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The small bit of silence wasn't necessarily bad. It was a little calming, really, to have Powerpuff Girls playing in the background while holding a kid and drinking a bear. ...Of course, that calmness was ruined when the mutant-male said what he did, and Lauren found it being her turn to choke on a swig of bear in startlement.
Setting the bear down, she'd look at him in disbelief. [b "What the hell would I even teach?"] She coughed, trying not to be too loud because of Jenny sleeping in her lap. [b "Fucking [i history?]"] Wiping the back of her mouth against her hand, she'd continue to stare at him in disbelief.
She was silent as he went on to explain himself, she biting at the inside of her cheek rather firmly to hold her tongue so she wouldn't interrupt. Her mind slowly flowed backwards over what her standard life was before the past few days, then over the past few days, then over that day up to the current moment. Lauren glanced down at Jenny, around the kitchen, and then over to Scott. [b "...Maybe I'll think about it."] She offered after a few long moments, but that was definitely better than her saying no. [b "The people here aren't too unbearable, I guess,"] she added, smirking at him.
Standing up slowly, keeping careful with the way she held Jenny in her arms, she asked, [b "So where's the squirt's room? Should probably go set her down or something...?"]
Scott actually snorted a laugh. [b "Believe it or not, I think that may only be therapeutic for you,"] he replied.
This time the silence was amicable. It was interesting to see her act so gentle and caring with the kids, when Scott knew exactly how terrifying and powerful she could be. Then again, her protective side was bound to kick in when it came to defenseless children. It was something they had in common.
[b "So we've reached a truce then? I'll stop being such a dick all the time, and you'll join the staff?"] he asked.
Before she could answer, he continued. [b "You do seem like a good fit here, especially with how the kids are all taken with you. I promise that I wouldn't interfere with your classes. Unless I have to. Like if some of the boys try challenging you to a fight and I have to step in so they don't die being stupid teenagers."]
It was as close to an invitation as he could manage. Lauren was good with the children and she had experience with fighting. Even if she didn't take on classes, she would be a great help with training those students working towards joining the X-Men. [b "But, it's completely up to you. I understand if I've sullied your taste of the Institute. Jean made it very clear that my attitude needs an adjustment."]
[i Definitely don't think the beer should be in the fridge unless, like... it's a thumbprint scanning one or something. Make sure the kids can't grab any.] Absentminded thoughts shoved aside for a later time, she accepted the beer and easily popped the metal cap off with just her thumb.
While Scott choked on his swig of beer after her apology, she easily drank her own with no misstepping. Apologizing was hard—let alone twice to the same guy within a week of having met him—but she had genuinely felt a little bad (eventually) for her part in both situations. She might not have been the one in the wrong, but she knew she hadn't been completely in the right leading up the events in one of those instances.
[b "You gave me a beer, so apologies accepted."] Lauren decided, despite thinking his taste in beer was shitty. She held out her hand for his shake, but ended up rolling her eyes at his comment, [b "Just shake my damn hand, Summers."] And with that, the handshake was done, and the conversation took a mixed turn to soft reason for firmness and strength.
Her hand stilled with rubbing soothingly at the sleeping little girl's stomach as she watched him brush blonde curled from a button nose and shut eyes, the short woman just being silently contemplative. [b "...I can't exactly say I understand that, all things about me considered,"] She said, shifting Jenny just slightly so it be a bit of a more comfortable position for the kid to sleep in, [b "But I respect it."] After a few moments of silence, in which the Powerpuff Girls saved the day, she added, [b "Instead of anger management I can just kick your ass whenever you'd being an ass. It'll be better than therapy, yeah?"] And with a grin, the woman softly snickered. She didn't want to wake up the squirt, after all.
He was sure he heard wrong. But when he glanced back over his shoulder and saw Lauren looking his way, he guessed he hadn't. She had called his name. And was...requesting that he join her?
Hesitantly, Scott stepped back in the kitchen. Setting his beer down on the counter, he grabbed another one from the fridge. [b "I think we'll both need one,"] he placed the second can in front of her.
