CHAPTER ONE: A New Life
TW: adult dialect
SIX MONTHS LATER
"Remember, blend in and be absolutely boring."
Sighing heavily, Ivan glanced from his shoes in annoyance. He watched as his sister stood before him, fidgeting with her fingers anxiously as she gnawed at a strand of her auburn hair. He smiled as she paced back and forth, "so be like you."
"Im serious!" she cried out in irritation, "you need to blend in so-"
She removed the strand of her hair with a spat and shot a despising look, "not one word about this."
Brushing his palms against the edges of his black dress pants, Ivan stands. "Sasha, I got this."
Pushing her aside, Ivan steps forward to look in the mirror. Heavy dark circles rested under his eyes. And lately, that was the only thing on his body that got rest nowadays. Ivan and Sasha hardly slept since they had to patrol the city vigorously. After the fiasco at Times Square, their father was pissed at them.
Correction; is. Ivan grumbled to himself.
Six months later, the two tried to make up for their failure. Respect and power are valuable assets, and their image was on the line. Since then, rogue mutants have begun to host turf wars throughout the city as a way to claim new territory. That was until a new tyrant ascended. The media and outlets have given the mutant numerous names, but lately, she goes by Rave. And because of the embarrassing episode, Raves uprising was alarming to father. But, this new mutant is rumored to have unlimited abilities and no sense of morality. Its said that shes heartless and has a craving for flesh and blood. Some part of it has to be true because, within less than six months, she could recruit the Goons to be her men. Something father couldn do for years.
Ivan runs his fingers into his dark hair as he reaches into his pockets, "I have to correct our mistake. Once I know our identity isn at stake, Ill have dad transfer your studies too. We must lay low and let the heroes think they
e making a damn in this world." He sneers in anger at the thoughts of their mistakes, "all thanks to that winged brat."
"Her name is Bindi." Sasha says diligently as she marches to him, "and we wouldn be in this mess if you didn hire that rockhead. Literally."
"Leon said he-"
"And thats why we
e on dads bad side!" she pouts, crossing her arms over, "if you wouldve listened to me, I wouldve never told you to hire that fool." Then, she hissed before jabbing her finger at his chest, "now we
e the laughingstock of New York!"
Ivan shoots her a disapproving look as he buttons his shirt and grabs a black tie, "help me with this or leave. I don want to be late."
She gave an exaggerated huff as she closed the gap between them, reaching for his tie. Sasha may be young to be the feared terrorist Phoenix, but she wasn a dupe. She was right. Sasha could spot weakness before it ever prodded the surface. That was one of her best attributes and what made her a priceless asset. Nico and Phoenix were a trademark for terrorists and anti-heroes because thats what America labeled mutants. The sole purpose of their mission that evening was to invoke fear as a propaganda pull.
And it worked until that airhead started to go off.
Ivan gnawed at his thoughts, and resentment rose in him like bile. I hired Talus against my better judgment. Millions of mutants will pay for my mistake with their blood.
Nico and Phoenix were engaged in a political stunt to sell fear and hope into the image of the mayor of New York, by the mayor. Everything was going according to plan until Talus gave their position up to Leap and Shade. The amateur heroes then launched an attack. To avoid being captured or followed, Phoenix created a diversion by using the people of New York as tools. Throw a couple of fireballs near people and escape while the heroes evacuate the citizens. That was the course of diversion. Except, that isn what happened. Ivan and Sasha never considered that the heroes would neglect their sole purpose of protecting New York citizens or Talus going awol.
"Im sorry for underestimating you, sis."
She nods quietly as she quickly fixes his tie, "you really need to learn to do it yourself. Remember, pass the wide end through the knot-"
"Yeah," Ivan signals her back as he glares at his reflection, "I won need to keep this facade going that long, sis."
"Yeah," she says softly, lowering her head, "just stay in long enough so I can go for a semester, please."
Brushing past her, Ivan reached for his coat hanging on the door rack. "Sure," a small smile escapes him as he pats her head, "its still snowing, so if you go out, don fly for long."
She disapproved as she huffed, "Im not five!"
