Fanfic Time: X-Wars, part 23

Continued from yesterday:

  Sweet, melodious music played to the horrific images on the screen. Images of the concentration camps. A woman’s voice spoke.

  “Once upon a time, one race put another race in cages…”

  Skeletal figures. shambling near-ghosts in black and white. Haunted eyes stared at the camera.

  “Just because they were different, this race became the subjects in tests and experiments… and thrown away.”

  Dead bodies in mass graves. Dead bodies in ovens. Numbers tattooed on their arms.

  “We said it would never happen again.”

  The sudden leap to colour was alarming as the camera watched a child play with a doll. She lifted the moppet up, and the camera zoomed in on the numbers tattooed on her arm.

  “We were wrong.”

  Security footage of the mutie kids being freed. News clips of the X-men rescuing children from the labs faded to those same children in bright clothes being given food and hugs.

  “The Humane Foundation is helping them heal. You can help them too.”

  The music faded away as the necessary contact information sprang onto the screen. At least a hundred homemakers began to reach for their ‘phones.

  It was a *very* effective ad.


  It was dark. And wet. And cold. And she was alive. Jean coughed and blinked. There was hardly any light at all. Just enough to give the shadows definition.

  Like the dark shape lying prone in the muck nearby. She’d been able to grab his tail before something solid interrupted her event-tracking capabilities, and only *now* did she let the appendage go.

  She checked his vitals. Breathing sound. Pulse good, strong.

  “Okay,” she said, voice harsh and alarming in the preternatural quiet. “We’re alive, and I don’t know where the hell we are… and it’s highly likely nobody knows we’re here. Faboo.” She went to wipe her hands on her pants - and found out why she was so cold.

  The torrent had stripped every thread of clothing off her body.

  Pity it was too dark to see properly. She could have checked out Nightcrawler’s -ahem- dimensions.


  He awoke so suddenly Jean suddenly found herself on her butt, trying not to think about what she was sitting in. His eyes were eerily vibrant in the darkness. His hand flashed to his throat, and those eyes widened.

  “Nein…” He whispered before frantically digging about in the muck. His movements were that of a desperate man, so terrified he didn’t even notice his state of dress, or rather undress. It worried her, and so she tried to skim the surface of his mind to determine just what had him so upset. This was not the cool, calculating character she was used to dealing with. But his thoughts were utter chaos, nothing made sense to her, perhaps because he was thinking in German, or perhaps because he simply wasn’t rational enough to form coherent thoughts. She couldn’t even manage to figure out just what it was he was looking for.

  She didn’t have to worry though, because he sat back on his haunches, clutching something tightly to his chest. She could feel the wave of relief wash over him. She wondered what on earth could be so important to him.

  “Oh!” He said suddenly, noticing her. “Oh…” He repeated in a softer tone, averting his eyes when he noticed the state she was in. “Oh!” He dropped his hands into his lap.

  “Relax…” She smiled. “I AM a doctor.”

  “Perhaps…” He said softly. “But I am not in the habit of disrobing in front of complete strangers…”

  She could sense his feelings of vulnerability, but she got the feeling they had nothing to do with his current state of dress.

  “Maybe you should talk about it.” She suggested.

  “Talk about what?”

  “Whatever it is that had you so upset…”

  His eyes narrowed to slits of golden fire, and Jean got the distinct impression that she’d just crossed a line that she should never have gone anywhere near to.

  “Uh…it…does help to talk…” She said rather hesitantly. 

  She heard him let out a deep sigh, the eyes disappearing as he lowered his head. “But I’ve never told anyone about it…” He said softly. He raised his eyes to meet hers. “Why would I talk to you?”

  “Sometimes it’s easier to talk to a stranger.” She told him.


  Nightcrawler crouched, his back almost completely to her. His head lowered and his peculiar fingers fiddled with the keepsakes.

  “Her name was Jimaine,” he said. Voice low and quiet. “She was - everything to me. My first. My only. My *one*…”

  Jean was hit by a powerful image. A young woman with strawberry-blonde hair and glittering eyes. She was alive - only in his mind.

