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  Book One of the Annwn Ryu Cycle
Chapter XI

White. Pain. One drop of red. Cleansing pain against a backdrop of torment. Shame. Slow ache of torture.
 Cayanne jerked herself back from the edge of a doze. Full awareness did not ease her feeling of inner turmoil.
 She tilted her head back, resting the top of her hair against the metal wall.
 Shadows danced and flickered and danced, and she knew the time for action was nearing.
 Forgive me. her mental cry was totally silent, yet completely heartfelt.
 The whispers increased to an unbearable volume, wrapping her in maddening cacophony.
 Non!  Taisez-vous!  Arrêtez!
 Gritting her teeth, the teen-ager snatched up a shard of glass, swiping it across her open palm.
 The sharp pain blocked out the racket - for a moment. Only seconds later, the whisper-voices were back with a vengeance.
 Cayanne slammed her aching hand against the wall, but this time, it had no effect.
 A voice emerged from the jumble, soft yet strong. Oddly familiar.
 You gave me hope, a debt beyond repayment. Sleep, Cayanne.
  Let me help you
. Images flickered and spun, brief flashes against madness. Vague memory, misty and indistinct. Confusion.
  I call Rafe n' Nathan...
  No. They cannot do this. Do not fear.
  Qu'arrive à moi?
  This we planned, Cayanne. It shall be done. Sleep now.
  Exhausted, confused, the girl crumpled before she could fight it off, sleep claiming her mind.
  When she lifted her eyes, they were not her own. Something lurked behind them, looking through them, examining it's surroundings.
  Ah, child. it thought. I shall do this for you - yet also for me. Sleep, little one.
 One foot followed the other up the stairs.
 It was time.

 The boy was stable, breathing steadily in the metal hospital bed. Hank checked the monitors one more time, then breathed a sigh of relief. Though obviously still injured, the lad was out of mortal danger and on the mend.
 He had shooed the others out of the MedBay with admonitions to get some rest themselves, and turned his full attentions on the injured youngster in his care. His cracked ribs were carefully wrapped in feather-soft, durable cloth; and his head injury - now barely visible - was bandaged with a finely woven material that would slowly fall away as the wound healed.
  Stretching, the blue-furred mutant slid off his stool, padding over to the bed. Unconscious or not, the youngster radiated a kind of wounded innocence only found in the very badly abused or neglected. It was clear that, in many ways, though he was physically a teen-ager, psychologically he was badly injured.
  Hank shook his head sadly. If not for Cayanne, it was almost certain that this poor boy would be dead - or simply in a vegative coma, body clinging to life while his mind deteriorated beyond repair. Even with telepathic intervention, it would take months - even years - for him to fully recover. Physically.
  Rubbing his knuckles into his eyes, the physician reluctantly made his way down the hallway to his room for a brief nap. He stretched out, eyes closing, and was asleep before he could think about it.

  Step. Foot forward. Step... The drone of almost-no-thought kept the Presence from losing control of the young form it possessed temporary control over. It exulted, briefly, in the sensations of simply being alive. Yet nothing distracted from the mission it knew must be done. In exchange for the selfless gift received, it swore to aid the youngster. Such oaths were not to be taken lightly.
   The first door loomed in front of her, and it rested a hand against it.
  After this was done, two people would be - changed. .
  Cayanne had so been concerned that this would be - invasion at best, rape at worst. Yet she had agreed. To allow the Presence to control her body, to do what had to be done. Though she understood - on at least one level - the why, she did not understand the necessity of the how. Yet the alternative - two souls would remain in torment. One forever condemned to a loss, the other struggling with a torment unexpressed and undeserved.
  The sleeping awareness would not remain so for long. It would have to be done swiftly, before the girl regained consciousness, again sending the Presence to it's rightful place in the background.
   There was no turning back. The Presence pressed lightly on the door, stepping swiftly into the shadows.

