs.//

*****

"Hey, Slim, Gumbo," Logan nodded as he opened the fridge. He froze. "Shit. Gumbo's alive?"

"Gumbo?" Adam queried his brother.

"Gambit was from New Orleans."

"Ah. I'm not whoever this Gambit fellow was, Logan." Adam waved a hand in the air. "My name is Adam."

Logan's brows rose. He sniffed carefully. "Smells the same. Looks the same. Just talks funny," he told Scott. Logan shook his head. "Ya want some real food, kid?"

"That would depend upon your definition of real."

"Edible?" the Canadian offered.

"Yes, please." Logan pulled out the leftovers from the night before as Adam disposed of the soggy cereal. Scott shrugged.

"I did my best."

*****

"Remy's back?" Rogue asked Storm. "That ain't possible, sugah. That boy had no pulse. No breathin' and more blood on the ground than in him."

"I saw him, Rogue. I do not have any explinations for you." The two women sat in silence for a moment. "Perhaps we should investigate."

*****

"So Charles Xavier is crippled?" Adam said.

"Physically and psyically. Onslaught left his powers nearly burnt out. He is recovering. I've sensed it. He left residuals all over his office, despite Bastion's ransacking."

"Bizarre."

"Isn't it just? And he isn't partners with Eric."

"Bullshit."

"He's not."

Adam started as the women entered the kitchen. //Annabelle and the Shadow Bitch?//

"Rogue, Storm, may I introduce Adam. Adam, Rogue. And this is Storm." Adam nodded a hello and stared hard at Scott.

//Explain.//

//Rogue joined the X-men after the Danvers incident. And Gambit saved Storm from the Shadow King.//

//Gambit's an idiot isn't he?// Adam looked up through his lashes at the women, smiling slightly.

//That's the conclusion I've come to.//

"Adam?" Rogue asked.

"Yes?"

"Are ya related ta Remy, sugah?"

Adam rolled his eyes. "Give us a kiss, Annabelle," he leered at her. She jerked back as if he'd slapped her. "I don't bite unless invited."

"What did ya call me?" Rogue demanded.

"Annabelle. As in Annabelle Lee Darkholme," Adam said with malicious glee. Rogue's jaw dropped.

"And just *how* did ya learn that name, Swamp Rat?"

"You told me. And I must take issue with being called 'swamp rat.' 'Lab rat' while accurate is also not one of my favorite terms. If you must, I do respond to 'freak boy' and 'professor.' Of course, you usually use 'fucktoy' which, although I've no problem with it, offends my family terribly."

Rogue's jaw hung open. Storm's ice blue eyes blinked once, then twice. Then, the ex-goddess began to laugh. "Bright Lady," she smiled. "While you most certianly are not our Remy, I would like to welcome you to our home. And please ignore Rogue's shock. Remy was rarely so blunt." Ororo offered her hand. "Ororo Munroe."

"Adam Essex. A pleasure." Adam kissed the back of her hand. He winked at her. "As Scott can tell you, I lack some social graces in private conversation."

Scott snorted. "What my brother is attempting to say, is that when he and Annabelle are in the same room, some quirk of genetics forces them to snipe at one another as a form of foreplay. Which is, in my opinion, unfortunate. The combination of her absorption power with his genetic malleability would be incredible."

"I am not impregnating the woman merely to further your scientific explorations."

"Have I suggested that course of action recently?"

"Three weeks ago, Saturday."

"Granted. But it was more a matter of giving you a fit than a serious suggestion." Scott ruffled Adam's hair fondly.

"Not the bangs, you wanker."

"Scott, why ain't you wearin' yahr glasses?' Rogue asked curiously.

"Why would I? I haven't got a headache. I haven't been sunbathing." He shrugged.

//I've only been here an hour and I want to go home,// Adam whined. Scott glared at him.

//I've been here a week.//

//So what? I want to go home.//

//So figure out how to do it or suffer.//

Rogue gaped at Scott. This wasn't the Fearless Leader she was used to.

"More juice, Scott?'

"No, thank you. Did you do well on your comprehensive exams?"

"Yes, Scott, quite well. Do you think I'll be allowed out of the house without a nanny next term?"

"Doubtful. Victor wouldn't dream of leaving you all alone."

"I am not 'all alone' in a dormitory."

"Most of your classmates are flatscans. It's too dangerous."

"They all *like* me. Scott, it's not *my* fault that Father cannot comprehend the use of subtlety and politics."

"Politics does not include fucking anything that smiles at you."

"It doesn't? I thought it would."

"Adam."

"Father just doesn't want to lose his best lab rat. I'm sick of experiments."

"Well, perhaps if said rat didn't go flirting with the enemy and sleeping around the city, Father might be persuaded to let him out more often."

"It is my goal in life to have sex as least as many times as there are people in New York City."

"That is *not* safe."

"That's why I've a healing factor. You are such a stick in the mud."

"Listen carefully, Little Brother. While we are here, there will be no sex. Do I make myself perfectly clear? The possible paradox reprocusions are impossible to calculate."

"We don't know how long we'll be here. Scott, the lack will kill me."

"No, it won't. I know you're addicted. This will be a good exercise for you."

"I am not a paragon of self-control."

"I could have said no alcohol, but that would have been cruelty to the specimins living here."

"Yes, it would have. I would have had to feed you your intestines."

"You spend far too much time with Victor."

"Do you think Father will let me have claws?"

"Hopefully not. The idea of your varnish collection and claws terrifies me."

"I need to go shopping," Adam stated.

"And how do you expect to finance this shopping?"

"With my heretofore unexpressed talents."

"What? Retail?"

"Don't worry yourself overly much, Scott, I'm an electrical engineer for a reason."

//No, you will *not* engage in illegal activities.//

Adam's hands clamped over his ears. //You needn't yell. Message received and ignored, Bother.//

"Don't force me to punish you, Adam," Scott said mildly.

"Oh that sounds promising. Punish how?"

Scott's hand shot out and yanked at the younger man's bangs. "Not *that* kind of punishment. Brat."

"Darn."

"You need therapy."

"Right. Where's my kitten?"

"He's not here."

"What do you mean not here?"

"According to the tracking equipment I've assembled he doesn't seem to exist. Of course, he could be beyond the scanner's range."

"I do hope that's all it is. What about Katie? Or Flip?"

"Katie, who they call Kitty here, is in England. Flip doesn't register."

"And V?"

"Can't be found."

"They can't *all* be dead."

"I know that."

"Then why can't you find them?"

"This isn't our usual system. Maybe it just needs your magic touch."

"So take me there."

*****

"So, what are we going to do?"

"We're going to find a way home, Adam."

"I don't like it here."

