Fanfic time: Misfits part 30

Continued from yesterday:

  Jean fell into her seat and buried her head in her arms. “Do me a favour,” she whimpered. “Kill me quickly and mercifully before that little Wiltshire bitch turns up again…" 

  "Bad day at the office?” said Kurt. 

  “What happened?” said Scott, radiating concern. 

  “Sara happened,” Jean wailed. “I have a hole in my sleep cycle that’s miles wide, a huge frigging project to complete, psychic exercises this afternoon and Wiltshire will not go away or shut the fuck *up*…" 

  "Janine Wiltshire?” said Kitty. “Kinda dumpy, sorta like, frizzy hair and braces?" 

  "Tellmeshe'snothere,” Jean blinkered her eyes, possibly on automatic. 

  “What’d you *do*? Ask her about the gossip?" 

  "I asked her about Sara. She buttonholed me for a fucking *eternity*.” Jean hyperventillated, causing Scott to pass her a paper bag. 

  Rogue was snickering into her overcooked vegetables. “God, what a newb. Ah found out not to talk to her in mah first *week*…" 

  "You’ll be like, totally lucky she doesn’t make up something about you,” said Kitty. 

  “Thank *GOD* I didn’t get to say more than ‘uhuh’…" 

  "Don’t look,” said Kurt. “She’s coming this way." 

  ”*SHIT*,“ Jean hissed. "Quick! SomeonesaysomethingaboutSara." 

  "I know something,” said Evan. “She’s totally into Todd Tolensky." 

  Jean took notes. "Good, good, go on…" 

  "I caught 'em kissing by that tap near the cafeteria? You know the one they use to hose it out at the end of the day?” Evan sort-of pointed in its general direction. “They were practically on another planet. I never *seen* anybody so blissed out." 

  "Cool. Roundthetable." 

  Janine drew in as Kurt fumbled. 

  "Uh. She’s very observant. I think she sees more than she tells about. Open-minded, too. I always like that,” he grinned at Amanda, who was happily glued to his left arm. 

  She kissed him. “I’ve *heard* a lot about Sara,” Amanda offered. “You know the rumours by now…" 

  Jean twitched. 

  "But I guess she kinda… orbits in a different level. I haven’t had much actual contact with her and I refuse to judge on rumour alone." 

  Scott was next. "I talked to her for exactly two minutes and I felt like she wanted to kill me,” he said. “There’s some kind of history going on, I know that much. I guess I’m going to have to work harder to win her confidence. Prove myself, or something." 

  "She has a Thing about Seniors,” said Jean. “It’s not you, it’s your grade." 

  "Riiiiiggghhht…” he grimaced. “So I either work hard or ride out the hostility for half a year. *Fab*ulous." 

  "Ith it my turn?” said Janine. 

  “No. You’re not *sitting* at this table,” Jean snarled. 

  “Rude much?” Janine made a face. 

  “I already *have* ten pages full of things you know about Sara… most of them are physically impossible. Thank you *very* much, but I have to talk to *other* people." 

  "Geez…” Janine moaned, rolling her eyes. “And I thought you were cool…" 

  Jean’s grip tightened on her calligraphy pen until her knuckles whitened. "Kitty? Anything to add?" 

  "Like, take *anything* you heard from *her* with a grain of salt.” Kitty thought about that statement. “Make that the whole shaker. There’s like, three things keeping her from being like, *the* most popular person at school? Her fashion sense, her taste in dinosaur music, and *Janine*. That girl makes *up* most of the rumours you hear about her." 

  "I must have stretched that creativity, today,” Jean muttered, voice full of murder. 

  “Ah think she’s pretty cool,” said Rogue. “Takes a brave person to be themselves in high school, an’ she’s determined ta do it. Most folks hide behind some kinda mask, some public face they use to make everything nicer… she just - handles things. And the one about her eating rats? Fake as. Ah saw her tossin’ one straight in the trash last week. Some asshole leaves 'em in there fo’ her to find." 

  "Euw,” said Kitty. 

  Tabby sashayed up to them. “You’re investigating Sara Essel, ain'tcha?" 

  "Sara Adrien,” corrected Jean. “So?" 