  “We’d camped near a town named Winzeldorf… It was very romantic scenery. Beautiful mountains. Perfect sunsets… I proposed…” He sighed. “She had just enough time to say 'yes’.” His head sunk lower. “The FoH. They caught us. Saw that I wasn’t a man in costume.”

  He felt silent, but the memories were vivid. They’d held him. Made him watch them beat her to death before they beat him, strung him up, and attempted to burn him on a pyre.

  He’d been rescued - or so he thought - by an army from the offices of Weapon X.

  He’d put the ring - her ring - that had so briefly graced her finger, onto the chain that held his cross. His first keepsake. His first reminder that humanity was rotten on the inside.

  “It was too long ago,” he said. “But I remember every instant. I can’t forget.”


  He seemed to shrink into himself, physically as well as emotionally, and she could tell he was fighting back tears. He’d kept this bottled up for so long, and now it was all threatening to break free. She wanted to reach out to him, to give him the comfort he so desperately needed, but she wasn’t sure how he’d react.

  She reached out and put a gentle hand on his shoulder. When he didn’t flinch away, she moved around to his side, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. He let out a shuddering gasp and buried his face in her neck, clinging to her like a lost child.

  'God…’ She closed her eyes at the touch of velvet against her bare skin. 'He feels so amazing…’ Her thoughts began to degrade rapidly at the closeness of him, the warmth of his breath on her neck. She mentally slapped herself. 'This is a guy in mourning…’ she chided.

  She gently stroked his matted hair, rocking him slightly in a soothing way. She almost gasped when the tail wrapped around her, it was such an alien feeling to have that slender appendage coil around her waist. 'You are not making this easy…’ She tensed slightly, but it was enough.

  Nightcrawler pulled back, studying her with softly glowing eyes, frowning when she shivered slightly. Was she cold…or was it something else…? He closed his eyes as she reached out and gently traced the hollow beneath his cheek bone.

  Definitely something else…

  He let out a shuddering breath, her touch had not been without its effect. He ached for closeness, so many times he’d almost given into Rita’s completely unsubtle advances. But this woman was different, he knew that instinctively. Maybe that’s why he’d told her what he had, revealed to her his secret pain. So when she leaned forward, he didn’t back away, he held her green eyes with his golden ones, only breaking contact when searching lips met.

  The kiss was almost timid, Jean though for a split second, as if he were testing her, or maybe himself. She doubted he’d been like this with anyone since Jimaine… his first…his only…his one…

  If she’d been in a clearer state of mind she probably would have called a stop to it. Jimaine was clearly in his mind…he may even have thought he was with her…as the kiss became more inflamed. Jean couldn’t concentrate enough to scan his mind.

  All she knew was how the velveteen brush of his fur made her body sing.


  Sandra told Jamie to get juice for the kid’s afternoon snack, so he went off in search of a mix. He found a few hundred packets of red Kool-aid and set to work mixing them up for the kids.

  In another universe, Jamie would have realised the dire consequences this action would have from an incident with Kurt [3], but in this world, he had no idea just how much trouble his action was about to cause.

  You see, the cool aid Jamie was mixing contained red dye 366, which was known to cause hyperactivity in many individuals, especially mutant children. Add to this the fact that another of his clones had found cookies to go with the juice, and you just have a recipe for disaster.


  Two minutes after the snack was served, those with hypermetabolisms began to be affected. Niota’s family was utterly delighted when she agreed to play with them instead of keeping a lookout for trouble. None of the others had ever known she could bounce off the walls that fast. The effects hit Steven next, and he decided to try seeing if he could bounce off the walls, too. It was a pathetic failure, and as the others began to feel the effects they searched for something the could all do together.

  Wendy remembered how slippery the soap they were allowed to use was when mixed with water, so she got the brillian idea of turning on all the sinks in the bathroom full blast so the nearby area flooded, then dumping the extra soap under the sink in the water so they could go sliding in it. Within five minutes they had the slide going and many other kids were coming to join them.

