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Off Night Part 1
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In a world that hates and fears them, Professor Charles Xavier and the X-men fight for peace and understanding. As mutants, the next step in human evolution, they are part of a growing conflict that has already manifested in a number of ways in recent times. As a result, the halls of the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning have gained new occupants such as Storm, Wolverine, and most recently Rogue.

But the X-men aren’t the only mutant team with growing ranks. The Brotherhood of Mutants, run by Xavier’s old friend turned rival Magneto, have also increased their activities. After an initial recruitment run, activity has lessened and their trail has gone cold. In a recent visit, Magneto warned his old friend that a great war was coming and his X-men may get caught in the crossfire. The meaning of this warning has yet to be revealed, but the X-men remain vigilant, hoping to stop whatever plot the Master of Magnetism has in store.

For now, though, the X-men are taking a well-deserved break. After the drama of Rogue’s recruitment and Mystique’s inevitable involvement, the team is in need of some downtime. Couples like Jean and Logan, Ororo and Hank, and Bobby and his online flame Lorna are taking full advantage of an off night. But for some, their work is never done.


Xavier Institute – Hank’s Lab

It was another busy night in the lab for Hank McCoy. After teaching his classes and performing routine upgrades for the Danger Room, he could finally catch up on his research. In his spare time he tackled various projects relating to mutation and biology, usually involving research the Professor didn’t have time to develop. Armed with the resources of the institute, he had the tools to make some amazing discoveries.

Tonight was particularly exciting. He was going over blood samples generously donated by Wolverine. Ever since they learned of him, Hank was fascinated by his healing factor. While he had studied cases of other mutants with similar powers, none of them were quite as potent as Logan’s. His was so efficient it could in theory keep him the same age biologically for an indefinite period. That still made his age impossible to determine, but that gave him all the more reason to uncover its secrets.

He switched slides under his microscope and began the next experiment. He couldn’t observe the healing mechanisms directly, but he could infer the affects if he could just provoke them the right way. That was never easy to do at the cellular level, but Hank loved a challenge. Part of the reason he did this was to unlock the secrets of how the X-gene worked. It held the promise for mutants and humans alike. That kind of potential truly excited him. While others described his activities as clinical workaholism, to him it was fun. It also had the benefit of furthering their cause by enhancing their knowledge.

“Amazing…” he said as he observed the cells in action, “There appears to be some protein/enzyme exchange that speeds up metabolic rate while maintaining perfect homeostasis. It almost seems too mechanical to be natural. The cellular matrix and chemical exchange rates are too well thought out. I wonder if it’s possible to artificially impose such a state?”

He began jotting down some notes and theorems. Then the metal doors behind him opened to reveal his concerned girlfriend.

“So this is where you’ve been hiding out,” she said as she walked over to him, “I was about to call the national guard and begin a statewide search.”

“Well congratulations. You found me, my dear,” said Hank light heartedly.

“And not a moment too soon from the looks of it. I thought you said you were taking the night off.”

“I am,” he told her, “This is what I do when I have a free night. I work on my assorted experiments and research projects. It may not be a night on the town, but it’s entertaining to me as well as enlightening to me.”

“Two words that rarely go hand-in-hand,” said Ororo shaking her head, “But as long as you’re enjoying yourself.”

“Oh I am!” he said as he turned back to his microscope, “I’ve been looking over data from Logan’s blood samples. Did you know his healing functions on a completely different level than other healing functions like that of lizards or newts? Even the healing factors observed in other mutants don’t measure up to the sheer breadth of this phenomenon.”

“You don’t say?”

“And not only that, the same mechanism functions identically in nearly every type of cell in his body. So the same process that heals his muscles also heals his brain and organs. The process is so robust it has the potential to re-grow organs as well as organ systems.”

“Really…”

Hank kept sifting through his data, not noticing Ororo drifting closer and closer to where he was sitting. She was listening to some of these startling revelations of his, but they were quickly lost in the complex jargon Hank coded them in. Even though she went to Grad school, her vocabulary was no match for his. But that was the last thing on her mind at the moment.

“Here’s one other peculiarity,” he went on, “There seems to be traces of an unknown foreign catalyst in his samples. It is unlike any catalyst I have ever observed before. I’ve gone over every possible source and near as I can tell there is no documented case of it occurring in nature.”

“Mmhmm,” said Ororo, not sounding as interested.

“The implications are perplexing. It could be the result of a new kind of mutation, an advanced new level of mutation, or maybe even a mutation that has been altered. Given what we know about the barbaric methods of Weapon X, there are a great many possibilities.”

“I’ll bet,” she said in a deeper tone.

“I’m not sure which it is. It may very well be a combination of factors. I suspect…”

Then he was suddenly cut off by the feeling of two powerful arms around his neck. Ororo was now leaning over him, skillfully running her hands through his thick fur. She was soft, yet firm. It was almost as if she was daring him to turn away from his work and focus on her instead. It helped that it felt good. It was the kind of gentle, soothing gesture he came to love from her. It was more than enough to stop him even when he was on an intellectual roll.

“What’s wrong? Lose your train of thought?” she teased.

“Well uh…it’s a bit difficult when one encounters certain distractions in his musings,” he said with a wry grin.

“Oh so now I’m a distraction?”

“Of course not! I didn’t mean that as a…”

“I know,” said Ororo, cutting him off, “Take it easy, Hank. I’m just trying to get your attention, that’s all.”

“Well you’ve got it. I don’t see how I can get on with my work when a beautiful woman is keeping me in such a state.”

“And what state is that? Would it be this by chance?”

Ororo leaned turned his head towards hers and gave him a deep kiss. Hank eagerly returned the gesture, pulling her onto his lap and slipping his arms around her waist. As exciting as his research was, there were equally exciting experiences with his girlfriend. Sometimes he just needed a reminder and Ororo was getting better at breaking him out of his shell.

“You know, everybody else is going out tonight,” said Ororo, “That means we have a nearly empty mansion all to ourselves. Do you really want to stay cooped up in here the whole time?”

Hank thought about it for a moment. There were any number of opportunities to seclude himself in his lab for these experiments. There may not be nearly as many opportunities to enjoy a quiet mansion with his beautiful girlfriend.

“I suppose I could take a break and spend the night with my lovely lady. My work will be here later,” smiled Hank.

“That’s the spirit! See? You’re lightening up already.”

 “Indeed. So what do you feel like doing?”

“I don’t care. So long as we do something relaxing. I’ve noticed that around here nights like this are few and far between.”

“A very acute observation,” said Hank, “I believe the old phrase carpe diem would best apply here. Perhaps some ice cream and a movie would be in order?”

“So long as it’s not another documentary on amoebas, I can go along with that,” she replied playfully.

