Miss Juliet Smith was favorably impressed with Xavier’s school for the Gifted. And she wouldn’t have to move. Unlike a few of her fellow laid off teachers, she still had family in the area that was talking to her. She knew she was lucky. Her parents hadn’t disowned her when she registered as a mutant. In fact, her father had gone out of his way to find her a new place to work. Mr. Summers had offered her a position before he found out what she taught. When she told him she was a special education specialist he closed his eyes and stated very firmly, “Thank God. Come on. Let’s get you a classroom. Are you good with working with both ends of the spectrum? We have geniuses and LD students both here. We need someone to help us with lesson plans for both ends of it. Even the elementary students move from classroom to classroom. We’re used to having high school students. Most mutants develop in to their powers at puberty you know. And we weren’t prepared for the influx of young kids who came in because their parents aren’t willing to support them. They’re so young. Sometimes it feels like we’re running an orphanage. Although, we definitely have better food. Speaking of which, do you have any special requirements?”
“For food? I’m a vegetarian.”
“Okay. I’ll let Clara know.”
“She just joined our staff as a cook. She’s from the Culinary Institute. The restaurant she was working at found out she was a mutant and decided she was a health risk.”
“Because she’s a really large cat. She has short fur all over her body and her bone structure is more feline than human. Her parents had her tail removed when she was a child, so I suppose you’d call her a Manx-minx. Absolutely gorgeous though. I don’t understand what people think. She makes some of the most delicious food I’ve ever tasted. Well, considering that I have people begging to trade chores with me whenever I’m supposed to be cooking might be an indicator. Let’s see. Do you need anything special in the way of medical supplies?”
“I have a low metabolism.” She shrugged. “I need a place to exercise because I gain weight very easily.”
“Also not a problem. I’ll show you around the teacher’s wing, if you’d like.”
“That would be nice.”
“We do cover room and board. And any other expenses you might incur, within reason of course, We provide a clothing stipend and spending money for free time, but we don’t pay all that well beyond that.”
“I have car payments.”
“Not anymore. We’ll pay off your car as well. And transfer the insurance and title in to Dr. Xavier’s name. They can’t cancel him. He’s legally a flatscan.” Scott scowled briefly.
“They cancelled your insurance as well?”
“Yeah. On the van. Xavier has the policy now. There hasn’t been a problem. And we have full medical care on site. We even do major surgery if it’s necessary. And your family is welcome to visit, if you want them to.”
“Does anyone else have family visit?”
“Jean’s parents come occasionally. The rest of us don’t have any family beyond the school. Bobby’s parents threw him out. I’m an orphan.” Scott shrugged. “Come on. This way to the teacher’s wing. The women stay in this wing. Kitty is planning to move out the boathouse with Ororo to help with the gardens. This would be your room here.” He opened the first door on the right. “Kitty is currently across the hall. Clara is next to her. Betsy is in the room next to you. Try to convince her to stay if you can, Warren wants a chance to woo her. The rest of the hall is unoccupied for the moment. You’ll have a full class schedule as soon as you’re settled in. As you can tell we’re a little spread thin. Jubilee has staked a claim to the room at the end of the hall for when she graduates.”
“Speaking of Jubilee, Slim, have you seen her?” Logan called coming out from the mentioned room.
“She still sulking?”
“Did you try the roof? That seems to be sulk central around here. Even Ro goes up there.”
“Great. She climbs like a monkey.” Logan looked pointedly at his boss. About some things Logan was an absolute stickler. He wouldn’t speak to a woman he hadn’t been properly introduced to.
“Logan, may I introduce Juliet Smith. Juliet Smith, this is Logan.”
“A pleasure to meet ya, ma’am.”
“Nice to meet you, Logan. Are you a teacher here?”
“Ignore him. He loves working with the kids, but he’s afraid it’s going to hurt his manly reputation.”
“Watch it, Slim.” Scott arched a brow. “Or I’ll tell Jeannie yer flirtin’ with the new teacher.”
“To quote the missing Ms. Lee, ‘as if.’” Logan shook his head.
“I’ll see ya at dinner, Juliet.”
“The women’s bathroom is here. It’s shared. We’re adding a second one at the end of the hall as a part of the remodeling project. The attic is up these stairs. There’s roof access from the attic or from the stairs. Or you can climb the wall or drainpipe if you feel you have to get up there and want to go from your window.”
“Is flying acceptable?”
“Any way you like it. Down that hall are the men’s rooms. Hank’s room is actually off the lab. Kurt is here at the end. Bobby across from him. Warren. The two next to Kurt are empty. The professor is at the end of the hall on the right. Jean and I are in the one across from him.”
“Jean Grey? The front page wedding?” Scott sighed.
“That would be us.”
“You don’t seem very happy about it.”
