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Noah and the Storm (1/5)

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  • Katarina Hjärpe
    TITLE: NOAH AND THE STORM AUTHOR: Katta E-MAIL: head_overheels@hotmail.com SUMMARY: Magneto wrecks a supermarket, kidnaps Hank McCoy and then disappears
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 28, 2001
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      TITLE: NOAH AND THE STORM
      AUTHOR: Katta
      E-MAIL: head_overheels@...
      SUMMARY: Magneto wrecks a supermarket, kidnaps Hank McCoy and then
      disappears mysteriously. William F. Cody sees a blue beast in the forest --
      but nobody believes him! That�s right folks, this is a crossover between
      X-Men and The Young Riders. Read and enjoy.
      RATING: If you could stand the film, you can stand this.
      DISCLAIMER: There are way too many characters in this story, and most of
      them belong to Marvel Comics, Ed Spielman and the rest of the bunch. Only
      the most unimportant ones are mine. The name Lorita Cook is a mix between
      two real women: Lorita Buford and Sis Cook.
      NOTES: Lori has betaread it, Jill and Rhiannon come with suggestions. The
      scene between Ike and Scott is Jill�s and the thunderstorm at Noah�s and
      Ororo�s third date is Rhiannon�s, for example.




      SALEM CENTER, NEW YORK STATE, 200X AD.

      It was a dark and stormy night. It shouldn�t have been, since it was
      summer, but the bad weather had an obvious explanation: Ororo Monroe,
      weather controller, was out of control, too distressed to stop her emotions
      from showing on the sky. They were all distressed, sitting in Professor
      Xavier�s office while he was using Cerebro to search through the entire
      mutant population. There were thousands of mutants out there, but only three
      he wanted to find.
      Jean, being the only other telepath, sensed it when Xavier�s mind left
      Cerebro, and she reached out with a question: *Have you found them?*
      The answer was negative, and Jean sank back into her chair, disappointed.
      Scott could sense her emotions and his face turned into a deep scowl while
      his hand squeezed her shoulder. The others, watching him, quickly figured
      out the answer as well. Logan muttered a curse under his breath.
      �Please, Logan, not in front of the kids,� Scott said. But he was affected
      too. Usually he wouldn�t have said �please�.
      �That�s okay,� Bobby said. �I feel like cursing too.�
      The young boy had tears in his eyes. Ever since Hank McCoy had returned to
      the mansion, the distinguished MD and the class clown had formed a
      friendship rare between people so different in age and personality.
      Or maybe not so rare after all. Logan�s arm around Rogue�s shoulder was a
      sign of another one. Although they were always affectionate, the gesture
      showed how shook up they were -- Rogue was usually very cautious with
      touches.
      Clouds were gathering outside, and soon it was pouring. Ororo paced back
      and forth, unable to control her emotions and the physical manifestation of
      them.
      When Xavier returned to the office, they all turned to the open door, but
      there was no hope in their faces. He wheeled up to his desk, rested his
      palms on the shiny surface, and sighed deeply.
      �He�s not dead!� Bobby�s voice was hard. �He can�t be. I know he�s not.�
      �I�m inclined to agree with you,� the professor said slowly. �I couldn�t
      find any of them. Magneto can shield his mind from me, and Hank, as you
      said, could be... dead. But I couldn�t find Mystique either. That indicates
      that they�re hiding somewhere. If I only knew where. The last place Magneto
      used his powers was the supermarket at Washington Street two days ago.�
      Ororo couldn�t help but making a wry face. She remembered that supermarket
      more than well. It was down the block from Forge�s. All those times she had
      run down to buy breakfast there after a night in his apartment... stop it!
      This was a serious situation, and all she could think about was her ex? Her
      X. Funny. Something suddenly struck her. She remembered the last time she
      had spoken to Forge, that was, actually spoken, not yelled. There had been
      quite a lot of yelling lately. She had avoided him lately just to give the
      people of Salem Center *some* sunshine. The last time they had spoken
      civilly he had been talking about a new device of his that could track some
      sort of weaknesses in time. As usual, he didn�t seem quite certain himself
      on how it worked, but she remembered that they had joked about how this
      could be the first step to a time machine. He had gotten that look in his
      eyes that meant that he was thinking, or, more accurately, that his mind was
      beginning to work, with or without his consent.
      Ororo was actually beginning to feel a little bit worried. Due to his
      fascination in technology, Forge was rather vulnerable to Magneto�s metal
      control. If Forge had made some sort of time machine, and if Magneto knew
      about it or found out, and if Magneto knew where Forge lived... it was a lot
      of ifs, but it seemed more than likely. And that meant that they could be
      well alive and hiding, while Cerebro still considered them dead. It wasn�t a
      question about *where* they were hiding but...
      �...When,� she said out loud.
      The others turned to look at her. She shook her head, not sure if her
      conclusions were correct, but she had a feeling they were.
      �I�m going to Forge�s place.�

      **********

      OUTSIDE SWEETWATER, NEBRASKA TERRITORY, 1861 AD

      Cody was riding through the woods, allowing his horse to slow down a little.
      They were both tired, and even if they took it easy, they would still make
      it back to Sweetwater in time for dinner. Since he wasn�t carrying any mail,
      he was in no hurry.
      This job had been hard on him, even by the riders� strange standards. They
      were supposed to be mail couriers, after all, not deputies of the law trying
      to pursue the guilty with one hand and stop the hanging of the innocent with
      the other. He wondered why Teaspoon had sent him. Even though he liked to
      claim otherwise, he knew he wasn�t the strongest or smartest of the rider.
      Charm. That was probably what it came down to. Charm and a quick tongue.
      This had required more sweet-talking and half-truths than anything else, and
      he did have some sort of gift for that. Jimmy would have tried to shoot his
      way through all problems, Buck, Ike and Noah were often faced with
      prejudice, Kid -- well, people listened to Kid, but he did have a tendency
      to put on a know-it-all attitude, and that annoyed them. So it was down to
      him or Lou, and Lou was on a run. It did feel good to have a talent, even if
      it was less useful than fast riding or a good aim.
      Cody sighed and turned left. He would be home soon. Further down the road,
      there was something by a tree, something rather large. Cody couldn�t tell
      for sure, since the leaves were shadowing it, but it looked blue. What on
      earth could it be? His curiosity got the better of him and he hurried his
      horse a little to get closer to it. It looked like some kind of beast, but
      if it was, it was certainly not any he had seen before. He recalled the
      strange camel thing they had seen a while ago, maybe this was another
      foreign animal like that?
      When he got closer, he was startled to see the size of the blue beast. It
      turned its head and looked straight at him, with intelligent eyes.
      �Could you have the kindness to help me loose?� it said.
      Cody screamed like a girl and hurried his horse. Gunfighters and robbers he
      could handle, Indians weren�t a problem, but huge talking blue things were
      too much for him.
      The blue beast sighed and leaned back towards the tree. This would be an
      uncomfortable night.
      Since the horse was just as frightened as Cody, they arrived to the station
      within minutes, both sweaty and panting. Rachel came out of the bunk house
      and looked disapprovingly at the young man.
      �What have you done to that poor horse?� she complained. Then she saw his
      terrified expression. �Did something happen?�
      �Rachel... You�re not going to believe this...� Cody pulled his hand over
      his face, trying to wipe the sweat away. �There was a huge beast in the
      woods... Big, blue thing... And it talked to me!�
      He was right. She didn�t believe him.