  Zane and Liam were asleep when Justin shook them lightly. Liam was, as always, afraid to be alone and had curled up with his best friend, thin body taking up precious little space.
  "Ssssomething's wrhooong." Justin's speech was sibilant, soft, and unless one got to know him, sinister.
  Zane's arm went around his friend, who had sat up so fast he nearly fell out of the bed.
  Justin folded his wings tight against his back. "Nnooot Liiiam's rrreeeeal looook." the young mutant soothed. "Caaaayane. Ssssomething's wrhooong."
"We gotta find her. C'mon, Liam." Zane bounded from the bed, aware of Liam and Justin rushing to follow him.

  The Presence had slid into an almost-trance by the time it reached the X-Man's bedside.
  Lifting her hands to rest inches above his chest, she concentrated, aware of a flicker of movement in response. Pores in the skin opened, and fiber-thin filaments emerged, flowing swiftly from deep beneath the skin, within the bones, of the mutant known as Wolverine.
  The filaments flowed upwards, at the same time Logan's body changed, flowing through several forms - feral, then almost animal, then back, then - what? A man, same as before, but - right. This form. It was - right. A section of his mind, long sleeping, hidden from him - what happened to him??!! - woke, flowing into his awareness-behind-awareness. Damage was repaired. Changes occurred. And he was - right. So the child would have known. Right.
  Logan slept, and the Presence stumbled from the room, slumping against the wall.
  One down. One to go.

  Justin lay a hand on the stone, receiving an "imprint" of passing bodies. However, he was still unsure of his power, and the fact that he was unsure of when certain people passed made his psychometric gift iffy at the moment.
  Zane turned to Liam, who had pulled his face mask on to hide the failure of his illusion-self. He knew the younger boy was terrified of being seen as he was, but this was an emergency. If he was right, Cayanne was in deadly trouble.
  "I shoulda listened to you to begin with, Liam." the young mutant said, by way of apology. "We gotta get help."
  "The older ones won't listen." whisper-said the young, dark-haired boy. "They think we are not quite right, you know."
  "Then we go over their heads. To Mr. Summers."

  The Presence had reached the second, final target.
  Standing over Scott's bed. Staring down at him. Watching him sleep.
  Barely aware of the thought, it lifted his glasses from the nightstand, feeling the coolness of the lenses. Cayanne's sensitive fingertips quickly found the points they joined the frames, and with a simple flick of thumb and forefinger, popped the ruby quartz from the housing. Carefully, the Presence replaced the frames, then stacked the lenses a bit out of Scott's reach.
  A momentary Surge, like nothing he had ever sensed, Xavier, for a split second, to lose consciousness. His telepathic sensitivity had simply - overloaded.
  Zane and Liam were hiding behind the MedBay door while Justin hung, bat-like, from the ceiling-beam above them.
  "Where'd she go?" whispered Zane, shifting his weight slightly.
  "She would go far away from the ones she loves." replied Liam, also in a whisper. "If she thinks she was bad."
  "We gotta say."
  "Whree do nhot khnoow foor shuuur thaat yhooou ahrrre rhiiiight." pointed out Justin, from his perch.
  "If I'm wrong, no harm done. If I'm right, it might help."
  "Iiiif yhooou ahrrre rhiiight, thehnn shee iss ihnn dhaannger?" Half a question.
  "She's not the type to just roll over and let life run her down. I think I am right, and we better warn Summers before she gets too far. You know what could happen, guys."
  "Therrre iss alrhedddy dhaannger." Justin's wings extended, whisper-silent, then retracted.
  Zane ran his hand through his white-blonde hair, and exhaled softly. "I hope not."
  Liam looked down, but Zane rested a hand on his shoulder, and Justin's tail came around to rest gently on his shoulders.

