To me, my X-Men! Just wanted to let the Marvelverse mutants wander in for a bit of a visit. It also made sense to connect Janet the Designer and Emma the Consumer. Besides, I think the X-Men have the monopoly on decent simulation rooms. Although Tony Stark might have one tucked away in his office building somewhere. Guy's like friggin' Batman.
"…while the Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters has had almost as many buildings and designs as it's had names, the current design is a stylized X. I suppose Forge thought it witty… Xavier, X-Men, x-shaped school. The two northern wings of the school are dedicated to classroom space, while the southwest wing is where the the girls' dormitories are located and the boys make their home in the southeast wing. A large cafeteria runs along the southern side of the school, giving off a lovely view of the basketball court, swimming pool, and Breakstone Lake. We have a memorial garden to the east of the school, a hedge maze to the west… and I do believe that concludes the list of useless information Katherine wanted me to convey to you. Any questions?"
The Young Avengers traded looks but only Tommy had the courage to raise his hand and respond to the rather intimidating blonde. "Just out of curiosity, do we get to meet any other mutants? Maybe after we're done in the Danger Room or on the way or something? Because I think we've beat one or two up while on the job, but I've never actually gotten to meet someone like me face-to-face. It'd be cool."
Taking a step forward, Emma Frost invaded Tommy's personal space as she stared into his eyes before nodding and retreating. "Hmm. You know, I can see him in you. Your grandfather, that is. More than I do in your brother, although William isn't without his resemblance. To answer your question, yes but I'm going to have to ask your identity-challenged friend to keep her business cards in her pocket."
As the others looked around in confusion, Dawn blushed and tucked the business card she'd been fiddling with back into her pocket. Thankfully, the armor Cassie had helped her into on the ride up disguised the opening for the small pocket even further and so hopefully the team would be none the wiser as to who Emma was referring to. Suddenly a warm, definitely female body pressed up against her from behind. She could feel breath on her skin and then both heard and felt the girl sniff deeply. "Erm, hi there?"
"You're not human." There was a soft growl that sent vibrations up and down Dawn's neck, a sensation that wouldn't have been wholly unpleasant under better circumstances. "You smell… green…"
Even as Dawn's mind raced, trying to figure out how this stranger knew her secret and how to explain it to the others, someone else came to her rescue. "Laura! We do not manhandle or sniff the guests!" Emma's fingers wrapped around Dawn's bicep, pulling with remarkable strength for a woman her size and freeing her from Laura's grasp. "My apologies, she's a… special case. Ladies and gentleman, this is Laura Kinney. Laura, the Young Avenges are our guests today and so I would appreciate it if you could keep from embarrassing yourself and the school - and by extension me - for the duration of their visit."
Laura scowled as she slowly circled the group; Dawn decided the brunette had been coming up the corridor in the same direction as them with the intention of passing until she got sidetracked by Dawn's non-human smell. She'd have to work out how one smelled 'green' - and what she could do about it - later. Unless… was this girl crazy? Or part-snake by mutation the way Dawn herself had wasp traits? Because then there wasn't a whole lot she could do about it. "Fine. But don't blame me if she kills you all. We have more enemies than ever these days. It's not paranoia if they really are out to get you."
"Yes, well, how about this? If she kills us all, you can say 'I told you so'. Hmm?" Laura's scowl deepened at Emma's jibe and she whirled around, stomping off down the hall. Watching the brunette's ass flex in a pair of skintight black leather pants and remembering the feel of Laura's chest against her back, Dawn decided it was a real shame the girl wasn't at least a bit more personable. Oh well. At least she still had Cassie to chase… just as soon as she figured out how. And crap, all this was running through her mind with a telepath right next to her. Was Emma..?
Dawn looked over, catching Emma's expression of something halfway between amusement and disgust. Crap. That answered that one. "Moving on… I take it Laura has cured you all of your desire to meet my students, at least for the moment?" That one got so many frantic nods from the Young Avengers, Dawn was left wondering if she'd opened a portal to a bobblehead doll convention. "Very good. Then let's proceed to the Danger Room for your actual training time. I'll do my best to set up a meet and greet after your session, just in case any of you change your mind."