There was a brief moment of silence where neither were quite sure what to say. Thankfully, Lauren broke it first. Scott nearly choked on his beer at the apology. [b "It's fine,"] he cleared his throat. [b "I've been told that I have been quite an asshole since you got here, and Jean made it very clear that I was deserving of the punishment. So...I guess I'm the one who should be apologizing."]
He stuck out his hand to shake hers, but paused and pulled it back. [b "I can shake your hand, right? Your claws aren't going to come out and chop my fingers off?"]
Jenny quietly snored through the entire exchange. [b "These people are my family. This is my home. To say I'm protective would be an understatement,"] he brushed a lock of hair out of the small girl's closed eyes. [b "It was nothing personal. Alright, well a bit was personal, but I've been told I'm difficult to be around for new people. Anger management has been suggested once or twice."]
Lauren's focus might have been divided between the child dozing off with an ice-cream spoon in their mouth, and the television show, but that didn't limit her from being able to hear an oncoming approach.
She wasn't sure who it was, the smells of others still so hazy for her since there was just so many to scent, but the sound of the voice did surprise her. She turned her head, looking over at the laser-eyed male, and watched silently as he went about grabbing a bear. A seemingly... genuine compliment floored her and made her head hurt. Glancing down, and seeing Jenny all but asleep, she came to a rather fast decision.
[b "Summers,"] Lauren whisper-called before he was too far to hear it, and once getting his attention she'd seemed to be searching for something. After a few moments she sighed, and used her only free hand towards the chair next to her at the table. [b "Just sit down, huh?"]
If and when he'd do as asked, the silence would return even as she went about idly rubbing a soothing hand at the sleeping girl's stomach. The duo of adults would watch up to the point of The Powerpuff Girls get turned into puppies before Lauren would speak again. [b "I'm sorry you got reemed out so hard."] The brunette eventually said, clearing her throat after doing so.
To say that Scott faced punishment would be lenient.
It almost felt like he was a student, the way he was stripped of privileges. Hank had been instructed to take over his classes, and he wasn't permitted to leave the premises under any circumstances. The Professor had even gone as far as giving him a written warning to go in his employee file, with clear instruction that if it happens again, he will no longer be permitted to stay at the Institute.
Jean had been sympathetic for all of fifteen minutes. [i "Scott, I love you, and you know that, but I'm going to tell you this only once,"] she grasped his face in her hands. [i "You brought this on yourself, so stop bitching."]
So he'd taken to sulking by himself for a few days. He'd practiced in the Danger Room while everyone was asleep, and had done perimeter checks simply to occupy his time. It was a nightmare.
On the forth night, he'd finished his Danger Room simulation in record time. Still sweaty and panting, he'd found his way through the halls to the kitchen. And came to a complete stop.
The sight nearly brought the ghost of a smile to his face. Jenny, the shyest little thing he'd ever met, looked perfectly content sitting with Lauren and watching the cartoon while sharing some ice cream. Not even Jean had been able to manage to scare the nightmares away from one of their youngest students.
[b "My favourite episode,"] he joked quietly, stepping into the room to open the fridge.
He grabbed a beer and popped the top, turning to them once more. [b "Hide the evidence so Hank doesn't know you ate his ice cream,"] he advised. Pausing in the doorway, he glanced back. [b "Nice job, Lauren,"] his tone was sincere as he exited the way he came, to go and finish his drink in solitude.
[b "I did [i not] ask for anything. You said, and I quote: 'Now that you're warmed up, we'll give you the real test'. You said that [i after] I'd beaten a bunch of levels,"] Lauren all but growled, getting in Scott's face and grabbing him by the collar, [b "And then when your thing didn't work, you came down and just thrusted me into whatever the hell that [i YOUR FEAR] was. I had no preperation or anything. And incase you didn't notice it, in this situation, I was a [u civilian] compared to you. I am not a part of your super-secret boyband of X-Men. So, own up where you fucked up, bub!"] She shoved him back from her, backing up as Hank entered the room.