"I know that."

"I don't even have the vaguest notion of how to deal with these people. You're the one who deals with the X-punks."

"And you spend far too much time in nightclubs or following Victor on his expiditions."

"At least Victor has interesting ideas of how to spend an evening."

"And Father will be missing you in the lab."

"He has plans for me, doesn't he?" Adam's hands trembled so much that he had to put down his tools for a moment.

Scott smiled at him gently. "Yes, brother." He stroked the bangs back.

"I hate this. I hate him. I hate all of it!"

"Even Victor."

Adam sighed. "No, not Victor, or Logan, or you. But I hate knowing what I am. I hate Father treating me like property while I'm in the lab and like a human when I'm out of it. And coming home from campus is always the worst. He's going to kill me one of these days and when I wake up inside a clone, I'm not going to remember."

"No, Adam. He won't kill you. He would kill me first. He won't let you die."

"Why does he do these things to me then?" Adam demanded in a harsh whisper.

"Because of your genetics. He thinks in terms of centuries, which you should do as well."

"I'm only eighteen Scott. I'm not even a quarter century yet. I can't see through his eyes. I can't turn off my emotions. I'm not a scientist."

"You are for the most part. Adam," Scott sighed. "Would it be more comforting if I told you that he does it because he can?"

"Yes, but that implies that there's another explaination."

"He does it because he loves you and the only way he can give you things that are a part of him is to give you talents."

"He doesn't love me. He doesn't love anyone."

"Adam, he doesn't lust after you, but he loves you." Scott leaned forward. "You do understand the difference don't you?"

Adam shrugged. "I suppose I do. Victor loves me, my classmates lust after me. But there's not an ounce of passion in Father's soul."

"There is, just not for other sentient beings." Scott smiled gently. "How's it looking?"

"It's a brilliant mess. Who was working on this?"

"Jean from what I can ascertain."

"Then she's allowed nowhere near it."

"I'll tell her that. With pleasure. Can you believe that she tried to kiss me?"

"Well, she's always been a little soft in the head." Adam leaned against Scott's legs as he worked. His brother stroked his bangs, much as he would a cat.

"Theories on how we got here?"

"There's an odd warp in our house."

"Really? Do you think so? How's that?"

"Because I was whisked away from the hall and ended up outside of this madness. I assume that something similar happened to you. Have you found Father? Victor and Logan weren't around when I got home. I thought you'd gone out to dinner."

"Without telling the cook?"

"Mrs. B wasn't home."

"That should have tipped you off to something strange. We wouldn't have gone to dinner without leaving someone at home to greet you."

Adam shrugged. "I was tired. Comps are murder."

"True. You'll be getting your doctorate when?"

"They said that the final grades would be posted in two weeks. I'll have the results then. We'll see if I passed or not."

"I'm sure you did. How is your shoulder?"

"Fine." Adam's fingers moved quickly to redesign the circuitry of the machine. "I don't understand the mechanics of inter-dimensional travel. You know that right?"

"No one understands inter-dimensional travel. Except perhaps for that girl. What's her name?"

"Illyana? Yes. I want my kitten."

"I know. Do you need help with that?"

"No, but don't you dare leave me alone here."

"I never realized that you were so insecure."

"I'm terribly insecure. I cling to my kitten and he doesn't mind it. He rather enjoys it." Adam leaned his head back into Scott's lap. "My only other option here might be Annabelle, and I shudder to think of the consequences of that particular possibility."

"True that could be quite scary." Scott watched the mechanical transformation. He was better at programming than circuitry design, but he did understand the basics. Adam, however, seemed to ignore all the rules that Scott had ever learned for design. His designs worked and that was the important part of it.

"What are you doing?" Betsy demanded, hands on her hips.

"Shove it Ms. Briton," Adam snapped.

"I don't think so, Gambit. I don't think you should be anywhere near that equipment. Especially, since you are most likely one of Sinister's clones."

"Sinister? Who the fuck is she talking about, Scott?"

Scott shrugged. "I think they mean Father."

"Father? Sinister? Simply because he has fangs and glowing red eyes? Well, so do I and no one's ever thought I was sinister."

"Your fangs are enamel and your eyes only flash when you're upset. Besides, you're much smaller and easier to manipulate."

"Bastard."

"Shut up, Adam."

"Fuck yourself, Scott."

"You first."

"Don't tempt me. I cannot believe that you've told me not to have sex. There, that should increase the capabilities of the machinery. The scan range should be increased by more than three times with that arrangement. Who designed this thing?"

"I did," Charles Xavier stated from the doorway. Adam's head snapped towards the voice. Betsy smiled at him as he looked her up and down.

"Then you did a piss-poor job of it, Charles. Come along, Scott, let's give it a test run."

"Neither of you will touch that equipment. I don't understand why Jean thought you should be allowed the run of this house, but until I have a complete explination, neither of you will run free around here."

"I doubt you could keep us," Scott stated. "But we'll have a little chat, then we'll get back to what we were doing in the first place." Scott typed in the search parameters, then turned the chair to face Xavier.

"Who are you? How did you get here? And what exactly are you doing to my machinery."

"I'm Scott. This is Adam. We came through some form of inter-dimensional warp. We are attempting to locate some people we know in order to determine exactly how different this world is to our own. How's it look, Adam?"

"Like a fucking morass of redundant wires and resistors. This is junk work, Charles."

Xavier started at the sound of his name. He simply could not wrap his mind around the fact that Gambit didn't have a Cajun accent. The harshness of a British "Charles" as opposed to the purr of a French "Charles" was a shock. "It is the best on the market."

"Not the pieces, asshole, the connections. You've used too much wire and thereby shortened the efficacy of your electrical connections."

"Step away from the machine."

"Or what, Briton?" Scott asked. He arched a brow. He crossed his arms and leaned back in the chair.

"New search parameters are negative. I'll see if I can boost the power. We aren't even picking up Katie and we know she's in the British Isles. If we aren't picking her up, we could simply be missing the others."

"Gentlemen," Betsy said with a smile, "don't make me move you."

"Oh, that would be interesting, sweetheart," Scott purred. Charles felt his eyes widening. Scott had never been that sensual about threats. The young man crooked a finger at the ninja.

Betsy stalked towards him. He stopped her with a thought. "Wolverine, computer room. Immediately!"

Scott snorted. "You think the runt's a match for me? You must be kidding me, Xavier. That Grey bitch can't stop me and she might be my equal mentally. Logan isn't even a challenge."

Logan stepped up behind Scott. He bared his claws. He felt a burning sensation and looked at his hands. They were glowing pink. "I wouldn't," Adam said mildly. "I don't take kindly to people sneaking up on my brother. Touch him and you'll die."

