Professor Charles Xavier has dedicated his life to fostering peace between humans and mutants. Together with his X-men, they fight to protect a world that hates and fears them. It is a fragile balancing act when there are so many opposing forces working against them. At times, their heroics are the only thing keeping the world from erupting into war.
Those heroics were put to the test during the much publicized trial of their nemesis, Magneto. He faced harsh punishment for leading the Genosha uprising. He remained unapologetic and was facing final judgment when a mysterious mutant calling himself Exodus stormed the proceedings. He led an attack that threatened many, but the X-men were able to stop them. For their efforts, they were able to buy time to further mitigate this difficult and very personal issue.
On the personal front, the X-men have had their shares of drama lately. Scott Summers and Jean Grey finally came clean and are sharing a blossoming romance. Conversely, Hank McCoy and Ororo Munroe ended their relationship recently and have yet to work out a number of issues. One of the most pressing issues involves Rogue. After her encounter with Sinister, her powers have once again rendered her unable to touch. While she struggles to make the adjustment, new personal conflicts are brewing. One in particular, is emerging across the Atlantic in Europe.
‘Jeez, could that intro have been more generic? You fine readers deserve better! Here’s my take. In a crazy world it’s the crazy people who get things done. Forget shit like civil discourse, due process, or heartless corporate conspiracies. When the going gets tough and a job needs to get done, you don’t need the best and the brightest. You need someone who’s nuttier than squirrel turds. That’s where I come in! I’m Deadpool! The Merc with the Mouth! The Crimson Comedian! That shit’s copyrighted so none of you better steal it! And today I’ve got a mission! But as my drunken, alcoholic, asshole dad used to say, if you’re good at something don’t do it for free.’
It was three in the morning at the fancy Ritz Paris hotel. On the rooftop Deadpool casually waited for his latest contact. Leaning back against a nearby air conditioning unit, he casually twirled some bullets around his fingers. This was one of the worst parts of being a mercenary, the waiting. Being a hired gun wasn’t like being a day laborer. People couldn’t just answer an ad or call a hotline. It was necessary to go through various channels to ensure the authorities didn’t get wise to them. It was especially tedious to get to someone like him, who did the kind of jobs most were sane enough to avoid.
So far this contact made it through those channels. He must have been very well-connected or knew people that were. Whoever he was, he picked unusual hours to conduct business. Most of the people he dealt with were secretive in their own right, but they had to be especially paranoid to set up a meeting at a place like this at this time of night. But Deadpool didn’t mind. So long as the job paid well, that was all that mattered.
He continued twirling the bullet and humming to himself as he waited. In a few minutes the contact would officially be late. That would mean extra fees. Grinning under his red on black mask, the colorful mercenary took out one of his guns and started twirling it.
“Somebody’s getting a tardy slip on their report card,” he mused, “Thirty more seconds and someone’s gonna get a spanking.”
More time ticked by. But just before the late mark passed, the door to the stairwell opened and new figure emerged.
“Aww, maybe next time,” he sighed, “Guess I brought my paddle for nothing.”
Deadpool continued leaning casually against the air conditioner as the figure approached him. It turned out to be a familiar face. The short, stocky physique, bearded face, graying hair, and thick glasses gave him away. It was Dr. Abraham Cornelius, a man closely tied to his past.
“Good to see you again, Wade. It’s been a while,” said Cornelius.
“Wish I could say the same, Abey, but last I checked you weren’t on my friends list. You tried to invite me on your Facebook page, but I rejected it and for a damn good reason.”
“Is that going to be a problem?”
“That depends on how many zeroes you put at the end of my paycheck. It also depends on how good a mood I’m in after I hear about this job you got for me. You must be desperate or senile to hire me. Like that guy in Goodfellas. Ever see that flick?”
“I assure you this is a very serious venture,” said Cornelius, ignoring his idiotic comments, “And I will make certain you are well compensated. I’ll even throw in a bonus if you can do this quickly and efficiently.”
“Then you’ve come to the right place!” Deadpool proclaimed, “We guarantee every act of sabotage, arson, or assassination is carried out with the utmost care or your money back! Certain conditions may apply and results will vary.”
“Good, then I’ll keep this brief. You should already know some of the details.”
Dr. Cornelius then took out a folder from his coat and handed it to the merc with a mouth. The masked figure grabbed it and opened it up. To his surprise, he did recognize a few details. The picture of a teenage girl quickly jumped out.
“Her name is Amanda Sefton,” he explained, “She is of particular interest to me and my work.”
“Amanda Sefton? This is the same chick the Hand paid me to abduct three years ago! What the hell is it with her? She got beer flavored nipples or something?”
“Yes, I’m aware that other organizations who have taken an interest in her. And she does have an unusual talent for escaping. That’s exactly why I’m interested.”
“So what? You want me to kidnap her? Again? Even after the Hand threw a hissy fit after the last time?”
“That would be the best outcome, but if this woman’s history is any indication I’ll gladly settle for a blood sample. She is a unique specimen with strong mutant potential. She also has some rather peculiar anomalies in her DNA that…”
“Blah blah blah, she’s got a power you can’t comprehend. Yada yada yada, she’s a part of something much bigger. Spare me the details. The Hand gave me that speech too. I’ll get it done…again! You and your Weapon X cronies better not screw me over again! I may be crazy, but I’m not dumb enough to fall for the same trick twice. Unless you count this thing with this chick at a Russian strip club, but that’s another story.”
Dr. Cornelius grinned, not humored by his comments but reassured by his assessment. There were a lot of mercenaries out there who could do this job, but none of them could respond to unexpected changes better than Deadpool. He should know. He had seen him in action many times before.
Confident in their deal, he pulled out another large envelope from his coat and gave it to Deadpool. The merc with a mouth eagerly took it and opened it, finding a sizable share of cash piled inside.
“Then we’re agreed,” said Dr. Cornelius, “You’ll find your initial down payment in there along with a little extra. Go ahead and count it. It’s all large non-sequential bills, just like you asked for.”
“Aww, you remembered! I’m touched,” said Deadpool obnoxiously.
“I’ll give you the rest after I have the girl. I don’t need to tell you how sensitive this is. Weapon X doesn’t even know I’m doing this.”
“Ooh getting more secretive now, are we? What’s the matter? You get caught screwing Wraith’s daughter or something?”
“I would rather not discuss it,” said Dr. Cornelius sternly, “All you need to know is this is a bit of a private venture on my part. If anyone should ask, just say it’s sheer curiosity.”
“You got it, doc!” said Deadpool with a mock salute, “Your secrets are safe with me! Who would believe a guy as crazy as me anyways!”
“Indeed,” snickered Cornelius, “Call me once you have specimen. The number is in the file as well as some clues for you to follow in order to find her. Be careful, she and her mother know how to cover her tracks. I’ll remain in Paris until the job is done.”
“Will do! Hasta la vista, Abey!”
With his job and money in hand, Deadpool went to work. He disappeared into the night, once again on a mission to find Amanda Sefton. He had done it before now he was going to have to do it again. Whatever it was about this girl, it had to be something for so many weird people to be after her. But he could care less. He had a job to do, even if it was for someone he had a checkered history with. Regardless, he would find a way to get around it. He always did. That’s part of what made him so good at his job.