She clenched her teeth as Charles spoked, the modified bones grinding almost audibly. Though tension was still clear in her body, the level of it induced by fligth and rage had calmed. [b "...Just keep this dick away from me."] Lauren finallyed said, gesturing towards Scott, and that was all.
The short mutant stalked form the room, resisting the urge to slame the door behind her, and left Scott to the fate of stern speeches from Hank McCoy and Charles Xavier.
[h3 Three Days Later — Saturday of March 12th — 11:42 PM]
The past three days had been... far better than Lauren expected. She got on well with all the kids that came up to her—"Like fire to a dry-spell" is what Jean had mentioend out of the feral's earshot just the day before. Rogue was happy, the two having an interesting dynamic despite the adult's personality. One worth marveling a little over by the adult residents of the school considering how small a time the duo had apparently known one another so far.
Mentionign the adults, she got on well with the Xavier's School staff as well....
At least, with all but Scott.
Whom she was ignoring like the plague. Leaving like a bat outta' hell if he ever got too close to her.
It was currently her forth night in the mansion. In her room, Lauren was still wide awake and wearing some sleeping clothes, loaned to her via Storm, that she had changed into after a shower that consisted of a solid black t-shirt and maroon sweat-shorts that ended just above her knees due to her shorter height. The brow-eyed woman was sat up in bed, reading through some research papers Jean had given her, but she froze as she heard the soft pitter-patter of small feet. She dismissed it after a moment, figuring it was a child heading to one of their teacher's rooms, so when her door opened she looked over in surprise. A little girl stood in the doorway, confused, and then blushed from obvious embarrassment.
[#d10012 "Sorry, um... Miss Lauren, right? I didn't mean to bother you—I thought this was Professor Storm's room."] She began to retreat, but then Lauren rose up from her bed. [b "No, don't worry. It's alright,"] The woman soothed. [b "What's your name, kid? How old are you? Also, you don't have to call me 'Miss' or anything else formal. Plain old 'Lauren' will do just fine."] The semi-short woman questioned and declared, gesturing for the girl to come in. After a moment of hesitation the little girl did.
[#d10012 "I'm Jennifer McCrimmon, but I like being called Jenny. I'm seven."]
[b "Well, it's nice to meet you, Jenny. And.... you're seven? How long have you been here?"]
[#d10012 "For almost a year. I got my powers when I was, like, five. Professor Xavier and Miss Jean came and got me themselves.... My foster mommy didn't like me having powers. I have nightmares about it, and that's why I was looking for Professor Storm."] The childs voice had gone very soft, as if ashamed.
Lauren, despite how cold she could act and/or be, felt her heart clench at those words from someone so young. Thinking it be wise, she decided to at least halfway change the subject for the moment. [b "So, you have powers, hm? Can I see?"] That was her gentle question, and after a brief moment the little girl known as Jenny would nod her head. Abruptly she start rubbing her hands together really fast, a slight crackle fill the air, and then as he pulled them about five inches apart a line of electricity would be crackling between her palms.
[b "Wow, that's pretty nifty there, kid.... I bet you have enough control over it to give people a little 'zap' of a shock every once in a while too, don't cha?"] That had been Wolverine's surprisingly playful jest-of-a-question, and the bright grin and giggle she got in return, alongside a nod, was just what she was roughly hoping to produce.
[b "Now... you had a bad-dream. Well, believe it or not, I have nightmares too. Do you know what helps me?"]
[#d10012 "No. What makes you feel better?"]
[b "Hmm... How about I just show you?"]
So thus, twenty minutes later, there were two people settled in the kitchen. One sat in a chair at a table there, the smaller of the two surprisingly sat on the older person's lap, and each were eating straight out of a carton of vanilla ice-cream. And, on the television in the room, an old [u The Powerpuff Girls] episode was playing. If one was to walk in at that moment? Well... it would certainly be a sight to see.