"Adam, try not to hurt him too badly."

"Just a little burn, he'll be fine if he stands down now." Logan stepped back. He sheathed his claws.

"When'd you start bein' able to charge things without havin' to touch them?"

"Puberty. Start the search." Scott triggered the search. "It's just not got enough power. We need to rig up a better generator. I'm going down to the generator room."

"I'll come with you."

"Neither of you will leave this room without my permission. This is still my home and you are guests here. We have things to discuss before I set you loose on my property."

"His property," Adam smirked. "How possessive."

Scott stood up. He kissed Betsy firmly. She stumbled back as he released her. "Bitter. Must be the body transfer. I remember you being much sweeter." He offered a hand to his brother. Adam stood tucking his tools away inside his leather trenchcoat. "Very well, Charles. We are guests and as such we will follow your rules. But mind, this is our choice, not your right. In our world, this is our home, not yours. The X-men are based in Orlando where we come from."

"Can we use the office? I like the paneling."

"It's been stripped."

"Stripped? By whom?"

"By Bastion."

"Haven't they killed him yet?"

"I think they may have, but not before he managed to actually implement that foolish plan of his."

"Operation: Zero Tolerance?" Adam snorted. "And they let him get away with it?"

"The X-men don't kill appearantly."

"Brilliant." Adam rolled his eyes. He dropped his sunglasses onto his nose. "I still need to go shopping."

"Maybe Grey will lend you some lipstick."

"Ew. Like I'd use anything of that woman's."

"Then Betsy here. She seems to have a similar taste in make-up."

"There are some things you will simply never understand, brother."

"Come on, brat." Scott caught his brother by the back of his neck. He rubbed the muscle there with his thumb as they walked. Betsy watched them with a little frown. She wasn't sure what to make of these two. Logan watched them as well, nostrils flaring. The kid wasn't holding up as well as he seemed to be on the surface. But Scott was the just as irritatingly confident as always.

Adam looked around the office sadly. "It was such a pretty set of mahogany. I think you should sue Bastion for damages. If you like we can see if we can get these things back. Honestly, I think it wouldn't be that difficult. We'll have Katie hack into the government computers and get it all transferred here. They'll end up taking all the charges."

"I don't believe that anything they took was. . ." Charles began.

"Of course it was, so they could justify the debt," Scott interrupted. "If they can sell off what they've stolen, then they can decrease the amount of debt that the watchdogs might call them on. Something on this scale costs somewhere in the billions. Anything they can use to off-set they will." Scott settled on the dilapidated couch that the team had dragged in from a thrift shop. Betsy took a seat. "Do you want to do this in one fell swoop and call all the merry creatures to attend?"

"Oh do. I want to see Grey get upset."

"Adam."

"And sweet Annabelle. Maybe I can steal a kiss and drive her mad."

"You can drive her mad by existing."

"I know," Adam smirked. "The Shadow bitch looks interesting."

"They call her Storm. She never became one of his pets."

Adam rolled his eyes. "Of course not. And I'm sure they've checked to make sure that he didn't leave some little tracers in her brain. Logan, why won't you rub out Scott's pains?"

"What ya talkin' about, boy?"

"His headaches. You've always got the perfect touch to make him feel better. Or have you never acknowledged the fact they you're attracted to the man?"

Logan stared. "Sorry, kid. Ya got the wrong Logan."

Adam shook his head. For an instant Logan could imagine that it really was Gambit. But the young man carried himself differently. He seemed lighter. And Scott was different. And it was more than the accent. He was a little more callous, harsher. Adam tipped his head to the side as if he was listening to something. Then, he stepped towards Xavier. Before anyone could stop him, he'd dropped into the man's lap. He ran his fingers down Xavier's cheek. "It's still in there, you know. I can wake it. If you want it."

Charles carefully lifted the sunglasses from, he hesitated to think of him as Gambit's, face. The red eyes were flatly serious. They were closer than ever before. He could see the slight flecks of white in them. Scott was braced to jump up and separate them. "What do you mean?" Charles asked.

"Your telepathy, old man. Do you want it back?"

"Yes, but it's been removed."

Adam shook his head. "You've locked it away from yourself. You're punishing yourself for something. I can feel it."

Xavier's eyes narrowed.

"I can feel it. Let me help you."

"I won't let you into my mind."

"You silly old goat. I'm already in your mind." Betsy sat up straighter at that. "I've been under your shields since the two of you arrived back on the campus. So has my brother." Scott waved with a smirk. "Let me lift these foolish blocks you've put on yourself."

Charles tilted his head to the side, studying the face that was so close. There were traces of eyeliner underlining the dark eyes. And there was a faint sheen of glitter in the wild shoulder-length hair. "Fine. Do it then," Xavier challenged. There was a brief spark of heat behind his eyes. Then, he felt something tearing loose. He cried out, or at least though he did as a flood of sensations returned.

//Now, Charles,// Scott chided. //You have to put your shields up now. We'll even leave. Though I don't know if we should.// Adam was sitting next to Scott when Charles finally opened his eyes. His shields were firmly in place once more. Jean skidded to a stop in the doorway.

//Professor!//

//I'm fine, Jean.//

"How 'bout translatin' fer the headblind?" Logan growled.

"Very well. He was successful. My powers have returned. Whether it is for the best has yet to be determined."

Adam rolled his eyes and yawned. "I'm tired, Scotty. I want to sleep."

"Charles wants an explination. Come up with one."

"You're the scientist."

"You're the politician."

"Fine. Inter-dimensional warp. Can we try to get home now?" Adam slumped against his brother's shoulder theatrically. "I'm just going to die if I don't get home. I'll pine away for my kitten until I'm nothing but skin and bones. I'll never know if I've gotten my degree."

"Oh stop bitching. You've only been here a few hours. I've been putting up with madness for over a week!"

Adam sniffled. "You don't understand me."

"You're a certified freak. I understand you well enough. Besides, who's to say that this universe's Victor is anything like the one at home. Lord knows Logan isn't." Scott glared at the Canadian. "I'd be in a much better mood if he were."

"Oh, he's just repressed."

Logan's eyes widened. He coughed. "You ain't sayin' what I think you are."

Adam's eyes danced. "Oh, yes, I am, old man. You are Scott's lover. And you like him well enough here too, I think. No matter how much you try to say that you're lusting after the Grey bitch."

"Jean, call the others. We'll discuss this as a group."

*****

The X-men gathered in the den. Since the war room had been stripped they had taken to using the den for meetings. Adam settled between Scott's knees to let the ladies have the rest of the sofa. Jean settled a hand on Scott's arm. Scott firmly removed it and set it on her own thigh. "I am not your husband. I can barely stand you, woman." Jean's jaw fell. Scott shook his head. "I am Scott Essex. Please note the last name. I am not the man you decided to fuck, ducks." He looked down at his brother. "You have confetti in your hair."