Dr. Cornelius sighed with a mix of relief and excitement. For a while he didn’t even think Deadpool would accept a job from him. It was a good thing he was too crazy to hold a grudge. If he was as proficient as he boasted, he would soon have some exciting new material to work with. Weapon X had been reeling ever since their failed attempt to recapture Wolverine, but it was far from defeated. Dr. Cornelius still had lofty goals and he was willing to go to any length to reach them.
Xavier Institute – Kurt’s Room
Kurt Wagner was brimming with excitement. He had finished his classes for the next few days and had a long weekend with no major training scheduled. Given such a lull was rare with the X-men, he decided to make the best of it and plan a trip to Germany to visit Amanda. Since he joined the institute, he had kept in touch with her over the phone and through email and chatting. They always had a lot to talk about, especially with the X-men’s latest exploits at the UN. But he still missed holding her in his arms.
As he packed his bags, his eyes fell on a picture of her he kept on his dresser. He smiled as he picked it up and brushed his hand over it. No matter how complicated things got with humans, mutants, or his family he could always count on Amanda to support him. Just knowing she was out there, encouraging him to do good with his skills, gave him a strength that could not be measured. At times he worried how she and her mother lived such an isolated life in Germany. But that was their choice. It kept them safe and it would lend them plenty of privacy while they were together.
Setting the picture aside, he zipped up his bag and grabbed his backpack. As he packed a few more items, there was a knock on his door and Scott Summers entered.
“You all packed, Kurt?” he asked.
“Ja, I’m all set!” he said as he zipped up his backpack, “Is zhe jet ready for takeoff?”
“Mr. McCoy’s doing a little maintenance. It should be ready in a half-hour. But we’re still on schedule. It won’t be long before you have Amanda in your arms for a full weekend.”
“I can’t vait. But I’m sure it’ll go by fast. It always does,” he sighed, “You’re lucky you have a girlfriend zhat lives under zhe same roof. You have no idea how stressful it is to have to plan elaborate trips just to see her.”
“I can only imagine. I don’t think I could have endured being away from Jean that long before we got together,” said Scott.
“You don’t need to convince me of zhat. You two can’t seem to stay away from each other lately,” snickered Kurt, “Do you even sleep in your own bed anymore?”
“It depends, but it’s definitely the exception instead of the norm,” he shrugged, blushing somewhat at the subtext, “Guess that’s just what love does to you.”
“Amen, mien friend,” said Kurt, “And since zhis has been zhe longest time I’ve been away from Amanda, ve have a lot of love to catch up on.”
“I’m sure, but try not to say that around Bobby or Logan. There way too many ways that can twist those words.”
Kurt laughed and blushed a little himself. As serious as the mission of the X-men was, they were not above a dirty joke. But considering how long it had been since he was intimate with Amanda, he wouldn’t have minded. Amanda had been talking about it as well. They had already made plans to do as much ‘catching up’ as possible.
Once he finished packing his things into his backpack, he zipped it up and hitched it on his back. He was officially ready. He just had to wait on the plane. Scott could tell how excited he was, but before he made his way to the hanger there was one final item he needed to take care of.
“Before you go, Kurt, I think you should talk to Rogue one last time,” said Scott in a more serious tone, “She’s still been pretty distant since the Sinister incident.”
“Ja, I guess I should,” said Kurt, his excitement sinking somewhat, “I already spoke to her last night. She seemed to be doing better after the Exodus fight, but she still has a vays to go I guess.”
“Yeah, I’m getting that vibe too. She’s still smoking a pack a day and skipping out on classes. She’s gotten back to training though. She seems to be getting a much better handle on her new powers. But the touch issue is pretty sensitive.”
“Have you tried talking to her? I heard you helped her a great deal zhe first time around,” said Kurt.
“I did, but this is different. I get the feeling she’s a little put off by me being with Jean now.”
“Ja, I can see how vatching you two be so friendly vould be hard.”
Scott shifted awkwardly again. It was no secret than he and Jean were fond of their newfound affection for one another. But as nice as it was to celebrate their love, it was important to keep it from becoming a distraction. Rogue especially didn’t need to deal with it. Even though she was his ex, he cared about her and didn’t want to make this rough time for her any worse.
“We’ll try to work on that,” said Scott, “You should probably still talk to her. Take it form someone who has already had a sibling drift away. Stay close to her, even if she is making it hard as hell.”
“I vill, mien friend,” assured Kurt as he followed Scott out of his room and towards the elvator, “I’ve lost my share of family too and I’m not just talking about Mystique. Zhe last thing I vant to do is let my sister slip away.”
Xavier Institute – Backyard
It used to be an age-old dream of the ancients to experience flight like a bird. Even in the age of mutants, it was a power only a select few shared. Even for those that did, it was a power easily taken for granted. When Rogue first found out about her powers, she didn’t give it much thought. She was too hung up about not being able to touch to really explore it. Then Warren took her for a morning flight and a new appreciation quickly developed.
Morning flights were quickly becoming part of her routine. This morning was no different. Rogue closed her eyes and inhaled deeply the crisp mid-morning air. She had been flying for about half an hour, just doing a few quick trips around the lake to get a taste for the morning air. She found a strange sense of peace in flight, one Warren first described that fateful morning and one she had come to appreciate. It was a great way to help her unwind and cope with her new situation. As bad as not touching was, this was decent compensation. She also found out that flying gave her a lot of time to think.
After completing the last trip around the lake, she landed in the institute’s backyard. She had a busy day of catching up ahead of her, which was more or less like any day since she fell behind class so often. But she was used to it. Just as she touched down, she was greeted by Remy. It appeared he had been waiting for her, sitting casually on the bench overlooking the lake while shuffling a deck of cards and smoking a cigarette.
“Bonjour, cherè,” he greeted, “Have a good morning flight?”
“Kind of hard not to on a day like this,” she said as she casually stretched her limbs, “Losing mah ability to touch sucks ass, but flying almost makes up for it.”
“Almost,” Remy emphasized as she finished his cigarette and got up.
Remy flashed a charming smile as he approached her. Rogue was indeed looking better than she had since the Sinister incident. She wasn’t brooding as much, she seemed less depressed, and she wasn’t as temperamental. She was still a little moody, but she was getting better at dealing with her new situation. He could see it in her eye.
“Remy’s been meaning to catch up with you,” he told her, “There’s something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about.”
“It better not involve more of that Hallmark cheering up crap you and everybody else have been throwing at meh. There’s only so much of that Ah can take,” said Rogue dryly.
“Non, this be serious,” he said in a sincere tone, “Remember just before the sentinel attack you told Remy he should look into doing something more at this place other than doing card tricks and showing off his skills?”
“Seems like a hell of a while ago, but yeah.”
“Well I took your advice. I met with the Professor yesterday. He be pretty surprised at my choice in subject, but he didn’t judge. He just set me up with some philosophy classes and outlined a course for Remy to follow for a real degree. It’s the first time in I don’t know how many years Remy’s gonna take a class. A legitimate one anyways.”