   Logan's shout woke everyone on his floor, and Scott actually fell off the bed in a wild attempt to grab his glasses. Snatching the frames, he tossed them haphazardly on his face, saw Jean swim into vision, realized there was no red and tried frantically to close his eyes - but nothing happened.
  No blast of energy, no flash-blaze of fiery destruction, nothing.
  "J-j-jean?" he whispered, eyes huge behind the mutilated frames. He saw red hair, he had always known she had fiery masses of red hair, but her eyes were green. Green? He hadn't seen green since he was seventeen years old, since his power took away everything but red in his vision. She was speaking, he was aware of chaos around him, people running, the Professor's telepathic voice trying to calm everyone down - Warren's wings, white as clouds, spread slightly in alarm. Bobby's tousled blonde hair in a mop. Colors. So many colors.
? Jean's telepathic voice wrapped around him, soothing, calming, sensing his wonder and confusion.
 Logan barrelled out of his room like a freight-train on it's way to no good. "WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED??!!" he roared, eyes blazing.
  Everyone was gaping.
  Scott whispered, "Logan?"
  The athletic, sharp-featured man stood eye to eye with him, hazel eyes blazing from blue, to green, to a feral gold, grey, and back again. He was waving his arm around in something between fury and a kind of bewildered shock. "Look!" he commanded. With a "snickt", his claws popped out, curving slightly in the dim light.
  The change was as great as between a machete and a katana - the glitter was not metal, but swirling palely, almost unnoticeably, with inner light.
  I suggest an immediate meeting. Xavier's voice was gentle, surrounding them all but not drowning out the increasing babble.
  "Warren...look at your hand." whispered Bobby, though everyone heard him.
  The winged mutant glanced down, his blue eyes widening with shock. The skin was fair, if pale, like a man too long out of the sun. But no longer what he privately called "corpse blue". Normal. Tingling with life.
  They all stared at one another, Logan pacing back and forth, growling under his breath.

  Cayanne held her hands over her ears, pulled her knees up to her chin, and tried frantically to force out the whispers. They were all around, hissing softly, and she almost wished she'd fall from the tree. Anything to make it stop.
  Her father's voice, calling from the window below. "I know you hear, peu d'ange." Voice worried, but - no anger? None? That confused her, and she crawled down, awkward with uncharacteristic confusion. She dropped to the windowsill, tried not to flinch. More than anything, she could not bear his disappointment.
  Marie in the background, sitting up on the bed. The room like but not like the one her father had in New Orleans.
  She closed her eyes.
  Remy wrapped his arms around her, held her tight, cheek against her hair.
  Cayanne clung to him. It was all that mattered.

  Logan stretched several times, twisting his frame from side to side to get the feel of the new inches. Muscles responded faster than he would have expected, and he made a mental note to do some serious workouts in the Danger Room.
  Scott was staring at the walls, the ceiling, the lights, edges of books, eyes unshielded and so blue they seemed to be an impossible shade. He was almost in shock, and Jean had a protective arm around him.
  Warren wanted to get out of the room, out of the mansion, and into the sky. His wings trembled slightly, though he did not spread them, indicating his disquiet.
  After the initial din had settled a bit, Xavier spoke carefully, quietly. "Does anyone feel ill?"
  Logan growled, and Scott reached over, almost without thinking, and rested a hand on his shoulder.
  Jean's voice was worried. "What happened?" she asked, running a hand through her hair.
  "I think dat more who happen' better question, non?" Remy eased the door closed behind him. He glanced about once, then addressed the Professor. "Cayanne come down from her tree few minutes ago." His gaze blazed a moment. "Say she want leave, but dat not it. Somethin' scare her near to death, and she not scare easy."
  Xavier regarded him steadily, and the younger mutant glanced at Logan, blinked, then regarded the still-somewhat-distracted Scott.
  "Ampèreheure." was all he said.