"We had a little party to relieve stress before comps."

"Comps were yesterday."

"I didn't comb it out before I went for the test."

"I see. Maybe I should be worried about the results."

"It's only comps. I can retake them if I fuck them up."

"Language," Jean chided.

"Fuck you, bitch," Adam shot back.

"No, Adam, that's a dumb twat, not a bitch."

"What's the difference?"

"Intelligence. Mystique is a bitch. Rogue is a twat."

"Ah! I've got it now. Thank you."

"I should wash yahr mouth out with soap, sugah," Rogue snapped.

"You can try, darling girl. I might even make it worth your while," Scott purred. "Or were you talking to Adam?"

Rogue gaped.

"What are we doing here, professor?" Bobby asked.

"We're going to decide what to do with our houseguests."

Scott lifted his chin. A tiny sneer appeared on his lips. "Guests. Oh, of course. You are not equipped to host anyone in this place. You don't even have a proper cook."

"Some of us can boil water," Jean stated.

"Oh, I can boil water. That's how one makes tea," Adam informed her. "I can burn it too."

//Pyro.//

//Bastard.//

"And what are our guests doing here?" Hank asked curiously.

"Trying to get to where they belong. And they call you a genius. Can't even find a cure for the Legacy virus."

"Someone would have to die to make it work!"

"Good of the many, Doctor," Scott sneered. "One death to save how many? That's right millions. You are a fool, Henry. A soft-hearted fool."

Jean shivered. "You are a callous bastard."

"It's merely tactics. If you have to sacrifice one person to save the whole population, you do it. What does one life matter in the scheme of things?"

"It matters quite a lot. I am a doctor not a murderer."

"You have to choose, Henry. Do you want to be a researcher or a doctor?"

"I don't have to give up my humanity to be a researcher."

Adam snickered. "You have to turn off that big heart of yours, doctor, or you'll be hurt."

"Better to have a heart and have it bleed than to be a monster."

"Oh, and aren't you a monster? Aren't we all? We're what nightmares are made of," Scott purred. "We're what the world has never accepted. We are what they cannot understand. We are what they fear. We hold the very world within our grasp."

"Then why haven't you taken it?" Charles snapped.

"I'm waiting for Adam to get his degree."

Xavier clamped down on his anger.

"That's what got you into your situation the first time," Adam chided. "You didn't turn off all of your humanity, only your anger. You have to destroy all of it, if you're going to do it."

"And how would you know that?"

"I've seen it done. It's harsh, but possible. Other than that, you should let your emotions flow. If you stopper them, they'll just sneak up on you later."

"Sinister is your father then," Charles stated. "I'd wondered."

"I was thinking of someone else actually. His name is Eric something. You know, your lover."

Charles glared at the smiling young man. "Eric is not my lover."

Scott raised his brows. Jean coughed and turned her head.

//Traitor,// Xavier teased Jean.

"Now then, what happened when you arrived here?"

"I was immediately dragged into being your field leader, though I am not prepared, nor want the job. Grey here, decided I was her long lost husband whom she has not yet gotten over. She has been using me for pointless flirting ever since. Adam popped his shoulder back into joint with the aid of Dr. McCoy and then we adjourned to computer in an attempt to find our housemates."

"We didn't try to find father," Adam said suddenly. "He wouldn't be too far away would he? Unless he's in Florida. With a little more power, we'd have that area covered as well."

"He could be practically anywhere. Remember, Katie's in Scotland."

Adam frowned. He put his chin in his hand and thought as the X-men started to interrogate them. "Who exactly is your father?" Xavier asked calmly. "Sinister?"

"Dr. Nathaniel Essex. Who is Sinister?"

"What Nathaniel Essex became when Apocalypse took away his emotions," Jean explained.

Adam looked up. "Apocalypse? He's dead. Father said he's been dead for nearly a century. Some woman did him in."

"Did him in how?" Jean asked. "He's only ever been vulnerable to solar energy like Scott projects."

"Dismemberment I believe. It's in the nature of Externals. Something about killing one another for power." Adam shrugged. "I don't really remember it all. So this Sinister of yours, what does he do?"

"He is a genetic researcher bent on the domination of the world by mutants," Xavier stated. "He is unmitigated evil."

Scott snorted. "That would depend on how one defines evil, I think. I think to have the answer to a medical problem and to not pursue it is criminal. I think the neglect of one's family is evil. I think that the mere fact that you have manipulated the minds of your students to be evil. Do they even know about the gaping holes in their shields that your training has left them?"

"What are you talking about?" Betsy demanded. She frowned at Xavier. "We have a communication link that can be activated at a moment's notice, nothing more."

"I've been walking in your mind, Briton. And the minds of all of you since I showed up here. The psychopath in the corner, what's your name, girl?"

"Marrow."

"She's the only one with decent shields. Honestly, do you think that the protection you've built for them is respectable?"

"They built their own shields. If they have decided to allow me or Jean into their minds it is their own choice. I think that you will find it more difficult now that they do not regard you as Scott Summers."

"That doesn't explain why I'm able to do the same thing," Adam pointed out.

"Gambit was trusted."

Logan snorted. "So long as he didn't touch the silver."

"Useless material unless one is hunting demons. Oh, Scott, I just remembered, Belladonna invited me down to hunt demons with her this summer. Do you mind terribly?"

"No, of course not. Although, I was hoping to finish project 78099. I can muddle along without you I expect."

"I'll finish the circuits before I go. Remind me to pick up some weaponry."

"Bring one home for study. And get as many samples as you can. I still hold that they are merely a subspecies of human."

"Perhaps. There are more things than science alone can explain. Briton's fashion sense for one."

"Watch it Goth-boy or I'll not take you to the mall with me."

Adam put on his most innocent face. Scott smiled in amusement and Xavier was struck by a wistful grief that he'd escaped for several months. It was strange to have his son back, but not be able to connect with him at all. Even if he had been known to manipulate Scott's tendencies towards the good, it was better than this callous creature in front of him. But the smile was affectionate. Perhaps some of the man he knew was still in the shell, hidden from sight, but still there. His tenderness towards his brother was evidence of humanity. Scott stole a glance toward Logan. The Canadian was chewing on a cigar. His was otherwise still. Xavier's eyes widened. "You really are Logan's lover then? That wasn't merely an attempt to get his goat?"

"For several years now, Charles. For several years." Scott let his eyes drift across the company. The ones who obviously didn't know Summers from anyone didn't seem to care, but the rest of them were staring at him in varying degrees of shock. Logan's cigar fell from his mouth. "You've dropped your phallic symbol, pet."

