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FIC: Living unto Morning 1/1 PG-13 [L/R, S/J, G/O]

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  • Elisabeth A Shanley
    Title: Living unto Morning Author: Beth Email: eshanley@voyager.net Rating: PG-13, descriptions of violence, eating at Denny s Summary: Post mission
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 7 10:10 PM
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      Title: Living unto Morning
      Author: Beth
      Email: eshanley@...
      Rating: PG-13, descriptions of violence, eating at Denny's <g>
      Summary: Post mission story, a sort of angsty hunger related morality tale
      Codes: L/R, S/J, G/O, X, B
      Disclaimer: Not mine, making no money, just doin' it for the love
      Archive: List, all others please ask.
      Author's Notes: So I say to Jenn, wish someone would write them at Denny's.
      (Don't ask why, if I knew that I prolly would have been able to sleep more
      than 14 hrs in the last 96) So Jenn says write it, it'll be fun. But
      apparently I couldn't do it the easy way.
      Thanks to Ann, Jenn, Diebin, and Donna for dietary suggestions.
      Special thanks to Ann, always willing to threaten to whump my plot bunnies. 8-)
      Feedback: Yes, please. I'm awful at responding, but it makes my world go
      round, really.
      Story notes:
      I'm assuming that the movie X-Men hadn't done a lot of fighting, mainly
      because they kept getting their patooties kicked. I mean Logan got his
      butt whumped by an underwear model (seriously, that drove me to new levels
      of nutty). At least they showed class and didn't put them in a tub of lime
      Jell-O. (I mentioned the lack of sleep, right? Don't mind me.) So I'm
      thinking they've done a lot more of the saving kind of thing, less of the
      fighting-until-someone-ain't-going-home kind of thing.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


      It was Tuesday morning.

      More precisely, it was 2:38 am on Tuesday.

      That might not sound very significant or profound, but when your team takes
      on The Brotherhood of Mutants in a rematch of the "Little Incident at the
      Statue of Liberty" on Monday night, living 'til Tuesday is a pretty big
      accomplishment.

      Xavier, in a rare thing for a mission, had gone with the team this
      time. He was a force to be reckoned with in his custom-made plastic
      wheelchair that Erik, were he to be 'released', would have no way to
      control. He was the only one not in the leather uniform, but even he
      looked worked over, his Armani suit rumpled and torn in places. A trail of
      Toad drool drying slimily on one shoulder. Blood drying to the color of
      dull rust on the expensive silk and linen. He rolled into the locker room
      and grimaced. Looking back with a look of despair as the others trailed
      slowly in - the look of a father who had sent his children to war.

      Maybe that was what he was.

      Maybe that was what he had done.

      He had hoped that it would never have to end this way, even when he built
      the danger room, when he armed them, when he taught them how to injure, and
      if necessary, kill.

      He has always looked for hope, looked for reason. Hoped that their enemies
      would see reason, and be enemies no longer. Hoped that they truly
      regretted the last encounter. That they would be willing to look at
      options other than violence.

      Professor Charles Xavier doesn't know if he will ever be able to find hope
      in this mess, ever.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Scott rubs his temples, careful not to nudge the visor barely hanging on
      his face. He continues to press a piece of bloodstained medical tricot to
      his cheek, the damage to both face and visor the results of a too close
      encounter with Sabretooth's claws. Holding his visor with one hand,
      putting the temporary bandage on the bench, Scott takes his other visor
      from the locker. Closing his eyes, he slips it on, wincing when it briefly
      grazes the cut on his face. Looking around, the leader of the X-Men frowns
      at the shape the others are in, but none have complained about having to
      fight the fight.

      They are professionals and they did their job, even if it meant getting
      banged up.

      He had known that this would happen, that there would be real fights,
      fights in which the other side wasn't scared of the plane or the
      uniforms. That the other side would be quite willing to kill them to get
      what they wanted.

      To be quite willing to be killed to get what they wanted.

      What concerns him most is he knows exactly how they feel. Had someone
      taken Xavier, had someone held Xavier in a box below the ground, the X-Men
      would have fought the same fight. In the back of his mind, there is the
      understanding of why the Brotherhood had done what they did, he knew that
      his team would have fought just as hard if faced with the same situation.

