Jonothon Starsmore a.k.a. Chamber is asleep on a sofa in his room at the Massachusetts Academy in Snow Valley. His room is a mess - magazines and vinyl records lay scattered everywhere. He wakes, and goes into his bathroom, where he looks in his mirror and adjusts his mask, psionic energies glowing out the side of it. He strides back into his room proper and rips his vest and mask off, exposing his slowly expanding bio-nuclear psionic furnace that is his unfortunate mutant power. Jono cannot eat or smile - much less kiss a girl. So, what does a mutated, reclusive, self-conscious teenage British goth do when he meets the girl of his dreams…?
There is a knock at his door, it’s his friend and teammate, Angelo “Skin” Espinosa, asking him if he is up. Chamber replies ‘Yeah’ and tells Angelo to come in. Both young men are wearing their new team costumes - dark red tops with a bright yellow “x” in the centre, with cargo pants. Skin asks Chamber what he is up to, and informs him that Sean and Emma are taking off soon. ‘They’re really off for the day, then?’ Jono asks, before remarking that Generation X must be doing something right for their headmasters to trust them on their own like this. Chamber reveals that he was thinking of heading into New York to pick up some vinyl. ‘Yeah, I see you’re running low’ Skin jokes, motioning to the boxes full of records, not to mention the records strewn across the floor.
‘Heh. Nice one, mate’ Chamber laughs, before asking Skin what his plans are. Angelo extends his fingers around a pipe overhead numerous times, and swings from it as he replies that he is going to the gym and then into Boston with Sean, who is meeting some guys to pick up some security equipment. ‘Right. Learning the old tricks of the trade, eh?’ Chamber asks. Skin replies that Sean is a smart guy, and that he really thinks he could learn a lot from him, as they leave Chamber’s room.
Arriving in the kitchen, Skin and Chamber greet Monet St. Croix and Jubilation Lee, better known simply as “Jubilee”. The glamorous Monet bids good morning to Angelo and Jono, clad in her new costume - a similar colored top, but with pink stripes down the side, while she wears a purple one-piece spandex outfit underneath, accompanied with a white half-open skirt, similar to her previous one, but less bulky. Jubilee leans back on a chair and asks the boys what they think of their costumes, hers being a similar top to Monet’s, with red shorts over a blue spandex one-piece that comes down to her knees. ‘Pretty cool. Can hardly feel it on me, actually’ Skin replies, while Chamber, adjusting his, replies that it feels safe and comforting.
Monet hovers a few inches off the floor while sipping bottled water and telling her teammates that Sean says it is a sort of smart material, which helps regulate their body temperature and offers passive resistance to impact and the various elements. ‘Really’ Chamber replies, while Jubilee declares that whatever it is made of, she doesn’t care, as it is so comfy. ‘Dunno about the color though’ Jubilee adds, to which Monet remarks ‘Sorry, Jubilee, but I highly doubt they come in shopping mall yellow’. ‘Well, didn’t anyone ask if they did?’ Jubilee retorts, when, suddenly, Emma Frost a.k.a. the White Queen enters the kitchen and announces that the new costumes cost her a bomb. ‘I don’t want to hear a word about how they “suck” like the previous ones!’
Monet bids Emma good morning before asking her if she has big plans for the day. ‘Business’ Emma replies, before asking if the four of them are all taken care of. Jubilee grins as she reveals that they are going to Manhattan for the day. ‘It’s been so long since we’ve been out. I can’t wait!’ ‘Yes, I’m sure you can’t’ Emma replies dryly, before telling the teenage heroes that while they are off having the time of their lives not to forget their Auntie Emma, working hard today to make their little holiday possible. ‘Okay, Mom’ Jubilee jokes, before the White Queen tells everyone that they best make sure to take their cellphones with them, and that she expects them to answer promptly if and when she phones. ‘What, we get cellphones too?’ Skin asks, eyes wide.
Shortly, Monet, Jubilee and Chamber are in the back seat of a car, with some regular clothing added to their outfits, Jubilee plays a hand-held electronic game while asking Jono what he is doing in the city. ‘Record shopping, most likely. You?’ Jono replies. Jubilee replies that she will probably shop for clothes and get some real authentic Chinese food. ‘That is, if M can handle it’ she adds, to which Monet replies ‘Jubilee. You have been to Hong Kong how many times? Once, maybe? I’ve been eleven times. If anything, I will be showing you what authentic Chinese food is’. Monet smiles as she adds ‘Besides, there’s a new Prada opening in Soho. I think it’s high time I showed Jubilee here that there’s more to fashion than just Hello Kitty t-shirts and pink lip gloss’. Jubilee narrows her eyes and growls at Monet, as the car speeds towards New York City.
Soon, Chamber makes his way through the crowds of people in downtown New York City, consciously aware of people staring at him - most likely because of the mask he wears to cover up his mouth. Some, however, seem to stare with interest in him. Shortly, Jono comes to a shop called Reddington’s Rare Records, and walks down the steps to enter the store - where, inside, he finds a various array of people dressed in punk and goth styles, and a huge section dedicated to U.K. punk records - with a “sale” sign above them. ‘Oh…absolutely brilliant!’ he thinks to himself, smiling with his eyes.
