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27 November 2011 @ 01:17 am
Chapter 22: “You guys aren’t starting to trust me, are you?”  
Title: You've Got To Go There To Come Back
Author:  “sleepall_day” at Livejournal
Rating: Fairly tame but around PG-13.
Timeline: Directly after Alcatraz events of X3.
Summary: After the fight at Alcatraz, Pyro is found and brought back to Xavier's mansion. For his criminal actions he has been given house arrest at Xavier's School and he must learn to adjust.
Disclaimer: I don't own X-Men or any characters used in this fanfiction. This story is just for fun, and any resemblances you find to actual people, living or dead, shows that you have strange friends.
Author's Note: I find writer’s block to be incredible. If you were waiting for updates, I apologize. I’m not much of a writer’s block combatant.

Chapter 22: “You guys aren’t starting to trust me, are you?”
I was knocked out cold for the night. That was way, way more excitement than I was used to. I woke up well into the afternoon and, with a smile, regarded those tacos as the highlight of last night. Except for the late-night excursion in New York City with Kitty, that fast food was the only taste of the outside world I’d had since I started house arrest.
Not bothering to change out of sweatpants, I was making my way down to the kitchen for lunch – I slept in too late for breakfast – when I was stopped by Rogue.
“You oughta get to the infirmary when you get a chance,” she said to me. There was even a smile on her face as she spoke to me. A genuine one. I scowled just a little bit, but nodded at her and decided to see what that was all about.
I knocked on the door of the med bay, and without bothering to wait for an answer, poked my head inside. “What’s the story, people?” I asked.
There was only one occupied bed. Sitting in it was the same “terrorist” that Rogue had swiped the mutant powers of during the invasion, except he now looked like someone had spray-painted him gold. He literally shone. I could see Storm’s reflection in his cheeks. His blonde hair and blue eyes looked normal, but nothing else about him was, because his skin had a metallic gold sheen to it.
So I laughed. It was the only reasonable reaction for me to have. I laughed heartily and with youthful abandon. I mean, some kid’s mutant powers kick in, and he turns into the chick from Goldfinger. That’s funny to me!
Unfortunately, no one else was laughing. They were glaring at me from around the kid’s bed. I finally shut up, cleared my throat and pounded my chest as the ultimate gesture of awkwardness. Storm gave me a “you’ll get it for this later” glare and said out loud, “This is Josh Foley. We’ve registered him as an Xavier’s student and he’ll be with us from today on.” Turning towards Josh, she gestured towards me and told him, “This is John Allerdyce. He’ll also be working with you in the program.”
I groaned audibly and crossed my arms as I leaned against the doorjamb. Right. That program. Josh looked to be the perfect candidate, along with Charlie, for little experimental guinea pig test subjects in that “Charles Xavier dreamed of peaceful coexistence!” rehab program I’d so far avoided. And by laughing at this kid’s golden skin I’d probably knocked myself way behind schedule in terms of rehabbing this poor kid. I rolled my eyes. Way to shoot myself in the foot. But still! He looked so idiotic! I couldn’t help it.
I stepped away from the doorway and stuck out a hand for him to shake. What the hell, right? I wasn’t happy about the program, but I’d already told myself I was going to do what it takes to get the parole. “Hey, no hard feelings, dude. I just… you know,” I stammered, realizing there was absolutely no excuse for the way I’d cracked up at him. So I just told him, “Sorry. I’m just a little crazy, that’s all.”
Josh snorted, but he took my hand and shook it anyway, and said with a wry grin, “It’s fine, man. I kind of like it.” That took me a little by surprise, but I rolled with it.
I shrugged at him. “So. Healer, huh? So, what’s up with all the…?” I let my voice trail off as I indicated all the tubes hooked up to the kid.