      And that scares him.

      Scott Summers, despite the nom de guerre Cyclops, doesn't like to view
      things through only one lens. Part of understanding is to get many sides,
      many views.

      So why can't he see what had to be done as anything other than a necessary
      evil?

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Jean and Hank walk into the locker room together, consulting as to the
      damage suffered by each member of the team. The team made out surprisingly
      well tonight, and they are relieved that most of the damage should repair
      itself, given time, and that the rest can be handled by bandages, ice packs
      and aspirin.

      Jean sighs to herself as she thinks about time, the doctor's staunchest
      ally and greatest enemy, depending on the situation. This time it's an
      ally, and she's glad. She can hardly believe how long this fight lasted,
      the clock on the wall reads 2:41am. It has definitely been a long
      day. Looking over at Scott, she winces at the cut on his face, she'll put
      some more medicine on it after he's cleaned up, it might not even leave a scar.

      But she doubts it. Tonight will leave a few scars for everyone. Even
      though they all know that this was what would have to be done. Even she
      knows it, but the knowledge doesn't make what she had to so sit better.

      Jean Grey doesn't want to use her powers to hurt anyone, but Mystique was
      going to kill Rogue, so she had to do it.

      She HAD to.

      Jean had watched in horror as Mystique, in the form of Logan, had tried to
      strangle Rogue. In that instant she pondered the gloves, were they a part
      of Mystique herself, or were they brought along special for this part of
      the night? And what if she tried to use the claws? Mystique had tried to
      kill Scott that way once too, with the claws.

      That first time, at the Statue.

      So Jean Grey did what she had to. She levitated one of those cement
      trashcans and used it to smash in Mystique's skull. Rogue would be all
      right, Mystique hadn't had too long at her, but seeing the red handprints
      on Rogue's throat had sent Logan to a new level of berserker rage.

      Jean knew she had only done what she had to do. Rogue was going to be okay.

      When Jean had stopped talking, Hank had looked at her with concern, when
      her forehead had puckered in thought he had signaled Scott to come
      over. When she started to cry, Hank walked away as Scott took her in his
      arms and held her.

      Jean Grey had done what she had to do, but it wasn't what she had wanted to do.

      Ever.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Hank stops at his locker to throw in his leather gloves, watch, and
      glasses. He's looking forward to cleaning up - the stench of the blood and
      gore marring his blue fur is making him squeamish. The clinical, detached
      part of his mind wonders about Mystique, if she can really survive this
      injury, if her mutation will allow her to repair her battered skull. He
      had assurances from the prison doctors that they would contact him if there
      were any change in her condition.

      Another part of his mind, the one that is angry at what has happened
      tonight, angered by the sheer stupid violence, the uselessness of the
      bloodshed, is just simply glad. Glad that Mystique is in a coma, that part
      of Sabretooth's heart (the left ventricle if Hank wasn't mistaken) had been
      lying 10 feet from the rest of his body in the prison yard. Glad that his
      team had come out of it with only bruises and scrapes on the
      surface. Glad that it would be awhile before they would ever have to do
      this again, he hoped.

      Dented, damaged and bruised, but they were alive.

      The part of his mind he would never admit to is amused that the blue bitch
      had bled red.

      Removing the last of the torn leather uniform Hank McCoy goes to the
      showers, desperate to feel clean, to wash and watch that surprisingly red
      blood swirl down the drain.

      Hank McCoy, who looks like a child's toy given life when he smiles,
      understands that tonight they did what they had to do.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Ororo goes straight to her locker, tossing in her boots and gloves. Remy
      is close on her heels, asking her in that accent she's never quite sure is
      real if she's okay. She smiles tightly and assures Remy she'll be okay,
      that she wasn't hurt too seriously.

      She doesn't even know herself if she is lying. After all, it wasn't the
      first time she's been flung around by Toad's tongue, right?

      She's been an X-Men for most of life now, since she was barely past
      puberty. She chose it freely - Xavier's dream, his mission, as Logan had
      said those years ago, his side. 'Ro has always thought the professor
      right, that living in harmony was possible. But how could it be possible
      when mutants couldn't live in harmony amongst themselves?

