[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] Ongoing...
 
Episode Five

Rachel had agreed to help me, for which I was more grateful than I could say. However, amid the feelings of gratitude were the cold voids of fear that threatened to swallow me up. If we did manage to uncover the memories that had been stolen from me, who knew what Pandora's Box we might unwittingly open up? Perhaps fortunately, I was spared from having to confront this very real concern when Rachel and I were summoned to the main hall.

Gone were the tables I remembered from when this had been the dining area. Now the hall was filled with rows of plastic chairs. The school was large enough to accommodate several hundred students and the size of the hall reflected this. Given the number of students who had gone home to celebrate Christmas with their families, it was like using a bucket to hold a few grains of sand. It could have felt even worse, however. If all of the students had gone home then the hall would have been practically deserted, but many of the students had no homes to go to, their families wanting nothing to do with a child they considered a crime against nature.

On reflection, I believe that it could not have felt much worse.

I spotted the Doctor sitting near the front and guided Rachel over to him. He was sitting with Kitty, who had saved seats for us.

'Do you know what this is about, Doctor?' I asked.

He shook his head.

'We only just got back from Stevie's,' Kitty explained.

'It's not going to be anything good,' Rachel remarked.

'Come now, you don't know that,' the Doctor replied jovially. 'The professor probably just wants some help with the Christmas panto.'

I regret to say that he was not fooling anyone.

A hush fell over the hall as the professor rolled himself out onto the stage. He was followed by Kurt Wagner. His demonic appearance did not disturb me as much as it had on our first meeting, but I still found it difficult not to stare.

The professor adjusted the microphone.

'Good evening,' he began. His words echoed around the hall. 'Most of you are probably wondering why I have summoned you here. As some of you may be aware, there was an altercation at Grand Central Station earlier today, an altercation involving a number of our students.'

'An altercation?' someone shouted from the back of the hall. 'They were attacked by one of those Sentinels. I saw it on CNN.'

Voices began to rise like distant thunder as people digested this revelation and discussed it with their colleagues. I would have said something to the Doctor, but he put a finger to his lips, instructing me to keep my peace.

'Those students defied a curfew I imposed for the safety of you all,' the professor continued as if the heckler had not spoken. 'These are dangerous times and I cannot stress upon you strongly enough the importance of not becoming a target.'

'But what are you going to do about Sam and the others?' the heckler demanded.

'Sam?' Kitty repeated softly, her face paling.

'As I am sure you are aware, this is a very delicate time for mutants,' the professor replied. 'Our every action is scrutinised by the media, dissected and then spun in the worst possible light. We cannot afford to do anything that would exacerbate the current climate of hate any further. As such, I will not condone any rescue attempt at this time.'

* * *

The Doctor got to his feet. Xavier had expected something like this from the stranger.

'So what you're saying is that you are just going to leave them to die,' the Doctor said.

'There is no proof that they will come to any harm while captive,' Xavier countered.

'No proof?' the Doctor spluttered. 'I've been reading up since I got here. It's not often I get the chance to do some research into the location I've ended up in, but I put in the extra effort this time round. Have you seen the material spewed out by these anti-mutant groups? Do you really believe that they are going to leave those children unharmed?'

'We don't even know who has them,' Xavier retorted. 'It could be any number of organisations.'

'All the more reason to find out,' the Doctor shot back. 'I can't believe that you are willing to just sacrifice the lives of these children.'

'Do you think I want to do this, Doctor?' Xavier demanded. 'I have to consider the needs of mutants as a species. How can I balance the scaled so that the needs of these five are greater than those of the thousands of mutants in this country? Do you really think I have a choice?'

'There's always a choice, professor,' the Doctor said, 'if you are brave enough to take it.'

'The professor is doing the right thing,' Kurt insisted, stepping forward to stand beside his mentor, 'and I for one agree with him.'

'Well, bully for you,' the Doctor sneered. 'I hope you can find a way to sleep at night.'

'You heard Rachel's story,' the professor snapped. 'You were there when she told us about the camps. If I can prevent that happening then I will be able to sleep very soundly indeed.'

'The professor's right,' Rachel said, standing up.

'Rachel?' Kitty despaired.

'I don't like this any more than the rest of you,' Rachel continued, 'but to avoid my future I'll pay any price.'

She climbed up onto the stage and stood beside Kurt.

'Yes, but we're not asking you to pay it, though, are we?' the Doctor pointed out. 'Did anyone ask the students if they were willing to give their lives in the oh so great cause of Xavier or was that covered in the entrance exam?'

