A new mutant arises in New York that reveals a secret about Jean Grey and her family that will change her life forever. And it all centers around a familiar looking girl named Madelyn Pryor.
Chapter 6: Catching Up
After her first triumphant Danger Room session, Madelyn Pryor's training intensified under Professor Xavier's guidance and that of her sister. Her progress was gradual, but steady. And as the days and weeks went by, the institute began to feel more like home.
She kept in contact with her parents, letting them know every bit of progress she made. They were relieved that she was gaining control over her powers, but they were still anxious about her being a part of the X-men. Madelyn did her best to reassure them, although she did agree with them in regards to her not being ready.
Thankfully, she was also learning more advanced skills such as hand to hand combat and strategy under the tutelage of Logan and Ororo. Jean and Scott also worked closely with her and they all developed a strong bond. And while she was still getting to know the place, her potential for the X-men was undeniable.
She also became friends with some of the other institute residents. She got along very well with Kitty, Jubilee, and Kurt. Remy was okay when he wasn't flirting with her. And Bobby had a way of making her laugh. Rogue was still a wild card, but even she was warming to her. Eventually, Madelyn grew to accept that they just weren't alike, but she also suspected that her frustration over her feelings for Remy were a part of it too.
In addition, she also began attending classes with Scott and Jean. It was different than Boston, but it worked well for her. And having Paul around made it all the sweeter.
It was mid afternoon as Scott and Paul walked out of the math building located on the west end of campus. Since they shared a calculus class together, they often worked together to manage their workload. And between Scott's X-men duties, it really came in handy.
"So what do you think, man?" said Scott as they walked across campus, "You ready for mid terms?"
"Hell no," laughed Paul, "College math makes high school look like kindergarten."
"That's what you get for not taking enough AP classes," shrugged Scott.
"Speak for yourself," he muttered, "And that teacher sure doesn't help. I swear his voice is the cure for insomnia."
"No argument there. You nodded off what? Three times?"
"Twice," chuckled Paul, "I couldn't help it."
"I'm sure," said Scott with a knowing grin, "You've been dazing out on me a lot lately, man. Is something on your mind?"
"What? No," he said incredulously, "Why would you think that?"
"Okay, let me rephrase that," said Scott as they stopped near the curb, "Has someone been on your mind? Someone who, I don't know, has red hair, green eyes, and bears an uncanny resemblance to my girlfriend?"
Paul blushed, scrambling for words. But his silence said enough and there was no getting around it.
"Okay," he admitted, "So maybe I have been thinking about her a lot lately."
"That's one way of putting it," laughed Scott, "Last time we all ate lunch together you wouldn't stop staring at her."
"Well...she's an attractive girl, you know."
"She's my girlfriend's twin sister. Of course I know. So are you going to ask her out or what?"
Paul scoffed at that, his blush not fading as he thought about his chances with a girl like that. She was rich, beautiful, and witty. And they had a lot of fun just talking to each other. That was hard to find in a person, boy or girl. Yet despite this attraction, he remained reserved.
"Dude, we just met," he said, holding his hands up in defense, "Now granted, I do like her and I do find her attractive. But come on, she's new here. She's got a lot going on, especially with her whole mutant powers thing."
"You know it's funny," grinned Scott, "I said the exact same thing about Jean at the beginning of high school and we didn't hook up until the last part of our senior year."
"Yeah, you took your sweet time with that," teased Paul.
"Maybe so," said Scott, not denying it, "But my point is...do you really want to wait that long?"
Paul thought about it for a moment. Remembering back, he knew Scott had his heart set on Jean from day one. But the two of them took their sweet time getting their feelings out in the open. And once they did, their relationship really blossomed and they were a lot happier now than they were just one year ago.
But still, it was different with Madelyn. She was new, they were still getting to know each other, and she had plenty of personal issues to deal with concerning her powers. But was that really enough for him to not take a chance.
"I'll think about it, Scott," he finally said, "I just need to sort things out, you know?"
"Oh believe me, man, I understand," said Scott, his thoughts drifting back to his relationship with Jean, "Boy do I understand."
As Scott and Paul stood by the curb, Jean and Madelyn emerged from the crowd. And as soon as they saw them, they waved to grab their attention.
"Scott! Paul! Over here!" shouted Jean.
Smiling at the sound of his love's voice, he approached the twin redheads and took Jean into his arms, giving her a welcoming kiss. And since she wasn't the one who wore Red Sox shirts, he was certain it was her this time.
"Hey babe," he said, slipping his arms around her, "You done for the day?"
"Yep! The rest of the afternoon is ours," proclaimed Jean, leaning into her boyfriend's warmth.