“That’s great, Remy!” said Rogue with a smile, “Ah didn’t think you would actually give it a shot.”
“Neither did I. Guess Remy just needed the right motivation,” he said as he moved in closer, “That makes two favors I owe you. First you be helping Remy with the guilds in New Orleans. Then you be helping Remy find a better life here at the institute. I gotta be honest with you too, cherè. I be running out of ways to thank you.”
“You don’t gotta to that. Given how much of a pain Ah’ve been since mah powers went nuts, Ah’d say we’re about even.”
“Are we?” he said, still very serious in his demeanor, “Because there’s more Remy should do to return the favor.”
He was now standing dangerously close to her. His face was within inches of hers. Rogue felt a powerful tension come over her. The way he was looking at her entailed more than just gratitude. His alluring, red-on-black eyes captured her gaze in a unique way. It was hard to deny she felt a level of attraction to this man. But as he leaned in closer to her, she quickly reminded herself the harsh reality of her circumstances.
“Remy…don’t,” she said, abruptly pushing him away.
“Aww, what’s wrong, cherè?” he coaxed, “Remy’s just trying to…”
“Ah know what you were doing. And Ah’m not asking you. Ah’m telling you…don’t.”
Remy was taken aback. It wasn’t just her words it was how she said it. There was almost a threatening look in her eyes, as if she just wanted to push him away and never have him stand this close to her again. There was also a touch of sorrow. Remy had never seen that kind of hostility in her before.
“Take it easy, cherè. Remy don’t mean to…”
But she didn’t let him finish. To his surprise, she pushed him back and turned away. It left him even more bewildered and Rogue even more distant.
“Ah mean it, Remy! Don’t do this!” she said in a strained tone, “Ah can’t touch anymore. Ah know that look in your eye and Ah can see where this is going. Just save yourself the trouble and let it go! Ah’d rather spare mahself the heartache and so should you.”
“Come on, Rogue. Don’t be like that,” said Remy as he tried to approach her again.
“Ah mean it, Remy!” she said, shooting him a more menacing glare, “Don’t do it!”
Remy froze under her gaze. His expression shifted as well, going from surprised to bitter. That harsh look in her eye said it all. No amount of his charm could get past it. Rogue had made up her mind. It hurt, more than he expected. It was a pain he had to hide though. If this is what she wanted, who was he to argue? That didn’t make it any less difficult.
“Fine,” he said bitterly, “That really how you want it?”
“It…it’s better this way,” said Rogue, trying not to sound so hostile.
“Spare me the excuses, Rogue. You want to be a bitch, go ahead!” scoffed the Cajun as he stormed off, “You know Remy thought you be better than this. Guess Remy was wrong.”
Rogue tensed under his harsh words. Under normal circumstances, she would have responded with more anger. But it was hard to be angry when she knew he was right. She was being a bitch. She was pushing someone away who genuinely cared about her. She was almost as bad as Mystique, which didn’t sit well for a second. She deserved far worse than those harsh comments. Hugging her shoulders, Rogue turned away and suppressed a tear.
As she swallowed her sorrow and bitterness, she heard a familiar ‘bamf’ noise behind her. It was Kurt, who she knew was leaving for Germany soon. She could feel him walking up to her with a concerned look in his eyes. But she didn’t turn to face him.
“Rogue, I’ll be leaving soon and I just vanted to…”
But he quickly picked up on her demeanor and grew concerned. He wasn’t sure but he could almost swear she had been crying. He approached her more closely and placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Rogue? Vhat’s wrong? Did something happen?” he asked her.
Rogue swallowed away her sorrow and bitterness and turned to face her brother. She tried not to look too messed up. She didn’t need to start thrusting her own issues on Kurt. This was supposed to be a good time for him. At least one of them deserved to be happy.
“No…Ah’m okay,” she said, “Just…not in too good a mood this morning.”
“Are you sure?” asked Kurt, not believing her for a second.
“Do Ah really gotta answer that, Kurt?” she sighed, “Just…do meh a favor and don’t ask. Ah would rather not talk about it.”
Against his better judgment, Kurt nodded. There was a time to push the issue and there was a time to step back. Now definitely didn’t look like a time to make things harder for Rogue than they already were.
“Very well, mien sister,” he said, “But if you don’t vant to talk, vhy don’t ve just go for a walk or something to pass zhe time? My flight doesn’t leave for a half hour and I vould hate to leave you here in such a sad state.”
“Sure…walkin’ sounds nice,” she said, managing a smile, “But try not to worry about meh. You got a girl back in Germany waitin’ for you. The last thing Ah wanna do is send mah problems over there with you.”
“It’s never a problem to help family,” he said as he started walking with her, “Now come vith me. If you don’t vant to talk serious, let’s try non-serious topics. Ve could talk movies, books, or zhe latest stunt Logan pulled in zhe Danger Room. Vhatever you vant!”
“Thanks Kurt. All that sounds better than the usual,” she said as she followed her brother into the woods.
Rogue wiped away whatever traces of tears were left in her eyes. She was lucky to have such a great brother. Even if they weren’t related by blood, they never cared to make that distinction. It was still family to them. But even as they started talking about random things, she couldn’t help but dwell on what happened with Remy. She may have just complicated things further. It certainly wasn’t an issue that wouldn’t go away easily and it wasn’t going to sit well either.
Xavier Institute – Living Room
Bobby Drake considered himself a world class couch potato. To him, few things were more relaxing than laying back on the couch and casually browsing the channels for mindless entertainment. Usually, he skipped right over the news channels. It was always such a downer because there would usually be someone going on a rant about how mutants were the cause of all society’s problems. Especially after the scene at Magneto’s trial, the media had really been going at it. At least every half-hour, someone replayed Magneto’s rant. But as difficult as these stories were to listen to, Bobby found himself caught up in them for reasons that had nothing to do with staying informed.
At the moment, he was watching a feed on CNN with Jean, Warren, and Kitty. They were replaying Magneto’s speech again and one part kept sticking out.
“In this world there is right and there is wrong. And the current order that places mutants in the lowest rungs of society is not only wrong, it’s criminal.”
Bobby watched the screen intently, trying to make sense of those unnerving words that came from the mouth of a madman. It wasn’t so much the message that bothered him. It was the similarities he saw in Magneto’s words and in Lorna’s words.
“Wow, I never thought I would live to see the day when Bobby Drake would watch the news without yawning,” commented Jean, who was snacking on some chips, “Is it possible after all these years you’re getting political on us?”
“Not in this lifetime, Jean,” said Bobby, not taking his eyes off the TV, “I’m a firm believer in the philosophy of no news is good news. I can do without any of these so called fair and balanced media outlets. It’s this thing with Magneto’s speech that’s keeps bugging me.”
“Why? It’s not like we haven’t heard that kind of babble from him before,” said Warren who was sneaking some chips from Jean, “I could write a ten volume book series on all the crazy things he’s spewed over the years.”
“It’s not his message. It’s how he says it,” said Bobby, staying more serious than usual, “Back before the trial, I tried talking Lorna out of attending at least ten times in a two hour span.”