'This is not a joking matter,' Ororo said as she strode out onto the stage to stand on Xavier's right.

'No, it’s a matter of life and death,' the Doctor responded, 'and I will not condone the deaths of five innocent teenagers under any circumstances.'

'It breaks my heart to say that I am,' Ororo said softly. 'I stand with the professor.'

'Thank you, my X-Men,' Xavier said.

'X-Men?' the Doctor laughed. 'Is this your private army to keep the rest of us in line.'

'They are friends and colleagues brave enough to stand with me,' Xavier replied.

'Not all of them,' Scott called. He was leaning against a wall, arms folded.

'Marie?' Xavier called, singling her out of the crowd. 'Where do you stand?'

'Well, you've always done okay by me, professor,' Marie began hesitantly, 'so I guess that means I stand with you.'

'There's a ringing endorsement,' the Doctor muttered.

'Kitty?' Xavier asked.

Kitty was crying.

'I hear what you're saying, professor, I really do,' she said, 'and up in my head, it makes sense. But these are my friends, professor. You can't ask me to just abandon them.'

'Not even if it means saving everyone else?' the professor asked.

'I can't make that kind of decision,' Kitty protested. 'I'm sorry, but I'm just not strong enough.'

She ran from the room, blinded by her tears.

'Kitty!' Ororo called.

She started after her, but Xavier raised a hand to stay her.

'Leave her,' he said. 'She'll come around.'

'Really?' the Doctor said, eyes narrowing. 'How can you be so sure?'

Xavier ignored him, singling out another of his core group.

'Logan?'

Logan was sitting on one chair with his feet propped up on the chair in front. The students had given him plenty of space to himself.

'You're right about one thing, Charles,' he growled. 'Whatever I did about those kids, it wouldn't be discreet.'

He popped the claws on his right hand for emphasis.

'That's not an answer,' the Doctor insisted, but Xavier had already moved on.

'And Peter,' he asked, picking a big man out of the crowd, 'what do you say?'

'Illyana is my sister,' Peter began.

'And you have my sympathies,' Xavier assured him.

'Sympathies,' the Doctor taunted angrily. 'This man doesn't want sympathy. He wants his sister back.'

'The Doctor speaks the truth,' Peter agreed. 'I would do anything to get my sister, my little snowflake, back.'

'Anything?' Xavier repeated. 'Would you sacrifice everyone in this room for her?'

'You can't expect him to make that kind of decision,' the Doctor protested.

'Why not?' Xavier demanded. 'That's the choice. Someone has to decide. Do we attempt to rescue those five students and in so doing cause irrevocable damage to the future of the mutant population in America, maybe even the world. Or do we leave them, hard as that may be, knowing that by doing so we are giving mutantkind a chance.'

'It's not that simple,' the Doctor insisted.

'Yes, it is!' Xavier was shouting now. 'You think I don't wish that I could pull a rabbit out of a hat and save everybody? I can't. We live in an imperfect world, Doctor, and I have to make do as best I can.'

'Then why not try and make the world perfect,' the Doctor said softly.

'Peter,' Xavier continued, 'do you really think Illyana would want you to rescue her if she knew the price?'

Peter hung his head.

'No, professor,' he conceded, 'I do not.'

'Did you all hear that?' Xavier declaimed to the hall. 'I understand how you feel. Sam, Danielle, Rahne, Illyana and Douglas, they were not just our colleagues, they were our friends. But to Peter they meant even more than that. Illyana was family. And yet Peter does not let loyalty and sentiment blind him to the truth. The truth is that we will do more harm than good trying to help them now and I ask you all to be strong, to be brave enough to support us in our decision.'

The Doctor collapsed into his seat like a broken doll.

'How dare he?' he muttered. 'How dare he manipulate that boy for his own ends?'

'I reiterate how important it is that no student leaves the school grounds,' Xavier continued. 'I understand how difficult the situation is at the moment. It is a testing time for all of us, but I have no doubt that you will all rise to the challenge admirably and make me proud. And, should any of you wish to talk further, please remember that my door is always open.'

He rolled his chair round and left the stage, followed by Ororo, Kurt and Rachel. The hall filled with the sound chair legs scraping on the floor as the students rose to leave.

'Mina,' the Doctor began as she stood up. 'Could you stay a while? I know I've not been the best of travelling companions lately and…well, that is…could we just sit and talk for a bit.'

Mina was not looking at him, though. She was peering at his shoulder at Logan who was making hi sway out of the hall.