"I hear that," said Paul, "Any plans? I know you guys have that training all the time."
"Not today, pretty boy," said Madelyn, "It's an off day today. Which is why Jean and I were hoping to hit the mall and do a little shopping, twin redhead style."
"Well then I guess you don't need us," sighed Scott.
"Sorry Slim. But we've been meaning to go on a spree together she got here," explained Jean, "Think of it as a way for a couple of reunited twins to spend some quality time together."
"Quality time, huh?" said Scott, "Well then I guess I should say have fun."
"Oh we will!" assured Madelyn, "But what would make it even more fun would be if you lent us your car for the afternoon since we'll probably need the trunk space."
Scott's demeanor shifted at the mention of his precious car. He was still very protective about who he let drive it. But looking at those puppy dog eyes Jean was giving him, it was hard to resist.
"Please Scott?" said Jean, slithering her hand down his chest, "I promise I'll make it up to you later."
Debating with himself for a moment, he quickly concluded he couldn't win this one. And with a defeated sigh, he took his keys out of his pocket and gave them to his girlfriend.
"Fine," he said, still not sounding too enthused, "Just be careful and bring it back with a full tank."
"Deal!" smiled Jean, giving him a grateful kiss on the lips, "You're the greatest, Scott!"
"Anything for you, Jean," he said, managing a smile, "As long as we don't have a repeat of the whole Siren's deal again."
"I know. I'll never live that down, will I?" she sighed, turning back towards Madelyn, "Come on, sis. Let's hit the mall. There are some awesome shops I just have to show you!"
"Lead the way!" grinned Madelyn, following her sister towards the parking lot.
But before they got too far, Madelyn turned around and flashed Paul an flirtatious smile, making him blush again for what felt like the millionth time since they met.
"Later Paul," she said in an alluring tone, "Call you later?"
"Uh...sure," he stammered, "Bye Maddie."
With one last playful gaze, she was off. And Paul couldn't stop staring at her the whole way. Off in his own little world, it took a few snaps from Scott to bring him back to reality.
"Hey man, stay with me," he said, snapping his fingers in front of him, "I need a ride home now."
"Oh...sorry man," said Paul, coming back to reality, "Just spaced for a minute there."
"Sure you did," laughed Scott as they made their way off to Paul's car, leaving Jean and Madelyn to their much deserved alone time at the mall.
Bayville Mall was busy like it always was. Parking was limited, lines were long, and noise was omnipresent. In other words, it was the perfect time for a mall crawl. And Jean and Madelyn had plenty to keep them busy as they browsed the shops.
Having come here numerous times over the years, Jean had a good feel for this place. There was a lot to see and plenty to show Madelyn. And since she seemed to take the same level of enjoyment out of shopping as her, it was a perfect time for the long lost siblings to catch up.
After showing Madelyn around the layout of the vast shopper's paradise, she led her into her favorite clothing store. There, they sifted through some of the newest merchandise while also reminiscing about moment in their lives they had missed.
"So this is where the whole Sirens deal started?" said Madelyn upon hearing Jean's story about the Bayville Sirens.
"I'm afraid so," said Jean, picking out a few outfits and holding them to her body, "Now don't get me wrong, it was a blast. But now that I look back on it, I think I was a little reckless. It could have been very bad if we didn't stop when we did."
"Sounds like it," said Madelyn, checking out a few outfits as well, "But look on the bright side. You struck a blow for female pride!"
"That I'll never forget," smile Jean.
"Do you still have the outfit?"
"Yeah, it's probably lying somewhere in my closet. But I haven't worn it in a long time. Black's never been my color."
"Same here," said Madelyn, "Guess that's one more thing we share. We're both very picky about how we accentuate our womanly curves."
"Amen to that!"
The twins let out another round of laughter, feeling a genuine sense of ease around each other. It was nice being able to come together like this. It allowed them to open up in a ways they hadn't been able to for years. Having a level of understanding so profound like this was nothing short of amazing, and both Jean and Madelyn could already feel a strong bond forming between them.
"Ooh, check this out, Maddie!" said Jean, pulling out a nice, light blue dress from the rack, "I'll bet you'd get Paul's attention wearing this little number, no doubt about it."
"You think so?" said Madelyn, holding it up to her body.
"I'm psychic. I know so."
Letting her look at it up to her body in a mirror, Madelyn liked what she saw. But that wasn't enough. The real question would be whether or not this would make a difference with Paul.
Jean could sense her sister's inner conflict. She was certainly no stranger to such feeling, having dealt with them for Scott over the years. And if Madelyn really felt that way about Paul, she didn't want her going through the same mess she did.
