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 Children of the Atom - X-Men

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xShanex

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PostSubject: Re: Children of the Atom - X-Men   Tue Jun 21, 2016 1:54 am

She had slept like a baby, repetition kicking in of a lullaby between car stops and brief moments at motels and resting places, just to make sure the rest of the crew was fed and taken care of. As Kim's eyes lazily droned open the last time, a sign on the side of the road welcome her.

"Welcome, We're Glad Georgia's on Your Mind".

"Wouldya look at that?" Izzy proclaimed, wiping a bit of sweat from his brow with the hand not on the wheel, "Made some mighty fine time on this trip."

He looked over his shoulder, noticing his sleeping cargo had finally awoken.

"Welcome to the end of the line, Kimberly!"
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PostSubject: Re: Children of the Atom - X-Men   Sun Oct 23, 2016 3:35 am

Kim instantly perked to full alertness at the sign and Izzy’s words, bouncing in her seat as much as her seatbelt would allow her. “We’re here! Oh man we’re finally here! Wow, I just felt something settle in my chest that I didn’t even know was wound up! I guess that must have been homesickness? I mean I know I missed Georgia but dang. I sure missed it. But we’re here! We’re here we’re here we’re heeeeeeere! I’m hoooooooome!”

“Someone’s excited,” Mira said, chuckling.

“Of course I am!” Kim replied, nodding emphatically. “I’m a Georgia peach after all. Well, no, maybe not a peach. I’m more of a tomato or something. A Georgia tomato. But anyway, this is where I was born and raised! Well not here here, but in this state. It’s good to come back to it, even after all this time. Maybe especially. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that, right?”

Mira hummed in the affirmative, and Kim hummed as well, the song so fittingly referenced on the welcome sign.
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PostSubject: Re: Children of the Atom - X-Men   Mon Oct 31, 2016 1:38 am

The motorcycle at the head of their motorcade roared out to signal the rest of the pack. Logan held a hand up in the warm Georgia air, stabbing out a thumb to the side of the road. A series of turn signals followed like dominoes from the front to their Jeep that was humming in more than one way. As the vehicles pulled over, a cloud of dirt kicked into the air. It took a few moments and an extra effort to make out the stern silhouette of Logan, undeterred by the haze.

"Looks like the pack leader wants a word, Kimberly," Izzy said, shuffling further to the door to put just that much more distance between himself and the Wolverine.

Logan crept up to the back of the vehicle, folding his arms over the metal hot from the mid-day sun. The burn didn't seem to bother him.

"So, kid; yer the map now. Gonna put you three out front. all you gotta do is get us there. Think you can do that?"
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PostSubject: Re: Children of the Atom - X-Men   Mon Oct 31, 2016 2:29 am

Kim nodded even more emphatically than before, beaming. "Of course! I know this place like the back of my hand! Well, I mean I guess it's probably changed in five years but I doubt the roads are any different. And I've got a great sense of direction, believe it or not, so even if it did we'd be fine. And we could always ask someone if we really got lost or something. Not that we will! We just. Could. Oooooor maybe we couldn't, since, y'know, we're supposed to be careful with this. Better safe than sorry and all. Well, I'm sure somebody has a GPS-"

"Kimberly, directions." Mira gently reminded her.

"Oh, right!" She laughed. "Keep on ninety-five for about forty-five minutes or so and then take seventeen. After that keep on it until you see Leroy Coffer, and stay on that until you see the road that takes you to Fleming. The way gets a little tricky after that because it's kind of in the middle of nowhere, so I'll tell you more when we get to it. I'll point out when everything comes up but there's the overview at least."

Kim went back to humming, tapping out the rhythm with her feet excitedly. She was almost home!
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PostSubject: Re: Children of the Atom - X-Men   Wed Feb 22, 2017 2:14 pm

They were finally there.

They were finally there, and Kim was nervous as all get-out.

“Okay, um,” she began, staring at the apartment door as she fiddled with the charms on her bracelet, before sucking in a breath and squaring her shoulders. She could do this. She could convince her parents to let her stay and her brothers would be fine with everything, and everything would be fine. “Here we go.”

She knocked on the door.

There was no answer.

She knocked on the door again.

“Coming, coming!” Came the muffled call from inside, followed by the pad of footsteps and the door opening.

Kim suddenly, fiercely, wished Cam were with her.

Slade Neumann was a giant of a man, closer to seven feet tall than he was to six. He was dressed in a tank top and pajama pants and had clearly just woken from sleep, rubbing at his closed eyes as he yawned. Belatedly, Kim realized it must be finals week for him. “Ah, hello? Can I help you?”

“…Hey big bother.” Kim murmured.

Slade’s eyes snapped wide open. He stared down at his little sister, his expression one of pure shock.

She smiled up at him nervously.

Before she even registered movement Kim was being pulled into the apartment, pulled into her older brother’s arms. The momentum knocked the two of them onto the floor, but neither of them really noticed. Kim hardly felt anything besides the booming, triumphant laughter from Slade’s chest. “It’s you! It’s really you! I knew it! I knew you were okay! What happened to you? Where have you been?! No, wait, I don’t care right now. You’re heeeeeeere!”

