Note: for intro and info, please see Teaser
Scott and Hank led the last of the prisoners back to the mouth of
the tunnel, where they found Rogue and Jubilee waiting for them. "I
ran into Mr. Wagner and Rogue in the hallway," Jubilee
explained. "He told us to stay here to wait for you. He's bringing
all the people we found back to the other building."
"Good, my thoughts exactly," Scott replied. "Hank, you and the
girls take the rest of these folks back as well. I'm going back to
"Right." Hank gestured at Rogue and Jubilee to lead the way,
following once all the prisoners were in the tunnel. He paused at
the entrance and looked back. "Scott," he said quietly, "be
"Put him down," Logan growled, his eyes fixed on Bobby's thrashing
form. The young man was running out of air and Logan knew it.
"Make me," Sabretooth replied. He held Bobby between himself and
Logan like a shield. No matter which way Logan tried to approach
the other man, Bobby ended up in the way.
Behind him, Kitty was crying softly, still kneeling on the ground
where she had fallen. "I'm so sorry," she whispered. "I didn't
realize the wall was so thick. It took so much effort to get us
oh god, we were only trying to help
The sound of her weeping coupled with Bobby gasping for breath
overpowered Logan's hearing. He could smell their fear; he could
practically taste it. These were children in his care and they were
terrified and in danger, and he had to do something to protect
them. Unbidden, Logan felt a deep rage stirring in his belly. "Put
him down," he reiterated through clenched teeth. Sabretooth only
With a roar, Wolverine launched himself at the other man, ducking
low at the last instant and swiping between Bobby's dangling legs at
Sabretooth's knees. The large man went down with a roar, dropping
Bobby in the process. Wolverine picked the boy up by his jacket and
threw him backwards towards Kitty. His claws were already red with
his enemy's blood. Cold-eyed, he advanced on the wounded man.
Sabretooth was struggling to get to his feet; his left knee torn to
shreds and unable to support his weight. Snarling, the big cat
lashed out at Wolverine, drawing blood of his own. The smaller man
ignored it; he could barely even feel the pain. Letting loose
another roar, he leapt upon Sabretooth, his claws bearing down with
impossible speed, again and again and again
At last, Logan sat back, panting. He gradually became aware of his
surroundings, hearing once more Kitty's soft cries. He stumbled
back from the body of his enemy, now limp and lifeless, and sat down
hard on the cement floor. Bringing his hands in front of him, he
stared at the silver claws, dripping with blood, that protruded from
"Is is he dead?" Bobby asked, voice quavering. This was the
second time that Bobby had seen Logan in full rage mode. When
Stryker's soldiers had attacked the school, he'd been petrified of
Logan's reaction, despite the fact that the older man had saved his
life. It wasn't any easier to accept this time around.
Logan's head snapped back at the sound of the younger man's voice.
He stared soullessly at the two teens for a moment before his eyes
showed any hint that he'd understood what Bobby was asking. Moving
in slow motion, he retracted his claws and stood up, leaning over
Well, leaning over what was left of the body. Sabretooth was little
more than a mass of blood and fur now, hacked to pieces, practically
unrecognizable. Logan used his body to shield the children from the
sight. "Yeah," he replied in a low voice. "He's dead." He turned,
still careful to stay between the kids and the dead man. "Let's
go." He ushered Kitty and Bobby out before him.
In the doorway, he paused and took one last glance
back. `Sabretooth isn't getting up from this fight', he thought
grimly. For a moment, he contemplated thinking about the
implications of that the knowledge that Sabretooth had taken to
his death but it was too much. Grimacing, he turned away for
Scott caught up to them as they rounded a corner. "Is everything
all right?" he asked, a bit breathless.
"It's fine," Logan replied shortly, not even slowing down. "Where's
"Hank, Rogue, and Jubilee took the last of the prisoners down
there's a tunnel that connects to another building. It's secure."
"You found Rogue and Jubilee?" Logan sounded relieved.
more like they found us. Long story. What are Kitty and
Bobby doing here?"
"I don't know. Why don't you ask them?" Without a backward glance,
Logan stalked off in the direction Scott had indicated. Kitty and
Bobby trailed in his wake.