"You should really ask him out," said Jean with an encouraging smile.
"Who? Paul?" she said, sounding a little nervous.
"Of course," said Jean, placing a hand on her shoulder, "I've seen the way you look at him. You really like him, don't you?"
"Well he is really sweet," said Madelyn, blushing profusely, "He's a great guy to talk to. We communicate so well."
"All the more reason to ask him out," said Jean, "You like him and he likes you. Shouldn't that be enough?"
As logical as that sounded, Madelyn let out a deep sigh.
"I don't know, Jean. It's all happening kind of fast. First I find out about you, then I learn I'm a mutant, then I join the X-men, and now there's a boy I really like. It just...I honestly don't know how to handle it."
"Hey, I understand," said Jean empathically, "Believe me, I went through the same thing when I was sorting out my feelings for Scott. But even with all this stuff going for you right now, sometimes a relationship can help make things better. I know it did for me and Scott."
"But it's different with Paul," argued Madelyn, "You've known Scott for nearly a decade. You were friends for years. Paul and I just met."
"True, but does that really affect how you feel?" replied Jean.
She had a point. Maybe her life was a mess now, but that didn't change the fact that she was genuinely attracted to this boy. And if the looks he was giving her were any indication, he felt the same way. But could she really have a relationship? Even with her life being what it was?
"You're right, Jean. After all, you're kind of the expert in matters like this."
"Comes from experience and making plenty of mistakes along the way," said Jean with a reassuring smile, "But just because it took me so long to find the love of my life, that doesn't mean you have to face the same frustration."
"In that case, maybe I'll try this little number on," grinned Madelyn, holding the blue dress up to her body again, "If I am going to make a move with Paul, then I might as well be prepared."
"Now you're talking!" said Jean with renewed enthusiasm, "Come on, let's see how it looks. I'm sure it'll give Paul plenty more to blush over."
Laughing at her sister's enthusiasm, the twin redheads retreated to the dressing room to try out their new attire. But unknown to either of them, their actions did not go unnoticed by an ominous figure watching from afar.
She didn't look suspicious on the surface. To anybody, she appeared to be a normal, middle aged woman with dark hair, tanned skin, and a casual blue dress. But as she watched the twin redheads, her eyes flashed yellow as she quickly ran off to a quiet area and pulled out her cell phone.
"What's your status, Mystique?" came an ominous voice on the other end.
"Erik, you're not going to believe this," mused the shape shifter, "Either my eyes are playing tricks on me or I'm looking at two Jean Greys."
There was a brief silence over the line.
"Two? Could you be more specific?"
"I mean what I said!" she exclaimed in a fit of frustration, "There are two full bodied psychic redheads who look alike, sound alike, and talk alike! I didn't hear much, but they were calling each other 'sis!'"
"Calm yourself, Raven," said the cold voice on the other end, "If what you say is true, then something big must have happened since we left."
"I'll say. What do you think it is? Clones?"
"Doubtful. But whatever it is, are you sure they possess the same abilities?"
"I heard them yammering about it for nearly half an hour. Trust me, I'm sure," muttered Mystique.
On the other end, Erik took a moment to digest this. Even though he hadn't been around Bayville or Xavier for nearly a year, he hadn't expected something like this to turn up. He had knowledge on every student Xavier had and Jean Grey was no exception. But near as he could recall, she had no twin sister. Then again, he knew better than most people that anything was possible.
Setting aside the mysterious circumstances, he focused on the task at hand. They needed a psychic and they needed one now. And if this girl really was a twin if Jean Grey, then she had all the power they needed for what was to come.
"So what do you want to do? Grab them both?" asked Mystique.
"No," replied Erik, "One is enough. And we won't need her long. Do you know of any means to get one of them alone?"
Looking back over at the twin redheads posing with their new clothes, she heard a comment that answered that question.
"Oh my God, Maddie!" exclaimed Jean, "If this doesn't get Paul to ask you out, then I don't know what will!"
A sinister grin spread across the shape-shifter's face. She may not have known much about the world of teenage drama, but she understood enough to take advantage of the naivety of youth.
"Erik, I think our chance was just handed to us on a silver platter."
"So you'll take care of it?" he asked in a serious tone.
"Just leave it to me, Erik," she assured, "Give me another six hours and we'll have our psychic. Over and out."
Hanging up her phone, Mystique kept a close eye on the twin redheads. It was remarkable to see how alike they were, but she didn't care about the details. As long as they bore the same mutant powers, she could care less. They couldn't proceed without the aid of a psychic. And whether they liked it or not, Jean and her new sister were going to help.
