Guilded Charge

Jean caught the signs of it first. A flexing of the fingers. The agitated grinding of his teeth.

She was in the middle of explaining a complex grammar concept that had apparently stumped half of the class, judging from their grades on Monday's assignment, when she stopped herself in the middle of a word. Her telekinetic awareness had been growing for some time, and she could actually feel the shifting of the molecules in the air around him as they slipped out of her potential control and lit with a building energy.

"Remy?" she asked suddenly.

Some of the students diverted their focus from her to Remy, but she ignored them and whatever attention she was attracting. Something was wrong.

He turned toward her slightly, frowning beneath the blindfold. His foot was tapping, one hand twitching away from the desk. He started to speak, then stopped. She couldn't hear his thoughts or feel his emotions. They were clamped down tightly beneath an almost unbearably loud crackling of his mental shields.

"Remy?" she tried again, even as she readied herself to intervene. "Do you need to go outside for a minute?"

Remy's jaw clenched. One hand brushed the school desk.

She never did get to find out what his answer would have been.

Instantly, a wave of bright pink charge pulsed through the desk, whining, and Remy shoved away, cursing loudly in French and gesturing the students away. He dropped to the ground. She barely had time to put up a telekinetic shield.

The desk exploded.

Splinters of wood flew into the invisible walls Jean had set up around it. Burning flowers of metal rained down on Remy. She tried to shield him too. He lay curled up on the floor, arms protectively over his head.

That's when she noticed his clothes.


They were glowing.

"Everybody out!" she yelled, throwing calmness and caution to the wind. "Out of the room! Now!"

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Motion, motion everywhere. Heat surrounded him in the molecules, the arms, the legs, the shouts and tumult. He desperately tried to regain control, but it slipped just beyond his grasping reach. His head began to pound with the blood, the charge, the sheer energy running through him, and the theatre slammed back into his mind with all its horrifying detail.

Can't touch. Don't touch, he told himself desperately.

His mind didn't need to touch.

He could feel the bodies in their tussling, haphazard rush out of the classroom, the desks, the debris, the form of the doctor coming toward him. Molecules seething, hissing around him. Size, density, shape. The information was a nightmare of blazing reality in his mind. All of it just waiting to be unleashed.

It begged to him, cried to him, pounded in his blood to let it out. And theatres burned and Bella Donna's eyes were full of fear.


He reeled inwardly. This couldn't be happening. It couldn't. He'd worked it off this morning. He'd had it under control.

He found he could barely breathe as his senses wrapped around the room in tendrils, finding every potential, feeding to him the possibilities. If he would just let go...

"Non," he whispered aloud, forcing himself to say the word, to hear it, to obey it.

He wasn't there in New Orleans. Bella wasn't here. He was at Xavier's, the school, in the classroom. Non. He would not, could not, nudge, push those burning molecules into the fullness of their potential. Non, he chanted to himself. Non.

The burn, the buzz, the endless possibilities just stretched out more in front of him.

Don't touch. Can't touch. Don't open your eyes.

He tried to hold it in and the ache in his head and behind his eyes grew worse.

He didn't notice the energy slipping out from him, the intensity of the charge growing in his surroundings, his body, his clothes, the floor beneath him, everywhere around filling with the potential to explode.

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Professor Xavier was surprised in the morning by a light knocking on his door. He reached out and identified the waiting caller as Ororo. "Come in."

The mistress of weather came in slowly, a slight frown troubling her brow, her traditional dress flowing gently around her. Always regal and graceful, she glided rather than walked and took a seat in front of his desk.

"Professor," she began, then fell silent for a moment. "I wish to speak with you about something."

"That is what I'm here for," he replied mildly. Among other duties, such as leading the X-Men, heading up an accredited school that offered elementary, high school, and college courses, and working for political and societal acceptance of mutants, providing guidance and counsel to those in his charge was a regular part of his life. "What's on your mind?"

A small smile tugged at the corners of Ororo's mouth. "Can't you read my mind?" she teased him lightly.

He smiled back, sharing in the joke. Xavier was the world's leading telepath, but he would never invade the minds of his students without their permission.

She frowned then, a delicate gesture, not quite strong enough to indicate true trouble. "I knew Remy once," she said.

Xavier had to lean back and reassess this woman in front of him.

"His father mostly," she continued, almost hesitantly. Then she sighed and settled in to tell him. "Jean-Luc and I were friends and I saw Remy when he was just a small boy and Jean-Luc had just adopted him. Professor... He isn't blind."

The words were startling and somewhat disconcerting, even if the Professor had had his suspicions of just that. He steepled his fingers together in front of him and considered her words.

But Ororo was not finished. "His eyes, from birth, weren't normal." She took a deep breath. "They called him diable blanc, white devil. People in the know were aware of him from before his adoption because of his eyes and because he was a thief."

"This friend of yours is from your thieving days?" the Professor asked. He had met Ororo when, as a young teenager, she had picked his pocket, not knowing he was a telepath.

He wasn't really prepared to see her nod. "Jean-Luc was a thief when I was. I have never questioned his choice of professions," she said, a slight challenge to her voice, allowing that she knew much more but that he had no business either asking it of her or condemning it.

"I see." Xavier turned away, looking briefly out the window at the clean, neat lawns of the mansion grounds. "Perhaps the blindfold is to hide these eyes, if they are unique as you say."

"No." She shook her head decidedly. Her voice was firm. "He wore sunglasses for that."

Xavier's frown grew deeper.