  In another part of the Foundation several of the more agile kids were playing king of the mountain with the overhead lights. In the artroom, a paint fight had started and soon spilled out into the halls. Several of the children who could fly were having a dogfight in the gym while those below them ran around screaming, tackling each other or just running in circles, stuck with too much energy for them to know what to do with it.

  One of the Jamies had been mobbed by about twenty little girls from the art room. They had learned about make-up on tvand wanted to use the markers on him to experiment.

  Spyke wandered around, looking at the mayhem around him. He never even suspected that the only reason he wasn’t bouncing off the walls was because he’d stuck to milk.

  But as odd as these scenes may be, that was not the worst of the problem…


  The worst of the problem was that a group of government executives, there to assess the safety of the Haven, were on their way and would arrive there within the next hour.

  Thus was the state of affairs when Warren, Kaze and Hank McCoy arrived back.

  Logan, Sandra and a Jamie clone were there to the expressions on their faces.

  'Logan…’ growled Warren, his usually melodious voice taunt with anger.

  'Don’t look at me,’ grunted the bladed man, 'don’t know what happened. One moment they’re all as peaceful as can be, next they’re going wild. I’ve done my best to round up a few of them, but the rest are just too far gone. Perhaps some sort of rebellion?’

  Kaze was shaking her head.

  'No,’ she said, 'this isn’t… organised enough. I get the feeling, odd as this might sound, that this isn’t any sort of… of revolt, more just a tonne of kids with more energy than they can handle.’

  'Yeah,’ agreed Sandra, 'I get this off my own little ones, usually when they get back home after being cooped up at school, they’ve just got so much energy, all held up inside of them, and they gotta let it out.’

  'But why now? And why all at once?’ asked Warren. 'It’s not as if we’ve been keeping them half as caged as they were before.’

  Jamie put a tentitive hand up, 'Um,’ he said, 'maybe it’s those cookies I gave them, sometimes when I have sugar I get a bit of an energy rush.’

  'But we’ve given them sweets before,’ said Kaze, 'its never had this effect. Did you give them anything else, Jamie?’

  'Only some Cool-Aid,’ replied the boy, and McCoy slapped himself on the head.

  'I knew I should have gotten rid of that stuff!’ he swore. 

  'What do you mean?’ asked Warren.

  'Red Cool aid contains RedDye 366, it’s notorious for giving kids a huge energy boost, making them hyperactive. That must be the cause of all this havok.’

  'What’s the cure?’ pressed Warren.

  McCoy shrugged.

  'Darn, we’ve got to get these kids under wraps,’ said Kaze, 'it’s not long before those government inspectors come, and if they see the place like this…’

  'I know, I know,’ sighed Warren, 'but what can we do?’

  'Come on, McCoy,’ piped up Jamie, 'you’ve gotta find a solution!’

  'Damn it Jim!’ growled McCoy, 'I’m a doctor, not a miracle worker![4]’

  'Uh… sir, my name’s Jamie.’

  McCoy frowned, 'Sorry,’ he said, 'don’t know what came over me then. Must be the stress.’

  'Well, stess or no,’ said Warren, 'we need to get these little ones under wraps, pronto.’


  Forge saw the entire problem through the monitors he’d installed. He could get orders through to cancel the inspection, but at this point, and with all the mutants involved, such orders would be very suspicious. So he’d have to settle for delaying tactics.

  Forge hacked into the stoplight system and arranged a traffic jam with a ten mile radius, then hacked into the weather networks and installed an air traffic warning to keep the executives from flying in. Then he hacked the subway systems to make the onboard computers fritz and stop the trains. A few more keyboard tricks, and every way to the Foundation except foot traffic was stopped. Then, just to allay any possible suspicions, he sent ransom demands to all the local newspapers, making sure that they could be tracked back to the FoH.


  Then Forge went through his saved files that he hadn’t had time to look through, and found the conversation between Dann and Essex. Now wasn’t this a pretty can of worms, and what was he going to do about it?