      When things like tonight happen, when the fighting ends in torrents of
      blood and shrouds of bruises. The teacher part of her brain asks if any of
      them, on either side had learned anything at all. They stopped the escape
      of Magneto. Injured, maybe even killed some of the Brotherhood, they've
      done their job… so why does she feel so cold? She hopes the rain-like
      waterfall of the shower will soothe her mind as much as it will cleanse her
      skin.

      For some reason she thinks about Senator Kelly, turning to water and
      flowing away. Had he felt his sins wash away with his body?

      As she heads toward the showers she avoids looking at Jean, held tight in
      Scott's arms. And under no circumstances will she look past them through
      the hanger bay doors. She doesn't want to see Rogue and Logan, still
      outside the plane, clasped tightly, no doubt remembering the first time,
      five years ago tonight.

      The night they both died.

      Ororo Munroe, the weather goddess who can coax the clouds into a gentle
      rain or the winds to a hurricane's fury knows the difference between doing
      the correct thing and the right thing. And she knows that tonight there
      was no choice, they did the right thing.

      They did the only thing they could.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Remy watches everything with those red on black eyes. He knows exactly
      where everyone is, where they've put their valuables. He wouldn't steal
      from them, but he's never lost the interest in watching people, looking for
      that advantage that can save his life or get him the cash for his next meal.

      So it's only natural that he watches Ororo as she heads to the showers, her
      mind so obviously turned inwards. She never even gave him that softly
      amused look she gives him when he plays gentleman to her lady.

      Xavier heads toward the elevator, toward his room where his accessible
      shower is, along with his endless supply of suits. Remy nods agreeably
      when the Professor asks him to tell the rest of the team to come to his
      office when they've finished cleaning up.

      No doubt for the grand salon d'therape.

      Where Daddy Xavier will assure all the broken rose colored glasses wearing
      X-Men that they did what they had to do, that they had been left with only
      one option.

      They already know that, Professor, Remy thinks to himself. Dealin' with
      the doin' is something that can't be solved by telling people again the
      platitudes they've already convinced themselves of.

      Hank comes out of the showers, and Remy blanches slightly at the smell of
      wet fur. It's an acquired smell that - wet man fur. Not like an animal,
      not like a man. It's different.

      But everything X-Menish is different.

      Stretching to take off the leather uniform isn't without pain, Toad had
      gotten him good before Remy had been able to deal him a hand of his charged
      cards. There would be definite bruising where Toad had landed on his chest.

      The discoloration is already starting - his chest will be a lovely shade of
      black and blue, despite the body armor. But Jean and Hank have assured
      him, no broken ribs, no internal injuries.

      Still hurts like hell.

      Remy cracks a joke to Hank, drying off and getting dressed, and to Scott
      and Jean, getting undressed before heading to the showers. He tells all
      three of Xavier's request to meet in his office, and they agree, Jean
      telling him they will be there as soon as she has gotten everyone rebandaged.

      Remy, the Gambit, notices everything and everyone, but even he doesn't look
      toward the doors that lead to the hanger bay. He wasn't here the first
      time, but he knows that the second time, the X-Men had joined the battle
      fully, not wanting to, but having to.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Held tightly in Logan's arms, Rogue listens with only half an ear to Logan,
      his head close to hers, as they whisper to each other words of reassurance
      and love, not unlike Scott and Jean inside. Marie, the Rogue, realizes
      something as they touch and murmur and console themselves that this time
      isn't like the last time, when they died. It isn't like the last time
      when they were unprepared for what could happen.

      Her arms around Logan, Rogue acknowledges that she'll never let him go.

      The statement has a number of different meanings.

      She'll never let him leave her for good.

      She'll never let him leave her to search. If he goes, so does she.

      She'll never let him die, not while she's around.

      Logan looks like hell, but he's upright this time - he won't be stuck in
      the medlab.

      They didn't die this time.

      Rogue knows that Logan was disturbed by Mystique taking his form to try to
      kill her. His determination never to hurt her damaged by the
      shape-changer's attempt to play with their minds. Doing the one thing that
      could hit too close to home for him. His nightmares might just as easily
      include stabbing her in the middle of the night as the experiments.