"I'm just worried, Professor," Ororo admitted. "I nearly hurt him on the roof, going after him. If he really is out of control, then he'll be extremely dangerous. He was a mutant from birth. I cannot imagine the amount of power he will grow into. And a thief raised on the streets does not trust easily. I don't..." She furrowed her brow in thought, searching for words. "I don't want to push him away, but I feel a need to reach out to him. He is the son of my dearest friend."

Xavier nodded, the real reason for Ororo's visit now clear.

"All I can advise you," he said gently, "is to be a friend. Do not push, but make yourself available if he ever needs someone. Perhaps, tell him your history with his father. The more open you are with him, the more he will be able to trust you."

Ororo looked thoughtful, considering what he was saying.

At that moment, a sharp, almost painful telepath cry shafted through his mind, and he jerked his head as if to dislodge it.

Jean's psychic voice called out, Professor! I need your help.

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Ororo flew down the corridors of the school and broke through a milling gaggle of worried students in the hallway directly outside of the classroom. Pinched faces, furrowed brows, at least one, Piotr, praying softly under his breath.

She opened the classroom door.

"Bright Goddess!"

His skin was livid with bright pink charge, occasionally brightening in patches into a brilliant white blue hue, like a dance of lightning. His clothes glowed. His hands glowed. The patch of floor beneath him burned with radiant brightness.

Jean turned her calm face briefly toward Ororo and the door shut behind the weather goddess. It was no great surprise to Ororo, and she didn't flinch.

"We can't move him," Jean said tightly. "The whole floor would go."

Ororo could see the small furrowed line of skin between Jean's eyes and knew suddenly that the slight shimmer in the air around Remy was a telekinetic shield to protect—him, them, the room?—from the force of his powers.

"Ro." Jean's voice was soft, deliberately calm. Perhaps it was for the huddled teenager, clutching his head with his hands, muttering Catholic prayers beneath his breath. "Please take the students away from here. He can feel their worry and it's making this harder."

Ororo stared at her for a long moment. He could what?

"Please." Jean pulled her gaze from Remy at last and fixed Ororo with a look. "Please get them away."

She pulled to sharply. "I will." With one last look at Remy, one prayerful welling of peace she hoped he could feel, she went out into the hallway and closed the door behind her.

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Kitty could not believe it when Miss Munroe came out and began gathering the students up and herding them away from the room. She felt the tight clenching of Rogue's hand on her shoulder, flashed her friend a sympathetic smile, then projected her voice above the crowd.

"Miss Ro? Is he going to be all right?"

Miss Munroe barely glanced back over her shoulder, white hair whirling with the motion and obscuring Kitty's view of her face. "Yes, Kitty. Now, come with me."

There were protests and concerns and the incessant hum of teenage chatter. Kitty and Rogue exchanged worried glances.

"I hope it wasn't because of me," Rogue whispered, close to her friend's ear.

Kitty shuddered. For Rogue's sake, as well as Remy's, she fervently hoped the same.

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It was easier to calm him once the turmoil of the others' emotions were out of his apparent receiving range. Jean kept up the telekinetic shield until Remy finally blew out several steady, calm breaths and the liquid glow began to dim and sink into his body. It had apparently burned through the blindfold, however. His eyes were shut when he lifted his head, but a slight bluish light slipped out from under the lids. He leaned his head back and was very still for a long moment. Eventually, even that disappeared.

"Remy?" she was hesitant, detemined not to jog his careful control.

Remy did not respond at first. He kept his head back, eyes closed, breaths even.

"What happened?" Jean finally asked in the steadily growing silence.

Something between a snort and a laugh came from his throat. "Y' see m' cloth?" he asked.

"It's burned," she replied.

His jaw tightened and she heard the slight grinding of his teeth. "Figures." He shrugged. Finally, he dropped his head to face forward with an unnervingly accurate angle. If his eyes were open, he would be staring into hers.

"What happened?" she repeated.

One eyebrow came up. "I lost control." The faint amusement crackling through his voice made it clear he thought the question unnecessary.

It renewed her annoyance with his reticence. "Why?" she demanded firmly.

"Got a cloth?" he asked, diverting her again from her line of questioning.

Jean tightened her lips into a thin line, and her anger pulsated dangerously near the surface of her emotions. The last thing she wanted to do, however, was send him over the edge again. She wasn't sure how strong his shields were, and she deliberately moved to clinical detachment. Her gaze flitted over the wreckage of his desk, the displaced objects, and general mess of the room. Finally, she looked over her desk and found a dark winter scarf that would do.

"I'm coming closer," she warned with a weary sigh.

He sat completely still as she approached and allowed her to lift his hand to give him the scarf.

"Merci," he said softly when she backed away. He reached up and tied it around his eyes, then sat back on his heels. "Feelin's. It won' happen again," he promised.

"It might," she stated with that same clinical detachment. She didn't mince words with those that could value the truth.

But Jean did not expect the wave of hard determination that washed over his face or the expression of relentless immovability that belonged only on a soldier or a man honed by years of rough experience, not on a young boy, a teenager, and a minor. It startled her. This face did not belong on him. It was a dangerous face of someone who would just keep coming and coming, even if it killed him.

"It won't," he stated, equally firm.

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The motorcycle ground over the gravel in the driveway leading up to Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. Spray flew up, stung the small amounts of visible skin on the rider. Hands, neck, face. His old jacket was only more torn, beaten, and ingrained with the dirt of travel than it had been before. He needed a shave, but it could wait. His manner was that of a loner and a man used to playing rough.

He parked the bike in front of the door with little regard for its care. He kicked down the stand, got off, and lit up a cigar as he approached the front doors of the mansion.

The Wolverine had come home.

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