'I'm sorry, Doctor,' she said, stepping past him, 'but there is someone else whom I really need to speak to. There will be time for us to talk later.'

'Will there?' the Doctor asked as she hurried away.

* * *

Ororo walked the professor back to his study.

'I spoke to Grayson this afternoon,' she began.

'Did you now,' the professor commented. 'And what did she have to say for herself?'

'She wanted to discuss how we were going to win back popular opinion,' Ororo continued.

'I hope she had a suitably brilliant idea,' Xavier said, 'because without a stroke of genius I can't see how she - and by connection we - are going to win this.'

'She suggested that we out mutant celebrities,' Ororo explained, 'and using their already existing popularity to win support.'

'Popularity that will evaporate the moment it's revealed that they are mutants,' Xavier pointed out bitterly.

'It might not,' Ororo offered without much conviction. 'Perhaps we don't give humanity enough credit.'

'This is the same humanity that produces people like Grayson, ready to exploit a minority just to get ahead in the opinion polls,' Xavier replied. 'This is the same humanity that throws petrol bombs at a van full of people whose only crime was to be born different. Sometimes, Ororo, I fear we give humanity too much credit.'

'I told Grayson that we would not sell other mutants down the river,' Ororo explained, 'but…'

'But?'

'I was thinking about what you said in the hall,' Ororo said. 'About putting the needs of mutantkind above the needs of individual mutants. If it would make a difference, would it be right to expose just a few mutants?'

Xavier was silent for several moments.

'It's something of a moral minefield we find ourselves in,' he said at length, 'but I will not cause harm to my fellow mutants.'

'But you will allow them to come to harm by your inaction,' Ororo pointed out.

'Any action I could take would be harmful to other mutants,' Xavier explained. 'The line I've drawn in the sand may be a very fine one, but it's all I have.'

* * *

'Mr Logan,' Mina called, hurrying in his direction, 'could I talk to you a moment?'

Logan turned. He was holding an unlit cigar in one hand.

'If you're expecting an apology, you're out of luck,' he told her.

'Rachel told me,' Mina persisted, 'about your past.'

'Kid should learn to keep her trap shut,' Logan returned.

'Maybe she was talking out of turn,' Mina continued, 'but she only did it because she was concerned lest I judged you unfairly. I wanted to tell you that I understand what you are going through.'

Logan cocked his head and studied her.

'You don't believe me, do you,' Mina deduced.

'No, quite the opposite darling,' he replied. 'People communicate in all sorts of ways other than with words. They way the move. Smells they give off.' He sniffed the air for dramatic effect. 'Maybe it's the animal in me, but I can read all those other signals like an open book.'

'Then you know that I'm telling the truth,' Mina said.

'I know that you think that you are,' Logan corrected. 'Get your coat.'

'I'm sorry?'

'If you want to talk to me,' Logan explained, 'then you're going to have to do it outside. Chuck gets pissed if I smoke indoors.'

* * *

The Doctor rapped lightly on the door. The door was already slightly ajar so he could tell that Peter was inside.

'Peter,' he called softly, 'may I come in?'

Peter grunted something in response and the Doctor optimistically decided to take that as assent. The big man was sitting at an easel, a palette on one hand, and a long-handled paintbrush in the other.

'Oils?' the Doctor remarked, deducing as much from the smell. 'More powerful than watercolours, aren’t they? Perfect for intense emotion.'

A variety of canvasses lay about the room, propped up against walls, furniture, whatever was handy. They were portraits and the Doctor recognised a few of the faces as people he had met during his stay at the school.

'These are very good,' he mused. 'The thing I find about painting is that, while a photograph can provide a more technically accurate, more realistic image, it can't capture the soul. But these pictures…well, it almost feels like I know these people, and that's not an easy thing to capture in pigment.'

He glanced over at Peter, who was still hunched over his easel, unmoving.

'Please don't tell me my compliments are being wasted,' the Doctor said with a wry smile. 'I'd hate to go to all that effort for nothing.'

He crossed the room so that he could see what Peter was working on.

'Hmm, not bad. Abstract, I take it?'

The canvas was blank.

'It's…it's supposed to be Illyana,' Peter explained quietly. 'I can see her every time I close my eyes, but I just can't see her on the canvas.'

'Illyana is your sister, isn't she?' the Doctor asked. 'She's one of the students who were taken.'

'Yes,' Peter replied. 'I wanted something I could remember her by.'

The Doctor swore under his breath, something coarse and Gallifreyan.