After another two and a half hours at the mall, Jean and Madelyn called it quits and headed back to the institute with plenty of merchandise in hand. The sun was starting to set and a sense of accomplishment dominated the two long lost siblings. It was a surreal feeling, spending this time with each other. But it was well worth it.
The drive back was full of lengthy conversation, centering mostly on Scott and Paul. Madelyn was still trying to work up the nerve to make her move, but she was holding out for him to make it first. It was not at all unlike how Jean went about her feelings for Scott, but that was hardly surprising given their similar natures.
Once they got back, most of the institute residents were finishing dinner. Having already eaten at the mall, they weren't hungry. And with their merchandise in hand, they passed the living room where Scott, Logan, Ororo, Hank and the Professor were all watching the news with a great deal of distress.
"The island nation of Genosha made headlines again today," said the newscaster, "Their outspoken leader, Cameron Hodge, has made his country the first to decree mutants as illegal. His new policy has sparked mixed reactions, many of which are supporting his stand against the growing mutant menace. However, DC lawmakers say the legal implications of classifying an entire group as being illegal criminals based on their DNA is difficult at best. Yet many advocates are already seeking to use Genosha's new law as a precedent for further action against the growing mutant threat."
"Hey, did we miss something?" asked Jean as she and Madelyn entered the room.
"Depends," answered Logan, "Unless you consider some fascist prick making mutation illegal."
"Illegal?" questioned Madelyn, "Can they do that?"
"Hodge is a ruthless dictator," said Xavier with deep concern in his tone, "He can do whatever he wants."
"But can we take him seriously?" pondered Scott, "Last I checked Genosha doesn't have much of a human's rights record. Its economy is crap, its military is in shambles from civil war, and half the UN doesn't even recognize it as a legitimate state."
"Be that as it may, Cyclops, his actions have opened a Pandora's Box of possibilities," explained Xavier.
"Yes, if one nation sets a precedence, many others could follow," reasoned Hank, "One shutters to think the implications this could cause for mutants."
A heavy silence fell over the room. Madelyn couldn't help but feel uneasy. She was not used to situations like this. She was still new to this world. Before she found out she was a mutant, she wouldn't have wasted a second glance on a report like this. Now she couldn't afford to ignore it.
"What should we do, Professor?" asked Ororo.
"For now, we can't reverse Genosha's ruling," said the Professor, "But we can work to stop it from spreading. Hodge's power is weak at best. If we can isolate him in the international community, then maybe we can discourage further actions against mutants."
"Sounds like a cop out to me," muttered Logan, "I think we oughta just fly over there and pay Hodge a visit. We'll see how much a military strong man he is when he takes a look at these."
Drawing his claws with a snikt, Logan was ready for action. But the Professor held his hand up in a gesture of restraint.
"No Logan. Conflict is the last thing we need at this point," he said wisely, "But as a precaution, I'm placing the team on high alert."
"High alert?" said Madelyn.
"Yes, Maddie. We must be ready at a moments notice should this situation spiral out of control," said Xavier as he wheeled off.
"If you ask me, Chuck...it already has."
Following Xavier out, Scott and the twin redheads were all that was left in the room. The newscast was still blaring, showing images of people holding signs praising and scorning Genosha's actions. Scott and Jean were no strangers to it, but Madelyn couldn't help but shift uncomfortably.
"Good God," she said, watching such hatred with utter distain, "People are sick."
"Sad to say, but this is what we have to deal with," said Scott, turning off the TV, "Mutants are a very emotional issue to a lot of people. It happens whenever something so different comes into the mainstream."
"But all this hate!" exclaimed Madelyn, "How do we get around something like that?"
"One day at a time, Maddie," said Jean in a comforting tone, "Hatred is a complicated thing to fight, with or without mutant powers. The best we can do is to show them that we're not a menace. We're here to help."
"Sounds like a pretty tall order if you ask me," replied Madelyn somewhat sarcastically.
"True, but it's what we X-men stand for," said Scott.
It was a lot to take in for Madelyn. She had seen hatred towards mutants, but now that she was one, she felt much of that hate projected onto her. It wasn't a pleasant feeling, but there was nothing she could do about it.
"I...should probably call my parents," said Madelyn.
"Yeah, good idea," said Jean with a smile, "After that, how about we all watch a movie or something?"
"Sounds great," she said with a smile.
Walking off towards her room, Jean had mixed feelings about seeing her sister deal with such discrimination for the first time. Everybody at the mansion had dealt with it before, but Madelyn was still new and it hit her pretty hard.