“Just taking down some information,” Hank spoke up. “Joshua’s physiology is truly stunning. I could spend days – weeks! – just examining the cell structures alone. I’ve taken a sample of some of his epithelia and plated it, and simply can’t wait to start running some tests. Incredible! The tissue sample was taken in a noninvasive technique, but I could literally just – take one of Logan’s claws and scoop out a chunk of skin and Josh would heal it right back!” Josh looked a little horrified at this statement. Hank continued, “I’ve just got so many tests in mind that I want to get started on. In fact…”
I laughed and cut off Hank with a wave of my hand. “Were you even half as excited as this when you were a kid on Christmas morning?” I laughed again as I looked at Hank’s expression, and added, “It’s good to see you so worked up, though, Dr. McCoy. In fact, good to see you at all.” I realized this was the first time I’d seen the Beast since his capture and recovery.
He gave me a sincere-looking smile and nod, and patted me on the shoulder graciously. “It’s good to be back. I’m grateful to you for your part in this, young man. Ah, I do apologize. I suppose that should have been my first words to you, but as you could tell, I was rather excited about our newest mutant…”
“Yeah, why is that, by the way? What is the big idea?” I said, ignoring his praise momentarily. “You’ve got Wolverine, don’t you? Or is it that he just snarls at you whenever you suggest the idea of harvesting tissue samples from him?”
Hank chuckled, which, for him, was a deep rumble coming all the way from his big belly. He sounded like a grizzly bear. “Because, young man, Josh can also heal others. Just think of the implications for stem cell research!”
That was interesting. I looked at Josh with a renewed interest and gave a low whistle.
“In fact, that’s why I’m feeling so spry today,” Hank added jovially. Good point. He did look pretty beat up in that footage earlier.
“See you around, then,” I said, not wishing to stick around any more than I needed to. “And, well, you’re welcome, I guess,” I mumbled to Hank. I left Josh and the staff there in the infirmary to deal with the logistics of his being here, and enjoyed the rest of my quiet day. Things were winding down, classes were out for summer, and people were finally starting to feel relaxed. I almost forgot that air of tension surrounding the recent attacks and threats – at least, until I read a newspaper or used my ancient computer to check up on the news.
The old meeting hall was finally cleaned up and reconstructed. When it was ready for business, I made my one solid contribution to it. I stepped back from the wall and held out my arms proudly. “Nice, huh? Take a look!”
“You are so not getting parole,” Warren replied dryly. He shook his head at the sign I posted directly above the trashcan. It read SUGGESTION BOX. I snorted.
Work was tedious. I hated every minute of it, but I think I surprised myself when I had to admit, I didn’t exactly hate Charlie and Josh. They seemed like okay kids. I mean, they were just kids. It’s hard to hate kids when they’re not the obnoxious kind who think the world revolves around them. I quickly learned that it wasn’t that long ago that Josh had been one of those kids, but a few short weeks with the Friends of Humanity, plus your own mutation suddenly manifesting, will change a person. I found that I could waste a lot of time in the first few counseling sessions by taking Amelia Voght’s tactic. I cackled slightly as I let myself feel like I was being sneaky. “Tell me about your family. What did you do to pass the time? What were your friends like? What’d you do when you hung out with them? What kind of subjects did you like best in school?” All Amelia questions. She inspired me to realize I could ask all these “background information” questions before getting to the tougher stuff. It’s what my own counseling sessions had been like, too.
Still, I never got the feeling that Amelia was just “wasting time” with me, because she was attentive and did give me the feeling that she cared. If not about me, then about working for the school. I, on the other hand, managed to get away with asking these empty, nothing questions to the two boys for the first couple of days. Our sessions were kept for posterity on a tape recorder, so I didn’t even have to pretend to take notes on a pad of paper while doodling pictures of dinosaurs or whatever.
Charlie was the quieter, more thoughtful one. He took his time with his answers and always spoke deliberately. I couldn’t tell if it that was just the way he was, or if his abuse at the hands of the anti-mutant group had damaged him. We also talked a lot about his powers. It was an easy source of conversation. Mine were pretty straightforward, but Charlie’s powers seemed to be much more finicky.