Kim giggled into her brother’s shoulder, delirious with sudden joy. “I’m heeeeeeere!” She echoed.

Slade jumped to his feet and pulled Kim up with him, pulling her into another hug the second they were both vertical. “God, I knew it! I knew Cole was wrong! He said we weren’t ever going to see you again but here you are! Ha! Take that! I was right! I WAS RIGHT, COLE! GET YOUR ASS OUT HERE!” He abruptly went very still and quiet and looked his sister dead in the eye. “Don’t tell Mom I said that.”

“Well I don’t know,” Kim responded, wearing that devious grin all younger siblings knew, “will you make me blondies if I don’t?”

Slade openly gaped at her before bursting out into laughter once more, and if their looks weren’t obvious enough you could tell they were related by that laugh alone. “Oh you little brat. Yes, I will make you blondies, I will make you all the blondies you want for just being alive. I’m pretty sure that’s worth infinite blondie points. But no swearing. Mom would kill me. COLE! GET YOUR ASS OUT HERE ALREADY!”

“I’m coming, I’m coming!” Cole called out as he emerged from the hallway, squinty-eyed and holding a coffee mug in his hand. He stared at his brother. “What. What do you want from me.”

“Hey bigger bother.” Kim said as she peeked out from behind Slade.

The mug shattered as it fell from Cole’s hand to the floor, and he was across the room with a death-grip on Kim in the blink of an eye. “Oh my God oh my God oh my God—”

Kim couldn’t exactly hug her brother back, what with the way he was pinning her arms to her sides, so she rested her head against his shoulder instead. “Hey bigger bother.” She said again.

A disbelieving, slightly hysterical laugh erupted out of Cole. “You — you ass! You complete and utter ass! We — I thought you were dead and you were just fine all along! How — you — you asshole!”

The words, though somewhat harsh, actually made Kim smile, because she knew Cole got angry when he worried. That’s who he was. “Sorry. But I’m here. I’m alright.”

His next laugh came out more like a sob, and he pulled just far enough away to stare at his sister and hold her upper arms in a white-knuckle grip. “Never again.” Cole demanded, his voice thick with tears and his eyes shining with them. “Never again, do you hear me? I can’t — I can’t go through this again, okay? I can’t. I can’t.”

“Never again.” Kim promised, because really, how could she do anything but?

Kim felt as much as saw the anger and fear drain out of Cole, and he let his hands drop with a low, shaky sigh. “I’m so glad you’re okay.”

“What about Mom and Dad?” Slade asked as the moment came to a close. “Have you seen them? Are they alright?”

“Wha — they’re not with you?” Kim asked, looking around the room as if they would suddenly magically appear.

As one, her brothers shook their heads.

“I…I haven’t seen them since…” Kim trailed off as her throat closed up of its own accord. She hadn’t seen them since Crenshaw. She hadn’t seen them since the last, terrible argument they had as the town fell burning around them. She hadn’t seen them, had been so sure that they would be here, and darn it all, she wanted to cry.

Family really did bring out the best and worst in her.

Cole recovered first, drawing in a breath and straightening up before he put a comforting hand on Kim’s shoulder. “Hey, it’s okay. You showed up here safe and sound — I’m sure they will too. We just gotta wait a little bit more.”

“Hmm, that sounds familiar.” Slade chimed in, looking at his older brother pointedly.

“Oh shut up. Anyway, it’s gonna be fine, Kimbo. Everything’s gonna be…” Cole trailed off, staring at Kim very strangly, before he adopted an expression of comedic horror as he stumbled back and pointed an accusing finger at his little sister. “YOU’RE TALLER THAN ME!”

His apparently not-so-little sister stared at him blankly. “…Huh?”

“You. Are. Taller. Than. Me.”

Kim blinked, and then suddenly realized that she was staring down at her brother, not up like she usually was. “Oh!”

“That’s all you have to say?! Oh?! You — you’re — I — what — why — how — just how tall are you anyway?!” Cole asked as he made large, increasingly wild gestures with his hands.

“Um, I don’t know. Maybe six feet?” Kim guessed, not having any real idea beyond very tall.

“Maybe? MAYBE?! You’re taller than me and you don’t even KNOW how tall you are?!”

His sister couldn’t help but chuckle. “Yeah, I guess?”

Cole threw his arms in the air. “Oh, and now you’re guessing?! Is that it?! This is no laughing matter, Kimberly Elise Neumann, no laughing matter at all! Height is an integral part of the concept of identity, of my identity in particular, and you not even knowing how tall you are when you’re taller than me is — why are you still laughing?!”

Kim was indeed outright laughing at this point, laughing hard, because really, her brother was just being ridiculous now. “You can’t — you can’t be more than two inches shorter than me, tops! What’s the big deal?”

