Author: Tarafied4Life Thirteen years ago, a child was left on the doorstep of the Rosenberg family. The girl, whose name was Katherine Pryde according to the note around her neck, was raised as a sister to the family's other daughter Willow, acquiring from her the affectionate nickname Kitty. Both of the sisters are close friends with a girl who lives down the block named Tara Maclay. Willow and Tara are both sixteen, three years older than Kitty. Their existence, relatively uneventful until now, is about to be thrown into chaos by a discovery that will change them all...
Thirteen years ago, a child was left on the doorstep of the Rosenberg family. The girl, whose name was Katherine Pryde according to the note around her neck, was raised as a sister to the family's other daughter Willow, acquiring from her the affectionate nickname Kitty. Both of the sisters are close friends with a girl who lives down the block named Tara Maclay. Willow and Tara are both sixteen, three years older than Kitty. Their existence, relatively uneventful until now, is about to be thrown into chaos by a discovery that will change them all...
"Willow?" called Kitty.
"What do you want, Kitty? I've gotta get ready for school."
"Sorry - just wondering if you've seen my red hairbrush."
"It's under the sink - you put it there last night."
"Right - there it is! Thanks, Will!" Kitty stood at the mirror, putting the final touches on her hair. She smiled a little at herself for her nervousness. She looked her reflection up and down - thirteen, usually an awkward age, looked good on her. Her shoulder-length black hair shimmered under the bathroom lights, and her clear eyes sparkled with both spirit and an intelligence far beyond her years. Most of that intelligence, she knew, could be credited to her sister.
Willow... Kitty often pondered how lucky she was to have a sister like Willow. The redhead was super-smart and had an irrepressible sense of fun, both of which she had done her best to pass on to her sister. They were closer than close, and sometimes Kitty swore Willow could read her mind. If she had a bad day, or needed help with something, Willow's long red hair and green eyes would make an appearance before long.
A knock at their front door interrupted her thoughts. "W-Willow? Kitty? We're going to be late!"
Kitty caught herself smiling again. Who wouldn't? Tara was just too cute. The blonde hair she hid behind so often covered blue eyes that seemed to look into your soul. It was just too bad that the girl had no confidence in herself, because she was an amazing friend and a genuinely good person - one of the few. Kitty ran to her room and grabbed her Spongebob backpack, taking a second to pound on Willow's bedroom door as she went by. "Will! Let's go!"
She slid down the banister and landed on her feet in front of the door, which her mom had forgotten to lock yet again. She pulled it open. "Hey, Tare-bear! Willow's running late as usual, want to come in for a sec?"
"M-Morning, Kitty. Did you have a good sleep, or were you too excited about your first day of grade seven?"
"No," Kitty giggled. "I slept fine. You? Excited about being a junior?"
"Oh, yes. I hear our social studies teacher is world-renowned, and you know how I love history."
"Almost as much as Willow loves math," Kitty replied, her words drowned out by her sister's entrance - falling headlong down the last three stairs and landing on her backpack.
"Uh...hi, W-Willow. Ready to go?"
Staring hard at her, Willow raised a warning finger. "Don't say it, Maclay."
"I didn't say anything."
"I know what you were going to say, so just don't."
Laughing, the three girls headed out, Kitty taking care to lock the door firmly as they left.
It was third period before Kitty ran into trouble with the teen mafia affectionately known throughout the school as the Bitch Brigade.
"Kitty? What the hell kind of name is Kitty?" Demanded the leader of said Brigade, a platinum blonde named Bridget. Kitty looked around her for an exit, but quickly realized the girls had surrounded her while she had been distracted by Bridget, and there was no way to just slip out.
"I asked you a question, bitch!"
"I heard you. Just wondering how your hair gets that color without a microwave being involved," Kitty shot back.
The girls behind Kitty moved as Bridget grabbed her and pushed her heavily into a bank of lockers - but Kitty didn't stop, and passed right through the locker door. Her eyes had closed anticipating the impact, and when she opened them again she was staring at the inside of the closed door. She began to scream, and didn't stop until the custodian arrived to cut the lock off the door and pull her out.