  Cayanne was packing. She didn't want to think, so she was being meticulous in folding. Her stomach was in knots, and her head was pounding, making her eyes sting - or so she kept telling herself.
  Marie had finally left her alone, worried gaze following her out, and the teen heard the chatter and thumps of her age-mates off to class.
  Look like be an'ther absence. she thought, trying hard not to allow bitterness in.
  A knock made her jerk upright, and she almost angrily flung the door open - to reveal Professor Xavier.
  "Que voulez-vous?" she snapped, then kicked herself. With a sigh, she opened the door wider.
  Xavier looked around, then turned his eyes back to the teen-ager. "Would you like to talk about it?" he asked, gently, closing the door gently behind him.
  "What dere to talk about?" Cayanne glared, clenched her fists. "Mon Dieu, don't you understand? I -"
  "Cayanne." His hand touched her gloved one, and he felt her tense. Gently, but firmly, he pressed down until she sat on the bed, one leg over the other, eyes guarded. "I think this is the moment you are going to have to choose whether to make a stand or run away."
  "What?!" it was almost a yell. She exploded, "Don' you un'nerstand?! I worse than betray! God only knows what I did! Invade - against ever'thig I believe in! What dat make me??!! Hypocrite at least!" The girl was almost raving, so furious was she, and her blazing eyes made Xavier suddenly glad he was not her enemy.
  "Why did you do it?" he asked, folding his hands.
  She rose, paced, said nothing for a moment. Clearly she thought he would leave, but finally she said, "It sound silly."
  "Ah. Well, I can assure you I have done my share of foolish things." he commiserated.
  Cayanne stood at the window, said nothing for a moment, then growled, "Une Voix m'a indiqué à."
  "A Voice?" He kept his voice very gentle.
  "Oui. You happy now? I hear t'ings." She slammed the suitcase shut.
  "What kind of things?"
  Through gritted teeth, "Voices. Sometimes, too much. Not loud-too-much, too-many-too-much."
  "Cayanne, I hear things also." He blocked the door, spoke with gentle, yet unyielding authority. "And I know, from your father and you yourself, you are not in the habit of running. Something terrified you."
  "'C'n take care o' m'self." she growled, but he caught an instant of uncertainty, and his heart went out to her. Poor child, to try to face this alone! He would have gone mad if not for the few friends who had stayed by his side as his own telepathic abilities manifested. The terror, the vulnerability, the mind-numbing panic had been almost more than he could bear.
  But she didn't need, or want, varnish or trite comments, she wanted the truth. He was going to have to be strong enough to give it to her, now, or he - and the others - would lose her. And he suddenly felt a surge of pain at the thought of the quixotic youth leaving them based on the terror of her slowly manifesting gifts.
  "Cayanne, you are a telepath."
  She stared at him, eyes widening slightly as the suitcase fell from nerveless fingers. "Non." she whispered.
  Xavier had heard men face death, amputation, madness, with less horror in their tone.
  "It cannot harm you." He made his voice comforting as he could, sensing her roiling emotions. She defined telepathy as invasion, manipulation - rape. Xavier knew he had to reach her, or the strain would drive her mad.
  Or worse.
  "Listen to me, child..."
  Her fist balled, eyes blazing, and he closed his hand over it, speaking quietly. "You may hit me if you wish, but first, listen to me. Your telepathy can be a precious gift." His voice stayed even, honest, firm. "Do you know how many minds can only be saved through telepathic intervention? Children sometimes come here half-mad with terror, or so traumatized they have withdrawn past conventional medicine's ability to aid them." His dark eyes held her's. "They are condemned to a life of institutionalization, abandonment, loneliness, for the rest of their lives; but your gift can set them free."
  The girl's fist loosened, just a little, and he knew she was listening.
  "The mind is a complex thing, Cayanne. Far beyond medical experience, the telepath can touch a part of the soul that normally could never be healed. It is not a curse, child. It can be a blessing."
  "You call me chile' again an' I sock you." she muttered, but he sensed a great deal was going on in her mind, a struggle between past terror and current events.
  "That is - quite fair." he conceded, watching her.
  "An' you want teach me dis - telep'thy, oui?"
  "To help you master it, yes."
  Her gaze was thoughtful. "Not have to stop school?" she demanded.
  Xavier fought down a sigh of relief. She was back, shaking off her terror in almost palpable waves as she determinedly made a step forward. "I would not dream of it." he promised.
  The grin he got back was pure mischief. "An' you not gonna tell me how t' think, right?" A bit of a warning.
  "Cayanne, I could not if I tried."
  "Oui. Très vrai." A long, tentative pause, then she asked quietly, "Others mad?"
  "Angry?" Xavier regarded her thoughtfully. "I believe you should ask them."
  Logan spun, whirled, and dodged through the simulation he reserved for "real workouts", aware that although the body had changed - slightly - he was still it's master. He was faster than he'd ever been, and many times hit targets before he was aware of the fluid movement that dispatched them.
  His claws were the real change. Once - as it was designed to - he plunged them into electronic tubing, aware his skeleton should conduct - painfully - the electrical current. Instead, he felt like a cat who had walked across a thick carpet. He touched the plastic, and tiny electrical arcs discharged. It took almost half an hour to discharge completely, and he bounded from the Danger Room feeling - alive. His body had healed so fast that blood barely escaped, and clearly fatigue toxins weren't making it into his bloodstream.
  If he hadn't smelled her, he might well have run Cayanne down.
  She looked up at him, her grin slightly hesitant. "Bonjour, Logan." she began, watching him closely. "Got question?"
  He wrapped the towel around his neck, and waited.
  "Wonderin' if you - fâché avec moi?" There, she'd said it. The teen watched him, hiding carefully her heart pounding in her throat. She had already hugged Rafe and Nathan good morning, and gone looking for Logan right after.
   For a long moment the Canadian mutant stared at the teen-ager, mouth hanging slightly open, then he roared with laughter. "Don't tell me yer worried about that, darlin'?" he demanded, staring down at her.
  A bit taken aback, she managed, "I invade yer privacy...."
  Logan shook his head. "Darlin', lissen." He crouched down, looking straight into her eyes. "I may be a Canucklehead in a lot o' things, but I'm pretty good at judgin' people I think of as friends. So, how 'bout you worry more about th' next sparrin' session yer due?"
  She stared up at him, then grinned wryly. "Prepare t' be well and truly whapped, Wolverine!"