Sensing Jean's distress, Scott slipped his arm around his girlfriend's waist and pulled her into a hug.
"She'll be okay," he assured her.
"I hope so," said Jean, sinking into his warmth.
"I know she will. After all, you two share the same stubborn determination."
"Thanks Slim. You know just what to say to set my mind at ease."
"I do what I can," he said humbly, giving her a soft kiss on the lips, "So what movie do you want to watch?"
"Anything that'll make me forget the news," replied Jean.
Smiling at her renewed spirit, the young couple prepared for a relaxing night on the couch. Madelyn still worried them, but she was strong. It would take time, but she'd find her place in this ongoing battle with a world that hated and feared them.
But for now, all they wanted to concern themselves with were movies. Being the center of so many tumultuous events around the world, any length of happiness was made all the more precious.
Up in her room, Madelyn had just finished talking to her mom. Naturally, she had heard the news as well and was very worried. Her daughter was an X-man now and if this situation escalated then she could be sent out into the field. And that scared her. But Madelyn reassured her that everything would be okay. She had come to trust her sister and teammates. And should she face combat, she had faith that they would help her through.
After hanging up, she flopped down on her bed, staring at the ceiling in a daze.
'I can't believe it,' she thought to herself, 'Here I am in middle of the great conflict between humans and mutants. And just a few months ago my biggest worry was the soccer team. Man, is it always this big a mind job?'
She continued to muse over her new life, but just as she started to nod off, her cell phone rang again.
"Oh boy, that's probably my dad," she groaned as she answered, "Hello?"
"Who's this?" she said, not recognizing the voice.
There was a brief silence over the line before she got her answer.
A renewed sense of energy came over her as she sat up on her bed, smiling at her sudden turn in luck.
"Paul! Hi uh..." she stammered, "Who gave you my number?"
"Scott did. I didn't know if I should, but you see..." he began nervously.
"Nah, it's okay. In fact, I'm glad he did. Hearing your voice again just made my evening."
"Whew, that's a relief. I've been arguing with myself on how to do this for the last hour. And you see, uh..."
Madelyn laughed at his shyness. Even over the phone, it was so cute. Lying back on her bed with a big smile, she felt much better. Even if most of the world did hate mutants, at least she knew one guy who could see around it. And it didn't hurt that he was also a real cutie.
"Listen, you got any training or homework right now?" he asked wearily.
A wide smile spread across Madelyn's face.
"Nope. Tonight's an off night and as for homework...well, it's nothing I can't put off till later."
"In that case I was wondering if maybe you...you'd want to go grab a bite? Or if you already ate, maybe some coffee? Or..."
"Paul," said Madelyn, not letting him go any further, "I'd love to."
"You...really?" he said with renewed excitement.
"Of course!" said Madelyn with great enthusiasm, "Where do you want to go?"
"Well, why don't you meet me over near the Gut Bomb and we'll take it from there?" he suggested.
"Sounds like a plan!" said the redhead as she got off her bed, "I'll see you there in a half hour."
"A half hour? Sweet! I can't wait!"
"Neither can I," she said in a flirtatious tone.
"See you soon, Paul."
And with that, Madelyn turned off her phone, a smile never leaving her face. Looking at the bags containing the clothes she got from the mall, she walked over to her dresser and looked into the mirror at her vibrant poise.
"Girl, you're luck just got a whole lot better," she said to herself as she prepared herself for what could very well be a major step for her in her new life.
In a lone payphone located near the Gut Bomb in downtown Bayville, Mystique hung up the phone, smiling to herself at the performance she just put on. Spending all that time as a teenager around Rogue had some added benefits, allowing her to pull off being a shy, handsome guy looking for a date without breaking a sweat.
As she hung back to the side of the building, a dark figure hovered over her, staring down at her with approval as he landed beside her.
"That was quite a show, Mystique. I have to admit, I'm impressed," said Erik.
"I'm a shape shifter, Erik," she grinned, "Deception is my greatest talent."
"Indeed. So I take this Madelyn girl is on her way?"
"She said she'll be here in a half hour," said Mystique confidently, "And rest assured, I'll be ready for her."
Shifting her form to match that of Paul, the dye was cast. A look of great anticipation fell over the old holocaust survivor's face. Everything was falling into place. Soon, the next great step for mutants everywhere would be upon them.
"Then we best prepare," said Erik as he and Mystique prepared for the next step, "I am looking forward to meeting this mysterious new mutant. If she really is anything like Jean Grey, then the final phase of our plan will be ready very soon."
DECEPTIVE, ISN'T IT? REVIEW TO UNCOVER THE MYSTERY!