Why they didn't want to meet now was something Dawn didn't quite get; it wasn't like someone had grabbed and sniffed any of them. Still, she was just one in a group and would go along with majority rule, which for now meant heading for the Danger Room. Which they did, managing maybe five yards at the most before a trio of blonde girls in white rounded the corner, stopping in front of them. "Hello, mother." Three identical heads tilted slightly to one side, a blue glow masking their eyes and keeping Dawn from seeing where they were looking. "Were you planning to introduce us to your guests, or is Laura the only one who gets that privilege?"
"Actually, I was planning to keep you far, far away from them, my dears. As far away as humanly possible. But seeing as how that's no longer possible… girls, meet the Young Avengers. Young Avengers, meet the Three-in-One: Celeste, Ivette, and Phoebe Frost. My daughters." Emma's distaste was impossible to miss and Dawn raised an eyebrow. Emma didn't strike her as the type to be particularly religious; what had kept her from getting an abortion if the idea of children was so repugnant to her? "Now girls, I don't have time for you right at present. They've come up here from New York City to take advantage of our training facilities and their time at the school is not unlimited. So unless you have something useful to impart?" The trio shook their heads in perfect synch. "Then go make yourselves useful elsewhere." Emma made a shooing motion and the trio scowled before pushing through the Young Avengers and heading off to parts unknown.
Watching the girls go, Cassie frowned. "That was a bit harsh."
"You're aware of the rough details of M-Day, right?" Dawn was one of the few who could answer Emma's question with a nod, while the others shook their heads. Turning, Emma continued down the hall as she brought the Young Avengers up to speed. "Our student body went from one hundred and eighty-two to twenty-seven in the blink of an eye. The students left with powers represented the remnants of seven of the school's previous squads and had never worked together before. I was given the responsibility of forging one team of New X-Men out of those students… a group comparable to you Young Avengers. The girls disagreed with my decisions and rebelled, not only refusing to participate but attempting to cause strife between myself and Scott. Both then and now, I lack the time and desire to deal with their childish antics."
Dawn nodded again, thinking back to the last days of Sunnydale. As much as the SITs had hated dealing with General Buffy, sometimes it became necessary for someone to lay down the law if they wanted the group to survive. She watched as Emma tapped a code into a small keypad and an elevator opened up. Time for a new topic of conversation, she decided. "So, tell me more about this Danger Room that Janet and Hank are so keen on?"
"Can… we… stop… playing… with… stupid… robots..?" Dawn punctuated each whining word with a sickly green energy blast from her hand. One by one, the Danger Room's robots fell to her 'stings'. "I can grow without getting violently ill, I can shrink, I can fly while tiny, I can fly for short periods while at 5'4", and I can shoot those weird little green bioelectric blasts. I wanna go meet some non-creepy mutants or go home or… something."
"I agree." Kate let fly one last arrow before lowering her bow. "Well, not about meeting more mutants. I think I'm going to play it safe. While I'm sure most of the people here are nice, there's still the risk of creepy mutants like the sniffer girl. No socializing equals no risk. But seriously, I think we're all starting to reach burnout for the day. And Cassie needs to get home before her curfew or her mother will go nuts."
Janet laughed as she descended from the control room, returning to her full size just above the metal floor and touching down gracefully. "Actually, I think Cassie is the one we'll need to pry out of the Danger Room. But it is getting late so if you want to hit the showers, go for it."
Surveying the room, Dawn marveled at how well the Young Avengers and their older counterparts were working together. Especially given the stories she'd heard from the others about the Avengers repeatedly trying to shut down their younger version, it was amazing that both groups had managed to put their prior problems aside and work together. Captain America had shown up to train Eli and Kate, and Spider-Man had hitched a ride to work with Kate on hitting moving targets while staying in motion herself.
