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X-Men: The Last Stand: The Junior Novel
By Danny Fingeroth
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Danny Fingeroth
All right reserved.
The blue Mercedes sedan rolled swiftly down Thunderbird Lane. The leafy branches of the trees on either side of the road created a majestic covering for the quiet suburban street.
"This is it, Erik," Charles Xavier said, pointing from the car's front passenger seat. "Seventeen sixty-nine Thunderbird Lane."
The Mercedes glided to a halt in front of the Cape Cod-style house.
"I still don't know why we're here," Erik Lensherr said. "Couldn't you just make them say yes?"
Xavier climbed out of the car and stood on the sidewalk.
"Of all people," he said, "I would expect you to understand my feelings about the misuse of power."
A small smile crept onto Erik's face. He and Charles had had this same conversation countless times over the years. It was this very topic that threatened their often-strained friendship.
"Yes, I know," Erik said. "Power corrupts, and all that. When will you stop lecturing me?"
"When you start listening," Xavier retorted. The two men walked toward the front door.
"We're not really going to have to meet every one of them in person, are we?" Erik asked. He enjoyed baiting Charles like this.
Xavier's eyes narrowed as he looked at his old friend. "No.This one is special."
"Aren't they all?" Erik responded in a sarcastic tone.
Inside the suburban home, John and Elaine Grey were reading a brochure for the School for Gifted Youngsters. They had read it so many times they knew its contents by heart. But something about reading it again and again made them feel better about the decision they had made.
"I just know she'll be happy there," Elaine said.
John was less optimistic. "I don't know if she'll be happy anywhere. Why would they do any better with her than we have?" he asked.
The knock on the door startled them both, even though they had been expecting it.
John opened the door. "Welcome, gentlemen," he said. "I'm so glad you came to get her.
We worry about her when she travels alone."
"Your school looks wonderful," Elaine chimed in, trying to sound upbeat. "What a beautiful campus!"
"But what about her illness?" John asked.
"Illness?" Erik asked, taken aback.
"Now, John," Elaine said, "let's hear what these men have to say."
"You think your daughter is sick, Mr. Grey?" Erik asked. As he spoke, a silver picture frame on the wall behind John started to shake. Xavier shot a glance at Erik. He calmed down -- and the frame stopped moving.
"The point of the school is to help children like your daughter," Erik said. "Can we speak to her alone?"
"Of course," Elaine said.
"Jean," she called, "please come downstairs . . . if you're feeling up to it. There are some people here who'd like to meet you."
As if she had known her presence would be requested, thirteen-year-old Jean Grey was already starting down the steps from the second floor. When she reached the landing, her parents quickly rose from their seats and moved toward the kitchen, almost as if they were afraid to be in the same room with her. Jean seemed to enjoy this fact.
"We'll leave you, then," John said.
Walking confidently across the living room, the striking redhead sat down in a chair directly across from her visitors. She stared at them, especially Charles, as if daring them to speak to her.
Suddenly, she straightened in her chair. Xavier was indeed speaking to her -- but not with his voice. She heard his thoughts in her mind.
"It's very rude of you, you know, to read my thoughts, or Mr. Lensherr's, without permission," Xavier scolded her telepathically.
Jean's eyes widened -- then narrowed just as suddenly. "How did you know . . . ?" she asked, keeping the conversation on the mental plane.
"We are mutants," Xavier replied. "Like you."
A third telepathic voice entered the conversation: Erik Lensherr's. "Did you think you were the only one of your kind, girl?" he queried.
"I doubt you are like me," Jean responded, casually gesturing toward the street with one hand.
Xavier and Erik looked out the window. Across the street, a slim elderly man wearing pink golf trousers was watering his lawn with a garden hose. Suddenly, the water coming out of the nozzle started flowing up! The neighbor stared in shock. When he let go of the hose, the upward water flow continued. The hose danced around the lawn like a charmed snake.
Then, one by one, every car on the street outside rose a good ten feet into the air. Jean smiled. She was certain they had never seen anything like this.
And as the finale to this very strange show, a manual lawnmower rose up from a nearby lawn. The portly man who had been pushing it tumbled off into a row of manicured hedges.
Standing at the window, Erik put his hand on his friend's shoulder. "Oh, Charles, I like this one."
Xavier did not respond. He turned to face Jean.
"You have more power than you can imagine," Charles said silently. "The question is . . . will you control that power?"
Jean again gestured toward the street with an almost arrogant wave of her hand. Surely she had made it clear that she controlled her power.
Charles looked intently at the girl. He concentrated and focused his own energy. Jean was fighting back. It was a battle of two enormous wills.
Finally, Jean's features relaxed.
The cars crashed down onto the street. The hose and mower resumed their normal operation. Xavier stared at her. He spoke his next words aloud. "I ask again. Will you control that power, Jean -- or will it control you?"
Excerpted from X-Men: The Last Stand: The Junior Novel by Danny Fingeroth Copyright © 2006 by Danny Fingeroth. Excerpted by permission.
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