  _More to the question,_ Forge wondered, replaying the words and looking intently at Essex’s position. _What *can* be done?_


  “You could always give 'em some warm milk,” said Spyke. He was lounging on a padded chair nearby and eating popcorn. “Drug it up. Sedate 'em.” His look was calculating and cold. “It’s what They would do.”

  “We ain’t them,” said Logan.

  “But the *principal* of the idea,” said Hank, “is marginally sound… we have a malted sleep-aid in the stores, don’t we? It should help them to combat the hyperactivity without removing any natural inclinations towards enjoyment.”

  “Buh?” said Jamie.

  “We need to cook up an enormous batch of bread and butter pudding,” Sandra said. “Carbohydrates - funny as it sounds - and custard generally make kids loggy. Warm milk, malted sleep-aid or not, should help them settle down.”

  It was frantic work, especially with Spyke tagging along to monitor the proceedings. Jamie made an excellent kitchen staff and even managed to draft Spyke into helping with the custard.


  Forge’s haven was far from a quiet place, the constant hum of computers and other machinery lending the place a background tone to the genius’ work.

  However this did not make the computer expert deaf, far from it, he could easily detect changes in tone of the hum, signalling some error of change.

  So it was that, when one such fan changed pitch, he swung round in his chair, automatically grabbing a gun at his side. He wasn’t much for out an out combat usually, but he knew it was always best to be prepared.

  A gasp of shock escaped his lips when he saw who it was that hid in the shadows.


  The woman smiled, her skin rich and bright, her eyes dark, warm, her long, jet black hair seemed to meld in with the darkness around her. She was as loverly as Forge remembered her.

  ’M-mom,’ he said again, 'but… but you’re dead…’

  'Oh my son,’ murmured the woman, her voice that same soft, melodious lilt he remembered in his nursery rhymes so long ago.

  'My son,’ she continued, 'did you not study once as a shaman? You, surely know the power of the spirit. I have come back to help you, to advise you.’

  'Ho-how? Mom… is it really you… Oh… god I missed you so much…’

  'I know baby, I missed you too. But why do you greet me like this? With a gun? Put it down, baby, you don’t need it.’

  A kernel of doubt began to form itself in Forge’s mind, but he ignored it, he was so happy to see his mother again. Unthinking, he dropped the gun onto the floor.

  Another, gentle smile bloomed on his mother’s lips.

  'Aren’t you a good little boy,’ she whispered and, before Forge could even think about moving, she dived, grabbed the gun, and came up again. Forge found himself facing the muzzle of his own weapon.


  Again his mother smiled, then changed. Her long black hair shortened, became red, her dusky skin turned an azure blue, her eyes changed from jet into gold.

  'Mystique!’ hissed Forge, recognising his adversary.

  'Who’s a clever boy!’ laughed the shapeshifter.

  Forge lept forward. 'Bitch!’ He screamed.

  'Nu, uh, uh,’ warned Mysique, raising the gun, stopping the inventor in his tracks. 'I’m holding the boom-boom stick now, remember?’

  Forge glared at her, 'What do you want?’ he fumed, his eyes liquid death.

  'What I told you before,’ replied the shapeshifter, 'I only want to give you some advice.’

  'And what would that be?’

  'You and me,’ Mystique began, starting to rove around the room, looking at the compter screens, but keeping the gun firmly on Forge, 'share something in common. We both deal in information. I’m sure you understand the value of information, Forge. We have different ways of collecting it, of course, but that’s not what bothers me. What bothers me is how we, or rather you, use it.’

  'I’m doing something, using information you don’t want me to use?’ asked the inventor, trying to get a handle on the situation.

  'No, no, no,’ said Raven shaking her head, 'if you’d been doing anything, I’d have killed you by now. No, it’s more what you’ve discovered that bothers me. Though you havn’t used it yet. I’m sure you’ll be able to work out what it is, let me give you a clue, it’s to do with those little experiment brats.’

  Forge’s eyes strayed to the screen showing the custard making session in the Humane Foundation.