“It seems to work more for places than actual people,” he once explained. “Like when I switched with Logan. I wanted to go to the school, so I went to the school, and my power randomly picked a person who was in or near it. Then, once I make the switch, my power is able to find the exact person again to switch with and put us both back in our original places. But I can’t really seem to locate people. I can’t switch again with Logan without knowing where he is.”
I nodded, interested. It always helps to learn when someone else’s powers have some kind of limitation. Okay, so I was a little selfish about that.
“If it’s a place I’ve already been to, I definitely can go there again – provided someone is there or nearby. If it’s somewhere I’ve never been before… well, then I can go there if I have a very good picture of the place. Sometimes, but not always. The more detailed the photo, the better.”
Josh had a far more frightening power. Not only could he heal himself and others, his power seemed to allow him intimate knowledge of any biological entity simply through touch. (Hank’s words, not mine.) When he patted the back of my hand, he said, “You know, if you think it’d improve the quality of your life, I could fix it so you’re not allergic to shellfish anymore.” It disturbed me that someone could know me on the cellular level.
I raised an eyebrow, but told him, “You could try, but if I eat some oysters and have to be rushed to the ER, you’re explaining it to the police.”
This made Josh crack up. “I can regrow limbs, dude. You think I can’t handle a little anaphylaxis?”
I narrowed my eyes at him, but derived from context that he meant “allergic reaction.”
Josh was also more extroverted than either Charlie or I was. He was one of those. You know. The high school quarterback type. After making it through a pretty traumatic experience – having his life threatened, worrying the very people who threatened him would find out he was one of the mutants they so hated, getting himself worked up in basically a terrorist invasion – well, he seemed like a pretty normal guy. He bounced back quickly. Some of that “Yeah, I’m awesome, I was the star of the basketball team” personality trickled back as he recovered. He was always joking around and had an easy time talking to anybody. After one of our sessions was over, he slapped me high-five and said, “All right, man, next time,” and on his way out, gave another high-five to Peter. “See ya, Shirtless Wonder!”
Really? Since when were Josh and Peter on a nickname basis? I glared and wondered if I were slightly jealous of how fast he was fitting in already. In fact, Josh had already become fast friends with Time For Dinner. It turned out that the baseball games she was always watching were Yankees games, and Josh was a big fan. In all my time here, I’d never really bothered to ever talk to her, and Josh was already high-fiving her after a Yankees run or blabbering with her about Derek Jeter this or Mariano Rivera that.
One afternoon, when I was in the common room lazily jotting down some thoughts in my notebook during one such Yankees game, Cyclops came looking for me. He was all businesslike and brusque, but it was hard to tell if that was because that’s just the way he was, or if there actually was something going on. He told me I was needed in the medical bay, along with Josh Foley, who was mildly annoyed to have his game interrupted.
When I got to the med bay, there was already a whole party of X-Men assembled, plus Amelia. “What?” I asked.
“We’ve had a few days to discuss the last mission, and we’re ready to talk about it. I’ll get right to the point. During the raid on the Friends of Humanity, we destroyed their stocks of the Legacy Virus.”
I shrugged, and then offered, “Hooray?”
“Well... we recovered one stock of the Legacy Virus. Then, once we had it in our possession, we destroyed the others,” Cyclops continued.
“Holy shit!” I blurted out. “You’re going to smallpox that thing!”
“Mr. Allerdyce, smallpox is not to be used as a verb!” Hank scolded me tersely.
“Well, neither is it to be used as biological warfare, but who’s asking me?” I shouted.
“John, please, indoor voices. No one is going to – to smallpox anything,” Storm said in her own indoor voice, ignoring Hank’s lesson in grammar.
“What does it mean when you use it as a verb?” Josh piped up.
