Summary: Two protests threaten to turn violent, while the X-Men search for a mysterious agitator.

Participants: Cyclops, Jean Grey, Kitty Pryde, Zandra

Location: Yorkville

Rating: PG/PG-13 for Tension and Threats of Gun Violence

The day has been an eventful one; five different home visits, each with newly awakened mutants who are scared and confused. Each with a similar outcome: the school sounds nice, but they would have to think about it. Overal, fairly typical. Of course there is one more to be done, in the Northern districts of town. Scott pulls his car up to the side of the apartment complex, fellow recruiters Kitty Pryde and Jean Grey in the car with him. "Alright, one more, and then I promise dim sum. On me." He grins and chuckles a bit before looking up, his grin fading slightly at the sight of the building across the stree from the apartment. "Oh you have got to be kidding me," he growls.

The building in question? The public headquarters for the Friends of Humanity Party for this district in New York. Which would be bad enough by itself, but a rather boisterous protest seems to be taking place outside. Or rather, two protests: a demonstration by the ever so gracious Friends, and a counter-rally nearby, made up of more than a few mutants and other metas with fairly obvious mutations.

"This could get ugly..." Scott says as he unbuckles his seatbelt, stating the clearly obvious. "Might want to stick around for a bit, see if these escalates any." Translation: we're going to wait until a fight breaks out. (Re-edit for Jeaner)

You better believe Zandra is here.. in fact she emailed everyone she knew, posted every where she could to folks about doing a 'counter protest'. And being the artsy type student she is, she and many of her fellow art students are here with all sorts of goofy signs. She's got a pair of sunglasses on but she's still waving her sign. Around her are banners and posters on sticks. God Hates Speghettios. FOH = Feinds Of Hypocrisy. This is a Sign. Free Hugs. The Cake is a Lie. Make Love Not War. And of course they are all chanting, Hell no, we won't go!

"It better be really, really good dim sum," says Kitty, frowning at the gathered crowd and rubbing the bridge of her nose a bit. She watches the two groups for a few moments. "Maybe we'll luck out. Maybe neither of them want to risk getting arrested." She doesn't sound too convinced of her optimism, though, and is already pulling her gloves on. Just in case.

Jean, having gotten to ride shot-gun by virtue of being Scott's squeeze, unbuckles her seatbelt and steps out of the passenger side of the vehicle. Pushing her sunglasses up on top of her head, she eyes the various protesters on both sides of the street.

"I think I'll be taking mine with a side order of aspirin," the redheaded telepath remarks. Jean really doesn't want to go poking around in the minds of the Friends of Humanity protesters, but she does so anyway, searching their thoughts for any signs of impending violence.

Scott for his part starts to make his way down the street, eyeing the counter-protest. "Kitty, be ready to do some serious phasing for people if we got a riot. Jean, anything strange getting broadcast?" he asks under his breathe, eyes looking for anyone on edge the old fashioned way: with his eyes.

The protests carry on normally, as the Friends get a megaphone. "Why are you so threatened by us?" the leader starts to yell, a college student wearing a "Graydon Creed Can Save America" t-shirt. "If you have nothing to hide, then why attack our small requests? Are maybe you are a threat and you just don't want us to know!" Chanting and arguing is reaching a fever pitch, as the two protests start to push closer and closer together.

Jean's scan picks up plenty of anger and hatred, plenty existing on both sides. Which is why the loudest mental message might come as a suprise. It is difficult to pinpoint at first, what with the plethora of loud hateful thoughts, but one mind is less angry and more...fearful, nervous, anxious even. As if trying to steel itself for what it is about to do.

Zandra does not want a riot. But she's really annoyed by the guy with the Megaphone. It is so tempting.. All it would take is a little jiggle and she could mess up something inside it. But she could also mess up doing so and cause a big problem. There has got to be a way to show what a fool this guy and his goons are! Meanwhile some one standing next to her shouts. "You are the ones who are fear mongers! " She suddenly gets an idea and smirks, her eyes narrowing at the Megaphone. Subtle is the key. As the man shouts there is a bit of crackling from the device, the voice changes, dipping low and then going very high making him sound like a chipmonk or like he's just swallowed a bunch of helium.

Okay. Kitty can't help but giggle at that. "I don't know if someone did that, or if it was a fluke... but at least we've got a high point for this." Okay, Kitty, game face time now. Time for some serious super-heroing. Must not laugh at Chipmunk-voiced hate monger. "Jean, I'm going to need you to guide me telepathically," she tells the team leader's squeeze, and starts to sink into the ground through the floor of the car. Sneaky ninja-Kitty.