“Guess you weren’t convincing enough. That or she was just too stubborn,” shrugged Kitty, who was casually sitting on one of the sofa chairs.
“That’s what I thought too, but then I heard her reasoning and it’s been bugging me every since,” he went on, “She said she was going because it was the right thing to do. She freely admitted she didn’t like it and it was bad idea. But that didn’t matter to her. She believed it was right and that’s why she went.”
“That…doesn’t make a lot of sense,” said Warren.
“That’s what I thought too. But what really has me worried is how similar it was to what Magneto said in his speech. He’s no Mel Gibson, but he used the same reasoning. There’s no middle ground with him. Everything is black and white, good and evil, right and wrong. It all fits his crazy I-want-to-destroy-humanity sales pitch. I don’t understand it. None of us probably do. But for some reason, I think Lorna understood. And for any number of reasons that makes me sick to my stomach.”
Warren, Kitty, and Jean sensed his concern. It did seem a little strange, Lorna actually seeing eye-to-eye with her father. She always struck them as someone who wanted to distance herself from Magneto as much as possible. Sharing any major similarities with him was definitely a little disturbing.
“I can’t say I blame you for worrying, Bobby. But I think you’re making too big a deal of it,” said Jean.
“Yeah, so Lorna and Magneto share one thing in common besides blood,” said Kitty, “Big deal! That doesn’t mean she’s like him.”
“That’s not what concerns me,” said Bobby, “What keeps me up at night is her falling back under Magneto’s spell again. He did it once. I thought we got to a point where it wasn’t an issue anymore. Now I’m not so sure.”
“You really don’t think Lorna is going to join the Brotherhood or something, do you?” said Warren, shocked Bobby would even consider such a notion.
“I sure as hell hope not! That would be a nightmare come true,” he lamented, “It isn’t just about her joining him. It’s about her thinking too much like him. If she starts seeing the world in black and white the way Magneto does, what’s to stop her from going down the wrong path?”
“You mean besides an overly concerned boyfriend?” Jean pointed out.
“It wasn’t enough last time. She still followed him to Genosha, remember? If her mom’s health continues failing, Magneto or the Maximoff twins may try again. This time with more persuasive means.”
He sounded genuinely worried. There was a logic to his thinking. The idea of a loved one going to back to Magneto’s side (again in Lorna’s case), couldn’t sit well. But some weren’t so sure it was worth obsessing over.
“I think Jean’s right. You are being paranoid, Bobby,” said Kitty bluntly.
“Oh what do you know?” scoffed Bobby, “You don’t know Lorna like I do.”
“Or maybe you don’t know her as well as you think you do,” she argued, “No offence Bobby, but isn’t it a bad sign for a relationship when you stop trusting each other?”
“Did I even hint that trust was an issue? Are you just pulling this stuff out of your ass, Kitty?” said Bobby with growing frustration.
“Take it easy, Bobby,” said Jean, stepping in to calm things down.
“No seriously, Kitty!” said Bobby, brushing Jean off, “Do you really believe I don’t trust her after all the crap we’ve been through?”
“Maybe trust isn’t the right word,” said Kitty in a more serious tone, “Maybe you’re paranoid because you don’t understand where she’s coming from as well as you think you do. I think Jean will vouch for me here when I say that when you don’t understand each other, it makes it pretty hard to relate to each other.”
Bobby tensed under such words. Even Jean was silenced by them. Kitty made a valid point. Bobby really didn’t understand where Lorna was coming from. Even if he did love her, he didn’t comprehend her train of thought. Jean understood through her relationship with Logan that understanding can mean the difference between success and breakups. She and Logan didn’t understand each other or their feelings for one another and that eventually led to their relationship ending. It was a bad sign and one Bobby would be wise to heed.
But Bobby being Bobby, he didn’t take too kindly to Kitty’s words. To him they were an affront to his relationship with Lorna. Kitty was the one who didn’t understand because she wasn’t the one in love. Bobby had connected with Lorna and loved her through the trails of Genosha and Magneto’s imprisonment. That to him was all the proof he needed that he and Lorna were right for each other and he wasn’t going to let anyone tell him otherwise.
“That’s just stupid, Kitty!” scoffed Bobby as he got up from the couch and stormed off, “You’re the one who doesn’t understand! None of you do! So stop judging me and Lorna!”
“Bobby wait…” said Warren, trying to stop him.
Bobby shoved his friend aside. He wasn’t going to stay and take this sort of criticism. He had better things to do.
After he left, Kitty shifted awkwardly. It wasn’t the first time she called someone out on relationship issues. She did the same to Rogue when she was still dating Scott and even though she ended up being right, Rogue didn’t take too kindly to that. She got some looks from Jean and Warren, but they weren’t the harsh kind. Chances were they wouldn’t have been as brutally honest as her, even if they agreed with her.
“Um…was that too harsh?” she asked sheepishly.
“Maybe a little,” chided Jean.
“A little?” laughed Warren, “There’s a fine line between being honest and being blunt, Kitty. And you dive right over it head first.”
“I didn’t mean to! I was just making a point!”
“And it was a valid point,” said Jean sincerely, “But you know how Bobby is. He’s never been too good about accepting criticism, especially on relationships. You probably should apologize after he cools off.”
“With him, how can you tell?” she muttered.
Warren and Jean rolled their eyes and added nothing else to the issue. There was clearly nothing left to say. Warren just grabbed the remote from where Bobby was sitting and changed the channel.
But the issue wasn’t over for Kitty or Bobby for that matter. As critical as she was for her friend, she did worry about what he was going through. He really was going through some difficulties in his relationship with Lorna. She never doubted that he loved her. Maybe she was just looking too much into it because she never had a boyfriend before. Whatever the case, she hoped she was wrong. She saw what happened to Scott and Rogue. She didn’t want that to happen with Bobby and Lorna.
Lower Levels – Hanger
Everything was just about ready as Kurt teleported to the lower levels ready to depart. Scott and Hank were making the final preparations on the jet. Scott was fueling it up while Hank was tweaking the avionics under the wing. He arrived just in time to see them close up and finish their last round of checks. They were ready to go when he was. Kurt could barely contain himself. In just a few hours, he would be holding Amanda in his arms again. He could already feel her warm presence drawing near. This was going to be a special long weekend for them.
As he eagerly awaited the final go-ahead, Logan and Ororo entered as well with his bags. He left them down here earlier for them to load while he caught up with Rogue. But when Ororo entered Hank got a little tense. He almost tripped over his toolbox. Her presence was still a point of contention for him. They had yet to sit down and talk out the issues of their failed relationship. Even if there wasn’t too much animosity, the tension was still present.
“Please tell me ve’re ready to go now,” said Kurt anxiously.
“Um…yes, we’re ready,” said Hank as he picked up his tools, “Scott, did you check the fuel pumps?”
“That and the avionics,” affirmed the X-leader, “Looks like we’re good to go.”
“Great! Zhen let’s head out already!” said Kurt as he rushed onto the jet, “I don’t vant to keep Amanda vaiting!”
“Calm down, Kurt. I’ll get you to your girl,” grinned Scott as he washed his hands off.
While Kurt eagerly settled into his seat, Scott began making his way into the jet as well.
