X - M A N S I O N
Two Days Later, Night | Salem Center, New York City
MUTANTS ATTACK SCHOOL, TWO OFFICERS DEAD
Those six words sat like an anchor at the bottom of the television screen. Above them a bunch of Jumped up, make-up caked pundits and talking heads were screaming at one another about what they were calling the 'Bayville Incident.' Over a dozen men and women in suits had appeared to give their expert opinion on the threat that mutants posed to America's youth. There was all sorts of talk about arming teachers, making watchlists and putting armed security in every one-room schoolhouse in the States.
No matter what channel Scott flipped to it was all the same. Lance Alver's photo was plastered across national television and it had stayed there for the past two days straight. They were calling him all sorts of things: the Bayville Menace, a deranged psychopath, a disturbed youth; one particularly bizarre old man had taken to calling him the 'first stone' in an "avalanche of mass killers to come."
All of it pissed him off. But the one thing that really got to him was every time they mentioned the other mutants. Evidently, the media had gotten to one of those kids Lance had attacked because they'd actually started to discuss the X-Men by name. Opinions on them varied, of course. Some people thought the X-Men and Lance had both come to the school with the same goal in mind but had ended up at each other's throats. Others thought the X-Men were vigilantes that had tried but failed, to put a stop to the attack.
Those people were the ones that really got to Scott. They were the only ones giving him and his team the benefit of the doubt, but even they were quick to agree that the 'X-Men' had done more harm than good. "Let the police handle it," they fervently said. "A bunch of kids in masks are just going to get in the way."
As much as it made his blood boil, Summers couldn't help but feel like they were right.
There were other stories interspersed between breaks in the main event, none of them good. Some guy dressed like a Spider had attacked more NYPD officers in the city proper. A supermarket in Atlantic City that had refused service to mutant customers had been burned to the ground by protesters. A millionaire executive at Roxxon named Clayton Burr and his wife had both been abducted from their home and their son was just found dead in his office, his body torn to shreds by metal shrapnel.
They all shared a common thread that Scott couldn't help but notice. Every single story that ran that day- on every single news channel he could find- was about violence conducted by mutants. The talking points differed, the channel logos changed, and even the stories weren't all the same. But the agenda being pushed by everyone with a voice was paper thin. They all marched lockstep in their demonization of people they didn't so much as try to understand.
The remote in his hand crunched, it's plastic shell cracking and the electronics inside crumbling. Scott dropped the remains of the device onto the carpet before he rose from his chair. The voices coming from the TV grew distant as he left the room and started down the hallway toward the garage, stopping at his room to snag a coat and stuff his uniform into a duffel bag before making his exit.
Just as he stepped out of his door, though, he found a hand pressed up against his chest.
Jean Grey was a good six inches shorter than Scott and nearly fifty pounds lighter, but she didn't have any trouble stopping him in his tracks. All it took was a look.
"Oh, uh, Jean-" Scott started, clearly caught off guard. He would've thought everyone else was either asleep or stuck in their usual nightly routines by now. Summers retreated a step back into his bedroom, trying in vain to conceal the bag he had over his shoulder behind the door frame. "Did you need something?"
She let her hand fall away as he stepped back, crossing it over her other arm. She didn't bother answering, a knowing- and disapproving- look on her face.
Scott cleared his throat and turned his eyes away. "I'll be back soon. No need to worry about me."
"Uh huh." Jean sighed, lowering her chin into her chest. "You gonna talk to me or are you gonna keep pretending like nothing's going on?"
"I don't know what you-"
"Dude." Grey cut him off. "You never sneak out. Mister 'up with the sun' should'a been in bed an hour ago."
Summers locked his jaw and turned to look at her. Her hoodie bore on it the image of a skeleton with its mouth duck-tapped closed and two, boney middle fingers held high, and the name of some punk band he'd never heard of right underneath it. That was only what Scott noticed first, though- what he cared about more was the blue material of her uniform that peaked up around her neck.
"No." He shook his head, attempting to squeeze past her. "No, no, no. You're not coming with me."
"Oh, come on!" She snarled, punching the door frame to put her arm directly in his path. "You can't go out there by yourself, especially with everything that's going on."
Scott hesitated for a moment before grabbing Jean's arm and pushing it down, forcing his way out of the room so he could start toward the stairs. "How'd you even know what I was doing?" He asked incredulously, fully aware of the fact that she was just a step behind him.
Grey took him by the arm and spun him around to face her. "How do you think, you idiot?" She poked his forehead repeatedly with enough force that it began to sting. "Your brain's been practically screaming it since dinner."