“Very well. We’ll just raid Warren’s DVD collection. I’m sure he won’t mind.”

“Sounds like a perfect way to spend a night off,” smiled Ororo.

Hank smiled back and followed her out of the lab. But first, he powered down his equipment and saved his data. It was easy to forget at times that he had a girlfriend now. He didn’t have excuses to be a recluse anymore. That was not fair to Ororo. He still wished he could uncover the secrets of Logan’s healing ability. There were so many questions he had yet to answer. But they could wait for another night. Everybody else was taking the night off so why shouldn’t he?


Xavier Institute – Backyard Balcony

Everybody had their own unique way of unwinding. Some went for long walks, some read books, and some watched movies. The X-men had their own unique ways of relaxing as well. Being that they had extraordinary powers it was hardly surprising they had some extraordinary means. Logan would unwind by trashing the Danger Room, Mr. McCoy would unwind by doing experiments in his lab, and Jean liked to do what she and the Professor called psychic meditation. Warren had his methods as well and his was probably the most unique.

Whenever he needed to get away from it all, Warren would just go outside and go on long flights. There was never a destination or an objective in mind. He just flew randomly around the skies of Westchester, soaking in the air and leave everything that was troubling him back on the ground. It didn’t help him exercise and it didn’t help him hone his skills. It was just his way of clearing his mind.

With a free night ahead of him, Warren figured this was a nice time to enjoy the evening sky. Everybody else made their own personal plans. He figured he would keep it simple. After finishing a late class he make a quick trip around lake. It got a little brisk out so he returned to get a sweatshirt. When he landed he was surprised to find Professor Xavier there waiting for him.

“Enjoying your night off, Warren?” Xavier greeted.

“Don’t we have to? Given how few of them we have around here?” grinned the winged mutant as he flexed his wings a bit, “I can’t remember the last time I went on a nice evening flight just for the heck of it. Usually it’s always to unwind after a rough round of class, missions, training, and what not.”

“I’m glad to see you’re enjoying yourself. Between Weapon X, the Brotherhood, and Rogue’s complicated recruitment we’re all in need of a little rest.”

“No arguments here,” shrugged Warren, “We’ve been dealing with rough times like this since our mask-wearing days. I know how precious nights like these are and that’s why I always use them for a night of stress-free flight.”

“Indeed…which brings up something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about.”

Warren shifted awkwardly. He knew that look and tone. It was the expression Professor Xavier always had when he was looking to discuss personal issues and for Warren, personal issues were just as stressful as any fight with Magneto.

“I don’t mean to single you out, Warren. But everyone else on the team has found diverse ways of utilizing nights like these. They go out, they explore new things, and they take a few chances here and there. You, on the other hand, haven’t deviated from personal flights in years.”

“So what? I like to stick with what works,” he said flatly.

“You didn’t always keep your options so limited,” the Professor pointed out, “You used to do more. But ever since you broke up with…”

However, Warren didn’t let his mentor finish.

“Could we please not bring that up, Professor? I’d…rather not relive that old nightmare.”

“I understand. I apologize if I sounded insensitive,” said Xavier empathically, “I still have my concerns about you, Warren. It isn’t healthy to keep cutting yourself off like this. You have gifts beyond your wings and you shouldn’t be afraid to share them with the rest of the world.”

“Are you asking I go out on a reckless night of binge drinking?”

“No, I’m just asking that you go out,” Xavier clarified, “I think it would be good for you. I think you think it’ll be good for you too. You just don’t want yourself to think it.”

It was hard to argue with the world’s most powerful telepath. Ever since he joined the institute, Professor Xavier understood his twisted thought process better than he did most of the time. The conflict between him and his family left him a big disconnected at times. More often than not, the Professor knew what was good for him. Or at least he knew what was better than whatever bad habits he was stuck on.

“I guess I could head into the city for a bit,” he shrugged, “I can’t remember the last time I just went out and threw my money around. For a Worthington that’s saying something.”

“Now is as good a time as any to catch up,” said Xavier with a smile as he wheeled himself back inside, “In addition, Bobby needs a ride for his date with Lorna.”

“I just knew there had to be something else,” Warren chuckled, “What about you, Professor? How do you plan on spending your free night?”

“By doing something so rare and irregular it may shock the entire student body…watch some regular network TV.”

Warren was tempted to burst out laughing. Even Xavier could see the humor in such a statement. As the busiest man in the X-men, it was hard to conceive of him doing something so casual and unsophisticated. It made Warren feel a bit better about doing something different on his free night. Maybe going out and hitting a club was just what he needed.


Logan’s Room

It was almost eight and Logan was just about ready. He buttoned up a black dress shirt he borrowed from Warren and put on his only pair of blue jeans without holes in them. Looking at himself in the mirror it was by far the fanciest he had dressed in a while. He was usually content with anything that was comfortable no matter how old it was, but tonight he had to make himself a little more presentable. He and Jeannie were going out tonight and she made it clear that she wanted a little formality from him. It wasn’t usually his style, but for her he would bear it.

‘The things a guy does for a beautiful woman. It’s times like this I wanna give Mother Nature a good ass-kicking. Only a girl like Jeannie could get me to wear something that doesn’t make me look like some crazy drifter. I look like shit, but damn it if that pretty face and killer rack ain’t worth it!’

The intricacies of their relationship were anything but typical. Logan had a past so checkered and a memory so tattered that he could have been married or already had a girlfriend somewhere for all he knew. He made this clear to Jean that even he wasn’t sure where he had been or who he had been with. But that did little to dissuade her. She still saw in him someone she wanted to get closer to. She was a brave girl. That was one of the many things he really admired about her. But brave or not, he swore to himself that he wouldn’t let his checkered past hurt her. So for the most part they kept things simple.

Since they started dating, much of their outings consisted of bike rides and trips to nearby diners. They weren’t the fanciest dates, but they were still dates. Jeannie seemed to enjoy them, but she always expressed a desire to break him out of his old habits he acquired through years of living on the road. He could be stubborn at times, but she had a talent for breaking through it. It was one of the other things he liked about this girl. She pushed him to do things he wouldn’t normally do and while he was too proud to admit it, he made sure Jean knew he was thankful for it.

Logan didn’t go too far with it though. He didn’t comb his hair or shave. The clothes were as far as he would go. He didn’t take too much time scrutinizing his appearance. He just grabbed his leather coat and went to meet up with his girl. As he made his way down the hall towards the staircase, he couldn’t help but grin to himself. After all the fighting and drama, he needed a night like this. Some quality time with Jeannie went a long way. Seeing as how there was never any telling when his lousy luck would catch up with him, he looked to enjoy himself while he could.

“Wow! I can’t believe you actually did it. The oh so gruff Wolverine actually dressed up for a date!” said Jean, who was waiting for him downstairs in the foyer.