      She leans back finally, making sure to stare into his eyes, to make sure he
      knows she is in one piece. All the while telling him in her most soothing
      voice, the one she uses when he comes out of nightmare, that they are both
      alive and in fairly good shape.

      His nostrils flare and she knows he can scent the blood from the cut that
      Sabretooth got in before Hank and Scott distracted him with a body slam and
      a laser beam across the shoulder. Which was before Logan came with his
      claws. He can also smell Mystique's blood from when the trashcan hit her
      in the face, her broken nose spraying Rogue's hair and leather uniform with
      blood.

      She's been at Xavier's for five years now, but unlike many of the others on
      the team, the ones who have spent a lifetime under Xavier's tutelage, Rogue
      will never assume the Brotherhood can be shifted to their side. They'll
      never get the white hats, never ride Silver, and never to her, be on the
      side of the angels.

      This time she saved him, when Logan and Sabretooth were going at it Rogue
      managed to prevent Toad from joining in the fray. She had learned Logan's
      lesson's well, do what you have to do, make sure it'll get done what you
      need to do.

      While Logan was finally getting his claws into Sabretooth's chest, doing a
      bit of primitive cardiovascular surgery, Rogue had stopped Toad from
      strangling Xavier with his tongue. By cutting about a foot and a half of
      it off the end with the k-bar Logan had given her.

      It had taken years of training, but the X-Men had this time stopped the
      Brotherhood.

      Rogue, wrapped in Logan's arms as they start toward the locker room knows
      this was the way none of them wanted it to happen, but it was the way it
      was bound to happen.

      She's had Magneto and Logan in her head.

      So she knows.

      It was the only way it could happen.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      He'll never leave her.

      That too has a number of different meanings.

      He'll never leave her for good.

      He'll never search for his past while ignoring the future she
      embodies. His past is like Tombstone, Arizona; a violent past made into a
      vacation day trip.

      He'll never, ever, ever let her die, not while he's around, not while he
      can stop it.

      Logan runs his hands through the hair of the woman in his arms, staring and
      fingering pensively the streaks of white left there five years ago tonight.

      She hasn't cried, not one tear.

      But she knew, just like he did, that it would have to happen this
      way. That going home in one piece sometimes means you have to make sure
      that the other side's people go home in pieces.

      Logan knows that the X-Men were ready training-wise for tonight, but
      accepting it in your head is a lot different than saying, 'do what you have
      to do'. But they've already started to work through it, it was clear from
      the beginning that tonight there would be no quarter given from the other
      side, that it was going to be a fight to the end if the X-Men got in their way.

      So be it, they had to be stopped, and the normals weren't cutting it.

      The ten dead cops tonight proved that.

      Logan knows that picking tonight wasn't a coincidence, it was a statement,
      or would have been, had they succeeded. 'We won this time'

      Well fuck you and the horses you rode in on.

      It was us who walked away, not you.

      The Brotherhood has lost big time this time. Though if Logan had had his
      way, all three would have been killed before they can have a chance to do
      what they can to repair and heal. They are all dangerous, and Logan isn't
      looking forward to doing this again in another year or two.

      When he and Rogue get to the locker room Remy and Ororo on their way to the
      elevator, Scott and Jean are finishing up getting dressed. Jean, for once
      uncomfortable looking in a bright red skirt and blouse, tells them that the
      Professor wants to see them when they've finished cleaning up, but that
      she'll wait for Rogue in the medlab to treat the cut first.

      Logan frowns, but Rogue agrees calmly and starts to strip, looking tired
      but alert. Stripped and entering the shower room they gently wash each
      other, rinsing blood off skin and hair. He massages skin that hasn't been
      deadly without intent for a few years, delicately cleaning around the gash
      on her upper arm. She returns the favor, washing skin formerly covered in
      cuts and bruises. The blood running down his body, mixing with the water,
      the only hint that he had been at all injured.

      Leaving the shower, and the physical remains of the evening's injuries
      still swirling down the drain, they get dressed, Logan in his usual jeans
      and flannels, Rogue in jeans and a green tank and shirt set.