'What is the problem with everyone at this school?' he demanded. 'Your sister isn't dead. We can still get her back.'

'But the professor said…' Peter began.

'The professor said this, the professor said that,' the Doctor parroted. 'It's as if Xavier has you all brainwashed. The professor isn't always right, you know. No one is, not even me. What if he's wrong about this, hm? What if there is a way we can rescue your sister?'

'But…'

'Think about it,' the Doctor persisted. 'You've got all these people under one roof, all with unique and wonderful abilities. Acting in concert, what couldn't they accomplish?'

There was something in Peter's blue eyes. Was it a spark of hope, the Doctor wondered, was he getting through?

'I…'

But Peter did not get the chance to complete the thought.

'Doctor,' Kurt interrupted from the doorway, 'could I have a word, please.'

The Doctor looked from Kurt back to Peter, but the artist had retreated to the sanctuary of his painting. The moment had passed.

'Now, please,' Kurt insisted.

The Doctor stepped out into the corridor, closing the door behind him.

'You have quite remarkable timing,' the Doctor commented. 'Did Xavier send you?'

'We'd prefer it if you left Peter alone,' Kurt said. 'He's in a delicate state of mind right now.'

'Really?' the Doctor countered. 'And what do you suppose brought that on?'

Kurt scowled.

'It's not fair to Peter to play on his emotions like that,' he scolded.

'But it's all right for Xavier to take advantage of him in order to make his case in the hall earlier?' the Doctor asked.

The Doctor glared at Kurt, his cool blue eyes boring into the mutant's blazing yellow ones. Kurt looked away.

'The professor has the best of motives,' he insisted.

'That's hardly a ringing endorsement,' the Doctor pointed out.

'I trust his judgement,' Kurt replied. 'The professor is an extremely intelligent man.'

'So was Moriarty,' the Doctor retorted.

'You don't understand,' Kurt said. 'I trust the professor. If it wasn't for him I would be dead now. Do you really think that a man who looks as I do could lead a normal life? The professor gave that back to me after nature took it away. I owe him more than I can say.'

'And you're letting your loyalty blind you,' the Doctor insisted. 'All of you. Xavier may be a great man, but he is still just a man. He is fallible.'

'That's not for me to say,' Kurt replied, 'but you can discuss it with the professor. He wants to talk to you.'

* * *

'There are things about my past I can't remember either,' Mina told Logan.

They were standing just outside the school entrance and Mina was shivering. A scattering of snowflakes had just begun to fall.

'And that makes you think we have something in common,' Logan grunted. 'Lots of people have trouble remembering things. Not many get given these.'

He popped his claws, the blades sliding out from between his knuckles with an audible hiss. Fresh blood stained the silvery metal.

'Does it hurt?' Mina asked.

'Every time,' Logan replied. 'I heal fast, that's my gift, as Charles might say. Some gift. Every time I pull the claws back in the holes heal right back up and I have to cut brand new ones each time I pop them out again. And a healing factor doesn't make it hurt any less.'

'I'm sorry,' Mina said.

'Apologies are just words,' Logan remarked. 'Don't bother wasting either your time or your breath on them.'

'That's a very cynical attitude,' Mina pointed out.

'I am what they made me,' Logan commented.

'I don't believe that,' Mina insisted, 'I won't.'

'Why not?' Logan asked, exhaling cigar smoke.

'Because that would make me a monster,' Mina replied quietly.

'You don't look much like a monster,' Logan told her, 'and I've known a fair few in my time.'

'There was this man,' Mina began. 'Well, not a man, not really. A monster. A vampire.'

'You're yanking my chain,' Logan scoffed. Mina glared at him. 'Or maybe not.'

'He…he turned me,' Mina continued. 'He was killed and I thought that I was free of him, but perhaps I am not as free as I believed.'

'I thought vampires weren't supposed to come out in daylight,' Logan said.

'So did I,' Mina agreed, 'but there is a lot I'm not certain of any more.'

She wrapped her arms about her, trying to stave of the cold.

'I can't remember much of the past few years,' she said. 'The period between the vampire and my meeting with the Doctor is a blur. My last clear memory of my husband is from ten years ago.'

'Ten years,' Logan whistled. 'You don't look old enough…'

'I stopped ageing,' Mina explained, 'or so I'm told. I no longer have a reflection so that I can judge. I have a son. At least I think I do. He's called Quincey. But I can't remember what happened to him. I wouldn't just abandon my own son, would I? Doesn't that make me a monster?'