"What the fuck didja just call me, boy?" Logan growled.

"Pet." Scott smiled. He stood up when it seemed clear that the other man wasn't moving. He walked across the room. He stopped when the claws touched his chest. "Bone? What happened, Love? No metal here? No Weapon X bullshit to fuck with your mind?"

"Magneto tore it out. Still sharp enough." Scott pressed forward and Logan pulled his hand back before he could break the skin. "Back off."

"Why, pet? Don't you like me?" Scott straddled Logan's legs. "Part of you does," he purred. "Bet I could make the rest of you like me too," he whispered directly into the man's ear. "You can even use your claws. I don't mind a little pain. I heal up quickly enough." Scott purposely cut his cheek on the sharp bone.

"What kind of game are you playin' here, slim?"

"If you don't know, I need more practice." Scott pouted. "Fine. Ignore me. It's not the first time. You always come around." He pushed up to his feet. He wiped the blood off his cheek and pressed it to Logan's lips. "Want a taste?"

"Back off, Slim, before I hurt ya."

"There's nothing you can do to me to possibly make my week any worse, pet." Scott flopped back into his seat, arranging his legs automatically around his brother. Jean swallowed weakly. She forced the scene out of her mind. She didn't want to think about Scott and Logan not being in love with her.

"How can you be a telepath? I would have known if you were," Jean stated. "I had a link with Scott's mind for years."

"I'm not the Scott you knew. Besides, what good is having a father with the ability to manipulate a being's genetic build if he never utilizes it? He's gotten all of his powers via grafts. I have several as well. So does Adam."

"Lovers?!" Logan gaped.

"Yes, pet, lovers," Scott supplied patiently.

"What do you have against the X-men?" Charles asked, attempting to move the conversation back to more important matters.

"They are a bunch of do-good idiots who cannot manage to find their way around a city block without destroying something. They bring undue attention to themselves which is why they need those damned costumes of theirs. Not to mention their foolish separatist notions. Mutants cannot survive without the replenishment from human stock. I cannot see why they fail to see that. If mutants breed only among themselves, they are more likely to die out than live on. Somehow you, and your misguided disciples, not to mention the overbearing asshole you are married to are the most frustrating and irritating part of mutant politics!" Adam snapped. He looked around sheepishly. "I just finished my thesis on the topic."

"We want humans and mutants to be equal," Xavier stated.

Scott stared at him.

"Equal? You? Good lord. Next your going to tell me that Eric Lensherr isn't trying to make a separate country for mutants."

"He's already taken over Genosha."

"Genosha?" Adam stated. "They have such a strict anti-mutant policy that I daren't even apply for a visa to visit. Anyway, that's immaterial. In our world, you are a foolish old goat who believes in separate but equal treatment for mutants, since obviously we'll never be able to get along."

"And where do you fall in the spectrum, young man?"

"Me? Oh, I'm all for equality. Even when we take over. I rather like the democratic system."

"You're involved in politics then?" Charles pressed. He'd never known Gambit to be involved in anything that would attract too much attention.

"Only local school politics at the moment. I've not been old enough. I just turned 18 last month." Adam looked up. "So now Scott can't keep me out of sex clubs any longer."

"No, but the bouncer can."

"Not any bouncer I've ever met."

"Well, if you went to legal clubs things would be different."

"That's no fun. So many rules. Now, old goat, what else do you have to say?"

"Lovers?" Jean asked.

"Yes, Grey, lovers," Scott rolled his eyes. "Now, if you'll excuse us, Adam and I have a generator to jury-rig."

*****

"There, that should give us enough juice to be able to pick up Scotland."

"From Scotland to the world. Let's go, brother."

"You've got grease on your cheek."

"I like it," Scott said. "Makes them nervous when I do things around here. Makes them nervous when I open my mouth."

"I get nervous when you open your mouth. Maybe it's more than just them. Maybe you strike fear into the heart of everyone you meet."

"Would that were true." Scott grabbed Adam around the throat and tickled him. Adam laughed. Hank stopped dead at the sound. He peered down the hallway and adjusted his glasses. "Then *you* would be afraid of me, brat."

"I am. Absolutely terrified of you. Can't you tell?"

"Hello, doctor, and how does your lab rat grow?"

"With snips and snails or sugar and spice?" Adam asked with a wicked grin. "So, good doctor," he said as Scott pulled him along with the same headlock, "is it boys or girls on your plate?"

"Women, Remy, women."

"Adam!"

"Adam. My mistake." Hank smiled.

"You are very good at that," Scott said impressed. "It took me much longer to discover his buttons."

"Ah, but I have an advantage that you've forgotten. I've known Remy for nearly three years. His reactions are still very much the same. There must be something to argue for the nature side of the equation in that."

"I don't know. Maybe you should ask Annabelle," Scott suggested

"Who?"

"Rogue. From what I hear, she was the one with the best insight into this LeBeau character."

"I hate French," Adam stated. "I hate it. They never pronounce enough letters for me."

"Shut up."

"And Annabelle is a bitch."

"Didn't we discuss this?"

"Oh, I'm sorry. She's a twat."

"Good boy. He's so clever. You only have to beat things into him once."

Hank raised his brows.

Scott blinked once, then twice. "Oh dear God. That is *not* what I was implying you sick bastard. He's my brother."

"Hey, lighten up. You're going to choke me."

"Don't worry. I won't kill you here, lest I not be able to return to my own place. I'll keep you around that long at least."

"Scott, let me up."

"Why should I?"

"Um, you'll make a better impression on the natives?"

"I suppose."

"Has anyone set up a room for Adam?" Hank asked.

"Maybe." Scott did a brief survey. "No, they haven't. I'll take care of it. He can share my room."

"I thought you and Jean were sleeping together?"

"I wouldn't touch that woman with a ten foot pole. No, I've my own room. Adam can share that with me. I don't mind it."

"I do. You get up at a worm chasing hour of the morning."

"It will do you good to be up at a reasonable time for once. How did you ever survive a college dorm?"

"My charm and wit. Scott?"

"I don't know. I think I like you submissive like this. Makes life easier."

"Please?" Adam begged.

"You don't mean it."

"Well, no, but it's better for appearances." Scott loosened his grip a bit, but left his arm around the younger man's shoulders. He knew Adam was out of sorts.

"Let me show you the room. Goodnight, Henry."

"Goodnight, Scott. Adam."

"Doctor."