“Oh, I’m glad I married her. But I didn’t want it to be the media circus it ended up as. Now, down the stairs. This is the den. The library is through the connecting door, but you can get to it from the hall. The kitchen is here. You can grab a snack or whatever. We do the shopping once a week. Ro’s been keeping us in veggies lately. She’s turned half of the attic into a greenhouse and the conservatory has orange and lemon trees growing in it. The kids help with the weeding. They like getting out of the classroom once and awhile. The main dining hall is through that door. And Clara’s kitchen is behind this one. And the horrid chore of dish duty takes place through that door as well. Now, we go down one floor to the med-lab.”
Scott opened the door to the clinic. There was a boy sitting on the nearest exam table having his bandages changed. His forearm had a nasty burn from wrist to elbow. Kurt was carefully rubbing aloe on the burn before bandaging it again. “Ja, it hurts, Kind. Does it itch?”
“Gut. Then it is healing. You vill not be so quick to play wit’ fire again. And tell Herr Torch that he should speak wit’ Herr Scott if he is having trouble wit’ control.”
“Yes, Mr. Kurt.” Kurt helped the young man off of the table. “Hi, Mr. Scott. Bye!” Larry called as he ran out of the room.
"Guten tag, Mein Freund. You are well?”
“Yes. Kurt Wagner, this is Juliet Smith. She’ll be joining the staff.”
“It is always die greatest pleasure to meet a beautiful lady.” Kurt swept her a courtly bow, his tail curled over his head.
“Danke, Herr Doctor Wagner.”
“Bitte. And now, you must tell me what you teach.”
“I’m a special education specialist.”
“This is very good.”
“Kurt, Jimmy has hurt his knee. We are at the green house.”
“Ach. I am coming, Ororo. Until dinner.” Kurt blinked out of existence. Juliet wrinkled her nose.
“You get used to the brimstone after awhile. Let me show you the Danger Room.”
“The gym.” Juliet smiled. At least their name for it was accurate. She found most injuries happened in the gym. Especially with kids. She gasped at the metal walls. “Adamantium. It’s the sturdiest thing. This is where we train students to use their powers. We can activate psi shields for the room. And there is plenty of equipment for more unusual sports. We have Olympic quality gymnastic equipment. At Jubilee’s request. She’s quite good. A natural at it. And there are several others who are very gifted in that area. They’re only allowed on certain pieces when Jean is around as a spotter.”
“She’s got TK. She can catch them before they hit the ground usually.”
“That’s not what I was thinking about. You haven’t asked me about my powers.”
“I figured you’d tell me when you felt you should.”
“I suppose now is as good a time as any. I fix things and I fix minds.”
“That’s why I’m a special ed teacher. Sometimes, if I have enough time, I can rewire a child’s brain so it works properly. But only until they’re about 12, then things are too set for me to change. But I teach them to work around problems.” There was a sadness in the set of Scott’s mouth and she put a hand on his arm. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. Just wishing I’d met someone like you before I turned twelve. And you fix mechanical things as well?”
“Yes, I just sort of know how they work.”
Scott nodded. “And for that they wanted you out of the school system? Well, their loss is our gain.” Juliet smiled. Scott took her arm. “The showers and locker rooms are this way. And these stairs take you back up to the main floor.” He led her towards the stairs.
“What else is down here?”
“Storage and that sort of thing,” Scott glossed. “You’ll pick up that sort of thing along the way. Is there any furniture you want to bring with you? I’ll offer you Jean and the van.”
“Does she know you’re renting her out?”
“I have no secrets from her. Well, not many. She’s a telepath. She’s my wife.” Scott shrugged. “I’m doomed.”
“Scott Summers, what have you been filling this poor woman’s mind with?” Jean demanded as they came to the main level.
“Why, Darling, what ever could you be talking about? I was merely suggesting that she ask you to help her move her things.”
“Oh, so you’re whoring me out for my powers.” Scott put a hand to his heart.
“My heart, I would never do that to you.”
“Beep! Beep! Beep!” Bobby called from the den. “Sap alert! Sap alert!”
“Bobby!” Jean snapped.
“Come and meet the new teacher. Bobby Drake, meet Juliet Smith. She might be able to help you figure out where the problem with the Algebra class is."
“Really? Great! Hi, I’m the math and business teacher. Scott teaches geometry and trig though. And overblown Shakespearean poetry and romance writers.” Scott shook his head.
“I’m a special ed teacher.”
“Just what I need. I have a kid in my basic math class that I think might be LD. Can you talk to him?”
“Yes, of course.”
“I’ll tag you after dinner then. I’ve got to go bring Ro her gardening gloves. For some reason they ended up in her loft.”
“Just don’t freeze them like you did last time. Oh, did the latest report on the ACLU activity come in?”