  "So she stayed overnight. I have some good dirt, between us mutants only." 

  Jean sighed and turned a page. "Fine. Shoot." 

  "Okay,” Tabby parked herself on the table. “Let’s start with the time she decked Lance with a snow shovel…”


  Jean used the last five to ten minutes of lunch to beg off the last class of the day - the class with the pop quiz - claiming a more important project concerning Professor Xavier’s newest student and a background check into her character. She needed to interview her teachers as the final step. 

  Something told her it was more honourable in the eyes of Xavier to excuse herself from the bone of contention, rather than be dragged away. 

  Which left her with computer class. 

  Like most students, she used it as an excuse to relax and kick back. At least until things went pear-shaped with a very elephantine trumpeting and familiar horror-movie screams. 

  The kid watching the webtoon had his hands stuffed in his mouth, trying not to laugh too loud. Three neighbours noticed. “Hey guys! The latest _Bayville Wyrd_ is out." 

  There was a flurry to the web browsers. 

  "Um,” said Jean. “Bayville what?" 

  ”_Bayville Wyrd_,“ said the classroom news announcer. "W W W dot thylacine enterprises dot com slash support slash toon. Have fun." 

  Jean opened a window and entered the URL. The breath left her lungs as the toon played out. 

  _Oh. My. God._ 

  Today’s featured 'toon had a certain overtall, unpopular, androgynous character taking bad ecstasy and transforming into something akin to Godzilla. 

  There were also some *mighty* familliar characters, like the Bayville Demon, the Incredible Frogboy, Lightning Man, Super Ho’ and, most irritatingly of all, Princess Perfect. 

  The voice was almost identical. The attitude was - exaggerated… but she was still recognisable as Jean. 

  The Bayville Demon, on the other hand, was nothing like Kurt. He was a wimpy little SNAG who pretended to be nasty, but just wanted someone to love him… who wasn’t a satanist. 

  All of the characters, in one way or another, were taken from Sara’s life, then bent, warped, spindled and mutilated until plausible deniability was achieved. 

  But all the same… she was in the Institute now. That meant that there’d be more -well- wyrdness. Highly *recognisable* wyrdness. 

  Jean loaded up a 'back issue’ and decided to tattle. _*PROFESSOR*! Red alert!_ and she sent him the URL. 

  _Yes, Jean. Sara’s been showing me. Intriguing, isn’t it?_ 

  _It cuts *way* too close to the bone,_ said Jean, watching an episode entitled _Princess Rangers._ Okay, so she didn’t have "perfection powers”, but *still*… 

  _You do realise that if we *are* spotted excercising our powers, this quasi-popular webtoon gives us plausible deniability. And Sara can quickly whip *up* an episode where necessary._ 

  _But I don’t like it,_ she whined. 

  _Sometimes we must face how others view us, and live with it._ 

  Translation, she had to eat this crap and smile. 

  _Learn to laugh at yourself, Jean,_ 'said’ the Professor. _You’ll be better off because of it._ 

  Jean learned to laugh at the outlandish headlines Sara transformed into her toons, the 'popular’ crowd of identical yes-people, Janine’s alter-ego - better known as “The Mouth”, and sundry other foibles pointed out by Sara’s dry humour and sardonic wit… But she couldn’t raise a giggle at Princess Perfect. Not even a smile. 

  It was very hard to laugh at that particular image of herself. A near-grotesque parody of the sunny face she wore every day so people would accept her. 

  Sara’s own parody was another thing Jean couldn’t even smile at. This was how Sara thought other people saw her. It was - almost tragic. 

  _Just when I was ready to kill her…_ Jean thought. _I find this - this - self-mutillation._ 

  If she averaged one a month, then… Sara had been doing this for a little over two years. It had *started* with strange headlines of the bizarre… and morphed gradually into a catharsis about her life in hell. 

  What *else* was she doing to herself? 

  _Hell, what have I been doing to *me*?_ 

  It was something to think about, at the very least. 

  The bell rang, forcing her to shut down her explorations of Sara’s mental state, and she nearly went to her next class before she remembered she was supposed to be interviewing Sara’s teachers. 