"Hold it." Scott's voice brooked no argument. "What the hell
happened here? What are you doing here?" Kitty looked at the
floor, her face pale, and refused to speak. "That isn't a
rhetorical question," Scott continued angrily.
Finally Bobby spoke up. "We came to help. We came to find Rogue."
"You're trying to tell me that Professor Xavier just let you come
"The Professor thinks I'm driving Kitty to Boston." Bobby shrugged
at Scott's bewildered look. "Apparently there's some investigation
by the Ministry of Education because of the big scene at the mall."
He gestured vaguely at the girl beside him. "People saw Kitty walk
through walls, so she has to hide at the church where Mr. Wagner
used to live until it's all figured out. Rogue, Jubilee and Logan
have to go, too."
Scott stared at Bobby wordlessly, his mind racing. Something had
obviously happened with Logan and he probably needed to get back to
the mansion, where he would be safe. And these people needed help.
But if the school was under investigation, it was the last place a
man with laser eyes, a furry blue doctor and a teleporter with a
tail should be showing up, especially with thirty-odd freed mutant
prisoners in tow.
"We're all going to Boston," he decided out loud. "We've got to
stay as far away from the school as possible. Let's go."
Charles Xavier suddenly looked up from his tea, his eyes somewhat
"What is it? Is it Logan?" Storm half stood from her seat, her eyes
locked on the man across from her.
"No," he replied and she sat back down disappointed. "It's the
Ministry of Education. They're on their way."
Storm smoothed her skirt across her knees nervously. In the thirty-
five minutes that had passed between the moment Charles had first
sensed the Ministry investigators on their way and now, she'd been
caught in a whirlwind of activity. First, she'd had to find a safe
place for all the students whose mutations couldn't be hidden. Then
there was the matter of ensuring that the Danger Room, the jet
hangar and Cerebro were inaccessible to even the most snoopy of
visitors. Additionally, she'd done a sweep of every room in the
house to make sure no one had left anything incriminating lying
about. Finally, she'd lectured the kids one last time on the
importance of acting normally.
Now she was sitting in the staff room pretending to read a magazine,
her cup of coffee sitting untouched on the table beside her. Storm
sighed. She'd grown up in a small African village, where once her
power had manifested she'd been worshipped as a goddess. When she
came to America, she'd been homeless, living as a thief, until
Charles had found her. Then she became a mutant student, and then
an X Man. What did she know about being normal? She straightened
her skirt again. How could she possibly pull this off?
Storm was so lost in her own fears and worries that the doorbell
made her jump. Above the sound of her heart suddenly pounding, she
heard one of the students get up to answer it. Muted voices
exchanged words in the foyer and William appeared at the staff room
doorway, saying, "Ms. Munroe? Some people from the Ministry of
Education are here."
"Thank you, William," she replied, standing up and smoothing her
skirt down one last time. She walked toward the main entrance as
though on automatic. William had sounded so natural. He hadn't
slipped up and said `they're here' as though the investigators had
been expected. He hadn't looked frightened or nervous at all.
Storm, on the other hand, felt as though she might faint or throw up
at any moment.
Turning the corner and entering the foyer, she plastered a smile on
her face. "Good afternoon," she said, injecting her voice with as
much surprised pleasantness as she could muster. "My name is Ororo
Munroe. I'm the History teacher here at Xavier's School for the
Gifted. How can I help you?"
The first half of the visit seemed to go very well. Storm
introduced the four solemn Ministry investigators to the students
who were lounging in the recreation room, sending William off to get
Professor Xavier while she made small talk about the mansion's
history and architecture. Charles arrived in record time,
apologizing that their other teachers were absent. "They've taken a
few of the older students to Boston for the day," he explained as he
wheeled in front of the small group, taking over as tour guide. "We
do try to give our students as many opportunities as possible for
unique educational experiences."
Together, Storm and Charles showed the investigators the different
classrooms, describing the curriculum and assessments they
used. "Everything is state approved, of course," Storm added as
they left her classroom, "but we do adapt the assessment tools. We
give the students a bit more freedom to write essays and the like
instead of responding to standardized tests. Because we have so few
students, we find the extra marking isn't a burden to us."
The students were as good as you please, polite and out of the way.