“Yeah, they go to court in three weeks for the ex-employees of Holt, Brenshaw and Corrigan Account Specialists. Couldn’t happen to a nicer company. Oh yeah, I’m the CPA around here too. I do everyone’s taxes, so if you need me to do yours, just get me the stuff by the middle of February. I try to get everyone filed early.”
“What do you charge?”
“Twinkies of course? What else would I charge? Oh, Blue says hi.”
“Thanks, Popsicle. Go, before we have to scrape you up from the pavement.” Bobby slid out of the room. “Is the professor back yet?”
“No, he’s still in DC trying to get more support to amend the registration laws.”
“Is he still thinking that there’s no way to get it repealed?” Scott asked his wife.
“That’s the information he’s working on.”
“Damn. Oh, well, do we have any new kids today?”
“No, not today. There’s some interesting rumors flying around though. There’s a mutant friendly company calling itself Nightwing Enterprises. We might want to look in to them.”
“They’re incredible,” Juliet stated. “When I was fired, a friend gave me their number. She said they were hiring all sorts of people. They’re paying relocation costs to North Dakota.”
“Sort of like this job. Too good to be true.”
“We have a habit of doing the impossible around here. Walking through walls to flying carpets.”
“Let’s go to your place and get your things,” Jean said. She slipped a hand through Juliet’s arm and steered her to the garage. Scott went to his office. With the professor out of town, there was a lot to get done. Besides, he had a class to teach in a half an hour.
“Henri, I have an assignment for you.”
“Oui, Papa?” Jean-Luc gestured for his eldest son to sit down. At least Henri wasn’t as fidgety as Remy.
“There is a company I want you to investigate. Enterprise Labs. They supposedly have a new biological weapon. Find it. Destroy it.”
“What is this weapon supposed to do?”
“It’s aimed at mutants.”
“It is supposed to be like the HIV virus. It destroys the immune system. Then it attacks. It mutates to fit the mutant. But this is all rumors, Henri. I want proof. And I want to know who was responsible for creating this madness.”
“Don’t worry father. I’ll find them.”
“Julien Boudreaux is also looking in to this matter. His father is speaking with him as well. We want the two of you to work together. You will get the information and the samples. Julien will eliminate the problem. D'Accord?”
“Oui, Papa. Does Remy know about this?”
“Non. Nor does Belladonna.” Henri nodded. “Be careful. This place will be well guarded.”
“I will not make a mistake. There’s too much resting on it.”
Remy and Belle signed the latest contract, under the watchful eye of their lawyer. The apartment building was now theirs. Along with all of the incoming rents. They had actually taken a mortgage on this one, but with the rent coming in it should be paid off in half the time they’d taken it for. Less, if they decided to go that way. Their accountant had informed them that the tax break from the mortgage would be a good thing to have for the next couple of years.
The accountant also had “official” records stating that Remy was an independent security consultant and professional art appraiser and that Belladonna was an investment broker. It was a good idea to have a cover for any and all money coming in to the family. As long as they paid the appropriate taxes on the portion of income they reported the IRS could be bribed to ignore anything else. A team of computer hackers kept the FBI at bay and the true amount of money was never officially noted anywhere. Remy tended to keep some of the money in highly portable items like diamonds and gold.
“It’s been a pleasure to do business with you, Mr. and Mrs. LeBeau,” the slime across the table from them said.
“A pleasure,” Belle said with a similarly false smile. Remy nodded to him and he left. “So shall we see what sort of upgrades the place needs?”
“Definitely. I refuse to be a slum lord.”
“Considering your taste in hotels you’d never know it.”
“You get to make the reservations then.”
“Why are we staying at the rat trap anyway?” Belle demanded.
“Because there’s a bookseller’s convention in town and the rest of the hotels are booked up.”
“Great. I’m so happy. I can’t even begin to tell you.”
“Please, don’t bother. Your joy shines from your eyes.”
“I’m laughing so hard on the inside.”
“I can see that. Do you think the nail polish is what did him in?”
“Yeah. Scared the hell out of him. Let’s go.”
“No, I think it was the black widow spider pin you’re wearing that got to him. That used to be a real spider,” Remy informed her.
“Should I be taking a hint from this?”
“Make sure I’m out cold before you fall asleep.” She smiled and wiggled her brows over too-wide eyes. “So, Joey, can you take us over to the place?”
“Of course. Come on, kids.”
“Sometimes I don’t know why we put up with you.”
“Because you’d be lost without my elderly wisdom.” Joey ran a hand through his prematurely grey hair. He was in his thirties and had been a lawyer for Guildmembers before. This couple had chosen him as their personal lawyer after the wedding and he had graciously taken them under his wing. He liked their flair. Remy was helping Belle with her coat. Joey just had one question. “Remy?”
“Can I see your eyes?” Remy shrugged and pulled the shades down his nose so he could look out over them. Joey’s eyes widened. “You know, I wish I could turn those on the some of the juries I’ve had to deal with over the years. You’d never lose a case.”