  Cayanne had no chance to apologize to Scott. The moment she was opening her mouth, he charged her, lifted her off the ground, and held her tightly, then spun her around so fast she wasn't sure whether to feel dizzy or call the paddy wagon.
  "You not upset?" she asked, startled by his odd behavior.
  "Upset? Upset?!" He rested his hands on her shoulders. "Cayanne, because of you...." He looked around, trying to find a way to translate his joy at seeing colors again into a concept the teen-ager could readily understand. "Because of you, I can look into my wife's eyes and see how beautiful a green they are, how - beautiful they are, and she is." He whispered, and he saw Jean's eyes fill with tears. His own were shining. "How truly lucky I am."
  Cayanne glanced over at Jean, then grinned. "Yer's are nice blue, her's green. Nice together." she commented, then wandered off, grinning to herself.

  "Nathan! Catch!" yelled Cayanne, cannoning past the tall X-Man with a group of  boys hot on her heels. Turning on her heel, she dodged back the other way, springing in the air to field the throw just as she reached the end zone, narrowly missing being run down by her own team.
  "Ttttouchdhowwn!" called Justin, from his perch high in the rafters.
  "Cheat!" yelled Lance, almost dancing in fury.
  "Wimp!" Cayanne shot back, grinning evilly.
  "Hah! This from som'one down 8 points."
  "::sputter:: Cheat!"
  Cayanne rolled her eyes.
  Althea stood ramrod-straight, looking down at Cayanne. "Children shouldn't play...." she began, then looked up at the younger teen, disbelieving nursing a bleeding lip from a position on the ground.
  "Ya got a problem, Blondie." growled the young Cajun, fist still balled. "Want me t' fix it? No charge."
  Nathan had broken up a fights between enraged teen-agers before, and loomed over the older blonde, arms crossed and expression coldly neutral.
  "You wouldn't dare!" Althea snarled, leaping to her feet.
  Cayanne promptly knocked her back down.
  Zane came charging to the Cajun's side, with Liam moments behind him. Justin uttered a low, sibilant hiss audible across the entire field, eyes flooding red and beginning to glow.
  "You're only strong when you've got your friends behind you!" Althea yelled, frustrated beyond belief.
  The young Cajun's grin was positively feral. "Dey not interfere." She crouched slightly. "So, you apologize now 'r after I wipe dis grass wit you?"
  Althea sputtered, then launched herself at her rival, who was by no means foolish enough to remain a target for someone with super-strength.
  Spinning with balletic grace, Cayanne swatted the blonde on the back as she went by, sending her face-first into the grass.
  Nathan, feeling completely out of his element, did the only thing he could think of, and did it almost by reflex. He sent out a telepathic yell.