  The office had given her a list of their likely locations, so she picked the nearest one and readied her clipboard again.


  Fred had done his best, but his choices in men’s wear were somewhat - limited. Plus he was sure he hadn’t made a good impression when he refused the chair on the grounds that he might break it. Still, he sat up straight, kept his fiddling down to a minimum, made plenty of eye contact and tried to remain pleasant. 

  The owner of the nightclub perused his resume - constructed with the help of some of his old truck rally friends - and peered over it. “It says here you’re sixteen." 

  "Yes’m,” he said. “I’m not going to go *into* the club, m'am. My job is to keep people *out*." 

  She thought about this. "True… And you have a truly interesting resume… but, what *qualifications* do you think you have for the job?" 

  Fred thought about this. "Well… I can pick up an SUV and throw it down the street?" 


  Todd’s heart thumped in his chest. Hell, he should have been beaten up three times already for hanging around the parking lot. Except Wagner did one of his near-infamous, non-teleporting appearance tricks - coming out of nowhere - to vouch for him. 

  "The fuck bit you, fuzzbutt?” Todd had to ask. “Why you so… *nice* all of a sudden?" 

  "It’s one of my things,” he said with a shrug. “Sara’s one of the few people who - just didn’t react, you know? I have to do *something* for her, and… well… not hassling her boyfriend was the first thing that came to mind." 

  "Wait… Sara didn’t even declare it back then. How did you–?" 

  Fuzzy grinned. "Let’s just say I’m very observant, ja?" 

  Todd thought about how often they’d been glued together over the past times they’d shared company… and blushed. 

  Fortunately for his manly honour, Pietro walked by - bearing a bandanna on his head. 

  "Hey, 'Tro! Get a bad haircut?” Todd catcalled. 

  “Fuck you!” Pie shot back. 

  *God* it was good to get back at the ass for a change. He cackled at the flustered speedster. 

  “Was? I thought he was trying a new look…" 

  "Nuh-uh. Freddy gave his antennae a trim fo’ dissin’ Sara." 

  ”*RE*ally… This, I must see.“ {Bamf!} "Yoink!” {Bamf!} “Nice bandanna. *Love*ly 'do." 

  The remains of his 'antennae’ popped directly upwards once freed of their fabric restraint. 

  {zwip} "Fuckyoubothyoufuckingassholes.” Quicker than light, he tied the thing back on. “I oughta trash everything you got except that freak of a girlfriend of yours’d make me her 'hobby’. Gah. Why’d this have to happen to *ME*?" 

  "Uh… 'cause you’re an ass?” said Todd. 

  “You have an ego the size of Jupiter?” said Kurt. 

  “It’s about time you got some kharmic realignment?” said Todd. 

  “Pride goeth before a fall?” said Kurt. 

  “I don’t even know why I’m listening to this,” said Pietro. “I don’t have to stand here and be insulted.” {zwip} He was gone, but with a final flourish of his middle finger. 

  “Always the default response for the slow of mind,” said Todd. 

  “Where does he usually go to get insulted?” wondered Kurt. 

  {zwip} “I heardthat, fuzznuts.” He spun on Todd. “AndIam*not*slowofmind!” {zwip} 

  It took them both a full five seconds to start roaring with laughter. 


  Jean Grey was learning. If there was anything worse than ridicule, she found out, it was pity. 

  “Ah, yes. The sad case of Mr Essel,” Mr Hinkley shook his head. “Very confused boy. No doubt, everybody knows he carries - certain female accessories… around in his knapsack. If you can get him any kind of psychological help while he’s with you… I don’t gossip, but - I think he needs it." 

  Jean remembered to use the incorrect pronoun. "I know -er- *his* friend Janine said something about him having a crush on you?" 

  Hinkley scrubbed his hair and stared out the window. ”…oh *God*… That,“ he sighed, "would certainly explain a lot. He’s the most appologetic boy I’ve ever met, you know. Always embaressed about something. No attention span at all, either. And now– wait. Janine? Janine Wiltshire? Biggest mouth in Bayville?” He sighed with relief. “It might not be true. Or very *much* true. Listen, I don’t want the education board to think it anything more than a rumour, okay? This is strictly confidential. And besides… even if I *were* attracted to the poor boy, he’s under-age. Nothing would happen." 