“But I wouldn’t be able to practice in this area. The Bar just pulled the certification for all mutants. They’re going to have to retake the test after they control for telepathy and such. They’re examining them case by case. Physical mutations are probably going to get their certification back first. But they’ve lost some of the best lawyers. Idiots.”
“That’s why the ACLU is starting to take cases. I’ll run you to the building and you can meet the manager.”
"Felix Santis?" Joey asked.
"Yeah?" the man snapped.
"The new owners want to meet you."
"Shit. Give me a second." The man opened the door, pulling on a shirt. "Hi, I'm Felix." They couple who shook his hand looked like they were movie stars or something in matching sunglasses. "Let me show you around the place."
"Merci." Great, he thought, Frogs.
"This way. All the units are full at the moment. Don't worry. There ain't any muties here. I made sure of that when they signed up for the places." The woman nodded and laced a gold nailed hand through her companion's fingers. He took them through the place from the top to the bottom.
"Thank you, Mr. Santis. You're fired," Belle stated, sweetly. "Please have your things out by the end of the week. You'll receive two months pay. Joseph, see to the details. Shall we go find a new manager?"
"Yes. We'll start at the top and move our way down."
"But, I've been a here for years. Ain't had any complaints." Remy looked over his glasses at him. The man paled.
"But you indicated you weren't comfortable with muties," he said calmly. "We don't want you to be uncomfortable." The couple went to the elevator.
"A suggestion, Felix," Joey said. "Just get out. You don't want to piss them off."
"They may have money, but this is my place. Those residents are my… holy shit."
"Yes, I'd love to take the position. They just laid me off because I'm mutie-scum," Loretta Vance said. "Those bastards. I just felt like taking a chunk out of them."
"Did you?" Remy asked mildly.
"No, but I thought about taking down the office."
"How?" Belle asked. She always liked new ideas.
"Centralized brush fire. I control fire. Keeps me warm in the winter if the heat goes out," she smiled.
Belle sighed. "Sometimes I wish I could do things like that."
"Everyone has their own talents," Loretta said patting the young woman's arm. "Hi, Felix."
"Hello, Loretta," Felix said. The tension between the two was palpable. "It figures they'd find my only enemy in this place. Makes sense that a bitch like you isn't human." Belle's eyes narrowed. She didn't like anyone talking to her people like that. She felt Remy's restraining hand on her arm. His smile told her to just wait and watch.
"Funny, I always thought you were a cockroach. Always scuttling around in the dark."
"I don't scuttle. Damn it, Lori, why the fuck didn't you tell me?"
"Tell you what? That I was something you hated and wanted out of your building because I'd scare off tenants? Maybe because you're a narrow-minded bastard."
"Listen, Mutie, the building's policy has always been no mutants."
"That explains why your wife left you for another woman. I always loved watching her manipulate you."
"What the fuck are you talking about? I never had a wife."
"See. What a useful talent. She wiped your mind."
"Bullshit." Felix seemed unsure.
"And read it."
"Don't even say it, asshole."
"This is about being dumped isn't it?"
"What makes you say that? Just because you were married and never bothered to tell me?"
"I've never been married!"
"I'd go check that if I were you. And my bank account. Have fun. There's a shelter over on 42nd that's hiring."
"I wouldn't be talking, Felix," Loretta said sweetly. "After all, isn't that how you got this job?"
"You don't know shit about me."
"That's right. Because you never bothered to tell me." Remy grinned at his wife. He gestured to the door with his head and she nodded. Joey followed them.
"I'll take care of the details. Do you care if he moves out?"
"Not if he pays rent. Do you think they'll just admit to it?"
"To what?" Joey was slightly confused.
"The fact that they want each other?"
"Maybe." The lawyer smiled. "Have a good night, kids. You need a ride back?"
"Non, we'll walk and get a feel for the neighborhood," Belle said. She kissed Joey's cheek. "Au revior."
"Hey, Sweetcheeks," Victor Creed, known to most as Sabretooth, purred. Mystique looked up at him with a little frown.
"I told you to never call me that."
"Whatever, Babe." She elbowed him in the ribs. "So, what's up?"
She fixed him with a dead eyed stare. "Things have changed. You know that."
"Yeah, so get ta the point."
"You, me, and a team. We're taking out the government." Creed shook his head.
"Ya seem pretty damn sure of yerself, sweetheart."
"I'm that good. You in?"
"I'm in. Where's yer daughter?"
"Getting us some intel." Creed snorted.
"She's a kid."
"She's my kid. She's good."
"So, she's useful. That don't mean she can get the intel we need." Mystique patted his head.
"You'll be surprised."
"So, the bedroom's back there?"
"Ya gonna show me where ta put my things?"
"You know where they go. I've cleaned out a drawer for you."