Cyclops made the first move, flinging open the tunnel door. Stubborn
bastard was outside, just like Logan figured. And his fiery beam
would have taken off Magneto's head, too, except the man bent down
just then, frantically beating at the rat galloping up his leg.
Naturally, when the ray of fire splattered on the ceiling the
sprinklers turned on. Logan grimaced and shook the water out of his
Right on the heels of Cyclops, rushed Storm, crackling with anger and
little lightning bolts. A small tornado caught up Toad, whirled him
round and round as he ricocheted off the walls. Logan grinned. Wasn't
there some joke about a frog in a blender?
Jean was holding her own with Mystique, rather, holding Mystique
hostage in mid-air. Meanwhile, the wolves and the lynx were having
the time of their lives, cavorting about and chasing the rats, which
were humping over each other to escape and climbing up anything
vertical. Magneto was doing the Irish jig, kicking, prancing,
shouting, waving his arms. The bastard was in damn good shape. Logan
Fawn was running from wolf to lynx to wolf, trying to get them under
control, but it was a matter of too many cooks in the kitchenor in
this case, too many rats in the labthat unraveled the rescue.
Cyclops was zapping little flame darts at the scurrying floor around
his feet and it was pure luck the guy didn't burn off a toe. Two rat
armies chose the same moment to scale both Storm and Jean and the
women shrieked, dropping Toad and Mystique respectively as they
batted off rodents.
Toad was out of it, Logan judged. The little creep was sprawled
nearby looking greener than ever. Logan leaned toward him. "You
"Gurk . . . "
Logan hastily jerked away and stared with all his concentration in
the opposite direction in time to see Mystique gather herself off the
floor and head for Jean, tongue flicking and gold eyes flashing. He
was awkwardly clambering to his feet to go to the woman's aid when
Rogue, already at Jean's side, stretched out a fingertip, touched a
clenched blue fist.
"'Scuse me, Ah wouldn't do that if Ah were you."
Mystique started, shuddered, slumped, curled into a pool of bright
Logan looked around. Only Magneto was left, but he was crouched in a
corner, quivering, whimpering, held at bay by a plague of rats. Logan
went over to him, gingerly sweeping aside vermin with his bare feet.
The all-powerful Magneto shrunken into a frightened, sniveling
huddle! Logan had expected to gloat, instead he felt a surge of pity.
Before him was a broken, weeping old man. But wait a goddam minute
This was the bastard who had imprisoned him! Tortured him!
Manipulated him for his own crazy, fanatic reasons! He lifted a hand
to strikenoticed with surprise and pleasure that it did lift,
painlessly, surelythen hesitated, lowered it, gently squeezed the
"Hey. Hey, it's okay."
"Get them off! Get them off me! Please!"
"Sure. You just take it easy. I'll get rid of 'em."
Logan spun around, shot out his claws, snarled, stamped, growled. The
tide of rats turned with frantic squeaks. "I'm the biggest damn cat
you'll ever see!" he shouted after the fleeing rats.
The wolves and the lynx had finally understood that they were rat
wranglers and were joyfully herding the rodents out of the lab
followed by a harried Fawn. Storm and Jean were clinging to each
other in a tremulous hug while Cyclops stood around looking shame-
faced. Toad was still being sick by the wall, Mystique was in for a
long night's sleep, and Rogue
"Hey, y'all, look at me! Elvis lives!"
The Blackbird was packed. Fawn waved them off. She was really sorry
about Dr. Lehnsherr. She only knew he didn't like rats for some
reason, but rats are so smart! Well, anyway she'd come down to the
school later when Scott returned to the base for his motorcycle. She
planned to finish her studies. She was definitely going to be a vet.
Or maybe a zoologist. But first she had to say goodbye to her animal
Cyclops consulted copilot Storm and the heavy load lifted with a
wobble. Behind the pilot was a shattered Magneto with Jean kneeling
beside him in the aisle, attempting to soften his childhood memories
of the concentration camprats attacking the weak and sick, rats
feeding on the living. On the floor at the back of the cabin was the
lump that was Toad and the curl that was Mystique. And in the last
seat was Logan with a facsimile of himself perched on his lap.
"Now Ah got claws, too," Wolvie Jr. was saying. "Ah'm big. Ah'm bad.
Ah'm mean. Ah'm WolveREEEEEEN!"
"Quiet!" Cyclops snapped.
Logan grinned. "Better not bug the pilot, kid."
"Sure thing, honey." And Marilyn Monroe gave him a hug.
Thank God it wasn't Elvis! he thought. A light struck him in the eyes
and he squinted, looked out the window. The sun was coming up. Logan
suddenly realized that he hadn't seen the sun for more than two
months. He watched the dawn's bright rays chase away the mist, chase
away the dark. Renewed life flooded the earth in a brilliant, golden
wave. Logan took a deep breath. It had been a long night.
Xavier met the Blackbird, knowing more or less who and what to expect
from Scott's somewhat disjointed radio message. Authorities took away
Toad. Mystique and Magneto were placed on stretchers and attended by
doctors. Scott seemed disgruntled. Jean and Storm appeared tired and
frayed around the edges. A huge, black football player bounded out of
the craft. Xavier started. Someone famous, he knew, but he couldn't
place the name.
"Hiya, Teach!" And Rogue charged for the elevator, eager to show off
her new toy.
Logan emerged last wearing only a pair of jeans. He looked thin,
pale, drawn, his hair frizzy as if it had been subjected to heat. But
Xavier noticed that the wild, hunted tension that habitually shadowed
the man's eyes was missing. Instead . . . Was it peace? And if Logan
felt more at peace with himself, then he was more at peace with the
"It's good to see you, Logan. Welcome home."
"Yeah. Thanks, Chuck. It's good to be . . . home."
"Did you find your past?"
Logan's eyes flicked away, back. "I found my present. And that's
enough." He gave a rueful laugh. "For now."