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Don't Blink

Posted on Tue May 25th, 2021 @ 5:03pm by Charles Xavier & Scott Summers & Katy DeCobray

Mission: Episode 1: X-Odus
Location: New York City
Timeline: June 25, 1990

"I'm in position," Cyclops whispered. With Professor X monitoring the situation, there was never any need for personal radios. Telepathy was far more efficient.

~Ready yourself~ The Professor's voice rattled inside Scott's mind like an internal auto-tuner. ~Our quarry is returning from...~

The alleyway where Cyclops was hidden had a roar of rushing wind fill it, kicking up loose papers and littered debris that slowly fell back to the pavement. She had sped past him faster than he could even blink.

"We have contact," Cyclops whispered with an impressed smirk. "Are you sure this is a good idea?"

~No, but we will proceed anyway~

"Understood."

In her basement apartment, Katy locked the last of the eleven locks on her door, alternately locking every other one with the premise that if a thief tried to break in, they'd try every lock, therefore locking half of them. She set down the money bag she had taken from the Brinks truck and sat down to count it. Some days were a better haul than others, but they were so readily available, she could easily make a dozen runs a day to compensate if one was shorter than the others.

A moment or two passed before a knock came at the door. Three of them, in fact, slow and deliberate.

She glanced at the door when the knocks came. The only people that knocked like that were cops and she had no time to answer any questions. She grabbed the bag of money that she had been ready to count and ran quickly into her bedroom. She pushed her bed aside with a little effort, shoved a box of stuff aside, then pulled up a piece of flooring and shoved the bag down inside with a dozen other bags with different business names on them, then covered everything back up again. Two seconds had passed and she waited.

Katy looked around and realized that a basement apartment wasn't the best place to make an escape from, so she decided on the no one is home approach and decided to simply ignore the knocking. She sighed and glanced at the clock, made a drink, ate a snack and then began to pace. Who would want to come see her and about what? She was certain that no one could see her when she made her pilfering runs, so it must be a salesman or someone lost. She hadn't given anyone that particular address.

The door ripped from its hinges and was flung across the room like a semi truck had plowed through it. The various locks tumbled to the ground from where they'd caved in to overwhelming kinetic energy. In the now slightly bigger doorway stood a man in a blue uniform and a visor over his face. Cyclops, the semi-famous leader of the X-Men.

~She is in the kitchen. The loot is under the floorboard in the adjacent room~ Xavier said to Scott's mind. ~Try to win her over if you can before she makes a run for it~

"Sorry about your door," Cyclops said to the empty room, "but didn't anyone tell you it's rude not to answer when somebody knocks?"

Cops didn't tell lame jokes. Hopefully that would be enough to stay her fight-or-flight reflex. Holding up his hands, Cyclops reined back a little. Just because he couldn't see her didn't mean she wasn't a heartbeat away. "I'm just here to talk, Katy. Is that all right with you?"

When the door exploded off the hinges, Katy was already moving and gaining speed. She saw a figure in the door and narrowed her eyes at the hero. He was saying something like a sloth on Valium, but she wasn't interested in hearing it. She moved past the door that was twisting sideways and dropped down to slide between the X-Man's legs, lept back to her feet and began up the stairs like an out of control freight train.

There had been a blur, followed by a powerful wind that could have knocked a lesser man off their feet. A passive trait of Cyclops' mutation was grounding out kinetic energy, otherwise the first kinetic blast would have been his last as it tore his head from his neck.

"She got by me," he said aloud.

~Yes, she has made quite some distance~ Xavier replied to his mind.

~This would be so much easier with Jean and the others~ Scott thought to himself. More than a week since his return from their mystery mission meant the shock was gone. Only grief and anger remained.

~Indeed, and yet that is why we need Katy~

"Wasn't talking to you, Professor..."

~But I am talking to you, Scott. You must remain focused on the task at hand. Many people are counting on us, not least of all Katy. She just does not know it yet~

He sighed as he went back up the stairs in pursuit. The gesture seemed more than futile. "Yeah, I know."

Katy raced for the back exit of the building, saving her breath but mentally cursing in an unending stream about the X-Men, having to leave her money behind, and rudeness in general. She hoped no other exits were covered by them, but if one was there, others were there or waiting. She paused, a flicker, then headed towards the door even faster.