“What’s the big deal? What’s the big deal?! It’s the principle of the thing! My baby sister is taller than me! ME! Her big brother! Her OLDEST brother! Not her biggest brother, because Slade got to inherit Dad’s height instead of Mom’s like I did and somehow grew even TALLER than him, and damn you for that, Slade, you traitor. But that was one thing, and I could accept that. But now you, my baby sister, TEN YEARS MY JUNIOR, are ALSO taller than me! Where’s the fairness in that, huh?! Nowhere! It’s nowhere because there isn’t any, I tell you! If I can’t be the tallest then I should at least be taller than YOU! And I was! For years! For sixteen glorious years! But then you turned seventeen while I wasn’t looking and grew again! AGAIN! Aren’t you supposed to have been done with that already?! You should be shrinking by now or something! That’s what’s supposed to happen when you get older! You shrink! You don’t get taller, you shrink! So shrink! SHRINK! SHRINK, YOU UNFAIRLY TALL CHILD!”

Cole started pushing down on his sister’s head, as if that would somehow magically make her shorter than him. Slade watched the antics from off to the side, debating between shaking his head at the ridiculous scene and guffawing at it, eventually settling on both. And Kim, who did not shrink in spite of Cole’s best efforts, who made no attempt to shove her brother away, who was laughing so hard she was crying, could only think how good it was to be home.

“Er, sorry, didn’t mean to ignore you all.” Slade added to the rest of the group, though he didn’t look very sorry. He was just too happy. “Here, come in. Are you friends of Kimberly's?”
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PostSubject: Re: Children of the Atom - X-Men   Sun Feb 26, 2017 4:51 am

From under the low brim of his cowboy hat, the always-present grimace of Logan didn't exactly come across as welcoming, though he didn't give off the vibe of a danger. He had brought Kim here, after all. Bringing one of his hairy, almost bestial hands up, he pushed the brim of his hat up enough to make eye contact with Slade.

"She's a hopeful student at our academy, actually," he muttered, "just takin' a field trip".

With a sniff, Logan turned to the students. "Look after the rides. We'll be back."

With that, he entered behind Kim.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

His eyes were heavy at first. Really heavy, like ten tons weighed down on each lid. His limbs weren't much better, and it took the repetition of orders to get his fingers to twitch, and then to wiggle. Move. Move. Move. His fist closed around the railing of his hospital bed in his full-power, a fragile grasp at best.

Open them.

It was like the first time he had seen the sun; bright in ways he couldn't describe in words, but with gestures and various groans. One of those groans escaped his lips, the droning followed by the opening of his green, serpentine eyes just enough to make out a foggy figure sitting in the corner of his room.

"Bonjour, Tête endormie", the blurred image spoke in a voice that simultaneously calmed his nerves and set them ablaze, but he knew it. He knew he wasn't still in that road.

"Ki....Where's...."

"Fine, mon ami," Gambit, just as tired if not more than the battered young man in the bed, said. Still, the smile on his face couldn't be taken away. "Y'all are safe, now. Here at de institute. You put on a real good fight an' been gettin' de sleep you deserve."

He didn't care about the institute or most of the cajun words he was hearing, but knowing Kim was safe was enough.

Cam closed his eyes again, except this time voluntarily.

Gambit did the same.
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PostSubject: Re: Children of the Atom - X-Men   Wed Mar 01, 2017 3:34 am

"Academy? Kimbo, what on Earth have you — oh, come on, Cole, was that my mug?" Slade said, turning around and not bothering to close the door behind him. It was Dovland. "You broke it!"

"I was a little preoccupied, thank you!" Cole shot back in return, who had given up on making Kim grow shorter and was instead punishing her with a noogie she made no real effort to escape.

"It was my favorite!"

"I'll buy you a new one!"

"I got it in Germany!"

"I'll buy it from Germany then!"

"It's not the same—"

"Dude, chill." Kim cut in, easily breaking free from Cole's hold (whose squawk of surprise was suspiciously chicken-like) to step forward and smoosh the middle brother's face. "It's just a mug. I know you have others. Weren't you going back there once you graduated, too? You can always grab another one then."

Slade, with his face smooshed, could not properly form words, so he shook his head to dislodge her hands. "We, uh...that sort of thing got put on hold after...yeah."

Yeah indeed.

"Speaking of school," Cole spoke up, stepping around the coffee puddle and shattered porcelain, glancing between his sister and Logan as he did so, "what was that about an academy? And a field trip? Aaaaaaand literally everything you've been doing up 'til now? It has been literally months and I want answers young lady. Just where have you been? What happened?"

For once, Kim was at a loss for words. Her brothers deserved an answer, an honest one after everything that happened, but what could she say? Oh, I'm being targeted by a bunch of crazy people who want to use me to power their doomsday device or something equally insane? And the guys at this school saved me and my new friend and people I want to be friends from that after weeks of traipsing through the wilderness because we were worried about being followed? Which we were? By them, ironically? In addition to the bad people? By the way, I'm a mutant? We're all mutants? Surprise? She couldn't just say that.

Well. She could say that, but even Kim had some tact.

Not much though.

Kim knelt down by the broken mug, taking a few of the bigger pieces into her hand. Slade stepped forward with his own hand out. "Ah, wait Kimbo, let Cole get—"

She crushed the shards in her fist.

"Kimberly what the hell?!" Cole yelled as Slade shouted "Towel! Towel!" and went to get one. He did it almost inhumanly fast. The eldest crouched down by her side, grabbing her wrist too quickly to be gentle. "Jesus, you dumbass, pay attention! Here, let me see..."

Cole coaxed her fingers loose, only for the now smaller pieces of what was once a mug to fall with several clinks to the ground, not at all imbedded in his sister's skin.