“Don’t start with me, Jeannie,” he replied, “It ain’t like I had a freakin’ face lift or something.”

“I would say it’s just as dramatic,” she joked, “This may very well be the most well-groomed I’ve ever seen you.”

“Don’t get too giddy, Jeannie. It ain’t like everybody can dress as hot as you.”

Jean blushed as his eyes drifted down her figure. For tonight she wore a nice red dress that ran just above her knees and was cut right around her cleavage for that extra sexy look. It was tight and it really hugged her figure well. He really liked what he saw. It was the kind of reaction she had come to expect from Logan and boded well for the night ahead.

“I think you look very handsome. Even if those jeans don’t do that shirt the justice it deserves,” she said, trailing her hand down his chest.

“I’ll wear the shirt for you, darlin’. But we’re a long ways away from me dressing up in a monkey suit for just dinner and a movie.”

“Gotta keep that bad boy image, I suppose,” she said, rolling her eyes.

“Ain’t got nothing to do with an image. Those things just ain’t comfortable,” Logan pointed out, “My uniform feels better then whatever the hell those things are made out of.”

“Fair enough,” Jean sighed, “I suppose the rugged look will do for now.”

“Good. Now can we drop the fashion crap and get this date goin’ already? This shirt is already starting to chafe.”

“Oh quit whining. If you can handle three rounds of level six training in the Danger Room you can handle a simple dress shirt,” she teased as she latched onto his arm.

“Whatever,” he shrugged, “But I thought you liked the rugged look.”

“I do. But it’s not appropriate for every situation, especially a date. Everybody else dressed up a little before they went out. Bobby spent an hour in the bathroom just preparing for a dinner date with that Lorna girl and Warren’s rich so of course he’s going to wear something fancy when he goes out. Even Ororo put on something nice to lure Beast out of his lab.”

“Must have been pretty damn nice,” chuckled Logan, “The way Hank gets so focused on that research of his she would have to walk in wearing a shoe string thong to get him out of there.”

“Lucky for me a nice dress is enough,” grinned Jean with a flirtatious leer.

“Just barely,” quipped Logan with a lurid undertone, “What about Cyke and Rogue? Are they out on a date too?”

Jean shifted at that question. It was still a touchy subject for her. She and Rogue had yet to really sit down and talk to one another. She was usually too busy hanging around Scott. It shouldn’t have bothered her as much as it did, but she would have to get used to it now that she was living her. For now, she set it aside and followed her boyfriend out to the garage.

“Let’s not get into that, tonight,” she said as they entered the garage, “Let’s just focus on you and me.”

“Fine by me, darlin’,” said Logan as he tossed her a spare helmet, “Just hang on tight. Tonight’s gonna be a wild ride!”

Once on his motorcycle, the Wolverine kicked it into high gear and sped off into the night with Jean holding on from behind. It was the first real off night they had since he arrived. Even X-men needed some down time and a chance to enjoy the ongoing relationships in their lives. It was still new to Logan, who was so used to being a loner. But he was getting used to the idea of having people around him. And Jean had a lot to do with that.

But as the couple rode off towards the city, a lone observer perched on a hilltop overlooking the road spotted them through a pair of binoculars. A sinister grin formed on his face as he watched them ride by. Two hours of constant surveying had finally paid off. For Sabretooth, it was just what he hoped for. Not only would he get a chance to spy on old Logan and his girl, he would carry out the next step in getting his revenge.

“You can run and hook up with red-headed bimbos, Logan, but you’ll never escape,” he growled, “You’re still the prey. And sabretooths always stalks his prey before pouncing.”


Queens, New York

Bobby checked his appearance in the car mirror for what seemed like the hundredth time. He was meeting up with Lorna again. Only this time it wasn’t for ice cream or a quick bite at a local diner. This was a real date. This was a dress-up, night-on-the-town, honest-to-God-date and he was so excited he barely slept last night. He really liked this girl. He felt a connection with her online. Now they were finding a connection with each other in the real world as well. He could now laugh at all those who warned him that it was dangerous to meet someone over the internet. He didn’t just find somebody, he found a genuinely nice girl that reached out to him. Maybe with time she could join them and they could become something more.

To Warren, however, Bobby was getting too ahead of himself. He acted like he was marrying the girl or something. Lorna sounded nice and all, but Bobby made her out to be this wonder girl that was everything he ever wanted. He assumed some of that was his usual enthusiasm, but he worried about his friend. He had been in serious relationships before and they could just as easily fall apart as they can arise. Whatever happened with him and Lorna, he hoped it didn’t turn too sour. He didn’t want to see Bobby get hurt.

But he tried not to worry too much about it. Bobby was a big boy and capable of making his own decisions. He had his own plans for the night. Once he dropped Bobby off, he was going to hit the town on his own. He didn’t need a girl to have fun on his off night. With a free night and his parents credit card, the town was his to enjoy. And he knew just how to spend it.

“Geez Bobby, you put enough cologne on before you left?” commented Warren, “I wouldn’t be surprised if she could smell us coming.”

“I’d rather give off a pleasant odor to my girlfriend. Sue me,” shrugged Bobby as he painstakingly combed his hair.

“Oh so she’s your girlfriend now? When did you two work that out?”

“You gotta keep up with the news around you, man. We’ve been official for a while now. Heck, it feels like we’ve been together since we started chatting online.”

“And yet this is your first date,” chided the winged mutant.

“Criticize all you want, my friend. Nothing can bring me out of my good mood short of a mutant/alien invasion! I’ve got a free night and I’m going on a date with a hot chick with green hair. Can you think of a more uplifting circumstance?”

“I could name a few,” he grinned.

“Well keep them to yourself. We’re almost there and the only one making Lorna laugh tonight is me.”

“Fair enough,” shrugged Warren, “Just steer clear of fart jokes, blonde jokes, and the ever popular mother jokes. And if she starts asking about the inner workings of the X-men, remember what Professor X said.”

“I know. Only tell her as much as she needs to know. She’s part of the school so we can’t be sure we can trust her,” groaned Bobby.

It didn’t seem fair. He wanted Lorna to know as much about the X-men as possible. But there were certain details Professor Xavier wanted them to keep to themselves. They were sensitive issues like Cerebro, the Danger Room, and their involvement in numerous mutant related affairs. It felt like they were being too secretive, but if that’s how the Professor wanted to do it who was he to argue?

They arrived outside of Lorna’s apartment building a few minutes early. Bobby went over every detail one last time in his head. First they would go to the movies, then a nice restaurant Jean recommended, and then go for a nice romantic walk down central park. Along the way he would ask her about her plans for the future. He knew she was in a tough situation with her mother. She wasn’t even planning on going to college. He wanted her to give the institute a try, but she had to be the one to make that decision.