      Still more silent than not, they make the needed trip to the medlab where
      Jean treats and bandages Rogue's arm up, deciding against stitches. The
      four X-Men take the elevator up to the main level together, silently
      heading toward the office where the rest of the team waits.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Everyone is clean and shiny, but the cold reality of what has happened
      makes eyes tired and shadowed.

      Rogue and Logan sit in one of the big overstuffed chairs, Ororo and Remy on
      the loveseat, Jean, Scott, and Hank on the long sofa. Xavier as always, is
      behind the desk.

      Xavier tells them that the authorities at the prison have been in contact,
      that all three of the Brotherhood are managing to hang on. Mystique by a
      thread, Sabretooth by a clawed fist, and Toad by what remains of his
      tongue, all under heavy sedation.

      No one in the room wants to talk you don't even have to be a telepath to
      know that, to hear the unspoken plea to not talk about the mission in the
      air. Sometimes the right thing isn't the good thing; sometimes what you
      have to do is against what you are trying to do.

      Xavier looks at the antique grandfather clock in corner, and wonders aloud
      if anyone is hungry? An odd sentiment perhaps, but they've been fighting
      for hours on end, and it was a long day. Mutations, like any bodily
      function, require energy, and with the mutation dependent activities of
      this night, everyone is bound to be ravenous.

      Once in the kitchen everyone grabs a seat. The women look at the men,
      the men look at the women.

      Jean breaks the silence, finally. "No way."

      "Scott…" Xavier begins, but Scott is already getting up and getting the
      keys to the van.

      "Out front in two."

      With that the team goes to get jackets and purses, everyone meeting out
      front where Scott is already raising Xavier's wheelchair on the lift.

      Rogue and Logan climb onto what was once Scott's bike, but which has become
      over the years, Logan's… or Rogue's. Logan isn't quite sure which of them
      has the stronger case for ownership, but they both enjoy moving fast and
      holding tight, no matter who is doing the driving. Rogue pulls up to the
      Van and asks where they going. After a few minutes throwing out names of
      restaurants which have no chance of being open at 3:59 am, the inevitable
      is named.

      Denny's.

      With a wry grin Rogue guns the engine of the motorcycle, Logan's arms
      tightening their hold on her hips as they shoot down the drive, through the
      open gate and up Greymalkin Lane.

      Shaking his head like any man who would rather be driving his motorcycle,
      his lover's arms tight around him, her breasts crushed to his back, Scott
      mutters about Rogue's driving and gets into the driver's seat of the van.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      When the van pulls into the parking lot of the Westchester Denny's Logan
      and Rogue are already inside getting a table. Rogue waves to them through
      the big front window and the van's occupants can see them holding the large
      table in the front room. It would be smoking, but everyone knows that at
      4:00 am, every section of Denny's is the smoking section.

      As Jean lowers the ramp and Xavier wheels out, Scott is hanging the
      disabled parking permit on the rear view mirror. Hank, 'Ro, and Remy
      already on their way in. Their peculiar looking party doesn't get a
      second glance anymore, not after Logan, Scott, Remy, and Hank's
      discrimination lawsuit had resulted in a judgment of over ten million
      dollars. During the appeals each man had settled for half a million
      dollars, with an additional two million to be donated to the school. They
      have gotten amazingly prompt service at Denny's ever since.

      Jean, Xavier, and Scott come in and get settled in, menus already on the
      table. A few minutes of menu perusal and the waitress comes back to take
      their orders, then disappears into the woodwork until the food is ready.

      Their conversation is general, the ribbing that goes on between people whom
      live and work with each other day in and day out.

      "What are you two going to do with your last week of vacation?" Scott asks
      Logan and Rogue.

      They look thoughtfully at each other for a second. "Probably go up to
      Alaska." Rogue ruffles Logan's hair with a smirk, while his arm goes
      around the back of her chair, his fingers playing with her long hair,
      stroking the sensitive skin on the back of her neck. "Let the Wolvie run
      with the pack up in Denali."

      Jean's involuntary laugh turns into choking on the sip of ice water she had
      taken. Scott gently but firmly slaps her on the back and grins evilly as
      the chip of ice shoots out of her mouth to land in Logan's hair.