Or rather, scales.

"So. I'm a mutant." Kim told her brothers bluntly.

Cole and Slade stared at her palm with wide eyes, then turned to look at each other in unison, as if it had been a scene pre-planned. The moment was frozen as if on pause.

And then it melted, and they smiled.

"You too, huh?" Cole asked her, soft and laughingly.

"...Wait, what?" Kim replied.
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PostSubject: Re: Children of the Atom - X-Men   Wed Mar 01, 2017 4:48 am

"You mutants, too, huh?" Logan snorted, slipping a hand out from his jeans pocket. He stood next to Kim, this girl that he hadn't spent much time with, but even Logan couldn't have avoided hearing the stories of the kids from Crenshaw. She had heart. Logan could respect it.

"We're from the Xavier Institute for the Gifted. We take care of mutants. You might know that."

He motioned to the students out front.

"They're some more students. Your sister here and some friends have been through some impressive shit," he said, unapologetic. "They're fighters. Lucky we found 'em when we did, though."

He grimaced up to Kim, he too a few inches smaller than the girl. "Take the time you need, kid. Me and the others are gonna get some grub."

Without a word more, he exited.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

All he wanted was a beer.

When he had pulled into this dive bar in the middle of nowhere, somewhere around Texas, he thought, he just wanted to unwind. Not for a reason more than having a good time and listen to some good music. When a few "tough guys" had come up to teach him a lesson, probably about touching the dancing girls against bar rules,who could blame him for throwing one or two, or five through a few windows, and one through a wall.

And then this smug, suited guy interrupted him again...and Blitzkrieg was going to have none of it.

Out in the dirt parking lot, he craned his head back to look down on the man standing almost as confidently as he was.

"Not gonna lie, man, I was thinkin' 'bout sparing you, but....this is a bad night. Soooooo I gotta kick your brain stem into your stomach."

"Is that so?" the voice stung his ears, the narcissistic voice pushed over the edge by the English accent that only annoyed Blitz more. "Is that because of your powers?"

It caught Blitz off, for sure.

"So...you get the picture, then. You a mutant, too?" Blitz' grin grew wider..........wilder, "so now, you know what you're in for.....time to eat, then!"

He took his aura, hungering like it had never been fed before, and focused it all on the man in white. He would consume everything here. He would leave him like a husk in the dirt.

"You know," the Englishman spoke, tapping his cane on the earth below, "You're too dependent on your gift, Mr....Blitz, correct?"

It was like....taking a breath when there was no air. Just empty, nothing filling his psionic lungs...and Blitz didn't know why.

"One day, Mr. Blitzkrieg....you're going to encounter the wrong guy...and it will cost you."

Grasping at his chest, feeling only the strength his body normally possessed and no end to the hunger, the wide-eyed Blitz could only offer one sentence in horror.

"Wh....what are you?"

With an unimpressed stare down his nose, Moriarty spoke in words that choked the color from the world around him.

"I'm the wrong bloody guy."

He drew his sword.
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PostSubject: Re: Children of the Atom - X-Men   Tue May 15, 2018 2:15 am

“Wait, we’re southern, we’re supposed to feed you!” Slade called to Logan’s retreating back, shoulders slumping when the man vanished from view. “Damnit.”

“Wait whoa, whoa, whoa, what?” Kim interrupted, looking between her brothers because seriously, what? “Me too? You two? Mutants? What? When? How?”

“Well you see, when a mommy mutant and a daddy mutant love each other very much-“

She shoved at Cole. “I’m serious!”

“Hi Serious, I’m Cole.”

“Stoooooop.”

Slade finally gave up on cajoling the others back and closed the door, heading over into the kitchen, pausing only long enough to drag his older brother along with him. “If we’re gonna talk, we’re gonna clean our mess and eat first, alright? Kimberly, just go sit at the table a minute.”

“If I explode, it’s your fault!” She called back to them, but dutifully went to do as she was told.

Way too long for Kim’s taste and certainly not a minute later, the Neumanns were all seated at the table, food and drink studiously ignored. “So. Who goes first?”

“Well, Kimberly technically asked first and all.” Slade pointed out with a shrug. “So, yeah. Go for it Kimbo. What questions you got for us?”

She had so many questions. Yet, she could only articulate a few, by her standards. “What can you do? Why didn’t you tell me? Who else knows? When did you get your gifts? Who else is a mutant that I didn’t know about? Is there anything else I should know? That I shouldn’t know but you’ll tell me anyway? And you better. Tell me. Eeeeeeeeeverything.”

Cole chuckled fondly, and Slade laughed outright. “There’s the list. Don’t worry, we’re not gonna hide anything more from you. No more secrets.”

“No more secrets.” Kim echoed.

The brothers both nodded, and with a gesture from the oldest, Slade began. “Well, for the first, I have…well, a couple powers, really. A weird small, eclectic mix. But they’re all mental powers, and weak except for what I call my main one, which is essentially, I can make physical illusions. For example.”

Suddenly the chair Cole was sitting on vanished, and he fell to the floor. “Ow, my ass!”

“We only have two chairs, dude, I don’t know how you fell for that.”