      **********

      �Forge?� Ororo was calm enough as she walked up the stairs, but when she saw
      the brand new door to Forge�s apartment she wasn�t calm anymore. The last
      time she went here the door had been steel. Now it wasn�t, it wasn�t even an
      ordinary wooden one. It was hardened plexiglass. Well, to look at it from
      the bright side, at least it wasn�t the old door bent and melted down.
      �Forge, are you in there?!�
      No doorbell. Great. Just because Forge was a genius, he obviously thought
      he didn�t have to use his head. She pounded on the door. �Forge?�
      Nothing. She sat down on the stairs and wondered to herself what she was
      should do. She didn�t much care to try and force down lightning on his house
      (although there was a time when the thought would have been very tempting),
      and her powers really weren�t as good at knocking in doors as some of the
      others�.
      There were steps coming up the stairs that she recognized as his. Although
      his biomechanical leg worked just as well as a normal one, it sounded very
      different, especially when he walked on a hard surface like this. She stood
      up. She certainly didn�t want to sit around waiting for him like a lost dog.
      �Oh, hi,� he said when he came into view. She relaxed a little. He sounded
      surprised, but not hostile, and that was a lot more than she had hoped from
      him, considering the nature of their recent conversations. �What do you
      want?�
      �You haven�t by any chance had Magneto around here, have you?�
      His eyes narrowed. �I knew you didn�t think much of me, but that was
      *low*.�
      �No, that�s not what I meant.� She hesitated. �Has he been here? The door?�
      He looked at the door. �Yeah, it must have been him, after that supermarket
      thing. Nothing gone or destroyed though, except the door. No big thing.
      Nothing I need the X-Men to save me from.�
      She bit her lip to not react badly to that comment. She could still
      restrain herself from darkening the sky, but not much more. �But did he
      *use* anything?�
      Realization dawned on him, and he took a little remote from his pocket with
      which he opened the new door and stepped into his apartment without asking
      her to follow. She did anyway.
      �I don�t know, he might have. I haven�t really had time to check
      everything. Thinking of anything in particular?�
      �Did you ever make that time machine?�
      His eyes turned thoughtful. �The Tesselty. Yeah... I did.�
      He motioned for her to come with him into the study, and she did. It looked
      the same mess of machinery as the last time she was there.
      �So, where is it? And why did you call it... whatever it was you called
      it?�
      �The Tesselty,� he said, searching his study. Soon he found what he was
      looking for and showed her the device, which was only slightly bigger than a
      normal paperback book. �TSCLT, Time-Space-Continuum Loophole Tracker. It�s
      not really a time machine. It only uses weaknesses that are already there.�
      He smiled a little. �Although *how*, I�m not quite sure.�
      �Okay, I don�t care about a lecture. Can you figure out if it has been
      used?�
      A frown formed between his dark eyebrows, and he looked down on the little
      device. �Okay, hold on a minute.�
      His eyes got that glassy look she recognized so well, and he connected the
      device to his computer. While he was working, she paced back and forward.
      She was still feeling incredibly annoyed. �Couldn�t you have told us he was
      here?�
      �Well, he wasn�t when I got back,� he said absent-mindedly. �Besides, I can
      handle Magneto.�
      �Uh-huh,� she said, looking meaningfully at his right leg. Unfortunately,
      he was too busy to notice the sarcasm. Forge was only slightly more suitable
      to deal with Magneto than Logan was. People with metal parts should stay
      away from magnetizers.
      �He *did* use it,� Forge said, still typing wildly. For a second, he looked
      up at the device, and then he shook his head, clicking his tongue a little.
      �What?�
      �Unless you bring the Tesselty with you, you can only return to your own
      time, not move on. And even then you need the instant return clip, which he
      didn�t bring. So he�s pretty much stuck where he is -- in time, at least.�
      The room seemed to get brighter when Ororo took a relieved sigh. It took
      her a while to realize the sky outside had been cloudy before. She really
      needed to keep better control.
      �Well, that�s the first good thing about this. It makes it a lot easier to
      track him. Have you tracked him?�
      �Yes. Right outside Sweetwater, Nebraska territory, a few months before the
      Civil War.�
      She leaned down next to him, oblivious to the fact that she wanted to stay
      as far awy from him as humanly possible. �Can you get me there?�
      �I can�t get you to the *exact* same place anytime soon. But if you can
      stand the same time a few miles away I can get you there tomorrow...� Before
      she had time to get happy he added: �...No, that�s too small. But in four
      days there�s a hole big enough for a person.�
      �Just one?� she asked, and he raised an eyebrow.
      �No, you can bring in a busload if you want. How many were you thinking?�
      �Well, the team. Four people with Logan. And I�m not sure we can keep Bobby
      out of this.� For a second she wondered if Forge had to come on the mission.
      She didn�t want him to, and it wasn�t just because of their strained
      relationship. If something went wrong, she wanted someone in this century
      who knew what to do about it.
      �Okay,� he said, not noticing the thoughtful look in her blue eyes. �I�ll
      arrange for it.�

      **********

      It was that time of day when there�s not much work to be done. Kid and Buck
      were on rides, but the rest of the riders were in the saloon, drinking
      sarsaparilla and teasing Cody. After all his strange bragging tales, he had
      finally gone way too far even for him.
      �So tell me,� Jimmy said, sitting down next to Lou, but addressing Cody,
      �what shade of blue was this bear you saw? Was it blue like the sky, or the
      ocean, or...�
      Lou giggled a little, and Ike�s mouth twisted in a suspicious way.
      �It was a deep clear blue like the twilight,� Cody said. Even though he had
      already found nobody believed him, he couldn�t help but try to tell the
      story. �And it wasn�t no bear! It talked to me!�
      �A bum,� Noah said calmly.
      �You do know it�s not allowed for express riders to drink, don�t you?� Lou
      said.
      Cody turned to her, furious. �I hadn�t been drinking!�
      �I�m willing to believe that,� Jimmy admitted. �You�ve just finally lost
      your mind completely. If you want my advice,� he leaned forward a bit,
      �don�t tell no doctors blue bears talk to you.�
      �It. Was. No. Bear.�
      �A bum,� Noah said again. �Hairy fellow.�
      �Have you ever heard of a blue bum?� Lou protested.
      �Maybe he�s just gone colour-blind,� Jimmy suggested. �Hey, Cody, what
      colour is the grass?�
      �Oh, shut up!�
      Ike took part of the conversation for the first time, tapping his bandanna
      and signing a question to Cody.
      �Ike says...� Lou started, and Cody interupted her.
      �I know what he said, and it�s red. I�m not colour-blind, I�m not drunk,
      I�m not delusional. I know what I saw, and what I saw was a big blue beast
      who talked to me!�
      The door had swung open right when Cody said that, and Noah found himself
      looking into the startled eyes of a beautiful young black woman. They were
      blue, her eyes. He had never seen a black woman with blue eyes, and never
      someone that young with white hair either. She noticed his eyes on her and
      smiled a little. Encouraged, he left the table and walked up to her.
      �Hello miss, my name is Noah Dixon. Are you new in town?�
      Those unique eyes settled on him, and even though she was still too caught
      up in Cody�s peculiar comment to give Noah her undivided attention, her
      smile was warm and interested.
      �Ororo Monroe,� she said, shaking his hand. �Yes, I am. We just arrived
      with the stagecoach from Fort Laramie.�
      He noticed that she had an unusual accent, and wondered if she might have
      been stolen from Africa. He also noticed the �we�. Was she married?
      Before he had time to ask, a short, rough-looking white man came through
      the door and nodded at Ororo before he settled at the bar. Noah frowned a
      little. In his experience, men who looked like that were bad news to black
      people, especially black women.
      �Is that your owner?� he asked.
      Ororo turned around. �Logan?� she asked, apparently amused at the thought.
      �No, he�s just a friend.�
      �Friend,� Noah stated, and it wasn�t really his fault that it came out a
      bit suspicious-sounding.
      �Yes, friend,� she replied, with a smile that indicated she had realized
      what he was thinking. �Just like I believe the people over there are your
      friends?�
      She nodded at the rider�s table with a curious smile. Noah took the hint
      and escorted her there.
      �Miss Monroe, these are my colleagues from the Pony Express.� He gave the
      guys a look that told them to move aside and make room for the lady. Lou was
      the first to take the hint, and she offered Ororo a chair from another
      table.
      �Thank you,� Ororo said, then sat down and offered Lou her hand.
      �Lou McCloud�, Lou said and shook Ororo�s hand. A man�s name. Interesting.
      To her it was obvious that the bespectacled young person in pants was a
      girl, but she wasn�t sure whether or not the others were aware of that.
      �Nice to meet you...� Ororo wasn�t certain if �miss� or �mister� would be
      appropriate, so she muddled it up a bit. �...misshm McCloud.�
      She turned to the next person, a young man with long brown hair and a stern
      face. �I�m Jimmy Hickock.�
      She tried not to show her surprise at that name, but wasn�t sure she had
      succeeded, and his eyes turned slightly suspicious. It was clear that he
      expected his name to be recognized and didn�t like it much. Wild Bill
      Hickok. What did you know. She gave him a smile and continued her circle of
      introduction. The man with the red bandanna was introduced as Ike McSwain by
      Noah and said to be mute. She noticed the look in his eyes and blinked,
      because it was one she had seen before. Far too many of the young mutants at
      school looked like that too, hoping for acceptance but not really counting
      on anything but hatred and fear. She couldn�t recall ever seeing that look
      in a non-mutant, and it caught her attention.
      She soon got other things to think about, though, because the next man was
      the loudmouthed blonde who had, maybe, seen Hank. And his name was another
      that almost made her eyebrows fly up.
      �William F. Cody,� he said and grinned widely. It was a nice grin, charming
      in a boyish way. It was harder to think of this young flirt as Buffalo Bill