“You want to tag along, Mr. McCoy? It would give us a chance to test the new navigation software,” asked Scott.
“I wish I could, but I have upgrades on the Danger Room that are weeks behind,” said Hank, “I might as well use the current lull to catch up.”
“I understand, but don’t work too hard,” said the X-leader, “Even great minds need a rest every now and then.”
“I’ll try and remember,” sighed Hank as he gathered his tools.
While he started clearing the area for the jet, Logan made his way onto the jet as well with one of Kurt’s bags.
“Don’t get too comfortable, Summers. I’ll be tagging along as well,” he said as he barged past him.
“You’re voluntarily going with me on a non-combat related trip?” said Scott skeptically, “Are you sick or something, Logan?”
“Don’t bother getting your ears checked, bub. You heard me right,” said the feral mutant, “You’re going to freakin’ Germany, a world class beer mecca! You really expect a guy like me to miss out? Hell, if getting some good quality booze means staring at your ugly mug for a few hours, I’ll take it.”
Scott snickered at Logan’s juvenile reasoning. It wasn’t the most productive way to spend a weekend, but as the old saying goes every man needs a hobby. Logan’s just happened to be beer. Scott didn’t mind so long as he didn’t get too drunk.
While Logan stashed Kurt’s bag away in the jet, Ororo followed closely and did the same. She smiled at Kurt, wishing him well on his visit. Even as someone coming off a breakup, she could appreciate his commitment to Amanda. He must love her a great deal to be this intent on seeing her.
As she began walking out of the X-jet, she noticed Hank standing down there waiting for her. He had that wanting look in his eye. It was a look she had come to know well since dating him. It was his way of letting her know that he wanted to talk. Ororo found herself slowing down somewhat, worried about what he may say. It was no secret they had been avoiding each other since their breakup. She wanted to talk, but she wasn’t sure if she was ready. She still suspected that Hank was conversing with that Tessa woman.
She got about halfway down the step-latter when to Hank’s dismay, she stopped and turned back.
“You know what, I think I’ll tag along too,” she said.
“Are you sure? Don’t tell me you’ve suddenly become a beer enthusiast, Miss Munroe,” joked Scott.
“No, I just feel like getting out for a bit, that’s all,” Ororo replied, “Besides, I’ve never seen Germany. It could be a nice little excursion.”
It seemed unusual for Ororo. She usually didn’t do anything on a whim. This just came out of nowhere. But with Kurt getting impatient and Logan needing his beer, Scott didn’t argue. He just shrugged and finished closing up the plane before takeoff.
“If you say so,” said the X-leader, “Let the Professor know we’ll be back tonight, Mr. McCoy! I’ll keep my com-link open just in case.”
“Of course, Scott,” said Hank flatly, “Have a safe trip.”
With a disappointed sigh, Hank waved goodbye to Scott and cleared the area. But even as he walked off, he found himself turning back towards Ororo. He could still see her sitting near a window in the passenger area. He gazed distantly at her and she gazed right back at him. She didn’t say anything. She didn’t have to. Hank was smart enough to pick up on the subtext. She knew he wanted to catch up with her and talk. But she just wasn’t ready. He could do nothing to change her mind. For now, he could only walk away and wait for another chance.
Once Hank cleared the area, the hanger bay doors at the end of the launch tunnel opened up and the X-jet started its powerful engines. Scott made one last check of the systems. Then with the flip of a few switches and the push of the throttle, the powerful aircraft shot out through the tunnel and into the air towards its destination.
Rural Germany – Sefton Farm
When living a secluded rural life in the woods of Germany, there were few events worth looking forward to. A trip to the closest town for food and what not was usually as exciting as it got. But with Kurt making his first visit since leaving with the X-men, Amanda Sefton could honestly say she had never been so excited.
It had been hard for her since Kurt left for the X-men. Even though they kept in touch regularly, she missed having him close to her. Whoever coined the phrase “absence makes the heart grow fonder” must have had them in mind. Life without Kurt just didn’t seem as special. He was her only real friend besides her mother. He made the secluded life she had to live so much more bearable. At times she wished he hadn’t left. But she understood why he had to go. Just because she had to life a secluded life, it didn’t mean he had to as well.
It was just past noon and Amanda was frantically checking everything in the house, making sure it was all set for Kurt’s arrival. She barely got a wink of sleep last night. She spent much of her time cleaning her room, laying out the clothes she was going to wear, and ensuring everything was perfect for when the time came to be intimate. She even made sure her mother had the ingredients necessary to make Kurt’s favorite foods. Everything had to be perfect. There was no telling how long it would be before they got another chance like this.
“Mom! Have you seen my new dress? I thought I laid it out on my bed!” Amanda called out in a panic.
“It’s down here! I’m ironing it!” replied Margali from the basement.
“It doesn’t need to be ironed! Just bring it up so I can get dressed! We have to leave for the airfield in half an hour!”
“Relax, Amanda! It’ll be ready,” she assured.
Amanda didn’t seem convinced. She came rushing down to the basement, wearing just her underwear. She looked as though she had just run a marathon. Margali couldn’t tell if it was because of excitement or exhaustion. She was glad to see her daughter so happy, but she was starting to really stress herself. She knew how much this meant to her.
“Take it easy, sweetie. Kurt will be happy to see you no matter what you wear,” Margali coaxed.
“I know, but I want this to be special,” said Amanda as she impatiently waited for her mother to finish ironing her dress, “Kurt’s been so busy with the X-men lately we don’t know how often these opportunities will come along. I miss him so much! It feels like forever since I last felt that soft, fuzzy face of his.”
“You’ll have all weekend to catch up,” said Margali with a smile, “Just try not to wear yourself out too much before he arrives.”
“I am trying! I’m just not used to this much excitement on this boring farm. I never really knew how lonely it could be until he left.”
“I know. And I’m sorry for that, Amanda. But you know why it has to be this way,” she said in a more serious tone.
Amanda’s expression fell as she hugged her shoulders uncomfortably. It was one of the sad truths to her life. Her mother had a very good reason for keeping them here in the middle of nowhere. What bothered her though was that they kept part of that reason from Kurt and pretty much everybody for that mattered. She hated keeping secrets from him, especially now that he had a life outside Germany now. It wore heavily on her heart.
“We really should tell him, mother,” said Amanda, “It’s been three years. He has a right to know.”
“Amanda, we’ve been over this many times,” sighed Margali, “Kurt can’t know. Nobody can know.”
“But why? He’s an X-man now! Maybe they can help us!” she said desperately.
“Nobody can help us, Amanda,” said Margali strongly as she put a hand on her daughter’s shoulder, “This is not their problem. This is something we must deal with on our own.”
“But I can’t stand lying to him!” she complained, “How can you expect me to lie repeatedly to someone I love?”
“Because the truth may only hurt you both,” her mother replied, “And I know you don’t want that.”
Amanda cursed bitterly under her breath. These arguments seemed redundant after three years. Time and again, she brought this up and every time her mother responded the same way. What really made her mad was that every time it made sense. There was never any question that the truth would only hurt them and hinder any chance at real happiness. That didn’t make it any easier to manage the lies.