I let out a loud sigh of exasperation, and groaned at him. “God, Josh, did you go to school?! It’s not a verb. I just meant that they’re keeping one lonely virus stock around for ‘just in case’ at the risk of somebody stealing it and using it against us, you idiot!”
Turning his attention away from me, Josh looked at the staff and whined, “Are you going to let my therapist talk to me like that and call me an idiot?”

“I’m not your therapist!” I said. “Just because I talked to you for half-hour sessions this week doesn’t give me any kind of a board certification!”
By this point almost everyone was shouting, until Cyclops put his fingers between his teeth and let out a piercing whistle. “All right, settle down,” he said. Bobby looked at him with admiration. I wondered if he was going to start practicing his own whistles later today.
“John, apologize to Josh,” Cyclops said in his usual “I mean business” tone.
“Sorry,” I mumbled, because it was faster than arguing about it.
“And some of us here do have board certification. I’m going to let one of them continue, and you are all going to listen,” Cyclops went on.
Hank, who obviously was the doctor in question, cleared his throat and began. “We are well aware of the risks, and we are going to have the virus stock under the strictest security imaginable. We do have a high-level containment facility right here on our campus…”
I raised both my hands in surrender and muttered, “I don’t even want to begin to imagine what the Professor thought he was going to need with one of those.”
Hank continued as if I hadn’t spoken, which was probably the smart thing to do. “We would, however, be well advised to move the stock to an even higher level of containment. Biosafety level four, specifically. That is where the greatest level of security and containment for a contagion of this nature can be found, so be assured that we are doing all we can to stay safe. To be exact, we are sending a team to transport the virus to the Centers for Disease Control, accompanied by one of their staff members. And that, dear friends, is why we are keeping the virus stock. Not ‘just in case,’ of the need to wield it as a threat as Mr. Allerdyce has implied, and thank heavens the Professor isn’t around to hear the words ‘biological warfare’ being tossed around in this institution! We are sending the stock in order to see if a vaccine can be created.”
Josh and I exchanged glances. “Oh,” was all I could say.
“Sounds reasonable,” Josh said, and I nodded. 
“Well, we’re glad you approve,” Amelia said, not bothering to hide her sarcasm. “We needed your final vote of confidence,” she added in a stage whisper.
I shrugged. “Why are you making a vaccine if the rest of it’s been destroyed?”
“Because, John! There’s no way to tell for sure if what we destroyed really is the rest of it! Don’t be dumb,” Amelia said.
I just stared helplessly at Cyclops. “Are you going to let my therapist talk to me like this?” I couldn’t see his eyes, but I just knew he was stifling laughter.
Someone mentioned that they shouldn’t be late to the meeting with the CDC staff member. But of course, I couldn’t go. Something dawned on me. “Hey, so… what are you guys telling all this to me for?” I grinned at them. “You guys aren’t starting to trust me, are you?”
“Of course not,” Cyclops said, grinning right back. All right, so he was the only one I could’ve stood that comment from. “You’re here because we want you to be aware of what’s going on while we do some blood work.”
I froze. “What?!”
“We just want to take all precautions. While you were in the hands of the Friends of Humanity, it’s possible that you were infected. It may have been accidental, or intentional,” Hank said.
I remained frozen. Slowly, I said, “You’re kidding.” The staff all shook their heads.
“Look, I wouldn’t be too worried,” Cyclops assured me. “It’s just a precaution. Like Hank said. And Josh is here because he can probably tell if something’s awry, too. But we’re just drawing the blood to make sure, okay?”
I nodded, and let Josh lay a hand on my shoulder. After just a few seconds, he shrugged, and casually said, “Nothing seems wrong to me. Except for a couple of cavities.”
I let out a huge breath. I could live with a couple of cavities. Possibly even more, if it meant I didn’t have the Legacy Virus. “You guys had me going for a minute. Why couldn’t you just let him do his thing first and then tell me?!”