      than it was thinking of the stern young man as Wild Bill Hickock.
      �So, you�re all express riders?� Ororo asked. She didn�t have to fake her
      interest. After all, very few 21st century people ever got the chance to
      talk to real Pony express riders -- two of them legends, to add to the
      experience. Still the fact that *Buffalo Bill* had maybe seen Hank wasn�t
      half as interesting as the fact that Buffalo Bill had maybe *seen Hank*. �It
      must be a very interesting job, traveling through the country, seeing all
      kinds of things...�
      The entire table burst into laughter. Her fishing had been a little too
      obvious.
      �Yeah, Cody, really interesting things, too!� Lou teased.
      Cody opened his mouth to speak, and then wisely shut it again. He shrugged
      a little, and Ororo felt a little bit sorry for him. He was just a kid,
      after all, maybe a few years older than Bobby and a lot like him. It wasn�t
      easy not to be believed, particularly when you *were* telling the truth.
      �Well, yes, I did hear what you said,� she admitted, trying to get Cody to
      talk. He didn�t seem all that keen on repeating the story again.
      �We�re thinking of having him committed, but we decided to wait until he
      sees pink rabbits, too,� Jimmy said, and Cody shot him a dirty look.
      Noah felt the need to defend his friend to this lovely woman. �He�s not as
      nuts as he may seem. Not quite.�
      �Oh, thank you very much,� Cody muttered.
      �Where did you see the beast?� Ororo asked in a low voice, trying to keep
      it level.
      He looked up at her, surprised at her sincere interest. �Uhm... over by the
      woods, some distance away from the station. It was a few days ago, we went
      back by the morning, but he was gone by then.�
      �He was probably hibernating,� Lou said sensibly.
      �Stuff it, Lou.�
      Ororo ignored the comments, eager to get more information from Cody. Of
      course it was Hank he had seen, it had to be, but she wanted to be sure.
      �You said he talked to you. What did he say?�
      Cody thought about it. �He said �could you have the kindness to help me
      loose?��
      That certainly sounded like Hank. �Was he tied up then, since he asked you
      that?�
      �Well... now that you mention it, I think he was. In a pretty bad shape,
      too, I would say.� Cody frowned a bit, trying to remember what had been
      going on. It was the first time anyone had really been interested in hearing
      the whole truth.
      The riders sat amazed, listening as Ororo carefully, and seemingly of
      interest only, interrogated Cody. She asked him about the beast�s size,
      shape, colour, everything that would be able to separate it from all other
      furry blue beasts around. His answers sometimes took long, but he managed to
      get quite some detail into them. Noah, who had so far thought that Cody had
      just misinterpreted whatever it was he had seen, became unsure. This didn�t
      sound like the usual kind of exaggerations, which meant that either Cody was
      lying on purpose, or he was telling the truth. Unless, of course, he really
      was mad, unless they were all mad, including that beautiful woman whose blue
      eyes were steadily focused on Cody�s face as she listened to what he had to
      say.
      He couldn�t help feeling slightly jealous. For a while it had seemed as if
      Ororo had been genuinely interested in him, but there was no way his charms
      could match the sight of a big blue beast. He was entirely forgotten now,
      her attention was directed elsewhere. All he could hope for was that when
      Cody�s storytelling had run out, she would remember him again.
      Occasionally her eyes drifted away to the man by the bar, and she gave him
      a look that wasn�t all too easy to interpret. Noah had a feeling that the
      man was listening in, too, although it shouldn�t really have been possible,
      he was sitting a little too far away to be able to hear much of the
      conversation. Still, there was a listening appearance over the man�s back,
      not unlike an animal that keeps check of unseen territory. Noah half
      expected to see his ears turned backwards.
      Another man came through the door and walked up to the man at the bar. He
      was tall, well-dressed and quite good looking for a white guy, although his
      eyes were hidden behind a strange pair of red glasses. He said something to
      the rugged man, who snarled back, and looked more like an animal than ever
      before. Definitely not someone to trust easily, that one. When the younger
      one spoke again he nodded reluctantly and looked in Ororo�s direction. Ororo
      gave a small nod and turned to the riders.
      �It was very nice to talk, but I really must go. I hope to see you again.�
      �You too,� Jimmy replied politely.
      Noah stood up when Ororo did, and she finally looked at him again.
      �I hope to see you again?� she said, and now her voice was lower and
      softer, her words half a question, half an invitation.
      �I would be honoured, miss Monroe,� he replied, and brushed her hand
      slightly with his own before she left.
      He watched her leave in the company of the animal-like man and the
      youngster in the red glasses. Beautiful woman -- but peculiar.