Margali cast her daughter a sympathetic gaze as she finished ironing her dress. She couldn’t help but be saddened by what her daughter had to go through. She never anticipated her meeting someone like Kurt and falling so hard for him. It made what she would have to do in the future all the more difficult. It also made enjoying the present that much more important.
“You’re right, mom,” said Amanda, “But one of these days he’s going to find out.”
“Let’s try and leave that for the future. Try and focus on the present for now,” said Margali.
“Oh I will,” she said, still somewhat bitter, “Just so you know, I didn’t bother setting up the guest room for Kurt. I plan on him sharing my bed every night he’s here.”
“Amanda, you know how I feel about that too,” groaned Margali awkwardly, “Please don’t go into this just to spite me.”
“I’m not. I’m just saving us the trouble of having another awkward conversation later. You know full well what we’ve already done behind your back many times before. And Kurt’s only going to be here for a long weekend. At least give us the freedom to enjoy our love intimately.”
Now it was Margali’s turn to curse under her breath. She knew this was Amanda’s way of showing her frustration with their secrecy. It was a taboo subject, her daughter being intimate with Kurt. She knew it happened. Amanda wasn’t overt about it, but she didn’t hide it from her. Margali just preferred it not be something they have out in the open. It was a hard issue for any parent of a teenage daughter to deal with but under their unique circumstances it was not worth making a big deal over.
Margali was just about finished with her ironing. Then she heard the doorbell ring from upstairs.
“Who could that be?” asked Amanda.
“I’ll go see,” she said as she turned off the iron, “You get dressed and get your things together. We’ll leave in ten minutes.”
Margali left her daughter to put on her dress while she went upstairs to answer the door. Visitors around here were rare, but not unheard of. Usually, the only people that made it out here were neighbors looking to borrow ingredients or traveling salesmen looking to buy their land. Whoever it was, Margali always had to be careful. Nothing was more important than maintaining her and Amanda’s anonymity.
“Who is it?” she called out as she neared the door.
“The good messengers of your lord and savior!” replied an unusual, somewhat obnoxious tone, “Could you good folk spare a few good moments to hear about the good word from the good book on a good day like this?”
Margali looked awkwardly at the door. Something that obnoxious had to be a practical joke or something. It may just be some of the kids from across the county looking for some trouble again. Rolling her eyes she opened the door.
“I’m sorry, but I think you’ve got the wrong…”
But Margali froze in mid-sentence. When she opened the door, she didn’t see a group of obnoxious kids or badly dressed salespeople as she expected. Instead, she saw nothing. There was nobody in sight. Confused, she carefully walked outside and looked around.
“Hello? I know somebody was here!” she called out.
Margali started to get a bad feeling about this. She sensed someone was nearby. Only now she wasn’t so sure it was obnoxious teenagers looking to play a prank. They usually weren’t this stealthy. She took a defensive poise and started backing towards her house.
“Whoever is out there, I’m warning you! I know how to deal with trespassers!”
There was still no response. She was about to back into her house. Then she looked up and saw a figure looming right on top of her roof. Before she could make out who it was, the figure jumped into the air and pounced on her.
Margali’s eyes widened with shock as the booming voice of Deadpool filled the usually peaceful woods. Before she could even try to defend herself, he crashed down onto her and hit her over the head with his gun. It effectively knocked her out cold, her body falling limply to the ground.
It was a perfectly executed attack. Deadpool grinned under his red/back mask as he stood over the unconscious body of the older woman. He had been waiting to try that Jehova’s Witnesses gag to bait someone. He couldn’t believe how well it worked.
“When will people learn? When religious nuts come a knockin’, either shoot ‘em dead or run away!” he said proudly, “That’s it for mommy. Now to find mommy’s little angel.”
With both his guns drawn, Deadpool entered the house in search of Amanda. What he didn’t know is his not-so-subtle attack alerted Amanda that something was horribly wrong. She was still in the basement, having just put on her dress. Panic quickly set in. She could already hear the menacing merc walking around upstairs, no doubt looking for her. Amanda instinctively stayed behind the closed basement door, trying to stay as calm and quiet as possible.
She and her mother always prepared for situations like this. It happened more than once, some strange figure from some shadowy organization coming to attack them. Someone was always after them, or more likely their secrets. Whoever this was, they picked the worst possible time to strike.
‘Please no! Not this! Not now! Just take it easy, Amanda. Remember what mom taught you. Don’t panic, don’t make a sound, and above all else don’t let him get you! You know what’ll happen if they get you!’
Amanda stayed quiet, standing still as a statue behind the door. But just outside, the intruder was still walking about.
Deadpool was passing through the kitchen, stealing some chocolates along the way and popping them into his mouth. These people really were reclusive. Otherwise they would have had better candy. He didn’t move with too much urgency. He knew the girl had to be here. There were only so many places she could hide in a house this small in the middle of nowhere. He had fleshed her out before and he could do it again. He just had to use the special Deadpool touch.
“I know you’re in here, girlie! Come on out and give your Uncle Wade a big old hug!” he called out.
There was no response as he made his way past the basement door. He kept his gun handy, ready to shoot at a moments notice. He made sure he used stun guns for this. Cornelius wanted a live body and he was prepared to deliver.
“I gotta warn you, I’m a world class hide-and-seek champion! I can find Jimmy Hoffa, Elvis, and Bigfoot with one hand tied behind my back and one eye gouged out! You’ll only be making it harder for yourself! And I gotta warn you, patience is not one of my virtues! It ranks just below thrift and sobriety!”
Amanda still didn’t respond. Whoever this guy was he sounded like he had more than one screw loose. That was never a good sign, giving her all the more reason to stay quiet.
“Still not talking? I’m hurt,” said Deadpool dryly, “Oh well. If you’re not going to come out I can always have a little fun with mommy first. I got a few spare guns and several clips of ammo. She would make a great accessory for target practice!”
To show he was serious, he took out his other gun and cocked it. Amanda remembered how her mother once said to never reveal herself, even at the expense of her own safety. But she couldn’t keep her silence anymore. If some madman was going to hurt her mother, he was going to have to go through her.
“NO!” yelled Amanda as she burst out from the door.
“Ha! Works every time!” grinned Deadpool.
But when the merc with a mouth turned to face the enraged teenage girl, he was met with an unexpected sight. The target was running right towards him, her eyes glowing brightly with this powerful red aura. Just as he raised his gun to shoot her, she let out a dominating grunt and unleashed a bolt of red energy that struck him with the force of a rampaging elephant.
“LEAVE US ALONE!” she exclaimed.
Deadpool could only watch on with shock as he was sent flying. He was hit so hard he crashed through a window and part of the wall and continued at high speed until he impacted a tree, causing most of his limbs and bones to crack or break like toothpicks. When his body finally settled on the ground, he could barely move. It was as painful as it was surprising. Deadpool didn’t remember that from their last encounter. The girl had been working on her mojo.
“Ooh…feisty,” he grunted as he struggled to pick himself up from the impact, “Where’s a heroin dealer when you need him?”