Summers grabbed her finger and pulled it up over his shoulder, dragging her face closer to his. "How many times do we have to tell you 'no mind reading' until it gets through that thick skull of yours?" He asked in an annoyed whisper.
"You know I can't help it. Dick." She pulled her hand away, though she refused to step back.
"Maybe if you took those meds the Professor gave you-"
"-So I can be a drooling moron? Bobby's already got that covered, thanks." She scoffed.
Scott just threw up his hands. "Whatever. Fine. Let's just get out of here." He conceded. When Jean made up her mind he knew there was nothing he could do to change it, and he wasn't in the mood to argue with her for another forty minutes. The pair made their way down to the mansion's garage, completely unaware of the pair of glowing yellow eyes that had borne witness to the whole ordeal.
H A N ' S P I Z Z A P A R K I N G L O T
Two hours later, Night | Brooklyn, New York City
The classic sound of CCR'S Fortunate Sons rolled out of the convertible's expensive stereo, smooth as silk but as powerful as a typhoon. Jean's black-booted foot tapped against the dashboard in time with the music, her hands currently occupied helping guide a hot slice of pizza into her open maw.
Scott's mood wasn't nearly as good as hers. His expression was twisted in dour concentration as he stared down at his phone, scrolling through endless incident reports and news coverage. Occasionally he'd flip from those over to another page scattered with digital notes, reminders and things to improve or follow up on.
The fight with Lance had been disastrous by most accounts. Bobby had managed to go toe to toe with Alvers, but he'd gotten so cocky that he nearly cost the rest of the team, those students and even himself their lives. And Hank had lost control of his anger again. Scott blamed himself for all of it. The onus was on him to keep everyone in line. He was the leader. He should've pulled them together when it mattered most. If he even had a little bit of real control over his powers, Cyclops knew he could've ended that fight in a second. All it would've taken was one, solid blast to the chest.
As it was, though, Scott couldn't have done that without killing Lance and probably someone else on the other side of the street. He felt frustratingly useless in that encounter. He couldn't control his team, his powers, or-
"Can you, like, stop feeling bad for yourself for two seconds and actually eat?" Jean interrupted, her mouth half-full of pizza. "You're really getting my mood down, dude."
Scott just grunted. "You're the one that wanted to come. And I am eating."
"Uh huh. Sure you are."Grey said, glancing at the slice of pizza Scott had set back in the box after taking exactly two bites. Taking in a breath she focused on it, compelling her psychic energy to surround the unfinished food and lift it into the air. She guided it over toward Scott's face and, in the same movement, reached over and plucked the phone from his hands.
"Hey!-" Summers started, only to find his open mouth stuffed with cheese, pepperoni, sausage and a whole load of tomato sauce. He looked like he wanted to complain, at first, but it didn't take long for him to take the slice himself and start scarfing it down until it was nothing but a few crumbs on his chin. "Alright, there. I ate. Now give me my phone back."
"Noo way, buddy." Grey shook her head. "No work allowed during graveyard-shift pizza time. It's the law. Look it up."
Scott didn't reply, except to lean across the front of the car to try and swipe his phone back. Grey was quicker, however, and managed to swap it into her other hand so she could press it up against her window. "Ahh. Too slow as per usual, Summers."
"Alright, that's it. You asked for it." Summers clicked his seat belt off and lunged across Grey's seat in an attempt to pin her arm down long enough for him to get his phone back, prompting Jean to squeal and squirm to get it as far away from Scott as possible.
The two's struggle only lasted a minute and a half before it was rather rudely interrupted by that same phone pinging in Jean's grip. She only glanced at it, one arm pressing into Scott's face to force him out of her personal space as the other held the phone toward the windshield. Summers took her by the wrist and forced it down, his smile faltering. He recognized that particular tone. "Hold on, that's important."
Jean furrowed her brow, handing it back to Scott. She knew when he was kidding and when he wasn't. "What is it?" She inquired, letting her feet drop off of the dashboard and back down onto the floor, intent on leaning over to get a view of the screen for herself.
"Sentinel app," Scott replied. "It pings me every time the NYPD mention a mutant on their scanners. Looks like...shit, that's not far from here." He quickly fumbled to stick the smartphone onto its mount on the dashboard. "A precint in Queens just got hit. That's twenty minutes from here."
"Ten if you floor it." Jean agreed with a nod.
"Call the team."
"And let them know we were out this late? Alone?" She scoffed. "Bobby and Kurt don't need more ammunition as is. Nah, we can handle it."
Scott just sighed, pulling them out of the parking lot and starting down the road much faster than he should have. "Here's hoping."