  'Don’t fool yourself,’ laughed Mysique, seeing where his gaze led 'at the moment, I couldn’t give a crap about that place, or those little sprogs. It’s more what is tied up with them.’

  Forge raised an eyebrow.

  'Come on,’ continued Raven, 'I’m sure you’ll be able to figure it out. I’d tell you straight off but, well, walls have ears. I should know, I’ve been one a few times.’

  'So what do you want me to do?’ asked Forge.

  'More not do,’ Raven replied, 'just keep some information to yourself, not get into affairs in which you are out of you’re league.’

  'And if I don’t?’

  Again that dark smile crept across her blue face, 'Forge, I knew the face and voice of your mother. I knew your past. What else could I know? I can be anyone, I have no real family, no connections. You, on the other hand… You cross me, inventor, and I will make your life a living hell. Not only that, but I will make the lives of all your friends, all your family, and their decendents, a hell too. I will make them curse their own lives and yours. And that’s only the start.’

  The inventor said nothing, his face had gone white, Raven had surely suceeded in scaring him.

  'Well,’ sighed the shapeshifter, 'I think it’s time I left, no doubt you have things to do, and things not to do. I’ll see you again soon, Inventor, there may be a few things you can help me with. Who knows, maybe I can even help you with a few things in the mean time. We’re both on the same side, after all, which is to say that we’re both in the middle. Just see that it stays that way.’

  As she spoke these words she began to back away, melting into the darkness.

  'See you later, baby!’ she called just as her glowing eyes faded into shadow, and she was gone.


  Forge would have smiled, but he didn’t know if Raven had left any bugs in the room. Did she honestly think he wouldn’t have seen her coming? He had Cerebro-like sensors around the nearest two blocks. If a mutants came within that area, he knew. And the only reason she had been able to shape-shift at all was because he’d turned the nearby x-gene inhibitors off the moment he saw her coming for him. After all, in his lair, he was never in any danger.

  The gun may have looked ordinary, but it was gene-coded to him. She couldn’t have shot him if she tried, and if she decided to get physical, everything from tractor beams to an electrifiable floor was in his favor.

  He could easily have kept her out this time, but he wanted something from her, as well. The moment she had stepped foot inside his door, some of his nanites had climbed up her and into her through the pores in her skin. They were utterly painless and too small for the naked eye to see. From there they would use materials from her body to replicate until there were enough of them to create a few of his nastier devices within her. For the next ten minutes, they would be vulnerable, but after that, they would have replicated enough to fulfill their first oabective: indetectability, no matter what sort of tests they ran on her. After that, they could replicate in peace, slowly creating sensors and weapons so that he could see what she saw, hear what she heard, turn off her mutation at the push of a button, or merely use the nanite’s energy for a simple electrocution. Right now he was very glad he’d come across her file when he was bored and wired his nanites to be able to work on shapeshifters in general, her in particular.

  His sensors were done and had informed him that the area was clear, but he didn’t want to take any chances. He had connected his artificial arm directly to his neural network years ago, and more recently rigged it as a sort of internal keyboard, so he could type up anything he wanted to unseen. In his left eye he himself had used nanite construction to build a mini-holoprojector, so he could turn it on and see reports on anything he didn’t want others to see him accessing. And if he couldn’t trace his own network on this connection, neither could anyone else, with the possible exception of another technomage. From now on, all information on Essex would go directly to his eye cam.

  Forge had been shocked to see her enter as his mother, but the rest was just good acting. After all, it didn’t pay to have all the tech in the world but get caught because he flubbed a line. And its not as if she could really get to his family of friends. Every member of his family was dead, and when he had done the search, he knew that was true. The family and friends she had seen and threatened were a series of robots he’d built, partly to act as his eyes and ears, partly because the lifestyle of a mad inventor could get lonely. But nothing short of a nuke would take out the bots central nervous system. The rest could be rebuilt, but the bots developed personalities of their own.