“Okay, I think I’m ready!” said Bobby, flashing the mirror a confident look.

“I think you’re overeager,” said Warren.

“Ah what do you know,” scoffed the Iceman, “You haven’t even been on a date since…”

“Please don’t go there, Bobby,” said the winged mutant in a serious tone, “You know how much I hate talking about it.”

“Sorry man. Didn’t know it was still a sensitive issue,” he replied innocently.

“Well it is. You don’t hear me bringing up things like why you’re not concerned you’re dating someone who just happens to have mutant powers identical to Magneto’s.”

“Hey, I already got that same shtick from Scott and the Professor,” said Bobby apprehensively.

“And it still doesn’t bother you?”

“What? That she has magnet powers? That doesn’t mean she’s evil or something.”

“No, but answer me this, Iceman…has she talked about her father yet?”

Bobby cast Warren a bemused look. That was another touchy issue he planned on avoiding tonight. Lorna never talked much about it. All she ever told him was that her father wasn’t in the picture and she never even met the guy. It did concern him because of what that could mean. But he refused to jump to conclusions especially when things had been going so well between them.

Thankfully, the tension broke as the door to the building opened and Lora walked out wearing a beautiful green dress that perfectly matched her hair. She quickly drew a smile from Bobby.

“Wow, did I just take a wrong turn into heaven because you’ve got to be an angel!” he said as he got out to meet her.

Lorna laughed and blushed. But Warren wasn’t amused. He probably shouldn’t have taught him that line. But Lorna seemed to like it.

“Nice to see you too, Bobby. Are you ready?” she asked.

“Ready and waiting! Now what do you say we hit New York City as only a couple of teenage mutants can?” he said, taking her hand in his.

“Sounds like fun. It’s been too long since I’ve gone out anyways.”

“You and me both, beautiful! But it ends tonight!”

Lorna loved the enthusiasm. Bobby always had this energy that seemed to feed off itself. She envied that kind of attitude. Her life gave her few reasons to be that upbeat. Hopefully Bobby could help change that.

“Have fun you two,” said Warren as he waved goodbye.

“Same to you, buddy,” said Bobby as he waved back, “Try not to go too crazy out there. I need someone to pick me up.”

“Ah you know me. I’ll be fine,” he scoffed.

Warren drove off, leaving Bobby alone with his girl. She looked a little nervous and he was as well. Everyone told him that first dates were always tricky and he was beginning to see why. Hopefully it would get easier after tonight. It all depended on everything go as planned.


Westchester Park

Marie Anna Darkholme was having a good night for once. With all the chaos and emotional distress surrounding her powers and the incident with her mother, she needed something like this. She had been droning around the mansion for weeks, showing up late for classes and training sessions, smoking twice as many cigarettes than usual, and rarely being in a good mood. She was pretty bitter after what happened with Mystique. And when it wasn’t family issues bothering her, it was her powers. She felt like one of the unluckiest mutants on the planet. She could walk freely in a crowd of people, but could never get close to any of them. Her body was her own worst prison. But she found good company in Scott Summers.

Scott had been the one to get her to come out. He was worried about her and offered to take her out for some ice cream and a tour of nearby Westchester. She didn’t accept at first, but with a little coaxing he got her to come out. She even dressed up a bit, putting on her nicer black pants with a green tank top that matched it along with a black denim jacket. If he didn’t know any better he would say she was treating this like a date. While he didn’t intend it to be, he wasn’t opposed to the idea. But that was another matter.

At the moment they were finishing some ice cream from one of the best local parlors in the area. Scott got a chocolate swirl while Rogue got a mint chocolate chip. As they walked and ate, Scott told her about each area. Having lived at the Xavier Institute for so long he had a nice feel for the area and every place had a story. And as they walked down the busy streets, he talked about what it was like to live here as an X-men.

“Westchester’s a pretty nice place. It’s not too big, but not too small either. You can still blend into a crowed. But there are still a number of people around her know us so you’ll see some fans every now and then,” he said as he finished his ice cream.

“Fans, huh? Would they be the good, bad, or obsessive kind?” asked Rogue.

“A little of each,” Scott shrugged, “Most people really don’t pay attention even if they recognize us. But once in a while someone with strong anti-mutant feelings will come up to us and try and start something.”

“Can’t say Ah’m surprised. Any of them get ugly?”

“More than a few I’m sorry to say. One time at the mall someone tried to pick a fight with Bobby and he froze his feet the floor. It was funny, but the guy caused such a scene it almost got us a lifetime ban. Then there was this time Warren was flying over my car and this big rig sped by and he the wind caused him to tumble right into this open convertible.”

“Dang, that’ll ruin your day!” exclaimed Rogue.

“You don’t know the half of it. The car swerved and almost crashed into a telephone pole. The woman tried to press charges, but apparently there’s no law against flying mutants falling into your car.”

Rogue laughed, trying to picture an incident like that. Scott was lucky he could smile at such a memory because it turned into a pretty wild affair. They probably didn’t win any pro-mutant support from that lady, but incidents like that were just part of the game.

“Sound like you guys attract excitement wherever you go,” she said as she threw away her cone.

“It sure seems that way, but we still try to live semi-normal lives,” said Scott, “When we’re not in uniform, we act as human as everybody else. Sometimes we’ll all get together and see a movie, go camping, or just hang out. It’s like being in a family as much as being in a school. But I guess that’s easy for me since I don’t have much family left.”

“Ah know how that feels. It sure makes things tough, that’s for damn sure,” said Rogue in a melancholy tone.

“Yeah, but we find ways to support each other. I remember how hard it was back when I first joined. I still saw myself as a ticking time bomb whose only purpose in life was to hurt anybody I got close to. But the Professor helped me to move beyond that. He taught me that my powers weren’t a curse and I could use them for good. And then there’s Jean.”

“Jean? What about her?” asked Rogue curiously.

Scott stuck his hands in his pockets and sighed. Ever since she got involved with Logan it was difficult talking about her. They were still close friends, but there were still issues that bothered him in ways he didn’t fully understand.

“She’s just a big part of my life. She and I dealt with a lot of the same issues. She had trouble with her powers, her family, and what not. But we really came together and supported each other through those tough early years. She was the first real friend I ever had after I lost my parents. She’s still my best friend. I honestly don’t think I could have come this far without her.”

“Sounds like you two are close,” she commented.

“Yeah, I’d say we’re pretty close.”

“How close? Did ya ever get serious or anything?”

Scott stopped for a moment and faced Rogue seriously. The girl didn’t mince words. She was very blunt and this was a sensitive issue for him. It wasn’t as clear cut as he would have liked it to be. But these sorts of things rarely were.

“We’re…just friends,” he answered.

