Disclaimer, etc., in Prologue
I don't like crowds, and there were approximately a gazillion people in
Times Square by early evening. The other X-Men formed a little shield
around me, keeping people away, and I had worn my old hood over my
We got a few strange looks as we made our way through the crowd; but
this was New York, after all. People seemed to mostly take our strange
outfits in stride.
Professor Xavier had warned city officials about the danger, but they
refused to cancel the celebration -- or even to warn the public of the
risk -- so he had sent us here to search for the girl. Logan might have
been the only one to voice his opinion of the "wild goose chase," but I
can guarantee he wasn't the only one with those thoughts.
Scott had earlier divided us into teams of two, and we all split off
from each other to search the crowd for Spark. The professor had
obtained some photos of her from high school, and Storm said they were
still fairly accurate, but none of us really knew where to look. Storm,
who was paired with Remy, thought that she would be able to find the
girl. For the rest of us, though, she was a needle in a huge-ass
A little after 11, Logan and I were leaning up against a building,
letting the crowd push and shove around us. Neither one of us feels
comfortable around that many people, and I for one was feeling
claustrophobic and depressed. I knew there was little we could do to
stop Spark, but that didn't stop me from feeling almost nauseous from
I leaned my head on Logan's shoulder and looked up at him, and he smiled
tiredly. He'd spent most of the night trying to keep people away from me
instead of looking for Spark. Both seemed to be losing battles anyway.
"We're not going to find her," I said.
Logan stared at something in the distance. "Maybe she'll show herself,"
he said slowly. "Rogue ... what do you see?"
I followed his gaze. Two buildings along a side street nearby were dark.
As far as I could remember, they had been blazing with lights when we'd
walked by a few minutes before. "Let's go," I said, grabbing his hand.
He plowed a path through the crowd. It's not as hard as it sounds; even
the really drunk people tended to get out of his way when he was
scowling like that. People packed in like sardines suddenly found room
for us when he growled at them. I grabbed the mini communicator that was
clipped to my belt and hollered into it. "Cyclops!"
If he answered, the noises of the street were too loud for me to hear. I
switched to the open channel that would contact all the X-Men and yelled
our position into it. "We've got a blackout!"
A couple of women rammed into me, and the communicator flew out of my
hand. Logan kept charging through the crowd, dragging me along for the
ride. I just prayed my message had made it through.
We skidded to a halt in front of the buildings just as the entire block
I scanned the block and pointed. A huge banner across the front of a
theater at the end of the block advertised the Governor's Fund-Raising
Gala. "If she's looking for a high-profile place to blast ..." I said.
Logan nodded, and we headed for the theater. We were stopped at the door
by a tall, thin man in a tux. "Invitation?" he asked wrinkling his nose
at our uniforms.
"Here's your invitation, bub," Logan snapped, waving metal claws in his
face. We pushed our way through the people and disappeared into the
I couldn't see anything, but Logan apparently could, since he never
faltered. I could smell 20 different kinds of perfume, and I imagined
all these high-society women in fancy dresses with bare arms, waiting to
brush up against me so I could drain the life out of them. I pulled my
hood tighter and wrapped my arms around Logan's waist, burying my face
in his back. It slowed us down a lot, but I wasn't going to risk losing
him in this crowd or accidentally killing someone who touched me.
Theater employees, all dressed in tuxes, appeared with flashlights,
trying to calm the nervous crowd. Logan snatched a flashlight out of one
man's hand, silencing his protest with a growl. He managed to find a
door that led backstage, and we raced through the halls, searching
behind every door. All we found were two empty dressing rooms, a closet
and a prop room.
We left the prop room and ran straight into a security guard.
"What are you doing here?" he asked unsteadily. He reeked of alcohol,
and I realized he'd been celebrating the New Year a little early. "You
can't be here," he said slowly.
Logan grabbed him by the collar and hauled him up on his toes. "Breaker
"What?" the guy choked out, and I sighed.
"Logan, you're scaring him. Let him go." Logan eased his grip a
fraction, and I smiled at the guard. "We need to find the breaker box.
It's an emergency."
The guard looked uncertain, but apparently the alcohol -- combined with
Logan's glare and grip on his neck -- was enough to convince him.