  He wondered if she truly didn’t care about the foundation and didn’t know that her own granddaughter was there. Yes, he had figured out Nightcrawler’s parentage. His bugs were programmed to take a genetic sample of any mutant he might come up against, and he had samples on both Raven and Kurt. Once the samples were taken, they returned to him so he could search for x-gene markers and relations between mutants. With all that Xaviers kids had done, he wondered if he should take samples of the younger mutants as well. Even if they did get smashed, they made a very mosquito-like smash. He was especially interested in that Rogue girl. He was always wary of a fellow hacker. Within a minute, he had sent one of his mosquitoes out after her.


  Here’s an interesting fact about shapeshifters.

  To shape-shift you need, at first, to have an intamate knowledge of your own form. An insight into your own biochemistary.

  Thus it was that, only a few momments after leaving Forge, Raven became awear of the ninites inside her.

  She did not feel them directly, of course, all she knew was that something was wrong, very, very wrong. The rest was just guess work, after all, she had just been in the home of a computer genious.

  'Knew that was too easy!’ she grumbled, her mind moving fast.

  She came to a conclusion and a solution fairly quickly, not knowing how much time she had she rushed to the nearest street light.

  Hoping that this would work, and that no one would see her, she wrenched open the service box of the lamp post, leaving it’s naked wires visable to the world at large.

  Then, with a silent prayer and a deep breath, she rammed her fingers into it, twising the electrics.

  Raven scremed, her cry only slightly choaked by sheer willpower, as the elecrical currents ravaged her body. Her red hair stood on end, there was the smell of scorched flesh, and even she, a shapeshifter of no small talent, might have died there had she not let go at that second.

  She lay on the hard pavement for a while, recovering. When she felt she could move again, she stumbled away, hoping her gamble had worked.


  Forge watched in shock, and cursed lourdly as the sensor readings from Mystiques microbes went wild. It was if some huge, electrical current had washed through her body, short-circiting the microbes, especially vulnerable at this early age.

  When the surge had gone Forge rechecked the stats, seeing what damage had been caused.

  The sensor microbes, which had started to gather around her sensory organs, were destroyed beyond any hope of repair. So much for spying.

  Luckily those that were designed to control her mutation were already bonding themselves onto her genes, they were safe, and would soon be operational. Simerally, some of the nanites created for the power-sourse still existed, thus, at close range at any rate, he could probably electrocute her. In deadly fasion.

  Hardly a full sucess, but not a failure either.

  Then again, what else could he expect from Raven Darkholme?


  Forge wasn’t worried. All his nanites were programmed to fulfil any functions the others had not finished with as soon as their task was complete. Normally, that would only take a few days, but with her genetic talents, it might be years before he got anything more out of her. Sure, she’d be able to sense his sensor nanites within minutes of them activating, after all, they were the most intrusive. Perhaps he’d still get something useful from her.

  He wondered if she would figure out the problem and go to some techno to try to get his bots out of her. If so, whoever it was would be in for a nasty shock. One in fifty of his nites had a nasty program. If some shock ran through the host’s body that might be an attack on the nanites, the soldier bots would activate. If anything more electronically intelligent than a screwdriver tried to enter the host body or medium in which the nites were stored, the soldier nanites would short it out. 


  Remy chewed on his matchstick and glanced at the clock. It had been hours since Jean left, and he was more than a little worried.

  She’d thought to sneak out without alerting anyone, and with anyone else, she might have succeeded. Hell, nobody else in this place even knew she was gone - even Xavier was too preoccupied with his meeting with Dann to scan the Institute for all of his charges.

  However, Remy was a thief, and Thieves Guild Royalty, no less. If Jeannie thought she could sneak out of any abode he was staying in and *not* have him know, she was dumber than her doctorate purported her to be. He’d watched her from the shadows, making use of the shielding techniques she and the Professor had taken so much time and effort to teach him - to teach all of them. Yet Remy had also seen the urgent, panicked look on Jean’s face, and so had not stopped her from wherever it was she thought she needed to be.