"Yes... very strange," Jean replies, but as Scott is moving away, he may not even hear her. Nor does she wait for him to acknowledge that he heard; she wades into the crowd of protesters, pushing aside the thoughts of hate and anger to focus on that one odd-duck-out brain. «Kitty, I don't know where to tell you to go, yet. There's something wrong, but I don't know where they are. Just be ready to start grabbing ankles and phasing people out.» She tries not to shove and push as she makes her way through the crowd -- at least, not too much -- but she's desperate to reach the person before they act.

The megaphoned leader takes a few seconds to realize that something is wrong with his megaphone, only really clued in when he starts to get heckled at. Frowning, he looks at the microphone. He gives it a few good wacks, trying again and then cursing, tossing the tool away. "More signs of your fear!" he says, trying to shout over the twin protests. "What do you have to hide?"

Of course, his voice is lost as the two protests start to converge into an all-out verbal abuse-fest, heated tensions getting hotter by the second. No blowns have been thrown, but both have done a good job of egging the other on. Scott frowns, trying to make his way around the edge of the protest. Jean, is there nothing you can do to calm these people down? he thinks loudly, fearing the answer may be that there is just too much, too many people.

As Jean weaves through the crowd, she eventually finds the source of her worried, anxious voice, still rising. It is a young black male, breathing heavily and staying back near the end of the Meta protest. He seems to be on the verge of tears from the sight of him, and wearing a unseasonable large zip-up sweater. Thinking he's not being watched, he reaches into one of the pockets of his sweater and slowly pulls out a black handgun.

There is a lot of metal about, so Zan hasn't taken the time to scan each and every person about so she's got no clue about the gun.. no she's doing her best to keep her side of the line on their side. She elbows a few people near by "Remember, Peaceful Protest ya'll! " Then she shouts about. "What do you have to Hide eh? Whatcha wanna bet you are what you hate? " Because so often that is the case!

«I'm under the crowd now» comes Kitty's mind-voice, albeit somewhat static-y and distant sounding, thanks to the effect her powers have on telepathy. Thankfully, she's had practice broadcasting her thoughts in this state. «I can hear them through the pavement. But it's pretty easy to lose sense of direction down here.»

«Scott, I can't right now. There's a boy with a gun. Kitty, come to me.» Telepathically, Jean guides Kitty towards where she is. She moves through the crowd, making her way over to the young man and maneuvering to approach him straight on. She is radiating calm, and all of her attention is on the young man. Her hands are held at her sides, palms up to show that she's empty-handed. "Hey there," she says to him, as she moves closer, to get his attention. The last thing she wants to do is startle him.

The boy's fight or flight instincts go one full rev as someone talks to him, bringing the gun up slightly for a second before realizing what he's doing. The calming aura does help him slow down a bit, as he puts away the gun. "Don't...just don't try to stop me..." he says, low, whispering. "I...someone needs to do this." «A gun? Dammit,» Scott thinks towards Jean as he starts to look around. He then hears a familiar voice, spinning his head around to see a familiar hairdo of blue. And she seems to be something of an organizer. Running towards Zandra, he gently grabs her forearm to get her attention. "Hey, remember me? Gave you the card, think you fried my cell phone?" he says under his breathe, making sure. "Anyway, you need to tell these people to back off right now...we have people, carrying firearms in this crowd. If things get violent, someone is going to end up...understand me?"

Zandra urks as suddenly some one is rushing towards her. A guy with funky red glasses. He's lucky he doesn't get zotted when he grabs for her arm. "Whoa.. you.. dude.. What?!" she glances over her shoulder?! "Me? The whole crew isn't mine dude.. they ain't all gunna step back just cause I tell them to.. but hey I'll try.. " she certainly doesn't want any one to get shot. Especially herself. "Hey Ya'll... um... let's go across the street some more.. the Stink from the FoHers is getting too strong.. 'Sides the media folks will see our signs better over there c'mon let's back it up..." she says trying to convince at least the ones that came with her that they should go to the other side of the street.

«Right behind you,» says Kitty, rising up out of the ground several yards behind Jean. «If talking doesn't work, I'll take the gun off him.» She stays quiet, doing her best to blend in with the crowd, but keeps close to Jean and the young man she's talking to.

"I'm not trying to stop you," Jean replies to the young man. She acknowledges Kitty's presence with a gentle, mental brush; her gaze does not leave the boy. "You don't seem as if you want to do this, either. May I ask, what 'this' is? What are you hoping to accomplish?" Her aura of peace and calm remains activate, as she attempts to sooth the boy.