“Fair enough,” she shrugged, taking his word for it, “At least you had a friend. Back in Mississippi Ah was all alone for the most part. From the time Ah was adopted to the time Ah turned 13 Ah pretty much kept to myself.”

“That must have been rough. Were there any kids nearby?”

“Hell if Ah know. Ah didn’t get out much. Ah was always training and stuff. Mah mama told meh Ah had to be ready for the day when everything changed. She talked about the world falling apart and how only people like us would be able to survive. Ah never knew what she meant by that, but then again she was always runnin’ around doin’ this or that.”

“Sounds like she was a little overbearing,” commented Scott.

“She sure as hell was, but it she didn’t do it just to do it. At least Ah’d like to think she didn’t. It may be hard for you to picture this since you’ve probably only faced her as an enemy, but growin’ up she was just mah mama. She would tuck meh into bed at night, read meh bedtime stories, and push meh on the swing set for as long as Ah wanted. And she always made sure Ah was safe. Above all else, she protected meh from the world.”

Scott was silent for a moment. It was hard picturing Mystique as being motherly. He only knew her as the crazy, cutthroat woman who would fight the X-men at every turn. He couldn’t even count the close calls he had fighting her personally. But Xavier always told them everybody had their reasons. It was just difficult to contemplate what Mystique’s reasons were. It was on this note that Rogue’s expression grew solemn.

“She’s the only mother Ah’ve ever known. That’s why it was so hard when we started growing apart.”

“When did that happen?” asked Scott as they stopped under a tree.

“There wasn’t a specific time, but if it started anywhere it was definitely around mah 12th birthday. That’s when she started going on these weird new missions.”

“Missions? What kind of missions?”

“Beats meh. She wouldn’t tell me what they were for. But Ah assumed they were important. They damn well better have been for all the time she spent away. That’s when things started goin’ downhill. That’s also when Irene moved in to watch over meh. She was nice and all, but she wasn’t mah mama. Ah think that’s when Ah started becoming more Rogue than Marie.”

It sounded like a rocky transition. She went from having a kind of support from Mystique to having no support at all. Scott could only speculate on the kind of influence the shape shifter had on her personality, but something told him it played a part in this process of her becoming who she is now.

“Sounds like you dealt with a lot of issues,” he commented.

Rogue looked away and hugged her shoulders.

“That’s putting it mildly. Ah snuck out, Ah skipped school, Ah drank, Ah smoked, and Ah yelled at Irene every chance Ah got. Call meh a problem child or a deviant. Believe meh, I’ve heard ‘em all.”

“I don’t think you’re either,” said Scott.

“Well think again,” she said in a melancholy tone, “It’s just one of those things Ah could’ve handled a lot better. Mah mama left and it made meh angry. Ah just didn’t know the right way to handle it.”

“I don’t think there is a right way under those circumstances.”

“But Ah bet there’s a better way than what Ah chose. And Ah sure as hell failed at everything else Ah tried.”

Rogue’s expression sank again. Scott moved in closer, but not too close. She was still keen on space. But his presence was appreciated. It was more than enough she was telling him this stuff. It was all so difficult to deal with and there were many ways she could have gone about it better. But for her to be standing here with him, a part of the Xavier Institute and an X-man, that showed she was still capable of doing the right thing.

After so much lamenting, Rogue sighed and turned back to face Scott. He still looked genuinely concerned. It was sort of ironic, her the wild rebel and him the clean cut boy scout, but she didn’t mind. She needed to open up a little. If nothing else it showed she was still dedicated despite her rebellious nature.

“Sorry if Ah’m brooding. Ah feel like Ah’m makin’ you be mah shrink or something.”

“I don’t mind,” said Scott with a reassuring smile, “I’m glad you feel comfortable talking to me about this stuff. I know it can’t be easy.”

“That’s just part of it,” she sighed, “There are plenty of stories Ah could tell you that’ll make ya think Ah’m dangerous influence.”

“You’d be surprised how many of the others have similar stories. You should try talking to them. Bobby’s got plenty of little incidents that show him in a less-than-glowing light. Jean’s had a lot happen to her as well. I’m sure if you told them some of what you told me, they’ll listen.”

“Maybe down the line Ah’ll give it a chance. But for now, you’re more than enough sugah,” she said with a playful smile.

She reached up and teased his cheek with her gloved hand. Scott blushed at her gesture, glad to see her smiling again. There was so much more to this girl than she let on. Underneath that sassy persona and sharp sarcasm was a genuinely interesting girl. She had been through a lot in her life, growing up as an orphan and being raised by Mystique. But she was strong. She knew who she was and didn’t shy away from it. That kind of attitude would go far in the X-men. If they could get her to start showing up on time then she would be well on her way. But as Xavier so often said they had to take it one step at a time.

“So…what do ya say we change the subject to something less dramatic? This town got any good barbeque places? Cause Ah could go for some chilly fries.”

“I think I know just the place,” said Scott with a smile.

“Then lead the way, handsome!”

Rogue latched onto his arm and they continued with their little mini-date. It was still too soon for it to be serious. But she had to admit, she liked being around this guy. He seemed to really get her in a way few others had. He knew what it was like to be trapped by mutant powers. It also helped he was really cute. It sucked she couldn’t touch him, but maybe that would change one day. Until then, it couldn’t hurt to get to know him.


Union Station

The clouds rolled in as Pietro Maximoff stepped off the train wearing sunglasses and a dark green coat. As was typical in New York City, the station was pretty crowded. The echoing chatter of overstressed travelers echoed through the large halls as waves of people rushed to their next destination. With so many people around him, the speedster had to keep a low profile. He couldn’t just kick it into high speed and run out into the city. That would draw too much attention. His mission tonight was to stay under the radar until the right moment. His father was getting impatient about this matter so the sooner he got it over with the better.

Weaving his way through the crowded swarms, Pietro found his way to the streets outside. Upon taking in his surroundings he pulled out his specially made cell phone and activated a program his father installed especially for this mission. He didn’t tell him the details. He just said it would detect magnetic anomalies within a crowded city. Hopefully that was all he would need. But he still couldn’t believe Magneto wanted this girl in on his plans.

He was just finishing the initial scan when suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder.

“I thought I told you to wait up for me.”

Pietro quickly turned around to see Wanda standing behind him disguised in a casual pair of black jeans, a scarlet T-shirt, and a matching a black jacket.

“Wanda?! What are you doing here? I thought Father only sent me on this mission!” he exclaimed.

“He did. Then I reminded him of how hot-headed and impulsive you can be so he sent me to keep an eye on you.”

“Keep an eye on me?! Since when do I…”

“Since always, Pietro. Now are you going to fight about it here in the middle of a busy street or are you going to focus on the task at hand?” said Wanda seriously.