'All I can remember is a name,' Logan said. 'Rose. I know she was important to me, but I can't remember how or why. Can't even remember her face.'

'I'm sorry,' Mina consoled him.

'Yeah,' Logan said, 'so am I.'

* * *

'Summoned to the principal's office,' the Doctor mused. 'Have I done something wrong?'

'Doctor,' Xavier scolded, 'I hardly think your frivolity is well-timed.'

'Really?' The Doctor affected a mock-scandalised expression. 'And here I thought we were supposed to be having fun, preparing for the Christmas part and generally ignoring the fact that five students entrusted to your care may be in serious danger.'

'That is uncalled for,' Xavier said.

'Is it?' The Doctor slammed his palms down on the desk and leaned across towards Xavier. 'You may see them as acceptable losses, but I see them as no such thing.'

'What would you have me do, Doctor?' Xavier asked calmly. 'Yes, with the amount of power under this roof we could probably find and rescue the students, but at what cost? Most people beyond this school already hate and fear mutants. How do you think they will react to the sight of mutants roaming the streets openly using their abilities?'

'Well hiding isn't helping your cause,' the Doctor replied. 'That just further engenders suspicion and distrust. Look at this place. A school solely for mutants. You are actively encouraging segregation. Mutants and humans should attend the same schools, go to the same movies, eat in the same restaurants, ride on the same busses. That's the way the world should work.'

'Unfortunately, I don't have the luxury of fantasies,' Xavier said. 'I have to deal with the way the world is. I have nightmares about the way the world might turn out and Rachel's arrival only confirmed the worst of them. I will not condemn mutants to a life of persecution lived in camps and if I have to sacrifice a few mutants to save the rest then that is a decision I am prepared to make.'

'So you'll make your decisions based on fear of what might happen,' the Doctor said. 'It's such a narrow point of view. Don't think of how things might go wrong, think of what you might achieve, if only you had the courage to dare.'

'As you so rightly pointed out, Doctor,' Xavier replied, 'these students are in my care. I have a responsibility to them that drives me to caution.'

'So this is your grand response to a world that fears and hates you,' the Doctor concluded. 'To fear and hate it back.'

'We do what we have to to survive,' Xavier said.

The Doctor shook his head.

'Life's so much more than mere survival.'

'It's a start.' Xavier leaned forward and steepled his fingers above the desk. 'Doctor, your comments, your speeches are not helping the good order of this school.'

'You're suppressing free speech now as well?' the Doctor mocked.

'Everyone is entitled to their own point of view,' Xavier responded, 'but in my school the principal is the final authority. I have made my decision on this matter and your constant attempts to undermine it bring nothing but chaos and confusion to an already volatile environment.'

'I will do what I believe to be right,' the Doctor said. 'That's all any of us can do.'

'I couldn't agree more,' Xavier replied, 'which is why I am asking you to leave.'

'Asking me?' the Doctor repeated with a crooked smile.

'I see we understand one another.'

'Very well,' the Doctor agreed. 'There's something about this place that sets my teeth on edge in any case. There is one thing, though…'

'What's on your mind?'

'My companion,' the Doctor explained. 'My ship won't have finished its self-repair cycle yet and Mina will need a place to stay. Is she still welcome here.'

'She has not caused any trouble as yet,' Xavier said, 'and if she continues in the same vein then I would welcome her presence here.'

'Thank you.'

The Doctor turned to leave.

'Doctor,' Xavier called, bringing him to a halt. 'This isn't personal. I have a great deal of respect for you, but I have to put the interests of my school first.'

The Doctor sighed.

'That's always the way with you, isn't it? The greater good. Tell me, if sacrificing one girl would save the majority, would you do it?'

'Yes,' Xavier insisted. 'Yes, I would?'

'Then perhaps you can explain something to me,' the Doctor asked, looking down at his open palms. 'How would you wash the blood off of your hands?'

* * *

'Scott, what do you think you're doing?' Madelyne asked.

She was holding Nathan in her arms and he was crying. She rocked him gently in an effort to soothe him, wishing all the while that someone would soothe her own distress. Scott continued to stuff clothes into a duffel bag.

'I'm going away for a few days,' he explained, not looking up. 'I hope not to be gone any longer than that.'

'But why are you going at all?' Madelyne demanded.

'Because somebody has to,' Scott replied.

He had got everything he wanted and now zipped the bag closed.

'And why does that somebody has to be you?'

Scott looked up at her, his emotions concealed behind those damn shades.

'I'm not going to abandon those kids,' he insisted.

