Bobby, Kitty, Jubilee, and Rogue parked themselves on the couch in the recreation room. Bobby flipped on the television and tuned in to MTV to catch the latest episode of The Real World. Glow, now dressed in an oversized gray sweatshirt, a pair of jean shorts, and a pair of white gym socks, walked by them, glancing at the screen. She paused, backed up, and draped herself over the top of the couch.
"Yes? Can we help you?" Jubilee asked flippantly.
"I just want to know one thing," Glow told them.
"What's that?" Bobby asked.
"How can you watch that show and retain any brain cells?" came her query.
"I often ask them that as well, but the kids never seem to have an answer."
The whole group turned and saw Jean standing behind them.
"Oh, we have an answer, Miss Grey," Kitty reassured her. "We just don't know what it is yet."
"Just the right amount of respect mixed with a touch of flippancy. I'm impressed." Glow ruffled Kitty's hair and straightened up.
"Don't encourage them," Jean said flatly as she crossed her arms over her chest.
"Still pissed at me for frying your lover boy, huh?" Glow spoke off-handedly.
"I am not."
"She is," Rogue whispered to her friends.
"What frying? When did I miss this?" Jubilee was aghast.
"Can we discuss this someplace else?" Jean tapped her foot.
"Without the audience?"
"Whatever you like." She moved from the couch giving Jean the evil eye. "Despite the fact that you can't stand me right now, I'd like to get to work analyzing those disks I took of F.T.L.'s mainframe. Do you think we could get started on that and argue during down times?"
"Fine," Jean affected affably. "Where are the disks?"
"In my bag. Upstairs." Glow headed in the direction of her room and nodded for Jean to follow her.
As the adults left the room the kids stared after them, and then turned back to the TV not really paying attention to it anymore. Finally, Bobby spoke.
"So who do you think? Glow or Miss Grey?"
"I think Miss Grey could take her," Kitty offered.
"Na, Glow came in with Wolverine. She's got to be powerful. My money's on her," Rogue disagreed.
"I'm gonna side with Kitty on this one. I mean, Miss Grey's a telepath! Who could be stronger than that?" Jubilee put in, popping another bubble in her gum.
"But did you hear what Glow said? And the way Miss Grey reacted? Glow did something to Mr. Summers. She had to have! And if she could lay him out... my money's on Glow," Bobby put in.
"If you're placing bets, then I'm calling house."
"ACK!" The four teens jumped out of their skins and turned back around to the sound of a very familiar adult's voice.
"Logan!" Rogue swallowed. "We were just..."
"Arranging the fight of the century?" Logan teased as he walked in and sat down in the gray recliner next to the couch the kids were on. "So what's this all about?"
"Glow came in and was talking to us and then Miss Grey came in and made some sort of crack and Glow told Miss G that she must still be pissed about Mr. Summers getting fried," Kitty babbled in a rush.
"Then they kinda just postured for a while and left to go work on the disks that Glow brought back with you," Bobby finished a bit more coherently. "Glow seemed not to notice, but Miss Grey was really tense."
"Jean? And Sara? Working on that project-Alone? I'm not sure that's a good idea," Logan rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Especially after what Glow did to old one-eye. Does the Prof know about this?"
He caught the stares from the four students and held his hands up in a surrendering position. "Right. Stupid question."
"Sir? If you don't mind me asking, what did happen?" Bobby ventured the subject.
"Well, the long and short of it..." he started, then squirmed, unsure of how much to tell the kids about his involvement in the situation. "Glow had a good reason to be pissed off and she used her power to electrocute Mr. Summers. He's been unconscious for the past two hours-just woke up a little bit ago."
"Whoa," Jubilee's eyes bugged out. "Is it too late to change my bet?"
"Yes," Logan said. "I already called house, and that's the only sure way to make money when you gamble. But you didn't learn that from me."
"Right," Rogue agreed. She asked the question they were all dying to know. "So... Logan... how did you meet Glow?"