Rummaging through the boxes of records, Jono notices a young punk woman out of the corner of his eye. Dressed in a bizarre skirt, with a low-cut top donned with a feather boa, strange gloves, multiple piercing in her ears, and hair shaven along the sides. The young woman smiles at Chamber, before turning away from him. Chamber rushes over to her, and “speaks” to her - ‘Um, hello. I was curious if -’ he begins, but of course that frightens the girl, as Jono can’t speak with a mouth - he speaks telepathically, into her mind.
The punk girl goes wide-eyed with shock, while Chamber tells her that he didn’t mean to startle her, but it’s no use, as she runs from the record store. ‘HEY! Hey, wait!’ Jono calls out after her, but it’s no use, as the frightened young woman rushes onto the busy road - where a car speeds towards her. ‘Oh, no…’ Chamber “whispers”, before lowering his mask and releasing a small burst of energy, aimed at the front wheel of the speeding car, causing It to blow the wheel, and come to a screeching halt, just as Chamber pushes the girl to safety.
‘You alright?’ Jono asks the girl, who looks at him blankly, before she touches her ear, then her mouth. ‘Oh, I see. Sorry, no. I don’t understand sign language’ Jono replies, before explaining to her that this is how he talks. ‘You aren’t actually hearing me, really. I am just able to place my voice inside your head’, before asking her if she is deaf. Chamber tells her that it is okay, and that he is sorry for scaring her, as he had no idea, before explaining to her that it is very simple, all she has to do is think what she wants to say, as he can then hear it in his head.
‘Go on. It’s not as hard as it sounds’ Jono tells the girl as they get up off the pavement. ‘…hello?’ the girl replies. ‘Hello’ Jono exclaims, before the girl introduces herself as Rana. ‘Mine’s Jono. Nice to meet you’ Chamber replies, before noticing the man who was driving the car that he blew the tire off to stop from crashing into Rana talking to two Police Officers. ‘Perhaps we should go somewhere else?’ Jono suggests, to which Rana replies that she knows a cool place, and tells him to come on.
Soon, sitting at a table in a coffee house, Rana looks embarrassed and tells Jono that she is so dumb, that she should have realized. Unable to drink, Jono replies that it is fine, and tells Rana that it smells wonderful though, which is good enough for him. Rana t drink or talk to people, to which Chamber replies ‘A little, although I imagine you probably have an idea of what some of that’s like’. ‘Yeah’ Rana replies, before Jono asks her not to take this the wrong way, but he has been wondering why she was in the record shop. ‘You mean, why would a deaf person by shopping for music?’ Rana asks, smiling. ‘…er, well I didn’t mean…’ Jono begins, to which Rana tells him that if they are going to get along, they cannot be constantly tiptoeing around the obvious.
‘I suppose we can’t’ Jono replies, to which Rana tells him to feel free to ask her anything. Rana tells Jono that, in answer to his question, she loves music, and explains that she can hear the beat - or, rather, she can feel it. ‘It’s sort of hard to explain’ she remarks, before explaining that she was picking up some stuff for her little sister today, as it is her Birthday tomorrow. ‘Well, I suppose that explains why you had a Britney Spears record in your hands when I saw you’ Jono replies. ‘Had me worried there’ he jokes. ‘HA! I’ll bet!’ Rana exclaims, grinning.
Later, Jono and Rana walk side-by-side through Central Park, where Rana asks Jono if they can talk about him now. ‘What do you mean?’ Jono asks, pulling away from Rana, who reminds him that, for the past few hours, they have just been talking about her and her family, so now she wants to know more about him. Jono replies that there isn’t much to say, and tells her that he was born in England, moved to America a few years ago, and lives a few hours North of here. ‘Just a regular bloke’ Jono adds, to which Rana tells him that, just be looking at him, she can see that he isn’t a “regular bloke”.
The return to walking side-by-side, and Rana tells Jono to stop with his sad face, as she didn’t mean that in a bad way. ‘You and me, we’re sorta the same, y’know?’ Rana adds, telling Jono that they both have these things that prevent them from communicating with people. ‘It’s like we aren’t part of the rest of the world or something. Like we don’t belong…’. ‘Like everyone is looking at us strangely’ Jono adds. ‘…or with pity. I hate all that!’ Rana adds, before telling Jono that, with the two of them, it is equal, that they can talk to each other about anything. ‘I’m not gonna judge you. And I assume you aren’t gonna judge me’ she tells him, putting a hand to his face.
They sit down on a park bench, with Jono slightly turned away from Rana, ‘Of course not’ he tells her, to which Rana asks what the problem is. Jono replies that when most people meet him, they are scared of him, or want to hurt him, just because of what he is, or what they think he is. ‘It’s happened to me a lot’. Jono tells Rana that it makes it hard to go out and meet people, to have a regular life. ‘Yeah’ Rana agrees. Jono gets to his feet and declares that he shouldn’t even be talking about this, to which Rana assures him that she will not hurt him just because he wears that mask over his face, or judge him because of it.