      Logan shakes the ice out and snarls at Scott, flicking the grinning younger
      man an inch of middle claw. Which doesn't stop the women from laughing
      outright and the men from grinning, even Xavier. Jean giggles as she
      apologizes, and Scott relaxes ever so slightly at the sound. After the
      events of tonight he wasn't sure if she'd be able to unwind for some time
      to come.

      "What are you and Scott going to do, Jean?" Ororo asks, she and Remy having
      gone on their vacation a week ago. They had gone to Egypt, Remy getting
      clear instructions from Xavier not to rob any tombs, museums, or
      archeological digs while there.

      "I'm attending the Genome Project Conference in San Francisco Wednesday and
      Thursday, then we'll be heading up to Napa for a few days of fun."

      Logan returns Scott's earlier evil glare. "So whacha gonna do while Jean
      is playin' with the gnomes, Scooter?"

      Scott's half hearted glare is the definition of touché. "I thought I'd go
      sailing. Maybe take the Alcatraz tour. Seems to be my month for prison
      visitations."

      Everyone goes quiet at this - they definitely don't want to talk about the
      past night, not in a public place.

      Hank clears his throat, "I think I will take Dr Martinez up on his very
      kind invitation and visit the VLA, the Very Large Array, in New
      Mexico. Perhaps not the best place to be in the summer for a person with
      such a plethora of hair, but it will be quite stimulating to say the
      least. I believe they will be restudying the data from the discovery of
      the gravitationally-induced Einstein rings around galaxies far distant from
      our own. It should be quite fascinating."

      The table was silent for a minute, everyone pondering the best response.

      "Sounds like a whole lotta fun, Hank… oh, here comes our food." Rogue
      barely manages to conceal her relief at not having to hear the rest of the
      lecture. It is way too early in the morning for gravitationally-induced
      Einstein rings.

      A seemingly endless line of waitress and busboys bring trays of food, so
      much that the table is all but creaking as plate upon plate is added.

      Logan's choice this morning is two orders of steak (just seconds past
      mooing) and eggs, with a double side of hash browns, and a salad, the last
      being ordered after his Marie gave him the 'you need vegetables' look. The
      kitchen staff at Denny's is savvy to this, and in their bid to appease both
      Wolverine and Rogue, cover the little side salad in cheese and bacon bits -
      about two inches of cheese and bacon atop the little iceberg lettuce
      salad. Marie sighs but is pleased to see the wedge of barely pink tomato
      peeking out from the mushy mix of bacon bits, cheese, and Ranch
      Dressing. His Senior Slam with its pancakes and sausages sitting just
      beyond the plates of steaks on the table, next to the trio of sticky syrup
      bottles, the bottomless cup of complimentary Senior Coffee steaming beside
      his plates.

      Logan's many plates wedge slightly into Marie's territory, but her plate of
      Biscuits and Sausage Gravy (which could double as Toad spew to Logan's
      mind) is steaming hot. The additional plates of fruit salad and
      cheese-covered hash browns are crammed against Logan's plates on the
      table. The last part of her order is a large Coke, which in one of those
      fortuitous moments for a girl from the South who always orders Coke no
      matter what is available, is actually Coca-Cola. Following Logan's
      example, she tucks into her food with enthusiasm.

      Next in the food reception line is Xavier, who had ordered the Farmer's
      Omelet, English muffins, cantaloupe, and a pot of hot water. Having
      received his plates, he removes the tin that contains his bags of custom
      mixed Earl Grey from the breast pocket of his Armani suit
      jacket. Shrugging off the lack of freshly ground pepper; he too starts in
      on his meal.

      Scott is next, his order an All-American Slam, large skim milk, large
      orange juice, and bowl of oatmeal. He smiles at the waitress politely, and
      his smile grows larger when the double slice of apple pie is added to his
      hoard. Cheerfully ignoring Jean's mocking glance he adds about a half an
      inch of Strawberry Syrup (from his own trio of sticky syrup bottles, the
      wait staff having learned quickly about Logan and Scott's sharing issues)
      to the top of the oatmeal. He then heads straight into his scrambled eggs
      after making sure he had salted them well.