"Roof," he gasped, and Logan dropped him back on his feet, where he
swayed slightly and braced himself on the wall. "You c'n get there from
the balcony, but you need a key."
"No we don't." Logan grabbed my hand again, and we left the guard
standing there, rubbing his neck. He probably called the police two
seconds after we left, but that was fine with me. The more, the merrier.
We went back out into the crowd and pushed our way up the stairs to the
balcony. By now, the employees had lit candles all over the place, and
the party was going on as if nothing had happened.
Logan spotted a door in the corner. Despite what the guard said, it was
unlocked, and Logan looked a little disappointed that he wouldn't get to
slice and dice it. I rolled my eyes and shoved him through the door and
onto the stairs.
"What're we going to do?" I whispered.
"I'm hoping we can surprise her," he said. "Then ... I don't know. Try
to knock her out?"
"Before she electrocutes us?"
Logan shrugged and crept silently up the stairs. Not that it mattered,
really; the music had resumed downstairs, and it sounded like the party
was in full swing without electricity.
Logan eased open the door at the top of the stairs. I waited behind him,
nervously tapping my fingers against my thigh as he peeked out. A moment
later, he leaned dangerously close to my ear and whispered. "Two
security guards ... unconscious. Still breathing. There's a little shed
to the left. The door's open, and someone's inside. Wait here."
I grabbed his arm. "Why?"
"I'm just gonna check it out."
"Logan," I hissed. "You're no safer than I am with her. If she zaps you,
all the healing power you've got won't save you from being a
He looked blankly at me, and I sighed. "Metal skeleton? Electricity?
Logan scowled. "Just wait here."
He pulled his arm away and slipped outside. I moved up to the door and
watched him move silently toward the shed. The professor had counted on
Storm being the one to find Spark, and we were supposed to contact her
if we found anything. I remembered, too late, that Logan also had a
communicator, and I cursed myself for that mistake. It could get a lot
of people killed.
I stared at the two security guards knocked out nearby and I prayed that
Scott -- or any of the X-Men -- had heard my call for help. Heck, I'd
have even been thrilled to see someone from the NYPD.
Logan was at the little shed, claws out, and I gripped the doorframe and
held my breath as he disappeared from view. There was a bright flash,
and Logan came flying out the door, landing in a crumpled heap nearby,
twitching, his hair sticking up even more than usual.
I think my heart stopped for a second as I watched him in horror. I saw
him breathing, but he was unconscious, as far as I could tell.
So, I guess you're wondering. Did I immediately rush to fight the bad
guy -- or girl, in this case? Hell, no. At that point, I could care less
if Spark blew up the entire city, I just wanted to get Logan out of
there. Selfish, I know. So sue me.
I shoved the door open and started toward him when she came out of the
We stared at each other for a moment. She was beautiful in a fairy-tale
princess kind of way, with a heart-shaped face and golden hair that fell
just past her shoulders. She was dressed in black leather pants and a
deep blue, shimmery top. She was about to blow up a big chunk of the
city, and she looked like she was on her way to a party. She glanced at
Logan, still on the ground a few feet away from me.
"Awwwwwww," she said, her voice like honey. She tilted her head and
smiled brightly. "Did I hurt your puppy?"
Before I could answer -- I was planning to say something clever like
"you bitch!" -- Logan hauled himself to his feet, swaying slightly. "I
was just restin'" he said tiredly.
Spark laughed and raised a hand toward Logan. "Sorry, handsome. I don't
have time to play today."
Logan braced himself, and I knew he was going to rush her. I also knew
he wouldn't be able to take another jolt of power; it was a miracle he'd
survived the first.
So that was it. My life or his. I knew which one he'd choose; he'd done
it before. But this time, I wasn't unconscious, and I took the choice
away from him.
Taking a deep breath, I looked at Logan. "I love you," I said, and he
stared at me, stunned. I don't know how he could have been surprised,
but his shock gave me the time I needed.
I ran toward Spark as fast as I could, slamming into her. As I felt the
jolt of her power and mine connecting, the momentum carried us both over
the edge of the roof.
LOGAN: You gonna tell me to stay away from your girl?
SCOTT: If I had to do that, she wouldn't be my girl.