“I thought you were gonna do it to HER!”

Kim laughed, delighted and amused in equal measure.

After more grumbling and the retrieval of a chair from his own room, Cole picked up the torch. “I, unlike this asshole, cannot and do not use my powers for evil. I can manipulate time. I can slow it down around me, or speed it up but I don’t usually do that because it’s freaking weird. It all snaps back into place when I’m done doing it though so I don’t think I’ve created any alternate timelines or anything.”

“This is where we’d ask you about your stuff in return,” Slade cut in, glancing at her hand pointedly, “but for your sake we’ll save that all for the end, okay?”

“Thanks.” Kim replied, beaming, and didn’t even complain when both brothers reached over and mussed up her hair.

“Now the reason we didn’t tell you. Long story short — Mom.”

“Long story long,” Cole continued before Kim could open her mouth, “is still Mom. You know how she is. She would have lost it if not one but two of her kids were mutants. Or, well, three now.”

“Which brings us to your next question; no, Mom did not know, and Dad did not know because Mom would then know. The only person who did know about our powers besides each other is…well, was Omama.”

“Omama knew?!”

“Yeah. We got our powers at the same time, Slade and I. You were four, around then. He’d just confided in me and we were both freaking out over what to do when she just came over and…man, I don’t even know how to explain it. She just knew. And she asked if we needed help with our gifts — was always very adamant about calling them that — and taught us how to use them.”

“Wait, but how did she know how to teach you?”

“Because she was a mutant too.”

“She was?!” Kim bolted out of her seat in shock. First her brothers, now her grandmother was a mutant? Who was next, her dad?!

Slade chuckled, and Cole outright cackled. “Oh my God, your face!” He wheezed unhelpfully.

Motioning for her to sit down, Slade continued in his stead. “Yeah, Omama was a mutant too. I guess it must run in the family, except it skipped Dad or something. Probably for the best all around. I can’t imagine that playing out well.”

Kim sat down as directed, but wondered.

“As for what else you should know…you know the story of how Omama and Opa met?”

She rolled her eyes. “Like it wasn’t the only thing he ever talked about.”

“Well, it’s true for the most part, except they neglected to tell you that the camp Opa rescued everyone from was, in fact, specifically designed to hold mutants and their families.”

Something inside of Kim got small and cold — only to swell into a fiery blaze. “I freaking HATE Hitler.”

“So do we, Kimbo.”

Kim rested her forehead against her hand. So much new information, and she only had more questions for it. “So what could Omama do? What was her gift?”

“She could control rocks,” Slade answered, to which Cole added, “Like an earthbender, but better.”

“Earthbending? Is that why — oh, our names! Her rock collection! They — because of her gift!”

“Other way ‘round, Kimbo.”

“Oh, you know what I mean.” She shoved at Cole again, who beamed unrepentantly. “So what else? What else is there? Come on, tell me!”

“No, that’s about it from us. Now it’s your turn to explain things.” He shoved her back, no more gently. “C’mon, Kimbo. We missed your stories.”

A fit of nerves took over her, but also eagerness. Her brothers had always been there to listen to her rambles, and these past few weeks had left her sorely needing it. She rambled to Cam, and had practically word-vomitted all over the Professor before she left for Georgia, but her brothers’ ears were where she truly stored all her meandering thoughts and concerns. Where she truly felt safe enough to.

It was good to be home.

Kim took a deep breath, and began.
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PostSubject: Re: Children of the Atom - X-Men   Tue Oct 09, 2018 10:15 pm

It had taken a while to convince her brothers that she would be fine to explore on her own (especially after learning a group of megalomaniacs was after her, what the hell Kimberly), but eventually Kim had managed. It was undoubtedly a stupid thing to do, more than stupid considering said megalomaniacs and the fact that her guard was still off getting lunch, but Kim needed this. Needed to walk the streets of Dovland what might be one last time, to run by the park, the school, the houses she used to live in without the pressure of an audience to hurry her up. To relive the memories of her childhood, which felt so close and yet so far away.

It was good to be home.

But it wasn’t her only home, now.

School was in session so she couldn’t go inside, but just seeing the exterior and the playground was still nice. She had to resist the urge to go swing on the monkey bars; while the kids might get a kick out of it, she doubted the teachers would be as keen. The park was a little more overgrown but no less loved. They had gotten a few new picnic tables, and Kim could just imagine all the picnics that must go on there, noisy children in the background. Were there any as bad as she’d been? It seemed unlikely. Her grandmother’s house had signs of a happy family living inside, and her house...

Her house was for sale.

She went in.

The furniture was completely different. Most of the wall colors had changed. There was wooden floor where there had once been carpet, and it smelled like dust and air freshener instead of spiced food and life.

Yet like it was with seeing her brothers, Kim got the inexplicable sensation of finally coming home.

The archway still had the notches where they’d measured their heights, getting too big too fast, her mom always complained. The tiny discolored spot on the wall in the kitchen where she’d made her first and last attempt as an artist remained. While her brothers’ room had been converted into an office, the spots in the carpet where their bunk bed had been were still apparent. The stair railing on the left still wobbled when you slid down it but not when you pulled. There was the scratch where Slade had bumped the car into the garage. And there were the stickers she’d planted on the back of the toilet, no one the wiser. The screen in her window had yet to be replaced even after all these years. The back door still squeaked. The attic was still too hot. The pool was still there. There was a dog on the front lawn.