      Jean's raspberry oat bran muffin, Mushroom Omelet and decaf coffee with
      skim milk, not cream comes first, the final touch a large chocolate
      shake. Nutrition can be taken only so far, after awhile it's just an
      impediment to enjoyment. Anyway, Jean likes chocolate, and after a night
      like this, needs chocolate.

      Remy snickers silently as Jean dives into the shake first, the rest of the
      meal waiting until the chocolate course has been finished.

      The Cajun's sense of humor is also amused by his own choices. French Dip
      with French Fries and a French Slam to round it off. He had tried the
      Cajun melt one late night visit. He would never make that mistake
      again. He'd never drink the coffee here either. Remy shudders watching
      Logan drinking the dark mud this place considers coffee. He comforts
      himself with the knowledge that the Starbucks across the street should be
      open by the time they are finished with breakfast. With this comforting
      thought he starts in on his French Toast, using Scott's sticky bottles of
      syrup (Remy and Scott not having the same sharing issues as Logan and Scott).

      'Ro smiles her thanks as the waitress sets her order of a Veggie burger and
      fruit down. The smile grows larger as the Buffalo Wings and double slice
      of French Silk Pie is set down. 'Ro grins as Remy looks at her pie with a
      thief's assessing eye. Taking a wing and dipping it into the dressing she
      relaxes and gives herself over to her enjoyment of her food, the mix of
      flavors, spicy hot, tangy sour appealing to her mood and spirit.

      Hank is the last one served, a platter of fried chicken, a Grand Slam, and
      a strawberry shake. The former high school athlete in Hank never fails to
      be amused by eating sports terms. Hank ponders for a few moments the
      natural intellectual question prompted by his meal. Which should come
      first, the chicken or the egg? Deciding that the egg should be the answer
      in this case, he salts and peppers his sunny side ups and digs in.

      Not much is said during the orgy of eating, the plates emptied and removed,
      glasses refilled. Eventually discussion returns to the table at large; the
      topics still general, the return of the younger team from Cozumel, the
      coming term. Motorcycles and car engines, medical supplies and school clothes.

      Even, in a bit of banality that isn't so banal with a weather goddess at
      the table, the weather.

      When everyone is done, the last refill of coffee refused and the check
      paid, the X-Men head back to the Mansion, with only a café au lait stop for
      Remy at Starbucks. Logan and Rogue meet the van's passengers in the main
      hall, and the quiet contemplation of the evening's violence returns.

      It is Jean, once again who breaks the silence. "We were right, weren't
      we? There wasn't another way. They weren't going to stop."

      Rogue looks her straight in the eye, reminding the older woman that she has
      had both sides in her head. "No, they wouldn't have stopped. Not for
      anything less than what we gave them." A slim finger twirls a white strand
      of hair, "And even this, if they recover, won't stop them."

      "Then we can't stop," Scott responds, leaning against the front door, hands
      in pockets.

      Xavier once again has the look of the father who is seeing his children
      march to war. "No, we can't. Tomorrow we start to plan this all over
      again."

      Ororo comes to his side, once again, taking his side, as she has done for
      years. "It is the right choice, Charles. Not just the correct one."

      Xavier's smile is tired and a bit melancholy. "We've made the choice. But
      it can wait until we've rested to plan for the next fight." Nodding their
      agreement, everyone heads to their rooms.

      Entering his suite, Xavier notices the antique clock on the mantle.

      It's 6:38 am.

      On Tuesday.

      That might not sound very significant or profound, but when your team takes
      on The Brotherhood of Mutants in a rematch of the "Little Incident at the
      Statue of Liberty" on Monday night, living 'til Tuesday is a pretty big
      accomplishment.

      ~x~x~x~x~x~


      "The Road Runner has lessons to teach us all. Cheerfulness. Persistence.
      The usefulness of loud noises in the face of one's enemies, or better
      still, behind their backs." - Hank McCoy to Logan, Empire's End by
      Diane Duane

      Elisabeth A Shanley
      <eshanley@...>
      www.geocities.com/bibbabet
      AIM SN: Infamous Beth
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