Pietro muttered a curse. He couldn’t believe Wanda had the gall to sweet talk father into letting her tag along. He didn’t deny that he could be hot-headed, but she wasn’t much better. At least his powers didn’t have the potential to bring down buildings and break anything made of glass within a two block radius. But he didn’t have time to argue with her. They had a mission to do.

“Fine…” he said bitterly, “I take it father didn’t give you a tracker so pay attention because we have to move fast. This thing is supposed to pick up magnetic anomalies within a few miles radius. And if those emails we hacked are accurate, the target should be in the city tonight.”

“The target? Is that what we’re calling her?” chided Wanda.

“Just bear with me, Wanda. We can argue about that later,” he scolded, “Now she’s not going to be alone. One of the X-men, Iceman to be specific, will be with her. And father in his infinite wisdom wants us to confront her with him present.”

“Now why would he want that?”

“Who knows? Maybe so we can rough him up a bit or maybe so we can actively dissuade the target from joining them, but whatever the reason he wants this to happen tonight. I don’t agree with it, but who are we to argue?”

Wanda rolled her eyes. Sometimes she wondered why Pietro didn’t stand up to Magneto when he made questionable plans like this. Sure, he was their father, but that didn’t mean everything he said was infallible. She tried talking some ense into him, but he rarely listened. He probably wouldn’t listen to Pietro either, but it would have been nice to have some support from her brother.

“Whatever,” she sighed, “So what’s the plan?”

“First we have to find her,” said Pietro as he walked up to the street to hail a cab, “Then we’ll wait for the right opportunity.”

“That’s not much of a plan, Pietro.”

“If you’ve got a better idea, I’d love to hear it.”

“Actually I have several.”

Pietro groaned and turned back to his pestilent sibling and scolded.

“That was rhetorical! This is my mission so we’re doing things my way! Now are you coming along or what?”

Wanda shook her head and sighed as she followed her twin into a cab.

“At least we know who got Dad’s genes,” she commented.

The race was now on to catch up to their target and her date. Having read some of the emails, Wanda sensed this would be difficult. Iceman sounded very protective of this girl. His teenage hormones should be a tough obstacle should they face him. But without support from his comrades, he had no chance against them. He was young, naïve, and ignorant. Their target, Lorna Dane, belonged with them. There was no way Magneto was going to let her join the X-men. She may be an unfortunate part of his past, but it was irrelevant to what he had planned for the future. But that didn’t mean she still couldn’t voice her disapproval.


Westchester Multiplex

The night hours ticked by over Westchester and so far it was going well. Jean and Logan just exited the theater after seeing a nice date-worthy movie. Of course with Logan date-worthy meant something with lots of explosions, shootings, and fights. There was no way he would sit through a chick flick no matter how much Jean tempted him and that was just fine with her. She could always see light-hearted movies on her own time. The movie they saw wasn’t too bad, but it could have been better.

Logan didn’t care for the movie all that much either. He was just glad to be out with Jeannie. He couldn’t remember the last time he went on a real date. Then again he couldn’t remember a lot about his life, but he didn’t think about the past while he was with her. It was all about the present. Jean may be an innocent girl in most respects, but she wasn’t afraid to get a little frisky. During the movie she snaked her arm up his and leaned against his shoulder. He returned the favor with a few friendly gestures of his own, although she did have to stop his hand from going too far up her thigh at one point. It was a crowded theater and they couldn’t get too PG-13 so to speak.

But movie and subtleties aside, it was shaping out to be a good night. The more Logan was around this girl the more he realized he needed this. As much a loner as he was, he had a strong appreciation for female company. While Jean couldn’t totally break him out of his shell, she did a good job helping him lighten up.

“I still don’t get it. How can a movie have characters fighting one moment, talking it out the next, only to fight again?” said Logan as they stepped out onto the sidewalk arm in arm, “That ain’t how fights work. Believe me, I know.”

“It’s the movies, Logan,” said Jean, “Since when do they have to be realistic? That’s part of the fun!”

“I don’t know. A touch of realism couldn’t hurt. Hell, I could tell that blood all over the guys face was fake.”

“They’re actors. They’re not going to get real scars just to shoot a movie. Not unless they’re really that dedicated.”

“If they don’t wanna get their hands dirty then they’re just a bunch of pussies!” scoffed Logan, “It ain’t enough they can’t act. They’re too scared to go the distance! I’ll bet that guy who got capped in the first fifteen minutes was some shmuck having a half-assed contract issues. Wouldn’t be surprised if he was stuck doin’ something else on the side.”

“Oh so now you’re an expert in Hollywood?” said Jean with an amused grin.

“No, but that doesn’t mean that I’m wrong. I’ll bet you anything that they’ll make a couple of sequels off this crap. The second one might be decent, but I guarantee you the third one will flat out suck!”

Jean couldn’t help but laugh. Logan had a way with words even on dates. He was crass, but never too harsh. At least he was actually critiquing the movie instead of just complaining about it.

“Guess we’ll have to wait and see, but I wouldn’t be surprised,” shrugged Jean, “They’ll probably kill off that cute guy and his girlfriend by then just for show. But what are you going to do? I just hope they get someone hot like Hugh Jackman or James Marsden to do the next one!”

“Jackman? Ain’t that the pansy who did the vampire movie?” said Logan.

“Yeah, but he does a lot of other great stuff! Plus, it helps that he’s very easy on the eyes. Put him in a plot with James Marsden and you got yourself a perfect movie!”

“Marsden? Never heard of him.”

“I don’t hold it against you. He hasn’t been in a lot of big time stuff, but he’s always such great eye candy! Oh if only he did a movie that had a halfway decent script that would do him justice…”

“Damn, should I be worried? Because I’ll hunt them both down if I have to. You know I don’t like competition,” he said with a wolfish grin.

“Oh relax. They’re just pretty boys,” assured Jean, “You’re more than enough for me.”

“Just makin’ sure.”

Logan had to admit, Jean Grey was an enigma at times. She could be so caring and passionate, but she could also be edgy and adventurous. She wasn’t one of those bad-girl types and she wasn’t overly good either. She had this strange way about her that he couldn’t quite put his finger on. It was amazing enough she took a chance on a guy like him with all the baggage he had. But she bore the load for him and he was thankful for it.

“What about you? Don’t you admire any Hollywood starlets?” asked Jean.

“Nah, not really,” said Logan, “I was never a big movie buff. But I do have a special appreciation for James Bond films. Those were the only movies I went out of my way to see.”

“Bond films, huh? Well I guess they would be right up your ally.”

“And the girls in those flicks aren’t bad lookin’ either,” said Logan with a wry grin, “Especially the evil ones. Like that chick from Goldeneye, Xania Onatop? She was really something.”

“Wasn’t she played by Femke Jennsen?” said Jean.