...That last one was new.

“Hey fella, what are you doing here?” Kim asked, crouching low but not approaching the dog. Animals tended to...freak out when she got too close to them. “I see you have a collar. Was this your home? Oh, you have a leash too! Did you take yourself on a walk? A cutie like you shouldn’t be outside all alone!”

The dog barked once, a low and rather decent one, then started running at Kim who tensed because crap this was one of those dogs who attacked when they got scared—

The except the only attack Kim got was with slobbery kisses.

She sputtered, then laughed, rubbing at the dog’s ears automatically. “Well that’s not normal. You’re a rather special fella, aren’t you? Whoops, no, you’re a lady. A very special lady. Yes I love you too. But where’s your person, lady? Does your collar say where you live? What’s your name?”

“Cocoa!”

Before she could check, a voice called out, and Kim froze.

“Cocoa, where are you?” A girl down the sidewalk called out, delicate with curly dark hair and green, green eyes and it couldn’t be, it couldn’t be—

The dog, Cocoa, barked again and rocketed off towards her person and Kim did too, faster and faster because that voice, that face, those eyes, it couldn’t be, it had to be—

Cocoa stopped just before she ran into the girl but Kim didn’t, slamming full throttle into her and wrapping her arms around her so they wouldn’t fall down. “Dolly! Oh my gosh, Dolly, is it you? Please tell me it’s you it would be very bad if you were a random stranger who I basically just assaulted but I’m so excited and I really hope it’s you—”

“Kimbly?” The other girl breathed, still as a statue and staring straight ahead. “Kimbly, is that you?”

Kim gasped a laugh and tightened her vice-like grip. “Yes it’s me, Dolly it’s me, Dolly I can’t believe it’s really you—”

“Oh my God, Kimbly—”

The two of them laughed, and giggled, and maybe cried a little together for what might have been a minute or might have been an hour. Kim wasn’t sure. She couldn’t tell, too deliriously happy to find Dolly, her first friend, her best friend, the other half of her soul, the first person to ever accept her as she was without a single question. It was better than a dream come true.

Eventually Kim managed to pull herself away. “Sorry about the uh, tackle hug. I got super excited when I caught sight of you and I hope I didn’t scare you too bad? Or hurt you? Please tell me I didn’t hurt you you’re so tiny oh my God.”

Dolly pressed down on a resurgence of giggles. “I’m fine. I was a little startled, but I knew I was in no danger because Cocoa wasn’t doing anything. I guess she remembers you.”

“So this IS Cocoa!” Kim exclaimed as she got down on one knee to pet the Boxer, who happily accepted the affection. “Wow, she’s gotten so big! Last time I saw her she was just a tiny wiggly puppy! You’ve grown up and become so pretty, haven’t you, Cocoa? You been helping Dolly? Keeping her safe? Good girl, good girl! What a good girl! You’re such a good, cute girl, aren’t you?”

Cocoa let out an excited bark and wagged her stub of a tail at lightspeed.

“She always likes it when people call her cute.” Dolly said with a laugh.

“She’s not the only one who’s cute.” Kim replied as she stood back up. “You’re even cuter than you used to be! I didn’t think that was possible!”

Dolly put a palm to her cheek. “R-Really?”

“Yeah, totally! You’re the cutest thing I’ve ever seen!”

The shorter girl laughed again, this one quieter and almost embarrassed, but pleased as well. She held up her hands, reaching in direction of Kim but stopping short of touching her. “Let me see you?”

Kim smiled as she bent her knees and gently guided Dolly’s hands to her face.

Dolly cupped her friend’s cheeks, trailing her hands up until they met at the top of Kim’s head, and then ran them back to her ears and down to her chin again. Her left hand remained under Kim’s jaw while the other continued to explore, tracing over Kim’s cheeks, her lips, her nose, her forehead, her ears, her eyebrows, her eyes — Kim batted her eyelashes when Dolly did that, making her giggle — and then she switched hands and repeated the process. To Kim’s admittedly limited knowledge, face touching wasn’t exactly a common thing to do, as most didn’t really get anything out of it, but Dolly seemed to be one of the few exceptions to the rule. Also, she admitted once or twice that it was simply kind of amusing to squish people’s faces.

Eventually Dolly’s hands stopped moving, but she didn’t pull them away. “I’ve missed your smile.”

Kim blushed a bright red, in her cheeks and over the bridge of her nose.

Dolly, maybe feeling the blush and maybe feeling merciful, changed the subject. “You bent down, didn’t you? How tall are you?”

“Um, yeah, I’m about…” Kim drew a line up Dolly’s arm with her finger. “…about this much taller than you.”

“So tall! Will you ever stop growing?”

“I’m not sure. At least, I haven’t stopped yet.”

That got another giggle out of Dolly as she reached up to feel Kim’s hair. She ran her fingers through it, stopping when her friend’s shoulder got in the way. “How long is your hair?”

Kim reached around and tapped the middle of Dolly’s back. “It falls about here.”

“Ah. Have you dyed it?”