  _Okay…_ Jean’s eyebrows practically achieved orbit. _That’s more than I wanted to know…_ "Of course,” she said aloud. “I *completely* understand. Thank you for your time." 

  And last on the list, with just enough time to make Scott come and look for her, was Mr Meirs. The committed Remedial Ed. teacher. 

  Mr Meirs was a balding man with a naturally worried face and an almost permanent air of desperation. His office was decorated with smiling students in graduation gear, most of them with scribbled thanks for all his help in the lower half. He had graphs and diagrams and many, *many* textbooks about various teaching methods lining his shelves. 

  "Mr Meirs?” Jean asked to get his attention. “Hi. I’m Jean Grey? I’m doing a little background check on Sara Adrien for Professor Xavier." 

  Meirs frowned. "He runs that - gifted school, doesn’t he? What’s Sara doing up there?" 

  _Shedding,_ Jean thought. "I believe there’s some aptitude testing going on, right now,” she lied. “One of our tutors, Ms Munroe, found her playing the harp and decided to -ah- check her out. It turns *out* that Sara’s very highly gifted, indeed." 

  Light dawned for Mr Meirs. "Oh, that’s *wonderful*! I always had a vibe of frustration from Sara, but she never complained about *why* she was frustrated. Are you considering any further investigation? A frustrated genius can sometimes *appear* to be a poor student, I know, but–" 

  ”*Please*, Mr Meirs. One thing at a time. What do you know about Sara?“ 

  "She needs to be entertained,” he said. “If I don’t give her a cluster of projects, questions to answer, things to find out… she gets bored. And when she gets bored, she gets creative. I believe the last time, it was a join-the-dots exercise on the ceiling… quite the work of art, but I had to make her clean it up. Such a pity. I should have taken a photograph." 

  "Does she ever react to the rumours going around about her?" 

  "No. Her only reaction - if you can call it that - is a studied *non*-reaction. She once told me that rumour mongers delight in shocking people, so she remains unshocked. Remarkable control for sixteen… I’ve often wondered if she’s older inside her head.” He paused. “Some things *do* get to her, though. She threw herself into last years’ science project with disturbing concern. I’m sure she has issues with her mother." 

  _I’m fucking positive,_ thought Jean. "Have you met her?" 

  "At the PTA, yes. There’s something… eerie about her. Like she’s wearing a different face. Sara does that, to a certain degree… she adjusts her behaviour for other people, yet she never loses her true self. Fascinating." 

  Jean felt as if someone was walking over her grave. Different faces. Adjusting her personality… Jean did a lot of that, too. "Anything that worries you?" 

  "Sara’s boxes,” he said, cryptically. “I act as a counsellor for my kids, as well. She does this thing where she puts her bad emotions and thoughts away, things that don’t *fit* some pre-conceived notion of how she should or should not behave… I asked her about it and she told me about the boxes in her head.” He bit his lip. “If something isn’t *done* she might just get buried in them… it’s why I let her pursue any artistic occupations she desires. She needs to vent." 

  "Hey, Jean,” Scott said from the doorway. “The -ah- others are waiting…" 

  "Sorry, I have to go,” Jean smiled. “Thanks for your time." 

  "I could send you a copy of my observations on Sara, if you wish?” he offered. 

  “Would you? Oh *thanks*. That’s going to be a *great* help. *Thank* you. Um. See you later?" 

  "Hope to,” he waved at her, and went back to his ceaseless and near-thankless work. 

  Scott propelled her down the now-empty halls. “That was a little… subservient." 

  "After a whole day of rumour, myth and conjecture, *you’d* be grateful for some solid facts. Or at least unbiased observations,” Jean said. “Did you know half this school actually *believes* she eats raw rat?" 

  "Euw,” said Scott. “You can’t be serious." 

  "All here in black and white,” she tapped her pages. “Soon to become a *fabulous* report for my sins." 

  "Learn anything good?" 

  "Yeah. Don’t open my big mouth around the Professor.”