"Wouldn want your wings to get frostbite," Ivan replied calmly as he slipped his arms into the bulky sleeves of his coat. Then, he turns to Sasha as he zips his jacket to see her smiling proudly, "what?"
"Maybe youll meet a girl there that you like-" she says before pausing. She clasps her hands together and jumps joyfully, squealing before pulling on his shoulder, "what if you meet the one?"
A dry laugh departs from Ivan as he slung his satchel over his shoulder, "Sasha, we
e the most wanted mutants in America. The last thing on my mind is making time for a girl or he one."
She sulks back, crossing her arms in vexation at the sarcastic tone, "what girl would want you anyways."
"Well," he replies sheepishly, running his fingers through his hair as he opens the bedroom door, "I hear school girls love bad boys."
She groans, flopping backward on his bed as he gives a slight wave to her, "have a fun dwelling with mediocrity."
"Get some rest. Ill save you the lecture," Ivan laughs as he closes the door.
"Good luck!" she shouts behind the door, "You
e gonna need it!"
Ignoring her comment, Ivan took long strides down the narrow, polished corridor to the elevator. The elevator chimed as it slowly creaked to a halt as the long silver doors pried themselves open slowly with a hiss. A tall woman stepped out. Her golden hazel gaze fell on him as a chilling smile spread across her red lips, "Ivan, my sweet boy."
"Morning, Aunt Mae," he says as he steps inside the elevator with his foot at the bottom of the doors, "can talk long. Don want to be late-"
Aunt Mae reaches out to hold his chin with her long thin hands placing a kiss on his cheek. A look of distaste spreads across her face as she pulls away to examine his attire. "On your way to school to overthrow an entire government. We all know," she coos, "and we
e so proud of you and your sister. But sweet child, could you not have dressed better for the occasion?"
"Aiming for indifferent and forgettable, Aunt Mae."
"Black dress pants, leather shoes, a button-up, and black tie? Please, honey, Ill do my best to forget I let you walk out in that monstrosity. You look like your father. The old bloke would be proud," she huffed. "This is New York, dear. It wouldn hurt to have a little character."
Ivan removes his foot from the elevators frame," okay, see you tonight, Aunt Mae."
She turns away as the doors slowly begin to close, "Oh, and Ivan, dinner is at 7. So don be late."
"Yes, maam." The silver doors wheezed as they closed behind her.
Dinner at 7 didn mean a nice home-cooked meal with the family saying grace in the dining hall. Ivan chewed the inside of his lip as he conjured the fragments of his schedule in his mind. Father scheduled a meeting without informing him or Sasha. Which could only mean one of two things; his image as the mayor was at stake, or someone embarrassed the department. The elevator hummed as it slowly lowered itself from the floors.
His family consisted of New Yorks most wanted terrorists and mutants. At least, thats what New York Times refers to them. And the head of their organization was none other than the Mayor of New York himself, Derek Leray.
So while their work isn ethical or the first approach many would take, they
e the first to get results. However, Ivan was disgruntled at his thoughts; Once this is over, mutants will be the last thing the government will repress.
The elevator doors screech as they pry themselves open once they reach the bottom floor. At the front entrance, a tall, slender man was waiting impatiently in a tailored suit and white collared button-up. His large frame slumped against the pillar as he stuck among the collected residents. The man spoke with gritted teeth trying to smile, "you
e late, kid."
"I know Uncle Leon, your wife caught me at the elevator."
"Damn boy, Ill have to listen to her about your appearance all day now." But, his eyes scan Ivan in the distance, "you couldn pick a better outfit?"
Ivan shrugs as he walks past his uncle, "I don know man, just following orders."
"Its university, kid." Leon straightens himself as he walks behind, "tomorrow, dress like a normal guy. You look like you
e going to a funeral."
"Kind of feels like it."
"Can it, Ivan." Leon slaps his hand on the boys shoulder as he points out his car, "its not going to hurt you to get out of your room for a couple of hours."
"Yeah, okay," Ivan grumbles as they power walk through the clumps of snow.
Despite Leons tough exterior, the old man was soft. Leon was affectionate to two things only; his wife and his 1999 Mercedez-Benz. He adored its leather seats and 8-track-cassette player. But, while Leon called the car his prized possession, the rest of the team loathed the rust bucket. It was notoriously known for breaking down constantly.