“No, it’s still blonde. Yellow.”

“Describe yellow for me?”

Kim laughed. “It’s…yellow is light, sunbeams on a field of barley in the middle of a summer day, canary wings as they soar towards the sky, dandelions and buttercups and daffodils and sunflower petals, desert sands, Oz’s brick road, brightness and warmth and joy.”

Dolly let out a contented little sigh. “I’ve missed that.”

“I’ve missed you.” Kim countered as she pulled her friend in for another hug. “It’s been too long.”

“Yes. Too long and too quiet inbetween.”

That made Kim wince. “Yeah. Sorry. But I’m here now. For now.”

Dolly hugged Kim back. “And I’m glad.”

It was Dolly who pulled away that time, after not long enough. She patted one hand against her thigh, then rested it there palm up, and Cocoa hopped over and dropped her leash into it. Her fingers closed around it, and the other hand Dolly held out towards Kim. “Walk me home?”

She beamed and grabbed it gladly.

Dolly lived in the house that was right behind where Omama’s had been. Their backyards were connected by a fence, which was how they’d met. Since Omama’s house was right down the street from what had once been Kim’s own, it really wasn’t a long walk at all. But when Dolly tugged Kim past as they reached her driveway, well, Kim wasn’t going to complain.

They talked about everything and nothing. Or, Kim talked a lot and Dolly squeezed her hand to pause her when she wanted a turn. They talked about their old group of friends, about their old group of foes, about teachers in elementary school, local happenings, about the antics they’d gotten up to together, about the secrets whispered under covers, about promises and plans they’d made for the future, about things that were happening in Dolly’s life now...everything and anything and nothing about what had happened with Kim these past five years. Not until Dolly surrendered to exhaustion and let Kim lead her back home.

“I know you’ve been avoiding the topic,” Dolly said, sitting on the step of her front porch and motioning for Kim to do the same, “but I’d really like to know what happened to you. Why did you leave? Where did you go? You left without any warning, no one had been told anything, and I could hardly get a word out of your brothers.”

“Oh, I uh, got sick.” Kim said, repeating the story her mom had drilled into her with little thought. “Like, really sick. We had to move so I could be closer to a hospital that could help me. It was very sudden.”

“That’s the story I heard,” Dolly agreed, nodding sagely. “Now, can you tell me what’s true?”

Kim barked a laugh. “Man, you’re still the same after all this time. Never change.”

Dolly waited patiently.

“...I don’t know if I can tell you.” Kim caved. “Like, I honestly don’t. It might...put you in danger? And I don’t want to make that choice for you, obviously, but it’s not just you it might put in danger. It might put a bunch of others in danger. It might put me in danger. And while I don’t care one lick about being in danger or trouble, I know you hate that. And I can’t risk other people’s safety no matter how much I want to tell you. And I do! I really do! We’ve always shared everything together, and I don’t want to keep this from you but it’s not just...me. It’s not just me at stake, it’s others and you, and I can’t—”

With a gentle squeeze, Dolly caught Kim’s silence and attention. “It’s alright. I hear you. I know you mean it. But if you can’t tell me what happened, tell me this. Are you happy?”

“Yes.” Kim answered immediately. “Yes, I’m super happy.”

“Then that’s all I really need.” Dolly stood up, and Kim rose with her. “Well, that and one more thing. A request, actually.”

She didn’t even hesitate. “Anything.”

“Lean down again for me?”

“Oh, yeah, sure,” Kim laughed, making it so they were at matching heights again. “Geez, I thought you were going to ask something difficult, like to carry you up Everest when we go there or some—”

Dolly reached out to hold Kim’s face, and quieted her words and laughter with a kiss.

Kim’s entire body turned red.

The kiss was soft and gentle and everything Dolly, who pulled away after only a few seconds but Kim wasn’t really about calculating time when Dolly had just kissed her. “I can feel you blushing,” Dolly teased, tracing over Kim’s lips with her thumb. “It’s cute.”

For one of the very, very few times in her life, Kim was struck speechless.

Dolly giggled again, pulling away fully. “When you can, come visit again. We still have promises to keep. Until then, be happy, Kimbly, and I’ll be here waiting.”

Love went unspoken, but not unheard.

She opened the door and Cocoa jumped past (after giving Kim’s hand a few kisses of her own), and with a click, the two of them were gone.

Kim made it as far as the end of the driveway on autopilot before she dropped her face into her hands and wheezed.

“How’d it feel to have your first kiss with your first love?”

“GAH!” Kim jumped, spinning around to see Mira standing behind her. “When did you get here?!”

“Wasn’t hungry. Volunteered to stay behind and keep an eye on you. Please increase your surroundings awareness.” Mira tilted her head. “So?”

“Ninjas, all of you.” Kim laughed before thinking. “It was...bittersweet.”

Because the kiss wasn’t just about love. It was an I miss you, what could have been, a goodbye. It was loving each other too late, moving forward separately but keeping each other in their hearts. Kim would always love Dolly, in the way that a first love never fades, but it had been too long. Maybe it would have been different had Kim told her, or had she told Kim, if they hadn’t just been wishing for the unknown a world away. Now they had different paths to walk, and it wouldn’t be each other’s hand they were holding down the line.