Scott's irritation flared up. [b "You wanted the highest challenge, so you got the highest challenge. It's not my fault that your arrogance got in the way,"] he snipped back.
Charles sighed and rubbed at his forehead. [b "I've been here for years as a teacher, preparing these students for any danger they may face. You've been here for less than a week and suddenly think you have more authority on my teaching methods? I've never put a student in that simulation, and I never would. That is reserved for members of the team, not teenagers and children,"] Scott stood his ground. [b "Welcome to the real world, Lauren. Threats like that exist and we need to be ready. You know nothing about the world we live in as mutants."]
[i "Scott, that's enough,"] Charles stopped him.
Hank entered the room looking curious. [i "I'm sorry to interrupt, but perhaps I could weigh in on the situation?"]
The professor waved him in. [i "I just witnessed this woman decapitate a creature that took nearly our whole team to take down. She is an astoundingly powerful mutant. She could be a great addition to our staff."]
[b "You can't be serious!"] Scott snapped.
[i "Whether you like it or not, it's true,"] Hank remained calm.
Charles watched the interaction silently before raising a hand. [i "Lauren, I apologize for the experience you've had, but I assure you that it is not a common event around this school. Rogue would be in no danger in our classes. Scott will face consequences for this, but you leaving is not in your best interest. That's all I'm concerned about. Magneto is hunting you and whether you want to believe it or not, he can give you a greater fight than you think. He controls metal, which you happen to have in your entire body. Do you really want to chance that?"]
Lauren was seated in the office with Charles, the woman still wearing the sweats from minutes ago. The grey clothing that wore the Xavier's School logo was stained in blood, though the ripped-stomach on her shirt was the worst. She glared at Scott as he entered, still seething, and looked to Charles, who was giving Scott a stern look after the slow drawl to grant entry.
[b "I told you, Chuck, I don't care about [i discussing] this with-"]
[#216bb5 "Lauren, please be resonable,"] Charles asked, turning his stern stare into a soft one as he looked back to the short woman. [#216bb5 "You are in danger if you leave here, and-"]
[b "I don't give a flying fuck about my safety, but I refuse to leave the kid I'm in charge of with someone like [i him]—"] She pointed at Scott, [b "—in a place of authority. If you were smart, you wouldn't let this sexist and misogonyst prick near any kids; boys or girls."] Well... this was a confusing turn of events. For anyone that wasn't a telepath, anyway.
Turning her attention back to Scott, she eyed him up and down while looking still utterly pissed, though not for any reasons that the poor laser-eyed mutant may be able to understand. He'd been in love with a telepath for over a decade, but it was doubtful that the dear Dr Jean Grey had never been so confusing for the male.
It had been moments after Lauren's declaration that McCoy appeared in the room, the fuzzy-and-blue male looking confused and intriqued, as he seemed to ahve ever since meeting Lauren.
He couldn't quite gather his thoughts as he lay on the ground panting after the simulation cancelled itself out at the sound of the bell. He hurt everywhere. Unlike Lauren, Scott wasn't able to heal the cuts and bruises he was now sporting. Looking up to Hank in the observation deck, he knew he had made a mistake by coming down here.
But that didn't mean his pride was going to let Lauren get away with talking to him like that. [b "Don't walk away from me!"] he forced himself to his feet.
[i "Scott, I think it's best to-"] Hank paged down, but Scott waved him off.
[b "Hey!"] he hobbled after her. [b "What were you expecting? That it was going to be easy? You wanted the highest difficulty, well there you go, sweetheart, I gave it to you!"] Jean would slap the shit out of him if she heard him talking like that.
To her credit, Lauren said nothing as she continued her march away, shutting the elevator doors before Scott could catch up to her. [b "Fuck!"] he slammed his already aching fist into the metal door.
[i I will see you in my office. Right now, Mr Summers,] Charles' voice interrupted his frustrated thoughts.