"We met in a bar fight. Seems to be the best way to meet a woman these days." The older man hid a smile as Rogue blushed. Logan pressed the reclining lever and put up his feet. Turning to the TV he asked the kids, "So how can you kids watch this show without losing brain cells?"
"They're in here." Glow flicked on the light to the bedroom she'd been assigned and led Jean into the room. The orange-haired woman picked up her beat-up green duffle bag, unzipped the main pouch, and rummaged through a small wad of clothing. Jean caught a glimpse of something green and yellow with an odd collar before Glow pulled out a small black carrying case for 3.5" floppy disks. "I was able to save to eight disks before..."
"Before what?" Jean prompted.
"Before Wolverine threatened to give me a new set of air holes in my neck," she smiled in humorous remembrance. She ignored Jean's eyebrow upturned in question and continued, "It's not a lot, but what I do have is going to take a while to sort through. The main frame had been corrupted with years of degeneration and some fire damage. There are patches in the files, things that looked like they were cut and pasted from other programs, and holes were the information had just been lost."
"I think that our system can handle it," Jean sniffed. "I'll just run a virus scan on them first."
She tried to grab the box from Glow who pulled it back out of the other woman's range. "We work on this together. I promised Logan unrestricted access to what's on here. Not you."
Glow stared at her as if it should be obvious. "The man's a survivor of an F.T.L. affiliate. He should be given a medal of honor for keeping sane and alive for this long."
Jean looked intently at Glow. "You talk about F.T.L. as if I should know about them."
"You're a mutant. I'm greatly surprised that you don't. I bet they know about you. Where's the computer?"
"On the lower level, below the basement. It's restricted access," Jean said, slightly bewildered.
"Come on then, I want to get to work," Glow said as she left the room. "Remember to turn the light out."
The women rode the elevator in a stony silence.
"So what's it like?" Glow's question broke the silence, startling Jean.
"What's what like?"
"Being one of these X-Men? What do you do exactly?" Glow asked, turning to the younger woman.
"We teach," Jean said, and then turned away, finding the other woman's gaze uncomfortable for some reason.
"Right. And I'm Miss America," Glow snorted. "Give me some credit. Teachers don't have private jets and turbo motorcycles that look like they walked off a Star Trek set. Teachers don't have restricted access computers in secret underground levels of a boarding school."
Jean gave her a long searching look as the elevator doors opened and the two stepped out. "The professor is dedicated to improving human/mutant relations as well as protecting the rights of both parties against each other if necessary. The X-Men agree with and follow his beliefs."
"Defenders of mutant rights in the war against human kind? As well as defenders of human rights against mutant kind?" Glow sounded slightly sarcastic. "Isn't it awfully hard to know which side you're on?"
"I have a side and a place to belong where I am useful and needed," Jean replied stiffly.
"Nothing wrong with that."
The abrupt change in the tone of Glow's voice turned Jean's head to her. The stranger's enunciation had become soft and remorseful. "It's good to have a place to call your own, and people who share your ideals."
"Uh, right." Jean just didn't know how to act around this odd woman. "Um, this is the main research room. We should be able to work well in here."
"Can I call you Jean? Or must it be Dr. Grey?" Glow asked before entering the room.
Something about her honest stare and the remorse in her voice caught the telepath. "You can call me Jean."
"Thank you. I do want you to know that I am genuinely sorry about what I did to your boyfriend." Glow pushed a lock or orange hair out of her eyes. "I shouldn't make excuses but, I'm in definitely unknown territory and I'm kinda tense and wound up. It's weird enough being in a place where it's okay to say you're a mutant and to use your power openly, but to top it all off, having to read and put back together the past that Future Tech stole from me and my friends and countless others..."
"It's unsettling, I'm sure." Jean put her arm over Glow's shoulders. She led the taller woman into the research room. "Come on, let's get to work."
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