Someday, something in Kim’s heart screamed, maybe someday...and she would keep it, because Kim was never one to let go of hope.

But she would move forward too.

Mira nodded, like she understood. Maybe she did. “Ready to go home?”

Home.

“Yeah,” Kim agreed, smiling. “Home sounds good.”
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PostSubject: Re: Children of the Atom - X-Men   Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:04 am

The ride back to the Institute was a far different tune than the ride to Georgia. The music was louder, as were the laughs, and the students took to this being a trip more than a mission the longer they drove. At one stop, when no one was around, Jubilation took a moment to show off her own powers. A streak of neon pink shot from her finger into the air, detonating in the sky like the happiest of fireworks.

The students were amused. Logan was not.

It was early morning when they had returned to the Institute. They had been gone long enough that the familiar sight was both welcoming and strange, much like the friends Kim had reacquainted herself with. Cutting through the dew and light mist across the acres of lawn, curving around the fountain and eventually pulling into the garage, the engines of the vehicles and motorcycle slowly came to halt.

They were back where they belonged.

After a few good byes and see you laters, the group went on their ways to whatever rooms they could see fit. Logan took the time to tip his hat to Kim.

"Get your rest, kid. Trainin'll be in the mornin'."

Unlike the students, he headed off to the kitchen, looking for a drink he greatly deserved. Before he made it, though, he slipped a hand out of his jeans pocket and pointed casually at the handrail to the floor above.

"And ya got some company."

It was uncanny (PUNS) how he had sensed what the eyes couldn't see, but his finger had perfectly shot to a section of the darkened upper-level where, seemingly, a shadow had moved. No, no not a shadow. As the form slinked toward the stairs, adjusting to more of an unadjusted, "comfortable" walk, it was only a moment before that pale,slightly green skin came into the light of the early morning sun.

Cam, walking without limp or wince, stared with snake-like eyes toward Kim ... before a smile crept across his face.

"Kim ... you're ok ..."

He stepped just one step closer, adjusting to the new Xavier Institute track suit he wore.

"You're ok."
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PostSubject: Re: Children of the Atom - X-Men   Wed Oct 10, 2018 9:43 pm

Most of the time that Kim didn't spend laughing and bonding with the others (which was a lot) she spent sleeping, so time probably went even faster for her than most. Even so, it wasn't fast enough. No matter how much she loved her home in Georgia with her brothers, she had a new home too, one with Cam and new friends and new places, things to learn and explore. Kim was eager to go back to all that. To go home.

And now she had parts of her old home with her, too.

"Here," Cole said before they left, handing her a red cellphone. "Use this. Every day. We do not want radio silence from you ever again, young lady. It's paid for, no don't make that face, just consider it an early Christmas present. Whatever, very early. I don't care if you can tell us about your fancy secret school or not, just call us and let us know you're okay."

"And here," Slade added, handing her a necklace with a whitish stone. "Omama actually put it in her will to give this to you, but for some reason Mom never did. Weird right? We snuck it out last time we visited and meant to give it to you for your birthday but you got 'sick' or whatever, and then we were going to for Christmas, and, well, surprise, another early Christmas present."

"And hey, who knows," Cole chimed in again, "maybe we'll move up there closer to you someday. I can bang on a computer anywhere, and I'm sure someone will want to hire a dancing monkey."

"Hey!"

So now Kim had pieces of her old home coming into her new. And it was her new home now; with her parents still missing and no living extended family, Cole was currently her legal guardian. Something he would continue to hold over her head, she was sure, but it also meant her approval to get into the school went a lot easier than anticipated. So Cole agreed, and now she was officially a student here.

And so, it seemed, was Cam.

Cam, who was smiling.

It was one of Kim's hopes to get Cam to smile, and this didn't count because she hadn't done anything and he wasn't even smiling at her but her safety since he was such a nice person. But Cam was smiling, and that made her so, so happy.

He was also even MORE of a looker when he was smiling and how unfair was that?

"CAM!" Kim cheered, bounding over to him and wrapping him up in a tight hug. "Ooooooh I've missed you so much! How have you been? Are you feeling better now? Oh gosh I hope you're feeling better now or else I'm probably hurting you a lot, aren't I? Yell if you are in distress! Or just shove me away I guess. I'm sorry I didn't wait for you but I really needed to see my family as soon as possible. Wait, did anyone tell you where I was going? Did anyone even know? Like I know the professor did obviously but did anyone else who didn't come? I don't think I even told Trevor when me and Izzy were talking about leaving. I hope you were told. Well if not I went to visit my family in Georgia because I needed my parents' permission to stay here and all and I wanted to make sure they were all okay. Mom and Dad weren't actually there but my brothers were and it was really super nice to see them again! I missed them a lot. Like I missed you! Did I say that already? I don't remember. I missed you! Whether you're completely better or not I'm glad you're looking so much less beat up. I saw you when you were still asleep in the infirmary and ooooooooh man I'm the worst! I told you I would be there when you woke up and I totally wasn't! I'm really sorry! It completely slipped my mind because I'm terrible. I'm sorry Cam, can I make it up to you? I could...actually I don't really know what I could do for you. Do you have any ideas?"
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