"Victor, you're late," Mystique said. "I thought something tragic had happened. A pity."
"The coffee smells good."
Scott looked up from the coffeepot to see Kurt's cordial grin.
"Help yourself," Scott offered.
"Danke." Kurt's smiled widened.
"I thought you were more of a beer drinker." Scott tried to make casual conversation as he reached for a coffee mug in the cupboard.
"I enjoy a good brew, but it wouldn't look good for superheroes to develop beer guts, ja?" Kurt replied.
Scott shook his head and poured his coffee. Two heaping spoonfuls of creamer, no sugar. He passed the coffeepot to Kurt.
"With an expression like that I assume you've also been grading papers," Kurt said.
Scott chuckled. "No," he replied. "I've just been a little under the weather. How did your German test go?"
"You do not wish to know, mein freund," Kurt assured.
Scott nodded and inhaled the fresh steam from him mug. He sat at the table and let his hands soak up the warmth from his coffee cup. The only sound was Kurt's tail slapping against the floor as the blue demon prepared his coffee.
"Dr. McCoy was black and blue the last time I saw him," Kurt said. "Do you know what that was about?"
Scott shifted in his seat. "I lost my temper," he said stiffly.
"That doesn't sound like you at all," Kurt mused. "What happened?"
"We were talking and I got angry." Scott shrugged.
"You look as though you are still angry," Kurt noted. His yellow eyes reflected the light from above the stove as he joined Scott at the table.
"No. I'm done with that." Scott sighed.
"Yes. Hank was pushing me," Scott said. "Purposely. He knew it, I knew it. But when he said that Rachel looked like Jean, I lost it."
"So you hit him?" Kurt set his coffee aside.
"Yes." Scott began to talk into his mug. "I also went and made an idiot of myself in front of Rachel."
"I doubt you did any serious harm," Kurt replied. "The child has taken quite a liking to you. Dare I say a school girl crush?"
Scott leaned back in his chair and laughed. "School girl crush?" he said. "I kissed her out in the courtyard and she pushed me away. I kissed her right in front of Jean's memorial plaque."
Outside the kitchen, Logan's keen hearing picked up all he needed to hear. Without disturbing the other two men he headed swiftly through the corridors. A twitch to the man's nostrils was the only outward sign that he was tracking something specific.
As Logan neared his prey, the lighthearted giggles of teenaged girls entered his ears. He rounded a corner and stalked towards the rec. room.
In front of the T.V. Bobby looked exasperated as he explained the concept of Halo to Peter. The hulking Russian boy sat quietly, a curious expression on his face as he rolled the Xbox controller over in his hands.
At a flimsy table, Rogue had a helpless look on her face as she watched Kitty and Jubilee bicker over the rules to Texas Hold 'Em. Rachel sat nearby a weary smile on her lips.
"Hi Logan." Rogue's eyes found him immediately. The girl grinned, relieved for the interruption.
Logan spared her a glance out of courtesy, before he pointed an accusatory finger at Rachel. "We need to talk, doll," he growled.
Peter immediately abandoned his controller and headed over to the girls to be a barrier between Logan and Kitty. Bobby quickly followed suit and placed a comforting hand on Rogue's shoulder.
"Talk? I don't understand..." Rachel murmured.
"Well understand this," the Wolverine snarled. "You smelled wrong since the moment Cyclops brought you in here."
"I bathe regularly." Rachel's laugh came out too high pitched. The girl stood up and seemed to be backing towards the door.
Wolverine sensed this and cut off her exit. "I couldn't figure out what it was until now."
"Logan, please," Rogue pleaded.
"Why the hell does your scent resemble Jean Grey's?" he demanded.
Rachel's eyes darted desperately around the group that had gathered. Bobby had deep furrows in his brows, while Peter simply looked cautious; Kitty's large brown eyes seemed to be analyzing everything, Rogue was obviously worried, Jubilee was thrilled. No one made a move to excuse themselves from the room.
The muscles in Rachel's shoulders slowly relaxed. "You wouldn't believe me if I just told you," she said. "I wish there was some way you could just scan my mind."
"I'm sure Chuck would love to," Logan suggested.
"No!" Rachel exclaimed so suddenly the Wolverine's claws were unsheathed.
"Why not?" Kitty asked quietly.
"If I let the professor scan my mind, he'd see what I intend to do," Rachel confessed. "He wouldn't agree to it."
"What makes you think I'd agree to it?" Logan wanted to know.
"Because of what's at stake," Rachel replied.
"How do we see into your mind, then?" Logan sighed. His claws finally retracted.
Rachel turned her gaze to Rogue.
