Note: for intro and info, see Teaser.
Storm drove as quickly as she dared, Kitty slouching in the seat
beside her, and fortunately they arrived at the Xavier Institute
without incident. Charles met them at the door. "We may have a
serious problem," he said by way of greeting.
Storm quirked an eyebrow at him. "You mean, beyond the fact that
Logan has been captured by people who obviously mean him harm
again?" She replied. Charles didn't even grant her a ghost of a
smile, and she immediately sobered up. "What's happened?"
"Do you remember the incident at Bobby Drake's home in Boston?"
"Of course. Pyro blew up four police cars. How could I forget?"
"Well, unfortunately, there were other consequences aside from the
loss of vehicles that day. When the police questioned Bobby's
parents, they said that he'd identified Logan as a teacher at this
school. Somehow some reporter got wind of this, and after what
happened in the mall today, he put two and two together
voice trailed away at the implication.
Storm's hand flew to her mouth. "Oh my god. What's going to happen
to the school?"
Charles looked at her somberly. "I've just received a phone call
from the Ministry of Education. They will be conducting a thorough
investigation. Storm if they find out what kind of school this
they could do a lot worse than shut us down."
Kitty had been observing the conversation quietly, but at the last
statement she finally spoke up. "What? How could they? There's no
law against having a school for mutants!" Her face flushed with
"No," Storm replied gently. "But there is a law against harboring
criminals. And in the eyes of the officials, that's exactly what
Kitty swallowed against the heavy realization. "And me," she
replied, her eyes wide.
Storm's eyes filled with compassion, but she wouldn't deny the
truth. "And you," she affirmed.
"I think that we've lost them. You can probably slow down now,"
Jubilee commented after quite some time had passed. Wherever they
had been, they were now back on the highway, rushing back toward
Westchester at breakneck speed.
"We have to get back to the professor," Rogue replied distractedly,
her eyes on the road. "Logan is in serious trouble."
"He seems to have a knack for it," Jubilee replied. Rogue looked at
"He saved my life!" she exclaimed. "And he was there for *everyone*
after Dr. Grey died, and he helped rebuild the school. He's only
gotten into trouble once where he needed help. He's even doing
better than you."
Jubilee flushed, both angry and guilty. Although it had been nearly
a year, she still clearly remembered the helplessness and fear that
had overwhelmed her when Stryker's men had kidnapped her and five
other children, taking them to Alkali Lake and imprisoning them deep
beneath the dam. "I'm sorry," she replied after a moment.
"Me too." Rogue spared her a quick smile before returning her eyes
to the highway. A glint of metal caught her eye, speeding past them
in the other direction. "Hey," she said, sitting up a little
straighter, and even risking a quick glance behind her. "Wasn't
that Scott's car?"
Scott, Hank and Kurt headed down the highway, operating on the best
information they had. Charles had managed to get a lock on Rogue
and Jubilee, and pinpointed their location. They had driven east
for nearly 100 miles and then stopped briefly, before turning
directly around and driving back west. They had no idea what was
going on, but they figured that whatever the soldier had planned,
they had to have stopped for something. The three men were
therefore heading toward the location where the girls had turned
Scott glanced over at his fellow X-Men. Kurt had fallen asleep in
the back seat, as he always did. Car travel seemed to do that to
him. Hank was awake, but he had been sitting very quietly for the
duration of the ride. "What's on your mind?" he asked.
Hank started, as though he'd forgotten he wasn't alone. "Oh!" he
exclaimed, placing one hand to his heart. "I was lost in thought."
"I see that. What were you thinking about?"
"Scientific experiments." Hank's voice was very soft, and tinged
with remorse. Scott took a longer look at his friend.
"Hank?" he queried. The big man sighed.
"Before I came to the school, I was a scientist," he
said. "Primarily, I was engaged in the study of human genes. I
wanted to understand how mutations worked why is it that there are
so many mutants, but such little repetition of mutant abilities?
Nature works by repetition, generally. Every cell contains all of
our DNA. Our genetic make up is thus repeated over and over again,
thousands of cells, exactly the same. But how many other big furry
blue beasts do you know? Or men who shoot death rays out of their
"It's a puzzling question," Scott agreed, not entirely sure where
the conversation was going.
"But that's precisely the point I approach it as a puzzle,
something to figure out. How am I any different from the men who
experimented on Logan?"
Scott was shocked. "How could you even compare yourself to them?"
he exclaimed. "They they were butchers. They cut him up and
tried to turn him into a machine. That's not science, Hank. It's
"But I would have done the same, if Kurt had not pointed out to me
that Logan was uncomfortable with the idea. Before I came to the
Institute, I never even thought twice about the consequences of my
"The Institute has that effect on people," Kurt offered from the
back seat. He sat up, yawning, having woken up from his doze when
he heard his name.
Hank twisted to look back at the blue man. "What do you mean?"
Kurt shrugged. "Before I came to the Institute, it never occurred
to me that I shouldn't spend my whole life hiding away from all
people. Now I couldn't imagine living without my friends, but only
a few short years ago I believed I needed no one." He gazed out the
window, lost in thought. "It is a place that changes you, my
"What is it?" Scott had been nodding along with Kurt's commentary,
but kept his eyes on the road.
"I must be more tired than I realized," Kurt replied. "I could have
sworn I just saw young Rogue drive by us in an army jeep."