He knew better than to ignore the summons. He forwent cleaning himself off and went straight to the professor's office, cursing to himself the entire way. He paused outside of the door and knocked, hearing the older man drawl out, "Come in, Scott."]
Despite both of the adult mutants being rather skilled, twenty minutes of the grueling situation quickly flew by. One fault of Scott's invention was that the greatest fear was not logical on this level, and actually played to the memory of a terror rather than the actural capabilities of the terror.
In other words; Apocalypse was a powerful motherfucker, and the 'greatest fear' version of him managed to be even more so.
Not that Lauren knew the difference, of course. She was too busy defending herself and knocking Summers out of the way of an attack from time to time. She was new to the whole thing, but she knew the simulation lasting this long was not to be a proper thing. Any fight lasting so long wasn't good, because exhaustion could set in. And for once... she was a little tired, but not from actual exhaustion because it was more mental than anything....
Another 10 minutes passed, and it was (ironically) as the school's bell rang loud throughout all that the simulation would be ended. Lauren was hunched over, an arm wrapped around her gut where blood had been. Usually in the Danger Room, there was the chance to get hurt, but not severely. However, this simultation level was meant to have no limitations, though it was set to not hurt the one who's fear it was.
This, however, hadn't been Lauren's fear. So, she had holes in her shirt and a healed stomach covered in her blood. The reason for this was because Apocalypse had sunk his fingers into her like dough before she'd managed to slice off his head. Now standing tall, and panting, she stared up at the observation room where the children had clearly been dismissed by Dr. McCoy, for that blue mutant was the only one still in there.
Lauren looked over to Scott, glaring, and then stalked out of the room, [b "Teach your own fucking classes for the rest of the day, bub! In fact, teach your own classes for the rest of your [i life], because I'm out of here."] The brunette was pissed. She was very, very pissed. Stalking to the elevator, she had one path in mind as she pressed a button to make the doors close before either of the men could get into it with her.
She was going to see Professor Xavier. She and Rogue were [i definitely] not staying here. The momeny she found out which class the girl was in from that man, she was going to take them both out of there.
Scott rolled his eyes behind his glasses, growling at her taunts. [b "He fights a little harder than a [i plum],"] he snapped at her, allowing her to move him out of the way.
She was distracting him. He shook her off and bolted back to his feet, firing a few shots at the faux-Apocalypse's knees. The god stumbled only slightly before gathering his balance once more. [b "Allow me to introduce the most difficult being we've ever fought,"] Scott informed her, shoving her out of range from a chunk of steel flung her way.
He recited a quick review of the X-Men's previous battle against the supernatural being. The fight was years ago, when he was barely seventeen, but it still appeared in his nightmares. [b "It took the entire team to take him down. Even then, it was almost not enough. Jean had to take over and save our asses. Let's hope we don't need her here."]
Scott dodged another piece of flying debris, shooting beams up one side of the villain. It distracted him enough that Scott was able to blast a bit of the roof off to fall directly onto Apocalypse's skull.
[b "Our best bet will be to get to his head. If we can stun him long enough for you to decapitate him, it'll be the only way we'll beat him. He's too powerful for just fighting him,"] he called to her.
Lauren had her eyebrows arched, listening to the aggrivated happening to Scott Sick-up-ass-er, and resisted the urge to be amused. The only reason that urge was resisted was because of her own confusion and curiosity, though, which meant she couldn't enjoy the annoy man's aggrivation.
Eventually he came down, making her blink as he just tossed his shirt off and came to stand beside her. [b "...Okay?"] She offered up slowly to his words, she absentmindedly deciding that having to look at the annoying man's back wouldn't be the [i worst] thing she could be told to do, but then the lights dimmed. The orbs reappeared after Scott had called that okay up to Dr McCoy, the orbs beginning their shaping...
...and this time it was apparently succesful, because some sort of simulation properly appeared around them, and Lauren had to quickly dodge the swipe of a purple fist from a very purple, large being that had formed in front of the two mutant adults.