‘Yes, well, you don’t really know what I’m talking about. There is more to it than just this…thing I’m wearing’ Jono replies. Rana gets up and takes Jono by the arm, telling him that she knows exactly what he means. ‘You think I don’t pay attention to what’s going on in the world? I read the papers, I go online. I have eyes, I can see’ she tells him. Rana adds that she knows about people like him, and tells Jono that she never thought she would meet someone like him in her life. ‘But now that I have…’. Rana tells Jono that he is just a guy to her, a “regular bloke” who has to wear something over his face because he had an accident, that’s all.
Rana tells Jono that he isn’t a threat or a menace or a freak, and that she isn’t going to catch what he has or anything. ‘I know that!’ she exclaims, telling Jono to knock it off and to stop treating her like the enemy. ‘I’m your friend’ she tells him, adding that if he can get all that through his thick head, then he can be her friend too, while placing her hand on his mask. ‘I want to…’ Jono begins, ‘But…’ he adds. ‘”But”?’ Rana asks. ‘But what?’ she demands, putting her hands on her hips. Jono explains that he has lived a good chunk of his life hiding from people, so it is not the kind of thing one just reverses in one day. Rana replies by telling Jono that she isn’t asking him to change all in one day, to which Jono rubs his head and replies ‘I dunno…sometimes I feel I can’t change, like perhaps the effort isn’t worth the risk’.
Rana tugs at Jono’s jacket while asking him what he means “can’t change”, and tells him that is silly, while asking what the risk is, as she has already told him that she will not hurt him. Jono tells Rana that things have a way of getting out of control despite anyone’s best intentions. He remarks that he has seen it happen many times, and reveals that he has lost a friend recently, just because he too, was different. ‘Jono…’ Rana begins, but Jono turns his back on her and starts to walk away, telling Rana that he is sorry, but that this is the way it is for him.
Jono tells Rana that he is constantly weighing risk against reward, and that over the years, he has learned to play it safe. ‘I want to trust you, Rana. You’re the first person I’ve met in ages that actually wants to make me try. But it’s too much for me right now. Please understand my reasons. It’s not you…’ his voice trails off, while Rana replies ‘Yeah, whatever. Not the first time I’ve heard that speech’.
Later, Jono and Rana walks side-by-side, with Jono’s hand around Rana’s waist, through the city, carrying an array of shopping bags, they come to a subway entrance, which has been surrounded by police tape, and several Police Officers mill about the entrance. Jono asks a young man what is going on, to which the other guy replies that he doesn’t know, but that the Police keep talking about “terrorists” and “flying girls”. ‘Whatever it is. No one’s getting on this train anytime soon’. Jono thanks him, before he and Rana step away from the commotion.
Jono asks Rana if she is going to get home all right, to which Rana replies that she should take a cab, as her mom worries if she stays out too long. ‘What about you? You have to meet your friends soon. Want to share a cab?’ Rana adds, before Jono tells her that he still has time, and will walk. Rana holds up a small piece of paper and asks Jono if she gives him her address, whether he will write to her. ‘Please don’t let me down, okay? You know what it’s like to have someone let you down’ Rana tells him, adding that she likes him and wants to see him again. Rana places a kiss on Jono’s cheek, and then on his mask, where his mouth should be. Rana takes off, grinning, while a solemn Chamber watches her go.
Later, night has fallen as the three Gen X kids are driven back to Snow Valley. While Monet reads a magazine, shopping bags at her feet, Jubilee sleeps, leaning into Chamber, who stares out the window, before telling Monet that she should have called him, as he was right there, and could have helped. Monet replies that there wasn’t time, as it all happened so fast. ‘We ended up being fine, just the two of us, but thanks just the same’ she adds. There is silence, while Monet looks at Chamber, then smiles, telling him that she wouldn’t have wanted to pull him away from his date. ‘You know I don’t like you reading my thoughts like that, M. Please stop’ Jono replies, looking at Monet.
Monet apologizes and tells Jonothan that she didn’t mean to pry, before pointing out that he doesn’t seem to be very happy about it. ‘Didn’t it go well?’ Monet asks, while Jono holds the paper with Rana’s address on it out the window of the car. Chamber replies that he reckons it went well enough, and that she is a nice sort of girl. ‘The sort I have always dreamed about meeting, actually. She seemed to like me, too’ Jono tells Monet. Monet looks at Jono and asks him what the problem is, pointing out again that he doesn’t seem very happy.
‘C’mon, Monet. We’re bloody mutants. You know how it goes: “living in a world that hates and fears us”. That’s not much of a life, for anyone. It’s more like a battle!’. Jono rubs the piece of paper with his thumb, before letting it go out the window, remarking that pain and death seem to follow them wherever they go, so why would he want to drag Rana into that? Chamber declares that Rana deserves better, really, and that it is only a matter of time before she realizes that for herself….