Don't Jump to Conclusions
Cassandra West

Disclaimers: I don't own the X-Men. Marvel and Twentieth Century Fox do. I don't own Toolshed or the QVB either, I'd be richer if I did. I certainly don't own Oxford Street except for in the vague way that it's public property and I am an Australian, I wouldn't know what to do with it if I did.

Archive: Fine

Author Notes: This is my first fic that I'm sending off into the world. Thanks to rm, Carrie, and Phantasmas for doing the beta thing.

Australians do have a different opinion on a lot of things to Americans. It's very common for our sporting heroes to be called freaks and mutants and it's a compliment. I honestly believe we wouldn't have a problem with the Marvel brand of mutants. The Toolshed is an actual retail chain, last time I was in Sydney there were two stores in that chain within a block of each other on Oxford Street. Toolshed stores carry mostly gay male porn/erotica and BDSM toys. Oxford Street does in fact contain mostly shops that cater to gay men and it's right in the heart of the Sydney Central Business District. It is actually very unusual to see heterosexual couples on Oxford Street. The QVB is short for the Queen Victoria Building, a former warehouse that has been made over into a up-market shopping centre.

Whose brilliant idea was it to send us out for this mission wearing our leather uniforms? It's not as if we're fighting on this trip. It's not even as if we have to protect our real identities. We're actually here representing the school, not as X-Men.

Charles got a phone call a few weeks ago, someone in Sydney, Australia had heard about our school and put the pieces together that we're effectively Mutant High. I'm surprised more people don't, the clues are certainly there if you look for them. The caller was a mutant millionaire wanting to set up a similar school in one of the outer suburbs of Sydney. According to our contact, it could openly be a school for mutants, none of this "gifted youngsters" euphemistic nonsense. He said that Australia's attitude towards mutants is more relaxed and open, so his school could just be about giving mutants a place to belong and teaching them to control their powers, not about protecting them "from a world that fears and hates them." Why do I always think of it that way? What did Charles do, stamp it on our grey matter in inch high letters? So we got sent out here to advise him. I must say, I don't see much difference, we're still getting the strange looks as we walk down the street. Where are we anyway? Ah, Oxford Street in Sydney proper. This place is weird, all of the little bedroom communities are actually considered part of the city, not like New York where half of them are in another state.

The four of us are here, Scott, Logan, 'Ro and me. I'm tempted to peek into heads to see if there is any difference in the way people think about mutants. But that would be unethical, and I'm afraid of what I'd find. We're supposed to be meeting the man who called us tonight, but now we're just wandering, getting a feel for the place. The feel I'm getting is pretty much the same as home, only difference is that people seem less inclined to yell insults or resort to violence. They still give us odd looks. Sydney's a beautiful city though, I'd love to live here even if people's attitudes are the same as at home. I almost died when the train we were on pulled into Circular Quay Station, I never expected to see such a breath-taking view while on mass transit. I mean sitting on a scuzzy, graffitti-defaced, somewhat dirty train, and we get this view of the Sydney Harbour, bridge, Opera House, the whole shebang from far enough above street height to have an unimpeded view. I tuck a loose strand of my long red hair behind my ear, it keeps falling in my eyes today, and drop back to talk to 'Ro. Logan moves forward to join Scott.

Wow! That's odd, I've been walking with 'Ro for a few minutes and the looks have stopped. This is strange, no one's even giving us a second glance. Not that I mind, but it's weird. I just have to figure out what's going on. I'll just drop my shields a bit and see what I pick up from someone. That young man looks likely.

Let's see. Shopping. There's the Toolshed, can't afford anything today, not if I want to get the clothes I need. Ooh, that dark brawny guy is delicious. All that leather. Great ass. Too bad he's got a boyfriend. I should head over to the QVB if I actually want to do anything but window shop.

That's odd. I'll try again. That woman.

Oooh, tall, handsome, slightly dark. That would make me a happy woman. Wonder if that visor means he's a mutant. Could be fun, too bad he's gay. It's a shame, going around in all that tight leather and both gay and taken.

Okay, this is really strange. I grab 'Ro's arm. "Ororo, I want to try an experiment. You go back to walking with Logan and I'll walk with Scott. I'll explain in a minute." She looks surprised at the excitement in my voice, but agrees. We swap back to our previous positions and I wait to see if the looks return. Bingo. Just need to confirm it. What does that young man think?

Ooh, nice redhead, and stacked. Would love a piece of that. Too bad she's got a boyfriend. Looks like a mutant boyfriend at that. That's something you don't see everyday, straight couples on Oxford Street.

I'm smiling now, probably grinning like an idiot given the look Scott is giving me. One last person. I'll try that girl.

Hets on Oxford Street, what is the world coming to? I'd love to show that black chick with the white hair what it's like to love a woman. Wonder if she dyes it...

I burst out laughing and stagger over to a store front, rapidly dissolving into hysteria. This is just too rich.

"Jean, what is it? What's so funny?" Scott's hovering again. I'll explain as soon as I catch my breath.

"Yeah, Red, come on, spill it. Let us in on the joke."

"The looks..." that's all I manage to stammer before the giggles start again.

"What's so funny about them? We get strange looks all the time." Logan lowers his voice a bit, "We are mutants after all, and some of us are pretty obvious too."

"That's just it Logan. It's not that we're mu... mu... mutants." More giggles. "It's not even the leather."

Scott is looking rather concerned. "What is it then?"

"It's that we're straight and in this part of town."

"What?" Cool, the three of them said that almost in chorus.

"Most of the stores here cater to gay men, people are surprised to see what appears to be two straight couples. They couldn't care less that we're mutants." The others finally get the joke and the four of us stand around on the footpath laughing ourselves into incoherence. Maybe Australia really is different.

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