The suggestions from Zandra seem to convince those that came with here, who in turn convince those that they know, and soon most of the meta protesters on the front line as pushing back. In fact, most of their agressiveness seems decidedly receeding. The other side is still angry, but Scott decides to do the unthinkable. He turns and offers a cocked grin towards the FoH crowd, raising his hands dismissively. "Hey hey, don't then get under your skin. They're just trying to get you to react." He gulps down his pride, feeling like he's about to throw up. "They're just muties anyway, right?" He reasoning seems ot calm down the front line of the other half of the twin protests, with an all out riot seemingly averted. And only Scott's self-esteem to pay.

As the protests seem to seperate from each other, the boy becomes more agitated. "I...have to do...this, I have to kill that man...all of them...they HAVE to die!" The boys eyes start to darken, and are quickly pitch black. Oddly, only Jean and Kitty seem to notice his shouts. "Don't you get it? If they don't die, that changes EVERYTHING!"

The final words is shouted so loudly, it makes the world around him to seem to quiver slightly, shaking as if bending for a second. And after that moment, the boy is gone, a slightly shimmer only marking his exit. And stranger still, his presense seems only half real to begin with. His physical features are almost immediately impossible to remember. Was he tall or short? Skinny or fat? What color was his hair? Hell, what race was he? Both Jean and Kitty will decidely notice that these bits of information are missing from their memory, with a vague memory of a boy with a gun rambling about necessary killings all that remains.

Zandra is herding the counter protestors across the street, but she is hyper aware at this point. Mentioning there is a gun about is a good way to make one paranoid. Once the group is safely on the other side, she lets out a sigh. Whew. She puts down her 'the cake is a lie' sign and leans against a light pole, continuing to scann the other side of the street.

"Ooookay. That was weird." And the Understatement of the Year award goes to... Kitty Pryde! "Did someone just mess with our heads?" she wonders, rubbing the side of her head, trying to remember what exactly just happened. She /really/ doesn't like the feeling she gets from this whole thing.

" I know how everyone /else/ feels," Jean grumbles as she rubs her fingers across her forehead. «Scott, the ... boy? ... has vanished. I think. He isn't here, if he was?» "He was really here, wasn't he? You saw him, too, didn't you, Kitty?" She's not going crazy. She's not.

«One sec, betraying my own race over here,» Scott says as he turns away the last remaining FoH members, rubbing the back of his head. Scott's never smoked, never plans to. But right now he could use a stiff drink, a smoke and a dark, quiet room. He glances towards Kitty and Jean. "Okay, he got away. We need to tell the police, maybe a get a APB out for someone." Calling in police protection for FoH. Make that two stiff drinks. A glance is offered across the street, trying to make eye contact with Zan and offer a slight nod of thanks.

"I... think I was here," Kitty looks about as unsure as Jean. "It was a gun, right? Not a knife?" Oh dear. "Maybe you should scan my memories of the incident, Jean, see if you can see if there are any telepathic fingerprints in there?" Pause. "It was a guy, right? Not a woman?"

Zandra scans and scans and well.. she doesn't sense any other guns, so she shrugs. "Weird.. maybe they scared him off.." she murmurs to herself. She gives Scott a thumbs up when she spots him..but eyecontact? who knows, it's hard to tell when some one's got those funky glasses and she's wearing sunglasses too. A number of the counter protesters are debating food, suggesting people go and find a near by diner.

"Umm..." Jean thinks. She usually has an /excellent/ memory -- perhaps too good, at times. "Yes," she finally says, a touch reluctantly, "it was a boy. With a gun. He was talking about... necessary killings? But I don't know who he was talking about." She gives Scott a helpless look and shrugs. "I could poke around your brain, Kitty, but I don't even know what I'm looking for."

Scott raises a brow at the two co-recruiters. "You two feeling okay? You just saw him, didn't you?" he says, sounding only a bit frustrated. The little deciet put him in a bad mood. "Listen, I'm sure the stress has your blood pumping. Maybe once you calm down," he shrugs, glancing towards his watch and wincing. "Other bad news, we're officially ten minutes late for our appointment. Lets just get that over with, grab our dim sum and call it for this crappy day." Yeah, Scott is grumpy-Scott. Which, granted, is not unusual.

"I've been in more stressful situations than this," Kitty objects. "The memory's just... fuzzy. Like I'm trying to remember something that happened years ago." Pause. "While drinking. Heavily."

Zandra moves on with the herd of protestors, there is food to be eaten, and stories to tell of their not quite riot.

"Scott." Jean reaches out to take his hand, twining her fingers with his. She lays her other hand on his cheek and gazes up into his eyes, as if the glasses weren't even there. «You didn't betray anyone, love. You diffused a nasty situation quite well, and very likely saved lives. You did a good job. Don't beat yourself up over some words that you didn't mean.» Going up on tip-toe, she brushes a kiss on his forehead. "I have a good feeling about this one," she says out loud, smiling at her two companions and nodding towards the house they had originally been heading for.

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