Everyone turned to face Bobby Drake's narrowed ice blue eyes.
"Not your decision, kid," Logan said.
"I said no," Bobby repeated.
"Bobby," Rogue murmured.
"No, I won't let you do this to yourself," Bobby insisted. The blond teen turned angrily to Logan. "You have no idea what that does to her."
"Enlighten me," Logan replied.
Kitty grabbed the hem of Peter's shirt like a child as the tension rose. Jubilee pulled up a chair.
"It's not just memories," Bobby argued. "It's like someone else is sharing her head with her. You don't remember because you were unconscious, but she'd talk to herself, but with two different accents. Two different voices vying for control of her body. Her and you. What happens if she loses and gets swallowed up by all the other voices in there?"
"Still not your choice," Logan said.
"Rogue, don't do this," Bobby begged. "It's not good, don't do this to yourself."
"Logan?" Rogue looked at the older man, her lips pursed.
"Not my choice, either," Logan replied.
"Do you think Ah should?" she asked.
"I think you should do what you think is right," Logan said. "I won't blame you either way."
"Do you trust me?" Rachel asked.
"No," Rogue answered. "But Ah'll do it."
"Rogue!" Bobby protested.
The boy found a gloved fingertip pressed against his lips. He kissed her finger and she smiled.
"Ah'll be fine," Rogue promised.
Rogue peeled the white glove off of her right hand and gave it to Bobby for safekeeping. Her hand gently grazed Rachel's cheek. As soon as the redhead gasped, Rogue tried to jerk her hand away. Rachel had anticipated as much and pinned the other girl's hand to her face with the strength of her mechanical arm.
"No," Rachel insisted. "You need to see everything."
The hold on Rogue's hand finally weakened as Rachel lurched forward, her tattoos once again cutting across her face, unconscious. Rogue wrenched her hand free and doubled over, clasping her skull.
"Rogue!" Bobby dove to his girlfriend's side. He gathered the girl up into his arms protectively while she shook. "I told you this was a bad idea," he snapped.
"Rachel's okay, she's just out cold," Kitty offered. The brunette had found her way to Rachel to check the other girl's vital signs.
"But what about Rogue?" Bobby demanded.
"I'm okay." As Rogue lifted her head, her Southern accent slipped back into place. "Ah'm fine."
"And?" Logan asked.
"Ah believe her," Rogue said.
"Good enough for me," Logan replied. "What now?"
"Oh no, I can't believe I let it get to be so late," Rogue's accent fluctuated. "Logan, we need t'get to Graydon Creed now."
"We ain't going anywhere, darlin'," Logan said. "You've had enough excitement for one day."
"You've got t'take Rachel," Rogue drawled. "They're going t'kill him an' that can't happen."
"And that's a bad thing?" Logan raised an eyebrow.
"I can't explain it right now," Rogue said. "Just take me... Ah mean Rachel an' save him."
"Alright." Logan scooped Rachel's limp form up into his arms. "I'm doing this for you, kid." He looked directly at Bobby. "Look after Rogue."
Bobby nodded. Logan hurried out of the room.
As he made his way down to the garage, he shifted Rachel from his arms to over his shoulder to make travel easier.
There was no way he would be able to put an unconscious girl on a motorcycle, so Logan went for Scott's car. Scott never left the keys in the ignition. Logan shook his head as he unsheathed a single adamantium claw.
"Are we going somewhere?"
With a bamf, the Incredible Nightcrawler was grinning in the back seat of the car. Logan shook his head ruefully.
"You have no idea," he muttered.
"Victor, you're late," Mystique said. "I thought something tragic had happened. A pity."
Sabretooth turned his attention to the teenaged boy by Mystique's side. "I know she seems cold," he said. "But this frail loves to purr like a kitten. You just got to know how to treat her."
Mystique glared at the brutish man.
"Sabretooth," John said. "I thought the X-Men killed you at Liberty Island."
"I don't kill easy." Victor flashed his teeth at the boy.
"Like cockroaches," Mystique remarked.
"I missed you too, sweetheart," Sabretooth replied.
"Enough. I won't tolerate this kind of idiotic behavior," Magneto warned as he entered the room.
Mystique glided over to the silver haired man's side. John shifted his weight to his other foot while Sabretooth's smug grin only widened.
"Now, Raven, Victor. You two know what to do," Magneto said.
Mystique nodded as her indigo scales were replaced with the plump, sagging flesh of Senator Robert Kelly. She turned around and stormed out of the room, followed by Sabretooth.
"What about me?" John asked.
"You, my boy have a very special task." Magneto smiled as he put an arm around John's shoulder. "Follow me. I'll explain as we walk."