The floor shook ever so briefly before it gave out completely. A wide beam optic blast shot up through it, turning the support joist beneath the exit to dust. Without it, that section of hallway crumbled down into the basement below.

Cyclops emerged from the stairwell and hurried to the hole he'd made in the hallway floor. Looking downward into the debris pile where Katy would have landed, he said, "I'd really love to talk. Can we do that before I end up bringing down the whole building on top of us?"

"Fuck! Ass!" came from the startled young woman as the floor began to give way under her. She tried to alter her course, but her only option was a risky jump or attempting to step across dust. Unfortunately for her, her moment of indecision cost her and she fell through the dust and into the rubble at the bottom of it. "You murderous freak! That's not how you talk!" she shouted and coughed up a lung.

~She isn't wrong, Scott~ Xavier chided. ~You unnecessarily risked collateral damage~

~I know what I'm doing~ Cyclops thought in his own mind. ~And I am the only one out here doing it~

"Yet now we're talking when we weren't before," Cyclops said aloud, lowering himself down from the edge and dropping down into the debris below. "Since we've got about five minutes before emergency responders show up, I'll cut to the chase: we know what you've been doing and it's our job to stop you. But how we do that is up to you."

Holding up his forefinger, he said, "Option 1 is we leave you here immobilized and you take your chances with local law enforcement. Maybe they will hand you over to the Mutant Response Division or maybe they won't."

Two fingers raised, Cyclops continued. "You come along quietly, no more funny business, and we show you a new world that's bigger than this MTV video lifestyle you've been financing through robberies."

Hands down, smirk on his face, Cyclops ended with, "Four minutes now. What's it going to be, Speedy?"

"And you're an X-Man, you..." Katy thought of several choice phrases, but stopped herself. "I could be up and moving before they even turn the closest corner and report that you tried to attack me."

"I am an X-Man and this isn't a negotiation," Cyclops said. "In three minutes I'll be gone with no trace, meanwhile the authorities will have a breadcrumb trail directly to your hideout. Come with me in good faith or tell your story to the police when they find you tied up."

Cyclops canted his chin to one side in expectation of an answer.

"Kinky," she said. "Although you might want to know I'm seventeen. But for the sake of argument and testing your maths knowledge, let's say I go with you and you show me this bigger world of tights and x-shaped targets on your chest. What's in it for me?" She inwardly laughed at his three minute warning, knowing she could be thirty-four miles away by then.

Her question made Scott stiffen. For him the X-Men had been the family he'd never known. Friends he could always count on. Love he never thought he'd find. Jean...

"Come with me and find out," he said at length. "It's different for everyone."

~You must hurry, Scott. She is a person. Speak to her as you would your friends, for that is what she is to be~

The crooning of sirens could be heard in the distance

"Time's up," Cyclops said. "I can tell you as an orphan the system won't treat you any better for being a minor. If anything you have less rights." Pulling out a pair of handcuffs from the back of his belt, he tossed them to Katy's feet. "Put these on and we'll take you far away from here to a place where you can find some answers."

"You need lessons in how to be human," Katy sneered as she stood up and let the cuffs hit the ground. "Where's your base?" She asked as she casually dusted herself off and chose not to say anything about being an orphan or worse.

Cyclops shook his head and smirked. "Not here," he said. "And you're not seeing it until you put those on."

"You're an ass." Katy said before she was fifty feet away, then another twenty feet further. "Go ahead and destroy the building while the cops show up." Then she was in his face with the cuffs in her hands. "Hole."

Cyclops just stood there, unmoving, unresponsive, still as a statue. Even the sirens paused in mid-tone as if they were underwater.

"So this is how you see the world," said a soft-spoken voice that seemed to come from everywhere. "I can understand the appeal. It is quiet, calm, free. But lonely."

A man appeared out of thin air in front of Katy, next to the statuesque Cyclops. This man was older, bald, and far less tense.

"Forgive me for activating your gift without your permission. Reading the room, it seemed like the situation was getting away from anything productive, and I wanted to ensure you had every opportunity available to you."

Smiling faintly, he said, "I am Professor Charles Xavier, founder of the X-Men. It is good to make your acquaintance, Katy DeCobray."

"Are all you people rude and invasive?" she asked. "I gave the cuffs to dorkfish here to put on me after he blows my freakin' door off, then tried to bring the building down on me, then you show up messing with me. Why should I want to be one of you?"