Hank watched them leave the basement with a sad smile. It was difficult to have Scott's face on a stranger. As one of the original five, McCoy felt honor-bound to protect the memory of his best friends. He sighed. "Scott Summers, fearless leader of the X-men," he whispered. "Don't let me forget that he's not you." He felt a smile curl up his lips. "Although we now have the answer to an age old question, your eyes aren't blue, they're black." McCoy laughed to himself. He'd always wondered about that.

*****

Jean looked in on their guests. Scott had taken a room away from her and it still hurt somewhere deep in her heart. When he was asleep, he looked like her Scott. She missed him terribly. She had to repress a smile. Remy, no Adam, she corrected herself, was curled up next to Scott, trenchcoat wrapped around him like a security blanket. I wonder what Remy was like at 18, she thought. She jumped when Rogue stepped close enough to look in. //Rogue?//

//It's hard, but I know it ain't Remy. It's easy. The Swamp Rat didn't push near as many buttons as this version. He says that we've. . . well, he says that I call him fucktoy.// The Mississippi native blushed scarlet. //I can't believe that.//

//Who knows. Perhaps you've learned to control your powers in their world. Maybe you should ask him.//

//If they're still here in the morning. It hurts don't it?//

//More than I ever thought it could. My heart feels like it's bleeding. I thought I was getting past it. I thought I'd be able to get up in the morning and not miss him with every bone of my body, just most of them. There's an emptiness in my life that's Scott sized. I had to contain the blast. He never knew what hit him. But dear God, they put a bomb in his chest. But you know what it's like.//

//Every time I look at Adam, I see Remy's body. I remember what he smelled like. I remember being able to touch him just that once without gloves. I remember the peaceful look on his face, even with that thing through his heart. I can't believe they killed him like that. I know people get superstitious. Remy was the worst about that. But to believe in vampires enough to pound a stake through a man's heart. And you know he was fighting.// Rogue sighed and forced the thoughts away. //Do you think they'll be able to get back to where they came from?//

//I don't know. But I can't condemn them to stay here when I know. . .//

//That Logan's never going to look at Scott the way he wants?//

//Actually, I don't think that's the problem. Logan's been after Scott for years, even though he's never realized it. I know that they're fighting the same fight we are. They're fighting for the professor's dream and they don't even know it. Mutant equality.// Jean sighed and Scott stirred. Both women froze.

//Grey? Annabelle? Do you need something?// Scott tightened his arm around his brother and Adam curled in more tightly.

//Just checking on you.//

//Goodnight, Jean,// Scott said in amusement.

//Goodnight, ladies. It's too late for flirting,// Adam told them. //Shoo. Scott'll have me up before ten tomorrow, so I need to sleep.//

"Shut up, brat," Scott muttered. He didn't even bother opening his eyes. Jean closed the door silently.

//Goodnight.//

****

Sinister stared at the monitor. He had never bothered to take the tracer off of Scott Summer's genetic trail, but since the man was dead there was no way that it should be going off. "The X-men cannot have pulled another one of those rabbits out of their hat. There was scarcely enough material left to recreate Summers' body." He frowned. Perhaps the computer was on the fritz. "Hennesy. Get in here. Diagnostics on all systems," he ordered. He strode to the lab. A good problem always cleared up his thought process.

*****

Creed lurked on the edge of the X-men's headquarters. He smirked at the pathetic security system. "You punks have gone straight downhill without the Cajun doin' yer security." He shook his head. "I'm ashamed of ya, Wolverine. Ya should be out here checkin' this shit." He evaded the security easily. Soon he was standing at the front door. "Thanks. I'd love ta come in." He jimmied the lock on the door. He grinned as the house alarms finally went off.

*****

Logan bolted down the stairs to the front hall. His nose twitched. His claws shot out. Creed met halfway in the air and they settled into a flurry of angry blows. Blood shot into the air and stained the floor. Marrow pulled a bone from her ribs and grinned. This was her kind of fight. They were out for blood.

*****

Scott and Adam skidded to a stop at the top of the stairs. "What the fuck do they think they're doing?" Adam asked in shock.

Scott's jaw hung open. "Logan and Victor? Fighting? They never fight. Well, not like that. They're going to kill each other."

"That's what they think. I've got my kitten if you get your pet."

"Got him. Three, two, one, go."

The combatants froze, snarls still on their faces. The X-men stared down at the sight. Slowly, Sabretooth lowered his hands to his side and the snarl changed into a look of confusion. Wolverine followed the same pattern. "Whoever's in my head better fuckin' stop it," he growled.

"I don't think so, pet," Scott stated. "What is going on here?"

Victor Creed was used to the unusual. It defined his life. But to stare at two dead men who were acting as if he and Logan were nothing more than errant school-children was more than he was willing to take at face value. "Who the fuck are you?" he snarled. "Ya smell like Cyclops, but you can't be." His eyes traveled up the two steps to light on Gambit. The Cajun was looking at him. His frown was petulant. "Sinister finally clone you, punk?" he asked more calmly.

"Answer my question, Victor," Scott ordered. Creed's eyes snapped to Scott's face. His eyes widened.

"Not until somebody tells me how the fuck ya came back from the dead."

Scott raised a brow.

"Really, Victor, just answer the question. Why on earth are you fighting with Logan, kitten?" Adam said.

"Shit. Sinister did a number on ya didn't he, kid. I ain't gonna attack, so let me go, Wheels."

Xavier looked at the killer. "I'm not the one holding you," he said mildly. Creed's eyes widened.

"Lay off, Pheonix. I swear I ain't gonna do anythin'. Ya can read that right?"

"Oh, yes, I can read it. I know exactly what you want." Jean crossed her arms. Her robe slid down her shoulder. She clucked as his eyes traced the line of her arm. She smiled at his confusion. "I'm not holding you."

Creed growled. Logan turned his head to the stairs. "Lemme go, Slim," he said quietly.

"Don't do anything foolish, Logan."

"Summers? He ain't a spook."

"Yer in fer a shock or two, 'tooth. Start by askin' fergiveness fer attackin'."

"I don't fuckin' think so, runt." Gambit snickered. Creed's eyes jumped to him. He frowned. "What's so funny, punk?" he snarled. He wasn't used to the Cajun being so calm. But then again Sinister must have done something to the kid's memories to make him lose the accent.

"Come now, kitten, don't be foolish."

"I ain't never gutted ya fer callin' me that, but there's a first time fer everythin', boy."

Adam laughed out loud. He shook his head. "You heard, Logan. Ask for forgiveness."

"What?" Creed would swear later that he hadn't squeaked out the word, but it couldn't be verified.

"You heard me, kitten. Apologize for attacking, Logan. Then, we'll sit down and discuss this like reasonable adults. Even if they X-punks *do* listen in."

Creed's brows rose. "No. Fuckin'. Way. Gumbo."