While he was recovering, Amanda came storming out through the front door. Along the way she came across her unconscious mother. Worried, she knelt down to make sure she was okay. After sensing a pulse, she turned her attention back to her intruder. Brimming with anger, she approached the masked mercenary with her hands and eyes still glowing. The power flowed through her, ready to strike again. She was amazed he was still moving, but he wouldn’t be if she got another shot off.
When Deadpool saw her looming over him, he remained undaunted. His maddened mind was almost immune to panic or fear. It always gave him the psychological edge. In his experience, the craziest side of the fight usually had the best chance of success.
“You! I remember you!” yelled Amanda, “You’re the one that kidnapped me and my mother three years ago!”
“You remembered? I’m touched!” mocked Deadpool.
“Who sent you this time? The Hand? The Azazel? The Inner Circle?”
“Sorry, they were all on holiday,” said Deadpool, his limbs still too broken to move, “The guy who did hire me was bigger than all of them! Oh man does he want you and your mom! I mean, he hired me for crying out loud!”
“Who is he?” she demanded, aiming her glowing hand right at him.
“My memory’s fuzzy,” he said in an obnoxious tone, “But I think he called himself…”
He was unable to answer. He started coughing up blood through his already torn mask. His mangled limbs were still squirming, unable to coordinate through the damage done to his body. Wanting to know even more, Amanda leaned in closer.
“Who? Tell me his name!”
“His name is…Peter. Peter Cottontail! Hopping down the bunny trail! Giving out his Easter eggs to all the boys and girl!”
Amanda looked at the mangled figure strangely. He really was crazy. Whoever sent him after her must have been crazier. The ones after her secrets always were. This guy got the better of her once. She wasn’t going to let it happen again.
“Fine! You want to play it that way? I’ll just knock you out and send you back to whoever hired you! Only this time you tell them to leave me and my mother alone! I’m sick of people coming after me!”
“Boo hoo, you’re breaking my heart,” mocked Deadpool, “Don’t ask me why they want you so much. I don’t ask questions. I just get the job done.”
“Well looks like you’ll have to disappoint them,” said Amanda strongly.
“Don’t be so sure, kid!” he grinned, “Not to be subtle or anything, but for the love of Jesus, Buddha, and Zeus…don’t turn around.”
Amanda looked at him strangely, her glowing hand still looming over him. Despite his warning she turned around and looked behind her. But to her relief she didn’t see anything.
“What are you talking about? I don’t…”
But she was abruptly cut off. As soon as she turned around, Deadpool shot up from his prone position and stabbed her in the neck with a syringe. Amanda went to shake him off, but not before he injected her with something. Before she could even question what he had done to her, the world around her started spinning. A second later, everything went dark.
“Hnn…” she groaned as she collapsed to the ground.
Deadpool, his limbs now healed, rose up and stood over the young woman triumphantly.
“And they call me crazy! I can not believe that actually worked!” he laughed as he cracked his still sore neck, “Kids today just don’t watch enough cartoons.”
After brushing himself off, Deadpool grabbed Amanda and dragged her over towards her mother. He deserved an Oscar for this latest performance. This girl hit him hard, but not hard enough for his healing factor to kick in. If she had been watching closer, she would have realized his limbs were fully healed just as he started singing Peter Cottontail. He only needed her distracted for a split second to inject her with some sedative. Once again, the crazy mercenary had triumphed over a sane teenage girl with bizarre powers.
With the two women in hand, his mission was nearly complete. Dr. Cornelius would soon have his specimens. Maybe he could finally shed some light on what was so special about these two and why they were so hard to track. It couldn’t just be those powers of hers. He knew at least a dozen or so people with just as much fire power in their pinkie toe. There had to be another reason. Too bad he wouldn’t get a chance to find out.
Once the two women were laid out together, he took out his phone and called his client. As expected, he got his voicemail.
“Abey, baby! I got your girls! Send the rest of the money and I’ll meet you in Paris. But don’t wait up. I’ve got a few last second errands to run. Chio!”
Xavier Institute – Cerebro Chamber
While many of his students were enjoying a rare lull, Professor Charles Xavier was still hard at work. He was in the middle of another difficult conversation with Wanda Maximoff. Like much of the world, she watched the spectacle of her father’s trial on TV. Needless to say, she wasn’t too happy with how they went about the proceedings. It was one of the most tenuous issues they could discuss and one Wanda made her animosity all too clear.
“You told me you were making progress with them, Xavier! I didn’t see progress! I saw a show trial!”
“Please calm down, Wanda. I’m doing the best I can,” coaxed Xavier.
“Spare me the consolation! I do not have time to keep up with the news here in Genosha! Every report I get seems to indicate they’re going to execute my father! You promised me that wouldn’t happen! It was part of our deal!”
“And I have every intention of upholding it,” assured the Professor, “But you must understand, your father isn’t making this easy for us. His impromptu speech has caused quite an uproar, something I’m sure the prosecution was hoping for. In a ways we’re almost lucky that Exodus fellow entered the scene. His outburst has caused many in the UN to think twice before passing down a sentence, less it trigger massive uprisings in mutant communities throughout the world.”
“The least of which will be Genosha. You’re not filling me with a lot of confidence here. It just sounds like Exodus delayed the judgment. He didn’t stop it.”
“Whatever he did, he bought us more time. And I intend to use that time as best I can. I will not let you down, Wanda. I don’t want to see your father executed either. Not just because of the consequences to mutants everywhere, but because he is still my friend. I just need you to trust me. I can do this.”
The holographic image of Wanda Maximoff didn’t seem convinced. She kept looking at the Professor with a critical if not disgruntled gaze. He could see he was losing her trust. This latest debacle with Magneto’s trial put a serious dent in their partnership. He was beginning to worry the deal they made that saved Genosha would fall apart.
“You better be right, Professor. I’ve already paid a high price to accept this deal of yours. But I am NOT willing to sacrifice my father’s life for this! If you can’t do this, then consider us enemies again.”
Before Xavier could respond, the communication link was severed. With the holographic screen now blank, Professor Charles Xavier was in a precarious position. Saving Magneto’s life was now no longer a matter of friendship. It was a serious issue that could lead to another conflict worse than the Genosha uprising. It left him with a heavy heart because he had grown fond of Wanda’s allegiance since working with her. But much like her father and her brother, she let her emotions get the better of her.
Sighing to himself, Professor Xavier powered down the communication software and took off the Cerebro helmet. The future wasn’t looking promising for his cause. He didn’t foresee too many rosy scenarios if Magneto was executed and Wanda broke ranks. If the Genosha deal failed, conflict seemed all but inevitable.
While he contemplated these grim assessments, the doors to the chamber opened and Hank approached.
“How did it go, Charles?” he asked in a melancholy tone.
“Not nearly as well as I hoped, but not nearly as bad either,” sighed Xavier.
“That still quite bad by any measure. It’s unfortunate we’re getting to this point.”
“Indeed it is,” said the Professor.
With his hand stuffed in his coat pocket, Hank’s expression fell. Usually he would have something encouraging to say to his old friend and mentor, but not this time. He was in too much a rut to manage something positive. It was a rare demeanor for his normally optimistic personality, one that Xavier quickly picked up on.