"So, Mrs. Rosenberg, I hope you can understand our concerns," finished the principal, an officious self-important looking man named Snyder.
"All I understand, Mr. Snyder, is that you want to kick our daughter out of your school without grounds."
"Without grounds? Ma'am, no offense, but the girl's a mutant."
"And what does that have to do with her receiving an education?"
"Everything! I can't have the parents of the other children having to constantly worry that their child is in school with a mutant - most of them would pull their children out, and the school would likely have to close. I'm sorry, but we simply cannot have a mutant roaming our halls."
"So my little girl is to be punished because you and the parents of this school's children are cold-hearted bigots?"
"I'm sorry that you feel that way."
With a snarled Yiddish curse, Sheila Rosenberg rose from her chair and stormed from the office.
A knock at the door startled Sheila from her thoughts, and she opened it to find two strangers waiting - a tall woman with shockingly red hair and a kindly expression, and a man whose eyes were hidden by the red sunglasses he wore despite the fact that the afternoon was cold and overcast.
"Could I help you? Are you selling something?"
The man stifled a laugh. "No, ma'am, we're not selling anything. My associate's name is Jean Grey, and my name is Scott Summers. We're actually here about your daughter."
"My...Kitty? Oh god - if you're with the government, you get the hell out of here! I will not let my Kitty be taken from me!"
Jean raised a calming hand. "Not at all, Mrs. Rosenberg. We're not from the government, and we have no interest in hurting Kitty."
"Then who are you?" she asked warily.
He pulled a business card from his pocket and handed it to her. "We're instructors at a very special school - a school for the gifted."
"The gifted? You mean mutants?"
"Yes, I do. May we come in?"
Sheila stood back and gestured toward one of the couches. "May I get you something to drink?"
"No, thank you. We can't stay long."
Closing the door, she sat down across from them. "So...tell me about this school."
"The school is run by Professor Charles Xavier, an expert in the phenomenon of mutation. Kitty would be with hundreds of other children, all of whom have their own unique gifts. She'd be in an environment where her abilities were not shunned but celebrated, and where she would be taught to control and harness them, while still receiving a top-notch education."
"Where is this school?"
"Salem, New York."
"The other side of the country?"
"Yes - living accommodations are provided for all students."
"How....I hate to ask this, but how much would all of this cost? We're hardly rich, Mr. Summers."
"Not a dime, Mrs. Rosenberg. The professor is the chairman of several charitable foundations, all of whom donate generously to the school. We would handle all of Kitty's expenses."
Sheila's eyes filled with tears. "It sounds...wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. But we should talk to Kitty about this." When the two nodded their assent, she called up the stairs. "Kitty? Can you come down for a minute?"
She did, followed closely by Willow and Tara. Jean jumped visibly. She turned to Scott and whispered something in his ear. He raised his eyebrows at her, and she nodded frantically. Sheila did not fail to notice.
Jean looked intently at her. "Mrs. Rosenberg, may we actually speak to all three of these children?"
"Yes, but why?"
"Give us a moment, and I think that will become clear." She turned to Willow. "Hello, there. I'm Dr. Jean Grey. What's your name?"
"Willow Rosenberg. Pleased to meet you."
"Willow, what am I thinking right now?"
"That I should come to school with you." Tara, Sheila, Kitty and Scott all regarded her with surprise.
"How long have you been able to read minds, Willow?"
"Since I was eleven. Why?"
"And you never told anyone?"
"No - I just thought...can't everyone do that?"
"No, Willow. You're special. You're a mutant, just like your sister."
"Me? No - mutants have powers, I don't have any powers."
"You can read minds, Willow - that is a powerful gift."
"But...I never meant...Mom?"
"It's okay, Willow. These people are from a special school for special children - like Kitty, and like you I guess."
"I'm sorry, Mom - I never-" Sheila raised her hand. "Willow, you and Kitty are my daughters, and I love you. Being a mutant doesn't change that. Nothing could change that - all that it means is that you're even more special." She scooped up her daughters into a tight hug.