Billy and Tommy had spent some time working with a couple of X-Men who had similar powers, while Teddy and Wolverine were having fun beating the crap out of each other. Hank and Janet had taken turns switching between Cassie and Dawn, although Hank tended to gravitate towards Cassie and Janet to Dawn just because half of Dawn's powers required Janet's experience.
Hovering beside Janet, Dawn watched as Hank demonstrated a judo move on a replica Sentinel for Cassie, which the blonde then repeated. Hmm. Form wasn't bad. If she could convince the Burdicks to ship Cassie off to Cleveland, the blonde would probably place in Faith's Intermediate level course with a bit of tutoring. Nothing she could provide, though; her repertoire was strictly from Spike's completely undisciplined school of 'beat the shit out of it before it can beat the shit out of you'. Still, it was nice to see she had some redeeming qualities when it came to combat, aside from stomping on things.
Cassie looked down at her and Dawn shot the blonde a smile and a wink, making Cassie blush and duck her head shyly before returning her attention to Hank. Deciding to get while the getting was good, Dawn turned and made her way over to the girls' locker room. Two steps inside, she slammed into a waiting Kate. "Can I help you?"
"So, does this mean you're interested in sticking around?" Dawn raised an eyebrow before slipping around Kate and making her way further into the locker room, the dark-haired girl trailing behind her. "I mean, you've got a costume and you're up here training with us… reminds me, we need to give you a codename. What about Pixie?"
Pointing upward, Dawn shook her head. "They have a Pixie here already. Megan Gwynn, Welsh girl. You don't double up on a name with someone who's still active, it's rude. Unless it's a villain, because it'll make the villain come after you to reclaim 'his' name and you can send him to jail and earn some easy publicity points. Besides, what the hell about me makes you think 'Pixie'? No, if I need a name, I'm going to be Hornet. And the whole matter is still up in the air. I mean, I still have that life you pulled me away from back in Cleveland where I do important things. I can't just abandon that, even if I do have family out here. And to honest, I'm not even factoring in you guys. It's Janet versus Cleveland right now and after I decide whether or not to stay out here with Janet, that's when I'll decide whether or not I help you guys out."
Setting her bow and quiver down on a bench before unstrapping the battle staves from her left thigh, Kate opened the locker bearing a piece of printer paper reading 'Hawkeye' affixed with masking tape and pulled out a towel and the bag of clothes she'd brought to change into for the ride home. "We could always have Billy bounce back and forth to pick you up? Or maybe you could do some kind of time-sharing arrangement between our group and the one you work for? Which reminds me, what the heck do you do at eighteen that's so damn important?"
"That's classified, and Billy will most definitely not be teleporting me back and forth," Dawn shuddered and then began peeling off her armor. "Magic is not a toy and if you guys want to be irresponsible, that's your problem. I'm not going to ask him to misuse his powers for me. Besides, what Billy does… it's not like any other magical teleportation I've ever experienced. He's not just moving from point A to point B. He's like, warping the fabric of time and space. It's seriously unnatural and it creeps me out."
Kate frowned as she undressed the rest of the way before grabbing the towel and her toiletries. "Well, what about Cassie? The guys might be oblivious and I don't know if Cassie's aware, but I see the way you look at her. There's nothing there yet, but you want there to be. If you go home, that would make hooking up with her kinda hard."
Opening the locker marked 'Hornet' - and how had Kate not noticed this when she'd come in to change before - Dawn shrugged. "What about Cassie? And do you really want to discuss the interest I may or may not have in another girl when we're about to hop in the shower together?"
"You may have a point there." Dawn chuckled and finished the awkward dance that was solo armor removal, slithering out of her skinsuit and piling the entire mess at the foot of her locker so she could join Kate in the showers. "Well, she's going to come charging in here after Hank is done with her… well at least I hope she is, because she was working up a sweat and I don't want to smell that all the way home… and then we'll be together for the ride home. So I guess I don't have a choice. Cassie deserves some happiness with all the crap she gets at home, and right now her only love interest is a robot. We need another Young Avenger. Two birds, one stone. So, what's it going to take to keep you here in New York?"