      **********

      Scott motioned for Logan and Ororo to get into his and Jean�s hotel room,
      where the others where already waiting. Logan gave him a slanting grin.
      �Now, Cyke, what do you think people will say if they see me in your
      bedroom?�
      The younger man just scowled at him, and Logan chuckled, taking a cigar
      from his pocket.
      �You don�t have any sense of humour.�
      �I�m worried about Hank,� Scott replied, and sat down on a chair, rubbing
      his forehead.
      Jean, who was standing by the window behind him, caught Logan�s glance and
      nodded towards the sun-lit window, at the same time mentally reminding him
      of what sunlight did to Scott�s eyes. He shrugged, uncomfortable but
      unrepentive. It wasn�t his fault the little dick had a headache.
      �There�s this guy who has probably seen him,� Ororo said.
      This got everybody�s attention.
      �Who?� Bobby asked, his face pale as he struggled with a hope that was
      getting too high too fast.
      Ororo�s mouth twisted a little. �Buffalo Bill.�
      �Say what?� Rogue asked weakly. This was her first real mission, and she
      hadn�t quite gotten used to the strange things that tended to happen to the
      X-Men. The main reason she was even there was because with Bobby allowed to
      come, it didn�t make much sense to leave her, and Bobby had been
      unstoppable.
      Ororo quickly briefed the others of what she had heard from Cody, and,
      seeing their concerned faces, added: �None of the people here will find him,
      because they�re not looking. They don�t believe a word out of Bill Cody�s
      mouth.�
      �Hardly surprising,� Jean said. �After all, Buffalo Bill is well known as
      the biggest liar in the west. Even the name was stolen. But I�m really
      relieved. The thought of a stranger finding Hank... they still have
      sideshows in the 1860s.�
      �Magneto is hardly any better than a sideshow,� Scott pointed out.
      �Speaking of which, we�ve found out a few things of our own. Erik Lensherr
      rented a room at this very hotel a few nights ago, paid for a whole week,
      but hasn�t slept more than a night or two. The manager says Lensherr hasn�t
      had any visitors. However, he recalled hearing voices from the room the day
      before yesterday, but it turned out to be the maid...� He looked at Rogue.
      �I talked to her,� the southern girl said. �She�s sure the manager is
      right, but she doesn�t remember ever talking more than two words to Magneto,
      nor the manager ever being there.�
      �Mystique,� Logan snarled, and Rogue nodded.
      �Probably.�
      �Well, there�s one way to find out for sure.�
      Logan started for the door, but Scott reached out to stop him. �You can�t
      go sniffing in other people�s hotelrooms. We�re not supposed to wake any
      suspicion.�
      �And you just fit right into the crowd,� Logan replied, more to get a punch
      at his rival than anything else. �Okay, One-Eye, you�re right for once. What
      about those woods? I could smell those.�
      �Absolutely.�
      �Wait a second,� Ororo said as the others approached the door. �We need to
      come up with some sort of cover story. This isn�t New York. People are
      asking questions. Our stories ought to match.�
      Jean nodded. �Right. Scott and I have already said we�re engaged -- which
      is, after all, the truth -- and that Rogue is my niece. I guess Bobby could
      be her brother.�
      Bobby gave her a suspicious stare. Passing him and Rogue off as siblings
      wasn�t a really good thought in a non-incestuous environment. �We don�t even
      have the same accent.�
      Scott entered the discussion. �Then you�ll be *my* brother. Been a while
      since I last had one, but I think I can manage.� Bobby even looked a little
      bit like Alex. Not much, but nobody was going to find the thought of the two
      of them being related surprising. Ororo, of course, was another matter, and
      the team leader watched her thoughtfully.
      �Do I have to belong to someone?� she asked reluctantly, and everyone
      immediately gave an appalled �no� to the idea. As horrible as slavery was to
      the average 21st century American, the thought of exploiting minorities was
      even more sensitive to mutants.
      Logan shook his head. �On the other hand, a free black woman travelling
      with a bunch of white people these days, how likely is that?�
      �She could be Rogue�s,� Bobby suggested. �Southern and all.�
      �I don�t want to!� Rogue said with a grimace.
      Ororo fully shared the girl�s emotions. She liked Rogue a lot, but the
      thought of taking orders from a teenager, even if it was just for pretend,
      was repulsive. For a second she pondered if this was how Logan felt, an
      ancient man taking orders from a preppie of twentyfive.
      �This sounds awfully Uncle Tom,� Jean said apologetically, �but you could
      have belonged to Rogue�s parents, and she set you free after their death.
      You�re staying with her because you like her.�
      Actually, the thought didn�t upset Ororo at all. It would explain her ties
      to the other X-Men without allowing them to treat her the way slaves were
      treated these days. If it sounded like she was a brainwashed Uncle Tom, so
      be it. It wasn�t as if it really mattered what people thought anyway.
      �Leaves me,� Logan said, leaning against the wall. �I can�t really see
      myself as related to any of you.�
      �You don�t say,� Scott muttered, and Jean sent them both a note of *Okay,
      shove it*. They both hated to admit that they really respected each other,
      but sometimes their strange macho posturing became too much. Her fianc�
      shrugged and returned to more amiable conversation. �We could be business
      partners. Engineering or something.�
      �I don�t know the first thing about engineering.�
      To hand it to Scott, he didn�t say what he was thinking, which was whether
      or not Logan knew the first thing about *anything* but whiskey, cigars and
      fighting.
      �Woodwork!� Rogue exclaimed, feeling the mood tense. �Logan could cut down
      trees and Scott could build things. It�s sorta like engineering.�
      The men looked at each other and nodded thoughtfully.
      �Not bad, kid,� Logan said.
      �We could all be looking for business here,� Scott continued. �Trying to
      settle down somewhere that doesn�t bear as many memories for Rogue,� he
      smiled at her, �who was so tragically orphaned recently.�
      Rogue laughed. She hadn�t spoken to her parents in two years, so she
      wouldn�t have to fake missing them, but this melodrama took away all the
      traces of authenticity.
      �I could really need some time at a nice quiet place,� she agreed, �looking
      through the woods.�

      **********

      tbc...


      Katta


      Adventure Stories and Fun http://www.geocities.com/katta_hj
      White Wolf Website http://www.geocities.com/katta_hj/diefenbaker
      Hades' Warrior http://www.geocities.com/katta_hj/hadeswarrior

      committed Ikeotic and card-carrying Buckette
      Cute guys go spikey when they sneeze (denying the death of the Dublin
      Darling)
      Supporting PETS (People for the Ethical Treatment of Scott)
      Devoted to Spike and Lynda - because they both want the last word

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