“Yep! She did a good job too. Wouldn’t mind doin’ a scene with her,” he grinned, “Then there was that chick in Die Another Day. You know, the one played by Hallie Barry? She’s a heck of a knock-out, eh?”

“Oh stop,” said Jean as she playfully swatted his shoulder.

“What? You drool over the guys, why can’t I admire the girls? It’s only fair right? I thought the X-men were all about equality?”

“Now you’re just being a smart ass.”

“If it gets the point across, I’ll take it,” shrugged Logan.

Jean rolled her eyes. Logan may not have been the most articulate guy in the world, but he had a sharp wit. He knew how to make a point and he wasn’t afraid to be smug about it. But that was just one of the major personality traits she was getting to know better.

“But the truth is I ain’t ever had much time for movies or anything for that matter,” said Logan, his voice becoming more serious, “I was always too busy huntin’ down Weapon X thugs, tracking down leads to my past, and looking for answers.”

“What kind of answers are you looking for anyways? How do you know Weapon X even has them?” asked Jean curiously.

“Because they’re the ones that took everything away from me,” he said bitterly, “I’ve been chasing them for years, getting bits and pieces here and there. But most of the time I end up with more questions than answers.”

“Did you ever consider just leaving the past behind and working on the present instead? Because it sounds like a hard way to live.”

Logan stopped walking momentarily and faced Jean seriously. As nice and caring as she was, there were just some things she could never understand. Even for someone who could read thoughts, she could never know what it felt like to live every waking moment with a hole in her soul that festered every waking hour.

“Jeannie…I don’t claim to be the most rational guy in the world, but waking up every day not knowing where I came from or what led me to this point is pure hell. I wish I could just brush it off. Believe me it would make things a lot easier. But in my experience, the easiest path usually ain’t the right one.

Jean thought about that for a moment. It was easy to forget that she had the luxury of a full memory. Her life wasn’t a joyride by any stretch, but at least she knew where she came from and how she got to this point in her life. To go through each day not knowing even part of it was daunting to even contemplate. And Logan had to deal with that every waking hour.

“I…I see. Sorry if I sounded insensitive,” she said in a low tone.

“Don’t be. You still got a nice ass. That makes up for it.”

“Oh you dirty old man…” teased Jean, “Any other way I can make it up to you?”

“I can think of a few. Read my mind and find out.”

Jean didn’t have to sense his thoughts to know what he was thinking. His body language alone gave it away. She sank into his burly arms and captured his lips with hers in a passionate kiss. She heard him grunt softly as he tasted her lips. He was strong, yet careful. But he was never too careful even on a public sidewalk. She moaned softly as his hands slipped down onto her butt. Logan was never too big on subtlety either, but Jean didn’t mind. So long as he didn’t get too friendly out here in the open. Those kinds of gestures were best saved for more private moments.

Kissing this beautiful girl on a night like this, Logan marveled at how much things had changed. His life had always taken strange turns. One day he was going toe-to-toe against Weapon X and the next he was a full fledged member of the X-men. He was such a mess before coming to the mansion and now he was getting better at handling himself. There were still a lot of burning questions about his missing memories and the part Weapon X played in it. He had no intention of stopping his search for his past, but he also had a new appreciation for the present.

Jean reluctantly parted, not wanting it to get too heated. She already sensed some people taking notice. It was better to just continue the date.

“Glad we worked that out,” she said, “So you up for a snack?”

“I could eat. Sure could go for a beer too,” said Logan, still holding her close.

“Only if you keep it light. You’ve gotta drive home, remember?”

“Healing factor, Jeannie,” he reminded her, “I can handle it.”

“You probably can. But better safe than sorry.”

“Now where’s the fun in that? That sounds like something Summers would say.”

“Doesn’t mean it’s wrong,” she shrugged, “Tell you what, you keep your alcohol intake low and I won’t mention anymore hunky Hollywood actors.”

“Deal!”

The couple walked off in high spirits. So far the night was going well and there was still plenty of time to enjoy themselves. Jean was certainly happy to be out with her boyfriend and even Logan wasn’t afraid to smile a little. It was a good way to unwind form the rigors of being X-men. As long as nothing catastrophic came up, they were content with the way things were going.

But as they went about their date, they were still unaware that they were being watched the whole time. Sabretooth had been keeping a close eye on them since they left the mansion. While they were walking down the street he was on the adjacent sidewalk wearing street clothes and a hat as a disguise. Despite being in fairly close range, they still didn’t see him. It was even better than he hoped. If he could get this close he could have the drop on them no matter what. He was so tempted to just pounce the little rodent and rip him to pieces in front of his girl, but that would be too easy for him. The real fun was yet to come. In the meantime he had to see how far he could take this.

‘I can still see you, Wolverine, but you’re too caught up in that bitch to notice me. God I love this mission! I can’t wait to see you screaming in pain and begging for mercy. Oh I’m gonna enjoy that. But the night is young. Let’s see if I can’t get your attention another way?’


Central Park

Bobby and Lorna were still going strong as the hours of the night ticked by. It seemed surreal at times. Bobby hadn’t been on a date in a while and the traditional rules of courtship took a while to come back to him. There were times when his immature sense of humor slipped in. During dinner he found himself making a fat joke at this drunk guy making anti-mutant remarks. He didn’t realize it until it was too late, but Lorna still laughed. It was good she had a sense of humor and was always open to a good joke. That was one of the aspects of her he really liked. If only the others back at the mansion could appreciate his sense of humor.

But it wasn’t all laughs. There were plenty of times he slipped in some serious romance. At the movie he did the classic yawn-then-snake-his-arms-around-his-girl stunt. She was quick to take note and returned the favor with affectionate gestures of her own. Lorna was a girl who wasn’t afraid to get close. At times it seemed like she needed to be close to him. Sometimes she practically clung to him as if she needed to hold onto something to keep herself from falling. It sparked his curiosity, but Bobby didn’t ask questions about it. He was just glad to share a night with a girl he really liked.

Everything seemed to be coming together. Here they were in Central Park, arm-in-arm as they walked the paved trails under the gentle glow of street lights. It was peaceful and quiet (at least as quiet as it could be New York City). It was the perfect way to capture the spirit of the date. Bobby hoped it would move him and Lorna one step closer to being something more serious and it looked like they were well on their way.

“This is nice,” smiled Lorna as she clung to his arm.

“Yeah…nice,” said Bobby, his arm draped around her waist, “I’m glad we did this.”

“Me too. It feels like it’s been forever since I just went out and had fun.”

“Same here. Life as an X-man is exciting and all, but free nights like this are few and far between. I’m glad we could spend it together.”

“You totally lifted that line from the movie we just saw,” snickered Lorna.