"Because I want to make you a promise," Xavier said. "While you remain in my custody, you will be safe. Cyclops here means well, but it has been a hard month for him. Nevertheless, I am afraid that the impression he has given you may be inaccurate. My dream is one of peace, and that is the utmost value that I instill into my X-Men. I will deal with Cyclops upon your return. When you accompany him, you will be under my protection, and I vow that no one will lay a hand on you where I am concerned."

"Whatever," Katy said in typical teenager fashion. "Smells like blackmail to me, but let's make like shepherds and get the flock out of here, Baldilocks."

Xavier just smiled browser and faded away into nothingness. The world screeched back to normal spacetime, returning the sirens to their previous cadence and releasing Cyclops from his frozen rictus.

"Good choice," Cyclops said as he took the handcuffs and placed them around Katy's wrists. "Let's go. We've got just enough daylight to get back before dark."

"Okay," was all she said as he handcuffed her, but made no attempt to move. "Say please."

"Please," Cyclops said. "And thank you. Now, let's move."

Katy gave him a sickenly sweet smile and poured all the sugary sweetness she could into her voice. "Why, you're very welcome. Now lead me to your secret cave and book me, Dan-O."

Though it wasn't a visible gesture, Scott rolled his eyes. "My jet's on the roof of another building down the block. Try not to be conspicuous."

"You don't think before you speak, do you?" she asked.

"Never," Cyclops sarcastically quipped as he led her out through an alternate exit.

"If you did, you'd notice that you're an X-Monkey wearing a skin tight suit that everyone recognizes, blew up my apartment, vaporized some shit and I'm wearing handcuffs!" Katy spat out. "Really inconspicuous, huh?"

Cyclops kept his peace and just smirked at the girl. As they reached the backstreet, they were met by a line of emergency response vehicles with flickering cherry-top flights and a sea of responders. Cyclops frogmarched her right up to the line of police officers.

"Good job, Officer...?" One of the officers, presumably a sergeant or lieutenant, spoke out from the cluster of cops.

"Smith," Cyclops said. "67th Precinct."

"All right, Smith. Take her down to Central Booking."

"You got it."

Cyclops led her along without breaking stride. When they were a good step away from the police circus, Cyclops stopped them in the doorway of a building. "We're up top," he said with an upward nod of his head. "And we won't be needing these anymore." He unlocked the handcuffs and let them fall free from Katy's wrists.

"Smith...huh? With no questions or anything? Neat. " Katy asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Hold on to that one," Cyclops said with a smirk. "You'll be the only one who remembers it." He led her up to the rooftop where there was a midnight blue stealth craft sitting as if it had always belonged there. "Here's our ride. An RS-150 Blackbird."

"I hope you have a better pilot than you have manners," she said.

"How old did you say you are? 17?" Cyclops laughed at her and shook his head. "I'm sure the professor is just going to love you." The side door opened at his command and the onramp descended to the rooftop. Gesturing for her to get on board, he mused, "Guess I don't have to give you the pep talk about Mach speeds, do I?"

"Nope and I bet I need the seat belt a lot less than you do, but I'm still not stupid," Katy said as she headed up the ramp. When she got to the top of it, she turned and looked back over the city. It was home and it would always be home, no matter what, and she was going to return one day. With a nod to it, she turned and entered the Blackbird.

With a roar of engines that temporarily drowned out the traffic of surrounding city streets, the Blackbird rose up into the sky in a vertical liftoff. Jet engines shifted to propel it up and onward in a steep ascent to a higher cruising altitude. The ascent always lurched Scott's stomach into his throat, but a side glance at Katy showed her experience was nothing of the sort.

She was stuck with her head pressed to the window and watched the city vanish from under them. She wondered about her apartment, her money and her clothing. She wondered about some of the people she called friends. She wondered who would miss her.

"We're taking a big risk here," Cyclops said as he pointed the aircraft in the direction of the Mansion and let it rip. "But trust goes both ways. I said thank you before. Now I want to say it again." Pausing, wondering how stupid it might sound, Scott said it anyway. "Thanks."

"Next time," Katy said as she looked away from the window and shook the sad look off of her face. "Next time, try a different approach."

"I was nicer to you than every other bank robber I've encountered." Though his tone was stoic, a smirk played at his mouth as he kept his visor focused on the horizon.

"Stupid."

 

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