Stryfe came out the back door to see Cayanne leaping over Althea's attempts to strike her, all the while throwing out taunts along with strategically placed swats. The blows were not even overly damaging, but the effect was the young Cajun kept knocking her older opponent down.
  The other kids had gathered around, yelling encouragement and shouting invectives - much like any other group of teens and preteens would have when a fight broke out among their number.
  Nathan was in the thick of it, trying to decide wether to grab Althea and force the fight to end or stay out of it.
  Leave them. Stryfe's advice came from the other side of the circle, tinged with slight amusement.
  She could be badly hurt. objected the other telepath, eye beginning to glow.
  The blonde girl stands not a chance at all, brother. Stryfe met his "twin's" gaze, humor glinting in his normally unreadable eyes. This has been a long time coming.

Logan could have disciplined Cayanne for fighting, for "misusing" her new skills - she might have even accepted it - but he saw no reason. The young teen had finally called an end to the battle by simply grinning and walking away, a clear triumph considering her temper.
  "She could have been killed!" objected Scott, who was furious more at Althea for picking the fight than Cayanne for answering the challenge. Still...
  Remy snorted laughter. "Pas une chance dans l'enfer, mon ami."
  Jean was fighting down a smile herself, as she patted her husband's arm reassuringly.
  "Cayanne's a scrapper, Althea was lucky t' walk outta there instead of bein' carried." Logan's grin was one of a teacher who saw their student excel. "Taught the brat a lesson in manners."
  Remy grinned at his friends. "Cayanne not put up with de foolishness, and now maybe t'ings get better." he commented.

  Cayanne found a change in her schedule that nearly had her lose her composure. Once a week, she had to report to Dorian, and twice a week to Professor Xavier.
  Merveilleux, un rétrécissement et un telepath. she thought, savagely. Dey not gonna mess wit my mind, not now, not ever! Her fury was so intense that she felt a mental "question", a kind of "knock" against her mental shield.
  What?! she demanded, so outraged that she didn't care which telepath heard the mental yell.
  I take it you found the schedule update. Xavier's voice was mild.
  I not talk to no shrink, Xavier. You lost yer mind along with yer hair? she snarled back.
  She sensed slight amusement at the accusation, then a light sigh.
  Your telepathic abilities leave you vulnerable, Cayanne.  Xavier sensed the girl bridle at that, but went on with gentle patience. Dorian will not attempt to tamper with your mind, only help you understand it.
  I un'nerstand my mind, t'ank you very little.
  Do you?
Gently, carefully, but a brief flash of the recent events sent the girl back a mental step.
  There was a long pause, another battle with inner fears and outer temper, and finally she grumbled, One try.
  Let us make an agreement, Cayanne. If you see Dorian thrice, I shall remove it from your schedule and you may see him only at your leisure.
A flash of impudence. Two times.
  For ninety minutes each.
Slightly more than the regular - by ten minutes - but then, Xavier sensed the need in the girl to reclaim her independence. Push too hard, and she would refuse all together, back off and her respect for him would decrease. A careful game, in which he could not afford to lose. The stakes were far too high.
  A mental snort. Sixty minutes each. she returned.
And Cayanne's mental presence withdrew.
  Xavier felt abruptly the space left by that vivid, quixotic presence, and smiled to himself. It was a beginning.

Translations from the Cajun (French)

Non!  Taisez-vous!  Arrêtez!                  -             No! Go away! Stop!
Qu'arrive à moi?                                   -             What's happening to me?
peu d'ange                                             -             little angel
Ampèreheure                                         -            "Ah."
Que voulez-vous?                                 -            What do you want?
Une Voix m'a indiqué à.                        -            A Voice told me to.
Oui. Très vrai.                                        -           Yes. Very true.
fâché avec moi?                                     -           You mad at me?
Pas une chance dans l'enfer, mon ami.  -           Not a chance in hell, my friend.

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