Adam's face creased into an angry frown. "Down," he said softly, dangerously. Creed felt his knees bending. Soon, he was on his knees. "Apologize."

"Sorry." The word was grudging.

"Do you accept, Logan?"

"Yeah." Wolverine was disturbed by the tableau. He didn't like anyone messing with his head. He didn't like seeing it happen to anyone else, even if it was Sabretooth. It just wasn't honorable.

"Very well. You're free then." Creed got to his feet slowly and shook his head.

"What the fuck are you? Ya ain't one of the doc's clones? You ain't Gambit that's fer sure."

"Maybe I am. You'd never know, would you?" Adam scanned through the man's images. He blinked. //Did you really?// he asked, bringing up the image of a Paris bedroom.

"Yeah." Creed swallowed hard. "Get outta my head, punk."

"Why should I? You've proven yourself a risk. Why attack Logan? You're friends, comrades. You've been through Hell together. What's angered you into this unreasoning state?" Adam demanded as they moved to the den.

"What the fuck are ya talkin' about?" Creed swiped at the Cajun, who evaded the blow. "Gumbo, what happened to ya? I thought you were dead. Summers too?"

"First off, my name is Adam. Adam Michael Essex to be exact. I am not Cajun. No one calls me 'gumbo'. I am not Gambit. I am not goddamned Remy LeBeau. I don't think I'd even like the man very much. And come off it, kitten. You and Logan were together during Weapon X. You fought together in one war or another. You've always been like brothers. So long as I've known you at least."

"I need a drink," he muttered. "Well, runt, what's goin' on here?"

Logan shook his head. "Long story. Short bit is these two ain't the same guys ya knew. I know it don't look it at first glance, but they ain't." Logan poured two shots of whiskey. He glanced over at Scott who shook his head.

"I'll take one," Jean stated. Logan grinned at her.

"Gettin' adventurous, Jeannie." He handed Creed a shot, downed his own, then refilled both glasses and added one for Jean. Adam curled up next to his brother. Creed held out his glass for another shot.

When both participants in the fight were sufficiently insulated, Sabretooth asked, "So give me the long version."

"Different dimension."

"Ya think? That ain't Gambit. I know the punk's reactions." Suddenly something seemed to click. "Different dimension. Ya ain't tellin' me that the Cajun's really Sinister's son are ya?"

Adam pouted. "I don't know why they insist on using such stupid names."

"They're afraid of reprisals," Scott explained.

"Fools. Victor, sit down. You're too tall to stand. You'll give me a neck ache."

"Aw, shit, he's poutin'. Tell him to stop."

"What's the matter, Sabretooth?" Jean asked with a smirk. "Does it make you go all gooey inside?"

"Ya gotta know what the punk's like when he starts poutin', woman. Stop him or I'll beat him."

"Oooo, Really?" Adam asked eagerly. Creed looked at him in shock and took a step back.

"What is it?"

"A sadomasochist," Scott replied. "You taught him after all."

"He didn't teach me. I simply developed that way. Not that it matters. I've a healing factor, kitten. It's not going to do you any good. Sit down," Adam stated more firmly, pointing to a chair. Creed sat, clutching his drink. "That's better." Adam flopped onto his brother's lap. "I don't like it when you two fight."

"That don't matter to me, punk."

"Bullshit. Anyway, where is this doc you keep referring to?"

"He ain't someone you just call up, kiddo."

"He must be *somewhere*," Adam pressed.

Creed shrugged. "Yeah. I guess. Ya can find him if ya try hard enough. Hell, he's probably on the way considerin' that Summers is here."

"Why is that important?" Scott asked.

"Because Father has a hard on for your genetic legacy," Adam said, rolling his eyes. "That's why he adopted you you know."

"And you fit in how?" Creed asked.

"I'm one of his experiments." Adam shrugged looking more like Gambit than he had previously. He caught Creed's flinch. "What is wrong with you, Victor? You knew that's what Gambit was. I saw that much in your mind. No one else in this room seemed to. Why are you so surprised?"

"It's just that, well, Gumbo'd never say it. He knew, but he didn't believe it. He couldn't. Not and stay sane. The doc's an evil bastard. I don't like the fucker myself. And the kid, well, he was so fucked up by the idea that he just sort of blanked it out."

Adam frowned. "Let me see your memories of this Sinister."

"I don't like havin' ya in my head, punk."

"I don't care overly-much. There's nothing you could do that hasn't already been done to me. So open your mind like a good kitten and I'll make sure it's worth your while."

Creed snorted. "What are ya thinkin' of payin' with?"

Adam's smile slide across his face as his eyes narrowed. "I'm sure you're bright enough to guess."

The mercenary helped himself to another drink. //Yer freakin' me out here,// he allowed when he felt the gentle press against his shields. Unlike the previous cold, sharp pain, this touch was soft and mellow.

//I don't mean to, dear heart. Just let me see why you're so keen on making a scene.//

Creed laid his mind open to the young man's perusal, not afraid of him in the least. Adam went pale as he found the Weapon X memories. Scott's arm tightened around him, even as the older man steered the conversation into more practical matters, like security. Adam left the comfort of his brother's presence to straddle Creed's lap and wrap his arms around him. //My poor kitten, my poor, poor kitten. Your pain is exquisite. I cannot even begin to explain its purity. But, Victor, why are your memories of Sinister hidden?//

//They're there, behind that door.//

//What door?//

//Right next to you. Yer damn near in them.//

//Funny. I can't see them. I can't seem to reach them at all. I wonder. . . I need to check something. Will you open to me again if I leave you for a moment?//

//Yeah.//

//Grey.//

//What?//

//Let me see your memories of Sinister, if you will?//

//There are plenty. I even traveled back in time to see his wife die.//

//Rebecca? Might I see those memories first?// There was a bittersweet yearning attached to the request.

//What's wrong, Sweetie?// She asked gently, seeing him as the teen he was for a moment.

//Father won't talk about Mother unless I'm very upset. He won't let me see her. I just. . . I hoped that maybe. . .//

//Of course.// She drew him to where the memories were stored.

//Hellfire!//

//What?//

//I can't see them. I just can't see them. It's as if he doesn't exist. Scott? Have you trouble seeing memories of Father?//

//I haven't tried.// Scott did a quick scan into Jean Grey's mind. He sat up straight. //That's funny.//

The head-blind in the company didn't notice the conversation swirling around them. Scott and Adam's eyes locked for a moment. "Charles, why are we unable to see the memories of Father that you hold?"

"Sinister is not your father. Not here and now. Scott was orphaned at seven, you at four. Sinister had no hand in raising you. Perhaps that is the difficulty," Xavier said almost gently.