“What? No I…”

But now that Bobby thought about it, he did remember something like that from the movie. And here he was thinking that a nice drama movie would help him avoid awkwardness.

“Huh…guess you’re right. Are you going to hold it against me?”

“Of course not,” assured Lorna, “You’re heart is still in the right place and that’s what counts.”

“Whew, that’s a relief,” said Bobby thankfully, “I can’t tell you how much I’ve agonized over this night. You’ve got to understand that I don’t have much of a personal life outside the X-men. Hell, you’re the first person I’ve gone out with since my powers manifested.”

“Guess that makes me a lucky girl,” she said wryly, “Was there ever anybody else growing up that you were close to? Someone you may have gotten serious with if your powers hadn’t kicked in?”

“If you’re talking childhood friends then yeah, I had a few. Back in Boston I lived on a street where all the houses were really close together and everybody knew their neighbors. I’d go hang out with all the kids and goof off. But I never got too serious with anyone. I was content to keep things simple and that’s how it stayed up until high school.”

Bobby’s expression then shifted and his tone fell.

“Then one day I wake up with these strange chills. At first I think it’s a cold or something and being the tough guy I am I try and go to school. But then they get worse and worse until suddenly I’m covered in ice and everything around me is freezing solid.”

“That must have been scary. I realized my powers manifested when pots and pants started shaking around me. It was scary too. I actually thought my house was haunted or something, but I never had it blow up in my face.”

“Consider yourself lucky. The worst part was when people started pointing at me and looking at me like I was that guy from the movie who breaks out into these gross lizard-like scales that…well, you get the point. Anyways I get confused and scared so I ran. And I must not have been thinking straight because I ran right into oncoming traffic and got blind sided by a car.”

“Yeah, I remember you telling me about that,” said Lorna as she cast him a sympathetic gaze, “You said you broke like seven bones.”

“Nine and a half to be precise,” he corrected her, “But it could have been a lot worse. Were it not for my trusty ice shell, I’d probably be in a wheelchair. So it wasn’t all bad. Plus when I woke up, Professor Xavier was standing right there with my parents and the rest they say is history.”

It was a difficult story. Lorna had heard most of it before, but it never got any easier. At least Bobby wasn’t overly bitter about it. That just wasn’t his style. He could still smile about it because were it not for that incident, he would never have become part of the X-men. She admired how he could handle it with a sense of humor. She wished she could do that with the many complicated problems she had.

“I glad it worked out in the end for you,” she told him, “It sounds like you’ve got a real handle on things.”

“I do what I can,” he shrugged, “Besides, I’m an easy going guy. I don’t broad over the past. I’m all about the present. I’d much rather focus on spending my time with a beautiful girl in central park than how my life got turned upside down when my powers kicked in. Wouldn’t you?”

Lorna smiled warmly and leaned in to his protective embrace. Bobby may not be the best at putting romantic sentiment into words, but she never doubted his sincerity. He liked her and she liked him back. He really reached out to her and even when she resisted joining the X-men, he still stuck with her with no hard feelings. That really meant a lot to her and she rewarded him with a tender kiss.

“You know just how to turn any conversation into flattery, don’t you?” she teased.

“I like to consider it one of my many talents,” said Iceman proudly.

“Guess that makes you a talented guy.”

“Guess so. And there are plenty more I could show you. That is…if you want to make you and me official.”

Lorna paused for a moment. She knew what he was asking. He wanted them to become official. And nothing would have made her happier. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy. There were other forces at work that he didn’t understand. It was tempting, but still too soon.

“I…I don’t know, Bobby,” she said, abruptly pulling away.

“What? Did I say something wrong?” he asked with a worried look.

“No, it has nothing to do with you. It’s me that’s the problem. I don’t know if I can do a serious relationship at this point in my life.”

“What? But why?” asked Bobby intently.

Lorna searched for the right words. She wanted to tell him, but she just didn’t know how. She cursed herself for having such a messed up life. A genuinely nice guy like Bobby comes along and she can’t take advantage of it because of forces beyond her control. Maybe she could tell him part of the reason. He might not understand, but he deserved an explanation.

“Bobby I…” she began.

Then suddenly, the light from the nearest streetlamp burst unexpectedly. Startled, Lorna turned around and Bobby got close to her again.

“What was that?” she wondered.

Then it happened again. Another street lamp burst. Then another and another until every lamp in sight was reduced to shattered glass. Bobby had a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach. There was no way that just happened by coincidence. He had been in the X-men long enough to recognize a potentially dangerous situation and this definitely qualified.

“Stay close, Lorna. I’ve got one of those bad feelings again,” said Bobby as he iced up.

“Bad? How bad?”

Then a blurry streak sped by them, kicking up a powerful wind sheer that nearly knocked them off their feet. The blur ran to the end of the park and back and began circling them at great speeds, kicking up a powerful whirlwind that kept Bobby from aiming his ice blasts. Even though he couldn’t see who or what the blur was, he had a pretty good idea of who it might be. And he was going to show him not to interrupt a date with his girl.

“What’s going on?!” exclaimed Lorna.

“It’s okay, Lorna. I’ve got this!” he said.

He then formed a couple of giant ice boxing gloves and prepared for battle.

“Quit messing around and show yourself!”

The blur stopped to reveal Quicksilver of the Brotherhood standing before them. Bobby’s X-men training immediately kicked in. He was itching for another shot at this guys after the incident in Detroit and now he had his chance.

“You!” bellowed Pietro, pointing right at Lorna.

“Who me?” she said nervously.

“Yes you! We’ve got some business, you and me.”

“Dream on, Quicksilver! You want her you have to go through me!” said Bobby in a threatening tone.

They were strong words. But Pietro wasn’t intimated. He may have been an X-man regular, but he was hardly a serious threat. And he was already at a disadvantage because right behind him was Wanda. While he was focused on him, she caught Bobby off guard by hexing both him and Lorna into a paralyzed state so they couldn’t move their feet.

X-men Supreme Issue 8: Off Night Part 1 Scan 1

“Ack! My legs!” grunted Bobby as he tried to burst free.

“What…what is this?! What’s going on? What do you want with me?!” exclaimed Lorna.

Wanda emerged from behind them, her hand glowing with the power of her hex bolts. When she saw the look on Lorna’s face she scowled. She couldn’t believe they had to face her like this. Father picked a hell of a time to confront shadows from the past, but it was certain to come up sooner or later. She just wished he chose later. Now they had to risk exposing more of their plan to an X-man. But Magneto insisted on giving every mutant a chance to join his cause. And Lorna was most certainly a vital part.

“We’re here to deliver a message,” said Wanda in a commanding tone as she approached them, “And it would be wise to heed out words. Because how you choose to use them will determine the fate of both you and your mother.”


Next Issue: Off Night Part 2

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