Dawn shook her head incredulously as she dug through her toiletries, seeking out her bottle of shampoo. "I really doubt you have anything I want. Just because I haven't been throwing around wads of money like you doesn't mean I'm poor. Granted my money comes from hacking the off-shore accounts of a guy who shot my sister then got a slight case of dead when a friend of ours flayed alive, but I have it. I have a job. The job comes with a place to live. I'll get a boyfriend or girlfriend when I'm damn well ready. So again… I really doubt you have anything I want. Feel free to try and prove me wrong, though."
Letting out a soft growl, Kate squirted some shampoo into her palms and began to lather up her hair. "If there's one thing my father taught me, it's that everyone has a price. I'll find yours, Dawn Sum… van… what are you going by these days, anyways? Cassie told me about the Dawn van Dyne introduction with her parents."
"Hmm. Good question. I'll let you know when I figure it out?"
"I swear to God, if they were both boys, they'd be whipping their dicks out to compare right now."
Cassie giggled quietly, shifting to hide behind Dawn as Tommy and the blue-haired girl Ms. Frost had introduced as Surge shot Dawn twin glares. "As I was saying, I was going faster than that before I even started training here. Watch this." There was a crackling noise, the smell of ozone, and Surge blinked out of existence. Ten seconds later she was back, a plastic container in one hand. "Red velvet cupcake, anyone? Straight from Cakeman Raven Confectionary in Brooklyn."
Raising her hand, Cassie pouted as Dawn, Kate, and Billy raised theirs as well. Surge probably wanted one for herself, hence buying them, so someone was going to get left out. Her disappointment must have shown on her face because Dawn leaned over and elbowed her in the ribs. "Remember the ice cream?" What did… oh. Giant cupcake. "Yeah, I rock, I know."
"Pshaw, New York? That's what, fifty miles each way?" Tommy rubbed his hands together, digits blurring a bit. "I was doing that back when you were wearing training bras, Nori. Watch a master at work." There was a gust of wind as Tommy disappeared and Cassie felt something brush against her body, and then the silver-haired speedster was back. Raising his hand, he held out… a bunch of bras? "Every bra in the room, removed in under two seconds. You may now bow before your better."
Bringing her hands up to her chest, Cassie blushed bright red as she realized that she was indeed missing her bra, stolen out from under the t-shirt she'd brought as part of the street clothes she was wearing home. And there it was, plain white cotton resting between electric blue and black lace in Tommy's collection. Dawn stepped forward, retrieving the second black bra in his possession - a silky black demi cup bra - only to pause and raise an eyebrow. "I think you're suffering from a case of premature celebration, Tommy. You're missing a bra." It took Cassie a moment to figure out that one, her teammates a bit less, and then all eyes were on the headmistress of Xavier's.
Ms. Frost just raised an eyebrow challengingly. "For him to remove underwear from my person would require me to be wearing it in the first place." Reaching up, she trailed a finger along her collarbone as the collected group stared at her in disbelief. "Oh, wipe those looks off your faces. Look at this outfit. Like any of you are actually surprised."
As she followed her parents and the Young Avengers out to the awaiting van, Dawn looked over to the left as something blue caught her eye. Standing in the window of one of the classrooms were the identical mini-Emma triplets, eyes glowing blue as they stared out at the group. No stranger to telepathy after spending time around Willow, Dawn opened her mind to them when the probe came. 'Yes?' 'We suppressed their memories of Laura's oddness while we were talking with Mother. The others won't remember a thing as long as you don't say anything that causes their brain to reconnect the severed memories.'
Well that was a relief. Especially given there was a race of green shape-shifting aliens who invaded on occasion, someone accusing her of 'smelling green' could lead to really awkward questions. 'In the future, though, just remember we helped you out.'
Great. Indebted to Emma Frost's freaky daughters. Just what she always wanted.
Although they were kinda hot… 'You're not our type.'