“Is everything alright, Hank?” he asked, “I wouldn’t expect such grim news to have this great an impact on you.”
“If only it were that simple,” said Hank distantly, “I tried talking to Ororo again. Rather than confront me, she followed Kurt and the others to Germany on a whim. I can only conclude she would rather endure a moderate plane ride than resolve the lose ends of our relationship.”
“I’m sure she had her reasons,” said the Professor with a reassuring gesture, “She might still be working out her share of the issues as well.”
“I would like to believe that. But Ororo has come to know my subtleties well. She suspects I’m still keeping secrets.”
“And are you?” asked Xavier.
“You’re the world’s greatest telepath, Charles. Let us not waste our breath addressing issues to which you already know the answers.”
Xavier’s expression fell. Hank had a point. While he was serious about respecting the privacy of his students and staff, sometimes it was hard to ignore projections and musings. After Ororo and Hank broke up, he picked up on thoughts detailing what happened. He found out about this Tessa woman he had been chatting with online in addition to never telling Ororo about Carley. It left for quite a complicated affair, one that wasn’t so easy to address.
“I wish I could give you some advice, old friend. But unfortunately I am not a good authority for handling women.”
“I won’t contest that, nor will I comment,” said Hank with a slight chuckle.
“Is there anything I can do though? Times are hard enough without us being caught up in these personal affairs.”
“I’m not sure,” he sighed, “Do you have some extra project you could give me? It may help to take my mind off these matters by putting it on something else.”
Xavier thought for a moment. He had so much on his plate in dealing with the aftermath from the trail he wasn’t sure what he could possibly delegate to his friend. He understood how Hank’s mind worked. When he got focused on a challenge, he had little capacity to dwell on anything else. With Ororo hanging heavily on his mind, a new challenge was just what he needed.
Then something came to him.
“Actually, there is something I could use your help on,” said the Professor as he turned back towards Cerebro.
“What is it?” said Hank, his voice finally shifting.
“As you recall, I sent Logan to investigate how Juggernaut was able to escape,” he said as he brought up the file on the incident, “He did not find anything, but I’ve been meaning to look deeper into the matter. Thunderbird told me someone attacked his convoy. I doubt they did it just for fun and I strongly suspect there were other motives behind it.”
“It seems reasonable,” said Hank as he looked at the file with intrigue, “Send it to my lab computer. I’ll look into it right away.”
“I’m already doing so” said Xavier as he started typing, “Let me know if you find anything. I’ll be in conference calls with the UN judges for the rest of the day.”
“I most certainly will,” said Hank graciously.
He turned to make his leave. He opened the metal doors, but just before he stepped out he turned back towards his old mentor.
“Oh and Charles? Thanks,” he said with a smile.
The Professor smiled back, happy he could do something to help his friend. He had been meaning to look into the Juggernaut incident further. He had to set it aside in wake of the aftermath to Magneto’s trial. Hopefully Hank could uncover the mystery. If there were other plots at work, it was vital the X-men know about them.
Private Rural Airfield – Germany
After a swift flight, the X-jet landed on a private airfield about a half-hour away from the Sefton farm. Since the jet was so unique and conspicuous, they couldn’t land it at a normal airport. They had to use smaller private airfields. They weren’t always convenient, but they were a lot less cluttered. It was times like this they were glad they didn’t have to go through the horrors of regular airports. The SR-77 Blackbird could take off and land anywhere and it could fly at supersonic speeds, making a flight to Germany all the more swift and pleasant. It gave Kurt all the more time to spend with Amanda.
Once the jet landed and pulled up to a hanger they reserved, Kurt was the first one off the plane. With his bag in hand he took a deep whiff of the distinct German air and sighed. As much as he had come to love the Xavier Institute, he would always have a special place for his homeland.
“It’s good to be back,” he said as he walked down the stairs.
Behind him Scott, Logan, and Ororo followed. Logan was already anxious to get some German beer in him. Just as they were landing, Ororo was talking about seeing the sights as well. However, she quickly grew intrigued by Logan’s plans.
“You can’t be serious, Logan. Ten bars in one night? Don’t you think that’s pushing it?” said Ororo with an amused look.
“Ro, you got any idea how many kinds of German beer there are?” replied Logan, “Gotta make time for as many as I can!”
“If your liver can take it. Healing or no healing, even you have your limits,” she chided.
“Don’t worry about me, darlin’. I can handle it.”
“Perhaps I should tag along to make sure you don’t get too out of hand,” said Ororo.
“If you don’t mind drunks, booze, and the bar fights, by all means,” shrugged Logan, “But you may feel out a bit out of place.”
“You know I did attend an American college, Logan. I think I know a thing or two about drinking.”
Logan shrugged while Ororo continued to chide him. He still couldn’t understand why she tagged along. He figured it had something to do with getting away from the drama between her and Hank. But a trip to Germany seemed a little extreme. Then again this was a woman who dealt with extremes all the time so why not?
While Logan and Ororo discussed their plans, Scott carried some of Kurt’s bags off the jet. He met up with him below just outside the hanger doors where he was already looking for the Sefton’s car.
“Vhere is she? Amanda said she vould be vaiting for me at zhe hanger,” he said in a worried tone, “You gave zhem zhe right hanger number, ja?”
“I’m sure, Kurt. Try to calm down. They may just be running late,” said Scott as he set his bags down, “If Amanda’s as anxious as you I wouldn’t put it past her.”
“Ja, you’re probably right,” said Kurt distantly, “I just miss her so much. I had no idea how hard long-distance relationships could be.”
“You got a whole weekend to completely forget about that,” said Scott with a friendly smile, “Try and enjoy yourself. I’ll be back to pick you up at this same hanger on Sunday night.”
“Zhat depends on Amanda letting me go again,” joked Kurt.
“Let’s hope it doesn’t get that chaotic. The X-men have enough challenges as it stands.”
Kurt nodded in agreement. Scott was right. For just one weekend, he wanted to forget about the challenges and battles that seemed so never ending. This was a time for simple relaxation and catching up with the woman he loved. It was to be a weekend of peace and he wasn’t going to let anything stand in his way.
Now that Kurt had his bags, Scott turned back to the jet. Logan and Ororo were beginning to make their leave as well. They were still talking about beer and what not. Then in the middle of their conversation, Logan’s cell phone rang.
“Ah hell, that better not be Chuck calling us back,” he muttered as he took out his phone and answered, “Yeah, what is it?”
While Logan was listening to the voice on the other end he froze abruptly. His demeanor and expression quickly shifted. His eyes tensed with a feral anger and his fists clenched. Ororo saw this and started to worry. Even Scott took notice. For him to get that angry, it had to be more than just the Professor calling.
“You have what?! Who the hell is this?!” he yelled loudly.
Now even Kurt took notice. He ran up to Logan, Scott, and Ororo to see what was going on. Logan snarled angrily. From the sound of it, whoever was on the other end had just hung up. Whatever he just heard, it couldn’t be good.
“Vhat is it, Herr Logan? Is something wrong?” asked Kurt anxiously.
“Elf, try not to lose your freakin’ mind when I say this. But your girlfriend and her mother have been abducted.”
Next Issue: Deadpool Part 2
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