Nathan wailed. Madelyne stroked his soft hair, quieting him.

'You promised me that you had quit,' she said, fighting the urge to snap. 'You promised me that this wasn't your life anymore. We were going to start a life away from all this.'

'And I'm supposed to have left my conscience at the school gates on my way out, am I?' Scott retorted. 'I'm just trying to do what's right.'

'And abandoning your wife and child is right, is it?' Madelyne said. She could feel tears stinging in her eyes.

'I'm coming back,' Scott said.

'Are you?' Madelyne asked softly. 'Can you promise me that?'

Scott stood in silence.

'You'll throw your life away on some fools errand,' Madelyne told him. Deep down, I guess I always knew, always knew that you were still Scott Summers, X-Man, no matter what you told me.'

'I love you, Madelyne…' Scott said.

'But not enough to stay, obviously,' Madelyne retorted.

'I…'

'Just go!' This time, Madelyne did snap, tears rolling freely down her cheeks.

'I'm sorry,' Scott mumbled as he picked up his bag and left the room.

* * *

The Doctor looked up at the night sky, but clouds obscured any chance of seeing stars. Snow had been falling for several hours now and was settling as a kind of off-white sludge.

'Come out where I can see you,' he said suddenly. 'I dislike being spied on.'

Guiltily, Kitty Pryde slunk out of the shadows.

'Is there a particular reason why you're following me, or is this another one of the professor's war games?' the Doctor asked.

'I heard that you were leaving,' Kitty explained.

'Curious,' the Doctor remarked, 'because I don't recall telling anybody.'

'Okay, all right, I confess,' Kitty conceded. 'I was listening outside the door to the professor's office.'

'You were spying on me?' the Doctor asked, his voice tinged with barely suppressed laughter.

'I wanted to talk to you,' Kitty continued, 'in private, but then Kurt came along so I followed you.'

'And now here we are,' the Doctor concluded. 'Well, I'm all ears.'

Kitty chewed fretfully on her lower lip as she considered her next words.

'You're going after them, aren't you?' she said at last. 'Doug, Dani and the others.'

'Perhaps,' the Doctor replied.

'Take me with you,' Kitty said.

'What?'

'They're my friends and I want to help.'

'It will be dangerous,' the Doctor pointed out.

'That's not stopping you,' Kitty retorted.

'And I thought the professor had told you all to stay inside the school grounds.'

'What he doesn't know won't kill him,' Kitty said. 'I just want to do what I believe to be right. Isn't that what you said.'

The Doctor scowled.

'That kind of manipulation isn't going to win you any friends, you know,' he told her.

'But you'll let me go with you, right?' Kitty said, beaming hopefully up at him. 'Please.'

'Oh come on then,' the Doctor reluctantly agreed. 'I just know I'm going to regret this, but I never could stand travelling alone.'

* * *

Scott stood at the window, watching Kitty and the Doctor talking by the front gate.

'He's going to cause trouble, that one,' Logan said, announcing his presence.

Scott turned slowly to look at him.

'I thought you'd approve.'

'Never said I didn't,' Logan pointed out.

'You think he's doing the right thing?' Scott asked.

Logan shrugged.

'Reminds me of that saying,' he said. 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions.'

'The whole world's going to hell,' Scott murmured.

'Just saw Maddy and the rugrat,' Logan remarked. 'She looked upset. That your fault?'

'I told them I was going away for a few days,' Scott explained. 'I'm going after the kids.'

'And here I thought you were Chuck's golden boy,' Logan said.

'Charles isn't as perfect as he likes people to think,' Scott replied.

'Nobody could be as perfect as he likes people to think he is,' Logan quipped. 'Is that why you quit, because you found out the great professor wasn't all he was cracked up to be.'

'That's part of it,' Scott conceded. 'Logan, I need your help. Charles is right in that if we mess this up then the situation will be much worse than if we hadn't tried at all.'

'Then why are we trying?' Logan asked.

'Because it's the right thing to do,' Scott said simply. 'So, are you in or out.'

'Well, it sure beats being cooped up in here,' Logan said, 'and I'm going to hell anyway so it's not like I've got anything to lose. You've got some kind of plan, I hope.'

'I've got a plan,' Scott told him with a slight smile, 'but you're not going to like it much.'

Logan grunted.

'I've never liked your plans, Summers,' he said, 'but they do tend to work out. So when do we start saving lives?'

'Thanks, Logan,' Scott said with relief. 'Who knows, we might make a superhero out of you yet.'

 

 
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