As Xander soaked in the pool, once again aching with everything he had and a few places that he'd sworn couldn't actually ache, he wondered just how he managed to get himself into situations like this. He'd thought the night patrolling with Faith had gone well enough - not great, but okay. Nobody had picked up any bad wounds, everybody was still walking, and Faith had crashed on one of the couches at Xavier's rather than going home alone.
Except that Logan had somehow decided that he needed 'advanced combat lessons'. He was still working on getting his fire under control - he was doing much better, but there was a big difference between almost never burned things accidentally and could generally at least get a spark when he wanted' and being really under control. Especially since the accidentally burning things when he didn't mean to generally happened when he was having his lessons with Logan. And he was trying to work with Pyro for the whole teamwork thing where he'd start a fire and Pyro would do fun things with it.
On the slightly better side of things, Willow was up to her eyebrows in lessons and delighting in it. She was still managing to find time to look for information, which she seemed to consider fun and relaxing. Things with himself and Jubilee were going good. And while he couldn't set things on fire underwater, he could heat up the pool nicely - a real plus after getting tossed around by Logan.
The warm water felt wonderful on his sore muscles, and Xander just drifted there, eyes closed and enjoying the feeling of watery safety. Everything was warm, and comfortable, and he could feel the aches from getting knocked around by Logan just drifting away from him.
Until he realized that he was just floating contentedly with the water over his face. And breathing was generally good and normal and how long had the water been over his face anyhow?
He twisted in the water, gasping and sputtering more from shock and the certainty that he was supposed to be having trouble than any oxygen induced tunnel vision. "What the hell...?"
Xander frantically thought about everything - anything that could explain this. Most of the mutants at Xavier's only had one thing that they did, maybe two if they were related. Jean was a telepath and a telekinetic, but those were both freaky-cool mind powers. Bobby froze things and didn't get cold. Logan healed, and had the super-senses... those weren't related. But fire and not drowning?
"The swim team..." Xander began inspecting his arms immediately for scales.
"I see bruises, but nothing that bad," Bobby's voice called from the edge.
Xander made a noise that didn't quite manage to be a word. He wasn’t quite certain how to explain that he wasn’t freaking out over bruises, but the chance that he might be more mutated than he’d thought. He was already a mutant, how much right did he have to freak out more, and why would he find much sympathy, considering that he could still pass for human? He didn’t have horns, or extra arms. He wasn’t green, or bright red, or pink, and there were no scales or external spines, or big nasty claws, or excessive webbing between his toes and fingers… not yet, at least.
"Chill," Bobby grinned as he waved a hand, turning a swathe of the water very, very cold.
"Cold!" Xander yelped, sending out that whole fiery feeling in hopes that he could counter Bobby's almost frozen water before he turned into a Xander-cicle.
The water ended up with a few cold eddies and a few that were just shy of painfully hot.
"Stupid Sunnydale swim team and over-ambitious crazy swim coaches..." Xander growled, trying to mix up the water with his hands so that it was at least one temperature that wasn't too hot or too cold.
"Is this another Sunnydale creepy story that'll give me nightmares if I hear it?" Bobby asked.
Xander considered the question. Crazy ambitious coach and school nurse dosing swim team with what had to be illegal, experimental drug-potion stuff. Empty skins being found that turned out to be shed by the swim team as they turned into sea-monsters. The fact that he'd been hit by at least one dose of that stuff, and had no idea about potential consequences. "Probably. It involved the swim team, much badness, and it may come back to bite me one day. That enough for now?"
Xander sighed, climbing out of the pool. "There are times when I seriously wonder what it would be like to have had a normal life before this."
Bobby just laughed, "Normal? You?"
"yeah, yeah, laugh it up, icicle." Xander grumbled. He was fairly certain that he was supposed to be the only one mocking his abnormal life. Well, maybe Willow got an exception for being part of his life for almost as long as he’d have a life, and Jubilee as part of girlfriend privileges. But not just anybody.
“I just thought you might want to know that the lovely redheads – your pal Willow and Dr. Grey – are in a room together, talking about moving things with their minds,” Bobby grinned.
“Does Marie know that you’re calling females that aren’t her lovely?” Xander asked. “From my experience, that’s the sort of thing that can get you in trouble.”
“Hey, and… females? Not girls, or women?” Bobby floundered for some way to deflect the conversation.
“Say girls, and then you’ll need to try to explain calling the highly capable Doctor Jean Grey a girl when she’s a trained professional, with a degree that makes your head spin, and she can just pull the words right out of your head. Say women and then you have to deal with Marie, and Jube, and Theresa and Tabby wanting to know why Willow gets to be called a woman when they aren’t. It isn’t slang that they might take offense at, like chicks, or birds, or babes. It isn’t anything flat-out insulting.” Xander paused, and sighed before adding, “And if you’d said anything insulting, you can rest assured that somehow, some day when it will cause you the most pain, they will find out. And get mad about it.”
“Paranoid, aren’t you?” Bobby folded his arms and gave Xander a glare.
Xander shrugged, privately rating Bobby’s glare at around a four point nothing on his scale. Then again, his scale was adapted to include demons, vampires, awful Principals, and Cordelia. “Painful experience. But if you don’t want to learn from my pain, just go ahead and make those mistakes.”
“Right, to change the subject, Pyro and I were talking earlier and we were… umm,” Bobby fidgeted. “I’m supposed to ask you if you’ll be going home for the holidays. Not that it’s time to go or anything, but… plans, travel arrangements…”
“If you mean to visit the Harrises, nope, not this Christmas, not ever. I don’t have too many good memories of that town, it isn’t a place I want to go see just to remember my childhood. I might go back if… if Buffy… or if Giles needs me to help stop the end of the world as we know it, but not for old times’ sake,” Xander shook his head. “Buffy was one of the few friends I have… maybe had… have back there. She disappeared. Hopefully ran away after some major badness, maybe dead.”
“Oh,” Bobby mumbled, staring at his toes. “And Willow? Is she going home for Christmas?”
“She’s Jewish.” Xander gave a little smirk, “No idea about Thanksgiving, or what. Her parents missed it last year, and most of Hanukkah for some… I don’t know what they were doing, but it was out of town. They aren’t really the supportive type most of the time.”
“I thought she came here after she and her Dad got attacked?” Bobby frowned.
“Yeah, the first time they’d been stargazing together in five years,” Xander shrugged. “Sunnydale sucks.”
“The whole town can’t be that bad,” Bobby countered.
Xander thought about Sunnydale. The vampires, the demons, the many, many churches and cemeteries, the horrible body-counts… the obituary column in the school paper. The prophecies of doom. Principal Snyder. The vampires. “Yes, it can.”
“To try to change the subject again, there was another report of someone getting shot at. Turns out there was a tracking device that wound up in the guy with green spikes in his hair, and another one that missed him and his girlfriend and wound up in a nearby tree,” Bobby offered.
“Anyone we know?” Xander didn’t know if he wanted the answer to be yes or no.
“Don’t think so,” Bobby paused, and then shook his head, “I’m pretty sure we don’t know them. But it was the same type of tracker as the one that hit Jubilee, and the police caught the gunman.”
“Well that’s… something,” Xander sighed, and mumbled, “Maybe he can explain why, and what he’s up to, and why tracking devices instead of bullets. Not that I want bullets flying towards me, but…”
“But it raises a lot of questions,” Bobby agreed.
“Maybe we can get a few answers now?” Xander hoped.
While he was hoping, he decided to hope that he kept his skin over his body, where it belonged, thank you. No scaly water-monster Xander, thank you very much.
End Fireworks 18: Simmer.