"And you?" Scott asked.
"My name's T-Tara."
He reached into a pouch on his belt and threw a small object at her. She had no time to raise her hands, but the object did not hit her - rather it stopped in midair a foot from her face, and promptly fell to the ground.
"W-What..." she started before trailing off.
"You're a mutant, too, Tara," explained Jean. "You can move objects with your mind. Have you ever noticed that when you're angry or afraid, small things around you seemed to move by themselves?"
"It's called telekinesis. I can do it too. If you come to our school, with Willow and Kitty, we can teach you how to control it."
"But - I can't be a mutant. My daddy says mutants are our enemy, that they're bad people being punished by God." Her expression turned frantic. "You can't tell my daddy! Please!"
"Tara," Scott began gently. "Do you think Willow and Kitty are bad people?"
"Of c-course not!"
"But they're mutants. If your dad is right, aren't they bad?"
"I...I don't know."
"Mutants are just people with gifts, Tara. Not bad people, not good people, just people."
"So...you w-want me to come to school with you? It's a school for mutants?"
Her blue eyes filling with tears, Tara shook her head. "I c-can't. If daddy finds out I'm a mutant - he'll send me away, like he did to Donny."
"Who's Donny, Tara?" Jean asked with concern in her eyes.
"My b-brother. When he was fourteen he started - he got strong. Really strong. My dad pretended not to notice until one day when he lifted a car off of our uncle - it fell on him when he was changing a tire in our driveway. Then he called some kind of men, government or military or somebody, and they took Donny away. He never came home, and my daddy won't talk about him - says he never had a son."
Jean's eyes flashed, and Scott put a calming hand on her knee. She took a few deep breaths and continued. "Tara, if your Dad said it was okay, would you want to come to our school?"
She thought for a few long moments before nodding. "Yes. If Willow and Kitty are going too."
"Okay, tell you what, sweetie. We'll go and talk to your dad. You stay here for the night and talk things over with Willow and Kitty and Mrs. Rosenberg, and if you all decide you want to come with us, we'll be back to pick you up tomorrow."
"Don't worry, sweetie. Your dad will let you go. I promise."
The next morning, after a long night of discussion and tearful farewells, the three girls occupied a row of airline seats on a flight to Salem, excitedly discussing their newfound abilities. Scott and Jean sat in the row behind them, conversing quietly.
"I still say we should have just brought the X-Jet," he muttered. "Would have been a lot faster."
"Yes, and it wouldn't at all have raised questions."
"But the kids are going to find out sooner or later."
"Yes, but dropping them in the X-Jet's probably not the best way for that to happen."
He sighed. "Oh, well, at least we've almost landed...hey, is it just me or have we stopped?" Jean looked out the window to see the plane was roughly twelve feet off the runway, seemingly frozen in place.
"X-Men!" came an amplified voice from outside. "You have three mutants with you - turn them over at once!"
"Magneto." Jean confirmed with a grimace as the emergency exit door on the wing beside her tore loose and flew from the plane to land under Magneto's feet, and he hovered up to meet them. A familiar visage looked in at them.
"Scott. Jean. All your seniority, and Charles is still sending you out on recruiting drives?"
Scott made as if to unleash an optic blast toward Magneto, but the man once known as Erik Magnus Lehnsherr wagged a finger at him. "Now, now, Cyclops. You know I could simply bounce this plane off the pavement until I've killed all of these people." At a loss, Scott lowered his hand from his glasses.
"Good, brains from an X-Man. Wonders may never cease. Now, give me the girls and I'll be on my way." The girls in question shrunk from his gaze as he regarded them.
"I don't think so."
Jean looked at Magneto with confusion evident in her eyes. "Why these three? We've recruited a dozen new students this month, why did these three get your attention?"
Magneto shook his head. "I'm so disappointed in Charles. I sincerely hope he knew and couldn't be bothered to tell you."
"Tell us what?"
"These three girls are the three sides of the triangle. They are the key to everything."