[b "What the fuck is that?"] Lauren shouted, dodging another attack from the being. Something... familiar rang, but she knew not what. [b "Why is your biggest fear a walking, bald plum?"] She dodged another attack, and then quickly tackled Scott ouf of the way of a behind attack before moving back up to her feet in a smooth motion.
[b "Tell me what we're dealing with here, Summers. Whatever The Jolly Green Grape is, you fear it, so I'd like to know what the hell I'm going against her!"] Lauren snapped, sliding out of the way of another attack from a purple being of rage. Her demented humor ringing out just a bit, this enemy idly made her think of Grimace from those old sets of McDonald's characters. It was a shame she couldn't be amused about such now, but she was trying to avoid the monster.
Scott hammered a fist against the machine. [b "What the hell is wrong with you?"] he asked the inanimate object like it would respond.
[i "Is this a philosophical lesson? The only thing to fear is fear itself?"] Hank asked while cleaning his glasses as though the clean lenses would change the picture below him.
[b "Hold on, Lauren. I'm checking the system,"] Scott paged down to her.
He could hear the students getting shifty behind him, murmuring among themselves. Already flustered, he turned to snap at them. [b "Quiet, all of you!"]
Turning back to his machine, he fiddled with more buttons and switches. [b "Work, you son of a bitch,"] he grumbled.
Nothing appeared to be out of order. Everything was functioning as it should be. There was no troubleshooting to be done. His eyes glanced down to the small woman waiting for them. [What the hell is she?]
Scott hauled Hank up from his chair and gestured to the machine. [b "Keep it running, and when I say, start the simulation again,"] he ordered before storming out of the room.
He didn't bother changing into more appropriate clothing. He just stripped out of his shirt and joined Lauren in the Danger Room with his slacks. [b "Watch my back, and I'll watch yours,"] is all he said to her.
Looking up to Hank, Scott gave the thumbs up. [b "Start the simulation!"]
The lights dimmed again and for a brief moment, Scott was afraid it was going to fail again. But a few minutes in, the grey orbs began to take shape. Scott's heart began pounding. He knew what was going to appear, but he still couldn't prepare for it. [b "When I say,"] he muttered to Lauren. [b "Run."]
He stood his ground, getting his footing right. The orbs gathered into their new shape. The familiar form reached a hand. Right before it managed to swipe at them, Scott yelled, ["Move!"]
Apocalypse's fist caught air where Scott had been. The monster that they had fought so many years ago had haunted his dreams, and was now living in front of him once more. [b "Stay out of his reach. Once he catches you, I won't be able to break his hold,"] he yelled to his partner.
Lauren arched an eyebrow at the Summers male’s words, but did as she was told and turned her focus to the room around her as the observation window and the room surrounding her turned black in regards to her perception of it. Numerous gray orbs formed around her, they fluctuating in size and shapes, and she tensed in response. The feral, short mutant was prepared as one of the blobs moved towards her… but then it wasn’t there. None of them were. She blinked, confused, as the lights came back up and the Danger Room properly returned. She looked towards the observation window, but was cut off as the speakers of the room’s computer said:
[center [b [#ff0000 [font consolas "Level Complete."]]]]
[b "…That was anti-climactic."] She muttered to herself, her posture relaxing as she idly scratched at the back of her head. Looking at Scott, she called out to him, [b "Did you break it [i this] time, or was it actually supposed to do that?"] Her question was genuine, but her tone was a little irritated. She felt like he'd hyped her up for nothing. Just because she had a healing factor didn't mean she enjoyed having her adrenaline running ragged in her body.
In the observation room the students were once more left confused, and even this time Hank McCoy looked far more confused than curious. Even if Hank had never experienced this before, after Scott's explanation, the furry and blue man could only assume that this final level was not supposed to do what it just had.
And, most certainly, that was the case. It was supposed to play off of one's deepest, most hidden, and potentially even unknown fears! Yet, it seemed the program was incapable of registering Lauren's on any level.
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