One of the investigators wandered away from the group and back to
recreation room, where she began chatting informally with the
students gathered there. Charles listened in with his telepathic
powers and was pleased to hear his children acting like regular
children they were happy, chatty and enthusiastic, but not
abnormal. He listened as one girl, Claire, gushed about going to
see the movie Troy, and how, yeah, sure it was cool to see because
of the story but also did you see Brad Pitt? He was wearing
practically nothing the whole time! The Ministry investigator
laughed genuinely, and Charles smiled. Beside him, Storm noticed
his smile and visibly relaxed.
After the tour and the informal interviews with the students, the
investigators retired with Charles to his office, where he reviewed
the school policies and financial situation with them. They emerged
half an hour later looking generally satisfied. "Professors," one
of them said, shaking their hands one after the other, "thank you
for your time. We are greatly impressed with your facilities, and I
have no doubt that our report will lay to rest any questions that
the Ministry might have."
"Thank you very much for coming," Charles responded in kind.
They were almost clear, with no accidents, and they would have made
it, too, if Candace, one of the students, hadn't chosen that exact
moment to come running down the stairs shouting, "Ms. Munroe! Ms.
Munroe! Ryan said that he was going to put frogs in my gym clothes
and he meant it
" her rant trailed off into a wordless shriek as the
girl lost her footing and went tumbling down the stairs.
Storm felt as though she might shriek also. Her gasp of shock at
the possibility of a student falling and cracking her head open was
replaced by a sudden stillness as Candace thrust her arms out to her
sides, flipped over the in the air and hovered for a moment before
gracefully floating to the bottom of the stairs. Just as she was
putting her feet back on the ground, she looked up and met the
eyes of one of the investigators. He cocked his head to one side
and looked pointedly at the six inches of empty space between
Candace's feet and the ground.
Storm felt her heart pounding as the moment of stillness ended and
the reality of what she'd just witnessed came crashing into her. It
was over, oh God, it was all over. They knew that they were all
mutants how could they not, after such a display? They'd shut down
the school for sure. Beside her, she felt Charles stiffen, and she
could tell that he was debating whether to use his telepathic powers
to manipulate the man into believing he hadn't seen what Candace had
done. Candace herself looked as though she was going to cry. She
slowly set herself down and stared at her now firmly planted feet.
Storm looked anxiously up at the man, who had turned from Candace to
regard the teachers with that same piercing stare. Just as she was
about to open her mouth to plead, he winked at her.
"Well," he said, "gifted or not, it sounds like boys will be boys."
He looked back to Candace and smiled conspiratorially. "You know, I
bet if Ryan ever found frogs in his gym shorts, he'd never, ever do
it again." Candace looked up at him in shock, barely able to
smile. He winked at her, too, then raised a hand in farewell as he
hurried to catch up with his work colleagues, who had already exited
the building. Just as he was slipping through the door, his lifted
hand began to shimmer. It turned a pearly white color for just a
moment, and then disappeared. It was as though his hand never
existed. After a moment, it rematerialized, settling back into its
natural color as he lowered it and left the building, catching up to
the others as they approached the car.
Everyone in the room sighed and visibly relaxed. Storm hurried over
to Candace's side and engulfed her in a big hug, too relieved to
even think about scolding her. "That was a lucky break!" she
exclaimed to no one in particular.
"Does that mean everything's okay, then, Ms. Munroe?" Candace asked
as the teacher released her.
"Yes, I think things will be all right," she replied, smiling.
"So that means that Logan and the others can come home now?"
Storm's smile faded. She looked over at Charles and saw him shaking
his head mournfully.
"No," he replied softly. "It's far too dangerous. We might have
passed the inspection, but I have no doubt that the Ministry of
Education will keep us under closer scrutiny than we have had to
endure before. We simply can't risk them being spotted by anyone."
A low protest rose around the room, as the students voiced their
opinion about how unfair the situation was. Storm raised a hand to
silence them. "I know, I know," she sympathized, "but this is the
safest way. It's only temporary." That seemed to pacify the
students, and they gradually drifted off to their own affairs. When
the room had cleared, Storm looked over at Charles, anxiety obvious
in her face. "It will be temporary, right? This anti-mutant
sentiment will die down again?"
Charles didn't smile reassuringly at her, which was troubling. "I
hope so," he replied in his soft tone. "I pray it's so."