Scott shook his head. "That's not the situation. We can't see even where they're stored. If anything, we should be drawn to those memories."

"Unless we need them to get home," Adam said softly.

Scott frowned. "In order to lock onto the correct universe you mean?"

"Yes."

"That's a possibility. But there should be no chance of us meeting this Sinister if that were part of the problem. We shouldn't be here, if that's the case."

Adam shook his head. "I don't think that's the problem. I think we need their 'Sinister'. We need the ability to open a tesseracts, which is one of the gifts we don't have between us."

"Are you so sure of that?" Hank asked.

"Explain yourself, Doctor." The sharpness of Scott's tone was still a shock. This man was content in his power and sure of his superiority.

"Theoretically, Gambit's powers should allow him to open a rift in the universe. And there's a good possibility that you yourself have the ability to move through worlds. Your children all have time travel capabilities, not to mention Cyclops and Phoenix going back and forward in time with no ill effects. Together your powers should be up to the task."

Adam shook his head. "The biokinetic charge you mean? That's useful only for indulging my pyro-mania. Or for lighting the cigarettes I don't smoke."

Scott snorted. "That you don't smoke when you think I'll catch you rather."

"Exactly. But what children are you talking about?"

"Cable and Rachel."

"Who?"

Jean's brows rose. "You don't have. . . But what about Nathan? Didn't you and Madeline have a child?"

"Madeline? Who is that?"

"A clone of me," Jean answered.

Scott's lips curled into a snarl. "That's a disgusting proposition. One of you in the world is more than enough to turn my stomach."

"Why do you hate me so much?" she demanded.

"You're a separatist bitch with a personal agenda that includes revenge for the petty crimes of a few humans."

"That's your Jean Grey, not me."

"Fine, but don't ask me to trust you or love you or even fuck you. You aren't my type. I'm loyal to my lover."

"I missed somethin'. Who's yer lover?" Creed asked.

Scott smiled at him in amusement. "Logan, of course." He pushed his shade up onto the top of his head. Creed's jaw dropped. "Just one surprise after another, hmm?"

"Stop purrin' at him," Logan said almost absently. Half the heads in the room turned towards him in surprise.

"Have you reconsidered?"

Logan snorted. "I don't fuckin' think so, Cyke. Just don't wanna see ya get gutted."

"Oh, I don't think he'd get close enough for that. Besides, Father gave me a healing factor ages ago."

"Ages?" Adam asked, curling up more comfortably on the startled Sabretooth's lap.

"You were six."

"You wouldn't have had your growth spurt yet."

"It doesn't interfere. Logan was born with it after all."

"Have you looked at him lately?"

"Don't be catty."

"But I like being catty."

"Don't pout."

"Blah. Blah. Blah. My brother the bore."

"My brother the brat," Scott snapped back. "Victor, smack him for me? Hard?"

Sabretooth considered. "Naw. Figure ya can do it yerself."

The young man smirked. He hit his brother with a sharp burst of his blasts. "Ouch! You're so mean to me."

"That's much more effective with eyeliner you know."

"Why do you think I use it?" Adam smiled sweetly at Creed. "Kitten, will you take me out tonight? Show me around the town?"

Sabretooth held his hands up and away from the comfortable support he'd been offering. "I ain't gettin' involved in this shit. Yer on yer own, punk."

The red and black eyes were pleading. "If all you want is that bloody back-woods accent I can fake it for the night. Belladonna swears I've got it down."

"You know Belle?" Jean asked in surprise, "and you are still attached to Creed?"

"Belle's a good friend. We go shopping together. We hunt together. She helps me get samples for my experiments. She's not a love interest. The sex was fun, but she's about to be married." Adam shrugged. "Somehow I doubt that her husband would take kindly to my visits if he knew what they were like. But honestly, Kitten, is that all it is? I can pretend to be Remy fucking LeBeau if you want."

Creed's hands settled back on the kid's hip and back where they'd been before. He considered. "I'm not gettin' involved in this. It ain't healthy. I finish this drink. I'm out." He smiled gently at the young man. "And don't try poutin' at me neither. It ain't gonna work. I know when to cut my losses."

Adam did pout then. He was headed into a full-scale sulk. Such things had been known to get the fiercest mercs in the country to acquiesce. Creed wasn't that weak. He stood, then carefully set Adam down on the chair.

"Iím out. See ya fools later. I ain't comin' back 'til the boy's gone."

Scott frowned. "Victor?"

"I ain't dealin' with this shit. Like I said, I'm out. Have fun. I ain't gonna cause any more trouble here." Adam, bit at his trembling lower lip and Creed nearly ran from the room. Adam threw himself at his brother. Scott held him carefully.

//I want to go home now! I can't live without him. You know I can't. I'm going to die here.//

//You won't die here. I won't let you.//

//You don't understand I linked to him. I can't break it. He'll think I'm dead. I need him, Scott. I need him to stay sane. I can't do this.//

//Adam, listen carefully, I won't let you die. I will help you. You're linked to me too. It's not the same and I understand that, but you are not alone. I'll protect you. That's what big brothers are for, right?//

Adam buried his face in Scott's shoulder and let him rock him. //I already feel sick to my stomach.//

//That's fear.//

//It's going to kill me to be without him. I wasn't kidding when I said I'd pine away. I can't stand to be away from him for more than a few days unless there's someone else to fill the void.//

//Such as Belladonna or Annabelle?//

//Exactly.//

//Don't worry. We'll take care of you. Maybe you can convince Logan to coddle you a bit.//

Adam's snort made his reaction to that suggestion very clear. He sat up. He sighed. "I'm going to be a bitch for the rest of our stay here, you realize."

"Like you aren't normally?" Scott teased back.

Adam turned up his nose, mouth fixed in a pout. "Maybe Charles will keep me company. He's not hurt there after all."

Scott looked at his brother in disgust. "You really are a slut aren't you. Charles of all people? At the very least try Annabelle. At least she has some redeeming qualities. Besides, genetically, she's much better for you."

"What did I tell you about furthering your breeding experiments?"

"Fine. Worthington then. His wings are soft."

Warren's eyes narrowed. "And how exactly would you know?"

Scott stared at him. "Are you kidding? You never. . ." His jaw fell open. "I know it was just a fling for us, but really?"

Warren's eyes widened. He coughed. Betsy looked at him. He was starting to blush.

"You did!" Scott laughed. "Thank goodness some things are consistent."

"You slept with Warren and you wouldn't consider sleeping with me?" Jean asked, a little more sharply than she'd intended.

"I'm not a slut." Scott brightened. "Adam, what about the separatist bitch?"

Adam considered. "I donít know. She's awfully bony."

TBC

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