The engine hummed quietly as the duo climbed inside, "attaboy, Ivan! Youd make your mother proud." Leon flashed a toothy grin revealing his gold canines, "shed be even more ecstatic if youd get a girlfriend."
The mention of Ivans mother made his skin crawl. Because she was murdered execution-style for the contents of her blood. Ivans father hardly spoke of his late wife. Instead, he turned his family into a league of mutants to eradicate mutant slayers and create safe heavens under the careful eye of the government. Ivan hardly remembered his mom- given that he was six years old when she passed- but Ivan knew that he was the spitting image of her. All Ivan could recall from the distant memories was that her demise ultimately changed their father into the pariah Derek is today. And the beautiful dark-eyed woman supposed to raise Ivan and Sasha has been six feet under for sixteen years.
Everything they have worked for today was in honor of the mother she never got to be.
Ivan shook his head as he stashed his bag on the floorboard, "piss off."
Leon shrugs mischievously, "well, Ill try. Now buckle up." The old man reaches to adjust his mirror, "don want your blood on my dash."
Ivan turns to look out the window, sighing, "jokes aside, why am I attending this school as my real identity this late?"
"Let me put it this way," Leon replies while shuffling through cassette tapes to play in his car, "you may have a unique job, but-" he pauses as he sets a cassette into the player, "you
e Ivan Leray, the mayors son, who sulks in his room all day. You have a future to build behind the mask, and it doesn look good for your father if you sit in your room all day."
Grumbling under his breath, Ivan stared out the window as Leon inverted into traffic. "Its going to reek being with rich asses."
"Your dad pulled a lot of strings to get your credits transferred. So, for **s sake, don get expelled so fast." Leon sighed as traffic slowed.
Ivan scanned the contents of his satchel, recalling the books his sister ordered for him months in advance. Sasha was the one who practically begged to be sent to Briggs University, yet it was Ivan who was stuck with the suffocating task. "Yeah, okay."
"Cheer up. Live a little, kid." Leon glances at him, "go make some friends and have a beer. Shouldn sulk after daddys approval your whole life. Hell, I bet you haven even had your first kiss or-"
Ivan could feel his face grow hot as his uncle pried at him, "Okay, I think Ill walk the rest of the way. Looks like traffic is jammed."
A grin spread across Leons face as Ivan swung the passenger door open, "you couldve at least lied."
"Whatever," Ivan says as he pats the hood of the car before raising his middle finger to his uncle, "Ill see you at dinner."
"Okay, boy," Leon shouted over the sound of traffic as Ivan turned to walk away, "don forget to kiss a girl. Or boy. We don discriminate!"
Picking his pace, Ivan threaded between the still cars to reach the walkway. Briggs University was two blocks down. He had twenty minutes to make it before his class started. Ivan schemed through the walkway, avoiding the slips of ice on the ground. Huffing as his legs burned in agony, brushing past the heaps of snow. In the distance, Ivan spotted the towering cobblestone building. The entrance was layered in welcoming banters and purple flags.
Unlike Ivan, Sasha was known for her bubbly persona. She knew how to blend in and associate with others effortlessly. Dread began to fill Ivans mind as his breath hitched in the cold air as he muttered, "Sasha wouldve been a better fit for this one."
Ivan takes a turn as he approaches the university opening. Passing vacant benches and tables, he heads towards the entrance as a small pool of students rush inside. He made his way up the stone steps before reluctantly pushing the glass door forward. Reaching into his satchel, Ivan pulled his phone out to see that Sasha had called him six times. Below the call notification, she had sent a collection of messages.
Sasha Leary 07:24
"You forgot your schedule. Chemistry is Room 112A."
Sasha Leray 07:26
"And your chemistry book."
Sasha Leray 07:26
"Hello?? Are you serious? You forgot your ID card too."
Sasha Leray 07:30
"And your wallet."
Sasha Leray 07:42
"Ill bring it by at lunch break. Meet me outside."
Ivans breath hitched as he grumbled, "dammit."
Ivan Leray 08:01