A small smile appeared on Hank’s face as he said, “Okay. We’ll do it that way when we contact Meg and Julian.” I heaved another sigh.
“All right, come on over to one of the examination rooms with me. I’m going to have one of my nurses draw blood, and then you are free to go. The test results will probably be back before we are,” Hank said to me.
“Who’s going?” I said, nosy as usual.
“Most of us are,” answered Bobby.
“Me too,” said Amelia. “You get to skip counseling, John!”
“Oh. Goody,” I grumbled. Well, I did want to skip a few sessions, but not if it meant that once again, everyone would be off and going places without me. People started talking amongst themselves, and about their meeting with this CDC person. They were going to fly out to the CDC with them that very evening. Amelia and Hank would be going as our two resident medical doctors, and the others as Xavier’s representatives. Why couldn’t the people here just stay put once in awhile? They were always going on missions or getting abducted or whatever. Okay, so, to be fair, I’d gotten abducted too. But still!
Everyone except the nurse who was going to poke me with a needle started packing up their stuff and walking out of the med bay. I asked them, “Hey, does the CDC have a gift shop or something?”
Kitty turned to look at me with a puzzled expression on her face. “I… don’t know, but if that’s some kind of joke, I don’t really get it. I wouldn’t exactly call it a tourist hot spot.”
“Oh, nah. I just was hoping you guys would bring me back a souvenir,” I said. Well, I would’ve preferred Paris or Rome or something, but while stuck in this mansion, even Atlanta, Georgia seemed like a cool and exotic vacation.
Kitty laughed. “Sure, we’ll bring you back something.”
“Make sure to bring back a Haz-Mat suit for Rogue, too,” I said to Bobby.
To my surprise, he just chuckled and rolled his eyes. “I will,” he said as he left.
I followed the nurse to one of the examination rooms where she stuck me with a gigantic needle. I mean, it was basically a baguette. I winced and tried to lose my manly points. Trying to act casual, I asked the nurse, “So, does this mean we’re all gonna have to line up for vaccine shots in a week or so?”
She laughed. “Yeah, right. It takes months to manufacture a vaccine. It can even take up to six months to mass produce the ones for the seasonal flu, and that’s a process people are pretty familiar with. Legacy Virus is… well, not exactly well studied.”
“Months? Then what are we supposed to do if somebody just, I don’t know, takes some hidden stockpile of it and unleashes it?” I couldn’t tell if the lightheadedness was due to the blood being drawn out of my arm, or thoughts of a highly contagious virus being spread around the globe.
All the nurse could do was shrug, as she finished up the blood draw. “It’s the best course of action we can follow right now. That’s all.” She affixed a SpongeBob Band-Aid to my arm and then patted it. “There. You’re done.”
Soon after, the mansion was quiet again. I made a big dinner to share with Josh and Time For Dinner, whose name I finally learned to be Francine. We sat in front of the TV for a while and caught the tail end of the game. “Hey,” I said, pointing an accusatory finger at the big screen. “That dude has the same name as one of the terrorists.”
“Coincidence, man,” Josh assured me through bites of his food, waving his hand. “No way could that FOH guy ever hope to be as cool as Swish.”
I snorted. So not only was he on a nickname basis with the Shirtless Wonder, he also was with a Major League Baseball player. “Really? You get to call him Swish?”
Josh was unfazed, and grinned at me. “When you love a team, when you really love a team, they become your team. They’re your boys! When they win, you say ‘we won’! And same goes for losses. It’s team loyalty, man. And, by the way… we won!”
I glanced at the TV. So we had. Or, well, they had. I just shrugged. I was indifferent, but Josh was grinning and slapping high-fives with Francine. When their jubilant celebration died down a bit, he looked at me and said sincerely, “You don’t get it because you’ve never loved a team. I can tell. You have to really, really love a team to get it.”
I just kept working on my journal as I reminded myself to brush my teeth extra hard that night.