  And so, now he found himself sitting in the kitchen, glaring at the clock on the wall as if he could will her back by staring at the hands. Jean was his friend, and therefore precious to him. Remy had no interest in her romantically, despite what his banter entailed, but he worried about her in such a way as would destroy the 'bad-boy’ image Dann had forced him to cultivate, if it ever made it to the press.

  _Jeannie, where *are* you?_ The matchstick roved from side to side as a thousand and one scenarios played through his head. Maybe she’d been contacted by her family. Maybe something was wrong at home. Maybe she was under mind control. Maybe she’d been kidnapped. Maybe she was…

  “Mr. LeBeau?”

  The former thief would never usually have been caught unawares, and cursed himself in both French and English as the voice made him jump. _Gettin’ sloppy, LeBeau._ He turned to see two slight frames in the doorway, recognising them instantly, and trying to relax his pose a little.

  “What’re you two tykes doin’ up? S'nearly five in th’ mornin’.”

  “We could ask you the same thing,” Jubilee sniffed, while Rahne tried to hide the blush Remy’s habitually shirtless state had caused to invade her cheeks. Coming from a vastly strict Christian upbringing, Rahne was known to blush at such things, and Remy suddenly felt very self-conscious at the scrutinising gaze she shot him through her latticed fingers.

  “Jus’ t'inkin’, cherie,” he drawled.

  “Did it hurt?” Jubilee crossed to the 'fridge and pulled out a carton of milk. Rahne followed, retreiving two glasses from the cupboard.

  “We could'nae sleep,” she explained, omitting the part where they shared a room and so knew most of each other’s activities. “Thought we’d come down an’ try this for some shut-eye, but I don’t think it’ll help.”

  “Oui? An’ why would dat be, cherie?”

  “'Cause it’s sumthin’ in the air. Something’s… wrong. It’s makin’ me restless, and when I’m restless, Jubes cannae sleep a wink.”

  Jubilee rubbed at the bags under her eyes. “Don’t remind me. Stupid light sleeper that I am.” She poured two glasses of milk and shoved hers in the microwave to warm it up. “Ugh, I hate warm milk. It always gets a skin on it, and by the time you’ve picked it off, it’s gone cold again.”

  Remy smiled, but it was forced.

  “You’re tense aboot sumthin’,” Rahne surmised, watching him with a sidelong look. “If I could speak freely, I’d say you could feel it, too.”

  Remy sighed. “That your wolf senses talkin, petite?”

  “Nah, just intuition. So what’s up? There’s very little goes on around here without you knowin’ aboot it, Mister Thief.”

  “T'anks for de compliment, chere. Remy is flattered.”

  Jubilee cut her eyes at him, and glanced out of the door. “Quit stalling, Mr. LeBeau. Nobody’s coming, so you can tell us what’s wrong. We won’t tell anyone, honest.”

  “For teenage girls, gossip is a way of life, I t'ink.”

  “Is it to do with Miss Grey?” asked Rahne.

  He nearly choked on the matchstick.

  “Wolf senses. I heard her leaving a few hours ago, and though you guys were out on some mission. But you’re here… so… She *smelled* like fear,” the little scotsgirl added, embarrassed by the way Remy was staring. “She smelled like she was scared, and she went so fast, she was in a real hurry to get somewhere…”

  Remy sighed, and hurriedly explained what he’d seen and heard from the resident telekinetic. He also added her demeanour from earlier, when he’d found her in her room, and the two girls nodded so gravely, and so much like Xavier, he almost laughed out loud at the absurdity of it all.

  “Don’t you think we should tell the Professor?” Rahne said timidly when he was done.

  “Jean’s a big girl, petite.”

  “True,” said Jubilee, folding her arms, “But there’s a lot of anti-mutant sentiment out there right now. There’s also a lot of anti-X-Men sentiment, too. You wouldn’t believe how many Hate Sites there are on the Internet for you guys.” She shrugged. “What? You hang around with Rogue, you see these things once in a while.”

  Rahne leaned in close, cupping her hand to the other girl’s ear. “Is tact even a word in your vocabulary, hen?”