Finally his hands had been released, but Logan only had a brief
respite in which to restore his circulation before the soldiers were
securing them against the wall by his sides and he was trussed up
just like Sabretooth. The other mutant snarled at him from a few
feet away. "Should have figured they'd catch you, runt. You're too
short to get away."
"Yeah, well, obviously your height advantage was counterbalanced by
your stupidity, Bub," Logan shot back.
Sabretooth pulled his lips back in a snarl, revealing his fang-like
teeth. "They caught me by surprise," he defended, eyes narrowed.
Logan just shook his head. There was just something about
Sabretooth that made his blood boil, but he couldn't put his finger
on it, and he couldn't afford to lose his temper. Right now,
Sabretooth was the closest thing to an ally that he had, and he had
to get out of wherever they were so he could make sure the girls
were safe. Logan took a deep breath to calm himself, and then
asked, "How long have you been here?"
Sabretooth regarded him suspiciously. "Why do you want to know?"
Logan bit his tongue to keep from lashing out. "I'm only trying to
find out what you know about this place, so we can start figurin' a
way outta here."
The other man let out a short, mirthless laugh. "Ha! Don't you
think that if there was a way out of here, I'd have found it
Logan sighed. "I'm just saying that maybe between the two of us,
we'll be able to figure it out." Sabretooth offered no
reply. "Look, Bub," Logan finally snapped, "*I* will be leaving,
and you can either help and come or stay chained to this wall
until they decide how they want to kill you."
There was silence from the other end of the room, and then
Sabretooth replied, very quietly, "That's not what they're planning
to do, Logan."
Logan felt a sudden chill wash over him. "What do you mean?"
"You really don't remember." It was a statement, not a question.
The words hit Logan like sledgehammers. "What are you talking
about?" Logan twisted in his bonds, trying to get a better look at
Sabretooth's face, desperate for information. "What do you know
Sabretooth let out a dark little laugh. "More than you could
Storm sank into a chair in the staff room, feeling wrung out. Kitty
had gone up to her room to rest and Charles had suggested a cup of
tea, but Storm's mug sat unattended in front of her. "Charles."
She picked up her tea, stared at it mindlessly and put it back down
again. "What are we going to do? You know as well as I do what
will happen if they send someone out here to investigate. Mutant
schools might not be against the law, but they're hardly going to
tolerate it. Once they know what we're doing here, they'll use any
excuse to shut us down!"
Charles had regained some of his usual calm, but his eyes were
fiercely determined. "Then we will have to ensure that we give them
absolutely no reason to find our establishment suspect," he replied.
"But what about Logan?" She exclaimed. "Just his presence makes us
"I'm aware of that, Ororo."
The use of her given name gave Storm pause. She looked up at
Charles with shocked eyes as the implication of his statement sunk
in. "You're suggesting we kick Logan out of the mansion? He has
nowhere to go. We'd be condemning him to the life of a fugitive."
"I'm merely saying that it is important that it appear that Logan
never taught here indeed, that he only stayed here for a very
short while, when Rogue first joined us. I believe that the
incident at Bobby's house can be smoothed over, especially if he is
willing to say that he lied to his parents about Logan's status at
"And what about the girls?" Storm pressed. She didn't like the
direction this was going at all.
Charles sighed. "Rogue and Jubilee are out of our hands now. If by
some grace they are returned to us, then hopefully they have not
revealed their powers, and we can convince the authorities that they
were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Kitty, however
he trailed off.
"They saw her walk through walls," Storm finished grimly. "We can't
just send her on her way, Charles. Logan can take care of himself;
he's done it for years. But Kitty's just a girl!"
"We won't be sending anyone on their way, Storm. I promise you
that. But we do need to consider how we are going to handle this
inspection visit. We have to be very careful. And Kitty is going
to have to go somewhere else somewhere safe until we are no
longer under suspicion."
"I think I know a place. First things first, though you and I are
currently the only teachers here, and we need to have a school
meeting." Charles rolled toward the door. Storm squared her
shoulders and followed.
Rogue and Jubilee managed to get about eight miles further along
before Rogue suddenly pulled over to the side of the road, slamming
on the brakes. "Uh, everything okay?" Jubilee asked, eyeing the
other girl as though she'd grown a new head.
Rogue threw her hands up in frustration. "No!" she exclaimed. "No,
everything is not okay! Logan is there, with those soldiers, going
through God-knows-what because he thinks that we're in danger and
we're not! And I swear that was Scott speeding past us
right to where we just got out of!"
Jubilee nodded. "Uh-huh. And?"
"And?!" Rogue's voice jumped a notch and Jubilee winced. "They're
headed that way because they're looking for us! Professor Xavier
must have been able to locate us using Cerebro. But we're not there
but the Professor would know that, Rogue. You said we had to
get back to the mansion."
Jubilee's logic only stopped Rogue for a moment. "Well, it doesn't
matter. The point is that Logan's in trouble, and he needs our
help. We're going back there." She wrenched the jeep around
furiously, laying rubber as she sped across the lanes over to the
other side of the highway. Jubilee clutched at the armrest and
tried not to fly into the dashboard.
do I get a say in this?" she asked. Rogue whipped around her
in her seat to glare at the other girl with a ferocity Jubilee had
never seen in her friend. At the same time, the jeep weaved
dangerously in the lane. "Never mind," she finished in a small
voice. "Just please watch the road."